The Ransome Brothers are here!

I’m so so excited to finally release this book out into the world! I hope you like reading it as much as I liked writing it! Enjoy!

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Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, Amazon AUS, Nook, Google Play, Kobo, iBooks

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A Few Updates

I have been getting lots of questions about a release date for the new Ransom book. I’m happy you guys are eager and excited for Lennon’s story! I turned Rescue over to my editor last week, which means we’re getting close! It usually takes a few weeks to go through several rounds of editing and proofreading but that can vary quite a bit. That means I’m not able to give a firm release date quite yet. The holiday season can also impact the release date–many of the ebook vendors shut down for publishing over Christmas. I think it’s probably a safe bet to look at early January 2016 for the release. If everything happens to go quicker than expected, of course I’ll publish it ASAP! Stay tuned to my Facebook page and sign up for my newsletter for updates.

Did you guys check out A Three Girls Christmas? This is a short story about Annie, Ginny, and Jen and it’s available now! This short story was originally featured in a charity anthology several years ago but this is the first time you can purchase it on its own.

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Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Aus

Google Play

Kobo

iTunes

Nook

Tomorrow is going to be another Stuff Your eReader event! Dozens of ebooks from bestselling authors will be available for free. These events are always really fun and there’s a great group of authors participating this time. Check my Facebook page and newsletter for links tomorrow!

For a short time, several of my books are available in the Kindle Unlimited library. If you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can access some of the Three Girls books and the Love Story books for free! These books won’t be in the program for long so check them out ASAP.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone for being so patient with me! My schedule didn’t turn out quite as expected this year for a variety of reasons. I really got slowed down and my releases just didn’t happen as quickly as I would have liked. I know some of you were hoping for more Three Girls this year and another Lovestruck book. I wish I could have made that happen! My goal for 2016 is definitely MORE BOOKS! The good news is that I’ve started a brand new series and book one is almost finished! So we should be getting off to a good start with Rescue and something new early in the new year. I’m also hoping for a new Three Girls AND a new Lovestruck in 2016. And I’m not finished with Ransom yet either 😉

I hope you are all enjoying the season and staying warm if you’re in a snowy northern climate like me! I’ve been enjoying lots of Christmas movies by the fire with my Lucy dog curled up next to me 🙂

Starstruck is now available!

Eeek! Starstruck is finally here! This is the fourth novel in the Lovestruck series and I’ve had it planned for AGES. I can’t believe I finally get to share it with you!

I have those usual release day jitters! This time they’re even worse because I really love these characters so much and I hope everyone else does too! It was so much fun to write in the Lovestruck world but to focus on different characters. I particularly loved writing about Jackson from a different perspective. Sofie gets to know him in a way that Lizzie doesn’t so it was fun to explore his character more in depth. I really hope you all like it!

Here are the links:

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AMAZON

AMAZON UK

AMAZON AU

ITUNES

BARNES AND NOBLE

KOBO

**The book has been published on Google Play but it is not live in the store yet. I will update here and on Facebook as soon as I have a link! Sorry for the delay.**

Here’s a little more detail about the new book:

STARSTRUCK

Sofia Flores has had a crush on Jackson Coles for as long as she can remember. And she’s hardly the only one. After all, Jackson is one of the most famous movie stars in the entire world. Sofie never imagined she’d get any closer to her fantasy crush than admiring him on the big screen. Real life just doesn’t work that way.

But everything changes when her cousin Lizzie marries Jackson’s co-star, Thomas. Suddenly, Sofie finds herself actually meeting Jackson Coles, up close and personal. It’s every fan girl’s dream come true. And to Sofie’s shock, Jackson seems just as excited to spend time with her.

Despite Jackson’s attentions, Sofie knows that real life is rarely like the movies. Real life means struggling as a single mother, running out of money, and dealing with a loving but frustratingly obtrusive family. Not to mention the heaps of Baby Daddy Drama that continue to plague her…and threaten to take away the very thing she holds most dear in life. There’s simply no room in her life to go chasing after a movie star, even one as gorgeous as Jackson Coles.

But when Jackson shows that he’s more than willing to do the chasing, Sofie has a big decision to make. Will she play it safe? Or will she risk everything for the perfect Hollywood ending of her own?

Let me know what you think! xoxo

Two Brand New Lovestruck Stories!

There are two brand new Lovestruck stories releasing today!

The first is Lovestruck at Christmas, a holiday novella about Lizzie, Thomas, and all of their family and friends. I’m a giant sucker for anything Christmas related, so I had a really good time writing this one. I hope you like it as much as I do!

