Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Just Fall

Just Fall
By Annica Rossi

How far would you go to save everything?
Life hadn’t dealt Lauren St. John a fair hand, yet she considered herself lucky to be living on the majestic shores of Lake Michigan running the business her parents worked their whole lives to create... Until now.
Facing the possibility of losing The Grandview Inn and her relationship with Jake Kennedy, the man she vowed to marry, “Lo” is desperate to hold on. In the middle of her anguish, the unexpected arrival of longtime guests, Tom and Mary Blackwell, seems like a welcome relief, but just when she thinks things couldn't get any worse, she discovers they've brought along an unwelcome ghost from her past.
Enter the dangerously seductive Parker Blackwell, renowned poker player and notorious bad boy, with a propensity for kinky sex.
Seven summers ago, the gauntlet was thrown down from the moment Lo and Parker laid eyes on each other. Too young to realize the gravity of their connection, their friendship grew until a series of tragic events began to unfold, and Parker mysteriously disappeared, leaving Lo heartbroken and unwilling to forgive.
Grown up now, and suddenly forced to confront their unresolved feelings and undeniably explosive sexual attraction, the situation intensifies into an enticing and comical game of “it’s your move”. But when Parker raises the stakes too high will Lo put herself on the line to save everything she’s ever known?
***This is an erotic romance featuring explicit sexual content. It is recommended for readers 18+.


The timing of Parker Blackwell’s arrival at The Grandview Inn couldn't be worse. With things at the breaking point, the last thing Lauren St. John needs is to be forced to confront her unresolved anger and unspoken feelings for the seductively dangerous and sexually corrupt bad boy from her past. But with the clock ticking and nowhere else to turn, Parker’s twisted offer to help may be Lo’s one shot at saving the only life she’s ever known. Will she put it all on the line to save everything, or will he end up wanting more than she bargained for?  

About the Author: Annica Rossi

Michigan debut author, Annica Rossi, describes herself as a “serial
mompreneur”. She spends her days creating customized gifts for those who
have found their real life Happily Ever Afters, and by night she
entertains her overactive imagination by penning sexy escapes that pack
plenty of heat.

Her writing features smart, strong-willed women and their equally
determined male counterparts whom they just can’t help but love.

“Just Fall”, the first novel in her The Fall Series, is a seductive
page-burner that’s kept her awake countless nights with only her faithful
canines to keep her company. Stay Tuned for the second book in the second
book coming in January 2014.


Well let me see where do I start with Just Fall. I received this as an ARC copy for an honest review and I can tell you it will be. Just Fall is a fun romantic book about Lauren and her inn and how she is doing everything in her power to keep it because it was her parents dream. When a boy from her past shows up her aurora turns upside down. She is still upset with him yet feels drawn to him, however she is engaged. Lauren has to make a huge choice to save the inn, herself, her fiance, or the man that came into her life again. I can not write more without giving away the book. But you will love it if your looking for something with sex appeal and love.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

~Remember Love


5 Stars

They say you can never go home again. Brenna James is about to finish her final year of college when a visit home could change everything. Fate was pushing her towards her childhood best friend, Tucker, leaving Brenna no other option than to remember memories from a time once forgotten. 

Can Tucker slip himself into her heart? 

Will he be able to show her his feelings? 

The biggest question is, can Tucker help Brenna remember love?

The book has sexual situations and language intended for ages 18 & up.


Purchase Links:

Amazon US: http://goo.gl/7FiKs4
Amazon UK: http://goo.gl/Fj8yI3
Amazon CA: http://goo.gl/GQz7FE
Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/1jbGHQq
iTunes: http://goo.gl/m0sV1r
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1aV9lig
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/HxKUgp

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUUZHuUa1mQ (FGBB)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJrI73mDCjA (CRU)


When I began this book I immediately fell in love with Brenna and Tucker. Throughout the ENTIRE book , I absolutely routed for them. From the beginning they had feelings for one another, it almost seemed as though it was fate that brought them together at such a young age. Unfortunately for them there were MANY factors that kept them apart..... Eventually they were separated, feelings were hurt, lives moved on, but Tucker NEVER stopped loving Brenna and she really never stopped loving him....but is love enough to get past their past??
Remember Love is one of those feel good make you wish you had one of those once in a life relationships in your own past, present and future!!!! I hope to see more from these two, and I would ABSOLUTELY LOVE to see how Lexi and Spencer's relationship works out as well!!
About the Author
Riley Rhea is your typical country girl, born and raised in the Bluegrass. In the last 30 something years, she has successfully brought into this world 3 children, which may or not be claimed by her, depending on their behavior.
Riley enjoys reading, spending time on the farm and quiet afternoons when those who call her mom leave the house. Riley also loves country music and drools over Luke Bryan. Riley’s biggest fears are crickets and banks.
Not just an avid reader, Riley is an active blogger and reviews many books during the span of a week when she isn’t writing about her loveable and sexy country boys.
She’s always had a background in writing, her mother being an author, and one day, out of the blue, 2 characters popped into her head and wouldn’t shut up. After some advice from a good friend, Remember Love was born.
Thank you all for taking time to get to know Riley a little better. You can always find her on Facebook if y’all want to chat a little more.

