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CHAPTER ONE

Samantha Winchester climbed the leaf-littered steps to the clinic. The place was old, but in decent shape. The tall marble columns and etched glass door shouted elegance in a past era, but time and neglect left it with an air of hopelessness. It was as if the place had been abandoned, like the owners packed up one day, never to return.

A small, modern sign, out of place with the rest of the architecture, read 'Xgen Corp.' Sam paused mid-step and looked at the sign. Her stomach did a flip and she considered turning around and leaving. What was she even doing? Putting herself at risk to test a drug that she knew nothing about. For money. She took a deep breath and let it out slow.

Sam pulled open the glass door and stepped inside. The fall wind blew against her back pushing her further in and catching the door just enough to keep it from closing on its own. She ignored the sudden drop in temperature and leaned her body into the glass to help it on its way.

With the outside at bay, Sam spun on her heel and looked around for someone to point her in the right direction. In the far corner of the room, a tall marble desk sat with an ominous presence. It was too high to tell if anyone sat behind it, so she walked over. Her heels clapped on the cold floor louder than she would have liked. Before she made it to the desk, a woman popped her head up and gave Sam the once over.

"Samantha Winchester?" Her eyes narrowed and her mouth settled into a hard scowl.

"Yes, ma'am. I'm here for the—"

"I know why you're here." The woman shoved a stack of papers fastened to a clipboard at Sam and nodded in the direction of some chairs. Without another word, she disappeared behind the desk.

Sam made her way over to a row of hard, mahogany seats, out of place with the rest of the cold, sterile room, and filled out the stack of forms. By about the sixth page, her eyes glazed over and she went into automatic mode, checking things off without fully registering them. She'd never participated in a clinical study before, but it did seem like a lot of forms. No sooner did she stick the pen back into the top of the clipboard, and a man dressed completely in white, appeared before her.

"I can take you back now." He forced a smile, that looked more creepy than friendly, and reached for the clipboard.

Sam handed him the forms and stood, taking in the name on his tag. Ramsey. Just one word. No title or description. She figured he was an orderly, but didn't ask. Instead, she nodded and followed behind him through double doors adorned in the same frosted glass as the entry. A part of her wanted to reach out and touch the design etched into each panel, to know more about this place she would be spending the next two weeks, but she refrained.

Without a word, Ramsey led her down a long corridor to an elevator. He punched in a code and they started to move. There were no numbers on the buttons, only letter codes that made no logical sense to her. She couldn't even tell if they were going up or down. A twinge of panic flashed over her, but she pushed it down just as quickly as it had come on. This study had been recommended to her by her psychology professor. Surely everything had been checked out and was the way it should be.

When the elevator doors opened, Ramsey stepped into the hall and motioned for her to follow.

"How many people will be in the study?" Sam hurried behind him to keep up.

Ramsey grunted. "Any questions will be answered by the staff."

"Aren't you part of the staff?"

He stopped and looked her over. His mouth opened, then closed again. After an awkward moment of silence, he turned and continued down the hall. When they reached the end, he punched in a code beside the door and let her walk in ahead of him.

Although she didn't know what to expect, that hadn't been it. The room was a large open space, with eight beds set up, four on one side and another four facing the others. Beside each bed was a small table with one drawer and a lamp. There were curtains for privacy, but it seemed more for show than for any real separation. There was also a sitting area with a couch, table, and some chairs, a dining area, and a game area.

In the far corner, a dark-haired guy about her age, sat reading a book on one of the beds. He peered out over his glasses when she entered, but as soon as her eyes met his, he looked down again, and his cheeks took on a pink glow.

Ramsey waved to the opposite row of beds as the other participant and spoke. "You're on this side with the other girls. Nurse Randi will be in shortly to get you set up."

Before she fully registered what he'd said, Ramsey was gone, and the door was locked behind him.

Sam dropped her bag onto the bed across from the stranger and hopped up on the end to look in his direction. If they were going to spend the next two weeks together, they might as well get to know one another.

"Hi. I'm Sam." She flashed him a warm smile. Sam wasn't usually the super friendly type, but she was trying to make a new life, get out of her box a little. Since she had to start somewhere, that seemed like a good place.

"Adam." He closed the book and lifted his eyes. They were a brilliant shade of green that sparkled from behind the overgrown bangs he hid behind.

"Nice to meet you." Sam's eyes settled on the book title, trying to find some way to make small talk. It was something about gene mutation that she knew she would never understand.