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AmazonAmazon UKBarnes and NobleiTunes, and Kobo

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The second Lovestruck story is called Sofie and the Movie Star. You can find this brand new story in the LOL Anthology #2, along with nine other original romantic comedy stories by some of my favorite authors. You get all ten stories for only $.99!

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Amazon, Amazon UKBarnes and NobleiTunesKobo, and Google Play

Enjoy!

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Introducing…Three Girls and a New Beginning

The new Three Girls book is so close to being ready! I have my edits back and I’m working with the amazing Scarlett Rugers once again on a beautiful cover. I’m so excited to publish this book, you guys! There are two things I’m particularly geeked about when it comes to A New Beginning. First, unlike the other books in the series, this one will shift perspective between all three of the girls. That means we’ll get to see things happen from Ginny’s perspective AND Jen’s AND Annie’s. The second thing that I love about this book is the flashbacks–there are so many moments in the history of their friendship that I had imagined but was never able to show. Like the first time Annie and Ginny met Jen. Or the girls celebrating Jen’s bachelorette party. Now you’ll get to see those memories as well as see what’s in store for the girls now that they’ve all found their “happy ever after.”

I’m planning to have it published to all the major outlets (Kindle, Nook, iTunes, kobo) on Tuesday, January 28th (this is an edit! Sorry for any confusion!). That’s two weeks away! I thought it would be nice to give you a little taste of what to expect while we’re waiting. Enjoy the first chapter!


Three Girls and a New Beginning

Chapter One

Ginny

“Are you ready to go yet?” 

I looked up to see my husband, Josh, standing in the doorway to our bedroom. I made a face at him. “I’m having shoe issues.”

I could tell that he was doing his best not to roll his eyes. “What is the nature of your shoe issue?”

“I can’t figure out which ones look better with my dress.”

“What dress are you planning on wearing?”

“I’m not sure yet.”

He did roll his eyes then. “Come on, Ginny. The sitter will be here in, like, five minutes. I would like to maximize our child-free time as much as possible. That means getting out of this house.”

“I know, I know.” Josh had a good point of course. We didn’t get child-free nights all that often. It was tough to get a sitter for two kids on our budget. When it did happen, I was with him in the wanting to enjoy every minute of it department.

Not that I didn’t love spending time with my kids. I loved being a mom more than anything else in the world. But with two under six, our life could certainly be exhausting at times. And the prospect of going to an actual movie premiere—a movie in which my best friend was the star—was far more exciting than sticking around at home and watching Cars for the hundredth time.

“I think you should wear the red,” Josh said, coming to stand behind me. He slipped his arms around my waist and I leaned back into him, the movement as natural as breathing. “I love you in red.”

“The red’s a little short,” I told him. “Might not be the most appropriate dress for an old fogey mother of two.”

He snorted. “No one in the world would ever imagine that you’ve had two children. You’ll be the most gorgeous woman in the room, Gin. No matter what you wear.”

I smiled. I had to admit that I was pretty lucky—Josh and I had been together for years, but I still knew he really meant it when he said stuff like that to me. I kissed his cheek. “The red it is then.”

“Wear the highest heels you have,” he said, his voice low in my ear. It sent shivers up and down my arms. “I love you in heels.”

“When am I ever not in heels?”

“Good point.” He swatted my bottom playfully. “Hurry up, okay?”

I finished getting dressed while he headed out to the living room to make sure Danny and Maggie hadn’t destroyed the place in the last five minutes. As I was slipping into the heels Josh had requested, my phone rang on the vanity.

“Hello?”

“Ginny, where are you?” Jen’s voice was frantic. It was my turn to roll my eyes.

“I told you we would be there at seven thirty, Jen,” I reminded my best friend. “It’s only seven.”

“Sorry,” she said, still sounding frazzled. “I guess I’m just freaking out a little bit.”

“You?” I asked in mock-shock. “No way.”

“Shut up. This is a big deal, you know. It’s not every day your best friend stars in a hit movie. And it’s definitely not every day I’m asked to coordinate the Detroit premiere of that movie.”

“We don’t know if it will be a hit,” I pointed out. “It isn’t even out yet.”

“It will be a hit,” she said, her voice so decided and firm I was sure even the harshest Hollywood critic would be loathe to contradict her. “Annie is in it—it has to be good.”

“True,” I agreed. Annie was our other best friend, and just happened to be the star of the movie in question—First Comes Love. After struggling as an actress for years, she was finally on the cusp of her big break, a fact that we were celebrating at the Detroit premiere of the movie. Jen, who owned her own party planning company, had mastermind the entire event. “I’m sure it’s going to be fantastic,” I assured her. “The movie and the party.”

“It better be. This event is important to me, Gin. I really want her to know how much we’re rooting for her.”

