Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

New Book Coming!

Monday, March 26th, 2018

Sooooo… I’ve been up to something. 😉

BIRTHDAY GIRL is a stand-alone, taboo romance I’ve been secretly working on, and it’s finally done!!
It releases April 17th, so mark your calendars!

Cover and synopsis coming April 10th <3 Bloggers, sign up here! --->

Add to your TBR —>

★.•*°★ HIDEAWAY is LIVE!! ★.•*°★

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Live-Graphic-HideawayThank you to everyone who’s waited and been so patient! As a thank you, the book is currently only $2.99 during release week!! Grab it before it goes up to its regular price!


Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AUS:


B&N: processing

iBooks: processing

Google Play:

Add it on Goodreads:


Are you ready? Hiding places, chases, and all the games are back!


Buried in the shadows of the city, there’s a hotel called The Pope. Ailing, empty, and dark—it sits abandoned and surrounded by a forgotten mystery.

But you think it’s true, don’t you, Kai Mori? The story about the hidden twelfth floor. The mystery of the dark guest who never checked in and never checks out. You think I can help you find that secret hideaway and get to him, don’t you?

You and your friends can try to scare me. You can try to push me. Because even though I struggle to hide everything I feel when you look at me—and have ever since I was a girl—I think maybe what you seek is so much closer than you’ll ever realize.

I will never betray him.

So sit tight.

On Devil’s Night, the hunt will be coming to you.


You have no idea what I seek, Little One. You don’t know what I had to become to survive three years in prison for a crime I would gladly commit again.

No one can know what I’ve turned into.

I want that hotel, I want to find him, and I want this over.

I want my life back.

But the more I’m around you, the more I realize this new me is exactly who I was meant to be.

So come on, kid. Don’t chicken out. My house is on the hill. So many ways in, and good luck finding your way out.

I’ve seen your hideaway. Time to see mine.

*Hideaway is a romantic suspense suitable for ages 18+. While the romance is a stand-alone, the plot is a continuation of events that began in CORRUPT (Devil’s Night, #1). It is strongly recommended that you have read Corrupt prior to reading this.

And CORRUPT (Devils Night #1) is currently only $0.99! 

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AUS:




Google Play:

Taking Requests For HIDEAWAY ARCs!!

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

You’re seeing it here first!

Thank you to anyone interested in reading early and helping with the release blitz of HIDEAWAY (Devil’s Night #2) on Aug. 22nd. I am so grateful for the support of my work and look forward to finally letting you dive in.

Please Note: You do not have to have a blog to review, but I would appreciate anyone interested in reading early to have a Goodreads account AND have read CORRUPT (Devil’s Night #1).

Thank you again and BRING ON AUGUST! (More because it’s closer to fall, and I’m ready for candy corn 😉 )


Sign up here—>

HIDEAWAY Chapter 1!!

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

HIDEAWAY releases soon! Here’s Chapter 1, edited. Enjoy!

Chapter 1


Rain was like night. You could be different in the dark and under the clouds.

I’m not sure what it was. Maybe the lack of sunlight and how our other senses heightened or the subtle shroud hiding things from our sight, but only certain times were acceptable to do certain things. Shrug off your jacket and roll up your sleeves. Pour a drink and lean back. Laugh with your friends and scream at the basketball game on TV.

Follow a girl you’ve been eye-fucking for an hour into the pub bathroom and have your friends nod in approval when you come back out.

Try doing that during the day with the intern at the office.

Not that I’d want the freedom to indulge in anything at any time anyway. Things were more special when they were rare.

But every morning, when the sun rose, the coils in my stomach wound tighter in anticipation.

Nightfall was coming again.

Letting my mask dangle from my hand at my side, I stood at the top of the second-floor landing and watched Rika sitting in her car. She kept her head down, her face visible by the glow of her cell phone, despite the downpour of rain hitting her windshield as she typed.

I shook my head, my jaw flexing. She doesn’t listen.

I watched as my best friend’s fiancée finished up, the light from her phone disappearing, and then she opened the car door, stepped out, and broke into a jog, dashing through the pounding rain. I darted my eyes, taking inventory of her. Head and eyes cast downward. Keys wrapped in her closed fist. Arms shielding her head from the rain and hindering her line-of-sight.

Completely unaware of her surroundings. The perfect victim.

Grabbing the harness at the back of my mask, I stretched it out and slid the silver skull down over my head, the inside hugging every curve of my face for a tight fit. The world around me shrunk to that of a tunnel, and all I could see was what was right in front of me.

Heat spread down my neck, seeping deep into my chest, and I drew in a long, cool breath, feeling my heart pounding, getting hungry.          

All of a sudden, the rain, like a waterfall in the alley outside, filled the dojo, and the heavy metal door downstairs slammed shut.

“Hello?” she called out.

My heart dipped into my stomach, and I closed my eyes, savoring the feel. The sound of her voice echoed through the empty building, but I stayed planted on the dark landing, waiting for her to find me.

“Kai?” I heard her shout through the large space.

I reached back and pulled the hood of my black sweatshirt up, covering my head, and turned to look down over the railing.

“Hello?” she asked again, more urgent. “Kai, are you here?”

I saw her blonde hair first. It’s what you always noticed about Rika first. In her black penthouse, in this black dojo, in the black alley outside, in dark rooms and on black streets…. She always stood out.

I rested my hands on the rusted steel railing, keeping my feet planted on the grates, and watched her step slowly into the main room below, flipping up the switches on the wall. But nothing happened. The lights didn’t go on.

She jerked her head left and right, looking suddenly alert, and then darted out her hand, flipping them off and then on again.


Her chest moved up and down quicker, her awareness peaking as she clutched the strap of her bag tighter.

I fought not to smile and cocked my head, watching her. I should show myself. I should play fair, let her know I was here, and that she was safe.

But the longer I waited, and the longer I stayed quiet and hidden, the more nervous she appeared. And as she walked farther into the room below, I couldn’t help but want to feel this moment. She was confused. Scared. Timid. She didn’t know I was here. Right above her. She didn’t know that my eyes were on her right now. She didn’t know that I could run at her, get her in a hold, and have her on the floor before she even knew what had happened.

I didn’t want to scare her, but I did. Power and control were addictive. And I didn’t want to like it, because it made me sick.

It made me Damon.

I started breathing harder and tightened my fists around the railing, growing scared myself. This wasn’t normal.

“I know you’re here,” she said, looking around with her eyebrows pinched together.

But the stubborn set to her eyes was forced, and I lifted the corner of my mouth in a smile behind my mask.

Her long, gray t-shirt fell off her shoulder, and rain glistened across her chest and neck. The downpour pummeled Meridian City outside, and at this time of night—and in this neighborhood—the streets were empty. No one would hear her. No one probably even saw her enter the building.

And by the way she began backing slowly out of the dark room, it looked like she was just beginning to realize that.

