[ETA: I’ve picked a winner! Thank you so much for stopping by everyone! :-D]
Evernight Teen turns 1! Just one year ago, Evernight Teen opened their virtual doors. Since then, they’ve acquired almost two dozen books for their line of fresh, real, and raw teen fiction.
In celebration, I’m posting Chapters 1 & 2 of DISINTEGRATE! At the end of the excerpt, I’ll ask you a question. If you answer it correctly (post your answer in the comments), I’ll enter your name to win a $20 Amazon gift card!
Evernight Teen is also offering a grand prize of a $100 gift card to iTunes. They are also running a 25% off sale on all ET books during the 24th – 31st. To enter their contest, scroll down below my excerpt and follow the links to win!
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Young Adult, Paranormal, Suspense, Romance
Word Count: 51,000
Published By: Evernight Teen
Emily just wanted a normal life: a boyfriend, college, two parents who loved her. Instead, her dad disappeared when she was fourteen and her life at college is anything but ordinary.
When you can manipulate matter like putty and you have no idea why, how do you pretend to be like everyone else? What happens when you meet a guy who has the same powers? Do you trust him to help you find the answers you need?
Emily desperately wants to believe that Jax can help, but the stakes grow higher than she’d ever expected: someone is after them and they’re not afraid to use violence to get what they want.
Chapters 1 & 2 of DISINTEGRATE:
The Rain Drops
Emily Weaver pressed back against the rough stone of the pillar, flinching as water trickled down her neck. She shouldn’t have come down here. She shouldn’t even be awake right now, but when she got like this—frustrated, lonely, uncertain—she couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t think. The best thing to do was get out. Back home that meant crawling through her bedroom window and taking off for the streets behind the apartment. Now that she’d finally escaped to college, getting out meant roaming the streets of Pittsburgh.
“This is stupid,” she muttered. It was one in the morning and raining. It smelled like fish, though she knew there were no docks nearby, just the Monongahela River, thick and green and churning a few yards away. She stood in the parking lot under the highway that ran along the water, trying to convince herself she would be okay.
“Yeah, you’re okay,” she scoffed under her breath. “Except you’re lost. And wet. And you’ve got a paper due tomorrow.” She edged to the right, ignoring the electric crackle of the sodium lamps scattered beneath the street. There were only a couple of cars parked under here, and they looked like they’d seen better days. She shivered, grinding her fingers into the concrete behind her.
A few trees and some grass ran along the water where the city had reconstructed part of the riverfront into a park, and she was right on the edge of that section. She had no intention of leaving the relative safety of the parking lot. She sighed. If her mother ever found out she was wandering the streets, she would try to yank her out of school.
Seventeen is too young to go away to college—her mother’s shrill tone echoed in Emily’s memory like a ghost. No matter that she’d won a full scholarship, or that she needed to get away from her mom’s disintegrating life before it sucked her down, too. Ever since her father had disappeared—
No. I’m not going to think about that. Emily rubbed her face, trying to dispel the sense of isolation that had lodged in her gut, but all she did was scrub grit into her eyes. She used the sleeve of her hoodie to wipe her forehead, but it was soaked through.
“Dammit,” she said, pushing a fist against the column. When her skin prickled, she snatched it away, aghast. She had more self-control than this, didn’t she? She had to get a grip. And now she was hearing things … that a guitar? She shoved off and eased forward, looking toward the water and the Smithfield Street Bridge. Nothing but dark and rain. She turned and headed for the next pillar. Chunks had broken out of it and rebar gleamed dimly from within the center. Someone had sprayed red paint all around it in the shape of wings.
A broken angel, she realized, stepping back, strangely unsettled. Resolutely, she turned her back on the graffiti and headed for the construction stairwell at the far end of the lot. She didn’t really want to get caught there. God forbid she get mugged, her mother would never let her hear the end of it. And she didn’t want to get kicked out of school for such a stupid thing.
But you have skillz, remember? she told herself with fake bravado. Yeah, no. Talking to herself didn’t help. She ran up the steps as quickly as she could, emerging on the other side of the highway out of breath. The street ran parallel to the interstate. A few cars whizzed by, and she breathed a sigh of relief. The music was louder here.
She crossed the street and ran toward the closest building. The windows were dark. She heard someone singing, a man with a gorgeous tenor. She edged down the sidewalk until she reached the end of the building. There was an opening between the walls: too skinny to be an alley, just wide enough for a single person to walk through. She peered in, eyes widening when she saw the neon sign blinking in the dark space: The Electric Pitt.
