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267 Seiten
3 Stunden
Feb 27, 2013


Sixteen year old math whiz, Autumn, spends her days reading about serial killers and dreaming of becoming an FBI Profiler. She never dreams her first case will be so personal. Her world is shattered when she comes home from school and discovers her murdered sister’s body on the living room floor. When the initial evidence points to a burglary gone wrong, Autumn challenges the police’s theory because of the personal nature of the crime. Thinking that finding the killer will bring her family back together, she conducts her own investigation using her affinity for math and forensics, but her plan backfires and her obsession with the case further splinters her family.

When her investigation reveals the killer is someone she knows, Autumn offers herself up as bait and sets a dangerous trap to unmask his true nature and to obtain a confession for her sister’s murder.

14+ for brief violence

Feb 27, 2013

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Unraveled - S.X. Bradley

Unraveled by S.X. Bradley

Published by Evernight Teen at Smashwords

Copyright© 2013 S.X. Bradley

ISBN: 978-1-77130-275-3

Cover Artist: Sour Cherry Designs

Editor: Marie Medina


WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


To my daughter & budding writer, E.I.B. Reading and hearing your stories fills me with such joy-there are no words. You inspire me to be a better writer and person.

For my father, V.E.B. Without your love and support, there would be no book.


It not only takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes one to raise a writer. There have been so many people in my life that have helped me on my journey. To my parents, Chris, and especially my siblings, Lizette, Monique, Devon, and Ethan - Thanks for always telling me this day would come. Megan, Madison, and Grayson-I love you all and am happy to be your auntie.

To John Perryman and Mary Tillman, thanks for being such supportive and loyal friends.

To Jacque King-you’re my sister from another mister.

To the talented and generous Cynthia Leitich Smith-thanks for helping me learn the difference between writing and storytelling.

To Lee McClain-thanks for being the best mentor a writer could have.

To SHU, especially my fellow Unteachables- You guys are my second family.

To my writing village: Linda Miller, Ellen McElwain, SCBWI, Central Ohio SCBWI, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Bexley Public Library, SICCO,  Jill Santopolo and my McDaniel summer girls, YALIT, Verla Kay Blueboards, Elle Stone, Marie Medina, and my Evernight Teen family.

A special thank you to Sargent Tony Martin and to the Columbus PD for answering all my questions. Any mistakes are mine.

To thank you for being a resource for teens and teaching them what is healthy love.

And finally, but not lastly, to the family members of murdered victims-Thank you for sharing your stories with me. I hope Autumn does you justice.


S.X. Bradley

Copyright © 2012

Chapter One

I reached for the phone, but it slipped. So much blood. My sister’s. I couldn’t see how to stop it.

Damn it to hell, I cried out.

I tried to grab it again. This time more slowly, but my wet hands were shaking and once again, the phone crashed to the floor. On the third try, I managed to punch in 911.

9-1-1, where’s your emergency?

I couldn’t take my eyes off my sister. Please, oh my God, help us. I tried to slow down my breathing so I could talk, but I couldn’t catch my breath. My lungs were pumping, but nothing was happening.

Tell me what’s going on?

My sister. I think she’s been stabbed. There’s blood everywhere.

Is the person who stabbed her there? Are you safe? I looked around, praying I’d see no one.

I don’t know. I don’t see anybody, I answered.

Is your sister breathing? I leaned over and put my ear to her mouth, then stared at Celeste’s chest, willing it to rise. But it lay flat. Motionless.

No, she’s not breathing. Please send help.

Got your address as 1698 Nolana Road. I’m dispatching the police right now. Stay on the phone with me. Don’t hang up.

My heart thundered in my ears, but I heard her say, 159 182 164 on a stabbing. 1698 Nolana Road. Be advised suspect may still be on scene. My eyes darted around as the hair on the back of my neck stood at attention. Was someone still hiding in my house ready to strike at any minute?

Ma’am, please hurry! I yelled into the phone. Panic and fear were getting ready to choke me. Each second was like an hour. I looked around for something, anything, but I couldn’t focus.