I took a step.

The grate flooring creaked, and she snapped her head left, following the sound.

Her eyes locked on me. Keeping my gaze on her, I walked toward the stairs.

“Kai?” she asked.

Why isn’t he answering me? she probably wondered. Why is he wearing his mask? Why are the lights out? Because of the storm? What’s going on?

But I said nothing as I walked slowly toward her, her pretty, small form getting more defined the closer I got. Wet strands of hair I didn’t notice before stuck to her chest, and the diamond studs Michael gave her last Christmas sparkled on her ears. The points of her breasts poked through her shirt.

Her blue eyes looked at me warily. “I know that’s you.”

I smirked behind my mask, her rigid body betraying her confident words. Do you?

I circled her slowly, caging her in, while she remained stubbornly still. Are you so sure it’s me? I might not be Kai, right? I could’ve just taken his mask. Or bought one just like it.

Stopping behind her, I tried to keep my breathing calm despite the way my heart was pounding. I could feel her. The energy between my chest and her back.

She should’ve turned around. She should’ve been preparing herself for danger like I taught her. Did she think this was a game?

“Knock it off,” she barked, turning her head just enough so I could see her lips move. “This isn’t funny.”

No, it wasn’t funny. Michael was gone—out of town for the night—and Will was probably out getting drunk somewhere. It was just us.

And with the way my goddamn stomach was flipping right now, it wasn’t funny or good or right how much I needed to constantly push myself over the edge to feel in control anymore. It wasn’t good how much I didn’t want to stop.

I grabbed her, wrapping my arms around her and burying my nose under her ear. Her perfume made my eyelids heavy, and I heard her gasp as I tightened my hold, keeping her body against mine. “It’s just us, Little Monster,” I growled. “Just how I want it to be, and we have all night.”

“Kai!” she shouted, tugging against my arms.

“Who’s Kai?”

She twisted, fighting my hold and struggling. “I know you by now. Your height, your form, your smell…”

“Do you?” I asked. “You know how I feel, huh?”

I buried my masked face in her neck and tightened my arms around her. Possessive. Threatening. I breathed out in a whisper, “I miss you as a little high school girl, Rika.” I moaned, acting like I loved the feel of her squirming against me. “You didn’t give any lip.”

She stopped, every part of her body freezing except her breathing. Her chest caved and then began to shake under my arms.

I’d gotten to her.

Someone close to us said those exact words once, someone who scared her, and now she was doubting whether or not I just might not be him. Damon had disappeared last year, and he could be anywhere, right, Rika?

“I’ve waited a long time for this,” I said, hearing the thunder crack outside. “Get this shit off.” I yanked down her shirt, exposing her in her tank top, and she let out a scream. “I wanna fuckin’ see you.”

She gasped, pulling away and throwing her arms at me. She immediately stepped back—the first countermove I showed her when someone grabs her from behind—but I pushed off my back foot, knowing what she was going to do.

Come on, Rika!

And then, all of a sudden, she dropped, the full weight of her body slipping through my arms straight to the floor.

I nearly laughed. She was thinking quickly. Good.

But I kept up my assault. She scrambled to her hands and knees, getting ready to scurry away, and I lunged out, grabbing her by the ankle.

“Where do you think you’re going?” I taunted.

She flipped over and kicked my mask, and I reared back, laughing. “Oh, God, you’re going to be fun. I can’t fucking wait.”

A whimper escaped her as she crawled backward and pushed herself to her feet again. She twisted around, fear etched across her face, and broke into a run toward the locker rooms. Probably going to the exit at the rear of the building.

I raced after her, grabbing hold of her shirt, my whole body on fire.

Fuck. I felt a trickle of sweat glide down the back of my neck.

It’s just a game. I won’t hurt her. It was like tag or hide-and-seek as a kid. We knew nothing bad would happen when we got caught and we’d bring no harm when we chased, but the irrational fear excited us anyway. That was what I liked. That’s all it was. This wasn’t real.

Twisting her around, I wrapped one arm around her and lifted her knee up with my other hand, picking her up off the ground. She threw up the other knee, but I twisted my hips before her jab landed between my legs. Flipping her back, I threw both of us to the ground, coming down on top of her.

“No!” she cried. Her body thrashed under me, and I forced myself between her legs, bringing her wrists up over her head and pinning them there.

She fought against my hold, but the steel in her arms began to shake, and her strength started to weaken.

I stilled and stared down. Damon and I both had dark hair and eyes, although his were almost black. She wouldn’t be able to tell the difference under the shroud of darkness around us. But she could feel me. Handling her, forcing her, threatening her…just like him.

I slowly dropped my head to her breast, hovering an inch above her skin, and she’d stopped fighting. Her chest heaved so hard it sounded like she was having an asthma attack.

Looking up at her, seeing her body mold easily to mine and her hands bound helplessly above her, I saw her tear up. She knew this was it. No one to stop me, no one to hear her scream, a madman in a mask who could hurt her, kill her, and take all night doing it.

Her face suddenly cracked, and she broke, crying out as her fight was swallowed in the horror of what was happening to her.

Goddammit. I yanked back my hood and threw off my mask, furious. “You’re a fucking baby!” I bellowed, slamming my hand down on the floor at the side of her head. “Get me off you!” I got in her face. “Now! Come on!”

She growled, her face turning red, and she launched up and wrapped her arm over the back of my neck. Squeezing me into a headlock, she reached her other hand under her arm and dug her finger and thumb into my eyes.

It wasn’t much, but it got me to loosen my hold long enough for her to slam me in the side of the face, and when I reared back, she scrambled upright and grabbed her bag, swinging it at my head.

“Ugh!” I grunted, yanking it out of her hands.

But quickly, she scurried to her feet and ran to the wall, grabbing one of the Kendo swords and assuming her stance, bamboo shanai raised and ready.

I sat back on my heels and pulled my hand away from my face, checking for blood. Nothing. I let out a sigh and raised my eyes to her, my body growing cold as the fear left her eyes and was replaced with anger.

The adrenaline still coursed through my limbs, and I took a deep breath, all of a sudden my body ten times heavier as I pulled myself to my feet.

“I don’t like being ambushed like that!” she gritted out. “This is supposed to be a safe space.”

I blinked, fixing her with a scolding look. “Nowhere is safe.”

I walked toward the stairs, pulling off my sweatshirt as I climbed. “You’re not alert.” I picked up the water bottle I’d left by the window earlier. “I watch you. Your face was in your phone out on the street. And you could barely budge me. You waste too much time panicking.”

I gulped down the water, so thirsty from more than just the exertion. Too much thinking and worrying and plotting. I’d needed this.

I missed all those nights, years ago, when I had a release. When I had friends to get lost with.

Her footsteps fell on the stairs, and I stared out the window, the bright lights of Meridian City on the other side of the river glowing bright, a sharp contrast to the darkness of this side.

