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More Than This (More Than #1)
Author: Jay McLean

PROLOGUE

MIKAYLA

   He was right. It made no difference whether it was six months or six years.

   I couldn’t undo what had been done. I couldn’t change the future. I couldn’t even predict it.

   It was one night.

   One night when everything changed.

   It was so much more than just the betrayal.

   It was the tragedy.

   The deaths.

   The murders.

   But it was also that feeling . . .

   That feeling of falling.

 

 

ONE

MIKAYLA

   I finish getting ready with fifteen minutes to spare. I look in the mirror to make sure everything’s in place. I’m nothing special to look at. I’m definitely no Megan (my best friend). I have naturally olive skin and slightly almond-shaped eyes from being a quarter Filipino on my mom’s side. My dad’s Irish/Scottish and six feet tall, and my mom’s a tiny five-foot-nothing. Luckily, I’m a good in-between.

   I’m not naive enough to think I’m popular based on looks or extracurricular activities. I’m book smart, but not so much that I’m socially awkward. I’ve made the popular list by association. My best friend is the head cheerleader, and my hot boyfriend James is captain of our basketball team.

   I take one more look in the mirror. I’m ready for prom.

   I open my bedroom door and almost run into my parents, who are standing in the hall. They have that look on their face, like whatever they’re about to say has to be taken seriously. My dad’s arm is wrapped around Mom’s shoulders. Emily, my nine-year-old sister, is nowhere to be seen. They step forward, united, causing me to take a step back.

   I’m officially worried.

   They keep walking forward until I’m forced to sit on the edge of my bed. Only when I look up do they finally let go of each other and sit on either side of me.

   Dad exhales loudly and shakes his head. “Honey, your mother and I have something we need to tell you.”

   I look at my mom, and she looks away. She’s nervous.

   Shit.

   Dad continues, “We figure since you’re graduating in two weeks, and you’ve been eighteen for a few months now . . . Well, I guess we both decided it was about time we tell you something very important.”

   I scan my brain for what this can be, then it hits me: I’m adopted.

   I knew it. I was always different. I looked less Asian than I should, and I don’t know where my nose comes from. No one in my family has this nose. Oh, God. Who are my birth parents? And what about Emily . . . Is she adopted, too?

   “Mikayla?” Dad interrupts my raging thoughts.

   I close my eyes, hoping that doing so may take away the sting of what he’s about to tell me.

   “Are you listening to me?”

   I nod once, eyes still closed.

   “Mikayla.” He pauses for a long moment. “Boys have a penis . . .”

   My eyes dart open. My parents are both stifling a laugh, and my mom’s face is beet red with the effort. I glare at them with narrowed eyes, waiting for my pulse rate to decrease.

   I want to junk-punch my own dad.

   I know he’s behind this. It’s totally something he would do. My mom doesn’t have it in her to think of something like this.

   As I’m about to stand so I can turn and face them both, Emily comes running into the room with her life-size cardboard cutout of Justin Bieber. She’s hiding behind it, cackling to herself. Then she breaks out in song, waving the cutout in front of her.

   “And I was like penis, penis, penis, ohhhhh! Like penis, penis, penis, nooooo! Like penis, penis, penis, ohhhhh! I thought you’d always be mine, mine!”

   I’m trying so hard to hold in my laughter, in case this is one of those situations that’s funny for us but inappropriate for a nine-year-old girl. I look at my parents and wait for their reaction.

   Mom giggles, and Dad breaks out in a weird dance, which I’m pretty sure is supposed to be something resembling the Dougie. He belts out, “You know you love me, I know you caaaare!”

   I can’t help but laugh. I start down the stairs to wait for Megan and James, shaking my head at their craziness. Of course they all follow, Justin Bieber cutout and all, and keep singing at the top of their lungs, Mom included.

   “And I was like penis, penis, penis, ohhhhh! Like penis, penis, penis, nooooo! Like penis, penis!”

   The front door swings open.

   “What the fuhhhhhh—” Megan’s words die in the air when she sees Emily—and the Biebs—behind me.

   James scratches his head. “Are you guys singing about penises? To Justin Bieber?”

   They snort with laughter. My family is insane, but I love them anyway.

 

   After a good ten minutes of photos and my dad’s retelling of the humiliating stunt they just pulled on me, we’re on our way to Bistro’s, an Italian restaurant in downtown Hickory. It’s famous for its noisy atmosphere and big tables for large groups—perfect for pre-prom dinner.

   When we get to the restaurant, we notice a few other tables with kids our age all dressed up. We don’t recognize them; they must go to different schools. The air is thick with sexual tension and the smell of cheap perfume and hair products. It’s everything prom should be.

   We find our table and sit with Andrew and Sean, two of James’s friends from his basketball team, and their girlfriends.

   Megan decided to go stag. It wasn’t like no one had asked her, because about a trillion different guys did. She said she wanted to keep her options open and not go with some guy because he was hot, only to find out he was a dick and have to put out at the end. (Her words.)

   We make small talk until the waiter comes and takes our order. The restaurant is loud with conversation, like you would expect with a bunch of teenagers in the room. After we’ve all told the waiter what we want, James stands up. “Where’s the toilet in this place? I need to take a leak. That champagne from the limo’s gone straight through me.”

   He’s charming, as always.

   “I’ll show you, since I need to use the ladies’ room to readjust my underwear. It’s riding up my ass,” Megan states loudly.

   They walk away toward the restrooms at the back of the restaurant.

   I’m in the middle of talking to Andrew about the new gym being built at school when I feel something wet trickle down my back. I freeze for a second, then turn to find some dude in a tux looking at me wide-eyed, half a glass of beer in his hand. The other half, I’m sure, is down my back.

   “Shit, babe. I’m sorry,” the wide-eyed douche bag says.

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