CRUSHED Preview – Chapter 2

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2

Brady and I prowl the edge of The Beach, watching the organized chaos of move-in day while searching for our friends. All around us, anxious parents and nervous new kids weave through the throngs of shrieking returning students. Brady and I take bets on what clumsy lame ass will trip as they cross The Beach’s makeshift obstacle course of boxes, mini-fridges, and suitcases.

As we’re contemplating the success rate of one particularly awkward-looking kid with a face full of acne, a ninety-something pound weight slams into my side and thin arms wrap around my waist.

“Fletch!”

A blond-and-red highlighted head presses into my chest before breaking away. “Hey, Paige,” I say, as she turns her assault toward Brady.

She’s barely dressed, and it’s fucking freezing. When she tiptoes to hit Brady on the head, her ass peeks out from her obscenely short denim skirt. She wears a gauzy shirt-thing over a bikini top and it highlights the perky fake tits her dad bought her for her sixteenth birthday. Reid says they feel exactly like real ones. I wouldn’t know, having never touched fake ones. Plus, Paige is off limits.

“Did you forget the rest of your clothes?” I ask.

She giggles. “No. It was like a million degrees in Orange County this morning. I’d look ridiculous wearing Uggs and fleece.”

Brady shrugs and smacks her ass. “You kinda look ridiculous now.”

Paige rolls her eyes and wags her finger. “Hands off, Pearson. I’m taken, remember?”

Freshman year, Brady dared our friend Reid to tell Paige she had hot legs. She doesn’t. But she’s cute. Plus, Paige knows how to have fun. And ever since he first screwed her sophomore year in one of the sound-proof music rooms, Reid hasn’t messed around with anyone else.

“Where’s Calista? I thought she was driving up with you,” Paige asks.

That was the plan, but I didn’t want to be locked in the car for two hours with her.  Calista, however, didn’t have a problem with it even though she’s avoided me for the past week.

But I don’t say that because I’m not that big of an asshole. Instead, I scrape the toe of my Converse through the damp grass and admire how the water drops cling to the surface of my shoe. Calista must not have told Paige what happened. “Her parents are driving her up. She should be here soon, I guess.”

Paige sighs. “Good, I thought you were going to say you didn’t get the car this year. Can you imagine how boring things would be if we couldn’t get off campus?”

My parents gave me a massive SUV on my seventeenth birthday, which I keep parked in the student lot near the Headmaster’s house. Harker allows seniors and day student cars on campus, although only a handful – myself included – actually have them. Junior year, Mom and Dad somehow convinced the school San Francisco was close enough for me to be considered a day student and that I’d come home on a regular basis. I don’t, and I didn’t.

The crowd on The Beach has thinned a little, but way too many parents still hang out. Acting like they care. Going on and on about how big their ‘babies’ are, when we all know the truth: they can’t wait to hand over their parental responsibilities and be done with the messy task of raising kids. All in the name of giving us a stellar education, of course.

“So,” Paige asks. “How was your summer?”

She’s asking Brady. Calista, no doubt, has already filled her in on mine, save for the details of the past week.

“Excellent,” Brady responds. “And yours?”

“It sucked oversized donkey balls.” Most girls, at least the ones at Harker, pretend to be all sweet and innocent. But not Paige. She’s a girl of very creative swearing and has been known to drop more f-bombs in a ten-minute period than Brady. “Do you know what it’s like to go three whole months with no sex? I may just rape Reid when I see him.” She’s talking to us, but her eyes search The Beach.

“Wouldn’t know,” Brady says. “That’s a drought beyond my comprehension.”

Paige rolls her eyes. “The two of you are awful. Seriously. Why girls throw themselves at you is beyond me.”

Brady plants his feet wide and gestures to his solid six-foot-two body. We’re the same height, but where I’m lanky, he’s all muscle. “Have you seen this? Really seen it. Because this body can do things to you Reid can’t even imagine.”

