Scarlet Awakening (Sweet Secrets series book 2)

★★ SCARLET AWAKENING ★★

Book 2 in the Sweet Secrets Series

by Taylor Henderson

Now available from Limitless Publishing…

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★ SYNOPSIS ★

Summer has finally come, senior year is on the horizon, and everything from the passed year has been put behind them. A balance has returned to the school now that Brianna has been taken down a few notches, Violet and Blake are figuring out where they stand, and Lena’s relationship with her sister has gotten better, but there’s still one thing Lena can’t move passed; not knowing about her family. Her parents have split, sending Lena and her sister, Ella, to California for the summer to visit their mother. While unpacking, Lena finds a photo of the twins with her mom and another man. A man who she doesn’t recognize.

When Lena and Ella start asking questions about the picture, the pair is sent on a search for the family they never knew, and through a past they thought they’d never have to face again.

★ EXCERPT★

I pulled a long sleeve sweater from deep within the confines of my suitcase, and stared at it quizzically. Wow, I really did go overboard packing. I know that I had said that I was packing in preparation for anything that came my way, but seriously, a long sleeve sweater? Did I think that sometime during my visit, San Diego was going to be hit by a blizzard?

Shaking my head, I folded the sweater neatly and tucked it away into the bottom drawer of my dresser. I had been unpacking for nearly two hours now, and so far I hadn’t gotten far. I blamed my lack of progress on my short attention span, and my laziness. So far, I had managed to organize each drawer according to clothing article. I had separate drawers for bottoms, tops, bathing suits, undergarments, pajamas, and miscellaneous. The sweater was placed into the miscellaneous drawer where it was accompanied by a thin raincoat, sweat pants, and a pair of gray leg-warmers. Seriously, I had a packing problem.

My phone buzzed on the dull hardwood floor just a few inches away from my thigh. I scooped the phone up and smiled at the screen when I saw that the message was from Violet. She had been sending me cute videos of her sister, Lilly, all morning. Lilly had started taking dance lesson a few months ago, and she had her first recital coming up in a week so she would practice throughout the house, despite her mom’s efforts. I unlocked the phone, which instantly opened the message to show another video. Along with the video, Violet had sent a message telling me to listen to her mom.

Smiling, I hit play on the video, and watched closely as the camera focused on a dancing, tutu-clad Lilly. She was spinning around the Forrester’s living room, weaving in and out of the furniture and doing ballet-style leaps over little obstacles that littered the floor. The obstacles were little stuffed animals, and toys that Lilly had probably set up.

“Watch this, Lizzie,” Lilly’s voice blasted from my phone’s speaker. She stopped moving and faced the camera head on, then smiled so brightly that her eyes scrunched up some. Her dark curls continued to bounce around her face from the previous motion. “I, Lilly Forrester, am going to do something that no other dancer can do.” She raised her arms high over her head, and proceeded to do a cartwheel from the living room into the dining room where her mom was.

I heard Mrs. F. let out a shriek, and it soundly like she was about to have an aneurysm or something. The shriek caused Lilly to lose her footing, and fall onto her butt. “No cartwheels!” Violet’s mom spoke loudly. She wasn’t yelling, but she was definitely worked up. “You could break your neck!” Then the video ended, and I laughed loudly at her words. Mrs. F. was known for being an extreme worrywart. I thought that it was hilarious, while Violet thought that her mom was crazy. I was sure that if I had grown up with her as my mom, I would think she was crazy too.

I shook my head; still smiling to myself about the video as I typed back a reply about how her mom was hilarious, before setting my phone back on the ground and staring into my suitcase again. I would probably be done now if I had continuously stuck with unpacking when I first started. I had begun right after breakfast, and Ella and I had decided to have a race to see who could finish first. She won.

It wasn’t fair really. I had more to unpack than she did, so I should have gotten a head start. It had only taken her half an hour to unpack everything. How was that possible? When she finished and had come up to brag about her winning, I no longer saw the point in rushing, and began to take my sweet time. I had even taken a break to go talk to grandpa who had been doing a little organizing of his own. Apparently grandma had given him the task of cleaning out the once guest room that had been converted to a storage room. She didn’t want me to be stuck up in the attic room for my whole visit. I was fine being in the attic, but grandma disagreed.

So when I went to see grandpa, he had been in the middle of trying to figure out the most effective way to begin cleaning the room. In my opinion the most effective way to begin cleaning was to start, but he was sure that there was a certain way that he needed to tackle his task. When I left him, he was grumbling about who was the person to come up with the saying, “Happy wife, happy life.” At the moment, making grandma happy by cleaning was not making his life happy.

Sighing, I shook my thoughts from my mind and reached into my bag again, pulling out a cute, red sundress that I had gotten on my last trip to the mall with Ella. I hadn’t worn it yet, but I was excited to get the chance too. Red had always been my favorite color. Not only was it just a nice color in general, but also I felt like it made me look sexy, and mysterious. It probably didn’t, but a girl could dream. Standing, I went to hang the dress up in my closet, along with the other dresses that I had already hung up. This unpacking thing was rapidly becoming tedious.

With a groan, I leaned my back against the foot-board of my bed that faced the closet. Maybe I could convince Ella to help me finish up? Just as I was about to stand, my eye caught a little corner of a piece of paper that was poking out from behind the dresser. I furrowed my brows at the sight of it, wondering what it could be. The rest of the room had been completely empty when I arrived, so I was curious to see what this was. It was probably nothing, but either way my interest was piqued.

Pushing myself away from the bed, I walked toward the dresser, crouching down next to it as I gripped the corner of the paper and pulled it from its hiding place. I unfolded it, seeing the back first. There was one sentence scrawled across the back. It was short, and sweet.

Keep us in your memories.

That was all that it said. There was no name signed under it, or even a date. Just that one sentence. Now I was really curious. Flipping the paper over, my jaw dropped almost instantly. It was a picture of my mom in the hospital, holding one bundle of white in each arm, with a man standing next to her. I could see now why there was no name or date listed on the back. The date was obvious. The picture had to have been taken on August 8th, the day that my mom gave birth to the twins. That was the first and last time that she had seen them. I assumed that the man in the picture was the guy who had adopted them, and probably the owner of the handwriting on the back as well.

I stood hurriedly, and took the stairs down from my room to go find Ella. Luckily, she was sitting in her room listening to music. I entered without knocking, earning a glare. I didn’t care though. I knew that she would want to see this.

Moving toward where she was sprawled across her bed, I trusted the photograph out to her. She took it curiously, staring at the front in silent before flipping it over to read the back.

“Do you recognize him?” she asked me, eyebrows furrowed.

I shook my head no. “He’s got to be the guy who adopted the babies. Why else would he be in the picture?”

Ella shrugged in response, staring at the front of the photo again. I stood in silence for a moment as she just sat, holding the picture and frowning down at it. Then, with a smile curving her thin lips upward, she met my eyes. “If we found him, we would probably find the babies too.”

I bit my lip as realization crashed over me. “We could finally meet them.”

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