Friday, November 8, 2013

D'oh! (And an excerpt!)

First off I want to say thank you, thank you, thank YOU for your patience. I really appreciate all the emails about Never and hearing how excited my readers are to read more about Juliet and Lucas! Never has been a little bit of a roller coaster and I've had some editorial issues that have delayed me getting it to you...but *fingers crossed* that you think it was worth the wait!

I totally had a brain fart and realized that I hadn't updated my blog or newsletter to reflect that Never will be released next Friday, November 15 and not on November 8. Also, the blog giveaway and the Goodreads giveaway both end on November 15 as well! Be sure you enter to win free stuff. Yay free stuff! :)

To tide you over until release next week, here's your first look at Never. Hope you enjoy! <3


We walked into the cafeteria and I swear I heard every single beat of my racing heart. Everyone in the room stopped what they were doing. Forks frozen on plates, spoons frozen in cereal bowls.
I didn't mind the attention. I liked confirming that the rumors was true. Lucas McNamara, notorious player, was settling down with a freshman. But not just any freshman. Not just any girl. The girl. The one who got away all those years ago.
Just as I was about to puff out my chest a few inches, I looked to my right and realized Juliet wasn't ready for the parade float. Her nails scissored into my hand and just like everything else in the room had stopped, so had her breathing.
She was terrified.
I squeezed her hand and she flashed nervous brown eyes up at me.
"You good?" I asked softly.
She took a deep breath and nodded slowly.
Maybe this was too much. It wasn't like the cafeteria food was anything to write home about. But we were both sick of the stale cereal at my apartment and it was a little early to wine and dine her anywhere worth mentioning.
Who do you think you're kidding? I thought to myself. You wanted to show her off.
I tightened my grip on the strap of my backpack, knowing it was true. It was more than the fact that she was the prettiest thing in the room; hell, the whole campus--it was because I felt different with her by my side. Like some light was flashed on and everything was brighter. Happier. I even said 'Good morning' to the rude cafeteria worker who glared me down whenever I got a bite in the dining hall. And held the door for some girl that came in behind us. And it was all Juliet. She brought out the best in me.
Which was why I decided to lead us back out the way we came, growling stomach or not.
Instead, she took the step forward, propelling us into the sea of watchful eyes. Even though I was sure she'd rather be anywhere else on Earth, she brought her chin up a few inches.
"Let's give them something to talk about.”
I smiled. That's my girl.
The volume turned back up and I saw one of my boys, Blake Connolly, grinning at us like an idiot at a table over by the windows. He was sitting with two of my other friends, Jackson ‘Jax’ Sloane and Dean O’Malley.
Jackson was cheesing like he stole something, flashing the smile that seemed to make any girl within a five mile radius melt instantly. He was studying poli sci and I could totally see him on Capitol Hill, using the smile to solidify government deals--and hook up with congressional aides.
Dean was oblivious to everything but the book his eyes were glued to. He was studying theatre arts and with his dark hair and intensity he already had the brooding artist thing down. Since he was a self-professed natural, he waited until the last minute to do his homework.
I gave Juliet's hand a supportive squeeze and she gave me a less than enthused one back. I knew she was no fan of Blake's. I swear if you looked up ‘hit it and quick it’, his mug shot would be the definition. Where I tried to be frank and honest with my past exploits that what happened between the sheets was as serious as things would get, he just crooked a finger over his shoulder on the way to find his next piece.
He was on Juliet’s shit list because he’d made scoring with her best friend, Kimberly, priority one.
Since he liked to brag about his conquests, I knew that she wasn’t a notch on his bedpost yet. Kimberly seemed smart enough but she hadn’t shut him down...and that just made Blake come at her even harder. Juliet saw right through him, but couldn’t seem to talk her friend out of the inevitable disaster the two of them hooking up would be.
The closer we got, the tighter she gripped my hand. “Do we have to sit with ‘The Real Bros of Seattle University’?”