Riley Rhea’s Stalker Links:

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Game

Title: The Game – Kirsten Backhard
Author: Shawnté Borris
Publication Date: 27th September 2013
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Kirsten Backhard is a highly respected senior negotiating executive based in Toronto. She plays with some of the most powerful men in her field. Kirsten is confident, sexy, and hell on heels. She fights with a straight face, doesn't back down easily, and believes in using her ASSets to get the deal done her way.
Kirsten loves toying with the game in a man’s world.
But is every angle of her life this easy to play? One night can easily change everything. What she thinks is all love and fairy tales quickly becomes highly overrated. Will Kirsten be able to overcome? Or will she remain the cool poker player? 

Book Links:

All about the Author: Shawnté Borris  

Shawnté lives in central Alberta, with her husband Ricky of 10 amazing years and together they have two beautiful children. Somehow her husband has managed to trick her into running a cow/calf operation. As much as she fusses about it, she loves it.
When Shawnté is not sitting at her kitchen table hammering away on her laptop while watching the moose chase her cows across the yard, yes this really happens. Then she is busy attend school activities, community events and chauffeuring children here and there. She is big on playing softball and watching hockey.
When the time comes to relax, you will find her snuggled underneath her down comforter reading on her Ipad. Wait…who are we kidding, if the dishes, vacuuming, laundry or the bathrooms needs a hose down, you’ll always hear her say, “Just after this chapter.” She doesn’t have a favorite author or best story because everyday she falls in love with someone new.
Shawnté is technology challenged so you won’t find her on twitter (heaven knows she tried) or instagram – whatever this stuff is called. But she can work one hell of a Facebook page thanks for her fictitious assistant Lacy. Please go like her page and leave a review/star rating on the books she’s wrote.

Author Links:

Also by Shawnte Borris

Please only choose 1 for your post

First excerpt


“First of all, Mother, it is called a sperm bank, not a
sperm bar.” I cannot believe I am having this
conversation right now. “And where did you get this
information from?”
Max looked over at me, smirking.
“Why does it matter where I heard it from? What
will people think?” cried my mother.
“Fuck! Mom, no one is gonna care where or how I
get a baby.” I want to crawl into a hole and die. “Mom,
you wouldn’t by any chance be talking to Marie, would
you? Is that where all this came from? Did she tell you
I’m planning to go to a sperm bank? Or did she tell you
I should think about going to a sperm bank?”
“That’s not the point, Kirsten. The point is that it’s
time for you to settle down and think about having a
family. You need to be more like Marie,” my mom
“Like Marie? My sister, Marie? The one who wears
yoga pants and ponytails everywhere and has a kid
attached to her hip? No, thanks. Don’t get me wrong,
Mom. I love Marie, but I’d rather not schedule in sex

Second excerpt

Getting waxed

I heard a phone ring, thinking it belonged to the
salon. Nope, not my luck. The crazy wax witch
answered her phone
wasn’t like I could cover shit with my hands…well,
except for my belly button.
“Hello?” I sat up, annoyed and pissed off. “Open
vagina here.”
“No, I not busy.” She lifted her phone away from
her to talk to me. “Two minutes.”
When I looked at those two pointed fingers, I
wanted to poke her eyes out with them. I was trying to
get up, but she kept pushing by vagina down.
“Wait, we do you hole next.”
Hole next? What the fuck? That was just over the
top, even for me, so I just started doing the ugly
pregnant laugh-cry. Even if I were to tell someone this
story…seriously, who would believe this shit? Fuck my

Third excerpt


Drew stepped up behind me, placed his arms around my waist, and
breathed into my neck. “What game are you playing?”
I closed my eyes. “I'm only here to help your dad. This company is
going to rip him off.”
Drew's fingers slid around my collarbone and swept my hair around
to the other side of my neck. “How did you know?”


Oh man I'm not going to lie I fucking (excuse my language) loved this book. I could not put this book down. It was sassy, hot as hell, and full of drama. The sex in this book was wonderful, the language amazing, I laughed and cried while reading this book. My kids thought I was nuts laughing at a book that's how good it was. Kristen is this hot shot business negotiator who doesn't take shit from anyone. When her heart get's broken by her secret boyfriend she doesn't wallow. Hell no she picks up the peaces and some hotties and get's the job done. All the while Drew who is her brothers BFF plans ways to get her back. I can not say more without giving the entire book away. Kristen does have that best friend the one that kicks your butt when your down. All the characters have a part in this book and you will love how they come to life and bring you right there with them. Please read you won't regret it. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

~Dear Emily Release day Blitz

Happy Release Day to Trudy Stiles for her debut novel "Dear Emily". Make sure to check out the TRAILER, TEASERS & enter the GIVEAWAY for a Kindle HDX below!

Now Available

Author: Trudy Stiles
Book Title: Dear Emily ~ Series: Forever Family #1
Genre: New Adult/Romance

Smashwords - Kobo
Two women. Carly & Tabitha. Both have suffered life-altering events that have left them both traumatically damaged.
Carly Sloan’s life was perfect until the night her security and innocence was torn from her. The vast repercussions from that horrific night threaten to destroy her stability and her chances for a happily ever after. Kyle Finnegan comes into Carly’s life at the height of her turmoil. Can he help her find what she desires most?
Tabitha Fletcher, on the other hand, has suffered from a very young age. She has been hiding from her past, which was full of abuse, loss and turmoil. She has been so brutally damaged that she has very little hope of redemption. The revolving door of men only leads her deeper into misery.
What circumstance brings these two women together unexpectedly and can they help each other heal? And will they each find what they need?
This book is not suitable for young readers. It is intended for mature adults only (18+). It contains strong language, adult/sexual situations, non-consensual sex and some violence.


