When seventeen-year-old Alex’s dad dies, it feels like her entire world stops—only it doesn’t. Her family moves on as if nothing happened, and Alex feels pressured to do the same. She starts dating the quarterback of the football team, going to parties, and getting ready for the big homecoming dance—all in hopes that her life will turn back around. The more she gets used to the raves and recognition, the less time she has to think about her father—even if it’s at the cost of her own identity.
Then she meets Cameron—a boy who quickly finds his way under her skin and into her heart and suddenly, Alex is reminded that grief, like her heart, is not something to keep locked away.
14+ due to adult situations
“Oh, crap,” Blaze says under her breath once we’re outside.
I look up and see what she means. Left and right people are stumbling into cars and driving away. They are running all over the yard, the sirens only getting louder. It’s absolute chaos.
And I don’t see Jordan anywhere.
Paige and I share the same look of worry and start to search for anyone who has an empty backseat. She spots someone climbing into the driver’s seat of an empty Hyundai Elantra, and my mind starts racing about how we can all fit.
Between Paige, Becca, Blaze, and myself, we could all squeeze into the back and Jordan could get in the front … ugh! Where is Jordan?
My friends start to walk ahead of me to climb into the car, but my feet don’t allow me to follow. I can’t ditch Jordan.
“You guys go ahead, I need to find Jordan!” I yell to them.
“Are you sure?” Blaze asks me, concern spreading across her features. Paige and Becca are already in the backseat of the car, and the driver is starting to look anxious.
I nod to her. “We’ll find another ride.”
She climbs into the front seat and I watch them all ride off safely before heading back into the house, which is even more chaotic than the front yard. The LED lights strung along the walls are still blinking notoriously fast, and some idiot forgot to turn off the speaker so the house is still booming with electronic dance music.
“Jordan?” I call and weave my way through bodies, trying to get to the back of the house. Maybe he’s on the patio? But if he was outside, he should’ve heard the sirens.
Finally, I reach the glass door at the back of the house. Sliding it open, I step out into the warm air of the night. A breath I didn’t know I was holding releases from my chest. I call out for Jordan again but the patio is empty, only a pile of red solo cups catching my eye in the dark.
Shit. What the hell am I supposed to do now? Where is Jordan? The cops will be here any minute, and I’m going to be left with the wanna-be freshmen sobbing that their moms are going to kill them.
Panic builds low in my stomach. I have no idea what I’m going to do or how I’m going to get out of this. My eyes roam the patio for any possible solution. Cursing myself, I should’ve left with the girls.
“Are you looking for someone?” I look up to see a boy, who I think is my age, walking up the back stairs of the pool deck. I didn’t even think there would be people by the dock that sits out there, and I feel relieved at possibly finding my boyfriend.
“Was Jordan with you out there?” I ask the boy.
“Jordan. Jordan Tucker.” I stare at him, annoyed at his obtuseness.
“I don’t know who that is, but no one was out there. Just me.” He shrugs and starts to kick at the empty cups surrounding his feet.
I don’t know what pisses me off more, the fact that he doesn’t know who my boyfriend—the most popular guy at our school—is, or the fact that he doesn’t seem at all bothered by the raid of cops that are about to be swarming into this house.
Maybe he doesn’t go to our school? My head shakes at my own thoughts. Not important. You need to get out of here.
The battle inside my mind starts to grow. Not wanting to leave Jordan, but also knowing I cannot get caught at this party. The latter is worse. The latter wins. A decision forms before I can even second guess it.
“Did you drive here?” I ask the boy.
He nods his head and points to the side of the house, where I presume his car must be.
“Great, I need you to take me home.” I decide quickly and start walking around the side of the house. Surprisingly, the guy follows.
The sight in front of me is so horrid I stop dead in my tracks. Debating whether or not to even continue or to run back to the patio and hope for the best with the cops.
It couldn’t be an uglier car, if car is even the right word for it. A rusted, burgundy Honda Civic that looks way too worn down to be considered drivable sits on the grass before me. The passenger door appears to be a completely different color than the rest of the car, but it’s too dark to tell for sure.
I glance from the car back to the boy, who is now waving his hands around impatiently. Thanks to the flood light on the side of the house, I can finally make out his features.
His shaggy dark hair sits perfectly over his eyebrows, and he shakes his head slightly to the right in a way that seems so natural and fitting for him, sweeping his hair over to one side of his face as he does so. His dark leather jacket cuts off at his waist to meet his jeans, which don’t quite have holes at the knees, but even from here I can tell there are little shreds of fabric making them look slightly ripped.
“Are you getting in?” he asks me.
He’s still staring at me, standing next to his old, beat-up car parked along the side of the house. The in three minutes more or less soon-to-be busted-by-the-cops house. Even from our distance, I can see how strong his jawline is as he’s clenching it, waiting for me to give him an answer.
“Is this thing even safe?” I call out to him.
He laughs at me. “Does it matter?”
I raise an eyebrow and stare at him in disbelief. Something about his response makes me want to get in his car. Because if he doesn’t care, then I shouldn’t either. That, and the fact that cops will be here any minute.
My friends left. I have no idea where my boyfriend is. So, I do what any normal teenager under duress at a high school house party would do.
I get in a strange boy’s car.