Hey Everyone! Since we’re ramping up for the upcoming release of ALL IT TAKES (June 30th, woot!) I’m releasing a snippet from the book. You know, just to whet your appetite 😉
So here’s the teaser: in which Star first sees Ash.
The diner door swings open, tinkling the little bell that’s hanging just above it, a guy walks in who looks like he fits in even less than I do.
If that’s even possible.
He’s not very tall, not for a guy, at least. He’s maybe a couple inches taller than my five-foot-six, and he’s wearing ripped, baggy jeans that seem to be holding onto his body by sheer force of will, like at any second they’re going to make a break for it and just fall right down. Over that, he’s wearing a t-shirt and the ugliest army jacket I’ve ever seen in my life, and just beneath the cuff, I can see the black ink of a tattoo as it snakes down his wrist to cover the back of his left hand.
His dirty blond hair is cut short, but not in any particular style. More than anything it just looks like he took a pair of scissors to it and started hacking, and his jaw is covered in a few days’ worth of scruff. He has a face that looks like if he’d cleaned himself up, he’d look pretty good. But he has a long way to go.
And judging by the way Lacey has tensed up in her chair as she looks over her shoulder at him, she agrees.
The guy kind of hovers in the doorway for a minute, looking around like he hasn’t seen the place in years—Did I look like that when I walked in? I wonder—then his eyes clap on the waitress behind the counter, the one who’d given me and my tattoos a dirty look earlier, and he shoves his hands into his pockets and kind of shuffles in her general direction. Lacey whips back around to face me, her pale ponytail slicing through the air so fast I’m amazed she didn’t take her own eye out. She plants the palms of her hands flat down on the table top. “Excuse me for a minute, Star. I’ll be right back,” and then she’s up and out of the seat before I can say a word. She’s completely forgotten about the tray of food she’d been in the middle of delivering to the other diners when she’d spotted me, but, as I glance around the room, worried that someone is going to call her out on it, I realize that none of the diners seem to care about that.
All their attention is on the guy, the one Lacey is making a bee-line towards. I can see her face from here, and she looks like a bloodhound who’s just caught a scent, all full of concentration and purpose. It’s a little unnerving to watch. The guy only makes it about two-thirds of the way to the counter when Lacey intercepts him with a—I hate to say it, but really freaking snotty— “Can I help you?”
Cold. Really cold. And judging by the look on the guy’s face, he feels the chill.
“I…could I maybe speak to the manager.” He pauses for a moment, and when Lacey doesn’t say anything, he adds an awkward “Please?”
“I can help you,” Lacey says, and crosses her arms over her chest.
“Okay,” he says, and blows out a breath, slowly, like he’s trying his best to ignore her reaction, which, to be honest, is unexpectedly bitchy. He reaches into the pocket of his army jacket, and pulls out a folded piece of paper. “Well, I was just wondering if you guys had any openings.” He unfolds the piece of paper and holds it out to her. It trembles a bit in his grip, and as I watch, he starts chewing on his lip. “I’m looking for a job.”
I expect Lacey to reach out and take the paper, to tell him that she’ll pass it on to the manager for him. But she doesn’t. Instead she just stands there, her arms crossed over her chest, her fingers tapping against her arm.
“Sorry,” she says, but the tone of her voice makes it clear she’s anything but. “We’re not hiring.”
The guy just kinds of stares at her. I don’t think he was expecting that either. The piece of paper—which must be his resume, I realize—sort of hangs there in the air between them, and the fact that Lacey isn’t even pretending to be interested in it speaks volumes. Hell, it screams them. After a moment, the guy’s gaze drops to the floor, and he pulls the resume back. That’s when I notice just how worn that piece of paper is. It’s half-crumpled and looks kind of soft, like it’s been folded and unfolded again and again. This is not the first time he’s been turned down, but I’m willing to bet real money that it’s one of the rudest. And most unexpected, given the way his face falls. “Oh. Okay,” he says quietly, and neatly folds the piece of paper and slides it back into his pocket. “Thanks for your time.” He doesn’t look up as he leaves, just steps around her and beelines for the door.
Just as he pushes open the door, though, one of the customers lets out a cough.
Even through the fake cough, the word is loud enough that I flinch at the sound. And if I can hear him, the guy at the door can too. He freezes for a second, then, head down, shoves his way out the door.