On my earlier Featured Friday post as an official blogger for the Stamford Author Event, I posted a spotlight of debut novelist Megan Smith. Megan is one of the 35 authors who will be attending the SAE, and today is her release day! Sooooo... HAPPY RELEASE DAY from Pretty in Pink, Megan!! Megan was kind enough to gift me a copy of her novel in exchange for a review. My preferred genre is paranormal/YA/NA, but I do love a good romance book occasionally. This book rocked my socks off!! Today I have for you another excerpt from her novel, (I posted the prologue on my earlier post.) and my review. FYI: I do short and sweet reviews, and I do not post spoilers. Enjoy!!
To read the prologue first, go HERE.
Summer was ending, and I would be heading off to college next weekend. This weekend, my best friend Hailey, Hunter’s sister Jaylinn, and I were throwing a surprise 21st birthday party for my twin brothers. We were only a few days away from the party, and they knew we were up to something. My brothers were extremely protective of me since I was the baby of the family, and of course, the only girl. Dad instilled it in their heads at a young age that they were always to protect me. That made trying to plan something without them knowing near impossible, since they did not let me go anywhere without one of them or Hunter.
“Kenzie!” Mason yelled.
I jumped, dropped the shirt I was holding and my right hand flew to my heart. “Jesus, Mase you scared the shit out of me.” I bent down and picked up the shirt I was trying to fold.
“What are you up to this weekend?” Mason leaned his shoulder against the laundry room door.
“Hailey, Jaylinn and I are all going out on dates together this weekend.” I replied but did not look in his direction because I knew a fight was about to start. My brothers hated when I went out on dates. Hell, they hated when any of us went on a date, for that matter.
“No, you’re not. It’s our birthday weekend, and you guys are hanging with us. Tell Dominic he is going to have to come next weekend.” I did not have to look up to know he was glaring at me.
“No, he already has plans to come this weekend since he doesn’t have football practice. I’m not cancelling on him.” Dominic had left a few weeks ago for college at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where he received a full football scholarship to play for them. Hailey and I would be joining him and Hunter there this fall. Yes, I know what you are thinking. I chose to go there because of Hunter, and yes, it was probably a mistake, but I did not care.
“Yeah, you can. Tell those assholes you have plans.” With that, he turned away before I could respond. I had been dealing with this all week when Mason or Cooper would ask what my plans were. I had always tried to avoid them and to be as vague as possible.
A few minutes after Mason walked away, my phone beeped. I reach into my back pocket, grab my phone out and read the text.
Hailey – 12:22pm: Got a text from Mase telling me 2 cancel my date this weekend
Me – 12:23pm: LOL. They have no idea
Hailey – 12:23pm: I know it’s going 2 be gr8
The twins had to work for the next few days with my uncle, so it was easy avoiding them. We were able to run to the store to grab things for the party without them knowing. Hunter was going to cover for us Friday night. He told my brothers that he wanted to take me to see a chic flick to repay me for when I helped him a few weeks ago. Dominic had football practice Friday, so he was not going to be here until some point on Saturday. I could not use Dominic as an excuse to be out of the house without one of my brothers tagging along.
Late Friday afternoon, Hunter came to pick me up before my brothers got home. We made our way to my parents shore house to start getting things set up for the party the next day.
My parents were out of town on a weekend getaway. The shore house was a lot bigger than our regular house. It was three stories with five bedrooms, two bathrooms and a full finished basement. The house also had a massive deck and the beach backed up to the yard. We had a lot more room here to accommodate everyone than we did at home. Hailey had come down earlier in the day to let the housekeeper in so they could give the house a good cleaning before everyone would arrive tomorrow.
Hunter and I walked into the house. I called out, “Hey Hails! We’re here.”
“Hey guys,” she came over and kissed Hunter and then me on the cheek.
“I just started putting a few decorations around the house. Did you get the food and the rest of the stuff from your house?”
“Yeah we got it. It’s all in my truck.” Hunter yelled over his shoulder, on his way out to the truck to grab the food.
