Authors: Ednah Walters
Reproducing this book without permission
from the author or the publisher is an infringement
of its copyright. This book is a work of fiction. The names
characters, places, and incidents are products of the
author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real.
Any resemblance to any actual events or persons,
living or dead, actual events, locale or
organizations is entirely coincidental.
P.O. Box 3444 Logan,
Copyright © 2013 Ednah Walters
All rights reserved.
Edited by Kelly Bradley Hashway
Cover Design by Cora Graphics. All Rights Reserved.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner
Whatsoever without permission, except in the case of brief
Quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
publication: May 2013
ALSO BY EDNAH WALTERS:
The Guardian Legacy Series:
Betrayed (book one)
Hunted (book two)
The Fitzgerald Family series (Writing as E. B. Walters)
Slow Burn (book 1)
Mine Until Dawn (book 2)
Kiss Me Crazy (book 3)
Dangerous Love (book 4)
Forever Hers (book 5)
This book is dedicated to my four daughters.
Follow your dreams and never let the word CAN’T stop you.
To my editor, Kelly Bradley Hashway, thank you for
Weeding out the unnecessary words. I am so lucky to have found you.
To my beta-readers and dear friends, Catie Vargas and Jeannette Whitus,
You ladies are amazing. You pushed and pulled me when I faltered.
This book would not have been completed without you. You girls rock!!
To my dearest friends, Katrina Whittaker and Jowanna Delong Kestner,
Thank you for always being there when I want to vent.
Friends like you are hard to find!
To my daughter, MJ, thank you for listening to my crazy ideas
and showing me how to bridge
the gap between our generations.
To my critique partners, Dawn Brown, Teresa Bellew,
Katherine Warwick/Jennifer Laurens, thank you
for being there when my muse takes a vacation.
We are more than writing partners.
To my husband and my wonderful children,
thank you for your unwavering love and support.
You inspire me in so many ways
Love you, guys.
Portland Art Museum
“So unfair. My parents decided to limit my computer time again,” Cora griped and rolled her eyes into the webcam. “But as usual, my best friend Raine has my back, so here I am with the next
Hottie of the Week
. Before I can give you his stats, I need a break, so I’ll be back in a few.” She pressed pause on the webcam, swiveled the chair around, and faced me. “Thank you. I’m starving.”
I threw her a bag of potato chips, which she snatched in mid-air. Keeping the door between us, I dangled a can of soda her way.
“Come on. I’m not going to ambush you,” Cora protested.
“Liar. Just remember, I’ll unfriend you on every social network if you do it again, Cora Jemison,” I threatened.
Cora pouted. “You’re never going let me forget that, are you? One lapse in judgment, Raine.
, and I’m labeled a liar for the rest of my life.”
“Just until we finish high school. Lucky for you, we’ve got less than two years to go.” Melodramatic was Cora’s middle name, which made her the perfect video blogger. I, on the other hand, hated seeing my face on video hosting websites, something she tended to forget when she got excited. “So, when will you be done? We have swimming, and I need to get online, too.”
“Ten minutes, but I’m skipping today. Keith and I are going to watch our guys crush the Cougars. Go-oh, Trojans.” She pumped her fist in the air. “Come with us, Raine. Please… please? You can help me choose my next victim for the vlog.”
“I can’t. I have an AP English report to write.”
“Another one? That’s, like, what? One every week? I knew sour-faced Quibble would be tough when he e-mailed you guys a summer reading list.” She shuddered. “You should have dropped his class when you had chance.”
“Why? I enjoy it.” Cora made a face, and I knew what she was thinking. I needed a life outside of books. She said it often enough, as though swimming and playing an oboe in the band didn’t count. I’d rather read than cheer cocky, idolized football players any day. Performing in the pep band during home games was enough contribution to the school spirit as far as I was concerned.
