Saturday, May 6, 2017

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Magic Matched by Lola White

Series: Magic Matched #1-4
Author: Lola White
Genre: Paranormal, Erotic, Romance Suspense

Betrothed #1
Magic Matched tells the story of Silviu Lovasz and Georgeanne Davenold, two witches with a power only told of in myth. In witching society, there is a strict hierarchy. Family covens are ruled by Mothers or Fathers who hold the bulk of their bloodline’s power and archaic rules are enforced, disregarding modern sentiments. Magic and politics are the only things that matter, and marriages are arranged for advantage rather than love.

Silviu and Georgeanne have been betrothed since the moment of Georgie’s birth. When Silviu’s father learned a baby was to be born under the Bane moon, he reached across the Schism dividing the covens into matriarchal and patriarchal houses to the Davenold Mother, with a bold scheme to place their children at the top of the witching hierarchy. With Silviu wielding the enhanced talents of a Reap witch, he is the perfect match to Georgie, an abomination without magic who should have been killed at birth because of her defects. The only way to protect themselves against those who fear them enough to kill them, is to take a position of leadership.

Silviu and Georgeanne must learn to open their hearts to each other in order to unlock their full magical potential. But with all that stands in their way—archaic traditions, murder plots, and a betrayal that threatens all they can be—they will need the group of allies they have built to help them navigate the dangerous world of witches, and the dark magic stalking them every step of the way.

Married #2
In witching society, magic and politics are the only things that matter, and marriages are arranged for advantage rather than love.

Tulah Ngozi doesn’t want to go home, but she’s being forced to attend the wedding of the man who killed her father years ago. The Ngozi men are determined to use her in their plots against each other, but she takes her future into her own hands when she learns that Adam Davenold will also be in attendance. Adam is a powerful man in a matriarchal Family, used to being seduced by women looking to gain power. He’s good at guarding his heart—until he meets Tulah.

Diplomacy demands that the Davenolds attend the wedding and, in the company of their Matriarch, Adam and Georgeanne travel to the Ngozi residence, where they become embroiled in a frightening power struggle. Georgeanne is grateful for the unexpected presence of her betrothed, Silviu, who arrives uninvited after he learns she will be there. When the groom proves disturbing and the Davenold Mother falls to a suspicious illness, Silviu’s magic is the only thing Georgie can depend on for support.

In witching society, magic and politics are the only things that matter, and marriages are arranged for advantage rather than love. But more than politics is at stake in a minefield of lies and betrayal. Death and dark magic stalk the Ngozi–Levy wedding, and only Silviu and Georgeanne’s Matched magic has a chance of getting everyone out alive.

Motherhood #3
In witching society, magic and politics are the only things that matter, and marriages are arranged for advantage rather than love.

Christiana Davenold doesn’t want to be Mother, but her husband is pushing for her to be named heir. Milo just wants to protect his wife, and he believes the position of leadership would keep her, and their unborn child, safe from the challenges of her cousins.

But Mother Madeleine refuses to name a successor.

As the Davenolds gather in the hopes that they can heal their Mother from the dark magic attack that has left her weak and near death, Silviu Lovasz and Georgeanne Davenold find themselves at a turning point neither could have expected. Troublesome Family members, secret alliances and the unexpected arrival of Father Daniel Levy cause an emotional upheaval that will test them both.

Only love can see them through the danger, but in witching society, magic and politics are all that matter. The connection they’ve managed to forge will be tested as suspicion grows and trust is broken by the ultimate betrayal.

Sovereignty #4
In witching society, magic and politics are the only things that matter, and marriages are arranged for advantage rather than love.

The Council of Covens has been called to session, and the fate of the witching world hangs in the balance. So does Bijoux Laurent’s future. The sheltered witch is scheming to make Costel Lovasz admit how much he loves her. He has denied his feelings for years, but now Costel’s being sent on a mission of seduction to gain her allegiance because his brother needs Bijoux’s telepathic talents.

Silviu and Georgeanne Lovasz-Davenold need every ally they can get when the dark magic witch they’ve been hunting makes a bold move. The odds are against them, especially with lies, betrayal and distrust keeping Silviu and Georgie’s Matched magic unstable. To have any hope of success, the couple must open their hearts to each other, but that level of forgiveness and compromise may not be possible between the two witches from opposing sides of the matriarchal-patriarchal divide.

