It’s been nineteen days since Isis Blake forgot about him. The boy she can’t quite remember. She’s stuck in the hospital with a turban-size bandage on her head, more Jell-o than a human being should ever face, and a tiny bit of localized amnesia. Her only goal? To get out of this place before she becomes a complete nutjob herself. But as Isis’s memories start to return, she realizes there’s something important there at the edges of her mind. Something that may mean the difference between life and death. Something about Sophia, Jack’s girlfriend. Jack Hunter—the “Ice Prince”—remembers everything. Remembers Isis’s purple hair and her smart-ass mouth. Remembers that for a little while, Isis made him feel human. She made him feel. She burned a hole in the ice…and it’s time to freeze back up. Boys like him don’t deserve girls like her. Because Jack is dangerous. And that danger might be the only thing protecting her from something far more threatening. Her past.
“Are you all right, sir?”
I look up at the voice. A bellboy smiles cheerily at me. He has no idea who I am or what I’ve been through, yet he has the nerve to smile. It’s been nineteen days since Isis Blake forgot about me, and he has the nerve to ask if I’m all right.
I light another cigarette.
“Get out of my face.”
His expression falls, and he backs away. “S-Sure. Have a nice night.”
I scoff and lean against a pillar of the grand marble roundabout of the Hilton. I watch ridiculously fancy black cars shuttle in and out, dropping off equally puffed-up old rich people. Bellboys and concierges scurry around, calling taxis and directing valets. Revolving glass doors with gold accents constantly whirr and hiss over the mindless chatter. Women shriek with laughter, men guffaw; all of them are oblivious, happy idiots. I can see the truth in their clothes and posture—five of the men are cheating on their wives. Two of them with far younger women, one of them exclusively with prostitutes. He not-so-subtly taps the ass of a passing blonde in a peacoat. She hides her grimace with an actress’s grace. When she sees me, she clips over in her heels with a mildly happier smile.
“Jaden! Oh my God! It’s been forever!”
“Three months, Lily,” I correct. Jaden is the name I use for my escorting work, and I’ve never let the other escorts I’ve met in passing know my real name.
“Three months, forever, same difference.” She laughs. Perfume wafts off her, the expensive, strong kind. The kind you buy when you have to cover up the pervasive smell of sex.
“Finished with work?” I ask, and jerk my head at the man still watching her lecherously, his wife oblivious and clinging to his arm.
Lily sighs. “Yeah, for the night. I’m about to head back to my place. What about you?”
“Mayor’s daughter.” I motion to my tuxedo. “Winter ball.”
“Bet you were the hottest guy there.”
“It was a Catholic girls’ school.”
“And the hottest guy she’ll ever have.”
Lily is just a few years older than me, but she’s been in the Rose Club far longer. Lily isn’t her real name, just like Jaden isn’t mine. I don’t know her in real life, and she doesn’t know me. But sometimes we work in the same hotels, and she’s one of the few girls in the Rose Club who isn’t annoyingly vapid. So we talk.
“Seriously.” Lily elbows me. “I’ve seen her. She looks like an inbred Pomeranian on her best days.”
“Now now.” I blow smoke into the sky. “Let’s not be nasty. She paid good money. And I respect and appreciate money.”
Lily watches my face carefully as she waits for a taxi to cycle past. She knits her thin brows.
“What about your own prom?” she asks.
“What about it?”
“Are you going to that? Do you have a girlfriend? Or a date?”
I took Sophia to my junior prom. Sophia, the hospital-ridden girl I’d known since middle school—my first infatuation and first real friend. But it’s not Sophia who pops into my head right now. An image grows strong of Isis, dressed up in some silk dress. Red? Or blue? Purple, probably, to match her hair. She’d dance and drink and start at least four fights. It would be awful. It would be hilarious. I smirk at the thought, but it quickly fades. She’s in the hospital, too. And thanks to that scumbag called her mother’s boyfriend, she doesn’t remember me anymore. It’s been almost three weeks since she asked who I was, with that blithe smile on, and only now have I really started to believe it.
“No. I’m not going to the senior one. It’s pointless. I’m graduating in five months, anyway. High school barely matters anymore.”
