Saturday, August 31, 2013

Good sequel Excerpt

Do not read if you've not read GOOD!!!!

So right now I'm thinking this story will be a two-parter. That means the sequel to Good will also be the conclusion.

Title: Better
Release Date: Yeah right
Genre: New Adult contemporary romance
Book Description: Not yet

Now remember: This is rough, raw, and unedited.

Chapter 1 - Motivation

“Mr. Connelly! You’re making that up!” Cadence cried.

He watched her tiny shoulders shake with laughter. She pressed the dry erase marker against the board to hold it steady, but it was no use. Her laughter forced it up and down and sideways, muddying the numbers he’d written out for her.

“I’m not. I swear.” He chuckled. “And now you get to start all over.”

“Ugh! Help me, please,” she said, turning around to look at him.

He studied the wisps that framed her face, the afternoon sunlight catching them and setting them on fire. Her hairline, temples, and cheeks glowed. She looked like a porcelain doll.

She grinned and shook her head. “I still don’t believe you.”

He grinned back. “I know.”

He walked to the board and erased her mess. And then he rewrote the numbers and waited for her to start the problem. He wouldn’t baby her this time. He’d done it every time before. All it took was a little pout and the upturn of those sad blue eyes. He was a sucker, and he knew it. But not this time. This time she’d have to work for it.

“You know this, Cadence,” he said encouragingly.

She nodded and took a deep breath. He thought it was cute. He couldn’t help it. She was steeling herself for the mental workout.

He watched her furrow her brows.

No, he thought. Don’t you dare.

And then her face clouded over.

Cadence . . .

“Mr. Connelly, I don’t think . . .”

“Yes you do,” he said. “You can do this, Cadence.”

She chewed her lip and made a decision. She turned her pretty little face towards him, tilted her chin a fraction of an inch, and looked up with her big, sad blue eyes. And then she blinked. And waited.


Mr. Connelly sighed. “Okay. I’ll start you off.”

“Thank you,” she whispered.

He saw her tuck her chin to hide the grin playing at the corners of her lips. She knew she won. Again. And he couldn’t be frustrated with her. He wanted to kiss the top of her head instead—right at the point where her hair parted. His admission of defeat.

She turned her face to him again, marker poised inches from the white board.

“Well? Let’s do this, Mr. Connelly.”

He smiled. “Okay, Cadence.”

There was no going back.


Dylan scratched his neck, then leaned back in his chair. He propped his feet on the counter and looked at his best friend.

“Are you out of your fucking mind?”

Mark sighed and popped the cap of his Newcastle. He took a swig, then shrugged.

“Uh, no. You don’t get to shrug. You have to answer my question. What the hell, man?” Dylan said. He took the beer Mark handed him.

“She’s . . . she’s just . . .” He searched for the words, frustrated that they wouldn’t come easier.

“You need a song?” Dylan joked.

“Shut up, man.”

Dylan laughed and grabbed a record off the back counter. He slid it over to Mark.

“Go put that on,” he said.

Mark rolled his eyes and walked to the closest record player. He pulled the vinyl from its sleeve and placed it on the turntable. He lifted the arm, then paused.

“She’s like a clean slate,” he said quietly.

“Yeah. One you plan to dirty up,” Dylan replied.

“No,” Mark said. “That’s not it.” He placed the needle carefully on the vinyl. “Good choice, by the way,” he said, listening as the distinctive sound of The Killers filled the tiny space of the record store.

“I know,” Dylan replied, downing his beer.

“I don’t wanna mess her up,” Mark said. “I want her to make me a clean slate like her.”

He said it facing the record player. He couldn’t look at his friend, but he sensed the immediate tension in the room. There was a long stretch of silence before Dylan spoke. Mark watched the record spin as he finished his beer.

“Look man, I know everything with Andy—”

“Don’t say her name,” Mark said. “Just, please don’t.”

