If you’re looking for a young adult thriller, check out Michelle A. Hansen’s Before They Find Us.
I’m going to make you wish you were dead.
Just a text. Seventeen-year-old Rebecca Hales tries not to worry. Probably a wrong number. Not really meant for her, and definitely not related to the crime she witnessed six years ago. Right?
Then two states away, a bomb goes off in her best friend’s locker. Soon Ryan is labeled a terrorist and runs to the safest place he knows—Rebecca’s house in small-town Wyoming. It doesn’t take long for the FBI to show up asking questions. Rebecca lies, of course, and says she hasn’t seen him.
Now she’s neck-deep in it with him, whatever “it” is. The only way out is to return to Vegas, where Ryan is a wanted man. The city of lies and illusion tests Rebecca’s wits as she struggles to find the person who framed Ryan and why.
Is Rebecca’s text linked to the bombing? And what does it have to do with a six year old murder? Rebecca needs to find out before she loses Ryan—and her own life.
For a lot of girls, comfort food was chocolate. For me it was thirty-two ounces of lemonade mixed with Sprite on tap at Skip’s Mini Mart. I tugged on Bullet’s leash and led him out of the park. Three blocks later, I tied Bullet to the post of what used to be a phone booth. Now it was a hideous blue and white box with nothing but graffiti inside. Bullet lay down on the sidewalk and set his head on his paws while I went inside.
Full cup in hand, I approached the counter. The cashier was used to seeing me late at night. He was used to Bullet waiting outside looking bored to death. I set exact change on the counter before he rang up my drink.
Bright lights swept into the parking lot and came to rest outside the front door. The lights were tall, definitely a truck. The driver hopped out, but didn’t come inside. Instead, he went over to Bullet. I didn’t think anything of it until I stepped outside. It looked just like the truck that slowed in front of my house this afternoon.
The guy who knelt on the sidewalk in front of Bullet had shoulder-length, blond hair and a goatee. He didn’t look very old—early-twenties maybe—but it was a hard-lived twenty. This guy, he had all the rough edges. He balanced a cigarette between his lips while he scratched Bullet’s ears.
Happy for the attention, Bullet licked the guy’s wrist. I tried not to cringe. Stupid dog. That guy could be a hundred kinds of trouble, but Bullet didn’t care as long as his ears got scratched.
“Blue tick?” He ran his hand down Bullet’s back, and the dog nudged closer.
“Yeah.” If I hadn’t just dreamed of Kyle, if I hadn’t just stood on the ground where Darla died, if I’d met this guy in daylight, I would have reached down, untied the dog and walked away. As it was, I sipped my Sprite and kept two yards between us.
“Bet he’s a good hunter.” The guy looked up. His smile was too friendly, his manner too casual for a stranger. A shot of fear pulsed in my blood.
I really wished Bullet was more of a guard dog. “He treed a hundred and fifty pound mountain lion a couple years ago.” Okay, it was an exaggeration. It was more like a ninety pound lion, and it was young, but Bullet wasn’t helping me at all by rubbing his head on this guy’s leg.
“What a good boy.” He rubbed Bullet’s fur. Seeing that I wasn’t getting any closer, the guy untied the leash and stood. Other than his truck, the parking lot was completely empty, and so was the street. “Kind of late for a girl to be walking around alone, don’t you think?”
I wouldn’t let myself back away as he approached. I stood my ground and shrugged like it was the middle of the afternoon. “I have Bullet.”
“And—he’s vicious.” His sarcasm fell short of amusing. Bullet drooled on the guy’s cowboy boot. He offered me the leash. “You want a ride?”
Yeah, right. I might be mental, but I’m not totally gullible. “No, we’re good.”
“Want me to walk you?” His eyes scanned the streets, the wide trees offering long stretches of shadows. The breeze lifted the hair from his shoulder and sent cold gusts through the fabric of my sweatshirt.
“It’s not far—” I tried not to stammer. I’d sneaked out without a phone. How stupid was that? Going into the park. Coming here at night. Dr. Kipla would have a heyday with this one, not that I would ever tell.
“Stick to the streetlights.” He took a long drag on the cigarette then dropped it on the sidewalk and smothered the ashes under his boot. “You never know what’s lurking in the dark.”
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