It’s my one-year book birthday! Woohoo! I’m celebrating one year today since the paperback release of my contemporary romance Young Adult novel Hungry Hearts. To celebrate, I’m posting an excerpt from the book and hosting a giveaway. Please scroll to the end to sign up for your chance to win a paperback or CD of the book.
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Hungry Hearts was published by Swoon Romance/Month9Books. This is a excerpt from the published novel.
Chapter 3 Hungry Hearts
To listen to me read this chapter, visit YouTube: https://youtu.be/0e3nMP_TMMI
Chapter Three: Chocolate Cake for Breakfast
I hop off the bus at school and walk a few steps before Brian hands me a green container with a bow on top.
“Cake fit for only a queen.” He smiles. “As promised, here is my best-ever chocolate cake, all for you.”
I stare at it. Is he kidding me? “Oh, I’m not hungry.” I can’t eat cake. That would make me blow up like an elephant.
“I want to replicate that look on your face from yesterday, and this cake is sure to do it.” He nods at the box. “Please try it. I made it special for you.” His eyes plead with me, offering up a piece of himself.
I sigh. Is he serious right now with this? I shake my head. “I’m not a fan of chocolate.”
His face falls, and his eyes crash to the ground.
Ugh. Why can’t I just be nice and accept it? I might as well knee him in the nuts to top it off.
“Oh,” he says as he stops walking, lowering the green container to waist level.
I turn back to face him and reach out my hand toward him. “Wait, I’ll take it for later.” I’m not sure why I care if I hurt his feelings. He’s such a freaking leech.
His eyes light up as I take the container. “Tell me what you think. I’m dying to know.” He rushes off in the other direction with a giant smile.
Damn it. He made me forget to look for Hunter.
Becca catches up to me. “He’s trying to buy you off with food now? Ha! He doesn’t know you very well.”
I hand her the box. “Want some cake?”
She licks her full, curvy lips. “Yum. Is it chocolate?”
“Yes. And it’s all yours.”
“My favorite. I’ll enjoy it and tell you all about every last morsel so you can fill in all the details for your leech lover.” She holds up the box. “’Cause you know he will ask.”
“Don’t call him that.” I frown. I see Ginna on the sidewalk and wave to her. “And I’m sure he’ll ask, Becca. Of that, I have no doubt.”
“Did you eat something this morning, Landra? Please tell me you at least ate a carrot or an apple or something.” She peers at me through the glasses she hates. “A cheese stick?”
“I ate an applesauce.” But I’m so much the effing liar.
“Good.” She cocks her head at me, assessing, I’m sure, if she should believe me or not. “I’d whip your scrawny ass if you didn’t eat again. Besides, you need energy to stalk Hunter.”
“Yes, mama Becca. I ate myself a breakfast.” I roll my eyes.
“Seriously, your brain needs you to eat so you can flirt with Hunter.”
“Oh, now that is a reason to eat.” I smile at her. If only.
She smiles back and puts her arm around me. “I worry about you, my chica love.”
“I’m good. Don’t worry, my friend.” I smile. “I’ll be fine.”
We split ways, and I watch her stuff Brian’s cake in her backpack.
If it weren’t for boys, school would suck. I’m fully convinced of that. I shove everything into my locker and get ready to lock eyes with Hunter if he passes by. I wait as long as I can, but he doesn’t come by. As I start walking, though, he appears right next me, like poof! out of nowhere. A surge of heat flashes through me as I gasp, like a real out-loud gasp. My heart beats so fast, chugging up to my throat, it blocks my words.
He smiles this amazingly sexy smile that shoots through me like hot pokers. “Hi. Allandra, right?”
Holy fucking crap shit, the biggest shock of my life. He’s really talking to me! O. M. G.
“Uh, yeah, Landra is shorter.” My lips are frozen—too shocked to even smile. Smile, you idiot!
“OK, Landra.” His lips spread back into this smile that tickles me deep inside from my pelvis to my toes like lightning searing me to my pink painted nails. “It’s very nice to meet you.”
And he’s sweet. OMG. “It’s … nice to meet you too, Hunter.” Crap, I said his name before he did, giving evidence of my stalkership of him. I’m still trying hard to dredge up a smile.
“You have an older brother on the varsity team, right?” he asks.
Great. We’re finally chitchatting, and it’s about effing Jackson. “Yes, he’s a senior.” Our shoulders are almost touching as we walk, and I’m dying that everyone in the hallway is seeing us walking and talking right now. Me and one of the biggest hotties of the sophomore class.
“Yeah, I thought you might be his sister. We had football practice together a few times when the coaches threw us all together this summer.”
“Ah, yes, Jackson loves football.” Gee, I sound so intelligent. Short sentences, and no brain power evident here. If my heart doesn’t calm down, I might faint.
“Maybe I’ll see you at the game Friday. You going?” He peers down at me with those exquisite brown eyes of his.
“Yes, I’ll be there.” My voice shakes harder than my heart is beating. I almost smile.
“I’ll look for you then.” He smiles. A speck of green gum is inside his mouth alongside his perfect white teeth. (Mental note: He’s a fan of spearmint. Buy spearmint gum.)
