Chapter 6.21


It was great to see Liam having fun. I didn’t think I’d witnessed him smile all week until today. Kissing hot babes every minute did the trick. I knew it would!

He laughed as his latest make out buddy left the scene with pink lips and a broad grin.

Aww and now a cute eleven year old with a dreamy look came up to him.

If I wasn’t so busy, I would have Crapchatted that picture of her giving him a kiss on the cheek. How adorable!

It was like straight out of a Smallmark movie!

Well, I couldn’t blame them for lining up to kiss him. I wished I could get in line, too, but he friendzoned me all week and so I’ve all but given up. At least it looked like he might be getting over the slut from hell. And being friends with my big crush wasn’t that bad. Right? At least we could hang out from time to time.

And then one of MY kissees cleared his throat. “Um…er…like when are my lips gonna touch yours? I paid the two bucks.”

Huh boy. While Liam got babes, I got impatient frogs and guys from my classes (which was totally embarrassing!)


This kissing booth thing was only getting more fun by the minute. The best part about it was making ladies of all ages feel special. One elderly cute lady came up to me, so I joked, “Here I am. Come and get it!”

With a broad grin, she opened her arms and bolted toward me.

Instead of a peck on the cheek, she engulfed me in a hug and laid on one of the biggest smacks I’d had all day.

She made me totally blush! That grandma’s got it going on!

Next was a shrimpy kid, sizing me up like I was a giant gorilla.

“Dude,” I said, hoping to put him at ease. “I don’t discriminate on gender. Do you want a kiss? I don’t bite.”

He put up his hand and said, “Uh…that’s okay. I’m good.”

I guessed he chickened out at the last second?

And then the next girl in line made my stomach twist.


What the fuck was she doing here?

“If you’re wanting to start shit, Mala, I’m not falling for it. So you can just crawl back under the rock you came from.”

Her eyebrows drew in. “I was just coming over to say I’m sorry. I know I didn’t handle things well and…I don’t know…I just didn’t want to hurt you is all. I tried to break things off with Oliver but…”

I put up my hands. “But what? You didn’t have the decency to even answer one of my texts? Did you think by ghosting me, I’d just magically disappear? Well, you got your wish, Mala. I’m totally and completely out of your life!”

She crossed her arms, not getting the hint that I wanted her gone. “Can we talk, Lee Lee? I really think we need to. I can’t have you hating me like this. It’s not fair to either of us.”


Oh my God! The green witch just arrived on her broom and was about to throw down with Liam. I couldn’t believe she had the nerve to show herself here. And right when he was having such a good time, too. Unbelievable!

I had to temporarily take a break and hopefully, be there for Liam if and when she left. “Hey, um…sorry, I’ve got to take a ten minute break. These lips need a rest.”

The guy next in line glared. “But I’ve been waiting forever! Can’t you make an exception?”

He was Arthur Mackerel from my math class. Pretty cute and I would have loved to kiss him, but if I did, the same thing would happen with the next guy and I could overhear Liam getting upset. “How about I make it up to you at school? I’ll give you a real good toe tingler. Okay?”

“Nah…just forget it.”

“I’m serious! I’ve got an emergency right now! I’m sorry!”


In the end, I decided to let her say her peace then walk out of my life for good. “What is it, Mala? Be quick because we’re losing daylight and the booth will close.”

“Like I said before, I’m sorry, Lee Lee. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I must have written a million texts to you, but it just never could say what I wanted to. I can’t explain why I’m so attached to Oliver. But…I just am. And it’s not your fault. Not at all. I just hope you’ll forgive me and maybe we can be friends?”

Friends? Was she fucking kidding me? After two years and talking as if we’d be together forever, she didn’t have the guts to end things like a decent person. Instead, she just went ahead and dated the guy while stringing me along? I couldn’t help it. All the pent up anger over what happened exploded. “Mala, do you realize what I’ve been going through all week? I couldn’t wait to see you after my trip and texted you right away. All you would have had to do was call me, tell me you’ve been cheating. I know because I got a fucking picture of you all over Oliver in a text. You didn’t care about me then and you don’t now. No. I don’t forgive you. And no, we’re not ever going to be friends!”

“But, Lee Lee…I said I was sorry! What else am I supposed to do?”

Ginny grabbed me and said, “Hey…don’t give her your anger, Liam. She’s not worth it. Let’s go.”

Seeing Mala cry did nothing to me. I was still so furious, hurt, and miserable. I was going to leave with Ginny but I had to have the last word. I pointed at her and yelled, “What are you supposed to do? I’ll tell you, Mala. Get the hell away from me and have a nice life with Oliver! You two deserve each other.”

Ginny pushed me and said, “Come on!”

I stalked off and dropped onto a bench. Mala had a way of turning the best day into my worst.

Ginny stepped toward me. “For what it’s worth, at least you got that off your chest. Right?”

I groaned. “Then why do I feel like such a dirtbag? I didn’t want to make her cry.”

“She deserved to feel a little of the pain you’re feeling. It’s only natural to want to strike back.”

I sank into the bench, my face heating up. “Geeze, I didn’t want to do that. I just want everything to go back the way it was. Why am I not good enough for her? That’s what hurts the most, you know?”

Ginny sat next to me and shrugged. “I don’t get it either. I mean…I would never choose Oliver Treadstone over you.”

I sighed. “You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”

“Look, any guy that kisses strangers both young and old with a smile on his face for charity is miles higher in my book than someone like Oliver Treadstone. And if Mala’s too stupid to see what a catch you are, then good riddance.”

I looked down, not sure how to take her compliment. I mean…Ginny was totally hot and I really liked her, but I was in no mood to start anything with anyone at the moment. “Thanks for saying that, Ginny. Makes it not suck as bad.”

“Yeah, break ups stink but all it means is there’s someone better for you out there. Don’t worry. You’ll find her.”

At that moment, I knew she was right but I needed time to get over Mala. If I ever would get over her.

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Chapter 6.20


I kept strumming the same damn song on my guitar. Fuck. Why couldn’t I stop thinking about Mala?

