Light meets dark. Secrets meet truth.
It’s been three years, twenty-five weeks, and five days since Isis Blake fell in love, and if she has it her way, it’ll stretch into infinity.
After a run-in with her mom’s ex-boyfriend, she scrabbles to remember what she’s lost to amnesia. Her ex-nemesis Jack falls deeper into a pit of despair, and his girlfriend Sophia does all she can to keep him to herself. But as Isis’ memories return, she finds it harder and harder to resist what she felt for Jack, and Jack finds it impossible to stay away from the only girl who’s ever melted the ice around his heart.
As the dark secrets surrounding Sophia emerge, Isis realizes Jack isn’t who she thought he was. He’s dangerous. But when Isis starts receiving terrifying emails from an anonymous source, that danger might be the only thing protecting her from something far more threatening.
***This book contains language and sexual scenes, some of which may be unsuitable for younger readers.
***This is the second book in the Lovely Vicious series.
hair but somehow makes the crazed lunatic look work for her, which is weird,
because she works with crazies. Not that crazies are bad. I’ve met a few and am
probably one of them. I just don’t know it. Or I do. But I refuse to let it get
in the way of my fabulousness hard enough to require a shrink. Mernich is my
way out of this place, in any case. She’s the one who’s keeping me here until
she’s satisfied I’m alright in the head. Which is dumb, because mentally I am a
diamond fortress of impenetrable logic and sexiness.
for humanity. Also, quieter.”
intestines are feeling lots of things! That means I need to poop. Sometime in
the next hour. In addition to this riveting prospect, I’m worried about my mom
so if you could just write me a note so I can get out of here that’d be great.”
scribbles some more.
it,” I recite.
not a fat, sweaty kid in gym class. I mean, I am still fat as heckie but it’s
an alluring sort of fat, you feel me?”
spent two weeks with me, talking about my life. I’d stalled around her with
jokes for a good week until I realized she was the one who gives the go-ahead
to let me out. And then I had to start actually cooperating with an adult. Ugh.
head. “So c’mon. Why don’t you just let me out of this – pardon my French –
certain there are still some things we need to work on. You’re close, but not
as she says that gives it all away. The trophies and awards lining her stuffy
walls give it away.
of startled hanging around her.
slowly. “I understand. I see things about people and I just love knowing I
know. It’s weird. It’s stupid. But mostly it’s fun and it makes me feel
superior. Maybe I’ll turn it into a way to make money someday, too. I gotta
think about that kind of stuff, you know, with college and everything a few
then she starts scribbling madly. She does that when I say something super
interesting that she can dissect. So she scribbles a lot. Because I am,
objectively, an insanely interesting person. I better be! I work hard to be
feel really cooped up and sort of tired of hospitals. Also I feel bad for Sophia.
Did you know she has no parents? And her grandma died? How sucky is all that
death? Majorly sucktastic.”
strong girl, if a little tragic.”
her but you went straight to giving her labels like tragic? Wow. That’s
quickly cuts it off and resumes her usual passive face. Oh, she’s good. But not
better than me. Not better than Jack.
Where did that come from? How would I know Jack is any good? I haven’t been
around him for more than thirty seconds that first time when I woke up and he
yelled at me.
Which is weird. I mean, most things that pop into my head are really weird,
like that one time when I thought about Shrek in Victoria’s Secret underwear,
but I think this actually beats Shrek’s Secret.”
remember who. Kayla, maybe. Maybe Wren? Yeah, I think Wren.”
of slapping someone.
must’ve done something stupid, I don’t know.”
dressed up as Batgirl.”
what’s his name? I don’t remember his name, but I know I slightly despised
wrong way. I don’t know.”
with pain. I squeeze my eyes shut and rub them.
wells up in my throat. I’m not going to be able to save Mom.
dance? Who was wearing what costume?”
drank…coke. I think. With rum. Don’t tell my Mom that. We joke about me
drinking but she doesn’t really know I drink. And I danced and there was
Sophia. Sophia? No, that’s not right. Leo doesn’t know her. Who, then, has hurt
Sophia? A baseball bat. Avery came at me with a baseball bat, and someone
grabbed it. I can see their broad, spidery hand wrapped around it, wrenching it
from her, their low voice saying something with an amused tone to a startled,
frozen Avery –
doing well, but don’t give up now. What else happened there?”
my name –
evil flower. I can’t see anything – the world goes black and my ears ring.
what you get for trusting someone.
