Authors: Addison Moore
Edited by Paige Maroney Smith
Cover Design: Gaffey Media
Hollis Thatcher Press, Ltd
Copyright © 2016 by Addison Moore
This novel is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to peoples either living or deceased is purely coincidental. Names, places, and characters are figments of the author’s imagination. The author holds all rights to this work. It is illegal to reproduce this novel without written expressed consent from the author herself.
All Rights Reserved.
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Copyright © 2016 by Addison Moore
3:AM Kisses (3:AM Kisses 1)
Winter Kisses (3:AM Kisses 2)
Sugar Kisses (3:AM Kisses 3)
Whiskey Kisses (3:AM Kisses 4)
Rock Candy Kisses (3:AM Kisses 5)
Velvet Kisses (3:AM Kisses 6)
Wild Kisses (3:AM Kisses 7)
Country Kisses (3:AM Kisses 8)
Forbidden Kisses (3:AM Kisses 9)
Dirty Kisses (3:AM Kisses 10)
Stolen Kisses (3:AM Kisses 11)
Burning Through Gravity (Burning Through Gravity 1)
A Thousand Starry Nights (Burning Through Gravity 2)
Fire in an Amber Sky (Burning Through Gravity 3)
Beautiful Oblivion (Beautiful Oblivion 1)
Beautiful Illusions (Beautiful Oblivion 2)
Beautiful Elixir (Beautiful Oblivion 3)
The Solitude of Passion
Someone to Love (Someone to Love 1)
Someone Like You (Someone to Love 2)
Someone For Me (Someone to Love 3)
Young Adult Romance
Melt With You (A Totally ’80s Romance 1)
Tainted Love (A Totally ’80s Romance 2)
Hold Me Now (A Totally ’80s Romance 3)
(Celestra Book World in Order)
Ethereal (Celestra Series Book 1)
Tremble (Celestra Series Book 2)
Burn (Celestra Series Book 3)
Wicked (Celestra Series Book 4)
Vex (Celestra Series Book 5)
Expel (Celestra Series Book 6)
Toxic Part One (Celestra Series Book 7)
Toxic Part Two (Celestra Series Book 8)
Elysian (Celestra Series Book 9)
Perfect Love (A Celestra Novella)
Ephemeral (The Countenance Trilogy 1)
Evanescent (The Countenance Trilogy 2)
Entropy (The Countenance Trilogy 3)
Ethereal Knights (Celestra Knights)
Season of the Witch (A Celestra Companion)
Celestra Forever After (Celestra Forever After 1)
The Dragon and the Rose (Celestra Forever After 2)
The Serpentine Butterfly (Celestra Forever After 3)
Crown of Ashes (Celestra Forever After 4) Soon!
hen my siblings
and I were young, we didn’t seem to notice the fact we basked in familial perfection, our nuclear family of five so tight like the bud of a rose. But as the years wore on, the flower slowly opened to the cold, cruel world, and one by one the petals fell to the ground until our family unit as we knew it had legally disbanded. At the age of ten, I had to face my parents’ bitter divorce head-on. It was as painful for me as it was my siblings. We devised a secret pact to reunite our mother and father no matter what the cost, but not a single plan our little minds pieced together had the power to prosper. All hope was truly lost.
Mom began dating first. My siblings and I made sure to torment her dapper suitors until they ran for the proverbial childfree hills. My mother, of course, caught on to our little shooing scheme, and from there on out sheltered us from her would-be Prince Charmings until one day she met the person she referred to as Mr. Right—a man who was shockingly not our father. We were quick to correct her. This was Mr.
Right. Not a single man who walked on the planet, save for our father, could ever be right for our mother. Mom didn’t feel the same. She married her second catch of the day—another nickname she bestowed to
, although my siblings and I bestowed him something far more fitting, The Nine Inch Forehead.
But my father—he still pined for her. It was painful to witness. He wanted the divorce as much as she did, but to see her leash herself to another man was too much for him to bear. My siblings and I grew closer to our father. We became the four musketeers. My father is my hero, my friend, my everything. He would never abandon us and start a new family the way our mother did. Enter Lynette Toberman. I don’t like her. I don’t like her name, her fake spray tan, her over bleached glow-in-the-dark teeth. I don’t like the way she sits too close to my father, the way she pets him as if he were a dog, or the way she calls him Snookums. Mostly, I don’t care for her son, Rex Toberman, who seems to have made it his mission in life to torment me, to prod at my sanity with his sarcastic quips and sexist remarks—the ultra annoying way he seems to have somehow seeped into my social circle at the university we both attend.
