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Deadly Little Games
A Touch Novel
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Format:ebook $7.99 $9.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 27, 2011. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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Before either one has a chance to fully grasp their abilities, a new danger surfaces, but this time, Camelia is not the target. Adam, a familiar face from Ben’s past, is drawn into a puzzle he can’t solve . . . and his life is on the line. As the clues pile up, Camelia must decide whether to help him and risk losing Ben or do nothing and suffer the consequences. But in these games, who can be trusted?
Packed with the suspense and romance that made Deadly Little Secret and Deadly Little Lies breakout hits, Deadly Little Games is sure to be a bestseller.
Copyright © 2010 by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Cover design by Elizabeth H. Clark
Cover art © 2010 by Melody Cassen
Excerpt from Deadly Little Voices copyright © 2011 by Laurie Faria Stolarz
All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Hyperion, 125 West End Avenue, New York, New York 10023.
WHEN I CLOSE MY EYES I can picture his mouth. The way his top lip is slightly fuller than the bottom. The chapped skin on his lower lip. And how the corners of his mouth turn upward, even when he’s trying to look serious.
My fingers completely saturated with clay, I continue to sculpt the image, remembering that night in front of my house, when I just knew he wanted to kiss me.
It was one of our last dates, and we were sitting in his car during that awkward moment when you’re not exactly sure what happens next. Reaching to take my hand, Adam leaned in. My blood stirred, and my heart started pounding.
But I didn’t kiss him.
I looked away, and his kiss barely grazed my cheek.
Is it possible that subconsciously I’m regretting that moment?
I open my eyes a couple of minutes later. My sculpture looks eerily real. I touch the chalky surface of the lips, almost able to feel his breath between my fingertips.
“Ten more minutes,” Ms. Mazur announces, alerting us to the end of pottery class.
I clear my throat and sit back on my stool, wondering if the heat I feel is visible on my face. I glance around at the other students working away on their sculptures and suddenly feel self-conscious. Because all I’ve sculpted during this entire ninety-minute block is Adam’s mouth.
Adam, who just happens to be my boyfriend Ben’s biggest enemy.
Adam, who I’m no longer even interested in.
Adam, who despite the 300-plus other confusing reasons why I shouldn’t be giving him a second thought, I’ve been thinking about all day.
I close my eyes again. The image of Adam’s mouth is still alive in my mind—the way his lips were slightly parted that night, and the tiny scar that cuts across the bottom lip, maybe from when he fell as a kid. I try to imagine what he would say if he knew what I was doing.
Would he suspect that I was interested in him?
Would he think it was weird that I remembered so much detail about that moment?
Would he tell Ben what I was up to?
I take a deep breath and try my best to focus on the answers. But the only words that flash across my mind, the ones I can’t seem to shake, don’t address the questions at all.
“You deserve to die,” I whisper, suddenly realizing that I’ve said the words aloud.
“Excuse me?” my friend Kimmie asks. She’s sitting right beside me.
“Nothing.” I try to shrug it off, adding a dimple to Adam’s chin.
“Not nothing. You just told me that I deserve to be maggot feed.”
“Not maggot feed, just—”
“Dead!” she snaps. Her pale blue eyes, outlined with thick black rings of eye pencil, widen in disbelief.
“Forget it,” I say, glancing up at Ms. Mazur, sitting at her desk at the front of the room. “I don’t know why I said that. Just daydreaming, I guess.”
“Daydreaming about my death?”
“Forget it,” I repeat.
“Are you sure you aren’t still mad that I wouldn’t let you borrow my vintage fishnet leggings?”
“More like I didn’t want to borrow them,” I say, taking note of her getup du jour: a fringed, fitted Roaring Twenties dress, and a couple of extra-long beaded necklaces that dangle onto the table.
“Even though they would’ve looked totally hot paired with that cable-knit sweater dress I made you buy. Still, it’s no reason to say I deserve death.”
“I’m sorry,” I say, reluctant to get into it. Especially since the words remain pressed behind my eyes, like a flashing neon sign that makes my head ache.
