The Child Finder

By Rene Denfeld
Published: September 5th 2017
Published by: Harper
Source: Purchased
Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?
While I haven't gotten around to publishing a review of it yet, I first was introduced to Rene Denfeld via her debut novel, The Enchanted, last year. A friend with similar taste in books read it, and essentially said to me "this book is weird and messed up and someone else needs to experience it with me". The Enchanted is a difficult book to recommend to just anyone off the street, though, because of its subject matter (convicted criminals on death row) and The Child Finder falls into that same category. I want everyone to read it, but it's absolutely not a book for everyone.

Denfeld's writing is beautiful without being overwritten, lyrical but sparse. She doesn't use any more words than necessary, and with the topics that she writes about, sometimes that's for the better. The book's short and quick to get through, and even though it only took me a few days to read it, I found myself wanting to slow down with certain passages, spend some time lingering over her word choice, the way she constructs a sentence.

I've described her work, both here and in The Enchanted, as "beautiful words about terrible things". In The Child Finder, Denfeld writes unflinchingly about subjects that would be dangerous for most authors. It's easy to sensationalize a missing child, easy to cross the line into inappropriate when writing about child abuse. Denfeld doesn't shy away from the realities of Madison's situation, or the stories of any of the other missing children that are mentioned. But the writing never feels exploitative. It's honest in a way that I think many other authors would have difficulty nailing. She writes about good people doing bad things, about bad people who have done worse things. About out-of-the-way, middle of nowhere places you'd never even notice on a map. All with an ease that I am perpetually envious of.

It's difficult to talk about this book without spoilers, although in my opinion the plot points are all fairly apparent as you read. Most of the twists are pretty clearly telegraphed ahead of time. Usually, this disappoints me in a book, but in this case, I'm reading more because I love Denfeld's way with words. And even with being able to guess the plot, the book still managed to keep me on the edge of my seat. The story is less of a mystery, and more of an untangling of Naomi's past and personality as she tries to find both Madison and another child whose case she takes on at the same time. Is the story predictable? Yes, of course. But the way Denfeld weaves many different stories, points of view, and even some fantasy elements together helps transcend the fact that I was pretty easily able to see where the plot was going.

The character of Naomi is reminiscent of the female lead of The Enchanted. The unnamed investigator in that book was a woman often of few words, closed off from other people around her. They have similar jobs -- uncovering pasts and tragedies that often want to stay hidden. They attract the attention of men who should probably know better, but who are drawn to her anyway. If there's a flaw in this book, it's that I couldn't stop conflating Naomi with the investigator, given how similar they are.

While the plot of The Child Finder wraps up at the end without a cliffhanger, there are enough plot points left hanging for a sequel, and Goodreads indicates this book may be part of a series. If so, I look forward to what comes next for Naomi, even though I know it will hurt to read.


Content notes: Child abduction, child abuse (physical and sexual), character death, physical violence, animal harm.

Aru Shah and the End of Time

By Roshani Chokshi
Published on March 27th 2018
Published by: Disney/Rick Riordan Presents
Source: Publisher
Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she'll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from their latest archaeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?

One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru's doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.

But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it's up to Aru to save them.

The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

I've been curious about writer Rick Riordan's new book imprint since I first read about it, so am very pleased to be able to get on in the ground floor, as it were. The well-known mythology writer wanted to give a platform to writers from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds, to present their own histories and traditions in their own words. It's the ultimate in Own Voices, as Riordan recognizes that he's not the best person to bring stories to life that lie outside of his own heritage. Aru Shah and the End of Time from Roshani Chokshi is the first release from that imprint, and it absolutely doesn't disappoint.

This book is the sweetest story about friendship, perseverance, and also epic adventuring that I've read in ages. Aru Shah is a fantastic lead character to take the reader through her adventures. She's just a regular 12 year old, worried about fitting in and being liked at school, being sad when her mom doesn't pay attention to her or blows off things they were supposed to do together. Aru's grown up in the museum that her mom runs, and her adventures finally kick off when she gets caught up in one too many embellishments on the truth with her classmates.

