LIVE – FOOL ME ONCE by Nicole Williams

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Second chances are for kids, diets, and shelter pets—not for relationships. Especially not one like Chase and Emma’s.

Before he was writing chart-topping hits and smashing record sales, Chase Lawson was Emma’s childhood friend and first love. They promised each other forever, but forever expired at eighteen, when he landed a major record deal and left Emma and their hometown behind.

Ten years later, he shows up at their high school reunion with a proposition she can’t refuse. Six months. Seven figures. He gets a chance to clean up his reputation, and she gets the means to restore the old family farmhouse. It’s only for show—hold hands in public, kiss for the cameras—but boundaries blur behind closed doors.

It isn’t long before Emma feels her resolve slipping, crushed by the shadow of the boy she grew to love in the man selling out stadiums of present. Can Emma resist one of the most irresistible bachelors in the world? Or will she fall for the same man twice?


“We’ve got to go over something first,” he said, smirking at my efforts to budge his arm.
“What?” I asked, annoyed.
“We’re going to be a couple in the public’s eyes. Which means we’re going to have to do certain things that couples do.”
I blinked at him. “Couples don’t do that in public. At least not the normal ones.”
He gave a grunt of disbelief. “I’m not talking about sex.”
“Then what are you talking about?” My voice was rising the more flustered I became. The lack of apparel, the warm water, the way Chase’s brown eyes seemed to melt when he looked at me a certain way . . . I was struggling to keep my composure.
“Kissing.” He shrugged as though it were obvious. “We’ve had ten years to get rusty. We don’t want to look like a couple of fumbling amateurs when we kiss in public for the first time.”
My mouth fell open a little as I tried to determine if he was serious. “Kissing is like riding a bike. We don’t need to practice to get it right.”
The corners of Chase’s eyes creased. “It’s more like riding a unicycle. Once you figure it out, with enough consistency, no problem. But if you go a decade without climbing on that unicycle, you’re starting right back at square one.”
I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing. “You’re comparing kissing to a unicycle. You’re just as romantic as I remember.”
Chase treaded closer until my legs were brushing against his with each kick. “Come on. One kiss. Practice makes perfect.” His arms drew in, entombing me in his presence. One brow carved into his forehead. “That is, unless you’re scared to kiss me in private, half-naked in a swimming pool, because you still harbor some kind of feelings for me . . .”
I shoved his chest as a snap reaction, realizing too late that I should not touch him when he was this close, when I was this conflicted. “Fame has really gone to your head.”
His shoulders rose above the water before dipping below again. “So? Prove me wrong.”
“Fine.” The word materialized on its own. “But if you even try slipping me tongue, my knee is winding up in your groin.”
He wet his lips, fighting a smile. “When have I ever complained about any part of you nestling down there?”
My hands balled at my sides as I attempted to approach this whole thing like a science experiment. Objectively. Neutrally. Emotionlessly. “Just kiss me and get it over with.”
His smile quirked. “Once you’re finished whispering sweet nothings into my ear.”
When I tried to push him away, his hands circled my wrists. Chase’s eyes found mine, the color of his irises nearly indistinguishable from his pupils. My chest moved quickly when he swam closer, his head angling as his lips aligned with mine.
He hadn’t even kissed me and I’d lost all sense of direction. Up was as good as down in my present state. His breath fanned across my lips as he waited, perfectly at ease having me trapped in the corner of his pool, our mouths a sliver of air apart.
His grip on my wrists relaxed right before his mouth finally connected with mine. My body froze the instant he kissed me, but it didn’t last long, seeming to melt one piece at a time.
I didn’t realize I was sinking until Chase’s arm cinched around me, pulling my shoulders back above the water, his mouth not missing a beat. The last piece of me to unthaw was my lips, but the moment they did, they matched his urgency. My arms wound behind his neck as I drew closer, our bodies tangling beneath the water as he kissed me in a way I hadn’t been kissed in years; in the kind of way that made a girl feel delicate and invincible at the same time.
Chase treaded water, holding us both above the surface, the planes of his chest rising to meet mine with our uneven breaths. Before I knew it, our tongues were tying together, though it wasn’t him who’d broken that rule first. His chest rumbled against mine as my mouth and hands grew more feverish, no longer under the constraint of my better judgment.
Kissing Chase was exactly as I remembered, yet totally different. The scrape of his calloused fingers against my skin felt the same, yet there was a newfound strength to it. His full lips moved with mine in a dance we’d mastered years ago, but there was a resolve I’d never tasted so deeply before. The way he held me was exactly the same, though the contours of his body had changed.
When my chest was hammering from breathlessness, Chase broke the kiss, managing to evade my ensuing advances. His eyes remained closed for a minute, droplets of water winding down his face from where my hands had been.
When his eyes finally opened, the look in them made my head dizzy, even as I reminded myself this had been a practice kiss. Nothing more.
“How was that?” he asked.
I had to look away in order to make my answer seem convincing. My shoulder lifted out of the water as I shaped my most detached expression. “You were right. Like riding a unicycle.”
“No, you were right.” Chase’s hand drifted up my back, his rough fingertips somehow soft against my skin. “Kissing you is like riding a bicycle.”



AP  new -about the author.jpg


Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.

Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

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LIVE – ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE by Nicole Williams

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Fans of Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins, and Jenny Han will delight as the fireworks spark and the secrets fly in this delicious summer romance from a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

When Jade decided to spend the summer with her aunt in California, she thought she knew what she was getting into. But nothing could have prepared her for Quentin. Jade hasn’t been in suburbia long and even she knows her annoying (and annoyingly cute) next-door neighbor spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

And when Quentin learns Jade plans to spend her first American summer hiding out reading books, he refuses to be ignored. Sneaking out, staying up, and even a midnight swim, Quentin is determined to give Jade days–and nights–worth remembering.

But despite their storybook-perfect romance, every time Jade moves closer, Quentin pulls away. And when rumors of a jilted ex-girlfriend come to light, Jade knows Quentin is hiding a secret–and she’s determined to find out what it is.

AP  new -about the author.jpg

Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.

Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

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CHAPTER REVEAL – ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE by Nicole Williams

 

 

June 19th 2018

 

 

AP new - synopsis.jpg

 

Fans of Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins, and Jenny Han will delight as the fireworks spark and the secrets fly in this delicious summer romance from a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

When Jade decided to spend the summer with her aunt in California, she thought she knew what she was getting into. But nothing could have prepared her for Quentin. Jade hasn’t been in suburbia long and even she knows her annoying (and annoyingly cute) next-door neighbor spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

And when Quentin learns Jade plans to spend her first American summer hiding out reading books, he refuses to be ignored. Sneaking out, staying up, and even a midnight swim, Quentin is determined to give Jade days–and nights–worth remembering.

But despite their storybook-perfect romance, every time Jade moves closer, Quentin pulls away. And when rumors of a jilted ex-girlfriend come to light, Jade knows Quentin is hiding a secret–and she’s determined to find out what it is.

 

 