Following her stare, Adam glanced down at the book, then back up. "I'm kind of a science geek. Figured I'd need something to keep me busy for the next two weeks. You read?"

"Every now and then. I feel like by the time I get done with homework and papers, my brain has given up functioning."

Adam nodded. "Are you here for the extra credit?"

"It doesn't hurt, but to be honest, the money is what got my attention."

Adam smiled, just slightly, but it was enough. "The pay is pretty high for this kind of thing."

"I guess. I don't really know what the going rate is." Sam pulled her knees up to her chest and rested her arms over her legs. "Have you ever done one of these things before?"

Adam glanced around the room and tilted his head. "Sort of."

There was something off about the way he answered. Sam's eyes narrowed. Being on your own at sixteen forced you to get good at picking up subtle cues when someone was being sketchy. The street kid part of her wanted to call him out on it, to let him know she wasn't some innocent, naive girl. But the voice in her head told her to keep quiet and see where he would go with it.

When Sam didn't push for more information, Adam swallowed hard and continued. "Last semester I volunteered for a study in this same place, but after the second day, it was canceled."

"What for?"

After a pause, Adam opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by the door swinging open as Ramsey walked in with the next participant.

"The party can start now people. Trevor Duncan is here."

Sam glanced at the newcomer as he flopped down on the bed next to Adam. He brushed his jet-black hair out of his eyes and flashed her a wide grin.

"Hello there beautiful."

Trevor licked his lips and trailed his eyes over Sam. She shifted on the bed and pulled her arms tighter around her legs. She'd known guys like him before, the kind that went after any female they came in contact with, always expecting to score. You cast a wide enough net, you're bound to catch a few fish, someone had once told her. Sam wasn't interested.

Ramsey tossed a pad of name tag stickers and a black marker at the new guy. "Until you're settled, you're required to use these."

Trevor scribbled his name onto the tag, slapped it on his chest, and tossed the pad to Adam.

"Hey Jeeves, before you go, where can I get a decent coffee? The old hag up front took my latte."

Ramsey took a deep breath and blinked slow. "There is no caffeine allowed. The nurse will be in soon."

Trevor jumped up from the bed. "What? No caffeine? You can't be serious. I think we need to discuss this—"

Ramsey closed the door hard behind him, cutting Trevor off.

"Well that was rude."

After a quick scribble, Adam pressed his name tag onto his chest, and walked the pad and marker over to Sam.

Trevor flopped back onto the bed and stared up at the ceiling. "So this is home for two weeks." After a quick glance from Adam to Sam, he spoke again. "Wait, you two speak, right? You're not mute or anything, are you?"

Sam toyed with the idea of ignoring him altogether, but pushed the thought from her mind. Two weeks was a long time to be trapped in a room with someone and she didn't want to get off on the wrong foot already. "Of course we speak."

"So do you know what they're actually studying here? There wasn't much info, but I figure they have to tell us more before they really do anything. Don't they?"

To be honest, Sam had no idea. She deferred to Adam, who shrugged. "Not sure, but yeah, they will have to give us more information so we can sign the consent forms."

"Didn't we already sign those?" Sam tried to remember what was on the stack of papers, but the content was already gone from her head. Being in a drug trial seemed like the kind of thing she should have paid more attention to, but the only thing that mattered was getting started, so she could get paid.

"Not the actual consent to participate, no." Adam picked his book up and placed it in his lap. Sam got the feeling it was more of a security blanket than anything else.

"We signed just about everything else though. I feel like I just signed a blood oath to sacrifice my first born." Trevor laughed, clearly amused with himself.

The door opened again and Ramsey ushered two girls in toward the beds on Sam's side of the room. She passed the name tags and marker to the one closest to her and waited for them to get settled. It didn't take much to know the two were already acquainted. The closer one, Jess, immediately set her attention on Trevor. He eyed her pink hair, piercings, and many tattoos, and openly passed judgment. She wasn't remotely deterred though, continuing to size him up.

"This might not be so bad, Hill," she said to the girl next to her without moving her eyes from Trevor.

When she first saw him, Sam thought Trevor's only requirement in a girl was breathing, but apparently there was at least one he wasn't interested in. She watched him closely as he curled up his lip and turned to face away from Jess.

Hillary took stock of both boys and shrugged. "Whatever."

Jess looked like a biker chick who grew up in a tattoo shop. Hillary on the other hand, came off as the typical prom-queen, rich snob, who spent more money on her hair and nails than Sam spent on food and shelter in a month. It was hard to imagine those two being besties.

