Authors: Sarina Bowen
Tags: #Book 2 of The Ivy Years, #A New Adult Romance
THE YEAR WE HID AWAY
by Sarina Bowen
2014 Sarina Bowen
All rights reserved
Cover image: L e s B y e r l e y / istockphoto
The Year We Hid Away
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination, or used fictitiously.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
“Ah, but let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart."
— The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Goalie's Job
The minute I heard the hum of the garage door opener, I was in motion.
I didn’t need to look out the window to check that my parents were driving away. When there are three news vans parked on the edge of your lawn, you don’t raise that door frivolously. Over the past year, the news networks had taken thousands of shots of the interior of our garage. Just in case it proved newsworthy.
But this was not the moment to dwell.
By the time I heard my parents’ car accelerate up the street, I had already yanked my closet open. Out came the duffel bags — already packed — and the box of books. One at a time, I lugged these things down the stairs to the mud room.
Then I went upstairs again to pull my getaway note from the desk drawer and place it in the middle of my bed.
Mom and Dad — I got the time wrong for move-in day. It starts at 3. So I’m on my way. I’ll call you tonight. Sorry for the confusion. Love, S.
There were so many half truths in that short note that it wasn’t even funny. But that’s how we did things here at casa Ellison. We bent the truth when the need arose. It had been that way my entire life, even though it had taken me seventeen years to figure out how deep the deceptions went.
The last thing I brought downstairs was Jordan — my guitar. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere without him.
Then I ran back upstairs, darting one last time into my bedroom. It wasn’t for sentimental reasons. Though the room was beautiful — generously sized, and with pretty maple furniture — it had been my prison cell for the past year.
My last task was to haul my hockey gear into the walk-in closet. The skates, the goalie stick, the pads. I hid them all, hoping that my mother wouldn’t find them for a while. The choices I’d made these past few weeks had already given my mother fits. The longer I could forestall an argument over quitting hockey, the better.
Closing the closet door, I went over to the window to take a peek between the slats of my blinds. There were three cameramen clustered on the lawn. That was illegal. They were supposed to stay off the property. But the cops in town didn’t enforce the rule. Not for my family. If our house was on fire, I’m not sure they would even bother to put it out.
The newsmen on our lawn were probably chatting about sports, or the weather, or whatever it was they talked about when there wasn’t any news to shoot. One of them was shuffling a deck of cards in his hands, which probably meant they’d sit down in their lawn chairs to a game of poker soon.
Running back down the stairs for the last time, I threw open the door which led into the garage. As he always did, my father’s bodyguard had closed the garage door as he drove away. At least that creep was good for something. My parents referred to him as “our driver,” but that was just another euphemism. Nobody wanted to talk about why he was needed.
But a man who had been indicted for multiple counts of child molestation felt safer having an ex-military sniper at his back when he left the house.
As quickly as possible, I hauled all my gear into my vehicle, closing the doors as softly as I could. Behind the wheel, I took a minute to take stock of my belongings. I had my handbag, with my new driver’s license inside. I had all my luggage and Jordan.
But no hockey gear.
I cranked the engine and hit the garage door opener at the same time. I’d been taught that it was a crime to put a car in gear before you gave it a chance to warm up. But these were desperate times. The fancy German engine would have to forgive me just this once, because I needed the element of surprise on my side.
As soon as my SUV could clear the still-rising garage door, I gunned it backward down the driveway. The news trucks blocked my view of the street, unfortunately. So I had to stop for a moment to make sure that nothing was coming.
The cameramen rose from their card game, looking uncertain. They’d just seen and photographed my father’s car as it pulled away — just in case the day would prove newsworthy for him in some way. They’d have it on film.
But I wasn’t newsworthy, especially on Labor Day weekend. Especially
A hasty glance showed nobody lunging for a camera.
I backed out carefully — because hitting a news van would not make this getaway any smoother — and idled down my street. Even as I passed the other houses in our tidy New Hampshire college town, my heart beat wildly.
My escape was finally in motion. For a
I’d been waiting for this moment.
By sneaking out, I’d avoided an our-perfect-daughter-goes-off-to-college scene staged by my tearful mother in front of the TV cameras. I was finished with command performance photo ops.
By sneaking out, I’d also sidestepped a goodbye with my dad. Even before the upheaval, things had never been easy between us. I’d always thought of him as a last century father — strict and too busy for me, unless I was wearing skates. (He wasn’t too busy then, but he was still strict.)
