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Copyright© 2021 Sam Crescent


ISBN: 978-0-3695-0308-4

Cover Artist: Jay Aheer

Editor: Audrey Bobak



WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal.  No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.





Crude Hill High, 2


Sam Crescent


Copyright © 2021




I’d never felt like this.

The pain was unreal.

As I climbed into the car where my friends were, none of us spoke. What was the point in speaking? We’d just put our woman on a private jet with a whole new life mapped out. One that only our fathers knew about.

Gael stared out the window. River had the tip of the blade he’d stolen from Emily pressing into his thigh. From this angle, I knew he was pushing it in, slowly sinking it into his flesh. The tension of his jaw was a clear indicator.

Vadik’s hands were clenched into fists.

None of us were used to this level of pain. River probably was, but I couldn’t seem to stop it. All I wanted to do was scream and shout.

I sat behind the wheel without knowing what to say. There was nothing. No words.

Our entire life had just been put on a jet and was now making a new one without us. We didn’t know her brand-new name or where she’d be. She could be in some town close by, or another country.

“Do you think they’ll keep their word?” Gael asked.

“Yes,” River said. “They wouldn’t lie to us.”

“Oh, really? They were more than willing to kill the only woman we’ve ever loved.” Gael slammed the palm of his hand against the car window. “Fuck this. Fuck them. Why did we have to give her up?”

“We couldn’t allow them to kill her.” I didn’t know why I was making excuses. Gael knew why we’d done it.

“There’s four of us. We could have taken them. This is all fucking horseshit. I don’t … she was … I don’t…” Gael stopped speaking. One glance in the rearview mirror showed that he struggled with tears.

We’d gone through so much together, but I couldn’t recall any of us crying. It was kind of sad when I thought about it.

No tears.

We’d all accepted how our lives had turned out. It sucked.

“Do you just accept this?” Gael asked.

“I accept that we made the right choice with her. We made the choice she needed.”

“It wasn’t the right choice,” he said. “Not the right choice at all.” He climbed out of the car just as the jet took off. We all followed him, standing by his side as Emily was taken from us.

“She’s going to think we abandoned her,” Vadik said.

“We know we didn’t,” I said. “We have given her the best chance. The best opportunity to live. Try to think about what she’s now got. She’s got a full life ahead of her. One she’s going to enjoy more than anything.” I didn’t know if I was explaining this well or just trying to give a more involved reasoning for why we’d let our woman go. “She would know we loved her.”

I didn’t know how long we stood in that same spot. Cars honked at us as we stood in the way at the airport, but we ignored them. Gael stared up at the sky as if he imagined Emily magically sprouting wings and flying.

I didn’t know what to say or do. I felt completely helpless, and this was all my fault.

Finally, I didn’t know what happened, but Gael stepped back.

From the look on his face, the boy he’d once been had just faded. I saw the anger, the rage, the deep-seated pain. He didn’t say anything as he climbed inside.

One by one, we got back into the car, but I knew we were not the same men.

We were finally the monsters our fathers had always hoped we’d be.

Chapter One


I sang the birthday song in my head, staring at the cupcake with one candle aglow. Seven years had passed since I’d been Emily Crane. Every single part of my past life had been extinguished.

Now I was Amelia Coast. Ashley was now my sister, Harper.

I still found it hard to think of myself as Amelia. We still lived in the apartment I’d first woken up in. According to my records, I’d graduated high school, and to pass the time, I’d taken a couple of college courses at night.

Ashley attended culinary classes and worked at a restaurant about five minutes from where we lived, while I worked at a local supermarket. The job wasn’t very exciting, but after work, I’d then go to my night job of cleaning. I liked having two jobs. Ashley believed I worked too much, but it was much better than sitting around the house moping. I did that a lot regardless. Like now.

Twenty-five years old and my heart still ached for the men I couldn’t have. I hated myself and my weakness. I should be able to forget about them, but I couldn’t. Caleb, River, Vadik, and Gael. Four boys, no, they’d been four men, even back in high school. I rubbed at my chest, the pain still very much there.

In and out.

I tried to take deep breaths, but it failed. It always failed. Tears filled my eyes and because I was alone, I allowed them to fall.

Ashley didn’t need me to be strong right now. Whenever I

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