Dylan took a deep breath. “How is this high school chick gonna help you, Mark? She’s in high school. She’s nowhere near your maturity level, experience level—”

“I don’t want her to be,” Mark said. He turned around and walked back to the counter, hoisting himself up on it and reaching for a second beer. “You want another?”

Dylan shook his head. “I’m on the clock.”

Mark smirked. “Well, I’m not.” He popped the cap and took a long, satisfying gulp. “I don’t want her to know anything.”

“What? So you can corrupt her?”

“No. I just like her innocence.”

“Yeah, so you can corrupt it.”

“Shut up, man. That’s not it.” Mark thought for a moment. He took another sip of beer and scratched the stubble on his cheek. “She doesn’t hurt.”

“I don’t even know what the hell that means,” Dylan mumbled.

“Yeah, you do,” Mark replied, looking his friend in the face.

Dylan shifted uncomfortably and nodded.

“She’s this beautiful little thing. And I want it.”

“You can’t use her like that,” Dylan said.

“I’m not!” Mark snapped. “It’s not like that. I don’t wanna use her. I’m attracted to her. I’m attracted to her smile and her laugh and her hair and the way she talks—”

“Stop,” Dylan ordered. “You’re making me sick.”

Mark laughed. “I really like her. And I know it’s unwise, okay? I know all this. But you don’t understand. She’s just there, all the time, shining.”

“‘Shining’? God, you’re a fruitcake,” Dylan said. His words were laced with light contempt. “English majors . . .”

Mark chuckled and took another sip of beer.

“Okay, so what do you plan to do with the shining girl?” Dylan asked. He watched the smile spread across his friend’s face.

“Love her.”

“Yeah, and then the shining girl puts you behind some shiny metal bars. Mark, you’re a smart guy. Use your head. And I mean this one,” he said, pointing to his temple.

Mark shook his head. “You haven’t met her.”

“I’m sure she’s like every other teenage girl,” Dylan replied. “And I’m not saying I wouldn’t wanna hit that, but society kinda has a problem with it, in case you didn’t know. You wanna look like some child predator?”

Mark grimaced.

“Exactly. I don’t care how fucking shiny she is. Some things you don’t touch.”

“She’s not a child.”

“How old is she?”


“How do you know?”

“Well, I don’t. I think she’s eighteen.”

“Dude. Step AWAY from the shiny object.”

Mark laughed. “I don’t think so, Dylan. I don’t think I can.”

Dylan shook his head. “You know I’m there for you, man. Any way this goes.”

“You think I’m messed up, don’t you?” Mark asked.

“No. I think she mesmerized you. I think you’re lonely and jaded and looking for anything out there that’s the opposite of all the shit you’ve been through—”

“Dylan . . .”

“No, man. We gotta be able to talk about it. It’s been two years, Mark. You’re not the only one who still hurts over what happened to Andy.”

The chime of the doorbell broke the intensity of the moment. Mark listened, detached, as a group of teenagers shuffled into the store, chattering. Dylan shot up from his chair, immediately on guard.

“Fucking kids,” he muttered.

Mark smirked. “They haven’t done anything. Chill out.”

The men watched as the teens wove in and out of aisles, laughing and punching one another’s arms. Mark heard one of them say “sweet ass” and instantly thought of Cadence.

“Oh God,” he whispered, running his hands roughly over his face.

“What’s wrong with you?” Dylan asked, eyeing a boy who was rifling through a stack of classic rock albums.


“Hey! What can I help you boys find?” Dylan yelled.

They turned in his direction, catching sight of the six pack on the counter.

One exclaimed, “Dude! You drink at work?”

“My store. My rules,” Dylan replied.

They all nodded, impressed.

“That’s cool, man,” another boy replied. “Need anyone to work part-time?”

“Not one,” Dylan said. “Need help finding a record?”

“Not one,” someone else replied.

The boys snickered.

Dylan cracked a smile. “Then why don’t you get the hell outta my store.”

The teens froze before shuffling out, spitting timid insults at Dylan as they went.

“Dude, you’re a freaking asshole,” Mark said.

