Is This Me?

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By Tricia Copeland

Have you ever chosen a path that led you astray?
Amanda has no trouble choosing a college or picking a major. What she does have a problem with is what she would have least expected, a guy. Smart and sexy, Doug is focused on school responsibilities and post-graduation plans. Their paths intersect and Amanda must accept his help or risk losing her scholarship. Determined to maintain appearances, Amanda begins to lie to family and friends. The ease at which she repeatedly deceives those closest becomes disturbing and leaves her questioning: “Is this me?”
Can Amanda find her way out of her contrived world?

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“I can’t believe I was up before you.” She smacked me on the
leg and pushed herself up.
“I was getting up.”
“No, you were processing.” She used air quotes when she said
processing. With just eleven months between us, I vacillated between
loving and loathing my younger sister. “Just like you do
about everything. I hope they teach spontaneity at college, or
better yet, being social.”
Getting up, I pulled a sweatshirt over my head. “I’m social.”
“If you use yearbook, debate team, or Spanish club as examples
again…” She grabbed a brush off my dresser and raked
it through her hair. I opened my mouth to speak, but she cut in.
“Everyone’s face is buried in their screens at yearbook, all you
talk about is how to argue for debate team, and all you do is talk
in a language most people don’t understand in Spanish club.”
“Half the world speaks Spanish.”
“No, half the world speaks Chinese.” She put the brush down.
“But I shouldn’t say anything, that’s probably next on your list.”
“Girls, breakfast,” Mom called.
Marissa wrapped her arms around me, nearly cutting off my
oxygen, as we made our way down the stairs. “I’m going to miss
you so much.” She was such a teenager, razzing me one second
and bemoaning my loss the next. “I wish you would wait a year.
Mom and Dad are going to drive me nuts.”
One more day of going to the same coffee shop and I was
going to go bonkers. “No way.”
“Who’s going to help me with the cheerleader drama?”
“You can text or call.”
“Like four times a day? I guess it’s not like you’ll be doing
anything.” She shoved me down the last few stairs. “Just don’t
end up a loner loser, okay. That would be pitiful.”
“Your sister will not be a loner loser.” Mom pulled me into
a hug.
Marissa grabbed the coffee pot. “I can’t believe I got up this
early to help her move all her crap to school.” She didn’t like
being up early any more than I did. Dad had agreed to let her
miss a day of school to see me off, so she probably figured it
was worth it.
“How’s the country?” I asked Dad, ducking away from his
huge hand descending on my head. I’d washed my hair last night
and blow-dried it meticulously, there was no way I was letting
him ruin it.
“We’ll find out in a couple of months.” Politics were as much
a tradition in our family as the pancakes and Northwestern.
“How’s my newest Wildcat?”
“Good, but I’m thinking you helped with my scholarship because
you wanted an excuse to go to the football games and hang
out with your alumni brothers for four more years.”
Dad lifted his hands, palms forward. “I was right about Tia
loving it. I know where my daughters will be happy.” Tia, my
older sister, graduated from Northwestern two years ago. She’d
married Ed, also a Northwestern alum, in June.
“And safely protected by the brothers.” Marissa pointed at
Dad. “You know that strategy could backfire.” She hit me on
the butt. “A lot of those frat guys are hot, she could fall for one
of them.”

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