Under My Skin
by Laura Diamond
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: April 12th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
In a split-second, everything changes
Bookish Brit Adam Gibson is one wonky heartbeat away from a fatal arrhythmia. But staying alive requires Adam to become keenly focused on both his pulse and the many different daily medications he must take in exactly the right dosages. Adam’s torn between wanting to live and knowing that someone else must die in order for him to do so. He needs a new heart.
The pressure is getting to him. Adam stops talking to his friends back home, refuses to meet kids at his new school, and shuts his parents out entirely. His days are spent wondering if can cope with having a dead man’s heart beating inside his chest, or if he should surrender to the thoughts of suicide swirling around in his head.
And then a donor is found…
Outspoken artist Darby Fox rarely lets anything stand in her way of achieving her goals . Whether it’s painting, ignoring her homework (dyslexia makes a mess out of words anyway), kissing a hot boy she doesn’t even know, or taking the head cheerleader down a peg , no one has ever accused Darby of being a shy. She also happens to be the twin sister to a perfect brother with good looks, good grades, manners, and the approval of their parents – something Darby has never had.
Darby’s always had bad timing . She picks the worst time to argue with her brother Daniel. In a car with bald tires, on an icy road in the freezing cold, the unthinkable happens. In a split-second, everything changes forever.
Right now, I’m nothing more than a sixteen-year-old in a physical rehabilitation room with ancient relics who could probably beat me at arm wrestling. Hell, they could probably beat me in a competition of mall walking.
A layer of sweat creeps across my upper lip. Damn mask. I tug it under my chin and take a deep breath of real air. Relief floods me, though my heart continues to pump faster and faster. My pulse rushes in my ears.
I close my eyes, but nothing can dull the competing scents of stale body odor, cleaning fluid, and overused equipment.
This place sucks.
I keep pumping my legs. What would it be like to ride a real bicycle in a park on a summer day? How serene it would be to glide past pastures of green grass, to skim under shade trees, and a pause at a pond to catch the sunset. I almost feel the wind dragging through my hair. All of a sudden I feel lighter, freer. I’m normal. Healthy.
“I’ve never seen someone so happy to be excercising.” A girl’s voice tears through my fantasy.
My eyes fly open. I’m face to face with a petite girl wearing a plastic collar around her neck. Her baggy black t-shirt and gray sweatpants are covered in paint stains. Her crystal blue eyes study me with curiosity, a striking compliment to the cobalt streaks in her black hair.
I stop pedaling, struck by the clarity of those inquisitive eyes. I open my mouth, but have no idea what to say so I close it again. Lamest of the lame.
The right side of her mouth ticks up. “The silent type. I like it.”
She slides her fingers along the machine’s center console then rubs them together, testing for dust. “Okay, Mister Tall, Dark, and Quiet. You got a real name?”
“I, um…” I clear my throat.
“Um is not a name.”
We’re face to face with me sitting and her standing, yet it’s like she’s peering down at me from a tower. “A-Adam. My name is Adam.”
“Adam. Like Adam and Eve?”
“No, I mean, I guess.”
“Is that a yes or no?” She laughs. It’s one of those wow-this-bloke-has-no-idea-how-to-talk-to-girls laughs.
Heat builds in my cheeks. A bead of sweat slides from my temple down my cheek. My hold slips on the bike’s handles. “What’s your name?”
She shifts her weight. “I’m Darby.”
I force myself to take my time over to the plastic utensil dispenser, but I let myself rush—a little—back to the table. And Adam.
“Here.” I offer him a spoon.
Our fingers brush against each other. My skin tingles from the contact.
“Thank you.” He stares up at me. The light above him catches his eyes. They’re a color I’ve never seen before, a mixture of blue, green, and brown. Didn’t look that way yesterday. Chameleon eyes. Beautiful.
I sit, trying to settle the somersaults in my stomach. A simple idea hits me: Paint them.
Guilt stomps it out. How can I think about picking up a paintbrush when my brother is dead? He’ll never shoot a basketball again, or drive his precious car, or get the sports scholarship Dad’s been rooting for. I don’t have a right to enjoy anything if he can’t.
“You all right?” Adam asks.
I chew on the spoon. “Y-yeah…Hey, you wear contacts?”
“No. Why?” The lean muscles in his forearms ripple and the tendons in his hands work as he fiddles with the ice cream container.
I sort out the color combinations I’d have to mix to get just the right shades to match his irises. I can almost feel my fingertips sliding across a blank canvas, reading it, urging it to tell me its story. My fingers twitch, aching to hold a brush again. Can I?
Laura Diamond is a board certified psychiatrist currently specializing in emergency psychiatry. She is also an author of all things young adult—both contemporary and paranormal. An avid fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and anything magical, she thrives on quirk, her lucid dreams, and coffee. When she’s not working or writing, she can be found sniffing books and drinking a latte at the bookstore or at home pondering renovations on her 225 year old fixer upper, all while obeying her feline overlords, of course.