"Gritty and intense, the tension sizzles off the pages!" -Kimberly Derting, author of The Taking
Use cash and keep moving.
After I ran away from home, these were the two rules that dictated my life. Scoring a job as a roadie fit perfectly for what I needed. Traveling, cash, and life out of the spotlight. But when my path collides with West, the lead singer of Bus Stop, I can’t seem to stay out of his spotlight—especially since we’ll be touring together for an entire year.
West is determined to break down my walls. He won’t give up. And little by little they come crumbling. But if he knew what lurked behind them, he wouldn’t be so eager to get rid of them.
The more time we spend together, the more the lines of our friendship become blurred. He makes me dream of things I never thought possible. But while our friendship has been evolving into a romance, my secrets have been closing in. And just when I’ve decided to reveal my past to West, I’m confronted by it. The cost of my freedom could ruin the life of the guy I love...
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|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|File size:||2 MB|
|Age Range:||12 Years|
About the Author
Shannon Greenland is the award winning author of the teen spy series, The Specialists, and the YA romance, The Summer My Life Began. She also writes thrillers under S. E. Green.
Shannon grew up in Tennessee where she dreaded all things reading and writing. She didn’t even read her first book for enjoyment until she was twenty-five. After that she was hooked!
When she’s not writing, she works as an adjunct math professor and lives on the coast in Florida with her very grouchy dog. Find her online everywhere @segreenauthor.
Read an Excerpt
Shadow of a Girl
By Shannon Greenland, Liz Pelletier, Jenn Mishler
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Shannon Greenland
All rights reserved.
A shadow moves across the peep hole in my door, and I know Gideon's about to come in. I imagine his eyeball there, surveying me, making sure I'm dressed, making sure I'm perfect. His knuckles rap softly, and I fight to control the shudder that wants to roll through me.
Dread, fear, and anticipation all storm inside me as I softly say, "Come in."
The door opens, and the room shrinks as he glides inside. From my window seat, I stand, and with my hands folded gently in front of me, I submissively focus my gaze on the wood floor beneath my sandals.
He moves in close, and with a sigh he runs a long-fingered hand over his slicked back hair. "I'm sorry about earlier. You know it had to be done, right?"
"Yes," I whisper, trying not to allow my brain to go back to the humiliation of a few hours ago and the pelvic exam he forced me to have.
Gideon reaches forward and tenderly takes both of my hands. "Look at me."
Slowly, I lift my eyes up the length of his business suit past our joined hands, across his smooth jaw and up into his hazel eyes. In just a few hours I'll never have to look into them again.
With an affectionate smile, he runs a creepy thumb over my knuckles. "You're such a good girl. So perfect."
I nod and hope he can't feel, can't see the tension that locks my jaw. He won't think I'm so good in a little while.
"I'm sorry I have to leave in the morning. Will you miss me?"
"Yes," I say, as expected, though I desperately want to scream otherwise.
I lie in my bed, every sense tuned as I stare at my bedside clock. 10:58. Gideon will turn the light out at 11:00, after one last check on me.
His footsteps begin padding down the hard wood floor of the hallway that separates his room from mine, and I close my eyes to fake the sleep he expects me to be in by now.
My door creaks open, and I inhale a deep restful breath, before letting it out slow. He makes no movement from my doorway as he watches me, and I repeat the long breath in and again out slow, praying that he'll buy it. Praying this won't be one of the nights he decides to discipline me.
"Sleep well," he finally whispers.
All I hear is my raging heartbeat as the door clicks closed, and I become certain it's thrumming so loudly that he might hear it, too. My eyes crack open as I stare at the light glowing under my door, waiting, waiting, waiting for it to go out.
Finally, it does. Good, he'll be asleep within the next five minutes.
By now my best friend, Bluma, is waiting for me on the other side of the woods in the exact direction Gideon hopefully won't think I'll run. Another glance at my clock. 11:06. It's time.
I roll out of bed, and before I slide my window open and set off the silent alarm, I glance through my curtains and up to the exterior camera that I moved a careful inch away. Good, it's still in the position I put it in.