I try my hardest to smile back naturally. I know I’m failing, but at least it’s a smile. “OK, great.” That’s all I manage to get out. He’s going to look for me at the game? Did I hear him correctly? Becca’s right, I’m a little foggy from no breakfast. I think I may have imagined him saying that. I need that cake. I nod to him as he rushes off, leaving me standing in front of the classroom door as the bell rings. I shake my head—so was all that real or a damn daydream?
I text Becca quickly as I take my seat.
Allandra: Don’t eat that cake. I need it.
Becca: OK Girl. I’ve got it safe for you. It’s yours at lunch my skinny little bitch friend 😊
Allandra: Funny girl.
“Phones away or they are mine,” the teacher says.
After class I text Becca.
Allandra: Can’t wait. I think I need the cake now. I’m afraid I imagined Hunter actually talking to me and I’m hallucinating. And no, I really didn’t eat a breakfast.
Becca: Meet ya at your locker. But only if you share a bite of it with me.
I seriously cannot believe I’m going to eat chocolate cake. Do I even remember what it tastes like?
Becca rounds the corner with a smile, carrying the cake in front of her like a prize.
“This is going to be way better than a carrot, Landra.” She peels back the lid to reveal a piece of chocolate cake that looks like it’s from a bakery, not made by Brian the pest. The perfect frosting is smooth as ice, with an expertly rounded frosting ribbon at the bottom. “Wow. Your lavish admirer really knows what he is doing. This looks divine. Professional, even. I’m impressed.”
My eyes widen as I stare at the deep swoops of fudgy frosting. In the box is a clear plastic fork wrapped in a pink napkin. He has thought of everything.
“Go on,” Becca says. “It won’t hurt you.” She snorts and laughs. “It’s just cake, Landra, for the love.”
It’s not just cake to me, Becca. I pick up the fork and carve a sliver off the top corner, including the rich frosting. I slowly bring it to my lips, watching the forbidden calorie-laden hunk as it nears my mouth. What is wrong with me? It’s not like it’s made of worms. I slip it in, and the chocolate floods my mouth with an intense, delicious, rich flavor like none I’ve ever eaten before, at least not this side of middle school. It’s probably the most amazing thing I’ve eaten in years. I love it. Hate that I love it. I almost let out a moan.
“Ah, that good, huh?” Becca smiles and nods encouragingly. “Your face tells it all, my babe. See what you’ve been missing?”
I nod as I chew the rich frosting and fluffy cake, which together are almost too much for my starved taste buds to handle. I roll my eyes back, tilt my head back, and sigh. “Wow.” It’s amazing.
“Yasss! Woo-hoo! Now, that is what I was hoping for,” Brian says as he comes up behind Becca, rubbing his hands together. “I was looking for that kind of face. Success. Ah, the sweet motherlode of success. That’s good. That is so good.” His whole face sighs as he relishes the sight of me. His shoulders slump, like he’s in a hot shower.
I wipe my mouth and make my face go blank. I’m afraid he might start moaning in delight right in front of me.
“So, you like it or what? Spill it. I need details.” Brian eyes me like he’s a puppy, and I’m his chew toy coated in peanut butter.
I sigh. “It’s OK.”
Brian’s face falls. His look of ecstasy crumbles to ruin.
“Liar,” says Becca. She grabs the fork from me and scoops out a chunk for herself. She lobs a big hunk into her mouth and chews. Rolls her eyes and says, “Oh. My. Lord. Brian. This is more than divine. You really made this?”
“Yep, my own recipe.” He looks proud, though still crushed by my cruel declaration. Again, why am I so mean?
“You could sell this,” Becca says. “This is utterly amazing, Brian. You are a genius.” She goes in for another scoop and begins to open her mouth for a bite but instead delivers the forkful of cake to my lips.
I clamp my lips shut. Shrink back like it actually is worms, wriggling and writhing before my lips, instead of chocolate heaven.
“Come on, have another bite.” She actually touches it to my lips so I have to lick them to get the frosting off.
They both stare at me. I know they’re going to relish this image for a long time, which kinda creeps me out. I reluctantly open up, and Becca gently slides the forkful past my trembling lips, placing it delicately inside like I might break. The cake feels foreign on my tongue, even though I just ate a bite, but it is again really good, so good, amazing, and I let it show on my face, making them both sigh. I smile as I chew. This is so weird.
“Ha. I feel like a baby trying food for the first time. You two are loving this.” I chuckle, trying to make light of it even though it almost hurts me to swallow the softest, sweetest, richest deliciousness I’ve not tasted in literally years.
Brian’s face is a giant grin. “All for you, my queen. You’ve made my day, my week, my year. Next, I shall make you carrot cake.” He spins off and zooms down the hall.
“How fitting,” Becca says with a smug look.
“We’d better go,” I say. “I bet the bell is about to ring.”
“Yep, see you at lunch, where we will finish this hunk of chocolate ecstasy and you will fill me in on your Hunter saga.” She places the fork in the container before sealing the lid. “Like I said, Landra, Brian has got it bad for you. Can’t say I blame him. You, my dear, are a hottie that don’t know it.” She smiles. “You are priceless.” She one-arm hugs me.
