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Geektastic – Chapter One Sneak Peek!

**TWO DAYS!**

I can’t believe this book is coming out in TWO DAYS! Insanity! I’m normally way more on top of things and would have posted this like a week ago, but … never too late, right?

Anyway, here is a sneak peak of my upcoming release, book two in the Dorky Duet, GEEKTASTIC! This book will be moving into Kindle Unlimited shortly after release, at which point the ebook will be exclusive to Amazon, so if you order from an alternate retailer (i.e. Apple, B&N, Google, etc.) preorder now so you don’t miss out!

Preorder Geektastic

Chapter One

The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!

—Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Annabel

Every time I go out of my way to avoid someone, they appear. Like magic.

Like dark magic from hell. Or in this particular case, like the devil incarnate.

Jude Parker.

Our gazes clash and then my eyes skitter away like they’ve been scalded, but his image is burned on the back of my retinas.

He’s wearing a suit. Black jacket, stark white shirt, black bow tie. Which maybe wouldn’t be remarkable, except this isn’t a fancy restaurant or a wedding. It’s a township meeting in rural Texas.

The Blue Falls High School cafeteria was an unlikely hellscape, but the city hall was unavailable because someone had flushed their dentures down one of the public toilets and they had to close for water damage. This was the largest available public space, equipped with plenty of uncomfortable seats, glaring overhead lights, and squeaky linoleum.

Jude should look ridiculous amid the rest of the over-sixties currently occupying the room in their beige and pastel shirts and slacks—they don’t even seem to notice he’s there—but instead he looks like he always does.

Relaxed. Unconcerned. Delicious.

The outfit is a stark contrast to his scruffy beard and long hair. The brief glimpse of his intense, bright blue eyes has my stomach twisting with nerves.

My first instinct is to run, but I can’t. There’s no getting out of this. The town council meeting every month is one of my only bylines.

“Annabel.” I yank my gaze from the blue-eyed devil in the room. Rudy Quinn stands near the head table where the town council convenes, dressed in his perfectly pressed police uniform, the badge on his chest glinting under the fluorescent lights.

“Heya, Rudy.” Everyone knows Rudy. His daddy is the district attorney. Plus we went to Blue Falls High near about the same time. He’s at almost every event I have to cover for the paper. He’s a bit on the awkward side, and on the round side, and pleasant enough, but it’s hard to exit a conversation with him once it gets going. He’s like sweet tea in the South: abundant and always available and too much makes your teeth ache.

“Covering the meeting for the paper?” His accompanying smile is wide and friendly.

I nod. “As I do. Anything good on the docket tonight?”

“Oh, you know how it is. We’ve had increased calls to the station about unidentified vehicles around town. Chief wants me here because we know it’s gonna be a topic. He wanted me on hand to help reduce the paranoia and assure the public that there have been no increases in crime in conjunction with the sightings, no reports of any theft or the like, and we have things under control. We’ve increased units patrolling through town and are on the lookout for anything suspicious. He knows I’m the best person for the job, the voice of reason, so he’s been sending me out on overtime almost every night this week. I’m really the best at—”

“Right. Yes. Of course you are.” It’s so rude, but I have to nip it in the bud or I could be stuck up here all night. He opens his mouth but I speak before he can. “Good luck. I’d better find my spot. Catch you later.”

“Yeah, I’ll catch you later,” he calls after me. “Maybe we can get a drink or something after.”

I step lightly through the senior citizens crowded around the front.

All the regulars are here. Mr. Gepson with his toupee and spiral notebook, pencil worn down to the nub. Elaine Kilgarriff dressed in her pastel pink summer dress and hat even though it’s November. Mrs. Johnson with her ancient tape recorder—which is so old I don’t think it even works anymore and yet she brings it every time.

I make my way toward the back of the room, avoiding where Mr. Jude Parker was last spotted.

Which is a mistake because he’s moved. He’s now standing at the back, against the wall, right next to my regular spot.

It’s like he knew where I would be setting up. But how?

I almost turn around and find somewhere else to stand. But no. Righteous indignation fills me. This is my town. I’m not going to let him intimidate me. I don’t care what he does.

I continue to the back of the room, giving myself a silent pep talk as I make my approach.

He’s just a guy. No one important. Act natural.

“Annabel,” he acknowledges, his voice low.

“Good, thanks.”

As soon as the words leave my mouth, I want to snatch them back and swallow them down.

Jude is grinning and clearly enjoying every tortuous second.

“What are you doing here?” I ask, trying for a brisk professional tone that sounds more jittery than I would like.

I catch a whiff of his cologne—something manly and hot and a contrast to the cafeteria stench of old pizza and teenage angst. The citrusy smell ignites a flicker of a memory. Of being in his bed, curled up against him . . . but I ruthlessly quell the image.

His bright blue eyes burn into mine like he can read every lascivious daydream I’ve ever had about him along with ones I haven’t thought of yet.