I’ll love you. If you hold still.
hurts and I want it all to stop.
guts. I like that.
fucking fun trusting nobody for the rest of your life!
go out with ugly girls.
sorry. Just breathe. In, and out. There you go. Slowly. Sit up.”
shaking. My whole body is trembling, like a thread in the breeze.
to find that out, we need to go to the beginning.”
for a happy, fulfilling life, and never time travelling ever is one of them.
Because, you know. Dinosaurs kill things. And the black plague. And let’s face
it – with my supreme amounts of unnatural charm, I’d be burned as a witch.”
your story. The real one. The one about Will.”
preferable to talking about that guy.”
know that, too.”
leave. I’m racking up more and more pricey bills the longer I stay here. She’s
the reason Mom worries. But I can tell she really wants to know about Nameless.
If I tell her the story, maybe she’ll let me go. Nothing else has worked so
far. It’s worth a shot, even if that shot will pierce through my guts and leave
them to bleed all over the floor.
bird chirps. I want its freedom more than anything.
This was my first mistake. He wasn’t a particularly attractive boy, he was sort
of quiet and spit sometimes, but he had pretty, dark, silky hair. The female
teachers complimented him on it. I wrote him a love note that said ‘I like your
hair’ and he wiped his nose on it and gave it back to me at recess. I should’ve
seen the warning signs in the mucus. But I was smitten. He’d paid attention to
me! Me – the fat roly poly girl with frizzy hair and a constant cloud of B.O.
surrounding her! He actually didn’t snub me, or push me in the mud, or call me
a fat whale, he just wiped his nose on my declaration of love and gave it back
to me. It was the most promising social signal I’d received in my short ten
years of life on the planet Earth.
into utter madness.
attention. Also, I committed actual crimes. Like riding my bike on the freeway
shoulder lane to get to his house and stare at him through his window while he
played video games. But then I found out it was illegal! You can’t ride your
bike on the freeway at all! So I started taking the bus to look at him through
his window while he played videogames.
prime I mean not prime at all. Mom and Dad were going through the divorce,
which involved a lot of shouting and money and guilt, so Aunt Beth offered her
home for a few months so I wouldn’t have to switch schools, which turned into
nearly five years, but Aunt Beth was totally cool about it. We had grilled
cheese almost every night and she let me watch R-rated movies. So basically I’d
died and gone to heaven and neither of my parents gave a diddly-damn except Mom
who sometimes got guilty and sent me lots of exceptional socks. I love her, but
what vase for sixty months, I grew up in the loudest ways possible. Well, I
wasn’t exactly loud back then, I was more an indoor-mouse-whisper kind of gal,
but you get my drift. There were fights. One time, a girl tried to run me over
with her scooter! Do you remember scooters? I remember scooters. My shinbone
remembers scooters. One time that girl even gave me a frog! Because she was so
nice! I found it in my locker! Actually I had tons of friends and by tons I
mean everyone in the library who squeezed around my bulk to reach their books.”
She’s making me bring out the big guns. I sigh.
can still call him that, right?”
time I exchanged words with Nameless was at Jenna Monroe’s beach party in
seventh grade. The girls were wearing pastel tankinis and swimming. I was
wearing two sweatshirts and yoga pants and sitting with her Mom. I was still at
a loss as to why Jenna Monroe invited me at all – Jenna was all legs and brown
ponytails and glitter pens – the total opposite of my pudge and pencils. We’d
been friends once, when we were still pooping ourselves and learning not to eat
said poop, but judging by the way Jenna’s mom waved to me when I first came, I
got the impression Jenna had no hand in inviting me at all.
hell wasn’t mine. Girls were giggling, splashing water on each others’ boobs,
and boys were around! Staring at the girls! Well, all the girls except me and
Jenna’s mom. Will was there, so I hid behind the soda cans on the picnic table
and tried to look like I wasn’t there. Being almost two hundred pounds is sort
of counter-productive to invisibility, though. Everyone saw me. Even Will. It
was like, two seconds of eye contact, and then he looked away. And I thought I
was done for! Because, you know, when people look at you and you’re fat you
think you’re done for.”
