In this short-story prequel to Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant's Eve and Adam, fifteen-year-old E.V. (Evening) doesn't know where she fits in to the universe. After a particularly disastrous school dance experience, she's begins to wonder if she fits in at all. She did bloody the school heartthrob's nose and all because he tried to kiss her. Having been accused of being a "frigid bitch," E.V. begins to question her place in the cosmic world of relationships and dating to little avail; her CEO mother is emotionally unavailable, her dad is dead, and her best friend thinks true love exists in the back seat of a used Honda. But then E.V. spots someone, a blip on her otherwise indifferent radar that suggests there just might be someone out there for her . . .
About the Author
KATHERINE APPLEGATE is the author of many books for children and young adults, include the award-winning Home of the Brave. Her husband, MICHAEL GRANT, is the author of the BZRK series and the bestselling Gone series. Together they wrote the popular Animorphs series. They live in Northern California with their two children and numerous unmanageable pets.
Michael Grant is the author of BZRK and the bestselling Gone series. He and his wife, Katherine Applegate, are also the authors of the popular Animorphs series. They live in Northern California with their two children.
Katherine Applegate is the author of several best-selling young adult series, including Animorphs and Roscoe Riley Rules. Home of the Brave, her first standalone novel, received the SCBWI 2008 Golden Kite Award for Best Fiction and the Bank Street 2008 Josette Frank Award. She lives with her family in Irvine, California.
Read an Excerpt
Love Sucks and then You Die
By Michael Grant, Katherine Applegate
Feiwel and FriendsCopyright © 2013 Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
All rights reserved.
I am thinking of an apple when the streetcar hits and my leg severs and my ribs crumble and my arm is no longer an arm but something unrecognizable, wet and red.
An apple. It was in a vendor's stall at the farmers' market off Powell. I'd noticed it because it was so weirdly out of place, a defiant crimson McIntosh in an army of dull green Granny Smiths.
When you die — and I realize this as I hurtle through the air like a wounded bird — you should be thinking about love. If not love, at the very least you should be counting up your sins or wondering why you didn't cross at the light.
But you should not be thinking about an apple.
I register the brakes screeching and the horrified cries before I hit the pavement. I listen as my bones splinter and shatter. It's not an unpleasant sound, more delicate than I would have imagined. It reminds me of the bamboo wind chimes on our patio.
A thicket of legs encircles me. Between a bike messenger's ropy calves I can just make out the 30% OFF TODAY ONLY sign at Lady Foot Locker.
I should be thinking about love right now — not apples, and certainly not a new pair of Nikes — and then I stop thinking altogether because I am too busy screaming.
* * *
I open my eyes and the light is blinding. I know I must be dead because in the movies there's always a tunnel of brilliant light before someone croaks.
"Evening? Stay with us, girl. Evening? Cool name. Look at me, Evening. You're in the hospital. Who should we call?"
The pain slams me down, and I realize I'm not dead after all, although I really wish I could be because maybe then I could breathe instead of scream.
"Evening? You go by Eve or Evening?"
Something white smeared in red hovers above me like a cloud at sunset. It pokes and prods and mutters. There's another, then another. They are grim but determined, these clouds. They talk in fragments. Pieces, like I am in pieces. Vitals. Prep. Notify. Permission. Bad.
"Evening? Who should we call?"
"Check her phone. Who's got her damn cell?"
"They couldn't find it. Just her school ID."
"What's your mom's name, hon? Or your dad's?"
"My dad is dead," I say, but it comes out in ear-splitting moans, a song I didn't know I could sing. It's funny, really, because I cannot remotely carry a tune. A C+ in Beginning Women's Chorus — and that was totally a pity grade — but here I am, singing my heart out.
Dead would be so good right now. My dad and me, just us, not this.
OR 2's ready. No time. Now now now.
I'm pinned flat like a lab specimen, and yet I'm moving, flying past the red and white clouds. I didn't know I could fly. So many things I know this afternoon that I didn't know this morning.
"Evening? Eve? Give me a name, hon."
I try to go back to the morning, before I knew that clouds could talk, before I knew a stranger could retrieve the dripping stump of your own leg.
What do I do with it? he'd asked.
