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Obsession

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Blurb

Mara has had her eye on Kai Sweeney for as long as she can remember, but he's always been so far out of her reach. She vows to do anything to make him hers, even if it costs her everything. Becoming frustrated with Kai's lack of interest, Mara turns to an unusual source for help. Suddenly, she realizes she has Kai's attention for the first time. But it doesn't take long to figure out something is wrong with him. Something that can't be explained. Something that terrifies her to the core.

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Chapter 1
There's something about the way he looks when he's concentrating. His thick, dark brows furrow and his almond shaped eyes narrow into slits. His tongue is always sticking out of the right side of his mouth when he's drawing. He's been working on that same dragon for weeks now. I've been watching him ever since he started, even though I can barely see anything from here. I told myself that I'd gradually move closer to him, but as the weeks drag on, I've found myself moving farther and farther away. I like watching him from afar. He doesn't notice me from here. He doesn't notice me from anywhere. "Mara." I snap back to reality and sit up straight before looking over at my friend, Rue. Her frizzy brown hair is piled on top of her head like a budding flower. She pushes her thick-framed glasses up her nose, giving me that look; the one she always gives me when she catches me drooling over Kai Sweeney. "Look at him, he's such a weirdo. Why do you torture yourself like this?" she whispers. I look back at Kai, who is still in his own little world. He probably doesn't even know our professor just assigned us an essay. I barely even caught that part myself. I look back at Rue and sigh. "I honestly can't tell you the answer to that." "You're still a virgin, in college," she reminds me. "All because you're holding out for the serial killer next door." "Serial killer?" I ask, furrowing my brows. "He's a bit strange, but come on." "He doesn't talk to anyone. He doesn't have friends. You've known him since the seventh grade and he's only spoken one word to you in seven years. And what word was that?" My heart deflates when I think about the only interaction I've ever had with Kai. "Move," I mumble. "Exactly. He isn't interested, and you should be happy about that. He'd probably be into weird stuff anyway," she whispers, copying down the details of our essay as our professor writes them on the dry erase board at the front of the classroom. She's probably right. I really don't know that much about Kai, despite the many years I've spent imagining what it would be like to be with him. He is so beautiful. His skin is a flawless, almost shimmery gold in color. His dark brown eyes are exotic and mesmerizing. His full lips are my favorite shade of pink. His silky black hair usually falls across his face, over his eyes. I love it when he tosses his head to the side and gives me a precious view of that perfectly chiseled jawline. Sigh. He's quiet. Strangely quiet. I never see him interact with anyone other than his family. They moved in next door to us seven years ago, the summer before we started middle school. My parents and I went next door to introduce ourselves and were greeted by his mother, a short, pale-skinned woman with shiny black hair, who didn't speak a word of English. I'll never forget the moment I first laid eyes on him. My heart literally stopped beating. Well, maybe not literally, but it felt like it. "Hi, we're the Thaxtons from next door," my dad had said. Kai stared at us blankly for a couple of seconds before turning to his mother and translating our greeting into their native language. She politely smiled and bowed, replying with something that none of us could understand. We looked to Kai to help us out, but he only turned and walked away. Needless to say, we didn't become friends or even acquaintances after that. Our one and only interaction happened back in high school when I had the bright idea to finally talk to him. I had known him for about three or four years, but we still had never really spoken to each other. I stood behind his opened locker door, waiting for him to notice me. When he finally slammed it shut, he only scowled at me and huffed, "Move." I never understood it. I still don't. I don't consider myself unattractive. I've had my fair share of interested guys, but none of them even come close to being as beautiful as Kai. And I've never been one to settle for the next best thing. The bell rings, bringing me abruptly out of my daydreaming. I panic when I realize I never copied down the assignment. Rue slams a piece of paper down on the top of my desk, making a banging noise that draws the attention of the few students around us. "Here," she says curtly before walking away. I pick up the paper and read over the hastily written words. She copied down the assignment for me when she realized I was stuck in lala land. At the bottom of the paper, she lovingly wrote, please get a life. I fold the paper up and slide it into my bag. I gather the rest of my things and start for the exit. I walk down the narrow hallway that leads out into the campus courtyard. It's windy out today, and I made the mistake of wearing a skirt. I use one hand to hold onto my bag and my notebooks and the other to keep my skirt down. My long, brown hair flies furiously around my face, tangling in my sunglasses that sit on top to my head. Without a free hand, I have to do my best to see through the rouge strands that block my vision. "I've been looking all over for you," a tall guy with big, chocolate brown eyes says, stepping in front of me. I gasp and drop all my stuff to the ground. "Sorry," he chuckles, stooping down to help me retrieve my things. "I didn't mean to scare you." He pushes the hair out of my face and when I finally get a good look at him, I realize it's only Leo. I let out a relieved sigh. He smiles at me and I unexpectedly feel my heart flutter. His smile is gorgeous. Wow. We stand up at the same time and our eyes stay connected. I'm trying to think of something to say, but I'm suddenly too nervous to speak. "You never texted me back last night," he says, breaking the tension-filled silence. I squeeze my eyes shut in an attempt to pull my thoughts together. "I'm sorry. I don't think I've looked at my phone since yesterday." That's a lie. I live on my phone. When Leo texted me, I swiped the notification away with the intentions of replying later. Of course, that never happened. I pull out my phone and read the text. "You dance?" I ask, looking up at him. He nods and his gorgeous smile grows even bigger. "Since I was a kid." "Me too. I'd love to get together sometime. I welcome all the expertise I can get." "Same. When Anna told me you were a dancer, I knew I had to meet you. There's not a lot of people around here who take it as seriously as I do. Anna said I'll finally meet my match with you." My friend Anna introduced me to Leo last week when he transferred here from UCLA. I remember her telling me he was a dancer, but I guess I never really gave it much thought at the time. My friends are always unsuccessfully trying to pair me up with someone, but it always amounts in nothing more than meaningless conversation. I want Kai. I don't want Leo, or Aaron, or Jacob, or whoever else it is that they claim would be so perfect for me. Leo is definitely cute. His smile is really something else. And if he's looking for a dance partner, I'm all for it, just nothing beyond that. "I think you very well may have met your match," I reply confidently. "I can't wait to see what you've got," he says in a tone that seems rather suggestive. I brush it off, for now. "I use the empty room next to the theater in Seeton Hall. Meet me there at seven tonight." He has ulterior motives. I can see it in his eyes, the way they light up. He smiles and takes a step back. "See you then." When he walks away, Kai is standing there, just a few feet away from me. He's wearing headphones and staring off into the distance. He pulls his black hoodie over his head and starts walking in the opposite direction. I watch him as he walks away. I see this side of him a lot. He's always walking away from me. Always turning his back to me. Maybe I should finally move on and give up hope that he'll finally notice me someday. If it hasn't happened yet, it never will. And maybe it's time I accept that.

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