Awake, page 1
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Books by Natasha Preston
Copyright 2015 Natasha Preston
The right Natasha Preston to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrial system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the publisher, nor otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
All characters in this publication are fictional and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
Interior Design by Cassy Roop of Pink Ink Designs
This gorgeous cover was created by Hilda Therese at Dalliance Design.
As always, Hilda, you ROCK! Thank you for just knowing exactly what I want. Even when I don't!
Editing and proofreading by Emma Mack at Tink's Typos.
I'd like to dedicate this book to all of my readers. Thank you for making my dream come true.
IMOGEN NUDGED MY arm, nodding towards the classroom door with a predatory grin. "Finally some talent," she whispered.
Okay, she wasn't wrong. The guy standing by Mrs Wells' door was gorgeous. Like, shouldn't even be at our school gorgeous. Who is he?
"Welcome to Fordham High, Noah," Mrs Wells said. "Take a seat over there." She pointed to the space next to me, and Imogen gripped my forearm. "Scarlett and Imogen, you have most of the same classes as Noah this year so please show him around and make him feel welcome."
Im's face lit up. "Absolutely."
Good luck, Noah.
He walked to our desk at the back of the classroom, demanding everyone's attention, owning the room, but his focus was on me. I squirmed in my seat, heat flooding my face. He looked older, the way he carried himself with an air of I-don't-give-a-crap.
"Hi," he said, still staring at me.
"Hey. I'm Scarlett, and that's Imogen." I pointed to my best friend beside me. "I guess we're your tour guides."
"Thank you," he replied. He even sounded older; he pronounced a lot more of every word than most of the kids here did. "Although this school is so small I doubt anyone could get lost."
"So true!" Imogen said, leaning over the desk so Noah could see her past me. She brushed her light hair behind her shoulder and pouted her full lips.
Bobby turned around in his seat. "You like wrestling, Noah?"
Noah's forehead creased. I held my hand up. "Bobby's a WWE freak; he's not offering you a fight."
"Definitely not," Bobby confirmed. "You look like you can handle yourself."
Noah grinned. "Handling myself is what got me expelled from my last school."
He didn't seem like the fighting type, but then I'd known him for five seconds. Maybe he seemed older because he was. Maybe was repeating a year.
"How old are you? You look older than fifteen or sixteen," I asked.
"No, I'm sixteen," he replied. "What about you?"
"She's just sixteen," Imogen cut in, clearly annoyed at being ignored. "I am, too."
I wanted to roll my eyes. As if he was going to take her over the desk right now just because she'd been the same age as him that little bit longer than me. "Yeah, it was my birthday last month," I explained.
Still ignoring Imogen, Noah said, "It was my brother's birthday last month, too. What date was yours?"
"Thirteenth. Thank God it wasn't a Friday this year."
He chuckled. His blue eyes were bigger and more beautiful when he laughed. "Are you superstitious?"
I nodded once. "Big time. I won't walk under a ladder or cross path with a black cat. I wave to magpies, depending on how many there are, of course, and throw salt over my shoulder." He cocked his eyebrow. I shrugged. "My parents are kinda superstitious, too. And suspicious."
"Wow," he said. "Well, you never know what's out there in the big bad world."
'Out there in the big bad world.' Deja vu. I'd heard that somewhere before, but I couldn't place it.
The bell rang, making me jump. "Ready for English Lit?" I asked Noah, ignoring the odd feeling inside.
"Not really. You are sitting next to me, right? You're my tour guide after all."
Imogen stalked off ahead, in a foul mood because she didn't have Noah eating out of her hand.
I smiled. "Sure."
"SO WHERE DID you move from?" I asked Noah as we walked to our second class of the day.
Throughout our fifty minute English lesson, Noah had quizzed me relentlessly. It was as if he was trying to learn every last thing there was to know. New kids weren't usually this chatty. But I liked it and wanted to know all about him, too.
"Cool, what's it like there?"
"Small," he replied.
I'd learnt about it in Geography when we briefly covered the British Isles. It really was small.
"What made you move to Bath?"
"My dad's job. Hayling wasn't much fun, so it's nice to be here."
We reached the science block, and I turned to him. "Well, I'm glad you're here." My eyes widened to the point of pain. Why on earth did I say that out loud? I cringed. You didn't tell a guy that you kind of liked them right away - especially when you'd only known them an hour.
He shoved his hand through his fair hair, moving it out of the way of his forehead, and smiled. His light eyes sparkled. Actually bloody sparkled. I used to think I was more of a tall, dark and handsome type of girl, but it was definitely tall, blond and handsome for me now. His jaw looked like it had been carved from stone and his lips. Well, those things would have any girl gaping.
He stared down, a full head taller than me. "I'm glad that you're glad."
