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I’m the girl nobody sees.
That is, until I move next door to Parker High’s most eligible bastard, Tristan Blackwood.
He’s gorgeous. Eyes as cold as moonlight. Lips made for cruel kisses. The entire town knows it, too. Apparently being able to throw a football elevates you to god status around here.
He could have anything he wanted. Anyone.
But somehow, all he wanted was to torment me.
Me, trapped in my mom’s protective bubble: homeschooled and invisible, stuck in a wheelchair and saddled with more medical issues than I could count. Normal? I might as well wish to be a fairytale princess.
There aren’t any princesses or knights in my fairytale. Just the dark prince who lives next door. Parker High royalty in the flesh. My very own devil in a letterman jacket.
His life should be a dream, but the only thing he cares about is becoming my nightmare.
And when my pride isn’t enough for him, he decides he wants my body.
He wants my heart.
He wants every last inch of me to himself.
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Our van crunched its way up a gravel path that led to our new home. It looked like the sort of place that was built on a Native American burial ground. Thick forest circled the crooked two-story farmhouse. I could already imagine I’d look out my window in the middle of the night to see darkened silhouettes of creepy children standing along the tree line. Other than the way we’d come in, the only gap in the trees was a thin path near the back of the property where a fancy stone gate stood.
I squinted toward the gate. Unlike everything else I could see, the gate appeared to be well kept and clean.
“You know,” I said to my mom, who was hunched over the steering wheel. “This is where Stephen King sets all his novels. Did you intentionally buy a house that would have given him a massive bon—”
“Kennedy Stills!” My mom snapped. “Watch your mouth.” She huffed, shaking her head. Her hands scrabbled around her bosom for the cross she wore around her neck. She clutched it, muttering to herself. “Lord, I have done everything I can to protect this child from the sin of this world, but she’s still—”
“Dirty as a chimney sweep,” I added in a bored tone. “But you didn’t let me finish. I was going to say a massive… okay. I’m lying. I was definitely going to say boner.”
My mom was a mountain of a woman. Thick boned. Thick haired, even. It stood up from her head no matter how she chose to style it, like a wall of rounded red flames. She was also pretty much all I had. Between all the illnesses I was constantly fighting and the homeschooling, I didn’t get out much. Correction. I didn’t get out. Period.
I hoped maybe I could change that this year. If I wasn’t sick, I’d be starting my senior year of high school in a few weeks. Well, technically, I was turning eighteen next month, so I could’ve enrolled as a junior, but I thought my mom would’ve shot down two years of school instead of one. I’d opted with the less greedy route.
The van rolled to a stop in front of a slightly run-down farmhouse. “You’re sure this is the right address?”
My mom got out and went to get my wheelchair out of the back. Even though I knew she was going to snap at me for it, I opened the door and carefully pulled myself into a standing position.
Getting up made my head swim, but I kept a firm grip on the handle by the door and managed to stay upright.
My mom rushed to my side and took me under the arms, making a ticking noise. “The only thing you’re going to prove with stunts like that is how easily your head can crack open.”
“A little dramatic,” I said, grudgingly allowing her to help me sit down into the chair.
Ignoring me, she rolled me up the path toward the house.
“What’s with that gate?” I asked.
She followed my gaze. “Nothing you need to worry about, is what.”
I stared at it, deciding I wouldn’t just worry about it. I’d most definitely sneak out and investigate it the first chance I got. It wouldn’t be as hard as it used to be when we lived in our apartment back in Chicago. She had half the building trained to keep tabs on me.
“Kennedy,” she said, kneeling to give me a stern look. “We need to be careful here. Okay? No more stunts. I don’t like scaring you, but I need you to remember your father is not a good man. If he ever finds out where we are…” She trailed off, lips working silently while she searched for the right words.
“I know, mom. I’ll be careful, okay? Besides, we’re like three miles from civilization out here.” Not that it actually mattered how far I was from people. Whether we were in a cramped apartment building or a bustling suburb, mom would do her best to keep me sheltered. Thank God for internet chat rooms and TV, or I probably wouldn’t even know boys had dangly bits between their legs.
She kissed my forehead and hugged me to her chest, suffocating me.
I laughed, fighting my way free. “Okay, okay. I got it. You love me.” I jokingly made a retching sound.
The movers showed up with our stuff about an hour later, which meant mom was busy micromanaging them, leaving me blissfully free for a while. I wheeled myself out to the back of the house. There was a little patch of plants trying to grow in the dirt.
I had no experience in the world of gardening, but I knew the basics. Sunlight, water, and I was pretty sure you were supposed to sing to the plants every once in a while. With nothing better to do, I decided to see if I could help the budding plants along.