Excerpt from Rumors

Hey everyone! Thought I’d share an excerpt from Rumors that introduces you to Allie Collins, the main character in Lingering Echoes and the prequel, Rumors. This chapter takes you back to Allie’s senior year when she’s struggling to figure out who she still is and how she has changed since her cousin drowned. Included in this struggle is dealing with an attractive (if not equally obnoxious) basketball player named Shane and all of his friends. I love the changing dynamic between Allie and Shane as the novel progresses. Take a peek at the beginning of their relationship!

Chapter Eight

(Partial Excerpt from Rumors)

Shane and I drove through a newly developed neighborhood, evident by the freshly painted condos lined up in cookie-cutter fashion. Light peeked through some of the windows, but the further we went, there seemed to be more uninhabited condos.

“Keep going?” Shane asked, speaking into his cell phone to Austin. The neighborhood darkened, quiet and void of people. However, lampposts in the distance provided enough light to see a number of condos currently under construction. “Yeah, I see your car now.” Shane hung up the phone. We pulled alongside Austin’s car, which was parked inconspicuously behind a high retaining wall.

“What are we doing here?” I asked, peeking out the window. Then I saw the shadowed outlines of our friends. They were sitting on the scaffolding of an unfinished condo across from us.

Shane grabbed my hand and pulled me after him. Reaching the bottom of the scaffolding, we received a chorus of greetings.

“Allie!” Tara stood up and leaned over the metal railing. “Where’ve you guys been?” She received an arm nudge from Ben.

“Yo, quiet down,” he said. “We don’t need anyone calling the cops on us.”

“Yeah, we had enough of that already,” Shane said, nudging my arm. I smiled, though I checked out my surroundings, wondering why we’d need to worry about cops again.  I followed Shane up the ladder, joining our friends on the second floor of the scaffolding. Landon threw Shane a can of beer, and then held one towards me in question. Oh. Now I understood.

“No, I’m good.” I shoved my hands in my coat pocket, watching Shane pop the can open without hesitation. He took a swig.

“Come on,” he said, motioning for me to sit along the edge. I sat down beside him with Tara on my right. She leaned over and linked arms with me.

“Thanks for coming. How long do you think we can get away with ‘studying at each other’s house’ before our moms figure it out?”

“Mm… I’m pretty sure my mom knows we’re just hanging out and not doing anything productive.” While I hadn’t shared details with Mom, she still seemed pretty excited that I had a social life again. Tonight, she eyed me a moment longer than necessary when I said I was going over to Tara’s to study, even though that wasn’t out of the norm for us. Tara and I both cared about our grades. Mom didn’t question me though. Still, even having her silent consent, I felt a little guilty. She would not approve if she knew drinking was involved. Tara’s eyes followed mine.

“It’ll be fine,” she whispered.

With boys dominating our little group, Tara and I found ourselves listening to them tell war stories about weekend pranks they had pulled throughout their high school careers. We shared laughs, picturing the dumb stunts they’d pulled, including Shane partially falling through the roof of an old shack. There had been no reason to climb onto the decrepit roof they’d discovered while camping one weekend. Their way of thinking rolled more along the lines of, “Why not?” By the end of the hour, I found myself relaxing and having a good time, my feet dangling over the edge of the platform.

Shane put one arm around my shoulders, pulling me closer. “You warm enough?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I tried to hide my shivers. Shane drew me towards him, close enough for his body heat to seep into mine.

“I’m going up,” Landon announced, carrying another can of beer to the far side of the scaffolding. Teetering just slightly, he steadied himself as he prepared to climb the rungs. “You guys coming?”

“Hey, be careful!” I said, looking to Shane for support. Landon rolled his eyes, while Shane only chuckled.

“Don’t worry about him,” Shane said to me. “He’s just buzzed.” He studied my face for a moment. I didn’t return his smile, keeping my eyes on Landon instead. Soon, his body disappeared onto the next floor. I heard his footsteps above us.

“Heeyyy, check it out!” Landon’s voice called. It sounded like he was inside the house. One by one, the rest of the group climbed the scaffolding to join him. I trailed after them, reaching the top scaffolding and then slipping through a window onto the third story of the condo. We found Landon inside what appeared to be the master bedroom. Just beyond the main room was an open wall that led onto a spacious balcony.

“How tight would that be to have hot tub out here right now?” Austin said.

“Not a bad view, either.” Tara stood at the edge of the balcony, peering out at the dim neighborhood. Just down the road, headlights warned of an approaching vehicle.

“Get down!” Ben said. We ducked and slipped back into the house, hiding within the unfinished walls.

I peeked out the window. “It’s gone, I think.”

“I don’t like how that car was creepin’,” Ben said. “Someone might have spotted us earlier. Come on, grab your beer.” Everyone else headed towards the window to exit onto the scaffolding the way we entered.

Intrigued by the interior, I said, “I just want to explore the rooms real quick. I’ll take the stairs and see you out front.”

Shane grabbed my hand. “I better come with you in case you fall or something.” He took another sip of beer. My brows knitted together and I removed the can from his hand, placing it on a windowsill.

“Hey—”

I interrupted his protest. “If anyone’s going to fall, it certainly won’t be me.” Shane let out a humored sound, but followed me down the steps.

“At least my shoes don’t echo throughout the entire house,” he countered, eying my slightly heeled boots that were clopping loudly with each step.