Mernich’s eyes. She’s skinnier than a beanpole. Probably has been her whole
life. She has no idea what I’m talking about. No amount of college can teach
her that. I laugh.
you really wanna know. It’s what everyone wants to know. They don’t care about
the how or the whys, just when and where and how quickly they can say ‘awww,
I’m sorry’ or try to fix it.”
way. This way I don’t have to drag out my entire sordid history for you to pore
over! Saves you time! I’m sure you’re a busy lady with a lot of crazy people to
talk to and I’m, frankly, a total purveyor of common sense and not-time
wasting, so. So you know what? Yeah. The day it happened it was raining. I was
at his house. The frogs were outside and croaking because he lived near a
marsh. That’s what Florida is. Marshes. Marshes and assholes. His mom had made
us popcorn. My hands were oily. His hands were oily. We’d been secretly going
out for two months but he wouldn’t let me tell anyone and when I tried to talk
to him at school he ignored me, laughed at me and told me to buzz off. But then
he’d apologize. When we were alone he was nice. Nicer. Marginally. I was
fourteen. Fourteen, okay? I was fourteen and I thought I was in love and I
would have done anything to keep him from leaving me –”
fists on the armrests.
someone? Everyone else leaves. Mom and Dad left. I didn’t want him to leave. If
he left, I would’ve lost it. He was the only normal thing in my life. He made
me feel…when he smiled at me, he made me feel pretty. Do you know what that’s
like, either? Being fat, being huge and gross and feeling huge and gross and
then finding someone who makes you feel pretty? Do you know what you’d do to
keep that person? You’d do anything. Anything in this world short of killing
anymore. This is what she wanted. She’s getting it. Her pen is scrabbling madly
across the paper even as she opens her mouth to speak.
good. You, saying these things aloud, even if you hate me for bringing them
out…it’s good. It’s helping.”
It’s not all anger at Mernich’s vapid, voracious curiosity, though. I’m not all
mad at her. The anger is directed at someone else, too. Nameless. Myself. Mom
familiar yellow slip.
and say it? You were the one who said I needed to confront it, not run away.”
paper off and hands it to me. “I’ve been doing this for fifteen years, Isis.
Some people need me – a total stranger – to listen. However, some people are
only further injured when a total stranger listens. As a doctor, and with you
as my patient, I can’t ascribe you continue speaking to me on this matter with
a good conscious. I’m not the one who should hear it. Someone else – your
mother, your father, maybe Kayla, or Sophia, or perhaps someone you haven’t met
yet – one of them will make you feel safe enough to say it. One of them will be
the one you decide to tell. It’s up to you.”
Mernich just smiles.
person goes through a traumatic experience. It’s a…think of it like a coping
mechanism for the brain. Say someone throws a snowball, and it’s going to hit
your eye. Your eyelids react much faster than the snowball flies to protect the
cornea. Disassociation is like an eyelid for the brain. A traumatic event can
cause the brain to disassociate the event. Sometimes this manifests as a simple
case of shock that quickly wears off. Other times, we see intense reactions,
such as withdrawal, PTSD, and in your case -”
recall a certain person in your life. Your brain has identified this person as
the source of overstimulation, and perhaps pain. You have what’s called lacunar
amnesia – it’s a very centralized and rare thing.”
forgets. I believe in your case, the memories are still there, but buried
beneath layers. It might take months to get them back. But you may also never
get them back at all.”
acting strangely towards you, concerning a certain person?”
Wren’s concerned sighs, and Sophia, shaking her head and saying it’s sad. And
then Jack’s fractured expression when I first woke up and said I didn’t know
him. I stare, wide-eyed, at Mernich’s passive face.
doesn’t make sense. But why do I have this lactose amnesia thing? I mean, my
head was bad, but – ”
amnesia is a combination of that and your own disassociation of the traumatic
event of fighting off your mother’s attacker.”
But you’re leaving the hospital with that discharge slip right away, aren’t
you? You were quite eager to go.”
fist around it.
“Yes. Yes it can.”
Sara Wolf is the author of ARRANGED, a college-aged romance series centered on an arranged marriage. She’s currently working on her next New Adult romance series. She’s addicted to the Vampire Diaries, loves chocolate and romantic angst, and can’t get enough of damaged heroes.