“I’ve absorbed everything you’ve taught me,” she said. “I trusted you, and I wasn’t taking it seriously. In the moment, if it ever happens again, I’ll handle it.”

“You should’ve handled it this time. What if it wasn’t me? What would’ve happened to you?”

I glanced down at her, seeing her pained eyes staring off out the window, and regret curled its way through my stomach. I hated seeing that look. Rika had been through enough, and I’d just shaken her again.

“I think you liked that,” she replied quietly, still staring out the window. “I think you enjoyed that.”

My heart skipped a beat, and I turned away from her, following her gaze out the window.

“If I did, I wouldn’t have stopped.”

She looked up at me, and I heard a car passing by below, its tires sloshing through the rain.

“You know, I watch you, too,” she told me. “You’re quiet, no one gets to see where you eat or sleep…”

I twisted the cap to the water bottle, the plastic container crackling in my fist. I knew what she was talking about. I knew I was distant.

But I had to keep everything inside or risk the wrong things slipping out. It was better this way.

And it was worse lately. Everything was fucked. She and Michael were so consumed with each other, and Will was only sober a few hours a day anymore. I’d been on my own more than ever.

“You’re like a machine.” She drew in a long breath. “Not like Damon. You’re unreadable.” She paused. “Except just now. Except when you’re wearing your mask. You liked it, didn’t you? It’s the only time I see you feel anything.”

I turned my head, softening my eyes. “You’re not with me all the time,” I joked.

I held her eyes for a moment, both us knowing exactly what I was talking about. She didn’t see me with women, and a slight blush crossed her cheeks. She gave me a half-smile, abandoning her line of questioning.

I cleared my throat, moving on. “You need to work on your counter-attacks,” I told her. “And your speed. If you stop, you give the attacker a chance to get a good hold on you.”

“I knew I was safe with you.”

“You aren’t,” I replied sternly. “Always assume danger. If anyone other than Michael grabs you, they get what they deserve anyway.”

She crossed her arms over her chest, and I could feel her aggravation. I understood it. She didn’t want to live her life always on guard. But she was barely taking basic safety precautions, and there was no limit to how sorry she was going to be taking the wrong chances. Michael wasn’t always around.

But when he was, at least he was with her. It had been weeks since I’d really talked to him.

“How is he?” I asked her.

She rolled her eyes, and I could tell the mood was shifting to something lighter. “He wants to fly off to Rio or somewhere to get married.”

“I thought you both decided to wait until after you were done with college.”

She nodded, sighing. “Yeah, I thought so, too.”

I narrowed my eyes on her. So, what was going on then?

Michael and Rika’s parents expected a wedding in Thunder Bay, and as far as I knew, the couple was fine with that. In fact, Michael had been very adamant about making a big deal out of it. He wanted to see her in a dress, walking down the aisle toward him. He grew up thinking she would marry his brother, after all. He intended to show everyone she was his.

And then it hit me.


“He’s afraid a fanfare wedding will entice Damon to return,” I guessed.

Rika nodded again solemnly, still staring out the window. “He thinks if we get married nothing bad will happen to me. The sooner, the better.”

“He’s right,” I told her. “A wedding—hundreds of people and Will and me at his side—Damon’s ego couldn’t take it. He wouldn’t stay away.”

“No one’s seen or heard from him in a year.”

I flexed my jaw, anticipation curling its way through my gut. “Yeah, that’s what scares me.”

A year ago, Damon wanted Rika to suffer unimaginably. We all did, actually, but Damon went a little further, and when we didn’t stick by him, we all became his enemies. He attacked us, hurt her, and helped Michael’s brother, Trevor, try to kill her. Michael was smart to assume that Damon’s anger probably hadn’t dissipated. If we knew where he was, that would be one thing, but the detectives we hired to find him and keep tabs on his whereabouts hadn’t been able to locate him.

Which explained why Michael wanted to take measures to keep Rika out of the limelight, as such a grand wedding in our affluent, seaside hometown would put her.

“You don’t care about a large wedding,” I reminded her. “You just want Michael. Why not go off and just do it like he wants?”

She was silent for a few moments and then spoke quietly, her eyes in a far-off place. “No.” She shook her head. “Just behind St. Killian’s, where the forest ends and the cliffs give way to the sea. Under the midnight sky…” She nodded, a beautiful, wistful smile touching her lips. “That’s where I’ll marry Michael.”

I studied her, wondering about that far off, dreamy look in her eyes. As if she’d always known she would marry Michael Crist and had been seeing it in her head all her life.

“What is that building?” Rika asked, jerking her chin, gesturing out the window.

I followed her gaze, but I didn’t have to look to know which building she spoke of. I’d chosen this location for our dojo for a reason.

Gazing out of the glass, I stared at the building on the other side of the street, about thirty stories higher than ours, the gray stone darkened by the rain and the broken street lights.

“The Pope,” I answered. “It was quite a hotel back in its day. Still is, actually.”

The Pope had been abandoned for several years and had been built when there was talk of a football stadium being constructed over here as a way to bring more tourism to Meridian City. And a way to revitalize Whitehall, the rundown, urban district in which we now stood.

Unfortunately, the stadium never happened, and The Pope went under after struggling to stay in business.

I scanned the darkened windows, the shadows of drapes just barely visible inside a hundred rooms that now sat quiet and empty. It was hard to think of such a large place not having an ounce of life in it anymore. Impossible, in fact. My leery eyes watched each dark void, my sight only taking me a few inches into the room before darkness consumed the rest.

“It feels like someone’s watching us.”

“I know,” I agreed, surveying each window, one after another.

I saw her shiver out of the corner of my eye and picked up my sweatshirt, handing it to her.

She took it, giving me a smile as she turned to go back down the stairs. “It’s getting cold. I can’t believe October is here already. Devil’s Night will be here soon,” she sing-songed, sounding excited.

I nodded, following her.

But as I cast one more glance behind me, chills spread down my body thinking about the hundred haunting, vacant rooms at the abandoned hotel across the street.

And a Devil’s Night, so long ago, when a boy who used to be me hunted a girl who might be like Rika in a place that just may be that very same dark hotel out the window right now.

But unlike tonight, he didn’t stop.

He did something he shouldn’t have done.

I walked down the stairs, inches behind Rika and matching her steps in perfect time as I gazed at the back of her hair.

She didn’t realize just how close danger was to her.


Thank you for reading!


I’m Working On It

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Hey, everyone!

I wanted to touch base with you all, because I know so many of you are anxious for any news on Hideaway or when to expect the Fall Away spin-off series to start releasing. I appreciate your patience, and I’m really grateful ANYONE is excited about ANYTHING I have coming in the future. It tickles me pink.