“I’m surprised you have to ask,” he says.

Crap. What did I ask?

“As you know,” he continues, “I take my civic responsibilities very seriously.”

Oh, right. His moustache twitches and I know he’s smiling underneath it even as he talks about being serious. As ever, he’s taking amusement from everyone and everything.

It doesn’t escape my attention he didn’t actually answer my question.

“Right. Whatever.” I shrug my bag up higher on my shoulder and consider my options. I can’t stand right here next to him.

Space. I need space.

“Enjoy the show,” I murmur and walk on, continuing my path along the back wall a good fifteen feet away from where he’s standing. His eyes burn into my back and I’m glad I wore the dark blue skinny jeans that make my butt look awesome.

Not that I care what he thinks about my butt. Not. At. All.

I pull out my phone and small notepad and set my purse on the floor and pretend to not watch Jude out of the corner of my eye when he moves to a table right in my eyeline.

He doesn’t do something as simple as sit, either. He lounges, arranging his body like he’s relaxing on a chaise longue instead of the hard plastic bench attached to the scratched and battered orange table that’s been in this room since at least 1947. I’m pretty sure there’s a carving of my name on the underside of that very table, next to where I drew a little heart with Chad’s initials.

The town council members trickle in from a side door. The mayor, the city manager, and the secretary with her small typewriter all take their places at the table up at the front of the room.

The mayor calls the room to order, and it begins as it always does with a prayer to bless the meeting, followed by the pledge of allegiance.

Shifting from one foot to the other, I try my best to focus on Mayor Adams.

“As the Texas Open Meetings Act does not allow the council to respond to items not listed on the agenda, your comments will be duly noted by the council and forwarded to the appropriate department for prompt consideration.”

Which means they will listen and likely do nothing.

Almost immediately, Eldon Dunbar gets up to discuss the installation of a stop sign “over by where the aliens were spotted at Gary Johnson’s farm.” Riveting.

My eyes, the traitorous bastards, linger on the back of Jude’s head, trailing over the line of his shoulders in his dark suit. It fits impeccably, hugging his broad back like a perfectly wrapped present. A present should be opened. Presents can’t lie around, wrapped for all eternity. It’s like they’re asking for it.

I glance down at my phone. It’s not on. I forgot to turn on my recorder. Smashing a finger over the button, I burn a hole into the back of Jude’s head with my eyes.

It’s not my fault he’s got this thing, this sexy-vibe thing. It doesn’t matter that he’s hairier than a komondor and somewhat resembles a yeti. Even with all that hair covering ninety percent of his face, he’s still got this crazy, all-enveloping presence. It’s like pheromones or . . . I don’t know, invisible lust tentacles.

I’ve never seen him at any of the other meetings, and this definitely isn’t his type of deal. He’s all about parties and bets and making money off his “babies,” as he so affectionately refers to the college kids he uses to supplement his income.

As far as I’m aware, he’s lived in Blue Falls for about six months, but even in that short time, he’s become something of a legend. A master of games and wagers, a purveyor of parties and shenanigans, and also my brother’s former roommate.

“I would like to talk about the government listening to my phone calls every Sunday.” We’ve got a new commenter. Elaine Kilgarriff.

I suppress a smile.

The NSA isn’t really interested in the secret ingredient for your fried chicken, Elaine.

“They park down the street in their van. They’re trying to listen to my conversations and they’ve been walking around behind my house late at night. One of them snuck in through my doggy door and used my shower.”

Mayor Adams coughs.

“And then they made a sandwich. I know it wasn’t my Eugene that did it because they cleaned the utensils and wiped off the counter after, and he ain’t never done that.”

Mayor Adams tilts her head toward Rudy, who clears his throat from his position to the side of the committee.

“Ma’am, we’ve been alerted to the potential presence of suspicious vehicles and we’re working tirelessly day and night to ensure they don’t pose any kind of threat.”

Jude shifts in his seat, once again drawing my attention.

Is he sitting slightly straighter? Leaning forward a smidge?

Rudy continues, “We do have more people residing in Blue Falls than ever before due to the new mining ventures outside town. A lot of them have families visiting for the upcoming holidays and the parades, which Blue Falls is renowned for. I would like to personally assure you that no one will be listening to your calls or harassing anyone in this town on my watch. Or, you know, attempting to burgle your sandwich materials.”

Elaine nods and toddles back to her seat and the next Blue Falls resident gets up to talk about something inane.

I take notes for another thirty minutes while John Nottingham complains about his neighbor’s tree overgrowing his fence and Mr. Gardiner talks about the drainage problems on the city side of his property, but my gaze continually finds its way to the back of Jude’s head.

His stupid, attractive, hairy head.

Eventually, thankfully, Mayor Adams ends the meeting. I bend over for my purse, packing up my notes and tape recorder. When I glance around again, my eyes automatically locate Jude. Now he’s near the door.

The fact that I’m so aware of him makes my jaw clench.