Josh stuck his head in the doorway. When he saw that I was on the phone, he sighed loudly and pointed at his watch. I nodded and waved him away.

“She’ll know, Jen. I’m sure the party will be wonderful. When have you ever been associated with a dud?”

“True. I guess I’m just stressed. Jenner Collins will be there.”

I laughed. “You’ve met Jenner a dozen times. He’s a normal person.” Jenner Collins was a major movie star from the Detroit area. When he wasn’t making blockbuster action movies, he ran a small theater company in Detroit. Annie had won a coveted role in one of his plays a few years ago. Jenner was obviously taken by her talent—he’d hired her to work full time at the theater and when his production company began work on a small budget romantic comedy, he cast Annie as his lead despite her lack of experience in film.

“I know that,” Jen said, sounding a little sheepish. “But he is a major movie star. He was People’s Sexiest Man, for God’s sake. And you know he’ll have a bunch of industry people with him. What if the party doesn’t live up to his standards? It’s stressful!”

“I know, Jen. But I also know you did a great job with the party. In fact, I’d love to get there and help you finish up, but someone called while I was getting ready and now they won’t quit whining.”

“Sorry, sorry,” she said. “Go get beautiful then get your ass up here.”

“Yes, ma’am.” I was joking, but only barely. The truth was, Jen could be totally scary when she was in bossy mode.

“Ginny,” Josh called from the doorway, impatient.

“Gotta go, Jen,” I said quickly. “See you in a few.”

No sooner had I hung up did the phone ring again. Josh groaned and flopped onto the bed. “And that will be the other one.”

Sure enough, the screen lit up with Annie’s name. I made a face at my husband and answered. “Hey, movie star.”

“Shut up,” she moaned. “I’m so nervous I think I’m going to pee my pants.”

“Why are you nervous?” I asked. “The hard work is over. Tonight is when everyone makes a big deal about you and talks about how awesome you are.”

She whimpered. “Stop. What if you all hate it?”

“We will not hate it,” I assured her. “That’s just silly.”

“But what if you do? You have to promise me that you’ll be honest, okay? I know Nate and Jen are going to insist it’s good no matter what, but you have to be straight with me. Promise, Ginny.”

“I promise I will tell you if it sucks,” I assured her. “You have my word.”

She released a long breath. “Okay. What are you wearing?”

“My red Zac Posen,” I told her, walking to the bed to smack Josh’s arm when he sighed dramatically. “The one we got at that trunk show last month.”

“Good call,” she said. “I’m rethinking my dress.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. You looked fantastic in that dress and you know it.” Josh was now miming a dramatic death scene on the bed. I shook my head. “My five-year-old husband is being ridiculous, Ann. I better go finish getting ready.”

“Tell him I said it’s not too late for me to get him uninvited.”

“Ooh, that would be awesome. Then he could stay home with the kids and I could stay out until morning.”

He grabbed me around the waist and pulled me close. “Sorry, Annie,” he called into the phone. “Please let me come to your fancy party with my hot wife.”

“Go get ready,” she told me, laughing. I was happy that she sounded much better than she had when I had first answered. “I’ll see you there.”

“Okay, babe. Good luck. Try to have fun with it.”

“I’ll try.”

I hung up and tossed the phone on the bed, looking down at Josh. “You’re asking for trouble, mister. This is a big night for my girlfriends, you know. I need to be supportive.”

“I know. You’re a very nice friend. But the sitter is here now and we’re free.” His eyes sparkled up at me. “Free. Come on, Gin. Let’s get the hell out of here while we have the chance.”

I laughed. “Fine. Let me just grab my purse and kiss the kids.”

He groaned but released me. “Do you really have to say goodbye? Couldn’t we just sneak out the back?”

“Yeah, that’s going to happen.”

I found my children sitting in the kitchen, their faces covered in spaghetti sauce. Maggie’s face lit up at the sight of me, in the way only a sweet baby face could. “Mama!”

“Hi, pumpkin!” I kissed the top of her head, narrowly avoiding her reaching, red-stained hands. “You’re all messy.”

She giggled and slapped her hands into her noodles.

“What’s up, little man?” Danny looked at me with a raised eyebrow and I stifled a sigh. He had learned that move from Annie, I was sure. It was pretty cute, but I had to admit that I was worried by the sarcastic streak she was developing in my five-year-old.

“Daddy said you were leaving us all night with her,” he said, jabbing his thumb over his shoulder to point at Beth, my co-worker from the bookstore I managed.

“I am leaving you with Beth,” I told him, going over to give her a quick hug in greeting.

“Ginny, dear, you look lovely,” she told me, patting my shoulder. “You’ll have to take lots of pictures for me, okay? I don’t think I’ve ever been to anything so glamorous as a movie premiere.”

