Not everyone who goes into the woods comes out....
It was supposed to be a short hike, a way for Fletcher and Adam to kill time one boring afternoon. But when day turns into night and neither boy returns home, their town is thrown into turmoil.
Search teams comb the forest. Then Avery, the police chief's daughter, stumbles on a body. It's Fletcher-disoriented, beaten, and covered in blood. He has no memory of the incident, and worse yet, he has no idea what happened to the still-missing Adam....
As danger and suspicion grow, one thing becomes very clear: No one can escape the truth.
Praise for Hannah Jayne's The Dare:
"A page-turner in the spirit of Lois Duncan's classic I Know What You Did Last Summer; it will undoubtedly please the thriller-loving crowd." -Kirkus
"Well-rounded characters spark with life in this chiller." -Booklist
"Reminiscent of Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series, The Dare is a novel that truly makes one think about their own actions- and the possible consequences." -Teen Reads
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"Come on, loser!" Adam yelled over his shoulder.
Fletcher could hear Adam's laughter echoing back at him as he pumped his legs, intent on keeping the deep green of Adam's jacket in sight as he dodged through the forest.
There was no way Fletcher could catch Adam unless Adam stopped or dropped dead. Adam was the quarterback who brought Dan River Falls High School victory after victory, and Fletcher was the "weird kid" who sat at the back of the bleachers and drew in his notebook.
A second wind broke through Fletcher's chest, and he felt the burn of adrenaline rush through his legs. He fisted his hands as the cool air dried the sweat on his forehead. A loopy smile cracked across his face. He could see Adam. He was gaining on him-not fast, but steadily. Adam was caught in the crosshairs of Fletcher's gaze.
"Who you calling ‘loser'?" Fletcher called, still grinning.
Up ahead, Adam stopped, head bent, shoulders heaving as he struggled for breath. He was doubled over, staring at something on the ground. "My God, Fletch. Dude, you've got to see this."
• • •
It was just after six o'clock as Avery watched pink bleed into the sunny blue sky, casting a haze of twilight over the parking lot at the Dan River Falls Police Station. The cup of coffee that sat in front of her-more vanilla creamer than coffee-had long since gone cold.
A man strode into the room, his black uniform pressed so each crease was razor sharp. He was no-nonsense from head to toe: salt-and-pepper hair cut close to his skull, dark eyes focused, thin lips pressed together in a scowl. He walked past Avery and dropped a thick manila file folder on the giant desk.
"Dad," Avery moaned, pulling out the word. "Can we go yet?"
Chief Templeton looked at his daughter as if just noticing her-as if she hadn't been sitting there in that same spot for the last forty minutes.
"The line is going to be out the door. I'm going to starve to death while we wait."
"Not now, Avery."
"Fine. Then we're hitting the drive-through with the lights and siren on. I'm pretty sure my stomach is eating itself."
"Your stomach eating itself? Not happening, Avy."
"It happens! We talked about it in biology." It was a lie. Avery had no idea whether or not the stomach could or would eat itself. But it felt like it. She was going to launch into some other wild story to make the stern police chief crack a smile and bring him back to acting like her dad. But when he turned, Avery could see that there was no playfulness in his eyes. His lips weren't going to quirk up into a smile no matter how hard she tried. She swallowed, fear inching up the back of her neck.
"What's wrong, Dad?"
• • •
He couldn't remember the first blow, though his teeth were still rattling in his head. Had he been punched, shot, hit? His vision was a blur, and everything around him, every tree, every rock, seemed to blend together in one united mass of gray. He wasn't sure if the sky was above or below him, if the trees were standing or if he was.
The pain was dense at first, then exploded into a blinding burn. He blinked, dumbfounded, and tried to face his attacker. But his body was leaden. It was as if his feet were rooted in the soft blanket of pine needles on the damp forest ground. He knew he should roll his fingers into a fist and take a swing, but while his brain worked, his body didn't. Thoughts of action tossed around in his skull-run, yell, fight, punch-but everything moved in sickly slow motion except for the terror that overwhelmed him.
I'm going to die.
The thought came to him with a sickening dread.
I don't want to die.
Then came a gruesome thud followed by a sharp crack. The sound filled his ears before he registered that it was his bones breaking. Snap, crack. He knew another blow was coming and he tried to brace himself, balling up, wondering if the next hit would be the one that killed him.