Paige interrupts her giggle with the longest scream ever. She launches herself across The Beach, running full speed until she slams into Reid’s skinny ass body. He drops the guitar case he’s carrying and lifts Paige so she can wrap her legs around him. Her skirt bunches up over her hips, flashing us her striped panties. They’re like, full-on making out, in front of everyone – teachers, staff and parents – and totally don’t care. Reid’s hand moves under Paige’s nearly invisible shirt and for a minute I think he’s going to untie the bikini strings.

It’s kinda hot, actually.

Brady jams his elbow into my side. “Busted.”

Mr. Thompson, face completely red, yanks Paige off Reid. From this distance, Brady and I can’t hear a word of what’s happening, but it involves a lot of hand gestures from Mr. Thompson, pouting from Paige, and stunned glances from parents.

Finally, Mr. Thompson walks away, and Paige guides Reid toward us. 
    “Can you believe that asshole? He gave us detention. We haven’t even started classes yet, and he gave us a fucking detention.”

And ‘hi’ to you too, Reid.

Brady shakes his head. “Dude, what did you expect? You were basically having sex on The Beach.”

Reid reaches around Paige and runs his hand over her arm, “accidentally” grazing her tit. “Whatever. Guy’s still an ass.”

Paige wiggles away from Reid and jumps up and down. Her tits barely move –it’s how you can tell they’re fake. There’s no bounce. “That’s going to be our signature drink this year. Sex on the Beach. It’s perfect.” The way she eyes Brady and I, I know what’s coming next. “In fact, extra points to whoever drinks a Sex on the Beach and has Sex on the Beach. Verified.”

Points. We’ve been engaged in a friendly game of points since freshman year. For every new place you have sex, you get points. Multiple points for especially challenging places, like The Beach. As far as we know, no one has ever done it there. Verified means someone sees you, either in the act or post-act, or you produce panties to confirm it actually happened.

Brady and I each have a serious collection of panties.

“Do you even know how to make a Sex on the Beach?” I ask her.

She shakes her head. “Nothing a little research can’t fix.”

Reid and Paige don’t earn points anymore. It wouldn’t be fair. At the end of last year, Brady was in first, I was a close second, and our friend Alex came in a distant third. Calista didn’t put up any points all year, or at least she didn’t report any.

“What the hell is wrong with your hair?” Brady grabs a fistful of Reid’s blue streaked hair. “Are you trying to be an oversized manga character? Seriously, this is the most jacked thing I’ve seen you do yet. And what the fuck are you wearing?”

“Ignore him, baby. You look hot,” Paige purrs.

“You’re only saying that because you’re horny,” Brady accuses.

Reid straightens the suit vest he’s wearing over a Felix the Cat t-shirt. “This is what everyone wears in Japan. It’s my culture, dude. Don’t make fun of it.”

Brady lets out an explosive laugh. “Dude, you are the whitest Japanese guy I’ve ever met. You’re from Seattle, and your name is Reid, for Christ’s sake. Reid.”

I nod in agreement, my eyes fixed on the blue hair, which, if I’m perfectly honest, looks kind of good. Not in a trying-too-hard way or anything. “Brady’s right. Besides, you’re only half-Japanese.”

“Don’t be a dick. It’s my culture as much as being white is. ”

“You spend one summer in Japan, and now it’s your culture? You’re American.” Brady says. “You’d never survive there – no pot and have you seen their porn? It’s weird. Not hot at all.”

“Whatever,” Reid says a little too quickly. He doesn’t appear mad, or really even seem upset, but something is off. He reaches into his jean pocket and produces a thinly rolled paper. “I need a smoke. Anyone else?”

“That’s bold,” I say pointing at the joint.

“Not here dumb ass. Over in the trees. Where no one can see us.”

“With all these people around, someone will smell it,” I counter.

He stares at the joint. “Well, shit. There goes that idea.”