Anything was possible. At least that’s what it felt like.
Summer seventeen was going to be one for the record books. I already knew it. I could feel it—from the nervous-excited swirl in my stomach to the buzz in the air around me. This was going to be the summer—my summer.
“Last chance to cry uncle or forever hold your peace,” Mom sang beside me in the backseat of the cab we’d caught at the airport. Her hand managed to tighten around mine even more, cutting off the last bit of my circulation. If there
was any left.
I tried to look the precise amount of unsure before answering. “So long, last chance,” I said, waving out the window.
Mom sighed, squeezing my hand harder still. It was starting to go numb now. Summer seventeen might find me one hand short if Mom didn’t ease up on the death grip.
She and her band, the Shrinking Violets, were going to be touring internationally after finally hitting it big, but she was moping because this was the first summer we wouldn’t be together. Actually, it would be the first time we’d been apart ever.
I’d sold her on the idea of me staying in the States with her sister and family by going on about how badly I wanted to experience one summer as a normal, everyday American teenager before graduating from high school. One chance to
see what it was like to stay in the same place, with the same people, before I left for college. One last chance to see what life as an American teen was really like.
She bought it . . . eventually.
She’d have her bandmates and tens of thousands of adoring fans to keep her company—she could do without me for a couple of months. I hoped.
It had always been just Mom and me from day one. She had me when she was young—like young young—and even though her boyfriend pretty much bailed before the line turned pink, she’d done just fine on her own.
We’d both kind of grown up together, and I knew she’d missed out on a lot by raising me. I wanted this to be a summer for the record books for her, too. One she could really live up, not having to worry about taking care of her teenage
daughter. Plus, I wanted to give her a chance to experience what life without me would be like. Soon I’d be off to college somewhere, and I figured easing her into the empty-nester phase was a better approach than going cold turkey.
“You packed sunscreen, right?” Mom’s bracelets jingled as she leaned to look out her window, staring at the bright blue sky like it was suspect.
“SPF seventy for hot days, fifty for warm days, and thirty for overcast ones.” I toed the trusty duffel resting at my feet.It had traveled the globe with me for the past decade and had the wear to prove it.
“That’s my fair-skinned girl.” When Mom looked over at me, the crease between her eyebrows carved deeper with worry.
“You might want to check into SPF yourself. You’re not going to be in your mid thirties forever, you know?”
Mom groaned. “Don’t remind me. But I’m already beyond SPF’s help at this point. Unless it can help fix a saggy butt and crow’s-feet.” She pinched invisible wrinkles and wiggled her butt against the seat.
It was my turn to groan. It was annoying enough that people mistook us for sisters all the time, but it was worse that she could (and did) wear the same jeans as me. There should be some rule that moms aren’t allowed to takes clothes from the closets of their teenage daughters.
When the cab turned down Providence Avenue, I felt a sudden streak of panic. Not for myself, but for my mom.
Could she survive a summer when I wasn’t at her side, reminding her when the cell phone bill was due or updating her calendar so she knew where to be and when to be there? Would she be okay without me reminding her that fruits and vegetables were part of the food pyramid for a reason and
making sure everything was all set backstage?
“Hey.” Mom gave me a look, her eyes suggesting she could read my thoughts. “I’ll be okay. I’m a strong, empowered thirty-four-year-old woman.”
“Cell phone charger.” I yanked the one dangling from her oversized, metal-studded purse, which I’d wrapped in hot pink tape so it stood out. “I’ve packed you two extras to get you through the summer. When you get down to your last
one, make sure to pick up two more so you’re covered—”
“Jade, please,” she interrupted. “I’ve only lost a few. It’s not like I’ve misplaced . . .”
“Thirty-two phone chargers in the past five years?” When she opened her mouth to protest, I added, “I’ve got the receipts to prove it, too.”
Her mouth clamped closed as the cab rolled up to my aunt’s house.
“What am I going to do without you?” Mom swallowed, dropping her big black retro sunglasses over her eyes to hide the tears starting to form, to my surprise.
I was better at keeping my emotions hidden, so I didn’t dig around in my purse for sunglasses. “Um, I don’t know? Maybe rock a sold-out international tour? Six continents in three months? Fifty concerts in ninety days? That kind of
thing?”
Mom started to smile. She loved music—writing it, listening to it, playing it—and was a true musician. She hadn’t gotten into it to become famous or make the Top 40 or anything like that; she’d done it because it was who she was. She was the same person playing to a dozen people in a crowded café as she was now, the lead singer of one of the biggest bands in the world playing to an arena of thousands.
“Sounds pretty killer. All of those countries. All of that adventure.” Mom’s hand was on the door handle, but it looked more like she was trying to keep the taxi door closed than to open it. “Sure you don’t want to be a part of it?”
I smiled thinly back at my mom, her wild brown hair spilling over giant glasses. She had this boundless sense of adventure—always had and always would—so it was hard for her to comprehend how her own offspring could feel any different.
“Promise to call me every day and send me pictures?” I said, feeling the driver lingering outside my door with luggage in hand. This was it. Mom exhaled, lifting her pinkie toward me. “Promise.”
I curled my pinkie around hers and forced a smile. “Love
you, Mom.”
Her finger wound around mine as tightly as she had clenched my other hand on the ride here. “Love you no matter what.” Then she shoved her door open and crawled out, but not before I noticed one tiny tear escape her sunglasses.
By the time I’d stepped out of the cab, all signs of that tear or any others were gone. Mom did tears as often as she wrote moving love songs. In other words, never.
As she dug around in her purse for her wallet to pay the driver, I took a minute to inspect the house in front of me.
The last time we’d been here was for Thanksgiving three years ago. Or was it four? I couldn’t remember, but it was long enough to have forgotten how bright white my aunt and uncle’s house was, how the windows glowed from being so
clean and the landscaping looked almost fake it was so well kept.
It was pretty much the total opposite of the tour buses and extended-stay hotels I’d spent most of my life in. My mother, Meg Abbott, did not do tidy.
“Back zipper pocket,” I said as she struggled to find the money in her wallet.
“Aha,” she announced, freeing a few bills to hand to the driver, whose patience was wilting. After taking her luggage, she shouldered up beside me.
“So the neat-freak thing gets worse with time.” Mom gaped at the walkway leading up to the cobalt-blue front door, where a Davenport nameplate sparkled in the sunlight.
It wasn’t an exaggeration to say most of the surfaces I’d eaten off of weren’t as clean as the stretch of concrete in front of me.
“Mom . . . ,” I warned, when she shuddered after she roamed to inspect the window boxes bursting with scarlet geraniums.
“I’m not being mean,” she replied as we started down the walkway. “I’m appreciating my sister’s and my differences.
That’s all.”
Right then, the front door whisked open and my aunt seemed to float from it, a measured smile in place, not a single hair out of place.
“Appreciating our differences,” Mom muttered under her breath as we moved closer.
I bit my lip to keep from laughing as the two sisters embraced.
Mom had long dark hair and fell just under the average-height bar like me. Aunt Julie, conversely, had light hair she kept swishing above her shoulders, and she was tall and thin. Her eyes were almost as light blue as mine, compared to Mom’s, which were almost as dark as her hair. It wasn’t only their physical differences that set them apart; it was everything. From the way they dressed Mom in some shade of dark, whereas the darkest color I’d ever seen Aunt Julie wear was periwinkle—to their taste in food, Mom was on the spicy end of the spectrum and Aunt Julie was on the mild.
Mom stared at Aunt Julie.
Aunt Julie stared back at Mom.
This went on for twenty-one seconds. I counted. The last stare-down four years ago had gone forty-nine. So this was progress.
Finally, Aunt Julie folded her hands together, her rounded nails shining from a fresh manicure. “Hello, Jade. Hello, Megan.”
Mom’s back went ramrod straight when Aunt Julie referred to her by her given name. Aunt Julie was eight years older but acted more like her mother than her sister.
“How’s it hangin’, Jules?”
Aunt Julie’s lips pursed hearing her little sister’s nickname for her. Then she stepped back and motioned inside. “Well?”
That was my cue to pick up my luggage and follow after Mom, who was tromping up the front steps. “Are we done already? Really?” she asked, nudging Aunt Julie as she passed.
“I’m taking the higher road,” Aunt Julie replied.
“What you call taking the higher road I call getting soft in your old age.” Mom hustled through the door after that, like she was afraid Aunt Julie would kick her butt or something.
The image of Aunt Julie kicking anything made me giggle to myself.
“Jade.” Aunt Julie’s smile was of the real variety this time as she took my duffel from me. “You were a girl the last time we saw you, and look at you now. All grown up.”
“Hey, Aunt Julie. Thanks again for letting me spend the summer with you guys,” I said, pausing beside her, not sure whether to hug her or keep moving. A moment of awkwardness passed before she made the decision for me by reaching out and patting my back. I continued on after that.
Aunt Julie wasn’t cold or removed; she just showed her affection differently. But I knew she cared about me and my mom. If she didn’t, she wouldn’t pick up the phone on the first ring whenever we did call every few months. She also wouldn’t have immediately said yes when Mom asked her a few months ago if I could spend the summer here.
“Let me show you to your room.” She pulled the door shut behind her and led us through the living room. “Paul and I had the guest room redone to make it more fitting for a teenage girl.”
“Instead of an eighty-year-old nun who had a thing for quilts and angel figurines?” Mom said, biting at her chipped black nail polish.
“I wouldn’t expect someone whose idea of a feng shui living space is kicking the dirty clothes under their bed to appreciate my sense of style,” Aunt Julie fired back, like she’d been anticipating Mom’s dig.
I cut in before they could get into it. “You didn’t have to do that, Aunt Julie. The guest room exactly the way it was would have been great.”
“Speaking of the saint also known as my brother-in-law, where is Paul?” Mom spun around, moving down the hall backward.
“At work.” Aunt Julie stopped outside of a room. “He wanted to be here, but his job’s been crazy lately.”
Aunt Julie snatched the porcelain angel Mom had picked up from the hall table. She carefully returned it to the exact same spot, adjusting it a hair after a moment’s consideration.
“Where are the twins?” I asked, scanning the hallway for Hannah and Hailey. The last time I’d seen them, they were in preschool but acted like they were in grad school or something. They were nice kids, just kind of freakishly well
behaved and brainy.
“At Chinese camp,” Aunt Julie answered.
“Getting to eat dim sum and make paper dragons?” Mom asked, sounding almost surprised.
Aunt Julie sighed. “Learning the Chinese language.” Aunt Julie opened a door and motioned me inside. I’d barely set one foot into the room before my eyes almost crossed from what I found.
Holy pink.
Hot pink, light pink, glittery pink, Pepto-Bismol pink—every shade, texture, and variety of pink seemed to be represented inside this square of space.
“What do you think?” Aunt Julie gushed, moving up
beside me with a giant smile.
“I love it,” I said, working up a smile. “It’s great. So great.
And so . . . pink.”
“I know, right?” Aunt Julie practically squealed. I didn’t know she was capable of anything close to that high-pitched.
“We hired a designer and everything. I told her you were a girly seventeen-year-old and let her do the rest.”
Glancing over at the full-length mirror framed in, you bet, fuchsia rhinestones, I wondered what about me led my aunt to classify me as “girly.” I shopped at vintage thrift stores, lived in faded denim and colors found in nature, not ones manufactured in the land of Oz. I was wearing sneakers, cut-offs, and a flowy olive-colored blouse, pretty much the other end of the spectrum. The last girly thing I’d done was wear makeup on Halloween. I was a zombie.
Beside me, Mom was gaping at the room like she’d walked in on a crime scene. A gruesome crime scene.
“What the . . . pink?” she edited after I dug an elbow
into her.
“You shouldn’t have.” I smiled at Aunt Julie when she turned toward me, still beaming.
“Yeah, Jules. You really shouldn’t have.” Mom shook her head, flinching when she noticed the furry pink stool tucked beneath the vanity that was resting beneath a huge cotton-candy-pink chandelier.
“It’s the first real bedroom this girl’s ever had. Of course I should have. I couldn’t not.” Aunt Julie moved toward the bed, fixing the smallest fold in the comforter.
“Jade’s had plenty of bedrooms.” Mom nudged me, glancing at the window. She was giving me an out. She had no idea how much more it would take than a horrendously pink room for me to want to take it.
“Oh, please. Harry Potter had a more suitable bedroom in that closet under the stairs than Jade’s ever had. You can’t consider something that either rolls down a highway or is bolted to a hotel floor an appropriate room for a young