He stops to empty something from his jacket pocket into the trash and then, after a quick glance around, slides out the door.

It’s an innocuous enough move, but something about it sends curiosity thrumming through me.

Just what did he throw away?

I stop by the exit and peer down into the receptacle. There’s nothing obvious in view, but it’s a narrow opening and the bag is black and dark.

God dammit, I’m even getting fixated on his trash? This is why I need to stay away from Jude Parker. He’s dangerous to my sanity.

Doesn’t change the fact that I’m ten seconds from becoming a full-fledged Dumpster diver.

“Do you want to go have a drink at Bodean’s?”

I jump damn near a mile.

“My treat?” The overly enthusiastic question comes from Rudy.

“Aw, I wish I could but I’m meeting Fitz for supper. Sorry.”

This isn’t the first time Rudy has asked me out. He asks everyone out. It’s what he does. I’ve never said yes and a twinge of guilt slips through me at his hangdog expression.

“It’s okay.” His shoulders droop. “Maybe next time.” He walks out the door.

It’s not that he’s a bad guy, it’s that I would rather not hear him talk about himself for two hours.

The bite in the air is a brief shock to my senses, as is the darkening night. The days are getting shorter as winter settles in and brushes its gentle fingers across this side of Texas.

I shrug on my sweater and focus on my next step and not on Jude Parker.

The excuse I gave Rudy wasn’t a lie. Fitz and Reese, my brother and his girlfriend, are home waiting on me. Well, they saved me leftover pizza. That totally counts.

I’m living with Fitz, but she’s there a lot. I don’t mind. I love Reese. She’s awkward and smart and sweet . . . but I think I might keel over from all the PDA going on around our apartment. It’s like a never-ending puke fest of love.

If I had known moving in with Fitz would turn into watching them spew sweetness on each other twenty-four seven, I would have lived in a box next to the H-E-B with ol’ Roy.

I would charge her rent if she weren’t already renting a room from . . . Jude.

And there he is again, my mind running back to him like a pulled tooth you keep tonguing even when you don’t want to. And since I do want to tongue him, it’s a terrible, terrible metaphor.

I turn the corner to the school and run into another wall.

One that wasn’t here before.

A tall, muscly, man wall.

Jude. I know it’s him because his hands on my shoulders transmit a signal through my body like I’m fiber optics and he’s sex moving at the speed of light. My entire being focuses on the heat of his fingers touching me.

I jump back and throw up a wall of indifference, something that will protect me from Jude and his magic lust tentacles.

His sleepy eyes smile at me, the cool blue belying the heat in his gaze.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“I wanted to offer my services as an escort to see you safely home,” he drawls, emphasizing the word escort.

I smirk in an effort to appear unaffected, but I’m afraid the effect is more of a lumpy grimace. “I’m just fine on my own but I thank you for your concern.” I walk past him, setting a brisk pace.

His lengthy strides have no problem keeping up with my shorter gait. “I would like to express my apprehension, despite your obvious ability to care for yourself, as there are mercenaries about as per Ms. Kilgarriff’s testimony. Safety in numbers. I have thoughts only for your welfare, being a gentleman and all.”

“Well, shouldn’t you be walking her home then?”

“Maybe I should. I could check on her if you like, but I don’t think I have the address of her residence.”

I snort. “Right. A gentleman and a civic leader. I’m not buying it. Why were you really here?”

“If I recall correctly, I asked you that very same question.”

He did. The first night we met, at his house.

I was there at the behest of my editor, who wanted to do a story on illegal gambling on campus. Jude’s games.

“I told you why I was there. To check on Fitz.” My brother, who had gotten himself embroiled in one of Jude’s little betting schemes. Fitz had gotten kicked out of his friend’s house, and Jude had lured him into a competition to rent a room.

Jude tsks. “A lie that doesn’t improve itself upon repetition.”

“If you’re so certain you know why I was there, why do you bother asking?”

“Because I don’t know why you were there. If I knew why, I wouldn’t ask. I know you had reasons other than those you alluded to.”

“Maybe I’ll answer your question if you tell me what business you had at the township meeting. You didn’t speak on anything.”

He grins down at me. “Darlin’, were you watching me?”

“Don’t call me that.”

He called me that before. In his bedroom. The lights down low, his hands wrapped around my ribcage, holding me tight, his voice in my ear, his lips running over the sensitive lobe.

He smirks, as if he knows the affect he has on me and enjoys it a little too much.

I’m not going to get any clear answers from him so I continue walking. He keeps up and we move in silence down a side street that will take me to my apartment—the opposite direction of Jude’s house near the university.

We sidestep a youngish couple taking their dog out for a walk. They wave and exclaim, “Beautiful night, isn’t it?” as they pass, holding hands in domestic bliss.

“They seem nice,” Jude says once we’re out of earshot.

I snort.

“We could have a dog together one day,” he continues.

I hold back a laugh. “I would not purchase any kind of canine with you. Ever.”