She didn’t deserve one electron in my brain. So what the hell was I pining away for? She was a bitch. Good riddance. I kept telling myself that over and over again.

And then I’d go back in time to when I’d first sang her the song I’d written especially for her. I thought it was brilliant (yeah, right) but she really seemed touched.

Her eyes were captivated and she looked as if she was spellbound. In fact she was speechless. And her beautiful face told me everything she felt from the melody.

Tears pinched the back of my eyes. I’d never get to see that face again. Those eyes that showed love only for me.

When I’d finished the song, she’d jumped into my arms, so overwhelmed that I’d do something that special for her.

God. I was an idiot. A stupid as fuck, dumbass idiot!

Why couldn’t I stop thinking about it? I wanted everything of hers erased. I’d trashed all her love notes, the shirts she bought for me, the golden game controller she gave me as an anniversary gift, her pictures, unfollowed her from every social media outlet on the planet. But there was one thing I couldn’t wipe.

My memory.



Liam didn’t show up yesterday for our archeology club meeting like he said he would. I got stood up. And although he was going through every level of hell right now, he couldn’t get away with that. Not even him.

“Where were you yesterday?” I asked, coming up behind him.

He didn’t even have the decency to turn around and face me. All he did was sigh.

It was hard to see him mope about. He needed a swift kick or he’d sink down a river he wouldn’t want to go. “Listen, Liam. Just because you’re throwing yourself a ginormous pity party doesn’t give you the right to ditch people. Next time, just say you’re not showing or text or call or do something that’s in some way not acting like a total douche.”

He whipped around and said, “Look, I’m sorry, okay? I’ve got a lot on my mind and I forgot. I didn’t mean to not show.”

I threw my hands up. “You know, Liam, excuses are like assholes. Everyone’s got ’em and they all stink. Like why didn’t you answer the 155 texts I’d sent asking where you were?”

He rubbed his head. “I don’t know. I was going to text you but…my phone was downstairs and I was practicing on my guitar and I just…”

My head bobbed hard like it was going to fall off. “Fine so I get it. You just blew me off like I just said you did. Well, if you want to make it up to me you can show up at the Harvest Festival on Saturday. We’re raising money for Deadgrass Isle if you care about that. If not, whatever. You can just have fun drowning in your own misery.”


I didn’t mean to make Ginny so freaking mad at me. I honestly didn’t. It was like I was in a haze with nothing going on around me but my own miserable thoughts.

And I deserved her anger. I did blow her off. After she gave me a tongue lashing, she stomped off, making me feel two feet tall.

Then I got an eyeful of my misery right in front of me.

God…couldn’t they do that in private? It was like Mala was trying to hurt me, shoving her new relationship in my face.

Ginny was right. I was drowning in my own misery. And Mala was winning. She hurt me every chance she got. Why was I allowing her to do this to me?

So on Saturday, I showed up early. “I’m here, okay? You can stop giving me those angry eyebrows now.”

“Okay, you’re officially forgiven. And I’ve got a surprise for you that I think you’re going to like. Just the thing to take your mind off your troubles.”

“What is it?” I asked. Her face looked like she was a leprechaun hiding a bag of gold.

She pulled me over to the side of the festival and my stomach dropped. “No the fuck way, Ginny.”

“But Liam, it’ll be fun! Think of all the babes you’ll meet.”

In front of us sat two kissing booths. Was she crazy?

I put my hands in my pockets. The autumn wind just got chillier. “I’m not going to kiss a bunch of strangers. Sorry. You’ll have to get someone else.”

“Oh come on. I’m doing it, too. It’s for charity! And besides, you owe me. So pull up your underroos and put on some chapstick. It’s time to do some first class smooching.”

In the end, Ginny was right. It was a lot of fun! I did get to meet a ton of babes. And I got to kiss them, too! By midday, I was really getting into my role. “Step right up, ladies,” I said, arching an eyebrow. “No need to fight over me. As long as you got the money, I’ll dole out the love.”

I winked for added effect. Usually, they’d shyly blush and laugh at my jokes.

This set of girls were over the top pretty, too. They must have gone to a different high school. I didn’t recognize them.

“Go ahead, Emma, he’s cute!”

“Emma? That’s a pretty name,” I said, trying to put her at ease. When she wouldn’t move, I added, “Come here. I promise I’ll be gentle.”

Her face turned a nice shade of pink as her friend pushed her toward me.

Not gonna lie, she was an amazing kisser. Since this was just for grins, I only gave quick ones, but I lingered just a bit with her.

Ginny should have been a fortune teller because she could predict the future.

This was just the thing I needed to take my mind off Mala.

Chapter 6.19


After I said goodnight to my grandfathers, I took a shower and got dressed for bed. I couldn’t wait to text Mala. She’d told me not to worry about calling or texting her while I was in Del Sol Valley–she just wanted me to enjoy myself. I’d actually hovered my finger over the Spacetime app about a thousand times, and actually did tap it a few times, but she didn’t pick up. That wasn’t strange since I figured she was at the beach with her friends and not on her phone.

I sank into some pillows and texted her.

Since it wasn’t too late, I knew she’d be messing around on her phone. But she didn’t text me back right away. Maybe she was watching a movie?

So, I sent another one just in case.

But she didn’t respond. Well, I figured she must have had a tiring weekend and went to bed early. I’d see her in the morning at school anyway.

I messed around on some websites, played a few games, but really didn’t want to go to sleep yet. So, I texted my best friend, Drew.

What popped onto my phone made me want to puke.

Mala was with Oliver Fucking Treadstone? Again? God, how stupid could I get?

I literally felt my insides turn over.

Drew tried to make me feel better, telling me she was the loser and a whore and all sorts of awful things I would never call her. But none of that did anything but make me feel worse.

I was the loser. She didn’t even have the decency to break up to my face. She just ghosted me, hoping I’d go away like some worthless piece of shit.

