Posted in 2016, August

Reader Confession Tag

Another tag that I saw from Kayla over at kdrewkthebookworm! I was never much into tags but lately….I have been having more and more fun with them!

1. Have you ever damaged a book?

I have never damaged a book on purpose. (Does that count?!?!) I have already accidentally got food on a book while trying to read and eatreading and eating photo:  NOM.gif, or layed my book in something that was on the table.


2. Have you ever damaged a borrowed book?

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No, but I have lost a borrowed book once! (seriously, I think it just grew legs and ran away! I still have no idea where it went?)


3. How long does it take you to read a book?

Usually I can knock off 2 books a week as long as they are something that really interest me and I find fascinating. (which is usually a good romancey book or dystopian) If I am not into it, it could take me all week sometimes longer to finish. At that point, I may DNF it!


4. Books that you haven’t finished?

I just couldn’t finish this one!! I really tried for months but I just got really bored and had to stop!17901125


5. Hyped/popular books you didn’t like only thought were OK?

Don’t kill me….image I could not understand these characters! I did do a whole post on it and you can read that HERE if you like?


6. Is there a book you wouldn’t tell anyone you were reading?

No, I am pretty open about what I am reading. I do not really care what anyone else thinks.


7. How many books do you own?

Hmm, tough question….This is what my books looked like the last time I had tried to count. I think that it was 554?


8. Are you a fast or slow reader?

I think that we established this already? See question #3


9. Do you like to buddy read?

YES!!! When I was really involved on Goodreads, we buddies photo:  thFxgjkAbrtHajjxq.gifhad a very small group of us that would buddy read. We actually read a couple series together and IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!!!  I really miss it and that group of gals!

SO, if any of you would like to buddy read with me!!! PLEASE let me know!


10. Do you read better in your head or out loud?

In my head. I am always in character when reading. I actually recently did a post about this which you can read HERE!


11. If you were only allowed to own ONE book, what would it be and why?

AGh Gah! This is a horrid question!!!

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Does my kindle count?

Thanks for following along!

Now I tag….

Kayla from No Time For Tiny Bookshelves 

Kayla and I have just met. We have been placed together for our CG Swap but she is a real gem, you should check out her blog for some great reviews!. If you would like more info on the available swaps, please go HERE!

Until next time,



Posted in 2016, August, Giveaways!

Playlist, Review & Giveaway: The Summer Before Forever by Melissa Chambers


The Summer Before Forever (Before Forever, #1)The Summer Before Forever by Melissa Chambers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ugh! All the feels!!!

So, you all know that I kind of gravitate towards books that are taboo. This one is advertised as a contemporary about star-crossed love, which it definitely held true. These two characters tried all that they could to NOT show their inner feelings for each other and not react to them. I felt really bad for that since I did not think it would be so bad for them to be together. I mean they were not blood relatives? Am I right?

Right off the bat, I kinda have to swoon over Landon!!! He was such a gentlemen and I fell head over heels in love straight away!! He tried so hard to stay away but he just couldn’t and when you get stuck by the love bug….there is no holding back no matter whom the love of your life is!

I loved Chloe too but I have to say that I really enjoyed her BFF, Jenna, so much more!!! Jenna is snarky and assertive. She is not afraid to go after what she wants and secretly, I think that I would love to have an ounce of Jenna in myself. I am more like a shy Chloe trying to break free of my shell.

I enjoyed the list that Jenna had created for Chloe. I thought that the whole book would be more centered around said list but it was more about Chloe finding herself and the turmoil that had been created from a horrible incident that had happened to her.

Overall, I give the book a huge “thumbs up”! With the dual POV’s from Chloe and Landon, the reader is given full insight into both characters. A great beach read! I will definitely be reading more from this author!!! AND…..this looks like it is only the first book in a series:)

View all my reviews

Read Chapter One HERE!

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Chloe Stone’s Summer Playlist

There is nothing Chloe Stone from The Summer Before Forever loves more than sharing her favorite music. She’s fairly open to most kinds of music, but she tends toward alt rock. Her best friend, Jenna, is a total pop princess, so the two of them battle it out pretty frequently to get their songs heard, but they also can’t help falling a little in love with some of each other’s music in the process.

Summertime is the best possible time to soak in some fantastic tunes. The sun warming your skin…the smell of freshly cut grass or salty ocean air if you’re lucky enough to be by the beach. I love to sit on my back patio with my feet kicked up on a warm summer night and get lost in the music.

Here’s a special summer playlist Chloe put together for you. Some of the songs have a specific summer theme, while others have that easy summer feel or that happy, fun vibe that makes you want to dance around your backyard barefoot with the grass between your toes. Others may have you rolling down your window in the passenger seat of your best friend’s car and letting the wind whip through your hair while you sing along at full volume.

So grab your earbuds and your favorite cold drink, sit back, and take in Chloe’s songs of summer.