“Uh huh,” I answered with a smirk.
I could have brought up the coffee thing I had to do with her friend a few days ago. If I had to put up with being innocent until proven guilty and all but asked for my social security number, Juliet could suffer through fifteen minutes with my friends.
Blake was the first to lock eyes with me and I shot him a look that said ‘Best behavior...or else.’
“What’s up, man?”
His lips literally stretched from ear to ear. “Not too much.” His green eyes widened with amusement when I pulled out a chair for Juliet. “Look who got all domesticated.”
Juliet gave me a pained look before she forced a tight smile. “Hey Blake.”
“Hey beautiful,” he winked. Jackson cleared his throat and Blake did introductions, eyes never leaving hers. He was smart enough to keep them on her face even though I had a feeling if I left her alone, all bets were off.
Maybe this was a bad idea. All the empty tables around us and I threw her in the deep end with my boys?
I leaned in, my thumb stroking her kneecap, watching her body language go from SOS to something that vaguely resembled relaxed. “Want me to grab you anything?”
“I’d love another bagel. Maybe an OJ,” Blake joked, nudging Jackson. “How about you, Jax?”
Jax stroked his chin, probably trying to draw attention to that annoying beard he was trying to grow. “How about some Fruit Loops?” He turned his hazel eyes to Dean . “You need some more bad coffee and fake creamer, man?”
“I had to struggle just to get this down,” Dean sighed, pushing his mug away. His blue eyes shifted from me to Juliet and a smile crept across his face. “Maybe a muffin for the lady, cuz’ she’s so sweet.”
I rolled my eyes, the side of my mouth twitching in spite of myself.
Juliet wasn’t amused.
She shoved her chair back from the table and snapped to her feet. She looked at me, and me alone. “I’ll get it myself, thanks.”
She stalked in the direction of the buffet, my friend’s low whistles and the harsh set of her shoulders telling me I was gonna pay dearly for this later.
“So uptight,” Blake said with a ‘tsk’ before he licked the lid of his yogurt. “We’re just joking around.”
I glared at him, then Jackson. Dean was back to scribbling in a tablet like his life depended on it, so I let him off the hook.
“What’s wrong with y’all?” I growled.
Blake feigned innocence. “No idea what you mean.”
“Right.” I shook my head, pushing back from the table. “I like this girl. Don’t screw this up for me.”
I knew I was going to pay for the ‘L’ word later, but I figured I needed to be a little more concerned about Juliet’s wrath.
She was over at the hot bar, stabbing at sausages before she chunked them on her plate. I took a step in her direction and stopped when someone cleared their throat behind me. I decided to put off the chewing out I was fairly certain I was going to get from my girlfriend and turned.
I immediately regretted it.
Candi Mann stood there, twirling a blonde lock around her pinky finger. “Hi Lucas. I’ve missed you.”
I bit back my retort. Wish I could say the same. Or, Wish I had a time machine so I could go back and never sleep with you in the first place.
When Candi and I first hooked up, I made it fairly clear we were in a friends-with-benefits kinda situation. At first we were on the same page, but then she wanted something more. I avoided the puppy dog eyes and was always busy when she asked me to go out for a coffee or movie.
And then Juliet happened...and the last thing I wanted was to have Candi, or any other girl but Juliet in my bed.
I was sure Candi made whatever we had into some sort of epic love story, but the odds were stacked against her. The minute I saw Juliet I knew she was something special. Different from anyone I’d ever met. Candi was just a duplicate of every other sorority girl on campus. Nice to look at, but that was pretty much it.
I didn’t say that to Candi because I had a feeling being that forthcoming would have escalated the situation and she confirmed my suspicions. I got to see the craziness that all my friends talked about when Candace Mann came up in conversation. The last time we talked I told her to stop texting me nearly naked selfies because I was seeing someone. Her response was radio silence--then she proceeded to lose her mind. She called me ten times in a row, leaving voicemail after voicemail, each one crazier than the last.
I shifted uncomfortably. “What’s up?”
“Not much,” she said brightly, flashing me every tooth in her mouth. “Just hanging out.” She angled her body toward mine, flipping her hair and sticking her chest out coyly. “Speaking of which, you coming to my party this weekend?”
