Friday, December 23, 2011

Give Yourself Permission

Dude, so it's 1:11 AM right now, and I'm just sitting down to write a blog post. I don't know what this says, but I'm pretty sure it goes against everything I'm about to say. Shocking, I know.

I think it's important to give ourselves permission for things. As a new year approaches and many of us stop to contemplate the last year and what we might like to do differently in the upcoming year, my vote is for you to give yourself permission.

Skip writing for a day if you need to. Maybe for two days. Or three. Sometimes there are more important things.

Don't beat yourself up over this. Give yourself permission.

Feel free to write terribly one day. Maybe two. Or three. Or weeks. It's okay to spew the draft out in the hopes that you can fix it in revisions.

Don't worry about every word being perfect. Give yourself permission to stink it up.

Feeling like the constant noise of the Internet is making you insane? Finding that you're moving into the land of "I Suck" because she has good news and he blah blah and blah blah blah?

Turn it off.

Give yourself permission to be disconnected for a day. Or two. Or three. It's important to be a whole person too, not just an Internet presence. Work on your real relationships and go to work and make dinner and all that other stuff that forms you into who you are.

Don't feel like blogging?


Give yourself permission to scale back, improvise, experiment until you find what works for you. And since I always follow my own advice (ha!), I have given myself permission to take all of next week off from the blog. From a lot of things, actually.

Hope you have a happy holiday season. See you in 2012!

What do you need to give yourself permission to do (or not do)?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton

Okay, so I've been waiting for months to talk about this book, and not only because Brodi Ashton lives here in Utah and is pretty much the Queen of Awesome. But because EVERNEATH has about a million things going for it.

Ready to dive in? Okay, let's go.

About the book: Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.

My take:
1. The cover. One word: Brilliant. I mean, how do you get better, really?

2. The writing. One word: Emotional. And this is exactly the type of writing/story I'm looking for. With deep feelings and a main character that is afraid, but strong, and vulnerable, but willing to act. Nikki is genuinely torn, and that makes for a greatly emotional piece of writing. Which just happens to be my style.

3. The concept. One word: Fantastic. I like the twist on the underworld and the enticing that went on to get Nikki there. I like that many things depend on her returning, and the things that will be left behind if/when she does return. It's all just something that combines together to feel fresh and new to me.

So yeah. I think with any book, we're always looking for a brilliant cover to suck us in, following by writing that's well-done, and a story concept that feels fresh. EVERNEATH delivers on all three.

So add it to your Christmas wish-list!

What do you look for in books?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best of 2011: Books

Dude, so this post could be miles and miles long. I promise I'll do my best just to highlight a few, okay? Okay.

Best Dystopian Read of 2011: PRIZED by Caragh M. O'Brien. It's the second book in the BIRTHMARKED trilogy--and I loved Birthmarked (also read this year). This novel was absolutely amazing. I aspire to write like this.

Runners-Up: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth, ASHFALL by Mike Mullin, THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE by Jeff Hirsch.

Best Contemporary YA: VIRTUOSITY by Jessica Martinez. I've blogged about this book before, so I won't go on and on again. But it's a fabulous read. Buy it for yourself for Christmas.

Runners-Up: MOONGLASS by Jessi Kirby, THE LIAR SOCIETY by Lisa & Laura Roecker, THE DAY BEFORE by Lisa Schroeder, SEAN GRISWOLD'S HEAD by Lindsey Leavitt.

Best Fantasy: THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson. Once again, I've blogged about this book, and I just can't stop thinking about it. I want to write a book in this genre. At the same time, I'm scared I'll do it badly. So yeah. A book that tells a great story and inspires authors to write better. You can't go wrong.

Runners-Up: THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab, CLARITY by Kim Harrington, CHIME by Franny Billingsley, RUBY RED by Kersten Gier

What are you best reads of 2011?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Best of 2011: Movies

Okay, so I'll admit that I don't see a lot of movies. Well, maybe I do, I don't know. But I've decided to do a "best of" series for the end of the year, beginning with movies.

Best Movie of 2011: The Help. Seriously, if you haven't seen it, drop everything and see it. It's fabulous.

Best Children's Movie of 2011: The Muppets. I love this kind of stuff, especially the "Am I Muppet or a Man?" song. Genius.

Movies I Still Love Even if They Didn't Come out in 2011: Despicable Me. I will never tire of this movie. Watch it. Love it.