She bit her lip. It looked like a bar. A dive. She was underage. They probably wouldn’t let her in. On the other hand, it was still raining and she was cold and wet and sometimes, if she held herself a certain way, she looked a lot older than she actually was. And she wanted to see the guy singing. He sounded … interesting.
Mind made up, she pushed into the dark until she was in front of the door. It was wood, worn and nicked, but it had brass hinges and a giant brass handle, shiny where everyone touched it. Probably a hundred thousand people had put their hands on the metal, keeping it bright. She swallowed and wrapped her fingers around it, pulling hard. The door flew open.
Jax plucked an impromptu solo melody from his dad’s old acoustic guitar, covering up his fumble. He’d played this song a thousand times, but never in front of a girl whose presence made his skin buzz. He had to concentrate, keep his fingers on the strings, when all his body wanted to do was sink into the wires and wood until it flew apart.
He bit his lip, hard, using the pain to get back on track. He forced himself to concentrate on the lyrics. His mother had loved this song. He wasn’t going to screw it up now, after so long playing. He looked away from the girl negotiating with the bouncer at the door and finished up with a flourish. He smiled, easy and confident—what a lie—making sure the audience knew he’d be back after his break. He needed the cash. He didn’t have time to find another gig. He didn’t have the energy.
“Hey, Jax, what was that, back there? I’ve never heard you mess up a song.” Joe, the sound guy asked him, leaning against the wall as Jax set his guitar in the case.
Jax carefully latched it shut before standing back up. “Yeah, well. I’m tired. It happens.” He shrugged, as if unconcerned.
“It doesn’t happen to you,” Joe said, fiddling with his cap.
Jax watched the old man take it off, unsnap the back, adjust it, put it back on. The damn thing was beaten to hell and back, but the guy wouldn’t get rid of it. Claimed his daughter had given it to him. Jax wasn’t sure he believed him.
“What can I say, I’m not a robot, Joe.” Jax grinned, nice and slow—nothing to see here, nothing going on. All the while he was trying to get a better look at the girl. She was at the bar now, sipping on something hot.Probably coffee. He’d eat his guitar pick if she was even twenty.
“See something you like, eh?” Joe caught him looking.
Damn, he thought. Play it cool. No need to let everyone know how his skin prickled, like hot electricity snaking along his nerves. This only happened when— No. He refused to think about his brother. He struggled to keep his expression mild. This girl—red-haired, thin, nervous—was definitely not related to him. He’d know if she was. He’d feel it in his bones.
“Yeah, I think I’m gonna go say hi. Wish me luck, Joe.” Jax winked. Just a dude, interested in a date, nothing unusual.
The old man laughed. “She’s a looker. First time I ever saw you interested in a girl, Jax.”
Jax ran a hand through his hair as if to make certain he looked okay. “Always a first time.” He didn’t add that he usually steered clear of women. And, well, people. And anything else that involved letting someone get close. That way no one got killed and he got to sleep easy at night. For this girl, though, he’d have to make an exception. Something about her pinged his radar and that was just too damn interesting to let slide.
Emily hunched into her hoodie, wondering if she dared use her abilities to help it dry. She sipped the coffee, fingers curled around the mug as she tried to decide. The guy who’d been singing wasn’t on stage anymore, so she didn’t get a good look at him. Even so, his voice lingered in her head. There was something about him…
“Easy, didn’t mean to scare you.” A young guy stood at her elbow. His wavy hair was messy enough it looked like he’d just got out of bed, but his brown eyes were serious.
Emily stared at him. That voice. This is the singer. She didn’t know what to say, so she blinked and tried not to look stupid, sitting at a bar where she obviously didn’t belong.
“You’re new here.” He leaned on the counter. The woman who’d given Emily her coffee slid a cold soda in front of him.
No, it’s pop. They call it pop here, Emily thought, inanely.
He shoved a hand in his pocket, tugging out a few dollars, but the woman tapped him on his head, grinning.
“Nah, don’t bother, Jax. It’s on the house. I like your singing too much to charge you for one measly drink.”
Jax smiled and put his money back. “Thanks Lilah.”
Emily tried not to stare. He was tall. And built. And he looked at her as if he knew exactly who she was. Which is a trick I’d like to learn because I’d like to know that particular answer myself.
“What’s your name?” he asked, sucking on the straw.
She watched his lips close around the soft plastic, then whipped her eyes up to his. “Em,” she stuttered. “Emily.” Why was her skin buzzing? It was weird, like she’d hit her funnybone.