I couldn’t stop looking at that picture. Drew told me his girlfriend, Justine, was out with her friends at a coffee shop and found them together. This was a small town. Mala knew I’d find out. But she didn’t care. Oliver Treadstone was a well known manwhore. What the fuck? Why did she want him over me? If she’d taken brass knuckles and punched me in the face, it wouldn’t hurt as much as this.

When I caught her the last time, I should have told her to fuck off. But I didn’t.

Why didn’t I get angry, punch that asshole in the face, and tell her to go die in a hole?

And why didn’t she just leave me alone? Why cry and tell me she wanted to get back together?

Unless she hated me so much that she just had to make the pain of not wanting me hurt even worse.

God, my life sucked.



Uh oh. Shit just hit the fan. I didn’t think my picture would get back to Liam at light speed.

But Justine did say Drew would tell Liam asap. And I thought I’d revel in the idea of them breaking up. But…

Looking at his sad face was like I’d been kicked in the heart by a pile of abandoned kittens.

I hated Mala even more for it. How could she hurt him like that? And I felt like I had a hand in it, too. I was the worst.

For once, my mouth didn’t ramble on and on when I sat next to him. It was like a cloud had descended over us. I wanted to fix it since I basically pulled the rug out from under him. He could have been happy in his little fantasy world. I’d bet Mala would have strung both him and Oliver on for months. Here I thought I was doing him a favor, but…I should have minded my own business like Destiny warned me.

But what good would that have done? He would have found out sooner or later. It was best he learned about it and moved on. But he didn’t look like he was moving on any time soon.

“Hey, Liam…the archaeology club is meeting tomorrow. After school in the library.”

He just sighed and nodded.

Poor guy! I wanted to trip Mala when she walked past my chair. I turned and glared at her but she didn’t look up from her work.

“It should be fun,” I added. “We’re going to raise money for the revamping of Deadgrass Isle and start an excavation around Deadgrass Discoveries. People claim there was a shipwreck there before they put up the lighthouse. We’re probably going to find some cool artifacts that the museum will display.”

But Liam only nodded again. He was so out of it.


I’d been in a haze all day. I didn’t want to feel like this. It hurt worse this time than when I’d caught Mala red handed with that fuck.

I mean, it was like she plunged a knife in me, knowing what she was doing this time, and twisted to make sure it hurt.

I didn’t feel like going home after school either. My grandfathers were way too smart and would want to talk about why I was being so quiet. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone. Not even Drew. I saw him heading toward my locker. I knew he’d do all sorts of stuff to get my mind off things, but today, I just wanted to wallow. I was owed that, wasn’t I?

As I walked toward the beach near my house, the clouds grew dark and cold rain started pelting me. “Oh, thanks, God. Way to make me feel better.” It was like the whole world was out to get me.

I wanted to get out of this nightmare. Anger, sadness, helplessness roiled inside, making me miserable. And I knew I shouldn’t be feeling like this. She wasn’t worth it. Everyone said so, but…

She’d been my world for over two years. I’d made plans. We’d made plans. Together. I’d pictured our lives with each other. We even talked about how many kids we’d have. She’d buy a boutique in downtown Brindleton Bay and I’d help her manage it while making sure our kids were taken care of, fed, and everything was fine at home. I was good at that.

At that moment, I really missed my family. Brandy’s cute face. Zack’s smartass comments. Mom’s wise words. Dad’s hugs.

As the foghorn blasted and the salty sea air wafted over me, I knew it was over forever. Mala and I would never be together again.

I was all alone.

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Chapter 6.18

Ages of characters: Liam–16, Zack (his brother)–11, Brandy–5, August & Beau, Briar: 61, Lexie, James: 43


My friends sidled up to me, Rosalin taking my hand.

“See what the cat brought me, guys?” I asked. “Two rats.”

“Oh good God,” Destiny said. “Does she have no shame?”

Suddenly, the two love birds shouted at each other and both were on their feet.

“Mala, please don’t go. I’m sorry,” the douchebag yelled.

My friends crowded around behind me.

“Guys,” I whispered. “They can’t see us–their backs are facing us.”

I couldn’t hear a word they said. Dammit! But Mala was blasting a finger in Oliver’s chest.

Then he spit something back at her. If only I had a microphone on them. I wanted to hear every juicy detail.

Then Mala pushed him away, like she was breaking it off. NO! This skank was not about to get rid of her adulterous lover. Was she doing this to be with Liam?

But then the heaven’s parted and God literally shone all his glory onto them. (Seriously, the sky grew the most beautiful shade of pink.)

Oliver was about to kiss Mala!

My girlfriends started squealing behind me as Mala and Oliver’s lips met. So, I did the only thing someone could do in this situation.

I got out my phone and snapped.

Destiny hissed, “What the hell do you think you’re doing, Ginny?”

I put my fingers over her mouth. “It’s called fate, Des. And if Liam won’t believe what a skanky ho his girlfriend is, I might have to show him.”

“You know he could get mad at you for not minding your own business.”

Des was always a worry wart.

“Oh, God. Poor Liam,” Justine said. “When I let Drew in on this…he’ll definitely tell Liam.”

“I hope he kicks her to the curb,” Rosalin mused behind me.

“Hey, guys, let’s go!” Ally whispered. “I don’t want to get caught.”

But I wasn’t moving a muscle until I got the full blown goods on a thot that needed bringing down.


I told Mom and Dad about my decision to stay in Brindleton Bay. They were totally cool with it and said Grandpa and Granddad would meet me at home. I had school the following day, so I needed to book it if I wanted to get back at a decent hour.

When the time came for me to leave, I had a hard time saying good bye. Especially to my siblings. We like hadn’t been apart ever in our whole lives. In fact, I was with them way more than either of my parents had been. Little Brandy didn’t really understand what was happening either. I bent down and took her tiny hand. “Hey, baby girl, you be good for Mom and Dad, okay?”

“I will, Lee Lee.” I was going to miss her sweet smiles and dimples.

“Your limosine is here, sir,” Marcus said, waving me to hurry up.

Both Zack and Brandy rushed over, giving me hugs.

I was shocked Zack was taking it this hard. “I’m going to…miss you,” he said into my shoulder.