Dear Emily from t. h. snyder on Vimeo.


About the Author:

Trudy Stiles is a New Adult author, avid reader, mom to two beautiful children and married to the love of her life. She just wrote her debut novel, "Dear Emily, and cannot wait to share it with everyone.
You'll know that she's writing when you see her plugged into her laptop with her earbuds and she always has a playlist ready for her writing sprints.
When she's not writing, she's carting her children to their various activities while avoiding any kind of laundry or housework. She also loves to run along the boardwalk of the beautiful New Jersey shore.
She's always been an avid reader and frequently escapes into the fictional worlds of the many characters that she has come to love. Well now there are some fictional characters in her head dying to get out!
This first story is called "Dear Emily" and will begin the "Forever Family" series.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/authortrudystiles
Website: www.trudystiles.com
Twitter: @trudystiles
Author page on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7255897.Trudy_Stiles

*** GIVEAWAY ***

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~When its Love

When Sydney Morrison learned the dark truth about who she really is, her whole world turned black. Tormented by her identity and deeply depressed, she confides in no one, not even her hot and adoring best friend, Henry.  But Sydney does tell Henry about the epic crush she has on her famous writing teacher, Professor Sparling.

Convinced she doesn’t stand a chance with the professor, Sydney is shocked when he takes a special interest in her. The two begin a torrid online affair that pulls Sydney out of her shell and makes her feel desired and daring. And as Sydney tumbles into a journey that’s erotic beyond her imagination, her relationship with Henry gets complicated.

Then Sydney’s darkest secret begins to hunt her down just when she thinks she’s escaping it. Suddenly nothing is what is seems to be and Sydney finds herself torn between truth and love.

Author Bio:
Emma Lauren has lived in Texas and Michigan. She met the man of her dreams when she was only 18, and 7 years later she married him. They now have three rambunctious kids who keep Emma on her toes. Emma loves animals, romantic stories, 80s music, chick flicks, and cupcakes. When she's not writing she's probably doing laundry.

Social Media/Info:
Website: http://emmalauren.net
Twitter: https://twitter.com/emma_romance
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emmalaurenauthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7389917.Emma_Lauren

Professor Sparling is so out of my league.  What he could he possibly see in me?  But he sees something, obviously, because he reached out to me, and I don’t want to lose his interest.  What I feel for him is pure passion and I’m exploding with it.  Of all the intense emotions I’ve

experienced in life– rage, fear, depression and frustration – this passion is the only one that’s felt impossible to contain.

My hands are shaking as I type: Professor Sparling, I wanted to impress you because I’m drawn to you.

If only I could write just how drawn I am to him.  But that would come across either way too romantic, or way too forward.  It’s not like I can just write to my professor that I spent half of the time in his classes thinking about either kissing him for two hours straight, or unzipping his pants. I can’t even say that I’ve been waiting fourteen weeks for him to really notice me. But most of all, I can’t tell him that he’s the one I believe can lead me out of the dark places where all I feel are shame and grief.  I want to end my internal ache, push the pain away, and live the life of a normal college student.  College years are supposed to be carefree, but I haven’t gone to any parties. I never even go out for dinner unless the Harts invite me over to Ottawa Estate, or Henry drags me somewhere.  All I’ve wanted to do at Addison is be at home alone with my cats.  My most social activity is watching movies with Henry.  This little online flirty exchange, though, is giving rise to the part of me that has been totally shut down.  Apparently along with the sadness inside my body lives a full-fledged diva, and these emails are waking her up like a kiss from Prince Charming.  The diva’s voice is nothing like that of my withdrawn, anti-social persona who always dresses in gray and thinks she can’t compete with the Melanies of the world.

I stare at my computer screen waiting for a reply.  It comes within seconds.

Sydney, Please call me Paul.  And tell me, to which part of me are you drawn?

Call him Paul?  No way.  I can’t think of him as Paul.  Not yet, at least.  Part of the appeal, after all, is the fact that he’s my professor.  I bet he’d like it if I dressed up as a schoolgirl in a teeny pleated, plaid skirt.  I’m sure he would teach me a lesson or two!

I can’t believe this is happening.  I am flirting with Professor Paul Sparling, man of my dreams, or at least man of my sexual fantasies.  I wished for this a million times, but I never expected it to come true.   And I never imagined it would begin with email.

