Sloane Whitaker never expected to like living in Texas, but after a few months in the Lone Star State, she has to admit she likes the food, the school, and the boy next door. What she doesn’t like is the fact that half her family is still back in New York. Convincing her dad to relocate to Texas requires making their upcoming visit as perfect as possible. The perfect dinner, the perfect daughter…with the perfect boyfriend. But when her not-so-perfect boyfriend Tru Dorsey is suddenly not-so-available, Sloane has to find another dad-impressing guy to show off at dinner. Tru himself suggests enlisting the help of a fake boyfriend, but the reality of another guy with Sloane on his arm might be more than Tru can manage. Add in a mysterious blackmailer and a divided family, and Sloane and Tru’s relationship might not be able to handle the heat.
Deciding that I could use a breath of fresh air, I cross to the window and slide it open.
This window has become my favorite spot in the entire house. Possibly in all of Austin.
So many good memories have happened here.
I’ve lost count of how many times Tru has shown up on my roof to tap on the glass, always really late and sometimes even in the dead of night. Always with a smile that makes me want to sink into him.
As I fill my lungs with crisp, damp night air, a glint of light flashes in my peripheral vision. I squint in the direction of the flash. I hold my breath, staring into the puddle of darkness that is our backyard and the Dorseys’ next door.
As soon as I see the glint again, I know it’s Tru. It’s light catching on something reflective—metal, maybe, or glass—coming from the gazebo that’s in the back corner of their yard.
One of Tru’s favorite haunts.
We’ve made a few good memories there, too.
Smiling, I push away from the window, grab a hoodie on my way past my desk, and head downstairs.
Mom called it an early night, so I tiptoe through the front hall and out the front door, closing it behind me in whisper silence. Unlike Tru, I am not athletic enough to hop over the fence that separates our yard. I would probably impale myself on a picket.
I walk around the house and unlatch the gate into the Dorsey yard.
My sneakers crunch on the dried twigs and brown grass of the winter lawn. Other than the sound of my footsteps, the neighborhood is silent.
Tru looks at me when I step up onto the platform. He is sprawled across one of the bench seats that line the gazebo, arms stretched wide across the railing behind him. He has that hooded, sleepy look in his eyes that makes him look like a soap opera star who just rolled out of bed.
Of course he almost always looks like he just rolled out of bed—slightly rumpled, utterly relaxed, and ready to snuggle back in.
He pats the bench seat, inviting me to snuggle back in with him. I cross my arms over my chest.
“You didn’t come to my window,” I say, not quite an accusation but more than a statement of fact.
I’ve become so used to his nocturnal visits that it feels wrong when he doesn’t show up.
“I did,” he replies with that dreamy smile. “You seemed busy.”
There is a flicker of something in his smile. Doubt, maybe. Or hurt. I can’t entirely tell. As much as I feel like I’m finally starting to know the real Tru, I can tell that there’s a part of him that he holds back. There’s still a piece of him I can’t quite figure out.
And I’m not even sure if I need to. Maybe the mystery is part of the appeal.
“I was working on the poster for Senior Seminar,” I say, crossing to the bench.
He gives me a smug look that says, See?
“But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to be interrupted.”
Tera Lynn Childs is the RITA-award-winning young adult author of the mythology-based Oh. My. Gods. series, the Forgive My Fins mermaid romance series, the kick-butt monster-hunting Sweet Venom trilogy, and the Darkly Fae series. She also writes the City Chicks sweet chick lit romance series and is co-writing the Hero Agenda series with Tracy Deebs. Tera lives nowhere in particular and spends her time writing wherever she can find a comfy chair and a steady stream of caffeinated beverages.
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