“No, I’m not. Those shits stole from me before. It took me a minute to remember. But I remember. That little blond shit . . .”

“Why didn’t you report them?” Mark asked. “And why don’t you get your cameras fixed?”

“Unimportant,” Dylan said. “We’re not talking about stolen records. We’re talking about Andy.”

Mark took a deep breath.

“She was my friend, too, Mark,” Dylan said softly.


Mark opened another beer. “I know she was.”


Mark’s eyes flew open. He lay frozen in bed, engulfed in darkness, completely unaware of the girl lying next to him, breathing heavy and even. That sweet sound of contented sleep. He could think of nothing but that afternoon at Dylan’s store, sitting on the counter drinking too many beers, talking openly for the first time about the girl who disappeared under a white sheet stained red. The girl who promised him forever, then bled it out on an operating table. The girl he loved.


He turned his head to look at the living girl beside him. The girl who lay naked under his sheets, golden hair draped over her neck, acting as a scarf against the chill of the bedroom. He reached out to touch her hair, smoothing it through his fingers.

She nodded in her sleep, then opened her eyes. She’d done this before, and he knew she wasn’t awake.

“I love you,” he whispered.

“I know,” she replied. “Why do you have bad dreams?”

He froze.


“Cadence, are you awake?” he asked carefully.

“Why do you have bad dreams, Mark?” she replied. “Why?”

“I don’t have bad dreams,” he said. “Go back to sleep.” He ran his fingers through her hair once more.

“Okay, but I don’t believe you,” she mumbled, and closed her eyes. He waited until he heard the heavy, even breathing once more before slinking soundlessly out of bed.

He walked to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. And then he stared blankly at the contents inside, deciding if he wanted food or drink. He wasn’t hungry. No to food. He wasn’t thirsty either, though that beer looked refreshing. But he didn’t need refreshment. He needed an escape.

It didn’t happen often—remembering. Once Cadence walked into the picture, he determined to bury the past, or, at least, the finer details. He’d never forget her. He didn’t want to. But the details. Well, those he could bury. But every now and then he’d still dream of the past, and those finer details that would otherwise escape his memory during the day burst about his subconscious at night, demanding recognition. They took control of his dreams, and he’d wake some mornings soaked with sweat. He thought Cadence never knew. She never said anything about it until tonight.

He closed the refrigerator door and walked back to the bedroom. He stood over his girlfriend, watching her sleep. She was far away from him, in her own dreamland, and he couldn’t stand the distance. Not tonight.

He pulled back the sheet and watched her curl into a fetal position. Her hand searched for the covers, but he made sure to keep them away from her grasp. He couldn’t get enough of it—staring at her nakedness. She was so tiny, so fair. A little fallen angel, he thought.


copyright S. Walden, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

It Sounds Pretty Damn GOOD

       (Photo montage created by Brooke at True Story Book Blog)

     This book blitz has been AMAZING! Thank you so much to Stephanie at Romance Addict Book Blog for hosting and to all the participating blogs. <3 Today is the final stop, so make sure you check out these fantastic blogs listed below for reviews and giveaway details.
August 29
Final day where all my books are priced at $.99!!! Take advantage!

And now for a bit of music. I spent some time pulling together a soundtrack for Good. And it's a little long, but that's only because there were many parts of the story that needed to be represented by a song. I won't go into details yet. The book is still brand new. So I'll share the soundtrack now and let you imagine what scene from the book each song represents. Enjoy. <3


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Good is Live!!

Actually, it went live on Amazon yesterday afternoon. That wasn't my intention. I submitted it for publication thinking the process would, at least, take 12 hours (normally it does). Anyway, I figured it all worked out because I gave everyone an extra day at $.99 :)

And, in fact, ALL my books are on sale for $.99 on Amazon through Thursday in celebration of the launch!! xo

Going Under  | Honeysuckle Love  | Hoodie

Here's the deal with the retail stores:

Good is already in Amazon, Smashwords, and Createspace (paperback).