“You’re right. Felines are definitely better, and I’m not sure Mr. Bojangles would appreciate having to compete for my affections.”

“No competition here.”

“So I take it you haven’t reconsidered my offer of dinner?”

“Answer is still thanks but no thanks.”

“Just checking. I had thought all of the hostility and avoidance of my general person might indicate a rekindling of your prior interest.” Humor tinges his voice.

I stop walking and turn to face him. “I’m not going to change my mind. I’m not interested in a relationship. If you want to pursue a physical relationship . . .” I run my eyes down the suit. Dammit, he’s even hotter up close. It doesn’t help that I know what’s underneath. I take a step closer. “Those are terms I might be amenable to.”

A relationship with Jude would be a threat to my sanity. But a nice roll in the hay? That I could handle.

My bravado falters.

Maybe.

I hope he says no.

Because the truth . . . the truth is Jude probably wouldn’t want anything serious with me. Not if he knew the real me. I’m an unworthy imposter, undeserving of his regard, but I tuck the thought away like a secret diary slipped beneath the mattress. Or porn.

He searches my eyes, his mouth set in a line until one corner pops up. “I’ll keep waiting for you to come around to my way of thinking.”

“It’s gonna be a long wait.” I spin on my heel and march away.

I need to breathe in air he doesn’t penetrate, but he follows, keeping up the pace until I’ve reached the corner where the sidewalk turns into my apartment building.

“Y’all take care now, ya hear?” I say in the best, politest, stickiest-sweet voice I can muster, the one I learned to use on cranky teachers and customers, and turn to go, but he stops me with a word.

“Annabel.”

His voice is deep and rough and I turn and face him, like I can’t even control it. He’s standing there, hands in his pockets, eyes bright even in the dying light, and as inscrutable as ever.

He opens his mouth, shuts it. Opens it again.

It’s a move so unlike the self-assured and confident Jude I’ve come to know that I’m momentarily shocked.

“Be careful,” he finally says.

I blink. What is he warning me of? But then he turns and walks away.

I stand there, staring after him for a few long seconds before turning on my heel and huffing down the sidewalk.

Jude is a mystery I’ve long wanted to unravel. He’s hiding something. I know he is.

But more disturbing to me is how much I want to spend time with him. How much I actually enjoy the banter.

He’s dangerous to the safe little bubble I’ve built. One poke, and it could pop.

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Ridorkulous Sneak Peek!

Holyyy shnikes, only TWO MORE WEEKS until Ridorkulous comes out! I cannot wait for y’all to read this nerdelicious romance. I really love these characters and I hope you do too!

Available for pre-order right meow! Click here to order and continue below for an excerpt of chapter one! 😀 

Happy Friday lovelies! ❤

Chapter One

It’s hard being weird.

—Felicia Day

Reese

Thump. Thump. Thump.

It’s normal for my roommate’s antics to wake me up in the dead of night.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

She’s always noisy. Talking. Shrieking with her friends. Playing music too loud. Fooling around with a variety of jocks and frat boys. It’s like she never sleeps. Since we became dormmates last year, I’ve adapted to the noise.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Mostly.

Noise in the middle of the night . . . that is normal. What’s not normal is my bed shaking in an unmistakable, rhythmic pattern.

The thick blanket over my head and noise cancelling headphones aren’t going to be enough tonight, not when I’m being jostled awake.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Even I can’t pretend to ignore this. Slowly, I peer over the top of my comforter.

Abby’s lamp on her nightstand is aglow, highlighting the top half of the room, but I can’t see any signs of life from this vantage. Her bed is empty.

And yet mybed is still shaking.

Lifting my head a microinch, I search the rest of the room.

There. On the floor. The jerky movements belong to a large pair of Converse, thrusting against the frame of my bed.

It must be Abby and . . . someone.

I don’t recognize the guy on top.

All I can see is the back of a dark head. He’s shirtless and his pants are halfway down his legs, bare bottom exposed. And hairy.

Ew.

I lower the blanket a little more, curiosity overwhelming the irritation and nervous flutters vying for my attention.

Are all guys so hairy? Do they all leave their pants and shoes on when they engage in late night dorm coitus?

More importantly, why can’t Abby do this stuff on her own bed? Or better yet, somewhere far far away.

I move one of the ear pieces from my noise cancelling headphones and immediately regret it.

Loud moans emanate from the couple on the floor.

It’s two o’clock in the morning. On a Tuesday. I have class in six hours.

Indecision and anxiety battle in my head. I can’t lay here and watch, and I definitely can’t sleep.

If I say something . . . Abby won’t be happy. She already hates me. She loves to make my life hell and even though I try to ignore her, it’s not easy.

If I interrupt their . . . whatever they’re doing, she’ll likely intensify her campaign to make me feel like the smallest life form ever discovered, a nanobe of the lowest order.

