Home > Get A Life, Chloe Brown

Get A Life, Chloe Brown
Author: Talia Hibbert

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


There are so many people I have to thank for this book. I’m about to sound like an overenthusiastic starlet accepting her first Oscar, and I don’t even care, because this was truly a team effort. Some of the people I want to thank probably don’t realize they were on my team—but you were, guys. You shared your loveliness with the world, and I absorbed it like sunlight, which means you’re part of the team. Surprise!

So, where to begin? At the beginning, I suppose. Thank you, Frances Annie Nixon. I wish you had lived long enough to see your name in my book. Sometimes I imagine you recommending this story to your uptight friends, then cackling when they complain about the sex. I miss you.

Mum: thank you for reading to me, even when people told you not to bother. As always, everyone was wrong and you were right. Now you have it in writing. Please don’t abuse this power.

Truly, my tiny troublemaker: you’re the only one who doesn’t judge when I talk to imaginary people. I appreciate you.

Thank you to Sam for picking up whenever I called, answering whatever random, contextless question I asked, and not being offended when I hung up without saying good-bye.

To Dr. Griffiths, who looked me in the eye and said, “First things first: I believe you.” I can’t explain what you did for me that day. Thank you.

KJ Charles, without you and your never-ending well of kindness and support, I probably wouldn’t be in this position—so thank you, thank you, thank you. Courtney Miller-Callihan, my wonderful agent, thank you for believing in me and for handling my constant social awkwardness. Thank you, Nicole Fischer, for turning my sorta-kinda story into an actual, honest-to-god, decent book. And thank you, Ainslie Paton, Therese Beharrie, Em Ali, Charlotte Stein, and all the other authors and friends who ever put my mind to rest.

Orla, Divya, Michal, Maz, and Laila: whenever I’m stressed, you guys appear like tiny sunshines, as if you have some kind of sixth sense. Thank you for making me smile. Thank you to Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Marriott, Mr. Marriott (no relation!), and Mr. Cleveley—and no, I can’t use any of your first names. It’s not allowed.

Thank you to Avon for being all, “Hey, yeah, you can write this book for us.” I almost passed out, but still, much appreciated.

Finally, thank you to everyone who told me that I’d never succeed. You guys make me feel like a triumphant R & B songstress, and the closer I can get to Beyoncé, the better.

 

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE


This story touches on the process of healing after an abusive relationship. If this is a topic that you’re sensitive to, please be aware. I hope I have treated the issue, my characters, and you, the reader, gently.

 

 

PROLOGUE


Once upon a time, Chloe Brown died.

Nearly.

It happened on a Tuesday afternoon, of course. Disturbing things always seemed to happen on Tuesdays. Chloe suspected that day of the week was cursed, but thus far, she’d only shared her suspicions via certain internet forums—and with Dani, the weirdest of her two very weird little sisters. Dani had told Chloe that she was cracked, and that she should try positive affirmations to rid herself of her negative weekday energy.

So when Chloe heard shouts and the screech of tires, and looked to her right, and found a shiny, white Range Rover heading straight for her, her first ridiculous thought was: I’ll die on a Tuesday, and Dani will have to admit that I was right all along.

But in the end, Chloe didn’t actually die. She wasn’t even horribly injured—which was a relief, because she spent enough time in hospitals as it was. Instead, the Range Rover flew past her and slammed into the side of a coffee shop. The drunk driver’s head-on collision with a brick wall missed being a head-on collision with a flesh-and-blood Chloe by approximately three feet. Metal crunched like paper. The middle-aged lady in the driver’s seat slumped against an airbag, her crisp, blond bob swinging. Bystanders swarmed and there were shouts to call an ambulance.

Chloe stared, and stared, and stared.

People buzzed by her, and time ticked on, but she barely noticed. Her mind flooded with irrelevant data, as if her head were a trash folder. She wondered how much the repairs to the coffee shop would cost. She wondered if insurance would cover it, or if the driver would have to. She wondered who had cut the lady’s hair, because it was a beautiful job. It remained relatively sleek and stylish, even when she was hauled out of her car and onto a gurney.

Eventually, a man touched Chloe’s shoulder and asked, “Are you okay, my darling?”

She turned and saw a paramedic with a kind, lined face and a black turban. “I believe I’m in shock,” she said. “Could I have some chocolate? Green and Black’s. Sea salt is my favorite, but the eighty-five percent dark probably has greater medicinal properties.”

The paramedic chuckled, put a blanket around her shoulders, and said, “Would a cuppa do, Your Maj?”

“Oh, yes please.” Chloe followed him to the back of his ambulance. Somewhere along the way, she realized she was shaking so hard that it was a struggle to walk. With a skill borne of years of living in her highly temperamental body, she gritted her teeth and forced one foot in front of the other.

When they finally reached the ambulance, she sat down carefully because it wouldn’t do to collapse. If she did, the paramedic would start asking questions. Then he might want to check her over. Then she’d have to tell him about all her little irregularities, and why they were nothing to worry about, and they’d both be here all day. Adopting her firmest I-am-very-healthy-and-in-control tone, she asked briskly, “Will the lady be all right?”

“The driver? She’ll be fine, love. Don’t you worry about that.”

Muscles she hadn’t realized were tense suddenly relaxed.

In the end, after two cups of tea and some questions from the police, Chloe was permitted to finish her Tuesday-afternoon walk. No further near-death experiences occurred, which was excellent, because if they had, she’d probably have done something embarrassing, like cry.

She entered her family home via the north wing and skulked to the kitchen in search of fortifying snacks. Instead, she found her grandmother Gigi clearly waiting for her. Gigi whirled around with a swish of her floor-length, violet robe—the one Chloe had given her a few months ago on Gigi’s fourth (or was it fifth?) seventieth birthday.

“Darling,” she gasped, her sparkling, kitten-heeled mules clacking against the tiles. “You look so … peaky.” From Gigi, who was both a concerned grandparent and a painfully beautiful ragtime legend, this was a grave statement indeed. “Where were you? You’ve been ages, and you wouldn’t answer your phone. I was quite worried.”

“Oh, God, I’m so sorry.” Chloe had left hours ago for the latest of her irregularly scheduled walks—scheduled because her physiotherapist insisted she take them, irregular because her chronically ill body often vetoed things. She was usually back within thirty minutes, so it was no wonder Gigi had panicked. “You didn’t call my parents, did you?”

“Of course not. I presumed, if you’d had a wobble, that you’d collect yourself shortly and command a passing stranger to find you a taxi home.”

A wobble was the delicate phrase Gigi used for the times when Chloe’s body simply gave up on life. “I didn’t have a wobble. I’m feeling quite well, actually.” Now, anyway. “But there was … a car accident.”

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