Smashwords distributes my book to the following stores: Nook, Kobo, iBookstore, and Sony. You'll start to see it show up within the week (fingers crossed). Normally Kobo and Nook are the fastest; iBookstore tends to be the slowest. I use Smashwords to distribute for a few reasons: 1) I've never been able to successfully format a Kobo or Nook book, and 2) I don't have a Mac, so I can't upload my own iBook. Smashwords formats it all for me, but the downside is that readers have to wait longer to see the book in stores. I apologize for that.

Below is a list of all the blogs participating in my book blitz today through Thursday. Please stop by some of them and show your support. Many have written reviews of Good, and most are posting the giveaway as well. (Giveaway posted at the end.)

August 27

August 28

August 29

Monday, August 26, 2013

Miscellaneous stuff you may want to know

So, a few things for you:

1. While I'm still learning how to update the blog on my website, I'll be posting here. I'll be posting on my website, too, but the links will direct you here.

2. I deleted all my stuff from this blog because I just want it to be the blog. All my books, info about upcoming events (which I should probably update at some point), bio, blah blah blah can be found at

3 . My fourth book comes out tomorrow! I'm gonna post a list (with links) to all the blogs participating in my book blitz. Make sure you check out some of them. There will be reviews along with a giveaway. Yay!

4. Just a reminder that I'm deleting my goodreads account tomorrow after the giveaway ends. Many of you are still emailing me friend requests (which I'm accepting), but I don't know what happens once my account moves into the librarians' hands. I think it all disappears until they resurrect it. Just a heads up.

5. Some hearts for my fans. Wanted to put those out there :) <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Best Laid Plans . . .

I was supposed to debut my website yesterday but never finished making updates because I was too busy getting loaded off champagne. Hey, it was my birthday :)

So here it is! My cute, fun, sexy website! Still tweaking some things, but you get the idea ;)

(My website was created by Ryan at FoiDesigns)
I'm gonna be diligent about posting on my new website from now on, so you'll most likely see a permanent message here to head on over there to catch the latest news. I know the transition will take some time as I've still got a lot to learn about updating my site, so this blog won't go away for a while. xo


-Book Briefs >> Review

-Book Bitches >> Review + Guest Post (Top 10 list)

-Mom With A Kindle >> Excerpt 

-The Bookish Owl >>  Review

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Goodreads is for the People

It’s true. Goodreads is a platform designed for readers to come together to share their love/hate for the books they read. It was never intended to be a promotional platform for authors (though goodreads does have an author program). And when I first joined goodreads in grad school, I did so as a reader/academic, not author. I read books. I rated them. I reviewed some. But these were “safe” books because they were classic literature written by “the dead guys.” (They don’t care what I say.) Plus, I was a reader then. It was okay to have a voice.

Goodreads is not that same platform for an author as it is for a reader. And it shouldn’t be. It’s a reading community, not a writing one. It can serve as a great place to promote your work if you have some cash and the ability to shrug off unfavorable reviews. Sometimes downright nasty ones. The operative word there, however, is “shrug.” I think for me, I’m just tired of shrugging. It takes a lot to shrug, people! It’s hard work.

So I’ll no longer maintain an author profile. Let’s be honest: you sign up to follow my reviews, but I haven’t got any! Lol Why? Well, I don’t think many people are supportive of authors having opinions on fellow authors’ works. Plus, I’m reading James Joyce’s Ulysses anyway. I mean, seriously. Who gives a shit? But here’s the beauty of goodreads: the librarians will most likely set up a profile for me anyway—one they’ll maintain. So I’ll let them do all the work. Ha ha! Plus, I think it’s much fairer for you to be able to review/discuss/argue my books in my absence. I mean, I don’t get involved in discussions, but no one needs a hovering presence either. Know what I mean? It makes more sense for me to be out of the picture.