“I’m Jax. Nice to meet you Em.” He held out his hand.
She chewed on her cheek. Something odd was happening here. She stared at his hand. It looked normal enough: long fingers, short nails. His skin was darker than hers, but then so was everyone’s. The curse of being a natural redhead meant she was so pale she could trace her veins along her arm if she wanted to.
When she didn’t move, he pulled his hand back, frowning slightly. “I don’t bite.”
Emily suddenly panicked. She backed away. “Uh, I gotta go. I’ve got, um, class in the morning.”
He frowned harder. Emily edged along the bar, bumping into an older couple. “Sorry, sorry,” she muttered when they turned toward her, but she hardly noticed. The boy was looking at her as if she were a puzzle he was just about to solve.
No, not a boy, a man, she realized. He was at least a couple years older than her, she could see it in his face. There was something strange about him. Something that made the energy that was so much a part of her dance beneath her skin, and that was bad. Very, very bad. She needed to get away from him before she did something she’d regret.
“I’m sorry,” she choked out as her stomach gave a slow, hard flip. She banged into an empty bar stool and had to grab it to keep it from crashing to the floor. She set the old metal upright, yanked up her hood to protect her hair from the rain, and fled into the street.
When Jax nudged the stool she’d almost knocked over back under the bar, he didn’t notice the perfect handprint etched into the seat.
The Time Is Now
“I’m a complete moron.” Emily flopped back on her bed just after lunch the next day.
“What did he look like again? He was cute, right?” her roommate Beverly asked.
“It doesn’t matter.” Emily sighed, rubbing her eyes. God, she was tired. She hadn’t found her way back to the dorm until close to three am and then she’d had to get up for an eight o’clock class. “It’s not like I’m ever going to see him again.”
“Well, you could go back to the bar. And this time I’ll go with you so you don’t freak out and run away from a cute guy like an idiot.” Beverly rolled over and picked at her blue nail polish. “I can’t believe the singer in a bar came up to talk to you and you ran away. The singer. How often does that happen?”
“It was weird.” Emily stared out the window. The maple right outside had turned completely orange. Autumn was never her favorite time of year, but for some reason, this year it felt even more depressing than usual.Maybe because she’d finally left home for real instead of just watching the leaves fall and wishing for a change. It was scarier than she’d expected.
“Em? You daydreaming on me?”
Emily smiled briefly. “It was one in the morning. I just wanted to dry off a little before heading back to campus. I wasn’t trying to hook up with anyone.” She couldn’t explain to Bev how her skin had felt. No one knew about that. No one except her dad and he was gone.
“Yeah, and we need to talk about that, too. What the hell were you doing wandering around the river in the middle of the night? Are you crazy?” Beverly rolled back over, giving Emily a pointed stare. “You don’t know the city like I do. It’s not safe around there, even if they did fix it up.”
Emily rolled her eyes. “You were at that frat party. I couldn’t sleep.”
“That doesn’t mean you go to a park on the river in the middle of the night. That’s nuts.” She pointed at Emily. “Someone could have snatched you.”
Emily stared at her, abruptly nauseated. Beverly had a point. She, of all people, should have realized that. “Yeah.” She cleared her throat, trying to get the fear the settle down. “You’re right.”
“Geez girl, you look like you swallowed a bug. You’re all white, and that’s saying something since you’re usually pale enough to scare off a ghost.” Beverly made to get off her bed, but Emily waved her down.
“I’m okay.” She had to get a grip. This was her new life. The only chance she had to get away from her mom and the past. She wasn’t going to mess it up by freaking out Bev. “I’m just tired.”
“Well, think about that the next time you go off in the middle of the night. Alone.” Bev mock-glared at her and went back to picking her nail polish off.
“Like you should talk. You didn’t actually come home last night,” Emily teased, trying to lighten the mood.
Bev grinned. “And boy, was it worth it. Danny sure knows what he’s doing with that mouth of his…” She launched into a description of her latest boyfriend’s oral skills.
Emily smiled and let her friend’s words settle around her. Bev’s escapades were sometimes surprising, usually funny, and had quickly become Em’s main source of entertainment in the few months they’d known each other.
Four hours later Emily wasn’t feeling so calm anymore. She sat in her intro to drawing class and stared at the guy standing next to her professor in disbelief. Jax. She rolled his name around in her mouth. The guy from the bar is in my art class.
