Cover Reveal Celebration + Giveaway: The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by MG Buehrlen


 It’s time to PAR-TAY!

Today we’re celebrating the cover reveal for MG Buehrlen’s debut YA novel, THE 57 LIVES OF ALEX WAYFARE, coming to stores March 2014 from Strange Chemistry! MG is one of my dearest friends and confidants, and this book is amazing. It’s timey-wimey with swoon and humor and gorgeous writing. I read it in one day, and I can’t wait to read it again! YOU WILL LOVE IT.




BONUS POINTS: Mention you saw the cover on my blog (when you fill out the giveaway form below) and you can earn extra entries!

Ready to see the cover? Here it is!




US Release Date: March 4, 2014
UK Release Date: March 6, 2014
Publisher: Strange Chemistry / Distributed by Random House
ISBN: 9781908844934

About the Book

One girl. Fifty-seven lives. Endless ways to die.

For as long as 17-year-old Alex Wayfare can remember, she has had visions of the past. Visions that make her feel like she’s really on a ship bound for America, living in Jamestown during the Starving Time, or riding the original Ferris wheel at the World’s Fair.

But these brushes with history pull her from her daily life without warning, sometimes leaving her with strange lasting effects and wounds she can’t explain. Trying to excuse away the aftereffects has booked her more time in the principal’s office than in any of her classes and a permanent place at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Alex is desperate to find out what her visions mean and get rid of them.

It isn’t until she meets Porter, a stranger who knows more than should be possible about her, that she learns the truth: Her visions aren’t really visions. Alex is a Descender – capable of traveling back in time by accessing Limbo, the space between Life and Afterlife. Alex is one soul with fifty-six past lives, fifty-six histories.

Fifty-six lifetimes to explore: the prospect is irresistible to Alex, especially when the same mysterious boy with soulful blue eyes keeps showing up in each of them. But the more she descends, the more it becomes apparent that someone doesn’t want Alex to travel again. Ever.

And will stop at nothing to make this life her last. 

Pre-order The Fifty-Seven Lives of Alex Wayfare now!
Barnes & Noble  |  Books-a-Million  |  Amazon  |  Indiebound  |  The Book Depository
About the Author


When she’s not writing, M.G. moonlights as a web designer and social media/creative director. She’s the current web ninja lurking behind the hugely popular website, a social network for YA (and kids!) book lovers.

These are the places you’ll find M.G. hiding: in her creaky old house nestled in Michigan pines, sipping coffee on her porch, cooking over campfires, and dipping her toes in creeks. Say hello to M.G. on TwitterFacebook, and Tumblr.


Giveaway Details


One winner from each participating blog (10 total) will receive signed bookmarks and stickers.

One grand prize winner will receive a copy of the book (once available) as well as the Mega 57 LIVES Character Prize Pack (each item pertaining to a significant character in the book):

– A pair of black Wayfarer glasses, like Alex wears

– A pack of chocolate pudding cups, courtesy of Jensen

– Vintage piano sheet music for the song Star Dust, the song Nick plays for Alex

– An orange Baltimore Orioles cap, like Porter wears

– A pair of engraved Polygon game piece stones (You’ll have to read the book to find out how these come into play!)

– A tote bag

– Signed bookmarks and stickers

This giveaway is open internationally. Winners will be chosen and notified by email within 30 days of the giveaway end date.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Extra entries can be earned by following the bloggers involved in the Cover Reveal Celebration.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Early Fall Recap – In Pictures

I was gone for the majority of September, and with school/baseball/band, etc, I am more behind on blog posts than usual! I’ve been drafting like a fiend this month, but I wanted to share some pictures from my early fall adventures!


First, from San Diego Comic Con, with a glass of Game of Thrones mead in the Wired Lounge:


Finally meeting Katie B. Mundie Mom at the Scholastic party:


At the Decatur Book Festival, being terrified by Courtney Stevens, who was dressed as a Shadowhunter for Dragon Con!


Where Michelle Hodkin MADE ME RAP:


 From the YA AdVANture Tour (more photos and a travel log HERE at Publisher’s Weekly):

ya advanture

Me and Tessa Gratton, right after a bartender asked me if I was Tessa’s mother:


Sonia Gensler and Tara Hudson, right after a bartender asked if I was Tessa’s mother:


 Tara Hudson, cry-laughing because a bartender asked if I was Tessa’s mother.