Two stories up, I glance down at the bushes where I'll land and pray I don't break anything. It doesn't matter. Even if I do, I'm still going to run.
I take a deep breath, and before I give myself any more time to really think about what I'm about to do, I flip the lock on my window, slide it up, and I jump. With a soft grunt, I land butt first in the bushes. My bare feet hit the wet grass, and I take off running, using only the limited moonlight to see by.
Behind me the silent alarm switches to a loud buzz and all the exterior lights flick on. Adrenaline kicks in and I tear into the woods. Branches whip across my face as I thrash my way to freedom. In the distance, I hear Gideon yell and the sound of his anger propels me to what feels like light speed.
A quarter mile later and gasping for breath, I leap over a downed tree and burst from the woods onto the gravel back road. Bluma's car sits idling, her lights off and the back door already open and waiting. I dive in, and without a word, she drives off.
A few miles down the road, she turns her lights on. "No one's following us."
Sucking in a breath, I sit up and look out the back window.
"We're good," she assures me in a calm voice I know is fake. Her death-grip on the steering wheel tells me she's just as scared as me. I glance at her familiar round face in the rearview mirror, and she gives me a forced smile that makes her dimples sink in. "We're good," she says again.
I close my eyes for a second. I have to focus. I don't have time to be scared.
"I bought eight longs and small for the T-shirt," she tells me. "Hope it all fits."
I unzip the duffel bag she placed in the back. Inside lay jeans, a T-shirt, and running shoes. Quickly I change. "They do."
Bluma keeps driving and driving and driving, taking as many turns and back roads as she can. Neither of us speak. Almost as if we think if we do, someone might hear us and find us and drag us back. Tense seconds tick into minutes and hours later she pulls into the parking lot of a Greyhound Bus Station.
"Your bus leaves at 4:30." Over the seat she hands me a ticket, and I note her shaky hands. "Remember to head east toward Boston and change buses as often as you can along the route."
I grab her fingers and squeeze them. "It's okay," I tell her, though I'm not sure it is.
She nods. "I found you a potential job as a roadie. It pays cash and keeps you moving. Plus ... it's music."
"Music ..." I don't bother asking what kind. It doesn't matter. Just the thought of it makes me relax a little.
Bluma hands me an envelope. "Your new I.D. is in there along with two hundred in cash. I'm sorry it's not more."
"Bluma, that money was supposed to go toward —"
She waves me off. "You are much more important than anything I might be saving for."
"I'll pay you back, I promise."
She waves me off again and nods to the envelope. "That passport card looks real to me, but what do I know? Just be careful with it. Try to use it the least amount possible. Don't take any chances. Remember to operate in cash only. You'll find scissors and dye in the duffel. Do your hair as soon as you can to match your I.D."
In the shadow of the car, I stare at Bluma, taking in her curly dark hair and gentle face. As I do, everything in me pangs, wondering if I'll ever see her again. "Thank you, Bluma, for everything. I love you." Those words shouldn't feel like claws scraping down my throat, but they do.
"I love you, too. Now go," she says, reaching over the front seat and giving me a friendly push. "I don't want all our careful planning to go to waste."
I want to hug her, but I know if I do, I probably won't let go. I'm sure she's thinking the same thing. And so I quickly grab the duffel bag, and I get out.
She sticks her head out the window as she pops the trunk. "There's a surprise in there for you."
I shoot her a confused look. "But you've already done so much!"
She makes a shooing motion with her hand, and I walk around and open the latch to find her guitar sitting there. I suck in a breath.
Bluma laughs. "Take it. Please. You've played that thing much more than I ever have."
Lifting it out, I hug it to my chest and close the trunk. "Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure." She gives a reassuring nod. "That is your guitar."
I hug it tighter, thinking of all the times I played this guitar in her room, thinking of the very first time I picked it up and plucked its strings and lost myself, forgot myself. "Oh, Bluma." My best friend, my only friend, is amazing.
