Katie Sawyer has spent the past three and a half years cultivating the perfect UCLA experience. She has the perfect boyfriend: a football star. She has the perfect social life: she's President of Delta Gamma. But her perfect best friend, Chelsea, just drowned. Worse, the body tumbled out of the closet in Professor Griffin's chem lab.
Katie's fairy-tale façade hides a past she would like to forget, but Chelsea's death brings every old emotion to the surface. If she's going to move on from her hurts, Katie has to pull her not-so-perfect self together and search out the identity of Chelsea’s killer, even if it means turning to Josh Hunter for help. It's not easy. Josh infuriates her. Once upon a time, they were next door neighbors and best friends. They were confidants. They were even teenagers fumbling and exploring each other in the dark. He knew everything about her. He owned her heart. That was before things changed.
Now, secrets are surfacing. Chelsea was seeing someone. And she was pregnant when she died. Katie must come to terms with Chelsea’s other life…and face the fact that she has some secrets of her own. Even if it means letting the past--and Josh Hunter--back into her life.
A college Clueless meets Veronica Mars, Kristin Halbrook's new adult mystery is full of sexy romance and twists that will keep you guessing until the end.
I twirled my pencil and checked the clock, focusing on what students in the class were wearing, what they were doing, who they were looking at. Anything to keep my mind from drifting off into clouded corners of thought.Almost forty minutes had passed and Chelsea hadn’t shown up. I furrowed my brow.
Across the room, Terrell Watson and Murphy Klein flicked wadded balls of paper at each other like they were still in high school, not seniors in college. Science nerds. I stifled the giggle that bubbled up in my throat. Chelsea always called us science nerds. We were the only science majors in DG and that had made us instant BFFs three years ago when we first met. If we could take a class together, we did. We helped each other with everything, but were highly competitive, too. Her grade in this class was slightly higher than mine right now, but I was owning Physical Biochem.
Someday, she and I would take science academia by storm, with our brains and our fashionable redesigned lab coats. Because we were girls who wanted to have it all.
I jotted down some lab notes, then looked up to find Professor Griffin glance anxiously at Chelsea’s usual spot next to me. He and Chelsea had always been kind of flirty. He caught my eye when he noticed me looking at him and looked away quickly. I frowned. It wasn’t like Chels to miss class, and she had been gone from our room before I was awake this morning. Where was she? I pulled my phone into my lap, sneaking glances at Griffin, and turned it on with one hand while writing more notes with my other hand. Once fired up, I sent her a text full of question marks.
Professor Griffin cleared his throat and I thought I was done for. But his planned words were cut off by the slightly muffled sound of a ringtone behind us. The whole class paused and looked up, turning towards the tall cupboards at the back of the room.
I knew that ringtone. That bell sound that made Chelsea stop whatever she was doing to see who was thinking about her at that moment.
But loads of people would have had the same ringtone, surely. My thumb moved lightly over my phone screen. A heavy feeling built in the pit of my stomach. I looked down. Typed Hey woman!and sent it to Chelsea. My ears pricked up.
The ringtone came from the cupboards again.
Had Chelsea come late last night to study and left her phone behind? That would explain why she was missing classes. She always relied on my alarm to get us up in the morning, but if she’d stayed over somewhere else and forgot her phone, she probably overslept.
So why hadn’t she come back here to look for it?
The class was still puzzling over the sound in the closet, but no one moved toward it. Instead, one person after another looked at me, realizing I held my own phone in my palm. I set the phone on the top of my table and rose. Locked eyes with Professor Griffin, whose face was a mixture of curiosity and apprehension. Thought about telling him that I’d check out the sound. Laughing about how Chelsea was always losing something. But I couldn’t get my throat to work properly. My swallow was thick.
The screeching of the legs of my chair against the linoleum floor made me wince. I stood and crossed the few steps to the back of the room, the silence in the room causing a vacuum in my ears, like the retreat of an ocean wave. I couldn’t explain the way my hand shook as I lifted it to the door handle, or the way my heart raced like a manic hummingbird. I tried to shake off the feeling. Just a missing phone. But I bit back a whimper caused by something sinister in the air and opened the closet.
For a split second, the world froze. All was silent. Light filled my vision.
Then, a buzzing started between my ears. My head spun. I took a step backwards to avoid the sickening thud of one hundred and twenty pounds of flesh slamming into the floor.
Within seconds, people leaped out of their seats and toward me. Professor Griffin tried to make his way through the band of students cloistered around the body.
My hands swayed at my sides, feeling weightless, disconnected from the rest of my body, my stomach seemed to exist outside the tiny space allotted it beneath my skin, filling with everything in the room, with a heaviness that threatened to bury me under the thin linoleum floor. I was positive of what I’d seen, yet wasn’t quite sure what was happening, couldn’t believe in the truthfulness of it. I looked to the ground behind me, to the same place everyone else was looking, I could see a swirl of something that I could have sworn looked just like Chelsea’s thick mahogany hair spread out on the floor, even if it was matted in places. I turned without a thought and pushed through my classmates.Reached down to touch that beautiful hair. What was happening here?
“Oh, God,” I heard someone say. Someone with a deep, teachery kind of voice. “Oh, God. Chelsea.”
Chelsea? No. Why would he say her name? She would be here soon enough, making up time, laughing at herself, her slowness, her unusually lagging schedule.
But then Professor Griffin turned the body over and even with the pale, bruised skin I could see who was lying on the floor. Air flew from my lungs. Empty chest. No oxygen. I felt arms around me, tight, pulling me away from my best friend.
“Get back,” I heard. Someone screamed. Then someone else. Spots burst before my eyes, bright spots against a black background. Chelsea? Oh my god. That was her on the ground. Her body and her hair. And her face but it looked so strange and I had never seen her looking so strange before. That’s my best friend on the floor, I told the thick air around me with lips that wouldn’t move and sound that wouldn’t form.
We couldn’t move, like wax figures in a horror museum. But it didn’t last. There was a sound. A loud, high-pitched one. And the newest scream that pierced the eerie silence, I was pretty sure later, when I thought back on this moment, was my own.
When I was little, I wanted to be a writer, the President of the USA or the first female NFL quarterback. Despite being able to throw a wicked spiral, I didn't really grow to the size needed for the NFL. Then, as I got older and studied more, I came to realize there were better ways to effect positive change than becoming president. The first one, however, stuck. Even when I was pursuing other dreams, I always took time to write here and there. NOBODY BUT US will be published by HarperChildren's in 2013.
When I'm not writing or reading (which is what I do all day, in all of my work), I'm spending time with pixies, my Mad Scot soulmate, and one grumpy cocker spaniel; traveling across oceans and time; cooking and baking up a storm and watching sunsets and waves crash on the beach. I currently live, love and explore in The Emerald City, though I occasionally make wispy, dream-like plans to move to New York, Paris or a Scottish castle one day (if just temporarily).