Then Brandy’s lip quivered. “Don’t go, Lee Lee!”

“Hey…I’ll be back in a few weeks. Don’t worry.” Squeezing them, I whispered, “I love you guys.”


The plane ride was freaking long and I took a Suber home. When I walked in, I was blasted with my grandparents kissing.

I smiled. I guessed even old folks still got it on?

Clearing my throat, I called out, “Hey, Grandpa and Grandad! I’m home.”

They both shot up and ran over to me. “You’ve grown a foot since the last time I saw you, Liam!” Granddad slapped my back. I guessed I had grown a lot. I was almost as tall as he was.

Grandpa enveloped me in a squishy hug. “You’re looking good, kiddo. So happy to see you.”

“Me, too, Grandpa.”

I sat down to chat.

“So…how’s Del Sol Valley?” Granddad asked.

“It’s amazing. No joke, my folks’ place has a pool the size of the whole town of Brindleton Bay.”

Granddad laughed. “Well, your grandpa and I are here for you, Liam. If you need anything from us, don’t hesitate to ask.”

“And let me know your favorite dishes, too, Liam,” Grandpa added. “I’ll have it ready whenever you want to eat supper.”

Did I just die and go to heaven? They didn’t know I was the one who usually cooked around here and it was mostly mac and cheese and nachos. “Thanks, Grandpa. Sounds awesome. And thanks for staying with me like this. I know it must be an inconvenience.”

“Are you kidding?” Granddad said. “Us old guys live for this stuff. What else have we got to do? Next weekend, we’ll show you around some places we used to go when your mom was little.”

“Awesome, Granddad. Sounds fun.” This already turned out to be the best decision I’d ever made. For once, someone was going to take care of me for a change.

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Chapter 6.17


Not going to lie but the mansion was so extra I could hardly stand it. The pool was bigger than any public pool I’d been to–including the Super Swirly Water Slide park. I held tightly onto Brandy. She’d been learning how to swim back home but it still made me nervous.

“Let’s splash, Lee Lee!” Brandy said in her cute little voice.

Mom and Dad were soaking up the West Coast rays. It was way hotter in the fall here than back home.

“You two better watch out,” Zack said, running toward the diving boards. “Cannonball is about to rock your world.”

I wrapped my arm around Brandy. “He can’t get us, can he, Brandy?”

“Nope!” She giggled.

I splashed into the cool water. “Come to me, baby girl.”

“I can do it by myself, Lee Lee.”

“I know you can, but I want to play helicopter.”

Zack tried to splash us with his cannonball, but the pool was so big, it barely made ripples.

I twirled her around and around with the warm wind floating over us.

“Wee!” she cried, kicking her feet with glee.

After I’d whipped her through the water a dozen times, I started to get dizzy and my arms were wearing out. “Okay…that’s enough.”

“Again, Lee Lee!”

Brandy would love it if I’d never stop playing a game. “But my arms are noodles. Let’s do something else.”

Luckily, Zack came to my rescue. “Hey, guys! I’m going to take a picture! Could you pose?”

I pulled Brandy out of the water. She loved to strike a pose. I told mom I thought she’d be a natural model. But Mom was opposed to doing anything like that. She hated what the limelight did to her back in the day. And child stars, actors, and models wasn’t a way to raise a kid.

“Good one, guys!” Zack beamed. He loved taking pictures of everyone and everything. He had a ton of simstagram followers already. I wondered what was going to happen when people found out he was James Sanderson’s son. Were our lives going to really change?

A part of me didn’t want the fame–just like it freaked Mom out–I understood. And even though I had a blast in this mansion full of everything any of us could want, I really missed Mala, our home back in Brindleton Bay, the beach, the cool breezy coastline…I only had two years left of high school. It wouldn’t be that much time away. And I’d come back to my family as much as possible. Dad could afford flying me out at least once a month on the weekends.

And Zack and Brandy had each other to keep company. Zack was a great kid who loved Brandy and he was good at watching over her. He looked so silly wearing her hat and playing around today. And she adored him.

Yeah. It’d be good for Mom and Dad, too, not to rely on me so much. I decided right there that I had to go back.


While Brandy was taking a nap, I spent some time in Zack’s room. We were messing around with Crapchat filters. “There,” I said. “Is that a good enough picture? You look like a goofy frog.”

Zack sighed. “Hey, cut it out. I want a normal one. To remember you by.”

I put my phone away and we both got on our stomachs. “Hey…I won’t be gone that long. You’ll see me every month. And with school, time will fly.”

He shrugged. “I know, but it’s not fair. I don’t want to move here either. Why can’t I stay with Grandpa and Granddad, too?”

I told him he needed to watch over Brandy. She’d be sad if both of us left. He got it when I put it like that. It did kind of suck. I felt like a huge jerk, abandoning my family. Was I being too selfish? I didn’t know. I had so many mixed emotions, I didn’t know what to do.



Today was a super fine time with my gal pals. Destiny had a debutante thingamajiggie to go to and we were honor bound to help her pick out something that was fancy but not TOO fancy. I didn’t get that whole upperclass world. I was toted around the globe like a beat up suitcase (not complaining here–I miss traveling and have ITCHY feet real BAD!) In my family, dumpster diving was a delicacy as well as an art form. But Destiny had been raised with a Brindleton Bay silver doodad in her mouth. And although she had money, she was for reals and didn’t really like all the hoopla her mom made her do.

“I think I found IT!” she cried as we entered Vintage Violet’s Boutique. God, I hoped so. We’d been in no less than ten shops, and I was DYING for a chocolatte with soy whip and a comfy seat, preferably with my shoes OFF.

I had no clue what she was swooning over though. Everything in there looked as if it was from the renaissance period.

“I think I’m in love,” Destiny said in a sultry voice. “Wait on me, kittens. I’m going to try it on.”

I laughed. Destiny was the only person I knew who could get all worked up over finding the right sandals or trying on a pair of swanky sunglasses.

After she came out of the dressing room, she asked, “What do you think? Does it make me look fat, guys?”

