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An excerpt from






It was hard to blink, but I was pretty sure this was not my bedroom or any part of our modest stucco rancher in the Valley. I rubbed my eyes and groaned, feeling the Shu Uemura eyelash extensions—so painstakingly applied the evening before—flake off on my fingers. I shaded my eyes from the hazy morning sun, glanced around at the candy-colored tile and the trippy, midcentury furniture, and a wave of nausea crested in my abdomen. The décor seemed inspired by Peptol Bismol, which only made my stomach hurt more. My hot pink Louboutin floated in the slender swimming pool like some poor soul marooned at sea—the obvious metaphor for my life mocking me, kicking me while I was down. The other one, miraculously, clung to my foot. Yielding a pool stick, I hobbled on one stiletto to fish out the other one.

I took a closer look around, pinching the drenched ankle strap of my gorgeous, borrowed shoe, careful to hold it an arm’s length from my gorgeous, borrowed dress as droplets shook from its S-shaped silhouette. I was on a rooftop. Cars whizzed below me. The cool, January air was thick with stale beer and cleaning products. There was a bar to my left, an elevator bank up ahead. This was not my house, nor anyone’s house for that matter. It was a nightclub. And, as usual, I hadn’t been here just to party. I’d been here to do a job. Possibly the most important job of my life. A matter of life and death, literally. (And I’m using “literally” in the literal sense here.) I started to panic. My wrists quaked as I rifled through my leather clutch. If I had lost the money on top of everything else, my life would be over. My heart pounded.

I can’t hold my alcohol. I know that much is true. What I don’t know is how the hell I got here. Not the nightclub, per se, but this whole state of being. I felt like shit. There was dried vomit in my hair. I was hoping it was my dried vomit, but I couldn’t be sure. My boyfriend—well, ex-boyfriend—was not who I thought he was. I was supposed to be in class in Beverly Hills in eighteen minutes, and I couldn’t even remember the last twelve hours clearly. Worst of all, my best friend—well, former best friend—wasn’t here to hold my hair back and tell me everything would be okay. I never imagined I could screw up this badly. I cradled my chlorine-drenched shoe in my arms, let the loneliness and despair wash over me, and cried like a little girl. I guess that’s what I was.

It didn’t used to be this way. Sometime in November, right around my sixteenth birthday, things started to change.