Sales Links:
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/WhenItsLoveBN

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~ The Ever Trilogy

 Forever & Always  and After Forever
(The Ever Trilogy)
Jasinda Wilder
Expected Release: Dec. 20th, 2013
Hosted by: The Book Avenue
Join the Release Party Here


These letters are often all that get me through week to week. Even if it’s just random stuff, nothing important, they’re important to me. Gramps is great, and I love working on the ranch. But…I’m lonely. I feel disconnected, like I’m no one, like I don’t belong anywhere. Like I’m just here until something else happens. I don’t even know what I want with my future. But your letters, they make me feel connected to something, to someone. I had a crush on you, when we first met. I thought you were beautiful. So beautiful. It was hard to think of anything else. Then camp ended and we never got together, and now all I have of you is these letters. S**t. I just told you I have a crush on you. HAD. Had a crush. Not sure what is anymore. A letter-crush? A literary love? That’s stupid. Sorry. I just have this rule with myself that I never throw away what I write and I always send it, so hopefully this doesn’t weird you out too much. I had a dream about you too. Same kind of thing. Us, in the darkness, together. Just us. And it was like you said, a memory turned into a dream, but a memory of something that’s never happened, but in the dream it felt so real, and it was more, I don’t even know, more RIGHT than anything I’ve ever felt, in life or in dreams. I wonder what it means that we both had the same dream about each other. Maybe nothing, maybe everything. You tell me.

~ ~ ~ ~


We’re pen pals. Maybe that’s all we’ll ever be. I don’t know. If we met IRL (in real life, in case you’re not familiar with the term) what would happen? And just FYI, the term you used, a literary love? It was beautiful. So beautiful. That term means something, between us now. We are literary loves. Lovers? I do love you, in some strange way. Knowing about you, in these letters, knowing your hurt and your joys, it means something so important to me, that I just can’t describe. I need your art, and your letters, and your literary love. If we never have anything else between us, I need this. I do. Maybe this letter will only complicate things, but like you I have a rule that I never erase or throw away what I’ve written and I always send it, no matter what I write in the letter. 

Your literary love,




~ Caden ~

Between art classes and the requisite camp activities—which were stupid bullshit—the first week of camp passed in a blur.

It was Monday afternoon, all-camp free time, so most everyone was gone somewhere—into downtown Traverse City, to Sleeping Bear Dunes, canoeing on one of the two lakes, swimming at Peterson Beach. There were a few students on campus, most of them doing the same as I was, finding a solitary place to play an instrument, paint, draw, or dance. I had found the perfect spot overlooking Green Lake, sitting with my back to a pine tree, sketchbook on my knees, trying to capture the way a duck’s wings curved for landing as they floated over the rippling surface of the water.

I’d been there for over an hour already, the bark scratching my back through my T-shirt, earbuds in and playing my current favorite album, Surfing With the Alien by Joe Satriani. I’d drawn the same picture six times, each one a quick, rough sketch, capturing the outlines, the curves, the angle of the bird’s body and the delicate arch of its neck. None of them were right, though. Like with my work on human hands, one particular detail was eluding me. This time, it was the pattern of the pinfeathers as the duck fluttered its wings, the way each feather rounded into the next, layered, yet separate, while its green head and yellow beak thrust forward, the wings creating a bonnet around its body. I’d stuffed each failed sketch under my foot, using the last as reference for the next. My pencil went still as another duck approached the water. Its wings curved to slow its descent, orange feet outstretched, and then at the very last moment it reared back and flared its wings, braking to a stop and settling on the water with barely a sound or splash. I watched intently, my eyes and mind capturing the moment of wing-flare, watching the tips of its wings, then I glanced down and erased frantically, redrawing, pencil moving furiously now, line overlaying line, adjusting the curve and angles.

“You’re really good,” a voice said behind me.

I knew without turning who it was. “Thanks, Ever.” Had I really remembered her voice after that one conversation?

I wished I didn’t feel so self-conscious all of a sudden. Would she think I was stupid for drawing ducks? Watching them land had been fascinating when I was alone, and drawing them had captivated my focus for the last couple of hours, but now that a pretty girl was standing behind me…I was pretty sure it was the nerdiest thing ever.

I closed the sketchbook and set it on top of the pile of discarded sketches, standing up and brushing off the seat of my shorts. When I finally turned my gaze to Ever, I had to blink several times. I hadn’t seen her since the day we arrived, despite looking for her in the visual arts classes and at meals. She’d been pretty then, dressed casually in jeans and a T-shirt. But now…she was so beautiful it made my stomach flip and tighten.

She was wearing a pair of khaki shorts that barely made it to mid-thigh, and a rib-hugging green tank top that matched the emerald of her eyes perfectly. Her hair hung in loose spirals around her shoulders, and she had a bulky easel under one arm, a canvas under the other arm and a wooden carrying case for paints in her hand. A smudge of red paint stood out on her forehead, matching a similar smudge on her left wrist, and green paint was smeared near her right cheek and earlobe.

I felt an absurd compulsion to wipe away the paint with my thumb. Instead, I reached for the easel and took it from her. “Were you just setting up? Or heading back?” I asked.

She shrugged, and the strap of her tank top slipped over the round of her shoulder, revealing the white strap of her bra. “Neither. I was kinda just…walking around. Looking for something to paint.”

“Oh. I was just…sketching. Ducks. Obviously.” I felt myself blushing as I mumbled, forcing my gaze away from the overlapping green and white straps and the hint of pale skin as she brushed the strap back in place. “I don’t really like ducks, I just…I thought the way they looked when they landed was kinda cool, and I—do you want me to carry your easel?” I felt like a spaz, shifting tracks so suddenly and blurting like an idiot.

Ever shrugged again, and the damn strap of her shirt slipped again. I wished she would stop shrugging so much, because it was wreaking hell on my ability to not stare at her. It wasn’t just the strap, though, it was her chest, the way it lifted and settled along with her shoulders. I felt my cheeks burn and wondered if my thoughts were visible, somehow, like I had a digital marquee on my forehead, announcing the fact that I was staring at her boobs.

