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Ultimatum (Dirty Secrets Book 1), page 1

 

Ultimatum (Dirty Secrets Book 1)
 


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Ultimatum (Dirty Secrets Book 1)


  Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  Dedication

  Monday, August 25

  Tuesday, August 26

  Wednesday, August 27

  Author's Note

  Other Books by Mercy

  Acknowledgments

  Find Me Online

  Mercy Amare

  Ultimatum

  Dirty Secrets, Episode 1

  Copyright © 2014 by Mercy Amare

  Cover designed by P.S. Cover Design

  Edited by Laura Heritage

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, distributed, store in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any forms or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, without express permission of the author, except by a review who may quote brief passages for review purposes.

  If you are reading this book and you have not purchased or won it in an author/ published contest, this book has been pirated. Please delete and support the author by purchasing the ebook from one of its many distributors.

  This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  This book is dedicated to “Mercy’s Pimps!”

  Devianna, Jenna, Jenn, Ashley, Amanda, and Lauren!

  Love you girls!

  Monday, August 25

  We have just enough time for a quickie.

  I wake up two minutes before my alarm goes off. Most people think it’s weird that I wake up at five a.m. everyday, but I can’t help it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always woken up at this time, no matter how late I stayed up the previous night. I even woke up at this time during summer break.

  My morning always starts out the same way — with running. I live beside a lake, and the road around it is exactly five miles. It takes me thirty-five minutes to run it. I’ve done it faster, but thirty-five minutes is comfortable for me. I don’t do it to push my body, but because I enjoy it. I like the fresh air, solidarity, and the burn in my legs.

  I get out of bed, throw my long blonde hair into a messy bun, and put on my running shoes. After spending a few minutes stretching, I take off. I have my phone tucked safely inside my bra, and I put on my headphones. On my phone, I have a playlist of songs that I listen to while I run. I change it up at least once a week. I’m always listening to different bands. I like music, and I listen to a lot of different genres. Even if I don’t like a song the first time I hear it, after listening to it for an entire week, I usually end up liking it. Plus, music is something everybody has in common, which means I can have a conversation with just about anybody.

  My love of music started as a kid. My dad loved music. He played guitar, and he always said he wanted to be a rock star. He also said that instead of becoming a rock star, he had me, and I was way better than money or fame. He died when I was seven years old, but his music lives on through me.

  I am in a band. Well, sort of a band. My twin brother Trey and I have a garage band. I say garage because that is where we practice. We aren’t good enough to perform anywhere yet, but we’re working on it. Trey plays guitar, like my dad, and I sing. Our drummer is Trey’s best friend, Jace. Our bass player, Beau, left for college a few days ago, so we are currently looking for somebody else to fill his spot. I’m not too worried about it, because in a year the rest of us will be leaving for college too. It’s not like music is what I plan to do with my life. It’s just something fun to do right now.

  Thirty-five minutes later, I am back at the spot where I started. I go inside, take a shower, and get ready for the first day of my senior year.

  I’ve spent my whole high school experience looking forward to this year. It’s my last year of being in high school, and I’ve heard it’s also the most fun. All I know is that I plan to enjoy every second of it.

  After my shower, I blow-dry my hair and straighten it. My hair reaches the top of my butt, and I like that it’s long. Anybody can have short hair, but not many keep it as long as I do. I like standing out.

  For my first day of school, I put on a bright orange sundress and wear a pair of white sandals with it. Orange is my favorite color, so any time I see orange clothing, I buy it.

  When I come downstairs to leave for school, Jace is standing in the foyer waiting for Trey. He rides with Trey because most of the time his truck won’t start. He drives an older Ford pick-up and it needs some serious maintenance. His mom doesn’t have a lot of money, so they can’t afford repairs right now, and Jace can’t get a job because of football and baseball practice. Everybody says he is probably going to get a baseball scholarship, which is his only hope for being able to afford college, so he can’t be distracted.

  Jace lives next door to us. He moved in there when he was four, which is probably why Trey and he became best friends. Jace and I used to hang out together a lot, but now that we’re in high school we don’t as much. We have different friends. I hang out with him when he’s here, or when we’re at band practice, but we’re not as close as we used to be.

  “Do you want to get suspended on the first day of school?” Jace asks, looking at my legs.

  My dress is short. Way shorter than the school handbook allows. “I won’t get in trouble,” I tell him confidently. It’s the truth. My teachers all love me, and even if I were sent to the principal’s office, I would sweet talk him into letting me wear whatever I want. Mr. Holbrook is in his late forties, and he’s going through some kind of midlife crisis. He lets the pretty girls get away with almost anything.

  “Of course you won’t,” Jace says. I can hear the irritation in his voice.

  “What’s wrong? Is this dress making you hot for me?” I joke. I drop my bag onto the floor and bend over slowly to pick it up.

  “So hot,” he says once I stand back up. He looks at his phone. “We have about ten minutes before we leave… just enough time for a quickie.”

