Spotlight: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally (Excerpt + Giveaway)

Spotlight: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally (Excerpt + Giveaway)Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
on July 5th 2016
Amazon, Goodreads

There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor's always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that's what is expected of a senator's daughter. But one impulsive decision-one lie to cover for her boyfriend-and Taylor's kicked out of private school. Everything she's worked so hard for is gone, and now she's starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor's escape from the pressures of school and family, but it's hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she's going through is her older brother's best friend, Ezra. Taylor's had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it's hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

I now understand culture shock: it’s me experiencing Hundred Oaks High for the first time.

A lot of kids go here. Five hundred? A thousand? There are so many I can’t tell. At St. Andrew’s, there were only forty kids in my entire class. We lived on a calm, sprawling, green campus. Walking down the halls of Hundred Oaks feels like last-­minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall.

Two guys wearing football jerseys are throwing a ball back and forth. It whizzes by my ear. A suspender-­clad male teacher is hanging a poster for the science fair, while a couple is making out against the wall next to the fire alarm. If they move another inch, they’ll set off the sprinklers. At St. Andrew’s, kissing in the hall was an über no-­no. We snuck under the staircase or went out into the woods. Ben and I did that all the time.

Thinking of him makes me stop moving. I shut my eyes. Dating Ben was stupid. Going into the woods with him was stupid. Thinking about what happened makes me so mad, I want to rip that newly hung science fair poster off the wall and tear it apart.

A boy shoves past me, slamming my arm with his backpack. That’s what I get for loitering in the middle of the hallway with my eyes closed. He looks me up and down. “You coming to Rutledge Falls this afternoon?”


“Paul Simmons challenged Nolan Chase to a fight. Rutledge Falls. Three o’clock. Don’t tell the cops.”

A fight? Where the hell am I? Westeros?

A girl bumps into my side. “Watch it!” Flashing me a dirty look, she disappears into a classroom with a group of friends, chattering away.

Seeing those girls together reminds me of my best friends, Steph and Madison. Right now, they’re probably gossiping before trig starts. I miss Steph’s cool British accent and Madison’s cheerful laugh.

I take a deep, rattled breath. And then another. I feel trapped, like the time I got locked in my grandpa’s garage and no one found me for an hour and I banged on the windows until my fists turned purple from bruises.

I can’t believe I had to leave my school. My home.

All because I made one stupid decision.

I check my schedule. My first class is calculus 1, the most advanced math course Hundred Oaks offers. Just a week ago, I was taking an advanced calculus quiz at the University of the South. St. Andrew’s is one of the best prep schools in the country, and they offer seniors the opportunity to take courses at the university, which is up the road. Even though I was still in high school, the professors treated me just like a college kid. I was only in the course for two weeks, but still. It was insanely difficult. The truth is, unlike everybody else in my family, I hate math. I have to work at it harder than anything else in my life.

But if I didn’t take college calc, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t get into an Ivy League school. I need to go to a top-tier school because that’s what people in my family do. My father attended Yale, and my sister Jenna is there now. According to Dad, my brother Oliver—­Jenna’s twin—­is a traitor for going to Princeton, but I think Dad respects him for having the balls to make his own decision.


When Dad called me into his home office last night, he barely looked at me as he pored over my new schedule. The silence was killing me.

“I don’t know how Yale will still consider me if I’m not taking all AP courses,” I said. “Hundred Oaks only offers AP chemistry.”

Dad sighed, took off his glasses, and set down my schedule. “I’m incredibly disappointed in you, Taylor.”

I looked him straight in the eyes. His quiet restraint worried me. I’d never seen him so upset.

But I was upset too. He rarely had time to call me when I was away at school, but he could spare a few minutes to comment on my one screwup? After how hard I’ve always worked?

Over the years, I’ve done hours of homework every night. I had a 4.2 GPA at St. Andrew’s. A 1520 SAT score. I was on track to be valedictorian. I was captain of the soccer team and on the debate team. I did everything I could to show Yale that I worked hard. That I am a unique individual. Because that’s what Yale wants.

But my one misstep has muddied my glowing record.

Dad ended our conversation with a death knell.

“Tee, I gave you all the tools you needed to succeed,” he said. “I’ve paid for your private school education since first grade, and you squandered it by getting kicked out.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, my face burning. “I’m going to keep working hard at Hundred Oaks though.”

“You’re damn right you will.”

My father had me so flustered, I wasn’t thinking straight when I said, “Maybe Yale will still take me because of who I am.”

