by Elora Ramirez
I love the simplicity of this fab cover and I’m thrilled to be sharing it with you!!
My name is Kera Collins, and I would do anything for a golden nod.
At first glance, my life appears perfect: the best friends, the best school, the attention of Dex Albright, the deliciously irresistible grandson to the Headmaster. All I need is the prestige behind La Boheme, an elite secret society formed within the walls of my school, and my life would be complete. Once I’m in, I’ll be the one with all of the secrets.
It’s just…no one told me these secrets could kill.
“Tell me again about cherry trees and spring time and eating sunbeams.” I whisper in his ear.
“Why should sunbeams get all the fun?” He growls and I laugh quietly.
Both of my hands are on either side of his face. I’m gripping the soft area above his neck. Our tongues meet and I press myself against him, the sparrow inside my chest turning into a phoenix, lit and ready. I wrap one leg around his hip and position myself against the shelf, pulling away just enough to look in his eyes. I want to see the clouded look that takes over when he’s lost in the feel of me. His hands grab me and I gasp.
This is much, much better than Neruda.
We’re a tangled piece of hormones, begging for some type of release.
And then —
We’re crashing against the floor, Dex covering my mouth with his hand. I start to claw at his arm because what the hell?
He doesn’t waste any time. Leaning forward to where his lips begin to tickle the edges of my ear, he whispers.
I press my hands against his chest, pushing him back so I can look him in the eyes.
“What do you mean someone’s here,” I hiss.
And then I hear it. Or…them, actually. Soft footsteps. My eyes widen and Dex places his finger on my lips. Despite the severity of the situation, I have a strange desire to bite it.
Or lick it. He sees my gaze shift downward and he hides a smile.
“Behave,” he mouths.
I shrug again, my shoulder scraping against the wooden floor. I stretch my neck and try to get a look at who could possibly be in the library at this hour.
I jerk my head back toward Dex, and he looks at me in confusion. My heart thuds against my chest. I grab his wrist and pull his finger away from my lips.
Dex opens his mouth like he’s about to say something and I put my hand up to quiet him. In a heap of arms and legs, I try and make my way to a standing position but my best friend finds me bending over, Dex kneeling in front of me with his bow tie akimbo around his neck.
I swallow and turn around, my face breaking into a smile. I’m thinking of excuses. I’m thinking of how I can explain the tête-à-tête she seems to have interrupted. I’m thinking…my eyes find hers and I gasp.
She’s been crying. Her eyes, normally a bottomless shade of crystallized green, blink away new tears. I walk over to her, rearranging my dress with each step.
“Ohmigod. Season. What happened?” I reach for her but she twists away. Her arms and legs are covered in scratches and twigs keep falling out of her burgundy curls. She moves to hide her arms and looks away for a brief moment before catching Dex’s gaze and bouncing to me.
She’s skittish, and her eyes — they’ve lost all glimmer of Season.
A weight settles on my chest and I fight to stand still, to not turn and run. This is not life. This is not supposed to happen. Not here. Not Season. I brush away the silence between us, willing her to look at me. I reach for her again and she startles, putting her hand up in front as a defense. She blinks and focuses on me, her eyes feral.
“I knew you’d be here. I knew — I got your text an-and they said you would…”
“S, what’s going on? Why — what are you doing here? Did something happen?” I wrinkle my brow and turn to find Dex walking toward us, his bowtie now perfectly positioned against his neck. He’s working on his cufflinks and staring at Season with his mouth all twisted. I can’t tell if he’s bothered by the interruption or by Season’s condition.
She coughs and whimpers and I shoot her a look.
“It’s Sebastian.” She wipes at her cheeks with her hands, her fingers reaching for each other in a form of desperation.
Anger vibrates against me but deeper than that, there’s a fear. A cold-blooded fear I can’t explain. Something isn’t right and I don’t know how to fix it and my best friend is standing in front of me like she’s been turned inside out and back again. Black spots fill my vision and then grow clear.
“What happened. Where’s Sebastian?” I move closer and she grabs my arm. I stop and look at her. She’s shaking her head.
“You know —.” Her words stumble over each other and it’s enough for me to freeze in place. I turn to look at her and she closes her eyes and takes a breath.
“We were in the woods. They found us. Th-they took him.”
“Who took him?” Dex steps closer, his face now the picture of concern. “Wait. Did you say someone told you we would be here?”
The muscles in his cheek twitch. I reach for his hand.
There are moments in life where we can spot the change coming. Whether it’s intuition or cycles or whatever, these are the seconds and minutes that turn into catalysts. Once they pass, life is forever categorized as Before and After.
This is what I feel hovering above us, waiting to descend and take over. I close my eyes and wait and wonder if I can keep it from happening.
If I can wish hard enough, maybe we can go back to where I’m leaning against the shelves, Dex pressing up against me. Maybe even before that — back to when I first saw him, standing with the lacrosse team the day I moved into Ivy Hall. I let go of Dex’s hand and clutch at the bottom of my dress and feel myself waver. Dex grabs my elbow.
I open my eyes and find Season looking at me, tears rushing down her cheeks.
“La Boheme.” she whispers. “They’re the ones who took Sebastian.”
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