Friday, June 27, 2014

Author Mia Kerick Interview

Do you write in more than one genre?
Yes, I write in Young Adult and in Adult Contemporary, and so far all have been gay romance.
As my theme states, “Love is what I see” when I write, so all of my books are in one way similar in that they revolve around the journey of a couple (or a triad)—and the individual growth of each of the people involved.
Currently, I am writing a YA LGBT Fiction novel that has only a shade of romance.

What if any, is the hardest part of writing for you?
The hardest part is organizing my ideas. I find that I have so many ideas and I have to somehow focus them into a story. In other words, I must create that first rough outline and doing so can literally hurt my brain!! I need to take the research I have done, which is sometimes extensive, and decide how I will use it. This preliminary stage is very challenging.

What inspired each story?
My first novel, Beggars and Choosers, was largely inspired by my desire to create a character who I could totally fall for. I had read Twilight and I loved the danger/selflessness of Edward Cullen and I had a huge urge to create my own character, one who I found equally intriguing. So I created Brett Taylor to fit my needs.
Music is another inspiration for my books. Not Broken, Just Bent is one of my stories that was inspired by a specific Pink song. Intervention was inspired by a whole bunch of songs that made me feel and think deeply. Many of these songs are included, in part, in the novel.
Out of Hiding was inspired by my experiences with the semi-professional NYC dance world of my teenage daughter who is a dancer. 
The Red Sheet was inspired by my desire to just let myself go as an author- I allowed myself to write every thought that crossed my mind, when I was fully absorbed by the character of Bryan Dennison.
A Package Deal and Us Three were inspired by my desire to keep an open mind in matters of the heart.
Can you tell us a little about your books?

Young Adult Titles:
As a musician at the popular college café Coed Joe’s, high school senior Kai Manter is never lacking for male attention. Out, proud, free-spirited, and sexually aware, Kai sets his sights on his darkly Gothic and undeniably bad-tempered coworker, Jamie Arlotta, a freshman at the local arts university. Sporting long hair and alluring hippie style, Kai expects his interest will be reciprocated, with satisfying sex as the end goal. That’s what usually happens. But Jamie’s lessons in life have been harsher. Having been sexually abused by his older stepbrother for several years, Jamie has grown an impenetrable outer shell meant to keep the world at a safe distance.
Kai is angry at first when he takes the brunt of Jamie’s bad temper, but after Kai accidentally discovers the abuse Jamie has suffered, he wants to fix things. Kai’s plan is based on what he knows best—music—and he stages a “musical intervention” to let Jamie know he’s not alone and things can get better. When Jamie’s perspective changes and he emerges from his shell, Kai changes, too, gaining a whole new understanding of what sex can be when love is there too.
Book Links:
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Braving the start of high school, longtime childhood friends Benjamin Wells and Timmy Norton quickly realize they are entering a whole new world colored by their family responsibilities. Ben is trying to please his strict father; Timmy is taking care of his younger sisters. While their easy camaraderie is still comfortable, Ben notices Timmy growing distant and evasive, but Ben has his own problems. It’s easier to let concerns about Timmy’s home life slide, especially when Timmy changes directions and starts to get a little too close. Ben doesn’t know how to handle the new feelings Timmy’s desire for love inspires, and his continuing denial wounds Timmy deeply.
But what Timmy perceives as Ben’s greatest betrayal is yet to come, and the fallout threatens to break them apart forever. Over the next four years, the push and pull between them and the outside world twists and tears at Ben and Timmy, and they are haunted by fear and regret. However, sometimes what seems broken is just a little bent, and if they can find forgiveness within themselves, Ben and Timmy may be able to move forward together.
Book Links:
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Book Trailer:

(There is a short continuation of Tim and Ben’s story in Grand Adventures called Water Under The Bridge)