HIDEAWAY is coming next. I’m working on it now, but I don’t have a release date yet. I know that’s the last thing you want to hear, but it’s the truth. Good things take time. If you loved Corrupt, remember that it took a year and half of dreaming before I even started writing it. That think-time is important. Believe me, I wish I could just spit this out and get it done, but I also know that many readers are getting burnt out. I see reviews for other books, discussion threads on Facebook, comments in groups, and many of us are only finishing one out of five books we start anymore. I don’t want to be one of the four you tossed aside in search of your next escape. In order to get a great scene that keeps you flipping pages and soaking up something you truly love, it may take three days of staring at my computer screen, an hour of spinning in my desk chair, 3 bags of Twizzlers, or doing make-believe snow angels on my office floor to get that great idea for that kick-ass scene. For example, last week I was writing Hideaway and this great scene started to stale. It was falling flat, and if I’m bored, you’ll be bored, right? I stopped writing, rather than forcing it, and a day later I had it. I was smiling and excited again. But for a day, I didn’t write. And sometimes, it’s three days.

I know waiting is hard, and I know waiting for the spin-off series is frustrating, too, but time makes a much better book. I’m only on my tenth novel, but I’ve learned at least that so far. And while I write Hideaway and Kill Switch (Devil’s Night #3), I’m adding pins to the new Fall Away Pinterest boards (still secret, sorry) and adding music to the playlists, so I’m plotting and thinking on those even now.

My hope if for HIDEAWAY to be out this spring, Kill Switch in October, and the Fall Away spin-off series to start releasing next year some time. Believe me, I wish I could snap my fingers and they’d be done for you. I’m as excited for you to read them as I am for them to be done. When I have more information, you’ll know. You’ll be the first to know the release dates. And yes, all of the Fall Away kids will be getting books.

Now I know many of my readers will say no worries, no need to explain, but I do see readers getting angry with an author when they feel they’ve waited long enough. Some readers even feel that three months is too long to wait for a book. This is just letting you know that I’m here, I’m writing, and writing is HARD! Lol. I’m going to give you a good book, but that’s not easy, and it takes a while. (Don’t let me tell you about the crying fit I had on my hotel bed when I hid myself away to work through Corrupt edits). In the end, all you’ll care about is that the book is good 😉 You won’t care how long you waited.

Thanks for your excitement everyone, and I’m on it. As soon as I have more info, I’ll let you know.

xoxo Penelope






Next to Never Deleted Scene #2

Saturday, January 21st, 2017

This is the second and final deleted scene for Next to Never. Not terribly important for the pacing of the book, but just a little extra Kat and Jase. This would take place when Jared was still a baby.



“The presents were too much,” Kat said as I wrapped my arms around her shoulders. “I can buy him things, you know? I have a job.”

“I know,” I told her, burying my nose in her hair.

We stood in the park where a light layer of snow covered the grass. Jared tried climbing the steps of the jungle gym. Christmas was a few days ago, and the park was nearly empty.

It seemed like time was flying. He was walking now, Kat’s divorce was final and she was in school, going for her accounting degree, and Maddie had taken our son to Hawaii with her parents.

“I care about him,” I admitted. “I’m not trying to use him to keep you. I want him to have the best.”

I saw him more than I saw my own kid these days. Besides the few moments in the morning before I had to leave, he was either gone or asleep when I was home. Even if I had a free day, Maddie had made plans and taken him off somewhere. If I got home early, it would only be a matter of minutes before she decided they had an errand to run. She wasn’t trying to keep him from me. I knew that.

She just didn’t want to be around me. I’d given up a long time ago, and she finally had as well. 

I could’ve gone on the trip to Hawaii and spent time with Madoc. I’d wanted to. But Maddie asked me to stay home, and so I squeezed Kat in my arms, because I felt like shit and she was the only thing I had to hang on to.

My wife had caught onto me. Our marriage was in trouble before Kat, but the wedge between us was an abyss now, and she did almost anything she could to avoid me.

The part that gutted me was that I didn’t really care. I wanted my kid, but I wanted Kat, too. I hated to admit it, but I was relieved when Maddie told me not to come. I didn’t have to put on a mask, because now we were just going through the motions.

But I did have some truths to face.

My behavior was a mistake, and the continuation of my marriage was wrong.  

And I was in love with Kat, and I was a terrible father.  

So why wasn’t I making the decisions I needed to make? Why was I so afraid to leave what was familiar, even if I was miserable, for what was unknown? 

“That’s something I want to talk about,” Kat says in a serious tone, turning around to face me.


“I don’t want Jared to grow up confused about you,” she stated. “I don’t think you should just come by whenever you want anymore.”

I tensed.

“He’s getting to know your face,” she explained. “I don’t want him to see you around and be old enough to remember. Old enough to miss you when you’re not there and wonder why you have to leave to go to your real family.”

I blinked long and hard and let her go, nodding. Fine.

It made sense, didn’t it?

But the anger still built in my chest, because she was cutting me off, too.  

“I’ll try to be more discreet,” I said in a clipped tone.

I started to turn away, but she grabbed the lapels of my jacket, holding me in place.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” I answered, kissing her forehead. “I’ve got to go. Merry Christmas.”

“Hey.” She pulled me back, making me look at her. “I didn’t mean it like that. I’m not giving you up. You’re trying to protect your family, and I’m trying to protect mine. It’s a two-way street.”

I caressed her cheek, rosy from the winter air, and tucked her hair behind her ear. “I know.”

She leaned into my hand, and I could barely contain the need firing in my body. This girl had me completely wound into knots.

“I want to spend the night tonight,” I whispered to her.

Her eyes dropped to the snow, but I saw a little smile peek out. She turned around and pulled my arms around her again, snuggling close.

“You’re cold,” I said, feeling her body shake.

“No. Just thinking that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is on tonight, and I’m going to make you watch it.”

My chest shook with a silent laugh, loving the mischief in her voice. It was a rare occasion when I could stay over, and tonight we could just enjoy being with each other.

“As long as I can take you in for a nice long shower afterward, then I’ll play along,” I assured. 

Buffy. Sometimes I forgot she was still so young. ‘Course, so was I, I guessed.

I looked out, seeing Jared walking around the jungle gym. I’d given him a soccer ball as one of his gifts, but it laid abandoned in the snow. I guessed he wasn’t going to be much into sports, more interested in climbing a contraption he was still too little for.

“I wish he was yours,” she said suddenly, watching him.

And I kissed her hair, letting out a sigh. “Someday he will be.”



Thanks for reading, everyone. Hope you are enjoying the book, and I look forward to getting the new series to you <3

Next to Never Deleted Scene

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

This is one of three deleted scenes I have for Next to Never! The first one, the prologue, is already available under the Extras tab, and the third one I’ll give you this Friday.

Some of you may remember this convo, but here’s the entire scene written out. It was only deleted from the final book, because we needed to get the word count down to be able to fit Aflame and Next to Never in the paperback coming in May.