In a society where magic and politics are all that matter, only love can unlock Silviu and Georgie’s full potential and win them sovereignty over all.

Betrothed #1
“That’s right, Georgie. I was born in the Reap, the balance to your Bane, your Match in every fucking way. My father made sure of it and, later, so did Madeleine. I’ve had a much better education than my brother could ever dream, with the tutors she sent.”

“Good for you. She did it for herself, though, Silviu. For the Davenolds, not the Lovaszes.”

He shook his head, his voice lowering until it was a breath against the darkness. “She did it for you, because she believed, like my father, that the magic would pass on, making your line stronger.”

“Bullshit. She doesn’t believe any such thing. She wants magically powerful great-grandchildren and your father was willing to sell your sperm to the matriarchs.”

He didn’t try to hide his anger. “You’re right, and Madeleine will have my strong magic in her bloodline. Your children, our children, will be stronger than any witch in a hundred generations, your magic and mine combined into theirs.”

“You mean child.”

“We’ll have more than one, as only Matches can.”

“Don’t bank on it.”

He saw the stubborn disbelief in her eyes, the spark of frustration, and tamped down his own. He changed tactics and switched topics, not giving her a chance to argue further. “Do you ever think about the night I first put my hands on you?”

She froze, stopped breathing. She shook her head as her eyes flew wide. Silviu smiled and stepped closer, ever closer, until there was only enough room for their bodies’ heat to pass between them. He set his hand at her waist and sent it sliding up, following the line of her torso to her ribcage.

“You do,” he whispered wickedly. “You remember how it felt, when I ran my hands over your bare body, when I ran my thumb over your perfect little nipple.”

“Stop it. This is inappropriate at a Levy Family function.”

Her voice was too breathless to heed. He curled his fingers over her breast, craving shooting through him when he felt her nipple pebble under his touch. Her breath faltered, turning ragged, her pulse hammering in her slender throat.

“Do you remember when I put my mouth on you and kissed my way down, finally tasting your first flood of passion. How sweet you were, all innocent and fresh, lifting for me with a need you didn’t even bother to hide.”


He squeezed her nipple lightly as he licked across her lips, nearly giving in when her mouth opened for him. Instead, he ruthlessly held onto his lust and drew back, leaving her aching, needing. He hoped as needy as him.

Slowly, he moved away from her, gathering his control around him. “I think you’ll taste like that again, Georgie.”

Married #2
Ileana reached for the door.

Red light oozed from the jamb, flying out from the metal but slowing dramatically on its collision course with Ileana’s arm. Silver spiked into existence, the power of Ileana’s personal magic all but eradicating the spell guarding the exits. The two tones surged against each other, but the silver won out and chased the red back into hiding.

Georgie turned wide eyes on her sister-in-law. “What did that feel like?”

“Awful, but I think I could make it through with a running start.” Ileana turned to Georgie and wiped a shaky hand over her sweaty brow. “I take it you have more in common with me and my brother than I first realized?”

Georgeanne saw magic because it couldn’t be used against her, but Silviu, and apparently Ileana, saw magic because they could influence it. Georgie’s secret couldn’t be held much longer, but that didn’t mean she had to go into explicit explanations. “Close enough. You’re a strong witch, Iley. It reacts with greater force to lesser magic.”

“Almost like an enhancement.” Ileana humphed and let the door close. “Your turn. In Poland, when that knife was magicked at your head, it hit some kind of force field and slid off without any harm.”

“My life is not a science-fiction movie.” Georgie rolled her eyes. “It’s not a force field.”

“What is it, then?”

“Adam calls it Bane imperviousness.”

“How did you lose your magic?” Tulah broke her silence and Georgie shifted to study her. The color in her cheeks had returned, she was steady on her feet and the faint indigo swirl surrounding her body had settled down.

“I’m not Bane-made.” Georgie watched Tulah’s reaction very closely. “I was born under a Bane moon.”

“You’ve never had magic?”

Georgie shrugged. “I can’t use magic and magic can’t be used against me.”