“I don’t think I have either,” I said, laughing.

“Mom,” Danny called loudly. “Maggie is getting her spaghetti all over me!” Maggie squealed loudly, a sure-fire sign that her big brother had smacked her hand.

I turned to break up the fight but felt Josh’s hand come around my waist. “Leave it,” he murmured. “Beth can handle them.”

“Absolutely,” she told me, smiling. “Go on, both of you. Have a lovely night.”

Maggie was crying now, big loud sobs that I would bet money were fake.

“She’s fine,” Josh urged, pulling on me. “Let’s go.”

“Okay.” I felt that familiar tug in my chest; I wanted nothing more than to get out of the house for a night, spend some time with my husband, see my friends. Enjoy wearing my fun red dress and maybe have a few cocktails. But there was another part of me, the part I couldn’t control, that only wanted to swoop my crying, messy baby up in my arms and kiss her face, spaghetti covered and all.

I settled for kissing her head, instead. “Have so much fun with Aunt Beth.” I smoothed her brown curls. “She’s going to let you watch The Little Mermaid later.”

“Ariel?” Maggie cried, clapping her hands. I winced as a minuscule drop of sauce flung onto the skirt of my dress. Was it too much to ask that I had one night free of baby messes?

“That’s a girl movie,” Danny said, raising his eyebrow again.

“Well, if you’re a good little boy, maybe you’ll get to play with the Wii when Maggie goes to bed.”

Danny was far too cool to clap his hands, but he couldn’t hide the little grin on his face. I kissed him too, closing my eyes as he brought his hands up to pat my shoulders, all sign of cool down the drain at my leaving. “Be a good boy.”

Josh kissed both children as well, then wrapped an arm around me and pulled me to the kitchen door.

“Are you going to be gross and kissy all night?” Danny called from the table, his eyebrow raised once more.

“Absolutely,” Josh said. “And we’re going to dance together.”

“Yuck,” Danny cried, laughing.

I laughed too and let Josh pull me out into the cool spring air.

“Ahh,” he said. “Free at last.”

“Free indeed.” I looked down at my dress, the spaghetti splotch not visible in the darkening evening. “Minus the spaghetti on my dress.”

He opened the car door for me. “No one will notice.”

“I’ll notice. I’ll spend the entire night feeling like a messy mummy, instead of like a pretty starlet.” I slid into my seat.

“Please.” He looked down at me, his hand on the door frame. “I’m not even kidding about you looking better than the movie stars.”

He shut my door and walked around the front of the car, giving me the chance to admire him in his suit. Josh was tall and lanky with messy brown curls and green eyes behind his black rimmed glasses. He’d been the cutest guy I’d ever known ever since we were juniors in high school, and he looked particularly good in his black, slim-fitting suit. By the time he had joined me in the car, I was grinning.

“Speaking of better looking than a movie star,” I said, leaning across the console to kiss him. “You’re pretty hot in that suit there, Mr. Stanley.”

“Why thank you, Mrs. Stanley.” He brought a hand to my face, kissing me again. “I took extra time getting pretty in the hopes that I might get lucky tonight.”

I laughed. “I’ve heard your wife is a pretty sure bet.”

He was still grinning as he started the car. “I’m hoping, then, that she won’t mind that I’ve booked us a hotel downtown and arranged for the sitter to stay overnight.”

I gaped at him. “You did what?”

He backed down the drive, his eyes meeting mine as he checked over his shoulder. “Is that okay? I wanted it to be a surprise.”

“Of course it’s okay,” I said. “I mean…can we afford it?”

Josh and I weren’t exactly well off. My job as a manager of a bookstore was fulfilling and made me completely happy, but it didn’t exactly pay me enough for the high life. Josh was a writer for a local magazine. He brought in some extra money doing freelance work, but all together we still end up on a pretty tight budget. Particularly since we’d had our second child and started saving to buy a house.

“I sold an article,” he said, holding up a hand before I could speak. “And I know we said that all the extra money we bring in was supposed to go to the house fund, but I really think we need this. We haven’t had a break or vacation in how long?”

“Probably Jen’s wedding.”

“Exactly. Which was a year and a half ago.”

“Good point.” A thought occurred to me. “I didn’t bring a bag.”

“I packed for you.”

I snorted. “Oh, God, what’d you bring?”

He shrugged. “Lot of extra lingerie and your bathing suit.”

“Excellent. I’m going to have to leave the hotel in this dress, aren’t I? People will think I’m a prostitute.”

He laughed. “I brought you jeans and a shirt too, don’t worry.”

“Where are we staying?” I was starting to feel excited now.

