I’m so excited to share the first, never-before-seen excerpt from Unmasked: Volume 1 by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Cassia Leo!
Six blocks and the guy walking on the opposite side of the street is still going in the same direction as me. I don’t spook easily. I’m used to walking the streets at night. In fact, I only walk the streets at night. But something about this guy doesn’t feel right.
I can’t see his face.
This shouldn’t scare me, since he can’t see mine either, but being able to see another person’s face naturally puts us at ease. This is one of the reasons some people despise talking on the phone. And also why I have had zero friends and boyfriends in all my nineteen years on this planet. No one ever sees my face. Ever.
Even when I applied for my job at the gas station. I told the guy on the phone that I had a day job and I’d have to conduct the interview in the evening. Besides, I was applying for the nightshift position at the station. The guy bought it. The day job was a lie. The truth is, I don’t go out during the day. I haven’t been outside during daylight hours in years.
I don’t have one of those diseases that make you break out in blisters when your skin is exposed to sunlight. My reasons for not allowing anyone to see my face in the light of day are much more vain than that, and it started the day I was born. My biological mother took one look at my face and begged them to take me away. I’ve been hiding ever since.
So it shouldn’t make me uneasy that I can’t see this guy’s face, but something about the way his hoodie covers his face and he never turns his head is giving me the creeps.
The gas station is in my sight now. Just a block and a half away. I can make it there.
The streets of downtown L.A. are crawling with all kinds of shady characters at night. It’s like turning the lights out on a filthy apartment and all the cockroaches come out of their hiding places. The drug addicts and whores dominate. The homeless and the lost wanderers, picking through the garbage and looking for a place to lie down for the night. Then there’s the drug dealers and gang members who try to lay low, but they have to come out and stake their claim and make their deals every once in a while.
Downtown Los Angeles is not a place where a scrawny nineteen-year-old girl like me should be walking the streets at night. But that’s exactly why I do it. People see me walking down the street and they smile, thinking I’m an easy mark. They can rob me or rape me, maybe even murder me, and they’ll get away with it. I won’t put up a fight. But they don’t know me. I’m far from easy.