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For Tim,

For helping to make all of my dreams come true.

Chapter 1

If someone told me at the beginning of that summer that I would come face-to-face with death because of a Romeo and Juliet romance, I would never have believed it. But it wasn't like that summer went at all like I had planned in the first place.

The Columbia recruiter sat across from me, her dark bushy eyebrows rising as high as they could go while she stared down at my application. "So, Alex, I see that you don't have any extracurricular activities."

I shrugged. I was sitting in one of those uncomfortable orange plastic chairs in the guidance counselor's office, wishing I could just disappear. I was the first student in all of Winnebago High School's history to have a recruiter from an Ivy League school visit. By the way she looked at our tiny school with its ancient, chipped walls and rusted lockers, I could see why nobody had wanted to visit in the past.

I hoped she couldn't tell how nervous I was, so I tried everything that I could to avoid her glazed-over eyes. Instead, I looked at one of those stupid motivational posters framed on the wall behind her—something about success being measured by the failures in life and a man standing on top of a cliff. Yeah, I'm sure that guy had a lot of successes; he ended up on a poster in some small town guidance counselor's office.

"I figured my grades were more important than being on the track team or something like that."

"I see…" she said, pressing her lips together and scribbling something on the yellow notepad on the desk in front of her.

This was my shot to get into my dream college; I had to think fast. I blurted the only thing I could think of. "But I'm doing an internship with Circe Operations Center this summer!"

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