And there's no debacle. I know other authors have exited because of drama. I mean, I’ve heard of authors leaving, but I don’t know their stories because I have absolutely no idea what goes on in the book world. And I love being ignorant. *throws hands up* Hey, I just wanna write. So I’m bowing out because I’m tired. That’s the boring truth. And I'm telling you this because if you follow my non-existent reviews or are my friend on goodreads, you deserve to know where I've gone. That's polite, and I'm a mannerly person.

I’m currently running a giveaway for Good, so when that’s complete (August 27th), I’m gonna let the librarians take over. You can always keep up-to-date on my projects by visiting my blog (which will soon direct you to my brand new snazzy website!). You can also email me, too. xo

Wednesday Tour Stops


Booking It With Hayley G >> Review + Guest Post (Top 10 list)
Why I Can’t Stop Reading >> Review + Interview
Stay tuned . . . at some point today, I'll be debuting my new website!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tour Stops and a GOOD excerpt


Lovin Los Libros - Review

Book Nerds Anonymous - Interview and Review

GOOD Excerpt

Chapter 1 - angel on the highway

They couldn’t pick a busier road? Let’s just broadcast to the world what pathetic criminals we are.

I was out on Highway 28 dressed in my juvie garb finest—orange jumpsuit with bright yellow vest—walking along the shoulder picking up garbage tossed out of the car windows of other lawbreakers. I’d been assigned to a community service-based juvenile detention center. I guess I wasn’t hardcore enough to make it into the locked-down facilities. And I should have counted myself lucky: I actually got to leave the building on work assignments.

Yeah . . . whatever. I was freaking embarrassed. I was embarrassed every time they dumped me on the side of some road to pick up trash. My long blond hair was pulled up in a required ponytail highlighting flushed cheeks that turned a darker shade of red when a truck passed by slowly, honking obnoxiously, its passengers hanging out of the windows yelling at me.

“Cadence!” one shouted. “Nice outfit!”

I looked down at my jumpsuit. It was unflattering, clinging to my petite body like a baby onesie, but I could get over that. What I couldn’t get over was the hideous color that washed out my fair skin.

“Do not respond,” Officer Clements ordered.

“I wasn’t going to,” I mumbled, stabbing a Styrofoam cup with my trash stick.

“What was that?” Officer Clements asked, towering over me.

“Nothing, ma’am,” I replied, and continued my work. Just one more month, I thought, walking and jabbing, walking and jabbing.

I didn’t realize I had walked and jabbed my way down the road next to a car parked on the side, hoisted up on a jack. It was an old black Volkswagen, its owner a young man bent over changing a flat tire. Trash was littered about his work area, and I wasn’t sure if I should pick it up. But he seemed so wholly concentrated on screwing in the bolts that I was positive he’d take no notice of me.

I speared a burger wrapper near the back of the tire, and his face shot up.

My immediate reaction was to turn and run. I was afraid. I remembered a discussion in youth group a while back about angels and how every time they’re mentioned in the Bible, the first thing they say is, “Do not be afraid.” My youth pastor said that this was because angels were scary looking—eyes all over their bodies and under their wings. First of all, how did he know what an angel looked like? And second, why would God make his angels look like a bunch of freaks?

No. I didn’t think angels looked like that at all. I thought they looked like perfect symmetry, and that’s what scared the hell out of people. A form too beautiful to look upon. Like this young man bent over his tire, staring at my orange jumpsuit and trash stick, wondering what a little girl like me could have done to land in juvenile hall. Because I was little, after all. I stood at 5-foot-2 and weighed 100 pounds.

“I’ll be out of your way in a minute,” he said, wiping his brow with the back of his hand.

I nodded and watched him finish tightening the bolts, then stand and stretch his back. He wore the male version of skinny jeans and a black T-shirt that read “Midnight in a Perfect World” across the front in stark white letters. He sported red Converse All Stars, and a bunch of braided bands of various colors were wrapped around his left wrist. His black wavy hair stuck out in all directions, and I couldn’t tell if it was by nature’s blessing or hair product. I hoped it was natural. I didn’t want to think he spent a lot of time styling his hair.