The Red Sheet has a NEW COVER
One October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his neck like a cape.
Bryan soon realizes this compulsion to wear a red cape is accompanied by more unusual behavior. He can’t hold back from retrieving kittens from tall trees, helping little old ladies cross busy streets, and defending innocence anywhere he finds it. Shockingly, at school, he realizes he used to be a bully. He’s attracted to the former victim of his bullying, Scott Beckett, though he has no memory of Scott from before “the change.”
Where he’d been lazy in academics, overly aggressive in sports, and socially insecure, he’s a new person. And although he can recall behaving egotistically, he cannot remember his motivations. Everyone, from his mother to his teachers to his “superjock” former pals, is shocked by his dramatic transformation.
However, Scott Beckett is not impressed by Bryan’s newfound virtue. And convincing Scott he’s genuinely changed and improved, hopefully gaining Scott’s trust and maybe even his love, becomes Bryan’s obsession.
With a foreword by Cody Kennedy
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In his junior year at a public high school, sweet, bright Casey Minton’s biggest worry isn’t being gay. Keeping from being too badly bullied by his so-called friends, a group of girls called the Queen Bees, is more pressing.
Nate De Marco has no friends, his tough home life having taken its toll on his reputation, but he’s determined to get through high school.
Zander Zane’s story is different: he’s popular, a jock. Zander knows he’s gay, but fellow students don’t, and he’d like to keep it that way.
No one expects much when these three are grouped together for a class project, yet in the process the boys discover each other’s talents and traits, and a new bond forms. But what if Nate, Zander, and Casey fall in love—each with the other and all three together? Not only gay but also a threesome, for them high school becomes infinitely more complicated and maybe even dangerous. To survive and keep their love alive, they must find their individual strengths and courage and stand together, honest and united.
If they can do that, they might prevail against the Queen Bees and a student body frightened into silence—and even against their own crippling fears.
Book Links:
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Book Trailer:

Adult Titles:

After a hard life filled with experiences he’d rather not remember but can’t forget, Brett Taylor decides he doesn’t need anyone or anything. He gets a job at a bar in a nothing little town where he can fish and race dirt bikes and hide from the world. So naturally as he’s walking across the parking lot at his new job, reminding himself how self-reliant he is, he meets someone he can’t shove aside.
Brett can’t help but admire Cory Butana, the kid who lives above the bar where his father is the principal bartender. Unwanted by either parent, the sweet, personable Cory grew up neglected and hungry for affection. Now he’s determined to make something of his life, even if he has to work himself ragged to do it.
Cory shouldn’t have to suffer like Brett did, and Brett wants to lend a hand. But when their relationship evolves into something Brett isn’t ready to need, he reacts… and the consequences may destroy their fledgling future. With scars like theirs, forgiveness is never easy.
Book Links:
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Sequel to Beggars and Choosers
After struggling through dishonesty, betrayal, and the kind of pasts they’d like to leave behind them, Brett Taylor and Cory Butana are back together and starting to build a new life. Brett has a good job. Cory has started college. But not everything goes the way they planned.
Still recovering from the emotional and physical repercussions of a brutal assault, Cory finds himself trapped by his own insecurity and fear, unable to believe that his heart is safe with Brett or that his body is safe without him. On the other hand, Brett has total faith in Cory’s love and commitment, even though he still struggles with his own ghosts.
With girls flocking to Brett’s side and a wannabe-lover lab partner feeding his doubts, Cory can’t find a way to tell Brett about the unfinished business that haunts him. If Brett wants to save him, he’ll have to see through Cory’s deception in time.
Book Links:
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Robby Dalton is the perfect all-American boy. He played the sports his father chose for him in high school, attended the college his father selected, and has worked hard to conform to his father’s macho views. But emotionally he doesn’t fit anywhere, and he can’t connect with a woman beyond a few uninspired dates. Robby’s not in the closet, because he’s never guessed he’s gay. Now he owns a small commercial construction company, and one night after work he runs into Savannah Meyers. He finds her fascinating and agrees to a date, thinking maybe this woman would be different.
But Savannah has her own agenda. She is looking for a love match for her roommate, Tristan Chartrand, whom she rescued from the streets years ago. He’s like a brother, and her only family, so she wants him safe and happy. Her plan seems to begin well, because when Robby meets Tristan, he’s surprised to find it’s Tristan he wants, not Savannah. But some people in Robby’s life don’t approve of Tristan’s lowly station in life, and some don’t approve of Robby being gay. Some people are full of hate and violence, and Robby and Tristan will need courage and strength if a loving future is to be part of the deal.
Book Links:
To add the book to your Goodreads

