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I try to shake my head, but my head doesn’t move. “Sagan.”

“What kind of person does that to her own sister, Merit?” He grimaces and turns away from me, gripping the back of his neck with his hands. He walks into the kitchen and grabs his hoodie off the back of a chair. I look completely pathetic as I stand up and take a few steps toward him.

He walks to the door and opens it, but he pauses before he exits. When he lifts his head to look at me, his eyes are full of disappointment. “You are such an asshole.”

He closes the door.

I stumble back to the couch until I’m sitting on it again.

You are such an asshole.

I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but no one has ever called me an asshole. It hurts so much worse than anything anyone else has ever said to me.

I guess I was wrong. I am the worst person out of the three of us.

Chapter Ten

I listen for a car to start, but it never does. Sagan left, but he didn’t leave in a vehicle, which means he’s either walking or just lingering outside until he cools off. I want to run after him and beg him to forgive me, but I’m not sure I want his forgiveness right now. I’m not sure I deserve it.

I’m hugging my knees, wondering how I’ve been so blind. I just assumed he was in love with Honor. They do so much together. They talk like they’re a couple. And almost every time I’ve referred to him as her boyfriend, no one has corrected me. It’s as if they wanted me to believe that.

Or maybe it was just Honor who wanted me to believe that.

I use the blanket on the back of the couch to wipe away my tears. Jesus is staring down at me, judging me. I roll my eyes. “Oh, shut up,” I say to Him. “Aren’t you up there so people like me can be forgiven for doing terrible things like this?”

I fall back on the couch and feel like I want to scream. I grab a pillow and cover my face and do just that. I’m frustrated, embarrassed, angry, disappointed. It’s a far fall from what I was feeling while Sagan was kissing me just a few moments ago. It’s like I plunged from the warmth of the tropics straight into the ice-cold waters of Antarctica.

I don’t want to feel anything anymore. These past two days have supplied me enough emotional turmoil for a lifetime. I’m done. Done, done, done.

“Done, done, done,” I reaffirm as I roll off the couch. I walk to the kitchen and grab a red Solo cup. I open the cabinet above the refrigerator and pull out a bottle of liquor. I don’t even know what it is. I’ve never had alcohol before, but what better time to try it than in the same week I almost lose my virginity and piss off the one person I actually feel something for in this house?

I don’t know how much it takes to get a person drunk, but I fill my glass halfway to the top. Or maybe it’s halfway to the bottom. Am I an optimist or a pessimist? I glance down into the cup.


I down as much as I can before I feel like I’m gagging on a fireball. I sputter and cough and even spit a little bit of it into the sink.

“This is disgusting!” I wipe my mouth with a paper towel. I can feel the burn as it slides down my chest. I can also still feel the frustration, the anger, the sadness.

I somehow manage to get down the rest of what’s in the cup. I take the bottle and the cup with me as I exit the kitchen. I don’t want to be in here when Sagan gets back from his walk. I open the door to my bedroom, but it’s lonely. Empty. Depressing. It reminds me of me. I set the bottle of alcohol on my dresser, but the cup falls to the floor. Whatever. It’s empty.

The first thing I do is change out of Honor’s nightgown and into my own pajamas. I also undo the braid and pull my hair up. I don’t want to be her anymore. It’s not as fun as I thought it would be. I also don’t want to be alone right now. The only person who might feel bad and sympathize with me is Luck.

I’m not sure if he’s asleep, so when I open his door I do it as quietly as possible. I slip inside and then face the door as I close it with both hands, not wanting to make a noise. When I turn around, I’m relieved to see there’s a tiny sliver of light coming from my father’s computer on the other side of the office. Enough light for me to be able to make it to the sofa bed.

I hear Luck groan as I tiptoe further into the room. The mattress squeaks and it sounds like he’s rolling over.

“Luck?” The mattress squeaks again and it sounds like he’s making room for me. “Are you awake?” I whisper, taking a seat on the edge of the bed.

All of a sudden, I hear the word, “Shit!” but it isn’t out of Luck’s mouth. It’s not out of mine, either.

“Merit?” That’s Luck’s voice.


“What the hell?!” That’s Utah’s voice.

Utah? I jump up.

“Shit!” Luck says. “Merit, get out!”

Something crashes to the floor. The lamp, maybe?

“Get out!” Utah yells.

“Shit!” Luck says again. There’s so much commotion going on, it takes me several seconds to regain my bearings and turn around for the door. When I open it, I make the mistake of glancing back into the room. There’s enough light now that I can see both of them as they struggle back into their clothes. Utah freezes when he locks eyes with me. Only one of his legs has made it into his pants. He’s not wearing any underwear.

“Oh my God.” I’m scarred for life. Luck is on the other side of the sofa bed, struggling to pull on his boxer shorts.

I slap my hand over my eyes when Utah yells, “Get the hell out, Merit!”

I slam the door shut.

Please be a nightmare.

I go to my room and grab the bottle of liquor and don’t even bother with the cup this time. I need these feelings to stop. I need to forget, forget, forget. What in the hell did I just see?

I squeeze my eyes shut. I can’t be that oblivious. Then why were they naked? Together? In bed?

Luck almost had sex with me yesterday. He said he couldn’t finish because I looked like Moby, but Utah looks more like Moby than any of us! Now he’s having sex with my brother? If this isn’t the ultimate form of rejection, I don’t know what is.

What’s wrong with me? Luck would rather have sex with my brother than me. Sagan called me an asshole right after we made out on the couch. Drew Waldrup broke up with me with his hand on my boob. WHY AM I SO REPULSIVE?


Utah is knocking on my door as I pace my bedroom floor. What in the hell did I just interrupt?

I swing open the door and Utah pushes himself into my room and closes the door behind him. He looks angry and a little bit worried when he points at me. “Keep your mouth shut,” he says. “What I do is none of your business.”

I stop pacing and step closer to him. “Have I ever spilled your secrets before this?”

His anger fades with the mention of his past indiscretions.

“You think I forgot about that, Utah? Well, guess what? I didn’t. And I never will.”

He winces and I can see the guilt in his expression. I want to punch him, but I’m not a violent person. I don’t think. I’m not sure, because my hand balls into a fist right before he slips out of my bedroom and shuts the door.

I hate him. And I hate myself for never telling anyone the truth about him.

I sit down on my bed and squeeze my eyes shut. I feel like I might puke and I’m not even sure why, exactly. I think it’s everything. It’s Luck, Sagan, Utah, Honor, my father, Victoria, my mother.

This family is just as terrible as everyone in this town believes it to be. Maybe even worse. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of the secrets and I’m sick of the lies. And I’m tired of being the one person in this house who has to hold on to all of them!

I have Utah’s secret.

I have my father’s secret.

My mother’s secret.

Honor’s secret.

Luck’s secret.

I don’t want any of them anymore!

Maybe if I let all the secrets out, they wouldn’t make me feel like drowning anymore.

Yes. Maybe that would help. Maybe getting it all out will help me feel like I’m not about to implode.

I reach to my nightstand and grab a pen, then open the drawer and sift through it until I find a notebook with enough empty pages to hold all these secrets.


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