“Since I know all of you are royally sick of drawing vases and flowers and fruit, I’ve got you a real live boy to practice with. Now, I know we’re not in a studio, but I’m looking to see what you can do in less than optimal conditions…” Professor Hacsz went on, explaining what she wanted from them.
Emily rolled her charcoal between her fingers, trying to calm the buzz rolling over her skin. Jax was the last person she ever expected to see in class. What are the odds? she wondered, quietly trying to not freak out.
He sat on the desk in front, hands casually clasped and smiling at the professor as if he hadn’t just turned her entire world upside down. Emily wasn’t sure if she was happy about it, or totally horrified. When he glanced at her, her mechanical pencil cracked. Dammit. She looked down, concentrating. Under her fingers the outer metal casing slowly melded back together. She had to shake out the charcoal and replace it with a new one, but at least it kept her busy for a few minutes. Surely when she looked up again he wouldn’t still be looking at her— Yeah, no such luck. He was staring at her hands. Shit!
She hid the pencil in her fist. Had he seen what she did? When she looked at him again, he had his eyes on the window, expression neutral. She relaxed minutely. He couldn’t have realized what had happened. He wouldn’t be so calm if he had. And at least fixing her pencil had soothed the worst of the tension running through her.
She grabbed her drawing pad and began to sketch, using short, sharp jerks to outline the angular lines of his shoulders. Her professor was still talking, giving instructions, the occasional nod as she wandered between the desks. Emily wanted to scream. Or hide. Or something, she wasn’t sure what, but instead, she sat there, filling in the oval of Jax’s head with details: the slightly tilted corners of his eyes, the loose waves of his hair. He wore a shirt with metal snaps today and she filled in the sparks of light that reflected from them, smudging with her fingers until she got her sketch just right. And all the while, he kept glancing over at her, eyes curious. Aware. She felt like a bug under glass: pinned. Vulnerable.
Jax struggled for calm. He perched on the desk, hands loose as the teacher asked him the occasional question about his music, his other classes, just enough small talk to distract him. He knew she was doing it so he would look natural, to give her students someone to draw who didn’t look stiff, but he wasn’t sure if he appreciated the effort or was pissed off by it. He wanted to grab Emily and take off with her until she answered all his questions. He thought he might be losing his mind.
He’d looked over the room, smiling vaguely as the students grabbed their stuff and began to draw, pretending he wasn’t really looking at her. Of course he was. Emily was gorgeous: long red hair, light green eyes. She was That Girl from the bar—his mind insisted on capital letters. He forced himself to be cool, to look away after that first flinch when she realized he was there. He didn’t want to upset her. He’d thought she was going to jump out of her chair and make a run for it, but all she’d done was take a deep breath and smooth her fingers over her pencil. The buzz he’d felt last time he’d seen her was muted, and then it disappeared all together. He didn’t know what the hell was going on.
“Okay, that’s it for the day. You can drop your best sketch off at my office tomorrow. I’ll give you one day to work out the bugs,” the teacher said, with a quick smile at Jax. Professor Hacsz knew he was majoring in computer science and liked to throw digs at Jax about it. He rolled his eyes at her. She laughed and spoke to him in a quieter tone. “You can pick up your check on Friday. If you have time next week, it’d be great if you could sit for me again? This class and one other?”
He nodded. “Yeah, I’ve got time. Thanks.” And a great big hole in his wallet that needed filling if he wanted to pay for the tuition he’d owe by the end of the semester. So far, financial aid and odd jobs had been enough to keep him in college, but it wasn’t easy. Especially not with his parents gone. He smothered the stab of pain that accompanied that thought. You’ve got your grandfather and your plans. Knock it off, he told himself.
“Great. I’ll email you with dates and times,” she said.
“Sounds good.” He smiled politely.
She nodded one last time as she gathered up her stuff and headed for the door.
That’s my cue, Jax thought. He was up and by Emily’s desk before he consciously knew what he was going to do.
“Hey, Emily. Right?” he said, leaning over her shoulder. She smells like rain. Or flowers, he thought, confused for a moment. He glanced outside. Still sunny. Still autumn.
She jumped, hands skittering over her drawing pad. When he looked at her work, he whistled.
“Wow. You’re good.” He put a finger on the topmost sheet, tracing lightly over the shape of his chin. “That looks just like me.” Honestly, it freaked him out a little.
She hurriedly closed the notebook, clipping his arm as she slid it away. “Thanks.” She blushed.
Jax stared at the top of her head. She’d pulled her hair back in a loose ponytail, but wispy strands escaped all over. She didn’t stand up, even though the rest of the students were filing out. He stepped back. Clearly she didn’t want to talk to him, which just … sucked. There was something odd about her, and he needed to know what it was. He tried again.
