Reese White has spent her whole life trying so hard to be perfect, that when she looks in the mirror, she doesn’t know the person staring back at her. Sure, she’s always gotten high grades and excelled academically, but she’s never put much time into herself. Now, as she heads off to college, Reese realizes she’s remained so hidden inside a book that she’s invisible to everyone, including herself.
Kellin Lake has always seen Reese, his little sister’s best friend, the beautiful girl hidden behind baggy clothes and good grades–but he’s hiding, too– even from her. Tattoos, lip piercing and lead singer in a metal band, he’s a rebel without a cause. But that’s just to the people at school. At home, he covers it all up, and he’s the boy with the angel’s voice, and a 4.0 only his parents know about.
When Reese flips the switch and takes control of her looks, they make an arrangement– pretend to be in a relationship to elevate Reese’s social status. It’s simple. Kellin helps his sister’s best friend, and Reese isn’t invisible anymore. No one falls in love. No one gets hurt. But what Reese doesn’t realize is Kellin is already in love with her.
And now things get a hell of a lot more complicated.
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“So are you going to explain what all of this is about?” Lindy asks as she holds the door open for me to the mall.
“I may have asked Tyler out on a date…and he rejected me.”
And I’m insanely jealous of any girl I see your brother kissing…
Lindy is silent for a moment, and all I can hear is the sound of her heel’s clicking on the ceramic tiles and noise of my too big jeans as they drag on it.
“No shit,” Lindy replies, and I look at her bubble gum pink sweater, floral tank, and skinny jeans.
I bite my cheek before looking straight ahead. “Apparently, you’re more his type.”
“Like I’d ever go for that,” Lindy replies, her lips curling under as she sticks her tongue out. “So what is this, a makeover?”
The smile grows on Lindy’s face as she looks me over. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
I nod. “I know exactly who I am, and it’s time for me to show it.”
“So are we going for preppy?” she asks as we begin to walk again.
I shake my head. “Not at all.”
“What are we going for then?”
“I love you, Lind, but I am definitely not you,” I answer as we walk past Express and Lindy’s head stays fixed on a mannikin in a set of dark wash skinny jeans and a tight black v-neck tee. I stop, and she slams into me. “Think Kellin’s type.”
“Softcore rebel without a cause?” Lindy asks as I turn into the store and grab my size in the jeans and the smallest version of the shirt I can find.
“Exactly, except I love the music he plays,” I reply.
Lindy shakes her head at me, taking the pants and putting them back down and grabbing a smaller size. “Right, then you’ll want pants that are actually your size.”
“How do you know what size I am?” I ask.
“I’ve seen you in a bathing suit. You’re tiny beneath all that cotton.”
I take the pants from her and head into the dressing room. When I come out, Lindy has a pile of jeans for me just as skinny as the ones I’ve slipped into but in a variety of colors including a pair of ripped ones. I grab them from her hands and smile.
“Perfect,” I reply.
“Reese, you’re going to make Tyler have a heart attack,” Lindy says as she looks me up and down with the widest smile I’ve ever seen on her.
“This isn’t about Tyler,” I reply as I turn to the full-length mirror.
“Who is it about then?”
My heart stutters for a moment as Kellin’s face comes to mind. I shake my head, before looking up at the girl in the mirror and smiling. “Me.”
“If I know you well enough this shirt is going to be right up your alley,” she says, draping a black t-shirt with silver scroll and skulls over my shoulder.
I take a deep breath. “How did you know?”
Lindy shrugs. “I knew you were hiding a rebel under there; now we just need some band t-shirts.”
I turn to her. “And dye.”
I nod. “And I’ll need to get contacts…and make-up.”
“We don’t want you to overdose on make-over here, Reese,” Lindy replies, chewing on the inside of her lip as I smile at her.
“I know exactly who I want to be, now are you going to help me or not?”
“Lead the way,” Lindy replies as she shakes her head with a laugh.
“Yeah, I’m not the ugly friend anymore,” I reply, picking at the strands of my ripped jeans.
Kellin scoffs. “You never were.”
I look up, raising my eyebrows at him. “Come on, Kell. I wasn’t pretty before.”
He shakes his head, his lips in a harsh line just like his jaw. “That’s bullshit, Ree. You’re the same girl you were before, except your clothes fit a little too good and you stopped wearing glasses.”
“Don’t forget this,” I reply tossing my hair over my shoulders, and staring at him through my bangs.
He reaches over and runs his fingers over my chin in a way that makes me inhale deeply.
Breathe, Reese. Breathe.
“I do like that color on you,” he replies, his hand falling over mine and weaving our fingers together.
“I thought you would, ” I answer without thinking, squeezing my eyes shut as I think of exactly how that sounds like I did this just to impress him.
“I’m glad you considered how I’d feel about the change.”
“You’re one of my best friends…besides Lindy, so of course I thought of what you’d think,” I explain, and Kellin’s hand pulls away from mine to go to the steering wheel.
He stares ahead, and I’m struck by the urge to take his hand back into mine again because now it feels wrong for his hand not to be there. We sit in silence until I finally speak.
“Are you mad at me?”
“Why would I be mad at you?” Kellin asks as he shifts the truck into park.
“I don’t know…you just seem angry,” I reply as I watch him squeezing the steering wheel with white knuckles.
“Not at all.”
“You sure?” I ask as he jumps out and moves the seat forward so he can grab his guitar and amplifier.
“Of course.” He slides the guitar over his back, taking the amp in one arm, so his biceps bulge as he holds out the other for me. “Ready to make an entrance?”
“Are you sure you want to do this?” I ask as I look at the already crowded venue.
Being Kellin’s arm candy is strangely satisfying. Girls eyes follow us as we enter the room, and narrow on me when I kiss his cheek before he goes on stage. At the end of the show, I can feel their stares as he pulls me into his arms to hug me, and then slings his arm around my waist, tucking his hand into my front pocket.
“Guys, this is my girlfriend, Reese,” Kellin explains. “Joey Schmidt,” he nods to the screamer. “Carl Fague,” he nods to the drummer, and finally the bassist. “Johnny Temple — who you already know as Temp.”
“In other words, Schmidt, and Fague,” I fill in the blanks of how he usually refers to them.
“Exactly.” Kellin’s lips twitch as he looks at them staring at me.
Cassandra doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t writing. In fact, the first time she was published was when she was seven years old and won a contest to be published in an American Girl Doll novel. Since then Cassandra has written more novels than she can count and put just as many in the circular bin. Her personal goal with her writing is to show the reader the character’s stories through their dialogue and actions instead of just telling the reader what is happening. Besides being a writer, Cassandra is a professional photographer known for her automotive, nature and architectural shots. She is happily married to the man of her dreams and they live in the rolling hills of New England with their dogs, Bubski and Kanga.
Cassandra Giovanni is published by Show n’ot Tell Publishing based out of Connecticut, USA
Walking in the Shadows