On the way to the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival I got to stay with the most lovely Stephanie Perkins, and she hosted a yummy dinner for me! Pic is of Beth Revis, Megan Shepard, Meagan Spooner and Steph:


 And Steph has a legit skeleton. In her closet.


At the Parapalooza SIBA event in New Orleans, where I had to read a paragraph to book sellers (thanks for the photo and Publisher’s Weekly mention, Paige Crutcher!):

Myra McEntire at Parapalooza (3)

With Terra McVoy and Shannon Messenger at the mind-blowingly amazing Anderson’s 10th annual YA conference:


Lemon Drop at the Anderson’s conference hotel – half of which ended up in Michael Grant’s lap (due to clumsiness – I am a GESTURER):


At the Southern Festival of Books with my new favorite person, Sharon Cameron:

Sharon SFoB

And with Sonia Gensler at SoFest – we stood there for a REASON (I like big butts and I cannot lie):

Sonia SFoB

Milo the Cat, glad I’m home, and resting his head on my notes:


And finally, what I’m working on now. Well, a bit of setting from what I’m working on now:


Hope you’re all having a lovely fall!

Announcing the YA AdVANture Tour!

Introducing the YA AdVANture Tour! Four Authors, Five Cities, ONE MINIVAN!

This September, I’ll be hitting the road with Tessa Gratton (author of THE LOST SUN and the BLOOD JOURNALS: BLOOD KEEPER and BLOOD MAGIC), Tara Hudson (author of the ELEGY Trilogy), and Sonia Gensler (author of THE REVENANT and THE DARK BETWEEN) in somebody’s mom’s minivan to visit bookstores and libraries in the South and Midwest!

Thursday, September 5th: Irving, TX Barnes & Noble, Frisco, TX @ 7:00 p.m. Stonebriar Center Mall, Frisco, TX 75034 (972) 668-2820

Friday, September 6th: Little Rock, AR Barnes & Noble @ 6:00 p.m. 11500 Financial Ctr Pkwy, Little Rock, AR 72211 (501) 954-7646

Saturday, September 7th: Memphis, TN The Booksellers at Laurelwood @ 7:00 p.m. 387 Perkins Extd Memphis, TN 38117 (901) 683-9801

Sunday, September 8th: St. Louis, MO Left Bank Books @ 4:00 p.m. Off-site library location TK

Monday, September 9th: Kansas City, KS Mysteryscape @ 6:30 7309 W 80th St Overland Park, KS 66204 (913) 649-0000





I am so excited to finally be able to share the POV of INFINITYGLASS with you!

I’ve known this character for three years, and I imagine she’s exactly what would happen if Emerson and Kaleb had a baby. (They’re not having a baby.)

Go to Romantic Times to meet Hallie!

And here’s the second chapter on hypable, introducing the SECOND POV (a character you’ve already met)!!!!


Writing is Like Eating a Kit Kat and Honesty about Depression

First of all, let me apologize for the crickets you’ve been hearing around here for the last two months. I have a reason.


The third try took, and I’m finishing up copy edits now. My new release date is August 6th, 2013, and I can tell you that after a whole freaking lot of angst and crying and super concentrated self-loathing, I am proud of the finished product.

Sometimes writing a book is like eating a Kit Kat. You bite off the chocolate edges, but that’s not enough. You take apart the crispy layers and lick off the filling, but that’s not quite satisfying. And then finally, FINALLY, you get to the crispy wafers, and the taste sensation is complete.

Then you think, YANNO, if I had just taken three big bites, that sucker would’ve gone down a whole lot easier. And maybe, just maybe, my fingers would be clean and I would still have my sanity. Or, as my husband (unwisely) said about INFINITYGLASS, “If you had just done it right the first time, you wouldn’t have had all this trouble.”

RIGHT after he said that, everything that had been on his desk was on the floor. It is a thing I do when he angers me. *I* think he’s lucky I don’t resort to pulling out his leg hairs or replacing his shampoo with Nair. He mostly just fusses at me, until he starts laughing. It always ends in laughing. I’m a lucky woman.

