Authors: Mercy Amare
Copyright ©2012 Mercy Amare
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This cover was designed by: Mercy Amare
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I could be surrounded by a million people, but I would still feel alone. I smile on the outside, but inside I feel like I’m slowly dying. I cry out for help, but nobody sees me, at least not the real me. They see a façade, a mask that I put on to hide the pain.
I pretend that I’m normal, but really, what is normal? Maybe what I’m feeling is normal. The hurt, the disappointment, the loneliness… it could be all just be a part of life. Maybe I will never know what normal is.
I put on long sleeves and makeup to hide the bruises, but they only mask the outside. What happens when I can’t carry my burden alone any longer? What would happen if I told somebody the truth?
I heard a knock on my window, making me jump. My heart accelerated, but I took a deep breath to relax. I put down my journal and walked over to the window slowly.
He’s already passed out,
I told myself
. He’s not going to hurt you… at least not this morning
I opened my window quietly. My friend, Tess Robbins, was waiting on the other side. We have been best friends since kindergarten.
She held up a Red Bull and I accepted it with a smile. Tess knows the way to my heart is through caffeinated beverages.
Are you ready for school?” she asked in a whisper.
I’ve never spoken a word to her about Charles, my dad, but she knows it upsets him when she knocks on the door. She’s been sneaking in my window since the tenth grade... Ever since my mom died.
Yep,” I said, grabbing my backpack off the bed. I climbed out the window and followed Tess to her car that was parked on the curb. She drives a slightly used yellow jeep. She hates it, but I envy it. She waited until we were a block away from my house before she turned up the radio.
Tess is usually not a morning person, but that morning she was bouncing in her seat as she sung along with the radio. She saw me laughing at her, so she turned down the volume. “Are you laughing at my mad dance skills?”
How much Red Bull have you consumed this morning?” I asked between laughs.
She thought for a couple seconds before answering, “Two.” She held out the Red Bull in her hand, “and a half.”
I grabbed the half full energy drink from her hand. “I’m cutting you off.”
She stuck out her lower lip and pretended to wipe a tear. “I only got 3 hours of sleep.”
I pulled at my sleeve, remembering the fresh bruise that still stung. I only got 2 hours of sleep, but I didn’t say anything. “If you wouldn’t stay on the phone all night, maybe you’d get some sleep.” I handed her drink back and she downed the rest in one gulp. I was still sipping mine.
Maybe if you had a boyfriend, you would be less cranky in the mornings.”
I took another sip of my drink and ignored her comment. The last thing I wanted was a boyfriend... It would just be one more person I would have to lie to. The less people I allowed to be apart of my life, the better.
Tess didn’t let my non response go unnoticed. “Seriously, Lucy, you’re a senior and you’ve never had a boyfriend.”
I’m ok with that,” I defended myself.
Don’t you want to know what it’s like to fall in love? Maybe you could even kiss a boy,” she wiggled her eyebrows, “or more…”
I cut her off. “Ewe. I’m not having this conversation with you.”
If not with your best friend, then with who?” As we pulled into our parking spot at school, she put it her jeep in park and turned to me. “All I’m saying is keep an open heart. I hear falling in love is magical.”
When she said it like that, it didn’t sound so bad. But I knew better than to believe in love, magic, or fairy tales. Good fortune tended to stay away from people like me. If I put my heart out there, it would most likely get broken.
She pulled 2 dry cleaning bags out of the back of her jeep. “I got your uniform dry-cleaned.”
If somebody wouldn’t have spilled their chili dog on me, it wouldn’t need dry cleaning,” I reminded her as I took it from her.
She laughed. “Shut up.” The warning bell rang and we both took off running in opposite directions. “See you second period,” she yelled.
I ran to my class, making it just in time for the tardy bell to ring. I was thankful that my first period books were in my bag. I wouldn’t have had time to go to my locker.
Good morning, Lucy,” Ian greeted me while we waited for Mrs. Lochman to make her way to the classroom. She was always a couple minutes late.
Good morning,” I smiled at him.
Ian is the pastor’s son, the captain of the football team, and the dream of every girl at Paradise High School. I can see why, with his sparkly brown eyes, and that cute dimple in his left cheek that always makes me want to reach out and touch it. But it’s not just his looks. He has an outstanding personality. Someday, if I ever fall in love, I want to fall in love with a guy like Ian Winters.
He started to say something else, but was cut off when Mrs. Lochman walked in the classroom. He shot me a smile, and then turned his attention forward.
I thought once again about what I wrote in my journal that morning about being normal… I decided that if anybody in the world was normal, it was Ian Winters.