"Now listen, this is your chance for a new life. Smile. Look people in the eyes. And remember, Gideon no longer has any power over you." With one last wave, she pulls off.
I stand, duffel bag in one hand, guitar in the other, my guts twisting as I watch my lifeline drive away.
After a few minutes and her taillights have disappeared, I head into the brightly lit bus station, and keeping my head ducked, I rush across and into the bathroom. There're only two stalls, and I pick the handicap one so I'll have room and privacy.
Bluma, my lifeline, is gone. It's all me now. The rest of this is up to me. I look at myself in the mirror. I look scared, yes, but elated, too. And it's the elated that bolsters me for the rest. Taking the scissors, I hold out a long clump of my hair ...
Your hair's so pretty. So long. Never cut it.
Clenching my jaw, I put the scissors all the way at my chin and whack it right off. With it, a harsh laugh escapes me. I hold the long blond chunk out in front of me, and a tiny smile creases my lips. If this is what rebelliousness feels like, no wonder Gideon is so afraid of it.
I cut the rest of my hair all the way up to my chin and tear into the red dye. I stay in the handicap stall for thirty minutes. Someone comes in to use the one beside me, and then leaves. I spend my time staying as still as possible, like even if I move somehow Gideon will know it. Finally it's time to rinse the dye out, and as I do I hear the announcement for my bus to Boston.
I shove everything in the garbage, and I wedge a baseball hat over my wet head, grab my duffel and guitar, and hurry across the brightly lit station and out into the loading bay. I don't think I breathe the whole time. And I don't lift my head, but from under my cap my eyes flick back and forth across the area. Scanning. Scanning.
"I.D. and ticket," the driver says.
With clammy, shaky fingers I hold out both, and he takes them. If he notices my unsteady hands, he doesn't mention them. Then he's waving me on, and I'm boarding. I'm boarding!
I find a seat half way and tuck in, lowering my cap even farther and surreptitiously staring out the windows. One-by-one people continue to board and I don't make eye contact with any of them. An elderly gentleman sits down beside me and proceeds to fall asleep.
Eventually, boarding is done. The driver takes his seat. And slowly, we pull away. As we do, I take what feels like the first breath I've had. My new name is Eve, and as of this moment, I'm officially a runaway.CHAPTER 2
One month later
It doesn't take a psychiatrist to explain to me why I don't like people in my personal space, why I don't like them touching me. It's like every touch is Gideon's.
This makes my job as a roadie extremely uncomfortable, especially in a closed-in, crowded venue like tonight, with all these bodies thrashing in the strobe lights.
I'm hovering along the wall, scanning the pit, sweeping my eyes from left to right, making sure I can see all the exits. I know that Gideon wouldn't expect to find me on the crew of Raking Nails but I still worry. Sometimes in these moments I feel like I can see him, staring back at me from the crowd, his hazel eyes glinting with anger and a promise of pain.
With a shudder, I tell myself to get a grip on my nerves.
The lead singer screams into the mike, and I push the ear plugs further into my ears. These guys really stink. I don't know why Bluma signed me up for a metal band. I've got to get on with a new crew. I want to listen to music I like.
I turn toward the exit door, and one of the thrashing bodies hip-checks me, and I stumble into some guy. "Whoa, sorry," I say, grabbing onto him.
He grips my hips to steady me and gives a friendly laugh. "You okay?"
I look up into a face lit by the strobes, and even in the darkness of the club I can tell his eyes are black. But not soulless black. More like the dark chocolate that Bluma and I used to sneak from her mom's secret stash. But even as I notice this I also notice we're close. Too close. And we're touching. Suddenly, pressure moves in on me and air painfully pushes my lungs. I'm not helpless, I tell myself. I'm not trapped. Yet, I still twist from his hold.
Immediately, he puts his hands in the air. "Easy."
I back away, my heart thumping, feeling strangely lightheaded.
"Hey, you okay?" he asks.
I shake my head more to clear it than to answer this guy's question. It's been a month now, and I'm okay. Gideon has no clue where I am.