“You ran out of The Electric Pitt pretty fast Saturday night.” He grimaced. “Well, technically it was Sunday morning, but still. I wanted to buy you a coffee or something.” He leaned a hip on her desk.
Finally she looked up. “Um, I was really tired and cold. And wet, so…” She jerked a thumb toward the door. “I didn’t mean to be rude or anything.”
Jax nodded slowly. She shoved her pencils into her purse, obviously skittish. “Fair enough. It’d be cool if you’d let me buy you one now, though.” He gestured to the windows. “There’s a sandwich shop in the student center. Lots of people all around. You could make a run for it if you had to,” he joked, smiling. He really hoped she wouldn’t run away this time.
She swallowed, eyes sliding away. “I don’t know…” Her face was still pink.
Wow, she’s shy, Jax abruptly realized. And bad with guys, judging from her nervousness around him. He would never have guessed it. She was so pretty, he’d have thought she’d have guys lining up to take her out, but apparently the rest of his gender was as stupid as he’d always thought. He cocked his head, smiling winningly at her. The hint of bravado he’d caught at the bar suddenly peeked through her bashfulness.
“Why are you so persistent?” she asked, staring at his nose.
He grinned, hoping he didn’t have any ink on his face. “What, can’t a guy ask a pretty girl for a drink?”
She frowned. “I’m not pretty.”
He stared at her, dumbfounded. “You must be joking.”
Her frown grew tighter.
He shook his head, knowing better than to argue. He had a couple of ex-girlfriends to thank for that knowledge. “Okay, if you say so. I’d still like to buy you a drink.”
She chewed on her lip.
“Come on, what can it hurt? You’re in college, you’re an art major—”
“Economics, actually,” she interrupted.
“—an art minor,” he continued smoothly. “And now’s the time for you to come have a snack with me.” He made a show of pulling out his phone and checking the time. “It’s three o’clock. The perfect time for a cookie. Or an early dinner.”
She sighed and shoved her drawing pad into her bag. “You’re kind of persistent.”
He shrugged, concentrating on looking pathetic. Sometimes that worked. She narrowed her eyes at him. Sometimes it didn’t.
“Yeah, okay,” she finally agreed.
Emily walked alongside Jax across the cut, the grassy stretch of land that separated the art building from the university center.
“So, why are you minoring in art?” Jax asked her as they stepped over the slightly soggy grass. The rain from the weekend had yet to completely dry out.
“I love art, but I want to be able to eat when I graduate. I’m trying to be practical,” she explained.
Emily glanced at him, but he was looking at his feet. There was a little bit of mud on his boots. He seems nice enough, she mused. And he wasn’t crowding her. That counted as a win as far as she was concerned. She couldn’t remember why he freaked her out so much. Well, except that cute guys never talk to me, and he made a point of seeking me out. They were almost across the grass. The stone columns of the university center loomed up over them in all their faux-Roman glory.
“I didn’t know you went to school here,” she said, ignoring the prickling that was starting to come back. She squeezed her fingers around the straps of her bag, furtively distorting and reshaping the metal bracket that held the straps taut. It helped. A little.
“Yup, computer science.” They stepped into the shade of the building. He held the door open for her.
She eyed him warily. He just smiled patiently, still holding the door. A few other students walked in after giving them strange looks.
“You going in?” he asked.
He was being remarkably patient with her, she realized. She nodded. “Yeah.” Of course, just as she stepped inside, a flash of something dark caught her eye. She stopped, half in and half out.
She ignored him and whipped her head around, searching the grass near the art building, but she didn’t see anything. No one there. She must be losing it.
“Em?” Jax’s voice was sharper this time. “You okay?”
She looked at him, blushing. “Yeah, yeah. Sorry.” She smiled sheepishly. “I thought I saw something.” It wasn’t until the words were out of her mouth that she realized how weird she sounded. Ugh. She hoped he didn’t read anything from her expression. She really sucked at talking to boys.
“Who were you looking for?” he asked as they worked their way through an overenthusiastic crowd of students hunched over a chess game.
She dodged an arm thrown out in emphasis and hurried to catch up with Jax. “Uh, nothing. Just thought I saw a bird, or something,” she answered, lamely. God, she thought. He must think I’m an idiot. She really wanted to bang her head on the wall, but that would just make her look even worse.
