Friday, August 22, 2014

Icebound by Julie Rowe Review

Title: Icebound
Author: Julie Rowe
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 164
Price: $2.51
Thoughts: So good!

Book Synopsis:

Dr. Emilie Saunderson is driven to finish her late husband's research. Her quest brings her to Antarctica, where she hopes to find a measure of peace in the isolated and icy wilderness. It's the last place on earth she expects to be given a second chance at love.

Tom Wolinski loves his work at the bottom of the world. Damaged by his dark past, he has vowed never to get close to anyone—a promise that's easy to keep in a place with no permanent residents. That is, until Emilie arrives, and he's irresistibly drawn to her warmth and inner strength.

Emilie has no desire to get involved with another adventurer, and Tom has made it clear he's not interested in putting down roots. But as they work together to survive in the harshest of climates, they turn to one another for comfort. Is the heat between them enough to melt the ice around their hearts, and bind them together forever?

Review:

This was such a good romance. Julie Rowe created scenes that will make you shudder from both the cold and the sexiness. Icebound is an incredibly fast-paced story that will keep you turning the pages long into the night.

Summer Love by Linda Wisdom Review

Title: Summer Love
Author: Linda Wisdom
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 496
Price: $4.99
Thoughts: Great collection!

Book Synopsis:

The perfect summer beach read, Summer Love contains three hot and sexy summer romances that you can read anywhere, and any time, you like.

Counterfeit Husband
To Do:
- Get a haircut
- Cancel appointments
- Hire husband?
It was the only way Chloe Sumner could protect herself from a lecherous business rival on a luxury cruise. But what “husband” could Chloe trust to spend every day – and every night – in skimpy cruise wear and one cramped stateroom?
1-800-HUSBAND was good, but not even Chloe could believe the husband they gave her would know her better than she knew herself … would ignite her with one searing glance … would be Dalton James her ex-husband!

Sudden Impulse
Ben...powerful, persistent, a modern-day pirate come to claim his woman! He'd imagined a sea goddess who created vivid fabric designs, a passionate wanton who wove her fiery fantasies into the cloth of dreams, but when Ben Wyatt flew to Treasure Cover to meet the real Kelly Andrews, he was shocked to encounter a cool businesswoman who'd chosen paradise as an escape! Drawn against her will to the devilish Aussie, Kelly felt her heart and inhibitions melt under his heated gaze. Beguiled by the tawny-eyed designer who'd sworn off driven men wedded to their work, Ben sensed that beneath her silken surface was a fire he must taste, and gambled that Kelly yearned to be stroked, tantalized, teased, until the volcano of desire inside her exploded with stunning force. Captivated by her beauty, enthralled by her sensuality, Ben challenged her to seize her chance at love. But did she dare?

Island Rogue
For Stacy Cooper, Matt Logan was both the answer to a prayer and the devil in disguise. When he hired her charter boats for the film he was directing, he pulled her back from the brink of bankruptcy. But he didn’t want to end their relationship there.
After an unhappy marriage Stacy had sworn off men--until Matt tempted her to give in to her emotions just once more. She knew she was risking a broken heart, but so long as she was held tightly in Matt’s arms, she simply didn’t care.

These three captivating romances are sure to make you sweat with passion regardless of the weather. Enjoy your summer love!

Review:

Such a great collection to escape with during the summer heat. I had already read Counterfeit Husband Island Rogue, but had yet to read Sudden Impulse. I have to admit it was not only my favorite of this collection, but one of my favorites from Linda Wisdom period. It was such a fast-paced enjoyable read with amazing characters. Grab this series and a lounge chair and enjoy summer before it's gone.

Discipline Down Under by Patricia Green Review

Title: Discipline Down Under
Author: Patricia Green
Genre: Spanking Romance
Pages: 129
Price: $4.95
Thoughts: A good read for fans of spanking romances.

Book Synopsis:

When her mother tires of supporting her during one half-hearted career pursuit after another, twenty-year-old Peggy Fisk is left with only one choice… to seek support from her father instead. He lives in Australia, but that fits just fine with her brand new plan for a career in nature photography. After running off two guides in her first month, however, Peggy is left with one last hope for a trip to the outback—a rancher-turned-bush-guide named Tripp Ruf.