I’d mentioned on the Twitter that this past year has been rough, mentally and emotionally. I’ve never been ashamed to talk about my struggles with depression, mostly because so many of you who also struggle have reached out to me. *fist bump of solidarity*

Depression is not a thing to take lightly. If you have symptoms (click here to visit TWLOHA), please talk to someone. There’s most definitely a link between depression and creativity. I know a lot of creatives who choose not to medicate, and many who do. It’s a personal choice and different for everyone – you do you.

I usually deal by using my favorite weapon, laughter, but it doesn’t always work. About this time last year, I went to my doctor, Dr. Who Gets It, and told him I was having a particularly difficult time shaking off a depressive episode. Like, I couldn’t. At all. Dr. WGI deals with a lot of creatives: song writers, singers,  and other artists. He understands I want to be on a dosage that keeps the depression under control, but that doesn’t level me out so much I can’t function.

I switched medications. Two weeks later, I was a solid bruise. I have a bleeding disorder, and the new medicine affected my platelets. I had to stop taking it. Immediately.

In that case, cold turkey was not a good thing.

It took me about two months to get myself back together, but it was a ROUGH two months, and the repercussions spun out even longer. Everything is okay now, amen. I learned a few things through the experience about depression that I want to share.

1) Don’t isolate yourself from people who love you. I did. I cut off my friends, and I lost a couple. I am so grateful for the ones who stuck around and tough-loved me anyway, who g-chatted, face timed, Skyped, dropped by, and texted. Y’all know exactly who you are. I also learned that when you get a little niggle to check in with someone, do it.

2) Consider how you spend the limited emotional energy you have. I had to step away from social media, both from the relationships and the promotion – but especially the promotion. I had to let go and hope that readers would find me. My boys took precedence, and I have no regrets.

3) Get some accountability. I had tweeted something about the specific experience of writing a third book, and Stephanie Perkins saw it. She DM’d me, and then she called me. I’d only met her a couple of times, but knew she was a kindred spirit. SHE GOT IT. She knew exactly where I was, and she didn’t let me stay there. She checked in every day. I love her dearly, and I’m so, so grateful to know her.

4) Balance. Balance. Balance. I still struggle with this. My previous MO was to spend days, weeks, months, writing ALL the books. Then days, weeks, catching up on ALL the correspondence. Then cleaning ALL the things. Then seeing ALL the people. Doing a quality amount of those things every day is my new goal.

5) If you work from home, make an office space and work in it. Have BOUNDARIES. We bought this sexy red leather chair for our living room last spring, and it now has a permanent imprint of my bum. I want to set it on fire. Arson is not the answer – boundaries are. I need set work hours and a space I can walk away from. If you do, too, but don’t have the luxury of a room of your own, close your computer and put it out of sight when work time is over.

I’ll stop now, because this post is long, and I need to pluck my eyebrows and drive to Kentucky for the Southern Kentucky Book Festival. Eyebrow maintenance is important. I hope some/any/all of my experiences will help some/any/all of you. If you struggle from depression, know you aren’t alone.

And if you’re a writer, maybe ponder on how you choose to eat your Kit Kats.


First off, congratulations to SARA HAGEN, winner of the Triple Threat Blog Tour Grand Prize! You’ll be receiving an email shortly!


This one time? My editor and I? We tried to break into a ballroom. 

It was important. Infinityglass takes place in New Orleans, and after exhaustive research, I discovered the best place to set a certain scene was in the very historic Bourbon Orleans ballroom. 



So, AMONG OTHER PLACES IN THE BOOK OF WHICH I HAVE PICTURES, Regina and I went to this fabulous hotel. And discovered the ballroom was locked. I took this through the crack in the door. 


Following one of my life mottos, “It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission,” I wiggled door handles. I tried to bribe staff. We eventually went down to the lobby, and not only did they offer to take us inside the ballroom, they were helpful and gracious about it. (Which goes to show you my life mottos are questionable. Except for the one about Not Engaging The Crazy.) 



Of course, it was everything I hoped it would be. Me (photo courtesy of TAMMY JONES): 

Me on the Floor


Taking this picture: 



AND THEN, I SAW IT. Serendipity.





Infinityglass Final 2:13 

WHAT DO YOU THINK?!? It fits the mood of the book so perfectly, which is creepier than Hourglass or Timepiece. I’m just saying, SHIZ goes DOWN.

