Sixteen year old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before. Classmate Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive her home. She can't ignore that his new obsession started after his two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan, he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from.
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"My stomach twists into a pretzel as I walk through the library doors. Evan is already here, his back to me. My feet root to the floor and refuse to move forward.
Muscles stretch the back of his t-shirt, thick biceps visible beneath the short sleeves. I never noticed Evan is so buff, but he does play football. His black hair waves in an unruly mess. His head tilts to the side and he catches sight of me. He turns his upper body, leaning a forearm along the back of the chair. The slight smile falls and his eyes burn as they search mine.
I will my feet to move forward, but they balk as my breath catches in my throat. It’s THE Evan Whittaker. Looking at me.
The ridiculousness of my thoughts hit me and my feet are free. I’m imagining things. As I walk, Evan watches me the entire way. Sliding into the seat next to him, I set my backpack on the table.
He continues to gawk. To my horror, blood creeps up until my face burns.
Evan clears his throat and gives his attention to the open history book on the table. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have stared.”
I shrug. “It’s okay. I’m used to it.”
He looks up, his eyes narrowing as his lips pinch in a frown. “You shouldn't have to go through that. I can’t understand why people believe the worst about you. It wasn’t your fault.”
My heart skips a beat. “What did you just say?”
He freezes. “That I can't believe people are so mean to you?”
“No, the other part.”
His head leans closer to mine as his eyes soften. “It wasn’t your fault.”
The deep blue eyes offer a peace I haven’t felt in months. But this feeling is a lie. My back straightens in irritation. “How would you know? The police think it was.”
He averts his gaze, twisting his pencil on the table in half circles. “Maybe so, but I don’t believe it.”
I wait, sure this is a trick, that he will burst out laughing at my gullibility. But instead, he curls up the corner of his mouth as though he's trying to figure a way out of this misunderstanding."
The AuthorDenise Grover Swank lives in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. She has six children, three dogs, and an overactive imagination. She can be found dancing in her kitchen with her children, reading or writing her next book. You will rarely find her cleaning. Denise is represented by Amanda Luedeke of MacGregor Literary.