“I’m going to get started on the food. Hails, can you get Hunter to help you move the furniture around in the living room, so we have more space? Mom also said to lock all the bedroom doors so nobody can get into them. You know where the keys are, right?”
“Yes, on top of the fridge in the money jar.” Hailey said, and then left to go help Hunter.
For the next couple of hours, I prepped all my brothers’ favorite foods. Hailey and Hunter moved everything around so that we would have room for everyone tomorrow night.
“All done, CC. Anything else you need help with?” God, when he called me that, I just wanted to kiss him to death and punch him, all at the same time. Hunter was the only one that got away with calling me CC, short for Chubby Cheeks. There was a picture of me as baby dressed up in an Easter dress that my parents kept on the mantle at home. I looked like a Cabbage Patch doll. Mom had put this bonnet on me that made my cheeks look super chubby and ever since Hunter saw it, he started teasing me by calling me CC.
“Nope, I think that everything is done for tonight. You ready to get out of here Hails?”
Looking as if she would drop any moment, she answered, “Yes, I’m exhausted. We should get up early to come back down here, so we better get going.”
We left Hailey’s car at the shore house, since it was late and she did not want to drive the forty-five minute ride home by herself. Fifteen minutes into the ride, I looked back at Hailey, and she had passed out. I looked over at Hunter, and started picturing all the things I wanted to do with him. I knew it was wrong, because I had Dominic, but it was just something I could not help.
“See something you like, CC?” He had the biggest smirk on his face.
Damn, he caught me looking at him. I turned away from Hunter, and looked out the window, hoping to hide the blush creeping up my neck to my face. “You know I do.” I mumbled, hoping he would not catch what I said.
“And what would Dominic think about that?” Hunter reached over and ran his fingers down my arm, causing me to shiver. Over the last year, Hunter had seriously kicked up the flirting game with me. I am sure it was because of Dominic.
I rolled my eyes at him. “You always bring him up, why?”
“Because I don’t think he deserves you. Is he actually going to make it here tomorrow for the party, or is he going to blow you off again?”
“He promised he would make it this time. He didn’t blow me off the last time. He got held up at practice, and it didn’t make any sense for him to come all the way here, and turn right back around.” He made it up to me by sending me flowers the next day. Yeah, I was still mad, but it is not as if he could drop what he was doing just to come home to see me. I knew football was his life.
“If I was him, and you were my girlfriend, I would make damn sure I was home every chance I got.” I noticed when he said this, that he gripped the steering wheel a little tighter, and his knuckles were turning white.
“He’s trying, Hunter.”
As we were pulling into the driveway of my house, he mumbled under his breath something that sounded like, “He needs to try harder.”
“What did you say?” I asked, wanting to clarify what I thought he said.
Shaking his head, he responded, “Nothing. What time do you want me back to pick you and Hailey up?”
“You don’t have too; I’m going to drive my car down in the morning. I just need you to make sure my brothers are there by seven. I don’t care what you have to tell them, just get them there.” I reached over the seat and shook Hailey’s leg and said “Hails, wake up. We’re home.”
The next morning Hailey and I were up before Mason and Cooper. We quickly got ready, and made our way back down to the shore house to start getting set up for the party. Finally, after all the food was out, and everything was set up, Hailey and I went up to my room and started to get ready for the party.
“So what are you planning on wearing? I know we packed a bunch of different shit.” Hailey said as she pulled out everything from the bags we had packed last night before we fell asleep.
“I’m wearing my white shorts, and that,”—I pointed to the black low cut halter-top she had in her hand—“with my black peep toe pumps.” I picked this because Dominic could never keep his hands off me. He always told me that wearing white shorts made my legs look miles long.
“Your brothers are going to throw a fit. That shirt barely covers the girls.”
I smiled, looking at her through the mirror in front of me, and just shrugged my shoulders. I knew she was right, but I did not care. “You should wear those hot pink shorts on the pillow over there, with the white strapless shirt and those cute white pumps with the pink underneath them. The white shirt will bring out your tan.”
Hailey picked up the outfit and held it up to herself in the mirror, “Yeah, I think you are right. I do look pretty hot in those pink shorts.”
