Monday, August 13, 2018

It's Love and Other Secrets Pre-Order Madness!

Today's the day that my new book, Love and Other Secrets, is available for pre-order at most e-book retailers. Buy it today for $2.99 and you'll find it on your device, ready to read on September 3rd (you might even have the day off--what a perfect time to start a good book ;) 

I'm so absolutely excited about this story -- I think it's funny and sweet and romantic, and the main characters completely stole my heart! 

In celebration of Pre-Order day, I'm going to share with you the first chapter of Love and Other Secrets, which features hero Alex coming to a realization about his secret friend, Bailey (and you might recognize a few friends from The First Kiss Hypothesis too!)

Without further ado, the first chapter of Love and Other Secrets! Enjoy! 



Chapter One

Alex

We’re at lunch when the questions begin.
“You get asked to prom yet?” my best friend Eli asks right as I take a huge bite of pastrami sandwich. Nora, his girlfriend, is at his side digging into a slice of pie, and not in any gentle, girly way. More like a linebacker at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
I like that about her.
I swallow and lift a shoulder. “Nope.”
With how much everyone talks about it, you’d think prom is a huge deal at our school, but it’s really the promposals that get everyone worked up. As in, they usually go viral.
I’ve never had to plan one because, in three and three quarter years of high school, I haven’t asked anyone to prom, or homecoming, or the eighties dance. Not a single dance. It’s not that I’m against taking the initiative; the girls just always beat me to it, asking me (in some really bizarre ways) to go with them.
It’s only a matter of time before I’m ambushed again, and Eli knows it.
Last year, it was two girls at once in the school cafeteria. One got a bunch of her fellow cheerleaders to bend their bodies into the letters P-R-O-M-?. The other brought in her grandma’s parrot that she’d trained to say “Prom, Koviak?”
It was like the battle to the death of promposals. I felt so bad I said yes to both of them and took two dates, because what else could I do? Have you ever seen someone bend themselves into the shape of a question mark?
Eli snorts. “You know, it wouldn’t kill you to do the asking for once.”
I grunt. I’ve known Eli forever. He’s been my best friend since preschool and thinks he knows everything about me, but he doesn’t know that I’ve been thinking of asking someone.
It’s just…complicated.
Nora stares at me with serious eyes, almost like she knows about my mystery woman, like I knew about her and Eli before they were even a thing.
She can’t, though. No one knows about Bailey.
I shake it off. A big reason Nora and Eli are together is because I convinced him to get off his ass and do something. I gave him the “game clock’s ticking” speech. Life is short. Take a chance. Ask her out. I knew they should be together. I can’t explain it; it’s just a feeling I get. A sixth sense or something. It’s earned me a reputation at EHS as a kind of matchmaker.
For the last few months, I’ve been having that feeling about Bailey and me. But do my matchmaking skills work on my own love life? Up to now, I’ve seen zero evidence of it.
I slump in my seat and stare at the last half of my pastrami sandwich.
Damn it.
I pick up the pickle spear and snap it in half with my teeth. This isn’t like me, moping around like a chickenshit, like I don’t even know what I want.
I do know what I want.
I just don’t know if I can have it.
Nora steals a fry off Eli’s plate. He slaps at her thieving fingers and laughs, both of them so damn happy. She leans against him and closes her eyes.
You want that.
No, I tell that stupid voice in my head. I want to go to the prom with Bailey. That’s it. We could go as friends if that’s all she wants. The problem is lately when I’m around her, I find myself staring at her mouth, wondering what she tastes like, or looking at her profile when she doesn’t know it.
I sigh and nudge my sandwich with the other half of my pickle. No matter how hard I deny it, I think I might want more, and I’m totally screwed on that front because I’ve made it crystal clear to this entire school that I don’t want anything serious with anyone. I am Alex Koviak, Player. Both on and off the lacrosse field. It’s my reputation, and it is solid at Edinburgh High. I know it. Bailey knows it.
“Kov?” Nora pushes aside her cleaned-off pie plate. “You all right?”
I flash her a grin and push my hair out of my face. Nora’s nice like that, caring about others—and everything else, for that matter—while her dick boyfriend, my best friend, cluelessly stuffs his mouth with French fries.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I say. “Totally fine.”
She doesn’t look convinced. She doesn’t even know that Bailey and I are friends. No one does. It’s not normal, I know, but it’s the way things developed these last few months, and I kind of like it with no one up in our business, spreading rumors or wondering when or if we’ll ever be a couple. I like that we’re a secret—but I’d be willing to go public at prom if she wanted to.
Does she want to? I perk up at the thought but almost immediately slump back down in the booth.
Not likely.
“No worries,” Eli grins, oblivious to what’s going on in my head. “Still a month to prom. Someone will ask you. In fact, there’s probably someone with a unicorn in the parking lot right now waiting to write ‘Prom?’ in rainbow farts.”
Nora groans and swipes another fry.
God, I hope not. “Now that would be something.”
The thing is, he’s probably right. Someone will ask me. Shit, someone might ask Bailey. The thought of that happening makes the hair on my arms stand on end and my jaw clench.
Oh, hell no.
I suck down the rest of my Sprite. That’s it. Screw it. Seeing her at prom with some other dude is not going to happen. I’m asking her. As soon as possible. Tonight, before I have time to think too much. I’m at my best when I don’t think.
I move the crutches leaning against the table out of the way and slide out of the booth. Eli blew out his knee last month during a lacrosse scrimmage. Ruined his season, but at least he got the girl. Maybe it’s my turn.
“Where you goin’, asshat?” Eli asks.
I pull a twenty out of my back pocket and throw it on the table. “Just remembered I’ve got something to do.”
Eli scowls and pushes the money back toward me. “I got this.”
I shake my head and leave the money where it is. “It’s on me today, loser.”
I walk away before they can argue. At the door, I peek through the glass to make sure there really isn’t a girl outside waiting for me with a gassy mythological creature.
It looks safe, but I hurry to my Jeep anyway, just in case. The smell of brand new leather hits me, until it’s overtaken by the stink of my lacrosse equipment in the back. I love that smell. It’s proof that I’ve been working my ass off on that field.
I start the engine, my adrenaline pumping. My heart is beating fast, but I force myself to chill. This is no big deal. What’s the worst that could happen? She says no? I…shit, what if she says no? That’s never happened to me before. I’ve never really cared either way.
My hands grip the steering wheel. Come on, Kov. She won’t say no.
Before I take off, I quickly send her a text inviting her over after work. It’s Saturday, so she could be working at the coffee shop or the grocery store. I’m not sure, and it’s hard to keep track.
This is part of what makes our friendship so strange— most of it takes place at my house late at night after she gets off of work. It’s kind of perfect.
So she’ll come over after her shift and we’ll have dinner. Miriam, my family’s housekeeper-slash-warden, made her famous gumbo. Bailey loves that stuff. I’ll buy her some flowers, and I’ll ask her to prom. No big deal. Nothing promposal-ly. I know her well enough to know she’d hate that.
As usual, we’ll have the house to ourselves. My parents are in Africa somewhere, building wells for people who have no water. When they aren’t building the wells, they’re traveling all over the world trying to raise awareness and money so they can build more. They’re never around, and it’s not as cool as you’d think. It’s not like I can bitch about it, though. It’s water. For people who have none. I’d be a real asshole to complain about that.
Whatever. All I’m saying is it would be nice to have someone around to bounce ideas off of. Like, what do you do when you might like a girl and want to ask her to prom? I could use a little help, to be honest.
This is all new to me, and I don’t want to blow it.

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