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Lexi Blane has it all. Other than the unexplained fainting spells and a lot of creepy nightmares, her destiny is exactly as she planned – damned near perfect. But an unexpected twist of fate sends William Bradford, the richest, hottest, most popular guy on campus, to fall in love with her to the point of infatuation. Now, it's perfect. Life is good. And just like that – her world crumbles to pieces. She doesn't remember the horrible accident and no one alive remembers William. As she tries to decipher what is real and what her genius mind created, she learns that nothing is ever what it seems and her friends know a lot more than they say. Chace, Lexi's childhood playmate who went from geek to god over the summer, battles his own demons to help her see herself for who and what she really is. Emotions run wild and Lexi finds herself in a predicament where one wrong choice could mean the end of the world. Will Lexi choose her path of destiny - or will her destiny choose her?
My Almost Perfect Life
“Don’t even tell me the flight got delayed again. One more day of this waiting crap and you’ll be visiting me in the nut house!” I whined into the phone.
William sighed a small laugh. “Aw, I miss you too, Lexi girl, and would you believe the flight is actually on time? You all packed up?”
“They didn’t tell you yet?” he asked. “Oh damn it! The time difference,” he mumbled.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“I guess I have to tell you now,” he offered sarcastically. “Since you haven’t been feeling all that great lately, I thought a few days at the beach would do you some good. So, I planned a little tropical vacay for us, and we leave right after I land! It was so hard not to slip up every time I talked to you. Not bad, huh? You surprised?” His excitement came through the phone like a little boy bragging to his dad about his first homerun. Of course, I was too pissed to care.
“Yeah, I’m surprised. Thanks for including me,” I said with obvious annoyance. I adored his sometimes old-fashioned and chivalrous ways, but it irritated the crap out of me when he made decisions without me. It looked like my parents weren’t so innocent either, since they were the only ones who could’ve told him I was fainting again. My ‘big surprise’ felt more like a ‘big secret.’
“Aw, don’t be mad, Lex. It’s better in the Bahamas!” he joked, trying to sound like a travel brochure.
“The Bahamas? What, are you out of your mind? My parents will never let me go, unless hell’s gotten a bit chilly these days!”
“Um, yeah, well, they’re coming with us.”
“Great!” I muttered. I hadn’t seen him since I came home from England, where I was an exchange student in his school. That was last semester and this was our big romantic reunion? Was I the only one who thought it would be a little crowded?
“It’s gonna be fine, Lex. I gotta run now, the flight’s boarding. Love you, see you in a few hours.”
I slammed the phone shut, but only after he hung up. I wouldn’t be that rude, even though I was mad at him, and my parents, for leaving me out of things, which was something they were doing a lot of lately.
The loud thump the suitcase made when it hit the floor sent my mother bolting up the stairs. She thought it was me, until she found me sweaty, frustrated and stuffing the rest of the forty year old junk back in the closet, which wasn’t much bigger than the cubbyhole I had in pre-school.
“He told you? Sometimes that boy has diarrhea of the mouth! He wasn’t supposed to let the cat out of the bag until we got to the airport.”
“I guess he suffocated the cat then,” I scoffed.
“Honey, I already packed your stuff.” She tidied up the closet and closed the door with a bump of her rump.
“Jesus Christ, Mom, can I do anything for myself? I’m eighteen, you know. When are you gonna start treating me like an adult?”
“You are an adult, so stop swearing at God, he didn’t do anything!” she snapped.
I couldn’t get a reaction nearly half as bad when I dropped the f-bomb, followed by some other colorful phrases. I didn’t share her spiritual convictions, but I knew what they meant to her, and I felt like a jerk for my choice in words. She always meant well, even though she could be, and usually was, overbearing at times.
“And I’m sorry. I was only trying to help him surprise you. Your bag is in my room, behind the door in the bathroom if you want to re-pack it,” she mumbled and stomped to the stairs.
“No, it’s fine, Mom. I didn’t mean that. It’s just... well, you know how much I hate surprises. I’m sure you packed stuff I like. Thanks.” I caught her tight-lipped smile before she left. It was her way of letting me know we were okay.
The next few hours were still a little tense, even though I’d made nicey-nice with Mom. After a while, my father insisted I try to get some rest and banished me to my room like a modern day Cinderella. It was hard enough to sit still, let alone lie down and shut my eyes. I flopped on my bed, bunched up the pillow and stared at the ceiling, while I daydreamed about spending the whole summer with William. The clock always stands still when you’re waiting for the time to pass, but I checked it against my phone a few times just to make sure it still worked. Finally, my mother called up to me.
“Lex! Let’s go down and get some flowers while Dad’s getting the car.”