woman.” Aunt Julie wasn’t in dig mode; she was in honest mode.
That put Mom in unleash-the-beast mode.
Her face flashed red, but before she could spew whatever
comeback she had stewing inside, I cut in front of her. “Aunt Julie, would you mind if Mom and I had a few minutes alone?
You know, to say good-bye and everything?”
As infrequently as we visited the house on Providence Avenue, I fell into my role of referee like it was second nature.
“Of course not. We’ll have lots of time to catch up.” Aunt Julie gave me another pat on the shoulder as she headed for the door. “We’ll have all summer.” She’d just disappeared when her head popped back in the doorway. “Meg, can I get you anything to drink before you have to dash?”
“Whiskey,” Mom answered intently.
Aunt Julie chuckled like she’d made a joke, continuing down the hall.
I dropped my duffel on the pink zebra-striped throw rug.
“Mom—”
“You grew up seeing the world. Experiencing things most people will never get to in their whole lives.” Her voice was getting louder with every word. “You’ve got a million times the perspective of kids your age. A billion times more compassion and an understanding that the world doesn’t revolve around you. Who is she to make me out to be some inadequate parent when all she cares about is raising obedient, genius robots? She doesn’t know what it was like for me. How hard it was.”
“Mom,” I repeated, dropping my hands onto her shoulders as I looked her in the eye. “You did great.”
It took a minute for the red to fade from her face, then another for her posture to relax. “You’re great. I just tried not to get in the way too much and screw all that greatness up.”
“And if you must know, I’d take any of the hundreds of rooms we’ve shared over this pinktastrophe.” So it was kind of a lie, the littlest of ones. Sure, pink was on my offensive list, but the room was clean and had a door, and I would get to stay in the same place at least for the next few months. After living out of suitcases and overnight bags for most of my life, I was looking forward to discovering what drawer-and-closet living was like.
Mom threw her arms around me, pulling me in for one of those final-feeling hugs. Except this time, it kind of wasa final one. Realizing that made me feel like someone had stuffed a tennis ball down my throat.
“I love you no matter what,” she whispered into my ear again, the same words she’d sang, said, or on occasion shouted at me. Mom never just said I love you. She had something
against those three words on their own. They were too open,
too loosely defined, too easy to take back when something
went wrong.
I love you no matter what had always been her way of telling me she loved me forever and for always. Unconditionally. She said that, before me, she’d never felt that type of love for anyone. What I’d picked up along the way on my own
was that I was the only one she felt loved her back in the
same way.
Squeezing my arms around my mom a little harder, I returned her final kind of hug. “I love you no matter what, too.”

 

AP new -about the author.jpg

 

Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

 

 

 

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COVER REVEAL – ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE by Nicole Williams

 

 

Coming May/June 2018

 

 

AP new - synopsis.jpg
Fans of Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins, and Jenny Han will delight as the fireworks spark and the secrets fly in this delicious summer romance from a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

When Jade decided to spend the summer with her aunt in California, she thought she knew what she was getting into. But nothing could have prepared her for Quentin. Jade hasn’t been in suburbia long and even she knows her annoying (and annoyingly cute) next-door neighbor spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

And when Quentin learns Jade plans to spend her first American summer hiding out reading books, he refuses to be ignored. Sneaking out, staying up, and even a midnight swim, Quentin is determined to give Jade days–and nights–worth remembering.

But despite their storybook-perfect romance, every time Jade moves closer, Quentin pulls away. And when rumors of a jilted ex-girlfriend come to light, Jade knows Quentin is hiding a secret–and she’s determined to find out what it is.

 

 

AP new -about the author.jpg

 

Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

 

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BLOG TOUR – ROOMMATES WITH BENEFITS by Nicole Williams

 

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Soren Decker. He’s the epitome of the “bad boy, good man” persona. The best of both worlds. The worst of them too. He’s the type of guy most girls would not mind sharing a confined space with, except my new roommate isn’t all swagger and chiseled abs.

He’s bossy. Messy. Cocky. Infuriating. Doesn’t believe in personal space. Has no qualms about roaming the apartment with a loincloth-sized towel cinched around his waist. Seems under the delusion he’s my personal protector (refer back to infuriating). He plays college baseball and holds down a part-time job—I don’t know where he finds the time to get on my nerves.


We’re got nothing in common . . . except for one thing. Our attraction to one another. And in six hundred square feet of shared space, the tension only has so much room to grow before one of us gives in to temptation. But really, what chance do a couple of young kids chasing their dreams in the big city have of making it?

Since Soren claims I know squat about sports (he might have a semi-point), here’s a stat for him—one in a million. That’s our odds.
 
