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Chapter One

"What do you have to say for yourself?"

"I'm sorry and it won't happen again. If it does I will enjoy my stay in hellish purgatory."


"Honey, yelling at him isn't going to do any good. You of all people should know that."

"Yeah, dad. You should know t--"

"UP TO YOUR ROOM! This conversation isn't over! Damnit Joe, don't you know your mother was killed by a drunk driver? How could you---"

Silence. Sometimes blessed silence was a good thing. I leaned over and put my cochlear implants on the little silver tray on my nightstand. Just like I had done every night since I was old enough to remember.

My name is Ally McLean and somewhere nearby my dad was ripping my twin brother Joe a new asshole. He had been caught drinking. Again. I hated hearing him and my dad screaming at each other. Most people wouldn't be able to ignore it.

When night came, I had no choice but to tune out the world.

When I was a baby, I had gotten really sick. As a result, my hearing was damaged to the point of deafness. When I was old enough, I had a surgery done to install cochlear implants. Basically, the implants provide a sense of sound that acted as a surrogate to all of the damaged parts of my ear that had failed.

Even though some people would consider me 'special needs' because of my issue, I've had a totally normal life. My siblings don't treat me any worse or any better. I'm part of a normal (wait, scratch that), crazy family.

Besides Joe, I had an older sister, Shelby who lives in Kentucky with her husband Mason and their little girl Brenna. Then I have two younger twin brothers, Brayden and Tristan.

I hated that Molly, my mom (my stepmom, but I just couldn't think of her that way), I was the only girl in the house. At times, I hated it. I missed Shel. And I wasn't the only one.

Dad would never come right out and say it, but having Shelby in Kentucky killed him. He tried, and failed, not to cry, everytime they left after a visit. Brenna had him wrapped around her little finger.

Of course, I had him pretty well wrapped too.

Even though I was in total silence, my mind wouldn't shut off. I felt horrible that dad was dealing with Joe again. This had to have been the seventh time he had been caught drinking. Not only that, but it had just been two weeks since our 16th birthday party. We had both gotten cars and yet Joe STILL went out and did this shit. I just didn't understand why he had to be a rebel.

The part of the meltdown I had overheard replayed in my mind. Dad's voice was always strangled when he mentioned our mom, Rochelle. I had never known my real mom. She had still been pregnant with us when a drunk driver hit her. We were delivered and she was in a coma for awhile. When she woke up, they thought she was going to make a full recovery. Dad brought her home, but unfortunately a brain aneurism hit her and killed her instantly.

Dad had first told Joe and I mom's story when we were ten. I remember vowing from that day forward that I would never touch a drop of alcohol. When we were fourteen, dad told us about his weakness and addictions to drugs and alcohol. That only reinforced the fact that those were two things I never wanted to mess with.

With all of our families troubled past, I just couldn't figure out why Joe was doing the stuff he was doing. Whenever I asked him, he just told me to shut my piehole. He had been telling me to shut it since we turned thirteen.

I know girls are supposed to be the hormonal ones, but he seemed to get the full brunt of it. In return for all his emotional ups and downs, his body had quickly cooperated with the growing up process. He was a minature version of dad back in the day that dad had six-pack abs and hair.

Girls were falling at Joe's feet. He was well aware of his charm. And he was cocky. REALLY cocky.

As for me, dad told me I look exactly like my mom. I've seen pictures and I have to agree. I'm still kinda gangly, but at least my boobs had decided to grow a little. My wide eyes and full lips made me look a little like a doll, but I was okay with that.

I was happy being me.

Of course, I would have been even happier looking like Shelby or mom (from here on, I'm going to refer to Molly as mom - I just can't help it). Both of them have hips, butts, and boobs that make men practically snap their necks in half trying to get a look. I've never gotten that attention.

I sound sad don't I? In reality, I have had a couple of boyfriends, but I haven't really latched on to the importance of the whole 'relationship' thing. Mom tells me that's perfectly fine; after all, I AM only sixteen. And I don't want to end up like Shelby, no matter how much I love her. She had gotten pregnant with Brenna at sixteen and I had seen first hand how hard it was.

I wanted to live life. I had a lot of things I wanted to do.

The first thing I wanted to do was get out of town after the school year was over. Shelby had invited me to stay with her, Mason, and Brenna for the summer. She says she's even found me a job.

In school right now, the big topic of conversation is what we want our career to be. That's all fun and games when you're little, but everyone's making such a HUGE deal out of it now. It's like if we don't decide THIS instant then we'll be doomed the rest of our lives.

Joe's already decided he wants to be a musician. He's been playing guitar forever and he's had this junky band for years. As for me? I haven't completely decided. I haven't told anyone, but I'd really like to go to cosmetology school. My biological mom had been into hair and makeup; I have a feeling that she might have passed her talent down to me. Everyone always came to me for help matching up the right eyeshadows and concealers.

The only problem was that it didn't sound like a big enough goal. I was a Backstreet girl. Every Backstreet girl before me had done something memorable. Shelby had Brenna, yes, but she was also becoming a famous artist in her own right. Brooke Carter was untouchable; she was a multi-gazillion dollar popstar. Her best friend Kayleigh Littrell had given her little boy to her brother and sister-in-law since they couldn't have children. She had also just gotten accepted to NYC to become a psychologist or something.

Those were all big accomplishments. I didn't have anything to boast about. I wanted that to change. My goal wasn't to snag a boy, or to party recklessly, or anything stupid like that.

I wanted to find out what made me, well, me. Thus, my goal for the summer is to find all the right pieces so that, when put together, they tell me what my destiny is.

And if that needed to happen in Kentucky, away from my three annoying brothers, well...