Imagine having the power to view someone's past at the briefest touch of their skin.
During freshman year, seventeen-year-old Thea Scott developed the suckiest burden ever. At the slightest brush of a person’s skin, she’s forced to walk in their memories. She’d give anything to get rid of this uncontrollable ability. When breathtakingly gorgeous Cole Conway strolls through the auditorium doors and she faints, literally, he acts like he knows her secret. The last thing she wants is to end up in a lab with her brain in a jar, so she decides to use her ability to enter his memories.
Cole unveils out-of-this-world dangers she never imagined existed. Even worse, her own past is her greatest fear. The deeper she falls, the more turmoil and heartbreak she crashes into. Dreams of fitting in dissolve when she must protect herself from things far more terrifying than high school rumors.
14+ adult situations
Principal Warren coughed. “Good afternoon. This year the administration and I have decided…”
My stomach rocked with queasiness, but not from nerves. From something else. I swallowed the saliva gagging the back of my throat and bent my knuckles to calm the quiver in my hands, digging my fingernails into my thighs.
I couldn’t breathe.
Warm droplets trickled into my eyes, and cold and hot shivers rippled through my skin. My teeth chattered. Was I getting the flu? I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been sick. At least not like this. I hadn’t eaten lunch so it couldn’t be food poisoning. I cupped my forehead in hopes to stop the constant spinning. I had to get out of there. My cheeks puffed, holding in what I feared was coming. Throwing up on the guy in front of me would add more crazy to the ever-growing rumor pile.
My gaze reached the exit sign above the auditorium doors, and they swung open. A handsome guy strolled inside, and like a bucket of cool water dousing a fire, my sickness washed away and my vision cleared, zeroing in on him. He had to be new. There was no way I would’ve gone three years without noticing him.
His light-gray shirt highlighted his long, muscular upper body. A sexy mess of chestnut-brown waves hung to his chin, and his intentional five o’clock shadow and thick dark eyebrows gave him a bad-boy kind of look. But the slight squint of his bluish-green eyes had a shyness to them. Something sweet and caring hid behind his rugged features. He slid a hand into the front pocket of his frayed dark jeans, his stare traveling the stadium seating.
Even a girl like me, who’d sworn off guys, could admit he was undeniably H-O-T, all in caps and written twice. Maybe even three times.
A quick tug on my sleeve made me yelp.
Principal Warren narrowed his eyes in our direction, and I covered the flush heating my cheeks, slinking lower in my chair.
He cleared his throat, again. “As I was saying…”
I glared at Wynter, and she motioned with her head toward the door. “Cole Conway.”
Cole ambled past the stage, not seeming to care what anyone thought, or that he had interrupted the principal’s speech. Not that Principal Warren even seemed to notice. He flipped one of his note cards and continued talking about student activities.
“Cole Conway?” I asked.
“I saw him registering with Miss Rachel this morning. He’s crazy hot.” She glanced at Ethan. “Second to Ethan, of course.”
“Of course,” I muttered and lifted slightly in my chair to get a better look. Another wave of nausea crashed into me, swaying me to the side. The far end of the auditorium flickered like an old TV fighting to get a signal. I blinked away my sickness-induced haze, and Cole came into view.
A girl with warm-brown skin and a ponytail of black dreadlocks appeared and hugged him. She crossed her arms and rested against the wall. Beside her, a guy with a faded haircut, dressed in a navy-blue button down and black jeans, didn’t budge or greet them. He shared the girl’s burnt sienna undertones, rounded nose, and gunmetal-blue eyes. He was cute but didn’t even come close to Cole.
“Do you know the people he’s with? Are they new, too?” I asked Wynter without taking my eyes off them.
“You’re kidding?” Ethan interrupted. “Nora and Drake moved here sophomore year.”
Wynter cast a look in my direction. “Their parents traveled a lot so they missed a ton of school. When they were here, they kept to themselves. I talk to everyone, and I’ve maybe said a handful of words to them.”
Wynter wasn’t joking. She had the inside-outs of every important person in our school. Though after my freshman incident, her queen bee status dropped a few levels and Tatum took over.
“Thanks, everyone. Have a great week. Oh, and go Birds!” the principal finished.
Laughter and jabber filled the room, and another tap on the microphone did little to quiet the conversations. “Get home safely, everyone,” Miss Rachel said, “and Ethan, please meet me in the office.”
Ethan groaned. “Looks like my ex-mom had a chat with Mr. Barbosa.”
“Just tell her it was my fault,” I said.
He grinned. “Nah, I kinda like pissing her off. Keeps her on her toes.”
I rolled my eyes, and Wynter did the same. “Did you take Friday night off for Nora and Drake’s party? It’s going to be so lit.” Wynter shimmied. “And Thea’s going.”
“Finally,” Ethan chimed in, nudging Wynter with his elbow. “Can’t wait.”
“Yay,” I said in the most sarcastic voice I could muster.
I waited for the rows in front of us to empty. Wynter and Ethan whispered and giggled behind me, so I stared over heads at Nora and Drake.
Our high school had like three-hundred kids. I took mostly AP classes, but the possibility of us not bumping into each other, or me not knowing their names, was bizarre. Then again, I wasn’t itching to meet new people. At least not until…
I stepped into the aisle. Cole was lingering at the bottom of the stairs. His Caribbean sea-colored eyes linked with mine, stuttering my heart. I descended without breaking contact, and his mouth slowly tilted into a half-smile that brought a shiver to my shoulders.
White and blue stars flashed before me, followed by an intense lightheadedness. I sucked in a breath, my lashes fluttering like I was about to faint. I steadied myself on the back of a chair. Please, don’t tumble down the stairs. I’d be mortified. My blurred vision tunneled in on Cole’s face. He winked and walked out the door.
As if an invisible rope wrapped around my ribcage and jerked, I plunged forward. Screams echoed in my ears, and I wasn’t sure if they were mine or someone else’s. Pain shot up my spine as my arms and legs collided with unknown objects. Students caught me, their memories bombarding me, drowning me. I flailed to free myself from their pasts, but my head slammed into something, and I sank into darkness.