Get A Life, Chloe Brown - Talia Hibbert

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

There are so many people I have to thank for this book. I’m about to sound like an overenthusiastic starlet accepting her first Oscar, and I don’t even care, because this was truly a team effort. Some of the people I want to thank probably don’t realize they were on my team—but you were, guys. You shared your loveliness with the world, and I absorbed it like sunlight, which means you’re part of the team. Surprise!

So, where to begin? At the beginning, I suppose. Thank you, Frances Annie Nixon. I wish you had lived long enough to see your name in my book. Sometimes I imagine you recommending this story to your uptight friends, then cackling when they complain about the sex. I miss you.

Mum: thank you for reading to me, even when people told you not to bother. As always, everyone was wrong and you were right. Now you have it in writing. Please don’t abuse this power.

Truly, my tiny troublemaker: you’re the only one who doesn’t judge when I talk to imaginary people. I appreciate you.

Thank you to Sam for picking up whenever I called, answering whatever random, contextless question I asked, and not being offended when I hung up without saying good-bye.

To Dr. Griffiths, who looked me in the eye and said, “First things first: I believe you.” I can’t explain what you did for me that day. Thank you.

KJ Charles, without you and your never-ending well of kindness and support, I probably wouldn’t be in this position—so thank you, thank you, thank you. Courtney Miller-Callihan, my wonderful agent, thank you for believing in me and for handling my constant social awkwardness. Thank you, Nicole Fischer, for turning my sorta-kinda story into an actual, honest-to-god, decent book. And thank you, Ainslie Paton, Therese Beharrie, Em Ali, Charlotte Stein, and all the other authors and friends who ever put my mind to rest.

Orla, Divya, Michal, Maz, and Laila: whenever I’m stressed, you guys appear like tiny sunshines, as if you have some kind of sixth sense. Thank you for making me smile. Thank you to Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Marriott, Mr. Marriott (no relation!), and Mr. Cleveley—and no, I can’t use any of your first names. It’s not allowed.

Thank you to Avon for being all, “Hey, yeah, you can write this book for us.” I almost passed out, but still, much appreciated.

Finally, thank you to everyone who told me that I’d never succeed. You guys make me feel like a triumphant R & B songstress, and the closer I can get to Beyoncé, the better.

AUTHOR’S NOTE

This story touches on the process of healing after an abusive relationship. If this is a topic that you’re sensitive to, please be aware. I hope I have treated the issue, my characters, and you, the reader, gently.

PROLOGUE

Once upon a time, Chloe Brown died.

Nearly.

It happened on a Tuesday afternoon, of course. Disturbing things always seemed to happen on Tuesdays. Chloe suspected that day of the week was cursed, but thus far, she’d only shared her suspicions via certain internet forums—and with Dani, the weirdest of her two very weird little sisters. Dani had told Chloe that she was cracked, and that she should try positive affirmations to rid herself of her negative weekday energy.

So when Chloe heard shouts and the screech of tires, and looked to her right, and found a shiny, white Range Rover heading straight for her, her first ridiculous thought was: I’ll die on a Tuesday, and Dani will have to admit that I was right all along.

But in the end, Chloe didn’t actually die. She wasn’t even horribly injured—which was a relief, because she spent enough time in hospitals as it was. Instead, the Range Rover flew past her and slammed into the side of a coffee shop. The drunk driver’s head-on collision with a brick wall missed being a head-on collision with a flesh-and-blood Chloe by approximately three feet. Metal crunched like paper. The middle-aged lady in the driver’s seat slumped against an airbag, her crisp, blond bob swinging. Bystanders swarmed and there were shouts to call an ambulance.

Chloe stared, and stared, and stared.

People buzzed by her, and time ticked on, but she barely noticed. Her mind flooded with irrelevant data, as if her head were a trash folder. She wondered how much the repairs to the coffee shop would cost. She wondered if insurance would cover it, or if the driver would have to. She wondered who had cut the lady’s hair, because it was a beautiful job. It