“Sure,” Ever said, and I had to refocus to remember what we were talking about. “It is kinda heavy.”

Oh. The easel. Right. I leaned down and scooped up my sketchbook and papers, then adjusted the easel under my armpit more securely. “Where to?”

I was sensing a pattern now, and managed to avert my gaze before she did the shrug.

“I dunno. I was thinking somewhere on that side over there.” She pointed to a not-too-distant portion of the Green Lake shoreline.

We traipsed through the woods along the shoreline, chatting about our art classes, comparing notes and complaints. Every once in a while, Ever would move ahead of me, and the way her shorts clung to her backside was so distracting I almost dropped the easel a few times.

This was new territory for me. Girls were just girls. There’d never been one that had grabbed my attention like this before, and I didn’t know how to handle it. Of course, there were hot girls at school, and I looked at them, ’cause duh, I’m a guy. But this was different. Ever was someone I could see becoming a friend, and it was tricky having a friend who you couldn’t stop staring at like some wonderstruck moron. I felt like she had this power of reducing me to a mouth-breathing caveman.

Ook. Me Caden. You woman.

I trotted up to walk next to her, which was only nominally better. The problem was that anywhere I looked, there was something I shouldn’t be staring at.

Eventually, she came a stop on a little knoll surrounded by trees with a stunning view of the lake. “This is good,” she said. “I could paint this.” I set the easel down and unfolded it, then moved away and watched her arrange her canvas on the easel, open her paint case and select a pencil. “You can’t watch over my shoulder. That’s weird and creepy and I won’t be able to think.” She gestured off to one side. “Find your own spot and we’ll critique each other’s work when we’re done.”

“So we’re both drawing the same basic landscape scene?” I asked.

She nodded. “Well, I’ll paint it. You draw it.”

I found a place off to Ever’s left, framing the lake between two huge Jack Pines. I set my pad on my crossed legs and started sketching, and pretty soon disappeared into capturing the scene before me. I didn’t entirely forget about Ever, because she was hot even while painting—especially while painting, really. She was messy. She had a tendency to use her fingers as much as the brushes. She would swipe her bangs out of her face and get paint on her forehead and cheeks and nose. Even as I tried to force my attention back to the sketch in my book, she scratched her wrist with one hand, smearing orange paint on her wrist, and then rubbed her jaw with the same wrist.

I must have laughed out loud, because she glanced over at me. “What?” she asked.

“It’s just…you have paint all over your face.”

“I do?” She wiped at her cheek with one hand, which of course only smeared it worse.

I set my pad and pencils down and moved to stand next to her. “Yeah, it’s…everywhere.” I hesitated, then dragged my thumb lightly across her forehead and showed her the paint on my thumb.

She frowned, and then lifted the bottom edge of her shirt to wipe her face. At the sight of her stomach and the hint of white bra, I turned away. “Is that better?” she asked.

I turned back around. She had paint all over her shirt, but her face was clean. “Yeah, you got it off your face. Except…” I took a strand of her hair between my finger and thumb, and it came away green. “You have it in your hair too.”

“I’m a messy painter, I guess. I like to use my hands. At home, I don’t even use brushes. But the teachers here want me to try and expand my ‘vocabulary as an artist’ or some bullshit like that.” She put air quotes around the phrase, mocking it. “Mom was the same way.”

Something in her eyes and voice when she mentioned her mother, along with the fact that she’d used past tense, had me on alert. “She’s a messy painter?” I didn’t want to ask, or assume anything.

“Was.” Ever turned away from me and focused on her canvas, dabbing her brush into a glop of green on her palette, darkening the shade closer to the green of the pine needles.

“Why was?”

“Because she’s dead.” She said it calmly, matter-of-factly, but too much so. “Car accident. Not quite a year and a half ago.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I mean…yeah. I’m sorry for your loss.” That was a phrase I’d heard before, but it sounded awkward when I said it. Fake and empty.

Ever glanced at me. “Thanks.” She wrinkled her nose. “We don’t have to talk about it. It happened, and that’s it. No point in getting all weepy about it.”

I felt like she was putting on a brave face, but I didn’t know how to tell her she didn’t have to do that. If she wanted a brave face, what business was it of mine to say she shouldn’t? I took a few deep breaths, and then changed the subject. “I like your painting. It’s not quite realistic, but not quite abstract, either.”

It was an interesting piece. The trees were thick, blurry, smeared representations of trees, browns and greens that barely seemed like anything at all, but the lake beyond and between them was intensely realistic, each ripple detailed and perfect, glinting and reflecting the sunlight.

“Thanks,” she said. “I wasn’t sure it would work when I started, but I think I like it.” She stepped back, rubbing the side of her nose with her middle finger, blotting brown on her skin, then realized what she’d done and sighed. “Lemme see yours.”

I hated showing people my drawings. I drew because I loved drawing. I drew because it just seemed to come out of me, whether I intended to do it or not. I doodled all over my textbooks and notebooks at school, on my desk calendar at home, even on the leg of my jeans sometimes. I didn’t draw to impress people. Letting someone see my work was like showing someone a part of me, it felt like. I showed my dad my drawings sometimes, because he was an engineer with a background in drafting and knew what he was talking about. And he was my dad and wouldn’t be too harsh or critical.

