Someone Else's Shadow - Monica James

This book is dedicated to me. I thought I was broken. But then, then I wrote this book…

Something about a thunderstorm in June is utterly captivating.

With the sunlight kindling across the horizon, one cannot be condemned for peering up into the heavens and believing we’re not alone because only the hand of God could create something so perfect, so picturesque. But just beyond the skyline, an undercurrent of electricity soon overshadows the sun.

Before long, the sunshine surrenders to the darkness, disappearing to an untouched paradise because Mother Nature has no mercy when it’s her time to shine.

The clouds emerge quickly but quietly, setting the stage for Act 1. The destruction lingers in the air minutes before you can hear it or feel it. One can taste it on their tongue. People scurry like mice, desperate to get indoors and safe in their houses because the roar of the thunder warns what’s approaching from the distance.

Dark gray blankets the vibrant sky, and without warning, it’s illuminated by a flash of lightning. By setting an ominous mood with the warmth still loitering, one can almost forget that the heavens will open and baptize us all with driving rain in seconds.

A thunderstorm in the summertime is such an oxymoron. The weather is stifling, yet the punishing downpour forbids basking in the seasonal heat.

But for me, I must be the epitome of an oxymoron—a smart fool—because all I can think about is breaking free from the suffocating confines of this car and dancing in the rain. My feet yearn to kick at the puddles, bouncing recklessly into each one like a five-year-old. I want to tear off my clothes—overpriced garments which could feed a small nation—and spread my arms out wide and fly. I want to feel the rain on my face trickle into my mouth as I scream in liberation.

I don’t care what others think of me; let them ridicule me because I’ve always been utterly captivated by a thunderstorm in June or…so I think I have.

“Peyton, is everything all right?” Tearing my gaze from the storm just outside my window, I meet Stella Lane’s hazel eyes.

I can see the resemblance. I have her large eyes, which are almost too big for my heart-shaped face. My locks are a deeper, darker orangey copper than Stella’s, but we both wear our hair long. My lips are naturally full, tinted a rosy pink. Stella’s are plump, thanks to her cosmetic doctor. Our builds are slim.

Yes, I can definitely see the similarities…but it’s still so difficult to accept this stranger as my mom. “Yes, I’m fine. Just a lot to take in.”

I know she wants me to say more, maybe explain why I’ve decided to move from her gated mansion in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to a small, secluded property forty-five minutes away. But I can’t give her a reason because I don’t have one. I have no idea why this less than luxurious home appeals to me. It just does.

Stella’s pout slants downward, and I know what she’s going to say. “We can always turn this car around and go home.”

Home.

They say home is where the heart is, but the problem is, I’ve misplaced my heart, along with the memories that go with it.

When I look into the mirror, I don’t recognize the person staring back at me because I don’t know who I am. Snippets of information have been relayed to me over the past six months in hopes that it will jog some kind of memory, but all it does is leave me feeling empty; I’m a stranger in someone else’s skin.

They tell me my name is Peyton Veronica Lane. I was born on October first. I’m twenty-seven years old. I have four siblings—two brothers, two sisters—and I’m the third oldest. I’m a marketing manager who loves water sports and having a glass of wine while listening to classical music. The small scar on the underside of my chin is from falling off my mare, Sabina, when I was nine.

It seems I’ve lived a full, rewarding life, one which many may envy, thanks to the blue blood running through my veins. Still, I would give it up, all of it, in a heartbeat if only I could remember who I was.

Six months ago, I woke up…woke up from a coma with no recollection of anybody, anything. The doctors told me I was involved in a head-on collision that almost claimed my life. On the outside, I look unscathed, a pillar of perfect health, but