“Coming!” I sprang up and jammed my toes into the shoes I had waiting at the foot of the bed, while my hands multitasked at insane speeds: my left searching for the arm of my sweatshirt, and my right squirting William’s favorite perfume all over myself. I used so much that my father said he should’ve bought stock in Abercrombie and Fitch. With William being in the States all summer, maybe he should have.
“Take an umbrella, too, it’s starting to rain.”
I grabbed my bag and the umbrella and raced down the stairs so my feet barely touched the carpet. One quick jump over the last few and I stood on the landing in front of my slightly startled mother.
“Nothing like young love,” she joked.
I smiled a little before I pushed past her and flung the door open. “Let’s go!”
It’s a good thing Manhattan has at least one bodega on every block, since my no-frills father rarely had patience for that ‘nonsense.’ The nearest one was only a few feet away from our door and we were in and out with the smelliest flowers they had before my father even pulled up to the curb. We drove through the early summer downpour to Newark Airport in New Jersey, where the London flight would arrive and the Bahamas one would depart an hour later. Whoever thought up that schedule had a lot of faith in me that I wouldn’t be my usual late self. And I wasn’t.
I slurped down my Venti Starbucks and walked around the terminal, looking out each window for the British Airways plane. The smell of un-showered bodies, mixed with strong, spicy cologne at that hour of the morning, made me so queasy I thought I’d ruin the big moment by upchucking. I plunged my face into the bouquet of flowers and sucked up the scent, hoping to mask the stench, at least until the feeling subsided. With my nose still stuffed in a gardenia, a gentle nudge brushed against my back. “He’s here,” my mother said.
The plane unloaded its passengers and the excited crowd got tighter and moved closer to the ramp that grew thick with people and carry-ons. I ignored the groans and the occasional shoves while I pushed my way to the front of the group. My bloodshot eyes scanned the crowd for a few seconds until they landed on the most beautiful sight I’d ever seen. With one deep sigh, months of anxiety disappeared. “William!” I screamed, as I ran to him and threw myself into his arms. He swooped me up and swung me in circles, covering my face with kisses. I held him so tight, I thought I’d melt into him, and that would have been just fine with me.
“Ah, Lexi girl! I’ve missed you!” he said. My parents smiled at us while keeping their distance, so as not to interfere with the mushy part. William’s arm slid around my waist and we walked toward them, playfully squeezing each other along the way.
“It’s so nice to finally meet you!” my mother gushed.
“Yes it is,” Dad chimed in, and extended his hand for the typical male bonding ritual. William gave it a shake and leaned into my mother to kiss her cheek.
“My pleasure, Mr. and Mrs. Blane. Thank you for putting me up for the summer. It’s really very kind of you.”
“No thanks needed, son. Let’s go, we’ve got a plane to catch!” My dad pounded William’s shoulder while taking his bag from him, and we all headed for the next terminal, laughing most of the way.
I don’t remember much about the flight, other than I pushed up the armrest that kept me apart from William, and snuggled up to his chest. I woke when my ears started popping from our descent, a little mad at myself for sleeping while my time with William ticked away.
Our hotel overlooked the beach and was surrounded by palm trees, man-made waterfalls and a clear blue-green ocean. We piled into the elevator that took us to the top floor where William had booked the penthouse suite overlooking the beach. He did everything big, and I shouldn’t have been so astonished, but this was outrageous, even for him. The private pool took up half the wrap-around balcony and was dotted with lounge chairs, tables and white fluffy robes. On the other side stood an outdoor kitchen, shower and hot tub, and an entertainment system that was already blaring the native tropical music. As exhausted as we were, we threw our suits on and never looked back.
That first day of the trip wiped out the remnants of pissyness I had left from my ‘surprise.’ All the water skiing and beach romping left me too tired to scuba dive, but I’d never miss a chance to be in the ocean, so I acted like I was fine and went anyway. Not really the best decision since, after the one-hour dive, I was too exhausted to catch myself and avoid that clumsy fall.
~ * ~
The second day, well, let’s just say it was different. Aside from a little throbbing in my hand from my scuba boat ‘trip’ the day before, and a weird feeling in my head, it started out wicked great! The third and fourth wheels—that would be my parents, embarrassingly dressed like tourists, finally left us alone.
“We’re going down the beach and get some shells for this,” my mother said while holding up the putrid fish-shaped jar she bought from some local in a mud hut. Judging by the smirk on my dad’s face, he didn’t share the thrill.
“Have fun with that,” I giggled and winked at my father. He tried to be casual when he slid the little paper umbrella from my drink and gave it a whiff.
“Yeah, Dad, no alcohol.” He sucked the pineapple chunk off the umbrella and his face puckered as if it were a lemon.
“The alcohol might have tasted better!” he joked.
I wanted nothing more than to be alone with William, but a tiny part of me wished my parents had stayed, only because I couldn’t shake that weird feeling. I knew something was definitely wrong, but being with William was more important than that minor malady. So I did what any other lovesick teenager would do. I ignored it and hoped it would go away.
