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CRASH

Copyright © 2012

Nicole Williams

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events of persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All Rights Reserved.

No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical without express permission from the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes.

For the fine and fabulous girls of the FP. Not a day passes where I don’t find myself thankful to have each and every one of you. You inspire me to become a better writer, as well as a better person. You encourage me, let me vent, and aren’t afraid to tell me to suck it up. Write until there’s nothing left to be said. Then write some more. Love and glitter cannons to you all!

CRASH

A novel by

Nicole Williams

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER ONE

Summers turn me into a sucker. That’s why I was glad this one was almost over.

Every year since puberty, from mid-June to early September, I’d been sure I was going to meet the real world equivalent to Prince Charming. Call me old fashioned, call me hopelessly romantic, you could even call me a fool, but whatever I was, I knew the end result—I was a sucker. To date, I’d never found a guy who was worthy to stand in Prince C’s shadow; no real surprise there as I’d discovered more and more after each summer that guys were something of a pain in the ass. But here, working on my tan at Sapphire Lake’s public beach just a couple weeks before I was all set to start my senior year at a new school, I’d just found me a Prince Hot Damn.

He arrived with a whole mess of guys, tossing a football back and forth, and specimens like this confirmed there had been some kind of divine rule in the universe because no natural selection process was up to the task of creating something like him. This was some god’s, somewhere’s, handiwork. He was tall, his shoulders were wide, and he had those dark ringed eyes with black lashes that had the power to undo a woman’s best intentions. So, in non-sucker terms, he was just my type. Along with every other English speaking woman in the northern hemisphere’s.

My blue raspberry slurpee—that was becoming more mush than slush with each passing wanton stare—couldn’t even compete for my attention. I didn’t know his name, didn’t know if he had a girlfriend, didn’t know if he wanted one, but I knew I was in trouble.

However, it was when his dodging and tackling and sprinting ceased when he glanced my way that I knew I was in big trouble.

The glance was immeasurably longer than every other glance shared with a stranger, but what was conveyed in that shortest of connections cut through me, letting some piece of this stranger work his way inside. I’d experienced this before a few times in my life, nothing but an eye connection with a passing stranger that moved me on an instinctual level. For no reason at all, it was like I felt my soul surface in a typhoon, begging me to take notice and follow after that moment of serendipity.

To date, I never had, but the last time I’d let one of these moments pass was last fall when a boy working at a restaurant my family visited while on vacation delivered a pizza to our table. He’d dropped the pizza on the table, told us to enjoy, and then, right as he was leaving the table, he looked and me. My heart went boom-boom, my head got all foggy, and I felt this ache inside when he turned and walked away, like we were tied together by a fixed rope. I’d let exactly four of these soul typhoons pass unexplored, but I’d made a pact of the utmost sacredness with myself that I wouldn’t let a fifth go by in the same kind of way.

I was never sure if the person on the other end of that look felt the same kind of intensity I did, so when Prince Hot Damn turned away, tackling someone into the sand, I knew I ran the risk of him thinking I was one of those girls who made an art-form of preying upon beautiful boys minding their own business. I didn’t care, I wouldn’t let another one of these moments go. Life was short and I’d been a firm believer in seizing the moment for the majority of my life.

Then, he came to another standstill, like my stare was freezing him in place, before looking back. This time it wasn’t a glance. It was a good five second stare where his eyes did that dumbfounded thing mine were doing to me. His smile had just begun its upward journey into position when a football whizzed right into the side of his face. It was one of those moments you saw played out in movies: wide-eyed boy staring at girl, oblivious to the world around him until the laces of a football indented his forehead.

“Stop staring, Jude!” the young boy who had thrown the ball called out. “She’s too hot, even for you. And since she’s got a book, she probably knows how to read, so she’s smart enough to know to avoid guys like you.”

I slid my glasses back into place as serendipity boy chased after the pint-sized teaser and turned my attention back to the book sprawled out beneath me, no longer worried about having to chase him down to explore if there could be anything else between us than a loaded look.

I saw the reciprocation in his eyes, that and more. It was only a matter of how much time he wanted to play it cool until he came over. I had all day.

That was what I reassured myself with as he threw the caught boy over his shoulder and ran the both of them into the lake, dunking up and down until the boy was squealing with laughter. I reassured myself again when he and the boy trudged from the water and returned to the cluster of boys playing football and picked up right where he left off, not sparing a single look my way.

I tried to distract myself with the book below me, but when I found myself reading the same paragraph for the sixth time, I gave up. Still not another look my way, like I was invisible.

When a second hour passed in the same way, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. If he wasn’t going to come to me and I wasn’t quite ready to go to him, I’d just have to make him. I’d found boys were fairly simple creatures to figure out, at least on a primal level—on a mind, heart, and soul matter they were about as confounding to me as thermal dynamics—and since primal was just a nice term for raging hormones, I decided to use their overabundance of teenage boy ones to my advantage.