Clearly starved for attention, Jess pushed her tongue out and twirled its silver bar around with her finger. She couldn't have been any more obvious if she dropped to her knees in front of Trevor.

Sam rolled her eyes and dropped back on the bed. This was going to be a long week.

After another ten minutes, and a ridiculous conversation between the opposite twins about whether or not the size of a man's hands was an indication of his other parts, Ramsey ushered in two more participants.

The first was a girl with short dark hair. Other than the fact that she was skeleton thin, and as white as a sheet of paper, she could have been Trevor's twin, right down to the crystal blue eyes. Her smile was warm and friendly, but her social skills needed work.

"Hi, I'm Kara." She went person to person, offering her hand in greeting. Sam noticed the slight tremor, but dismissed it before taking her hand.

After Sam, she approached Hillary, whose lips curled as she glanced down at the offering. "Sorry, I don't do handshakes."

Kara smiled and nodded, moving on to the next participant. "I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone. This should be exciting," she said to the group without a breath in between.

"Someone needs to lay off the crack," Hillary said under her breath, though none of them had difficulty hearing her.

Kara shrugged it off and claimed the last of the beds on the girl's side.

The next participant to join them was a guy who nodded his hello to each of them as they made eye contact. Sam took notice of his overgrown, blond hair, and tried to ignore the warmness in her belly when he smiled at her. There was something calming about him that put her at ease. From the way the tension in the room eased, she got the feeling that he had that effect on the others as well.

For now, all she knew about him, was that his name was Nolan. He settled into his bed with his legs crossed at the ankles and closed his eyes. Maybe he was tired, or maybe he just wanted to block them all out for a while longer. Either way, he wasn't into chatting.

As each of the seven settled in, they fully expected Ramsey to walk in with the last guy to fill the empty bed. Instead, after about an hour, a middle-aged woman came from a door on the other side of the room, followed by a younger woman dragging a cart of medical supplies with her.

"I'm Nurse Randi and this is my aid, Sophia." She waved her hand over the wide-eyed girl and started setting up her equipment. "You will all be our guests for the next two weeks and we will try to make that time as comfortable as possible, within the parameters of the study."

"I have some issues with those parameters. Jeeves said we couldn't have caffeine and honestly, that is just not acceptable. There has to be some way around that." Trevor flashed her a five-star smile. "I'm sure you can understand, Nurse Beautiful."

"Mr. Ramsey, was correct," she said with a raised eyebrow. "If you have a problem with the rules, Mr. Duncan, I suggest you gather your belongings and leave. The parameters are nonnegotiable. There will be no caffeine of any kind."

For a solid minute, Trevor stood his ground in silence, then released the air in his lungs and sat down. "Whatever."

The aid, Sophia, pulled out a blood pressure cuff and started taking vitals on each of the participants without a word.

"There will be one more joining you later today. For now, we need to get some baselines and have each of you sign the consent forms. In order to do that, we need to go over the rules so you are fully informed of how things will be for the next two weeks and exactly what is expected of you."

Jess peeled off her jacket, revealing what looked like nothing more than a black lace bra that barely contained her overflowing boobs. It was the first time Trevor looked at her without at least a hint of disdain. In fact, when he swallowed hard, it was probably to choke down a pool of drool.

Nurse Randi shook her head and cleared her throat. "Before we get any further, you'll need these." She tossed each participant a plastic encased packet containing a pair of light blue scrubs, an id on a lanyard, pen, and notebook.

Hillary picked up the packet and looked over the contents. "You can't be serious? This is what you expect us to wear?"

Nurse Randi looked at her with a blank expression. "You can change in the bathroom after we sign the consent forms. Now, on to the rules." She pulled out her clipboard and began reading.

"Over the next two weeks, you will take part in a drug trial for the study of the substance known currently as z-99. Some of you will receive the actual drug, while others will receive a placebo. No one, not even I, will know who is receiving which dose. You will undergo tests during your stay to see how your body is reacting to the drug and to ensure your safety. These may include noninvasive measures such as blood pressure and temperature, as well as more invasive tests, such as blood work, scans, and if necessary, biopsies."

"Biopsies? What the hell would that be needed for?" Trevor's eyes widened and his previous cocky attitude disappeared.

The corner of Nurse Randi's mouth curled up and she flexed her free hand a few times. "It likely will not be, Mr. Duncan. But we are committed to keep all our participants safe, so if it comes to that, we will do what is necessary."

