Authors: Emily Snow
Tags: #Teen, #love, #Second Chance, #Sex, #Summer Romance, #New Adult, #Emily Snow, #Second Vere
Copyright © July 2015 by Emily Snow Books
Cover designed by LM Creations and Edited by The Word Maid.
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real places are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and events are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. 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 permission from the publisher in writing. For information message [email protected].
From the moment Kinsey Brock walks in on Emmett Hudson in the shower, she knows he’s going to be trouble. He’s sex with a Southern accent and a guitar, and he makes her heart go from zero to sixty just by darting his intense moss green eyes in her direction. But he’s also the grandson of the woman who took Kinsey in when she had no one else—and that means he’s off-limits.
Too bad for Kinsey that word isn’t in Emmett’s vocabulary.
sure as hell are.
**NOTE: Set eight years before the standalone novel
(Coming July 2015), this prequel novella tells the story of Kinsey and Emmett’s first moments together. Both stories are intended for mature audiences.
Click the link below to listen to the FIRST VERSE playlist while you read:
h my god, I can’t believe we made it!” the girl standing on my right choked out. She turned toward me and grabbed my forearm. Tears shimmered in her giant, chocolate brown, Disney princess eyes. Lord, she was open-mouth crying. I felt like an official ass for being dry-eyed when she—and most of the other girls around us—were crying. “We made it!” she repeated in a garbled voice.
“Yeah, we did,” I said in a stunned, monotone voice, pulling my arm away from her death grip of enthusiasm. We’d had show choir together earlier this year, but other than that, I knew nothing about her—only that her last name came alphabetically after Brock, my last name.
Still, she was excited. Who was I to ruin her good mood just because the reality of today terrified me?
I dropped my gaze to the football field’s manicured grass, curling my yellow-painted toes in my white sandals. “Good luck. With ... college, I guess.” I had heard her telling the football player sitting on her other side that she was going to Augusta State in the fall.
“You too, Kinsey!”
Grabbing my necklace, I fiddled with the thin silver chain the key hung from and mumbled, “I’m not going this year.” Luckily, she didn’t hear me, because, when I lifted my attention from a bald patch of grass, she had turned in the other direction and was jumping up and down with a small congregation of her friends, celebrating their escape from high school with even more open-mouth crying and high-pitched squees of accomplishment.
Speaking of escape ...
Sucking in a harsh breath of fresh air and shielding my eyes from the harsh mid-morning sun, I maneuvered through the sea of unzipped black robes and diplomas, determined to find my foster mom so we could leave before the traffic became insane. The hand cupped over my eyes felt sweaty against my forehead—a reminder of just how nervous I was. Later today, I would bring up the subject I’d been terrified to talk about with Mrs. H for the last few months.
I’d turned eighteen a couple weeks ago, in the middle of May. And now, I was a high school graduate, which scared the hell out of me, because the woman who’d taken care of me since late last year was no longer obligated to me. In my nearly two year run of foster parents—three homes counting hers—Mrs. Hudson was the first person who hadn’t treated me like a paycheck.
I didn’t want to lose her.
“Stop worrying,” I hissed to myself, approaching the concrete bleachers overflowing with my classmates’ friends and families. “At least until we get home.” But I stopped short when I noticed a familiar face. It wasn’t my parents—I hadn’t been stupid or naïve enough to believe they’d show up and everything would magically be right in the world—but it was the petite aerial acrobat I’d met at a performing arts camp in seventh grade.
Though she was from Savannah and I’d lived in and around Atlanta my entire life, Lyra Amador and I had kept in touch, talking every couple of days on the phone or online. I’d moved so many times since we’d met that she was one of the few things that was consistent in my life.
“Lyra!” I shouted, a smile splitting my face. She whipped her head around in the direction of my voice. Once she spotted me, she grinned broadly and held her hand high in the air, moving it from side to side. Even her version of waving looked fluid, beautiful.
, she mouthed, rolling her eyes. She gestured down to the line of well-wishers crowding her path off the bleachers.
I nodded. I was just ecstatic she was here. When I had invited her to graduation last month, she had told me she would move heaven and earth to be there, but I wasn’t so sure. Lyra had—literally—ran away and joined a traveling circus after she turned seventeen last year, and they were touring this summer.
I envied her.
Lived vicariously through the colorful postcards she’d sent from the various locales she’d visited.
But most of all, I adored her. This girl who’d only seen me in person a total of fifteen days—at camp in seventh grade, and once when I hitched a ride with my cousin to Savannah two summers back, just before shit hit the fan. She cared enough to make it to my high school graduation when my own family hadn’t.
Noticing she had managed to wiggle out of the crowd and was on her way across the field, I rushed toward her, not even caring when one of the straps of my shoes broke. “You came!” I exclaimed breathlessly as soon as she was close enough to hear me.
She stopped a few steps away from me, placed her hands on her slim hips, and gave me a stern look. “Are you screwing with me? Of course I came! I can’t believe you ever doubted me.” Then she shrugged and the corners of her smoky gray eyes wrinkled right before she threw herself into my arms. I held on tight. “For what it’s worth, the rental car company charged me a kidney because of my age, so when that voice of yours makes you rich and famous someday, don’t forget me or I’ll release all your filthy secrets to TMZ.”
