by Cyn Balog
Publication: November 1st 2016
by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Secrets. Obsession. Murder. Victoria is about to discover just how dangerous it can be to lose yourself.
Victoria Zell doesn’t fit in, but she’s okay with that. All she needs is the company of her equally oddball boyfriend, Andrew. She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks…until magnetic, charming, mysterious Z comes into her life, and she starts lying to everyone she knows in an effort to unravel his secrets.
And then something terrible happens. Someone is dead and it’s time for Victoria to come clean. Interspersed with news clippings and police interviews, Victoria tells her story to Andrew, revealing her dark, horrible secrets…secrets that have finally come back to haunt her.
Duchess—Police are investigating an apparent homicide after a body was found in a wooded area early Tuesday morning. Authorities have not yet released the name of the victim or the person(s) they are questioning in connection with the investigation.
—Central Maine Express Times
Is this thing on?
Ha–ha, I’m a laugh a minute.
Anyway, Andrew. It’s me. Vic. I wanted to say I’m sorry. Sorry for… Well, where do I begin? I—-
Cough, cough, cough.
Sorry. I’m losing my voice. Something bitter is stuck in my throat, and the air is so cold it’s hard to breathe. This place reeks of decaying leaves, of the musty, damp rot of dead things returning to the earth.
There’s something soft and wet under my head. I hope it’s not brain matter. I can’t raise my arms to check because of the way I’m twisted here. I think my leg is broken. Or maybe my back? Damned if I can twitch a muscle without pain screaming its way up my spine.
Somehow I managed to pry my phone out of my jacket pocket and prop it on my chest, but you know how spotty service is around Duchess. All charged up with zero bars—-not that I’d be calling anyone but you. I wish I could see the background photo of you and me. It’d keep me company. You know the one. It’s the picture of us at the Renaissance Faire when we were fourteen. We’re both grinning like mad and you have your arm around me, claiming me as your own. It’s probably the only time you were ever comfortable with yourself. With us. I miss that.
Anyway, you know how glass half–empty I am, Andrew. I wanted to record a note for you on my phone. You know, in case I don’t get out of here.
Of course I’ll get out of here. I wouldn’t be lucky enough to die here. But maybe this’ll be easier than telling you in person.
Where should I start?
It’s so quiet. You must have left me, Andrew. But you’ll come back. You always come back. You were scared, maybe, when you saw what you’d done. And now I’m all alone here.
I don’t really know where “here” is. I think it’s a drainage ditch on the side of Route 11. The last thing I remember is rushing down the road near the Kissing Woods, feeling powerful. Immortal. Like everything I wanted could be mine. For an instant, I felt like he could be mine.
But that’s not possible now.
I know what people have said behind my back in hushed whispers. They call me delusional. But I’m not. I know what is real and what isn’t.
No, wait. The last thing I remember is you with that fierce look in your eyes. You sure surprised me. Who knew that my boyfriend, quiet, unassuming Andrew Quinn, had that in him?
I thought I knew you inside and out, but…I was wrong.
I guess I should explain. After all, I have no other pressing engagements. And you’re overdue an explanation, aren’t you? The tall pines can be my witnesses. They can pass judgment as they see fit.
I’m not sure when it all began, but Lady M said it best. Hell is goddamn murky.
Whoops. Blasphemy. Yet another sin to add to my act–of–contrition list.
Looking back, you knew when I started to change, didn’t you, Andrew? You know everything about me. It was that very first day of school, the day my life began and the day it began to unravel.
So here are the gory details. It won’t be enough, but I’ll try. You can’t know it all until you’ve smelled that intoxicating cinnamon–and–cloves scent, read those texts that elevated even the blandest words to poetry, and seen those heart–stoppingly blue eyes.
His eyes. Even now, I can see them with perfect clarity. I’ve seen them in my dreams, in the sky when the sun hits the clouds just right, and in my morning breakfast cereal. It all goes back to him. Every single thought always winds right back to him. Always. Always. Always.
It’s no use. I want him out of my head. I wish I could scrape him out of my memory. I don’t want to live with him etched in the deepest part of me. I don’t want to die thinking of him.
But I know I will.
~About the Author~
Cyn Balog is the author of the young adult paranormal novels FAIRY TALE, SLEEPLESS, STARSTRUCK, TOUCHED, DEAD RIVER, and UNNATURAL DEEDS. She lives outside Allentown, Pennsylvania with her husband and daughters. Visit her online at www.cynbalog.com.
Cyn’s Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
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