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The Edge of Never (The Edge of Never #1)

By:J.A. Redmerski

he walking, the risk of getting raped, murdered and tossed on the side of a freeway somewhere. Oh, and then there's all the walking … ."

Clearly, she thinks I'm borderline crazy.

"What brought this on, anyway?" she asks, taking a quick sip of her drink. "That sounds like some kind of mid-life-crisis stuff-you're only twenty." She points again as if to underline, "And you've hardly paid a bill in your life."

She takes another sip; an obnoxious slurping noise follows.

"Maybe not," I say thinking quietly to myself, "but I will be once I move in with you."

"So true," she says, tapping her fingertips on her cup. "Everything split down the middle-Wait, you're not backing out on me, are you?" She sort of freezes, looking warily across at me.

"No, I'm still on. Next week I'll be out of my mom's house and living with a slut."

"You bitch!" she laughs.

I half-smile and go back to my brooding, the stuff before that she wasn't relating to, but I expected as much. Even before Ian died, I always kind of thought out-of-the-box. Instead of sitting around dreaming up new sex positions, as Natalie often does about Damon, her boyfriend of five years, I dream about things that really matter. At least in my world, they matter. What the air in other countries feels like on my skin, how the ocean smells, why the sound of rain makes me gasp. "You're one deep chick." That's what Damon said to me on more than one occasion.

"Geez!" Natalie says. "You're a freakin' downer, you know that right?" She shakes her head with the straw between her lips.

"Come on," she says suddenly and stands up from the table. "I can't take this philosophical stuff anymore and quaint little places like this seem to make you worse-we're going to The Underground tonight."

"What?-No, I'm not going to that place."

"Yes. You. Are." She chucks her empty drink into the trash can a few feet away and grabs my wrist. "You're going with me this time because you're supposed to be my best friend and I won't take no again for an answer." Her close-lipped smile is spread across the entirety of her slightly tanned face.

I know she means business. She always means business when she has that look in her eyes: the one brimmed with excitement and determination. It'll probably be easiest just to go this once and get it over with, or else she'll never leave me alone about it. Such is a necessary evil when it comes to having a pushy best friend.

I get up and slip my purse strap over my shoulder.

"It's only two o'clock," I say.

I drink down the last of my latte and toss the empty cup away in the same trash can.

"Yeah, but first we've got to get you a new outfit."

"Uh, no." I say resolutely as she's walking me out the glass doors and into the breezy summer air. "Going to The Underground with you is more than good deed enough. I refuse to go shopping. I've got plenty of clothes."

Natalie slips her arm around mine as we walk down the sidewalk and past a long line of parking meters. She grins and glances over at me. "Fine. Then you'll at least let me dress you from something out of my closet."

"What's wrong with my own wardrobe?"

She purses her lips at me and draws her chin in as if to quietly argue why I even asked a question so ridiculous. "It's The Underground," she says, as if there is no answer more obvious than that.

OK, she has a point. Natalie and me may be best friends, but with us it's an opposites attract sort of thing. She's a rocker chick who's had a crush on Jared Leto since Fight Club. I'm more of a laid back kind of girl who rarely wears dark-colored clothes unless I'm attending a funeral. Not that Natalie wears all black and has some kind of emo hair thing going on, but she would never be caught dead in anything from my closet because she says it's all just too plain. I beg to differ. I know how to dress, and guys-when I used to pay attention to the way they eyed my ass in my favorite jeans-have never had a problem with the clothes I choose to wear.

But The Underground was made for people like Natalie and so I guess I'll have to endure dressing like her for one night just to fit in. I'm not a follower. I never have been. But I'll definitely become someone I'm not for a few hours if it'll make me blend in rather than make me a blatant eye sore and draw attention.


Natalie's bedroom is the complete opposite of OCD clean. And this is yet another way she and I are so completely different. I hang my clothes up by color. She leaves hers in the basket at the foot of her bed for weeks before throwing them all back into the laundry to be washed again because of the wrinkles. I dust my room daily. I don't think she has ever actually dusted her room unless you call wiping off the two-inches of dust from her laptop keyboard, cleaning.

"This will look perfect on you," Natalie says holding up a thin, half-sleeve tight white shirt with Scars on Broadway written across the front. "It fits tight and your boobs are perfect." She puts the shirt up against my chest and examines what I might look like in it.

I snarl at her, not satisfied with her first pick.

She rolls her eyes and her shoulders slump over. "Fine," she says, tossing the shirt on the bed. She slides her hand in the closet and takes down another one, holding it up with a big smile that is at the same time a manipulation tactic of hers. Big toothy smiles equal me not wanting to crush her efforts.

"How about something that doesn't have some random band plastered across the front?" I say.

"It's Brandon Boyd," she says, her eyes bugging out at me. "How can you not like Brandon Boyd?"

"He's alright," I say. "I'm just not into advertising him on my chest."

"I'd like to actually have him on my chest," she says, admiring the tight-fitting V-neck top made much like the first one she tried to show me.

"Well then you wear it."

She looks across at m