Sucking my lips between my teeth, I took a small step back. I liked him already, there was no question of that, but he looked dangerously close to kissing me, and I was in no way ready for that so quickly.
We were called into the classroom, and Noah took a seat next to me. The Bunsen burners were out which meant I was going to have to really listen because it looked like we were doing an experiment. I hated experiments.
"You good at chemistry?" I asked.
He laughed. "There is a bad joke in there somewhere. I'm okay, yeah."
He chuckled, crooking his eyebrow. "You can't be that bad."
"Oh, wait and see."
"Settle down," Mr Gregor said. "Welcome, Noah. Have you covered-"
And that was where I switched off. I couldn't be any less interested in chemistry if I tried. I'd learned more watching The Big Bang Theory than I had at school.
I switched back on when Noah poured something into a test tube.
"What's the point of this then?" I asked, nodding to the Bunsen burner.
"You really don't like science, do you?"
"Me neither, actually. There is too much unexplained that science doesn't have an answer to."
"What do you believe in?"
He shrugged. "I'm not sure yet. Anyway, I might not like all this but I do understand it so I'll explain while I work and you can take notes. Let's see if I can help you pass this class."
Yeah, again, good luck, Noah.
I popped the lid off my pen, trying to concentrate on what he was saying rather than his deep voice and the way his crooked smile made me swoon. Yeah, there was no way he was going to be able to help me with chemistry - the subject anyway.
As he worked his eyes kept flicking back to watch me like I was the most interesting thing on the planet. Like he was scared if he took his eyes off me, I'd be assassinated.
He turned to me once everything was set up. "Tell me something about yourself."
"We're supposed to be making those chemicals... do something." And there's not a whole lot to tell.
He shrugged. "We've got a minute. Come on."
There was one thing. I didn't like to bring it up much because it was weird, and I always got the same how-can-it-not-drive-you-crazy question. Sighing, I replied, "I remember nothing before the age of four."
His eyebrows shot up. "What?"
"There was a house fire and we lost everything. My parents got me and my brother, Jeremy, out, but we were in the hospital for smoke inhalation. When I woke up, I couldn't remember anything."
"Nope. All I remember is waking up in a yellow room. I didn't even know my family."
"When did you start remembering?"
I frowned. "I didn't. They filled in the blanks with stories of stuff we'd done, but I don't actually remember any of it."
"That's crazy. Hey, they could've told you anything."
I laughed. "Yeah, they could've had fun with that one. 'We're a normal family and you and your brother fight like cats and dogs' is pretty boring."
"They could have made you a princess. Or you could really be a princess, and they stole you away to-"
"Okay," I said, cutting him off, "You have an overactive imagination."
Smiling, he replied, "Sorry. It's just a bit weird."
"Totally weird. I repressed everything because of the traumatic experience, apparently."
"Think you'll ever get your memory back?"
I shrugged. "Probably not. Doesn't matter, though."
"I suppose not. I would just hate to have four years and a lot of experiences I couldn't remember."
"It bugged me before but not now. Lots of people don't remember much of their childhood, I just don't remember the first four years."
"Did you try therapy or get hypnotised?"
I laughed. "Nope. It's really not that big of a deal. I tried remembering, but there's nothing there."
He smiled. "One day you will remember."
I gave up believing that about four years ago.
ONE HUNDRED AND eleven. That was how many texts had gone back and forth between me and Noah in the six days we'd known each other. It was a ridiculous amount of texts to send a virtual stranger. But he didn't feel like a stranger. We'd talked about almost everything, our likes and dislikes, family, friends, funniest moments, darkest moments. Although there was a lot more to learn about each other, I felt that I knew him pretty well already. He seemed determined to know everything there was to know about plain old me.
After a full school week of flirting our arses off, I had fully entered the obsessive realm and now my every thought pretty much involved Noah. I annoyed myself and was sure my family now hated me.
"I'm leaving in a minute," I said to my parents.
"Who's meeting you?"
"No one. I'm walking to Noah's, then were heading to town together."
Dad's dark eyebrow lifted. "We'll take you to this Noah kid's house. It's about time we meet him."
"What?" No, that was not happening.
"Honey, you don't expect us to let you go to the house of someone you barely know, and we've never met, do you?" Mum said.
"Yes! That is exactly what I expect. Noah's fine."
"I'm sure he is but if you're going to be hanging out with him outside of school, then we need to know him," Dad added. "I'll just get the keys."
"You can't be serious? Why're you doing this to me? Do you have any idea how embarrassing it's going to be when I turn up with my parents?" Did they skip being teenagers altogether?
Jeremy laughed. "I'm really enjoying this."
Glaring at him, I said, "I hate you."
"Alright, drama queen," Mum said. "Get your jacket and we'll go now."