Enjoy!! (This isn’t really a spoiler if you haven’t read the novella yet, but if you have, it takes place before Dylan picks Quinn up to go to Juliet’s and then the Loop.)



I grabbed a wedge of sandwich from the plate in the fridge and walked over to my mother’s desk, built into the wall of the kitchen, and sat down in front of her laptop.

I couldn’t imagine Googling was going to give me much help, considering it was a particularly relative question, but—

“Addie made a platter of sandwiches, so eat up, and let’s go.”

All three of my brothers had rushed into the kitchen and they began rummaging through the fridge.

Oh, great. The quiet was nice while it lasted. Addie oversees my father’s household as well as Madoc’s, with help of course, and she probably made him his own platter of sandwiches, but no doubt Kade, Hunter, and their friends cleaned him out.

Which, I guess, is why he, Jared, and Jax swung by here to mooch off our food in their rush to get to the track on time.

I try to tune out their noise as I bring up the Internet, but the fridge opens and closes several times and they keep slamming the cabinets shut.

Once I decide it’s useless, I stop and twist around in my seat, looking at them.   “Hey, can I ask you guys a question?”

“Mmm hmm…” Jared replies, taking the pickles off the sandwiches.

“Yeah, what is it?” Madoc asks.

“Well, it’s kind of personal.” I sit up straight and curl up on my leg, sitting on my foot.

They continue on their food mission, stuffing sandwiches in their mouths while standing at the counter.

“Well, um…” I swallow the awkwardness that tries to creep up. “I kind of wanted to know…what does sex feel like for a man?”

Every single one of them stops and stares at me. It’s all I can do not to laugh.

Jared goes stiff, looking uncomfortable, while Madoc’s mouth hangs open in mid-chew and Jax’s eyebrows damn-near touch his hairline.

“Um…” Jax looks to the other guys like he’s at a loss for words.

But it’s Madoc who recovers quickest. “Well, it feels like…” and his gaze drifts up as if thinking before he nods and says, “warm apple pie.”

Jax snorts and Jared shoots him a disgusted look. “Don’t be an idiot,” he sneers at Madoc and then looks to me. “And you don’t need to know that yet.”

“I’m seventeen,” I point out. “You’re telling me you guys were virgins at my age?”

Madoc laughs and rounds the island, coming to sit at the table. “Come on, man,” he tells Jared. “She’s practice for Dylan. You’re going to have to deal with this sooner or later.”

Jared strolls over, avoiding my eyes, and sits down. “It feels good, alright? Is that what you wanted to know?”

“Yeah. It feels…really good,” Madoc adds.

And then Jax nods, carrying his bowl over and standing close. “Yeah, really good.”

“Good?” I mock. “That’s it? Come on, guys. I can’t ask Dad. And I’m not going to ask Hawke. He’s a year younger, and I’m not having him educate me on that stuff.”

Jax freezes, a spoonful of pasta salad halfway between the bowl and his mouth. “Hawke’s having sex?” he asks, and I momentarily wonder if I’ve gotten my nephew in trouble.

Honestly I don’t know if he’s having sex, but Jax looks a little freaked out as he sets his bowl and fork down with a clang. “Fuck, I gotta go.”

He leaves the room, and I turn my eyes on Jared, pinning him with a stare.

“Why do you want to know?” he questions me.

“Because I’m curious. I want to know what men like.”

“Everything,” he shoots back, stacking three sandwiches on top of each other. “And you can find out in college. After college. When you’re married. Not in high school.” He glares at me. “Understand? Every single high school guy is an asshole. Every single one. I promise.”

“Hey,” Madoc whines, looking insulted. “I have two boys in high school.” 

But Jared simply looks at Madoc, arches an eyebrow, and then meets my eyes again. “Every. Single. One. Got it?”

I let out a sigh and bury my face in my hands. Is it so hard to answer a question without jumping into Protect Mode? I’m not looking to get laid! I just want information, and every time I try to stretch my boundaries, Jared snaps like a rubber band, bringing me back into the circle.

“What’s wrong, Quinnie?” I hear Madoc ask.

But frustration is burning a hole in my stomach. “Don’t call me that. I’m not a baby anymore.” And I take a deep breath, looking anywhere but at them.

“Are you having problems?” he guages. “Because I’m going to tell you, you’re beautiful, so any issues are theirs. Not yours.”

I shake my head. “No. I just want to know… If a man saw me for the first time, would he think I was beautiful the way you guys think Tate and Fallon are beautiful?”

Jared and Madoc exchange looks and then Jared’s eyes darken as he studies me. “A man?”

I close my eyes, groaning. That’s the one word he focused on from that? I can tell already this is going nowhere. Madoc is Mr. Positive, thinking he needs to boost my self-esteem, and Jared is like a guard dog, pacing his cage and waiting for an opportunity to sic.

I stand up, leaving my sandwich next to the computer. “Never mind. I can’t talk to you guys about this.”


Next to Never Prologue!

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

This prologue was deleted from Next to Never to shrink the word count in the paperback. If the paperback is too big (since it contains both Aflame and Next to Never) it would end up being too expensive for readers. This prologue still works and fits for the book, but it wasn’t crucially important to the story, so I’m offering it up now in its entirety for your enjoyment! Some of this has already been released to readers, but this is the whole thing. There will be a couple more deleted scenes coming after the release on January 17th!! Enjoy <3



“This isn’t working.”

I hear my mother’s voice coming from the office down the hall and pull my black sweatshirt over my head as I tiptoe undetected cross the hardwood floors.

“You’re twisting her into knots, Jason.”

“She’s fine,” my dad barks, and I hear papers shuffle. “You’re worrying for nothing. As usual.”

I’m careful to stay quiet as I stop next to the wall and inch closer to the office.

She. That means me, I assume.

A narrow strip of light spills through the crack in the door, and I peek in to see my father standing behind the desk, organizing his papers, while my mother stares at him from the other side.

It’s typical of my dad to avert his eyes in any confrontation with my mother. As if looking at her will make him fold.

“Jared and Tate rented a house in Huntington Beach for the summer,” she tells him. “I’m sending her with them.”

His gaze finally shoots up, and he glares at her. My heart starts pounding, because I know that look.

“Like hell you are,” he growls. “She’s thirteen years old! She’s not going away for an entire summer. Our daughter stays with us.”

“She needs a break!” Mom fights back. “She’s a straight A student, and you still have her seeing a Math tutor to get ahead. She’s in gymnastics, piano, the computer club, and she’s seeing a Spanish tutor three times a week in addition to the French she’s already taking at school. I want her to have the summer off.”

“Quinn likes to learn. She made those choices.”

“Because she loves you,” my mom says, “and she wants you to be proud of her.”