The Wombats “The English Summer”

Catfish and the Bottlemen “Soundcheck”

Viola Beach “Swings and Waterslides”

Saint Motel “Move”

DMA’s “Lay Down”

The War on Drugs “Red Eyes”

Japandroids “Younger Us”

Circa Waves “T-shirt Weather”

Kasabian “bumblebeee”

Kings of Leon “Beach Side”

OK Go “Upside Down & Inside Out”

Beach Slang “Too Late to Die Young”

Wolf Alice “Freazy”

Elvis Costello and the Attractions “The Other Side of Summer”

Joywave “Now”

Hear this playlist on Spotify

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About Melissa Chambers

Melissa Chambers writes contemporary novels for young, new, and actual adults. A Nashville native, she spends her days working in the music industry and her nights Melissa_croppedtapping away at her keyboard. While she’s slightly obsessed with alt rock, she leaves the guitar playing to her husband and kid. She never misses a chance to play a tennis match, listen to an audiobook, or eat a bowl of ice cream. (Rocky road, please!) The Summer Before Forever is her debut YA novel.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |  Instagram | Amazon Author Page

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$25 Amazon Giftcard

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A big thanks to Entangled Teen & Melissa Chambers for hosting today!




Posted in 2016, August

Book Discussion: Do you take on the feels after reading a book?

Hi everyone!!!

This subject has been on my mind for a while now and I just had to ask all of you to see what your thoughts are….

I have found that when I am reading a book, I always take on the feelings that the main character has in the book. For example…while on vacation I was reading Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris (read my review HERE) which is basically about spousal abuse, I found myself shying away from my husband and being fearful of him which I absolutely have no reason to!!! On the other hand when I read something fantasy with a kick ass female heroine like Throne of Glass by Sara J Maas (see my review HERE), I find myself being ready to take on the world like Celaena Sardothien! I am able to kick anyone’s ass that gets in my way!!! OR for another example…I also found myself being really snarky and quick-witted while reading Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux series just like Katy! (see all my reviews for JLA HERE) Why does this happen??

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Here is my theory…

When I read a book, I personally take on the role of the main character. Now I am not sure if everyone does this but this is something that I have always done. I completely immerse myself into that character’s world and tend to take on all of their feelings. I have been shocked, surprised, brought to tears and laughed out loud many of times. Sometimes I even talk to the characters as if I am right there! There was one series in particular that I cried when the series was over:-( I literally lived in their world every time that I read another book and wanted them to last forever. That series was told by many POV’s but I felt like I was there with them and included in all of their shenanigans! The series that I speak of is The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine…best vampire series ever!! If you have not read them…you really should! Be forewarned though…the series is vast!(read all my reviews HERE)

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So I ask you…Do you feel the same? Do you get so caught up in the book that you take the feels with you into real life? Is this normal or do I have some super power?? Let me know! I would love to hear your thoughts!

telekinesis photo: Telekinesis Fire Ball. TelekinesisFireBall.gif



Posted in 2016, August

Novella Blog Tour: The Lucy & Harris Series by Terri Anne Browning

Catching Lucy (Lucy & Harris, #1)Catching Lucy by Terri Anne Browning

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very quick read for me. I devoured it in one sitting and grew to love the characters of Lucy and Harris. At times I felt that Lucy was holding back and it was just a tad frustrating when Harris was trying so darn hard for her. I enjoyed the ending and admired the fact that Harris seems like the last true gentleman!! You need to read the book to actually find out what I mean!!


Craving Lucy (Lucy & Harris, #2)Craving Lucy by Terri Anne Browning

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I dove right into this after reading the first. Another quick read and I plunged forward finishing in a day! I fell instantly in love with these two characters and was VERY curious as to what would happen next!

Lucy opens up a bit more in this novella and Harris has no problems accepting that!😉 I really enjoyed Lucy’s parent’s and fell immediately in love with her relationship with her Dad. It really shows the meaning of “daddy’s little girl”!

This one ends with a bang! I was left speechless and needing more!!!!


Rocking Kin (Lucy & Harris, #3)Rocking Kin by Terri Anne Browning

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I plundered ahead with this one and was really glad that I had it on hand after the ending of the last novella! Ms. Browning switches it up a bit and continues to keep us in suspense when she gives us some insight into Kin & Jace’s relationship through their POV. This was fine by me. I love Lucy & Harris but they seem a bit more “goody goody” than our bad boy, Jace and rocker chic, Kin. I love these two and thought they were the perfect sidekicks to Lucy & Harris!

We still get some insight into Lucy & Harris through some chapters from their POV also. Another cliffhanger ending and this one actually had me in tears!!! I am currently kicking myself for not signing up to be a part of the full length novel blog tour for, Un-Shattering Lucy, that is due out August 23rd. You will definitely want that one on hand after completing this novella!