I can’t wait to tell you whose point of view it’s from. *evil author chuckle*

What Stan Musial Taught Me About Kindness

My baseball life isn’t something I talk about much anymore. This is funny, now, because for almost ten years, I ate, slept, and breathed it. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

I spent the summer of 1992 in Saint Louis, Missouri, working with a group that ministered to the needs of inner city residents, mostly children. 

If you know me, you know how fascinated I am by cultures that are different from mine, and how I want to know everything about everyone, and live every life, and have every experience. (Why, yes, I am a writer.) I relished almost every second I spent in Saint Louis.

What I did not relish was the part-time job I had to work so that I could actually eat while I lived there. Ahhh, Casa Gallardo. I was a hostess. I had to wear a fluffy, colorful skirt with an off-the-shoulder peasant blouse. At that point in my life, there wasn’t a lot to keep that shirt up.  It was not hot, y’all. It was not even lukewarm

One busy Sunday, a big family came in and asked for a table. I proceeded to put them on a long wait, along with all the other people in the lobby. No complaints. 

I asked the man his last name so I could put him on the list.

He said, “Musial.” 

I said, “What?”

He said, “Musial.” 

I said, “How do you spell that?” 

Forty-five minutes later, when I called the name out over the intercom, two things happened. 

The first was that half the restaurant jumped out of their seats and rushed to the Dick’s Sporting Goods store across the parking lot to buy baseballs and Sharpies. The second was that my managers came running to the hostess desk from the back of the restaurant and pulled me to the side.

“Never, never, never do that again,” one said. 

“Do what?” I asked. 

“You don’t call famous people over the intercom,” the other said. 

“Who’s famous?”

It was an innocent question. I grew up listening to University of Tennessee football, and while my town had a minor league team, I’d only ever been interested in who was the cutest in the program pictures. 

“That’s Stan Musial.” 

Me, still clueless: “Who?” 

“Have you been to the Cardinals stadium? Have you seen the statues? Did you watch Happy Days? STAN the MAN?” 

Miraculously, they didn’t fire me.

I watched a line form at Mr. Musial’s table, all those people with their freshly purchased baseballs, holding them out for the poor man to sign. So many he couldn’t even eat. I felt like CRAP. I hemmed and hawed, and debated, and finally got up the nerve to go over to his table. There was hand wringing. And probably sweat. 

“Sir,” I said, kneeling by his seat. “I am so, so sorry. I’m from Tennessee, and I don’t really know much about baseball, but I wanted to say I’m sorry for making you wait, and for calling out your name — 

He stopped me. Made me pull up a chair. Introduced me to his wife, Lil, who had on a fabulous blue pantsuit, and was accessoried like you read about, most notably with a smile. He took my hand in his, told me not to worry, and then he and Lil chatted with me for a few minutes about life in general. 

He was unfailingly gracious and kind. 

Fast forward two years, to the July 4th I met one Ethan McEntire, a minor league baseball player in the New York Mets organization. He proposed three months later.

Fast forward two more years, to the spring night I sat in a stadium in Columbia, South Carolina, where I met Mr. Musial’s son. He ran “Stan the Man.” I told him my story. He told me he thought he remembered hearing it. When he found out I was married to the left-handed pitcher on the mound, he told me that he would pass the story along to his father. He thought he would appreciate the way things ended up. (I often wonder what he would’ve thought if he’d discovered I was a general manager for the Kingsport Mets for three years.)

Since that day, I’ve never asked anyone famous for an autograph unless their express purpose at the time was giving them. Not even when I ran into Rob Pattinson outside the bathroom at Comic-Con last summer. 

Stan Musial taught me something in five minutes of interaction, and I never forgot it. He showed me how to be gracious. How to have no pride in who you are or what you’ve done, but to instead show kindness for fellow humans whenever you can. Even to a country hick nineteen year-old girl who didn’t know a change up from a slider. I do now.

Sometimes, people autograph your hearts. Stan Musial did that for me, and the memory is more valuable than anything I could ever sell on EBay. 

Rest in peace, Mr. Musial. And thank you. 

About Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Monday, December 10th, 2012

12:00 PM

I got off the phone with Excellent Editor Regina, after I told her my crazy plans for rewriting Infinityglass. You know. That book that comes out this summer. I’m shell shocked, but excited. Ready to take it on.