“Coming in,” I announced, opening the door and stepping inside. A plume of steam rolled over me, instantly coating my skin in a hot, dewy shield. “Hot shower?”
“Hell of a lot better than the cold one I took a couple of nights ago.”
His voice echoed off the walls as I focused on squeezing a glob of toothpaste onto my brush. It was difficult. I found myself quite distracted by the knowledge he was naked behind that thin shower curtain, a whole three feet away.
Just as I was about to stick my toothbrush into my mouth, the shower cranked off, the curtain whipping open right after.
Soren. Wet. Exposed.
Giant.
My eyes clamped shut, but it wasn’t fast enough. From the low chuckle he gave, he hadn’t missed my two-second gape.
“Soren!”
“Sorry. Water got cold.”
I gave him a few seconds to cover up before I opened my eyes and got back to brushing my teeth. He hadn’t covered up though.
“What are you doing? Grab a towel.” My arm flailed in the direction of where we kept our fresh towels hanging from the rack. My eyes felt like they were about to go crossed from staying focused on my reflection instead of his naked one in the same mirror.
“Out of fresh towels. Haven’t gotten around to the laundry.” He moved up beside me at the sink, reaching for his own toothbrush. He was standing so close, his wet arm was brushing against mine.
Don’t look down. Don’t look down. Don’t look at the giant—
Crap. I looked.
He was grinning at me as he brushed his teeth, my face crimson thanks to what I’d glanced at.
“See anything you like?”
My body was still buzzing from what I’d seen that I liked. I kind of hated him for calling me out on it though. I kind of even hated him for having so much to like.
“I know what you’re doing.” My eyebrow rounded as I got to work brushing my teeth too.
He spit in the sink, somehow winding up closer to me when he leaned back up. “Air drying?”
My eyes narrowed in the mirror at him. “Trying to change my mind.”
He stared back, brushing his teeth in all of his naked glory, a cocky tenor to his expression. Once he finished brushing, he rinsed his toothbrush and turned toward the door.
“I don’t need to change your mind,” he said, pausing when he was directly behind me.
When he turned, I swore I could feel his arms coming around me, pulling me into the shelter of his strong body. An involuntary shudder spilled down my back. He didn’t miss that either.
“I just need you to speak it instead of lying about it.” His eyes dropped to the back of my neck, where I knew he could see the raised flesh. I knew, because one side of his mouth lifted.
Bracing my hands on the sink, I didn’t blink as I locked eyes with him in the mirror. “It takes a lot more than washboard abs and a giant . . .” Crap. Something else. “Ego to get my attention.”
Soren leaned forward, his hands framing around the outsides of mine, his arms running the length of mine. His chest didn’t touch my back, but I could feel its expanse hovering above it. “I’ve already gotten your attention.” His eyes dropped from mine to my chest. Where it was rising and falling noticeably hard, my nipples pushing through my camisole. “I’m looking for something else.”
Another shudder, this one spilling down my legs. “What?”
His crooked smile changed into a cryptic one before he leaned back and opened the door. “You’ll see.”
“Soren—”
“Don’t worry. I’ll tell you when you give it to me.”
My fist curled around my toothbrush as I turned toward him. “I’m not giving you anything.”
“You’re giving me something right now.” He didn’t glance back before leaving the bathroom. Did he really need to have that nice of an ass when he already had a glorious package? I was screwed. “This point goes to Decker.”
AP new -about the author.jpg
Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.
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REVIEW – ROOMMATES WITH BENEFITS by Nicole Williams

SYNOPSIS

Soren Decker. He’s the epitome of the “bad boy, good man” persona. The best of both worlds. The worst of them too. He’s the type of guy most girls wouldn’t mind sharing a confined space with, except my new roommate isn’t all swagger and chiseled abs.

He’s bossy. Messy. Cocky. Infuriating. Doesn’t believe in personal space. Has no qualms about roaming the apartment with a loincloth-sized towel cinched around his waist. Seems under the delusion he’s my personal protector (refer back to infuriating). He plays college baseball and holds down a part-time job—I don’t know where he finds the time to get on my nerves.

We have nothing in common . . . except our attraction to one another. And in six hundred square feet of shared space, the tension only has so much room to grow before one of us gives in to temptation. But really, what chance do a couple of young kids chasing their dreams in the big city have of making it?

Since Soren claims I know squat about sports (he might have a semi-point), here’s a stat for him—one in a million. That’s our odds.

*****Patty’s Review*****
*****3.5 STARS*****
{ARC Generously Provided by Author}

Every nerve inside me stood on end as he appraised me in a way that hinted at the very same things I felt when I looked at him. Possession. Desire. Reverence.

Hayden Hayes is a young woman on the verge of an exciting modeling career. She’s just moved to New York City after having landed a contract with one of the top modeling agencies. Hayden is in for a rude awakening when she comes face to face with the roommate she found through an online add. She was expecting to be rooming in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan with another girl but low and behold her roommate is a guy and the apartment is a tiny studio with bamboo dividers set up to create separate sleeping areas. She feels her previous excitement about living in the big city deflating as she realizes she will be sharing a tiny shoebox of an apartment for the next six months with a guy. Even though he happens to be very easy on the eyes Hayden is not very pleased with her current living situation.

At first, she is a pretty abrasive even though Soren seems to be a really easy going person who goes out of his way to help her out. Eventually, her icy demeanor thaws and the two become fast friends, but there’s also a strong attraction they feel for each other. The problem is that Hayden has serious abandonment issues stemming from her father walking out on her family when she was a child. Hayden has never seen what a healthy relationship looks like, so to her, it just seems quite impossible.

When Soren and Hayden finally admit their true feelings to each other and start dating, Hayden’s modeling career starts to take off and she’s having to fly off and stay in Paris weeks at a time while Soren is on the road, traveling to away games with his college baseball team. He’s on the fast track of being recruited by a professional team and has no idea where that will take him. The distance and insecurities start to take its toll on their relationship.

Will they be able to weather the bumpy road that lays ahead of them?

I really love Nicole William’s writing and consider her one of my favorite authors, but this one was just “okay” for me. I think that people who enjoy NA romances might actually like this story.

ROOMMATES WITH BENEFITS is currently available.

iBooks : hyperurl.co/ampjro
Amazon : hyperurl.co/7vx11e
Nook : http://bit.ly/2qTjbx

LIVE – ROOMMATES WITH BENEFITS by Nicole Williams

 

goodreads-badge.png
AP new - synopsis.jpg
Soren Decker. He’s the epitome of the “bad boy, good man” persona. The best of both worlds. The worst of them too. He’s the type of guy most girls would not mind sharing a confined space with, except my new roommate isn’t all swagger and chiseled abs.

He’s bossy. Messy. Cocky. Infuriating. Doesn’t believe in personal space. Has no qualms about roaming the apartment with a loincloth-sized towel cinched around his waist. Seems under the delusion he’s my personal protector (refer back to infuriating). He plays college baseball and holds down a part-time job—I don’t know where he finds the time to get on my nerves.


We’re got nothing in common . . . except for one thing. Our attraction to one another. And in six hundred square feet of shared space, the tension only has so much room to grow before one of us gives in to temptation. But really, what chance do a couple of young kids chasing their dreams in the big city have of making it?

Since Soren claims I know squat about sports (he might have a semi-point), here’s a stat for him—one in a million. That’s our odds.



AP new -about the author.jpg
Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.
ArdentProse_LogoMain.jpg


goodreads-badge.png
AP new - synopsis.jpg
Soren Decker. He’s the epitome of the “bad boy, good man” persona. The best of both worlds. The worst of them too. He’s the type of guy most girls would not mind sharing a confined space with, except my new roommate isn’t all swagger and chiseled abs.

He’s bossy. Messy. Cocky. Infuriating. Doesn’t believe in personal space. Has no qualms about roaming the apartment with a loincloth-sized towel cinched around his waist. Seems under the delusion he’s my personal protector (refer back to infuriating). He plays college baseball and holds down a part-time job—I don’t know where he finds the time to get on my nerves.


We’re got nothing in common . . . except for one thing. Our attraction to one another. And in six hundred square feet of shared space, the tension only has so much room to grow before one of us gives in to temptation. But really, what chance do a couple of young kids chasing their dreams in the big city have of making it?

Since Soren claims I know squat about sports (he might have a semi-point), here’s a stat for him—one in a million. That’s our odds.



AP new -about the author.jpg
Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.
ArdentProse_LogoMain.jpg

 

CHAPTER REVEAL – ROOMMATES WITH BENEFITS by Nicole Williams

 

 

Coming June 5th
Pre-order exclusively via iBooks HERE

 

goodreads-badge.png
AP new - synopsis.jpg
Soren Decker. He’s the epitome of the “bad boy, good man” persona. The best of both worlds. The worst of them too. He’s the type of guy most girls would not mind sharing a confined space with, except my new roommate isn’t all swagger and chiseled abs.

