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About the author:
Allie lives in sunny Florida with her husband, daughter, and two cats. A librarian by day, she spends her nights writing happily ever afters. She enjoys reading, playing video games, and all things Disney.
What inspired you to write your book?
I have to thank my husband for believing in me and giving me the kick I needed to start writing in the first place.
Here is a short sample from the book:
“Wakey, wakey sunshine!” a chipper voice says from above, throwing the bedcovers off of me.
I blearily open one eye and peer up at my best friend and roommate, Becca, who has a smile on her face that is way too cheery for this early in the morning. What in the world is she doing in my room at… I glance over at my bedside table to see 7:43 displayed on my alarm clock. Wow, I rarely stay in bed that late. My 8 am class on Tuesdays and Thursdays means I can’t sleep till noon like a lot of my peers.
As I start to pull the covers back over my head, suddenly the reason for her waking me hits me like a ton of bricks.
“Oh my God!” I screech, sitting fully upright. “I’m going to be so late!”
I scramble out of bed and rush to the closet, desperate to find anything clean to wear.
“My Psych midterm is happening in fifteen minutes! I can’t believe I slept through my alarm. What is wrong with me?” I grab a shirt and jeans and stumble into the bathroom, where I attempt to brush my teeth and change my clothes simultaneously.
“I know, sweetie,” Becca says from the doorway. “That’s why I came in to wake you.” She gazes at me with a look of motherly affection, which I both appreciate and go slightly crazy from. Being the oldest of four, she can’t seem to get rid of that instinct to watch out for me, even though we’re the same age. An only child myself, I sometimes feel smothered by her attention, but on days like today it can really come in handy.
“Why didn’t you wake me earlier then?” I exclaim, my eyes looking wild and a little bloodshot in the bathroom mirror. “You know how I get stressed out by exams.” I generally did well in my classes, but I was a bad test taker. Something about knowing I only had a finite amount of time set my nerves on edge. I was infinitely better at writing papers, where I could take as long as I needed.
“I think I understand what you asked, and thank you for spraying me with toothpaste, by the way,” she says, wiping the back of her hand across her face, even though there’s no way I got her from that distance. “I just got back from yoga and saw your bike was still by the door.” She comes over and arranges my hair in a messy bun while I swipe on deodorant. Her short, blonde bob, green eyes, and tanned skin are in direct contrast to my long, dark hair, brown eyes, and paleness. “Do you need me to give you a ride?”
“Yes, please, that would be amazing. It’s way too far to bike there in time.” I don’t have a car since we live so close to campus, which usually isn’t a problem. I can bicycle anywhere close by. But there’s no way I can make the twenty minute bike ride in time to Hawthorne Hall, the building where my Psych exam is taking place today.
“All right, well let’s get going sweet thing!” Becca calls out as she spins around and heads to the door, bouncing on her heels. Maybe I need to start doing yoga with her since she has so much energy this early.
“I’m right behind you!” I rush back into my bedroom and grab my backpack, Psych notebook, and phone from my desk. I can squeeze in about five minutes of studying on the drive over. Obviously not as good as the half hour I had planned this morning for a final review of what should be on the exam, but I’d take what I could get at this point.
Becca’s in the car by the time I make it outside, and she hightails it out of there as soon as I’m buckled up. I pour over my notes, trying to will the terms to stick to my brain, but all I can focus on is how mad I am at myself for sleeping in. I tossed and turned all night, worried about this exam, which must have been why I slept right through my 6:30 am alarm. Intro to Psych was only an elective for me, but I still needed to maintain a B average to keep my scholarship. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to attend Suncoast University full time, and I already knew I had a big chunk of my foreseeable future left in education if I planned to go to grad school to get my Ph.D. in Literature when I graduated in two years.
We pull up to Hawthorne Hall, and I jump out of the passenger seat, yelling “Thank you! Pizza’s on me tonight,” as I start running toward the lecture hall. I glance at my phone and the display reads 8:04. Hopefully, Dr. Novik isn’t a crazy stickler for time and will have mercy on my poor soul for being five minutes late. I’ve heard of professors who lock the doors during big exams, and if you’re not there when it starts, oh well, you fail.
I slow down as I approach the room and feign calm as I walk into the nearly silent auditorium, hundreds of students hunched over their desks, the sound of pencils scribbling against paper filling my ears. I approach one of the teaching assistants, prepared to give him a fake sob story about how I was in a terrible car accident or my beloved grandmother died just this morning. Anything to make him pity me enough to let me take the exam, even though I’m late. To my relief, he doesn’t seem to care. “Student ID?” he asks in a bored voice.
“Oh yeah, I have it here, hold on.” I rummage around in my backpack until I find my wallet. Pulling out my ID, I hand it to him and he gives it a quick glance before looking back up at me.