“P.S.,” Kimmie continues, nodding toward my sculpture of Adam’s lips, “the assignment was to sculpt something exotic, not erotic. Are you sure you weren’t so busy wishing me dead that you just didn’t hear right? Plus, if it was eroticism you were going for, how come there’s no tongue wagging out of his mouth?”
“And what’s so exotic about your piece?”
“Seriously, it doesn’t get more exotic than leopard, particularly if that leopard is in the form of a swanky pair of kitten heels…but I thought I’d start out small.”
“Right,” I say, looking at her oblong ball of clay with what appears to be four legs, a golf-ball-size head, and a long, skinny tail attached.
“And, from the looks of your sculpture,” she continues, adjusting the lace bandana in her pixie-cut dark hair, “I presume you’re hankering for a Ben Burger right about now. The question is, will that burger come with a pickle on the side or between the buns?”
“You’re so sick,” I say, failing to mention that my sculpture isn’t of Ben’s mouth at all.
“Seriously? You’re the one who’s wishing me dead whilst fantasizing about your boyfriend’s mouth. Tell me that doesn’t rank high up on the sick-o-meter.”
“I have to go,” I say, throwing a plastic tarp over my work board.
“Should I be worried?”
“Acting manic and chanting about death?”
“I didn’t chant.”
“Are you kidding? For a second there I thought you were singing the jingle to a commercial for roach killer: You deserve to die! You deserve to die! You deserve to die!”
“I have to go,” I say again.
“Camelia, wait. You didn’t answer my question.”
But I don’t turn back. Instead, I go up and tell Ms. Mazur I’m not feeling well and need to go to the nurse. Luckily, she doesn’t argue. Even luckier is that I know just where to find Ben.
AUDIO TRANSCRIPT 1
DOCTOR: I just pushed the record button. Shall we begin?
PATIENT: Let’s get this over with.
DOCTOR: Why don’t you start by telling me how your week is going?
PATIENT: My week sucks, just like every other week. Next question.
DOCTOR: Are you still having disturbing thoughts?
PATIENT: They don’t disturb me.
DOCTOR: Let me rephrase, then. Are you still having thoughts of hurting yourself?
PATIENT: You know I was just joking about that.
DOCTOR: At least that’s what you told me.
PATIENT: You believed it. If you thought I was actually capable of killing myself, you’d be required to lock me up. I know the rules.
DOCTOR: Why would you joke about something so serious?
PATIENT: Are you kidding? Feelings of depression, feeling sorry for myself, lack of self-esteem, eager for attention, craving some serious shock value…
Shall I go on?
DOCTOR: No. Thank you.
PATIENT: Is this your first time as a therapist?
DOCTOR: Trying to insult me isn’t the answer. I’m asking you an important question, and I’m not looking for a stock response. Why would you joke about killing yourself?
DOCTOR: I think there’s more to it.
PATIENT: Okay, sometimes I get really pissed when I don’t get what I want.
DOCTOR: And what do you want?
PATIENT: To stop coming to therapy sessions, for one.
DOCTOR: I don’t make you come here. You must get something out of it.
PATIENT: I like to call it self-inflicted torture.
DOCTOR: There’s the door. You can leave any time you want.
PATIENT: Is that what you want?
DOCTOR: No. I want to help you.
PATIENT: It’s too late for that.
DOCTOR: Why do you say that?
PATIENT: Because people who have thoughts like mine can never go back. They can never be like regular people.
8. I wear a ________ on my wrist, because it’s only a matter of time.
17. I stabbed him in the ________.
20. You made ________ bed, and now you’ll have to lie in it.
THE BELL RINGS JUST as I splash some water on my face, trying to get a grip. I tell myself that sculpting Adam’s mouth was no big deal, and I’ve no reason to freak. But then why can’t I shake this feeling that something’s desperately wrong?
I hurry out of the bathroom, down the hallway, and into the gymnasium. No one’s on the court yet. Most of the kids are probably in the locker rooms, changing into their sweats and sneakers.
But not Ben.
He has permission from Principal Snell to skip the actual “physical” part of phys ed class. Instead he’s given the humiliating task of keeping score on the sidelines. Snell, along with most of the teachers at school, believes that Ben suffers from a fear of crowds, a fear that makes things like contact sports and switching classes with everyone else somewhat of a challenge for him. And so he’s also been granted a License for Lateness—a pass that allows him to arrive at all his classes a few minutes behind everyone else, to avoid careening into people in the hallway.
