YA Sci-fi Thriller/Romance
Merilee is the bold, flirty girlfriend of teen celebrity heartthrob Jarek. On a virtual network. And accomplice to dangerous, handsome Lock. When she is caught with the shadowy outcast on video feed. The seventeen-year-old wins a "real" date with Jarek, and they both fall heart first. But her dad has been fading since her mom mysteriously died. And a security task force is tracking her for not turning in Lock. Neither the alias Jarek believes is real, nor the underground where Lock hides can protect her for long. A syringe with her name on it awaits her. And it is filled with a dose of the identity-wiping serum her own mother helped create.
Breathless, I run through damp grass toward a soaring column wrapped in licks of smog, the sky the color of crushed plum.
Perfect day to forget your double shift, Merilee.
My best friend Cassia is waiting. Will she be different now? A lump forms in my throat. I need to be there for her. I promised.
Thrown over one shoulder, my backpack jabs me with each step. I hug it close to me – inside is Cassia’s gift. A waft of steamy air assaults my nostrils. Ugh. I stifle a gag. Ahead of me, a footpath leads from Arena Park to the residential towers, and at the bottom of a hill, I come to a halt.
The path is unlit. Awe-stonishing. Not. Overhead, slender trees cast early evening shadows.
Come on, Lee. Up the hill and you’re home.
Beads of sweat slip down into the collar of a shirt I tucked into a pair of faded cargos. My back pocket buzzes. I grab for the new communicator I bought, but something dances at the edge of my vision and stops me. I snatch my hand back and clutch the straps of my bag. My eyes latch onto the base of a park lamp. Is a security camera recording me? I trace a line of shadow up to the top. The lamp flickers once, and putters out.
Just a faulty bulb, not a camera that stores my ID and location in its database. Not that I have anything to hide.