A Whitewater Thriller Book 1
by Kelly Romo
teenage girls on the run with fake IDs and a beater car…what could
Emmy has always been impulsive. She is no longer a minor and has aged out of foster care. When her best friend, Amber, is the target of a perverted uncle who lives in the basement of her group home, they plan her escape.
They head for Canada, where Amber will be safe, and the foster care system can no longer control their lives. When they come across a whitewater rafting brochure, they decide to take a detour for one last adventure before leaving the country. Emmy and Amber have no idea it will be a decision that will forever change their fates.
The rafting town is so far in the middle of nowhere that Emmy’s car radio catches nothing but static. They consider turning around until a truck pulls up, loaded with hot whitewater rafting guides and rubber rafts--just the fun they were looking for. Ignoring every instinct, they turn off the pavement and follow the truck down an isolated dirt road. They end up in Lodell, the town where a girl went missing the previous summer…and she will not be the last.
There are five stages of drowning: surprise, involuntary breath-holding, unconsciousness, hypoxic convulsions, and finally, death.
Shawna’s hair spreads out in a halo of jet-black strands lit by the moon and rippling in the current. There is no fear or panic in her. I spared her of that. Her death is beautiful and silent as I hold her in my arms and cradle her beneath the surface. I put my lips to hers and inhale her very last breath before she gasps and draws my water into her lungs. She becomes heavy then seizes like a fish. My blood surges and thunders inside me. I have never felt so alive. Shawna finally relaxes, surrenders, and becomes mine forever. I hold and comfort her through it all. Binding her to me was easier than I thought. I should have done this years ago.
I raise Shawna up. Her nose, lips, and tits break the surface, all slick and shiny in the moonlight. I give her one last kiss, then take her nipple between my lips and flick it with my tongue. I wish I could keep her longer, but she is losing her warmth. I take a clump of her jet-black hair and wind it tight around my finger until the tip of it goes numb. I yank it from her head. It is surprising how easily it comes out and hangs from my hand, as black and shiny as tar. It will be perfect.
No longer will I catch and release. Shawna is mine forever, for I am the river, and the river is me. It is the fluid, and I am the flesh.
I guess I’m turning out just like everyone expected, but at least I’m not pregnant. Aiding in Amber’s escape will be the biggest crime I have ever committed. I don’t realize what a death grip I have on my steering wheel until I pull to the curb, put it in park, and turn my headlights off. A million butterflies flutter in my chest and up my throat. It is exactly four-fifteen in the morning, and Amber is not expecting me until four-thirty. She will be shocked that I made it on time.
Everything I own in the world sits in the trunk, which isn't more than a single suitcase. I used to have more until three years ago. I was pissed that I had to leave my foster parents, Scott and Jeanette. I thought they loved me, and their house would be my forever home. I was so tired of packing up and dragging all my shit with me that I threw garbage bags of clothes, photos, notes, and keepsakes into the trash—which I now regret. I thought all the pictures were of former friends who I would never see again. It took me about a month to realize that the only two photos I had of my mom were mixed in with them.
I don’t remember much about my mom. She overdosed when I was four. I do remember she had dry hands and a scratchy voice. She used to read to me from a Mother Goose nursery rhyme book with bright watercolor pictures. Other than the two photos, the book was the last thing I had from my mom, but it went missing at my eighth-grade parents’ house. I think one of the little kids stole it when they left.
The neon blue numbers on my phone say it is four twenty-five. I step out of my car, press the lock button, and silently push the door until it clicks shut. I lived in this neighborhood—until last November when I turned eighteen. I lived in that house. Thanks to the state of Oregon, I’ve always lived in that house in any neighborhood. The one with the foster children—where kids come and go based on their behavior or personality. Sometimes, no matter how good you are, you have to move somewhere new. And you have no idea why.
A few porch lights glow, and some houses have a window or two lit, probably for some child afraid to sleep in the dark—which I never understood. If your light is on, a peeping Tom could stand right outside your window and watch you sleep, even through the smallest gap in the curtains.
My stomach clenches tight, and my heart pounds on the wall of my chest. I broke laws before, like staying out after curfew, drinking underage, egging houses, or stealing things I needed—but nothing like this. I am legally an adult and about to harbor a runaway. I can do hard-time for this. Amber and I have one chance, and we need to get it right.
Kelly Romo grew up in California but has lived in Oregon for over twenty-five years. She teaches writing, literature, and social studies. She is the mother of three grown children: Brittany, Brennan, and Ryan. She is an avid outdoorswoman who loves to kayak, hike, and fish.
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