Most Anticipated Movie of 2011: Harry Potter 7.2. It was well worth the wait, and I loved every minute of it.

Movie I Thought I'd Hate, but Loved: Thor. It just doesn't sound like my "thing." But it was. Oh, it was.

Most Anticipated Move of 2012: The Hunger Games. I simply can not wait to see that! The trailer was awesome, and I have no doubt the feature-length film will deliver.

What movie did you love this year? What are you looking forward to next year?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Introducing Romeo! Er, L.L. Muir... Yeah, That's Right

Okay, so I'm thrilled to have an interview with a friend of mine for you today. L.L. Muir is here with a hilarious post for us to highlight her recently released novel, GOING BACK FOR ROMEO. If you've ever smiled, this book is for you.

The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less:
Jillian is conned back to 1495 Scotland to extricate a plaid-clad Romeo and Juliet before tragedy strikes...w/o falling for the bad guy!

Why e-publishing? Why now?
I have a wonderful agent who is shopping around other novels for me, but GOING BACK FOR ROMEO falls into that small time-travel niche. E-pubbing is all about creating a home for niche stories.

Why now? Because the stigma is dissolving. Best-selling authors are e-pubbing left and right. The ratio of gold vs. fool’s gold is improving by the hour, and agents and editors are finding great new authors from among the e-pubbed lists instead of the slush pile. Where is the shame of being on that list? “E” is the new way to break into the business, not a Scarlet Letter. What is a Scarlet Letter is an e-pubbed book that isn’t ready for prime time. You don’t want that brand. It’s more than skin-deep; it’s a tattoo that can’t be removed later.

What’s the one thing you learned about publishing this way that you didn’t anticipate? The Giddy Factor.

Okay, I’d heard friends tell me how wonderful it was. I wasn’t buying it. I wanted the fairy tale.

The surprise? It really is wonderful. And wonderful started the minute I decided to go for it. I feel like I’ve been offered a contract. Crazy but true. I’m the queen of delusions, but this feeling is not some mind trick.

And it burns no bridges. The JK Rowling dream is still alive and well and pushing me to write better, faster, and over the top.

Designing my own cover—with the help of an amazingly talented friend—resulted in the perfect cover for the story. I was giddy for days. I still am.

Watching e-pubbing from the outside was like standing at the train station, on the platform, a few feet away from the trains as they screeched and rumbled by. Train after train stopped for me, but I wouldn’t get on, so they left. When I realized what had changed in the industry, I jumped on the next train leaving the station.

What really pushed me over the edge was learning that I DIDN’T HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO DO IT! I was amazed at how intimidating the process was for me, even though writer-friends assured me it was easy. Then one day I was given the name of a guy who would format for me for under a hundred dollars. I could afford that. It would have cost me a week of labor hours trying to learn that on my own. And there are lots of people out there who are reasonable. Lots of people who will take that stress away.

What else are you working on? Secrets? Inside scoops? Give us the juicy stuff!
First off, the sequel to ROMEO is AVENGING JULIET—another Muir Witch Project. The hero in this one is someone the readers will already love. There’s a sneak peek at the end of ROMEO.

The juicy stuff? I guess that would be my next e-book, an angel love story with an Amish twist called SOMEWHERE OVER THE FREAKING RAINBOW. It’s not Scottish, but I always find a way to squeeze a Scot into every novel. It’s a Young Adult series, but romance fans should dig it, especially if they love a good sob. It has some wrenching black moments, but here’s a lighter line: “You know that song, ‘Somewhere over the birds fly?’ Yeah. Well. Those aren’t bluebirds.”

Have you always wanted to be a writer? I decided to be a writer when I was 11. It made all my other decisions pretty easy—especially on career days.

What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication? I’m a bit ambitious. Being a florist wasn’t enough, I had to open my own shop. This is just opening another kind of shop.

Quick! You’ve been chosen to be a contestant on Survivor. What luxury item do you take? A lovely length of plaid wool. That stuff is as good as an army tent for keeping out the weather...and maybe a bug or a serpent. (Excellent choice! Did you see the finale last night??)

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know. I’m a stand-up comedian. No. Really. I even landed a paying gig. But the nine months I spent worrying about the crowd and coming up with the jokes was NOT worth the lovely check I got. Only three jokes bombed in a 20 minute set, so I think I kicked butt. (Holy brown cows! I've always wanted to be a comedian. Jerry Seinfeld is like, my fave.)