“I am proud of her,” he retorts, and I can see his chest starting to rise and fall faster as he plants his palms on the desk. “I’ve only ever wanted her to be happy. You know that.”

“But how do we know that she is?”

“Because there’s nothing wrong!” He pounds his fist on the solid wood of his desk, and I jump. “After all these years, you still don’t trust me. Our life is good now. Why can’t you let it be that way? You’re manufacturing these problems.”

My eyes sting, and I pull back, resting my shoulder against the wall. My parents are silent for a few moments, and then I hear my mother’s quiet voice, thick with tears.

“She doesn’t argue,” she tells him. “She doesn’t ever tell us what she wants. She just nods and agrees. ‘Sit still and do as you’re told.’ That’s Quinn.”

I lock my teeth together to keep my chin from trembling and stare down at my hands as I start to pick away at the pink nail polish on my thumb.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen her cry,” my mom continues.

“You want to see her cry?”

“Yes!” she bursts out. “I want to see her do something! Jared would yell, fight, break things, and I hated it, but at least I knew what I was getting was true. I knew what I had to work with. I can’t read Quinn.”

My toes curl into the floor as I run my thumb along the jagged piece of polish I’d peeled away.

My dad’s right. I’m fine. So I may not go out on big adventures like Hawke or tear up the track like my brothers. Maybe I don’t need to make a spectacle of myself or prove anything. Maybe I’m happier this way.

“Jared, Madoc, Jax…” my mom goes on, “they all raced over the edge, and they did it running. Quinn’s so afraid to even move a muscle.” She pauses, and I hear her inhale a breath, her voice turning resolute. “She’s going away for the summer, and that’s final—”

“She’s not going anywhere.”

“…and maybe I should go with her!” my mother bites out.

I suddenly hear a crash.

My breath catches in my throat as I peer into the office again. I see my dad glaring at my mom, his teeth bared and his breathing heavy, while everything on the desk is now piled onto the floor in a messy heap. The chords in his forearms, visible since the sleeves of his white shirt are rolled up, are tight and his hands are balled into fists.

Tears well in my eyes. I’m never seen him so angry.

My mother’s back straightens. “Careful,” she says in a smooth voice, almost cocky. “You’re still so used to life revolving around your every command, maybe it would’ve been better keeping me as your whore.”

My breath shakes, and I blink to keep the stinging away from my eyes. Whore? What the hell does she mean by that?

My dad stares at her and slowly rises, standing up straight and looking furious. She went too far.

My mother twists around, and I tense, seeing her come my way, but she doesn’t make it. My dad rounds the desk, grabs her by the waist, and pulls her into him, her back against his chest.

She gasps, and he wraps his arms around her, holding her tight as he buries his face in her neck.

“I’m sorry,” he whispers.

She closes her eyes, breaking down and quietly sobbing as she turns her face toward him.

I breathe hard, backing away and unsure what to do next. I’m so confused, and I don’t understand the conversation I just overheard.

Turning around, I stop and inhale a quick breath. A dark figure stands in front of me.

“Shhh.” Lucas holds a finger against his lips.

I stare through blurry eyes up into his, which are a blue I would recognize anywhere, except I can’t really see clearly in the dark hallway. He reaches out a finger, and I blink as he catches a tear hanging off my bottom lid.

“It’s okay,” he says gently. Then he jerks his head to the side. “Come on.”

I swallow the lump in my throat and follow my brothers’ friend down the hall, into the kitchen, and through the door leading into the basement.

“Where are we going?” I ask as he flips on the light.


He says it as if that explains everything. It kind of does, I guess.

Our family loves pizza.

Just like my dad had a skating ramp built for his stepdaughter back in the day, Madoc, my brother, had a custom kitchen built for me outside on the downstairs patio, right off the finished basement.

I was here a lot, and even though my parents had bought another house less than a mile down the road, this house—the one my brother grew up in—was still home-base. Parties, barbeques, holidays…everything important was held here. And since it’s Memorial Day weekend, my other two brothers are here with their families, as well. Even though their houses are only a few miles away.

Our family is close even though we aren’t family in the traditional sense. I have three brothers, one of whom I share a mother with and one of whom I share a father with. The other one isn’t technically my blood, but it didn’t matter.

And then they all have children, which means I’m an aunt to four boys and two girls who aren’t much younger than me.

Yeah. Even I still get confused.

And then there’s Lucas.

Lucas is twenty-five—twelve years older than me. Madoc mentored him as a little kid, since he grew up without a dad, so for all intents and purposes, he’s family. He was a part of the family long before I was born, and I’ve never known a time without him.

I don’t want to.

Lucas never says anything negative, never puts pressure on me, never makes demands or redirects me, and as much I love my family—and I know they don’t mean to put me on edge—he relaxes me.

I’ve always veered in his direction. Stayed closed to him. Even though lately, I’ve gotten more nervous around him. I’m not sure why. Nothing has changed.

Except me, I guess.

Following him through the main room of the basement, across the plush carpeting, past the pool table, away from the entertainment center with leather couches and the Wall of Shame and Fame with all our family photos, I watch as Lucas opens the French doors and walks out first, holding the door open behind him with his hand.

“It’s raining!” I burst out, stopping to stare at the light but steady downpour.

He just tosses back a smile and continues walking for the outdoor kitchen, complete with a small fridge, sink, stove, and a brick pizza oven.

The bottoms of his jeans drag just slightly on the slate patio, and I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. In his flip flops and gray T-shirt, he’s a lot less intimidating than he has been lately.

After Lucas finished graduate school last year, he started wearing a lot of suits for work, and it was hard to get used to. He looked like a different person, and while I knew he was a grown up, I’d never thought of him like…a man.

And that’s getting harder to ignore now. I liked the seventeen year old who taught me how to blow bubbles with my gum when I was five. Now it…it feels like he’s passing me up. Sprinting ahead while I’m still at a light jog.

A mosquito buzzes in front of my face, and I shoo it away, but I stop short when I notice flashes of yellow out in the distance. The streams of light are whipping back and forth, moving erratically into the trees.

“Who’s out there?” I ask Lucas, making my way to the kitchen and staying dry under the roof above us. “I see flashlights out there.”

“Well, since it’s raining, I imagine it’s Tate.” He lights the pizza oven and adds more wood. “I think she and Jared are checking out the tree house.”

My eyebrows shoot up. “Well, let’s go, too.”

But he just shakes his head. “Uh no. I don’t think they want to be interrupted.”

My shoulders falling a bit, I keep staring as the glowing light in the trees fade away, hearing the refrigerator door open and close as he gathers the ingredients behind me.

“Do I melt butter and spread it on the dough or use cooking spray?” he asks.

I turn around and see one of the pizza pans already prepared with pre-made dough that Addie, the housekeeper, and I keep stocked in the fridge sitting on the workspace. Lucas has taken out pepperoni, American cheese, bay leaves and…ketchup.