“I got us a room in one of Kiki’s Dad’s hotels.”

I squealed and clapped my hands. Jen’s business partner, Kiki, was the daughter of one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the entire state. He owned multiple properties in the city and surrounding areas, all of them exceedingly luxurious.

He laughed. “You look like Maggie when you do that.”

“Aren’t Mr. Barker’s hotels really expensive though?” I asked, not wanting to put a damper on our excitement but still feeling bad that we were spending so much just on the two of us.

“I may have asked Kiki what she recommended for our budget,” he said, winking at me. I made a half-groaning, half-laughing noise. Asking Kiki a question like that was a surefire way to get us into the nicest room on the smallest budget possible. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she got us a totally comped suite. The girl was literally the most generous, sweet person I had ever encountered in my life. Nothing made her happier than making other people happy. I never liked to take advantage of her in any way, but the idea of staying in a suite on our budget…

“Was that evil of me?” he asked, shooting me a rueful smile. “I love Kiki, you know that. I just…I really wanted to stay in a nice room.”

I snorted. “It may have been a little evil, but I’m not complaining. Besides, you know if you hadn’t asked her and we ended up in a different, cheaper hotel she would have been offended.”

“That is very true. It’s nice to have a friend like Kiki.”

“Just so long as you don’t get used to this,” I warned. “We’re not going to take advantage of her.”

“The only person I plan to take advantage of tonight is you,” he said, waggling his eyebrows at me.

“You’re so smooth, Josh.” I took his hand, feeling happier than I had in a while. I loved my kids and I loved my job, but there was no denying the fact that taking care of both could be tedious. The idea of an entire night of hanging out with friends and my husband was making me feel giddy.

“So was Annie pretty nervous?” he asked, rubbing his fingers over my knuckles.

“She was. Which is a little silly, considering they already did a bigger premiere in New York.”

“But that was mostly strangers,” he pointed out. “Tonight she’ll be showing the movie to people she actually knows.”

“All of whom are rooting for her. She’s going to be fine.”

“What about Jen?”

I rolled my eyes. Jen was another matter. “She will always freak out about the events that mean the most to her. She was just as stressed out about Annie’s housewarming. And our wedding. And Kiki’s baby shower.”

“And they all turned out perfectly.”

“Exactly. Granted, she has been having a bit of a hard time lately with Kiki out on maternity leave.”

“I thought she was planning to take less clients during Kiki’s leave.”

“Yeah, right. She said that, but you know she’s still working her ass off. That girl isn’t happy unless she’s busy.”

“Well, I hope they can both relax and enjoy the evening,” he said. He waggled his eyebrows at me. “I certainly intend to.”

I grinned, feeling a flutter of excitement in my belly. “I do, too.”

***

So that’s chapter one. I’m so excited for you guys to read the rest of it! Only two weeks to go now!

Have a great week!

Happy New Year!

I hope your 2014 has gotten off to a wonderful start! I’m celebrating the new year with two big pieces of news. First, the next book in the Lovestruck series is available now for Kindle and Nook!

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Lovestruck in Los Angeles follows Thomas and Lizzie as they head to sunny Hollywood. It was so much fun to catch up with them both and I really hope you like this next chapter in their story! 

The second bit of news involves Ginny, Jen, and Annie–and, of course, Danny, Kiki, Josh, Matt, and Nate as well 😉 The fifth book in the Three Girls series is almost ready to go. I’m expecting to have it live on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes in the next few weeks. As soon as I have an exact date I’ll be posting it here as well as on my Facebook page and my mailing list. I’m sooo excited for you guys to see what the girls have been up to! I’ll be posting an excerpt next week and the cover art ASAP. Yay!

Do you make New Years resolutions? This year I’m going to try my very best to blog more. I tend to get very caught up in my writing (which is good because it means you get my books faster!) and end up neglecting this site. Hopefully I’ll be better in 2014! I’m also going to revisit my “100 New Books” project from last year. It was an EPIC FAIL, lol. I think I managed to read somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 new books. Maybe I’ll actually make it to 100 this year 😉 I’ll write up a post about the books I did manage to read last year–there were some really good ones in there!

Well, that’s about it from me. I hope you’re all doing well–and that it’s much warmer where you live. I’m freezing!

Cover Reveal!

Yay! It’s cover reveal day! If you can’t tell, I’m *really* excited about this book and the lovely cover. So without further ado, here it is…

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I love this cover. Najla Qamber (najlaqamberdesigns.com) did it for me and it turned out exactly how I wanted. I think it really demonstrates the feel of the book. To celebrate my pretty cover I’m going to post an excerpt from the book below.

Escape In You

The guy in black has joined me on the couch and is almost touching me, he’s sitting so close. The tangle of tattoos on his arms distracts me for a moment before I get my first good look at his face.