Who cares if he’s the star quarterback of Whitney Briggs’s football team? Who cares if he’s the only thing every person with a set of functioning ovaries seems to drool over? He’s a jackass of a human being. Case in point, he’s the chief idiotic reason my father should never date Lynette Toberman, nor entertain her in his company. Her son is a pretentious jock-player-manwhore who burns through condoms faster than the cheerleading squad can exit his bedroom.
Rex Toberman needs to be stopped, neutered, bound, and gagged for the safety and sanity of the female population at large.
But tonight, Rex is looking at me with those hungry, soulful eyes. His lips part just enough as he comes in close, his breath beats softly over my neck. He gives the impression of a dirty grin as he closes the distance between us, his mouth about to cover mine.
Tonight, I don’t think I’m going to stop Rex Toberman from doing a single thing.
and I just pulled up to the Happy Squirrel! Can’t wait to see you tonight. Don’t be a puss. Just because you’re lonely doesn’t mean you can’t be happy for Duncky and me. See you soon!
Without meaning to, I frown at my sister’s text message longer than should ever be deemed healthy or allowed. Summer is finally upon us, and I can tell by looking at my sister’s malicious message that it’s about to get off to a rocky start. Duncan—or Duncky as it were, is Sabrina’s latest acquisition of the boy-toy variety. He’s about as attractive as oatmeal and has the personality to match. I should know. He was my boyfriend first.
The doors to the Black Bear Saloon open wide as a crowd of heavily perfumed sorority girls make their way inside. The scent of fries takes over, and the after aroma of something smooth and minty seeps into the warm night like curling fingers beckoning me inside. I follow the sorority salmon upstream and head into the thick of bodies congesting the eatery. The Black Bear is the only bar in range of three major universities, so it’s always packed for the obvious reasons—not to mention their menu is pretty kick ass. For the single semester I’ve been at Whitney Briggs University, I’ve basically shackled myself to any TV show that features food as its main event. I’m just dying to get back to a functioning kitchen. Back home, it was me who cooked all our family meals once my mother packed up and left for greener familial pastures. At WB, I’ve reduced myself to cafeteria offerings and whatever special the Black Bear serves, and have I mentioned my new fascination with inhaling donuts? At first, I relegated my glazed fix to the holiest day of all, confectionary pun intended—Sunday. All the livelong sacred day, I eat nothing but warm, glazed, sticky goodness. I’ve even gotten my roommate, Daisy, in on the sugar-filled action. It’s safe to say I’ve gained my freshman fifteen, and then some.
It’s a touch cooler in here, elbow to elbow standing room withstanding. It’s six in the evening, and it’s still a blistering eighty degrees outside. If the torturous weather is any indication, the next two days will be a lingering hell. I’m due to spend an entire weekend at Lake Avalanche with my father and his
—her family and ours together for one long excruciating exercise in seeing who’ll gift themselves a lobotomy first just to dull the pain. Only thanks to my quick sophisticating planning skills, I won’t be needing to participate in the lobotomy-laden fun. I’ve convinced Colin Bale to come along with me. Once Colin sees the family-fest about to commence, I’m sure his frat brat brain will deduce this won’t be the sex-laden evening I hinted at, and he’ll practically teleport us off that mountain. I may have omitted the fact that my brother, sister, and father will be present at our lakeside retreat, or that it’s a mind-numbing event meant to span the entire God-forsaken weekend. Nope. I’m betting every dirty dollar I own Colin isn’t having any of it. He’ll be sure to bring us back to Hollow Brook asap, and I won’t be forced to grin and bear it while my sister dry humps my ex-boyfriend—a sexually deviant sport I regret to say I’ve witnessed a time or two.
A brunette gives a friendly wave from the bar, and I wave right back as I thread my way over. Roxy Capwell is a totally cool chick who also happens to be the nicest person on the planet,
she happens to be the owner of Sprinkles Cupcakes. I responded to her help wanted ad in hopes of getting a job that might actually nail me down to Hollow Brook for the summer in lieu of the internship I’m suspecting my father is about to offer me at his shipping company. If there’s anything as boring as Duncan Wormier, it’s clocking eight solid hours at Kent Shipping and Receiving. Who am I kidding? Working a never-ending shift at Kent Shipping is like being trapped in Disneyland compared to hanging out with my “worm” of an ex.
“Hey, girl!” Roxy swoops in and offers up a quick vanilla-scented hug. Speaking of never-ending work, Roxy is pretty much locked in her kitchen baking batch after batch of sticky sweet treats for the world to enjoy. Sounds like heaven to me, which is precisely why I applied for a summer position. “So, you want to bake, huh?” We both slide into our respective stools at the bar. Roxy is pretty in a scary Goth kind of way with her long black hair and cherry highlights. I’ve seen Roxy in every variation of crimson this past semester. She’s even nailed my own midnight-ruby shade once or twice. In the henna of all ironies, my natural hair color is what she’s shooting for from the box.
