Authors: Stephanie Summers
by Stephanie Summers
© 2015, Stephanie Summers
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and settings are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, names, locales, organizations, or persons living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Cover design by Kris Pittman at C&K Creations
Edited by Cynthia Shepp
A huge thank you to Kiki Chatfield and the ladies at The Next Step PR. I can never say thank you enough for the work you’ve performed. You ladies rock!
To Ruth Martin, thank you for being such an awesome PA and friend! You’ve made life so much easier for me.
Thank you so much to Kris Pittman for the gorgeous cover.
To Cynthia Shepp, your input, advice, and editing expertise is always appreciated.
To Beth, what can I say? You’ve become one of my rocks, and I cherish our friendship. Thanks for helping me step back from the ledge more than a time or two!
To my friends, family, and readers who have been nothing but supportive along the way, you mean more to me than you can ever know. I’ve had to learn a few hard lessons on this journey, but your support has made it easier to keep going. Much love!
Other books available by Stephanie Summers:
The Take Me Duet
Take Me On
Take Me Home
The Willow Creek Vampires Series
The Bludworth Chronicles
CHAPTER 1 – EVIE ADAMS
One tiny moment in time. That’s all it takes to cause a life to go to shambles or to bring another out of the darkness. Everyone has that one thing that slammed into life as they knew it and hurdled them onto a different path, maybe even one they were never really meant to go down. The one that completely changed who they are and the person they would’ve become. Looking back on that moment can become so clear and so focused that it drags you back in time as if you’re reliving every second of it. All the joy, sorrow, anger, bitterness, happiness, smiles, tears… All of it’s there, just like it was the first time around.
The second my life changed was the day Jet Flanagan decided to speak to me for the first time. It was a simple request that very easily could’ve passed without another thought had anyone else made it, but because it came from him, my life was forever changed. For better or worse, I couldn’t say, but definitely changed.
I met Jet in study hall my junior year of high school. The class was given some bullshit fancy name like
Learning Skills Lab
but it was really just a filler class. A more suitable name would have been social skills lab or something equally as ridiculous because socializing was the only thing that ever seemed to be accomplished. But for me, it was a catch-up-on-reading class. I was far too shy at the time to strike up a random conversation with someone I didn’t know very well and since only one of my friends had taken the class, that left me alone on days when she was absent or busy talking to someone else.
Jet was a senior and the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen. It wasn’t unusual for his gunmetal gray eyes to be framed in a thin line of black kohl and his hair to hang around his face in a sexy, leave-me-the-fuck-alone sort of way, almost like it was a shield meant to keep everyone from seeing the real him. He was a little bit goth and just edgy enough to stand out from all the other boys who seemed to blend together.
Of course, his reputation helped set him apart, too. He was known to be someone you didn’t fuck with lest you wanted an ass beating or sacrificed to Satan or some other crazy rumor made up about him because of his looks and the heavy metal band T-shirts he wore. Most gave him a wide berth. Maybe I should have, too, but that was the thing about the past. It can’t be changed, no matter how clearly we can see the consequences when we look back.
I stole glances at him as often as I could, always trying to be discreet. When I got to class before him, I’d catch a glimpse as he walked through the door. My stomach would flutter every single time. He would walk past me to get to his seat, the fresh scent of Irish Spring lingering in the air, and I’d think to myself that I needed to get my parents to buy some just so I could smell him any time I wanted. Watching him from across the lunchroom had become a favorite pastime of mine, too. I could get a good eye full without him ever noticing me.
For all the looking I did, the thought of speaking to him made my stomach twist into tight bundles of knots. I’d often found myself fantasizing about running my hand through his silky, black hair, imagining how soft it would be against my palm and tangling around my fingers. Picturing myself playfully tugging on the chain that led from his wallet to his belt to get his attention, I could almost feel how warm his lips would be if they gently touched mine as he leaned in for a much-desired kiss. Actually opening my mouth and letting something as simple as
That didn’t cross my mind at all.
When I wasn’t daydreaming about Jet, I usually found myself flipping through a magazine or jotting thoughts down in my journal to waste the sixty-minute class away. On a particularly boring day, I pulled out an issue of
and opened it to an interview with my favorite band. Eager to dive straight into the meat of the article, for once, I was oblivious to my surroundings until a whisper tickled my ear from somewhere behind me.
The vibration of his voice coaxed the fine hairs on my skin to prickle. “Hey… Can I see that when you’re finished?” His voice—much richer and deeper than any boy I’d ever spoken to—sent a shiver rolling over my flesh.
I turned to find him looking at me with a slight grin on his face. His eyes, more blue than grey that day, focused intently on me, and the rest of the room melted away. The chatter faded, leaving only Jet and me.
I cleared my throat, which had immediately gone dry. “Oh, yeah… Sure.”
I faced forward, prepared to continue reading the magazine. My hands trembled a little, causing the pages to rustle. It sounded as loud as rapid gunfire to my ears, though I doubt anyone else noticed. I drew in a quick breath and held it there a few seconds too long. The dizzying feeling left me as soon as I exhaled and took another breath. It was clear to me that I was too worked up to finish reading the article. My eyes only roamed over the words. None of it sunk in at all or made any sense to me, so I turned and handed the magazine to him with a smile. “Here… I can look at it later.”