“Oh my God. Do you want me to bitch slap you, Des?” I asked. “You look like royalty. Buy it and let’s go.”

“Are you sure?” she asked.

Destiny was a notoriously slow shopper. If I didn’t snap my fingers, tap my toes, and huff, she’d make us stay in that place all night.

“Des…you’re kidding me, right?” Maybe my death glare would send a message.

“I think it looks great,” Justine said. “Right guys?” Her approach was a little more subtle.

“Are you sure sure?” Destiny asked again.

Was it illegal if I put a noose around her neck and pulled her out of the store?

Rosalin swooped in like Wonder Woman. “Honestly, Des, it’s the most beautiful, stunning piece of art I’ve ever seen on you. The emerald color brings out your eyes and hair. Seriously. I wouldn’t lie.”

Destiny laughed. “I know, right? That’s what I was saying all along!”

After she paid a criminal price for that outfit, we beelined it to the coffee shop. But then I saw something that made my jaw drop, stomach plunge, and head swoon all at the same time. “I cannot believe my eyes.” I pulled my hair just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

There in broad daylight was that ho-slash-skank making swoony eyes at none other than Oliver Treadstone.

“What is it?” Destiny asked, coming up behind me.

“Just a little karma,” I said. “And it’s got bitch written all over it.”

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Chapter 6.16


When I got to math class, Ginny Malcolm was sitting in Mala’s seat for some reason.

And top that off with some weird telepathic exchange those two gave each other, Mala left me there with her. Wtf?

Girls. Who could figure them out?

I decided to ignore whatever was going on with them. I’d just do my work and ask Mala about it later.

After I’d finished, Ginny said with a strange look on her face, “Hey, Liam. I was thinking about starting an archeology club. Want to join?”

Whoa. That totally came out of nowhere. But I was curious. “What’s an archeology club?”

She went on to explain that her parents were archeologists (I remembered her mentioning that before). They do excavations and find cool stuff–artifacts that no one else had discovered. Archeologists study ancient civilizations. Honestly, I’d never really knew what an archeologist was other than what I saw in movies. I actually thought they studied dinosaurs but that’s a paleontologist (Ginny was quick to point out).

“Okay…that sounds really cool. Let me know when the meetings are and I’ll come.” This archaeology thing was so interesting. I actually wanted to meet her parents one day. They were like real live Simdiana Jones’ types.


I didn’t get a chance to talk to Mala though. It seemed like she was avoiding me all day. When I texted her about it, she said she had a headache and went home early. I guessed she was still sick?

I was going to chalk today up to one of those shitty days where nothing majorly exciting happened but when I entered my driveway, my family was waiting there for me.

My sister, Brandy, grinned like she was holding a first class ribbon from her preschool. “Lee Lee, we got you something.”

“What’s up with everyone?” I asked. “Why are you all staring at me weirdly?”

My brother pointed. “You, bro, are the proud owner of this incredibly super cool, 180 horse power, turbo charged Jeep.”

My brain caught up with my eyes. “You’re shitting me.” I gulped.

What was going on? I was supposed to buy an old jeep with the money I saved up but they were so expensive, I knew I’d never be able to afford one.

“It’s yours, Liam,” Mom said. “You deserve it.”

Dad added, “And besides, we’re tired of toting your ass around everywhere.”

I picked up Brandy, wanting to leap around.

“You like it, Lee Lee?” she asked.

My little sister was so freaking sweet. “Yeah, baby girl. It’s amazing.”

I felt like I was living in a dream state.

Turned out, my folks were buttering me up for the bomb they were about to drop on me.

We were moving to Del Sol Valley. Dad actually took the Robotron part and Mom was totally on board with the whole thing. But she assured me I didn’t have to move with them. It was my choice. She hated the fact that she was torn away from her high school, and she wasn’t about to do that to me. She’d already talked with Grandpa and Granddad–since Granddad retired from the FBI, they said they’d stay with me until I finished high school.

I was so conflicted. I didn’t want to move away from Brindleton Bay. But then I didn’t want to be away from my family either. It was going to be tough on me to figure out what to do.

The following weekend, we took a trip to Del Sol Valley. Dad’s production company, Plumbob Pictures, owned this ridiculous mansion in the hills, away from paparazzi. It was gated with manned security. Already the media was buzzing about my dad being the next big screen superstar.

When the company’s limo dropped us off, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“Holy shit!” I cried. I couldn’t help it. “We’re going to stay there?”

“More than just stay here, Liam,” Dad said. “Plumbob Pictures said we could live here until we built our own house.”

Mom sighed. “Don’t you think it’s a little…extreme?”

Extreme? It freaking rocked. It was like we were royalty or something.

The place even came with its own staff, including a butler.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Sanderson,” the butler said, shaking Dad’s hand. “Welcome to Pinnacles Palace. I am Marcus Weatherby. I’ll be at your service during your stay.”

“Hi, Marcus. You can call me James. Glad to be here.”

The butler’s face drew up like Dad spoke heresy. “Oh, no, Mr. Sanderson. I would never dare to call you by your first name. Come…let me show you around.”

Mom made a groaning sound as we entered. I had to admit. The place was a little on the hoity toidy side for us. I grew up in a normal house in a small town. Was everything going to change now that Dad was set to be a big movie star?

“This is the bar area where you may entertain guests,” Marcus said.

He drew open the drapes. “The view here is second to none. And that is a state of the art olympic sized pool where you can relax or get some exercise swimming laps.”

I spied a ginormous pool that looked as if it was surrounded by pure gold.

“What do you think, babydoll?” Dad’s voice was crazy excited.

Mom winced. “I don’t see how the kids will feel comfortable here. It’s made of marble and gold and the decorations look like they’d break if we even looked at them.”

The butler bowed. “Oh, your children should be most comfortable. The boys’ rooms are set upstairs and your daughter’s room is next to this one. Please, madame, allow me to show you to your daughter’s quarters at once.”

“See, babydoll, they have rooms set up for the kids. I told you they’d think of everything.”

