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If You Dare: Chapter 4

After

Violet

Returning to Diamond University was not in my plans. But Mom paid my legal fees and this is where she said I’m going, so I’m here.

“Don’t forget your box of books.” Mom doesn’t look at me when she says it. I can’t remember the last time she made eye contact with me.

My only friends in the world now exist inside these books.

Chloe should be here. We should be starting our sophomore year of college together and sharing a dorm room.

But I ruined that. I took away her future. Her life.

We’ll never have boyfriends together like we vowed to at the end of last semester. She’ll never get to read that book I keep saying I’m going to write. We’ll never giggle over our favorite smutty scenes again or fangirl over our latest celebrity crush.

This year, my roommate is a stranger. Probably a freshman from the looks of her side of the dorm. She’s already decorated her bed, desk, and wall with bright colors and soccer memorabilia. So bright and cheery, it makes me want to puke.

I begged Mom to let me go anywhere other than Diamond and tried to convince her that I can be an English major anywhere, but she doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of me transferring. I chose Diamond University—or, more accurately, Diamond chose me for a full-ride—and according to her, I need to stick it out. Since I’m destitute without her, I don’t have a choice.

While families in other dorms chat and laugh and cry, Mom and I stay silent while we move my boxes and bags into the room. Last year, Chloe and Wes helped us move my stuff in. I was so nervous, a doe-eyed freshman with no idea what the next year held in store for her.

I’d give anything to go back to that time. To try to undo the timeline of events that got me here, without Chloe.

As soon as all my stuff is in the dorm, Mom hovers awkwardly in the middle of the room while digging through her purse.

“Thanks for helping me move in,” I manage.

Someone outside the room squeals and a tall girl breezes in.

My roommate is absolutely stunning. Beautiful, flowing black hair and radiant skin, outshone only by her bright smile. Last year, her beauty would’ve stirred envy in my stomach. Now I can’t bring myself to feel anything at all.

“Hey! I’m Aneesa.” I expect her to jut her hand out for a shake, but she wraps me in a hug instead, her flowery perfume suffocating.

Last time someone hugged me, I was in the hospital and shivering with a towel wrapped around my shoulders, still in nothing but my wet swimsuit. Mom was crying with me in her arms. I couldn’t bring myself to shed tears for Chloe yet. Her death still hadn’t hit me.

Sometimes, it still hasn’t.

Aneesa pulls back but keeps her hands on my shoulders. “You’re a sophomore, right? English major? I looked you up.”

I manage a weak smile. “Right.” The reminder stings. An English major who hasn’t written a word or cracked open a book in months. My two greatest passions for my entire life, and I haven’t felt a pull toward either of them since she died.

Aneesa releases me. “I’m a freshman. Bio major, pre-med.” She flashes a smile at Mom. A beautiful genius who’s accustomed to validation from adults for being the smartest, most accomplished girl in the room.

“Nice to meet you, Aneesa. Good luck with your freshman year.” Mom clears her throat. “I’m going to head out, Violet. Let me know if you need anything.”

She manages a small smile and a brief flash of eye contact before she leaves the room. She doesn’t hug me or dissolve into tears like she did last year. I am her only child and her greatest disappointment.

Aneesa frowns out the door after her. “Everything okay with your mom?”

Maybe she somehow doesn’t know about the accident. Diamond University is a sprawling campus that draws plenty of international and transfer students, but Diamond is still a small college town. There’s nothing they love more than gossip or a murder mystery.

Except there’s no mystery with this one. My best friend died. I’m the one responsible. Case closed.

The only mystery is how I got away with it.

“Yeah. Fine,” I tell Aneesa, busying myself with making my bed. “Just family stuff.”

Aneesa is on her feet in seconds, helping me. A lump forms in my throat at the small kindness. “Is she still upset with you over . . . what happened?”

I should’ve known there was no way anyone on this campus might not have heard about the worst moment of my life. About the worst thing I’ve ever done. I was an idiot for hoping I might be able to start fresh with someone. That I might at least have a few hours feeling normal before somebody told her the truth about me.

That she better watch her back because apparently I like killing my roommates.

“Yeah. She pretty much hates me,” I tell her, pushing the emotion back down before it can bubble up and explode.

I know, deep down, that my mother doesn’t actually hate me. She loves me unconditionally. But she hasn’t looked at me the same since that night. She probably never will.