“Thanks. I hardly ever get to read these anymore,” he said, sliding into the desk next to me.
My heart pounded while I alternated tapping my index and middle fingers against my thigh. As my fingers kept their tapping up, I wondered what about his life had kept him from reading a magazine. I couldn’t imagine not having the time to at least flip through one at the store, even if I didn’t feel like buying it right then, but then not everyone had been blessed with a family that did well for itself. Maybe he couldn’t afford to buy one. Or maybe he worked outside of school and really didn’t have the time. Or maybe I was overthinking the whole stupid thing to begin with. Did it really matter why? Whatever the reason, it’d caused him to speak to me, and that’s all that really mattered right then.
Suddenly aware of my nervous tic, I grabbed my journal and started doodling on one of the blank pages. His foot—wearing silver Chuck Taylors—nearly grazed the tip of my combat-boot adorned foot as he turned in his seat and stretched his legs out into the aisle. When he leaned forward to read the magazine, his elbows rested on his thighs and the top of his head was so close to me that the urge I normally had to touch his hair damn near made me embarrass myself by actually doing it. If it wouldn’t have made me feel like a fool, I might’ve actually sat on my hands to keep from acting on my urges.
A few minutes later, he straightened up and handed the magazine back. Leaning forward again, he said, “It’s cool to see a chick with good taste in music. Do you play or just listen?”
“I have a guitar, but I’m not all that good at it.” Not good at it was the understatement of the year. In fact, I knew nothing about playing guitar. It had been a gift from my grandparents for Christmas with no lessons to go along with it. The most I’d accomplished was to pluck at the strings here and there or dance around with it in front of my bedroom mirror, pretending I was a kick-ass female rock star like Joan Jett or PJ Harvey.
“Cool. I play guitar. Maybe I could show you how sometime.”
Holy Mother of God
was what ran through my mind, but, “Sweet,” was all I could manage to say.
“I don’t really live close to you, but I can usually get wherever I need to be if you want to meet up.”
The fact that he apparently knew where I lived settled heavily on me, sparking my heart to beat faster to bear the extra weight. Was it possible he’d noticed me the same way I had him? I couldn’t see my cheeks, but I hoped they weren’t turning as bright red as the dyed streaks in my hair.
“I live on Matteo Street. It’s near the back side of the cemetery,” I said, just in case he had me confused with someone else.
“Yeah, I know. I used to go over that way sometimes. My friend, Oliver, used to live a couple of houses down from you for a while.”
“Oliver? I don’t know any Oliver,” I said, searching my brain to figure out who he meant. I finally had a lightbulb moment. “Oh, you mean Big?”
Big was… well, big. Not fat, just big. Tall and solid, he always wore a scowl on his face. He was nicer than most gave him credit for though, and I’d been a little bummed when he moved away because he walked home from school with me and kept some of the jerks in the neighborhood from bothering me, namely a couple of guys named Preston Payne and Blake Stewart who liked to say vulgar things that made my skin crawl.
“Yeah, that’s him,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve seen you outside of your house a few times.”
Okay, so he wasn’t confused, but I sure as hell was. I simply couldn’t comprehend that a boy I had a massive crush on who I thought didn’t even know I existed knew where I lived. And not only that, but he’d also been so close to my house, and I missed out on the chance to look at him from afar.
“I’m usually home by four. Why don’t you just stop over one day?”
“Maybe I will…”
And I waited with bated breath for nearly two weeks before I finally exhaled, resigned to the fact that he wasn’t going to show up no matter how many times I willed him to. We’d spoken nearly every day after that first conversation, but it usually involved talking about whichever magazine I had with me at the time or the latest song by whatever band we both liked. Occasionally, he’d draw something in my journal or comment on some of the things I’d drawn. Nothing earth shattering by any means.
“He’ll show up when you least expect him to,” my best friend Sophie said. “And if he doesn’t, then you can move on to someone else. Plenty of guys to choose from.”
“If only it were that easy.” I sighed.
Sophie was the only person who knew just how ridiculously bad I had it for Jet. I had a couple of other friends who knew I thought he was cute, but they didn’t know the extent of my obsession. They didn’t know that my entire world revolved around all things Jet.
It was a Friday afternoon, and school had let out early. Sophie came over to spend the night like she often did on the weekends, and we sat in the middle of my bedroom floor, lamenting over our crushes while sorting through the clothes from my closet that I rarely wore. She had a small pile next to her of things she decided to claim, and the rest I no longer wanted or needed would be donated.
“Oh, cute skirt,” Sophie said, folding the just-above-knee-length, black garment carefully and placing it on her pile. “You know, Preston can be a jerk, but I think it’s because he likes you.”
“I highly doubt that. I don’t think sexual harassment is a healthy way to express that you like someone.”
“He’s just an idiot showing off for his friends. When he’s by himself, he’s actually kind of sweet. Blake is the real weirdo in that friendship. You know, Jenny told me he wanted to do nasty things to her when they dated. That’s why she dumped him.”