Tulah’s eyes flashed with pity a moment before she went still. She’d never make a good politician, unless that indigo magic she used gave her an advantage that Georgie couldn’t detect.

Georgie studied the woman for another few moments, wondering. Vague suspicions and soft doubts stole through her mind, but before she could organize them, indigo flickers began to whirl around Tulah’s body. Georgie turned toward the door, leaving her questions unvoiced. She didn’t know whose ears were listening.

In one swift move, Georgie pulled open the door and stepped outside. A sheen of red flashed, there and gone as she passed through. A humming pressure coasted along her shoulders, her vision wavered for a fraction of an instant, then it all stopped. Georgie stood on the front porch, surveying the door from a new angle.

“I think you’re prisoners,” she finally said.

Motherhood #3
“Georgeanne!” A deep voice immediately recognizable as her father came to them. “At least fifteen people saw you come in here with Silviu Lovasz. Open this door at once!”

The situation was regrettably similar to what had happened ten years ago. Georgie’s father had found them naked and entangled when they were teenagers, and had helped keep the betrothed pair apart for a decade. Gritting his teeth against the agony searing his mind and body, Silviu reluctantly stepped back, knowing the moment had passed and he’d lost his chance.

He fought to keep from sending his magic winging through the door to kill Georgie’s parents where they stood.

Georgie slid off the desk to stand on shaky legs and smoothed her hair. Silviu stuffed his stiff cock back into his pants with a grimace. Awkwardly, he forced his throbbing body to bend and snatch her panties from the floor.

“That was too close,” she hissed. “That can’t happen again.”

“It will,” he promised her. “I want you, I need you, and you are mine. The next time I get my hands on you, and that will be no later than the end of this day, I will fuck you breathless. To the point you won’t even be able to scream your pleasure.”

“Georgeanne!” her father yelled.

One minute,” she called back. She spun on Silviu with a heated look that had nothing to do with lust. “I will say when, do you understand me? When I have permission, I will share my body completely, but until my grandmother approves, I won’t risk everything I’ve worked for just because you make me come.”

He didn’t have the heart to tell her how wrong she was. He didn’t have the words to explain how they’d both been used and betrayed by the people who’d sworn to love them and protect them at all costs. Silviu couldn’t bear to tell her that neither of them would find any help in achieving the goals their Families had given them. It was up to them to forge a new path through a dangerous minefield of intrigue and manipulation.

So he stepped close and shoved his hand under her skirt. With unerring accuracy, he found her entrance and pushed two fingers deep inside. Hot, scalding, a promise of heaven and everything Silviu had ever hoped to achieve in life. Ignoring the insistent pounding on the door, he filled her with his fingers as she went to her toes and clutched his shoulders.

“I will have you, Georgeanne. This is between us and no longer involves anyone else. They can’t keep me from you ever again. I won’t let them.”

He pulled his fingers from her body without regard for the way she staggered back on trembling legs. He didn’t dare hold on to her any longer. He licked the taste of her from his knuckles even as he opened the door and caught her father’s gaze.

“She’s mine,” Silviu snarled in the other man’s face. “This time, there’s nothing you can do to stop me from claiming her.”

Sovereignty #4
“Your father was wrong! Vasile read some fucking fairy tales and figured they were as good as real life.”

“He’s been right—”

“He’s been half-right,” she argued. Georgie took a step back and rubbed her temples. “We can’t depend on legends alone, Silviu. We have to face facts.”

“My father believed you would be an extremely powerful witch. He believed that all your magic is locked inside you, hidden by your Bane shield, but that my magic held the key.”

“It’s the other way around,” she whispered.

“No. Magic Matches take the heft of the stronger witch. You access my magic, but I can’t access yours. That means you’re more powerful than I am, and we just have to unlock what you have, stabilize it and learn to use it.”

“I have no magic for you to access.” She held up a hand to forestall his argument. “Whatever I am, Silviu, and whatever we can be together, it’s not what your father expected.”

He stared at her for a long minute, the silver hue of his eyes darkening, his lips pulling straight. Just when Georgie was about to simply leave him to his thoughts and find a quiet place to organize her own, he moved. Silviu was lightning quick when he wanted to be, and she didn’t have a chance to register his actions before he’d caught her in an unbreakable embrace.

