Author: E.M. Tippetts
Release date: August 20, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance/coming of age
Age Group: Young Adult
Event organized by: AToMR Tours
"A fast-paced blend of high-stakes drama and average teenage concerns (sex, appearance, friends), capped with a welcome message of hope." ~Kirkus Reviews
If there’s one thing Madison Lukas understands, it’s pain. The pain she feels when her mother ignores her completely. The pain her best friend endures as her parents starve her as punishment. The pain of a dangerous boy whose mother has to be carried away by law enforcement on a regular basis.
She gets it. She feels the pain of others as if it were her own.
But when a mysterious man claiming to be her long lost brother appears with promises of relieving her suffering, trusting him could reveal more truths than Madison is ready for. Because the truth can hurt, too.
That night, a tap at my window nudges me awake. I roll over and wait for it to come again. It might have just been a dream.
I haul myself up to flip the latch, and then lay down again. “Kail,” I say, once the window swings open, “It's Monday night.”
“It's not Kailie.”
My eyes snap open. “Jean-Pierre?”
“Yeah. Can I come in?”
“Sure.” I roll out of bed and hightail it to the bathroom. “I'll be right back.”
When I return from brushing my teeth and hair, I find him sitting on my bed. He looks up when I sit down next to him, and for a minute I don't know what to say.
“So...” he begins. “You mad at me?”
“You seemed kinda mad today at lunch.”
“I didn't think you even saw me.”
“That what made you mad?”
“It hurt my feelings.”
He presses his fingertips together and fidgets a moment. “I know, we didn't really get to talk the other night. I like you, okay? But I'm not into the whole being a couple thing. The last time I had a girlfriend, it was constant drama. Even having a conversation like this, now, I hate this part. I wish we could just skip it.”
“Skip to what?”
He puts his arms around me and pulls me close. His skin is warm, through the thin cotton of his t-shirt. He nuzzles my nose and coaxes me in for a kiss. Warmth spreads inside me as we lock lips, but so does confusion. His palms slide over my shirt and he leans against me until we both lie down on my bed. The momentary panic I feel subsides quickly. He doesn't try to take off any of my clothes or anything, just kisses me and holds me close.
When we break off, he says, “This all right?”
I do my best to think straight. He just said he hates discussing relationship stuff, so does this mean I shouldn't admit I'm totally confused? “Um...”
He props himself up on one elbow, mind already wandering elsewhere. “This has been the worst week, and it's only just started. I've got a chess tournament this weekend but I've also got an AP English paper due. I'm stressed. Beyond stressed.”
Stress is something I know how to handle. “Here,” I say. “Lay on your stomach.”
He does and I sit up to dig my thumbs into the flesh between his shoulderblades. He lets out a gasp. “Wow.”
I've given my mom massages for years, ever since she started to get repetitive motion injuries in her shoulders and wrists. I get up onto my knees and throw my weight behind the kneading motion as I force his muscles to unclench, teasing out knots with my fingers. I start with his shoulders and work down to the small of his back, careful not to press on his kidneys. Just as I'm working out the last little knot, he rolls onto his side and pulls me down to lay next to him. Both his hands slide under my shirt as he massages my back, and kisses my lips, pressing his body against mine. His breath on my cheek, the taste of his lips, the feel of his skin against mine, it’s all too much to process.
Now I feel completely out of my depth, and what's worse, I feel like it's my fault our bodies are tangled together. I'm the one who put my hands all over him to make him feel good. “Relax,” he whispers.
But I can't. I didn't even bother to keep the condoms they handed out in health class because they seemed about as useful to me as a guide to Paris written in Greek. Kailie was more than happy to take them off my hands.
Jean-Pierre finally slows things down and shifts to lie next to me again. “You okay?”
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Emily Mah Tippetts writes romance under the name E.M. Tippetts and science fiction and fantasy under the name Emily Mah. Originally from New Mexico, she now lives in London with her family. Before she was a published author, she was an attorney who specialized in real estate, contracts, and estate planning, especially literary estate planning.
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