He smiled at me, revealing soft dimples on both cheeks. I smiled back. His eyes were light. Good combination, I thought. Dark hair, light eyes. He was sexy. No doubt about that. Tall and lean. He looked like an intellectual. I figured he was some scholarly Emory University boy. Probably a philosophy major, I thought, smirking. I imagined he sat around chatting about existentialism with his hipster friends in some dive coffee shop (never Starbucks) sipping cappuccinos.

I giggled.

He stood at the trunk of his car putting away his tools and turned around when he heard me.

“What’s funny?” he asked. The smile still lingered on his mouth. “Did I split my pants or something?” He strained his head to look behind him at the butt of his jeans.

I laughed harder. “No. You didn’t split your pants.” I tried not to look at his butt.

“Phew!” he replied. “You know, I’ve done that in the past. Squatted on the ground to change a tire, and rip! Right down the middle. I happened to be on a date at the time.”

“No!” I cried, feeling just the slightest bit sorry for this stranger.

“Well, the date was on shaky ground once the tire popped. The pants-splitting sealed the deal, though. I guess she equated both of those things with ‘loser’ or ‘no money’,” he said.

“That’s awful,” I replied.

“Atlanta women are tough,” he went on, leaning against the trunk of his car. He looked me over and grinned.

“No, I’m not tough,” I replied to his unspoken question. “Don’t let the jumpsuit fool you.”

He shook his head. “What in God’s name could a little thing like you have done to wind up in juvie?”

I tensed. His demeanor. The way he talked to me. Like he’d known me for years. And he used “little thing” like a term of endearment. I knew I wasn’t imagining it. He did.

I opened my mouth to reply then shuddered at the sound of my name.

“Cadence Miller!” Officer Clements yelled.

“Shit,” I whispered, and turned around.
copyright S. Walden, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Info Dropping Begins

Going Under Tour

Monday Stops:

Book Crush - 5-star review! (Caryn, tried to log in with FB to leave a comment for you. Thank you so much for a stellar review <3)

Teen Reader's Diary - Guest Post

A Diary of a Book Addict - 5-star review!

Check out Book Obsession's awesome 500 FB Like Giveaway! Enter to win a signed copy of Going Under or Good. <3

In Good news, I've been hearing from bloggers who've received ARCs and am thrilled at the positive reception of this book! I appreciate your honesty: It's okay that you felt weirded out at times or completely embarrassed for Cadence. That was the point :) But I'm also glad you saw a love story there worth rooting for despite a host of roadblocks. Thank you for the FB messages, the emails, the kind words. Can't wait to share your reviews! xo

Readers, I'll give you some more Good tomorrow. Hang tight.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of Going Under and custom "Gamers Embrace" T-shirt!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 18, 2013

It's a Going Under/Good Extravaganza!!

Let me switch gears for a minute and take you back a few months ago to a time when my life revolved around Going Under. A lot of amazing things happened when that book debuted. I made a little name for myself in the indie world and landed an agent. I met some amazing bloggers and forged really great friendships.
So you can see why I'm super excited to put this book on tour again! The schedule is below, but I'll also link the blogs each day during this week. I'm gonna be dropping some mad info on you all this week because in addition to posting about the Going Under tour, I'll also be doing promo for Good (yes, that means more excerpts).
Got a Going Under giveaway for you, too :) Scroll down and enter to win a signed copy of the book along with a custom "Gamers Embrace" T-shirt . . . you know what I'm talking about if you've read the book ;)  Three winners, too! Yay!

August 19th 
-Book Crush >> Review
-Teen Readers’ Diary >> Guest Post
-A Diary Of A book Addict  >>  Review

August 20th 
-Book Nerds Anonymous >> Review + Interview
-Simply Infatuated >> Guest Post
-My Book Addiction >> Review

August 21st 
-Booking It With Hayley G >> Review + Guest Post (Top 10 list)
-Between The Lines >> Review
-Why I Can’t Stop Reading >> Review + Interview

August 22nd
-Book Briefs >> Review
-Book Bitches >> Review + Guest Post (Top 10 list)
-Mom With A Kindle >> Excerpt 
-The Bookish Owl >>  Review

August 23rd
-Claire’s Book Corner  >> Interview
-All in One Place >>  Review, Excerpt

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 17, 2013

RE-Endtroducing DJ Shadow (New GOOD excerpt + song)

You ask. I deliver. :) And with a song, too!