After graduating from high school early, twenty-year-old Philippe Bergeron spent the past several years lost among the stars while fishing off the New England coast. A shoulder injury ends his dream of living reclusively on the water, and he finds himself lost among the bright lights of New York City. His older brother, Henri, has asked Philippe to chaperone his seventeen-year-old niece, Sophie, on her tours of the city’s legendary dance programs.
Sophie meets with professional dancer and choreographer, Dario Pereira, to prepare a routine for her college auditions. Dario’s cool perfection and immaculate style contrast with Philippe’s awkward scruffiness, but it wakes desires Philippe thought he’d left behind. When the attraction is surprisingly returned, Dario’s confidence won’t let Philippe remain invisible. Unsure but curious, Philippe relaxes his rule of isolation, and as the summer progresses, his relationship with Dario leads him to a surprising discovery of his submissive sexual tendencies and a greater sense of self-awareness.
Tragedy threatens to destroy the connections Philippe has made and forces him to retreat into the shadows of his past, far from the radiance of Dario’s love. Ultimately, he must decide if it is time to stop hiding and set himself free.
Book Links:
To add the book to your Goodreads account
Book Trailer:

What are some of your other favorite activities?
I love to read (not a surprise) and I enjoy attending all of my kids’ performances and games. I love a long walk by the lake near my house and I enjoy mocha lattes.

Where can we find your website?

Each person who submits a picture of one of Mia Kerick's books or book cover images on an eReader on Vacation or Staycation (a vacation at home) will receive a mystery swag bag with Mia Kerick Items. Maximum 2 pictures entries person. Please message Beckey, my assistant with your address.

The group for the event giveaway can be found here:
Please post your pictures there in the group page.

There is also GRAND PRIZE giveaway for United States entries on the rafter that is pinned to the top of the group page.
The Grand Prize is Mia Kerick beach towel, Kerick Teddy Bear, Mia Kerick tote bag, and Mia Kerick Coffee Mug with Folger’s Hazlenut coffee. Be sure to look at the pinned  post at the top of the page for the raftercopter link.
Contest Ends on July 31, 2014.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


What happens when curiosity becomes obsession?
From author Alexi LAWLESS, the first part in a provocative romantic suspense series...

Luck is Jack Roman's middle name— and Chicago is his Empire. He lives to work, loves to play, and makes no commitments. But when the mysterious S. Wyatt moves into the adjoining penthouse, he's immediately drawn to her, a striking, elusive woman who transitions seamlessly from wood-paneled board rooms to high-stakes, high-risk rescue operations in the most dangerous parts of the world.

Intrigued by her self-possession, aroused by her incredible passion, and disarmed by a vulnerability she cannot hide, Jack pursues her into the nexus of her dangerous present and her enigmatic past. An entire world is revealed to Jack, where living for pleasure becomes fighting for survival. And the only woman he wants may be the one he cannot have...

COMPLICATED CREATURES is a mesmerizing, labyrinthine erotic romance that will leave you wondering: Do you really want to know everything about the one you love?
To read an Excerpt, scroll back up to the book cover and click on “Look Inside
Note to the Reader: Complicated Creatures is the first eBook in a series of erotic romantic-suspense fiction. It is recommended for readers 18+ for mature content… these are not your mother’s romance novels

"A Stellar Read!" - Amazon Top 500 Reviewer

"Alluring, Suspenseful & Compelling..."

"Sharp, Lush and Vivid Writing Style"

Corporate Runaway. Novelist. Wanderer. Bourbon Drinker.

Alexi LAWLESS has been a closeted writer for thirty-odd years—from way back when she was banging out stories on a Commodore 64 to her years writing the corporate strategies for some of the largest companies in the world. But it was two years ago, laid up after foot surgery, that she started to seriously consider whether it was time to come out as the novelist she’d always wanted to be.

Armed with a laptop and an around-the-world ticket, she quit the corporate scene and set out to see if her passion for writing was more than a pipe-dream. Less than a year later, Alexi’s debuting her first published novel, Complicated Creatures: Part One, with the second book due out this summer. And while you may catch her sipping a drink in Miami Beach, you’re more likely to find her indulging her nomadic tendencies somewhere in Latin America or Southeast Asia.