Aru's adventure is unexpected, both to Aru and to everyone she encounters. She's just a little girl, how is she the reincarnation of a Pandava, a set of legendary brothers? Every step of the way, Aru has to fight against people who underestimate her and don't believe in her. And while sometimes her confidence may waver, she has delightful companions in her quest -- including a more-than-meets-the-eye pigeon and her newly minted sister Mini, whose tendencies to worry and panic are the flip side of Aru's headstrong nature.

The quests and riddles that Aru and Mini have to solve along the way are very clever, and while of course you know they'll be successful, there are lots of moments where you wonder just how they're going to get out of the situation they've found themselves in. The book is highly engaging, even to this very-much-not-middle-grade reader. I read most of it in one sitting and every time I had to put it down, I was disappointed that I couldn't keep reading. There are lots of cultural/timely references that middle grade readers might slide past, but any adult who does a read-along or picks this up for themselves will find themselves chuckling quite a bit.

As someone who knows absolutely nothing about Indian mythology, all of the players in this book were new to me. The gods and goddesses were introduced organically, and the explanations of their backstories is handled seamlessly in a way that doesn't feel like too much information is being dumped on readers. There's also a very handy glossary at the end giving you a run-down of all the characters and concepts you come across. This book is the first in a series, and the end clearly sets you up for the next book, but I wouldn't say this is a cliff-hanger. There are still some unresolved loose ends, but the main plot wraps up nicely enough.

No matter your age, you can find something to enjoy and reflect on in this story. Chokshi's writing style is simple and fresh, and the love and care she has for her original characters and for telling a story steeped in the rich world of Indian mythology comes through loud and clear on every page. 




GIVEAWAY: Rosemarked


Hi Everyone!

This is Livia Blackburne, and I'm thrilled to share ROSEMARKED with you at long last. There are a lot of elements to this book, including a love story, a spy story, reflections on trauma and mortality, medical ethics, and political intrigue.  Perhaps because of this, my research for the book was equally eclectic, from archery and stick fighting lessons, to chats with memory researchers and soldiers, and lots and lots of reading, including books about leper colonies, hospice care, and PTSD. Hopefully, I wove it all into an entertaining and thought-provoking story!

This story centers on Zivah, a talented healer with an incurable illness, and Dineas, a traumatized soldier. The two couldn't be more different, and I had a lot of fun writing their unlikely love story.  In order to work together, they both have to let go of their own prejudices and preconceptions. It's a painful process, with fights and misunderstandings, anger, laughter and tears, but in the end, they both come out as stronger people.

To celebrate the ROSEMARKED release, I’m offering 3 lucky winners a ROSEMARKED swag pack, which includes a copy of ROSEMARKED and a signed bookplate! Due to sweepstakes laws, entrants must be 18 years or older to participate. Best of luck, and happy reading!

***
a Rafflecopter giveaway

***

The first in a duology, ROSEMARKED (Hyperion | On Sale November 7, 2017) by New York Times bestselling author Livia Blackburne follows a healer and a solider on a high-stakes mission to spy on the Empire to uncover a deadly secret. With sizzling chemistry and a heartrending ethical dilemma, this thrilling fantasy with nuanced characters will capture fans of An Ember in the Ashes and The Lumatere Chronicles.

New York Times best-selling author LIVIA BLACKBURNE has a PhD in neuroscience from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she conducted research on the neural correlates of reading. She still blogs on the intersection of writing and brain science, and she now lives in Los Angeles with her family. Livia is also the author of Midnight Thief, an Indies Introduce New Voices selection, and its sequel, Daughter of Dusk.

ROSEMARKED by Livia Blackburne 
Hardcover: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Book Depository
Ebook: Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo





Also by this author…
MIDNIGHT THIEF
New York Times Bestseller 2014
Indies Introduce New Voices Pick
2015 YALSA Teens’ Top Ten Nominee
Ebook:  Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play

DAUGHTER OF DUSK
Ebook: Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Google Kobo



Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel... Release Week Blitz and Giveaway!

 
Hello Readers! Welcome to the Release Week Blitz for
Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel
presented by Entangled Teen!
Grab your copy today!
 
Congratulations Meg!
 