Within seconds of laying eyes on Peggy, Tripp finds himself acting in the nick of time to prevent a snake bite. He is pretty sure things will only go downhill from there unless he puts his foot down and puts it down fast, and Tripp lets Peggy know that he will be the only boss on this trip. He also warns the beautiful, sassy American that careless behavior will earn her a sound spanking, but if her cute little behind ends up bared over his lap, Tripp fears that his biggest problem won’t be the dangers of the outback, it will be keeping his desire for her in check.

It isn’t long before Peggy puts Tripp’s word to the test and learns that a hard spanking delivered by a work-roughened hand is nothing to be taken lightly, but in spite of his strict discipline and his brash arrogance, Peggy grows more and more attracted to her rugged, handsome protector as the days pass. Can she dare to hope that her time with Tripp will leave her with more than just memories, or will it all end in heartbreak for the feisty American and the firm-handed Aussie?

Publisher’s Note: Discipline Down Under is an erotic romance novel that includes spankings, sexual scenes, and more. If such material offends you, please don’t buy this book.

Review:

A good read with a sexy male lead. You'll certainly enjoy it when bratty Peg finally gets the spanking she deserves. A must for fans of spanking romances.

Wishes & Wedding Cake: A Starlight Hills Holiday Novella by Debora Dennis Excerpt

Wishes & Wedding Cake: A Starlight Hills Holiday Novella by Debora Dennis
$1.99

SWEET NOVELLA

Nick Berkley is happy being the best man, never the groom. Life is complicated enough with his thriving veterinary practice and working nights at the family pet store covering for his ailing father. He prefers dates to relationships. He doesn't need one woman to try to change him or his ways. Now his friend's Marine unit is shipping overseas and with only two weeks to plan a 4th of July wedding, Nick's put in charge of finding the perfect wedding cake when all the bakeries in town are booked for the holiday.

Independent single mother Delilah Redmond still remembers the first wedding cake she watched a groom feed his bride. In that one magical moment, baking the perfect wedding cake became her passion. Six years later, Delilah finds herself wishing for more—more time with her son and more of a name for herself in the wedding cake business. But long hours in the kitchen with no recognition have left her feeling like a failure on both counts. Now Delilah's thinking of giving up her cake pans, and she hopes a vacation in the quiet mountain town of Starlight Hills will help clear her head…until she meets Nick, the desperate-for-a-cake best man.

Sweet desperation has Nick making promises he's never made before and one woman's to blame.

Now, pulling off the perfect wedding cake may force Delilah to depend on someone else…but she might also find everything she's ever wished for.

Excerpt:

From the corner of her eye, she saw a man stand and motion to her. Nick Berkley, a.k.a. the Cake Man. The ripple of anxiety grew into a life-size wave. Her nervous fingers brushed at the sides of her pink sundress as she hoped the heat rising up the base of her neck wasn't visible. Even from the doorway she could sense his blue eyes watching her—sizing her up, most likely.

So, she'd share a meal with the man. No harm in that.

Delilah walked to the table, and he pulled out her chair. Apprehension zinged along her spine, though he was a perfect gentleman. He'd changed clothes since their earlier encounter on the street. His T-shirt was now replaced with a black golf shirt. She looked around for his dog; thankfully, he was nowhere to be found. A single yellow daisy stood at attention in the bud vase between their two plates, and in the awkward silence of those first few seconds while he sat and adjusted the napkin on his lap, she considered counting the petals to avoid his eyes.

No luck.

She glanced up, only to be instantly captured by the twinkle in his sapphire eyes. Then he smiled, the carefree grin tugging at the edges of his lips. Warmth spread through her chest. Though she wasn't naive enough to believe this was anything more than part of his act, she could still enjoy the man's company. He wanted something that he thought she could provide. Whether she said yes or turned him down, having dinner with a good-looking man wasn't a bad way to start her vacation. Her mother would have a field day with him and his proposal. Still, Delilah found herself intrigued, and ignored her mother's voice that always took up residence in her head at the most inopportune times.

He held out his hand across the table. "I guess we should introduce ourselves. I'm Nick Berkley, and just so you know, I don't normally ask strangers to bake cakes for me."

She couldn't resist the laugh that bubbled up. His admission made him even more endearing. She extended her own hand across the table in return, letting it be enveloped in his. "Delilah Redmond, and just so you know, I don't pack cake pans in my luggage when I'm on vacation. And you'll forgive me if I seem a little cautious, Mr. Berkley. I must admit I'm feeling a little like I've been set up."