And the most important of all: bacon or chocolate? Thick, nearly burned bacon, served with piping hot chocolate, at Sill’s Cafe in Layton, Utah. (Is that cheating?) ((Yes, yes it is. But I don't care.)) Just holler when you’re up my way. (And now you know why I love her.)

You can get GOING BACK FOR ROMEO for only $2.99 from now until Christmas. Check it out!
Barnes & Noble

Be sure to follow L.L's adventures on her blog.

Are you giving books this holiday season? You can gift Kindle and Nook books--just sayin'. Are you hoping for books to be lurking in your stocking? Which ones?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Good News Friday!

Dude, not my good news. I suppose I could bore you with my weight loss, or the fact that today is the last day of school until 2012, or that I have ALL my Christmas shopping done.

But that would be boring.

And this is Good News Friday!

I'll go first.

My friend, Christine Fonseca, will be a published fiction author very soon! (Her non-fiction has been out for a little over a year now and is FABU.)

First, she has a prequel novella, DIES IRAE that will be out February 22, 2012. Here's what it's about: Some sacrifices should never be made – even for love.

Mikayel lives by one rule – obey the orders of the angelic Council at all costs.That is, until he and his friends, Azza and Demi, are sent to Earth. Assigned as Watchers while they await their decision of which angelic order to serve, the three assume the bodies of teenagers and experience life as human.

The sensations are overwhelming, especially for Azza. Determined to experience everything humans do – rage, terror, love - he tempts Demi to break one of the unbreakable rules – never fall in love. But being human isn’t the only problem facing the three angels. Unbeknownst to the Council, demonic activity is on the rise, threatening to break a tenuous peace that has existed for a millennia; a peace Azza seems bent on destroying.

Caught in a struggle for power with unseen demonic forces and Azza, and fighting against his rising emotional attachment to Demi, Mikayel must now decide how much he is willing to sacrifice for his new found love – a decision that could reignite an ancient war and will threaten the only thing that matters to the angels, the survival of humanity.

I haven't read this yet, but I have no doubt it will be awesome. I've read enough of Christine's other stuff to know.

Including LACRIMOSA. This full-length novel will be out in March 2012, and it is simply amazing. Deep, and heart-wrenching--and you know I like that kind of stuff.

About LACRIMOSA: As if casting out demons isn’t hard enough, five-hundred-year-old Nesy has to masquerade as a teenage girl to do it.

Nesy is the best of an elite group of angels – warriors called Sentinals – charged with the job of vanquishing the fallen. She’s never made a mistake, never gotten emotionally involved. But when she comes face-to-face with Aydan, she freezes.

He is evil incarnate. A fallen angel that feeds off the souls of others. Everything Nesy is supposed to hate. But she can’t, because he’s also the human love of her former life as a teen; a life that ended too soon, tying her to the emotions she was never supposed to feel. Now she must choose between doing her duty – damning Aydan to the fiery depths of hell – or saving him, and condemning herself.

This series is going to KILL. But don't take my word for it. The trailer says it all.

So yay Christine! Visit her on her blog -- go tell her congrats yourself!

And what good news do you have this fine Friday?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A MILLION SUNS by Beth Revis

Dude, this is an exciting day! The day I get to talk about A MILLION SUNS by Beth Revis. Another sequel. I don't even know what I'm doing anymore. Maybe I like sequels/series more than I think?


But maybe true.

I loved this book so much, I even sent Beth an email with this subject line: OH MY HECK.

And everything inside the email was in capital letters too. So yeah. Let's examine.

About A MILLION SUNS: Godspeed was fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos.

It's been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. And everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to enact his vision - no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder discovers shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, unable to fight the romance that's growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.

And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

Trust me, you'll feel the same anxiety, the same, "I will die if I don't get off this ship!" It's that intense.

I've already gushed about the writing of this book. The verbs are fabulous, and it's exactly the kind of fast-paced action that I like. There were a couple more things that I loved:

1. The romance. It's broken and messy. And I think most of you know by now that this is exactly the kind of romantic relationship I like. It's complicated. People in real life are complicated. I want my books to match that, and A MILLION SUNS is a great authentic read.

2. The characters. I thought I loved Amy and Elder before. I was wrong. They have to go through some hard(er) things here, and it makes them come even more alive. There's one particular scene I'm thinking of that I can't say for fear of spoilage. But dude. I so did not want Amy/Elder to die!