 
 
A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.
Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human. What's more, she knows something most don't. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel Publisher: Entangled Teen Publication Date: September 5, 2017

 
 
His soft voice clashes with the intensity of his gaze. “You’re adorable when you’re trying to be mad at me. You needn’t work so hard at it, though. We aren’t meant to be adversaries.”
“I, um…” My thoughts disband, leaving nothing for communication purposes. I’m adorable? Adorable has many definitions. I think my dog is adorable, for example. “That…wasn’t what I was going to ask you.”
He inclines his head. “Okay, then. Ask.”
But that “adorable” echoes through me, clinking around like a penny down a well. “What are we meant to be, then?”
His lips curls up at the corners. “That wasn’t your question, either.”
 
 
 
Meg Kassel is an author of paranormal and speculative books for young adults. A New Jersey native, Meg graduated from Parson's School of Design and worked as a graphic designer before becoming a writer. She now lives in Maine with her husband and daughter and is busy at work on her next novel. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart© winner in YA.
 
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
 


 
 

Jaime Reviews.... Little Monsters by Kara Thomas ~ Tour Review and Giveaway



By Kara Thomas
Published on July 25, 2017
Published by: Delacorte Press
Source: Netgalley
For fans of Pretty Little LiarsLittle Monsters is a new psychological thriller, from the author of The Darkest Corners, about appearances versus reality and the power of manipulation amongst teenage girls.

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.

Goodreads | TBD | iBooks | B&N | Amazon 

Little Monsters...

There is something to be said for a story where you literally cannot trust a single person. The ones you really want to trust, the ones you think you can't trust but maybe they are the most trustworthy. The completely obvious choice, but wait... maybe not?! The completely unexpected ones. This story did a fantastic job of throwing the reader off the trail on almost every single page. And I loved it!
I have not (YET) read The Darkest Corners, but that will be rectified soon.

Little Monsters starts a little while after Kacey moves in with the father she had never met, his wife and two new siblings. Her family life is good, and she is happy. Her and her brother and sister have a great relationship, and she loves her stepmom. And surprisingly enough, she has made two great friends, when she never thought it would be possible. But Bailey and Jade are different. She loves them, but they are pushy and they force her into things she doesn't want to do. She goes along with it, because she doesn't want to lose her only friends. But one night, sneaking out doesn't go exactly as planned and her little sister ends up going with them. This makes Bailey angry, and the girls end up dumping Kacey to go to a party, even though she was supposed to be with them. And that is the night everything changed. Bailey is missing, and no one seems to know where she is or what could have possibly happened to her.

From here, the story is a race to find Bailey, hopefully alive. Jade and Kacey go looking for clues and find what should be a smoking gun but turns into nothing. And Kacey keeps stumbling across things, which is making the police wary of her. Throughout the rest of the novel, it is a chase to find the culprit. And everyone is a suspect. It was almost impossible to figure out who the bad guy was. I finally figured it out, but it was almost at the very end.

One thing that I really enjoyed about the story were the chapters out of Bailey's diary. They were heartbreaking and bone-chilling. They gave insight to situations that I had looked at completely differently prior. It was a smart move on Thomas's part, and I applaud it.

Little Monsters was a book right up my alley. An unreliable narrator, who I loved and wanted to slap at the same time. An interesting family dynamic. A truly screwed up friendship. And whiplash from all of the flipping and flopping about the bad guy! This is the perfect story for those thriller lovers, who want to be given a challenge, coming up with all of the answers. I am a huge fan, and I can't wait for more from Kara Thomas! 

About the Author...

Kara is the author of the critically acclaimed The Darkest Corners. Her new book, Little Monsters, is coming July 25 from Random House/Delacorte. She's written for everything from her high school newspaper to Warner Brothers Television. You can find her on Long Island, bingeing on true crime podcasts and TV shows. 




Giveaway...


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule...

Week One:
8/14/2017- YAandWineInterview
8/15/2017- The Best Books Ever- Review
8/16/2017- BookHounds YAGuest Post
8/17/2017- Tales of the Ravenous ReaderReview
8/18/2017- adventures of a book junkieInterview

Week Two:
8/21/2017- Portrait of a BookReview
8/22/2017- Such a Novel IdeaGuest Post
8/23/2017- YA Books CentralInterview
8/24/2017- Feed Your Fiction AddictionReview
8/25/2017- Home of a Book LoverReview


BLOG TOUR: IF THERE’S NO TOMORROW

Thanks to TLC Tours, we're pleased to take part in the book tour for If There's No Tomorrow, a new contemporary YA novel by Jennifer Armentrout. Keep reading to check out an excerpt from the book! And be sure to check out the tour website for a complete lists of stop, to read all of the excerpts this week!


By Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published on September 5th 2017
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She's ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend Sebastian know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be epic—one of opportunities and chances.

Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.

Now Lena isn't looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian might never forgive her for what happened.

For what she let happen.

With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when her and her friends' entire existences have been redefined? How can she move on when tomorrow isn't even guaranteed?

Excerpt!



I couldn’t move, and everything hurt—my skin felt stretched too tight, muscles burned like they’d been lit on fire, and my bones ached deep into the marrow.
Confusion swamped me. My brain felt like it was full of cobwebs and fog. I tried to lift my arms, but they were weighed down, full of lead.
I thought I heard a steady beeping sound and voices, but all of it seemed far away, as if I was on one end of the tunnel and everything else was on the other.
I couldn’t speak. There… there was something in my throat, in the back of my throat. My arm twitched without warning, and there was a tug at the top of my hand.
Why wouldn’t my eyes open?
Panic started to dig in. Why couldn’t I move?
Something was wrong. Something was really wrong. I just wanted to open my eyes. I wanted—
“I love you, Lena.”
“I love you, too.”
The voices echoed in my head, one of them mine. Definitely mine, and the other…
“She’s starting to wake up,” a female voice interrupted my thoughts from somewhere on the other side of the tunnel.
Footsteps neared and a male spoke, “Getting the propofol in now.”
“This is the second time she’s woken up,” the woman replied. “Hell of a fighter. Her mother is going to be happy to hear that.”
Fighter? I didn’t understand what they were talking about, why they thought my mom would be happy to hear this—
“Maybe I should drive?”
Warmth hit my veins, starting at the base of my skull and then washing over me, cascading through my body and then there were no dreams, no thoughts, and no voices.