I took a deep breath. There are 6-7 pints in the average body, 473.17 milliliters per pint. 750 ml/minute for the brain. That’s 1.58 pints…

Hello, Miss? I’ve dispatched the police and paramedics. Do you know CPR? If not, stay on the line with me, and I’ll walk you through it. If you do, set the phone down while you do it so I can still hear. Help me help her, she said. The realization tornadoed through me. Holy Crap. That’s right, I know CPR.

I threw the phone on the carpet. My heart jack-hammered against my chest, making me cough.

C’mon, Cel, don’t do this. Help’s on the way. I’m going to start CPR, and your job is to breathe. Deal?

My hands trembled as I struggled to remember what I’d been taught. I panted out a few breaths, but the smell of copper was overpowering. It burned my nostrils, and my stomach lurched. Oh God, I can’t do this. I wanted to lie down next to her and let death take me as well. I reached for her hand when I saw it. Her gold baby ring, gleaming from her pinky finger. It matched the one I wore on my left hand. They were gifts from our bisabuela on the day each of us was born.

No freakin’ way. You can’t have her yet, I yelled. My knees inched toward her torso, and I straightened my back and arms. Remember thirty compressions. Two breaths. Five cycles.

The numbers washed over me, and I felt my brain shaking off the panic paralyzing me. I laid my right hand over my left and started short, rapid compressions on her chest. I focused on nothing but bringing her back. I’d be damned if I was going to let her go.

As my hands pumped as fast as they could, I stared at the small gashes all over her chest and abdomen. I felt the tingling of panic start in my hands, but I shook it off. I had to this. I owed it to her.

Her silent lips were dry and a light tint of blue, but I tried to breathe life into them anyway.

Celeste, breathe for me! Oh please, just breathe! C’mon, Sis. I know you can do this! You’re the strongest person I know. I put my fingers against her neck and checked for a pulse. Damn! I repeated my series of thirty rapid compressions, followed by two quick breaths. Sweat began to trickle down my face and burned my eyes. Not wanting to lose a second, I wiped my face against my shoulder. In the distance, I could hear the 911 operator’s voice through the phone receiver asking for an update.

Celeste … please! You have to come back! Please! Please! I’m begging you! Stay with me, I choked out. My mouth was growing dry, and fear squeezed my guts even tighter. She wasn’t responding. Why isn’t this working?

Suddenly, a pair of strong hands gripped each of my arms and tried to move me away from Celeste.

What the hell? Let go of me, I yelled, ready to draw blood until I saw it. A blue uniform. They were finally here. I never even heard them. Had they used a siren? It wouldn’t have mattered. Blood roared through my ears like a hurricane in the ocean. The paramedic’s lips were moving, but I couldn’t hear him.

His gaze focused immediately on my blood-covered hands. He pulled me away from my sister and immediately began firing questions at me, asking me if I was hurt, while the second paramedic knelt down to help Celeste. She took over the CPR and yelled at the paramedic talking to me to start setting up. He picked up the phone, told the 911 operator they were on the scene and hung up, then grabbed the orange medic box and began to examine Celeste.

Suddenly, a swarm of activity exploded in my living room. I looked around, confused by the commotion. When did the police get here? I started back toward Celeste, but one of the officers grabbed me and started pulling me toward the still open front door.

He had to be kidding. There was no way I was leaving my sister so I dug my heels into the carpet, made myself as heavy as possible and refused to budge. I may have only been 5’4’’, but I’d been lifting bags of heavy baking ingredients my whole life, and I wasn’t going without a struggle.

More uniformed officers rushed into the living room, their guns also drawn and eyes darting in all directions. All the breath left my body, and a scream got trapped in my throat. The floor began to spin. I was on the Carousel from Hell. I reached behind me to steady myself against the wall.

Oh my God! What if they find someone? Here. In my house.

Was this for real? It had to be some kind of sick joke. I desperately wanted my Papi here. Fear erupted from every pore, and I wanted him to hold me. Why would anyone want to do this? I looked back toward Celeste, staring at her as if she’d be able to tell me who’d done this to her. Both paramedics were now working on her, but it wasn’t enough.

Can’t you see that she’s bleeding? Please! Work faster! I tried to break free from the wrestler hold the cop still had on me. Didn’t he know that I needed to hold her hand? She was probably so scared, and I wanted her to know I was here.