Confrontation is not my thing. People in general aren’t my thing. Especially when the people I need to speak with are naked and fornicating.

But before I can make a decision either way, there’s a pounding on the door.

“Abby!” a masculine voice yells.

“Oh, shit,” she hisses. “Get dressed!”

The figures on the floor scramble and yank clothes on and up, but they’re too late.

The door flies open, slamming against the wall.

I flinch under the blanket, but keep it low enough to continue watching.

I can’t look away.

This is worse than a train wreck.

It’s a made for TV movie where the train has been picked up by a tornado, thrown in with a shark, and destroyed by a bomb-wielding B list actor.

Abby snaps her red satiny bra into place and hairy butt man finally jerks his pants up over his rear.

“Are you kidding me?” The man in the doorway has an arm propped against the frame, supporting his long form, like he might crumple to the floor at any moment and this building is the only thing supporting him. His face is slack with disbelief.

I know him.

I mean, I know ofhim.

Fitz Moreland.

Abby’s long-time boyfriend.

They’ve been together since birth or something.

And he’s the “best boyfriend ever and will do anything and believe anything” according to Abby, who brags about their relationship to anyone who’ll listen while simultaneously cheating on him nonstop.

I’ve never actually talked to Fitz Moreland, or seen him this close up, despite the fact we are in our second year of college on the same campus in the same town less than a mile from where we all went to high school together .

I’ve always considered him attractive from afar, but up close it’s even more obvious just how striking he is. He’s the kind of handsome that kicks you right in the gut. His hair is messy, longish and scruffy around the ears. But it’s the way he holds himself. Assured. Confident. Despite the fact his body is currently a taut cable, eyes red, and lips pressed in a thin line of anger.

Abby jabbers out some words, the sentences running together, hands wringing at her waist. “Baby, what are you doing here? This is nothing. It was just a study group, but then everyone left and we were drinking and hanging out and it just happened and we didn’t mean to and it was an accident and it will never happen again. It means nothing.”

“Nothing?” The sound of Hairy-Butt Man’s zipper sliding up punctuates his word.

Silence stretches for a few seconds.

“Kevin?” Fitz says, like he’s just now realized who the other person in the room is. “You’re fucking Kevin?” One hand jerks in Hairy-Butt’s direction.

“Baby—”

“Don’t babyme.” Both of Fitz’s hands come up into his hair, carding through the messy strands before releasing. “We’ve been over for a month, and you sent me that text earlier . . . did you wantme to come here and find this?”

Hold on to your horses and other equine animals. They’ve been over for a month?

“Wait, you guys are broken up?” Kevin says, glancing from Abby to Fitz then back to Abby again.

She’s biting her lip, eyes downcast.

“Are you kidding me right now?” Fitz asks. “Is that what you got off on, thinking you were taking someone else’s girl?”

Kevin shrugs. “Seems to me she’s everyone’s good time. You think I’m the first one here?” Since Kevin’s profile is facing me, I have a view of the corner of his mouth as it lifts in a smirk. “You think youwere?”

I also have the perfect view to watch Fitz’s thunderous expression morph into tornado territory.

There’s a beat and then an explosion of movement.

Fitz tackles Kevin and they both surge in my direction—a jumble of snarled limbs tumbling onto the bed near my feet.

Shrieking, I leap away from the melee, but my feet get wrapped up in the comforter. I collapse into Abby.

She’s screaming and crying and I narrowly miss one of her fists flailing toward my face.

Jerking backwards, I work to untangle my arm from between Abby’s legs and my heavy blanket, while simultaneously trying to avoid the beat-down occurring on my bed.

She’s only in a bra and panties. I’ve never been so close to someone so naked in my life.

I can’t get away quickly enough, can’t get air into my lungs. The proximity is too much. The fight is too close in the small space.

Slapping flesh and grunts from only a few feet away accompany my frantic movements. The tightness in my chest builds. I can’t breathe. I can’t get free. My hair snags in Abby’s bra strap and the panic already choking me builds into an inferno.

One leg finally frees from the blanket and I brace it against the floor and jerk back hard, not caring about the pain in my head from losing a chunk of hair to Victoria’s Secret.

Finally, something breaks loose and the momentum knocks me back. My arms windmill in the air, but I can’t stop the trajectory.

I brace myself for impact, but fall short when my head smacks into something—no, someone. There’s a loud crack and a shriek and then I’m knocked to my butt on the hard floor, the impact making my teeth rattle.

Someone is screaming, and it takes a few long seconds to realize it’s not me.

It’s the RA, Cynthia. She’s covering her nose with a hand but it’s not stopping the blood flowing freely down her face.

There’s a crowd standing outside our open doorway, fellow dorm dwellers in pajamas with rumpled hair and cell phones at the ready.

I glance from Cynthia and Abby to Fitz and Kevin, who aren’t fighting anymore. Fitz has Kevin’s throat in one hand, his other primed for bashing, but his face is turned to the commotion. Kevin uses the distraction to push Fitz away from him, Fitz immediately shoves back but then the wailing makes them both stop. Fitz has an open cut on his lip and Kevin’s eye is already swelling.