I draw in a sharp breath—I can’t help it. I’m staring at the most beautiful man I have ever seen. He has longish brown hair liberally sprinkled with natural gold highlights, and it’s all in a pleasing, tousled mess. I wonder what it would feel like to run my fingers through that hair, to mess it up even further. It looks soft. He has strikingly dark brown eyes framed with the thickest eyelashes I’ve ever seen on a guy. His eyes seem to flash with some kind of dark amusement, and my heart beats faster. A muscle pulses in his jaw when he swallows—God, I love a guy with a strong jawline—and I want to place my lips there, right at that pulse, and kiss him.

“You okay, Zoe?” he asks, and there’s that amusement in his eyes again.

“How’d you know my name?” I ask, and I’m pleased that my voice is steady. There’s no sense in letting him know just how much I like what I see—though I’m afraid he somehow knows exactly what I’ve been thinking. Something in the way he’s looking at me makes me blush. And I never blush.

“I make it a point to find out information that might be of interest to me.”

His voice is low and raspy and touches something deep within my core, but I force out a laugh.

“Does that kind of line usually work for you?”

He shrugs, grinning. “To be honest, yeah. It does.”

My laugh is sincere this time. “Well, at least you are honest.”

He leans back into the couch, stretching his arm across the back of the cushion so that it just grazes my shoulder. I shiver a little and hope he doesn’t notice. A quick glance around tells me we shouldn’t be interrupted. Hunter appears to have moved off while I was distracted by the sex god—I’m pretty sure I can make out his voice across the room, urging someone else to come down and feel the carpet. Ellie has dozed off. I’m not surprised—that’s her usual reaction to pot and one of the reasons I don’t often join in when she partakes. I don’t come to parties to sleep.

I smile at the sex god. Flirting with hot guys, on the other hand, is one of the best reasons to come to a party.

“I’m at a bit of a disadvantage here.” I inch my knee closer to his.

“How so?”

“You know my name, and I don’t know yours.”

He holds my gaze for a minute, and my heart thumps. “Maybe I’d rather be a man of mystery.”

I wrinkle my nose. “Seriously, dude. You have to stop with the lines. It’s just not doing it for me.”

He leans in, and his face is inches from mine. “What would do it for you?”

“An actual conversation.” I refuse to fall under his spell. But there’s something dangerous about this guy, something that makes me want to abandon sense and close the gap that separates us.

He watches my face for a minute before his eyebrows come together in an expression I can’t quite read. “I don’t do so good with conversations.”

“Why’s that?”

He surprises me by pausing before he answers, as if he’s actually thinking about it. “I just think it’s easier not to talk, for the most part. People usually just tell you what you want to hear anyway. What’s the point?”

God, wasn’t that the truth. “Yeah,” I say. “I get that.”

We’re both quiet for a minute, but it isn’t necessarily an uncomfortable silence. It feels natural, easy, to just sit here with him while the party carries on around us.

“I know what you’re thinking,” he says.

“I doubt that.” How could he know that I’m considering dropping the whole talking thing and just making out with him for a while? No way anything more serious is going to happen. I don’t date, not anymore—it’s too complicated.  And I have a feeling a guy like this isn’t really the dating type—just like me.

Making out is simple enough though. And not a bad way to spend a few hazy, vodka-fueled hours at a party. Particularly when the guy looks as good as this one does. I lean in a little, allowing the side of my breast to brush up against his arm. “Maybe you were right,” I murmur and bat my eyes at him. “Maybe it is easier not to talk.”

He looks down at me, his lips parting slightly. I’m close enough now that I could easily reach up and trail my tongue across those lips or along that impressive jawline. But his next words stop me cold.

“I don’t know, Zoe. You’ve intrigued me with this conversation idea. I’m thinking it might do it for me too.”

I purse my lips, surprised. I was sure he’d jump at the chance to avoid talking.

“So.” He leans back again and gives me a lazy smile. “What should we talk about?”

“We could start with your name.” I’m debating whether I should just get up and leave him here. My friend Everett is across the room, talking to a guy I know a little through Hunter. Surely they’d be more appropriate company.

“Do you want my real name, or my fake name?” He winks.

I narrow my eyes, not really in the mood for cute. “What do you think?”

“Well, you see, the thing is that most people don’t call me by my real name. In fact, most people don’t even know my real name. So if I give you that, it’s kind of saying something, you know? It takes us past the point of general acquaintances at a party. It makes us something more.” He waggles his eyebrows at me.

I’m not sure whether I’m annoyed or intrigued by this. I thought I wanted to flirt with him, but this feels too much like a game. Or your impression of him is just colored because now you know he probably has money.

