Title: Leftover Girl
Author: C.C. Bolick
Genre: YA Sci-fi/Mystery
Eleven years ago, Jes appeared barefoot in the headlights of an old Ford. A truck driven by a man who not only saved her life, but also adopted her. At fifteen, she can’t remember anything before that night. Life is great – when Jes can look past the fact they’re always on the run from the people who could lay claim to her. Her mom’s hometown seems like a safe place to hide. Here they’re like a normal family and Jes finally has real friends. She even falls for a guy who likes her though he’s definitely off-limits. Who needs the kind of drama her messed up life brings? Problem is, the more Jes looks around, the more she thinks something is wrong with her. No one else dreams of spaceships or worries what might happen if people find out the truth. No one has to lie about who they really are. When Jes befriends a strange new student, she discovers he’s searching for a missing girl who might be her. Not only that, he’s from another planet. Could she be this mystery girl and what will it mean for the family determined to protect her?
Later that night, I slept in Bailey’s room, and the boys slept in one of the spare rooms. Despite the night’s heat and Bailey’s nonstop hums and half-finished sentences, I clung to the comforter, carefully tucked in one side of her bed. I touched my lips, which still tingled from Pade’s kiss.
“Are you okay?” Bailey whispered. “Am I keeping you up?”
I wondered if she talked in her sleep every night. Did she even know? Well, I wasn’t the person to drop that bomb. “I’m fine, just can’t sleep.”
Bailey sighed. “We can’t have people thinking you stayed up all night worrying about the first day of school. I’m sorry your house isn’t ready yet. I could sleep on the couch.”
“It’s not you. I’ve got a lot on my mind.”
“You can tell me,” she said.
No, I couldn’t. I shouldn’t. But I wanted to, more than anything. “Do you ever miss your father?”
Bailey leaned back on the pillow and stared at the ceiling. “You mean the snake who sends us presents on birthdays and at Christmas? I guess Mom would probably miss his check if it didn’t come in the mail every month.”
I sighed as a silence fell between us, the kind that signaled a bad storm approaching. Maybe asking about her father had been a horrible idea. About the time I decided she’d fallen back asleep, Bailey gave a muffled cry.
“I haven’t talked to him in over a year. No visits, only one call for Pade; what else can I say? Do I miss him? Yeah, but he’s the one who’s staying away.” She sniffled. “Pade doesn’t want to see our father ever again.” Her voice became a whisper. “I overheard him tell Mom he wasn’t going to Colorado because I didn’t get invited.”
Though my head screamed for me to stop, seldom did the opportunity to talk about my real family present itself. I might not remember them, but the articles online about my real parents made sure I’d never forget. “You’ve got your mom and at least you know who your dad is.”
“I definitely wouldn’t call him dad.” As the meaning of my words sank in, Bailey rolled over to face me. “Sorry, I forgot you’re adopted.”
“How can you forget? Mom and Dad never let anyone forget.”
“Aunt Rainey and Uncle Justin love you; anyone can see that. You can’t tell me you don’t believe…”
I stared above, knowing I should stop, but at the same time desperate for someone to hear me, maybe even attempt to understand. Why should it matter now when it didn’t a year, a month, or even a week before? “I know they love me—I’m just not their daughter. If I was really their daughter, if they even thought of me as their daughter, they’d stop reminding everyone I’m adopted.”
“I don’t see how they remind anyone.”
“They always tell people I’m adopted. It’s like ‘hello world, this kid’s not ours.’”
“What should they do, lie?”
“Have you ever told them?” she asked.
“They should be able to figure it out. You know what, it doesn’t matter.”
“Do you ever think about your real mom and dad?”
“I try so hard not to. My real mother and father…” I swallowed back tears threatening to drown the words. “They didn’t want me. I’d never call them mom and dad.”
“How can you say that?”
A noise sounded from the hall and Bailey lowered her voice. “How do you know they didn’t want you? Did they tell you?”
“I can’t remember… before. Dad told me. He hated to say their names, but he did finally tell me.”
She tapped a finger to her chin. “I can’t believe Uncle Justin actually said your real parents didn’t want you.”
“He didn’t say it like that, but Dad does give some details when I ask.”
“At least he talks to you. There’s so much I could never tell my father. Oh yeah, maybe if he were here…” She sighed. “As for Mom, there’s lots of drama I could never tell her.”
The humor in Bailey’s voice reached through the moonlight and carried me back from the edgy pain of self-pity. “They got married right after they found me and poof—happily ever after for us all. They’ve always loved me and taken care of me, it’s just that…”
“You want to know where they are.”
“I want to know why my real parents didn’t come for me, if they’ve ever bothered to look for me.”
“Do you think about your real parents all the time?”
I rolled over, still feeling a sting from her smile of pity in disguise. “You know what scares me the most? I can’t remember my real mother’s face. I can’t remember being held by my real father or the sound of his voice. That was eleven years ago.”
“Are you thinking about finding them?”
“Would yes be selfish?” I asked. “Or just bad?”
“My mom is always saying people are never happy with what they have…”
Yeah, I’d heard it before. “Until they don’t have it anymore. I don’t see how this applies to me since I can’t remember my real parents.”
Footsteps drifted down the hall and we both went silent.
“Girls,” Mom said, as she opened the door. “Was that you I heard?”
Even with my eyes closed, I knew Mom watched in silence as we lay still. Eventually her steps faded back into the night.
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C.C. Bolick is an engineer by day and author by night who loves mixing sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal. Her books are simply written and heavy on dialogue, with twists you won't see coming and characters who deserve their happily ever after. If you enjoy page-turning drama, family secrets, and a special power or two, her books might be for you. Each series follows a timeline and some characters will cross between series. C.C. enjoys her characters and has a blast connecting each of their stories in her universe. You never know who you'll meet next or which old friend you'll welcome back!