“My love.” His breath feathered over her ear and made her knees melt. “We’ll figure out what we can do, but only when this wall of doubt between us comes down.”

Not giving her a chance to reply, Silviu captured Georgeanne’s mouth with his own. He dominated and conquered, letting the full force of his authority bear down on hers. Reacting without thought, she fought back with slick thrusts and wet parries, doing her best to combat his patriarchal arrogance with her own feminine pride.

But the kiss dragged her under his spell—a different kind of magic. The enchantments of want, need and desire fed into the alchemy of the schoolgirl’s crush and became the woman’s greatest pleasure. The magic of sensuality between two lovers who fit each other in every way had the room spinning, swirling with gold, controlled without effort.

Silviu broke their kiss, but his lips moved against hers as he said, “I’ll teach you to trust me again, Georgeanne, the same way I taught you before—with pleasure, patience and love.”

Author Bio:
Delve into the emotions, dive into the erotic.

An extensive traveler who loves to incorporate various legends from around the world into her tales, author Lola White likes to twist reality at its edges in her stories. She likes delving into the emotions of her characters, finding their strengths and weaknesses, and seeing (and showing) how they get themselves out of whatever trouble has found them—if they can.


Betrothed #1
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Married #2

Motherhood #3

Sovereignty #4

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Who She Was by Stormy Smith

Title: Who She Was
Author: Stormy Smith
Genre: Contemporary New Adult Romance
Release Date: May 4, 2017
Trevor Adler loathes the music he used to love, but it’s the key to his full-ride scholarship and the ticket away from his dysfunctional parents. To kick off their freshman year, Trevor’s roommate drags him to a frat party, where he ends up face-to-face with his childhood best friend and finds himself entrenched in memories he’d rather forget.

Unable to let Charlie go again without understanding the truth of why she disappeared from his life and chose to become the type of person they always hated, Trevor is relentless in his pursuit of the girl he once knew.

Charlotte (Charlie) Logan is broken. Under her perfectly-crafted exterior are the shards of a shattered heart. A handful of angry words changed her life completely and Charlie’s never been able to forgive herself for the truth she’s hidden from everyone.

While Trevor pushes Charlie to remember the music that lit her soul and the laughter they shared, they find themselves reverting to a banter-filled rhythm that feels all too familiar, yet different now. When Trevor’s own secrets come to light, it becomes clear he and Charlie both must face their tragic pasts if they have any hope at a future together.

Chapter One
“Are you guys ready for this?”

The overly-excited frat boy in charge yelled into the microphone and the backyard of the Sigma Alpha house hit deafening levels. Inside their dingy kitchen, I shared a wary look with a few of the Kappa pledges.

“As much fun as we’re already having tonight, it’s about to get real! The fifth annual dating auction is about to start. That means the only thing standing between you and a hot little sorority pledge is your parents’ money!”

A petite redhead who barely looked fifteen, let alone eighteen, drew back the curtain of the kitchen window to peek out as he continued and then giggled.

“I can’t believe rush week is finally here and tonight is the auction!” She actually clapped her hands together and I forced my eyes not to disappear into the back of my head. “I hope Austin bids on me,” she gushed. “He’s so hot.”

“And you will be yet another notch on his freshman bedpost,” I muttered before I could stop myself. The girl behind me in line stifled a chuckle, and I smiled knowing there was someone else who understood how absurd this was.

“Your mom was a Kappa, too?” She asked.

I nodded. The line of sorority pledges filed forward through the kitchen to the back door as the emcee announced the next piece of meat up for bid. I kept my eyes forward and not on the half-filled keg cups and ripped open chip bags.

“Can you believe we have to go through with this just to pledge?” The girl twisted a piece of her hair and I didn’t miss the fear that flashed in her eyes. “The worst part was when I told my mom, she was actually excited.”

We took another step forward as I shook my head in disbelief. I hadn’t bothered to even tell my mother since it wouldn’t have mattered. Getting in was all she was worried about and Katie was the only one who ever mattered to her.

Then, I was next. I swallowed down my own anxiety and pressed my sweating palms down my skirt. It was tight and high-waisted, and my heels were higher than I was comfortable with.

