Second Chance Summer - Morgan Matson

chapter one

I EASED OPEN MY BEDROOM DOOR TO CHECK THAT THE HALLWAY was empty. When I was sure that it was, I shouldered my purse and closed the door behind me quietly, then took the stairs down to the kitchen two at a time. It was nine a.m., we were leaving for the lake house in three hours, and I was running away.

The kitchen counter was covered with my mother’s plentiful to-do lists, bags packed with groceries and supplies, and a box filled with my father’s orange prescription bottles. I tried to ignore these as I headed across the kitchen, aiming for the back door. Though I hadn’t snuck out in years, I had a feeling that it would be just like riding a bicycle—which, come to think of it, I also hadn’t done in years. But I’d woken up that morning in a cold sweat, my heart hammering, and every impulse I had telling me to leave, that things would be better if I were somewhere—anywhere—else.

“Taylor?” I froze, and turned around to see Gelsey, my twelve-year-old sister, standing at the other end of the kitchen. Even though she was still wearing her pajamas, an ancient set decorated with glittery pointe shoes, her hair was up in a perfect bun.

“What?” I asked, taking a step away from the door, trying to look as nonchalant as possible.

She frowned at me, eyes resting on my purse before traveling back to my face. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing,” I said. I leaned against the wall in what I hoped was a casual manner, even though I didn’t think I’d ever leaned against a wall in my life. “What do you want?”

“I can’t find my iPod. Did you take it?”

“No,” I said shortly, resisting the urge to tell her that I wouldn’t have touched her iPod, as it was filled solely with ballet music and the terrible band she was obsessed with, The Bentley Boys, three brothers with perfectly windswept bangs and dubious musical gifts. “Go ask Mom.”

“Okay,” she said slowly, still looking at me suspiciously. Then she pivoted on her toe and stomped out of the kitchen, yelling as she went. “Mom!”

I crossed the rest of the kitchen and had just reached for the back door when it swung open, making me jump back. My older brother, Warren, was struggling through it, laden with a bakery box and a tray of to-go coffees. “Morning,” he said.

“Hi,” I muttered, looking longingly past him to the outside, wishing that I’d tried to make my escape five minutes earlier—or, even better, had just used the front door.

“Mom sent me for coffee and bagels,” he said, as he set both on the counter. “You like sesame, right?”

I hated sesame—in fact, Warren was the only one of us who liked them—but I wasn’t going to point that out now. “Sure,” I said quickly. “Great.”

Warren selected one of the coffees and took a sip. Even though at nineteen he was only two years older than me, he was dressed, as usual, in khakis and a polo shirt, as though he might at any moment be called upon to chair a board meeting or play a round of golf. “Where is everyone?” he asked after a moment.

“No idea,” I said, hoping that he’d go investigate for himself. He nodded and took another sip, as though he had all the time in the world. “I think I heard Mom upstairs,” I said after it became clear that my brother intended to while away the morning sipping coffee and staring into space.

“I’ll tell her I’m back,” he said, setting his coffee down, just as