Made of steel (made of s.., p.9
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       Made of Steel (Made of Steel Series Book 1), p.9

           Ivy Smoak

  Chapter 9

  18 Years Old


  I looked outside the window of the coffee shop at the tall building across the street. In just a few minutes, I'd be stepping into my new life. I had started fifteen new schools in my lifetime. There was no one more used to this than me. But I didn't want to be here. For once in my life, I wanted to make my own choices. I just wanted to go home. I hadn't been back to the only place I had ever loved in ten years.


  This city wasn't for me. I had been here less than ten minutes and had already been bumped into at least as many times. There was a buzz of excitement in the air, but it didn't quite reach me. Instead, my stomach was twisted in knots. I felt like I was going to be sick.

  "Sadie," Mr. Crawford said again.

  I blinked and continued to stare at the building. He thought I wasn't listening, but I was. I just didn't want to answer to that name. I'm Summer Brooks. I could feel myself disappearing. I didn't want to disappear. I never asked for this.

  "Sadie." Mr. Crawford reached across the table and touched my hand.

  I immediately pulled my hand onto my lap and stared at him. Don't you dare touch me. I clenched my hand into a fist.

  His eyes softened. He pitied me. For the past week, I had gotten that look enough times to know what it meant. And it made me angry. I didn't need his pity.

  "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you," he said. "You read the papers, right? You're going to have to get better at answering to your new name."

  I nodded and looked down at the folder in front of me. My new life was written on the pages before me. Once I walked out this door, I'd have to lie to everyone I met. But in a way I was used to that too. I had been lying about my home life for as long as I could remember. For some reason I had this stupid hope that this would be different though. I was tired of lying. I was just tired in general.


  I looked up at him.

  This time he smiled. "Good. Here's your new ID." He slid me the small piece of plastic. "You'll probably need it at check-in. Have you memorized your new identity?"

  "Should we really be discussing this in a crowded coffee shop?"

  "Welcome to New York, Sadie. No one cares what we're talking about." He gestured to the people around us.

  They all seemed totally focused on their phones and computers, completely self absorbed. I wasn't sure what I was worried about. No one had taken an interest in my problems when I had actually needed help. No one would care now either. I was invisible.

  "Have you memorized your new identity?" he asked again.

  I knew it backwards and forwards. I had read it dozens of times. "Yes, I've memorized it." I picked up the ID and looked at the picture. My hair was brunette now instead of red. My eyes were brown instead of blue. I barely recognized myself. It's exactly what they wanted. I'm disappearing.

  "There's a card with my number on it in one of your suitcases. If you see anyone from your past or anything suspicious at all, call me right away. If someone recognizes you, you'll be putting yourself and them in danger. So call and we'll relocate you immediately."

  I nodded. I had heard all this before. "Are you sure I have to be here, though? I had been looking at a lot of schools. I even got into Dartmouth and I was really hoping..."

  "Which is why you can't go there. Your friends knew you got in. You'd be easy to find. It'll be easy for you to blend in here. People come to New York City to start over. This is your chance, Sadie."

  What friends? I had been invisible in school. Barely anyone had even talked to me. "I'm not starting over. I'm hiding."

  "This is the best we could do. You'll be safe here."

  I glanced out the window again at the immense building. I didn't want to be in a skyscraper in NYC. I wanted to be in a cute small town where everyone knew my name. I sighed. That was the problem. No one could know my name. But if he was right and I truly could be safe, then it was worth it. I hadn't felt safe in years. "Okay."

  "You're looking at this all wrong, Sadie. You should embrace your new life. I know the past week has been hard." He stopped when he saw the expression on my face.

  Because it wasn't the past week that had been hard. It was the past five years. When no one would help me. When no one was on my side.

  "A fresh start will be good for you."

  "You want me to just forget about my old life? I don't think..."

  "That's exactly what you're supposed to do. You're here for your own safety. Anything that you do to jeopardize that will put you into danger."

  "So what, I'm supposed to lie to everyone I meet? Never form real relationships again? How is that better than the way I was already living?" I would never be free. This was supposed to be different.

  "You're a bright girl. Convince yourself that this is real." He tapped the folder in front of me. "We're asking you to blend in, but that doesn't mean you can't form relationships. You just have to form them around Sadie Davis. Not Summer Brooks."

  I gave him a small smile.

  "You get to find yourself here. Just don't forget to blend in while you do that." He grabbed the folder in front of me and tucked it into his briefcase. "Your suitcases are packed with new clothes. But try to keep your neck covered until the bruises go away. You don't want people asking any questions and drawing unwanted attention."

  I put my hand on the side of my neck. He didn't need to tell me that. I was already wearing a hoodie even though it was 90 degrees in the city today. I was used to making sure no one had a reason to ask me questions.

  "And if you need anything else, we transferred your money into a bank account under your new name. All the information for that is also in your suitcases. With the money that..."

  "Thanks," I said, cutting him off. I felt guilty enough for getting handouts from the state. I didn't need him to tell me that I only had about a hundred dollars in my savings account. It wouldn't even be enough for the school books I needed. One of the first things I was going to do was get a job.

  "Is there anything else you need to give me before I head out? Anything at all that would jeopardize the secrecy of your new identity?"

  I thought about the arrow keychain I had hidden in my pocket. I had already handed over everything that belonged to me. Every memory I had of my old life. I needed this one thing. For some reason, it still meant the world to me, even though the boy that gave it to me meant nothing. It reminded me of home. It reminded me of being carefree. It reminded me of everything I lost. "No, there's nothing else."

  He nodded. "I'll be reaching out to you as soon as the bail hearing takes place. But I have it under good authority that Roberts will be staying behind bars for a long time."

  God, I hoped that was true. "Do you know when the trial will be?"

  "One day at a time. We have to get through the bail hearing first." He glanced at his watch. "Check-in ends in about thirty minutes. I should leave you to it."

  I nodded and stared into the coffee mug that I hadn't touched. I didn't even like coffee. Was I supposed to now?

  "Well, good luck, Sadie. You have my number if you need to reach me. Don't be late for check-in."

  "Right. I don't want to draw attention to myself."

  "Exactly." He hesitated once he stood up. "And remember to smile, Sadie. This is going to be a good thing, I promise. If everything goes well, you won't be seeing me ever again."

  "Thanks for all your help, Mr. Crawford."

  He nodded and disappeared out the door of the coffee shop.

  If everything went well, I'd never be Summer Brooks again. That may have sounded good to him. But it didn't sound good to me.

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