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One Little Lie

One Little Lie

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The whole school thinks she's hooking up with the bad boy from juvie...

Addie's first day at her new school is a disaster. She's accused of being a narc, stealing a boyfriend, and starting a fight—all before lunch. Now the king of the bullies has her in his sights, and it's painfully clear that this sweetheart doesn't have a single friend at this school. Until the guidance counselor pairs her up with the other new kid—the tattooed bad boy who transferred from juvie.

Sure, Vincent says he's not her friend. But when a jerk gets too close, he's there to shove him away. And when she faints from hunger, it's Vincent who brings her breakfast the next day. When rumors start to fly that they're hooking up, Addie knows she should probably set the record straight. But, the thing is...those bullies are scared of Vincent. They're convinced that he really is the big, bad wolf he appears to be. So Addie finds ways to stay close to the loner...

Maybe too close. She's putting on a show at his locker one day, when it happens—she's caught. His eyes burn with heat as he stares at her hand on his chest, and her belly flutters when he leans down close. "What game are you playing, Little Red?"

Intro into Chapter 1

The brick wall of my new high school is freezing cold against my back.

I am cold. 

Nothing in my entire Upstate New York existence has ever prepared me for Montana levels of cold. The worst part? It’s not even winter yet. 

My teeth chatter as I adjust my position on the side of the school. My stepmom dropped me off early because she had to take the twins to the elementary school after this. No problem, I said. 

No problem

I’ve been saying that a lot since moving across the country to live with my dad’s new family.

I could have just gone inside the school when she’d dropped me off. I was early, yes, but the doors to the school were open. But instead I’d walked toward the front doors until I heard my stepmom drive away. Then I’d changed course and found a spot on the side of the school that blocks some of the bitter wind.  

Am I still freezing? Yes. But what can I say? I need time to mentally prepare for my first day at a new school.

“Addie? Sweetie?” My friend Mara is using her motherly tone as she and the others do their best to calm my nerves via phone. “Where are you right now?”

“Um, I’m outside the school.” I wedge myself back against the brick wall even further. The front of the school juts out a little on the sides, and if I stand just so, I’m out of sight of the students who are starting to file toward the main entrance from the parking lot. 

Where outside?” my friend Celia asks with a wrinkle of her nose. “You look like you’re in some back alley.”

I wince. She’s not wrong. I’m on this brown-grass covered strip of land between the school’s exterior and a chain-link fence. Judging by the cigarette butts and crushed cans littered around me, this is Lindale High’s version of the wrong side of the tracks.

But no one is back here at the moment, and the wall to my left is giving me a little privacy, and right now I need to talk to my friends from home more than I need warmth.

“I have a question,” Noelle says, her voice slow like she’s leading up to a punchline. 

I brace myself for it.

“What are you wearing?” she finishes.

I wince, pulling the phone closer so all they can see is my face on the screen.

“Wait, is that makeup?” Celia asks. “Are you wearing makeup?”

“Um…” Okay, maybe pulling the phone closer was a mistake.

“Wow,” Mara says. “Addie, you look hot.”

“Do I?” I wrinkle my nose in disbelief. “I feel ridiculous.”

All three of them are staring at me in confusion. Understandably. Celia voices what they’re all wondering. “Then why did you wear makeup?”

“That’s a funny story,” I start.

I don’t finish.

Because it’s not funny. It’s not even really a story. My stepmom was just so very excited about helping me get ready for my first day. And my dad was so excited that she was so excited. Even the twins were over the moon about the brand-new wardrobe their mom had bought for me.

“Okay,” Mara finally says. “And the clothes?”

She looks worried now.

Oh shoot. I didn’t mean to worry them. I’d just called because I’d needed a burst of courage, and my friends back home have always been way more courageous than me. 

“Gina bought them,” I say.

“Your stepmom?” Celia says.

I try for a smile as I nod, like maybe I can fool these girls who’ve known me my entire life into thinking that I’m super happy to be dressed like a gogo dancer on my first day of school.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the sixties. My friends always tease me about how I dress like a hippie. But my clothes are typically flowy and functional. Not...this.