They checked for a pulse and, after a few rounds of CPR, attached electrical nodes to her body. Celeste’s chest jack-knifed with each dose of electrical current. Her body popped up with each attack of the paddles.




I cringed with each shock. My head bent down in prayer, and I bargained with God. He could take years off my life, never let me get into MIT, never let me be an FBI agent as long as he brought Celeste back.

After the last shock, the paramedic placed a stethoscope on Celeste’s chest. She looked over at her partner and shook her head. She stood and walked over to some guy in a suit who was busily scribbling notes.

Hey, what are you doing? Waves and waves of panic rolled over me.

The paramedic whispered something to him and with that, they were done trying to save my sister’s life. The paramedic returned to Celeste and started packing up her gear.

I turned toward the hand that was squeezing my arm and bit down as hard as I could. A curse erupted from the cop’s mouth, and he let go. I ran toward the paramedic.

Yanking at her sleeve, I yelled, No, no, no, don’t stop! Just five more minutes. I’ll do anything you want, just don’t stop trying. You can bring her back. I know you can.

The paramedic placed her hand over mine. I’m sorry, Miss, but she’s gone. She’s probably been gone for some time. With that amount of blood loss, there was nothing we could do. I shook my head, wanting her to shut up.

Then let me try. I’ll do it if you don’t want to! I pulled away from her and tried to run toward Celeste, but was blocked by the detective.

Miss … she’s gone. I’m so sorry for your loss. Really, I am, I heard the paramedic say.

My knees failed, and I slumped to the floor. Burying my head in my hands, I pulled my hair at the roots, trying to stop the pain from eating me alive.

God, please, no! Give her back, please, please. We had a deal, remember?

The detective plucked me off the floor and handed me back over to the wrestler cop who was examining the back of his hand. What the hell is she still doing in here? Get her out of the house now! She’s contaminating my crime scene. Put her in the squad car until we secure the scene.

The cop reached out and snatched my arm, this time squeezing it so hard my hand immediately went numb. He tried ushering me out again.

No, no. Get off me. I’m not leaving her. I don’t want her to be alone, I yelled as I tried to free my arm from his death grip. The cop grasped my other arm, and this time he yanked me up. I tried again to make myself as heavy as possible, but he began carrying me outside anyway.

Oh and Turner, bag her hands. She’s been in contact with the victim, yelled the detective.

As we walked out, some other police officer handed him two plastic bags that were more suited for sandwiches than my hands. He placed a bag over each hand and rubber banded the base around my wrist.

We continued outside, and I saw other uniformed police officers were beginning to rope off and secure the area with ‘Caution’ tape.

My home. The only home I’d ever known. The home that had a goldfish buried in the backyard. The home where we ate family dinner last night. The home where my sister and I did homework on the living room floor. The home where I’d once been happy was now a crime scene.

No, this can’t be real. Please wake up, wake up, I whispered. The vilest toxic emotion began to circulate in my body. I’d never felt it before, and whatever it was threatened to choke the life out of me. My mind had been assaulted, and my body just wanted to shut itself down.

The wrestler cop pushed us through the waves of people who’d begun to gather out in the street. They were all staring and pointing at my house. Didn’t they have anything better to do? My sister wasn’t some kind of freak show.

He ushered me to the back of an unmarked police car, then opened the back door, put his hand on top of my head, and pushed me down on the seat. Was I a criminal? All that was missing were the handcuffs.

People were now staring at me with their mouths open and pointing to the back of the police car. I’m sure all they focused on was the blood all over my shirt and hands. It’s all I could think about. I wanted it off me and back inside Celeste.


She was gone. The thought kept bouncing around my head, refusing to sink in.

Tears ran down my cheeks. How could the world have gotten so cruel so quickly? This morning, I’d woken up just like every other day. I’d taken a shower, gotten dressed and had breakfast with Celeste.

Let I be the incenter of triangle ABC. Let the incircle of ABC touch the sides BC, CA, and AB at K, L and M, respectively. The line through B parallel to MK meets the lines LM and LK at R and S, respectively. Prove that angle RIS is acute. Celeste rolled her eyes, then slapped the paper down on the kitchen table. Seriously, Autumn, what the hell is that? The only acute thing you should be focusing on is a cute boy at school.