Hailey was gorgeous. She was tall with long blonde hair, dark olive skin, dark blue eyes and flawless skin. I never could understand why she felt so insecure about herself.
After Hailey and I finished getting ready, we made our way downstairs to start greeting everyone arriving for the surprise party. We had our next-door neighbor Jimmy have everyone park in his parent’s driveway. Hunter and my brothers would think it was Jimmy throwing the party. Around six-thirty, I got a text from Hunter saying they would be there a little after seven.
Wondering why Dominic was not here yet, I sent him a text to find out where he was. I did not want him ruining the surprise by showing up late.
Me 6:36pm: Where r u?
Dominic 6:38pm: on my way stuck in traffic
Me 6:40pm: text me when you cross the bridge
Dominic 6:41pm: I’ll be there by 10
Me 6:42pm: Y so late?
Dominic 6:44pm: Traffic
Of course, he was going to be late; he would be late to his own damn wedding. I knew I should not act pissy, but he had known about this for weeks. He should have been here hours ago, but at least he was coming this time.
“Everyone, please find a hiding place. They will be here in the next few minutes.” Hailey yelled over all the chatter in the house.
You would think finding hiding places for 75 people would be somewhat hard, but somehow, everyone found a place.
I heard their street bikes pulling into the driveway so I “shushed” everyone to give a warning that the boys were here.
They walked in laughing, and flipped the light switch on. Everyone screamed “Surprise!”
Cooper and Mason’s eyes flew wide open. When they noticed everyone, they were in complete shock. When their eyes landed on Hailey, Jaylinn and me standing in front of the stairs, they smiled and shook their heads.
After being greeted by a few of their friends, they made their way over to us. Mason pulled me into his arms, “I knew you were up to no good.” He let go of me and grabbed Hailey, while Cooper hugged me. “I can’t believe you two did this. Mason said you girls were out on dates tonight.”
Cooper released me, and leaned me against the wall beside Jaylinn. “Is that why you left so early this morning? I was surprised when mom said you left around ten. Your ass never gets up before noon.”
Hunter walked up next to me and leaned his elbow against my shoulder; I looked up at him, then back to Cooper. “I knew you and Mason wouldn’t let us leave without a fight, so we had to disappear early.”
“You’re damn straight we wouldn’t. Oh, this,” Cooper motioned behind Hunter, “is Jessica, Alexis, and Angel.”
I knocked Hunter’s elbow off my shoulder, and then turned towards them. I was surprised to see Alexis standing there with two other girls I did not recognize. “Hi, I’m MacKenzie, their sister, and this is my best friend Hailey, and Jaylinn over there is Hunter’s sister.” Alexis rolled her eyes, which she did a lot, and the other two girls just mumbled hello’s.
I excused myself and walked into the kitchen to grab a drink when my older brother Jackson and his pregnant fiancé Chloe walked in. “Hey, you guys made it! How are you feeling Chloe?” I reached over to rub her baby bump.
“This morning sickness is seriously kicking my ass. I don’t know how long we will be able to stay, but we wanted to show up for a little while.”
“You and Hailey did an excellent job Kenzie. Mase and Coop were freaking the fuck out all day. Hunter and I had to keep them from coming to search for you girls.” Jackson said.
“Well, thanks for covering for us. I am so glad they had no idea; you know how hard it is to surprise those two with anything. Hey, why don’t you guys just stay in your room upstairs?” I looked over at Chloe, “That way, if you don’t feel good, you can go upstairs to lie down. All the doors are locked, so no one can get into them.”
Jackson looked over at Chloe, and she nodded, “Alright, I guess we can do that.”
“Chloe, there are some clothes upstairs you can put on to sleep in.”
Chloe stood on her tiptoes, and kissed Jackson. He placed his large hands on each side of her belly. “All right, all right, get a room already you two.” Glued to each other ever since they met, it was no wonder she was pregnant.