I really didn't realize how important music would be in this novel when I set out to write it. I knew I wanted Mark to be into instrumental hip hop, but I wasn't sure how big a role music would end up playing. Once it occurred to me, I knew I had to pick music that was meaningful to me--not trendy songs that disappear with the changing seasons. I needed songs with lasting impact, and my first introduction to DJ Shadow came in college when a dude from my Literature of the Inner Quest class loaned me his CD, Endtroducing... Yeah, you read that right: Literature of the Inner Quest. Freaking weirdo English majors. (We have a lot of feelings, okay?)

Anyway, I was hooked. And I subsequently developed a mad crush on that cutie who loaned me the CD. But, alas. It wasn't meant to be. However, when I started developing Mark's character, the college dude crept back into my head. He said, "Hey Summer, it'd be really awesome if you based this one aspect of Mark's character off me. Remember that mad crush you had on me your sophomore year?" To which I replied, "Umm, hello? Of course I do. What the hell happened to you?" He didn't reply.

And that's the story behind DJ Shadow's omnipresence in my book.

Now grab a glass of red wine and press PLAY. It's mellow and sophisticated. Just like that drink in your hand :) 

Excerpt from Chapter 9 - listen

“Where is everyone?” I asked, poking my head in the doorway Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m not tutoring today. I have a doctor’s appointment,” Mr. Connelly replied. “Did you forget?”

“Ohhh, that’s right,” I said. My heart filled with instant excitement. Two hours! All to myself! Dad didn’t need to know the session was cancelled. I practically salivated at the idea of unmonitored time to myself. Where would I go? The mall? A movie, perhaps? Maybe I would just drive around, heading nowhere in particular, just happy to be free, even if it was for a short period of time.

“What are you thinking, Cadence?” Mr. Connelly asked.

I shook my head.

“Nice try,” he said.

My face broke out into the widest grin. “I have two hours,” I breathed, eyes big and glassy. Like I was in a daydream—a too-good-to-be-true wonderful, delirious daydream.

“To do what?” Mr. Connelly asked.

I shook my head. “It doesn’t matter. I don’t care what I do so long as I do something. Two hours!”

“Cadence, I think the smart thing would be to go home,” Mr. Connelly said.

I looked at him like he betrayed me. “No.”

“If your dad finds out there was no tutoring session today and you’re not home, things could go south really fast,” Mr. Connelly said.

I was instantly pissed. “Do you understand that I have no freedom? My parents watch me like a hawk, afraid I’ll fall in with some other bad group and rob another convenience store. This is probably the only time all year that I’ll be able to go somewhere or do something that they’ll know nothing about. And I’m not passing on that chance.” It was a complete lie, but he certainly didn’t need to know my arrangement with Avery. And anyway, I didn’t need him to be my teacher right now. I needed him to be a sympathizer.

Mr. Connelly smiled wearily. “I’d just hate for you to lose your driving privileges.” And then he added more quietly, “I’d hate to not see you after school Thursday.”

I was shocked. I couldn’t believe he said it. Why would he hate to not see me Thursday?

He turned his back and continued packing his bag. He pulled the strap over and across his body, then closed and locked his desk drawers. I hovered in the doorway waiting for him to look at me. He took his time adjusting the bag, looking everywhere except my direction. I grew bold.

“Why?” I asked.

“Why what?”

“Why would you hate to not see me at tutoring Thursday?” I couldn’t believe my own courage.

Mr. Connelly looked me square in the face. And then his eyes travelled to a spot just above my head. “Because you’re failing math. And I’d like to see you improve.”