“You mean because of who I am.” Dad rubbed his eyes. “I’ve always taught you kids the importance of integrity, and the minute you got into trouble, instead of owning it, you called me to bail you out. And now you’re doing it again. Using my name to try to get ahead.”

I hung my head. “I’m sorry, Dad.”

“I love you more than anything, but you have to take responsibility for what you did. You’ll have to figure college out on your own.”

“What does that mean?” I asked slowly.

“It means I’m not lifting a finger. I won’t be calling the alumni association or the school president to put in a good word for you.”

“But didn’t you do that for Jenna and Oliver?” I blurted.

He put his glasses back on. “You need to own up, Tee.”

So here I am, glancing around the unfamiliar halls of Hundred Oaks. The school is neat and orderly, but it doesn’t look completely clean, like no matter how hard you scrub, it still looks old. At least it’s not juvie.

I step into my math class, which is already filled with kids. I choose an empty seat at a wobbly wooden desk and stare out the window at the sunny, seventy-­degree September day. I bet at St. Andrew’s, my world politics teacher is telling my friends, “Gather your books. It’s a beautiful day out. Let’s have class in one of the gardens.”

I check out the problem set on the whiteboard. I could do this level of math years ago…

My former guidance counselor told me that colleges look for trends in our GPA and activities over four years of high school. So that means when colleges see my application, they will see:

I’m taking easier classes;

I’m no longer doing debate;

I’ve lost my soccer captainship this year; and

I was expelled.

I have never simply given up when calculus got a lot tougher or an opponent ran faster than me on the soccer field. So I refuse to believe my entire future is over because of one mistake.

I just need to figure out how to move forward.

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About Miranda Kenneally

Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes, and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband.


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Blog Tour – Review/Excerpt: Charged by Jay Crownover (giveaway)

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 From New York Times bestselling author Jay Crownover comes CHARGED, the latest in her sexy The Saints of Denver Series, releasing May 24th! Known for her strong heroines and alpha males, you won’t know what hit you as you read Avett and Quaid’s story. Keep reading for more about the Leagle Eagle and Avett and order your copy today.

Blog Tour – Review/Excerpt: Charged by Jay Crownover (giveaway)Charged by Jay Crownover
Series: Saints of Denver, #2
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks
on May 24th 2016
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Amazon, Goodreads

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes the second installment in the Saints of Denver series featuring a bad girl and a by the book attorney who could be her salvation...or her ruin.

Avett Walker and Quaid Jackson’s worlds have no reason to collide. Ever. Quaid is a high powered criminal attorney as slick as he is handsome. Avett is a pink-haired troublemaker with a bad attitude and a history of picking the wrong men.

When Avett lands in a sea of hot water because of one terrible mistake, the only person who can get her out of it is the insanely sexy lawyer. The last thing on earth she wants to do is rely on the no-nonsense attorney who thinks of her as nothing more than a nuisance. He literally has her fate in his hands. Yet there is something about him that makes her want to convince him to loosen his tie and have a little fun…with her.

Quaid never takes on clients like the impulsive young woman with a Technicolor dye job. She could stand to learn a hard lesson or two, but something about her guileless hazel eyes intrigues him. Still, he’s determined to keep their relationship strictly business. But doing so is becoming more impossible with each day he spends with her.
As they work side-by-side, they’ll have to figure out a way to get along and keep their hands off each other—because the chemistry between them is beyond charged.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

There is something about a Jay Crownover story that just makes me happy. She has a way about writing her couples that sucks me in and Avett and Quaid’s story was no different. Crownover managed to take people from two totally different life styles and backgrounds and make them perfect for each other.

Charged is Avett’s story. We originally met Avett in Jay’s Marked Men series and saw her again in Built (a favorite of mine) with Quaid, her love interest. Avett is a very very lost soul that always seems to get herself in trouble and makes the wrong decisions.  When she gets herself in real trouble and may face jail time Quaid is hired to help her. Soon the two of them find themselves in a whirlwind romance and see that maybe your kindred spirit is the complete opposite of what you thought and expected.

I guess what i enjoyed the most about Charged is Avett and Quaid. Both of them are lost souls but not in the way you would expect.  Avett has never figured out who she is and Quaid has lost the idea of who he wanted to be. They are on separate paths of self destruction in different ways and when those paths merge they are explosive.  There was something about these two characters that just worked for me. My heart went out to both of them but I just knew they could figure it out.

