When star soccer player Derek Seymour takes a prank too far, he’s forced to join the misfits of the school poetry club. He expects to hate every minute of it, all while keeping his dysfunctional family life a secret. What he doesn’t expect is to meet Jae, a transfer student who teaches him to forgive his past and love.
Jae Oakland is haunted by memories of people who have left her. When her mother dies, she moves in with her rich and overbearing uncle in Blue Bay. At the school’s first poetry club meeting, she runs into Derek Seymour, the obnoxious jock who’s already threatening her reputation. Can she learn to trust and love again after losing everything?
CHAPTER 1 EXERPT
I never paid much attention to the sidewalk, the way it curves perfectly around the bend on 5th and Washington. That corner was always a passing-through place, a nowhere on the way to somewhere. To catch the bus, to go to the clinic, or to meet up with Austin Green. Now this corner is where I’ll pass from one world to the next.
The August wind curls around me like a snake, smooth and slow. I clasp the handle of the suitcase by my waist, recounting everything I packed inside like a game of memory. The contents are equal parts clothing and equal parts books. As many books as I could fit inside.
The phone in my pocket vibrates. I pull it out to read the message from Uncle Rowan: Just a few minutes. The muscles in my legs begin to feel too soft to hold me up. Just a few minutes.
The last time I saw Uncle Rowan was five Christmases ago, a couple of years after Dad left. Even in his simple white button-up and black slacks, he looked too rich to be related. That’s what Mom said. “He too rich to be an Oakland. Tight fisted. Don’t help nobody.” But I didn’t believe her. He always bought the best Christmas gifts.
Now, a sleek black Cadillac pauses at the four-way stop before making a turn and pulling up beside me. The windows are tinted so dark they nearly blend in with the black body of the car. The engine cuts off and the door opens, and Uncle Rowan’s shiny brown head emerges from the driver’s side. He’s wearing dark sunglasses even though it’s a dreary fall day with the sun barely shining all afternoon. As he walks towards me I notice the cut of his gray suit, which had a slight glimmer to it, even without the sun shining.
I press my lips together nervously. He comes close to give me a quick pat on the back and says my name, Janelle, like it’s a greeting. I don’t realize my fingers are wrapped tightly around the handle of my large suitcase until he tries to wrestle it from my fingers.
“Did you cram the whole house in here?” he asks as he opens the trunk and heaves the suitcase inside. He grunts, dusts off his hands as if they got dirty, and slams the trunk door shut. “Let’s get a move on. We have a ways to go,” he says without looking at me.
I open the passenger side door and pause, one foot hovering over the mat inside. The Georgia dirt is clinging like a final goodbye all over my black boots. I pull my foot out again, turn to the curb, and kick my foot against it, watching the brown dirt pepper the street.