I laugh. Reid is always just on the edge of being kicked out, yet he never is. His parents must make some huge donations or something, because I know for a fact his grades aren’t keeping him here. The only reason he even passed last year is because Brady and I helped him with his final papers and crammed a semester’s worth of shit into his pot-riddled brain over an intense two-day study session.

“Your room?” Brady asks me.

I flick my eyes around the Beach one more time. Thankfully, still no sign of Calista.

“Sure.” Even with all the parents around, the chances of us getting caught are slim on move-in day. Everything is too chaotic, and the RA’s are busy checking in students.

Once we’re behind my closed door, Reid produces an eighth and a pipe. “Can you make a spoof?” he asks.

I nod and grab a few t-shirts from my duffle bag before heading to the bathroom.  I throw the shirts in the sink and remove a roll of toilet paper from a stall. Since it’s too fat, I unwrap most of the layers and drop them in the garbage can.

Then I wring out the wet shirts and head back to my room.

When I swing my door open, the dank smell of pot surrounds me. “What the hell? Couldn’t you guys wait five minutes?”

Reid holds out the pipe to me. “Just testing it. That’s all.”

I ignore the pipe and stuff the damp t-shirts under the door before digging through a cardboard box. I find the dryer sheets shoved next to the laundry detergent and a cork board.

Brady tears off a few more layers of toilet paper and I pass him a handful of dryer sheets. He stuffs them into the toilet paper roll and tests it by blowing into it.

“And voila,” he exclaims, holding up his work for us to admire.

“Nice,” I say and hold out my hand. Since it’s my room, seems fair I get the first official hit. I inhale sharply, pulling the heat into my lungs, count to ten and exhale into the spoof. I pass the pipe to Brady. In less than an hour, we work through the whole eighth. When Brady bitches, Reid gets up, goes somewhere for what seems like forever, and comes back with another bag plus a few Xanax. By the time we pack the last bowl, I’m so fucked up, I can barely walk across my room to my bed.

Calista pounces on my lap, but not before messing up my hair. Her wild curls tickle my skin and smell like chlorine. Like summer.

It’s so hot. The sun beats on us. I want to go back under the umbrella, but she won’t let me, so I nuzzle her neck and tell myself to remember this. The smell of sunblock and the weight of Calista pressed against me. In a week, we’ll be back at Harker, and Cal and I will go on like we always do: friends but nothing more.

With sure fingers, I tug on the strings of her bikini top and it falls off.

She giggles and tosses it aside. I cup my hands over her firm tits. The camera she set up clicks. Keeps clicking as we fall backward onto the chaise, not talking.

Every breath I take mirrors hers, and our naked torsos move in unison. My eyes close, and I focus on the feel of her hands on my skin. They leave sparks of electricity in their wake.

A lazy smile stretches across her face as she lifts my hand to her lips and sucks on the tips of my fingers.

My body explodes with fire. She notices and traces her fingers lower, teasing me. I close my eyes again and inhale deeply. One breath. Two breaths. Three.    

Calista rolls off me and kneels next to my elbow. She lays her head on the edge of the chaise and bats her blue eyes.

I should stop her, but I don’t. I never do.

And then I wake up. Alone, on the bare vinyl mattress.

Like what you read? Add CRUSHED on Goodreads and make sure to pick it up on December 11, 2012.

Read Chapter 3.

CRUSHED Preview – Chapter 1

CRUSHED is an upper YA/New Adult book with sexual situations and mature language. Please don’t read if these things offend you.

1

“Fletch!”

A fist pounds on my door. Over and over again. Beneath me, Hannah Something’s eyes grow wide, and she starts to squirm away. I snap the elastic of her panties back in place and wipe my fingers on the sheets before signaling her to stay quiet. There isn’t a lock on my door. The Harker School doesn’t believe in privacy.

“Fletch, you fucker, open up.” Brady’s fist strikes the door and matches the rhythm of his words. “I’m giving you ‘till the count of five, and then I’m coming in, and I don’t care who I find you in.”

I roll off Hannah, scoop up my underwear, and toss her sweater at her. “You can wait here, or get dressed and at least try to look presentable.”