View all my reviews

Thank you to InkslingerPR for the review copies!




Posted in 2016, August

Release Day: Unknown by Wendy Higgins

thumbnail_UnknownHighResAmber Tate believes the worst thing she’ll suffer in life is dealing with the unrequited love she feels for her brother’s best friend, Rylen Fite. She also believes war is something unfortunate that happens places far, far away from her rural Nevada town. She’s wrong on both counts.

When an unknown organization meticulously bombs major cities in the United States and across the globe, a trickle-down effect spreads to remaining towns at an alarming speed—everything from food and water sources to technology and communications are compromised. Without leadership, the nation is split between paralysis and panic, but Amber isn’t one to hide or watch helplessly. She’s determined to put her nursing skills to use, despite the danger, even if it means working alongside the man she can never have.

In this first installment of NY Times bestselling author, Wendy Higgins’s debut New Adult series, a frighteningly realistic apocalyptic America is brought to life, entwined with searing romantic tension that will leave you eager for more.

About Wendy Higgins: 
Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NY Times bestselling author of the SWEET EVIL series from HarperTeen, the thumbnail_WendyHigginsAuthorPichigh fantasy duology THE GREAT HUNT, and her independently published Irish Fantasy SEE ME.
After earning a Creative Writing degree from George Mason University and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford, Wendy taught high school English until achieving her dream job as a full-time writer.
Wend lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her husband, daughter, son, and little doggie Rue.

Open International:

Grand Prize: Signed Paperback copy of Unknown with Poster, bookplate stickers, and bookmarks
1st & 2nd Prize: digital copies of Unknown (has to be B&N or Amazon user – will be gifted via their email address) plus signed bookmarks and bookplate stickers

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I loved Wendy’s Sweet Evil series and I am sooo looking forward to reading this one!!! I have pre-ordered it and can’t wait to dive in!!!

xoxo, Heather

Posted in 2016, ARC, August, Giveaways!

Winner’s Circle: The Cabin Early ARC!


Congratulations to Jessica from Strung Out On Books

for winning the early ARC giveaway of The Cabin!


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Thank you to those that entered!

XOXO, Heather

Posted in 2016, August, Blogger Love

Bringing back the old….Blogger Love!

blogger love

Hi y’all!

I wanted to take this time to tell you that I am going to be bringing back a very old segment that I use to do called, Blogger Love! I had done this segment way back in 2011 and I had hosted some very amazing blogs.

For those of you that had not been following along back then, Blogger Love, is where we get to meet a new blogger, they introduce us to their blog, do a review and we share a little interview. I loved doing this because I had met some amazing people and also, I got to follow some awesome new blogs! Some of these blogs had just started and others had been going on for months!

I will be introducing one new blog per month. Let’s see how that goes first. If I have an outpouring of support, then maybe I will increase to twice per month??

With that being said, if you are a blogger and would like to be featured on my segment of Blogger Love, please send me an email to, let me know your blog name, website and what book you would like to review for your guest day here on NightlyReading. It can be a book that you have already reviewed elsewhere. We like to just see your review style:)

Any questions, let me know! Thanks so much and have a wonderful day:)

Don’t Forget!!! Last day to enter!

Today is the last day to enter my giveaway for The Camp!! Click on the picture over on the right hand side to be taken to that post!


Posted in 2016, August

Review: Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris

Behind Closed DoorsBehind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book! Ugh! This book had me an emotional wreck during and after reading it!

This was a really great psychological thriller that really kept me on my toes and had me almost throwing my kindle across the room! It is so hard for me to explain all the feelings that I had while reading this book but I am going to try my best.

In the beginning, I fell in love with Jack right along with Grace. He was a true gentleman and it was easy to like him as a character. Grace is really lovely and what I expect a real lady to be like. She is poised and graceful, not to mention beautiful. Her only flaw is her love for her sister.

I had not expected this book to take the turn that it had and I was soon shocked, confused and bitter. Grace finds herself in quite the predicament that she cannot fathom finding a way out. It seems she is stuck and this wreaks all kinds of havoc on the reader’s emotions!!! I have to tell you, mine were all kind of over the place! I went from falling in love, to hate to fear all within a few chapters. I expected there to be some sort of abuse situation but what I had found was beyond my wildest dreams.

The ending was kind of cliff hangerish and I am hoping that there is sequel. This cannot be the ending of this story? I mean, we have to find out what happens here!

I really, really enjoyed this book! I was unable to put it down and just kept on flipping pages! Thank you to the publisher for the review copy! (and here is hoping for another *crosses fingers*)

View all my reviews

“We go downstairs and in the hall, he takes my coat from the cupboard and holds it open while I slip my arms into it. In the drive outside, he holds the car door for me and waits until I’m in. As he closes it behind me, I can’t help thinking it’s a shame he’s such a sadistic bastard, because he has wonderful manners.”
B.A. Paris, Behind Closed Doors

XOXO, Heather

Posted in 2016, August

The Secret Life of a Book Blogger Tag!