Interested in following Alexi?  You can stalk her here at:

GIVEAWAYS: Alexi is happy to give one lucky reader a digital copy of Complicated Creatures Part One.  Include your Name, E-Mail and Format. Winner will be chosen after the end of the tour.

06/25/2014    Moms Get Real
06/26/2014    Literary Nymphs Hotlist
06/27/2014    Write on Purpose
06/28/2014    DadsGetReal
06/30/2014    MamaKitty Reviews
06/30/2014    Life With Two Boys
07/01/2014    You Gotta Read Reviews
07/02/2014    Sizzling Hot Books
07/07/2014    My Crafty Life
07/10/2014    KrissysBookshelf
07/13/2014    Meghan's Mindless Mutterings: Reviews & Giveaways
07/19/2014    twoclassychics
07/21/2014    Word Wenches Guilty Pleasure
07/22/2014    Booklover Sue
07/24/2014    Erotica For All
07/31/2014    Rowan's mom's blog 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Totally Bound Publishing

Totally Bound has a brand new Imprint out, What’s his Passion? and I am thrilled to be a part of it! My contribution is Unexpected Places, a story featuring Carter Hausemann, a man who is passionate about hiking.

To celebrate the launch of What’s his Passion? Totally Bound is giving away a bundle of prizes. Enter here for your chance to win:

Pantser vs Planner—In Writing and in Life

I think the more familiar term is ‘plotter’ but since there’s plot involved and I’m a pantser, I like to use the word ‘planner’ instead.

And there, I’ve given myself away, although it’s certainly no big secret. When I start a book, unless it’s one in a very connected series, I usually have nothing more than character names in my head to start with. It’s just me, and that intimidating blank page on Word. Sometimes there’s sweating and panicking and maybe even whimpering along with bargaining with any deity willing to listen. Other times everything just flows out easily.

I like the challenge of it all, and when I’ve tried outlining as I’ve seen many amazing authors do, it never quite works out for me. Never quite should just be never. Maybe it’s because I’ve never done well under strict guidelines—though certainly I’ve learned to bend on them. Whatever the reason, flying by the seat of my pants, or writing that way, works best for me.

That’s not to say when it comes to a series book that I don’t have notes. Lots of notes, but the plot itself isn’t firmed up. There is always a certain goal to be met with every book, but the how of it all is never clear until I’m in the midst of writing it.

There is always panic, where I think I’ve gotten myself into something I can’t write out of, but it tends to resolve itself if I just relax and go with it.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of my day-to-day life is lived spur of the moment. I have no trouble waking up, tossing some clothes and necessities in a bag, and hitting the road to go to the beach or the mountains in New Mexico on a whim, time and money permitting. Well, time is negotiable. I can write almost anywhere, and the beach is as inspiring as the mountains.

I enjoy life, and I enjoy writing, even when it seems like writer’s block is going to win. And I’m not saying I enjoy anything more than a person who plans—life isn’t a competition, and if it were, I’d be in trouble. That takes a certain kind of energy that I lack.

How do you approach life?

Blurb for Unexpected Places:
Love finds you in the most unexpected places.
Carter Hausemann loves his adventures in the great outdoors. He never feels as free and happy as he does when he’s hiking up a mountain or over a desert trail. After a childhood spent locked indoors, he craves the sunlight on his face and the blanket of moonlight.
Unfortunately, he has to work, so his hiking trips aren’t as frequent as he would like.
He has a new adventure planned, but little does he know, his real adventure will start at a worn-down looking club in Odessa, Texas. Carter’s dreams of finding his perfect men will become more than fantasy, starting with one sexy leather-clad man, Eddie Canales. What starts out as a night of debauchery turns into so much more. 

About Bailey
A few things about me…

I am a married to a lovely man who supports everything I do and encourages me to be myself. I am also a mom who spends most of the day writing, either on stories for books or at the blog. I love to write as much as I love to read. I am generally quiet and laid back, choosing to let things slide off me rather than stick to me and be irritating.