“Yeah, right,” I say.
“And now Hunter might be getting it too.” She smiles at me like she’s always in the right.
“I’m praying so,” I say as we head down the hall.
I’m dreading lunch. Becca will make me eat cake again. I can’t eat cake, especially not that cake. I will blow up like a hot-air balloon right in front of Hunter’s eyes. What in the world was I thinking? Though Mom would have been proud of me if she were really here. Salad. I need a teeny tiny salad for lunch. Give me greens. I walk down the hall toward the cafeteria like I’m going to jail.
Becca nods at me from the sandwich and pats her backpack. Knew it. She’s gonna make me eat that cake. Who made her my food police, anyway? I head to the salad line and make myself a teeny tiny salad with a slice of cheese on top, so I can accidentally flick it off.
“Ready for more cake?” Becca asks as she sits across from me. “I am. That scrawny tall dude could make me cake any day. I’d gladly reciprocate with smiles and gush to him with loads of compliments.” She pulls out the green container and pats it. “Dessert after your speck of salad.” She scoffs.
I glare at it, then shove the cheese off my salad with my fork, flinging it to the table. Oops. Too yucky to eat it now. I plunge my fork into my dry greens and stuff them into my mouth and follow it with a swig of water.
“So, tell me more about what went down with Hunter.” She chews a giant bite of sandwich while fingering the new splotch of green she’s added to her hair. She’s like a cornucopia of candy colors with her hairdos.
I smile, and the memory of him talking to me fills me with heat. “It was so good, Becca.” I fold my hands, then open them like a burst of fireworks. “He’s going to look for me at the game Friday night.”
“Oh, I guess that means you’re going,” she says in a super dry voice.
“Hell yeah. And you and Ginna are going too. I’m not doing this alone, that’s for damn sure.”
She sighs and rolls her eyes. “Oh, I guess. I’m such the football fan, ya know.”
“You’ll come, and you’ll love it. You can see boys in tight pants. That’s good, right? Plus, I need company in case he never looks for me. I can’t go alone.” I mean, really? Where’s the friendship? “And there will be cheerleaders.” I raise my eyebrows.
She widens her eyes. “Yes, I will come.” She smiles. “If you eat more cake, that is.”
Knew it. She’d never let that slip by. I sigh. “I’m not hungry.”
“Oh, come on, Landra. Just eat it, will ya?”
“Where’s Ginna anyway?”
“Threw up last hour. Went home.” She slicks on some lotion over her hands and offers me some.
I shake my head no. “Faker. She’s a lucky girl,” I say as Becca unpeels the cover of the cake container and shoves it my way.
“Eat up, buttercup.” She smiles. She’s got me over a barrel. I’m screwed.
“Half. And you eat the other half,” I say.
“Deal.” She slices it in half and scoops it onto her plate.
“Wow, where did you get that?” Hunter slips into the seat next to me.
Holy shit! And holy crap, his knee is touching mine. I can’t stop thinking about a part of his body touching mine, his skin feels so warm.
“I want me some of that. Which line did you get that from?” he asks with that smile of his that melts me to a pile of formless slush.
“No line. Landra’s admirer made it for her.” Becca smiles and slips a forkful of cake into her mouth.
“Admirer, huh?” He runs his hand through his thick, dark hair, and it falls super deliciously over his forehead as he looks longingly at the cake. “Can I have a bite?”
I glare hard at her. “Becca, no. He’s just a friend, not an admirer.” I turn and smile at Hunter. I want to pinch myself. I’m actually smiling at him, and he is just inches from me. I scoop up a giant bite and hand it to him. “Of course—all yours.”
He chomps down on it hard and chews while rolling his eyes in enjoyment, then straightens his arms and legs, stretches, and leans back. Now I miss his knee touching mine. “Damn, now that is some good cake. A dude made this?” He shakes his head. “Wow, a guy. Chef in the making.”
“Yeah, he’s talented, right?” Becca asks.
“Hunter, this is Becca.” I’m slow to remember they haven’t met yet.
“Nice to meet you, friend of Landra.” He grins at her as he finishes his bite of cake.
“Likewise,” Becca says, and she shoots a little smile my way as Hunter dives in for another big bite of my half-piece of cake.
He chews it, uses the fork to point as he says, “That cake rocks.” He hands me the fork with a big smile that warms me like sunshine falling through glass. “Your turn.”
I cannot resist that smile. My resolve not to eat the cake completely dissolves. This boy makes me weak. Like majorly weak. I carve out a scoop and shove it into my mouth. It’s as divine as it was earlier, maybe even more so. My tongue loves it, the traitor.
“Thanks for sharing,” he says, flashing me a mega grin. “See ya around.”
“Yep,” I say. “Bye.”
We both watch him walk off in those jeans. I sigh out loud. Becca and I lock gazes in mutual enjoyment, and she laughs at me.
“Ah, girl. You are golden now,” she says. “He’s into ya. For real.”
I smile while staring at the fork, realizing it’s now been in both of our mouths.
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