Hey, I thought you said you wanted to quiz me for my math meet. Besides, not all of us can run as fast as a rabbit in heat. She burst out laughing, spraying orange juice all over my T-shirt. I threw a strawberry at her and nailed her right between the eyes. The food fight was just about to get good when Mami yelled at us from kitchen. She didn’t even need to turn around; she knew we were up to no good. We managed to finish breakfast and chatted about her upcoming cross country trial meet and a serial killer case I was studying for my junior class Directed Studies paper.

No one had told me Celeste only had six hours left to live. Her right to live had been running out all day, and none of us had known that.

I hadn’t told her how much I’d loved her, how much I looked up to her, how much— how much— everything. I wanted to tell her everything, and now it was too late.

The police officer rolled down the back windows so I could get some fresh air, but even in September, South Texas was hot as Hades. I turned to look through the rear window and watched the invasion of my home. As if I’d been hit hard in the head, all I could do was stare out into space.

The police officer leaned toward the crack in the window and asked, Miss, is there someone I can call for you?

It took forever to process each word as if my brain had been numbed by Novocain. The phrase finally clicked and shot through my head.

Can you please call my parents? I whispered. How could I face them? I’d let them and Celeste down. I hadn’t been able to save her. Damn it! If I’d just started CPR as soon as I found her. How could I have choked?

In a few moments, their world was going to be as shattered as mine was.

I’ll get Detective Kasanoff, he answered.

The cop walked over to another uniformed cop who was dealing with crowd control and asked him to get someone named Detective Kasanoff. Moments later, the detective who had yelled that I was contaminating his crime scene emerged from my house. He was already on the phone and started pacing on our lawn once he walked outside. Was he already talking to my parents? I tried to picture them on the other side of the phone call. They’d be at the bakery they owned. Both dressed in white, covered in flour and dirty from the day’s desserts and breads.

As I pictured them, a shiver ran through me. My bisabuela used to say that a shiver meant a spirit was moving through you. Maybe it’d been Celeste, angry at me for not getting to her in time to save her. Fear clutched me and didn’t let me move. My parents were going to hate me for what I’d done.

Once he finished his call, Detective Kasanoff walked over to the car, but not toward the backseat where I was sitting, still waiting for someone to tell me something. Anything. He opened the driver side door and stuck the key into the ignition, and then the Chevy Impala roared to life. Instantly, the air conditioner blasted, sending another chill against my sweaty, wet skin. His phone rang, and he held up one finger toward me as he answered the call.

Images of Celeste kept flashing in my head. I’d seen crime scene photos before in the books I’d been using as references for my Directed Studies paper, but none of them had been in color. My mind kept seesawing between trying to think and trying to shut down.

My sister was dead. Never again would I hear her laughter, share secrets, fight for the last bite of Mami’s chocolate cake, nor see her russet colored ponytail swaying as she came into view running toward the finish line. Never. Never. Never. It was all gone. She’d been erased in a heartbeat.

Numbness started sedating my body, trying to slow down the horrific reality.

A loud pop of static erupted from the police scanner. Then I heard a nasally voice break through the white noise. Someone had just robbed a pharmacy on McColl Street. The dispatcher gave a brief description of the suspect and asked which units could respond.

I looked around at the ton of police officers in and around my house. Was every available Nogales cop here? Detective Kasanoff had paused for a second to look at the radio but then continued his call, not bothering to respond to the dispatcher.

I tried to get a better look at the detective and wondered what he’d ask me. My insides began to gurgle and cramp. I couldn’t have dreamed up a worse nightmare.

My mind was on automatic replay and kept flashing every second of what had happened since I’d gotten home. The front door had been open, which was weird because nobody was supposed to be home during the day. I’d edged the door all the way open and peered inside, afraid someone was going to guillotine my head off.

All the crime books I’d read said to never to go inside when a break in was suspected and to call the police from a neighbor’s house. I’d been about to run over to Mrs. Jimenez’s house when I saw a foot wearing a running shoe with purple laces lying on the floor.

I’d rushed inside, and then I’d seen her. That’s when my world turned to black.

Was there something else I could have done? I must have done something wrong, and that’s why she was dead. I replayed every single second over and over in mind, analyzing

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