"My mother's Terra Spiker," I sing.
The clouds are silent for a moment, and then I fly from the room of bright light.CHAPTER 2
I awaken to an argument. The man is simmering, the woman on full boil.
They're out of my view, behind an ugly green curtain. I try to do what I always do when my parents fight, adjust my earbuds and crank the volume to brain-numb, but something is wrong. My right arm is not obeying me, and when I touch my ear with my left hand, I discover a thick gauze headband. I've sprouted long tubes from my arms and my nose.
"She's my daughter," the woman says, "and if I say she's leaving, she's leaving."
"Please, listen to me. She's going to be your one-legged daughter if you take her out of here."
The man is pleading, and I realize he's not my dad because (a) my dad was never a pleader — more of a pouter, really; and (b) he's dead.
"I have superior facilities, the best medical staff money can buy." The woman punctuates this with a dramatic exhalation. It's my mother's trademark sigh.
"She's in critical condition in the ICU after a fourteen-hour surgery. There's every chance she's going to lose that leg, and you want to move her? Because ... what? It's more convenient? Your sheets have a higher thread count? What exactly?" I feel pretty okay, sort of floaty and disconnected, but this man, who I've decided must be a doctor, sounds a little freaked out about my leg, which, as it happens, doesn't seem to be behaving any better than my arm.
I should probably reassure him, get my mother off his case — when she's like this it's best to retreat and regroup — but the tube stuck down my throat makes that impossible.
"I will not release this patient," the doctor says, "under any circumstances."
Silence. My mother is the god of painful pauses.
"Do you know," she finally asks, "what the new hospital wing is called, Doctor?"
More silence. The contraptions I'm tethered to chirp contentedly.
"That would be the Spiker Neurogenetics Pavilion," the doctor finally says, and suddenly he sounds defeated, or maybe he's missing his tee time.
"I have an ambulance waiting outside," my mother says. Check and mate. "I trust you'll expedite the paperwork."
"She dies, it's on you."
His choice of words must bother me, because my machines start blaring like a cheap car alarm.
"Evening?" My mother rushes to my side. Tiffany earrings, Bulgari perfume, Chanel suit. Mommy, Casual Friday edition.
"Sweetheart, it's going to be okay," she says. "I've got everything under control."
The quaver in her voice betrays her. My mother does not quaver.
I try to move my head a millimeter and realize maybe I'm not feeling so okay after all. Also, my car alarm won't shut up. The doctor is muttering about my leg, or what's left of my leg, and my mother is burying her head into my pillow, her lacquered nails digging into my shoulder. She may actually be crying.
I am pretty sure we're all losing it, and then, on my other shoulder, I feel a firm pressure.
It's a hand.
I follow the path from hand to arm to neck to head, moving just my eyes this time.
The hand is connected to a guy.
"Dr. Spiker," he says, "I'll get her into the ambulance."
My mother sniffles into my gown. She rouses herself, stands erect. She is Back in Control.
"What the hell are you doing here, Solo?" she snaps.
"You left your phone and briefcase behind when you got the call about the" — he jerks his chin toward me — "the accident. I followed in one of the Spiker limos."
I don't recognize this guy or, for that matter, his name — because, really, what kind of a name is Solo, anyway? — but he must work for my mother.
He looks down at me, past the tubes and the panic. He is scruffy-looking with too much hair, too little shaving. He's tall and wide-shouldered, muscular, blondish. Extremely blue eyes. My preliminary taxonomy: skater or surfer, one of those guys.
I'd really like him to get his hand off me because he doesn't know me and I'm already having personal-space issues, what with the tubes and the IV.
"Chill, Eve," he tells me, which I find annoying. The first phrase that comes to mind involves the word "off," preceded by a word I have absolutely no chance of pronouncing since it includes the letter "F."
Not in the mood to meet new friends.
In the mood for more painkillers.
Also, my mother calls me Evening and my friends call me E.V. But nobody calls me Eve. So there's that, too.
"Please reconsider, Dr. Spiker ..." The doctor trails off.
"Let's get this show on the road," says the guy named Solo. He's about my age, a junior, maybe a senior. If he does work for my mother, he's either an intern or a prodigy. "Will you be coming in the ambulance, Dr. Spiker?"