“Thanks for the heads up,” I said. But I was relieved. Even though our time spent together in person had been so limited, being around Lyra face-to-face still felt right.
“Happy graduation day!” She took a step back and took me in—from my broken white, strappy sandals to my unzipped robe over my white eyelet halter dress. Settling her stare on my face, she beamed. “And holy crap, Kinz, when did you go blonde?”
“Couple of days ago. I wanted to try something different, so Mrs. H took me to her hairdresser as a graduation gift.” Casting her a come-hither look similar to the ones used in shampoo commercials, I sifted my fingers through my shoulder-length, Barbie-blonde locks and then whipped my hair over my shoulder. “Don’t ask me how I feel about it yet.”
“I ... like it!”
I pressed my lips into a skeptical line and twisted my head to the side. “You don’t have to lie, I—” But then I spotted Mrs. H slowly making her way down the bleachers, and the words trailed off. My foster mother’s dark eyes locked with mine. When she smiled at me—one of those expressions that overflowed with pride and happiness—the pressure that had sat on my chest eased just slightly.
Maybe I was safe.
Maybe ... maybe she wouldn’t care if I stuck around for a little while.
proud of someone they intended to boot out on the streets, right?
Following my stare, Lyra’s glossy lips parted in an
of comprehension. “I take it that’s the incredible Mrs. H?”
I nodded and grabbed her hand. “Here, I’ll introduce you.” Before I dragged her off, I lifted an eyebrow. “Please say you can at least spend the night. You might as well get some use out of the rental car you sacrificed your spleen for.”
She started to say something, but then threw her head back and laughed. “Actually it was a kidney, but you’re right. Lead the way, lover. I’m all yours for the rest of the night as long as your mom says I can crash.”
“I know you’re tired of me saying this, but your foster mom lives in a mansion,” Lyra said several hours later. With Mrs. H’s blessing, we’d stopped by a few graduation parties after dinner. When Drew Ferguson’s poolside bash was busted by the cops less than thirty minutes after we arrived, Lyra and I ended our celebratory evening prematurely. I couldn’t afford to get into any more trouble, and besides, the only other party was hosted by the douche-canoe who’d made it a point to lie to his friends (and anyone else who cared to listen) about how we ended our first—and only—date six months ago.
Mrs. Hudson was sound asleep when Lyra and I got back, so we raided the stash of lemonade-flavored alcohol bottles I kept in the back of my closet and took them down to the private pond at the entrance to the property.
“I’m serious, I don’t ever want to leave.” Lyra took a swig out of her bottle and sighed. “This—this is heaven, Kinz.”
“But if you stayed, you wouldn’t see Ronan again,” I reminded her, singing the name of the man she’d frequently gushed about since she’d left Savannah last year. I’d heard about him since we were still in middle school (when she’d met him), and he’d heavily influenced her decision to follow her dream last year. Lyra shot me a dark, warning look then laid back on the pink and brown crocheted blanket she’d taken off the daybed in my bedroom.
“Or are you going to swear up and down it’s complicated?” I probed.
She groaned, dragging her hands over her soft features, ruffling her black hair, before staring up at the stars. “It’s been complicated since I first laid eyes on him.” When I stretched out beside her, she turned her head slightly, and I swallowed hard at the moisture glistening at the corner of her eyes. My chest clenched painfully. “Now, it’s just ... shit, it’s painful.”
“I’m so sorry,” I whispered.
She shook her head. “But we’re not here to talk about me or that fire-breathing bastard. I want to know what’s next for you.”
Damn. I should’ve known she’d want to talk about my future, and what was I supposed to say? If I were a bigger dreamer—if I were
—I’d say I was going to be a star. That, in a year, she’d hear my voice on Q100, but when I spoke, my voice faltered. “I-I honestly don’t know. Hell, I don’t even know where I’ll be living in a month.”
Propping herself up on her elbows, she nodded in the direction of Mrs. Hudson’s Victorian house, several acres from where we lounged by the pond. “If you’re still worried that woman up there is going to kick you out just because you’re eighteen and out of high school, you’re ridiculous. She cares about you. I mean, she came right out and called you her granddaughter when she took that call at dinner.”
Mrs. H had taken us into the city, to a restaurant on Peachtree Street earlier this evening. When a call from her son had interrupted us, she told him point blank she was out with her honorary granddaughter and a friend celebrating my graduation. Whatever he said next had pissed her off, because she’d icily reminded him that visitation was a two-way street before promising to call him when she got back home. While she never said anything negative, I knew she had visited her son and his family in Dallas last year right before I moved in and that the trip had been disastrous.
She’d returned to Georgia feeling like a burden.
Which is what I felt like when I thought about asking her to stick around after my birthday.
“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that you’ve managed to make a huge impression on her. Since I got here, she’s praised everything from your angelic voice to how neat you keep your bedroom. You’re like Saint Kinsey or something. Trust me, she wants you in her life,” Lyra said, and I released a harsh laugh.
“Just because she likes my voice and doesn’t hide her jewelry from me, doesn’t mean she’ll still want me in her life.”
She narrowed her gray eyes and moved her face close to mine, strands of her short black hair flopping into her face. “First of all, I don’t think she judges you for getting in trouble after the five-finger K-Mart discount you did for your folks over a year ago. No offense, but your parents are jerks and screwed you over
. Secondly, she clearly loves you. I know you have a hard time with that word, but she does.”