I tried hard to pay attention to class, but I couldn’t, not with Lucy Pierce sitting right beside me. She looked sad again today, and it broke my heart. I wondered who would ever want to make a beautiful girl like her sad.
Lucy is the girl of my dreams. She has been ever since we were 4 years old, which was the first time we met. We were in children’s church and Derek Freeman stole her cookies. I thought she had pretty blue eyes, so I shared mine with her. She gave me a kiss on the cheek, which I wiped off, but I secretly liked it. Now, 13 years later, I still remember that kiss like it were yesterday. I dream of the day that she kisses me once again.
I glanced over at her once more. Her deep blue eyes were focused on the teacher, but I could tell that she too wasn’t paying attention. I wondered for a moment if she was thinking about me, but I quickly dismissed the thought. A beautiful girl like Lucy could do so much better than me. After 13 years, I still haven’t managed to capture her attention... And not from lack of trying either.
Her long blonde curls hung over the back of her desk. I resisted the urge to reach over and run my fingers through it. I once again forced my eyes forward, towards the teacher, but I never stopped thinking about Lucy.
Before I knew it, the bell rang alerting us that class was over. Lucy’s eyes met mine, and she smiled. I silently hoped that I was the reason for that smile. I noticed that her hands were full. Her bag started to fall to the ground, but I caught it.
Thank you,” she said as she reached for the bag. Instead of handing it back, I held onto it.
I’ve got it,” I told her as I motioned for her to lead the way.
You don’t have to,” she quickly protested.
I know. I want to.”
She looked at me for a few seconds. I could tell that she wanted to protest again, but she knew I wouldn't let her. So, she walked ahead of me. As we stepped out into the hall, I walked beside her.
So, are you going to the pep rally after school?” she asked me.
Yes,” I answered smiling. “I always come,”
to watch you,
I added silently in my head.
Once we got to her locker, I stood there as she hung up her uniform. When she did, her sleeve slid up revealing a fresh, black bruise on her arm. In the middle of a bruise was a large cut that hadn’t yet scabbed over. She quickly pulled down her sleeve before grabbing her bag from me.
What happened to your arm?” I asked. I pulled her sleeve up, but she quickly yanked her arm away from me.
I umm… I fell,” she stuttered, not looking me in the eyes. “Thanks for your help.”
Lucy, that looks really bad. I think you need stitches.”
Her face was red. “Just, stop, ok? I’m fine.” Tears started to fill her eyes. “I’ll see you later.” She turned and walked in the opposite direction as quickly as possible. I stood there in silence watching her, wondering how I had made her so angry. As soon as the tardy bell rang, I sighed and walked in the other direction. I was now going to be late for gym.
Why did Ian have to see that stupid bruise? I scolded myself over and over again.
I gave him the lamest excuse: I fell… How many times had I lied about where my bruises came from? More than I could count. But when he asked me, I panicked. It was the first answer that came to my head, and it literally came out of my mouth without even thinking. It was stupid, irresponsible, and it will never happen again.
Even worse than my lame excuse, was the fact that I had snapped at him. I had never lost my temper before, and yet I did… with Ian of all people. Why him? He’s so…
I asked myself the same questions over and over again for the rest of the day. I knew it wouldn’t do any good. What’s done was done, and I couldn’t undo it… No matter how badly I might have wanted to.
Party at Derek's tonight,” Tess informed me after the pep rally. I was a little bummed because I didn't see Ian there.
Sounds lovely,” I said sarcastically. I honestly can't stand Derek Freeman. He's one of the most stuck up, arrogant people I know.
Come on, Lucy. Derek isn't
bad...” she paused, shaking her head. “Ok, maybe he is, but the whole football team will be there. You know I have a thing for jocks.”
I rolled my eyes. Tess has a thing for any member of the opposite sex. “Fine,” I agreed. Truthfully, I sort of wanted to go. I wanted to find Ian and apologize for my behavior earlier. I don't know why I reacted the way I did. I'm normally so in control of my feelings. I never let my anger, hurt or disappointment show. I'm
Lucy. Most everybody likes me, and I'm not about to let Ian Winters, of all people, hate me.
Yep, tonight I will show Ian that I'm not just another stuck up, prissy cheerleader.
Tess dropped me off in front of my house so I could get ready for the party. I crawled through my window. I wasn't sure if my dad was up yet, but I wasn't going to risk waking him. When I got inside, I opened my closet and looked for something party appropriate. I heard my dad stumbling around the living room, so I knew he was awake. I tried to be as quiet as possible.