She plucks the cigarette from my lips and grinds it under her heel. “When did you start smoking?”
“When did you decide to start mothering me?” I ask.
“It’s not good for you.”
“Neither is sex work.”
Lily glowers. “Escorting. And we both have our reasons for doing that. You don’t have a reason to smoke. Unless you want to die early and painfully.”
“And if I did, it would be none of your business.”
Lily flinches, as if I’d slapped her. She hails a passing cab, then pauses in its open door to look back at me.
“You’re one of us, Jaden,” she murmurs. “Society looks down on us. Customers objectify us. All we have is each other. So it is my business.” She pulls out her Rose Club card—white with pale gold stripes—and hands it to me. “If you ever need anything, or if you wanna talk, call me.”
She’s gone before I can throw it back at her, gone before the gaping chasm in my chest has the chance to bleed. I shake it off. I’m Jack Hunter. No one makes me bleed.
Except one girl, at a party, nearly five months ago.
I light another cigarette to cover the stench of weakness emanating off me. The women at the hotel’s entrance are eyeing me. If I so much as blink in their direction, they’ll accost me, flirting with tired tactics and worn eagerness. They are just as bad as the men. They covet things that look nice. And when they can’t have what they covet, they squabble, quickly turning on each other in sickening displays of predatory possessiveness.
I consider throwing Lily’s card in a nearby puddle. She has no idea what I’m going through. I have no idea what I’m going through. She can’t help me. Besides, her help is offered solely because she has designs on me. Even an idiot can see that much.
Not everything with a vagina likes you, dipshit!
I whirl around at the sound of the voice. It’s so clear, so perfectly loud and obnoxious, that it has to be her. But no purple streaks bob out of the crowd to greet me. No warm brown eyes crinkle with a smirk.
I fall against the pillar again and laugh, putting my head in my hands as reality slips through my fingers. Get it together, Jack Hunter. You’re going to Harvard in seven months. Your mother is waiting for you to come home now. Sophia is counting on you. Her surgery is imminent. You can’t go crazy. People are depending on you. You have a life to live, and no matter how much you wish on stars, no matter how much you bargain with God or with the doctors, that life does not include Isis Blake any longer. You’re a stranger to her.
The hole she burned in the ice must be filled.
There is no warmth anymore. You barely tasted it, barely felt it on your skin. It brushed against you for a single second. Something so small should not retain this much weight. It is illogical. You are illogical for letting it affect you so much.
There is no warmth, Jack Hunter. Not for the likes of you.
You have blood on your hands. You have duty, and guilt, and you can’t escape that. No one can help you escape.
Not even her.
“Jaden!” A shrill voice makes me look up. Cynthia, the mayor’s daughter, waves me over to the limo. Her dark hair is over-curled and looks ridiculous. Her pink dress is too tight and too bright. Her circle of simpering friends have dropped off their purses and retouched their makeup, and now they’re on their way to an after-party. We’re on our way. I’m being paid to be one of them, after all.
I stub my cigarette out and put on my best smile.
Read the book that Kirkus Review called: “A complex, witty page-turner, ideal for YA fans of scandal and romance.”
Seventeen-year-old Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, nine weeks, and five days, and after what happened last time, she intends to keep it that way. Since then she’s lost eighty-five pounds, gotten four streaks of purple in her hair, and moved to Buttcrack-of-Nowhere, Ohio, to help her mom escape a bad relationship.
All the girls in her new school want one thing―Jack Hunter, the Ice Prince of East Summit High. Hot as an Armani ad, smart enough to get into Yale, and colder than the Arctic, Jack Hunter’s never gone out with anyone. Sure, people have seen him downtown with beautiful women, but he’s never given high school girls the time of day. Until Isis punches him in the face.
Jack’s met his match. Suddenly everything is a game.
The goal: Make the other beg for mercy.
The game board: East Summit High.
The reward: Something neither of them expected.
Sara Wolf lives in San Diego, California, where she burns instead of tans. When she isn’t pouring her allotted lifeforce into writing, she’s reading, accidentally burning houses down whilst baking, or making faces at her highly appreciative cat.
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