She pulls her sweater over her head and her soft tits disappear under the scratchy fabric. “I don’t want to get in trouble.”

Like that’s going to happen.

“Five,” Brady shouts from the hallway. “Seriously, if I find you flagrantly abusing yourself, I’m going to kick your ass.”

I yank the door open, and he stumbles forward.

“Yeah, I’m happy to see you too,” I say, shoving him off me.

Brady – my best friend – scans my room, his eyes darting over my half-unpacked duffle bag and cardboard boxes. They rest on Hannah, who’s pulling her jeans over her tight ass. He bobs his head and grins.

“Dude, you’ve been back all of what – two hours, maybe?” He has this way of dragging out his words, of making one syllable two. For being an East Coast guy, he’s done a great job adopting California surfer speak. And since he doesn’t surf – let alone venture into the dark, violent water that makes up the Northern California coast – it’s a habit I find mildly annoying.

I run my hand through my hair and survey the room. There’s a bed shoved against the wall with the door, and another near the windows. A sturdy desk and tall dresser line the third wall. All standard Harker-issue furniture. My shit’s all over the institutional green linoleum floor. I tore through the cardboard boxes searching for sheets. Not that the bed was completely necessary, but most girls prefer a bed. And I give girls what they like.

“Hannah was just, you know, helping me carry my stuff up. Not all of us have parents who deliver them to school like frickin’ kindergarteners.”

Brady snorts. “Some moving service.”

Hannah finishes buttoning her jeans and tries walking past him, but Brady sticks out his hand. “I don’t think we’ve met. Brady Pearson. And you are Hannah…”

“Chan.”

He gives her his best sheepish smile – the one girls love. “You’re on the tennis team, right? A junior?”

“Captain,” she retorts. “I’m the captain.” She flips her dark hair over her shoulder, walks past Brady, and stops before me. Her warm hand pats my bare chest. “See you later?”

“Sure. Later,” I say dismissively, but she still smiles that sweet little smile of hers and steps into the hallway.

I kick the door shut. “Way to kill my game, asshole.”

Brady shrugs and flops down on the bare vinyl mattress near the door. It cracks under his weight. “Put some clothes on, will ya? You, wearing only a candy wrapper, is a sight I try to avoid as much as possible.”

I retrieve my jeans and t-shirt from the floor and put them on. “Better?”

“Much.” Brady stares up at the ceiling and folds his hands behind his head. “How was your summer?”

I step through the mess, bend, and heft a box onto the semi-made bed.

“The same as always: San Diego to visit my cousin; bonding with the parents; complete and total boredom. You?”

“No Calista?” He says this like he already knows.

t’s just a question. Relax, Fletch. Relax. Brady doesn’t know.

“Of course I hung out with Cal.”

“And?” He’s curious now.

My stomach drops. “She’s good.”

“Good as in good? Or good as in ‘holy fuck it was the best sex of my life, and I can’t wait to tap that shit again’ good?”

I throw a balled up pair of socks at him. You can do it. Say the words. “Good as in, if you ever come near her, I’ll personally slice your balls off.”

Brady grins at me and jumps off the bed. “Nice.” He crosses his arms, legs spread wide, like a club bouncer.

“What?”

“Have you forgotten all your manners? This is the part in the program where you say, ‘How many girls did you fuck this summer?’ and I feign embarrassment and modesty.”

Brady is never modest or embarrassed.

“How many girls did you fuck this summer?” I repeat, even though he’s already launched into his monologue.

He holds up his fist and pries one finger up at a time, counting each one. “Five. That’s the magic number today.”

“Five?” I say, a little in awe.

“Not in one day, dumbass. I’m not depraved.” He slides my closet door open, searching for the food I normally keep there, but since it’s move-in day, the cabinet is bare.

“Okay, so five girls all summer?”

He grins. “Yup and you? I mean, is – what’s her name?”

I stare at him, unsure who he means. He can’t mean Calista. He knows her.

