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The Gender Game

Bella Forrest




Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Also by Bella Forrest

Copyright Β© 2016 by Bella Forrest

Nightlight Press

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

To my readers, for every kind comment, email and review.

I would not have come this far without you.



My sweating palms slipped against the handles of my bike as I cycled at a pace I hoped would not look suspicious. I tried to fix my eyes ahead on the perfectly even road and not keep glancing over my shoulder at the makeshift wooden trailer I was pulling behind me.

As the uniform townhouses on either side of me grew sparse, so did the light. By the time I arrived at the edge of town, the sun had set.

I had been lucky so far. I hadn't passed anybody I knew, and nobody had halted me to ask where I was going.

I slowed to a stop once I reached the end of the last concrete road on this side of the city. Catching my breath, I wiped my palms against my blouse. My lower back felt sticky with sweat. And I had run out of water.

But I was almost there now.

I repositioned my throbbing palms on the handlebars and my feet on the pedals of the bike when a voice called behind me.

"Violet? Is that you?"

I froze.

I knew that voice. It was one I’d grown accustomed to hearing every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Ms. Dale, my defense trainer.

What was she doing in this part of town at nightfall?

I forced a casual expression to my face and twisted around.

The fluorescent street lamps illuminated the tall, lithe brunette standing on the sidewalk outside Georgette's Laundry. She was clutching a bundle of white sheets.

"Good evening, Ms. Dale," I called back.

"What are you doing out here, Violet?" she asked.

My jaw twitched as she left the sidewalk and approached me.

"Trashing Ms. Connelly's old china," I explained, a response I had thought up long before leaving my room this morning.

"Oh, I see," she said, her eyes moving from my three-wheeled trailer and returning to my face. "Wish I had someone to run my errands." She grimaced at her laundry.

I managed a half-smile.

She lingered a few seconds longer before glancing back at the launderette. "Right, well… you'd better be on your way. You know the junkyard gets creepier the later it gets."

"Yeah," I murmured.

"See you Monday."

She turned on her heel and I let out a slow breath. Gritting my teeth, I faced forward again, my eyes focusing on the narrow cobblestone path that branched off from the end of the road. I cycled for another fifteen minutes down the winding route, past the suburban cottages and misted greenhouses until I reached a pair of corrugated iron gatesβ€” the junkyard's entrance. Pulling the gates open just wide enough for my bike to fit through, I rolled it inside. I gazed around the sea of color-coded trash containers, wide-eyed. Nobody was around. So far, so good.

The overpowering smell of artificial mint filled my nostrils as I wound around the containers toward the back of the enclosure. The chemical the hygiene department sprayed in here helped to mask the odor of trash, but had the tendency to cause a dull headache.

Arriving at the last row of trash containers lining the back wall, I stopped. I grabbed the handles of the container directly in front of me and slowly eased it forward to reveal the brickwork behind it. I hurried to the wall and sank to my knees on the ground. My fingers fumbled along the bricks, feeling for the tell-tale gap. Finding it, I gained a firmer grip and coaxed it out of place. Then I worked on the previously weakened bricks behind it and above it until I had created a hole just large enough for my frame to squeeze through.

I had to be quick now. Quicker than ever. If someone spotted me here like this, all my days of preparation, all my sleepless nights, would be in vain.

I darted for the wooden trailer hooked to the back of my bike and, clutching the clasp that was holding the lid securely shut, I unfastened it. My heart was hammering against my chest as I opened it.

Curled up in the cramped wooden crate, knees drawn to his chest, eyes tightly closed, was my eight-year-old brother, Timothy.

My eyes moved over the mark etched into his right hand. The mark of a black crescent.

The mark that had changed our lives forever.

It took a few seconds for him to unglue his eyelids and realize that it was finally time to climb out. His black hair clung to his moist forehead as he raised his head to look at me. His gray eyes shone with fear.

I leaned over and wrapped my arms around his midriff, helping him step out. He winced and groaned against me. It killed me to think of how much time he'd been holed up in that box.

But it wouldn't be long now.

It wouldn't be long.

"Come on, buddy," I breathed. "Cad will already be waiting for us."

I pointed to the dark gap in the wall. He glanced at me uncertainly before lowering to his hands and knees. He scurried through. I followed immediately behind him. A chill stole through me as we emerged on the other side.

I swallowed hard as I gazed around at the seldom-frequented surroundings. At least, what I could see of them. We were standing amid a slushy

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