Tuesday, September 16, 2014

RELEASE DAY: Monica Goulet "Follow Me Home"

16-year-old Kelsey thinks her new house far away from Tulsa is the perfect place to escape her past—until she meets Jay, the boy who used to live there.
After a series of mysterious break-ins at the house, Kelsey discovers the culprit is Jay, but before she can confront him, Jay inadvertently sets in motion a series of events that leave Kelsey and her family devastated and wind Jay up in juvie.
Desperate to fix things, Kelsey confronts him only to discover Jay’s not the delinquent she expects, but a boy with a past more messed up than hers. Against her better judgment, the two of them form an unlikely friendship she keeps secret from everyone.
Then Jay asks for a favor she didn’t see coming – one that leaves Kelsey torn between her growing loyalty to Jay and throwing away the new future she worked so hard to build.
Monica Goulet writes and lives in Oshawa, Ontario with her husband. She graduated from Brock University with a Bachelor's degree in English and Professional Writing. In her other life, she’s an instructional designer and a mother-to-be who likes ice cream, running, and losing herself in a good story.
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Chapter One
For the first time in almost a year, I feel safe. My sandals slap against the uneven sidewalk, and I wave back at the old man driving by in a green pick-up truck. His toothless grin should scare the crap out of me, but something about this place makes it okay. I’ll even forgive its lack of a real downtown. I went in search of one of those quaint main streets with specialty coffee shops and expensive clothing stores, and all I found were a bunch of empty buildings for lease and a no-name pizza place. So much for small town charm.
I turn the corner to my house and skid to a halt. The edge of my sandal catches in a crack, and I lurch forward, scraping my palms against the cement. There’s a leg dangling out my bedroom window as if it’s not attached to a body. It reminds me of a cricket I caught when I was eight. I’d accidentally ripped its leg off trying to make it dance. I shudder and pick myself up, my palms burning.
I glance at the driveway. Mom and Dad’s cars aren’t there.
The person in the window struggles to squeeze his way out. Blue jeans and a ratty running shoe. Painter, maybe? Repair person? But there’s no work van in sight.
The rest of the body lowers from the window. I suck in a breath and duck behind a parked car just as he jumps.
 Five, four, three, two, one. I pop my head up just enough to see over the hood.
He’s crouched on the ground, so I creep up a little higher and let out a breath. He’s tying his shoe? What kind of thief would stop to tie his shoe, let alone come out empty handed?
Anger rises in my chest and I clench my fists. What does this guy think he’s doing? I pop up from behind the car without thinking. “You could have used the door, you know!”
My mouth snaps shut as soon as the words are out. What am I doing? For all I know this guy could have a gun or something. I almost duck behind the car again when he looks up, but he turns away again just as quickly as if I never said a thing. He just finishes tying his shoe and shakes his head to get the hair out of his eyes.
I finally catch a glimpse of his face. He’s young – my age maybe. Too young to be someone my parents hired. He heads toward the street, and I glance up at the open window again.
Something doesn’t seem right.
“Hey!” I yell. “Wait!” Against my better judgment, I start after him, but he still doesn’t turn around. My hand closes around the cell phone in my pocket. The police. I should call the police. I fumble with my phone, and it clatters onto the sidewalk.
The guy looks back.
His eyes lock onto mine, and I freeze. I stare back, expecting to see fear or guilt – anything other than what I see.
Sadness. It pours into me from his eyes and touches every nerve in my body. Still, he doesn’t run. He just stares at me until I can’t take it anymore, and I dive behind a tree. My breathing slows. I count to ten before poking my head around the tree again. He’s already a block away. I stare at his back, frozen in place. From here, he looks harmless. Blue hoodie, jeans, running shoes. He’s not even running away.
My curtain blows against the open window in the second story. In and out. In and out. The screen had been missing when we moved in last week. When I spin around again, I catch the last blur of a blue hoodie disappearing around a corner.
My cell phone is in pieces. I scoop them up and shove the battery back in. Still works. My fingers hover over nine-one-one. But I keep seeing the way he looked at me. The sadness. I shove the phone back into my pocket.
The front door is locked like I left it. I expect to find chairs overturned, vases broken, something, but everything is normal. The boxes we haven’t unpacked yet are still piled in the living room. The spare set of keys for my dad’s car still hangs on one of the pegs by the front door proclaiming “Home Sweet Home” above them – a gift from the previous owners who’d screwed it so far into the wall my dad couldn’t get it off without taking a chunk of the drywall with it. He hung it back up until he could get around to fixing it. Which, for my dad, could be a while. I kind of like it anyway.


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