If You Believed in Love: A Contemporary Christian Romance Novel by Staci Stallings

If You Believed in Love: A Contemporary Christian Romance Novel by Staci Stallings
$8.82

Jonathon Danforth has checked out of life. Stinging from an unimaginable loss, he has withdrawn from life, wanting only to live out his existence with as little interference as possible. However, when his sister talks him into auditing an English Literature class at the local community college, he reluctantly accepts the invitation to abandon his lonely apartment. Intent upon making an appearance for his sister’s sake and then disappearing for his own, Jonathon sulks into class. But when he meets Elizabeth Forester, the professor, Jonathon learns there is more to life and to love than he ever could have imagined.

"Staci Stallings' books are Christian romance at its best!"

IF YOU BELIEVED IN LOVE is a fascinating mix of literature and faith. A Contemporary Christian romance, the novel explores life, love, death, and redemption. It will surely find its way into your romance novels and inspirational books collections.

Excerpt:

On Tuesday the weather had turned decidedly bleak.  The snow, such that it wasn’t, had come and gone, leaving in its wake swirls of nothing and temperatures that chilled right through everything.  Jonathon pulled his coat closer and quickened his steps up to the door of Bennett Hall.  There were no students congregating today, but once again, he was late.  He hated that about himself.  He really did.
But just getting out of that apartment, especially on a day like today, was a major accomplishment.  At the door to the lecture hall, he took a breath, opened the door quietly, and slipped inside.
“Shall I sonnet-sing you about myself?” she read, steeping each word in meaning. “Do I live in a house you would like to see?”
Before he’d even gotten into the desk, Jonathon was once again taken in by her beauty, by her words, by the etherealness of her being.
“Is it scant of gear, has it store pelf?/‘Unlock my heart with a sonnet-key’?”  Her gaze came up off the book and landed right on him.  The look lasted but a fragment of a moment, and yet he felt it all the way through him as if a bomb had gone off in his heart.  Then it was gone, crossing to the other students. “Would someone like to tell me what this poem is about?”
Sliding down into the seat, Jonathon opened his book to House and fought to breathe.  How could one look do that to him?
“Mr…?” she said in that way she had of asking student’s names without asking them.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t catch your name.”
He glanced up and was instantly woven fast by her gaze.  Swallowing, he gulped down the breath, glancing behind him only to find the solid wooden wall. “Oh.”  He cleared his throat and sat up straighter, neither of which helped.  “Danforth.  Jonathon Danforth.”
A soft smile went through her eyes.  “Well, Mr. Danforth, would you like to tell us what you think this poem is about?”
“Oh. Huh.” Words clogged at the top of his throat all at once, and he coughed to get them unstuck.  “Uh.  I think that the…” Each word came in haltingly unspaced steps as if drunk and on the verge of passing out.  “I think the poem, House,” he added for her benefit so she didn’t think he was a complete loser, “is about how frightening it is to let someone else in.”
That piqued her interest, pulling it up in her eyes, so he continued, gaining confidence with each word.
“At the beginning, Browning is saying, like, ‘So you think you want to come into my house?  You’re asking me to unlock my heart to you and let you come in and see?  I’ll tell you what happens when you do stupid things like that.  People come.  The neighbors and just whoever, and they take a look in your house, in your heart, and they say, ‘Oh, well, I figured he was always much less a person than he seemed on the outside.  I mean look, he smoked, and he didn’t even sleep with his wife anymore.  Yep, could’ve pegged him for a loser.’”
This time it was her, not him that seemed caught in the web.  With one glance at her, he pushed the words from his heart.
“And then at the end, he basically says, it’s not worth it to let the world see who you really are.  Maybe Shakespeare could and did, but he was a fool.”
*~*~*
The words, his words, were spoken with so much eloquence and understanding that Elizabeth had to reach out to even grab back onto life.  “Very nice, Mr. Danforth.” She shook her head without shaking it and flipped her attention away from the man hovering in the back desk all dressed in black to one of her other students closer down front.  “Do you agree with him, Mr. Hansen?”
“With Browning or the old dude?” the student asked.
Elizabeth glanced back up at Mr. Danforth with apology.  “With Mr. Browning.  Do you think it is not smart to let people in?”
“Oh, yeah.  Sure.  I mean people will diss you if you let ‘em.  Even if they don’t really know anything about you.”
“People judge you,” Susana said.  “That’s just the way it is.”
Elizabeth walked slowly across the room.  “And so it’s smart to keep yourself hidden, to not give anyone the key?”
“Either that or you get trampled to death.”
“Uh-huh.”  She opened her book.  “But what about this last line?  ‘With this same key/Shakespeare unlocked his heart,’ once more!’/Did Shakespeare? If so, the less Shakespeare he!”
“What about it?” someone asked.
“What’s he saying?”
“That Shakespeare was an idiot for putting his feelings into words for everyone to read them and see who he really was.”
“Right,” she said and tilted her head inquisitively.  “But is that true?  Was Shakespeare an idiot for writing down his feelings for everyone to read?  And by extension was Robert Browning an idiot for doing the same?”
A moment of pause.
“Well,” Letty from down front said, “kind of, I guess so.  I mean we’ve seen how in love with his wife he was, but we’ve also read some really dark stuff—like Porphyria’s Lover and My Last Duchess.  I mean those aren’t fantasies or thoughts or whatever that I’d let everybody know I had.”
