Runaway, the must-read emotional fifth book in the Empire High Series from USA Today, Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Ivy Smoak is available now!
To the first boy I ever loved.
I intended to keep my promises to you. I swear. I loved you, Matthew Caldwell. With my whole heart. I think a piece of me will always love you.
But it all came crashing down when I realized you didn’t keep your promises to me.
I refuse to take any of my days for granted. I learned that the hard way.
So I’m sorry. But I can’t keep my promises to someone who didn’t keep theirs.
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Friday – 16 years ago
Matt. I squeezed his hand and he squeezed mine back. God I loved him so much. And waking up next to him had quickly become my favorite thing. In a few months, I’d be his wife. Our wedding day couldn’t come soon enough. I couldn’t wait to be Brooklyn Caldwell. Matt squeezed my hand again. It was the most comforting feeling in the world.
Especially after the crazy nightmare I’d just had. I’d dreamt that I’d played a horrible prank on my evil half-sister Isabella. Matt had been furious with me. And I could see why. Isabella had fallen through the ceiling in my nightmare. The prank had gone way too far. Such a crazy dream.
But then I felt a sharp pain in my side. I winced. And everything suddenly felt…wrong. Like the room was spinning. I felt like I was going to be sick.
This didn’t feel like the bed I shared with Matt. The mattress was hard and the sheets were thin and itchy.
The room didn’t smell like him either. It didn’t smell like anything at all. And that was most certainly not Matt’s hand holding mine. It was all wrong.
I opened my eyes and had to blink because the room was blindingly white. My dad was sitting next to me holding my hand. His eyes were closed and he was in a wheelchair, his arm attached to an IV in the corner. For just a second I was alarmed by how sickly he looked. For just a second…I was worried about him. Which was ironic. Because he certainly wasn’t worried about me. He didn’t give a shit about me.
It felt like my heart stopped beating. None of it was a dream. No.
Tears started welling in my eyes. The prank had happened. Matt did hate me. He’d left me. He’d called me a liar and just walked away. He didn’t answer any of my calls or texts. He just…ignored my existence. Just like he had when we’d first met. Like I meant nothing to him. My chest ached. Like my heart was ripping in two. Matthew Caldwell hates me.
And yet…none of that was the worst thing. The monster sitting next to my bed topped everything else. And I needed to get the hell away from him.
I pulled my hand out of my dad’s grip.
That startled him awake. “You’re awake, princess,” he said, his voice hoarse and groggy.
I was not his princess. That was his name for my evil half-sister. And I wanted no part in it. I wanted no part of this family. “Don’t call me that.” My voice sounded even hoarser than his. I looked down at the IV that was attached to my wrist and tried to pull it out.
“What are you doing?” He reached out to stop me.
“Don’t touch me!” My stomach rolled as I sat up. I was definitely about to be sick.
“Princess, calm down. You need to rest.”
I pulled out the IV and grabbed my wrist as the blood dribbled down my arm. I needed to get out of this room. I needed to get away from the man that called himself my father. That sick fuck.
“Brooklyn, you need to calm down,” he said more forcefully.
“You stole…you stole my…” It was like my mind was all jumbled. Everything was blurry as I tried to climb out of bed. And my side hurt so damn much. When I pushed myself off the bed, I fell to my knees. My foot hit the metal pole the IV was attached to, and it fell to the ground with a clang.
“Brooklyn, stop.” He reached out for me again.
I cringed when he put his hands on my shoulders. Ow. I grabbed my stomach. I wasn’t going to be sick. I was just in pain because my dad had tried to kill me.
“Shit,” my dad mumbled.
Something in the room started beeping like crazy.
And Dr. Wilson rushed in. “What on earth is going on in here? Did she fall out of bed?”
“She’s hysterical,” my dad said. “Do something!”
Hysterical? I’m not hysterical. He was the crazy one, not me. “Help me,” I croaked and grabbed Dr. Wilson’s pant leg.
Dr. Wilson stared down at me like I’d lost my mind. Like I was a feral animal he wanted to kick away. Why was he looking at me like that? I was asking him for help. Begging him to save me from this hell. Did he not realize what had just happened?
“I didn’t agree to this,” I said. “I didn’t. Let me go. Please let me go. Let me out of here.” It felt like air wasn’t reaching my lungs fast enough. I choked on my own breath.
Dr. Wilson glanced at my dad and then back at me.
“Please get me out of here. I don’t want to be here anymore.” Not in this room. Not near my dad. Not in this house. Not in this fucking state.
“Did you give her too many painkillers?” my dad asked.
“I…” Dr. Wilson’s voice trailed off. “I don’t know. Did you see her take more medication?”
I’m not high! But Dr. Wilson’s statement made me realize that he was not here to help me. He was part of the reason I was in pain. He’d performed the surgery. It wasn’t just my dad. Dr. Wilson was a monster too. I couldn’t be here. I needed to get away from both of them. I tried to get up but fell back down.
“Brooklyn, try to take a deep breath for me,” my dad said. “I think you’re just having a panic attack.”
Fuck him for using that against me. I trusted him. And now he was trying to make me feel insane. “I’m not,” I gasped. Maybe I was. But deep breathing wasn’t going to help. I needed to get out of this haunted apartment.
“I’ll take you wherever you want to go,” my dad said. “Where do you want to go, princess?”
Stop calling me that. I wasn’t his princess. I wanted nothing to do with him. “Please just let me go.” I tried to push myself up off the floor but the pain was blinding. The room started to spin. The door seemed like it was a million miles away. If I could just…
“We’ll get you back to your bedroom, alright?” my dad said. “Please take a deep breath.” “No. I don’t want to be here anymore. Please.” I felt the tears streaming down my cheeks.
He lowered his eyebrows. “Okay. We’ll get you out of here, if that’s what you want. Just tell me where you want to go.”
I wanted to go to Matt’s. Desperately. But he no longer wanted me there. He’d made that pretty clear after our fight. And my best friend, Kennedy, was mad at me too. I had nowhere to go. But I needed out of this room. Out of this house. Out of this life. I couldn’t do this anymore. Everything hurt.
“Just tell me where, princess.”
I wasn’t his fucking princess. “As far away as possible from you.”
His face fell. “Brooklyn, what’s going on?”
“You stole my fucking kidney, you psychopath!” I tried to stand up again but the room was spinning too fast.
Ivy Smoak is the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Amazon #1 bestselling author of The Hunted Series. Her books have sold over 2 million copies worldwide.
When she’s not writing, you can find Ivy binge watching too many TV shows, taking long walks, playing outside, and generally refusing to act like an adult. She lives with her husband in Delaware.
It’s been a wild ride to chase her dreams…
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