“Oh, my God.” I groan. “Just let me do it.”

Walking over, I step in front of the counter, forcing him out of the way, and start putting away…well, everything except the pepperoni.

“Works every time.” I hear him gloat as he walks away. “And hurry up, I’m hungry.”

I roll my eyes, but I can’t help but indulge in a little smile. Cooking is the one thing I truly love, and I like it when people want me to do it.

As I get busy pulling out the mozzarella, sauce, and a small bowl of special seasoning, Lucas digs into a cupboard and takes out some pineapple juice, orange juice, and a small bottle of Squirt. Lucas pours equal parts of the juices and the soda into a shaker, adds ice, and shakes the concoction, mixing it up.

It’s my absolute favorite drink, and while it’s usually frozen to make a slushy-type punch for the holidays, Lucas figured out years ago how to make the liquid form behind the family’s back. They wait for Christmas to enjoy it, but I can have it anytime.

He pours it into a high ball glass, slips in a straw and sticks in a little umbrella, setting it on the counter next to me. While he digs in the fridge again, pulling out a beer, I dip my head down and take a quick swig.

“Thanks.” I laugh, feeling the flavor hit the back of my tongue.

He twists the cap off his beer and takes the stool next to the counter, giving me a quick wink. “It’s good seeing you smile, kiddo.”

The tension in my shoulders starts to relax despite the chills that spread up my legs from the breeze sweeping into the covered kitchen. We stay quiet for a few moments, and my mind drifts back to my parents.

I rarely see them fight, but I’ve been finding myself wondering more and more about some of the comments I hear. Things I never noticed before but I’m starting to pick up on now. Like how they’ve been in love for so long, but why did my dad have two other wives before marrying my mom?

And somehow, I’m starting to get the impression that their relationship didn’t start how I thought normal relationships were supposed to.

Life of shit? What did that mean?

I hear a shout behind me, and glance out to the vast lawn, beyond the pool, and see my nephew, Hawke, who’s only a year younger than me, catching a football in the nearly-pitch black night. I can’t see who threw it, though.

Turning back to Lucas, I sprinkle my secret seasoning mixture over the top of the uncooked pizza. “Can I ask you a question?”

He raises the bottle to his lips. “You can do anything you want.”

“What did my mom mean?” I ask hesitantly. “About being my dad’s whore?”

“You need to ask your mom.”

I drop my eyes and concentrate on my task to hide my disappointment. Lucas will almost always answer my questions, but I can tell he feels he shouldn’t say anything. And a small bite of resentment hits me that he knows something I don’t. I know about my dad’s previous marriages and my mom’s alcoholism before I was born, but I know there’s something else that no one talks about.

“Marriage is complicated,” he explains. “Or so I’m told. Committing yourself to one person for the rest of your life almost seems unrealistic.”

I can feel my eyebrows furrow. “But if you love each other…”

He smiles gently, and I can tell he’s thinking I’m such a kid.

“Do you think people change?” he asks. “Sometimes without knowing it?”

I shrug. “I don’t know.”

“Well, I think they do,” he replies. “I think the person who’s good for you at one point in your life might not be the right person for you later in life. I think our experiences change us, and the longer we live the more we change. I think that sometimes people outgrow each other or what they want changes over the years, and they become different people. I think that some relationships aren’t meant to last.”

I merely stare at him. What? What is he talking about?

“And some are,” he then assures me. “You’ve seen Fallon yelling at Madoc, you’ve seen Jared lose his temper, you’ve seen Jax out of his mind, because he did something to piss off Juliet…” He sets down his beer and plants his elbows on his knees as he leans forward. “Some people are better off without each other, but then there are those who can’t function without each other. Your parents are fine, Quinn.” He nods assuringly. “Like your brothers, your dad can barely stand a night away from his wife let alone forever.”

I smile to myself, relieved. I’m not sure I understand everything he said, but I guess he’s right. My dad’s—and my mom’s—other relationships didn’t last, because they weren’t meant to. But I was starting to understand that even if you love each other, it still doesn’t mean that everything is going to be easy.

Grabbing the bamboo pizza peel off its hook, I slide it under the pie and pick it up.

Extra pepperoni,” he speaks up, hinting.

I laugh and set the pizza down again. Taking a stack of pepperoni slices, I start adding more to the pie.

“Have you ever been in love?” I ask him.

He blinks and looks away, as if he’s not sure how to answer the question. “I think you would’ve known,” he mumbles, taking another drink.

Well, that’s true. I’d grown up around him my whole life. I’ve seen him with girlfriends, some of them more serious than others, but I don’t remember anyone being around that long.

“I wasn’t at college with you,” I remind him. There could’ve been someone he never brought home and introduced to us.

He heaves a sigh and stands up, picking up the pizza peel with the pizza on it and slides it into the oven.

“Why do you ask so many questions?”

“Because you’re the only one who answers all of them,” I shoot back. “Or mostly all of them. Everyone else just tells me to use Google.”

He laughs, a wide smile spreading across his face.

Just then, my brother Jax rushes underneath the covered area, catching the football, his white T-shirt soaked and his long ponytail glistening with droplets of rain. He must be the one playing with Hawke.

“What’s going on?” he asks us, breathing hard.

“Just making pizza,” Lucas answers, sitting back down on the stool.

“It’s late.” Jax looks to me. “I thought you were in bed.”

“Well, she’s not.”

Lucas’s response is curt, and Jax shoots him a look, arching a brow.


This is so stupid. Hawke is younger than me, and Jax is letting him stay up.

Madoc once explained to me that they didn’t mean to be overbearing. It was just that they enjoyed having a little sister, and their gut response was to be overprotective.

Story of my life. Sometimes they were easier than my dad. Sometimes they were worse.

Jax looks annoyed, but he shuts his mouth and tosses the football back out into the rain. Probably to Hawke again, but I don’t care to look.

“You’re their sister, not their daughter,” Lucas points out after Jax heads back into the rain. “Speak up.”

“Why, when I have you?”

“I won’t be around forever,” he states.

And I look up at him, feeling my stomach drop. What does he mean? Is he going away?

“And you won’t need me,” he points out. “You’re going to grow up, and I can tell already you’re going to kick ass someday. No man in your life will know what hit him.”

Heat rises to my cheeks, and I drop my head, hiding my smile. I hope he’s right.

The football that Jax and Hawke are tossing around comes plummeting back into the kitchen, hitting the ground, and Lucas bends down to pick it up.

“Can I ask you another question?” I turn to face him as he tosses the ball back to the guys.

But he just laughs, throwing my joke back at me. “Just Google it.”

And then he jogs out into the night to join the boys.

I lean back on the counter, watching him go. Spotting his phone sitting next to me, I grab it and slowly type Whore into the Google bar.

My chest caves, reading, and I set the phone back down, a knot pulling tighter in my stomach.



