I may have been quiet on the author front these days but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten that I’m an author! I’ve just been…well, a little quieter about lately, probably because life is so BUSY right now! I am excited to say that Struck Out, the sequel to Benched – my debut romance novel that came out this September – is now available for preorder on Amazon! Kindle only unfortunately but still – very exciting news!
If you haven’t had a chance to read Benched yet, it tells the story of a freshman in college named Evie, who has grown up in Santa Isabella, a coastal California town obsessed with baseball. Evie’s had her heart shattered by baseball and wants nothing to do with it. That is, until the new shortstop from Kentucky transfers to her school and makes her question her rule to avoid baseball players at all costs.
Benched is currently available wherever you purchase your paperbacks or ebooks, including your local indie bookstore. Just log onto their website, search for Benched and order through their webstore!
Struck Out, the second book in the series, is told from Evie’s best friend, Sydney’s point of view. This book overlaps just slightly with Benched, though it is written to be read as a standalone novel.
The official synopsis, at the moment, at least, until I can write something better LOL is –
Sydney Lennox had no idea that when she drunkenly kissed her best friend, Drew Humphrey, that it might become the best thing that’s ever happened to her.
Influenced by the disastrous marriage her parents had and the responsibilities that have fallen on her shoulders because of it, Sydney is reluctant to fall in love with anyone, reluctant to let anyone have her attention for longer than an hour or two. But Drew is sexy and funny and she can’t get that kiss out of her head. When she suggests that they have a repeat, Drew challenges her to more than that. He wants the two of them to have a chance, a real chance and, maybe because she’s having a hard time watching her best friend so in love, Sydney finds herself agreeing to it.
Soon Sydney is falling in love herself and everything seems perfect, like out of a fairytale. Drew loves everything about Sydney, the good parts, the bad parts and the parts she thought no one would ever understand.
But Sydney has seen what happens to things that seem perfect and she knows that they never last…
Struck Out is currently available for preorder, wherever you purchase ebooks:
To celebrate Struck Out being available for preorder, I wanted to share a little bit of a sneak peek of the book, to get you SUPER pumped to read Sydney and Drew’s story in September. Please be gentle – this is unedited and could be very different once the book is finished and published in September. It’s a sneak peek so don’t expect perfection LOL!!
The sun is beating down on me and even though I’ve slathered on several layers of SPF 30 and am wearing a large hat, I know I’ll resemble a tomato by the time this game is over. I can feel the new freckles sprouting out over my nose and cheeks. I’m positive I have new ones on my arms. It’s too hot for anything other than the tank top and high waisted shorts I’m wearing but too much of my pale skin is exposed and I regret not wearing the long sleeve shirt I’d tried on before the tank top.
Sammy lets loose a fastball and it goes sailing past the batter, landing with a thump in the catcher’s mitt and I forget all about the sun beating mercilessly down on me. We are in the bottom of the seventh and Sammy has thrown five strikeouts and only allowed the other team to score twice. I’m so proud of him. Watching him play is worth the potential sunburn.
“Way to go, Sammy!” I call out, clapping my hands loudly. He shakes his head but I see a smile stretched across his face when he makes his way back to the mound, setting up for the next pitch.
I grin, reaching for the smoothie sitting next to me on the metal bench. I’m one of the few people in the stands on this hot Monday afternoon and I’m definitely the only one cheering. I know they aren’t the Quakes or even the Storm, but baseball is everything in this town.
I guess it really is too hot.
Sammy nods to whatever pitch the catcher signs to him and sets up again. I love watching him pitch. He still has a baby face, round cheeks and freckles across his nose. His brown hair is curly and wild and constantly falling in his face. But when he’s on that pitcher’s mound, he’s like a totally different kid. I forget to worry about it when he’s playing baseball because he looks so much older. He switches things up, tossing a curveball out to the batter and it confuses him enough to swing wildly, making it strike three and out three for the inning. I clap loudly again, laughing at Sammy’s embarrassed expression.
“You know, he’s got a pretty good pitch. What is he? Twelve? Thirteen?”
