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The following is part 5 an extended sneak peek of:
The Keatyn Chronicles: Book 4
by Jillian Dodd
Boys are confusing.
After dance practice, Peyton yells, “Hey, Keatyn, come here.”
I walk over to her and she lowers her voice. “How are you doing? Like, really? You seemed a little off today. Like your timing and your kicks. That’s not like you.”
I sigh. “I’ve just got a lot on my mind.” How much more can I possibly have piled on me in one day? Let’s see: Crazy stalker is doing a nationwide search for me. I have a hot—no, a ridiculously hot—man here to guard my body and teach underaged girls about their sexual health. Maggie thinks I’m letting Dawson off too easy and that I’m not really in love with him. And Aiden, who I thought had friend-zoned me asked me on a date. Well, possibly a date.
“I saw Dawson changed his relationship status and was walking you to class today. Are you getting back together?”
I sigh again. “I don’t know what to do. I didn’t expect this to be so complicated. And last night, we, um, sorta maybe did some stuff that made him think things were on the right track.”
“You had sex?”
“I’m not sure I should talk to you about this. Whitney is your best friend.”
She rolls her eyes. “Whitney says she told you that she was sorry. Did she?”
“Yes, surprisingly, she did.”
“I think both her and Dawson just needed some closure. Dawson told her that he loves you. Which was so awesome.”
I ignore her Whitney slam. “The whole thing is just a mess. I can’t get over the fact that he did it, but at the same time, I know he needed to. Can I ask you a question about them?”
“This is dumb, really. But your stupid brother said something to me earlier.” I fidget with my locket then say, “Did Dawson woo Whitney?”
“Yeah, like cute little gifts or notes or candy? Did he score points for her or make her dance with him? Did he hang lights on his ceiling? Give her four-leafed clovers? Write on a football for her?”
She looks very confused by all this. “Uh, no. She invited him to the movies with a group of us one night, sat next to him, made out with him, and they were together ever since. But Dawson was a good boyfriend, always thoughtful and sweet. Although . . .” She hesitates for a second. “You already know she wanted his brother and not him. She started hanging out with him hoping to make Cam jealous, but then it didn’t work. It’s a very unromantic story.” She laughs out loud. “But all that stuff you just said. Dawson didn’t do that. My brother did, right?”
“Yeah. He did. And I don’t know how I feel about him. Sometimes he acts like he’s in love with me, and sometimes he acts like he hates me. But then he tells me my lips are his bliss, gets my phone out of jail, and puts bliss candy on my bed.”
“And how is Dawson wooing you?”
“That’s just it. He’s not. He’s sweet. We have amazing sex. Like, it’s amazing. And that’s why it’s now complicated. I can’t resist him, even though I’m still mad at him. I am complicating it. I swore I wouldn’t with him until I got things straight in my mind, but then he started kissing me. And now I’m supposed to go on a sorta date with Aiden. I’m babbling, I’m sorry, I’m just so unbelievably confused.”
“It’s okay. Boys are confusing. Tell me all the stuff my brother did.”
So I tell her. Spill my guts, going all the way back to the start of the school year. About the lunch, the four-leafed clover, the dances, the toast, Keats, B, how he was mad at me, tutoring, how I feel when he kisses me, how I feel when he doesn’t kiss me, all of it.”
“Wow. Why aren’t you with him?”
“Because it’s even more complicated. When I kicked the soccer ball at his head, I totally fell in love with him. When we were on the Ferris wheel and he kissed me, I thought I’d died and gone to hottie heaven, and when he told me he was going to ask me to marry him someday at the top of the Eiffel Tower at sunset, it was like too amazing to believe. But I knew about his player reputation. I thought maybe he said that just to get in a girl’s pants.”
“Top of the Eiffel Tower, sunset?” She visibly melts and clasps her hands together. “Oh, Keatyn. That’s so romantic! I want that.”
“Well, obviously, it hasn’t worked out so well, so watch what you wish for. Aiden gets mad at me a lot. Gets mad and walks away. Dawson never gets mad at me.”
“My mom says that love isn’t always easy.” She grins at me. “You’re in love with my brother.”
“No. No, I am not. I can’t be.”
“I’m pretty sure I’m love cursed.”
“I think I am too. But we have to keep trying until we get it right.” She hugs me and says, “So where is he taking you for dinner?”