“The girl who was just here. What’s her name again?”

“Hannah.”

“Are you trying to make up for a drought with Haa-nah?” He says her name kinda sing-songy, like a little kid. “Did Cal keep you tied up all summer?”

Yeah. Pretty much. “Jesus, Brady. Try to have a little respect.”

“After you told me about her lacy white knickers, how can I?” He shakes his head. “I’m sorry, but that’s one image I don’t want to get out of my head.”

I don’t want to talk about Calista. It’s bad enough I have to see her at some point.

Unpacking shouldn’t take me long – my entire life currently consists of three cardboard boxes, a mini-fridge, a worn carpet I’ve had since freshman year that smells like stale beer and puke, a skateboard, and a duffle bag full of clothes and school supplies.

“How’d you score this?” Brady waves his hand around my room. “I have to share with Reid and don’t even get a balcony or view to make up for it.”

“Good luck, I guess.” When I toured Harker on a rare sunny day, Dad had made a big point of showing me his old room, which is just a few doors down from where I now stand. He had bribed its resident with a twenty before barging through the room and out to the balcony. “This,” Dad had said, gesturing to the girls below us, “is why you want one of these rooms.”

And every day, for the past three years, I walked past these rooms, waiting for the day when one would belong to me.

On cue, Brady yanks the French doors open and takes a position at the railing.  The ever-present fog rushes in, threatening to soak my meager possessions.

I follow him and close the door behind us. The balcony overlooks The Beach, which is just a large grassy oval surrounded on three sides by my u-shaped dorm. It’s the main upper campus hangout, and when there isn’t any fog – which is next to never – the view includes redwood trees and the wild ocean. But normally, the only things worth seeing are the girls who crowd The Beach between classes and during free hours.

From the way Brady’s grinning and nodding, I can tell he’s assessing the hotness of the freshman girls.

“Any good ones?” I ask even though I know his answer. Every girl has some redeeming quality. The dumb ones are typically pretty and the “beer-goggle-only” girls usually have great bodies or personalities or something.

“Definitely more good than bad,” he responds. “Easy targets. Senior year is going to be epic.”

He’s right, of course. This, right here – the awesome room, the girls, senior year – is exactly what I’ve been dreaming of ever since stepping onto the Harker campus three years ago.

“Isn’t it weird?”

It takes me a minute to figure out what the hell he’s talking about. Brady’s brain moves two steps faster than his words, and, in his mind, he’s already made the connection between the girls on The Beach and his question. Sometimes I think he’s a little ADHD.

I bristle before remembering Brady doesn’t know what happened between Cal and me. “It’s fine. Why?”

Brady shrugs. “I don’t know. You guys hook-up during breaks and stuff, and then, you know. I mean, isn’t it kinda like making out with your sister or something?”

“Dude. That’s gross.”

“You know what I mean. She’s the closest thing you’ve had to a girlfriend. Or a sister.”

“But she’s not. And she knows that. And so do I,” I snap, the edge in my voice surprising me.

Brady grimaces. “This isn’t going to end well.”

“It’s fine. It’s always fine.” I try to sound convincing – like Fletch Colson, the guy who supposedly doesn’t give a fuck what girls think. I’m trying. Really. I am.

The fog has lifted a little, and The Beach teems with students – some with their parents, but most of them clustered in tight groups. A bunch of returning girls have brought out blankets and are sitting around watching idiotic junior guys show off their Frisbee skills – because every girl loves a Frisbee player, right?. They’re not obvious at all with the way they keep “accidently” running into girls.

A cute brunette in a yellow t-shirt leans back on her elbows and flashes perfect white teeth at us. Brady gives the standard half-wave – the kind you give when you’re interested but don’t want to look that way.

“Dibs,” he calls.

I nod in acknowledgement.

A worried look crosses Brady’s face. “Problem number one with being a senior: the new girls will be jailbait in a few months.”