“Charlotte Turner?” His monotone is killing me.
“That’s me.” I smile nervously, suddenly afraid that he won’t believe it’s me. Does that actually ever happen at these exams?
But all he does is hand over the exam papers and scantron, telling me to go find a seat. I rush to the first empty one I find, not wanting to waste any more time searching for a spot in the back of the lecture hall where I normally sit. I pull a pencil out of the bottom of my bag, thanking past Charlotte for having the foresight to pack one. As I settle in, prepared to begin, I finally take stock of my surroundings and notice the guy sitting to my left.
Oh my God, it’s him. The guy I’ve been looking at twice a week for the last two and a half months. I have no idea what his name is, but my eyes are drawn to him every class period. I tell myself it’s just because he sits in the front row near the teacher, so I can’t help but see him, but I can still hardly ever pull my gaze away. The way his broad shoulders stretch the material of his t-shirt tight across his back when he leans forward in his seat makes me long to run my hands along his muscles as they go taut. The way his biceps pop when he stretches his arms up and links his hands behind his head has me licking my lips. The way his glossy golden brown hair catches the light as he runs his fingers through it makes me wish it was my hand instead. He has an air of confidence and surety around him that I’m drawn to.
The features I always spot from the back of the classroom look even better up close, and now I can notice so much more. I see the light dusting of hair on his forearms that are thick with corded muscle out of the corner of my eye. I hear the rasp of the stubble on his face as he scratches his chin. Leaning a little to my left, I smell a woodsy, masculine scent coming from him that makes me want to get closer and inhale. Even the way he grips his pencil accentuates how big his hands are, with long, dexterous fingers I imagine on me, trailing across my skin.
I begin to surreptitiously turn my head so I can see what color his eyes are, when I realize I’m wasting my precious exam time trying to check him out instead of focusing on the questions. I give myself a mental slap and tell myself to get it together. Ogle him next week at your leisure. I stare down at the paper in front of me, but all I can feel is the heat emanating from him. If I moved my elbow the tiniest bit, I might brush up against him. My God, these seats are close. How many people were they attempting to cram into one row when they designed these? And why do I turn into some kind of sex-starved stalker whenever I see him? I’m not a bad looking girl, I could probably get a guy if I wanted to. Not that I want to, after what Jared did last year.
Okay, now I really need to focus. He who shall not be named is not allowed in my thoughts and my classroom crush needs to go on the backburner until after this exam. I look at the first multiple choice question and think I know the answer until I realize it’s not one of the choices. Well, crap. I stumble through the rest of the questions, alternately noticing a new thing about my seatmate, like how deep his voice sounds when he clears his throat or how good his butt looks in those jeans when he finally stands to hand in his test, and telling myself to pay attention to what I’m supposed to be doing.
I let out a small sigh when he leaves the room, glad I can fully concentrate now. I glance up at the clock, only to realize I have ten minutes and too many questions left. I power through the rest, taking my best guess, and turn in my exam when the TA says pencils down. As I shuffle out of the classroom along with the other stragglers who clearly had a hard time too, my stomach lets out a growl. Crap. I never ate anything in my rush to leave the apartment this morning. Veering over in the direction of the student center where I know there’s a McDonald’s, I pull out my phone and text Becca, thanking her again for waking me and driving me over.
Becca: No prob, I knew I’d hear all about it if you missed this midterm. At least it wasn’t an English class you were late for. Then you would’ve gone super psycho.
Me: For reals. So, you’ll never guess who I sat next to today.
Becca: Was it that one boy you said farted so bad in class that everyone around him had to get up and move to a different seat?
Me: OMG that would’ve been terrible. No, it was my hot guy!
Becca: Whaaaatttt??? Did you sit next to him or did he sit next to you? Maybe he saw you and was like, oooh here’s my chance to get close to my mystery crush. 🙂
Me: Yeah, right. I highly doubt he’s ever even noticed me. There are at least two hundred people in that lecture hall. Besides, he sits in the front every class, so he can’t see me moon over him anyway. I sat next to him, completely by accident, but then he kept distracting me the whole exam!
Becca: What, on purpose?
Me: No, it was just me in my head being stupid. I wish I could have switched seats, but that would’ve looked weird. I definitely didn’t do as well on the exam as I could have and it’s a third of our grade.
Becca: I’m sure you did fine. You always do. Okay, I’m headed into class now. Let me know when you’re ready to go home, my last class is over at 3:50.
Me: Okay thanks, I’ll text you later.