I exhaled. I felt like a tire that had been punctured by a fat, unforgiving nail, deflating fast and hard to nothing.

But his eyes moved, my brain kept telling me. Don’t get discouraged. His eyes moved.

“Where do you plan on going?” Mr. Connelly asked, walking towards me.

“I don’t know,” I replied, trying to hide my disappointment. It didn’t matter what my brain told me. Didn’t matter that Mr. Connelly couldn’t look me in the face when he obviously lied to me. I wanted to hear the truth. “Maybe a movie.”

Mr. Connelly checked his wristwatch. “Not enough time.”

I nodded. “Maybe the mall then.”

He grimaced. “Why would anyone wanna go there?”

“You wouldn’t understand,” I said. “It’s a teenage thing.”

He chuckled. “I was a teenager, too, once.”

I shrugged.

“You like that CD I let you borrow?”

“Yeah. I should probably give it back to you, huh?” I chuckled nervously. I’d had his CD for weeks with no plans to return it. I didn’t want to.

“Keep it for as long as you’d like.”


“Yeah. And if you like that, there’s an independent music store on Roswell Road that sells a bunch of it. It’s not more than five minutes from here. You can go and listen to some stuff on records. Completely different experience. You may like it. And it’d be a hell of a lot better than wasting your time at the mall,” he suggested.

“What’s a record?” I asked teasingly.

Mr. Connelly rolled his eyes. “I’m not that much older than you. And what is the world coming to when young people have never heard music on vinyl?”

I giggled. “I seriously never have.”

“Then you need to go. Listen to anything. I don’t even care, so long as it’s an LP.”

I didn’t understand what he was talking about, but I thought if I asked what an LP was, he might have a heart attack.

“What’s the name of the store?” I asked.

“Curb Your Dog Music,” Mr. Connelly replied with a grin.

“Curb Your Dog?” I asked, eyebrows raised.

“Whatever. The point is that it’s a good place. The owner’s a good friend of mine. His name’s Dylan. Just ask him to help you find some stuff,” Mr. Connelly said. “Now don’t waste any more time.”

He placed his hand on my shoulder and gently nudged me aside. His touch was electric, and I tried not to jump. I didn’t want him to know he had that kind of shock value.

“How old are you, Mr. Connelly?” I asked as we walked out of the building together.

“I don’t know if I’m allowed to share that kind of information with you,” he replied, opening the door for me.

“I won’t tell anyone,” I said. “I don’t have any friends anyway.”

“I see you sitting with Avery at lunch,” he said.

He noticed I sat with Avery at lunch? What? Was he checking up on me?

“Um, she’s not really a friend,” I replied.


I cleared my throat. “So how old?”

“Well, as long as it’s our secret,” he said. “I just turned twenty-eight.”


“What does that mean?” he asked.

“I thought you were, like, twenty-two or something,” I said. I could not be in love with a 28-year-old man. Just too old.

“Sorry to disappoint you,” Mr. Connelly said, laughing.

“You just look younger. But I guess that’s a good thing. For adults anyway. To look younger than your age.”

“And teens want the exact opposite, right?” Mr. Connelly asked. “You wanna look older.”

“Enough to buy beer,” I agreed.

He shook his head. “God, I miss high school sometimes.”

I stopped dead in my tracks. “What?”

“Did I say something wrong?” Mr. Connelly asked, turning around.

“I’d say so!” I cried. “Something sacrilegious, at least! You miss high school?”

“It’s not horrible for everyone, Cadence,” Mr. Connelly said, smiling. “I had fun friends. It was a good time.” He thought for a moment. “Now that I think about it, though, I could have given my parents less to worry about. I was a little bad.” He winked at me.

I didn’t want him winking at me. I didn’t want to have this conversation any longer. I felt like a complete loser. It was bad enough I had a ridiculous crush on him. I didn’t need to know how cool he was in high school.

“So you think you’ll check out that record store?” he asked.

I nodded. I didn’t need to know how cool he was in high school, but I was desperate to learn about him now.
copyright S. Walden, 2013