In the end I really liked Charged. Was it as good as Built was? No. But it was nice to connect with the characters I loved from the series and the companion series. And it was nice t get to know Avett and her family a little more. I look forward to Church’s and Wheeler’s books, which I hope we get soon. All in all a good book.

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Jay Crownover - author picAbout Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denverseries. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.


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I tapped the edge of my thumb on the black-and-white mug shot photo and couldn’t stop the grin from tugging at my mouth.

She tried to fire me.

She was five-foot-nothing, a lifetime younger than me, had multicolored hair that had seen better days, wild eyes that couldn’t decide if they wanted to be green, gold, or brown, while dressed in convict orange and obviously scared out of her ever loving mind, yet she still tried to fire me. If it had been any of my other clients—the cop accused of sexual battery, the frat boy accused of manslaughter over a bet on a football game gone wrong, the middle school teacher accused of pedophilia and having an inappropriate relationship with several of her students, or the pro football player accused of domestic abuse—I would have tipped my proverbial hat, wished them luck while I cut my losses, and walked away without a backward glance. People always committed crimes. People always needed a good defense, so it wasn’t like I was hurting for clients, but there was something about the girl. Something about the defiant tilt of her chin and the raw desperation in her tone when she begged me not to call her father.

I don’t want your help. I don’t want anything from you.” She sounded like she meant it when she said it, but I figured she was too young and too scared to know exactly what she wanted or needed. Regardless, it was still refreshing to hear.

Everyone always wanted something from me and my help was usually the least of it.

I tapped the picture again, wondering why I found it so easy to believe that she really hadn’t been a part of the boyfriend’s plan to rob the bar. She wasn’t anyone’s idea of a model citizen and she had the shady track record to prove it. She was too young, and frankly too adorable, to have a file this thick. From what I could see, she had a set of parents always willing to ride to the rescue when she got herself into trouble. She looked like some kind of colorful woodland fairy from a Disney movie with her odd hair and delicate features. None of it added up, but the sincerity in her tone when she said she would never have gone with the boyfriend if she knew his intent and the fear in her eyes when I mentioned her father seemed genuine.

I learned long ago to treat everyone like they were guilty of whatever it was I was paid to defend them against. I didn’t want to know the truth. I didn’t want to know the circumstances. I wanted my clients to listen to me and let me do my job as I tried to convince the rest of the world they were innocent, regardless if they were or not. But this girl with her faded, rose colored hair and turbulent eyes oozed innocence through the cracks of a very guilty façade.

Because I was intrigued and actually believed the girl might be innocent, I wasn’t going to let her fire me. I was going to call her father and hope that he would help me keep her out of the slammer while I figured out how to plea bargain her charges down or get them dismissed altogether. Again, because a cop was involved in the robbery and because the boyfriend, junkie or not, was offering up a pretty plausible explanation for Avett’s involvement in the crime, nothing was a slam dunk, yet. I was going to help her whether she wanted me to or not.


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Blog Tour: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn (Review, Excerpt + Giveaway)

Blog Tour: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn (Review, Excerpt + Giveaway)Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
on January 5th 2016
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon, Goodreads

In the vein of Easy A, an honest and refreshing young adult novel about sex, love, and high school.

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time-the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy - so far. Her mother isn't home nearly enough to know about Mercedes' extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won't even say the word "sex" until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn't bank on Angela's boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn - or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes' perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her own reputation -and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, Firsts is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When I first heard about Firsts in early June 2015 I thought it sounded like a book that could have potential and something that would interest me. What I didn’t expect was a smart book about teens, sex, love and friendship and what they all mean separately and as a whole. And let me tell you, this first time author nailed it.

Firsts is a story about Mercedes, a high school senior that is going places. She is smart and funny and sarcastic. But Mercedes as a secret; she has an open door policy for the virgins of Milton High. She allows them to have their first time with her so their girlfriends can have the first time Mercedes never got to have. To her her system is fool proof…until it isn’t. All of a sudden Mercedes’ world that she so carefully crafted started to crumble and people she didn’t realize were so important to her have the potential to get hurt in the cross fire.

It’s hard to really put into words what was so great about this book. There was a lot happening in Mercy’s life between her absent parents, her past, her secret with the virgins, her self-loathing and her trying to keep people that loved her at an arm’s length. To the naked eye Mercy seemed like someone that had it all together. Smart, funny, and helpful. But she didn’t. Not really. She was basically lost. So completely lost and messed up by the past that she used sex to make herself feel like she was in charge of her life. But she never was. She was haunted by things that had happened to her and terrified to be vulnerable to people that were available. Honestly I just wanted to hug her and tell her she didn’t have to do it that way.