He’s bossy. Messy. Cocky. Infuriating. Doesn’t believe in personal space. Has no qualms about roaming the apartment with a loincloth-sized towel cinched around his waist. Seems under the delusion he’s my personal protector (refer back to infuriating). He plays college baseball and holds down a part-time job—I don’t know where he finds the time to get on my nerves.


We’re got nothing in common . . . except for one thing. Our attraction to one another. And in six hundred square feet of shared space, the tension only has so much room to grow before one of us gives in to temptation. But really, what chance do a couple of young kids chasing their dreams in the big city have of making it?

Since Soren claims I know squat about sports (he might have a semi-point), here’s a stat for him—one in a million. That’s our odds.



I felt like all of my dreams had, or were about to, come true.
Waved farewell to Podunk hometown? Check.
Arrived in posh metropolis with luggage in tow? Check.
Signed to a top agency? Check.
About to roll up to my swanky new pad? Check.
The world wasn’t just at my fingertips—I felt like it was clutched in the palm of my hand. All the obstacles—everything I’d had to overcome to get here—and I’d done it. I’d paid the price. Now I was ready to reap the darn reward.
“Oh, crap.” My heart soared into my throat when I glanced at the taximeter for the first time since leaving the airport. I’d been totally preoccupied with staring at the bright lights and sights of New York City. “Is that how much it will cost for the entire ride? Hopefully?” My eyes widened when the meter tacked on another fifty cents.
The driver glanced at me through the rearview. He must have thought I was making a joke until he saw my face. “What? You serious, kid?” His meaty arm draped across the passenger seat. “That’s how much it costs to get to right here.” He speared his finger out the window, two bushy brows lifting. “There’s still another mile before we hit the address you gave me.”
“Pull over. Please. Pull over.”
Digging inside my purse, I counted out what I owed the driver. Which left me with a whole two dollars and some cents to my name. Ever since I was a little girl declaring my plans to make it in the big city, everyone had been warning me that New York City was expensive. I guessed I hadn’t realized that translated to public transportation as well.
Once the driver had pulled up to the curb, I handed him what I owed. He waited, blinking at me like I was missing something.
“Oh, yeah.” I pulled out the last two dollars and handful of cents I had left for the tip. Even dropping the last penny to my name in his palm, it was a puny tip.
Heaving a sigh, he crawled out his door to pull my suitcase from the trunk. The dark streets looked different now that I’d be walking them alone.
“Do you have a map or anything I might be able to have?” I asked as he rolled my suitcase around to me.
The driver pointed his finger down the street we were on. “Keep going straight one mile. That will get you there.”
I felt my palms clam up when I realized I was about to attempt to navigate on foot a city I’d never been to, with all of my personal belongings in tow, without a dollar to my name. The small-town girl I’d been wanted to cry and run to the first phone to call home. The big-city woman I was born to be had me clutching the handle of my luggage and lifting my chin. By the time, I took my first step toward my new life, the taxi was long gone.
Even though it was almost eight at night, the streets were still bustling. Unlike Hastings, Nebraska, where a person could hear the whir of their neighbor’s washing machine by nine every night, New York looked like it was just getting warmed up. Cars whipping up and down the streets, horns blasting, people moving, bikes weaving in and out through it all; this was an entirely different life than the one I’d grown up knowing.
I loved it.
I felt like I passed more people on every block than had made up the whole population of Hastings, and the people here were dressed like they were off to a meeting with foreign dignitaries, instead of the 4-H meeting every Saturday morning at The Hastings Grange.
Fashion. God, I loved fashion. Designing it was my endgame, but first, I had to get my foot in the door however I could. Modeling would give me that opportunity.
By the time I’d rolled myself and my luggage down what felt like a million city blocks, I figured I had another three or four to go. My feet were killing me, since I’d worn heels instead of the comfy flats my mom had suggested when dropping me off at the airport earlier. I’d argued that I didn’t want to arrive in NYC with faux leather loafers, but man, those discount store flats sounded pretty amazing right now.
Sheer willpower got me through the last few blocks, and I arrived at what I guessed was my destination, afraid to look at my feet for fear of finding them swimming in pools of blood or swollen beyond recognition. Or on fire, based on the feeling coming from them.
When I stopped in front of the address I’d written down, I had to triple-check that the numbers on my paper matched the ones on the outside of the building. They did, but this sure didn’t look like Big City Living at its Finest, as the classified had listed. It more looked like Big City Living at its Most Primitive.
Then again, maybe it was one of those apartment buildings that looked like a dump on the outside but was a palace on the inside. You know, to keep the bourgeois away. That had to be it. There was probably a chandelier hanging in the elevator and the hallways were lined with gleaming white marble, but no one would guess that from the outside.
Doing one final check to make sure I was at the right address, I lugged my suitcase up the stairs. Someone was leaving as I made it to the front door, but either they didn’t see me or didn’t care to hold the door open for the woman in three-inch heels wrestling a monster-sized bag into submission. The door practically slammed in my face, heavy enough it almost sent me sprawling backward. I managed to snag the handle to keep it open long enough to shove inside.
Okay, so there were a lot of differences between Hastings and New York City.
I still loved it. A lot.
It would just take an adjustment period to get used to. Before I knew it, I’d be keeping up with the best of the city girls.
Once I’d made it past the front door, I paused to catch my breath and take in the interior of the apartment building. So the halls weren’t exactly lined in marble. Or gleaming, whatever surface it was they were covered with. There was an elevator though, but as I took my first steps toward it, I noticed the sign taped to the doors. Out of Order.
Why not?
Shuffling toward the bottom of the staircase, I stared up them, thankful there were only six floors to the top. Kicking off my heels, I collected them in one hand and started heaving my suitcase up all six flights, one stair at a time.
The upside to arriving on the sixth floor in a panting, sweating mess? I’d just gotten my cardio in. For the whole week.
My chest felt like it was about to explode as I rolled down the hall, checking the number on each door as I passed. There wasn’t any marble up here either. Or chandeliers. Or anything that held a semblance of shine, actually.
There was a smell though—a mix of mildew and garbage and. . . some other scent I didn’t want to assign a name to. A couple of bulbs were burnt out on the ceiling, casting an eerie tone to the environment.
There were noises, too. Music, hammering, talking, screaming . . . other heavy breathing sounds. It was like the walls were made of plastic wrap and painted white’ish to give the illusion of privacy. I could hear every word of the heated conversation coming from the door behind me.
Number sixty-nine. That was a number nine, right? I checked the piece of paper in my hand just to be sure. Yep. My eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. The door’s paint was chipping, the numbers cockeyed, and from the damage done to it where the locks were, it looked like there’d been multiple attempts to break into it. There was nothing welcoming about this door.
This couldn’t be the right place. No way. I had to have written something down wrong, or misread the address outside, or something—anything—that would assure me this wasn’t the place where I was about to spend the next six months of my life.
As I debated knocking on the door or fleeing from it, a door screeched open down the hall.
“You finally made it.” A young guy emerged through the door, his focus on me. “Have you been waiting there long? When you were late, I decided to swing by Mrs. Lopez’s and give her a hand with a few things.” He was still talking to me as he slid his feet into a worn pair of Converse. His fly was down too, but that didn’t seem to be on his concern radar.
It looked like he’d decided to give Mrs. Lopez more than just a hand.
“Oh, god. You don’t speak English, do you?” He exhaled, making his way down the hall. “You’re one of those Eastern European chicks, right?”
I stepped back as he moved closer.
In another situation, I wouldn’t have been trying to back away from the stranger approaching with a look that could make the most frigid of girls melt. He was easy to look at—a little too easy—walking that ever-so-fine line of cute meets hot. He was cute-hot. Hot-cute. Whatever. He was candy to the eyes, and had we run into each other at the Jolt Café back in Hastings, I wouldn’t have been creeping away from him as I was now.
“Do I know you?” I asked.
He finally realized his proximity was making me uncomfortable, and he stopped right outside of Number Sixty-Nine. “You do speak English. Good. Because I’m not sure I have the brain space to figure out how to say ‘The water bill’s due yesterday’ in Latvian.”
I guessed the look on my face echoed my prior question.
“Soren Decker.” He held out his hand then slid it into his jeans’ pocket when it caught nothing but airtime. “And you are . . . ?”
“Not at the right address. Clearly.”
He leaned into the dilapidated door. “What address are you looking for?”
I had to lift the piece of paper in my hand to remember. Once I read it off, he shrugged.
“You have arrived at your destination.”
That’s what I was afraid of. “I must have the wrong apartment number then.”
The way he was looking at me told me exactly what he was thinking—that I was mental. “What apartment are you looking for?”
Another review of the paper. Just to be sure. “Sixty-nine.”
When his brows bounced, I felt my cheeks heat. I balanced my temporary embarrassment by narrowing my eyes.