What if Ever thought I was shitty? I liked her and wanted her to think I was cool, talented.

Before I could re-think the decision, I handed her my sketchpad. To disguise my nerves, I picked up a thick stick from the ground and started peeling the bark off. Ever stared at my sketch for a long time, looking from it to the lake, and then walked to where I’d been sitting when I drew it. After what felt like a thousand years, she handed it back.

“You kick my ass at drawing. That’s really amazing, Caden. It almost looks like a photo.”

I shrugged, picking at the bark with my thumbnail. “Thanks. It’s not really all that photorealistic, but…it’s not bad for a quick sketch.”

She just nodded, and neither of us knew what to say. I wanted to be calm and cool and confident, make casual conversation and impress her with my wit. But that just wasn’t me.

I was a bark-picker and a dirt-kicker, words sticking in my chest and tumbling around each other.

“We should draw each other. Just pencils and paper,” Ever said, breaking the awkward silence.

“Sure,” was all I could say. I flipped the page of my book to an empty one, then realized she’d only brought her canvas, so I carefully ripped the page out and handed it to her. “You’ve got a pencil, right?”

Ever lifted her pencil in response, and then sat down cross-legged in the dirt. I sat facing her and tried to pretend that my eyes weren’t drawn to her inner thighs, bared and looking softer than I could possibly imagine. I ducked my head and regrouped, then forced my gaze to her face. I started sketching, getting the basic shapes down first. By the time I’d finished the outline of her face and shoulders, I had an idea. I wanted to mimic her own style, mixing realism with abstraction. It flowed easily once I had the concept down. We were companionably silent then, glancing up at each other every now and again, but focused on our work.

Wind blew in the tree around us, and the sun filtered lower and lower, and somewhere voices echoed, laughing and yelling. The scent of pine trees was thick in the air, a smell so pungent it was almost visible. It was the scent of a northern Michigan summer, to me.

I didn’t know how long we sat there drawing each other, and I didn’t care. I had a sense of complete peace, soul-deep contentment. Our knees were touching, just our kneecaps brushing, and that was enough to make me feel euphoria. Then Ever shifted, and my right knee touched her left shin, pressing close and making my heart skip more beats than could possibly be healthy.

Finally, I knew the drawing was done. I examined it critically, adjusted a few lines and angles, and then nodded. I was pleased. I’d captured her face with as much realism as I possessed, her hair hanging in loose waves around one shoulder, head tilted, eyes downcast. The farther down her torso the drawing went, the more blurred and abstracted it got, so that her feet and knees were charcoal smudges on the paper.

I stood up, leaving the pad on the pine-needle-carpeted ground, and paced, working the blood back into my legs and numb backside. When I returned to my seat in front of Ever, she was holding my sketchbook and staring at it, an oddly emotional expression on her face.

“Is this how you see me?” she asked, not looking up at me.

“I—sort of? I mean, it’s just a drawing. I was trying to mimic the way you did that landscape, you know?” I reached for my book, but she held on. “Are you…I mean, you’re not mad or anything, are you?”

She shook her head and laughed. “No! Not at all. I was just expecting it to be a profile or something, you know? And this is totally not that. I don’t know, Caden. You make me look—I don’t know…prettier than I am.”

“Not—um…I kind of think it doesn’t do you justice. It’s not good enough. You’re…you’re prettier than that.”

“You think I’m pretty?”

I was beet red, I could feel it. Once again I wished I could say something debonair like James Bond would say in the old Sean Connery movies Dad watched every weekend. “Yeah.”

Nice. Might as well have grunted like a Neanderthal.

Ever blushed and ducked her head, smoothing her hair over her shoulder with one hand. “Thanks.” She glanced up at me, and our eyes met, locked. I wanted to look away, but couldn’t. Her eyes were mesmerizing, green and almost luminous. “I almost don’t want to show you my stupid drawing.”

I reached for the drawing, but Ever didn’t let go of it. Our fingers touched, and I swore actual physical sparks shot up from where our skin touched. Neither of us pulled away.

After a forever that could have fit into the space of a single breath, she let me take the sheet of paper, and touch became loss.

It was an amazing portrait of me, ultra-realistic. I was sitting cross-legged with my pad of paper, pencil held in my fingers, head down. You could just barely see the upper portion of my face, the frown of concentration.

“It’s incredible, Ever,” I said. “Really amazing.” I was torn between admiration and jealousy. She was really good.


She held my drawing, and I held hers. A cicada sang somewhere, the loud buzzing sound of summer.

“I have an evening composition class,” I said. “I should probably go.”

“Yeah. I should too.” She stood up, brushing off her backside, an action I tried not to watch, then handed me my sketchpad back. “I had a good time today. Maybe we could do this again. Another day.”

I tore my drawing of her free and gave it to her. “Yeah. I’d like that.”



She gave an odd, half-circle wave, then looked at her hand as if to question why it had done such an awkward thing. Then, before I could say anything, she gathered her things and left.

I watched her go, wondering what this thing was between us. Friendship? Something else? We’d only hung out twice, but it had felt like more than that. Like we knew each other, somehow.

I went to class and then back to my cabin, where I stashed her drawing of me.