And that's worth a lot.

So be sure to get your preorders in and get your copy of A MILLION SUNS when it comes out on January 10.

What book are you looking forward to in 2012?

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week at the Reading Room.

Or on their blogs:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Defining Success

Okay, so for me, this is one of the hardest things to do. The measure of success almost doesn't exist. Every goal is different and every person will look at it in a different colored light.

And so this simply becomes another area where I struggle. Like, what's good? What's successful? Does more blog followers = more success? Is it based on how many books you sell? How many people are subscribed to your newsletter?

I used to think all these things mattered, and in many ways they still do. The difference is how I'm looking at them now. Before, I'd seriously burn with jealousy if someone had more blog followers than I did. Now, I don't even look at that widget. As of writing this post, I could not tell you how many I have.

I'm not sure what's shifted for me. Perspective, maybe?

I do know that I wish there were more statistical data--something concrete and factual--I could examine that would tell me what these numbers mean. Like if I knew 25% of my blog's followers A) came and read every day or B) bought my book, then I could see myself caring more.

Instead, I'm not looking at twitter followers or likers on my Facebook page as the definitions of my success. Not anymore.

Now, I'm looking at the words on the page. Are they good? Did I get enough of them in? How can I make them better?

I'm looking at how many pages I edited. Did I choose the right word? Do I need another scene with Jag? How much backstory do I need here?

I'm thinking about new things for new books. Could that work? How can I make a character for this world?

And then there's all the real life success to consider and evaluate and continually try harder to achieve. Let's not forget that as we're writers, we're also people. Most of us with families and jobs and responsibilities. Those successes--and the striving for success--shouldn't be overlooked.

Publishing is a numbers game. I'm not oblivious to that. I'm just choosing to focus on different numbers as the measure of my success.

At what point do you feel successful? How do you measure success?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Query Letter Giveaway!

Okay, so that sounds weird, I know. Like, why would you want to give away your query letter? That's so lame. (Although at times, I wished I could slice my query letter into tiny bits...)

Anyway, since I am feeling all thankful and grateful for a great many things, I've decided to do a pay-it-forward query letter critique giveaway.

Meaning, I have very few things to offer, but I know how to critique a query letter. So if you'd like to have a chance to have me critique yours before this new year starts and you send it out, enter to win!

All you have to do is fill out the form. I will contact you tomorrow. That's right, people! This contest is open for one day only! And there will be 10 winners. (ETA: You can redeem your critique at any time. Now. Later. Whatever.)

So enter away!


How awesome this is and/or birthday wishes (that's right! I will be older on Sunday) in the comments. *wink*

Thursday, December 8, 2011

FURY by Elizabeth Miles

Okay, so I'm very excited to talk about today's book, FURY by Elizabeth Miles. Not only is the cover beautiful, but the story inside is too.

Let's examine in more detail.

About FURY: It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But all is not as it seems...

Em is thrilled that the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend. And on the other side of town, Chase’s social life is unraveling and the stress of his home life is starting to take its toll. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel....And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. There are three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—to choose who will pay. Em and Chase have been chosen.

Things I liked:
1. The dual narration. See, I've just started writing in this format, and it's refreshing to read two narrators whose stories are entwined, but not the same. I think that's the true sign of good storytelling. I don't mind dual narrators, but they each need a purpose.

And Em and Chase, while in the same town and connected by some of the same friends, have a story that is uniquely theirs.

2. The fresh feel of the paranormal. Sometimes I feel like every YA paranormal romance I read is the same. Formulaic. Which is fine, and it works, but I like books that bend the norm.

FURY bends the norm. I purposely don't read the backs of books so I can authentically discover the story as the characters do. And I loved how things unfolded in FURY. Like, I knew there was something funky going on, but I didn't know what.

3. Dude, Elizabeth Miles WENT THERE. I'm not going to say where THERE is, because you should all buy and read this book to find out.

There is nothing I love more than an author who dares to do what the story requires, whether it be "acceptable" or not. And Miles wrote what the story required, and I love her for it.

So get FURY for yourself this Christmas. You won't be sorry.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week at the Reading Room.

Or on their blogs:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Thank You

Okay, so I know I don't normally post on Tuesdays anymore. But yesterday's post was hard-hitting, and emotional, and yeah. Kind of a "moment" for me.