  I roll my eyes like I’m annoyed, but my heart skips a beat. I might have a tiny little crush on Jace. Okay, okay… I definitely do have a crush. And it’s actually not tiny. I’ve kind of been in love with him since I was four years old. He had just moved in next door, and I was in my tree-climbing phase. I climbed up higher than I meant to, and I got scared. Jace saw me up in the tree and I asked him to go get my dad. He refused, so after about an hour of arguing with Jace, I finally climbed down. It’s because of him that I’m fearless. He pushes me to go to the extreme and do stuff I wouldn’t normally do.

  “You so wish,” I say and then walk past him toward the door. “See you around.”

  “Later.”

  As I’m about to shut the door, I look back and see that Jace is watching me. He smiles, and for a moment I think maybe he’s in love with me too. But I’ll never know, because I will so never admit it to him.

  We pretend to hate each other.

  We flirt.

  We joke about sex.

  But that’s it. It’s all a joke. And I don’t want to be the one to admit I’m not joking. He has to admit it first, and unfortunately, Jace is the only person who is as stubborn as I am.

  English

  You know you want me.

  I love my car.

  I drive an orange Camaro that has white racing strips. It’s a convertible, and it’s a 6-speed. I like driving a stick shift because most of the people I know have no clue how to drive it. I like to be different in every way that I can.

  When my dad died, he left enough money
for all three of his kids to get a car and to pay for college. Trey and I got to go to the lot on our sixteenth birthday and get a brand new car. It was awesome, but I would gladly give it up to have my dad back. I’d much rather have him than this car.

  Hailee is my youngest sister. She’s thirteen now, but she was only three when our dad died. I’m sad that she didn’t have the chance to get to know him better. She hardly even remembers him, which makes me sad. I’m thankful for the memories that I had with him.

  When I get to school, Lexie Sharp is waiting for me.

  Lexie is a really good friend. She’s in drama club with me, and we perform well together… or so our drama teacher says. He always casts me as the lead and her as my sidekick. I kind of feel bad for her, always coming in second, but she doesn’t mind. I definitely would. I have had the female lead in every school play since I was a freshman. I love the spotlight.

  Lexie is beautiful in her own subtle way. She has natural cherry brown hair and big brown eyes. I know she has a nice body, because I’ve seen her in a bikini, but she hides it under baggy t-shirts and skirts that are one size too big for her. It’s like she enjoys sliding under the radar instead of standing out. Today, she’s wearing a jean skirt that hangs awkwardly to the bottom of her calves and is somehow four inches higher in the back. She’s also wearing a shirt that says “Virgin — you ain’t getting any”. She has on a pair of fake pink frame glasses, which is weird considering she has to wear contacts to see five feet in front of her face. Why not just get real glasses?

  “Hey, Mads!” she greets me.

  “Hey, Lex,” I say back.

  Lexie and I don’t hang out much at school because we are in different groups. Lexie is kind of a nerd, not that there is anything wrong with that. I’m a nerd too, but somehow I pushed my way to the top. I hang out with all the popular girls and guys. It’s not like I need to be popular, but I enjoy it. Like I said, I thrive on being the center of attention.

  “I heard a rumor that the winter play is going to be a retelling of Cinderella,” she says.

  School hasn’t even started and there are already rumors. “Awesome.”

  “You’re going to make a great Cinderella.”

  “If I get the part,” I say, waving her off. We both know that I will, but I don’t want to jinx it… or sound arrogant.

  “Of course you will get the part. Can you believe that we’re seniors now?” she asks, bouncing up and down.

  I spot Daisy Lewis standing by Mason Holt and Robert Dixon. I say a quick goodbye to Lexie and head toward them. Daisy greats me with a hug, as always.

  Everybody calls Daisy Dee, and she is kind of a bitch. She’s definitely the mean girl at our high school, but I love her anyway. And if I didn’t I would fake it, because I’ve seen what she does to people who don’t like her. She’s kind of vicious.

  Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer… And Daisy the closest.

  “Hey, bitch,” she greets me in the same way she has since we became friends our freshman year. “I missed your beautiful face this summer!”

  Daisy’s family is rich, so she spends her summer in Barbados, right on the beach. She has an awesome tan, but mine is darker. I spent most of my summer outside too. I played softball every Saturday, and pretty much went swimming with Trey, Jace, and Hailee every day. It was wonderful.

  Daisy’s appearance is always perfect. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her wear anything that isn’t custom-fitted, including her pajamas. She always wears her bleached blonde hair parted to the left, and it’s always down. Most of the time she straightens it, but occasionally she’ll curl it into soft waves on the weekends. And even when she is completely wasted, I’ve never seen her get an ounce of vomit on herself.

  “Did you have fun?” I ask her.

  “You know it. Sat by the pool, worked on my tan, drank fruity drinks, and flirted with guys all day. At night, I’d go out to a club and usually hook up with a hot guy. It was the best.”

  I didn’t talk to Daisy once this summer… not that we normally talk a lot or anything. I wasn’t worried about her lack of conversation directed at me. I figured she was having too much fun in Barbados to think about texting me. I know I was having too much fun to text her.