Trevor pondered her words for a moment, then nodded. "But that's not likely to happen, right? Like, this drug is safe? You're not giving us something that made the lab-rats sprout a third eye, or lose all their fur, are you?"

"You will not sprout a third eye, Mr. Duncan." Nurse Randi rolled her eyes.

"Can we just get on with this?" Kara swung her legs over the side of the bed and shifted a few times. Her previous friendliness gave way to irritability and her knee shook up and down on the bed.

"There will be no contact with the outside world, no television, and no outside food or drink. We will provide you with meals, entertainment, and clothing. You will be required to write in the journals provided in your packet about how you are feeling, both physically and emotionally. In addition to the drug study, the local university has requested data to study for psychological purposes. Most of you are here for that reason, I'm told."

Several of the participants nodded. There were sign-ups at the college, but the head of the psychology department was also recruiting people to earn extra credit. Since it was spring break, there wasn't a lot of interest. Not that Sam had anywhere to go, or any money to go with, so it was perfect for her.

"You will be paid at the conclusion of the study, if you make it to the end, and your participation record will be forwarded to the university, as requested. You have the right however, to leave at any time, forfeiting payment and credit. You are required to follow all rules and requests, or you may be asked to leave. Is that understood?"

Again, everyone nodded.

Sophia finished doing vitals checks and started setting up a row of syringes and blood vials.

"Any questions?" Nurse Randi backed away and avoided eye contact with any of the participants.

"Yeah, I have a question." Trevor kept his eyes on the four girls.

Nurse Randi raised an eyebrow and let the corner of her mouth drop. "There will be no sexual contact during your time here, Mr. Duncan. No exceptions."

Trevor's creepy smile fell and he slouched back on the bed. Hillary covered her mouth to muffle her snicker, but Trevor didn't miss it.

"Hey," Nolan called out before Nurse Randi could get away. "When do we see the rest of this place?"

Sam was caught off guard by the question. It was the first time Nolan had spoken and his voice was as calm and soothing as everything else about him.

Nurse Randi pointed to the doors in the corner of the room. "The bathroom is there. It's unisex, so respect each other's personal space." Her arm waved at the doors on the other side. "That is the treatment room. You will only have occasion to enter if brought in by Sophia or me. That is all you need to be concerned with. The door to the other halls will remain locked for your protection and the security of the study. There is a button on the wall to call for assistance if the need should arise."

Sophia stepped forward and pointed up toward the cameras in each corner of the room. "There are also cameras to monitor everything, twenty-four-seven."

Nurse Randi glared at Sophia, but nodded in acknowledgment. "Keep that in mind, Mr. Duncan. We will be watching."

Trevor rolled his eyes as Nurse Randi left. Sophia went about collecting blood samples from each of the participants. Strangely enough, Jess was the only one who seemed bothered by it. With the number of piercings and tattoos the girl had, one would think that she could handle a little blood draw. But no. Trevor offered to hold her hand during the next one, obviously past his initial aversion to the girl. Not that he had many options. The other three girls in the room wanted nothing to do with anything he had to offer.

Kara got up and checked the knobs on both doors that they'd already been told were locked. She shook each several times and glanced around at the others. "Do they really need to lock us in? Don't you all find that a little strange?"

Nolan shrugged. "Not really."

"I can't say I like the idea," Sam added. "But with what they are paying us, should we really complain?"

Hillary snorted. "Like I care about the money. I'm more pissed that they took my phone. How the hell are we supposed to go two weeks completely cut off from life?"

For the first time since the others had arrived, Adam sat forward and made his presence known. "To be honest, I was kind of looking forward to that part."

Everyone in the room stared at him.

"Dude, you can't be serious." Trevor turned back from the window where he was standing and eyed Adam.

"Hey, I love my phone as much as the next guy, but don't you think they have taken over our lives? Just think about how much more we could interact and get done without so many distractions."

"Uh, no," Hillary scrunched her nose up and looked over Adam. "They haven't taken over our lives. They've improved them. Maybe for people with no friends or social life that's the case, but for the rest of us, no."

Adam sat back on the bed and picked up his book with a sigh. "I guess maybe it's just me then."

"Damn straight it is." Hillary shook her head in disgust.

"Leave the boy alone, Hill. Not everyone is as awesome as us." Jess smirked, giving Adam the same look she had for Trevor earlier. Adam shifted and opened his book, looking up once to see if she was still staring at him.

She was.

It was painful to watch.

The girl was like a predator in the jungle and poor Adam was the prey. Some sort of innocent prey though, like a baby gazelle, or furry rabbit. Jess, on the other hand, was definitely a lion.

