Overall: 3. Each day she goes to school like a normal teenager, and each night she must swim, or the pain will be unbearable. She is a siren - a deadly mermaid destined to lure men to their watery deaths. After a terrible tragedy, Lexi shut herself off from the world, vowing to protect the ones she loves.
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Ripple Mandy Hubbard Lexi is cursed with a dark secret. The water calls to her, draws her in, forces her to sing her deadly song to unsuspecting victims. If she succumbs, she kills. To keep herself and those she cares about safe, she shuts herself off, refusing to make friends or fall in love-again.
Because the last time she fell in love with a boy, he ended up dead. Then Lexi finds herself torn. Mandy Hubbard For Rachel, a best friend in every sense of the word.
Everyone in school knew about it because Steven worked on it during shop class, and half the guys at Cedar Cove High helped him, wrenching and sanding and polishing until every piece was as good as new. After it was complete, Steven cruised up and down the streets near the boardwalk, one arm hanging out the window, that adorable lopsided grin never leaving his face.
Then I killed him. I drowned him in the ocean just a few hundred yards from my own sweet-sixteen party.
After Steven, I began driving up into the mountains. I found a small, isolated lake, all but hidden by the dense forest. After that birthday.
Up here, no one dies. But tonight, I stand in the shadows behind a tree, watching as Cole Hitchings skips rocks across the surface of the lake. Of my lake. My nails dig into the bark of the big cedar as I stare, my eyes narrowed in anger.
Frustration boils through my veins, building, growing, coiling in my stomach, so intense I want to scream at him. The woods are silent, nothing but quiet shadows—except for the plink, plink, plunk sound of the rocks as they skip. The moon glows across the water, shimmery, yellow.
Miles of jagged foothills and evergreen forest separate the two of us from the rest of the world. He was never enough of a team player to handle organized sports. Unless you count skirt-chasing, in which case he could be an Olympic medalist. His muscles bunch and stretch beneath his shirt as he effortlessly flicks one rock after another into the water.
When he runs out of rocks, he leans over and scoops up another handful, tossing them one at a time. He moves with a confident, graceful ease, a little like me under the water. Like a guy who is comfortable in his own skin. My grip on the tree tightens and splinters dig in, wedging beneath my nails. My anger boils as seconds tick past. My legs will cramp and threaten to buckle underneath me.
My forehead will feel hot to the touch. But if I swim. Cole will join his once best friend, six feet under at Seaside Cemetery. Why is he here? This lake is in the center of Tillamook State Forest, which spans over three hundred thousand acres. Surely, there is somewhere else in this place he could go. I lean into the tree, resting my forehead against the rough bark, closing my eyes and inhaling the cedar scent as I will him to leave.
Despite the cool September night, I feel feverish. Just being near the water makes me ache for it, makes my skin tingle with the desire to run until I am chest-deep and the water wraps around my skin like a satin ribbon, making the worries, the aches, the stress unwind.
Sometimes, I wonder if this is how a recovering alcoholic would feel if someone put a beer in her hand. If her body would wage war against her mind as mine does. With every second that passes, I am closer to giving in, and I hate myself for that. I consider marching over to him, screaming at him, telling him that the lake belongs to me. Would he leave? Or would it make things worse? I purse my eyes tighter, my thick lashes brushing my cheeks. I know exactly how far I am from the water, exactly how many steps it would take for me to dip my toes in the cool, refreshing surface.
The only thing between me and relief is Cole. I grit my teeth and turn away from the lake. I can make it one night. Each step I take feels as if shards of glass wedge further into my skin. Someone rams into my right shoulder, and I careen into the wall, bouncing off the white-painted cinder block hard enough to knock the wind from my lungs.
They scream for oxygen, and I nearly bend over and gasp for air, but instead I just blink back the stars and glance over at my tormenter. A girl from my old clique. Her deep green eyes are cold and angry, so different from freshman year, when we were bio partners. When we joked around and worked straight through lunch, getting perfect grades on every lab report. She looks beautiful, in a cream-colored sweater and a string of pink pearls.
I feel a stab to the chest. We used to shop for our back-to-school clothes together. I tighten my grip on my backpack straps, raking in a deep breath to calm the burning in my lungs. I try to picture myself as I will be tonight, when I slip into the lake and serenity replaces the tension in my back.
I must envision the lake thirty, forty times on a normal day, and something tells me today will be much worse. I purse my lips and try to forget Nikki and the whispers and head down the hall again, past the bulletin board for the school-club signup sheets, past a poster advertising auditions for the fall play, past the trophy cases.
I feel the stares as I pass a group of senior guys sitting near the windows. Their longing gazes eat at me as much as the looks of contempt I get from my former friends. One of them clearly has a girlfriend because she smacks him and then turns to glare at me. My hair, long and straight, is pulled back in a low ponytail. That was when my last lake was overrun by campers, and I had to move. The new lake was working, until Cole showed up. How did he find it?
Why was he there? It must be the last available chair or no one would sit in it. My mouth goes dry. I turn to scowl at him, but when our eyes meet, all I can do is stare, my breath caught in my throat. His eyes are a startling bright shade of hazel. How have I never noticed that? How have I always thought they were a simple dull shade of brown? I liked it more when it was wild. What does he think this is, prep school? A cup of water or an aspirin or something?
They all talk plenty, relentlessly hurling insults my way. When Steven was alive, Cole and I never got along. He has this way of calling people out, thinking he knows everything.
Have your laugh and move on. Why is she sitting there? My eyes dart around the classroom. Maybe someone will trade with me. Or maybe this teacher does assigned seating. Why would he do that? I look over at him, and he gives me a slight smile, showing off his dimple. Sienna is like that—very matchy-matchy, always pulled together.
A picture of lipglossed perfection. I guess I used to be like that, too. Your face is all screwed up. She cocks her head to the side and her platinum hair shimmers, all bounce and body, like she could model for a box of a hair dye. Jensen clears her throat, and I turn my attention to the front of the class, promptly ignoring Sienna.
I could have stayed home. Jensen hands out the syllabuses, and I take the last copy and hold it over my shoulder for Sienna without looking at her.
Ripple by Mandy Hubbard
Ripple Mandy Hubbard Lexi is cursed with a dark secret. The water calls to her, draws her in, forces her to sing her deadly song to unsuspecting victims. If she succumbs, she kills. To keep herself and those she cares about safe, she shuts herself off, refusing to make friends or fall in love-again. Because the last time she fell in love with a boy, he ended up dead. Then Lexi finds herself torn. Mandy Hubbard For Rachel, a best friend in every sense of the word.
Ripple Summary & Study Guide
For Rachel, a best friend in every sense of the word. Everyone in school knew about it because Steven worked on it during shop class, and half the guys at Cedar Cove High helped him, wrenching and sanding and polishing until every piece was as good as new. After it was complete, Steven cruised up and down the streets near the boardwalk, one arm hanging out the window, that adorable lopsided grin never leaving his face. Then I killed him. I drowned him in the ocean just a few hundred yards from my own sweet-sixteen party. After Steven, I began driving up into the mountains.