“He said some French place. He said it’s not really a date. That it was tutoring with food. Then he said it was a date and that we’d celebrate the fact that he got an A on a quiz. But then he said it wasn’t a date because it’s complicated with Dawson. But then he told me to uncomplicate it. Which is part of the problem. Clearly, the boy has no idea what he wants. So I don’t know what it is. Just a dinner, I guess.”
She grins at me. The same stupid grin that her brother gets when he thinks he knows something that I don’t. “The French restaurant is very nice. It’s definitely a date.”
I roll my eyes at her. “Great. Is that where he takes all his girls to woo them?”
She grabs my shoulders and looks me straight in the eyes. “Keatyn, my brother has never had to woo anyone. You saw him at The Cave the other night. They flock to him. Practically line up for him. I happen to know that he’s only been to that restaurant twice. Both times with our parents.” She looks me over. “You’re all sweaty. You need to go get ready. What are you going to wear?”
“I don’t know.”
She grabs me by the elbow. “Come on. I’m going to help you pick out something perfect.”
I’ve showered, shaved my legs, deep conditioned my hair and am now curling it into the sexy super model curls I wore the night we danced under the twinkle lights.When he told me I looked gorgeous.
Peyton is sitting on my bed flipping through a magazine when my phone buzzes.
“Oh shit,” she says, looking at my phone. “It’s Dawson. He wants you to meet him for dinner. What are you going to say?”
“The truth,” I reply, walking over to grab my phone. “We’ve always been brutally honest with each other.”
Me: I can’t. I’m going out for dinner.Dawson: With who?Me: Aiden. We’re combining tutoring with some French food tonight. Dawson: That sounds like a date.Me: It’s tutoring with food. A sort of tutoring field trip. And remember, I’m single because you chose Whitney over me. So I can go on dates. You can too if you want. Dawson: I only want to date you.Me: Someone asked me today what you’re doing to try and woo me back. To make me forgive you. Make me fall in love with you again. Do you think you’re wooing me? Dawson: I’m pretty sure I did that last night.Me: Sex is not wooing.Dawson: Oh :(Me: Yeah. Please think about whether I’m really even what you want. I know the sex is good, and we have a nice friendship. I just don’t know if you like me enough to woo me. Cuz I’m not sure you do.Dawson: So you’re gonna date both me and Aiden?Me: I’m not sure that Aiden wants to date me, but I am going to dinner with him. Dawson: I hate you right now.Me: And I love your honesty. If it’s any consolation, I have hated you quite a bit recently too. But, still, I loved you. And it wasn’t enough.Dawson: :(
“He says he hates me,” I tell Peyton.
“He’ll get over it. You have to do what’s best for you. And even though I like Dawson, what he did sucked.”
“Yeah, it did. My mom told me that you have to learn to love yourself before you can love someone else. Do you think that you love yourself?”
She picks up one of my pillows and hugs it. “I think that’s good advice, but it’s hard to love yourself. Especially if you’re like me and have screwed up more times than not.”
“Isn’t that part of loving yourself? Forgiving yourself too?”
She nods. “Yeah, probably. I’m having a hard time with that though. My mom has cancer.”
“I know. Aiden told me. It’s in remission, right?”
“Yeah, but when we found out, my parents made some big changes in our lives. I was a little bitch about it. We had to make bucket lists. I was mad. Mad she had cancer. Mad they moved me away from my friends, so I put that I wanted to go to boarding school. So, of course, they sent me.” She shakes her head. “Serves me right. And I haven’t really liked myself much since.”
I sit on the bed next to her. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. That was a lot to handle. And I know your parents did what they thought best, but moving you away from your friends, your support system, would have been awful. I can see why you acted like a little bitch.” I smile at her. “Aiden told me about that time. About how he ended up here. He loves it though. Do you?”
“I just try to stay busy enough not to think about it. Like all my mistakes.”
“My mom says that our pasts, including our mistakes, are what make us who we are. My dad died when I was eight.”
Her eyes get big and she reaches out and touches my forearm. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay. The reason I’m telling you that it because my mom loved my dad, but now she’s with someone else. Someone she met and just knew. She says that sometimes life makes you wait for true love until you’re ready for it. Like all of the stupid mistakes you’re making now, when the right guy comes along, you’ll maybe have them all out of your system. If that makes sense. At least I hope that’s what it means.”
