Hidden Lies - Lydia Reeves
The flight from Chicago’s O’Hare airport to Bangor International in Maine took just over two and a half hours, and I spent the entire time biting my fingernails down to the quick. I could practically hear my aunt’s chastising voice in my head.
“Don’t chew your nails; you’ll want to make a good impression at Lost Lake Academy.”
Her voice had been cool, carefully modulated and devoid of emotion, merely stating a fact. It was a voice that fit perfectly with her sleekly styled hair and impeccably tailored clothing that was probably worth more than my car.
It had been her catchphrase over the past week, along with, “Are you sure you don’t want to cut the purple out of your hair? You’ll want to make a good impression,” and, “No, you can’t bring that shirt. You’ll want to make a good impression.” This last had been spoken during a shopping trip to buy me a whole new wardrobe, since apparently every stitch of clothing I owned was “unacceptable.” I had, of course, brought it all anyway.
Who was I making such a good impression on, anyway—the Queen of England? I didn’t care how prestigious this school might be; they were still just high school students, and I sure as hell didn’t need to impress them.
The voice over the loudspeaker had just announced we were beginning to make our descent into the airport when I reached down under the seat in front of me, fumbling in my backpack for the booklet I’d shoved there. I pulled it out and laid it flat across my lap.
The title was emblazoned across the glossy cover, plastered over a crisp aerial photo of a campus, red brick buildings scattered amidst towering trees resplendent in their fall foliage. Lost Lake Academy. The lake in question was decidedly not lost, its glimmering surface shining through the trees in the picture.
I’d been carrying the brochure around with me since the moment my Aunt Naomi had shoved it into my hands and informed me of where I’d be spending my senior year, but I’d been too stubborn to open it.
“This is where your grandfather went to school, and his father before him,” she’d informed me. “I think it’s time to resurrect a family tradition.”
I’d never heard that about my grandfather, but it was no surprise. My mother had barely spoken to the rest of her family since the day she’d married my dad. Her parents hadn’t attended the wedding, and I’d only spoken to them twice before they’d died while I was still in elementary school.
I’d taken the brochure from her outstretched hand, then dropped it like it was on fire.
“What? You want to send me to boarding school? It’s just one year, why can’t I finish high school here? Or better yet, why didn’t you just let me finish school in California? Ian would have let me stay with him.”
“We’ve been over this,” my aunt had snapped, and indeed we had, ad nauseam. “You’re still a minor, and now you’re my responsibility.”
“I’ll be eighteen in just a couple of months,” I’d argued. “Couldn’t I just apply for emancipation? That’s a thing, right?”
We’d been in the kitchen, and she’d leaned back against the counter, fixing me with the steely glare I knew worked on her corporate underlings. It didn’t work on me.
“This is exactly why I’m sending you to Lost Lake. If these are the manners you learned from the California public school system, then it’s definitely time for a change.”
“There’s nothing wrong with my manners,” I’d ground out. “If you don’t want to take care of a kid, just say so. I don’t want to be here any more than you want me here.”
Her face had softened slightly, and she’d pushed a lock of her blond hair—one of the only things we had in common, though hers wasn’t dyed purple underneath—behind her ear. “Camilla,” she’d started. “This is hard for both of us. I know you’re not happy here.” The understatement of the century. “But as long as you are in my care,” she’d gone on, “I will do the best I can for you. And this school—it’s the best. You don’t understand the opportunity you’re being given here. Kids who graduate from Lost Lake—the world is open to them. You’ll have opportunities you wouldn’t have if you stayed here. Trust me.”
I’d glared, not bothering to answer, and she’d sighed. “Just read the brochure.”
I’d raised an eyebrow. “And then what? If I don’t want to go, I don’t have to?”
The softness in