“Sixty-nine.” He rapped his knuckle below the crooked numbers on the door. “Home sweet home.”
That was when the obvious started to settle in. “You’re looking for a roommate? You posted the ad I responded to?” I swallowed. “You?”
He glanced down at himself like he was checking for a stain on his shirt. In the process, he noticed his fly was still open. “I really didn’t think this would be so confusing,” he said, pulling his zipper back into place. “Yes, this is the right address. Yes, this is lucky apartment number sixty-nine. And yes, I am the one looking for a roomie, who you replied to last week.”
My heart had lodged into the back of my throat from the feel of it. This was the person I’d be living with? This was who I’d be sharing the same space with for the next half year?
He looked part California surfer, part vintage Hollywood film star. Pretty much the type of guy anyone attracted to males and in possession of a functioning set of eyes would drip some degree of drool over. Light hair, blue eyes that projected trouble, matching his smirky smile, good—great—body; he was pretty much the result of creation’s best efforts.
Most girls probably would have been chanting jackpot in their heads, but I gaped at the perfection that was him, freaking out.
“You said you were looking for a girl,” I said.
“I am.” He motioned at me.
I motioned right back at him. “You’re a guy.”
“Wow. Okay. So much confusion.” He shifted from one foot to the other, tipping back the red ball cap on his head.
“Why would you prefer a girl roommate when you’re a guy?”
Again, the look that implied I wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. If he kept it up, I was going to start throwing daggers at him. Provided I had any. Or even one. Which I didn’t, because airline regulations and all.
“For obvious reasons,” he said.
“For obvious reasons like what? A built-in bedmate?”
His expression flattened as he realized what I was getting at. “You think I’m looking for some kind of ‘roommates with benefits’ type of thing?” He rubbed his chin like he was considering it right that moment. “I hadn’t thought about that, but now that you mention it . . .” Whatever he saw when he glanced at me sparked an amused gleam in his eyes. “I’m not looking for that. I swear.”
“Then why insist on a female roommate?”
“Because the female species tends to be neater than the male, ape variety. Plus, you smell better, too.” His hand dropped to the doorknob. Before he opened the door, he tipped his chin at me. “And you’re nicer to look at.” When I didn’t move after he motioned inside the apartment, he leaned into the hall and crossed his arms. “Come on, give it to me. I can tell you’re dying to say whatever it is you’ve been biting your tongue over since I had the nerve to address you.”
The way he said it, I realized I was maybe leaning toward the bitchy end of the spectrum. “It’s just that I thought you were a girl. I didn’t realize the person I’d agreed to room with was a guy.”
“That’s not my fault.” As soon as my mouth opened to argue, he added, “You could have asked. But you didn’t. You assumed.”
My teeth chewed on the inside of my cheek, hating that he was right.
“If you’re uncomfortable moving in because I’m a guy, okay, no problem. I’m not going to force you to move in. Even though I took down the ‘roommate wanted’ ad when you placed dibs. Losing out on a whole week of finding someone.”
My fingers pinched the bridge of my nose as I struggled to form one rational thought. If this guy would shut it for one minute, I could think.
“You know, and what’s this whole thing about gender equality and erasing those lines that used to separate the sexes? You’re pretty much saying you’re okay with moving in with a total stranger, sight unseen, just so long as that stranger doesn’t come equipped with a scrotum.”
“What?” My hand dropped back at my side. “Gross. Just stop talking. Please. Give me a second to try to figure out what is happening right now . . .”
Squeezing his lips together, he tipped his head back against the wall, making a “carry on” motion in my direction.
Okay. Think.
Swanky new pad was more a nasty, biohazardous dump.
Hip New York roommate was more a crass, vile entity of dubious intentions. Who came equipped with a scrotum, as he’d so articulately put it.
I had an appointment in the morning with the agency, potential go-sees right after, and a whole zero dollars and zero cents to my name. A hotel was out. A really shady motel was out. I supposed I could sleep on a park bench, but instead of just one man, I’d have to be worried about the rest of the city sneaking up on me as I slept.
I didn’t have many options.
Actually, I wasn’t sure I had any at all.
Taking another good look at him, he didn’t seem so bad. He wasn’t tattooed from head to toe, didn’t have that predatory look parents taught their daughters to identify from twenty paces back, and he didn’t reek of alcohol or other substances of questionable repute.
He was no Boy Scout, that was for darn sure, but he didn’t have the look of an axe murderer either. Besides, I was a tough chick. If he tried anything, he wouldn’t walk away with that cute-hot face unscathed.
“I’m Hayden.” I rolled my shoulders back and crossed the distance. “Hayden Hayes.”
“Soren Decker. In case you missed it the first time.” He held out his hand as I approached. “By the way, I’m a dude. You know, to clear up any confusion you might have on the subject.”
“One of those creatures that comes with a scrotum?” My eyebrows lifted as I shook his hand.
He cracked a smile as he shoved off of the wall. He didn’t have a terrible smile. Not even a little bit.
“Wow. Dang.” He twisted his cap around so it was backward as he stood as tall as he could. “You are tall. Like, please don’t wear heels around me tall.”
I held up the pair of heels I was still clutching. “Just missed them.”
“Good. I can’t have a girl roommate who’s taller than me. It might emasculate me.”
“More than you already are?”
“A fellow smartass.” He made a face of approval as I moved inside the apartment. “We’re going to get along just fine.”
“So long as I don’t wear heels when you’re nearby?”
“See? You get me. Two and a half minutes into our relationship and you understand me. Why can’t the rest of the girls on the planet seem to get it?” He didn’t give me a chance to fire back my idea on that topic. “Seriously, though, how tall are you?”
“Five ten.” Once I rolled my suitcase inside, he closed the door behind us.
“Liar, liar. Designer jeans on fire.” He waved his finger at me as he moved into the apartment.
These were designer jeans. The one pair I owned and would be living in until I could afford a second pair. It had taken me three months of mucking out stalls to make enough to afford them.
“Fine. Five eleven.” When his brows disappeared into his ball cap, I sighed. “And a half.”
“My six one is suddenly not feeling so big and bad.”
The inside of the apartment was an improvement on the outside. Somewhat. Paint wasn’t chipping off the walls, and the funky odor wasn’t quite as strong in here. Although there was a different one—that sweat-and-dirty laundry man smell with the faintest hint of aftershave or cologne mixed in.
“So. Here it us. My humble abode.”
Emphasis on humble.
There wasn’t much to see. A shoe-box-sized kitchen was right inside the door—at least there was a stove and a fridge—with a same sized bathroom across from it, and what must have been the main living space, which we were standing in now, was made up of a line of windows, a couch I would not sit on unless a sheet of plastic separated me from it, a couple of room dividers, and a rectangular metal table with four mismatched chairs.
It was semi-clean and super small.
“Where’s the rest?” I asked when he stopped beside me, nodding at the space like it was the definition of opulent.
“What do you mean? This is it.” He indicated the room.
My gaze circled the space again. A secret hallway. There had to be one of those hiding in here somewhere. “Where are the bedrooms?”
He made a clucking sound with his tongue, leading me to one corner tucked behind a sad divider. “Here’s mine,” he said, letting me peek behind the divider.
My heart did that hiccupping thing again when I noticed a twin mattress lying on the floor, a whirl of blankets and pillows scattered on it. There was a big plastic bin too, which looked like it served as a dresser.
“And yours is over here.” Guiding me to the corner across from this one, he proudly waved at the empty space behind the second divider.
There was nothing there. Unless you counted the dust bunnies.
“You’re kidding, right?” I blinked, frowning when I found the exact same scene in front of me.
“About what?” he asked, straight-faced.
“This being a bedroom.” My arms flew toward the empty space. “This is a stall. Actually, I’ve mucked out stalls twice as big back home.”
His brows pinched together. “Like a bathroom stall?”
“No, like a stall inside a barn. A horse stall. A cow stall. Shoot, even the pigs get a better deal than this.” My voice was rising, as I realized he wasn’t messing with me. This was supposed to serve as my bedroom, and there were a few big things missing to make it my definition of a bedroom—for starters, a door.
“Wait. So you’re one of those small-town girls?” He appraised me with new eyes, like everything was finally making sense.
“Yes, I’m one of those small-town girls, but not small town enough to realize I’m getting the big city runaround.”
“The runaround?” His arms crossed. “What do you mean the runaround? I didn’t say anything about there being a private bedroom straight out of the Four Seasons, girlie.”
I tried to remember the “roommate wanted” ad I’d seen online last week. Specifically, the wording. “Yeah? And what about the penthouse views?” I crossed my arms just like he was. “This is the opposite of a penthouse, and the view sucks.” I glanced out the row of windows, where there was a view of the building across the street.
Soren’s eyes lifted before he moved toward the windows. He waited for me before pointing his finger up. Way up. “Penthouses.” His finger was aimed at the tippy top of the buildings around us. “We have a view of penthouses.”
My mouth opened. “That’s not how you meant it to be taken, nice try.”
“How do you know how I meant for it to be taken? Penthouse views. That’s the truth.” He was still pointing out the window. “You make a lot of assumptions. Might want to work on that if you plan on surviving in the city.”