Our relationship had been chilly before, but now it was absolutely Antarctic. Formerly a workaholic, my father now spent all his time in a recliner in the den. I never went into that room anymore, where the air was thick with anger and silence.
Though sometimes I snuck looks at him. And I wondered if he’d done all the things he was accused of doing. And why.
And how I could have lived under his roof for so long without guessing.
My heart was full of ugly questions. But even if I’d asked them out loud, nobody in my family could be trusted to answer them truthfully.
Picking up speed, I wound through the back roads toward highway 91. It was Shannon Ellison who was putting Sterling, New Hampshire in the rearview mirror. But ninety minutes from now, it would be Scarlet Crowley who climbed out of the car in Harkness, Connecticut.
“Scarlet Crowley,” I whispered to myself. I’d have to learn to answer to my new name. That was going to feel strange. But if I had to guess, it wouldn’t be even half as strange as giving up hockey. I’d started playing when I was five. For fourteen years it was my life. At age eleven I’d become a goalie, spending so many hours between the pipes that I even saved goals in my sleep.
The goalie’s job isn’t just to lunge for the puck. The goalie’s job is to see the whole ice at once — to watch the drama unfold well before the puck comes flying toward the net. I’d taught myself to tell who had the puck just from the way she held her shoulders. I studied my opponents, predicting who would shoot and who would pass. I watched it all unfold the way a chess player does — readying herself several moves ahead of time, preparing for all the possible outcomes.
My school won the last three state championships. In a row.
There was a row of trophies in our family room attesting to my strengths as a goalie. And up until a year ago, I assumed that the accolades were well deserved. But it turns out I wasn’t nearly as great as I thought I was.
The goalie’s job is to foresee the defensive gaps. But in my own life, I’d failed to do that. When the ugly stories about my father began to leak into our lives, I hadn’t seen it coming. At all. Like a high-powered slap shot to the chest, all the ugliness hit me hard, knocked me back, and stole my breath.
The life I’d had before was over now. I’d had a year to get used to the idea, so I’d moved beyond shock and denial a long time ago. Now there was only Plan B. It wasn’t perfect, but it was all I had.
Two hours later, I stood on a flagstone pathway in a beautiful courtyard. But it wasn’t easy to appreciate the Gothic architecture and the perfectly mowed lawns while my heart did speed drills around the inside of my chest.
Probably all the First Years were nervous today. My classmates were likely worried about getting lost, or meeting their roommates. But my biggest fear was something else entirely. Would the registrar’s office have the correct name on my paperwork? And what the hell was I going to do if they didn’t?
When I reached the front of the line, I waited there, mute and anxious, while a cheerful upperclasswoman flipped through a stapled list of students. She chanted my brand new name under her breath while she looked. “
Scarlet Crowley. Scarlet Crowley. Scarlet Crowley
I began to sweat.
Passing by the front of the alphabet, where I should have been found, she flipped to the last page.
Additions and Changes
, it read.
“Ah, here you are,” she said, brightening up. She offered me a paper chit which would allow me to have a student ID made. “You were lost, but now you’re found.”
I hoped she was right.
With my shiny new ID, complete with my newly minted name, I found my way to Vanderberg Hall, entryway A. The lock gave a satisfying click when I passed the ID in front of the scanner. Hefting my duffel, I climbed two flights up the old marble staircase to the third floor. Each floor had two rooms on it, and a door between them marked
. I didn’t need to try my key, because room 31 was standing open. I leaned into the doorway, spotting two girls bent over the opposite ends of a bright red rug. “Hi there.”
Two heads popped up together. The next moment was taken up by their unapologetic examination of me. One of the girls had gorgeous blond hair, while the other sported a perky brunette ponytail. “Hi! I’m Katie!” they said in unison.
Remembering their names would not be difficult. So I had that going for me. “I’m Scarlet,” I said, wheeling my giant duffel bag into the room.
But Ponytail Katie tipped her head to the side, questioning me. “Our third was supposed to be someone named Shannon?”
“There was a switch,” I said. “Shannon isn’t coming.”
Because I left her at home
“Oh!” Blond Katie said. “Where are you from, Scarlet?”
“Miami Beach,” I told her.
: I was thirty seconds in, and I’d already told either two or three lies, depending on how you counted them. And each was a whopper.
It took me three trips to the parking lot to move in. The Katies didn’t offer to help. Instead, they decorated their desks with photos from home, and tried to decide which of the First Year mixers sounded the most promising.