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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Text copyright © 2021 by Elaine Vickers

Cover art copyright © 2021 by Neil Swaab

Smoke texture used under license from Shutterstock.com

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

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Educators and librarians, for a variety of teaching tools, visit us at RHTeachersLibrarians.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available upon request.

ISBN 978-0-593-18019-8 (trade) — ISBN 978-0-593-18020-4 (lib. bdg.) — ISBN 0-593-18021-1 (ebook)

Ebook ISBN 9780593180211

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Penguin Random House LLC supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin Random House to publish books for every reader.




Title Page



Countdown: Kolt (After)

Pain or Poison (After)

Police Statement: Kolt Martin

Where It Begins: Kolt (The Summer Before Sixth Grade)

Everything Hurts (After)

Police Statement: Daphne Sharp

Tomorrow’s Going to Hurt: Daphne (Sophomore Year)

Taking a Bet: Daphne (After)

Burning Up (After)

Police Statement: Luke Foster

Big Bang: Part 1: Luke (After)


The Book of Luke and Jake: Part 1

Rise and Shine (After)

Police Statement: Sabrina Foster

Invisible: Sabrina (After the Game)

Second Police Statement: Kolt Martin

Close One: Kolt (After)

Show Me a Sign (The Summer Before Senior Year)

Shrapnel (The Summer Before Senior Year)

Fog and Fever (After)

It’s Not Your Fault (After)

Any New Symptoms?: Daphne (The Summer Before Senior Year)

Winter Quiet: Kolt (Senior Year)

Four Elements: Luke (After)

Four Words

The Book of Luke and Jake: Part 2 (The Summer Before Senior Year)

Hurt Like Hell: Daphne (November, Senior Year)

Derivative (December, Senior Year)

Police Statement: Seth Cooper

Thin Red Line: Seth (Sophomore Year)

Talk to Me: Part 1 (After)

Hungry: Luke (After)

Rumors: Kolt (After)

One Small Thing in Return (After)

Talk to Me: Part 2 (After)

Judge and Prosecutor: Daphne (After)

Search Warrant: Luke (After)

Anytime, Anywhere (September, Senior Year)

Freefall: Luke (After)

The Mess That Wasn’t Mine

Metal on Metal

The Divide: Sabrina (After)

The Moment That Defines You (Six Hours Before the Game)

If: Seth (Two Hours Before the Game)

Savior: Part 1 (Before the Game)

Any Night but Tonight: Daphne (After the Game)

Taillights: Seth (After the Game)

No Going Back (After)

Do. or Do Not.: Kolt (After)

Rebel Alliance: Daphne (After)

Savior: Part 2 (Championship Game Warm-ups)

Perspective (Championship Game)

Unmarked (Postgame)

Too Many Questions: Luke (After)

One Small Stroke (After)

Alive Isn’t Enough (After)

Right Is Right: Daphne

Force Field: Luke

Rearview Mirror: Kolt

Reckoning: Seth

The Other Side

Loose Earth

Big Bang: Part 2: Luke

Author’s Note


About the Author


my dad, my first and best coach

my husband, unparalleled teammate and soulmate

my son, for whom the sky’s the limit

and for anyone who has ever faced

the monster of Not Enough

Here’s how I remember that night:

At 8:53 p.m., there were thousands of people watching my best friend. Me and Seth and Coach and Daphne and Luke and every other person in that gym. Jake brought the ball down the court for one last shot as the clock ticked down to that row of zeros, and the crowd chanted along: “Three…two…one…”

There’s always been something pure about the way Jake plays, like some wild animal doing exactly what it was born to do. A mountain lion, maybe—sturdy and silent, and when it’s coming for you, you might as well piss your pants as try to stop it. In the final seconds, he drove hard to the hoop, then pulled back for a fadeaway with more finesse than Van freaking Gogh.

When the shot went up, I was ready to grab the board, even though I knew he wouldn’t need it. Even though the buzzer was already blaring in my ears. You practice something that many times—the shot goes up and you seal your guy off—that you do it without even thinking. That’s probably why even now I look for Jake when I get out of world history. Why I expect it to be him every time my phone vibrates.

With one perfect flick of his wrist, the rock’s through the rim, and the state title is ours. Then it’s all cheering and chest bumps, and half the guys are crying, and the whole crowd’s got their phones out, trying to catch this moment so they can put it in their pocket and pull it out anytime, like they’re witnessing their own little moment of world history.

There’s more I remember about that night. The satisfying snip of cutting down the net, the roar of the crowd when we brought the trophy straight over to the student section. But none of it’s as important as this: at 8:53 p.m., there were thousands of people watching my best friend. Hundreds of cameras snapping and shooting his every move.

But when the show’s over, we all look away.

So nobody saw it happen. Nobody knows how or why or even exactly when he disappeared.

All we know is that by the next morning, Jake was gone.

It’s dark down here. Dark and cold.

His breathing is slow, his lips are blue.

“Sit up,” a voice demands.

He hears it faintly, like it’s coming through a thick wall, even though they’re in the same room.

“Sit up.” Louder this time, and he feels the hot breath on his ear. His head throbs, but he lifts it a few inches and hopes it’s enough that the voice will stop yelling.

“Take this,” the voice says, and something small and round is shoved between his lips. He hopes it’s something for the pain, because every muscle burns and aches. He feels himself choking on the water being poured into his mouth to chase it down.

The pill is still there, swimming

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