Yesterday

Chapter 1
Thursday
August 10th

“All I have to say is that you almost had sex with that.”
Scrunching my nose, I stared down at the phone Darynda Jones—Dary for short—had shoved in my face five seconds after walking into Joanna’s
Joanna’s had been a staple in downtown Clearbrook since I was knee high to a grasshopper. The restaurant was kind of stuck in the past, weirdly existing somewhere between big hair bands and the rise of Britney Spears, but it was clean and cozy, and practically everything that came out of the kitchen was fried. Plus it had the best sweet tea in the entire state of Virginia.
“Oh man,” I murmured. “What in the world is he doing?”
“What does it look like?” Dary’s eyes widened behind her white plastic framed glasses. “He’s basically humping a blow up dolphin.”
I pressed my lips together, because yep, that’s what it looked like.
Whipping her phone out of my face, she cocked her head to the side. “What were you thinking?”
“He’s cute—was cute,” I explained lamely as I glanced over my shoulder. Luckily no one else was within hearing range. “And I didn’t have sex with him.”
She rolled dark brown eyes. “Your mouth was on his mouth and his hands—”
“All right.” I threw up my hands, warding off whatever else was about to say. “I get it. Hooking up with Cody was a mistake. Trust me. I know. I’m trying to erase all of that from my memory and you’re not helping.”
Leaning over the counter I was standing behind, she whispered, “I’ll never let you live that down.” She grinned when my eyes narrowed. “But I understand. He has muscles on top of muscles. He’s kind of dumb-but-fun.”There was a dramatic pause,
Everything about Dary was dramatic, from the often abhorrently bright clothing she wore to the super short hair, cropped on the sides and a riot of curls on the top. Right now her hair was black. Last month it was lavender. In two months, it would probably be pink.
And he’s Sebastian’s friend.”
I felt my stomach twist into knots. “That has nothing to do with Sebastian.”
“Uh huh.”
“You’re so lucky I actually like you,” I shot back.
“Whatever. You love me.” She smacked her hands down on the counter. “You’re working this weekend, right?”
“Yeah. Why? Thought you were going to DC with your family this weekend?”
She sighed. “A weekend? I wish. We’re going to DC for the whole week. We leave tomorrow morning. Mom can’t wait. I swear she actually has an itinerary for us, like which museums she wants to visit, the expected time in each one, and when we will have our lunches and dinners.”
My lips twitched. Her mom was ridiculously organized, down to labeled baskets for gloves and scarfs. “The museums will be fun.”
“Of course you think that. You’re a nerd.”
“No point in denying that. It’s true.” And I had no problem admitting it. I wanted to go to college and study anthropology. Most people would ask what in the hell would you do with a degree in that, but there were a lot of opportunities like working in forensics, corporate gigs, teaching, and more. What I wanted to do actually involved working in museums, so I would’ve loved a trip to D.C.
“Yeah. Yeah.” Dary hopped off the red-vinyl barstool. “I got to go before Mom freaks. If I’m five minutes passed my curfew, she’ll call the cops, convinced I’ve been abducted.”
I grinned. “Text me later, okay?”
“Will do.”
Waving goodbye, I grabbed the damp rag and ran it along the narrow countertop. Pots clanged together, echoing out from the kitchen, signaling it was close to shutting down for the night.
I could not wait to get home, shower off the scent of fried chicken tenders and burnt tomato soup, and finish reading the latest drama surrounding Feyre and the fae courts. Then I was moving on to that sexy contemporary read I’d seen people talking about in the Facebook book club I lurked in, something about Royals and hot brothers. Five of them.
Sign me up for that.
I swore half the money I made waitressing at Joanna’s went to buying books instead of my savings account, but I couldn’t help myself.
After wiping around the napkin dispensers, I lifted my chin and blew a strand of brown hair that had escaped my bun out of my face as the bell above the door rang and a slight figure stepped inside.
I dropped the lemony-scented rag with surprise. A breeze could’ve knocked me flat on my face.
For the most part, the only time anyone under the age of sixty came into Joanna’s was on Friday nights after the football games, and sometimes Saturday evenings during the summer. Definitely not on Thursday nights.
Joanna’s made its bread and butter off of certified AARP members, which was one of the reasons why I started waitressing here during the summer. It was easy and I needed the extra money.
The fact that Skylar Welch was standing just inside of Joanna’s, ten minutes before closing, was a shock. She never came in here alone. Never.
Bright headlights pierced the darkness outside. She’d left her BMW running, and I was willing to bet she had a car full of girls just as pretty and perfect as her.
But nowhere near as nice.
I’d spent the last million years harboring a rabid case of bitter jealousy when it came to Skylar. But the worse part was that she was genuinely sweet, which made hating her a crime against humanity, puppies and rainbows.
Tentatively walking forward like she expected the black and white linoleum floor to rip open and swallow her whole, she brushed her light brown, blonde at the end, hair over her shoulder. Even in the horrible fluorescent lights, her summer tan was deep and flawless.
“Hey, Lena.”
“Hey.” I straightened, hoping she wasn’t going to place an order. If she wanted something to eat, Bobby was going to be pissed, and I was going to have to spend five minutes convincing him to cook whatever she wanted. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing much.” She bit down on her glossy, bubble-gum pink lip. Stopping next to the red-vinyl barstools, she took a deep breath. “You’re about to close, aren’t you?”