She leans back and looks up at my ceiling. Like she’s saying a prayer that I’m right or making a wish.
“Hey, there are glow-in-the-dark stars all over your ceiling. Did you and Katie do all that?”
I laugh. “Actually, your brother put them there.”
“Oh, wow. He is totally wooing you. You should really give the boy a chance. Now, what are you going to wear?”
I walk in my closet and try to stay calm. But it’s hard.
Because. I. Am. Nervous.
Crazy, butterflies-in-my-stomach, strung-out, starting-to-sweat nervous.
Nervous that since the second he asked me on a sort-of date to a French restaurant my mind has been going to all those dreamy places. I’ve been writing scripts in my head about how he’ll take me to dinner and tell me I’m the one. That he made a wish on the moon. That it was fate that brought us together. That he wants to marry me. That he wants to grow old with me.
That he wants to kiss me with his tongue.
French restaurants and French kisses should be paired like a lamb chop and a vintage Bordeaux.
They. Belong. Together.
And I could so belong to Aiden.
I should call Maggie. She knows Aiden’s past. Has anyone ever successfully moved out of the friend zone with him?
I can’t do that. I don’t want to know.
I don’t want to be like any other stupid girl.
I can’t even see my clothes. They have all just become a blurry-colored background. Like a sunset.
Oh. My. God.
Everything. Even my own closet is plotting against me.
When has my closet ever looked like a sunset? Never. Never, ever. Ever.
Always. Only. Ever. For you.
“Can’t you find anything to wear?” Peyton says, pulling me out of my maniacal thoughts.
I look at my closet again. Take a whiff of it.
It sort of smells like Aiden.
He was in my room putting up the stars. That’s why I can’t think. There must have been love potion still lingering in the air that got trapped in my closet.
I walk out into my room, go to my window, push it open, and take a deep breath of fresh, cleansing air. “I think I almost have it figured out,” I lie.
“You aren’t usually so indecisive. Here, I’ll choose one.” She wanders into my closet, flips through the rack, and pulls out a pale pink Marchesa organza ruffled dress with a black bow at the waist. “This is what you should wear. It even looks Parisian.”
Oh, I can’t wear that dress. That’s the dress I’d been saving in my closet at home for the perfect occasion. That’s the dress that gives me hope.
I brought it here with a new dream. A new script. It’s the dress I’ll wear when I get my life back. I’ll go to Paris. Stay at the Four Seasons. Shop all the designer boutiques. Stop for tea and macaroons at Ladureee. Then as I walk into Cartier, an amazingly hot guy—who, unbeknownst to me, is the prince of a small country—holds the door open for me. He whispers how beautiful I am in a sexy accent, and I blush in the exact same shade as the dress. He helps me pick out a fabulous piece of jewelry, then insists on buying it for me. Telling me the gorgeous gem pales to my beauty.
But I know that probably won’t happen. And if I’m supposed to be loving me, I shouldn’t make it wait for a trip to Paris.
I should wear it now while I can.
Mind my flashes to me wearing this dress in my coffin, instead. After Vincent finds me. Rubs his tattoo against me. Makes me film a movie with him.
I shudder. “You’re right, Peyton. That dress is perfect.”
“You’re acting strange,” she says, scrutinizing my face. Then her face breaks out into a grin. “You’re nervous! Aren’t you? You’re nervous about having dinner with my brother because you like him. No, wait. You told me yourself. You’re in love with him.”
I shake my head. “No. No. I am not in love with him. At first, I thought we had the whole crazy love-at-first-sight moment. But I was wrong. I’m not. We’re not. It wasn’t.”
“You sound like you’re trying to convince yourself.”
“I just got dumped by Dawson. Slept with him. Now it’s complicated and I’m going to dinner with your brother. Please, don’t stress me out anymore by throwing love into a simple tutoring exercise.”
She smirks. “Whatever you say. How about shoes?”
I pull a pair of black Jimmy Choo high-heeled sandals that have black ostrich feathers gracing the front of them. “These, for sure,” I say, my confidence coming back. I grab a pair of long black feather earrings, a pearled Alexander McQueen clutch, and a rose quartz flower ring for my accessories.
“Love the feather earrings,” Peyton says. “Très chic.”
My phone buzzes.
“It’s my brother,” she says. “He’s just pulling up and says he’ll meet you in the front hall.”
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