The irony isn’t lost on me. When we were freshmen, all we wanted to do was score a hot upper school girl. Mission accomplished when Brady hooked up with a cute senior, and I spent a few fun hours with Grace Voigt, the hottest junior girl ever. But now, we’re seniors, plotting our way through the freshman class.

“You need to get some chairs. And maybe a hammock. Yeah.” He rocks back from the edge of the balcony.  “A hammock would be awesome.”

I can’t think of anything less awesome in fog or rain.

“For Christ’s sake, Brady. When did you become an interior decorator?” I shove him, and he catches the railing. “Don’t you have your own room to fix up?”

“I’m done: bed, desk, bar, and video games. What more can a man want?”

When we were freshman, we decided all a guy needed to be happy in life was food, sports, and sex. Since then, our list has expanded as needed.

“Apparently a hammock,” I mutter and stare off toward the ocean or, more correctly where the ocean should be since it’s always obscured by fog.

“Know what else would be great?” he asks.

I shoot Brady an exasperated glance. “Let me guess, a plasma TV?”

“No. But I like how you think.” He taps his finger to his temple. “Water guns.”

“Do I even want to know?”

Mostly, we ignore Harker’s legendary list of rules and regulations. Because really, as long as we’re careful, there are ways to get around the rules. But water guns sound like a recipe for disaster.

“Wanna go find Alex and skate?” Brady asks as we retreat to the relative warmth of my room.

“I need to finish unpacking.” With one hand, I search the inside of a soggy box and retrieve the stack of college applications I received over the summer. I fan them so Brady can get an eyeful. Dartmouth, Bowdoin, Amherst, Stanford – my first pick – and Princeton, my Dad’s alma mater and his first choice for me.

Brady eyes the applications and snorts. “Overachiever.”

“You know it.” I shove the papers into the top drawer of my desk. Brady shouldn’t talk. He’s my main competition for valedictorian – a friendly rivalry we carry over to most things we do.

He hovers, not helping, just taking up space. I can tell I’m not going to get anything done with him here.

“It could be fun,” I say as I pick my crumpled fleece up off the floor and tug it over my head without bothering to unzip it. The tiny school-issued mirror confirms I’m a disheveled mess, but I don’t care.

Brady looks at me quizzically. “What could be fun?”

I sigh. “Water guns, dumbass.”

Brady grins and holds out his fist. I bump it. “Seniors,” he says.

“Seniors,” I repeat, and we both laugh.

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Want to read more? Get Chapter 2 and 3.

Cover Reveal: CRUSHED

I love cover reveals – I just hate my own. They make me a nervous wreck because I worry no one else will love them the way I do. Thankfully, I had Rachel Marks as a cover designer and she did an amazing job of capturing the feel of the book.

If you haven’t heard of CRUSHED, here’s the blurb:

For seventeen-year-old serial womanizer Fletch Colson, life is a game and if he plays by the rules, he’ll win it all: his dream college, his parents’ money, and a hot (if a little vapid) girl on his arm. Really, it couldn’t be easier. All he has to do is get good grades, live a privileged boarding school life, and try not to mess up too much.

However, when he accepts the seemingly impossible bet to change his ways and be “just friends” with smart, beautiful, tempting Ellie Jacobs – a girl who seems hell-bent on confusing him – Fletch’s whole world is turned upside down.

Suddenly, what seemed simple and clear, no longer feels right and Fletch must decide if winning it all is worth losing a piece of himself

AND HERE’S COVER!!!!

Release Day: DEC. 11, 2012

Now for the real fun. Each of these lovely blogs have scenes from CRUSHED on them today. Some are sweet, some are sexy, some are just…I don’t know…a little dirty?

Hayley VornholtGetting Dirty at the Pool

Kathy BradeyWho Am I?

Waltz With WordsThe Music Room

Rachael Allen Writes The Bet

HoundratRunaway

Susan Writes FictionThe Key Chain

Don’t forget to add CRUSHED to your Goodreads list! And mark your calendars for December 11thCRUSHED‘s release date.