Here is a teaser from THE PROS AND CONS OF BREATHING. In this excerpt, Ariel goes back to school hoping everyone will forget about her past with drugs, and rehab. But not everyone is willing to look past it.
By second period blazers were off and ties were loosened. I tossed mine in my bag and released a couple of buttons on the top of my blouse so I was more comfortable. I couldn’t handle listening to everyone gossip about me, so I asked for a hall pass and wandered aimlessly around to a bathroom—but not any bathroom—the one on the third floor way away from the first floor History Wing so it would take forever to get back.
I went into the bathroom. Nikki and Bridget were standing in front of the mirror.
“Wow, look who had the guts to come back,” Nikki said.
“Rehab wasn’t fun enough for you?” Bridget added.
I placed my hands on my hips.
“That was eight months ago, are you really that stuck on the past?” I said.
“No, just your self-destruction,” Nikki said. “Oh, by the way, do you know where we could score some candy cane?”
Bridget snickered, “yeah, I heard you’re still part of the champagne club.”
The laughed, sounding like a group of hens. I should have been nice, walked away, like the shrinks told me to do, but they didn’t know my school. If you didn’t stand your ground they’d devour you.
I swallowed hard, and regained the strength and attitude I needed to do this.
“You know, Bridget, you should pay less attention to me, and more to your boyfriend—who, if I heard correctly is cheating on you with Melody Taylor.”
Bridget’s jaw dropped.
“Psycho druggie,” Nikki muttered.
I left Bridget stunned. Maybe her boyfriend was cheating on her, maybe he wasn’t, either way, they didn’t have any right to harass me. I glanced behind me as I walked out of the bathroom. As I turned back around, I slammed right into something hard. I stumbled backwards.
His hand latched onto mine, pulling me up into him—our bodies right against each other—so close not even a pea could fit in.
“We have to stop meeting like this,” Liam said.
My heart started racing. I tried to keep my breathing under control but all I seemed to focus on was his hand clasped around my arm, and his other hand sitting on my waist, it felt heavy – like a weight.
His chest was barely inches away from mine but he didn’t look nervous, like I’m sure I did, instead, he looked, what….amused? I swallowed and tried to open my mouth, praying that whatever came out didn’t make me sound like a complete idiot.
“I’m really not this clumsy.”
I swallowed again, trying to lube my throat so it didn’t sound so scratchy. He smirked.
“If you say so,” he said, his voice deep and alluring.
His metallic eyes seemed to melt as he gazed into mine. He released my arm and took a step back to put more space between us. He raised his left eyebrow and cocked a smooth smile that made my stomach tighten. As a reflex I went to stuff my hands into my pockets only to remind myself that this stupid skirt didn’t have any.
The moment of attraction passed, at least, I hoped it did. Then I remembered how he acted toward my brother. Did he know we were related when we first met? I mentioned Owen on several occasions. How could he keep that from me?
“You knew Owen was my brother the whole time, didn’t you?” I asked
He laughed in a low voice and shook his head gently.
“Maybe,” he said.
I crossed my arms, “Why didn’t you say something?”
“If you knew who I was, you would have stayed away, right?”
I furrowed my brows, “maybe.”
“There’s my point.”
I crossed my arms, “that makes no sense!”
“Let’s say, just for shits and giggles, that I liked having you around. Then you learn that your brother has it out for me, and you stay away.”
“So what?” I asked. “Then I stay away, how does that affect you?”
He smiled, his lips inching up his cheeks into a wide smile. Was he….was Liam blushing?
“Well, then I wouldn’t get the chance to…”
“Excuse me,” assistant principal Williams said, coughing to grab our attention. “You two need to go back to class. This isn’t social hour.”
I groaned, and glared at Liam before I took a step backwards and trotted down the stairs.