“Don’t forget your sunscreen, Lex. You’re looking pink already.”
“I’ll be sure she puts it on,” William reassured my father. “Have fun.”
Even though the overprotection thing was humiliating, I felt like my life had finally changed direction. For once it wasn’t so bad being me. Not on this day, anyway. I was on Paradise Island with my very own fairy tale prince. He wasn’t the Prince William, but he was mine, and he was much better looking and not nearly as stuffy. And you’d think he would have been, coming from a family that made the Queen herself look like a penny-pincher.
I ain’t gonna lie; it was a newsworthy event when he asked me out, even though I initially avoided him like the occasional cockroach in my closet. I don’t care what anyone says, you could be Einstein’s daughter, but you gotta be a hottie to get a guy like that. I didn’t know what his attraction to me was, though, because there was nothing exotic about my looks, unless you’d consider five-foot-five, brown hair and eyes to be exotic.
But just like a typical guy, the thrill of the chase must have sucked him in. That, or he really did see something in me that I never saw in myself. And so I wound up with the most perfect man on the planet.
“Your coconut massage is ready,” William snorted. His hands were full of the sweet smelling liquid as he knelt on the blanket, waiting for me to lie down. His brown hair, marked by the sun with its golden streaks, fell into his eyes as he smoothed the oil down my back. He moved his head so the wind blew it off his face and his green eyes caught the reflection of the sea. They looked an unusual but beautiful shade of turquoise. I pulled his head toward mine and kissed that gorgeous face when I was all greased up and ready for the Bahamian sun to roast me.
“Your turn,” I said and wrestled him to the blanket. “You don’t want to fry that pale English skin, now do you?”
“Hey, ivory girl, you’re pretty porcelain yourself!”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, lie down.”
His long legs hung off the blanket while he nestled his head in the crease of his muscular, folded arms. My fingers intentionally moved to tickle under them, and I waited for that gleaming smile that gave me chills. When he flashed it, I kissed every smidgen of his baby soft face and lay down next to my perfect man, whom I was too infatuated with to notice, was too perfect.
And just like my wish for the destiny bus, my luck took a nosedive off the GWB. That was my first sign. Too bad I didn’t see it on the way down.
The voices reverberated in my head, “No! She’s crashing!”
“What? Who is?” I brushed my hand against his arm without opening my eyes.
“What?” William groaned.
“Oh, I thought you said something.”
“Maybe the cabana boy spiked your drink,” he cracked in that British accent that made me melt like ice cream on asphalt.
I laughed him off, but I knew I had heard it. I can’t explain how I knew, but I had a very strong feeling that someone was dying somewhere. Or I had gone insane. Yep, that was reasonable.
I froze. It hurt.
“Lex? You all right?” William asked. He sat up on the blanket and stroked my cheek. Those stunning green eyes traced me from head to toe and back again before they stopped at my face.
“I...I don’t feel so good.” The heat surge stung when it pulsated in my chest and ran through my veins to every cell in my body. My skin sizzled from the blood boiling beneath it. What started out as a little twitching in my arms and legs ended in an uncontrollable full-body thrashing session. My heart skipped a few beats and then started again with one deep, heavy thud. It tickled my ribs when if fluttered for a little while before it found its own rhythm, similar to the ticking of the metronome on my piano. My body got still.
“Oh my God, will you shut up?” I snapped at William. My head echoed with the voices that got louder and faster.
“What? I didn’t say anything!”
“Stop!” I screamed.
I heard the word, but his lips didn’t move. It wasn’t even his voice. He stared a worrisome glare when my face lost all expression. That’s when I realized it was me. The voices were talking only to me, and only inside my head. Terror gripped me like a boa constrictor, stealing the air my lungs needed to inhale a deep, calming breath. It didn’t take a genius to realize that the same schizophrenia that stole my grandma had finally come to take a swat at me. The family kept her illness a secret so I didn’t know that much about it, other than I could have inherited it from her, along with my trust fund. I never saw how badly the disease destroyed her mind at the end, and it horrified me that I was about to find out first-hand.
I tried not to let William see my panic when I looked around, hoping to find the source of the voices. I didn’t want to be crazy, but I couldn’t run out of my own head either. As my bad fortune would have it, the beach was empty, except for a few surfers trying to catch a wave a few hundred yards away. It’s here, I thought. Grandma’s craziness got a grip on me and sank its long, pointy teeth into my flesh. I had to find a way to break free without leaving my brain in its jaws.
“Let’s get out of here. You don’t look so good.” William jumped to his feet and shook out our towels, sending the fine grains of sand flying in my face. The powdery, white sand wasn’t white anymore. It was black. I saw nothing but black.
Book Publisher: Class Act Books
No. of Pages: 317