“Okay,” he said slowly, looking like a guy who was humoring the weirdo chick. Emily put her hands on her cheeks, trying to hide how embarrassed she was.
“The shop is downstairs.” He nudged her toward the hall, tactfully not saying a word about her lame attempt to hide behind her own fingers.
Ten minutes later they were sitting outside. Emily picked at turkey sandwich, watching as Jax demolished a burrito.
“So, we’re having dinner. That’s even more than a snack. That almost qualifies as a date. Now what?” she asked, trying to pretend she wasn’t a dork.
Jax chewed and swallowed, not looking the least bit fazed by her use of the word ‘date.’ “How about you tell me why you’re so fidgety around me.”
She choked on her turkey. “What do you mean?”
He waved a finger around. “Fidgety. Uncomfortable.” He peered at her. “You’re running your hands up and down your arms in between bites.”
Uh–, she thought, brilliantly. What do I say to that?
He laughed. “Relax. I don’t bite.”
“You make me nervous, I guess.” The skin prickling was back. She smoothed a pattern into the plastic of her cup and then smoothed it back out again. The changes she made were microscopic, nothing obvious. Her mind flitted to the time she’d carved a hole in the kitchen table—hard plastic shearing away—then shied away as she remembered the look on her mother’s face.
“No need to be nervous,” he said, sipping his water. “I’m just a regular guy.”
She snorted. “You’re about as regular as hip-hop on my mom’s clock radio. In other words: not regular at all.”
He crumpled the wrapper from his burrito and chucked it at the trash. It went in without even a stutter. “I’m ordinary.”
“You play guitar. In a bar. And you’re, what? Twenty? And you posed for my art class.” She shook her head. “I don’t know anyone who does that.”
“You do now. And I’m nineteen, not twenty.” He grinned. “How old are you?”
She picked a thread out of the corner of her bag. “You’re not supposed to ask a woman her age.”
“Yeah? Why not?”
“Um, I don’t know, actually. It’s a rule.” Despite her nerves, she felt a smile creep onto her face. Wait until she told Beverly about this completely ridiculous conversation.
“That makes no sense. Spill. I told you how old I was.” He pointed at himself, and then took another drink.
She pursed her lips. What would he say when he found out how young she really was? “I’m seventeen.” She said it all in a rush, not wanting to chicken out.
He coughed on his water. “What? That’s like, a year younger than I thought you’d be. And also, wow. How are you in college already? Did you skip a grade?”
I wish, she thought bitterly. I would’ve been gone from that apartment sooner. “No. It just worked out that way. My birthday’s in November,” she said.
“Huh.” He finished off his water, but didn’t elaborate.
She nibbled on the last bit of her sandwich, feeling weirdly shy again. Did he think she was too young? Was he not interested anymore? Even though she knew it was stupid, she couldn’t help liking him. He was the first guy who’d paid attention to her like this. Usually boys left her alone, thinking she was unfriendly, but really, she was just shy.
After a long moment of silence he surprised her. “Come to the bar again. This Saturday.” He cocked his head. “I’ll play you a song.”
She shook her head. “I can’t.”
“Why not? It’ll be nice. What’s your favorite song?” He grabbed her sandwich wrapper and crushed it into a ball. When he threw it at the can, it went right in. Another perfect shot. She wondered if he was always this calm.This cool.
“I … don’t really have a favorite,” she stuttered. Was he asking her out?
“I’ll play you my favorite then. It’s called ‘Lady.’“ His grin faded. “My mom loved that song, so I learned how to play it for her.”
“Loved? Past tense?” she asked him, heart suddenly tight. He didn’t mean…
His face closed completely down. Em stared, shocked at how all the animation suddenly left his face.
“She’s gone,” he said finally.
She nodded, not wanting to push it. She knew how awful it felt. “So’s my dad.” She didn’t explain.
Jax looked at her. She looked back, feeling less shy, but also frustrated and a little angry. This is my first date, sort of, and it suddenly sucks. She sighed. At least her skin had calmed down enough that she no longer needed to play with something to soothe her weirdo talent into dormancy.
“So, you’ll come?” he asked.
She licked her lips. She didn’t want to disappoint him. She wanted to see him smile again. His dark brown eyes were dark with melancholy, or depression, or something and she didn’t like the way it made him look.
“Yeah, okay,” she heard herself say. “Saturday night.”
And that was how she ended up sitting on a bar stool at midnight in Pittsburgh when they finally came for her.
Question for Chapters 1 & 2 of DISINTEGRATE: Where was Emily the second time she saw Jax?
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