The other thing that I loved about this book is that Mercedes had AMAZING people around her (her parents aside). Zach, Angela and her new friend Faye couldn’t have been any different from each other. Zach was the sweet boy that liked Mercy for Mercy, Angela the religious girl that saw the good in people, and Faye the blunt in your face kind that made Mercy look in the mirror a time or two. Each of these people were needed in Mercy’s life in a way she never could have imagined until it is possible she could lose one or all of them. They were the voice in her head even if she didn’t even know it.

I could go on and on and tell you why you should read this story and everything it does in terms of discussing sex and how sexual activity and cheating is treated differently in boys and girls. I could tell you about all the things that happen in this book. But instead I’m just going to leave it here and just tell you to read it. It isn’t a perfect story. There are a couple of things I wish were dealt with in the end, but I think it is an important story and one that should be read.

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Tonight, I’m doing Evan Brown’s girlfriend a favor. An awkward, sweaty, fumbling favor. Melanie, or whatever her name is, owes me big time.

Except she’ll never know it.


“You’re not staying over,” I say, fastening the robe around my waist. “You’ll get there. Girls care less about that than you think. Especially in the beginning. You can work up to it together.”

He grins. He looks different, more handsome somehow. In the softer light, his pimples aren’t as evident and his jawline seems more pronounced. One day, I think Evan Brown could even be a heartbreaker.

But that day isn’t today.

I glance at the clock on my nightstand. Eleven p.m. on a Tues- day. “It’s a school night, Evan. Time for you to go. Your mother will wonder where you are.” Or I assume she would. Most mothers do. Not mine, of course.

His grin turns into a frown. “Do I, you know, owe you some- thing? I don’t know how this works . . .” His voice trails off.

“You don’t owe me anything. Just be good to her, okay? Re- member everything we talked about.”

I know he will. He even took notes. Open her car door for her. Bring her flowers, not something generic like roses but her actual favorite flowers. Have dinner reservations in advance, not necessarily somewhere fancy but somewhere meaningful, like where you had your first kiss or where you realized you loved her. Kiss her, not just on her lips but in unexpected places. On the nape of her neck. On her forehead. On her wrist. Push her hair behind her ears gently. Take a picture. She’ll want to remember the night.

I swallow against a lump that has risen up suddenly in my throat. It’s not that Evan is different—he’s a nice guy, a kid who loves his girlfriend and wants to please her. Maybe I’m the one who’s different. Maybe this speech is starting to feel too familiar. I told myself five favors for five deserving virgins. Five was the line I drew in the sand, and I trampled over it like it wasn’t even there. Evan is the tenth, and ten is a line I can’t just trample past.

But I’m certainly not going to get into this with Evan, so I put on a fake smile. I gesture around the room at the chaise lounge and walk-in closet and floor-to-ceiling shoe rack. “Besides, I really don’t need your money. Spend it on Melody.”

He pulls his boxers and pants back on. His movements are more measured, not the bumbling, terrified movements of the Evan Brown who entered my bedroom an hour ago. Even his voice seems deeper, like he came here a boy and is leaving as a man. I suppose that’s not far from the truth. I allow myself a little smile, a real one this time. It’s easy to reaffirm what I do. What happened to Evan in my bedroom will change him, make him into a more consider- ate lover, even a better boyfriend. Moments like these are what made that line in the sand so easy to obliterate.

Moments like these, I could see an eleventh, even though I promised myself that’s not going to happen. I’m starting the second half of senior year with all of my good karma already under my belt.

“I don’t know where you came from, but you saved my life, Mercy. I mean, Mercedes. I don’t know what I would’ve done with- out you.”

“You would’ve ripped five condoms by accident, and you might’ve drowned the girl in saliva. But now, you’re going to nail it. Literally.”

He tugs his shirt over his head. “When Gus told me how you helped him, I didn’t believe it. But he was right—you’re an angel.” He pauses. “But can I ask you—”

I cut him off midsentence. “No, you can’t. Don’t spoil it.” “But you didn’t even let me finish,” he protests.

“Oh, I let you finish,” I say. “The one thing you can do for me is not ask me any questions.”

He nods. “Fair enough.” “Goodnight, Evan,” I say.