Katie would have loved me in it.

I missed my Chucks.

My name came over the crackling sound system and I felt warm fingers encircle my own.

“You’ll do great, Charlotte,” she encouraged. I hadn’t even bothered to ask her name and she’d been astute enough to pluck mine from the bio being read to the crowd. I gave her a tight-lipped smile and returned the gesture even though I wanted to yank my hand from hers and wipe it off again.

I pushed through the torn screen door and pulled the humid August air into my lungs as I straightened my posture and put one foot in front of the other. My smile was so automatic it didn’t matter that I didn’t feel it anywhere but the shift in my cheeks—not too much teeth to seem fake, just enough for no one to ever think anything was wrong.

The emcee’s voice was lost in the cat calls. I heard bids of anywhere from five dollars to twenty as they commented on my rack or how my long hair would come in handy. My fingers tapped out a familiar rhythm onto my hip, one that I refused to acknowledge, but it was the only way I could keep circling the rickety stage.

I had to get into this sorority. It was what she wanted. It wasn’t optional.

“Two hundred and fifty dollars.” His voice silenced the crowd.

My smile didn’t waver as I let out a longer exhale and thanked whoever he was while also praying he wasn’t a psycho.

A sweaty, drunk guy helped me off the stage, and I was thankful when my heels sunk slightly into the ground because it was over and all the attention shifted to the next piece of cattle. I followed the turning heads in the direction of my bidder, who was still lost in the crowd.

The crowd shifted as their attention focused back on the next pledge up for bid. The light from the porch found him and he stood facing me, clearly waiting. For a split second, time stopped.
He smirked, catching my pause. The baby-face Trevor had the last time I saw him was gone. Instead, angular features and questioning eyes stared back at me.

I wanted to spin on my heel and run the other direction. Trevor was the slip knot of my life. The carefully intertwined ropes I’d wrapped around the person I used to be — the one he alone had understood and yet still abandoned — could be unraveled with one tug. He could destroy me and everything I’d done to atone for my mistake.

No one knew what I’d done. How it was all my fault. I’d never told anyone so he couldn’t know. It was a secret I desperately wanted to share so I no longer had to bear it alone, but knew I couldn’t.

“Fancy meeting you here, Charlie,” Trevor said as he pushed his thick-rimmed glass up his nose, failing to convince me he was any more comfortable with our impromptu reunion than I was.

I didn’t need him anymore. He was the who’d disappeared and left me all alone. It didn’t matter that he was the one who knew the rhythm I tapped out to get through the worst of times. Or that in an instant I remembered what real laughter felt like and the feel of ivory under my fingertips. It couldn’t matter. Not anymore.

I charged forward, auto-smiled and played the part I’d cast for myself.

“Charlotte,” I stated. “My name is Charlotte.”

Chapter Two
30 minutes earlier
“Chug, chug, chug!”

A group of guys surrounded the keg. Two of them held the third upside down as he gripped the shiny silver handle with one hand and held the tapper line with the other.

Sam stared, his head tilting further and further as he watched the guy gulp down beer after beer as his friends cheered him on. I saw a flash of blonde and yanked Sam back toward me, stepping to the side just in time to miss a stumbling girl aiming what was left of her dinner at the shrubbery.

Sam whipped away from the sound of her gagging, pursing his lips. “It’s only nine o’clock! Is someone going to help her?”

I nodded and tipped my head in the direction of the three girls rushing toward her, squeals of concern getting to us before they did. Their tight dresses and heavy makeup looked more fit for a club than a backyard kegger, and their heels sank in the grass so they popped up and down, reminding me of the old arcade game Whac-a-Mole. As they passed, I held out the water bottle I’d put in my cargo shorts pocket. A brunette gave me a grateful, unfocused smile as she took it and hurried to hold her friend’s hair, instantly telling her no one was watching. In reality, our whole corner of the yard was watching and I even heard a few over/under bets on how long before she’d be passed out.

“You really need to relax, dude. It’s just a party.” I took a drink of the crappy keg beer they handed me when we entered the backyard. I didn’t know which frat house we’d stumbled into, but Greek Street was where the parties were and earlier today my new roommate told me he wanted to check out a college party.

Sam shoved his red hair out of his face and looked around us, skeptical.