The real reason that Ben avoids crowds is that he has psychometric abilities: abilities that enable him to sense things through touch. One might think having a power like that would make him want to touch people all the time—to find out all their dirty little secrets. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Almost three years ago, during a hike through the woods, Ben touched his girlfriend Julie’s hand and sensed that she was cheating on him. Unable to control his need to sense more, he gripped her harder. Julie drew away, and though Ben tried to pull her back, she ended up tumbling backward off a cliff.
And dying almost instantly.
After that happened, Ben tried to avoid touch altogether. He dropped out of public school to be home-schooled by tutors, shut himself off from everyone he knew, and barely ventured outside his house. But then, a couple years later, he thought he’d try to have a somewhat normal life again and moved in with his aunt, two hours away, to enroll at our school.
That’s when he accidentally touched me.
And everything changed.
Ben sensed that my life was in danger. And he was right. This past September, my ex-boyfriend Matt was plotting to take me captive in a twisted attempt to win me back. Then, just three weeks ago, Ben knew that someone was trying to deceive me. If it hadn’t been for his keen awareness in both of those instances, I might not be here right now.
I wonder if he’ll be able to sense that Adam’s been on my mind, that I sculpted Adam’s mouth, reminded of a kiss that didn’t happen. And that just last night, when I couldn’t fall sleep, I went down to the pottery studio in my basement and sculpted Adam’s eyes, with the lids closed—the way he looked the instant before he tried to kiss me.
After a few minutes, boys start making an appearance on the basketball court for a little pregame, while girls sit up on the bleachers looking on.
A couple of minutes after that, Ben finally arrives.
As usual, he looks amazing. Dressed in layers of charcoal and black, his dark brown hair is rumpled to perfection, and his smile nearly steals my breath.
“Hey,” he says, “what are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be in class?”
“The nurse’s office, actually,” I say, flashing him my pass.
“Is everything okay?”
I nod, wondering if I’m overreacting. There’s obviously nothing going on between Adam and me. But then why do I feel so guilty?
“Well, it’s good to see you,” he says. “But you know Muse won’t let you stay.”
“I know.” Mr. Muse makes it his life’s mission to suck the fun out of every sport imaginable, including those of the romantic nature. “So, maybe I could just get a squeeze good-bye?”
“You bet,” he says, coming closer. He smells like watermelon candy and the fumes from his bike. It’s a scent I want to bottle up. And pour right over me.
Ben holds me close. His hands graze my lower back, igniting every inch of me. “Are you sure everything’s all right?”
“I’m fine,” I whisper, hating myself for lying to him.
“Because, you know you can tell me anything, right?”
“I know,” I say, feeling worse by the moment.
Ben runs his fingers through the ends of my hair and breathes into the crook of my neck.
“I just wanted to see you,” I whisper.
He takes a step back and looks into my face. His dark gray eyes are wide and searching. “How come I feel like you’re not telling me everything?”
My pulse races, and my mouth goes dry. Meanwhile, the basketball makes a continuous slapping sound on the court behind us. I look over Ben’s shoulder. All the boys are on the court playing basketball now. John Kenneally and Davis Miller, both notorious for giving Ben a hard time because of his history with Julie, pass the ball back and forth.
I do my best to ignore them, to ignore the echo of their shouting voices and the smack of the ball as it hits the backboard. But then Ben grips my hand tightly—until I almost have to pull away.
Only, before I can, he does. He takes a couple more steps back, letting go of my hand.
“Is something wrong?” I ask.
“Why don’t you tell me?” He backs away even farther, as if he can’t even stand being next to me now.
“Nothing’s wrong,” I blurt. “Everything’s fine.” I take a deep breath, my mind reeling. I struggle to think of something to say, just as a cluster of boys, en route to scoring a basket, plows right into Ben.
He falls hard, landing on his back with a grunt that makes me wince.
“Ben!” I hurry to his side, just as Mr. Muse finally shows up, ordering everyone out of the way.