I didn’t take the bait. “I think I’ll pass.”
She gave  me an exaggerated pout. “Really? You know how wild my parties get.” She brought a finger to her lips, biting her nail as her eyes gave me a look that was pure sex. “Remember my last party when we hooked up on the balcony?”
I only remembered bits and pieces of that night. Unfortunately, the parts I remembered included the best everclear, vodka, juice, and fruit concoction, I’d ever drank in my life...and how hot Candi looked pressed against the iron railing of her balcony, her dress hiked up to her waist-
I tightened my jaw, scrubbing the visual from my mind. “Stop it, Candi.”
She batted her eyelashes, her look of innocence reminding me of Blake’s a few minutes ago. Blake knew he was trying to make Juliet uncomfortable--and Candi knew exactly what she was doing.
“If you’re really as happy with her as you say-” she began.
“He is happy with me.” Juliet stepped up beside me. Her dark eyes were cold and angry.
I expected Candi to dial it up a notch, but she just gave Juliet a sweet, dangerous smile. “Juliet! I was just talking-”
“Actually, you were leaving, weren’t you?” Juliet said, cutting her off a second time.
I noticed the people around us walked by slower, picking up on the tension.
Last time they faced off, neither seemed ready to stand down. This time was no different.
Juliet gripped her tray so tightly that her knuckles were bleached white. A part of me worried she was seconds away from hurling the contents over her shoulder and slapping Candi in the face with it. Candi wasn’t armed with anything more than a glare, but it was a weapon in and of itself.
And then Candi did the last thing I expected her to do.
She laughed.
“You have nothing to worry about if you two are as close as Lucas claims,” she said with a condescending wink. Before Juliet could get in a word, she added, “And I’m over it. Really. More fish in the sea and all of that.”
I let out a sigh of relief that drew a wary look from both of them. They turned their attention back to each other.
“In fact, in honor of letting bygones be bygones or whatever, you guys should come to my thing.”
Juliet snorted in disbelief. “Yeah, I don’t think that’s-”
“Great!” Candi interrupted, completely ignoring what I was sure was the beginning of Juliet’s decline of her invitation. “I’ll Facebook you.” She sauntered away without another word.
Alone, I reached for Juliet. “We don’t have to go.”
She yanked away from me. “You sure? Maybe the two of you could hook up on her balcony again.”
I cringed. She heard that? I felt the shame of hesitating and thinking of that night with Candi settle in the pit of my stomach. “It didn’t mean anything.”
“You two had a freaking moment, Lucas!” Juliet hissed, hurt coloring her dark eyes. “I saw it. I...felt it.”
It was only physical,” I tried to explain. “I don’t want her.” She tried to dodge me but I didn’t budge, gripping her shoulders then trailing my hands up until I cupped the sides of her face. I waited until she looked up at me, ignoring the death glare. I just wanted her to see that maybe my head had a moment of stupidity, but not my heart. Never my heart. “You’re the only one I want to be with, Julie.”
She didn’t look convinced, but her chin trembled slightly as her eyes softened. “You promise?”
“I promise.” I leaned in to kiss her, but the sound of catcalls and Blake’s distinctive whoops erased any semblance of romance and my mouth hovered a few inches from hers before she pulled away.
She left her tray on the buffet line. “I’m not all that hungry.” Before I could stop her, she spun on her heels and marched toward the exit.
Blake and the boys shuffled up behind me, Dean clapping me on the shoulder. “Where’s your girl?”
“She had to get to class,” I lied.
“Too bad,” he frowned. “I was looking forward to grilling her before I gave the two of you my blessing.”
“Well, maybe you should do your homework the night before like the rest of us and not thirty minutes before class,” Blake piped beside me. “Right, Lucas?”
I tugged on a smile. “Yep.”
Blake’s look changed and I knew he could tell something went down between me and Juliet, but I cleared my throat and swiped Juliet’s untouched tray. I wasn’t about to have a heart-to-heart about my relationship troubles with a guy that dodged relationships like his life depended on it.
“I’m gonna force this crap down my throat,” I said, walking away from my friends. “Later.”

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