“Just a party?” His disbelief and discomfort was evident in his crossed arms and hunched shoulders. On a picnic table nearby, a lanky brunette stretched out with her arms above her head and her tank top bunched around her boobs. She let a guy pour tequila on her stomach, which he proceeded to suck off, capping the experience by kissing her to get to the lime.

“Par-tay,” I said, enunciating dramatically. “It’s a noun. When used in the context of college students, it typically entails mass quantities of booze — no matter the variety, though watch out for the flammable stuff — loud music, equal parts vomiting and hooking up, and the occasional demeaning act caught by an iPhone.”

“I’ve been to parties,” he said with a huff, “but this is a little much.” He held his beer like it might have poison in it and I laughed. “You may as well have worn a neon sign flashing ‘Freshman’. You’ve got to chill.”

Between the light blue polo his mom probably bought him for Easter, shorts that looked like they had creases ironed into them, and his attempt at long hair, he looked like Samwise Gamgees. A hobbit repping Gap — that’s what Sam looked like.

Red crept up his neck and he muttered into his cup, “How do you know so much about college parties anyway?”

“I moved around a lot,” I said with a shrug. “I spent a year in Iowa City, which is where one of the country’s biggest party schools is.” I gave him a wink as I brought the red signature cup to my lips and tried to suppress memories of the talks my dad would give me before he sent me into the fray of drunk Iowa Hawkeye fans. No matter what he said, we both knew I was there to swindle guys into paying me to play songs for their girlfriends. Me, my guitar, and the hope of making enough to stave off the next envelope marked “Final Notice” — every sixteen-year-old’s dream.

Not far from us was an intense game of flippy cup, which ended with the final two adversaries spilling more of their beer down their shirts than into their mouths. There were at least two kegs in each corner of the yard, calls for shots were endless, and the sound system was broaching ear-piercing decibels.

The space was wall-to-wall with people and we may have been the most sober ones there. “Sorry I was late getting back,” I apologized again. “I didn’t expect to get called in last minute to help bar back. Hannah, the bartender and a friend of mine, got slammed out of nowhere by an end-of-the-summer party bus and I live closest.”

Sam waved me off, and said, “No big deal, man,” but I was sure he’d have been more comfortable being here when things kicked off.

A makeshift stage rose up next to the deck, though calling it a stage was too nice of a description. It looked like someone who failed shop class nailed a bunch of half-rotted pallets together and slapped some plywood across the top to make a runway. So far, it didn’t have a purpose, but the night was young.

“Are you seriously considering pledging?” I asked him as his eyes lingered on a group of guys wearing the same T-shirt.

He tipped his cup back and his eyes roamed the crowd as his Adam’s apple bobbed, forcing the liquid down.

“Maybe the better question is if you really should be pledging?” I asked, his continual weight shifting and overall nerves a little more concerning than intriguing at this point.

Sam squared his shoulders and stood a little taller, turning to face me. “I am pledging because I am from the middle of freaking nowhere in Minnesota. There were a hundred and fifty people in my graduating class and the only parties I’ve been to were in the middle of the woods. This is college, and in college, you figure out who you want to be and what you’re willing to do to be that person.”

I nodded like I understood how all those things correlated and gestured toward the house. Sam immediately set off across the yard. We’d made it only a few feet when the lights blinked out. Strings of tiny white bulbs wrapped around the top of the fence cast a low glow over us all. The whole crowd hesitated for a moment, and in that second, a spotlight popped on and the music turned off.

Sam edged toward me as one of the frat boys stepped out onto the rickety runway, his affiliation clear in the backwards capital E and crisscrossing tails of the lowercase A on his chest.

“We must be in the Sigma Alpha house,” I said quietly to Sam, who looked at me like I was insane.

“Of course we are,” he whispered. “This is the house. Everybody wants into this house. You get in here and you’re basically guaranteed the best four years of your life.”

Sam stared intently at the guy on stage, who grinned out at the crowd. He looked like an athlete, trim but stacked. He was probably fast. His hair was cut really short, making me think he was on the baseball team, because those batting helmets were a killer in Iowa heat.

“Are you guys ready for this?” he hollered into the mic.