One of the paintings over the fireplace I’d recognized from one of my history books. “Damn. I think I could get used to living like this, Mom.”

“Can I order an ice cream fudge sundae, Marcus?” Zack asked, sitting at the bar.

“I can arrange for that.” He lifted his hand. “Your daughter’s room is…this way.”

Mom gave Dad a look, but he just smiled and said, “Brandy’s room is this way.”

As I entered, it looked bigger than my room at home. And it was filled with tons of toys–things Brandy would like.

The butler walked in. “If you are wanting anything else for Miss Brandy, please tell me and we’ll get it as soon as possible.”

Mom looked around the room. I couldn’t tell if she liked it or not. I mean, what would be the problem except maybe her room door was a bit too big and made of gold and the walls glittered with expensive tapestry. Kind of over the top like the rest of the place.

“I do hope this meets with your approval, Mrs. Sanderson.”

Dad rubbed Mom’s arm. “What do you think, babydoll? Can we stay?”

Mom stared into Dad’s eyes and nodded.

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Chapter 6.15


I loved seeing James home and playing with the kids. It was a daily event now.

“Time for breakfast! Zack, I have your sack lunch ready to take to school.”

“Aw, Mom!” my husband whined. “Zack’s playing with us. Right, Brandy?”

“Right, Daddy.”

I chuckled and marched them all to the kitchen.


While the kids were at school and Brandy was in daycare, I noticed James would hole up with his music, writing songs. He was such a creative person. So talented. But the music industry didn’t want what he produced anymore.

Even though what I heard brought tears to my eyes.

It was like I was seeing my husband die right in front of me.

And it crushed me. I felt trapped, not knowing what to do.

The weight of it seemed too much as a heavy feeling threatened to devour me. My head ached. God. Life wasn’t supposed to be like this, was it?

“Baby doll, why are you up?” James asked.

Shit. I thought he was asleep.

His warm body covered me as he came up behind. “Come back to sleep, sweetheart.”

But I couldn’t pretend. My feelings were so messed up. What the fuck was I going to do?

Warm kisses peppered my neck. God, he knew exactly how to make me feel better. “James…I’m not in the mood.”

Caressing me, he said, “Really? That’s not what your body is saying.”

And then I gave in like I always did.

It didn’t matter how many years we were married, he always knew how to make me swoon.

In the morning, I decided what I needed to do to fix things. I had been so ridiculously selfish. Of course, I had been. I was a selfish creature at heart. Would it really kill me to move? And we’d survive the paparazzi. Shit. I was the queen of dodging them in my early years. And so what if I had to use bodyguards? We weren’t strangers to fame. I could handle it. And so could our kids. I was so over making James’ dreams die. It was time for a change.

As the sun peeked through the dark clouds out our bedroom window, I stroked James’ soft beard.

“Good morning, baby doll,” James said, sleepily, rubbing my shoulders. “Last night was amazing.”

I giggled then stared at my wonderful husband. “I’ve been thinking, baby. What if we moved to Del Sol Valley and you took that acting job? Wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to be married to Robotron. Last I checked, he was my favorite superhero.”

Eyes popping, he said, “Really? Are you kidding me right now, Lexie?”

Cradling his face in my palm, I said, “I haven’t been more sure of anything in my life. I’m so proud of you. I think you’d make the best Robotron in the history of Sarvel comics. I’m damned serious. Sorry I didn’t come to that conclusion sooner.” Threading my fingers through his hair, I asked, “It’s not too late, is it?”

Swallowing, he shook his head. “No…God, no…my agent actually called me yesterday, trying to convince me to change my mind.” He grabbed my arm. “Are you sure, babydoll? I’m fine with not taking it.”

I stroked his face. “I’m sure. I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I can’t handle knowing someone else will be on that big screen instead of you for my alltime favorite superhero.”

“Oh, God, Lexie! I can’t believe it! I love you so much!” The relief in his voice sent tingles through me.

“I love you, too, James.”

We lost ourselves in each other as storm clouds erupted over the surf. How I adored making love to a symphony of lightning and thunder.



I couldn’t believe I was staring at my math class’ door, wondering what to do.

That THOT was at it again and poor Liam didn’t have a clue. I’d heard from my bff Destiny who’d heard it from her friend, Sandra, who’d heard it from her brother, Chad, who was Oliver Treadstone’s best bud, that Mala wasn’t sick while I was having a super fun time with her boyfriend this past weekend. No. She was doing it all morning like the ho she was and Oliver told all his buddies about his thrilling time. Super classy. Am I right?

When I entered the room, everyone was already working on the assignment that was on the board. But neither Liam nor Mala had come in yet. The tardy bell was about to ring, so I acted fast.

I grabbed Mala’s seat. She wasn’t ever going to sit next to him again. I didn’t care what kind of scene she pulled. She was guilty and I’d make her know what I knew. Mark my words.

Taking out my assignment book, I steeled myself for an all out war. Of course, Liam wouldn’t be happy, but I had to save him from that lying, cheating bitch. How I was going to go about it, I had no clue, but this was stage one in Liam Sanderson-Day Salvation Siege. I just hoped I’d survive the fallout.

But planning a thing and doing a thing were two different things. When Liam arrived, he shot me a puzzled look and I flinched.

“You think it might rain today?” I asked nervously. Distraction tactics usually worked in movies. Right?

“Hey, Ginny,” Liam said, as he sat down. “Mala is about to come in. Don’t you think you should sit in your own seat?”

Aw…what a nice boyfriend. Too bad he didn’t know her like I did.

Then in walked the guilty party.

It was like I’d sent telepathic messages to her and she’d heard me loud and clear.

“Ginny. You’re in my seat.” She didn’t say it very convincingly.

I stared her down. “Yeah? So?”

Liam swooped in like the knight in shining armor he was. “Like I said, Ginny, that’s Mala’s seat. I’m sorry…but maybe you could sit here another time?”

Walking away, Mala said, “Don’t worry about it, Lee Lee, I like sitting in the back.”

I hated the hurt look he gave as she went to my old desk.