Thank you for reading!

Pre-Order Next to Never, releasing 1/17/17—> (eBook only)

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Punk 57 Deleted Scene#1 !!

Monday, October 24th, 2016
This is a deleted scene from Punk 57!  I know many of you have not read the book, so please don’t read this. It will be in the Bonus section of my website in a few days, so you can read it there anytime.
This scene takes place in chapter 12, I believe, after the principal kicks Ryen off Misha’s lap and he walks out. In the original version, she joined him, sneaking out of school. The scene was cut, because overall, it wasn’t necessary.

Two minutes later, I find him sitting in his truck. The parking lot is full of cars, being only lunch time, but it’s vacant of any people.

I guess the principal didn’t detain him for long.

“You really are wired wrong, aren’t you?” I bark through the open passenger side door.

He grins, starting the engine, and I pull open the door, climbing in. “I mean, seriously. She can make your life miserable until graduation, Masen. Wasn’t it you who wanted to stay off the authority’s radar?”

“I’m not scared of her.”

Well, I am. I never skip school, simply because I’d rather be here than home, and I nervously glance around me one last time as he pulls out of the parking lot. I’d thought about making up a lie to my friends, but instead, I’d just tossed my uneaten lunch away and headed to my locker to grab my wallet. I didn’t know if he was coming back to school today, and I didn’t have his cell number. I had to leave with him if I wanted to make sure I would see more of him.

“Tacos, burgers, subs…?” he asks, trailing off.

I look across the street, and I see Falcon’s Franks, and I point. “Hot dogs.”

I haven’t been there in forever, and I suddenly don’t feel like a salad anymore.

Masen pulls through the drive-thru and stops in front of the menu.

“Welcome to Falcon’s,” the person on the intercom says. “Go ahead when you’re ready.”

Masen looks over to me, and I sit up, leaning over the center console on my hands and knees to tease him.

“Hi,” I shout, “can I have a plain hot dog and a bottle of water, please?”

Masen scoffs and squeezes the back of my thigh, yelling into the intercom, “She means she’ll a chili dog with onions and a Coke. A large one. I’ll take a chili dog with cheese and a Coke.”

I scowl, turning my head toward him. “How did you know I liked my hot dogs that way?”

“Why are you acting like you’re a demure little flower with the appetite of a bird?”

I roll my eyes, sitting back in my seat. But secretly I’m happy. Yay, chili dog.

How the heck did he know that? Good thing the restaurant gives mints with the meal. I’ll want to kiss him today, onions of not.

He pays for our food, and I’m glad to see money in his wallet. I have no idea what he and I are or what to expect from him, but I can’t but worry a little. The Cove is not a home.

And no matter how tough he acts, the stress of whatever situation he’s in is in there somewhere. Buried deep or right underneath the surface. I’m growing increasingly curious about it even though I try to tell myself I don’t care.

He pulls into the empty car wash we came to a couple of weeks ago, and I remain silent as he parks in a bay and climbs out.

What is he doing?

I watch as he starts the hose and hops up on the step, placing it on the roof and letting the water spill down the windshield. Whatever light enters the dark truck is now dimmed, and the gentle rush of wash feels like I’m in a cave.

Flutters spread under my skin at the memory of the last time we were here.

He opens the door and collects his food, telling me, “Climb in the backseat.” The he slams the door and opens the back one, climbing inside.

Hopping over the console, I reach up and grab my food and drink, but he takes my Coke and places it in the cup holder on the door.

“Come here,” he directs.

Holding my thighs, he guides me on his lap, and I straddle him. He sits back and takes out his hot dog and begins eating as I start to relax. The cab is dark and no one knows where we are. No one can see us.

And thanks to the hose, we can’t see or hear anything out there. The ultimate escape.

“You know, you’re wasting water,” I tease, pulling my chili-dog out of the bag.

“You know, we’re not in the dessert.”

I smile to myself and take a bite. I like him.

“Did you know there’s as much water on the planet now as when the planet formed billions of years ago?” he asks, looking at me and taking a drink of his soda.

“Yeah, I took 2nd grade science.” I take a bite of chilidog, holding back the moan as the flavor hits me. It’s been too long.

“Did you know that 70% of bottled water isn’t regulated by the FDA, unlike tap water, which is?”

I shake my head, taking another bite.

“Did you know that sunlight is our most important renewable energy source and yet, only about one percent of the world’s electricity is generated by the sun?”

My stomach shakes with a silent laugh. I swallow and dip down, taking a drink of his soda. Chili is spilling on my finger, and I don’t have enough hands to unwrap the straw for my Coke.

“I did not know that,” I finally answer. I take another bite, wiping the chili from the corner of my mouth.

“Did you know that your open thighs are directly responsible for my renewable energy source?”

I snort, the hot dog catching in my throat, and I try not to laugh as I force it down and dive down for another drink.

I let my eyes fall to his jeans. “I’m wondering if everyone is starting to notice that.”

He sticks the last bite of hot dog in his mouth and scoots down a little, laying his head back.

I set mine down on top of the bag on the seat and take hi soda, washing my last bite down. “So how do you know all that stuff?”

“Thought I was a dumb punk, huh?”

“No,” I answer honestly. “On the contrary…”

His hands run up and down my thighs, and he’s quiet for a moment. “My sister was an encyclopedia.”

“Your sister?”

Was an encyclopedia? Was?

“I don’t want to talk about it, okay?”

He speaks quietly, and I force a shrug. “Whatever. You brought it up.”

What should I say? No, no, I want to know. Tell me about her. Tell me about you. Tell me what you’re doing here, where your family is, and let me meet your friends. Tell me you like me. Tell me we’ll go to the baseball game and joke around with our friends and kiss in public and laugh like normal teenagers.

Tell me I’m crazy for thinking you’re holding back from me as much as I’m hiding you.

We stay there, the silence weighing heavy inside the truck, and I wonder if we should get back to school. Fifth period would’ve started by now.

But I look down, and I see something silver in the compartment on the door. Reaching down, I pluck it out and hold it up.

The small, triangular object shines, and I can feel the line grooves where your fingers are supposed to grip.

“A guitar pick?” I look at him. “You play?”

He stares at it, and something I can’t place passes in his eyes. Like fear, almost.

But he slowly shakes his head. “No. It’s probably one of my friends’.”


Thanks for reading!!

PUNK 57 is HERE!!!!

Friday, October 21st, 2016

My eight book is LIVE! Thanks to all of the bloggers who’ve read and reviewed already, the readers who’ve pre-ordered, and everyone who’s helping celebrate today! I certainly hope you’re ready. Ryen and Misha are special, and I loved writing them. I hope you love them, too.

Please follow my Facebook page today and throughout next week. Lots of giveaways and festivities going on —>

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HAPPY READING!! And again, thank you for reviewing!!