Still, I stay with him. I try to take his hand again, but he pulls it away.
Meanwhile a smattering of snickers erupts behind me—from the pack of boys who collided with him.
“Just go,” Ben says, avoiding my gaze.
“I’m not going anywhere. Not until I know that everything’s okay.”
“Go,” he insists.
Mr. Muse demands that I leave, threatening me with a trip to Principal Snell’s office. “Where are you supposed to be now, anyway?” he asks me. He helps Ben up and into a chair.
Meanwhile, I reluctantly head to the nurse—for real this time—because I truly feel like I’m going to be sick.
I SPEND THE REMAINDER of the block in the nurse’s office before heading to the cafeteria for lunch, where Kimmie, Wes, and I sit at our usual spot by the exit.
“So, let me get this straight,” Kimmie says. “You and Ben are fighting because you were fantasizing about macking with your ex?”
“Except, Adam isn’t exactly my ex,” I remind her. “We only went out a few times.”
“But you still want his tongue in your mouth,” Wes says, pointing at me with a sausage. He’s stabbed the center with a plastic fork.
Wes has been our friend since freshman year. He’s a fairly uncomplicated boy by day; most of his drama shows up at night. His dad, a former juicehead turned dickhead, hates the fact that Wes isn’t “more dick, less chick”—he actually says that. He also calls him Wuss instead of Wes.
“You’re sick,” I tell him.
“But tasty.” He takes a bite of sausage.
“At first I thought Ben’s touch power was a bonus,” Kimmie says. “But if he can read your mind on cue—learning about all your seedy fantasies—then maybe it’s more of a drawback.”
“First of all, I don’t have any seedy fantasies,” I tell them.
“Maybe that’s your problem,” Wes says.
“No,” I say, correcting him. “My problem is that I’m thinking about Adam, and I don’t want to be.”
“You’re not just thinking about him.” Kimmie raises her ruby-studded eyebrow at me. “I thought those lips you sculpted in pottery class looked a little too luscious to be Ben’s.”
Wes leans forward and readjusts his wire-rimmed glasses. “What am I missing?” he asks, eager for the dirt.
“Three words,” Kimmie says. “More. Random. Body parts.”
“Except, that’s four words,” I say.
“Well, whatever.” She rolls her eyes. “It’s still significant. Not to mention creeptastic.”
She’s obviously comparing my sculpture of Adam’s mouth to the one I did of Ben’s arm a month ago, when I was trying to remember the branchlike scar that runs from his elbow to his wrist. A day or two after that, I sculpted Ben’s eyes, as if they were peering at me through glass.
Both of those sculptures turned out to be premonitions.
Ben isn’t the only one who’s able to sense things through touch.
Over the past several months, instead of making my usual bowls and vases, I’ve been sculpting things from my future. First it was a car—the same one I spotted on the day Matt took me captive. Then there was the pinecone, which looked just like the air freshener that dangled from the rearview mirror of Matt’s car. About a month ago it was a swordfish, similar to the wooden cutout affixed over the door of Finz restaurant, the place near where Debbie Marcus was hit by a car.
Debbie was a girl at school whose friends made it look like she was being stalked. They sent her creepy notes, making her believe that Ben (once on trial for the murder of his girlfriend on the cliff that day) wanted her to be Victim Number Two.
Debbie believed it, too. One night, on a walk home from a friend’s house, anxious that Ben might’ve been following her, she wasn’t really paying attention to where she was going and was struck by a car. The accident almost took her life.
When she came out of her coma two months later, even though Ben wasn’t to blame, she was determined to make him pay—to make someone pay—for her lost time. And so she tried to frame him for stalking me in hopes that he would be forced to leave our school once and for all.
“Wait,” Wes says. “Are you to imply that our dear Chameleon is once again having premonitions by way of pottery?”
“I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t call me reptilian names,” I say.
“Would you prefer it if I called you a freak?”
“Plus,” I say, failing to dignify his question with a response, “it hasn’t only been body parts. What about the car, the swordfish, the pinecone?”
“Well, I still suspect something shady’s going on,” Kimmie says. “I mean, why Adam’s mouth?—why not Ben’s or your own? And why did it look all pouty, like he wanted a kiss?”