I walk into the student center, inhaling the smell of fried grease coming from the McDonald’s tucked away in the corner. I normally don’t indulge in fast food, both for health and money reasons, but today is a special exception considering I’m starving, brought no lunch with me, and essentially stranded on campus till this afternoon. My next class starts at 11 and it’s only 9:30 now, so I have plenty of time to mull over all the poor choices I made this morning. Deciding I don’t want to dwell on that, my gaze travels around the large room while I wait in line, looking at all of the Halloween decorations dotting the walls. Cobwebs hang from the ceiling and huge plastic spiders appear to scurry along the walls. It actually looks kind of like Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Hopefully, someone didn’t make a life-size Aragog too.
I get my favorite breakfast combo, a sausage McMuffin and hash browns, and walk over to one of the comfy chairs on the other side of the student center. Settling in, I open my backpack and pull out my planner, which has all the notes Becca and I made for the Halloween party we’re having at our apartment next week. Officially, she and her boyfriend, Josh, are hosting it, but somehow I’ve been roped into helping too since I live there.
Josh threw a rager for Halloween at his apartment last year, which is how he and Becca met, but his landlord got angry at the big back to school bash he and his roommate had at the beginning of the semester. I didn’t go, but I guess they trashed the place pretty good, a bunch of the neighbors were upset at all the noise, and the cops were even called, so now they’re forbidden from having another party or the landlord will consider them in breach of their rental agreement and evict them. He lives further away from the university than us, and it seems like there are more families and professionals living there, so every time they have people over it always turns into a big deal and management decided that was the last straw.
The apartment complex where Becca and I live definitely has more of a college-age demographic, which means it can be noisier at times but has cheaper rent as a fair trade-off. We both lived in student housing when we were freshmen, but neither of us liked our roommates and decided to strike out together off campus. We discovered we work well living together without sacrificing our friendship, thankfully. When Becca and Josh met last year they instantly clicked, and I was afraid she’d want to move in with him when our lease was up, but they both seem to be happy dating and living separately.
Because they met on Halloween, the holiday has become a big deal for the two of them. When Josh found out he wasn’t allowed to have a party at his place this year, Becca immediately offered up ours to have it at, insisting we would love to host it. I have to admit, I’m not all that pleased with the idea of our apartment getting invaded by a bunch of friends of Josh’s and possibly trashed, but at least he’s paying for food and booze. Becca and I are in charge of decorating, and any modest ideas I’ve had have been squashed by her grandiose plans. She says they’re celebrating their love and one year commitment to each other that day, so no expense should be spared. After that, I let her take control and told her I’d chip in twenty bucks.
I scan the list of stuff that still needs to be done before Monday and mentally count. Today is Thursday, so we only have to do three things a day to get everything finished on time. Jesus, when did this list get so long?
My mind drifts back to sitting next to my hot guy earlier. I told Becca about him last month and she asks for an update every week. She’s encouraged me to actually approach him and start a conversation, but there’s no way I can really do that. What am I going to say? Hey, I’ve been watching you all semester and you’re insanely hot. Wanna go out? Yeah, that doesn’t sound creepy at all.
I don’t know anything about him, but my body seems to be aware of him on a purely physical level. Smart guys are my thing, ones that value brains over brawn, so being this attracted just to someone’s outward appearance is a little strange for me. I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of hookups or one night stands, wanting an emotional and intellectual connection too. Plus, I’m pretty shy, so I’ve only been with two guys but parted on bad terms with both of them.
David dumped me in high school to ask out someone prettier and more popular and I discovered Jared going down on another girl last year when I went to surprise him in his dorm room. He claimed it wasn’t cheating because they hadn’t technically had sex yet, which I still can’t believe he said with a straight face. I remember staring at him in horror at what he was doing, but also fascinated that he thought I would actually buy that excuse before leaving and never speaking to him again. I saw him again for the first time since “the incident”, as Becca and I have dubbed it, the beginning week of classes this semester in an Intro to Sociology class I was taking. Naturally, I promptly dropped it and registered for Intro to Psychology instead. There was no way I was spending several months seeing him twice a week. Call me crazy, but I don’t need that kind of stress in my life.
Considering my track record with brainy guys, maybe I should consider brawn a little more, and my Psychology hot guy certainly fits the bill. He had to have at least some brains to be in college, and he always looked like he was paying attention and taking notes in class, but brawn definitely won out with his chiseled body and rugged appeal. I don’t think I’d ever have the nerve to go up to him in real life, but he was a nice daydream to have.
I pull out my Kindle, settling in for a mini reading session before my next class, but every time I try to picture the hero of the book, I can only picture him instead. It’s a historical, but that doesn’t seem to make a bit of difference to my imagination. It easily fills in the gaps, dressing him in tight breeches and Hessian boots with a matching English accent. I’ve never heard him speak, so it’s not implausible. I’d peg him for an All-American kind of guy though. Thinking about him in class again, I pray I didn’t screw up my chances for a good exam score.