Hi Everyone! *waves frantically*

I saw this tag from Kayla over at kdrewkthebookworm and wanted to take part.(you guys need to go over and follow her! She is all kinds of awesome!)  I was not tagged by anyone but….I may be sneaky and tag a few others. So just kick back, grab a drink (I prefer ice tea) and relax as you get a little bit inside the head of me…Muahahaha! (just kidding)


1. How long have you been a blogger for?

I’ve been blogging for about 5 1/2 years!!! WOW!! I cannot believe that it has been that Heatherlong! I started in January of 2011 and if you go back and look at some of my old reviews…they are utterly frightening! I had no idea of what I was doing and just decided to wing it!

2. At what point do you think you will stop?

I have no plans on stopping at any time in the near future?? I hope that I continue to blog until I am a decrepit 80 year old lady.

3. What is the best part?

Sharing your passion with others! I love when someone leaves me a comment that they agree or even disagree because I love to chat about my love for books!!! Especially YA books! I really do not have someone to fangirl with. My daughter reads YA but she is more a contemporary reader while I love me some Fantasy/Dystopian/ZOMBIES, so we usually read different books!

4. What is the worst part?

thumbnail_FullSizeRenderHmmm, tough question!!! I would say the huge TBR!!! It is very easy to get overwhelmed by an enormous TBR! As you can see, this is my current situation and this does not include ebooks! Very quickly those review books add up and although you are sooo excited to have an ARC and this book is suppose to be the next best thing, you find yourself wishing that you could just read a book for fun…one that you were dying to read last year and just didn’t get to yet. (sorry for the ramble!!) This leads to burn out, which I have gone through several times over the course of the past 5 years. Every once in a while, I take a majorly needed hiatus and clean out my TBR, get rid of the old to prepare for the new, take a blogging break and focus on getting back on track!

5. Who’s your book crush?

Oh boy! Do you have a couple of days for me to list them all?? I would have to say that my BD Quoteinitial thought and this character has ALWAYS been my favorite……Travis Maddox from Beautiful Disaster by Jaime McGuire! I have read that book at least 5 times and it never gets old for me! AND….I was quoted on the first edition! I am very proud of that! (and yes, I do own a copy of said edition! Someday, I will meet Jaime and said edition will get signed!)

6. What author would you like to have on your blog?

My favorite author of all time is Jennifer L. Armentrout. I have met her in person and I was able to interview her for my youtube channel. (if you haven’t seen it, head on over to youtube and check it out) but….I would love to have Colleen Hoover or Leigh Bardugo or even Cassandra Clare on the blog. That would be pure awesomesauce!!

7. What do you wear when you write your blog?

nightlyreading-6.jpgVery interesting question…I am sure you are all just dying to know the answer…CLOTHES you perv!!! Of course I wear clothes!!! LOL, what kind of blog do you think this is?

8. How long does it take you to prepare a post?

I can usually knock them out quickly unless there are a lot of graphics or links that I have to add, those take a bit longer.

9. How do you feel about the book blogger community/culture?

I love that everyone is just so friendly and open! I feel like I have a ton of friends and have h.leemet some amazing people since blogging. There are some bad apples out there, those that like to take advantage but that happens everywhere no matter what your hobby.

10. What do you think one should do to have a successful blog?

Be Yourself!!! Try not to be like everyone else. Pick your own thing that makes you unique and go with it! It doesn’t matter about your following, what matters is your content. AND lastly….the most important of all……


So, I think I am going to just choose one person to tag, this person is the very first friend that I made way back when in 2011 after I had just started out. She was just starting also and we hit it off right out of the gate. She is still blogging too and even though we have never met and rarely chat, she has helped me quite a bit over the past 5 years with lots of advice when things got a little out of hand…. that person is:

Kayleigh from K-Books!!!

You guys should really check out her blog. She has amazing and thoughtful reviews and she is the sweetest!

Thanks for listening to my ramblings. Let me know your thoughts….Do you have a blog? Link up in the comments so that we can check out yours!


Posted in 2016, August, Giveaways!

Excerpt & Giveaway: The Cabin by Natasha Preston

thumbnail_9781492618553-300RGBThe Cabin

by Natasha Preston (Goodreads Author)

There may only be one killer, but no one is innocent in this new thriller from Natasha Preston, author of The Cellar and Awake.

When Mackenzie treks to a secluded cabin in the woods with six friends, she expects a fun weekend of partying, drinking, and hookups. But when they wake to find two of their own dead and covered in blood, it’s clear there’s a killer among them.

As the police try to unravel the case, Mackenzie launches her own investigation. Before long secrets start to emerge, revealing a sinister web of sins among the original seven friends. The killer is still free. Every one of them is a suspect. And Mackenzie starts to realize that no one is innocent…

I am so excited about this book! I love mystery/thrillers, look for my review coming soon!!