"Can you at least wait in the car?"
"That defeats the objective of meeting Noah."
Following her, I grumbled, "I know."
Mum was really excited on the way. I was not. They followed closely behind as we got out of the car and walked up his drive. I knocked on Noah's door and took a deep breath. He hadn't told me if his parents were home or not. Mine were standing behind me. A guy that looked like Noah opened the door. His brother.
"Are you Scarlett?" he asked.
"Yep. You're Finn, right?" He nodded and stepped aside for us. "This is my mum and dad, Marissa and Jonathan."
"It is nice to meet you all. Come in. Noah is around somewhere. Can I get you anything? Are you thirsty?"
I shook my head. "I'm good, thanks."
"No thank you, Finn," Dad said. "Are your parents home?"
"Yes, in the kitchen, come through."
I followed Finn into a glossy, white kitchen. He sat on a stool at the counter so I followed, wishing Noah would hurry up. Why hadn't Finn shouted him yet?
Noah's parents turned around. They were both effortlessly beautiful, just like their sons.
"Marissa and Jonathan, these are my parents, Bethan and Shaun."
Bethan's eyes lit up. "Scarlett! It is so lovely to finally meet you. And I am so glad your parents came, too. Jonathan, Marissa, how do you do?"
I slinked off to the side, sitting on a stool the other side of Finn.
"So, what are you going to see?" Noah's carbon copy, big brother asked.
"No idea. We just go and see whatever's on. It's kind of a thing my friends and I do."
"Really? Have you seen many awful movies?"
"Tons," I replied.
Finn smiled, and it made him look even more handsome, though not as much as Noah, but then I was pretty much obsessed with his younger brother.
"Do I need to ask what your intensions with Noah are?" he asked, fighting another smile.
Laughing, I swivelled on my stool and rested my arms on the counter. "I promise my intentions are good."
"He will be so disappointed," he replied, winking. "Tell me about yourself, Scarlett."
"Not much to tell really."
"So you are the average teenager? No skeletons in your closet?"
I held my finger up. "I stole a Freddo from a sweet shop when I was ten. But I felt so bad that I couldn't eat it."
He laughed. "A regular little rebel, aren't you."
"Totally badass," I replied, killing the American accent with one syllable.
"I thought I heard the door," Noah said, eyes widening when he saw my parents chatting to his
"If you weren't too busy doing you hair you would have been down here to let her in, girlie."
Ah, brotherly love.
"Sorry about my brother," Noah said. "And these are your parents?"
Mum and Dad turned around, and another round of introductions started.
I watched my dad closely, his shoulders relaxed, and he smiled as he spoke to Noah. Yes! Clearly he didn't think Noah was about to murder me then.
"I guess we should get going and let these kids get to the cinema," Mum said. "It was lovely to meet you all. We'll have to get together sometime."
Bethan touched Mum's arm. "That would be fantastic. We don't know very many people here."
"Ready?" I asked Noah. "Or do you need more time to do your hair?"
Finn laughed, offering his hand for a high-five. I took it, earning a glare from the guy I couldn't seem to get out of my head.
"Okay, you are never meeting my brother again," Noah said, pulling me off the stool. I swooned inwardly at the feel of his soft-yet-firm hand covering mine.
We made a quick exit, leaving my parents to continue talking to his, and set out for the shortcut to town. I was so looking forward to spending time with him outside school that I was practically skipping.
"Hmm," I murmured. "It's between Christmas and Easter. Probably Easter."
"We go to visit my grandparents and they put on a massive egg hunt. They own a farm, so it literally takes all day to find the eggs. Then we light a fire in their living room, drink hot chocolate and eat our eggs. Sugar coma central, but I love it!"
Noah grinned down at me, and my heart soared.
"What about you?"
He frowned. "Holidays aren't that big in my family. Christmas, I suppose. So you will be away over Easter?"
"Yep. In Cornwall so we'll be there Thursday night until Monday afternoon. My friends usually do something Monday night if you want to come, too?"
"What do you do?" he asked.
I shrugged. "Just hang out. Imogen has an outdoor pool, so we spend the day in the water. The guys burn BBQ food."
"You go in an outdoor swimming pool in April?"
"Yeah. Last year was okay, but the year before the English weather was not kind to us."
"You still did it?"
"Yep, it's tradition."
"Crazy tradition," he muttered, making me laugh.
We approached the cinema, and I saw my friends standing outside. I wanted longer alone with him. "And here we are. Hey, guys," I said.
"Hey," Imogen said, immediately taking a not so subtle step closer to Noah. "We can't decide between scary or romantic."
Other author's books:
- Broken SilenceSilenceThe CellarPlayers, Bumps and Cocktail SausagesLie to MeSilent Night
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