Chapter 1:


Til Death Do Us Part

“You’ve lost, and you don’t even know it.”

Red. The bright screen floods the theater in a crimson shade and several audience members gasp. I rustle through my popcorn and grab a handful, stuffing them down my throat for a sliver of salt. I want to chuck the bag, but I hold it close. I’m the one who asked for minimal salt, I don’t know why I’m mad at the clerk. Was I mad at the clerk? The movie is running long, and my stomach is gargling. This would’ve been a lot more fun if Drew had come and brought his ginger snaps. Maybe I’m mad that I’m alone.

It’s still early to pick Drew up and a glance at my phone yielded no notifications. A kick from the back reminds me of where I am and just as I’m about to pocket my phone, a text appears. Can you pick me up now? I tuck my phone under my sweater and reply with a thumbs up. It wasn’t like him to end early. I grab my purse and just as I’m about to leave-

“All along it was you.” It’s Charlotte. The second main lead and she’s pressing a gun to the head of her husband. I settle back. This wasn’t in the books. I’ve read Everything About You several times and I don’t remember a scene like this. “You’ve stolen everything.”

Her husband raises his arms and hugs her. She isn’t supposed to know. She never finds out it was him that’s manipulated everything around her. It’s a tragic ending that left many fans disgruntled for years. I’m impressed the author let this change go through considering she was part of overseeing the movie adaptation.

“It wasn’t me. It was you.” Another buzz from my phone. I sigh and get up. I can come back to watch another time. Another perk of moving downtown.

Outside, the theater halls buzz with teenagers. I move past them remembering the times I used to ditch school to come here. I smirk and shake my head. Mrs. Rio was the only one who cared enough to send me out to the hallway to sweep the floors as punishment. I didn’t mind. It was just more out-of-classroom time for me.

In the car, I turn the AC up and drive through my hometown. It wasn’t quaint, no, the roads have grown, and businesses have been popping up like dandelions. We’ve come from one bakery to at least five that I can name by heart. Drew has worked part-time at Sweet Sugar for two years. It’s the only way he’s been able to afford acting lessons.

I pull up to the curb and catch my best friend sitting on the sidewalk. It’s close to dark. I honk and he startles. I get out of the car and close the door with my torso as I throw my hands up.

“You’ve never once asked me to pick you up early.” I sit down beside him and throw my arm around him. A waft of sweet cologne tingles my senses and I raise an eyebrow. He’s never worn anything but musky scents.

“Larrise.” He says my name blankly. His expression is cold and distant. I shiver. This wasn’t the Drew I was used to. He was dramatic, he was theatrical, definitely not this. “Thanks for picking me up.”

“Well, it’s what I do.” I punch his arm, hoping to humor him but it’s a dull thud followed by silence. “What’s wrong with you?” I shake his shoulders and a piece of paper falls from his pocket. He goes to grab for it but I’m faster. I snatch it and wiggle away. “It must be another love letter. Mr. Handsome never lets me down.”

“Give it back!” He pushes forward, but I’m nimble and wave the paper in front of the streetlight. Words canvas the whole page, and my eyes widen.

I love you so much I could die. I love you so much I could die. I love you so much I could die.

Joe Gold
Joshua Lundquest