The next book in the Blairwood University series releases on March 18th, and you can read an excerpt of the first chapter now! My review of an ARC of the book will be posted later this week.
“What the hell is wrong with me?”
Coco, my three-year-old Yorkshire terrier, tilts her fluffy light brown head to the side as if she’s wondering the very same thing herself. I wipe my mouth with the back of my hand, the stale taste of puke still lingering on my tongue.
It might just make me throw up all over again.
Coco rubs her body along the side of my leg, demanding attention, so I extend my puke-free hand toward her and give her a scratch over her back.
I’ve been feeling off for a few weeks now. At first, I thought it was something I ate, but when I kept throwing up even after a few days, I knew it had to be a stomach bug of some sort. I was just in the middle of my midterms, so I didn’t have much choice but to suck it up. But now it’s been at least an entire month. I’m pretty sure stomach bugs don’t last this long.
Sighing, I push to my feet. The process is slow, every bone in my body protesting the movement as I flush the toilet and go toward the mirror to wash my hands. While I’m at it, I splash cold water over my face, too, letting it cool down my flushed skin.
When I lift my head, I catch the sight of myself in the mirror. My skin is even paler than usual, and I’m naturally fair since I’ve been gifted with my nanna Edith’s genes. Ginger hair, ivory skin, and freckles, lots and lots of freckles.
Big, dark bags are prominent under my blue eyes. And my usually smooth hair is a mess. I’m not even sure when was the last time I washed it, probably last week on that one day when I actually felt human.
I reach for the towel but find the rack empty, so I crouch down in front of the cupboard and grab a fresh towel. Just as I’m ready to get up, my gaze stops on the box of tampons me and my roommates always keep stashed inside.
I look at the box, almost in a daze, as I tap the towel over my face.
When was the last…
I’m not sure how much time passes before it hits me.
“No.” My fingers tighten around the towel that’s still pressed against my cheek as the cold sweat washes over me. “No, no, no.”
This is a mistake.
It has to be.
Pushing to my feet, I hurry into my bedroom, looking around the space until my gaze falls on my phone that I left charging next to my bed. I yank it off the cord, quickly entering my code before opening my calendar.
Different dates are colored with the dates for my school assignments, but that’s it.
This can’t be happening, dammit.
I swipe my finger over the screen looking back at November.
Three little red squares. I tap one of them. Spotting. Seeing the words on the screen jots my memory. My period usually lasts at least five days, and it’s pretty heavy the first couple at least, but this time it was only a slight spotting. I waved it off, attributing it to stress. I had a big project due, and I just had a fight with my mom.
My fingers wobble, and I tighten my grip on my phone, so it doesn’t fall out of my grasp. My knuckles turn white, but I barely notice it because I’m frantically swiping back toward the present, hoping more red squares will appear, but it’s useless.
My last period was almost three months ago.
“Maybe I just didn’t put it on my calendar?”
Even before the words are out, I know I’m being foolish. If I had my period, I’d have put it on the calendar. I’ve done it every month since I got it for the first time when I was eleven. You don’t suddenly forget a decade-old habit.
Finally, my legs give out on me, and I fall back on my bed.
“This can’t be happening,” I murmur out loud as if saying the words will somehow make them true.
But it doesn’t change the fact that I haven’t had my period for the last two months.
That I’ve been throwing up for the last few weeks.
Because whether I want to admit it out loud or not, deep down, I already know the answer.
The warm air hits me as I slip inside my house, a shiver running down my spine.
As soon as the first shock washed away, I grabbed my bag, put on my jacket, and boots and was out of the house.
At this point, it was all just speculation. Maybe I really caught some mutated form of a stomach bug that’s been bugging me for the past few weeks; you could never be sure of such things.
Either that or I was pregnant.
I have to know, and I have to know now.
The whole trip to the store took longer than expected. While a big chunk of students had already left campus for the holidays, the locals were still here, and it felt like every person in a twenty-mile radius was doing some last-minute Christmas shopping. Still, I got what I was looking for, and now it was time to find out the truth.
My phone buzzes. I pull it out of my pocket, scanning the screen before picking up.
“Hey, you. Just wanted to see how you’re doing. Feeling any better?” Yasmin asks on the other side of the line as I go to the bathroom.
“Fine, still a bit off, but hopefully, I’ll feel better soon.” I turn the bag upside down and let the box fall on the counter.
Or I might just feel even sicker. The jury is still out.
“You should seriously go and see a doctor. You’ve been feeling off r how long now?”
“A while now,” I admit non-committedly. “I really think it’s just some bug.”
“Bugs don’t last that long, and you know it,” Yasmin says sternly, and I can totally hear her rolling her eyes at me.
Yes, hear. It’s all in the tone of her voice.
I met Yasmin through a mutual friend. Last year she started dating Nixon, one of my best friend’s roommates. And although I’ve barely known her for about a year, we really kicked it off, and lately, I’ve been hanging out more and more with Yasmin and her friends Callie, Kate, and Chloe than my own friends.
“Alyssa?” Yasmin calls, breaking me out of my thoughts.
“I’m here. Just thinking.”
“I hope that thinking involves getting your ass into the doctor’s office.”
The test on the counter draws my attention. It’s a tool that serves in medical diagnostics. That counts, right?
Somebody, probably Nixon, calls Yasmin’s name in the background.
“You should go. I’ll be fine.”
“Of course you will. Please promise me you’ll call if you don’t feel well. And go to the damn doctor, Aly.”
“I’ll be fine.” When she clears her throat, I give in. “But if I don’t feel well, I’ll go to the doctor, I promise. Talk soon?”
“Sure, take care of yourself.”
I chuckle. “I love you too.”
We say our goodbyes, and I hang up. I look at the screen and notice all the red bubbles on my apps. Skipping the social media notifications, I go straight for the messages. A friend sent a picture of her and her boyfriend at some ski resort in the mountains, while the other is on the beach in Mexico. I quickly reply, wishing them fun. Then there’s my mom’s message.
Mom: Please wear something appropriate for the party tonight.
Mom: And for all that’s holy, try not to be late.
“Thanks a bunch, mom,” I mutter, rolling my eyes.
I open my boyfriend’s message the last, my heart picking up speed as I do.
Chad: Pick you up at six?
The pregnancy test mocks me from the counter. Chad and I’ve been dating for a year now. He’s a nice guy—handsome, smart, from a good family. My parents love him, which is definitely not easy to find. Some days I wonder if they even like themselves.
What will he think if I’m pregnant?
Just like me, he’s a senior at Blairwood, on his way to law school once he’s done. And while we did talk a little about the future, it’s always been in general terms, nothing specific, which suited me just fine.
But what if there is no time left?
I look at the clock—still two hours to go.
Me: Sure. See you soon. Xo
Putting the phone on the counter, I pick up the box, tentatively flipping it on the other side to read the instructions.
A lump forms in my throat, but I push it down and rip the box open. Coco’s ears perk at the rustling sound.
“It’s now or never, Coco.”