And your kind comments and lengthy responses are worth my weight in gold--and I weigh a lot.

So thank you. I've read them all, and I'm keeping them all in my inbox so I can read them again when I have "one of those days."

*hugs and rainbows*

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth

Okay, so remember that post I put up a few weeks ago about if you'd be less impressed if I stopped doing certain things? (Click here to read it.)

Well, today's post is along the same emotional vein. And it's this horrible, ugly truth that some of you may not want to be exposed to without the proper protective gear or something.

I feel like I should give you fair warning on that. I don't normally let this side of publishing out there, but I feel like it's something that I need to get out of myself.

It's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I have been a bit lost on my blog as of late. If you've been around, you know that. I have been re-evaluating everything in my writing life, and trying to make the best decisions for me.

Some things I've realized:
1. Being published hasn't changed who I am. In actuality, my life hasn't changed at all. Okay, not that much.

2. In the six months since POSSESSION came out, I have been trying to figure out where I fit on "this side" of the fence.

I have felt jealousy.

I've cried.
Watched too much TV and eaten too much candy in an attempt to detach from whatever it is that's making me jealous/angry/joyful/excited.

I've felt guilty.
Never alone.
And foolish.

Oh, so foolish. Maybe I'm the only author who's felt this way. I did not think my life would change when my book was published. And like I said, it hasn't. But somehow, along the way, I allowed myself to think that I was important.

And it's hard to accept and swallow the fact that I'm not. It makes a person shy away from the Internet and try to take stock of their situation. As I have done this, I have realized The Truth.

3. I am a midlist author, and POSSESSION is a midlist hardcover.

This is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

4. I am not an important author, with an important message. POSSESSION is not an important novel that is nominated for multiple--or any--awards, and it is not a Best Book of Anything.

I feel foolish for hoping for such things, or worse, expecting them.

And I feel foolish for allowing any of the above to make me feel anything but grateful and satisfied.

Because, dude, 5. I wrote and published a novel. A bestseller? No. Midlist? Yes.

Through all of this, I've realized something else:
6. I wrote a book I would like to read. I didn't sit down to write a book so that it could be nominated for awards, or that would change the lives of those who read it, or anything else.

7. I write because I like it. I write books that I'd like to read.

That's it. The truth.

I don't even have a question for you today. Thanks for reading this mongo long thing, and forgive me as I continue to hibernate, work past the foolishness, and try to be the best writer I can be.

Friday, December 2, 2011


*WARNING* Only read on if you're an Insider. (If you don't know what that means, well, then, yeah.)

Yesterday the YA Scavenger Hunt began. Author's secret content went live, including an exciting short story by none other than myself!

Dustin Hansen designed the cover! Isn't he a genius?

INSIDER INFORMATION: A Possession Short Story is available for FREE in all digital formats.

Click here to get it.

Click here to see Angela Corbett's exclusive part of the Scavenger Hunt, enter to win great prizes, and follow all the hunt action.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

YA Scavenger Hunt!

Squee! I'm so excited for today'S YA Scavenger Hunt! Not only for the amazing author I'm hosting, but for the secret content that I'm releasing SOMEWHERE OUT THERE. (Go find it! Go find it!) (Also, this is the brain child of Colleen Houck, and she's awesome, so you should go check out her website too.)

Every author will have some exclusive content AND a link to the next person on the hunt. Give yourself a couple of hours to make the circuit, collect the words in red, and enter all the contests!

Today, I'm featuring Angela Corbett! (Which is especially awesome, because I have met her in person!) So let's dive in!

About Angela: As a child, Angela Corbett’s most prized possession was a set of read-along books. She used to follow along with the narrator on the stereo and dream of when she would be able to read by herself. Her childhood reading habit led her to consider her future career. However, after consulting with her parents, she realized she had already exceeded hobbit height and since fairies and dragonslayers were tricky jobs to get, she decided she wanted to create worlds of her own. She started writing poetry in elementary school and worked as a journalist in high school and college, but could never leave her love for writing fiction behind.

She is a graduate of Westminster College where she double majored in communication and sociology. She has worked as a journalist, freelance writer, and director of communications and marketing. She loves classic cars, traveling, and escaping in a good book. She lives in Utah with her incredibly supportive husband and their five-pound Pomeranian, Pippin, whose following of fangirls could rival Justin Bieber's.