“Goodnight, Mercy. Uh, Mercedes.” He gets to my bedroom door and pauses with his hand on the doorknob.

“This won’t be awkward at school tomorrow, will it?” he says, looking back at me.

“Of course not,” I say, folding my arms over my chest. “It’s not going to be awkward at all, because what happened in this room becomes just a figment of your imagination the second you walk out that door.”

He gives me a tight-lipped smile and pulls the door shut after him. I can see his shoes underneath, can tell he’s lingering there, wondering if he said too much or not enough, not entirely convinced that his secret is safe with me.

But he has nothing to worry about. His secret, like those of nine of his fellow seniors, is safe with me. At Milton High, I’m my own statistic. People fail to see the great equalizer, the one thing the band geeks, the drama nerds, the jocks, and the preppies all have in common.

Me—Mercedes Ayres.

The girl who took their virginity.

About Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn went to school for journalism and later worked as a model, a job that took her overseas to Tokyo,

Athens, and Paris. She lives in London, Ontario, with her husband and her Chihuahua.

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Blog Tour: Excerpt – Poet Anderson…Of Nightmares by Tom DeLonge and Suzanne Young (giveaway)


Blog Tour: Excerpt – Poet Anderson…Of Nightmares by  Tom DeLonge and Suzanne Young (giveaway)Poet Anderson ...Of Nightmares by Tom DeLonge, Suzanne Young
Published by To the Stars
on October 6th 2015
Amazon, Goodreads

From the critically acclaimed transmedia project Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker, comes one of the most anticipated collaborations in YA literature this year: a thrilling, edge of your seat story written by award-winning musician, producer and director Tom DeLonge and New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young.

Poet Anderson...Of Nightmares follows the epic journey of two orphan brothers, Jonas and Alan, who are Lucid Dreamers. After a tragic car accident lands Alan in a coma, Jonas sets out into the Dream World in an attempt to find his brother and wake him up. What he discovers instead is an entire shared consciousness where fear comes to life as a snarling beast called a Night Terror, and a creature named REM is bent on destruction and misery, devouring the souls of the strongest dreamers to get closer to the Waking World. With the help of a Dream Walker—a guardian of the dreamscape, Jonas must face his fears, save his brother, and become who he was always meant to be: Poet Anderson.

from Chapter 11


by Tom DeLonge and Suzanne Young

Samantha laughed, watching him for a moment before dropping her shopping bags on the pavement. She stepped closer to Poet and reached out to take his tie, studying it as she let the fabric run through her fingers all the way to the very tip.

“I can only imagine,” she said, lifting her eyes to his. She was so close now, but Poet didn’t think he should touch her. Didn’t want to break the spell.

But he was reminded of Jarabec’s warning that the streets of Genesis weren’t entirely safe. There was a reason he came to Sam, he knew. He was here to protect her.

“We should go somewhere,” Poet told her, his voice low. “I can take us.”

Sam lifted her eyebrows as if she didn’t believe him.

“Close your eyes and think of a place,” he said. When Sam closed her eyes, Poet focused on an empty wall of a building behind her. He concentrated, tuning in to the heat of Samantha’s body, the sound of her breathing, the hum of her soul.

A sense of doubt crept over him. He was afraid he wouldn’t be able to tunnel without the fear of a monster or soldiers chasing him, but Jarabec had said that poet’s guided dreamers to safety. He couldn’t let anything happen to Sa- mantha. He’d do better than he had for Alan.

Concern and grief poured over Poet. There was a zap of electricity and the burn, his eyes going white with power. The air began to swirl, wind kicking up as a tunnel formed. Poet looked down at Sam, her face calm as she thought of a place. He smiled and put his palms on her upper arms, feeling her attach to another dream. And then he sent them both through the tunnel.

Samantha gasped, stepping out of Poet’s hands as she looked around, confused at the new surroundings. The tunnel sealed itself and Poet felt his body relax as the energy faded, his eyes returning to dark brown. He was getting good at tunneling, and his pride swelled.

Poet looked around the dream, and then burst out laughing. He and Sam were standing before a set of iron gates, a child’s carousel with tinkering music spinning slowly behind it. The crystal lights danced against the white and pink horses wearing red ceramic bows. Mirrors in the center reflected it all out again. It was pretty—if you were into haunted doll houses.

“This,” Poet asked, “was what you thought of?” He didn’t want to admit he’d been hoping for something a little cozier…like a bed.

