Title: Judge by the Cover: High School, Drama & Deadly Vices (Hafu Sans Halo Book 1)
Author: Melissa Abigail
Genre: Coming-of-Age/YA Romance-Suspense
Campbelton looks like a city at peace; Yet, just below the surface Lie certain dangers— Crime, corruption, and a community divided. Haruna Mitsukai is an overachiever with dreams of attending the University of British Columbia. Ryu Debiru is a bad boy whose only desire is to escape this ridiculous prison called “life.” Both attend Shady Glenn Academy and despite their similar “hafu”, half Japanese identity, they couldn’t despise each other more. Years of avoidance comes to an end when a major assignment on Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice pairs them together. Just as everything reaches a breaking point, revelations about an old East Side mansion called “Heaven” causes Haruna to question everything she thought she knew about him. As for Ryu? Well, all that glitters is most certainly not gold.
Leaving everything but her messenger bag behind, Haruna slipped through the arching doorway. She didn’t have to go far to find the nearest exit. Ryu stood several metres beyond it. A haze of grey spilled upwards in tangled wisps from his nostrils. He paid no mind to her as he hovered at the curb of a walkway, shoulder eased against a brick wall. He returned the cigarette to his lips. Whether it was the solitude or the nicotine, he was thoroughly enjoying it. His thoughts, maybe they were miles away from the things they had said to each other just minutes ago. But what was it about him? Just before, he was upset. Now he was so detached, uncaring, unfeeling, and all of a sudden, not even appearing angry at all.
Haruna wondered how someone could let go of such strong emotions so quickly.
She wasn’t at all like that.
And though she had come to apologize, something about all of this, watching him like this made her cross. He wasn’t intimidating to her at all now. He was disgusting. Living in apathy? In so many ways he was throwing his life away.
“Do you really have to do that right now?” Haruna asked.
He didn’t turn to acknowledge her, but it was clear he had heard from the way his brows furrowed together. His mouth drew into something of a sneer.
“Actually, yeah. Helps me deal with stress.”
Once he’d spoken, he crooked his head towards her, deliberately blowing smoke through his mouth.
Haruna glowered at the cigarette in his left hand, every atomic particle in her body urging her to retreat, but some small part of her conscience telling her to be brave and resist in spite of herself. She obeyed her mind and approached. Once face-to-face, she could feel the smoke sting in her nose. She coughed.
“Oh, yeah?” she managed. “You have stress? What stress?”
He regarded her beadily, puffing in her direction.
“Oh, I’m stress? Fine. If you want to do stupid things and kill yourself, go on ahead. Just know second-hand smoke is more dangerous than—” The smoke hit her hard. Haruna clutched the base of her neck and shut her eyes. She tried not to inhale, but her lungs were screaming for air. She stepped back and gasped. The hacking cough started again. She felt her chest throb.
She blinked, slowly, barely hearing Ryu’s voice.
“What’s up with you?”
Haruna glanced up. Ryu had moved closer, arms at his sides. He looked at her strangely. Again she glared at the cigarette pinched between his fingers, in her mind cursing the putrid cloud that enveloped them, brought him relief and suffocated her.
“N-Nothing, just—” she wheezed and backed away.
She’d been stupid. Stupid to follow him here.
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Melissa Abigail was born in the southern U.S.A. to South American parents, lived in the borough of Brooklyn, N.Y., and was raised in the humble suburbs of southern Ontario. A citizen of the world, she’s managed to fit in nowhere in particular but everywhere at the same time. She is a lifelong writer, creator and artist that embraces thought-provoking ideas and diversity in film, fiction and life.
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