And it’s really hard trying to think of descriptives for myself, so I’ll just let y’all e-mail me or comment at the blog if there’s something specific you’d like to know, and spare you from reading a boring bio.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

MLR Press Call For Submissions


Call For Submissions: Scare This!

So many think they've outgrown dressing up. That there are no more tricks to be played. That it's all a bunch of hookiness. But what if they meet a real vampire/witch/werewolf? Or what about that special human dressed in a to die for costume that brings all the "tricks and treats" back? A sexy Leather-n-Lace party that lets all the inhibitions go and brings back the magic of the night? Submissions should: Have at least one character that HATES Halloween Be a minimum of 10k, maximum of 40k Any subgenre is welcome and all prohibitive guidelines are observed. Deadline for submissions: July 31, 2014. Submissions should be sent to Any questions can be sent to Kris Jacen at

Call For Submissions: Bleh, Turkey!:

Thanksgiving is a time of turkey and mashed potatoes and pies and
family...but what if you don't have a family? What if you don't
have a home? What if you're in the military stationed overseas?
It's not all smiles and kisses for everyone in November...

Submissions should:

Have at least one character that HATES Thanksgiving

Be a minimum of 10k, maximum of 40k

Any subgenre is welcome and all prohibitive guidelines are

Deadline for submissions: August 31, 2014.

Submissions should be sent to

Any questions can be sent to Kris Jacen at

Call For Submissions: Snowballs, Icicles and...Fire?

Those holidays in December bring smiles to everyone's faces,
right? Maybe not. Some (not just that famous Scrooge) have frozen
their hearts to the joys of Hanukkah, Yuletide, Kwanzaa and
Christmas. They've decided to skip the holidays this year but just
maybe there's a special someone that's going to show up and heat
up those winter nights...possible ideas: a Secret Santa hoping to
be someone's favorite Christmas present; a friend hoping to help
light more than candles for Hanukkah; a special artist's project
to bring creativity to Kwanzaa; a witch hoping that the magic of
Yule will bring them what's been missing from their life.

Submissions should:

Have at least one character that HATES

Be a minimum of 10k, maximum of 40k

Any subgenre is welcome and all prohibitive guidelines are

Deadline for submissions: September 30, 2014

Submissions should be sent to

Any questions can be sent to Kris Jacen at

Chestnuts Roasting...Nah! Heat up those memories instead

Sledding and hot parties with family and 
friends...finding that absolutely perfect gift for your special 
someone...first kisses under the mistletoe. Those memories can 
bring a smile to your face, a twinge to your heart and a tear 
to your eye. Whether it’s remembering a special memory or 
making a new one, the holidays are the perfect time for it.

Submissions should:

Be centered around a special memory of a holiday, whether a 
remembered memory or a new one

Be a minimum of 10k, maximum of 40k

Stories may be part of an existing MLR series

Any subgenre is welcome and all prohibitive guidelines are

Deadline for submissions: September 30, 2014

Submissions should be sent to

Any questions can be sent to Kris Jacen at

Call for Submissions: It's illegal to what?

There are still a LOT of strange laws on the books around the US: you can't
have sex in front of a horse with a rodeo clown in Massachusetts; Mustaches
are illegal in Indiana if the owner of said facial hair "has a tendency to
habitually kiss other humans; in Wisconsin, a man may not fire a gun while
his partner is having an orgasm; and there are many more - check out Wonder what would happen if someone got caught? 

Submissions should:

Have at least one weird sex law that's still on the books today

Be a minimum of 10k, maximum of 40k

Stories may be part of an existing MLR series

Any subgenre is welcome and all prohibitive guidelines are

Deadline for submissions: October 15, 2014

Submissions should be sent to

Any questions can be sent to Kris Jacen at

Submissions Guidelines

MLR Press accepts submissions by query letter at

Pertinent information for queries can be read here: submissions guidelines.

Our sample author contract can be viewed here: sample author contract.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Tycoon's Convenient Bride...and Baby

Title:  The Tycoon's Convenient Bride...and Baby
Author:  Shoshanna Evers
Genre:  Contemporary Romance 18+
Sexual Content: Steamy
Publication Date:  July 28, 2014
Publisher: Entangled Indulgence
Event Organized by:  Literati Author Services, Inc.