Turning away from the window, I scanned the apartment. Had it shrunken in size when I’d turned my back? “You said it was a generous living space.”
He indicated the same apartment I was looking at. “Are you kidding me? This is a generous living space.”
“Compared to what? A cardboard box?”
His mouth snapped open, but he closed it before whatever was about to come out, did. He rolled his head a few times, his neck cracking in a way that made me cringe. “Listen. You are obviously from a different world than I am. I grew up in Brooklyn. My definition of generous is clearly different than yours.”
“I grew up in Hastings, Nebraska, raised by a single mom with a high school education after dear old dad bailed on her and his three daughters.” I paused, staring at him. “I was not raised in the lap of luxury, nor am I a spoiled brat, but this . . ..” My hand waved between his and my “bedrooms,” my stomach churning when I counted off maybe ten feet of separation between them. “This is not generous living space.”
“Then fine. Don’t move in. It’s not like you’ve unpacked your things. You’re the one looking for an apartment, not me. Go find some other place to live in the heart of the city for less than eight hundred dollars a month. Good luck with that.”
When he started toward my suitcase, I intercepted him. I didn’t have anywhere else to go. No friends. No family. No money. My first rent check here wasn’t due for a couple of weeks. Accepting that should have made this place seem much more appealing, but instead I felt more like an inmate resigned to their cell.
“It’s been a long day. There have been lots of surprises. I’m feeling overwhelmed.” I rolled my suitcase toward my barracks so he didn’t roll it out the front door.
“You’re not in Nebraska anymore. You’re in New York City.” He indicated out the windows before storming toward the kitchen. “Buck up, buttercup.”
I bit my tongue when I wanted to fire something right back. My life had not been easy, and I hated that he assumed it had been because I was shocked I’d be sharing a room with a strange boy. This wasn’t normal. This was five thousand percent not normal.
“You want a sandwich?” he called from the kitchen as he started tossing things onto the counter.
“A sandwich?” I repeated. Hadn’t we just been in a moderately heated conversation? And now he’d moved on to sandwich-making twelve seconds later?
“You know, meat, cheese, condiments? Two slices of bread holding it all together?” He shot me a smirk as he twirled open the bag of bread.
My stomach answered for me. “Actually, yeah. Thanks.” Leaving my suitcase behind the divider, I moved toward the kitchen.
“What brought you to the biggest city in the country from Nebraska?” he asked, glancing at me.
I stopped behind one of the plastic chairs around the table. It didn’t feel right to just make myself at home . . . even though this was my new home. “Modeling.”
He made a sound like everything made sense now, then stalled with the knife in the mayo jar. “So when you say you want a sandwich, you mean two pieces of celery smashed together?”
My eyes lifted. I’d been called a stick, a twig, a pole, a beanpole, accused of being anorexic, bulimic, a drug addict, you name it, because I was genetically predisposed to having a thin frame. Now that I was officially a model, it was only going to get worse, I guessed. “I hate celery.”
Soren spread a thick layer of mustard on one piece of bread. “Too many carbs?”
“You’re annoying.”
“So I’ve been told.”
Of course my roommate would be one of the few people on the planet who was capable of getting under my skin. Who better to share a six-hundred-square-foot space with than someone who couldn’t look at me without triggering mild irritation? The more he talked, the less cute-hot he became. Silver linings. I didn’t need to harbor some minor attraction to the guy I was sharing an apartment with.
“Don’t you have any questions for me?” I asked after a minute.
One shoulder rose as he layered on what looked like pastrami. “You don’t smoke?”
“Nope.”
“You don’t stay out late partying, getting your drink on, and come home smelling like the city barfed on you?”
“Definitely not.” I wasn’t straitlaced, but I wasn’t a hot mess either.
He pulled a couple of plates from a cupboard, tossed the sandwiches onto them, and moved toward the table. “You aren’t prone to stealing other people’s property? Namely my Nutter Butters?”
It didn’t seem like a serious question. The look on his face told otherwise. “No,” I answered.
He held one plate toward me. “Then we’re good.”
When I took the plate, my stomach growled. The last thing I’d eaten was the pretzels on the plane.
“Thanks,” I said, feeling a stab of guilt for the way I’d acted since meeting him. He was the only person in New York who’d offered me a place to live, and he was giving me a free meal.
“You don’t look like you could afford to miss one more meal,” he said. I didn’t miss the way he inspected my arms as I took a seat. “So now that you’ve had the grand tour, do you have any questions for me? And by that, I mean actual questions, not accusations.”
When I shot him a look, he gave me a big smile right before stuffing his sandwich in his mouth. Let’s see. I knew his name, his gender, where he’d grown up, that he was a smartass, and that he was cute-hot when he wasn’t talking.
“What do you do?”
He lowered his sandwich. “I model,” he said, his expression flat. “Men’s underwear mainly. Sometimes women’s. If they pay me enough.”
I smiled at my sandwich as I lifted it. “I thought you looked familiar. I just didn’t recognize you without those big wings and the million-dollar diamond bra.”
He chuckled, tearing off another bite of his sandwich. “I play ball,” he said, still chewing.
“Like dodgeball?” I took a small bite of the sandwich he’d made me so it wouldn’t seem like I was starving.
He shot me a tight smile. “Like baseball.” He waved his sandwich toward his “bedroom,” where a big red duffel was, a mitt and bat hanging out of it. “I play at one of the junior colleges close by since none of the D1 schools wanted to take a risk with me.”
“A risk?” I took another bite, this one bigger. I wasn’t usually a fan of pastrami or mustard, but dang, this was the best sandwich I’d ever had.
“Let’s just say I was a bit of a hothead in high school, and D1 schools would rather have the golden boy with some talent than the wild card with mad talent.”
“Hothead . . .?”
“I got into a few fights at some games.”
I circled my sandwich in the air. “Like pushing, name calling type fights?”
“Try fists flying, dust spinning type of fights.” He must have guessed where my mind was taking me. “Don’t worry. I never have or never would put my hands on a woman like that, and I’ve calmed my shit down a lot since then. Nothing like being forced to eat a slice of humble pie at junior college to get a player in line.”
Nibbling off a corner, I curled my legs up onto the chair. I’d been too busy freaking out over my new living arrangements to notice how chilly it was in here. I couldn’t see my breath or anything, but it felt only a few degrees away from that.
“What are you studying?” I asked.
He dropped the last piece of sandwich into his mouth before wiping his hands on his jeans. “I’m just banging general requirements out of the way right now. I don’t care about becoming an accountant or a project manager or whatever the hell else other guys go to college for. I want to play ball. I go to school because it’s a package deal.”
“So your plan is to transfer to a D1 school to play ball after you’re finished?” I asked, like I knew what I was talking about. Which I didn’t. Sports weren’t my thing. Watching or partaking in them.
“I want to get drafted by the best professional baseball team in the whole wide world. That’s my plan.” He shoved out of his chair, carrying his plate into the kitchen.
“You want to play professional baseball?”
“No. I’m going to play professional baseball. And the one good thing about playing at a junior college is that I can be drafted any time they want me. I don’t have to wait until I graduate like I would have if one of those D1 schools had recruited me.” He rinsed his plate in the sink before setting it on a drying rack. He hadn’t used soap, but I supposed it was better than licking it clean and sticking it back in the cupboard. “Want anything to drink? Another sandwich?”
I lifted what was left of my first sandwich. It was only halfway gone and I was already feeling full. It wasn’t because I was a small eater either—he made his sandwiches like he was entertaining a team of linebackers. “I’m good, thanks.”
He lifted a package of Nutter Butters, one hanging from his mouth, a half dozen clutched in his other hand.
“I just promised I wouldn’t steal your Nutter Butters.”
“But I’m offering you one. There’s a difference.”
“Thanks, but no thanks. Looks like you need them.” I eyed the stack in his hand as he stuffed the package back on the top shelf.
“I play ball two to four hours a day. I go to school four to six hours. Homework on top of that, and a part-time job in between. I have to take advantage when I have a minute to stuff my face.” He padded back to the table and set one cookie from the pile in his hand on my plate. “For dessert.”
I thanked him, even though I wasn’t a fan of Nutter Butters. I was more a chocolate person than a peanut butter one.
“You want a hand bringing up the rest of your stuff? I’ve got some time before I should hit the books. I have a biology test tomorrow morning.” His nose crinkled as he stuffed another cookie in his mouth.
For his apparent love affair with cookies, he sure didn’t have the body of a cookie enthusiast. Thanks to his light-colored tee, which hugged particularly nice parts of the male anatomy, he looked like the type who ate egg whites and kale in his sleep.
“Oh, I don’t have anything else. Just my big suitcase and me.” I set my sandwich down after taking one more bite.
“So you don’t have any more stuff to move in?” When I shrugged, he frowned. “No more stuff as in a futon or mattress or . . .?”
My head shook as I moved toward my suitcase. I needed to throw on a sweatshirt before I gave myself frostbite. “They don’t let you check mattresses or futons on the airplane. But I brought a pillow and a sleeping bag.” Setting down the suitcase, I unzipped it and pulled out those very items.
“Hardwood floors.” His foot tapped the floor.
“I’ve slept in barns, train depots, and the backseat of a ’77 Malibu.” Shaking the sleeping bag open, I shot him a smile. Whatever had happened or was about to, I was chasing my dreams. Life was pretty damn good. “Buck up, buttercup.”