The crowd roared and Sam and I shared a questioning look.

“As much fun as we’re already having tonight, it’s about to get real! We’ve got the fifth annual pet shelter dating auction about to start. That means the only thing standing between you and a hot little sorority pledge is your parents’ money!”

A combination of laughter, hooting, hollering, and a few insinuations of exactly what a guy might do with a hot sorority pledge made me slightly worried for the girls.

“All the proceeds from tonight go to local pet shelters, so don’t be shy, fellas — and ladies, if that’s your thing!” The guy smirked as a few girls cheered from behind me.

“Want to move on?” I asked Sam as I drained my cup. I didn’t even like beer, but I was here and it was here and my typical loner tendencies had me wishing I’d pretended I had plans when Sam asked if I wanted to go out. But I wanted — no, needed to make friends about as much as he apparently wanted to pledge. Being chucked from high school to high school as my parents lost and found apartments meant friends were hard to come by and harder to keep.

The emcee started calling out names, random facts about the girls, and the sororities they were pledging. The bidding war was on and I was ready to get out of there.

“I should probably stay,” Sam responded, surprising me. “I should probably bid so they know who I am.”

I nodded and then pivoted on my heel. “Hey, where are you going?” he called after me. I raised my empty cup as I headed for the keg. If we were staying, I was going to need another drink.


I elbowed my way back toward Sam and even over the madness of the auction, found him in an animated discussion with a tall, hot blonde who pointed at her sky-blue, knee-high socks and then poked him playfully in the chest. I was still processing her short denim cutoffs, absolutely stellar legs, and how socks were involved in any part of their conversation when I heard, “There’s no red in Manchester.”

Sam scoffed at her, looking more comfortable in that moment than he had all night. The blonde looked down her nose at him, and he replied, “And how are all those empty seats in your city’s stadium?”

She recoiled a moment and right when I thought she might punch him, the girl erupted in laughter and threw an arm around Sam’s shoulders. “What’s your name? I have a feeling we’re destined to be friends,” she said. “Anybody who can actually talk soccer is a friend of mine." I was glad they understood the conversation, because I was lost.

I approached as they shared introductions and Sam turned to me. “Darcy, this is my roommate, Trevor. Trevor, are you into soccer?”

We clinked our cups, and I replied, “Nice to meet you, Darcy. I’m not a huge soccer fan, but I’ve followed the U.S. Women’s National Team ever since the World Cup in Germany. That Wombach-Rapino combination is a killer.”

She nodded approvingly, as did Sam, before he grinned at her and said, “Darcy and I are bitter rivals and will clearly need a neutral third party if we’re going to stay friends.”

I opened my mouth to respond when Darcy interrupted. “Hey, my roommate is up!”

I turned and my breath froze in my lungs. Like ice forming on a rainy windshield, the air slowly locked in my chest. I couldn’t move. My heart thundered behind my ribs and echoed between my ears. Anger rose like a wildfire, my latent resentment perfect kindling. I hadn’t seen Charlie in four years, how in the hell did she end up here?

I couldn’t take my eyes off her, nor could I stop the cascade of memories seeing her unleashed. I clenched my fists at my sides, completely shattering the cup in my hand, sending sixteen ounces of beer splattering onto the dirt.

It was the look on her face that broke the spell — the smile she’d plastered on to cover the panic, her eyes moving over every head in the room with focus, her shallow breaths expanding and deflating her chest. She was terrified. She didn’t want to be up there and though it went against every ounce of pissed off currently filling my mind, I had to do something. She was my best friend — at least, she used to be.

My heart beat in my ears and I knew it was ridiculous to even think about the fourteen-year-old girl I’d left behind. She was not that girl anymore. The only way Charlie would have been on that stage when I knew her was if there was a guitar or a piano on it. The word repeated in my head…Why? Why? Why? I had to know why and this was my chance to make her tell me, or so I told myself as she squared her shoulders and tipped her chin up in defiance of the low bids and catcalls.

“Two hundred and fifty dollars.” My voice cut through the noise of the crowd. Both Darcy and Sam erupted into twenty questions and heads turned to see where the sound originated, but I wasn’t looking at them. I couldn’t take my eyes off the girl who was the direct opposite of the one I used to know. From her long brown hair to her perfectly prim outfit, Charlie looked nothing like the half Goth girl, half band geek I’d known over half my life.