  Before anybody has a chance to say anything else, the warning bell goes off. We all head off in different directions.

  English is my first class of the day. When I walk in the classroom, I take a seat in the back corner. A few seconds later, Jace sits down beside me. He looks surprised to see me.

  “What?” he says, trying to sound angry. He slaps his hand down on the desk. “I specifically told them not to put me in the same class as you.”

  I roll my eyes in response.

  He leans closer. “I’m willing to ditch if you still want that quickie.”

  I shake my head at him and laugh as the bell rings.

  Mrs. Duff walks in the room and starts talking. She hands out the syllabus. I glance over at Jace to see that he’s trying to get my attention.

  “Your legs look really hot in that dress,” he signs to me.

  Jace’s little brother, Thayer, is deaf. When Jace was seven, his mom got married and got pregnant with Thayer. When his mom was nine months pregnant, her then husband beat her almost to death. She and Thayer both are lucky to be alive, but Thayer has never been able to hear because of it. Trey, Jace, and I all learned sign language together. Thayer is nine now, so sign language comes just as natural as talking.

  “You make me sick,” I sign back.

  “You know you want me.” He wiggles his eyebrows, and I try not to laugh out loud.

  I roll my eyes and pretend that he’s annoying me. What he doesn’t know is that what he’s saying is totally turning me on.

  Jace can always make me laugh, which is one of the things I love about him. If it wasn’t for him, I’m not sure how I would survive. I hate my life at home. My mom is a nurse, and she works all night and sleeps all day. I hardly ever see her. And when I do, her boyfriend, Ben, is there. I despise Ben. He is only nice to Haliee, Trey, and me when our mom is standing there.

  I look over the syllabus. It’s not too bad. We only have to read five books, and only two of them are classics. I know, I know. Classics are good books. But they take me twice as long to read. I’d much rather read something from this century. No offense to William Shakespeare; he’s obviously a literary genius. I think the teacher is going easy on us since it’s senior year. There are hardly any essays on here. I will probably get started on them soon, so I don’t have to write them later in the year… I’m kind of OCD when it comes to my homework.

  I turn to Jace. “Senior year is going to rock.”

  “I agree completely,” he signs.

  Lunch

  Your thighs look fat in that dress.

  Where you sit in the cafeteria says a lot about you. My school, like most, is separated into cliques — band geeks, the glee club, drama club, girl basketball players, dance team, and of course, the people who just slide by under the radar. They’re not in any clubs, and they don’t do any activities — the loners tend to sit at the edge of the cafeteria, close to the door. They always look ready to make an escape if needed.

  Everybody knows where they belong. Everybody accepts it.

  Except me.

  I am in the glee club. I’m in drama club. I am in a band — not the lame school band, but still, I’m a band geek. I also play softball in the summer. And I’m on the prom committee. I’m not okay with fitting into a certain mold, and I like to stand out. Really, I could sit down at any table here and fit in. Except maybe not with the loners.

  The people sitting at my table are mostly cheerleaders and the star football players. And, of course, there is Daisy. Since her parents are millionaires, she automatically got invited to the table. Me, I’m not really sure how I got here. I didn’t really try to sit here, but it just happened.

  When I walk down the hallway, kids move out of my way. Last ye
ar, when I was preparing to take my SATs, two kids offered to pay me to let them tutor me. I declined, of course. Just last spring, a guy in the chess club said hi to me, so I was polite and said hi back. He fainted.

  So, somewhere between freshman year and now, I have climbed my way from the bottom to the top. It’s not like being popular is important to me, but I definitely love the perks.

  “You’re so skinny,” Daisy says as I take my seat beside her. “Maybe I should play softball next summer so my legs can look as good as yours.”

  I want to laugh at the thought of Dee playing softball. She’s too girly, and she’d definitely break a nail. “You can come running with me in the morning,” I suggest, knowing that she will never do it.

  She wrinkles her nose. “Gross. No way am I getting up at five in the morning to run.”

  Frannie, Cassidy, Emma, and Hayden all take a seat at the table. The four of them are wearing their cheerleading uniforms today, because there is a welcome back to school pep rally.

  Frannie is the captain of the cheerleading squad, and she definitely deserves it. I’ve never seen a better dancer than her, and it’s because of her that I know how to dance. Rumor has it she is going to get a full ride to Florida State University next fall for her cheerleading. I’m proud for her.

  Frannie looks like a typical cheerleader. She has natural, long blonde hair and big blue eyes. Most of the time her blonde hair is in a high ponytail with a red ribbon tied around it. Only a few loose bangs hang around her face.

  Cassidy is the co-captain. She’s so jealous of Frannie, and I don’t blame her. Frannie definitely steals the thunder during their performances, and Cassidy is second. Always. Plus, Frannie is her stepsister. I know there is a lot of rivalry going on at home. To make matters worse, Cassidy is a redhead, and Daisy always jokes with her about being the redheaded stepchild. Cassidy plays it off, but I know it affects her.

 
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