 

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Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

 

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COVER REVEAL – ROOMMATES WITH BENEFITS by Nicole Williams

Coming June 5th
Pre-order exclusively via iBooks HERE

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Soren Decker. He’s the epitome of the “bad boy, good man” persona. The best of both worlds. The worst of them too. He’s the type of guy most girls would not mind sharing a confined space with, except my new roommate isn’t all swagger and chiseled abs.

He’s bossy. Messy. Cocky. Infuriating. Doesn’t believe in personal space. Has no qualms about roaming the apartment with a loincloth-sized towel cinched around his waist. Seems under the delusion he’s my personal protector (refer back to infuriating). He plays college baseball and holds down a part-time job—I don’t know where he finds the time to get on my nerves.


We’re got nothing in common . . . except for one thing. Our attraction to one another. And in six hundred square feet of shared space, the tension only has so much room to grow before one of us gives in to temptation. But really, what chance do a couple of young kids chasing their dreams in the big city have of making it?

Since Soren claims I know squat about sports (he might have a semi-point), here’s a stat for him—one in a million. That’s our odds.

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Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

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BLOG TOUR – TORTURED by Nicole Williams

 

 

 

 

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WRAPPED UP IN READING’s REVIEW OF TORTURED

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When he left for a twelve-month deployment, she knew it would feel like forever before they saw each other again. She didn’t realize how right she was.

When Lance Corporal Brecken Connolly gets taken as a POW, Camryn hopes for the best but steels herself for the worst. In the end, steel was what she needed to survive when he didn’t. She moves on the only way she knows how—gilding herself in more steel.

Years go by.

She builds a new life.

She leaves the old one behind.

Until one day, she sees the face of a ghost on the news. Brecken seems to have risen from the dead, but she knows she can’t perform the same miracle for herself. While Brecken was held in a torture camp for the past five years, she’s been trapped in her own kind of prison. One she can’t be freed from.  

The man she mourned comes back to join the living, but the girl he wanted to spend his life with isn’t the same woman he comes back for. Brecken isn’t the same person either. The past five years have changed them both. While he’s determined to put the pieces back together, she’s resolved to let hers rot where they shattered.

 

Broken or not, Brecken wants her back. He’ll do anything to achieve that. Even if it means going against the warden of Camryn’s personal prison—her husband.
“It’s been six years. Everything’s changed. I have. You have.” My eyes lifted. “Why? Why are you trying to win me back?”
He exhaled, his lips parting. “I’m going to win you back.”
When his hand slid around the bend of my waist, winding behind my back, I jerked. His touch was different tonight, hungry, determined. My head clouded, blocking out reason or letting it surface to the top, one or the other.
“I married him,” I whispered even as my hand found his chest.
“But you belong to me.”
My eyes closed as he bowed me against him. I wasn’t sure how two bodies that had been as broken as ours could be so strong when joined. “How do you know?”
“I can see it in your eyes. Every time you look at me.” His other hand lifted to my chin, tipping it until our eyes connected. His brow rose slowly, like I was proving his point right that very moment.
“That’s a confident statement.” My voice shook, but my body felt steady. Unwavering.
“It’s the truth.”
My chest was moving so hard, it brushed his with every breath. What was I doing? Where had I found myself? The man holding me had died only to be resurrected six years later. It was too late, but it wasn’t over.
No matter what, Brecken Connolly and I would never be over.
“Twenty-six days,” I said slowly. “That’s all I have to give you. That’s all I have to give. Four weeks. Once he’s back, you know the way it has to be.”
His face broke, but his hold didn’t budge. “It’s not enough.”
My fingers curled into his shirt, looking for some way to hold on to him. “I know.”
His other arm suddenly looped around me and he lifted me off the ground, his grip going around my backside when my legs tied around him. “But a fucking eternity wouldn’t be enough either, so it’ll just have to do.”
He carried me through the sand and up the stairs of the cabin, then he propped me against the wall so he could open the screen door. Something slipped out of my mouth when he flexed his hips into mine.
“Told you it wasn’t a morning issue,” he whispered in my ear, but I could hear the smile in his voice. “Just a Camryn one.”
He made the same motion with his hips, applying a little more friction this time, causing a louder sound to echo from my lungs.
Opening the screen door as silently as he could, he carried me inside.
“You can set me down, you know?” I whispered.
“I know,” he said, his arms tying tighter. Once all of the lights were off, the cabin closed up for the night, he padded down the hall.
“You know where you’re going?”
His head nodded beside mine. “I’ve always known.”
My hands went behind his neck. His skin was warm and familiar. “And where’s that?”
He exhaled against my skin as he closed the bedroom door. “Toward you.”
He set me down once he’d untied my legs from around his waist, and he took a few steps back. He stared at me for a moment then reached for the lamp on the dresser.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Turning on the lights.”
I watched him flip on another. “Why?”
“Because I want to see you. Because I want to watch your face as I move inside you. Because I want to see your skin flush when I make you come.” He flipped on one more light, then all of his attention turned to me. “Because I want to see everything.”
My heart took off as I imagined being intimate with him with every light in the room on. My body wasn’t the same one he’d left. It had carried a burden; it bore the scars of a shattered soul and a broken body. “I don’t want you to see me. Not like that. In the dark, you can imagine the way I was before.”
When I reached for the closest lamp to switch it off, he stopped me. “I don’t want to imagine.” His hand curled around mine, guiding it away from the lamp. “I want the real thing. I want the real you.”
“You’ve seen my body. You know what I look like beneath all of this.” I motioned at the fresh clothes hanging off of me, covering me from my wrists to my ankles to my neck.
“When I look at you, I see beauty and strength, and the one person in the world who gives me a reason to live and a reason to die.” He drew me to him, his face creased in lines of concentration. “That’s what I see when I look at you.”

 

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Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

 

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