A car crash is a work of art.
At first it’s Cubism: the hood folding, doors crumpling, windshield splitting into a mosaic of shattered light, the whole world breaking into shards of color and noise and tumbling around you like a kaleidoscope. Screeching tires and cold air and gasoline and your own scream are all just bits of debris flying around, gorgeous chaos. When the tires stop spinning and the engines die, you’re left sitting in a smashed puzzle of metal and glass, trying to figure out which way the pieces go now, why some are stuck together and won’t come apart. Why there is an eye next to a foot, steel where there should be skin.
I listened to a soft dripping and the sigh of steam. By then it had become Surrealism. My hands were puppet hands, one arm bent at a bizarre angle. A deflated airbag lay in my lap like a bloody surgery sheet. The seat belt (I buckled up, I didn’t really want to die) was some kind of medieval bondage device and I clawed at it senselessly before clicking the release button. Then I saw her.
Ellis slumped in her seat, limp against the seat belt. Red-gold hair hung in her eyes. She was utterly still.
I kicked my door open. Staggered through the electric prongs of the headlights to her side of the car. My right arm was heavy, pulling toward the ground, so I used the left to haul her out. Impressionism now: the dashboard glow dappling her pale skin cyan, black ice reflecting swirls of white starlight. My breath spiraling wildly into the sky. I cried her name as I pulled her onto the road, her legs dragging.
“Wake up, Elle. Please, please, wake up.”
You idiot, I thought. You know CPR.
I brushed her hair off her forehead, leaned close. No warmth on my ear. My right arm had begun to tingle and buzz and it was going to make this difficult. I took a deep breath, but before my mouth met hers she coughed and her eyelids fluttered open. Details became acutely clear, almost Pointillist: stars glittering in her eyes, ruby droplets freckling her skin. I touched her face, smearing the blood.
“Vada?” she said weakly.
“Can you move?” I couldn’t take my hand off her cheek. “Move your arms. Ellis, move your arms. Okay. Now your legs.”
I grabbed her in an awkward one-armed hug but hugging wasn’t enough so I kissed her cheek, her mouth, cupped her face and stared down into it. “Are you okay? There’s so much blood.” I wiped her face again but it only got worse. “Where’s it coming from? Are you hurt?”
We both noticed my right arm at the same time. The sleeve of my hoodie ripped to tatters. The sliver of white showing through red near the elbow.
“Oh my god,” Elle whispered, her breath musky and sweet. Tequila.
I let go of her.
The other car.
His headlights made an X through ours, a crucifix of light across the blank black night. We were on a highway bridge between nowhere and eternity, the ocean glinting beyond the treetops. The other driver lay sprawled facedown on the ground. My eyes traced the path he’d taken through his windshield, the bloody stripe running over the hood of his Jeep.
“Vada,” Ellis said.
I dropped to my knees at the man’s side, feeling for breath, pulse. My right arm was completely numb now. When I lifted his head, a warm red gush flooded my palm.
“Call 911.” My voice was calm.
Elle fumbled in her coat pocket and then at the screen and almost dropped her phone. As I watched I thought, She’s drunk. God, she is so drunk.
I took her phone and painted by numbers with the stranger’s blood.
“I need an ambulance.” I described the river nearby, the bridge.
Elle sank to the ground beside me, those lucid green eyes locked on the body. Her glasses were gone. She couldn’t see how bad it really was.
On the asphalt, pieces of skull lay scattered like pottery fragments.
Can you tell me what happened?
“Car accident. This guy wasn’t wearing a seat belt and he’s . . . on the road.”
How many people are hurt?
“Three. We’re okay but this guy is—we need an ambulance.”
It’s on the way, miss. Is the man breathing?
“I don’t think it really matters anymore because I can see his brain.”
My voice remained calm but Ellis clapped a hand over her mouth.
The dispatcher asked another question. Elle stared at me, horrified, over splayed fingers.
In a few hours, she wouldn’t remember any of this. The concussion and the alcohol would blot it out.
But not me. I’d never forget.
“Vada,” I said. “My name is Vada. I’m the driver.”
From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Unteachable and Black Iris comes a new, sexy romantic suspense novel about two best friends who are torn apart by a life-shattering accident…and the secrets left behind.
Vada Bergen is broke, the black sheep of her family, and moving a thousand miles away from home for grad school, but she’s got the two things she loves most: her art and her best friend—and sometimes more—Ellis Carraway. Ellis and Vada have a friendship so consuming it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins. It’s intense. It’s a little codependent. And nothing can tear them apart.
Until an accident on an icy winter road changes everything.
Vada is left deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. Her once-promising art career is cut short. And Ellis pulls away, unwilling to talk about that night. Everything Vada loved is gone.
She’s got nothing left to lose.
So when she meets some smooth-talking entrepreneurs who offer to set her up as a cam girl, she can’t say no. All Vada has to do is spend a couple hours each night stripping on webcam, and the “tips” come pouring in.
It’s just a kinky escape from reality until a client gets serious. “Blue” is mysterious, alluring, and more interested in Vada’s life than her body. Online, they chat intimately. Blue helps her heal. And he pays well, but he wants her all to himself. No more cam shows. It’s an easy decision: she’s starting to fall for him. But the steamier it gets, the more she craves the real man behind the keyboard. So Vada pops the question:
Can we meet IRL?
Blue agrees, on one condition. A condition that will bring back a ghost from her past.
Now Vada must confront what she’s been running from. A past full of devastating secrets—those of others and those she’s been keeping from herself…
- Atria Books |
- 432 pages |
- ISBN 9781501114991 |
- November 2015