The Lies That Define UsBy: Micalea Smeltzer
Ariella Geller is on the run from some very bad people and Liam Wade doesn’t know what he’s running from.
Freedom has been an elusive dream for Ari, but when her chance for escape comes, she takes it. She finds herself in California and forced to accept help from strangers in order to stay off the streets and avoid being found by those she ran from.
Liam Wade is sick of living in the shadow of his famous father. All he wants is to make a name for himself as a professional surfer, but it’s impossible when the media focuses on every other aspect of his life. All he wants is respect, a chance to prove himself, but when it never comes he finds himself running and hiding from the ones who love him the most.
When their paths collide Ari and Liam are forced to confront their demons, and in the process they just might find a reason to stop running.
I laid my head against the cool glass of the bus window and watched the rain slick against it. The water beaded against the glass and then slid down in little rivulets that I traced with my finger.
I wouldn’t miss the rain.
I wouldn’t miss anything about Oregon.
That place wasn’t my home. Never had been, and never would be.
With a jolt, the bus roared to life, startling me, but I relaxed a moment later when we pulled out of the station.
Freedom was so close to being mine.
I watched the people on the street as the bus pulled away. I was searching for buzzed brown hair and eerie black eyes, but he wasn’t amongst them.
He didn’t know I’d left yet.
And hopefully, by the time he did, I’d be long gone.
I adjusted my hoodie so my face was hidden from the other people on the bus and wiggled around, settling myself in for the long ride to California.
Unlike the other people on the bus, I didn’t have a cellphone to keep me company. Cellphones were traceable so I’d ditched mine. I couldn’t risk him finding me, because if he had I was certain he’d kill me. He would’ve eventually killed me if I stayed, too. My only option had been to take the risk of running away. I would have rather died on my terms than his, but if everything went according to plan, I’d be free and he’d never find me.
He called me Scarlett, but Scarlett didn’t exist.
Scarlett was a lie.
My name was Ariella, and I was reclaiming my stolen life.
I watched the sand sift through my fingers.
Some of the tiny granules clung to my hand, and I brushed them away.
I hadn’t seen the ocean in years, and I reveled in the sound of the waves crashing against the shore. I drew my knees up to my chest and hugged my arms around my legs.
I’d made it to California unscathed, but I didn’t have anything but the clothes on my back.
No place to stay.
I was so relieved to have escaped that I couldn’t bring myself to care if I was essentially homeless. I felt like a fugitive, only it wasn’t the authorities I was running from.
It was someone much, much worse.
I knew I needed to leave the beach and try to find somewhere to stay for the night, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave.
My dark hair whipped around my shoulders from the wind blowing off the water. I pushed it away from my face and tilted my head up, inhaling the salty crisp air. I so rarely had the opportunity to smell fresh air. It was something so simple that most people took for granted.
There were a lot of things that I used to take for granted.
I jumped at the sound of the female voice beside me. I’d been so lost in my thoughts I hadn’t heard her approach.
Her long dirty-blond hair whipped around her shoulders, and she had bright, clear green eyes. A few freckles were sprinkled across her nose, and her skin was bronzed from the sun.
“Are you okay?” she asked, concern ringing clear in her voice. “I’m not trying to sound nosy, but you’ve been here for hours, and you haven’t moved.”
“I’m fine.” I tried to smile reassuringly while also moving the slightest bit away.
Trust no one, I reminded myself.
But at the same time, I also realized that the chances of the woman working for him were slim. More than likely she was an innocent bystander that couldn’t understand my weirdness.
“If you need anything, I’ll be over there.” She pointed to an aqua-colored towel. “I’m Talia, by the way.”