“Let’s start with your fake name,” I say, deciding to play along. “Maybe we can work up to your real name. I’m not sure I’m ready for that level of commitment just yet.”

He nods. “Fair enough. Everyone calls me Jet.”

I stare at him. “Jet? Are you kidding?”

He shakes his head. “Nope. Jet is really my nickname.”

“Why?”

He furrows his brow. “You know, it’s been so long I’m not really sure. Everyone has called me Jet ever since like, Little League. Something to do with my base running skills. Oh, and the fact that my initials are J.E.T.” At my skeptical look he cocks his head. “What? You don’t like it?”

“Not particularly.”

He throws his head back and laughs. “Oh, Zoe, this is fun.”

“What is?” I ask, feeling defensive.

“Talking to a girl who has no desire to please me. It’s refreshing.”

“You’re pretty damn full of yourself.”

He points at me. “See? That’s exactly what I mean. You couldn’t give a shit about what I think, could you?”

“I don’t see why I would.”

His face darkens. “I don’t see why you would either. Why anyone would.” He inhales sharply, sounding almost pained. “Yet, somehow, they do. Or, at least, the ladies do.”

I don’t like that look. It makes me feel sad, which is just ridiculous, since I barely know him and what I do know I’m not even sure I like. I try to lighten the mood by shoving his shoulder. “Oh, yeah, I’m so sure you’re complaining about all the women who are just dying to please you.”

He shoots me that same amused grin. “Are you volunteering?”

“Not even remotely, buddy.”

“It’s Jet,” he says.

I shake my head. “I’m sorry, but I refuse to call you that.”

“Well, now we’re at an impasse. You refuse to call me by my nickname yet you’re not ready for my real name either. The only other option is for you to make up your own name for me. Either way, it implies a certain level of intimacy, don’t you think?”

“I don’t know you well enough to give you a nickname.” I think for a moment. “Unless you like the sound of Cocky Ass.”

He pretends to think about that. “No, I don’t think so.”

“Well, then. I guess we are at an impasse.” I’m actually starting to enjoy myself. He may be cocky, but it’s been ages since I’ve actually flirted with a guy like this. When I hook up at parties the talking phase doesn’t usually last this long.

“I think I have a solution,” he says, holding up a finger in triumph. “Taylor!”

“Why would I call you Taylor?”

“Because it’s my last name.”

It’s my turn to laugh. “Okay. Taylor it is.”

He holds out his hand to shake mine. His skin is warm against my palm, his grip firm. I have a sudden urge to feel his hand curled around the back of my neck, and I release his fingers before my palm starts to sweat.

“So, Zoe,” Taylor says, his gaze flicking down to my legs before meeting my eyes once more. “What’s your story?”

“My story?”

He nods. “Yeah. What do you do? Who do you know? What do you like? Your story.”

If only my story really were that simple—a collection of answers to meaningless questions. I look down at my hands.  A weight fills my stomach as I consider how I would answer if I could be honest. If I could actually tell him—or anyone—my real story.

“You okay?”

I look up and realize he’s watching my face closely. I force a smile and nod.  “Maybe too much vodka.” I hold up the bottle, glad for the excuse. From the look on his face I’m not sure he bought it, so I hurry to answer his original question. “I’m a student at MCC.” I peek at him from the corner of my eye for any reaction to the name of the local community college. If he grew up in this neighborhood I’ll bet he’s one of the kids who goes to an actual university.

When he only nods, I go on. “I’m not working right now, so I’m taking classes all summer.” I leave out the reason for my unemployment. I can imagine how he’d react to that—talk about putting a damper on our flirting.

“What are you studying at MCC?”

More details I don’t want to get into. “This was my first year. I haven’t really decided on a major yet.”

He looks concerned. “How old are you?”

“Twenty-one.” I blush again. I’m too exposed to this guy. I don’t want him asking questions about why I waited so long to enroll in classes. But his face relaxes.

“Good. When you said it was your first year I was worried you were a teenager for a minute there.”

“Why would it matter if I was a teenager?” I ask, a flirtatious note in my voice. He only grins at me, a purely wicked grin, and my face grows hotter.

“What about you?” I ask, embarrassed by my reaction. “What’s your story?”

“I work at the body shop in town. We mostly do repairs, but sometimes we get some refurbs to do, which is what I really prefer.”

That isn’t the answer I expected. “School?”

He shakes his head. “Never really saw the point.”

“So you live here all year?” It doesn’t make sense. Why hadn’t I ever come across him if he wasn’t away at school all year?

“All four miserable seasons.”

“They’re not all miserable. Spring is nice.”

