(Sophie Shields, #1)
Publication date: September 29th 2016
Genres: Mystery, New Adult, Romance
Abandoned at birth, Sophie Shields grew up in abusive foster homes, escaping into books and computers for solace. When the constant danger became too much to bear, she ran away, thinking she could survive on her hacking skills alone.
That was until she met Cole Hunter. He became the only person she could trust: her family, her friend, her partner-in-crime. Her everything. After struggling through college and starting their lives together, she believed that nothing could ever tear them apart.
Until it did.
And she’ll do everything in her power to fix what is broken. If it isn’t too late…
When Cole was nine years old, he watched his whole family burn to death in a house fire. Fueled by years of obsession, he started one of the world’s leading architectural firms, with a mission to design homes resistant to fire, earthquakes, floods, and every threat known to man.
Sophie was his secret weapon. She was his purpose. Since they were teenagers, he was determined to build a better life for her, so she could finally be safe, and they could be together.
But disaster has always followed Cole around, ripping away everything he loves. This time, if he isn’t careful…
His enemies might just take him down.
The Fireproof Girl Book Excerpt
“Throw the dirt,” Zack orders me softly, “on his grave. They’re all waiting for you.”
I know he is trying to distract me, but I do feel like it’s the appropriate thing to do. For Mr. Bishop, at least. I lower myself to the ground, as gracefully as I can in my black dress, until I am kneeling beside the grave. I reach for the dirt and gather up a very large handful. A few small trails of sandy material slide out of my fingers, and I stare at them thoughtfully.
No. I’m not going to throw the dirt.
That would be saying goodbye. I refuse to say goodbye.
I let the sand fall back into the pile, and I push my dirty hand into my purse. I can already feel the bullet entering my brain. Where should I aim it from? Under my chin? Into my eye? Inside my mouth? My temple? Yes, the temple is the classiest choice. I see Zack moving toward me, so I know that I need to be fast. My hand is shaking, but I need to do this. I inhale sharply.
I don’t care anymore.
Pulling the gun from my purse, I slam the cold metal nozzle into the side of my head. I shut my eyes and begin to press down on the trigger when the oddest thing happens. Amongst Miranda screaming, and Mr. Bishop yelling, there is something else. Another sound. Another… sensation. I am a whisper away from freedom when curiosity hijacks my finger; just for a millisecond. It is the most difficult thing in the world to do, once I have begun, but I pause.
I pause just to make sure that I’m not imagining things. Just to make sure that I haven’t really gone insane. In that pause, I realize that my chest is heaving with frightened breaths, and there are tears sliding down my cheeks.
And the earth is shaking.
I open my eyes, just in time to see Zack knock my hand away from my skull, and wrestle the gun out of my hand. But it doesn’t take much wrestling, because my hand has grown limp. I am staring at the freshly dug dirt around the gravesite. It is trembling. The tiny rocks are moving—dancing. Shivers of amazement and understanding run through my spine. I watch Miranda grab Mr. Bishop’s arm for support, and Annabelle stumble backwards in her heels and fall flat on her ass.
Is this real? Yes. The earth is shaking.
Tingles spread from within my chest to my fingers and toes. My whole body hums to life with electricity and… hope. Tilting my chin upward, my eyes move to gaze at the sky as tears begin streaming from them endlessly. I fear I must look like a cartoon character in one of Cole’s anime shows. But also, a smile touches my lips. I remember what Cole said to me in my dream earlier today.
“Thought I told you, Scar. I’m indestructible.”
I begin to laugh softly as I watch and feel the earth shudder. I place both of my palms flat on the ground, as though I am soaking up the power of the earthquake. It’s a sign. It has to be. I laugh. I laugh loudly. I laugh hysterically.
“He’s not dead,” I declare to everyone in the vicinity as the earthquake dissipates. “He’s not dead!”
“Scarlett,” Miranda says softly, as she covers her face with both hands. “Oh, honey.”
“You crazy bitch!” Annabelle shouts. “Who brings a gun to a funeral?”
Crawling forward, toward the grave, I reach for the casket, which has not yet been fully lowered into the ground. I try to pry it open with my bare hands. “He’s not in here!” I say with utter conviction. “He can’t be. He’s not dead. He’s not.”
I feel myself being pulled away from the casket and restrained by two large men. I struggle, but a pair of handcuffs are being roughly locked onto me. “Stop!” I shout, wrestling against them. “Open the casket! I need to see what’s inside. Miranda! Open the casket!” When she stares at me with wide eyes of disbelief, I begin screaming. “Cole isn’t in there! You don’t know him. None of you know him! He’s too strong. He’s too strong to be killed by a fucking bullet!”
“Mrs. Hunter,” says Detective Rodriguez calmly. “I think it’s a good time to bring you into the station now. We need to ask you some questions, and give you a chance to calm down.”
“I’ll come with her,” Zack says at once, tightening his grip on my left arm. “I’m sorry about this, Detective. She hasn’t been dealing with this whole situation very well.”
The detective grunts as he begins dragging me back to his police car. “We will need to keep her in custody for a while. Then we’ll have her committed to a psychiatric facility.”
“Understandable,” Zack responds softly.
“I’m not crazy!” I shout at him, kicking his prosthetic leg with my new high heel and causing him to stumble. “Cole’s alive. You better believe it, Zachary.”
“No, Scarlett. You need help.”
USA Today bestselling author Loretta Lost writes to experience all the love and excitement that can often be lacking from real life. She finds it therapeutic to explore her issues through the eyes of a different person. She hopes to have a family someday, but until then her characters will do nicely.
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