The awkwardness was soooo thick, I was about to be crushed. What the hell was I doing? At this rate, not only would Liam not know the horrific things Mala had done, but he’d hate me to boot. God, I had to think of something and fast.

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Chapter 6.14

Warning: NSFW, sexual situations


We all took a ton of simstagram pictures (although none of them did the place justice.) I wished Mala could have been here to see this. I knew she’d really like it. Her favorite color was magenta.

Todd wrapped his arm around his girlfriend. “Hey guys. It’s been fun but we’ve got to go.”

Melina just giggled, so I figured they wanted a little alone time in the cool cave.

Watching them, I was pining away for Mala. It was such a romantic spot. Maybe I’d take her later on. Surprise her with a picnic.

Ginny’s voice brought me back to the present. “It’s early. Want to go somewhere else that’s fun?”

Not thinking, I said, “Yeah. Sure.” I had nowhere else to go at the moment.

Ginny took me to an old water tower in the middle of nowhere. Oasis Springs was just full of rocks, sand, and tumbleweeds. Maybe there was another cave lurking underground I didn’t know about?

“Where’s the trail?” I asked.

“No trail. We’re climbing. Remember?”

There was a huge rock but no hand holds that I could see. Then it hit me.

I groaned. “You don’t mean…”

“The water tower? Yeah. We’ll be able to see the whole town from up there! You’ll love it.”

I really didn’t want to explain my fear of ladders. Rock climbing was one thing. What we did at the cave was easy. But ladders gave me the feeling I could fall off of them at any second. And the wind was crazy when you went up a few stories.

My stomach knotted.

“Don’t tell me with your muscles, you’re worried about being able to climb it.”

I laughed. That wasn’t exactly it. I had to conquer a fear. But that was hard to confess.

And this freaky water tower had the most evil, scary looking ladder I’d ever seen.

But I couldn’t wimp out on her. If she wanted to climb it, I’d force myself to not look down or worry or do any of those weird things I normally did when faced with ladders. “No, I’m fine. Let’s do this.”

I was wondering if Ginny was a magician because before I knew it, she was on the ladder looking at me wondering what was taking me so long.

“Come on, Liam. It’s easy!” The gap in her tooth seemed to wink at me. She was really freaking cute. And crazy brave.

I tried to swallow down the willies I was getting by playing it off. “Who are you calling afraid? I’m just waiting for you to climb a little higher is all.”

When I didn’t move, she reached out and said, “Come on, Mr. Brave, I’ll give you a little help.”

I said about a million prayers as we ascended the ladder. It shook with the wind and squeaked all the way up, terrifying me. I was shaking so badly, I didn’t even care if Ginny knew.

“Isn’t this amazing, Liam? It’s like we’re on top of the world!”

I swallowed, trying to calm down. “Yeah. Cool. H-How did you find this place?”

Shrugging, she said, “My parents used to take me when I was twelve, but now they’re too busy with work and stuff. They’re archeologists, doing an excavation at the moment and really don’t have time to go on picnics like we used to do. So, I take my friends. Glad you came along.”

She poked my shoulder and smirked. “Why do I get the feeling you’re about to throw up? Just lean over the side. Might be fun to watch puke fall.”

That made me laugh. “You’re something else, Ginny. Don’t worry. I’m not going to puke.”

And when I got a hold of my nerves, I was blown away by the beauty of the desert. She was right. It was like we were on top of the whole world.


Ginny and I had a lot of fun but I couldn’t wait to see Mala. I’d felt so bad for her being stuck in her bed sick. I knocked on her door and she said for me to come in. She was laid out with her hands over her stomach.

I tried to smile to hide my worried feelings. Did her stomach hurt her? “Hey, Mala. I brought you something.”

When she didn’t budge, I sat next to her. “Hey,” I whispered. “If you don’t feel good, I’ll come back later.”

Looking at the flowers, instead of smiling, she just stared. “Oh, Lee Lee, you shouldn’t have gotten me these.”

I could see the circles under her eyes. “But you love roses. I was hoping they’d brighten your day.” It was weird. She wasn’t acting herself. “What’s wrong? I mean, is there something else bothering you?”



Why did Liam have to be so sweet? I’d wanted to break up months ago, but every time I tried, he’d do something incredibly charming and I just…couldn’t. He was way too good for me. I couldn’t think of one thing he’d ever done wrong. Seriously. Who was so perfect like that? He’d always think about me above everyone else (except for his family). And that, too, was so infuriatingly nice.

When I’d gotten mad at him for helping out his mom, he should have broken up with me. I was being such a bitch!

But he didn’t. He’d never want to hurt me. So I had to hurt him.

And when I came to his house for that party, I was determined to stay cold. To not feel badly for breaking up with him. But…I saw him in the pool and jealous feelings welled up at the sight of him laughing with that ugly Ginny Malcom. I couldn’t help myself. I knew I still loved him. I’d always love him.

But I wasn’t good enough for him. He’d deserved better.

I bit my lip, forcing myself to be strong.

Oliver and I just couldn’t get enough of each other. I was going to go on that hike with Liam. Honest. I’d had every intention. But that morning, Oliver showed up with my favorite latte and breakfast croissant and I just…

Oliver knew how to make me zing inside. I’d never felt like that before. EVER! And Oliver was just playing around. I knew that. He was nothing like Liam. In fact, his reputation had bad boy written all over him, but…I just caved.

When I didn’t say anything, Liam got the hint. He wasn’t stupid. Watching him leave broke my heart. I couldn’t take it. What was I doing? He was the best guy I’d ever met. My first true love. Why was I going to throw him away for some random guy?

“No, wait, Liam!” I shouted. He stopped, sighing into his hand.

“I’m sorry I didn’t say anything…I was just so surprised and a little sleepy. I do love these very much! Thank you!”

The hopeful look in his eyes made me determined to do better.

“You do?” he whispered.

“Yes, of course I do. Now come here so I can thank you properly.”

He bolted to me, scooping me up. “I love you, Mala.”