I take a deep breath and puff out my cheeks as I look down at myself. I’m kinda hoping that maybe I’ll get used to it. I mean, my first glance in the full-length mirror in my dad’s house pretty much gave me a heart attack, but maybe I was just overreacting…?

I blow out the air in my cheeks with a sigh. Nope. I hadn’t been overreacting.

I’m pretty sure I’m wearing the shortest skirt known to man, which is so not helping with the cold factor. It also doesn’t help that my feet are drowning in wedges that are too big and completely inappropriate for this weather.

I don’t get it. My stepmom has been living in this state and in this town for decades. Did she really not consider the weather when she bought me this new school wardrobe or is she secretly trying to kill me off to cut me out of my dad’s will or something?

I’m kidding. Mostly. I definitely don’t think my uber-nice stepmom is out to kill me. It’s not like my dad’s crazy rich, and honestly, Gina seems genuinely sweet. But this stupidly flimsy coat she gave me is doing nothing to keep me warm, and hypothermia is a very real possibility.

Of course, she probably hadn’t anticipated that I’d stand outside in the cold for twenty minutes before the first bell rang. And technically, I could just go inside...

But even though the cold wall behind me is making my blood turn to ice, I plaster myself against it as another wave of students file past me on the sidewalk in front of the high school, giggling and talking amongst themselves…and completely unaware of my existence. 

“Dude, you can’t hide out there forever.” Noelle’s voice comes from my phone, which I’m gripping so hard my knuckles are white. 

That was a close call.

“I’m not hiding,” I say, holding up the phone so I can see my friends on the screen. With the time difference, they’re already well into their school day, and my heart weeps at the familiar sight of the hallway behind them. 

“Sweetie, you are hiding,” Mara says. “And Noelle’s right, you can’t hide out there forever. Your lips are turning blue.”

“I’m not hiding,” I say again.

I duck back into the shadows when a car drives by.

Okay, fine. I am totally hiding. But not forever. I just need a minute. 

“I’m not ready to go in there,” I say. 

My friends exchange looks. 

I sigh. “I can see you, remember?” 

Celia leans forward. “I know it’s scary to start over at a new school—”

“Senior year, no less,” Noelle adds as an aside.

“But you can do this,” Celia finishes.

I force a smile and nod. But the thing is, Celia’s wrong. She doesn’t know what it’s like to start over at a new school. She’s gone to Lakeview High in Upstate New York her whole life. 

All of them have. 

Well, Noelle transferred in second grade. But still. Not one of them knows what I’m facing here. So it’s all fine and good for them to say I’ve got this. But do I, though? Do I really? The cold sweat breaking out on my neck says otherwise.

“Addie, you are the most outgoing, loveable sweetheart I’ve ever met,” Mara says. “If anyone can fit in and make friends at a new school, it’s totally you.”

I smile and open my mouth to say thanks, but I’m cut off by a violent shiver instead. 

Noelle’s gaze narrows. “Addie, seriously, what are you wearing? I mean, don’t get me wrong, that top is hot, but it’s also really, really…um...”

“Not you,” Celia jumps in when Noelle fails to find a tactful ending to her statement. 

I pull the phone further away to look down at myself again. Nothing’s changed since the last time I looked. The top is clingy and low-cut, the skirt meant for someone half my size. The shoes make me feel like I’m playing dress-up in my mom’s work clothes, and the jacket? I now know the jacket was definitely made for fashion, not function.

“It’s so not me,” I agree with a sigh. 

“That is a massive understatement,” Mara adds.

We all go silent for a moment. 

“I miss my pockets,” I say. 

I love long flowy skirts and dresses with pockets. Like, with a passion. My friends know it. But I’m pretty sure they also know that pockets are not all I’m missing right now.

I miss them—my friends. I miss home. I miss my mom. 

I squeeze my eyes shut and take a deep breath before that train of thought makes me burst into tears. My mom is the reason I’m here right now. She deserves to pursue her dreams—even if those dreams are in France.