Eternal Starling is her debut novel and the first book in the Emblem of Eternity trilogy.

Click here to go to Angela's blog.

About ETERNAL STARLING: Evie Starling has lived a relatively uneventful life hanging out with friends, gossiping about boys, and driving her 1966 Mustang. All of that changes when she moves to Gunnison, Colorado, to start college and meets two mysterious men.

For centuries, Alex Night and Emil Stone have yearned for Evie—but they each have their own reasons for wanting to be with her. When both men claim to be her soul mate and tell her about an unbelievable past, Evie learns that she’s not the person she thought she was. Soon, Evie finds herself in the middle of an age-old battle between the Amaranthine Society—the soul protectors, and the Daevos Resistance—the soul destroyers. With a past she doesn’t understand, and a future rife with danger, Evie has to decide who she can trust. But Alex and Emil aren’t the only ones who want Evie, and her soul is about to become the rope in an eternal tug-of-war.

You know you want a copy of that! Click here to get it.

As Angela's BONUS MATERIAL today, she's giving you a sneak peek at an excerpt from the book (because ETERNAL STARLING does not come out until next Tuesday)! Lucky ducks!

Jas and Zach were waiting for us in the lobby of the restaurant.
“Hey guys!” Jas’s face lit up when she saw us.
“Hi Jas. Hi Zach,” I said.
“Hello,” Alex’s deep voice was seductive even to me. I couldn’t imagine the effect it was having on Jasmine.
Zach exchanged a head-nod with Alex and Jasmine smiled shyly. “Hi Alex. I’m glad you guys could come with us tonight.” Jas was being overly cordial and chewing her bubble gum like she was in a race. I hadn’t seen her so antsy since we were almost caught toilet papering the yard of our high school math teacher.
“Me too,” Alex said.
The hostess took some menus from her stand and we followed her to a table in the corner of the pizzeria. The smell of garlic, bread, and cheese permeated the air as we scanned the menus and placed our order. Zach immediately asked the server for a Pepsi; it was the only thing he ever drank and he was fanatical about it. Even though he wasn’t at our house much, we always kept a twenty-four pack of Pepsi chilling in the fridge for him.
While we waited for our food, Zach asked Alex all the general getting-to-know-you questions that I’d asked him when we first met. Alex reciprocated with questions for Jasmine and Zach.
The server brought our food and we talked as we ate. Alex asked Jasmine and Zach how they met. That conversation eventually led to Jasmine’s observations about my dating life.
“You’re definitely an improvement,” Jas said to Alex. His expression was curious, inviting her to go on. “Evie doesn’t have the best luck with guys,” she explained.
“Hey!” I said, trying to defend myself. “They haven’t all been bad.”
“Oh, really? Let’s see,” she raised her eyes as she thought. “There was the guy obsessed with jerky. Remember the theme card he made you for Valentine’s Day? When you opened it, it mooed.” She shuddered as she thought about it. “Or the one who asked you to prom with the stipulation that he be allowed to drive you there in your own car.” Jas leaned forward on the table looking straight at me, “And let’s not forget the holy grail of asshats: Luke,” she said, turning her attention back to Alex. “I could tell you stories about that idiot for hours. One of my favorites was when he told her he didn’t have time to deal with her feelings so she should think through her emotions and journal it, then get back to him when she wasn’t so pissy.”
A muscle under Alex’s eye pulsed as he smiled in a way that said he wasn’t at all amused. “Guys like that don’t deserve someone like Evie. In fact,” he paused, as if considering whether or not to continue, “if I’d been there, I would have dumped a glass of lemonade on his head.”
My mouth fell open a little. I looked at Jasmine to see her wearing the same shocked expression as me. After a few seconds, Jasmine regained her composure. “Actually, that’s exactly what Evie did,” Jasmine said. “Only she was drinking Sprite at the time.” Jasmine assessed Alex warily. “How did you know that?”
Alex’s mouth slid into a sly smile. “Lucky guess,” he said, picking up his glass and taking a drink. When he finished, he put the glass on the table and continued his explanation, “Throwing your drink on a guy isn’t a new concept. Girls do it all the time in movies and TV shows.”
Still stunned, I flicked my eyes back and forth between Jasmine and Alex. Jasmine clearly wasn’t convinced. Alex leaned on the table and laughed, “Or maybe I’m psychic,” he said, waving his fingers to lighten the mood.
Zach snorted. “If so, I need your help with my Fantasy Football team roster.”
