The Evolution of Mara Dyer Read online





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  CONTENTS

  Acknowledgments

  Preface

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50

  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Chapter 54

  Chapter 55

  Chapter 56

  Chapter 57

  Chapter 58

  Chapter 59

  Chapter 60

  Chapter 61

  Chapter 62

  Chapter 63

  Chapter 64

  Chapter 65

  Chapter 66

  Chapter 67

  Chapter 68

  About the Author

  To Martin and Jeremy Hodkin for always betting on me

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  This book would not exist without the extraordinary effort of many people, but there are four in particular who rise to the top of the list:

  Courtney Bongiolatti: I learned so much from you and your time, talent, and limitless patience are appreciated beyond words. You made this one great, and you are missed.

  Alexandra Cooper: In such a short time, you have brought so much to this book. I can’t believe my good fortune in having won the editor lottery twice.

  Barry Goldblatt: No matter how heavy things get, you never let me sink. Thank God you’re on my side.

  And last but not at all least, to Kat Howard. Kat, you helped me find the words I needed to write and you pulled them out of me one by one. You were with me every day even though we were thousands of miles apart. Thank you will never be enough.

  Thanks also to Ellen Hopkins for helping me hear Noah’s voice, and to Nova Ren Suma, for rescuing me again and again. You are both so gracious and wise, and I am lucky to call you friends.

  To Justin Chanda, Paul Crichton, Siena Koncsol, Matt Pantoliano, Chrissy Noh, Amy Rosenbaum, Elka Villa, Michelle Fadlalla, Venessa Williams, and the entire team at Simon & Schuster, I am grateful for you all every day. And to Lucy Ruth Cummins for designing yet another stunning cover—you amaze me.

  To Stephanie, Emily L., Sarah, Bridget, Ali, Anna, Christi, and Emily T., for everything Maggie and beyond, and to Rebecca Cantley, for taking care of my life when I can’t be there to do it myself.

  And as always, thanks to my family for their infinite love and support: Janie and Grandpa Bob, Jeffrey, Melissa, Uncle Eddie, Aunt Viri and Uncle Paul, Barbara and Peter, Nanny and Zadie, Z”L, Tante and Uncle Jeff and all of my cousins. Bret, thank you for Dawson’s Creek, New Year’s Eve, and for tolerating so much abuse. Yardana, I love you and can’t remember what our family was like without you. Thank you for lending your professional expertise to this book; I could not have done my misfits justice without it. All of the psychological details that were accurate were accurate because of you, and any mistakes made were mine and mine alone.

  Martin & Jeremy, you got the dedication. Don’t be greedy.

  Finally, thanks to my mother, Ellen, for always believing me. Even when she shouldn’t have.

  “Can we become other than what we are?”

  —Marquis de Sade, Justine

  PREFACE

  YOU WILL LOVE HIM TO RUINS.

  The words echoed in my mind as I ran through clots of laughing people. Blinking lights and delighted screams bled together in a riot of sound and color. I knew Noah was behind me. I knew he would catch up. But my feet tried to do what my heart couldn’t; they tried to leave him behind.

  I finally ran out of breath beneath a leering clown that pointed to the entrance to the Hall of Mirrors. Noah caught up to me easily. He turned me to face him and I stood there, my wrist in his grasp, my cheeks wet with tears, my heart splintered by her words.

  If I truly loved him, she said, I would let him go.

  I wished I loved him enough.

  1

  LILLIAN AND ALFRED RICE

  PSYCHIATRIC UNIT

  Miami, Florida

  I WOKE UP ON THE MORNING OF SOME DAY IN SOME hospital to find a stranger sitting in my room.

  I sat up gingerly—my shoulder was sore—and studied the stranger. She had dark brown hair that bled into gray at the roots, and hazel eyes with webs of crow’s feet at the corners. She smiled at me, and her whole face moved.

  “Good morning, Mara,” she said.

  “Good morning,” I said back. My voice was low and hoarse. It didn’t sound like my own.

  “Do you know where you are?”

  She obviously didn’t realize that the floor directory was positioned directly outside the window behind her, and that from the bed, I had a clear view. “I’m at the Lillian and Alfred Rice Psychiatric Unit.” Apparently.

  “Do you know who I am?”

  I had no idea, but I tried not to show it; she wouldn’t have asked me if we’d never met, and if we had met, I should remember her. “Yes,” I lied.

  “What’s my name?”

  Damn. My chest rose and fell quickly with my breath.

  “I’m Dr. West,” she said evenly. Her voice was warm and friendly but not at all familiar. “We met yesterday, when you were brought in by your parents and a detective by the name of Vincent Gadsen.”

  Yesterday.

  “Do you remember?”

  I remembered seeing my father lying pale and wounded in a hospital bed after he was shot by the mother of a murdered girl.

  I remembered that I was the one who made her do it.

  I remembered going to the police station to confess to stealing my teacher’s EpiPen and releasing fire ants in her desk, which is why she died of anaphylactic shock.

  I remembered that it wasn’t true—just a lie I would feed the police so they would keep me from hurting anyone I loved again. Because they wouldn’t believe I wished my teacher dead and that not long after, she died. Choked to death on a swollen tongue, exactly the way I imagined she would.

  I remembered that before I could tell anyone any of this, I saw Jude at the Thirteenth Precinct of the Metro Dade Police Department. Looking very much alive.

  But I did not remember coming here to the hospital. I didn’t remember being brought. After Jude appear