Head down. Don’t look up. Never make eye contact. Those were the words I lived by growing up, the words that protected me in an unsafe home. But words are only letters and eventually even they couldn’t keep his hands off me.
Hoping to leave behind the shattered life of my past, I find myself in a boring, small town, with an aunt I’ve never met and at a school I loathe.
But soon I learn, not everything in this world is as black and white as I’ve determined. Sometimes those we are so quick to judge often need a second, third or even fourth time to make a first impression.
And often, there are friendships and even love waiting just around the corner, if we are brave enough to take the first step.
Am I brave? Or will I hide behind these tattered gloves of mine forever?
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“Your mother does know what size you wear, doesn’t she?” Addy asked the next morning as I walked out of the bathroom, showered and dressed for school.
Looking down at another version of the black long-sleeved shirt I’d worn the day before, I shook my head. “No,” I answered. “This is hers. Most of my clothes are. She always just gave me what she didn’t want anymore.”
Her eyes widened and then softened.
“Well, I meant what I said. I’m taking you into town this weekend. You’re too tiny to be wearing your mom’s hand-me-downs. She’s got to be at least two sizes bigger than you.”
Four sizes, but who is counting?
“Maybe, if I keep feeding you like this, you’ll actually grow some meat on those bones of yours,” she suggested, her keen eyes still fixated on my body.
It made me suddenly aware of the way my jeans felt so loose around my hips… how easily they fell from my body.
“You and me… we’re the same.”
The memory of his voice cut through my mind like a razor blade, and I instantly stiffened.
“Willow? You okay?” Addy noticed my change in mood almost instantly. She moved to my aid but stopped herself before her hand reached my shoulder. “Whatever is going through your mind right now, it will fade.”
“It won’t,” I said through clenched teeth. “It will never fade.”
“It will. Maybe not today or tomorrow, not even next year… but with time, it will fade. And it will heal.”
“You don’t know. You can’t—”
“Trust me,” was all she said before turning toward the door.
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About J.L. Berg
Author J.L. Berg is a California native living in the South. She is the author of the self-pubbed Ready series, which has sold over 100,000 copies. Married to her high school sweetheart. She and her husband have two beautiful girls that drive them batty on a daily basis. When she's not writing, you can find her with her nose stuck in a romance book, in a yoga studio or devouring anything chocolate.