“There’s more.” I tell them about last night, how, when I couldn’t sleep, I sculpted Adam’s eyes.
“See?” Kimmie folds her arms. “More body parts.”
“Whatever,” I sigh, refusing to get into it again.
“Do you think you’re sculpting this stuff and thinking about him because you miss him?” she asks.
“Or this could be your subconscious’s way of trying to sabotage your love life,” Wes suggests. “I saw something similar on Love Rehab.”
Kimmie rolls her eyes—yet again—at the suggestion. She grabs a straw and attempts to blow the wrapper into Wes’s recently overgrown yet still mousse-laden dark hair, but the wrapper fails to penetrate the hair’s crusty outer surface. “Camelia hasn’t even revealed the most disturbing piece in her jigsaw puzzle of a life,” Kimmie says.
“Right,” I say, knowing full well what she’s talking about. “While I was sculpting Adam’s mouth, I whispered the words ‘You deserve to die.’”
“At me,” Kimmie points out.
“More like, near you,” I clarify. “It’s not like I think you deserve to die.”
“Then who?” Wes asks.
“No one. It’s like someone put those words in my mouth—like the phrase got stuck in my head, and I couldn’t let it go.” I sink back in my seat, reminded of how sometimes, when I’m having one of my psychometric episodes—if I should even be calling it that—I’m able to hear voices.
About a month ago, I sculpted a horse kicking its legs up. It turned out to look just like the horse on the pendant that Ben gave to Julie shortly before she died. All the time I was sculpting the horse I kept hearing a voice in my head—a voice that told me to be careful.
The horse sculpture turned out to be a clue that someone was trying to trick me. That someone was Adam. Two years earlier, Adam (Ben’s best friend at the time) had been dating Julie behind Ben’s back. When Julie died, Adam, like everyone else, blamed Ben and wanted revenge.
And so last fall, when Adam learned that Ben had come to Freetown High seeking a somewhat mainstream life again, he secretly followed. Adam enrolled at the community college nearby and sought out Ben’s love interest—me—as a way to make him jealous.
“So, what now?” Kimmie asks.
“Maybe you should give Adam a call,” Wes says. “That is, if you don’t wish him dead—in which case you should probably stay as far away from him as possible.” He snatches my plastic utensils away. “I hear prison’s a pain in the ass.”
“No pun intended,” Kimmie jokes.
“Well, naturally, I don’t wish anyone dead,” I say, as if the explanation were even necessary.
“Does Adam wish you were dead?” Kimmie asks.
“How would I know?”
“Maybe someone wishes Adam were dead.” Wes scratches his chin in thought. “Or maybe you’re supposed to save Adam, the way Ben saved you last fall. I mean, you did say you sculpted his eyes while they were closed…meaning, he could have been dead.”
“Don’t tell me this is going to be another semester of psycho notes, creepy photos, and cheap lingerie,” Kimmie says, referring to some of the mysterious gifts I received when I was being stalked.
“Are you talking about Camelia’s past with Matt, or your own colorful dating history?” Wes asks her.
“Jealous that I have a dating history?” She blows him a kiss.
“Maybe we’re reading too much into things,” I say, interrupting their banter.
“It’s possible,” Wes chirps. “Your verging-on-obsessive, shrineworthy stalkerazzi sculptures could very well be your subconscious’s way of making it clear that you and Adam have some unresolved issues to attend to. And the twisted death-wish phrase could totally be chalked up to too many scary movies.”
“Or too many detentions with Mr. Muse.” Kimmie giggles. “My advice: give Adam a call. Be all casual, and ask him how he’s doing.”
“And if he’s gotten any death threats lately,” Wes adds.
I shake my head at the thought of contacting him again. It’s not like we ended things on totally terrible terms. It’s just that, despite how sorry he was afterward, despite the apologetic letters he sent asking for my forgiveness, what he did was downright cruel. “How am I supposed to explain to Ben that I’m calling his biggest enemy?…Someone I dated?”
“Who says he has to know?” Wes shrugs.
- On Sale
- Sep 27, 2011
- Page Count
- 288 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers