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Here we go again.
A new set of foster parents to make my life a living hell.
What number is this? Oh, that’s right, fourteen.
This dump will be no different than any of the rest.
They don’t care about me. No one does.
I wonder what it’ll take to get me kicked out this time.
Only six months left until I age out of this godforsaken system…
Everyone wants to adopt little babies they can mold into replicas of themselves.
No one wants a seventeen-year-old black kid with a rap sheet.
I’m damaged goods.
An easy paycheck.
I know there’s an ulterior motive here.
There has to be.
There always is…

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She moved her head over further to watch me click around the screen. Her large, unruly curls made me wiggle my nose and want to wipe my face on my shirt, the way they tickled my face. But there was no way in hell I was doing that. The smell of her hair was some kind of flowery something, and the amazing outweighed the annoying.

“So, this is the basic layout.” I clicked on the interactive widget of the C-47 cargo plane and the interactive cover to The Forgotten 500 that had the Amazon links. “I thought instead of doing a typical PowerPoint presentation like everyone else, we could do something like this.”

My hand shook as I brushed her hair back and snuck a glance down at her. Her honey-colored eyes darted between mine and the screen with a megawatt smile. “This is really cool. How did you learn how to do all of this?”

“My old librarian showed me this site and I just figured the rest out.”

Someone cleared their throat from behind us, and in Lily’s haste to turn around, her hair whipped me in the face. I blinked rapidly and pulled a stray hair from my mouth as I turned slowly toward the voice.

Tyler stood behind us with his brows furrowed and a finger pointing back and forth between us. “Uh, what’s going on?”

My fight or flight instincts kicked in and they were telling me to run as I eyed him and the door behind him, trying to figure out how fast I could make it there.

“Hey, Ty. We were looking at something Dante was working on for our project and there was a glare from where I was sitting.”

I looked at her in confusion. My heart was still thumping uncontrollably in my chest as I tried to keep it in check. What I couldn’t figure out was if she was covering for snuggling up to me, or if there really was a glare on the screen.

With an unconvinced nod, Tyler jerked his thumb toward the door. “Uh, okay. Well, I’m done here. Are you ready to go home?”

“Yeah. Just let me get my stuff.” Lily twirled around and packed all of her stuff away.

I stood up awkwardly and stuffed my hands in my pockets.

“Do you need a ride too, dude?” Tyler asked, as if the thought hadn’t occurred to him a few minutes before.

Rocking back and forth on my heels, I snuck a glance at Lily. She was shutting down her computer and didn’t seem to be paying an ounce of attention to anything else.

My heart sank a little. “Sure.”

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About the author

Always the cause of shenanigans, Vanessa is a heavily tattooed, sarcastic motorcycle enthusiast who started her career as a Jeep tech at the age of sixteen. The happily married mother of three little monsters—oops, children—lives in Kentucky by way of Las Vegas, Nevada. Once her life took a different direction—sidelined by Heart Disease at 26 and becoming a pacemaker recipient—she decided to write as a creative outlet, and Heartless was born. She realizes life can be dark clouds and acid rain at times, but her outlook on life puts a positive and sarcastic spin on it all.
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