Kara continued to pace the room, jiggling the door knobs each time she passed one. "When is the last person supposed to get here? Shouldn't he be here by now?"

Nolan glanced at the empty bed next to him and shrugged. "He'll be here later. What does it matter?"

Kara passed the bed and stopped. "I was told I had to be here on time or I couldn't participate. Why is he allowed to show up late?"

"I wasn't told that," Sam said. "They just said to get here before three."

"What about the rest of you?" Kara looked from one to another. Each shrugged.

"So, I was the only one given an exact time?"

Trevor walked over to the girl and put his arm around her shoulder. She immediately shrugged him off, but it did little to deter him. "Listen sweetheart. You need to chill. Maybe someone just mixed things up when they told you that. You don't need to get your panties all twisted up." Trevor looked her over and his smile widened. "You are wearing panties, right?"

Sam looked over the two. It was strange to see them side by side. That close, they looked even more alike. It was as if they were twins. Hair and eyes the exact same shade, same nose, same lips, even their build was similar except that Kara was much thinner and shorter. She looked over at Adam, who was also looking at the two intently. There was something about them that felt off, something Sam couldn't quite put her finger on.

Sophia returned with another packet and tossed it on the empty bed. "Is there anything anyone needs?"

"How about some food?" Nolan sat forward and smiled, showing off his full red lips and perfect white teeth.

Sophia's cheeks turned scarlet and she looked away. "Dinner will be brought in shortly. I will warn you though, the diet is strict, so you will have to bear with what they give you."

"What the hell does that mean, red?" Hillary asked, moving her eyes from Sophia's long red curls to her fiery cheeks.

"It's just that this isn't going to be anything fancy. You will receive proper nutrition, but don't expect it to be four stars cuisine." Sophia shifted from one foot to another, waiting for anyone else to speak. When no one did, she turned to leave.

"Hey, wait." Kara grabbed her arm before she made it to the door. "When is the other guy showing up?"

Sophia glanced at the empty bed. "Ian should be here soon."

Ian.

So that was the last guy.

Sam looked over the rest of the participants. There was nothing special about any of them, including her. Or at least that was how it seemed on the surface. They were a group of typical college students, spanning the range typically found on any university campus. Seven, soon to be eight, strangers thrown together for the next two weeks.

It almost reminded her of the group home she'd spent time in when she first left home. She hadn't thought about that place since she walked out the front door for school and never returned six years ago. There was something about the other participants that made her remember, something familiar. She strained her memory, trying to recall the other kids in the home. One even reminded her of Adam, though his name was Scott. Adam looked the way she imagined her only friend in that God-awful place would have looked, if he'd lived long enough to grow up.

But he didn't.

Dinner arrived exactly at seven and it was as mediocre as Sophia had led them to believe. Hillary complained, refusing to touch anything but the small salad that accompanied the nutritionally balanced meal. Trevor gave up his in trade with her, for whatever the meat patty was. Sam choked hers down, reminding herself of the times she'd had nothing to eat for days. It wasn't the best tasting, but it was better than going hungry, something she doubted any of the others had ever experienced.

Except for minimal small talk, and the occasional private chatter between Hillary and Jess, the room was quiet the rest of the evening. Sophia brought around a pill for each of them to take at ten, which she said was to help them sleep, and was required. She also left each of them with a small music player and headphones. Apparently music was allowed, though from the way Nurse Randi stressed the rules, that may have just been something Sophia snuck in after she left.

Sam looked over at the still-empty bed on the other side of the room. Kara again questioned Sophia when she came in, but she assured them that Ian would be there soon. Kara wasn't satisfied with the response. Sam was starting to agree. It did seem odd that a study with such strict rules would allow one of the participants to be so late, but since the study didn't officially start until morning, Sam let it go.

Answers to their concerns would have to wait. No sooner than they'd all taken the pill they were given, did sleep begin to claim them. Thankfully for all, Kara was the first to drift off. Right before Sam closed her eyes, she thought Sophia must have given the girl a double dose. And from the way she paced and fidgeted, she certainly needed it.

CHAPTER TWO

The sound of scratching woke Sam with a start. A dark figure sat on the edge of the last bed in the row across from her, the bed that was empty when she'd went to sleep. She squinted her eyes, trying to adjust to the dim light and see what was going on. Before she could make out anything, he turned, as if he could tell she was looking at him.

The light flipped on and Sam clamped her hand over her eyes to shut out the brightness.