All eyes are on Cynthia holding her nose. So much blood flowing between her fingers, tap tap tapping on the hard floor.

“There are a large number of blood vessels in the nose. It’s never as bad as it looks,” I say. But no one is listening.

Abby is the first to move, shrugging on a red silk robe and rushing to Cynthia.

“Did she hit you? Let me help.” She shoots me a dirty look, like it’s my fault, before dashing out the door, practically carrying the RA while snapping at the assembled crowd. “Somebody do something! Call someone!”

Fitz and Kevin hurry out the door after her.

Over the rush in my ears from the adrenaline and the tapping of fingers on cell phones, someone says, “Who is she?”

 

~*~

 

The cops in Blue Falls are probably like most cops in sleepy Texas towns: unused to exercise and overly familiar with free burgers from the Frostee Freeze on Main Street.

The last major crime in town was when someone stole three of Mr. Johnson’s chickens and let them loose in the high school principal’s office. That was before I went there.

The police officers don’t know what to do with a bunch of sniveling coeds and the overly dramatic retellings of the “riot” that broke out in Juniper Hall on this humid autumn night.

No one is leaving, even though the officers keep asking for people to return to their rooms.

An EMT shows up and checks out Cynthia’s nose. Not broken, just bruised. They don’t take her to the hospital, instead bandaging it up and giving her some painkillers.

There are only a handful of scrapes and bruises between the rest of us.

Not surprisingly, most people blame me.

“Why did she hit Cynthia?” Someone in the crowd of onlookers asks.

“Does she even live here?”

I sigh, but say nothing as the cops lead Abby, Fitz, Kevin and I downstairs to the main office on the first floor.

Once they’ve got us in the small room, they have us sit in hard plastic chairs facing each other, Fitz and Abby on one side, Kevin and I on the other.

The office has front facing windows where visitors check in. It’s also where dorm residents go to file complaints or talk to someone about needing lightbulbs or simple repairs.

The cops stay outside the door, talking. I can’t make out the words, just their lulling cadence, but no doubt they’re calling the dean of students.

We sit in silence except for an occasional sniff and murmur from Abby, still trying to get Fitz to talk to her.

I’m numb and exhausted. And cold in the air-conditioned office, even with my galaxy pajama pants and bright pink baggy t-shirt. Despite the cold, I start nodding off, nearly falling asleep when Abby’s voice escalates and yanks me awake.

“You have to forgive me,” she sobs. I’ve never seen her like this. Her mascara runs down her face, her hair is a jumbled blonde mess.

She’s one of those people who’s always put together—like she’s going to a club even when she’s going to an eight AM class. She spends an hour each morning blow-drying her blonde hair into sleek perfection—then another hour giving herself cat eyes and pouty lips. She never leaves the room any other way.  It’s surprising to see her a wreck.

“I don’t have to do anything.” Fitz’s jaw is clenched, his arms crossed over his chest. He leans as far away from Abby as he can get in the cramped space.

I have so many questions. Fitz said they were over. I didn’t imagine it. But Abby never let on anything about them breaking up, if anything, her boasting about Fitz being in her pocket has increased over the last month. Why did they break up? And if they did, why did he show up here tonight and defend her when Kevin spewed his vitriol?

“What are you staring at?” Fitz is glaring at me now, the acerbic and unexpected attention making my cheeks heat and my heart race. “Why are you here anyway? What were you doing in there? Watching the show?”

My mouth pops open but no sound emerges. His eyes flash with anger and it’s directed at me and I don’t know how to respond.  People don’t frequently talk to me unless it’s a quick “excuse me” or “sorry” when we collide because I’m tiny and forgettable. There’s nothing special about my plain brown hair and plain blue eyes and plain features.

I’m not used to confrontation, not since my first week at Blue Falls High four years ago, before I learned how to be invisible.

For sure, no one has ever antagonized me about daring to try and sleep in my own room during a brawl I neither asked for nor instigated.

I mean, imagine my audacity, trying to sleep in my own bed on a Monday night.

All of these thoughts fly through my head at Mach three, followed by an imagined scenario where I’m telling him he’s a Neanderthal prick with a girlfriend who has more insecurities than China has people.

But I’m frozen. An ice berg. The Titanic could hit me and still, I’d remain. My mouth pops open but no sound emerges.

Abby surprisingly comes to my rescue. “She’s my roommate.”

They’re all staring at me now. And still, I can’t speak. Just a block of ice.

“She deaf?” Kevin drawls.

“Leave her alone,” Abby snaps and for a second, warmth kindles in my chest. Is someone actually standing up for me? Abby? Of all people?

But then she continues speaking. “She’s got special needs.”

The heat in my chest fizzles and dies. “I don’t have. . .” The words are a broken ignition on my lips, not quite catching. No time to speak, anyway.