Friday, August 7

“Do you have everything you need, Mackenzie?” Mum asked, watching me stuff clothes in a bag.

“I think so. We’re only going for two nights anyway.” Two painful nights of dealing with Josh.

“Remember to leave the address and phone number on the fridge.”

“I don’t think the cabin has a landline, but I’ll leave the address. I’ll get cell reception out there, apparently, and I’ll let you know when we arrive.”

She nodded nervously and gave me a weak smile.

“Mum, I’ll be fine.”

“You’re spending the weekend with someone you don’t like.”

“No, I’m spending the weekend with Aaron, Courtney, Megan, and Kyle. It’s just unfortunate that Josh will be there too.” If I could have uninvited him, I would have.

But the cabin is his parents’, so that didn’t seem too likely. Or reasonable. He’d invited us all to spend the weekend at his family’s cabin since school was out. The UK had finally realized it was summer, and next year, we’d all be going our separate ways for university.

“If you need to be picked up early…?”

I shook my head. “Thanks, but I’ll be fine. There’s no way I’m letting him ruin a weekend with my friends. Anyway, I need to go.”

“I’ll drop you off at Joshua’s.”

“No, it’s fine, Mum. I can walk.” I grabbed my bag and swung it over my shoulder. “See you Sunday night. Love you,” I said, kissing her cheek.

“Love you too, sweetheart. Call if you need anything.”

“I will,” I replied.

Josh only lived a two–minute walk away, so it wouldn’t take me long. I slammed the front door behind me and headed down the path. The weather was superhot, it being the beginning of August, and I was glad I’d opted for shorts and a T–shirt.

When I got to Josh’s, everyone was outside his house, cramming bags into cars. Seriously, we were going for two nights, but it looked like Courtney and Megan had packed for a week.

“Kenz!” Courtney shouted, jogging toward me. Her red ponytail swayed and her green eyes danced with excitement. She was the only person genuinely happy about this trip.

Taking a deep breath, I pushed away every ounce of doubt I had about this weekend and smiled. “Hey, Court. Is everyone ready?”

“Almost. Josh will be back soon,” she replied with a goofy smile. “Don’t look like that,” she added when I grimaced at his name.

Whoops, she caught me. “Sorry. I didn’t mean that. It’s…nice of him to invite us to his folk’s cabin.”

She took my lame apology with a smile. “He wants things back the way they were.”

Did he have a time machine so he could go back and not say those awful things about my friends? Could he take back what he’d done to me? What he still was doing to me?

Josh might be trying to make amends for the past—-if we were even to believe it was genuine—-but we weren’t going to forgive him so easily. Some hurts aren’t that easy to get over, and I couldn’t forgive someone who wasn’t sorry and hadn’t changed their behavior. Courtney had forgiven him already, of course, but she never could see what a waster her boyfriend was.

I lifted my eyebrow.

“Mackenzie, please,” Courtney said, sighing as she pushed her bangs out of her eyes. “He’s trying, and it will mean so much to me if you’ll try too. Please?”

I groaned and my shoulders sagged. “Fine. I’ll play nice.”

Two nights, that’s it. You can do that.

“We all will,” Megan added, stepping beside us. “Right, guys?” Aaron and Kyle nodded along, agreeing to put their differences to the side—-for the weekend at least.

“Where is Josh anyway?” I asked.

“Picking up his brother.” Courtney rolled her eyes. “Blake wanted to see him again, so Josh invited him this morning. Technically the cabin belongs to Blake too, so there’s not much anyone can do to stop him from coming with.”

“Oh,” I muttered, not sure how I felt about a stranger joining us. We didn’t know Blake, and if he was anything like Josh, the weekend was going to be a nightmare. “So the estranged brother is coming.” Great. This trip keeps getting better and better.

I had seen Blake before, on about two occasions, when his parents were doing a kid swap, but I’d never spoken to him. Blake had moved away with his dad after their parents divorced. Josh stayed with their mum. The two boys didn’t spend much time together while they were growing up, which was probably a good thing for Blake.

Courtney pushed her bangs aside again. They never stayed put, so I didn’t know why she didn’t just cut them shorter. “They’re hardly estranged.”

They rarely saw each other; I’d call that estranged. “Why is he crashing his brother’s party?” I asked.

“He’s lonely?” Kyle offered, making a sad face.

Courtney leaned against Aaron’s car. “No, he just wants to spend time with his brother.

They both want to.”

If Blake was like Josh, I would be coming home early for sure. I didn’t even want to breathe the same air as Josh, so I sort of hoped Blake was an idiot too, then I would have an excuse to leave that wouldn’t hurt Courtney’s feelings.