"Sorry." He flipped the light back off, walked over to her bed, and squatted down next to her. "I'm Ian."

Sam pulled herself up in bed and nodded. "Sam. Nice to meet you."

"Back atcha."

"Did you just get here?" She wiped her eyes and tried to focus on the newcomer.

"Yeah, like twenty minutes ago. Did I miss anything good?" He raised an eyebrow and smiled

"Not really. Unless you enjoy sitting around doing nothing?"

"Not especially."

"Well then, you're lucky you were late." Sam matched his smile. There was something about him, even in only two minutes of meeting him, that she felt comfortable with. In the dim lighting, she couldn't quite make out his features clearly, so maybe it was his voice. Yes, that had to be it. The tone was soothing and familiar, which should have struck her as odd, but she was too sleepy to give it much notice.

"So, Sam, is there anything I need to know about this lot?" He waved his hand across the room toward the six sleeping people around them.

"Hmm, well, Hillary over there thinks she is too good for the rest of us, except Jess. Strangely enough, they are bff's or something. Jess is, uh, quite friendly with the boys. Kara can't sit still for thirty seconds and Nolan is about as relaxed as they come. Trevor is nearly as entitled as Hillary and interested in anything with boobs. And Adam is on the quiet side, but seems nice enough."

Ian took everything in and nodded. "I see."

"Honestly, I didn't get to know much about any of them. I'm sure that will come as the days pass, so you didn't miss much there either."

"And what about you?"

"What about me?" Sam shifted and pulled the blanket tighter against her chest.

"What's your story?"

Sam didn't like talking about herself. She avoided it whenever possible and she wasn't about to spill her life story to a complete stranger in the middle of the night, in a strange place. "I guess you'll have to wait and see."

The corners of his lips curved as her eyes adjusted to the lighting just enough to make them out. "Ah, a mystery. I like that."

The door creaked open and Sophia stuck her head in. "Enough talking. You'll have two weeks to get to know each other."

She waited at the door until Ian stood and walked over to his bed. When he sat down on the edge, she disappeared behind the door and clicked the lock behind her.

***

The curtains flew open and bright sunlight streamed into the windows.

"Let's go. Wake up." The voice was familiar, but no less irritating.

Sam peered out of one eye, taking in the scene before her. Nurse Randi was perfectly together, dressed fully in white, and impatiently waiting for everyone to wake up. Adam was sitting up in bed, his glasses already on, book in his lap. The rest were not happy about the rude awakening.

"What the hell? It's only seven in the morning. I sleep until at least ten. You never said there was a wake up time." Hillary rubbed her puffy eyes and pushed her wild mop of hair from her face. It was hard to believe that she was the same girl as the day before. Sam smiled. It was good to see the Queen brought down a notch.

"You will go to bed and get up on a schedule. If that is a problem, princess, you may leave now and forfeit your extra credit. Would you like me to contact your professor?"

Hillary glared at Nurse Randi before giving in. "That won't be necessary."

She really had to be flunking to sink to such atrocities, Sam chuckled to herself.

Jess hopped over the side of the bed and ran her hands through her tufts of pink hair. With a little shake, it was back in place and looked like she'd spent time fixing it. She tip-toed over to Ian's bed and looked over the sleeping newcomer. "Hey, when did he get here?"

"I saw him during the night," Sam said.

"So, what's his story?" Jess sucked her bottom lip into her mouth and bit. She was giving him that same look she'd given the other guys the day before.

"I don't know. We didn't braid each other's hair and talk all night." Sam shrugged. "He introduced himself and we went to sleep."

Ian rolled over and stretched. His eyes opened wide when he noticed the girl standing above him. "Um, hi?"

Jess sat down on his bed and ran a hand over his stubbled face. "Hey there."


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

L J lives on the Jersey Shore with her husband, bratty kid and two cats. Though writing has always been her first passion, she got a degree in psychological counseling and worked in the mental health field for awhile, which she finds very helpful in dealing with her crazy family. She is a lover of all different types of music and books, switching between genres so wildly it sometimes makes people wonder if she has multiple personalities.

Q. Why do you write?
A.
I write because if I don't, the voices in my head grow too loud to do anything else. They tend to nag at me, begging to be set free in the world. Who am I to deny them?
Q. When did you decide to become a writer?
A.
I would say that I became a writer in second grade. It wasn't until 2013, when I found myself home, because of health issues, that I made it into a career. My youngest was struggling to read at grade level and I was trying to get her excited about reading, so I thought, why not write her a book.

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