I walked away from them to search for Hailey. Passing the stairs, I saw Alexis standing with her back to me, holding Hunter’s hand. “That’s just great!” I mumbled to myself. I looked past her and saw her two friends standing there, beside her. Angel was holding on to Mason’s arm, and Jessica had her hands around Cooper’s waist. I did not say anything to them as I walked by. Out on the back deck, Jaylinn and Jackson were playing beer pong with Chloe’s friend Sarah, and some other girl.
“Hey Kenzie, did Hailey find you?” Jackson said.
“No, that’s who I was looking for.” I said, looking around at all the people swimming in the pool, and sitting around the fire pit.
“Have you seen Mase, Coop and Hunter? I haven’t seen them since we got here.” Jackson said.
“They were over by the stairs last time I saw them.” I said, watching as his ping-pong ball lands in the cup on the opposite side of the table.
“Here, take over; I’m going to go get them.” As Jackson handed me the ping-pong ball, Hailey came running up the deck steps and grabbed my arm. “Fuck Kenz!”
“Hails, what the…” I spotted Hailey’s ex-boyfriend Matt as he walked in with some trashy looking girl with crazy red hair. “Shit!”
“What’s going on?” Jaylinn asked, looking around.
“Kenzie, what the fuck is he doing here?” Hailey was practically screaming at me. She had every right to be hysterical after the shit that asshole put her through.
“I have no idea. You know I wouldn’t invite him here after what he did to you.” After senior prom, about thirty of us came to party here at my parent’s shore house. Alcohol flowed freely, and everyone became more and more trashed as the night passed. Matt cheated on Hailey with some skank who had come with one of our friends. They broke up that night, and Mason nearly beat the shit out of Matt.
I raised my chin in Matt’s direction, “Matt is here.” Jaylinn looked over at Matt, anger shooting from her eyes.
Hailey was in tears and near panic. “Why did he show up here? He knows whose house this is.”
“Look, let’s just hang out here, and finish the game. Try to act like he isn’t even here. Chloe, can you text Jackson, and ask him to handle Matt?”
“Yeah, I sure can.” She reached for her phone on the table, and I saw her tap out a text. A second later, her phone beeped. “He’ll take care of it.”
While Jaylinn and I finished our game, Hailey grabbed a bottle of Vodka off the outside bar, and started chugging it.
“You better slow down. I’m not being the only one responsible if this party goes to shit.” I knew she would ignore me, and be plastered by the end of the night. After Matt’s stunt, I seriously did not blame her.
“Just let her be Kenzie. She’s a blast when she’s drunk.” Jaylinn said, as the ping-pong ball she threw hit the rim of one of the cups.
“Fine, but when she is puking her guts up, she is all yours.” I threw my ping-pong ball in the cup and turned to look at Jaylinn with my eyebrows raised, gloating that I made my shot.
Finally, my brothers and Hunter came over, but Mason looked pissed. He was watching Hailey as she drank straight from the vodka bottle. “Kenzie, how much has she had to drink?”
I rolled my eyes at his over protective ass. “She drank the whole bottle of vodka over there,”–pointing to the empty bottle on the bar– “and just started on the second one.” I scowled in Hunter’s direction. “Where’d your girlfriend go, Hunter?”
Hunter had dated Alexis briefly a few summers ago, and she had dated Dominic right before he and I started dating. She still was not over either one of them, and would do anything to get their attention. She had started rumors that Dominic was going to leave me, and go back to her. She even tried to break us up by telling people that she and Dominic made out after a few of his football games that I had not attended. Dominic always denied it; I did not think he would do something like that to me, since he was the one that broke up with her.
“She left. Where’s Dominic?” Mason said, with a smug look on his face as he answered for Hunter.
“Low blow, Mase. I’m going upstairs.” I threw my ping-pong ball at Mason, and turned towards Hailey, “I’m going up to my room; are you coming?”
Hailey giggled at nothing in particular, and shook her head, “No, I’m good out here. I don’t think I can move at this point, since I can’t feel my legs.”
I glared at Mason. “You think you can keep her out of trouble, asshole?”
“Why are you going upstairs? Just stay down here with us. I’m sure Dom will be here soon, CC.” Hunter spoke up, as I was getting up out of my seat.