The warm air blew my long chestnut hair in my face. I brushed the strands from my eyes just in time to see a metallic–black Mitsubishi Warrior—-the only car I recognized without reading the logo because it was Kyle’s favorite subject—-pull up beside me.

Here we go…

Josh was sitting in the passenger seat and his brother was driving. They both had the same dark–brown hair and blue eyes, but apart from that, they looked totally different. Josh definitely didn’t inherit the looks. Blake snapped every ounce of drop–dead gorgeous and left nothing for his younger brother. Lucky for Blake.

I looked away and walked around to Aaron’s car, wanting to put as much distance between me and Josh as possible. Even just seeing his face made me want to punch him, especially after his demands. Courtney was smart, but when it came to him, she was as thick as a post.

Josh got out of the car. “Hey, guys. You remember my brother, Blake?”

Megan shook her head. “Nope, but hi.”

Blake walked to the front of his truck and casually leaned against the hood as if he was bored. “Hey,” he said with a nod.

He wore chunky black boots, dark jeans, and a black jacket, making him look mysterious and maybe a little dangerous. His dark hair stuck out in all directions in a messy style that looked like he didn’t give a crap—-which I assumed he didn’t. His bright–blue eyes scanned the group, checking us out one by one.

His gaze was intense and it was like he saw everything. I didn’t want him to see anything about me. “Let’s just leave already!” I said, opening the car door and climbing inside. The sooner we got there, the sooner we could get back. Damn, I sounded like my parents on Christmas Eve when they would try to get me to sleep as the clock ticked dangerously close to midnight.

But at least I would get two nights adult free to spend with my friends. That was something to look forward to for sure.

“Err, Mackenzie,” Courtney said. “You’re in the car with me.”

My face fell. I knew what that meant. “What?”

She stepped forward and leaned in the car so we could talk privately. “You’re coming in the car with me, Josh, and Blake.”

“Yeah, I’m not,” I replied.

“Please? Look, I know you’re mad at him, and I understand why, but will you try? I really think you two need to spend the car trip together to work through this.”

“We really don’t, Court.”

“This weekend is going to suck if you’re pissed at Josh the whole time.”

I frowned. I wasn’t the only one who didn’t like him though, so why was I the only one being forced to make the extra effort? “His brother’s weird,” I whispered as if that was going to change Courtney’s mind.

“Blake is harmless.”

I’d run out of excuses. Sighing in defeat, I replied, “All right! But if he pisses me off by making his usual stupid comments, I’m switching cars.”

Courtney held up her hands. “OK, OK. Thank you.”

“We’re taking Blake’s car then?”

“Yeah, they must have decided to bring Blake’s instead. I can see why.” Courtney was a car person; she knew all the different types and models by sight. I couldn’t even tell if something was wrong with one—-unless the engine actually fell out.

“Blake’s driving?”

“His car, so I guess.” She shrugged, watching Josh with a loving look that made me want to shake some sense into her.

“I call shotgun,” I replied. If I had to be in the same car, at least I wouldn’t have to sit next to him. I was aware that I was behaving like a child, but I didn’t care. Josh had crossed a line, and I wasn’t going to forgive him. Actually, Josh had crossed about a million lines.

I got in the passenger seat before Josh had a chance to say or do anything. He could shove it if he thought I was moving. Blake smiled a little awkwardly and started the car. He didn’t ooze confidence, but he looked like he didn’t care what anyone thought.

“I’m coming in your car too,” Kyle said.

Courtney narrowed her eyes. “You’re with Aaron and Megan.”

“There’s space with you for another, isn’t there?”

“Kyle, five in one car and two in another is stupid. No one wants to be cramped in the back.”

“Oh, for Christ’s sake, Kyle, just get in Aaron’s bloody car,” Josh snapped, shoving past him. “Pathetic arsehole.”

I ground my teeth. Did it really matter which car he rode in?

The answer was no.

Blake and I hadn’t spent any time together, so we quickly fell into an awkward silence while we waited for Josh and Courtney to get in the car. I bit the inside of my cheek and

twiddled my fingers. Say something to him! We had never actually spoken to each other before. That was about to change. We had a forty–five–minute car ride to a remote part of the Lake District ahead of us.

“Why do you hate Josh?” he asked.

I was surprised by his bluntness. It was no secret that I didn’t like Josh, but I didn’t expect his brother to come straight out and ask. “Um, because he’s a bloody idiot.”

Blake’s eyebrow rose, and he pursed his lips. Finally, he nodded once. “Yeah. OK then.”

“You don’t see him much, do you?”

“Not really. Growing up, my parents couldn’t get their shit together long enough to schedule proper visits for us. Most of the time, when they finally got around to it, they swapped us over for a day or two. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen my mum in the last twelve years.”

My heart ached for him. I couldn’t imagine what he went through as a kid. He must’ve missed his mum. I would have; my mum was the person I went to with every problem—-well, almost every problem. “That’s really sad.”

