When You Come Back to Me (Lost Boys #2) - Emma Scott


Sanitarium du lac Léman

Geneva, Switzerland

“Can I tell you a secret?”

The lump in the twin bed on the other side of the room answered with a petulant sniff.

I tried again. “I’m not kidding, Milo. It’s a very important, life-changing secret. Trust me.”

My roommate hunched deeper in his blanket. “Leave me alone.”

Milo resembled a snow-covered mound in our whitewashed room. White sheets, white walls, white linoleum floor. Like the inside of an igloo. If I dwelled too long on all that white, I’d start to shiver under my own thin blanket.

Not because I was cold. Switzerland in August was quite pleasant, actually. But my parents had sent me to a brutal conversion therapy camp in Alaska for six months, which necessitated this vacation at the Sanitarium du lac Léman. A year later, and my brain was still turning my waking hours into a remembered nightmare.

My room’s walls and ceiling would morph into the vast white plains of Alaska. The green forests surrounding the sanitarium grounds awoke memories of endless night marches through bitter cold. The indoor pool’s warm water became the icy depths of Copper Lake where I’d been plunged, naked and freezing…

I don’t swim in pools anymore.

Dr. Lange would say I was projecting my past trauma onto the sanitarium, that was actually warm and inviting. But PTSD doesn’t give a rat’s frilly pink ass what a thing was supposed to be. Its computations are mindless. White = snow = Alaska = torture.

And warm and inviting wasn’t how I’d describe the room I shared with Milo anyway. Sanitarium du lac Léman was a mental hospital trying to disguise itself as a bed and breakfast. The moonlight filtered through the barred windows over our meager furniture: twin beds, one bookshelf—filled mostly with my journals, and a few of Milo’s drawings on the wall (hung with tape, not pins or nails).

I give an A for effort, but bars on the windows were less cozy hotel and more prison chic. And prisons were high on my list of things onto which I projected my trauma. I’d let myself be trapped twice—first Alaska and now here.

Never again.

Milo sniffed under his blanket, upset that I was getting out in the morning. I couldn’t fathom why. If I were gone, I wouldn’t miss me. But he was a sweet kid. I hated that he felt bad. I leaned over in my bed to try again.

“Milo, hey.”

“Don’t talk to me.”

“My secret is kind of a big one,” I said. “Like, huge. You’re not going to want to miss out.”

“I said, leave me alone.”

The pain in his voice—child-like and tear-choked—pierced the shriveled icy rock that passed for my heart. Milo Batzirkis, son of wealthy shipping magnates from Buffalo, New York, was two years younger than my seventeen years, but the traumas that had landed him here had beaten him down, making him sound and act like a lost little boy.

I could relate.

I put on my best Big Brother voice. “I’m going to lay it on you, anyway, Milo. Ready? Here it is: you’re going to be okay.”

He rolled over to face me, his dark eyes shining in the moonlight, his black hair askew. “Are you joking? That’s your big secret? You are so full of shit.”

“It’s true.”

“That’s a stupid secret for one thing, and why would I believe you? You are not okay. You are a mess.”

I tapped my chin. “And here I thought I was hiding it so well…”

“You keep hitting on Dr. Picour even though he’s forty-five and married.”

“Have you seen him in swim therapy? Without a shirt? No jury in the world would convict me.”

“You have a death wish. Everyone knows that.”

“Death wish is a strong choice of words,” I said airily. “I prefer to think that life and I are keeping things casual. No need to get serious.”

Milo’s voice tapered to a whisper. “You said in group that you wanted to die.”

“Oh, that.” I rolled away to turn my gaze to the ceiling. “That was ages ago. When I first got here.”

“But I know you still think that way,” Milo said. “I don’t know how you got them to let you out, but you’re not well.”

I flapped my hands in the air. “Sure, I’m fucked up. We’re all fucked up. Who isn’t fucked up? But that doesn’t change the fact that you’re going to be okay. You can be okay and completely fucked up at the same time. I’m living proof.”

He sniffed. “Doesn’t feel like I’m going to be okay. Not without you.”

“Sure you will. You just