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Not Made to Last Excerpt

Chapter 1


Standing over the lifeless body, I nudge it with my toe and watch it shift an inch.

I’m being dramatic.


So is the person I just hit with my car. Hit would be a slight exaggeration. I tapped it.


Not it.

But, going by how he’s lying on his side in the middle of the road, completely silent and unmoving, you’d think I ran him over with a semi at full speed. I was rolling to a stop when he came out of nowhere—dressed in all black, in the middle of the night—and now that I think about it… I’m pretty sure he hit me.

“Are you okay?” I ask, waiting a few seconds for a response that never comes. “I’m sorry.” I hunch down with my hands on my knees for a closer inspection. The headlights on my still-running truck illuminate the space around him, but I can’t see much of anything with his hood over his head the way it is. He’s tall, built, and that’s all I can make out from his fetal position.

I take a moment to calm my thoughts, stand to full height, and look around. We’re in a part of town that I often frequent, not because I’m invited, but because my second job brings me here. I’d just delivered a pizza to a house a block away—the most lavish home I’ve ever come across. I’m sure if I looked up the address online, it would be described as an estate, whatever that means. Either way, it’s pretty clear that my beat-up old Toyota Tacoma and I—we don’t belong.

Here, I’m surrounded by the rich.

Not rich.


Big difference.

Not that any of it matters. If my eighteen years on this earth have taught me one thing, it’s that at our cores, we’re all the same. We’re nothing but flesh and bones and organs; entire bodies that are overworked, minds that overthink, and hearts that have the potential to break.

We wake up every day with goals set, hoping for that tiny piece of joy we obtain when we achieve them—all the while knowing in the back of our minds that we have absolutely zero control over this shit-show of a thing called life.

Pessimistic? Maybe. But it’s also the truth. And it’s not as if I share these thoughts with anyone, because that would be horrible. Life is crappy enough—there’s really no need for the reminder. Besides, people my age are made to believe they have the world at their feet. We can achieve anything, so we’ve been told, and I’m sure as hell not going to be the one to break it to anyone.

I heave out a sigh and blink back the fog, forgetting momentarily about the possible dead body by my feet.

He still hasn’t moved.

I feel like I’ve been standing here for an eternity. In reality, it’s likely been less than a minute.

Squatting down, I gently settle my hand on his arm. “Where are you hurt?” I ask.


“Can I do anything?”

Still nothing.

“Do you need me to call an ambulance… or take you to the emergency room? I…” I don’t know what to do here, and now I’m starting to panic because maybe I did hit him.

The body moves.



I release the breath I’d unknowingly been holding and attempt to refocus.

“Ohana?” Max calls from the back seat of the car. “What’s happening?”


Shit shit shit.

At the sound of Max’s voice, the figure moves again, and when his face comes into view, my panic doubles.


“Ohana?” Max again.

I keep my gaze on the confused gray eyes in front of me and, not knowing if I’m lying, say over my shoulder, my words aimed for Max, “It’s okay, buddy. Everything’s fine.”

It takes a moment for my victim to roll to his back, tilt his head up, then speak. “Drive much?” he croaks.

All the air rushes from my lungs at the sound of his voice. I used to spend hours imagining it, then, later, re-watching whatever clips I could find of him online. But I’d never heard it in person.

Until now.


Thank fuck I don’t whisper his name out loud like I do in my head.

Rhys. Rhys. Rhys.

As in Rhys Garrett—co-captain of the St. Luke’s basketball team and, of course, the most popular and powerful guy roaming that school. Or at least he was. From my understanding, he graduated a few weeks ago, and I… I know way more about him than I should. Especially considering he has absolutely no idea who I am.

Nervous energy crawls through my veins, and thoughts fly through my mind faster than I can catch them. It sucks that the one thought I latch on to is: please don’t sue me. “Are you okay?” I extend my hand, praying he’s well enough to take it. “I’m sorry.” Sorry that he came out of nowhere and got in my way.

Rhys accepts my offer, his large hand dwarfing mine as he slowly comes to a stand. I try my best to help him up, but with his towering height and nothing but muscle, I doubt I’m having much effect. Finally, he lets go of my hand and twists slightly at the waist, soothing his palm along his right hip. His low wince slices through the summer night air, and he states, “Yes.”

I look from his hip to his hand, hanging lazily at his side, then up the length of his body until my eyes meet his. “Yes?”

“Yes,” he repeats.

“Yes… you’re okay?”

“Ohana?” Max calls out again.

I glance over my shoulder, through my car’s windshield, and to the back seat, where Max’s face is lit up by his iPad. “One second,” I call out, then look back up at Rhys, my neck straining from our height difference—my 5’4” to his 6’3”, and… I catch myself there, at the absolute peak of pathetic.


It’s not as if I stalk the guy, but his height is listed on most websites that include his name, and it’s right there beside his weight and a line above his birthday. Which, if I’m not mistaken, was only a few days ago. He just turned nineteen. All information which is completely irrelevant to our current circumstance. “So, you’re good?” I ask.

“No, I’m not good.” He shakes his head, eyes unfocused as he looks down his nose at me. “So, yes, take me to the emergency room.” Without another word, he moves slowly to my car, a noticeable limp in his swagger, and all I can do is watch, frozen, wondering how the hell I got into this situation.

Because I offered to take him?

I didn’t mean it. Not really.

Rhys opens the front passenger door, illuminating the interior.

Illuminating Max.

I rush to get in the driver’s seat, my pulse racing, and glance from Rhys to Max and back again. My supposed “injured victim” sits carefree, legs kicked out, hands resting on his thighs. A slow smirk forms on his lips as his gaze switches between Max and me. Eyes the color of slate, he homes in on mine, his head tilting slightly. “You’re not from around here, are you?” he murmurs.

I’m in denim shorts and a plain white tank, no makeup, my hair in a messy knot. My brow bunches as I glare at him. “I didn’t realize my attire screamed ‘lacking financial wealth.’” I should’ve hit the gas the moment I saw him.

He sighs, rolling his eyes dramatically. “That’s not what I meant.”

I don’t care what you meant, I say. Not out loud. Just to myself. Because fuck him and his judgmental ass. I face forward, put the truck in gear, and begin the drive, waiting until I’ve rounded a corner to glance up at the rearview, at Max in the back seat, headphones on, eyes focused on his iPad. I’ll be sure to check in on him later.

Rhys must sense my concern because he turns his entire body around, his injury seemingly forgotten. “You okay, kid?”

Through the rearview, I see Max look up and nod once.

Rhys extends his arm, his hand a fist, ready for knuckles. “I’m—”

“Timothy!” I cut in. Timothy? It was the first name I could think of, and I blurted it out before I could stop myself. Max doesn’t need to know who he is. In fact, I’d highly prefer it that way.

“Right.” Rhys draws out the single word. “Timothy.” The humorous lilt in his tone has me cringing. He’s still facing Max when he asks, “And you are?”

Without thinking, I reach out, place my hand on the side of his head and force him to face forward. “He’s… off limits.”

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