“Do you think less of him because of them?”
*~*~*
Jonathon’s whole attention was captured by her—not just because of her outer beauty but also because she didn’t go for the easy answers.  She didn’t stand at the board and tell them about pentameter and alliteration.  She dug into the poems and brought out more insights and depth than he had even seen reading them once, sometimes twice, and even on occasion three or four times.
“No, not really,” one of the boys said.  “I mean, sometimes I think he’s whack, but sometimes I really get what he’s saying because it’s something I feel—even if I’d use better words to describe it.”
Ms. Forester smiled almost to the point of laughing.  When she grew serious, however, it was a slow process into its depths.  She turned, and her gaze swept the class. “Have you ever heard of Shakespeare?”
The confusion that crossed the room went through Jonathon as well.
“Do you know some of the things he wrote?”
“Um, like plays and stuff,” someone offered.
“Plays like what?” she asked, turning slowly at the far end of the room.
“Romeo & Juliet, Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth.”
As if really thinking this through with them, she nodded.  “But this was a man who lived in the sixteenth century.  This was a man, one man, a simple playwright.  Why have his words lasted not just minutes, not just years, but centuries?”
And then Jonathon saw it as well.  His gaze snapped back to his book.  Was the point really there, or was she making it up?  He read and re-read those last couple of lines.
“Is Browning saying it’s stupid to be like Shakespeare, or is he really saying the only way for your work to live on into the eternities past even your death is to open your heart and let the world in, to let them see who you really are?”
Not a sound.  Not a breath in the whole room.
Without looking at her book, she gazed at them. “Rather I prize the doubt/Low kinds exist without,/Finished and finite clods, untroubled by a spark.”  Her pause held every breath in the room.  “Was Shakespeare a finished and finite clod untroubled by a spark?”
“No,” someone breathed.  “He was brave enough to live.”
“How do we know that, Ms. Moore?”
“Because we still have his words, we know he lived.”
Ms. Forester nodded thoughtfully.  “Because he was brave enough, or crazy enough, to open his heart and let the world see.”
If anyone had so much as breathed, it would’ve knocked Jonathon completely over.  He could hardly get to the depth of her eyes much less her words.
“Turn to Appearances, page 31.”  Without more than a second’s time, she continued without reading her book. “And so you found that poor room dull,/Dark, hardly to your taste, my dear?/Its features seemed unbeautiful;/But this I know—‘twas there, not here,/You plighted troth to me, the word/Which—ask that poor room how it heard.
“And this rich room obtains your praise/Unqualified—so bright, so fair,/So all whereat perfection stays?/Aye, but remember—here, not there,/The other word was spoken!—Ask/This rich room how you dropped the mask!
“Browning uses the metaphor of a house again in this one, a structure of some kind with different rooms.  And what’s the story with this house?”
“The guy likes one room but not the other.”
Quiet depth filled her eyes.  “Why?”  She turned, and her gaze caught a raised hand. “Mr. Hansen?”
“Because in one room he was trying to be something he wasn’t, and in the other, he dropped the mask.”
“And the first room, where he was wearing the mask was…?”
“Unbeautiful,” Susana said.  “Dull and dark.”
Ms. Forester seemed lost in the thought.  “And the second room? What was it like?”
“Unqualified,” someone down front said, “so bright, so fair.”
“He’s saying the same thing in both poems, is he not?” She turned on the toe of her boot and gazed at the whole of her students.  “Be who you are.  Drop the mask. Be brave enough to show the world, and far from losing yourself and being criticized like a finite clod, you may be immortalized like Shakespeare, or at the very least, the room you’re standing in might just seem a little brighter than the one where you were before.”  Her attention jumped up to the clock. “Oh, look at the time.  Be sure to read the last selections for Thursday’s class.  See you then.”
It was like snapping awake from a dream and not being at all able to shake it.  Jonathon stood as the others did as well.  His mind spun trying to think of something, some reason that could keep him here with her for one more minute.  He checked his things, gathering them slowly, watching her down front the whole time.  One of the other students stepped up to her, and she bent to listen.  What could he ask her?  What question would be good enough to go to the front?
But his mind was not cooperating at all.  Finally with a sigh, he gave up the search, and with only one more look, he headed out.
Outside it was still cold.  Frigid really.  However, instead of turning to his apartment, he picked up the collar of his coat and headed for the library.  He was glad he’d spent the extra time there on Tuesday.  That helped him be ready for today.  However, as his mind traced through his answer, he couldn’t help but feel like an idiot.  She was going to think he was completely lame.  There wasn’t one truly deep, brilliant insight in any of it.  And sadly, he’d thought he knew what that poem was about.
Determination to dig a little deeper seeped into him.  It wasn’t like it was a formal requirement.  She didn’t say, “Do it or else.”  Nor was it a challenge as in “You have to do it like me to be worthy of my time.” Instead it was more, “Do it because…”  Because it will teach you something important about life and about yourself.  He was intrigued by that, more than he could say.  And he couldn’t wait to get into these new poems and see what they had to teach him.