“Actually, I love cooking in general. I hate the fact Cutler Tower—”
She cuts me off, “Doesn’t have a kitchen?”
“Yes!” We share a quick high five and a witch’s cackle. “So you must have gone through the same food-related withdrawal.”
“Are you kidding? I was so desperate I moved into an apartment with my best friend’s brother—a total womanizing ass who I couldn’t stand.” She looks as if she’s about to heave.
Her boyfriend, Cole, pops up on the other end of the bar with two strawberry daiquiris in hand.
“Speaking of the womanizing ass.” Roxy propels halfway over the bar, and they share a warm kiss.
My mouth opens at the tawdry revelation. “So, you’re together now?”
“Forever and always.” Cole gives her a heated bedroom eyes kind of a look, and my own face heats ten degrees. I guess you can say I’m a blusher, and a slight prude, and, of course, the blushing, prudish math equation easily narrows itself down to the fact I happen to be a virgin.
Cole snaps out of his bedroom-eyed trance and grins while sliding the drinks our way. “On the house. A virgin to kick the night off.” He winks over at me as if he’s just read my thoughts, and I cringe.
They go on cooing and laughing between themselves a moment while I sip on the fun, fruity drink he just gifted me. Cole and Roxy are the most adorable couple together. I’ve enjoyed both his goofy jokes and her morbid disposition ever since school started last fall.
“A virgin is perfect. Thank you!” Perfect indeed. There’s no way I’m getting tanked within ten feet of Colin Bale’s testicles—
. What’s the difference? Colin is legendary for his not-so-smooth night moves. The only reason I asked him to Lake Avalanche was to relegate him as my get-the-hell-out-of-the-Happy-Squirrel-tonight-card—the Happy Squirrel Retreat being ground zero in just a few hours. My parents let my siblings and me name our cabin back when it belonged to my happy-go-lucky family, prior to the fact that cozy little getaway became community property, and just after that, the sole proprietorship of my father once he bought my mother out.
“Virgin.” Roxy shudders as she picks up her drink as if the non-coital state of the refreshment had somehow offended her. I wonder how she would feel if she knew that I myself were of the non-coital variety. That alone is probably a valid reason why Duncan saw fit to migrate toward my big sis, Slutty Sabrina. For as far back as junior high, Sabrina was obsessed with
. Of course, she waited a respectable amount of time in her teenaged mind, all the way up until the ripe age of sixteen. She was like a bull out the sexual gate right there at her sweet sixteen birthday bash. Suffice it to say, lots of non-virgin party drinks were involved and a boy named Trent Woods, who ironically used his woody to deflower my not-so innocent sister. Sabrina has been a model of debutante depravity ever since.
“Is that a touch of the South I hear in your voice?” Roxy leans in just as the band starts to cue up, and she shakes her head as if to forget it.
“Was. I moved here from Tennessee back in junior high. Any trace of an accent is gone with the wind for the most part.” My best friend, Cassidy, however, is all but Miss Tennessee. She and I were close back in the Tennessee day. She recently transferred to WB with her accent holding just as strong and cute as ever. Roxy knows Cassidy, so, of course, she’s familiar with the accent. I could only wish I sounded as seductive and adorable as my blonde little bestie.
“So you got the gig.” Roxy shrugs like it was no big deal.
“The gig?” I suck in a lungful of perfumed air as a flock of coeds make their way to the dance floor. “Oh my goodness!” I lunge over her with a hug. “Thank you! Thank you so much! You won’t be sorry, I swear it. I promise to bake my little heart out. Baking is my passion. Just tell me when and where you want me.” It’s true. I love to bake with the best of them. The outdoors is still my first love, but I can’t explain this insatiable urge to find the nearest kitchen and Frankenstein the ever-loving crap out of food. It’s as if once my mother left us I’ve had a tiny Betty Crocker just bursting to get out of me, and up until that point, I had no clue about it. Only now that I’ve been away at Briggs, the urge to whip up an entire mountain of kitchen concoctions has multiplied by a thousand. I suspect sequestering myself in my dorm room with the Food Network and a never-ending supply of Ramen noodles might have something to do with it.
“It’ll mostly be frosting cupcakes and deliveries in the beginning.”
“Deliveries?” My voice hitches when I say it. Just the thought of losing this awesome opportunity over something as ridiculous as my fear of driving the hellish highways is enough to make me overturn every table in this bar. I hate that I’ve let something as stupid as my paranoia of dying a fiery death at my own negligent hands get the better of me. Another reason why I’ve enlisted Colin Bale to escort me to Lake Avalanche—three different highways, innumerous lane changes at sixty miles an hour, and a death drop of about six thousand and fifty feet are involved.
