The Mass by Natalie Blank

Be the first to leave a review
SKU 978-0-3695-1004-4

Create Wishlist

After losing his entire football team in a mass shooting, 18-year-old Daniel struggles to process his emotions. He joins an online support group and connects with Maya. A bullet wound has ruined Maya’s gymnastics career, but she’s determined to live life on the edge, no matter the cost. Tired of her family’s concerns, she invites Daniel to Fantasy Land, and the two instantly hit it off. But as time passes, Daniel’s feelings grow too strong for Maya, who just wants a life of pleasure. After calling it quits, their lives spiral out of control, sending Daniel into a depression and Maya straight for the bottle. If Daniel doesn’t overcome his survivor’s guilt, he’ll never be able to move on or find happiness. And if Maya doesn’t end her reckless ways, she may never know if Daniel’s feelings were true or just an infatuation.

16+ due to adult situations, sexuality, mass shooting


Her stuff is everywhere. There are three big luggage bags, all opened. Clothes are thrown left and right like she had a meltdown trying to find something to wear. Both bathroom sinks are covered with girl stuff, from tweezers to purple toenail polish to an unopened bag of potato chips. The most interesting item is a vintage-looking Betty Boop jewelry box.

I feel awkward being here all by myself, surrounded by bras and potato chips, so I adjourn to the living room to send her a message.

Kicked123: Hey, where are you? I’m here.

LookingForMyLostSock: nearby

Kicked123: What should I do?

LookingForMyLostSock: take a shower eat and meet me at the dock in a half hour

Kicked123: Okay...

LookingForMyLostSock: also take a dramamine

LookingForMyLostSock: non-drowsy kind next to tv in bedroom

Why would I need a Dramamine? Does she think I’m going to get motion sickness from the rides? Or...?

Kicked123: No boats.

LookingForMyLostSock: u will be fine!

Kicked123: But what should I eat besides potato chips?

Knocking at the door startles me off the couch. It’s room service with a pepperoni pizza. This is getting almost too weird, how everything just magically happens. Maya said she wouldn’t plan anything, but so far, she’s done nothing but plan.

I do as she instructs, but I don’t finish the entire pizza. I’m too nervous to eat that much food. I take a longer-than-usual shower, scrubbing where I don’t often scrub because subconsciously, I’m still thinking about Maya naked. I change into shorts and a T-shirt, all light colors, comb out my hair that feels longer by the second, and stuff my pockets with my wallet, phone, and gum. I chew three pieces as I walk through the hotel, down the elevator, and to the dock.

My heart thumps like I’m about to kick a 50-yard field goal in front of Tom Brady. Worst scenario, Maya is a 50-year-old man. In which case, I would sprint to the nearest airport and fly directly home.

But Maya is easy to find amidst the crowd, even with her back toward me. She stands with one hand on her hip and the other holding a brown slushie-like drink. Jet black hair falls to her waist, slightly curling at the ends. She has on fake elf ears, and I wonder how comfortable they are. Her bottom is covered by a glittery blue T-shirt about two sizes too big, hanging so low that her black shorts only peek out by a millimeter. Her legs are long and athletic, but one looks slightly thinner. It could be how she’s standing or the light reflecting from the sun.

How do I announce my presence? Call out her name? Tap her on the shoulder?

I send her a message instead.

Kicked123: Boo.

Maya checks her phone and then immediately turns around. I’m about thirty feet away, but I doubt I stand out as she does, with the way her hair moves with the wind, landing perfectly across her pale-white shoulders and back. Her midnight eyes scan for my presence as her red lips wrap around her drink straw.

Suddenly, her mouth is open, and she’s flapping her arms like a deranged fairy, spilling her drink everywhere. She tosses it into the nearby trash can, shoves her phone in her pocket, and charges at me.

As a football kicker, I’ve never had to worry too much about being tackled, but it happens occasionally. But by a girl? Never in my life have I been more intimidated.


“You have Aladdin hair!” I exclaim, halting in front of him. He looks terrified, so I immediately step back, even though every bit of me wants to grab him.

He chuckles nervously. “And you have Jasmine hair.”

“I know, right? I should totally dress up like her. You can dress up and be whoever you want here.”

“Great.” He puts his hand out. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

I shake his hand. It’s relatively huge for an average-height guy. Which instantly makes me wonder what else might be relatively huge. “Likewise,” I say. “Do you like the hotel?”

“It’s nice and, uh, glittery.” He’s short for words, which means he’s still nervous. I need to tone it down, so I don’t scare him off.

“Sweet.” I take another step back. “So, are you ready to go to the main park?”

“Is that where we’re going tonight?”

“Unless you want to do something else? You want to hit up the nightclub instead?”

“No, no.” He steps forward this time and smiles. “We can do whatever you want.”

My lips twist to one side. “Oh, don’t tell me that. I’ll take total advantage if you give me that kind of freedom.” I grab him by the elbow but check to make sure he’s not freaked out by the sudden contact. He continues to smile, so I lead him to the fairy boat. He hesitates slightly, but I give his arm a teeny squeeze, and he makes the final step.

“Will this be a long ride?” he asks, veering away from the other passengers.

“Ten minutes. The Dramamine should work. Trust me. I know plenty of people who have motion sickness.”

“I don’t have motion sickness.” He looks down at the little blue waves. “It’s just something about water. It makes me queasy.”

“Don’t look at the water then. Look at this lit view! Breathe it in.” Seriously, how is he not mesmerized? The sky is picture-perfect blue. Hot, sticky air surrounds us. The sweat from his arm penetrates my skin. Though warm, it sends shivers down my spine.

With the slight stubble on his face, Daniel could pass for twenty-one, but he’d have to nix the Aladdin hair. His athletic body shows dedication, hours of gym time, and healthy eating, or maybe just good genes and a bit of luck. I used to have that “athletic” look. The six-pack abs. The shoulders. Now I’m just skin, bones, blood, and alcohol.

“Yeah, this view is pretty lit,” he says, looking right at me.