Genre: Adult Thriller
Word Count: 82,000
A small college town in rural Colorado should be safe. That’s what Kesari Chavez thought when she first arrived at Northeast Colorado University as a freshman. And for three years, it has been. She expects nothing different for her senior year, other than some lingering curiosity over being ditched at the altar six weeks ago. Whether people get over it or not, that’s their damn problem. She’s determined to leave it in the past where it belongs and live life on her own terms for once. Except everywhere she turns, she’s sabotaged by past mistakes that keep altering her path—like finding out, she has to be tested for HIV when several students are infected with the deadly virus.
But that isn’t the worst thing.
Threatening gifts and unwanted contact by a person who is determined to stay anonymous spins Kesari’s safe world out of control, leaving her suspecting everyone, including her ex-fiancé and obsessed neighbor. When her best friend, who is the one person keeping her from completely losing it, is injured in a car accident, Kesari does the only thing a girl can do on a college budget. She hires an amateur P.I. to follow her while she delves into the lives of those around her. As the danger escalates at an alarming rate with more “accidents,” Kesari digs deeper and puts herself in the very position the stalker wants her; directly in the stalker’s path.
Someone once told me I should trust myself when I feel fear. I mute the music playing on my phone and pull out my earbuds, letting them dangle against my tank top. Something’s wrong, and it’s as if the neighborhood feels it too. There are no dogs barking, lawn mowers purring, or birds chirping. I increase my pace until I’m almost jog-walking and turn down my street.
I scan the tired duplex I live in and my neighbor, Brian, sits on an old, rickety stool on his side of the porch drinking a soda. He takes a sip and watches me as I walk up my side of the house. “Trying to save gas money again, huh?” he says more as an observation than a question. He’s crushed on me since the first time we met, and because of it, he’s always up in my business. “You could’ve asked for a ride, Kesari. I don’t mind.”
With his eyes, he motions to my side of the porch. Sitting on the doorstep is a large, odd-looking potted plant. It’s about four feet tall with spindly, pinkish-purple blooms. “I saw it a couple of hours ago. Boy is that thing ugly, but it made me curious so I had to look up its name. It’s a Tamarisk plant and it’s ruining—”
“Is there a card?” I chew on the inside of my bottom lip, and it doesn’t calm me down like it normally does.