“Kenzie, you’re not going upstairs! It’s my birthday, and you haven’t even had a shot with me yet.” Cooper said. He threw his arm over my shoulder and pulled me into a hug, trapping me.
Rolling my eyes, I said, “Fine, but if I have to stay down here, and deal with this bullshit, I’m going to need more than one shot.” I got up, and stormed away from them.
In the kitchen, I was about ready to down my shot when I felt a pair of hands grip my hips. I hoped it was Dominic finally getting here, but when I turned around, I was staring at Hunter chest.
Seething through my teeth, I pushed back on him. “Hunter, don’t okay, just don’t. I can’t believe you, of all people, would invite Alexis here.”
He crossed his arms across his chest, looked down at the floor, then back up to me. “CC, let’s just go out front, and talk for a sec.”
“No.” I was not going anywhere with him. He knew I hated the drama that bitch brought with her. I had wanted to have a good time tonight, but seeing her had ruined it for me.
“No?” He was challenging me. He knew I had a problem telling him no to pretty much anything.
God damn it!
Why did he have to be so damn hot? Even after that summer, knowing nothing could happen, I still had feelings for him. I had Dominic now, but no matter what my brain said, my heart wanted Hunter. I looked up, and he smirked at me. I rolled my eyes. “Fine, but we can’t be gone long; I need to go check on Hailey.”
Hunter and I made our way out to the front of the house, and I heard someone call my name. I turned around, and noticed it was Ricky, one of the football players from high school.
“Hey Ricky, what’s going on? Are you down here for the night, or are you staying somewhere?”
“A couple of us from the team rented a house down the road for the summer. We got wind that you were throwing a party, so we stopped by. Is Hailey here with you, too?” For as long as I could remember, Ricky had a crush on Hailey, but Hailey was not having anything to do with him.
“Yeah, she’s out on the back deck with my brothers and Jaylinn. I’ll catch up with you in a little bit.” I gave Ricky a hug, and walked down the front steps. Hunter and I walked down the driveway, away from the blaring music, and the people gathered on the front porch.
“What’s going on with you and Ricky? You know Dominic has a problem with that asshole.” Hunter asked, glaring at Ricky over my shoulder.
“Nothing is going on with me and Ricky. We are just friends. You know, I am allowed to have friends.”
“Why did you have to hug him then?”
“UGH! Are we seriously doing this?” Hunter nodded his head. “Dominic only has a problem with him because he told me that he saw Dominic and Alexis together after one of the games. Look, I am not having this argument with you. Let’s just go back inside. I need to go check on Hailey, and Dominic should be here soon.”
I started walking away from him. “Wait!” Hunter called out, and I stopped walking, but I did not turn around. “Please don’t be mad at me. I’m trying to do the right thing here.”
“Yeah? And what’s that?” Hunter took a few steps, pushed his body flush against my back and whispered in my ear, “Keeping you away from me, CC. You know I want you. Fuck, you can feel it.” To prove his point, he shifted his hips so that I could feel his hardness. “We both know I just can’t have you.” Hunter backed away from me, and walked back towards the house.
I started reading Trying Not to Love You Sunday night I believe it was, and I did not want to stop. (Monday morning at work was ROUGH!) Honestly, I'm not quite what sure it was about the book that drew me in. I think it may be that the characters are so well done, and that they have such real dialogues and problems they are dealing with. In any case, she hooked me right away. Thr further I got into the book, the more I wanted to read. By the time I made it to the end, I couldn't wait to find out how it was going to end...And I am still waiting! Trying Not to Love You, has the mother of all cliffhanger endings. It was totally not what I was expecting, and I LOVED it. (Ok I hated it, because now I have to wait to see what happens.) I loved it, because it was such a surprise. I assumed (and yes I know what they about people who assume) it would be your typical HEA, so the cliffhanger really threw me for a loop! Overall, I give this book 4 stars! Very well written, and I highly recommend that you read it.
To read more about Megan and Trying Not to Love You, please check out today's earlier post!