NOTHING LIKE PARIS is out! Holy crap. (Someone told me that Ana in FSoG says ‘holy crap’ all the time, which is killing me, because that’s, like, my favorite expletive ever since I don’t have to feel major guilt about slipping in front of the kiddo…so I’m on a mission to reclaim it from FSoG: Holy crap’s for everyone!)
I’ve been all over the place with guest posts this week. I talked about the NOTHING LIKE PARIS playlist I listened to while writing (at Sinfully Book Reviews, with a giveaway), the best pranks my friends and family have pulled (at Boys in Our Books, they’ve giving away BOTH books in the series!), the challenge of writing a main character who’d been a bully (at Red Hot + Blue Reads), and whether or not you can go home again (Joyfully Jay, today, with a giveaway). There are exclusive excerpts and free books all over the place this week, so check out these terrific websites!
Newsletter subscribers got an exclusive excerpt of their very own on release day, too. If you want in on that action, enter your email in the sign-up box in the upper right corner of this page. Meanwhile, here’s the excerpt they saw on Tuesday morning!
Jack’s back in his hometown, and although Mike (Jack is the only one who calls him Miguel…it’s a thing) has been trying to avoid him, he keeps seeing Jack everywhere he goes…
Jack lifted an eyebrow, as if to say, Funny, I’ve seen you avoid recognizing me all over town. “You don’t make smoothies?”
“Isn’t that, like, against your organic, whole-foods religion or something?” Jack said, flicking a glance at the brightly colored Slurpee cup in Mike’s hands.
“Everybody’s got a weakness.” Their gazes locked. You used to be mine, Mike very carefully did not say.
“Your tongue is blue.” Jack’s mouth quirked up at one corner the way it always did when he was fighting a grin. “I mean, it’s alien blue. Like, Avatar blue.”
“Shut up, Jack.” Now he was way too conscious of his mouth, his tongue. He told himself Jack wasn’t watching the curve of his lips as he spoke. “What are you doing?”
The pink in Jack’s cheeks had faded, but his question brought the heat roaring back. Jack’s fingertips on the clipboard edge whitened.
“Regressing to high school and remembering what it feels like to be a loser.”
“Do you know what kind of jobs are available in Colchester Falls?” Before Mike could answer that, having spent his entire life in town, he probably had some idea, yes, Jack was already answering his own question. “They’re hiring someone to work the candy counter at the movie theater. Or the counter at the dry cleaners. Or the McDonald’s out on the highway. And I saw the stack of applications they already have.”
Yeah, youth unemployment was a chronic problem in town. As much as Mike had been thrilled to find someone like Andie for the shop—steady, reliable, motivated—he knew she’d been equally grateful to find a decent job. There weren’t enough jobs, period.
“I’m competing with fifteen-year-olds and every one of these applications means a polyester shirt in some shitty color with a logo on it.” Jack sighed and propped the clipboard on his thigh, pen at the ready. “Whatever. It’s my own fault I’m stuck. Plus, you should’ve seen the fucking skepticism every time I asked for an application. Mrs. Johansen damn near laughed me out of the place.”
“Can you blame her? She had to kick us out of a movie about a hundred times for sneaking in the back doors. Feels like a long time ago for us, but we’re pretty much still snot-nosed punks to her.” He knew the feeling. He’d been as grouchy as any other shop owner in town during the last homecoming weekend. Pulling toilet paper from the trees and sweeping up the sidewalks was significantly less fun than making the mess. Made him feel a hundred years old. “Plus, she always knew it was you messing with the marquis.”
The first time Jack had pranked the movie house marquis, the two of them had been walking around town after midnight, keeping out of sight of the occasional passing car or police cruiser. Jack’s parents might not have had the energy to do much more than send him to bed if they were busted hanging out so late, but Mike’s mom was strict about knowing where her babies were and he’d have been grounded for a month. Which meant when they spotted the forgotten aluminum ladder leaning against the glass poster case outside the town movie theater, only Jack had gotten creative.
“Horton Hears a Ho.” Jack’s voice oozed satisfaction.
Mike tried not to smile. “She’s not giving that kid the keys to the castle, man.”
“That was funny! Free advertising! People talked about that for a month. She should’ve paid me to come up with the next one.”
“Revolutionary Rod.” Mike had stood lookout for that one. And hauled the ladder in the truck he’d been driving legally, although not after the twelve thirty a.m. driving curfew for under-eighteens. The movie theater sat in the middle of the block on a one-way street that ran parallel to the railroad tracks bisecting downtown. He’d huddled in an unlit shop doorway close to the corner and whistled every time a car approached. It had taken ten of the longest minutes of his life, and three tries by Jack on the ladder, for him to pull off the A and slide the D over. “Why you always had to turn them into porno titles…”
“I didn’t try. That’s just a gift, a talent I have.”
“Your talent almost got us arrested. Asshole.” He shuddered at the memory, the sprint down the block, Jack abandoning the ladder, the two of them racing up the cement steps leading to the train station as the red lights started flashing and the clanging bells announced the imminent arrival of a late-night freight train that would rumble through town for twenty minutes, at least. The adrenaline burst that cramped his toes as Jack vaulted the crossing gate five steps ahead of him, the door slamming closed on the police cruiser that had screeched to a halt behind them.
Intellectually, later, after he’d dry-heaved behind the pharmacy for ten minutes, Jack’s hand soft on the back of his neck, Mike knew they hadn’t been in any real danger. The churning, noisy engine had been moving slow and at least a hundred feet from them when they hit the crossing. But his entire life, Mike had been lectured by his mom about never crossing train tracks after the gate went down, with gruesome descriptions of the kids who were killed every year or two doing exactly that. In his mami’s warnings, heads literally rolled and she never left out the severed feet or lost hands.
And he knew, he knew, he hadn’t had to follow Jack over that lowered gate, red-and-white stripes tattooed into his memory, the bells ringing in his ears. He hadn’t had to run down the block, or to pick up Jack in the first place, slinging that damn ladder in the back of his truck.
He’d never had to follow Jack anywhere. But he always, always had.
I’ve got two Facebook parties planned this month, where there will be even more giveaway and good times, with a ton of other fabulous author friends too! Click on the party banners below to join us. Thank you, thank you, thank you for making release week awesome!