The Tycoon's Convenient Bride...and Baby is a sexy contemporary romance by New York Times bestselling author Shoshanna Evers. 

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Shoshanna Evers has written dozens of sexy stories, including The Man Who Holds the Whip (part of the bestselling MAKE ME anthology), Overheated, The Enslaved Trilogy, and The Pulse Trilogy (from Simon & Schuster Pocket Star).
Her work has been featured in many anthologies such as Cowboy Heat and Smokin' Hot Firemen, the Penguin/Berkley Heat anthology Agony/Ecstasy, and numerous erotic romance novellas including Bedhead and Ginger Snap from Ellora’s Cave Publishing.
Her two bestselling non-fiction writing anthologies include How To Write Hot Sex: Tips from Multi-Published Erotic Romance Authors, and Successful Self-Publishing: How We Do It (And How You Can Too).
Shoshanna is also the cofounder of, the largest selection of instantly customizable, one-of-a-kind, premade book covers in the world.
Shoshanna Evers has been listed on Amazon as one of the "Most Popular Authors in Romance," as well as on the Contemporary Romance, and Erotica "Most Popular Authors" lists.
Reviewers have called Shoshanna’s writing “sensuous, delightful, and sizzling” with stories where “the plot is fresh and the pacing excellent, the emotions...real and poignant.”
Shoshanna used to work as a syndicated advice columnist and a registered nurse, but now she’s a full-time romance writer and a home-schooling mom. She lives with her family and three big dogs in Northern Idaho, and loves to connect with readers on Twitter @ShoshannaEvers, and Facebook at Shoshanna.Evers.
Sign up to be notified when the book comes out!

Connect with the Author:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

Monday, June 9, 2014


Victoria Blisse – Her Secret Past Blog Tour

 To celebrate the release of Her Secret Past, Totally Bound are giving away a bundle of eBooks by Victoria Blisse. Enter here for your chance to win:

Top of Form
Bottom of Form

A past she wants to forget, a secret that will change everything and a hunky guy who should have known better.

It’s no secret that Katrina Quinn has been caught having an affair with her hunky co-star. Hounded by the press she has escaped to Yorkshire, England and the remote seclusion of Copse Cottage. It’s a house packed full of junk and memories—far too much for one woman to handle.

For odd job man Ryan Taylor, being hired to clear clutter while ogling one of Hollywood’s hottest stars seems like easy money. A good way to escape his jealous, drunken girlfriend, Eve, who seems intent on making his life a misery. But Copse Cottage is haunted with his happy past, stirring anew his longing for the girl he used to call the best in the world.

A stolen beat-up suitcase is going to change everything—secrets will be revealed, hearts will be broken all over again and the biggest mystery of all will finally be answered.

 “Right, buckle in, Janie; we’re off for an adventure.” 

There was no conversation for a while. I sat in silence, taking it in. I was in Ryan’s car, and he wanted to take me on an adventure. Ryan might have been the source of many of my problems through school but he was also my biggest crush. I just couldn’t stop fancying him. He was my teenage idol. Messy dark blond hair that he had to flip from his face at regular moments, and ivy green eyes that sparkled with mischief. We’d been playmates as kids and the best of friends. I’d never seen him as anything other than my mate Ry until puberty had hit and suddenly, whenever I saw him, my stomach would feel hollow and would rattle as though it was filled with dried rice. 

Ryan had gone from cute to handsome in his teenage years. Whereas I had gone from plain to chubby with visitations from acne and the greasy hair fairy along the way. My eyesight had worsened so I needed glasses and my curly hair would not be tamed by hair products. I was frizzier than a bear cub. So as Ry joined the cool gang, I became the geek everyone laughed at, Including Ry. 

“It’s nothing personal,” he’d told me once back in the first year of sixth form. He’d accidentally found me in the bushes at the bottom end of the playground crying. He’d just chased in after the football. “I still like you, Janie, but I’ve got to keep in with Eve and that lot or I’ll get bullied too.” 

There was some kind of weird teenage logic there, but I never saw any indication that he liked me. He was as cruel as the rest. 