I nodded slowly. “In about ten minutes.”
“Sorry. I won’t take long. I actually wasn’t planning to stop here.” I silently added a sarcastic ‘Really?’ “The girls and I were heading out to the lake. Some of the guys are having a party, and we drove past here,” she explained. “I thought I’d stop by and see if… if you knew when Sebastian was coming home.”
Of course.
I clenched my jaw shut. It should’ve been obvious the moment Skylar walked through those doors that she was here about Sebastian, because why else would she be talking to me? Yeah, she was sugary sweet, but we didn’t operate in the same circles at school. Half of the time I was invisible to her and her friends.
Which was okay with me.
“I don’t know.” That was a lie. Sebastian was supposed to come home from North Carolina on Saturday morning. He and his parents were visiting his cousins for the summer.
A twisty pang lit up my chest, a mixture of yearning and panic—two feelings I was well acquainted with when it came to Sebastian.
“Really?” Surprise colored her tone.
I fixed a blank expression on my face. “I’m guessing he’ll be back this weekend sometime. Maybe.”
“Yeah. I guess.” Her gaze dropped to the counter as she fidgeted with the hem of her slinky black tank top. “He hasn’t…I haven’t heard from him. I’ve texted and called, but….”
I wiped my hands along my shorts. I had no idea what to say. This was so incredibly awkward. Part of me wanted to be a total bitch and point out that if Sebastian wanted to talk to her, he would’ve responded, but that just wasn’t me.
I was the kind of person who thought things but never said them.
“I think he’s been really busy,” I said finally. “His dad wanted him to check out some of the universities down there and he hadn’t seen his cousins in years.”
Someone out in the BMW slammed on the horn and Skylar looked over her shoulder. My brows rose while I silently prayed that whoever was in the car stayed in that car. A moment passed, and Skylar tucked bone-straight hair behind her ear as she turned back to face me. “Can I ask you one more thing?”
“Sure.” Not like I was actually going to say no even though I was picturing a black hole appearing in the diner and sucking me into its vortex.
A faint smile appeared. “Is he with someone else?”
I stared at her, wondering if I lived through a different history of Sebastian and Skylar.
From the moment she moved to Clearbrook, population meh, she’d attached herself to Sebastian. Not that anyone would blame her. Sebastian came out of his mom’s womb stunning and charming everyone around him. Those two got together in middle school and had dated all through high school, becoming the King and Queen of Coupledom. I’d resigned myself to the fact I’d have to force myself to attend their wedding at some point in the future.
But then spring happened….
You broke up with him,” I reminded her as gently as I could. “I’m not trying to sound like a bitch, but what does it matter if he’s with someone else?”
Skylar curled a slender arm across her waist. “I know, I know. But it matters. I just…. Have you never made a huge mistake?”
“Tons,” I replied dryly. The list was longer than my leg and arm combined.
“Well, breaking up with him was one of my mistakes. I think, at least.” She stepped back from the counter. “Anyway, if you see him, can you tell him that I stopped by?”
That was the last thing I wanted to do, but I nodded because I would tell him. Because I was that person.
Eye. Roll.
Skylar smiled then. It was real, and made me feel like I should be a better person or something. “Thanks,” she said. “I guess I’ll see you at school in a week or so? Or at one of the parties?”
“Yep.” I fixed a smile on my face that felt brittle and probably looked half-crazed.
Wiggling her fingers goodbye, Skylar turned and walked toward the door. She reached for the handle, but stopped and looked over her shoulder at me. A strange look crossed her face. “Does he know about you?”
The corners of my lips started to turn down. What was there to know about me that Sebastian didn’t already know? I was legit boring. I read more than I actually talked to people, And was obsessed with the History Channel and shows like Ancient Aliens. I played volleyball and even though I really wasn’t that good at it, our school sucked so I made the team. Honestly, I would’ve never started playing if it hadn’t been for Megan conniving me into it when we were freshman. Not that I didn’t have fun, but yeah, I was as stimulating as white bread.
There were literally no hidden secrets to uncover.
Well, I was scared to death of squirrels. They were like rats with bushy tails, and they were mean.No one knew that, because that was super embarrassing. But I doubted that was what Skylar was talking about.
“Lena?”
Jarred out of my thoughts, I blinked. “What about me?”
She was quiet for a moment. “Does he know you’re in love with him?”



About the Author....

 

# 1 New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jennifer L. Armentrout Lives in West Virginia.

All the rumors you heard about her state aren’t true.

Well, mostly. When she's not hard at work writing, she spends her time, reading, working out, watching zombie movies, and pretending to write.

She is the author of the Covenant Series (Spencer Hill Press), the Lux Series (Entangled Teen), Don't Look Back (Disney/Hyperion) and a yet untitled novel (Disney/Hyperion), and new YA paranormal series with Harlequin Teen.

Jennifer also writes New Adult and Adult romance under the pen name J. Lynn. The Gamble Brothers Series (Tempting the Best Man/Tempting the Player) and Wait for You. Under her pen name, she is published with Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.



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