The door opens. The dean of students is here, in his flannel pajamas with rumpled hair and angry eyes.

“I can explain everything,” Abby says, her lashes wet with unshed tears.

The dean’s expression doesn’t lighten at her pleading tone. If anything, it darkens as he stomps into the room.

 

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Sneak peek! Imperfect Strangers!

Hello lovely friends!! The next book in the Imperfect Series is coming 11/7/18! I’m hard at work on editing, and I’m so excited that I decided to share a little excerpt. I hope you enjoy!

Chapter One

Stay focused. Your start does not determine how you’re going to finish.

–Herm Edwards

Bethany

I wake up in a strange bed with an arm around my waist.

Not this again.

It’s a nice arm. Solid. Muscular. Strong, clean fingers.

I’ve done worse.

It may not be the first time I’ve woken up in someone else’s bed, but it’s the first time I don’t remember who someone else is.

Disappointment wraps its cold fingers around my neck while my mind rifles through memories of the night before and my body absorbs the heat of the man cuddled around me like he belongs there.

I don’t deserve the comforting heat at my back or the soothing sounds of breathing. Whoever he is, he’s good. I’m an expert cuddler and this guy isn’t even trying to press his morning boner in my back. That’s like tenth level snuggling.

Reality blinks to life and slaps me in the face.

I went to bed last night alone. At Marc and Gwen’s. I’ve been checking in on their apartment occasionally ever since they left the country weeks ago.

So who’s the hottie draped over my midsection like he’s got the right?

Muted grey light filters into the room as the sun forces its way through the concrete jungle outside. I turn my head to get a close up look at my bedfellow and my heart stops.

I know him.

Well, I know of him.

Brent Crawford.

I’m snuggling with the tight end for the New York Sharks? The famous athlete? The gossip rag favorite? New York’s sexiest bachelor?

Technically, this is his bed. He’s Marc’s brother and he does live here but he’s been MIA for months. Where did he come from? And why the hell is he spooning me?

For a few long seconds I don’t move, I just watch him breathe and take in his nearness and slumbering good looks. My eyes linger over the defined angle of his jaw, and the criminally long lashes that women pay hundreds to emulate. I turn my head forward and take in the corded muscles of the arms around me, apparent even in a relaxed state.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any man in possession of such attractions is acutely aware of his own appeal and will use it to his advantage. Over and over and over again. With many, many women.

I used to be one of those women who didn’t mind the game. Hell I loved the game, but I’ve grown up. Men like this . . . they never really do.

I gotta get out of here before I do something dumb.

Oh so carefully, I wiggle to gauge his wakefulness. His grip tightens and he murmurs something unintelligible. Heart pounding, I shift and twist, taking my time and doing moves a contortionist would envy. Eventually I disentangle myself from his arms and slide from the bed. He’s still breathing softly.

I am the queen of escape. A regular Houdini.

My half naked victory dance is halted when I turn back toward the bed and find him sitting up and watching me, his expression a sleepy combination of confusion and interest.

His dark hair is rumpled and sexy and his eyes are a bright shade of blue so mesmerizing I almost rip all my clothes off and jump back into the bed.

Plus, he’s not wearing a shirt. The sheet is covering him only from the waist down, exposing a chiseled chest and arms and . . . is that an eight pack?

“Who are you and why are you in my bed?” His voice is rough with sleep and a zing shoots straight to my lady bits.

Down girl.

“I’m not in your bed,” I point out.

He rubs a hand through his sexy, tousled hair and frowns. “You were.” Those vivid eyes narrow momentarily and then lighten. “You’re Gwen’s friend. Aren’t you living at her apartment? Why are you here?”

My brain shuffles through possible excuses.

Watering the plants got really exhausting and I needed a nap.

Too lame.

I fell asleep while smelling your sheets.

Too creepy.

There’s a ghost in my apartment and I can’t sleep there.

Too unbelievable, even if it happens to be true.

“Oh, would you look at the time?” I glance down at my wrist. There’s no watch there. “I . . . I have to go.” I grab my overnight bag from the chair and bolt for the door.

I slept in only a tank top and panties.

He’s totally getting an eyeful of my ass and cellulite and, ugh.

Doesn’t matter.

“Wait.” He shuffles behind me, pulling on his own clothes but no one can get dressed and undressed as quickly as I can.

It’s an art.

Before he’s even made it out of the bedroom, I’ve pulled my pants out of my bag and I’m out the front door, buttoning as I race down the hall in the direction of the elevator.

The shiny metal doors close me into solitude and I take a deep breath, watching my panicked face in the mirrored walls.

As the elevator descends, laughter bubbles out of my reflection.

I can’t believe I just ran away from the hottest man in the city. I mean, I knew there was a chance I would run into him. Gwen told me he would come back to New York eventually, but no one knew exactly when. I didn’t think I would wake up with him in bed, though. That was definitely a surprise.