“Whatever. Spring lasts about two minutes. It goes from cold as hell to hot as balls around here.”

I have to laugh at that. “I was just thinking that tonight. That spring went way too fast.” I pause. “I wasn’t ready for summer.”

“Me either,” he says, his voice soft. I look over at him. He’s staring at the ground. He looks about a million miles away. I wonder what it is about summer that he doesn’t like, but I don’t press. I know what it feels like to dread something as inevitable as the change of season.

“Can I have a sip of that?” Taylor points at the bottle in my hand. I’d almost forgotten it was there. I take a swig before passing it to him, wiping my mouth on the back of my arm as the warmth fills my belly.

“Impressive,” Taylor says, nodding at me as he takes the bottle and follows suit. “You didn’t even grimace.”

I shrug. “I like vodka.”

“Okay, so I know you like vodka and picking fights with girls at parties. What else makes you tick?”

“I didn’t pick that fight!” I say, my voice a little too loud. “That bitch got mouthy with Ellie.”

“And that’s a mistake, huh?”

“You have no idea.”

“You’re not like most of the girls I know,” he says and nods down at Ellie to include her in his assessment.

“What does that mean?”

“Well, most girls don’t chug vodka straight from the bottle. And most girls don’t actually get in fights at kegs. When a girl says she’s going to kick someone’s ass, I can pretty much always assume she’s full of shit.”

“Ellie and I don’t mess around with stuff like that. We’ve had to stand up for ourselves way too often for it to be a joke. When Ellie threatens someone, she means it.”

“You too?”

I nod. “Though I don’t feel the need to threaten quite as often as she does.” I meet his eyes. “But when I say something, I mean it.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” His voice is a soft rasp that makes the hair on the backs of my arms stand up. I stare at his lips, wishing I could kiss him. Why had I been so stupid and told him I prefer conversation to cheesy lines? I could be making out with this hottie right now if I had kept my mouth shut and laughed at his little jokes like any other girl.

“How long have you guys known each other?” he asks.

It takes me a second to come back to the conversation. “Ellie? We’ve been tight for a few years now. I guess we started hanging out when we were seventeen.”  I manage to keep my voice casual, as if that year, and the circumstances surrounding our becoming friends, hadn’t been any big deal. “What about you? You said you grew up with Preston? Are you guys tight?”

He lifts one shoulder. “Not particularly. I mean, I guess we were. But we don’t have a lot in common anymore.”

That’s a little cryptic. Does that mean he doesn’t live in one of these huge mansions on this side of town? Or is it simply that he stayed home and got a job while Preston went off to school?

“He’s not a bad guy, though,” Taylor says. “His parents travel a lot, so he throws a ton of parties in the summer.”

“Maybe I’ll see you at another one of them.”  

He’s quiet for a moment as he holds my gaze. “I hope I see you regardless.”

His tone makes my stomach flip and all in a rush I’m frightened. Am I getting in too far here? Flirting at a party is one thing, making plans to see each other after tonight is another. To my great relief, Ellie chooses that moment to wake up fully.

She moans as she sits up. “Ugh, I have a headache. Zoe, you weren’t supposed to let me mix beer and pot. You know this.”

“I warned you,” I say. “You told me to fuck off.”

She laughs weakly, rubbing her head. “That does sound like something I’d say.” She pulls her phone from her pocket and starts to type. “Let’s find Hunter. I’m in need of sustenance. I want pancakes.”

“Mmm, pancakes,” Hunter says, as he walks up behind her. “I’m in.”

Ellie holds up her phone. “I was just texting you.”

He taps his forehead. “I could sense that my presence was desired.”

I look over at Taylor. “I guess we’re leaving.” Somehow I’m both disappointed and relieved.

“I guess so.”

I know it’s better to leave before I start getting any weird ideas about seeing him again, but I still feel a sense of letdown. I’ll never get to find out what it’s like to kiss that gorgeous mouth. To trail my tongue across that jaw…

As I start to stand, Taylor grabs my hand. “I’ll be seeing you, Zoe. That’s a promise.”

I look down at him, not knowing what to say. I should discourage him, tell him I’m not interested. But I just can’t do it. “We’ll see,” I murmur, then turn to help hoist Ellie into a standing position.

“Let’s find Everett,” Hunter says. “He’s the DD tonight. Why’s it so dark down here?” He looks around the room. “Hey, Everett!” he shouts. “I want pancakes!”

Everett’s laugh sounds from across the room, and we head off in that direction. I refuse to turn around to take a last look at Taylor. Even though we aren’t heading home yet, leaving the party takes me one step closer to my real life.

And there is no place for anything as beautiful as Jet Taylor in my real life.

**Escape In You will be released October 15th!**