The Black Bear house band, the 12 Deadly Sins, starts up and the noise volume hikes several octaves.
Roxy sways her head to the music. “Just local stuff.” My entire body relaxes once again. If I’m anything, I’m the queen of side streets. “And as the summer progresses, I’ll teach you a few tricks and tips.” Regarding baking, I’m sure—not driving, but a part of me wouldn’t mind the latter. I find it fascinating that every single person I know doesn’t have a problem navigating in this vehicular world. She takes a long swig of her drink before hopping off the stool. “I’m in charge of the cakes for my friends’ weddings this summer, so I’ll need you to take over during those weeks—filling regular customer orders and running a few extra deliveries.”
“Yes, of course!”
“Then it’s a deal.” We shake on it, and she nods past me. “It’s quitting time for Cole, so we thought we’d head out to the beach for a late night swim. I’ll call you.”
“Sounds like a great idea. And thank you so much for the job! I can’t wait to get started!”
No sooner does Roxy take off than my smile fades as I spot Rex Toberman in the back with an entire gaggle of gorgeous girls, every last one of them with their long tan creamy legs, their hair slicked back in ponytails. It used to be that the notorious girls of Alpha Chi forced each of their members, and wannabe members, to don the face lift inducing hairstyle, but since my friends and I shut them down, the only group that collectively partakes in the sleek pulled back ’do as a group are the cheerleaders.
Rex is the quarterback of the football team here at Briggs. He’s the campus’s unofficial Adonis mascot, at least where the cheerleaders are concerned. Thus, the cornering of the ponytail brigade. Rex is handsome by most all standards with his dark thick glossy hair, his brooding affect, and piercing I’m-going-to-fuck-you-now gaze that sends the girls a titter.
He casually glances my way, missing me by a cheerleader-ponytail-in-the-way-mile, and my stomach squeezes tight at the sight of his cut features, that perennial five o’clock stubble, and those tight in all the right places well-worn jeans. My body breaks out into a bite of hot sweat, and my heart thuds clear into my throat like the lunatic it is. I hate that I have this visceral reaction each time he’s around. More than that, I hate that both he and his moronic family
seem to be around.
His eyes meet up with mine, and he raises a hand in my direction. That egotistical grin of his briefly takes over. A small crowd melts between us, and I pretend not to have seen his smug little grin as I make my way to the table that houses my friends.
Piper stands just as I arrive. “I was just about to grab my man and hit the dance floor. You ready for your big getaway weekend at the lake?” Piper is a dark-haired beauty, almost a twin to her older brother, Cade.
“How did you know about my getaway weekend?” I glance back at the growing cheerleader pyramid assembling around Rex. “Never mind. I can surmise.” Rex is best buds with Piper’s main squeeze, Owen. As much as I appreciate the boys we hang out with now and again, I loathe the fact Rex has grafted himself among them. It’s sort of a fluke really. His friends and my friends just so happen to be friends—just like it’s sort of a very big fucking fluke our parents are dating. Fucking fluke… The words marinate in my mind a moment. Geez, they’re not
, are they?
“Never mind how she knew.” Cassidy snaps me out of my gag-worthy stupor. “How did I not know?” She springs up with her blonde ringlets falling neatly over her shoulders, the scent of gardenia in her wake. Cassidy has a scar running from her lip to her ear on the left side of her face, and she’s spent a lifetime trying to bury it in her shoulder whenever she’s out in public—up until she met her boyfriend, Cade, that is. Cade has pretty much freed her from her need to conceal her best weapon, her pretty little face. I’ve never seen Cassidy so happy. Heck, I’ve never seen Piper so over-the-top happy now that she’s with Owen. Not that I think a girl needs a man to put a smile on her face. Nope, not me. I’m as free as can be, and I don’t mind it one bit, with the exception of Colin Bale and his very much-needed role in my emancipation from Witch Mountain tonight. I’d rather stab my eyeballs out with a fork and eat them—after I sauté them in butter, of course—than broil in the family stew for forty-eight hellish hours.
“Trust me, I’m not spending the weekend,” I assure Cass as I pull her into a quick embrace.
My roommate, Daisy, pops up out of her seat and thrashes her fist in the air to the music. I’ve known Daisy going back to high school. She’s one year older, so next year she’ll be a junior to my sophomore. Daisy is pre-law like me, but that’s about where the similarities end. She’s as blonde and blue-eyed as Cassidy, and as extroverted as I am introverted. Cassidy, Daisy, Piper, and I have become fast friends ever since the beginning of the school year, and we’ve had no problem accepting one another’s differences.