~ ~ ~ ~

I didn’t see Ever again until nearly the end of camp, even though I went out of my way to find her. Every time I went by her cabin she was gone, and I never saw her in any classes or workshops, or at dinner. I got a glimpse of her once, swimming with her cabin-mates, laughing and wet and beautiful, but I was with some guys from my own cabin, on the way to shoot hoops in the gym.

It was three days until the end of the camp. Late at night. I was supposed to be in bed, but I couldn’t sleep. I had an unsettled feeling in my stomach, a restlessness that had no source or definition, just an anxiousness that I couldn’t seem to dispel. I snuck out of the cabin and went down to one of the docks.

It was a clear night, moonless and dark, lit only by a sky full of stars. The air held a touch of coolness, whispering over my skin. I hadn’t bothered to put on a shirt, wearing a pair of gym shorts and sports sandals as I stepped lightly on the creaking wood of the long dock.

I was so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I didn’t see or hear her until I was nearly on top of her.

Ever sat on the edge of the dock, feet dangling. I opened my mouth to speak, but then I saw that her shoulders were shaking. She was crying.

I didn’t know what to do, what to say. She’d come down here to be alone—I mean, that much was obvious, right? And asking her if she was okay seemed stupid. I hesitated, turned to leave. I didn’t know how to even begin comforting her, but I wanted to try. So, I sat down next to her, dangling my feet over the black, rippling water.

She wasn’t sobbing, just quietly crying. I put my hand on her shoulder and squeezed, a gentle touch that let her know I was there. A short hesitation, and then she turned into me and my arm went around her and held her. I felt wetness touch my shoulder, her tears on my skin. I held her, let her cry, and wondered if I was doing it right. If there was something I was supposed to be saying that would make it okay.

“I miss her, Caden.” Her voice was tiny, barely audible. “I miss my Mom. I—I miss home. I’m homesick. But most of all, I wish I could go home and see Mom again. Dad doesn’t talk about her. Eden doesn’t talk about her. I don’t talk about her. It’s like she died and now we pretend like she never was.”

“You can talk to me.” I hoped that didn’t sound too cliché.

“I don’t know what to say. She’s been dead a year and a half, and all I can really say is…I miss her. I miss how she made our family a family.” She sniffled and straightened away from my shoulder, although our bodies were still flush against each other, hip to hip. I left my arm around her shoulders, and she didn’t seem to mind it. “Now it’s just each of us by ourselves. Eden and I…we’re twins, did I tell you that? We don’t even really talk about her, or about missing her, or anything. And we’re twins, we almost share a brain sometimes. Like, legit, we can read each other’s thoughts sometimes.”

“Nothing like that has ever happened in my family. I don’t know how we’d handle it if it did. I know my dad probably wouldn’t talk about it. My mom might. I’m like Dad, I think, and I’d have a hard time talking about things. I already do. I’m sure you can tell. I never know what to say.” We were quiet for a while. But Ever needed someone to talk to. And I thought about last week, the two of us sitting by the lake, drawing—both of us knew how to speak with our hands and pencils. An idea came to me, and I said it without thinking. “What if we were pen pals?”

God, that sounded stupid.

“Pen pals?” At least, she didn’t laugh at me outright.

“I know that sounds dumb, or whatever. But it can be hard to talk on the phone. And we don’t really live close to each other, and…I just thought maybe if we wrote letters, we could talk about whatever we wanted, but on our own time.” She hadn’t said anything, and I was starting to feel intensely self-conscious. “I guess it’s dumb.”

“No, I…I like the idea. I think it’s awesome.” She turned and looked up at me. The starlight shone dim silver in her green eyes, and I felt like I could fall into her eyes if I stared long enough. “Like, we’d write actual paper letters? Every month?”

“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Or it could be more frequently, if we wanted to. Whenever, you know? Whenever we needed to say something.” I ran my thumbnail in the grooved grain of the faded wood.

“I really…I think that would be awesome.” She rested her head against my bicep.

We sat like that in the silence of a northern Michigan summer midnight, close and touching, but not embracing, not talking, lost in our own thoughts.

I heard voices behind us, turned to see two flashlight beams bobbing toward us. “We’ve been found,” I said.

Just before our respective cabin staffers found us, Ever clutched my hand in hers. “Promise me you’ll write?”

“I promise.” I squeezed her with my arm, an awkward hug. “Good night, Ever.”

“’Night, Caden.” She hesitated a beat, and then turned into me, makin it a full fledged hug, bodies pressed against each other.

Totally worth the trouble I got in.

~ ~ ~ ~

Pick-up that Saturday was chaotic, a thousand cars, parents and campers reuniting. I found Dad leaning against the door of his truck, arms crossed. I spotted him from a distance, held up a finger to signal “one minute,” then wove through the crowd, duffel bag on my shoulder, looking for black hair and green eyes and a body that had featured in more of my dreams than I cared to admit.

Ever was standing in the open door of a boxy silver Mercedes SUV, looking around almost frantically. She saw me and flew toward me, slamming into me and hugging me. I was so surprised that I didn’t react for a moment, and then I dropped my bag and my arms went around her shoulders and I was hugging her back, holding her, smelling the shampoo in her hair and the faint, indefinable scent that made a girl smell like a girl.