How did he not notice someone else sleeping when he got there? Sure, I have a tendency to huddle up into a ball. My friend Lucy would probably tell me it’s because of some kind of internal psychosis or trauma, and she’s probably right, but you’d think he would have turned on a light or something.

I guess I should be thankful he didn’t bring someone home with him. That would have been even more awkward than this morning. Three-way no way.

I wipe a hand down my face with a groan.

Once I reach the bottom floor I ask the doorman to get me a cab to Park Avenue. Might as well go straight to work instead of booking it all the way to Morningside Heights and back. At least I’m close enough to forgo the subway and I have my overnight bag with work clothes still stuffed inside.

As the car pulls away from the curb I consider what I’m going to do now. Since Brent’s here, I guess I won’t have to check the mail and water the plants anymore.

I sink down into the seat of the cab.

But this means I’m going to have a much bigger problem.

How will I ever sleep?

***

Pre-order linkage!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Lxldxf

B&N: https://bit.ly/2wjZiEG

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2C1FmMq

iBooks: https://apple.co/2My87ow

Google: http://bit.ly/2MyWTQM

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Release day madness!! Eeeep!

Hello my beautiful blog followers. I hope you’re having the best day ever.

Today, book two in my new series, A Life Less Extraordinary releases! I’m so excited! And it’s only 99 pennies for a very limited time, so grab it while you can! Click that pretty cover below to check it out!

Extraordinary Series - High Resolution - Book 2

In more exciting news, to celebrate the release of book two and because I love giving things away, book one in the series–Anything But Extraordinary–is FREE through tomorrow 12/11/17!! So if you haven’t already scooped it up, now is the best time to do it!

Extraordinary Series - High Resolution - Book 1

Book three will be here 1/11/18 and I can’t wait! It’s available for pre-order here:

Extraordinary World on Amazon!

Happy Holidays everyone!

 

Mary

 

 

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It’s here! (And 99c for a limited time)

Hey everyone!

Anything But Extraordinary is out and available TODAY! Woot woot!

It will be 99 pennies for a limited time so get it while it’s hot and cheap. ❤

Anything But Extraordinary

Extraordinary Series - High Resolution - Book 1

 

Here’s the deets:

When the local authorities ask Ruby Simpson to help them find a thief in the small town of Castle Cove, she doesn’t have much of a choice. She predicted the most recent theft, and the cops have no other leads.
There are just two small problems.
One, she’s not psychic.
Two, she’s not Ruby Simpson.

Okay, maybe they’re not small problems. But Charlotte needs a place to lay low with her younger sister, somewhere her parents won’t find her and the locals won’t ask too many questions. Getting involved with the cops, especially Deputy “Cute Butt” Jared, isn’t a smart thing for a reformed con artist to do. But Charlotte has to make a choice: raise her little sister on the right side of the law or put food on the table.
What the real Ruby doesn’t see in her crystal ball won’t hurt her, right?

Book two and three are also available now for pre-order! Book two is coming 12/10/17 and book three will be released 1/11/18. 

Have a great day! ❤

Mary

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In case you missed it–ARC readers wanted!

I sent this info to my newsletter as well–sorry if it’s a duplicate!

I am seeking ARC readers for book one in my next series: Anything But Extraordinary! Click below to check it out on Amazon–currently available for pre-order!

Extraordinary Series - High Resolution - Book 1

If you would like to sign up for an ARC, please email me at maryframeauthor@gmail.com

Disclaimer before you email me: This is book one in a series and it does not stand alone! There is a cliffhanger! If that bothers you in any way, I will not be offended if you want to pass on reading 🙂 Book two will be available to ARC readers in a few weeks, and for book three there will be a bit more of a lag because I’m still drafting and it’s not scheduled to be at the editor for a couple more months. Soooo please don’t hate me. Hehe.

Happy Sunday!

Mary

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Duuuuuudes….

I am so excited to announce that Imperfect Chemistry is now available as an audiobook!

And if you have Audible, you can download and listen for FREEEEEE:
On Amazon or:
On Audible.

You should also be able to download and listen from iTunes (I couldn’t find the link, it might not be there yet–but it will be within the next couple of days!).

The narrator is Rhiannon Angell, and I can’t even tell you how amazing she is. It was super trippy and surreal listening to someone else read (and basically act out) my book and, but she did such a wonderful job. I was literally laughing out loud during parts, which felt weird because I wrote it and read a bajillion times and is it conceited to laugh at my own stuff?? I dunno, but it was still fun 🙂

I also had the cover redone which was exciting and will make all the covers in the series a bit more matchy!

 

mary-frame-audio

Ooooh….Aahhhhhhh

Anywho, feel free to share or download to listen! I will be getting freebies from ACX to share with bloggers who can listen and review, so if you are a blogger who wants to listen and review or know a blogger/reviewer who can listen and review please let me know!

Happy Wednesday 🙂

Mary

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