“Fine, stay at home with your boring books, but keep your phone with you,” she ordered. “I’ll update you during the game.” She snatched the drink from my hand, opened it, and took a swig. “Thanks.” She swiveled and rolled the chair back to my computer desk and turned on the webcam. “Okay,
Hottie of the Week
is in my Biology class. He’s five-eleven, masculine without being buff. Don’t ask how I know. A girl is allowed to keep some secrets, right?” She giggled and twirled a lock of blonde hair. “He’s a member of the lacrosse team and has wavy Chex Mix hair, which is longer than I usually like on a guy, but he rocks it. Don’t you just love that term? Chex Mix. Better than dirty blond, right? I stole that from Raine.”
I closed the door and shook my head. Poor guy. By Wednesday, every girl in school would be speculating about his identity and his relationship with Cora, not to mention leaving snarky comments on her video blog. She thrived on being naughty, but one day she would cross the line and piss someone off.
Cora and I had been tight since junior high when I found her crying in the girls’ locker room after P.E. She’d had such a hard time adjusting to public school after being homeschooled. Seeing her now, you’d never guess it. She was crazy popular, even though she didn’t hang out with the in-crowd.
Downstairs, I got comfortable on the couch with my copy of
Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck, tucked a pencil for scribbling notes behind my ear, and popped open my favorite spicy baked chips. Good thing Mr. Q had included the book on our summer reading list and I already read it once.
The ding of the doorbell resounded in the house before I finished my assignment. I grinned. Must be Eirik, my unofficial boyfriend. I jumped up, raced to the door, and yanked it open.
“About time you got he…”
I took a step back, my pulse leaping. In one sweeping glance, I took in the stranger’s shaggy black hair, piercing Pacific-blue eyes under arched eyebrows, black leather jacket, and hip-hugging jeans. Either fate had conjured the poster boy of all my fantasies and deposited him on my doorstep or I was dreaming.
I closed my eyes tight and then opened them again.
He was still there, the only thing missing was a bow or a note with my name pinned to his forehead. Irrationally, I wondered how it would feel to run my fingers through his hair. It was luxurious and so long it brushed the collar of his jacket. His lips moved, and I realized he was speaking.
“What?” I asked. The single word came out in two syllables, and I cringed.
“I asked if you’d seen Eirik Seville,” the stranger said impatiently in a deep, commanding voice as though he was used to giving orders, “and you shook your head. Does that mean you didn’t understand what I said, don’t know him, or don’t know where he is?”
“I, uh, the third one.” Could I be any lamer? Worse, warmth crept up my face. “I mean, I don’t know where he is,” I said in a squeaky voice.
“He said he would be at the house of...” he pulled out a piece of paper from the back of his biker glove, the fingerless kind, and read, “Raine Cooper.”
“That’s me. Lorraine Cooper, but everyone calls me Raine. You know, rain with a silent E,” I said even though he didn’t ask for an explanation. I tended to blabber when nervous. “Yeah, well, Eirik’s not here.”
“When do you expect him? Or should I ask when does he
get here, Raine with an E?” the guy asked.
I bristled, not liking his mocking tone or the way he spoke slowly as though I was a dimwit. “He doesn’t always come here after school, you know. You could try his house or text him.”
Mr. Hot-but-arrogant shrugged. “If I wanted to use modern technology I would, but I’d rather not. Could you do me a favor?”
Use modern technology? Which cave did he crawl from? He spoke with a trace of an accent that had a familiar lilt. British or Aussie? I could never tell the difference.
He sighed. “You’re shaking your head again. Did my question confuse you? Am I talking too fast, too slow, or is it me? I’ve been told my presence tends to, uh, throw people off.”
I crossed my arms, lifted my chin, and stared down my nose at him. I was usually the calm one among my friends, the peacemaker, but this guy was seriously pushing my buttons with his arrogance. “No.”
His eyebrows rose and met the lock of hair falling over his forehead. “No to what?”
“No, you didn’t confuse me. And no, I won’t do you a favor.”