The guy dips his head, trying to catch my frozen gaze. "Hello?"
"Sorry," I mumble, taking the plugs from my ears and holding them up as if they were the reason for everything.
He smiles a little. "All good."
From a foot away, I'm really looking at him now. He's tall with short black hair under a fedora and dark stubble across his cheeks. And he's not so much smiling, but more grinning. He reminds me of this guy in an underwear ad that Bluma and I giggled over, and remembering that makes my cheeks warm.
"Sorry," I say again, this time louder. "The crowd's a bit crazy tonight."
"It's the crappy music," he jokes. "Makes the girls leap into my arms to be rescued."
I chuckle, and the sound strikes me as odd. I can't recall the last time I chuckled. For that matter, I can't recall the last time I genuinely smiled.
"Don't worry. I enjoyed every," he jokingly waggles his brows, "minute of it."
My entire face burns, and I thank God the club is dark and he can't see. I think this guy might be flirting with me. No one's ever flirted with me before. I'm not sure what to do or say next, and I'm torn between wanting the comfort of walking away but also wanting the awkwardness of staying.
He holds out his hand. "My name's West."
West. I like that name.
"Eve," I say as I shake his hand. It's funny how in the past month I've gotten so used to my fake name that I no longer hesitate in saying it. Eve just naturally rolls off my tongue now. I like the anonymity of being her.
He cocks his head to the side. "So what's your story, Eve? What are you doing here?" He nods to the ear plugs. "I take it you're not here for the music?"
A gorgeous girl who looks a lot like Lucy Liu comes up beside him and doesn't even give me a glance as she leans into him. "Hey, sorry it took me so long."
West gives her a quick smile. "That's okay."
Oh, this must be his girlfriend. Of course this is his girlfriend. He wasn't flirting with me. He was just being friendly.
"Well," I say and take that as my cue to leave.
"Wait," West says, and I simply give him a little wave and head off. He's got a girlfriend, and I have no business anyway thinking about that kind of stuff.
Pushing through the exit door, I step out into a drizzly Nashville evening, and I immediately move into the shadows. I stand for a few seconds, letting the light September rain soothe my face and replaying everything that just happened inside with West. As I do, I tremor to think of all the ways Gideon would discipline me if he would've witnessed me talking to West. I also feel a smirk pushing through that Gideon didn't see me talking to West.
The exit door swings open, and I swerve around to see Anne step through.
"There you are," she says, giving me a quick once over. "What are you out in the rain for?"
"Needed some fresh air."
Anne's the only other girl roadie. She's nineteen, and she's a lesbian. People tend to think we're together. It's funny how that works. In my old life I wouldn't have been allowed within ten feet of her. But there's just something about Anne I like. She sort of reminds me of Bluma at times, and she totally gets my quirks.
She huddles up under the roof's overhang and light's up a cigarette. She takes a very long first drag as she always does. "Rumor is West Wolf made an appearance tonight."
Realization dawns on me as I huddle in beside her under the overhanging roof. "The West Wolf? As in lead singer of Bus Stop?"
Anne's pierced brow lifts in interest. "Yeah, why?"
My face gets hot all over again. "Tall, dark hair, fedora," I motion to my cheeks, "stubble."
Anne's eyes gleam with humor. "I take it you saw him."
"Actually," I swallow a nervous lump, thinking about his hands on my hips and his perfect grin, "we met. Or rather I bumped into him."
Anne laughs. "Hell, Eve, even I think he's hot."
"I didn't say he was hot," I mumble, though of course I totally thought he was.
With another laugh, she flicks her ashes. "You didn't have to. I've known you a month now, and this is the first time you've ever noticed a guy."
I look away in embarrassment, feeling all kinds of uncomfortable.
"Well, when you 'bumped' into him, did he get excited?"
She chuckles. "Dude, I would give my left boob to play onstage with him."
Excerpted from Shadow of a Girl by Shannon Greenland, Liz Pelletier, Jenn Mishler. Copyright © 2016 Shannon Greenland. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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