TWO PINK LINES.
I check the instructions again.
Two pink lines…pregnant.
No. Oh God, no.
I can’t be pregnant. I can’t. I’m only seventeen. I live in a group home. I can’t have a baby. I can barely look after myself.
It’s okay, India. Paul will know what to do.
He’s older, responsible. He’ll fix this.
But no one can find out that I’m pregnant. If anyone finds out that Paul and I have been sleeping together, he’ll be in trouble. Big trouble.
I’m just afraid to tell him. What if he thinks I got pregnant on purpose?
Kit. I need to tell Kit. He’s my twin brother, my best friend. He’ll know how to handle this.
But if Kit finds out about Paul and me, he’ll kill Paul. My brother is really protective of me. And he might only be seventeen, but he’s big for his age.
Oh God, what a mess.
There’s a bang on the bathroom door at the group home I live in. There’s no peace in this place.
“One minute!” I yell.
My hand shaking, I push the test back into its box, shove it into my jacket pocket, and zip it up. After washing my hands, I flush the toilet and unlock the door.
Zara, nosiest cow in the world, is on the other side. “You’ve been in there for ages. What were you doing?” She gives me a suspicious look.
“Same thing as you’re going to do in here.” Without another word, I walk past her.
I can’t go to my room. I need to get out of here.
I need to talk to Paul.
He’s not here today. He should be at home.
I’ll go to his flat.
I should probably text him to say that I’m coming to see him. I always have to text him to let him know.
He worries that people might find out about us, so he says I should make sure that it’s safe for me to go.
But nothing feels safe anymore.
I’m going to have a baby.
Leaving the group home, I artfully manage to dodge Kit.
I catch a bus for the short journey to Paul’s flat.
I get off and walk on trembling legs to his place and go up the two flights of stairs to his door.
I ring the doorbell.
No answer. But I know he’s here because his bicycle is outside in the hall.
I ring again but nothing.
Maybe he’s in the shower and can’t hear me.
I decide to try the door. He rarely locks it if he’s in.
I let myself inside and walk to the living room.
Or the kitchen.
I walk past the bathroom. I can’t hear the sound of running water.
Then, I hear voices. Plural. Coming from his bedroom.
And my heart sinks.
No. Please no.
Fear fills me like poison. I’m struggling to catch a breath. My body starts to shake, my heart banging against my rib cage.
Forcing myself to move, I stand outside his bedroom door. With a trembling hand, I reach out and turn the handle.
My sunken heart drops like a stone.
Paul is lying on his bed. He’s naked with a woman astride him. A naked woman.
They’re clearly having sex.
My hand clutches my stomach. The pain is so bad that it’s spreading outward to the rest of my body.
Tears fill my eyes.
He instantly sees me standing there, and his face blanks. Shock and fear fill his features.
He grabs the woman by the arms, stopping her in her endeavors.
That’s when she turns her face to me.
Then, I see she’s not a woman at all.
She’s a girl.
A girl I know. Cassie. She lives at the group home where I live.
And she’s fourteen years old.
Bile rises in my throat.
I stumble out of the flat to the sound of Paul’s shouting voice.
I run out of the building, heading straight for the bus stop, which is thankfully empty. I hide around the back of the bus shelter, so Paul can’t see me.
I swipe the tears from my cheeks.
Cassie. She’s only fourteen.
But wasn’t I fifteen when Paul started sleeping with me? It seemed so romantic that a man wanted me then, but now, after seeing him with her…it seems wrong.
Why didn’t I see it then? Why didn’t I see what kind of man he is?
Now, I’m pregnant—with the man who works at my group home.
A man who likes to have sex with teenage girls.
I can’t stop myself from throwing up.
When I reach the point of dry-heaving, I try to steady my breathing. My mind is going a mile a minute.
Moving away from the stench of my own vomit, I stand around to the side, still staying out of sight. Hand pressed to my stomach, I lean my back against the shelter. I slowly pull my phone from my pocket and speed-dial the only person in the world I have.
Kit answers on the first ring, “What’s wrong?”
Twin intuition. Kit and I always know when there’s a problem with the other.
“I’m in trouble.” Tears tumble down my cheeks.
“What kind of trouble?”
But I can hear him breathing down the line.
“Where are you?” Disappointment laces his voice.
It slices me wide open.
A sob escapes me. I take a deep breath. “I’m at a bus stop.”
I hold my breath before speaking next, “The one near…Paul’s flat.”
He doesn’t need to say anything. I hear it in that silence.
That’s how Kit deals with things. He doesn’t rage or shout. His silence is his anger, and it speaks volumes.
“I’m coming to get you now.” There’s a barely restrained edge in his voice.
“Don’t be angry with me, Kit. Please,” I sob.
“I’m not angry with you, India.” His voice is marginally softer.
But he always calls me Indy. He only calls me India when he’s angry with me.
“I’m angry with that motherfucker. No, I’m fucking beyond angry. I’m livid. I’m gonna kill that motherfucking pervert!”
“I’m coming now, India. And don’t you fucking move from where you are. I mean it.”
Then, he’s gone, and I’m left clutching the phone in my hand. Feeling like my life is over, I pray to God to fix this.
CLOSING MY EYES, I recite the words of my hero, the great Ayrton Senna, in my head, as I always do before each race.
“Being second is to be the first of the ones who lose.”