The Blackstone Vampires Omnibus by Carole Gill- $0.99 Goodie!

The Blackstone Vampires Omnibus by Carole Gill
$0.99 or FREE for Prime Members

THE HOUSE ON BLACKSTONE MOOR
After discovering her savagely murdered family, Rose Baines is plunged into a nightmare of hell. She is incarcerated in two madhouses, after which she is helped to obtain a position as governess at Blackstone House. Located on haunted moorland, nothing is as it seems for the House and its inhabitants have hideous secrets. There is unimaginable horror there, and love too--love that comes at a terrible price.

UNHOLY TESTAMENT – THE BEGINNINGS
Eco, first seen in the previous book, has documented all of the sins he has committed during the course of his immortal life. Trying to get Rose to forgive him, he forces Rose to read his journal by holding her children hostage.

From Ancient Egyptian vampire cults, Roman vampire brothels, The Dark Ages, The Crusades, The Black Death of 1348, on to his meeting with the child murderer and Satanist Gilles de Rais, and concluding with his wicked, blood-soaked affair with the Blood Countess herself, Erzebat Bathory. The pages are filled with debauchery, vice and murder – how can one stained with so much blood and evil possibly be trusted?

UNHOLY TESTAMENT – FULL CIRCLE
Vampiric orgies and satanic rites fill the pages of this book. All of the hideous secrets of Blackstone House are revealed. Every evil that Rose Baines was subjected to is closely examined, as are those who committed the worst sins against her.

There are more blood-drenched confessions to read. Rose has no choice but to finish the journal. Eco, mad and as unpredictable as ever, can snap at any time. But will he?

The rest of the journal tells of the sick and twisted obsession Eco has had for Blackstone House's former mistress, evil and debauched Eve Darton. There are aristocratic devil rites, both in England and France, including satanic sacrifices. There is the Great Fire of London 1666, plagues, vampire destroyers, witch hunts and resurrection men who supply a necrophile doctor.

THE FOURTH BRIDE
After the tragic and sudden death of her groom, Dia, cursed by Dracula as a babe, is taken to his castle.

Once there, she is seduced and turned by the count to become his fourth bride. The other brides are to be her sisters, but there is great rivalry as the brides compete for their master’s affection. Dracula takes Dia away, but to whose castle has he taken her and are they being watched?

Dracula’s gypsies are loyal to their master and will try to save him, but the destroyers led by Van Helsing come and there is great carnage. Still, for one, there is salvation from the unlikeliest of saviors. There is betrayal and a freak show run by evil men, as well as the greatest passion Dia will ever know, but can she trust it?