“I’m hungry,” Ryan announced, pulling me from my thoughts. “Shall we stop at the chippy for something?” 

“Sure.” I nodded. “I’m hungry too.” 

We pulled in at The Golden Fry. Ryan told me to stay in the car and he went out to get us some food. It was the chip shop just up the road from school, where kids would go for a sneaky bag of chips on the way home. It didn’t feel as though we’d got very far on our adventure at all. 

Ryan came back with a carrier bag in hand and two cans in the other. He passed them to me and started the engine again. 

“I know a good lay-by to stop in not far from here. Don’t want to be caught before we’ve even started, right?” 

“Okay,” I acquiesced again. I would have agreed to anything, I was that besotted with him. We drove through town and headed out on the A road towards Leeds. Not too far along Ryan pulled into a lay-by, quiet at that time on a Saturday, but frequently used by the amount of litter carpeting the grass by the side of the road. 

Ryan took the bag from my hand and passed me a paper-wrapped parcel. We opened them and ate the cooling chips in silence. 

“So, why are you leaving?” I asked, growing brave. 

“Well, what reason is there for me to stay? My parents are pricks, they grounded me just because I was out late last night with the guys. I’m fucking eighteen, Janie. They need to treat me like an adult. So what I busted the tractor and ruined half a field with my late night drive out with the lads? I said I was sorry. Then Eve was just as unreasonable. Told me I needed to grow up! She was just jealous I wasn’t out with her. She’s so fucking controlling, Janie. I just want to break away, make a new start. Because where am I going otherwise?” 

“Aren’t you going to uni, then?” I asked naïvely. 

“Oh, Janie”—Ryan leaned over the hand brake and covered my hand with his—“you’re so sweet. But surely by now you know I’m completely thick. I can’t go to university. I’m just going to end up working for Dad.” 

“You… You… You… You’re not thick,” I stuttered, my body humming with his touch, my voice fighting to break through the earthquake of emotion. “You’re really bright. And good with your hands. I’ve still got the jewellery box you made me for my tenth birthday.” 

“You still have that?” Ryan asked, eyes widening, mouth softening into a smile. His hand was still over mine, heating my fingers to boiling point. 

“Sure, it’s beautiful. Actually, it’s in my bag now.” 

He scrunched his eyebrows in confusion. 

“I’m running away too.” 

“No,” he exclaimed, “really? Why are you running away?” 

“Maybe you are thick, Ry,” I scoffed gently. “Can’t you guess? My dad left us, my mum’s not been the same since and I’m the butt of everyone’s joke at school. I can’t take all that anymore.” 

I swallowed hard—a lump had formed in my throat. My skin felt electrified and there was a waterfall of tears pressing at the backs of my eyes. 

“Oh, Janie, it’s been really tough for you, hasn’t it?” 

His strong, soft hand cupped my cheek, and as a tear slipped down he gently wiped it away with his thumb. 

“I still think you’re the best girl in the world,” he whispered, his breath caressing my lips he was so very close. 

“And you’re not bad, for a boy,” I replied with a wry smile, remembering back to the first argument we’d ever had. Ryan hadn’t wanted to play pretend mummies and daddies with me even though I’d told him he could be a builder for his job and I’d let him play with my Lego. I’d run off crying and he’d followed me and told me he was sorry and that he thought I was the best girl in the world. 

I had still been mad at him, so I had just said, “You’re not bad, for a boy.” 

We’d laughed then, like six-year-olds do, and had got back to playing. 

I snapped back to the present, his lips so close to mine, his hand on my cheek. I felt as though I was shaking, my whole body taken by a quake of shock and lust. His lips met mine and I stilled. Quiet peace reigned for a moment. I was at the pinnacle of bliss, everything was perfect and light. Then he moved his lips and the agitation returned. I burned deep in the pit of my stomach, my skin itched for his touch and I burned up, waiting for more.

He was my first kiss. I didn’t know what I was doing but instinct pushed me forward. I reached out to grab at his biceps, needing to feel more of him—he kept me grounded. I’d fall away into a chasm of darkness if I let go. I wanted to know it was real. Could I get him to pinch me to make sure I wasn’t dreaming?