Derailed

By: Alyssa Rose Ivy


Acknowledgements



As always, this book would not have been possible without the support of my family. Thank you especially to Grant for your continued and constant encouragement and faith in my writing. Thanks to Jennifer Snyder for being both a great friend and writing partner. Thanks to Karen Allen of Red Adept for a fantastic editing experience. Thanks to all of the bloggers who have helped spread the word about my books, and of course, thank you to all of my readers for giving me the opportunity to share my stories with you.





Prologue



The message was only three words, but his failure to respond had changed everything. I need you… Too emotional to speak, I'd stopped at three words. The words were true. I did need him. I needed his arms around me and his reassurances that I’d be okay, that it wasn’t my fault. He hadn’t heard his phone, or so he told me that August when he pleaded over and over with me to forgive him. I couldn't forgive him. My anger was the only thing keeping me from hating myself.





Chapter One

I used to love May: the heat and the promise of a long and limitless summer. I’d count down the last weeks of April with excitement, ready for my favorite time of year. The May of my first, and only, year of law school was different. It brought the craving for change—and the need to escape.

I remember the exact moment I decided to quit law school. It was during contracts only a week before spring exams. The end of my 1L year was in sight, and I should have been excited. My first semester grades placed me firmly in the top 25% of the class, and finishing first year meant I was getting ready to pass a milestone I’d thought about for years. Of course, I should have also been getting ready for an even bigger milestone: my wedding.

“Ms. Sander, would you care to enlighten us on why the court found the agreement unenforceable?” Professor Willis’s booming bass voice reverberated off the oak-paneled walls of the lecture hall.

My head snapped up when I heard my name. I’d been reading a website on my laptop and could feel the blood rushing to my face, aware that everyone in the room was probably staring at me. I tried to pull up the case brief I’d cut and pasted from Westlaw that morning. It had been months since I’d bothered to brief a case myself. Instead, I’d been relying on the generic commercial ones our professors had warned us to avoid. My screen froze, and I was out of time. I struggled to remember what unit we were even on. “Lack of consideration?” I half asked.

“If you didn’t bother to read the case, why did you bother to come to class?” The professor sneered, and I heard light laughter behind me. Traitors. Like I was the only one who didn’t do the reading. I’d spent almost every day of the past nine months with these people, yet they made a joke out of me at the first chance.

“That’s a good question and one I don’t have the answer to.” I slammed my laptop shut and stuffed it into my backpack, slinging one strap over my shoulder. I picked up my case book and slipped past a roomful of stunned faces as I headed to the door.

“Where do you think you’re going, Ms. Sander?”

I paused to think over the question. “I don’t actually know.”

This time the laugher wasn’t light. It was loud enough that I could still hear it after the door swung closed behind me.

“Molly! Wait up!” Becca’s heels echoed off the tiled floor of the hallway. I stopped, but didn’t turn around. She didn’t waste any time, placing a gentle hand on my shoulder as soon as she reached me. “What was that all about? Are you doing okay?”

The genuine concern on Becca’s face mingled with exhaustion from trying to balance a full school schedule with taking care of her ailing mother. I felt a surge of guilt—the only thing I seemed to feel anymore. “You don’t need to worry about me, but I’m done.”

“Done? What do you mean?” She pushed a stray piece of dark hair behind her ear.

“I can’t do this anymore. I can’t pretend to care about meaningless cases or that I have any interest in being an attorney.” I sighed; it felt good to say it out loud for once.

“You don’t have to actually practice law. There are so many other things you can do with a law degree.” She sounded so hopeful and confident; I hated knowing I was going to hurt her.

“You sound like a career services pamphlet.” Even I could hear the bitterness in my voice.

“You aren’t really going to quit, are you? We’re almost done with first year. It’s all easier from here on out.” Her voice was soft, but there was some real desperation in it. We were each other’s closest friends, and I knew it scared her to watch me go.

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