“Ok, I’ll give you that one…”

We poked around the different rooms, trying to imagine what each might be when completed. I made my way to the front entrance, peering through the empty frame where the door should be. “I kinda like this place. Although I’m really not a fan of—” I stopped, hearing our friends scrambling on the scaffolding above us. Shane grabbed my shoulders, yanking me inside the house. He pulled me around the corner of the doorframe.

At my objection, he placed a hand over my mouth. It was then that I heard a car slowing down just outside. Shane’s eyes warned me to be quiet, both of us knowing it might be that same car again. Someone was, without a doubt, looking for us.

Eying the exit points—which was either the front entrance or bolting to the back door adjacent to the kitchen—I prepared to flee. But after a few moments, the sound of the car faded in the distance. I breathed a sigh of relief.

“You’re not very good at this stealth stuff, are you?” Shane teased. “First your shoes… and then you stuck your head out the front door!”

“In my defense, having to constantly stay on guard is new territory for me! Besides, it was only for a second…” My words cut off as Shane placed both of his hands against the wall behind me, leaning in. His mouth met mine, eager and more forceful than our first kiss. I recoiled slightly, the taste of beer distracting. I pushed against his shoulder, though not enough to derail his efforts. My hand slid to his chest instead, feeling the muscle behind his shirt. The scent of his cologne drew me back in.

I closed my eyes, enjoying the moment but also feeling confused inside. I’d wanted him to kiss me again… but was afraid for what it might mean. Would I be able to handle this life with Shane and his rambunctious friends when I was still working through so many emotions? Even in the middle of this kiss, my thoughts turned to Maddie, feeling guilty that I was indulging with Shane and living this life when she was dead. Then again, maybe I didn’t want to work through it.

“Shane, what are we doing?” I asked, both of my hands pushing against him until he stopped.

“I think that’s fairly obvious,” he said, his body still very much in my space.

I let out a quiet sigh. “I like you, Shane. But I’m not sure—”

“We’re just having fun, Allie.” Shane’s quick response surprised me, yet at the same time, I knew I shouldn’t be surprised at all. “It’s senior year—nothing serious,” he continued, one finger slowly tracing the side of my face. “You and I both know this isn’t following us into college.”

“Oh…” I felt relieved and yet bothered at the same time. I didn’t want to worry about the emotional dependence of a relationship, so I was happy he understood that… but something still didn’t feel right.

“Does that hurt your feelings?” he asked,

“I… no…” My eyes hit the floorboard, not sure what I was feeling. A part of me liked how I felt being with Shane and feeling attractive—feeling like a normal high school girl again—but I wasn’t proud that my motives came from a selfish place of escape. It was easy to forget Maddie and the tough emotions wrapped around her death with Shane around. I knew this solution could only be temporary, but maybe that was what I needed. I could run with it just long enough to keep my head above water, so I wasn’t drowning with Maddie all over again.

“Good,” Shane said, his hands on my shoulders. “Because you’re a lot of fun when you want to be.”

I wasn’t entirely sure whether that was a compliment or not, but before I had time to mull it over, our friends came parading down the stairs, laughing about how fast they’d had to climb back into the building.

“That was close!”

“We’ve got to do this again.”

“Hey, give my girl some breathing room!” Tara linked arms with mine and tugged me free from Shane’s cornering stance. In a carefree manner, she pulled me out the door towards the cars.

“She’s not your girl anymore, Tara,” Shane called from behind us. At his words, I turned my head to catch him grinning back at me.

Tara laughed as she strutted away with me. “You had a good time, right?” She winked at me, knowing Shane had kissed me again.

“Don’t even start, Tara.” But I smiled.

———————————————————————————————

Rumors is the prequel to Lingering Echoes, introducing readers to our leading lady, Allie Collins.

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Seventeen-year-old Allie Collins would rather hide behind rumors than face the truth—her life will never be the same as it was before the accident. As a star athlete grieving in the shadows, she hopes to find normalcy in boys and basketball. When her best friend sets her up with the popular Shane Moretti, Allie drags her feet, reluctant for added complications. Then she decides that dating Shane would be the perfect shield from last summer’s tragedy. However, what starts as a mere distraction proves much more complex. As Shane leads Allie into questionable situations, gossip continues to swirl.

Battling for her own identity while barricading painful emotions, Allie won’t escape her senior year without new wounds. After all, tragedy is no stranger to her. The events that unfold will draw readers deep into a well of emotion in Rumors, a Lingering Echoes Prequel.

 

Did you know that LINGERING ECHOES is a FREE ebook?

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Lingering Echoes, Book One

“You can’t change the past… no matter how much you want to.”

If only Allie Collins could go back to that tragic day one year ago, perhaps she could escape the guilt that haunts her. In reality, there was no altering her cousin’s death or the role she played.

Then she meets Damien Michaels, a dark-haired stranger on a dirt bike, who seems to watch Allie and know more about her than he should. Veiling his own secrets, including a mysterious scar and unexplained tattoo, Allie knows she shouldn’t trust him—especially as she digs up a past Damien desperately wants to forget. She also doesn’t believe in summer romances, yet she finds her attraction to him growing beyond his striking grey eyes. Unfortunately, Allie discovers too late that he is hiding a dark past which is far from over, endangering her life and those she loves.

 

 

 

 

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