Monday, December 10th, 2012  through Thursday, January 10, 2013

6:30 PM

Cry, plot, eat, write, delete, write, cry, pretend I’m not plotting at Christmas dinner, forgo any New Year’s activities to write, shut down the Twitter so I can concentrate fully on the book, cry, delete, laugh hysterically, eat, eat, and cry. Also, write.

6:31 PM 

My back goes out. It does this when too many hours at my desk chair make it angry. 

9:00 PM

Flat on my back with a tens unit applied to offending muscles. Decide to Read Something. Have my phone with my Kindle app in my hand. See HOPELESS by Colleen Hoover with a bajillion amazing reviews. One click ordering. BOOM. Read the first few chapters. Adore the voice. Remember why reading while revising is always a good idea. Fall deeper in love with the voice AND the writing. Pain pills kick in, so I go to bed.


Friday, January 11, 2013

9:30 AM

Sit down to work. Am tempted by the Kindle app on my MacBook Pro. I SUCCUMB.

11:48 AM

Get a phone call from Stephanie Perkins, my writing accountability partner and dear, sweet friend. Cannot make words because of the crying. Make tear and snot induced noises and promise to call back the second I’m done. 

11:49 AM

Husband brings home lunch. Keep reading. 

1:01 PM

“The End.” Realize the whole front of my “Bunnies Will F*cking Kill You” t-shirt is completely soaking wet from All the Crying Ever in the Whole Universe. 

(This book will help people. Change people. This is why books with pure, authentic emotion will win every time over writing style. However, the writing style is so, so strong and amazing. The VOICE. The whole thing is amazing. I want Colleen Hoover to move into my house and tell me stories every day. Her family will be FINE. I will feed her cupcakes and buy her a pony – this is how much I love this woman’s skills. Y’all, this book. I can’t even. I’ve not written a review in years, even for my besties. BUY IT. ALSO BUY TISSUE, OR WEAR AN ABSORBENT T-SHIRT. Also, heads up, it is a very sexy book that deals with some very serious issues. Also also, HOLY CRAP, HOLDER. Or as my neighbor said, “SMOLDER HOLDER.”) 

1:14 PM

See my lunch is still on the table.

1:31 PM


1:32 PM

Put on (dry) Doctor Who t-shirt and get back to work. 


Remember lunch.

Merry Christmas 2012!

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out thy mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Nominations and a Treat!

1) HOURGLASS sold three years ago today! That’s crazy, especially since I just scrapped the draft of the third book in the series — out June 25th in a bookstore near you, ALLEGEDLY — and started over. Because I am crazy. I blame Kristen Cashore. 

2) TIMEPIECE has been nominated for the Hypable Award for the Best Book of the Year! My competition includes J.K. Rowling. It’s an honor to be nominated. No seriously, because Hypable is awesome, and my name is on a list with J.K. Rowling’s. I’m jazzed. Not Jasper Hale jazzed. Just generally jazzed.

3) TIMEPIECE has been nominated for two YABC Choice Awards! YABC is a great site that reviews young adult books, and it’s a safe place for teachers/parents to send kids to make their own choices about what to read because it’s profanity free! 

UPDATE! 4) I just heard from my editor that TIMEPIECE has been nominated for Best YA Novel over at MTV Hollywood Crush!

I need to mention that I don’t look at these lists when I see the links go up because they make my stomach hurt. AND, there’s a spectacular level of awesome when there’s No Freaking Way you’ll win, because then you just get to enjoy the process! 

And not at all profanity free, IN CELEBRATION of the NOMINATIONS, I’m sharing a deleted scene from TIMEPIECE! This scene is the perfect example of how you sometimes write something that isn’t wrong, but isn’t quite right for the final draft, either. Fun note: a high school friend of mine, Josh Green, owns a bar called Doc Holliday’s in downtown Nashville, and this seemed like the perfect place to put Kaleb to get into trouble. In the final draft, he goes to a bar in downtown Memphis instead. (Plot purposes. Sorry Josh.) For all you fans of the show NASHVILLE, when you’re compelled to come this way, you should visit Doc Holliday’s! It’s right next to the Wild Horse! (And the bar is called Billy the Kid in the scene because of permissions and what not.) 


Enjoy this DELETED TIMEPIECE (and completely unedited!) scene, and please do not repost, but feel free to link here!


Screw yardwork.