Charlie’s tight smile and perfect posture relaxed by a small degree, her relief obvious to me and likely no one else. It was clear she still wanted nothing to do with being the center of attention and I instantly hated the fact that I knew that.

The emcee announced my next two months of spending money won the bid and as I embraced my typical state of broke, I hoped they would buy decent dog food with it.

The small stage she stood on wobbled beneath her sky-high heels as she peered out into the crowd. Between the low light in the yard and the spotlight in her face, there was no way she could see me. As soon as Charlie released the hand of the half-drunk guy who helped her down from the stage, she made her way in my direction.

Her every reaction was familiar to me and I knew the moment it clicked. Her eyes widened slightly and her nostrils flared. Her body stiffened, but she charged forward until she finally stood a short foot from me.

“Fancy meeting you here, Charlie,” I said, forcing calm and only allowing a tinge of sarcasm into my tone. I rocked back on my heels, shoved my glasses up my nose, and gave her an easy smile that certainly didn’t match my roaring pulse or the trail of sweat trickling down my spine. Questions, statements, and a string of words I’d never be able to take back ran through my head, but I stood there and smiled. Darcy and Sam stayed off to one side, both staring at us but silent.

She inhaled once and then again, her eyes scanning the people around us, noticing their attention had gone back to the auction. Finally, she straightened her shoulders and said, “Charlotte. My name is Charlotte.”

“Charlotte? That’s what you’re going with these days?” Her full name felt like a dirty word coming out of my mouth. It stood for everything she’d hated, yet somehow had clearly become.

“It certainly is, and what I’m doing at all is none of your business,” she snapped back at me, one hand balled up and now resting on her hip.

I raised my hands in surrender, but countered with a smirk. “See, that’s where you’re wrong. You’re the one who put yourself up for the highest bidder and I’m the one who just saved you from some asshole who’d want to do more than talk to you, so how about a little more gratitude and less attitude?”

“I don’t owe you anything, Trevor,” she spat at me.

An assault of emotions I hadn’t let myself feel in years ricocheted through my system and I pressed my feet into the dirt to keep from closing the distance between us. Charlie recoiled slightly before crossing her arms and leaning in.

“It appears you owe me no less than three hours of my choosing,” I started, my words clipped. She rolled her eyes and I let her, waiting for her gaze to come back to mine before finishing my statement. “I suppose that will give you ample time to explain where in the hell you’ve been for four years and where you get off acting like it’s you who deserves to be pissed about it.”

Charlie’s mouth fell open and both Darcy and Sam gasped.

Her eyes narrowed and that look of challenge I’d always loved set in her features.

“Before you say something you shouldn’t,” I cautioned, “just remember why you were up on that stage to begin with.” Judgment dripped from my every word and she didn’t miss a drop of it. At the start, the emcee explained that not honoring our date meant she could no longer pledge and we both knew this was her mom’s sorority. God knows we’d heard enough about it growing up.

Charlie glared at me, her lips flattening into a thin line, and responded, “Fine. You want a date, you’ve got one. Three hours and not one minute more.”

Before I could say anything else, she turned on her heel and disappeared into the crowd. I watched her, torn between going after her, even if all I did was irritate her into yelling at me some more, and leaving the party entirely because I wasn’t sure how much longer I could stay knowing we were in the same zip code.

I could still feel her bony shoulders pressing into my chest and hear her sniffle as she told me goodbye for the hundredth time since my dad announced our move. Her fingertips had gripped my back as I kissed the top of her head, and for that brief second, I believed our friendship would last and we would overcome anything together.

It wasn’t six months later she completely cut me out of her life — no explanation, no goodbye.

She’d just thrown our friendship away and I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to find out why.

Author Bio:
Stormy Smith calls Iowa’s capital home now, but was raised in a tiny town in the Southeast corner of the state. She grew to love books honestly, having a mom that read voraciously and instilled that same love in her.

When she isn’t working on, or thinking about, her books, Stormy’s favorite places include bar patios, live music shows, her yoga mat or anywhere she can relax with her husband, twin sons or girlfriends.


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