Alex put his fingertips to his temples like he was divining the answer. “Can’t go wrong with Drew Brees,” Alex said. He grabbed the check the waiter had left and went up to the counter to pay for our food. Zach started to follow him but Alex told him not to worry about it, he was buying everyone’s dinner.
As soon as Alex was out of earshot, Zach said, “I like him, Evie.” He nodded to indicate Alex had passed some sort of man test. “He’s a good guy.” Zach leaned back in his chair. “I’ve never heard that story. Did you really dump Sprite on Luke’s head?”
“Of course she did! He deserved every drop,” Jasmine answered for me, waving Zach off. She put her elbows on the table, directing her attention back to me like Zach wasn’t even there. “Don’t you think it’s weird Alex mentioned that?” she asked.
I shrugged, still trying to make sense of it myself.
Jas kept talking, “I mean, it’s strange he’d say something so close to what actually happened.”
Before I could answer, Alex was back. “Are you ready to go?”
“Sure.” I got up from the table. Jas and Zach followed me. Alex held my hand and we walked in silence to the parking lot.
“Thanks, for going to dinner with us,” I said to Jas and Zach. “I had a lot of fun.”
“Yeah, we’ll have to do it again soon,” Alex suggested.
“That sounds great,” Jas answered as she opened the door to Zach’s Grand Cherokee.
“I’m adding Brees to my team as soon as I get home,” Zach said. He waved and hopped into the driver’s seat.
Alex once again opened my door for me, and I got in the Audi. Alex made his way to the driver’s side, started the car, and we drove in silence for a few minutes until I couldn’t keep quiet any longer. “It was lemonade, not Sprite.”
Alex slid a glance toward me, his expression giving nothing away. “What are you talking about?”
“I dumped lemonade on Luke’s head, not Sprite. Jasmine was wrong. But you weren’t.”
Alex gave a short laugh. “Really?” he asked, paying more attention than usual to his blinker as he pushed it down. “That’s a funny coincidence.”
I widened my eyes. “A coincidence? That’s your explanation?”
As we rolled to a stoplight, he draped his hand over the steering wheel and pegged me with a hard stare. “What else could it be, Evie?”
I put my hands out in front of me, palms up. “You tell me.”
Alex shifted his eyes away from mine. “Maybe you told me about it and forgot.”
I knew I hadn’t. Unless I was mocking him with Jasmine, Luke wasn’t a subject I cared to talk about. “I have an excellent memory. And I never told you that story.”
Alex snorted. “It’s not like you remember every second of every conversation we’ve ever had.”
I lifted my shoulders, looking at him in challenge. He watched me and gave a humorless laugh. “Memory is a complicated thing. You’d be surprised at the things you forget.”
“Try me,” I dared.
Alex clenched his jaw and seemed to be thinking, but didn’t say anything. We pulled into the driveway of my house. Alex opened the car door for me—again.
We walked up to the front door and, like always, he held out his hand for my keys. Alex opened the door and flipped the living room light on. I stepped into the house; he followed me, still silent. He sat on the couch as I went to the phone to check the voicemail. I put my purse down, my back toward Alex, and played the messages. There was a call from my mom, of course—she must have gotten my email—and another from someone looking for Jasmine. I wrote the message on a pad of paper next to the phone and hit the erase button.
I stood in front of the phone, wondering if Alex would continue our conversation. I took a deep breath, then turned around and gasped. Alex was inches from me, waiting. I hadn’t even heard him walk over. I should have at least felt that he was behind me. I was generally so good about knowing when someone was in my personal space.
I looked into his eyes—they seemed to be on fire, not with anger, but something else. Suddenly our lemonade / memory discussion seemed a lot less important. Alex grabbed me around my waist, slowly guiding me until my back was pressed against the living room wall. He placed his hands palms down on the wall next to both of my shoulders. Even if I had wanted to move, and I didn’t, it would have been impossible. I could smell his rustic cedar scent as he shifted his head toward mine and moved his right hand to the back of my neck. As he leaned into me, he whispered something that sounded like, “Let’s see if you remember this.” Before I knew it, his lips, the lips I had dreamed about every day since we sat together at the mountain lake, were on mine, pressing hard against my mouth, merging with his. The kiss was aggressive, but still gentle, his lips soft and warm, and my back tingled with a familiar heat that was quickly getting a lot hotter.


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