And what of Dracula’s greatest vampire enemy, the one who has fallen in love with Dia; the nobleman Dracula turned. Can he be trusted?

In Your Dreams by Amy Martin - FREEBIE!

In Your Dreams by Amy Martin
FREE

Book 1 of the In Your Dreams series.

Sixteen-year-old Zara “Zip” McKee lives for three things: basketball, books, and bailing out of tiny Titusville, Illinois, where the junior high and high school are in the same building and everyone’s known everyone else since birth. But when Kieran Lanier moves to town and passes out on her desk on his first day at school, Zip’s life gets complicated in a way she never dreamed.

Kieran has narcolepsy, and although he sometimes struggles to stay awake, he has no trouble capturing Zip’s heart and trusting her with his most guarded secret—he sees bits and pieces of the future in his dreams. And while he didn’t know who she was at the time, Kieran had seen Zip in his dreams over five months before he moved to Titusville from North Carolina.

But just when Zip thinks that maybe she can handle having a boyfriend who sees things before they happen, her budding relationship with Kieran gets a jolt. She and Kieran learn that his sleeping disorder and the future flashes were likely caused by a drug invented by his birth father, Morgan Levert, a convicted felon who plays a starring role in Kieran’s nightmares. And when Zip begins to have unsettling dreams after chance encounters with Morgan's former partner-in-crime, she must decide if she can live with the possibility of seeing the future when she doesn’t always like what she sees.

*Recommended for Young Adult readers 13 and up (mild cursing, some adult situations)

Check out the other books in the In Your Dreams series:

As You Wake (In Your Dreams 2)
Before You Sleep (In Your Dreams 3)

Excerpt:

I put the Camaro in gear and steer us out of the parking lot, the school’s nightlights all that illuminate Main Street on this end of town. “So how much trouble are you in?” I ask.
“Oh, I’m dead, basically.”
“I’ll drive slow, then.”
We ride together in silence for about two minutes in an almost exactly replay of our trip home after the Sumner game, but when my grandparents’ house comes into view up ahead of us, Kieran surprises me by saying “You know what? I don’t want to go home yet.”
“You sure?”
“Well, I’m in trouble no matter what, right? So who cares? Can we go hang out somewhere?”
“Like, with other people?”
“Alone, preferably.”
Allowing myself a quick glance at him, I notice he’s all hunched up in his coat, as if trying to hide his face. “I mean, like, alone alone, if possible” he continues. “I…I’ve got something I need to tell you.”
Okay—I’m totally panicking. Today’s Valentine’s Day. I think of the cherry heart lollipops I bought from the Student Council before first period and slipped into his locker at lunch, the lollipops he enthusiastically thanked me for during another Crumpled Paper Note Passing session in history class. Those suckers probably rank as the World’s Worst Valentine’s Day Gifts in comparison to the rose drawing he gave me the other night, which I hung above the desk in my room.
And now he’s got something he needs to tell me. On Valentine’s Day.
Should I take him to the lot at the abandoned Buckley Refrigeration plant out by the interstate, where half the school’s probably headed to make out right now? Or I could drive us to the boat launch that’s down a gravel path off the road we live on, about four more miles outside town. The boat launch isn’t a place people usually go to hook up, mostly because no one knows about it unless they like to fish. And while I definitely don’t like fishing, Gramps does, and so I’ve been there with him several times over the years to keep him company.
“Okay,” I tell him. “I know somewhere we can go.”
On the outside, I’m calm enough to keep control of the car. Inside, however, I’m about to come out of my skin. I’ve never hooked up with anyone before—assuming that’s what’s going to happen—and I’ve had only one French kiss, which was a total train wreck. Back in eighth grade, Cassie had a party in her basement when her parents went to the Bahamas and her grandmother came to babysit. Grandma Newbaum fell dead asleep upstairs, allowing Cassie to sneak people in. After he asked, I started slow dancing with Billy McCaffery, the grandson of my former next-door neighbors, mostly because he was the only other person without a partner. Billy and I had been rocking back and forth along with five other couples for about a minute when I asked him some question and he used the opportunity to shove his tongue in my open mouth. I was so shocked I couldn’t do anything for a few seconds other than concentrate on the icky sensation of an eel-like mass poking my cheeks in search of my tongue, which at the moment was trying to work its way down my throat, evidently willing to risk choking me to death in order to save me. Finally, I came to my senses and pushed him away, but not far enough that I couldn’t knee him in the crotch. He yelled so loud Cassie’s grandma woke up, and we all had barely escaped the basement through the sliding glass door by the time she came downstairs to listen to Cassie’s lie that she was singing along with a song on the CD player.
So, yeah—I’m way, way inexperienced. Kieran and I have never talked about hooking up—with each other or with anyone else—so for all I know, he messed around with every girl in Asheville, North Carolina, before he moved here, assuming he was able to stay awake long enough to do so. Heart thudding with anticipation, I slow the car to make the turn. From the corner of my eye, I see he’s sound asleep, but not for long, as our rumbling down the gravel wakes him up.
“Where are we?” he asks. “I remember we passed my house…”
“There’s a boat launch down here,” I tell him as we bounce down the hill on a tree-lined road barely wide enough for my car. Not too far from the river’s edge, the path opens up into a larger gravel-covered area that could hold maybe five or six cars. Just in case someone else decides to come down here tonight, I pull over to the far right side near the trees and ease the car forward until we’re a few feet from the water. Before I turn off the engine, I make sure to put on the emergency brake so this evening doesn’t end with the two of us rolling into the river.
Kieran takes a minute to look around. “So when I said ‘alone,’ you took me seriously.”
“You were joking?”
“No, but I had no idea places were this secluded out here. I mean, in North Carolina, you can go out in the woods or up in the mountains and get lost for days.” He pauses again and I join him in taking in the scene outside the windshield, the river’s surface lit an eerie white by a half-moon, the trees and the opposite bank splotchy shadows against the black-blue sky. “I guess I didn’t expect this here. And I’m really hoping tonight’s not the night I find out you’re a serial killer.”
I open my eyes wide like a crazy person, take on a blank expression, and dart my face toward his to scare him. He lets out a yelp, and we both have a good laugh.
“So I hope I didn’t freak you out before when I said I wanted to tell you something,” he says, sobering up.
“Not at all,” I lie.
He takes off his seat belt and swivels around toward me. I do the same so we’re facing each other, both of us leaning our heads against our seats.
“I’ve never met anyone like you,” he continues. “Anyone I know I can trust with things, I mean. Sometimes it’s hard when all you have is your family to talk with about stuff. You feel so bottled up you think you’re going to explode.”
I wish I could relate, and maybe I kind of do. Other than what my mom’s been able to sort of figure out, I haven’t told anyone how I think I might feel about Kieran, even though everyone at school assumes we’re practically engaged. I don’t want whatever I have with him—even if I’m the only one of us who thinks we have it—to be dragged down to the level of cafeteria gossip and study hall whispers. But sometimes, I wish I had someone to talk to, because I’m so unused to dealing with boys as anything other than buddies and pick-up game opponents and I’m totally lost.
“I don’t even know where to start exactly,” Kieran says. “No one knows about this outside my family, and it’s so out there I’m afraid you might not believe me.”
My nerves get the better of me, so I try some humor. “You’re an alien, right?” I ask, narrowing my eyes. “I knew it.”
Kieran grins, willing to play along. “Nope. Guess again.”
“Okay. You’re a vampire. You’re really a hundred years old.”
He shakes his head against the seat and says, “Not even close.”
“So you’re not an alien and you’re not a vampire. What’s your deal, then, Kieran Lanier?”
“My deal,” he begins, his eyelids drooping a little, “is…well…I have these vivid dreams sometimes. Like I’m almost awake.”
Kieran snuggles into the seat, and I worry he’ll fall asleep before he tells me whatever he’s going to tell me and I’ll have to wake him up to get the reveal. The boy’s basically a human cliffhanger.
“Have you ever had a dream with people you don’t recognize or you’re someplace you’ve never been, and later you meet those people or go to that place in real life and you kind of know everything’s familiar?”
“You mean like a premonition or something?”
“Sort of.”
I shrug my shoulders. “I mean, I’ve heard about that happening to people, but I don’t think it happens to me.”
“Well, it kind of happens to me.” Kieran sits up again and I sit up also, the two of us mirror images of each other in the moonlight.
“What are you saying, exactly?” I ask.
He looks away. “I’m saying I dream things—vivid dreams about stuff that hasn’t happened yet.” He swallows hard, letting his eyes travel to mine again. “And then that stuff happens.”