I knew exactly where I was going, and exactly why I shouldn’t be.

I parked in an overnight garage, prepaid, and left my keys with Dave, the usual parking attendant.

“You sure, dude?” He lifted his white visor to scratch his forehead and peer up into my eyes. “The cops are really coming down hard lately, with all the new Vandy freshman.”

“Which is why I’m not driving.”

He nodded. “Take it easy, bro.”

“I’m taking it, but not easy.” My words echoed off the cement walls of the garage as I hooked a right onto Second Avenue.

It was still early. I went straight to Billy the Kid’s so I could get in without using my fake ID, and tucked myself into a four-seater in a corner. I ordered chili cheese fries with extra jalapenos, put my back against the wall, and watched the Saturday afternoon humanity flow in and out. Kids wearing the cheap cowboy hats sold in the gift shop, tourists fresh from the Grand Ole’ Opry, shoppers carrying bags from Hard Rock Cafe. A microcosm of country music fandom.

I tried to relax and let all the emotions flow over me, coasting the way I usually did in groups, waiting for Ben to show so I could get my drink on.

Just after eight, he stretched his hand out in front of me.

I slid him the parking garage claim receipt and he tucked it into his back pocket. A Southern Comfort and Coke appeared on the scratched vinyl tabletop. I downed it in three gulps.

“I’ll open a tab.” Ben was tall and slender, a cross country runner, he’d told me. He signaled to the girl behind the bar to bring another drink over. “Haven’t seen you in a while.”

I wondered if he really knew how old I was. I’d shown him my I.D. once. He’d never asked to see it again, but he always required the claim ticket for my car before he served me. I didn’t like lying to him, even by default.

Ben was one of the few ‘civilians’ who knew about my ability, and the revelation had happened purely by accident. I’d touched him on the day he’d buried his wife. Considering I was already three drinks deep, I hadn’t stopped myself from asking him why he was tending bar when he was so full of grief.

His pain had been so bad I’d taken a little. Only a little. Just enough to make him coherent. In hindsight, granting coherency to someone I’d taken emotion from wasn’t such a good idea, but he had reminded me so much of my dad grieving for my mom that I couldn’t help myself. 

That had been eight months ago. He kept me in whiskey, and saved the sofa in the back for me to crash on when he didn’t think I should drive. I didn’t have to explain why I was there.

To forget. Just forget.

The drinking part of the evening’s plan was well under way when I saw her. Dark hair, short skirt. Ready for a good time and nothing else, according to the emotion I could pick up from across the room. Exactly the way I preferred them. All it took was a single smile. Two drinks later her hand was on my thigh. Ten minutes after that we stumbled to the back and found ourselves up against a wall.

She was tall and curvy, but not as curvy as Lily. Her hair didn’t smell like citrus and vanilla.

Lily. Why the hell was I thinking of her? 

I slid one hand under the girl’s shirt, trailing my fingers up her spine to the clasp of her bra. She hooked her thumbs in my front belt loops, and her lips found their way from neck to my earlobe.

“What are you waiting for?” she whispered.

The words were wet, or maybe that was just her tongue in my ear. I flattened my palms against her back. She slid her hands into my jean pockets and rose up on her tiptoes.

She was hot enough and I was drunk enough. But suddenly the thought of kissing her, or doing anything else with her, turned my stomach.

My mind flooded with images. Dad, tears still on his cheeks from crying over my mom. Emerson and Michael on the overstuffed orange chair, they way they always seemed to be together, yet separate at the same time.

Lily, pressed against me for that brief moment at the masquerade. The apron strings wrapped around her waist.

Images bled into emotions. Lily’s freedom on the dance floor. The joy that permeated the pool water when she dove in. Michael’s fear for Emerson. Ava’s relief for my kindness toward her.

The worry in my dad’s voice when he’d told me about Chronos.

I’d come here to forget, and all I could do was remember.

I wanted the crushing sadness I felt to go away, especially when I realized it was coming from me.

The girl didn’t wait any longer for me to kiss her. Her lips tasted like fake cherries. “We can go to your car. Or here will be fine.”

I looked into her eyes and realized I didn’t know her name. 

“Hey,” I stopped and gently pushed her away. “I’m drunk. You’re drunk. This is … stupid.”

“You didn’t think so five seconds ago.” Pride.