“I’m sure she doesn’t hate you,” Aneesa insists. “It was an accident.”

“It was stupid. I was drunk. I wasn’t thinking straight, and someone died because of me. I ruined the lives of so many people. Her family, my family. I don’t blame any of them for hating me. They should.”

Chloe’s blood is on my hands, and I still haven’t figured out how to wash it off. My skin will be stained with it for the rest of my life.

Aneesa drops the bedsheet and faces me. “I can’t even imagine what you’re going through,” she says, voice gentle. “But . . . you can’t punish yourself forever. That won’t do you or anyone any good. It won’t bring your friend back.”

Tears prick my eyes, and I can’t bring myself to say anything because if I try to talk, I’ll sob, and I am not sobbing in front of my roommate during our first time meeting each other. I focus on making my bed, and Aneesa lets silence fall between us.

When I’m finished, she grabs her lanyard. “I was just about to go get lunch. Do you want to come with me?”

She knows the worst thing about me and she’s still willing to be seen with me in public. I don’t even want to be seen with me.

“Sure. Thanks,” I tell her.

She’ll come to her senses soon. When she notices the stares as everyone’s eyes follow me across campus. When she hears all the whispers and finally gets sick of being friends with the murderer.

But for now, I give her a grateful smile for the kindness I don’t deserve.


Wes

“Wes, that’s your fourth plate of pancakes this morning.”

“I’m in training, Mom.” I shovel in another bite even though I haven’t been hungry since my sister died.

Across the table, Mom shakes her head. She could always see right through my bullshit. She slips on her jacket over her blouse. She can’t stay here any longer dealing with my mopey ass—that bank’s not gonna manage itself. “You’re lingering so you don’t have to leave for campus. You can’t avoid Violet forever.”

I stiffen. I fucking hate hearing her name.

From his spot in front of the stove, Dad flips the last of the pancakes. He’s still got his pajama bottoms on. A retired NHL player who coaches in the afternoons. “You know she’s just as upset about Chloe’s death as we are. You need to figure out a way to forgive her, son.”

I don’t know how the fuck either of them can say that. Forgiveness. The last thing Violet Harris deserves. She killed my sister. She ruined our lives. They knew Violet less than a year. Welcomed her into our home and our family with open arms. Now their daughter is dead because of her, and they’ve just . . . forgiven her.

I’m the only one in this house whose fists clench at her name. She deserves to die for what she did. At the very least, she deserves prison time. Lots of it. But she didn’t even get that.

Reckless endangerment. That’s all they charged her with. Not fucking murder, even though that’s exactly what it was. She should be locked up.

Instead, she got to walk.

Now she doesn’t even have the decency to transfer to a different school. Doesn’t give a single shit about what seeing my sister’s killer every day on campus will do to me.

“She killed Chloe.” I grip the fork so hard, the metal bends. “She’s a murderer, and she got away with it. I’ll never forgive her for taking Chloe away from us.”

Mom’s blue eyes, the same as my sister’s, turn soft. Pitying. That only makes me clutch the fork harder. “Your lack of forgiveness won’t hurt Violet, Wes. It’ll only hurt you.”

Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll make sure it hurts Violet too.


Blades slice through ice, the puck smacking against the net. Shouts barely break through the buzzing in my ears. A couple guys slam into me chest-first. The winning goal and I’m not even celebrating.

“Dude,” Trey shouts, “I get that hockey is a violent sport, but do you really have to take it out on your teammates? It’s just practice.”

I got stuck with Trey as a roommate again this year. He doesn’t suck too bad to live with, but he doesn’t shower enough and he’s never washed a dish in his life. When he’s not on the ice or in the gym, he’s getting blitzed at frat parties. I’m amazed he’s made it to his senior year. He’s just pissy because I slammed him to the ice ten minutes after Coach blew the whistle. He’s not a bad defenseman, but he’s not good enough either. Not if we want to win, and winning’s all I’ve got now.

“What do you think practices are for, Trey?” I ask. “Boston isn’t going to take it easy on your ass, so why should I?”

Trey shakes his head. “Whatever, man. You need to get laid.”

He’s not wrong about that.

Luke, my goalie, leans on his stick. “She’s back today, isn’t she?”

All the guys near us wait to gauge my reaction. They know exactly how I feel about Violet Harris. “Yeah,” I grit out. “She is.”

But not for long. I plan on doing whatever it takes to get her off this campus.


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