He cradled me, stroking my face, telling me to relax, that he’d stay until I fell asleep. He promised to bring me chicken soup for supper and that I didn’t have to worry about anything. He’d already coordinated with Mom about it over the phone since Mom and Dad were at a convention this weekend. Omg…he was just amazing.

In the end, we both fell asleep. I decided I’d break things off with Oliver once and for all.

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Chapter 6.13


When Ginny Malcom asked me to go rock climbing, my first instinct was to say, hell yeah! But Mala was already steaming from Ginny taking her seat and I knew she wouldn’t like me hanging out with her. “Um…well, I probably shouldn’t.”

She cocked her head. “Worried about your wifey?”

I smiled, sheepishly. “Yeah.”

“Bring her along!”

“Really?” I asked, incredulous.

“Really. It’d be fun. My other friends, Melina Hays and Todd Monteira are already coming. The more the merrier! Meet me at Oasis Springs Park at 7:30 in the morning on Saturday. Okay?”

Just then the bell rang, so I said, “Hey, I don’t have your number. What if I can’t make it.”

She smiled impishly. “Show up. Then I’ll give you my number.”

Off she trotted out the door, shiny auburn hair bouncing.

Mala was mad for some reason so she wouldn’t speak to me as she walked toward her next class. But then I noticed she’d left her cell phone. I wondered how she ever survived without me on a daily basis.

Catching up to her after school, I said, “Hey…wait up. You left this.” I showed her the phone.

She took it, placing it in her pocket. “Thanks, Lee Lee. I was looking all over for it.”

Trying to look into her eyes, I asked, “Are you mad at me? You know I had nothing to do with Ginny taking your seat this morning.”

She lifted an eyebrow. “Did you have to talk to her so much? I mean…what did you have to say anyway?”

I shrugged. “She wanted to know if we’d like to go rock climbing with her and her friends on Saturday. Sounds fun.” I knew Mala probably would say no but it was worth a try.

She hesitated for a second looking away then sighed and smiled. “Oh…okay. What time and where?”

I kissed her cheek. Wow. Thought I’d have to talk her into it.

We made plans to meet up at the park a little early. I thought it was strange Mala didn’t want me to pick her up. I sat on a bench waiting, but after a while, it was apparent she wasn’t going to show.

The sun grew hotter as it rose over the rocks. “What the hell?” I whispered to myself.

I punched her number, waiting for her to pick up.

“Mala, where are you?” I said after she answered.

“Oh…God. Sorry. Um…uh…I really don’t feel very well, Lee Lee. I must have slept through my alarm.”

I didn’t like how her voice sounded guilty as hell. “Okay…well, you want me to come by then? Make you feel better.”

Mala yelled, “NO! I mean…no, that’s okay. Liam, you have fun. It’s not fair to make you miss out since I can’t be there.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure. Have fun.”

“Okay,” I said. “I love you.”

Just then Ginny ran up in front of me. “Are you ready, Liam? Where’s Mala?”

“She’s sick. Look, Ginny, I don’t think I can go. Mala needs me. I think I’ll bring her chicken soup or something. It sucks being sick when your boyfriend is out having fun.”

“But you can’t leave now. You just got here.”

Ginny pointed then shaded her eyes. “And besides. Just take a look at that sun. It’s almost at the sweet spot. You’re going to love the cave we’re going to explore. It won’t take long. She’ll probably want to sleep in anyway and you can bring her lunch. Sound like a deal?”


I should have known Mala would pull some shit on Liam. When he’d told me she agreed to come along, I honestly couldn’t believe it. She just didn’t seem like the outdoorsy type. And she was conveniently sick all of a sudden? Yeah right. But I was happy she couldn’t make it. I could just imagine her wriggling and freaking out over a spider or a worm or wobbling on a rock and Liam having to save her all the time–that would totally annoy.

“So, yeah, it’s going to be sweet. You’ll be upset you missed it,” I added.

Finally, I talked him into it. Can’t lie though. He was kind of pouty the whole hike to the mouth of the cave, and I was feeling bad for him. I was definitely friendzoned so I felt like I should at least act like a good friend. “Hey…Liam? If you really want to head back and check on Mala, I’ll understand.”

He pointed and asked, “Hey! Is that the cave?”

I put my hand on my hip. “Yep. That’s it. Are you scared, soldier?”

“No way. Let’s go.”


Ginny was right. Mala probably would want to sleep in this morning, so I decided to visit her later. Maybe buy her some flowers. I tried to not worry about her while we were hiking but Ginny could tell my mind was elsewhere. I didn’t want to be a total asshole around her, so I decided to put Mala out of my mind for a few hours.

The cave was dark, dank, and underwhelming to be honest. But all of the others thought we’d just discovered gold.

“Who gets to see this?” Melina whispered like we were going to disturb ghosts. “Miners left their pick axes and boxes right here hundreds of years ago.”

“Yeah,” Todd added. “And look at those stalactites.”

Todd never changed. We were fairly close as kids but had drifted apart in middle school. Back then we shared a love of Henry Puffer but he was always playing with his science experiment set instead of video games or Crossing Wands.

“I guess you were right, Ginny. It didn’t take long. The cave is cool though. Thanks for inviting me.”

I was about to give my good byes when Ginny snapped her fingers. “Didn’t I say we were going to go rock climbing? The coolest part of the cave is up there. We’ve got to get to it. Come on.”

She scaled the rock like a mountain goat then waved for me to follow.

It wasn’t as easy as she made it look. I almost fell a few times.

But Ginny wasn’t lying.

The cave was the most jaw dropping thing I’d ever seen in my life. Crystals glowed. Sun shimmered and there were even these cool glittering dragonflies buzzing around. Not kidding. Totally blew me away.

“Holy shit…this is AMAZING!” I crooned as we all took a breather. Rock climbing wasn’t for sissies.

“Told ya, didn’t I?” Ginny said. I could hear laughter in her raspy voice. But I deserved it. Good thing she didn’t know what I was thinking when I first entered the cave.

I totally got why this was a thing. And I was hooked.

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