“It’s me. You’re obviously a really sweet girl, and I never should’ve … forgive me?”

“Yeah, you’re right. I don’t know what I was thinking.” She smoothed down her skirt. “You’re really hot. I guess that was it.”

“Do you have a ride home? Besides your car? You’ve had a few -“

“I can walk to my apartment from here. Thanks.” She pulled a lipstick out of her cleavage and reapplied before wobbling her way back out to the bar.

Bullet. Dodged.

Once she’d gotten a fresh drink and rejoined her friends, I took a seat on a barstool directly in front of Ben to watch him mix up a gin and tonic. He jerked his head in the direction of the girl.

“Changed your mind?”

“Came to my senses.” I scooped a handful of wasabi peas out of a bowl and tried not to think about how many germs I was about to ingest. My blood alcohol level would probably kill them anyway. “Realized she was a person instead of a thing. Can I ask you a question?”

He took a plastic swizzle stick loaded with lime slices, stuck it in the G&T, and slid it to the end of the bar. He wiped his hands on a towel before leaning over to listen. “Go for it.”

“Women.” If I felt any pain from him at all, I’d turn my question into teasing. Ask about his preference of real versus fake or something equally lame. But he was fine, so I went ahead. “How do you know when you’ve found something … someone … who could be special?”

“I hate to go with the standard here, son, but it’s true. You just know.” He picked up a stray drink menu, scratching at a splash of what looked like dried salsa. “Do you think you’ve found someone?”


I felt a tinge of sadness from him, but it quickly changed to melancholy. He looked up at me and grinned. I noticed the shots of silver in his black hair. They had to be new. “Do you need another drink?”

“How about a plain Coke?”

“Oh. This is serious.” He scooped ice into a glass, added some grenadine, and a couple of cherries. “I have a deep-seated need to actually mix a drink if I’m going to give advice.”

I laughed and settled in for a cherry Coke and a counseling session.

“What’s different this time?”

I took a long drink and chased a piece of ice with my tongue. It was the rabbit pellet kind. Excellent for crunching. “I wish I could tell you exactly. I’m going to sound like a total chick, but it’s like there’s … sunshine in her soul.” I groaned. “Thinking about her makes me happy, which is stupid because she hates me, and because I don’t really know her.”

“Are you sure she hates you?”

“I grabbed her ass at a party. In public. Without her permission.”

“Ooof.” He winced. “What did she do?”

“Smacked me across the face and called me a douchebag.”

“Was it worth it?”

“Totally.” I fished around in the glass for one of the cherries. “Not copping the feel. Being called out when I deserved to be. Meeting someone that strong.”

“You’ve never felt this way about a girl before? And call them girls, not chicks. Especially if you’re trying to see them as ‘people’ over ‘things.’ Hold on.” He nodded at someone behind me and grabbed a frosted beer mug from the cooler. He placed it under the tap and gestured for me to keep going.

“I’ve sort of felt this way before. Unfortunately the girl was Lily’s best friend. Who is now one of my best friends.”

Ben took the mug and passed it to a guy behind me in exchange for a ten-dollar bill. “What does she have to say about it?”

“She doesn’t know. Em sees the attraction. But I’m not sure she thinks I’m capable of a relationship. That hurts a little bit.” It felt so damn good to be honest with someone who wouldn’t judge me for telling the truth. “I’m not sure I am. But I don’t think taking random girls to the back hallway of a bar is going to cut it anymore.”

Not since I’d seen and felt the way things were between Michael and Emerson. How it could be with someone you cared about.

“The choices you made tonight are a pretty good indication of where you stand. Things seem to be changing.” Ben put the money in the register and leaned on the bar. “If you feel this strongly, it’s foolish not to pursue her, don’t you think?” 

“I don’t know. It’s probably foolish to even consider it.” I sighed. “Ben? You can’t serve me alcohol anymore. I’m not exactly legal.”

His mouth formed a thin, angry line. “Do you know how much trouble you could’ve gotten us both in?” 

“I’m sorry. I really am.” I stared down at the scarred bar top. “I just figure if things are changing, I might as well be honest.” 

“Do you still have the ID that says you’re twenty-one?” he asked. 

“I do.” 

“Are you going to hand it over?” 

I put my hand on the pocket that held my wallet. “Not yet.”


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