Blurb:What if you could know exactly what your friends are thinking? High school student Winter Reynolds can, but there's a catch...
She can only read people's thoughts when she's kissing them.
When a member of the track team is murdered, Winter has an opportunity to use her special ability to find the killer. Trouble is, kissing everyone on the track team isn't such a good idea when you have a new boyfriend. Talk about complications!
Should Winter persevere using her secret power to catch the murderer still in their midst, even if it means risking her relationship with her one true love?
Disclaimer: Mild profanity and a graphic murder scene. While humorous, this book also explores the underbelly of teen life. May not be suitable for younger teens.
It happens in the movie theater when I finally kiss Ethan Cooper. Her body rocks, I hear him say, except he doesn’t speak. Not out loud, anyway. At first I think it’s someone whispering behind us. Then I wonder if Miranda’s playing a joke on me until I remember she’s sitting four seats away making out with Billy Timmons.
When Ethan’s lips touch mine again and I hear his voice—she needs a breath mint—loud and clear like a TV announcer in my brain, I yank back and stare at him. My neck prickles with fear and my heart pounds hard. What the hell is going on?
“Did you say something?” I ask. I hope he has some kind of ventriloquist powers and I’m not losing my mind.
“Uh, no. I was in the middle of kissing you.” He sort of laughs, his fingers stroking my neck. I pull away and look at the screen. Julia Roberts blathers on about something with her big horse teeth. My heart races uncontrollably, thumping so loudly I can almost hear my ribs rattling, and not because I’ve just kissed the boy who I’ve crushed on since June.
No, it’s racing because something really freaky has just happened—twice—and I can’t deny it.
“What’s wrong?” Ethan asks. I can feel him staring at me in the dark.
“You said I need a breath mint,” I mutter. I wait for him to react. After all, it was his voice I’d heard. It just happened to be inside my head when he said it. But maybe he was playing some sort of trick on me. Maybe I’m mistaken. I sure hope so.
Ethan is quiet for a long moment before speaking. “Uh, I didn’t realize I said it out loud.”
“So you did say it?”
Someone behind us shushes us.
“I must have,” he says. “How weird.”
“Well, thanks a lot for telling me I have bad breath. Makes a girl feel real special.”
“Hey, don’t be pissed. I didn’t mean it in a bad way.”
As if there’s a good way to mean it. I slump down in my seat. Inside I’m actually sort of relieved. Ethan did say it out loud. Not inside my head. Maybe I’m just tired. Or whacked out on soda. All that caffeine can mess you up, especially those huge paper tankers of soda they sell at the movies. I would hate to think I have a mental problem or am crazy or something.
Being a normal girl from Redondo Beach suits me fine, a normal girl about to enter her junior year of high school who is just enjoying her summer. I go to the beach with my best friend Miranda, talk about boys, hit the mall, eat cheese fries with ranch dressing, experiment with different kinds of make-up, and watch TV after dinner. Nothing too out-of-the-ordinary or weird has ever happened to me—unless you count the time I made a half-court throw at a RBHS game and won a hundred dollars and a wheel of Brie. See, being normal is exhausting enough. Definitely no room in my life for being psychic or reading minds!
Ethan pokes my arm. “You okay?”
“What’s good about bad breath?” I whisper, moving my body away from him. My face is hot, stinging with embarrassment. I shouldn’t have had those grilled onions on my burger before our date. What was I thinking? Dragon breath is not an accessory a girl should wear.
“Dude, it’s really no big,” he says. “Just get some gum later, okay?”
More shushing behind us, loudly.
I sit fuming in silence, not knowing if I should get up and leave or what. But then Ethan’s arm snakes slowly around my shoulders and that tingle returns—the one I’ve gotten every time I’ve seen him at the hot dog place where he works at the mall. I’ve spent all summer going there, using every cent of my allowance on corn dogs, hot dogs, fries, mozzarella sticks, and lemonades (and gaining a friggin’ five pounds because of it), just so I could see him. I finally got up my courage to give him my phone number, and he’d grinned and said he would call. He finally did, and now here we are with Miranda and her sometimes-boyfriend sitting four seats away while I try not to breathe oily onion fumes on this hot guy with spiked blonde hair and a nice laugh.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers in my ear. He leans in and kisses me again with those soft full lips that I’ve stared at for so long. His face this close feels nice. He’s so cute. If he doesn’t mind my breath, I shouldn’t either. Okay, Winter, chill, I tell myself. I’ll just go buy some mint gum the second we leave the theater.
Ethan’s lips are warm and moist on mine. I relax against his body.
What’s her problem? She’s acting so uptight. His voice reverberates through my head again. And it is definitely in my head because his mouth is still on mine!
I didn’t mean to mention the breath, but if she’s gonna be so lame about it, I’ll ditch her after the flick and go find my bros. Who needs this shit? Chicks come into Diggety Dog a dime a dozen, and I can have any of them. There’s always another ho around the corner.
I yank out of Ethan’s embrace, my body trembling. What is happening? His voice was in my brain, loud and clear and unmistakable. Am I losing my mind? I need to know.
“Why would you talk to me like that?” I ask. “It’s rude.” I hope he’ll admit he was messing with me, talking out the side of his mouth or something, joking in a lame sort of way.
“I didn’t say anything.” Ethan’s tone sounds pinched, weird.
“Yes, you did. I heard you say you’re going to ditch me to hang out with your bros, that I’m uptight, that girls are a dime a dozen, and that there’s always another ho around the corner!” Anger seizes me. “Did you just call me a ho?”
A voice behind us hisses loudly, “Quiet!”
Ethan doesn’t say anything. His silhouette is stiff, like a cardboard cutout of himself.
He jumps up. “I’m outta here!” Then he’s gone, loping up the aisle.
About Riley:Riley J. Ford is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She graduated UCLA graduate with a degree in English and taught at both the high school and college levels for a number of years before turning to writing full-time. Her non-fiction books are used in college classrooms around the country, and her essays have been featured on such websites as MSNBC.com. She is the author of seven fiction books, INTO YOU, a new adult mystery, CARPE DiEMILY, a romantic comedy caper, FIFTY SHADES OF FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, a satire, CIRCUS OF LOST SOULS, a thriller, SIMONE: ADVENTURES IN DATING, a romantic comedy series, JUST US, a contemporary romance, and JUST YOU, a new adult romance. When on vacation, she enjoys running with the bulls in Pamplona and downhill skiing.
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