“Why exactly did your stepmom insist you wear this?” Noelle asks, her dark brows knitted together in a frown.

She’s definitely the most striking of my friends with her long, straight black hair, dark skin, and insane cheekbones. She’s got the look of a supermodel about her even when she’s sporting a plain old sweater and jeans like she is right now. 

She’s also the quickest to get angry on my behalf, so I jump to Gina’s defense before I can think twice. “She meant well.”

“Did she think you were showing up without clothes of your own?” Mara’s expression is the picture of confusion. 

Then again, Mara would have found a way to nicely but firmly explain to Gina that she had her own clothes and didn’t need to be dressed up like a Barbie doll, thanks.

I shrug. “I don’t know, I think she was just trying to be nice. She kept saying she wanted to make sure I fit in. That’s not such a bad thing.”

Noelle arches her brows. “Translation? She’s not a fan of your style.”

“Noelle,” Celia hisses. 

Noelle winces. “Sorry.”

“That’s okay,” I say. My normal way of dressing isn’t exactly the epitome of chic. And I do want to fit in. I look down at myself with a frown. Do students at this school actually dress like they’re going to a club every day? 

Celia turns back to the screen with an encouraging smile. “You’re probably right, she’s just trying to help.”

I nod, but I have nothing to say to that. It sounds like a lame excuse when she says it.

Maybe tomorrow Gina won’t notice if I wear my own clothes. She does have twin seven year olds to look after, and my new stepsiblings are a handful. She’s not going to want to handpick my outfit every day.

Is she?

“Yeah, she probably means well.” Noelle’s grudging agreement makes me feel worse for some reason.

A long silence follows and I’m pretty sure we’re all wondering what Gina was thinking when she picked out these clothes.

“Maybe Gina was traumatized by a bohemian cult when she was a kid or something,” Mara says. 

Celia snickers. “Maybe she’s allergic to flower patterns.”

“Pastels give her a migraine,” Noelle adds.

We all crack up at that, and the laughter feels good after a morning of anxious nausea and jittery nerves over what’s to come.

“Well, the good news is, you look hot,” Noelle says with such finality, I feel like I just passed a test. 

“Do I?” 

“Oh my gosh, yes,” Celia gushes.

“You totally do,” Mara says.

A male voice joins in and I see my friend Elijah pop into the screen behind Noelle’s shoulder. “Hey, Addie! How’s the new—Duuude.” He stopped short at the sight of me, and my friends roll their eyes. 

“You look amazing, A,” Elijah says.

“Thanks, Eli.” 

Noelle turns around to swat him away. “You can talk to her later.”

“We miss you already, Addie,” Eli shouts as he backs away.

My heart clenches into a tight ball. I would kill to be back there with them. 

I hear the bell ring on their end. “Go,” I say. “You’ll all be late if you don’t get going.”

“Are you sure?” Mara asks.

I nod and force another smile.

Little known fact, smiling can actually make you happier. A lesson I’ve taken to heart. I smile a lot. Some might say too much.

“I’ll be fine,” I say as my stomach lurches.

A bell rings from inside the building behind me. I still have time before homeroom. But not much.

“Call anytime,” Celia says. “We’ll be sending you all the good vibes.”

My smile widens at that. Celia’s so not the type to believe in the power of vibes—good, bad, or other. But she knows it’s what I want to hear and I love that.

I love them.

I miss them.

“I better go,” I say in a too-high, absurdly cheerful tone. But there’s no way I’m going to ruin Gina’s makeup job by crying.

Do I like the makeup? 


I never wear more than chapstick, normally, and I barely recognized my reflection in the mirror on the way out the door. But even so, I have a hunch that streaming tears of black goo trickling down my cheeks will not make me feel any better about my current look. 

My friends talk over themselves but I get the gist. They’re wishing me luck and sending me love. And then they’re gone. 

And I’m alone. 

Until I’m not.

A tattoo-covered giant rounds the corner, his head tipped down so he’s charging like a bull. And that bull? 

He’s heading right toward me.

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