By: J. B. Salsbury

Thank you, Sara Sellars, for your expertise in the inner workings of broadcast news that helped bring Shyann Jennings to life.

To my agent MacKenzie Frasier-Bub, thank you for believing in me and encouraging me to try something new. You are, like, totally, the most bitchin’ agent, like, ever.

Huge thank you to Megha Parekh for not only believing in the writer that I am, but also in the one I have the potential to become. I will not let you down.

Always a huge thank you to the talented Elizabeth Reyes. I’d never have had the cajones to write if it weren’t for your encouragement and support. Thank you for your time and, more importantly, your friendship.

None of this would be possible if it weren’t for the readers who’ve given my books a chance. There are so many incredible authors out there, and I’m humbled and honored every time a reader picks one of my books. Thank you for taking a chance on me.

Last but not least and probably the most important, thank you to all the Fighting Girls who support me and my books with the kind of steadfast love only an FG is capable of. I’d be nowhere without you girls. You mean the world to me.


Ten years ago . . .

It’s dark. Like when I hide under my bed and can’t see my hand in front of my face. But I’m not under my bed now.

Cold seeps into my body. My head rings; static blares in my ears.

I blacked out again, but this is different. Everything about this feels different.

There’s shuffling . . . some kind of panic in the air. My heart pounds and with the rapid blood flow brings a sharp stabbing pain that explodes in my neck. I try to open my eyes, push at the dark and reach for light, but a sticky coating covers my face. I suck in a breath, cough against the thick sludge that clogs my nose and throat. The metallic tang of blood turns my gut. I retch, hacking up something thick, and agony slices through my jaw.

“Oh fuck!” A deep masculine voice rips through my panic. “This one’s alive!”

I try again to open my eyes.

“We need an EMT!”

I need to get up, find somewhere to hide. Mom always gets angry after one of my blackouts and with the pain . . . oh God the pain . . . I can’t take one of her punishments.

My arms ache but I force them to my eyes to clear the dark haze that clouds my vision. Weight presses against my shoulder, keeping me down. No, I have to get out of here.

“Don’t move.” The voice, I try to place it. A neighbor? I don’t know who else—“ETA on the ambulance! This kid’s gonna bleed out!”

“What . . .” My voice makes no sound, only a low gurgle within my chest. I try to push up, reach out. Help me! Shadows dance behind my eyes.

“God have mercy—we’re gonna lose him!”

“Stay down!” A male voice is close. “Oh shit . . . don’t move!”

I slip in and out. Voices frantic but muted in my ears.

“Neighbors said he’s fifteen . . .”

“. . . fucking bloodbath . . .”

“Help . . .” I cough and reach for the fire blazing in my jaw.

A firm grip wraps my neck. I struggle against it as it cuts off what little breath I’m able to take. “Hang on, son.” It loosens and I suck in a gulp of blessed air mixed with fluid that makes me cough.

“He’s gonna drown in his own blood if we don’t get him—”

“Son, can you hear us?”

I nod as best I can, reaching for the light. Don’t black out. Don’t give up.

“Did you do this, boy?” The thick growl of a different man sounds in the distance. His voice deeper. Angrier.

I’m in so much trouble. I want to tell him I don’t remember. I have a condition. Lapses in memory. But I can’t get the words to make it to my mouth.

“They’re all dead.”

My heart kicks behind my ribs.

Dead? Who’s dead?

Dizziness washes over me and I don’t fight it. Nausea rips through my gut. The biting taste of vomit mixed with blood floods my mouth. I suck air, fight through the mud for oxygen. My lungs burn. I absorb the words and pray for a blackout to come. The dark that takes away all the pain, the shadow that tucks me in and shelters me.

The pounding pulse in my neck slows to a dull throb. The static between my ears turns to a purr. Warmth envelopes me.

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