Illicit: A Novel

By: Ava Harrison

Dedicated to those looking for home.


I’ve stopped wishing for that one moment so profound it will change everything. I know it will never happen, so there’s no point in dreaming.

But like all things in life, extraordinary happens when you least expect it, and in the blink of an eye, everything can change.

I GAZE OUT AT THE vast ocean before me. The water laps against the shore like a graceful song to my ears, quietly whispering a melody I once loved, but it does nothing to calm my nerves. Waves roll in, and with each pass of the water, the sand below me scratches beneath my bare feet. I close my eyes to take in the peace, but the visions behind my eyelids are still there, and the pain of his betrayal continues to etch away at me.

As usual, nothing has gone according to my plan. I’m not sure what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t what I got.

I never really liked him.

So why did it hurt so much?

Life has taught me hard lessons. I learned long ago that I could never rely on anyone to be there for me, but even after everything I’ve been through, I still need to know I mean something to someone. That someone out there cares.

It certainly isn’t my parents. Although my father tries, ever since he left when I was ten it hasn’t been the same. And my mom . . . well, my mom is currently in the midst of becoming Mrs. Someone for the fourth time. I’m her perfectly created specimen. The daughter she flaunts at the parties she attends.

When I was eleven, Mom was trying to land a British Duke, which required extensive travel to Europe. To this day, I’m not sure why she dragged me along. In the end, all we had to show for the experience was me being held back a grade. So, even though I’m already eighteen, I’m only a senior in high school.

Turning my head to look over my shoulder, I gaze at the house in the distance. Right up the beach is the house party we decided to crash. Bridget’s older sister rented the house for the summer with a bunch of her college buddies. We knew a ton of Cranbrook Alumni, including my boyfriend, Matthew—well, ex-boyfriend now—would also be there.

At the last minute, Bridget and I decided to pack a bag and join the fun. Although everyone at the party was significantly older than us, we knew we’d be welcome. It would be everyone’s last hurrah. I couldn’t wait to get there and spend some time with Matt before school started, but it turned out he wasn’t missing me as much as I missed him.

My feet were cemented to the floor as I took in the sight before me. There, standing at the edge of the bed, was my boyfriend and a blonde I didn’t know. I couldn’t move as I watched him thrust in and out of her from behind. The sickly sweet smell of sex permeated the air.

I was afraid I’d be sick.

“Matt.” His movements stopped at the sound of my voice.

“Oh, shit,” he said as he pulled out of her and faced me. His face contorted into a look of shock. “Fuck. I didn’t know you’d be here.” My mouth dropped open. Did he just say that? Every muscle in my body flinched as anger filled my blood. A tense silence enveloped the room. It was as if a fierce storm was about to blow.

“You didn’t know I would be here?”

He made no move to cover himself or his whore. Instead, I was forced to look at the woman he cheated on me with. Model tall with bones sticking out of her hips—the complete opposite of me. Her hair was the shade of blond only present in a bottle, and she had lips that looked as if they had recently been injected with fillers. Shaking my head, I turned my attention back to Matt, whose dick was still hard. His mouth hung open, obviously thinking of a way to respond to my question. He let out an audible sigh and then—finally—reached for a sheet to cover the evidence of his tryst.

“Listen, Lynn. I’m sorry you found out this way, but maybe it’s for the best.”

My stomach tightened, and anger coiled inside me. “For the best? What the fuck, Matt? We’ve been together for months!”

“Yeah, but now I’m going away to college, and I’m not sure how I can go that long without you. You don’t get it since you’re still in high school. But I have needs.”