When we pulled apart, I handed her a folded slip of paper on which I’d printed my name and address as neatly as I could. The paper she handed me had a heart on it, my name written in a curving, looping script within the heart. Did that mean something? Was the fact that she put my name inside the heart significant? Or was that just something girls did? I wished I knew and I tried not to read too much into it.

“You better write me,” she said.

“I will. I promise.” I held onto the folded square of paper, not wanting to put it in my pocket in front of her. That would just feel rude, somehow.

“Good. And I promise I’ll write you back.”

“You better.” I heard her father say something to her sister Eden, and I shuffled back a few steps. “Good luck. You know, with…everything we talked about.”

“You too.” She gave me a half-wave, a stiff semi-circle of her arm. Her eyes were on me, and her lips were smiling, and it was all I could do to tear myself away, grab my duffel bag and trot back toward Dad and the truck. My head was spinning and my heart was doing strange sideways cartwheels.

Dad was waiting for me in the driver’s seat, the engine idling, staring off out his window. His expression was pensive, brooding, and dark. I made sure to wipe the goofy grin off my face as I tossed my bag into the bed of the truck and ran the aged black rubber bungee cord through the handle, slipping the hook securely under the lip of the bed rim. I had Ever’s note in my palm, and I slid my hand against my thigh to hide it.

“Got a number, huh, bud?” Dad’s voice was amused.

I glanced at him, stifling the urge to roll my eyes. “Sort of.”

“How do you ‘sort of’ get a number?”

“It’s not her phone number, it’s her address.”

“Her address?” Dad sounded incredulous. “You must have some serious game, Cade. Where does she live?”

Serious game? My dad was trying to be hip again, apparently. I lifted one shoulder in a shrug, not wanting to tell him about the pen pals idea, but knowing he’d pester me until I did. “I dunno where she lives, I haven’t looked at it yet. Somewhere in Bloomfield, I think.”

“Bloomfield, huh? The ritzy area. Her pops must be loaded.”

I shrugged again, my standby response to pretty much everything. “I guess. I think he works for Chrysler or something. An executive or vice president. Something like that.”

Dad huffed in sarcastic laughter. “‘Something like that.’ How informative. Did you learn anything definite about her?”

“Her name is Ever Eliot. She lives in Bloomfield. She’s into painting and sculpture. She has a twin sister named Eden.” I wasn’t going to mention the fact that her mom had died in a car accident. It seemed like it would be a breach of confidence to tell him. “She’s beautiful.”

“You like her?”

I shrugged yet again. “I guess.”

“You guess.” He shook his head in frustration and then turned up the radio as “Springsteen” by Eric Church came on, and we both tuned in to listen. When the song ended, he turned it down again. “So this Ever girl aside, how was Interlochen?”

“It was good.”

He waited a few beats, glancing at me expectantly. “Thousands of dollars and three weeks, and all I get out of you is “it was good’?”

Ugh. Adults always wanted more information from me than I ever knew how to give them. “What do you want, Dad, a day by day breakdown? I don’t know. I learned about all sorts of artistic bullshit. Angles, shading, perspective, composition. I tried my hand at oil painting and watercolor. Even tried clay sculpture, which I suck at. I took a class on drawing anatomy, which was pretty awesome. It was camp. I swam. Played basketball with some of the guys from my cabin.”

“And met a pretty girl.”

“And that. Yeah.”

“Sounds like a great time.” He grabbed my shoulder in his iron-hard fist and shook me, which was meant to be affectionate, but ended up feeling rough, like he was trying to be casual, or playful. “Think you’ll go back next year?”

I’d been thinking about that a lot the last few days. “Maybe? I don’t really know. I’m torn. I did have a good time, and I learned a lot, but…it was like a whole extra summer of school, just for art. Summers at the ranch with Gramps…it’s just…different. “

Dad nodded. “Well, think about it, I guess. You’ve got a year. I know Gramps would happy to have you back next summer, but do what you want for you.”

We kept quiet after that, listening to country and classic rock as the miles passed. The closer we got to home, the more pinched and worried Dad’s expression became. I opened my mouth several times to ask him what was wrong, but never actually spoke. He’d pass it off, brush it off, say it was nothing for me to worry about. But if he was still acting stressed or worried after three weeks, there was something going on that my parents weren’t telling me.

At home, I tried to ignore it, but as the summer days dwindled, bringing me closer to the start of ninth grade and my fifteenth birthday, I couldn’t help noticing the whispered conversations while I was watching TV, the increasingly frequent times they left together on mysterious “errands,” or the way Mom seemed to be withdrawing into herself. But when I walked into a room or started to ask Mom if she was okay, she pasted a smile on her face and changed the topic to some variation of whether I needed any more school supplies.

When I got home from my absolutely shitty first day of ninth grade, I sat at my desk in my room with the door closed, dug my American Literature notebook from my backpack, and sat down to write to Ever for the first time.

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jasinda Wilder is a Michigan native with a penchant for titillating tales about sexy men and strong women. When she’s not writing, she’s probably shopping, baking, or reading. 

Some of her favorite authors include Nora Roberts, JR Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Liliana Hart and Bella Andre. 

She loves to travel and some of her favorite vacations spots are Las Vegas, New York City and Toledo, Ohio. 

You can often find Jasinda drinking sweet red wine with frozen berries and eating a cupcake. 

Jasinda is represented by Kristin Nelson of the Nelson Literary Agency.