He lifted his shoulder and let it drop. “That’s how it goes sometimes.”

“Yeah, but…” I shook my head. I couldn’t imagine not seeing my mum every day, as crazy as she drove me sometimes. Blake must have felt abandoned by his mom if she never made the effort. Maybe that was how Josh felt about his dad? Wow, Josh and deep feelings. That was strange to think about… Everything I’d witnessed of his character had been shallow and selfish.

Josh and Courtney got in the car, and I zipped my mouth. The atmosphere turned tense, like it always was when Josh was around. He knew I wished he wasn’t with Courtney after all of the horrible things he’d said about our friends Tilly and Gigi. He loved that Courtney wouldn’t ditch him for treating her friends like rubbish. Bastard.

“Oh, I don’t mind you sitting up front with my brother, Mackenzie,” Josh said sarcastically as he climbed into the backseat.

I clenched my fists. Don’t let him get to you.

“My car, Bro, and I’d rather sit near a pretty face than your ugly mug,” Blake responded.

Smiling to myself, I grabbed my bag of lollipops and offered one to Blake. I should probably have been annoyed at the “pretty face” comment, but that was overshadowed by him calling Josh ugly. Blake took an orange lollipop—-my favorite—-and gave me a wink.

“Not sharing, Mackenzie?” Josh asked.

I took a deep breath, resisting the urge to jam the plastic stick into his eye. “Sure,” I replied, holding out the bag. He took two, probably to annoy me, so I said nothing.

“OK, everyone, please play nice,” Courtney whined. “This weekend, parent free, is going to be epic, so will you all make up?”

“You know I don’t have a problem with any of them, babe,” Josh replied.

“Whatever,” I muttered, clenching my jaw.

I watched Blake as he drove. His eyes slid over, occasionally catching me, but he didn’t say a word. I found myself wanting to get to know him, but I wasn’t sure why. He would go home after the weekend, and I’d probably never see him again.

Still, Blake was gorgeous, and I was drawn to him.

We reached the cabin without bloodshed, so I was pleased with my self–control—-so far. Courtney kept Josh in check by flirting with him and getting him to listen to music. I couldn’t wait until she saw through him and his crap. I was going to make sure I had a front–row seat when she dumped his arse.

“This is it?” I asked, looking out the window up at a huge, two–story cabin. It could easily house about ten people.

Blake cut the engine and smirked. “What did you expect? The Ritz?”

“This is amazing. I didn’t think it would be this big.”

“Three years ago, I would have made some sort of sexual innuendo,” Blake replied.

“All grown up now, are we?”

“Nah, that was just when I noticed Josh trying to act the big man and I realized how lame those comments actually sound.”

I grinned and got out of the car. I liked Blake and his painfully beautiful face. Maybe this weekend wouldn’t be so miserable. Kyle and Aaron bundled bags out of the trunk and chucked them on the ground. Halfway to the cabin I guess. Kyle grabbed his phone and started to film, like he usually did. He wanted to do something in the film industry, and I think he’d be awesome at it.

“Smile, Kenz,” he said, pointing it in my direction.

I stuck out my tongue and Aaron made an obscene gesture.

“Nice, Aaron,” Kyle said sarcastically.

Megan stared up at the enormous house. You could tell from the overgrown plants and faded window frames that no one had been here in a while. Josh and Courtney had spent all last weekend here getting it ready, but they’d just cleaned the inside.

The cabin was set in a clearing; the woods surrounded it on three sides, and a gorgeous lake ran along the front of the property. The scenery was beautiful. I didn’t understand why Josh’s family didn’t use it more often.

“You happy to be back?” I asked Blake as we walked to the front door at a snail’s pace. He dragged his feet like he didn’t really want to be here.

Blake shrugged and grunted. “Just here for the booze.”

Of course you are.

Josh unlocked the front door and turned to us. Kyle rolled his eyes, guessing what was coming, and I tried not to laugh. We—-eighteen and however old Blake was—-were about to be given rules.

“Courtney and I have worked hard getting the cabin ready for you all, so I would appreciate it if you would respect the place and not leave it looking like a Dumpster.”

I bit my tongue. How pompous. None of us were going to trash the cabin and he knew that. Courtney stood beside him like the lady of the manor, eating up the attention. I loved that girl, but she needed a good slap to knock some sense into her.

Josh opened the door and walked in ahead of Courtney. Gentleman my arse! And Court didn’t even care; she followed him like a little lapdog.

“I’ll grab the rest of the bags,” Aaron said, heading back out of the door.

I walked in and my jaw dropped. Wow.

The cabin was beautiful, albeit a little dated. The view of the lake from the family room window was to die for. The sun shone down on the water’s surface, making it glisten. There was a large fireplace that I could have stepped into.

Kyle walked behind me, capturing the view with his phone.