"No. God knows what microorganisms are in that ambulance. My driver's waiting," my mother says. "I'll need to make some calls and I doubt the back of an ambulance is the place. I'll meet you at the lab."
The doctor sighs. He flips a switch and my contraptions still.
My mother kisses my temple. "I'll get everything set up. Don't worry about a thing."
I blink to show that I am not, in fact, worried about a thing. Not with the morphine drip taking the edge off.
Solo hands my mother her briefcase and phone. She vanishes, but I can hear the urgent staccato of her Jimmy Choos.
"Bitch," the doctor says when she's out of earshot. "I don't like this at all."
"No worries," Solo says.
No worries. Yeah, not for you, genius. Go away. Stop talking to me or about me. And take your hand off me, I'm nauseous.
The doctor checks one of my IV bags. "Uh-huh," he mutters. "You an MD?"
Solo makes a half smile. It's knowing and a little smug. "Just a gofer, Doctor."
Solo gathers up my bagged belongings and my backpack. Suddenly I remember I have AP Bio homework. A worksheet on Mendel's First Law. When a pair of organisms reproduce sexually, their offspring randomly inherit one of the two alleles from each parent.
Genetics. I like genetics, the rules, the order. My best friend, Aislin, says it's because I'm a control freak. Like mother, like daughter.
I have a load of homework, I want to say, but everyone's buzzing about purposefully. It occurs to me my biology worksheet won't be all that relevant if I'm dying.
I believe death is on the list of acceptable excuses for missing homework.
"You're going to be fine," Solo tells me. "Running 10Ks in no time."
I try to speak. "Unh onh," I say.
Yep. Can't pronounce "F" with a tube in your mouth.
Then it occurs to me: How does he know I like to run?CHAPTER 3
So. This is the boss's daughter.
I'd seen pictures of her, of course. You can't go into Terra Spiker's office and not see photos of her daughter. My favorite's this one where Eve's crossing a finish line, all sweaty and flushed, with a killer smile on her face.
I glance down at the stretcher. Eve's got a serious bruise coming up under both eyes. Still, you can see the resemblance to her mom. High cheekbones, big, deep-set eyes. Tall, slender.
That's about it for similarities, though. Terra's a total ice queen bitch: frosty blond hair, calculating gray eyes. Eve ... well, she's different. Her hair is sun-streaked gold, and her eyes are this mellow brown color.
At least I'm pretty sure they're brown.
They're a little wobbly at the moment.
There's not a lot of room on the narrow bench in the back of the ambulance. I nearly go flying when they pull away from the emergency room and crank on the siren.
I grin. "Floor it, dude," I yell to the driver.
The doctor sitting on the other side of Eve's stretcher sends me a what the hell? scowl.
I know it seems wrong to enjoy this, but still: the siren and the zooming through the streets of San Francisco while all the other cars scatter? Very cool.
Besides, Eve's going to be fine.
We're at the bridge in no time. The bridge. The Golden Gate, still the best, never get tired of it. I fantasize sometimes how great it would be to ride a longboard down the cable. Yes, there would almost certainly be a long plunge to a hideous death. But before that it would be amazing.
I sit with my elbows on my knees, trying to hunch my shoulders forward a little. I have good shoulders, might as well reveal them. I know she's checking me out. Fair enough, because I'm checking her out.
"Ah ahhh ahhhh!"
Eve cries out suddenly. She's in pain. Bad pain. So it's possible she's not really checking me out.
"Doc," I say, "can't you help the girl out?"
He leans over to check the IV tube. It's gotten kinked, the flow cut off. He straightens it and tears off strips of white tape to hold it in place.
"She'll be better in a second."
"Cool," I say. I lean in close so she can hear me. "I got him to crank up the morphine," I say, speaking loud and slow.
Her eyeballs kind of roll toward me. She doesn't seem to be focusing very well. And for a second I think, whoa, what if I'm wrong? What if she actually dies?
All of a sudden it's like I want to cry. Not happening, obviously — crying, I mean — but there's just this sudden wave of sadness.
I shake it off as well as I can. But once you start seeing the Big D, the Reaper, sitting beside you, it's very hard to stop.
