Split Second

By: Kasie West

DEDICATION





To Hannah, Autumn, Abby, and Donavan,

who fill every day with my favorite memories





CHAPTER 1


Addie: Meet me at my house later. If I’m not already dead.

My car sat on the far side of the parking lot, and I couldn’t get to it fast enough. The day had been horrible, matching perfectly with the rest of my first week back to school since the whole Duke’s-a-huge-jerk-who-had-been-using-me revelation. I could almost handle conversations stopping dead when I entered a room. But the looks of pity had me seething. I did not need pity. If luck were on my side, the winter holiday that began as soon as I exited the parking lot would make people forget. If it didn’t, maybe Laila could zap the whole school with amnesia. Ah, schoolwide amnesia, the first happy thought of my day.

I stepped off the curb and realized too late that I hadn’t looked first. Tires screeched across asphalt and my hands instinctively flew up, bracing for the impact. The impact that didn’t come. At least not yet. The motorcycle skidded my way in slow motion. So slow that I easily stepped out of its way as it moved past. Connor, the driver, let the bike drop to the pavement as he crawled his way off it. Pieces of glass from the shattered side mirror floated by my head. I reached out and touched one with my index finger. It dropped like a brick to the asphalt, where it rocked back and forth—the fastest-moving piece of the world around me—until it stopped.

Back at the bike, Connor slowly ripped his helmet from his head and turned a full circle, searching the ground. His movements gradually picked up speed until he no longer appeared as though underwater. When our eyes finally met, relief washed over his face.

“Addie, I thought I hit you. I was going to hit you.”

“I’m fine.” At least physically. I had no idea what was happening to me mentally. My ability had always been the same—I could see both outcomes of a choice. In essence, I could see the future. Two futures, really. There had never been any variation to that. It was predictable.

Until now.

Now my ability was acting up. At certain moments, time slowed down around me. The same thing had happened at Bobby’s house last week, and I wrote it off as an isolated incident—a fluke that had come out of the extreme stress of the situation. He’d said something about extreme emotions. And it wasn’t every day that someone tried to kill you. Everything that day had been weird—the time slowing down, the Search-like vision of Trevor at the hospital. But now I could no longer blame it on that day. I hadn’t been almost killed today. I glanced at the motorcycle lying on its side. Well, maybe I had.

A pain shot up the back of my neck and then radiated through my head. I tried not to wince and pressed my palms against my temples, scanning through a pain-relief mind pattern. It didn’t help.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Connor asked. “Because you look like you’re going to puke.”

“I’m fine. Sorry about your . . .” I was about to say bike, but then saw Duke, coming toward the scene at a jog.

I spun on my heel and walked as fast as my throbbing head would allow in the direction of my car.

“What happened?” I heard him ask Connor behind me.

“I almost hit her. I should’ve hit her. One second she was there, the next she was gone.”

Just thirty more steps and I’d be at my car. I positioned my thumb, ready to unlock the door, so there would be no delays when I reached it. My head had finally calmed, so I walked even faster. But then his voice was right behind me.

“Addie.”

“No.” It was a lame response, but the only one my lips would allow passage to.

“Did you get hurt?”

The many answers I could’ve given to that question flooded my brain: Not nearly as much as you hurt me. Not nearly as much as I will hurt you if you come any closer. Why do you care? Were you hoping to be the sole provider of painful experiences in my life?

Of course I didn’t say any of those things. I led him to believe he hadn’t hurt me. That I had never liked him at all. That when he stopped manipulating my emotions with his ability, everything I ever felt for him vanished. And that was the story I would stick to no matter what. That story let me hold on to a shred of dignity.

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