“I’m going to explore. Anyone wanna come?” Megan asked, bouncing up and down like a toddler. Her short, overly hair–sprayed bob barely moved an inch. She had already dropped her bag by the bottom of the stairs, which was about as much unpacking as she ever did.

I handed a case of beer to Courtney, who was organizing the food and booze in the kitchen.

“Don’t fancy getting lost in the forest, thanks,” I replied.

Aaron dropped a load of bags on the floor. “I’ll come.” He walked out before anyone could stop him and make him help. I watched them walk into the woods. The bright midday sun shone down on Aaron’s white–blond hair, making it glow. They both looked happy to be away, and I was going to try and do the same.

“Going for a walk,” Kyle said, shaking his head at them as he lowered the phone. He held up a six–pack in his other hand. “Crazy. Hey, Blake, where’d you want the beer, man?”

“In the oven,” he replied dryly.

I tried not to smile but failed miserably. I wasn’t sure what Blake was doing here. He didn’t seem to have a good relationship with Josh, and he didn’t seem to be making much effort.

Kyle’s mouth thinned in a tight smile, and I could tell he was fighting the urge to say something back. Instead, he narrowed his eyes and spun on his heel. Shaking his head, he walked away. Kyle was a sensitive soul and was never very good with anyone making fun of him.

Then, Blake and I were left in the living room. Alone again. I pursed my lips, not knowing what to say. Should I even say anything? The silence was awkward, but it didn’t seem to bother him at all. Nothing seemed to affect him. Blake was cool, calm, and almost robotic. But I wasn’t naive enough to think that nothing got to him.

“So…did you come here much when you were a kid?” I asked to fill the silence.

He looked over his shoulder, half smiling at me. “You’re asking if I come here much?”

“No, I asked if you came here much.” There was a big difference.

Blake turned his body so he was fully facing me. I don’t know if he did it to be intimidating, but it was. He had this cockiness about him, but it wasn’t off–putting like Josh’s.

“We came here a lot before our parents separated. After the divorce, the place stayed empty, until now.”

I didn’t know what to say. “I’m sorry.”

“Why? People divorce all the time.” Before I had the chance to say anything else, he walked outside. There was definitely a lot more to him than he let people see.

“Beer, Kenz?” Kyle asked from behind me.

I turned and smirked. “You know it’s eleven in the morning, right?”

“Yeah,” he replied, tilting his head, waiting for me to explain.

I smiled and took a beer from his outstretched hand. “Never mind.”

Kyle and I sat on the sofa while Josh and Courtney messed around putting things away in the kitchen. “You think we should help?” I asked.

“I offered. You know what Josh is like.”

Control freak. We wouldn’t do it the way he wanted. How many different ways were there to put food in a cupboard? This was “Josh’s” place though, and we were being made very aware that we were just guests. “I’m going to need a lot of alcohol to get through this weekend,” I said. I’d promised my parents no drinking, obviously, but we were all parent free and determined to make the most of it. They think we’re swimming in the lake, cooking out, and roasting marshmallows around a campfire. We are, so it’s not a total lie, but there will be drinking.

Kyle nodded in agreement and raised his bottle. “Let’s keep it coming, then.”

I clinked the top of my bottle against his and took a swig.

Kyle and I had just finished our thirds when the rest of the group joined us. “Wow, this

looks fun,” Aaron said, grinning at the bottles of alcohol spread out over the coffee table.

“Yep, Kyle and I thought we should have it all at arm’s reach. Cheers,” I said, raising my half–full bottle.

“Well, if we’re doing this, we’re doing it right. I’m well up for getting wasted,” Aaron replied, picking the Absolut Vodka. “Everyone’s in, no backing out. Josh, shot glasses, my man!” My smile grew. I wasn’t a big drinker, especially after last time, with the accident, but I wanted to have stupid, immature fun tonight.

“Err, guys, I don’t want anyone throwing up in my house,” Josh said in his annoying, stuck–up, I’m–better–than–you way. I had a very sudden, very childish urge to drink until I puked.

Everything he wanted, I wanted to do the opposite. I knew that was dangerous though. I knew I couldn’t—-and I wasn’t stupid enough to do it—-but I damn well wanted to.

“Lighten up, mate, come on. We all want this to be a good weekend,” Kyle replied.

Josh glared and his jaw tightened. He didn’t like to be challenged. “I am relaxed,” he growled through his teeth.

Aaron lifted a freshly poured shot glass and raised it to Josh, his own little in–your–face, before knocking it back. I smiled and did the same. And then I regretted it because Josh’s eyebrow arched and I knew exactly what he was thinking.

And he wouldn’t hesitate to open his big mouth. But before he could say anything, Aaron

spoke. “A toast,” he said, raising a bottle this time. “To a killer weekend.”

We lifted whatever we had in our hands. “To a killer weekend!”


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