Samantha grinned, scanning the place. “Okay,” she allowed. “Maybe not the best choice.” She took a step toward the gate, laying her hand on the iron fence as she looked over the scene. “God,” she said. “I haven’t been here in years.”

“Your parents willingly took you to a place like this?” Poet teased.

“Be quiet,” she replied. “My mother said my taste was ornate for a seven-year-old.” Samantha gripped the railing, leaning forward dreamily. “After my parents divorced,” she continued, “my father would still take me here sometimes. I can’t remember where it is. In fact, Poet Anderson,” she looked over her shoulder at him, “I forgot all about it until I met you.”

I was supposed to meet her, he thought suddenly. “You were lost,” Poet said, mostly to himself. He knew then that Samantha must have wandered into the Dream World, her existence there drawing him to her. And yet, even now, even here where she was safe, Poet’s attraction to her wasn’t the least bit lessened.

Samantha walked over to stop in front of him, gazing up. “How did you bring us here?” she asked. “Should I be scared?”

“Asks the girl who can make a creepy carnival,” Poet replied making her laugh. “Ax-wielding clowns aren’t going to pop out and chase me, are they? You’re sick, you know.”

Sam shook her head, her expression serious. “No way. Killer clowns are third date material.”

Poet adored every word she spoke. “We should just skip to going steady, then,” he said. “I fucking hate clowns.”

Samantha stared up at him, the lights from the carousel reflected and glittering in her eyes. “I recognize you,” she said, guilt crossing her features. “I know you’re the guy from my English class.”

Poet stiffened, feeling exposed. Embarrassed, even. He wanted her to think he was more. “Yeah,” he said, pressing his lips into a self-conscious smile. “That’s me.”

Sam pushed his shoulder playfully. “You jerk,” she said. “First you borrow my pen and then you chased me down on the street to flirt with me. Next day at school, you acted like I was crazy. What’s your deal?”

Poet winced. “It’s not you,” he said. “I can’t remember my dreams when I wake up. I haven’t been able to since my parents died.”

“Your parents? Oh, my God, Poet.” Sam put her hand on his forearm. “I’m so sorry.”

He looked down, not letting himself focus on the grief. “It was a while ago,” Poet said, quietly. “But now I’m trying to remember my dreams again. I have to.” His worry for Alan spiked again, and Poet closed his eyes.

“Poet,” Sam said, sounding alarmed. “Your hands.”

Poet looked down, surprised to find electricity zapping between his fingers. It didn’t hurt; it was a tingle, really. A hint of power, power he wanted to share.

He held out his hand and Sam looked between his face and the electricity. Poet nodded, and Sam slid her palm against his, her breath catching at the initial shock. She squeezed her fingers between his, and closed her eyes as the energy pulsed between them.

Poet watched her. He could feel her heartbeat, and see the rise and fall of her chest. She was so beautiful. “I want to kiss you,” he murmured.

Sam looked at him, the slight pink of nervousness rising on her cheeks. “That sounds like it could be fun,” she said.

Poet moved toward her, the anticipation nearly strangling him. His head was spinning with desire, possibilities. He didn’t think he’d ever wanted a girl so much as this.

Sam cursed suddenly and stepped out of his reach. Poet stumbled forward, his eyes widening. For a moment, the world around him shimmered, fading as if he was surrounded by ghosts, until it snapped back into focus.

“What’s wrong?” he asked Sam when he saw the stricken expression on her face. “I’m sorry. Did I—”

“No,” she said, reaching to take his hands. “It’s not you. You’re great. You’re…perfect.” She motioned behind him, and Poet turned to see the carousel flickering out until it was gone altogether. Erased. Sam was waking up.

Samantha stepped into Poet, wrapping her arms around his neck as she put her mouth next to his ear. “Remember me when you wake up,” she whispered, and kissed his cheek. Poet closed his eyes, but realized he couldn’t feel her lips on his skin.

When he looked again, Sam was gone.

About Suzanne Young

Suzanne Young is the New York Times bestselling author of The Program, The Treatment, and several other novels. She currently lives in Tempe, Arizona where she teaches high school English and obsesses about books.

About Tom DeLonge

Award-winning American musician, producer and director, best known as the lead vocalist and songwriter for the platinum-selling bands Blink-182 and Angels & Airwaves. Under his media production company To The Stars..., Tom has created transmedia entertainment properties that span music, film, comics and books. Poet Anderson ...Of Nightmares will also coincide with an original soundtrack recorded by the band that you can listen to while you read.



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