"Don't die, okay?" I say.
Her confused eyeballs are looking for me. Like I'm a target and she can't quite line up the sights.
So I get close again and I kind of touch her face and aim her head at me. Unfortunately, I lean my other hand on her leg — the wrong one — and there's some yelling from Eve and from the doctor.
Which makes it impossible for me to say what I had planned to say to reassure her: Don't worry. I've seen things. I know things.
Your mom has powers.
She won't let you die.CHAPTER 4
Operation? What operation?
They tell me it lasted fourteen hours.
I wasn't really there. I was in a weird landscape of dreams, nightmares, and memories — with a little shopping thrown in.
I'm pretty sure I had an extended dream where Aislin and I wandered around the big Westfield Mall downtown on Market Street. Of course, it could have been a memory. It's hard to keep track of the difference when your blood flows with whatever drug they use to separate your consciousness from your senses.
My new doctor, the one who arrived with the private ambulance, has on a lab coat that reads:
Creating Better Lives
It's a chic low-sheen black. He looks like he should be foiling my hair, not checking my pulse.
Solo keeps staring at me. Not a she's dead meat stare. More like he's an anthropologist who's just discovered a new tribe deep in the heart of the Amazon.
The road was a little bumpy over the bridge, but I've discovered I can surf the pain, feel it roll and crest and crash. If you think about something, anything, else, it's not so bad.
The fact that I can think at all, when my leg has recently been — well, chopped off and glued back on is, I believe, the medical term — is kind of a miracle, and I'm grateful for the random thoughts that flood my brain.
Things I Think About, Exhibit A:
How I got a B+ on my oral report in bio, which sucks because it's going to bring my grade down, and possibly my GPA, which means I won't get into a decent college, which means I'll never escape the clutches of my crazy-ass mother, and I know this really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, especially now, but that's not the point, is it?
I'm pretty sure Ms. Montoya dropped my grade because of my intro: "Boys have nipples." Perhaps this was news to her.
It was a risky ploy, sure, but when it's second period and you're the first speaker and the Red Bull has only ignited a handful of brain cells, you do what you have to do.
There were twenty kids in the room. When I moved to the front to tie my iPad to the projector, I'd say I had a total of eight eyeballs out of a possible forty watching me.
I delivered my opening line, and thirty-nine eyeballs were trained on me. Jennifer has one lazy eye, so I was never going to get all forty.
"Why?" I asked. I cued the first slide, which was of a boy's chest. It was a fine chest, a very fine chest, and I knew it would hold the attention of the nine straight girls and one gay boy.
It was a cheap ploy, but sex sells. It always has, it always will, and in the context of a boring report day in my boring eleventh-grade biology class at boring Bay Area School of Arts and Sciences, a smooth, hard chest over rippled abs was just the ticket.
The way I had the presentation laid out, we'd see that slide two more times. We'd also see DNA molecules, a little video snippet of dinosaurs demonstrating the concept of survival of the fittest — because seriously, there's no bad time to show bored kids some dinosaur-on-dinosaur violence — and the inevitable graphs, pie charts, and equations that would earn me a decent grade. And chest to keep my audience.
I thought I had the thing aced.
So, okay, I phoned it in a little. But still. A B+ after those abs?
Things I Think About, Exhibit B:
How I was supposed to bail out Aislin's dirtbag boyfriend after school, which is why I was checking her latest frantic text when that out-of-place apple caught my eye, which is why I wasn't looking where I was going, which is why I am now in an ambulance with an MD from Aveda and some guy with a perpetually smug look on his face.
Things I Think About, Exhibit C:
How I missed prom yet again. (I had a previous engagement, organizing my sock drawer while watching old Jon Stewarts on my laptop.) Aislin claims I didn't miss anything: It was a total waste of a good buzz. Even with the purse searches and rent-a-cops, she managed to sneak in three separate flasks of lemon vodka.
I am a little worried about Aislin.
Things I Think About, Exhibit D:
How I can't figure out the deal with this Solo guy. Is my mother using him as her stand-in? Is that his job?
Excerpted from Love Sucks and then You Die by Michael Grant, Katherine Applegate. Copyright © 2013 Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
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