I jump, startled, and my smoothie slips out of my hand, landing on the ground with a splat. The lid pops off and bright red liquid goes flying everywhere. Some of it splashes upwards, landing on a few of the other spectators who turn and glare at me. I smile apologetically and turn back to Drew, who has a wide smile on his face.
“What on earth are you doing here?” I ask him, loudly. “How did you even know where I was?”
He hops up onto the metal bleachers and plants himself next to me. He’s so tall, long and lanky, and he takes up a few rows when he’s spread out. “I wanted to talk to you.”
I hold up my phone. “You know you can text me, right? We have these amazing things called cell phones nowadays.”
He shrugs and I try really hard not to notice how great his shoulders look in the dark teal Quakes t-shirt he’s wearing or the way his jeans fit him snugly in all the right places.
Jesus, when did I get so damn thirsty for Drew Humphrey?
“I thought about sending you a text,” Drew admits. He reaches for his sunglasses, propping them up on the brim of his head and turning that green-eyed gaze in my direction. “But I’ll be honest. I didn’t think you would answer, ace.”
His shirt snakes up a little as he moves and reveals a sliver of pale skin and just a glimpse of that flat stomach. I cough, trying to clear up the dirty thoughts racing through my head right now. I turn away and focus on the game in front of me. “I would have answered,” I say slowly.
He flashes a grin at me. “Sure, you would have,” he says. “Anyway, I went to your room but Evie said you were here at your brother’s baseball game so I decided to come.” He takes a look around. “I don’t think I’ve been back to these fields since I played.”
I swallow hard, wiping my sweaty palms on my shorts. We’re surrounded by people, including a dozen twelve year old boys, one of which is my younger brother. We are in the safest place possible for a conversation. Nothing can happen. “Okay, well you found me. Talk.”
“Is that your brother?” he asks, nodding in the direction of Sammy, who is leaning against the fence in the dugout, cheering for his teammate Aidan who is up at bat.
My nose scrunches up in confusion as I study him. Whatever he came here to say, he is in no rush to say it. “Yeah, that’s him.”
“He’s so much bigger than the last time I saw him. Was that at graduation?” He looks over me and I shrug. “He’s a decent pitcher. What grade is he in?”
“He’s just finishing up the seventh grade; he’ll be in eighth next year,” I say, slowly. My voice is full of affection and pride when I talk about my little brother. He’s a smart kid and damn good at baseball and neither of those things have anything to do with the crappy parents we’ve been dealt. I don’t know how much of that has to do with me but I know most of it has to do with Sammy and his unwillingness to let the circumstances determine his life.
I’m so proud of him.
“He’ll be trying out for the Storm when he gets to high school, right?” Drew cuts into my thoughts. The Storm is the baseball team he and Evie played on at Santa Isabella High School.
“Are you kidding?” I laugh. “That kid is counting down the days. He’s got his eyes on the Quakes, like every other preteen boy in this town. He didn’t even play baseball until we got here.”
“We’re like a cult or something,” Drew teases. He crosses his legs in front of him and then uncrosses them. It’s just enough of a fidget that I know he’s gearing up to say whatever it is that he came here to say. “I thought about what you said.”
I think about it. “What did I say?”
“You said you could give dating a try,” Drew reminds me. “And I’ve been giving that a lot of thought. I know I said I didn’t believe you but I don’t know, I think I kind of do.”
“Wait, Drew,” I start to say, panic shooting through me. That was said in a moment of desperation when I thought Drew would choose to ignore me for the rest of our lives. I didn’t want to say anything that might ruin my chances of having his mouth on mine again.
“Nope,” he interrupts me. “You’re not taking it back. You said you would give dating a try. That was the shot you called that night, Syd, and I’m taking you up on it. So let’s do it. Let’s go out on a date.”
I open my mouth to answer him but we’re interrupted by a loud clanging as someone climbs up the bleachers. I know immediately that it’s Sammy and, sure enough, he plops down next to us seconds later.
“The game is over?” I ask stupidly.
Sammy rolls his eyes, something he’s gotten very good at the past few months. “Seriously? Did you totally miss my base hit?”
“Of course she saw it,” Drew reassures him before I can say anything. “That was a solid base hit, man.” He holds his fist out for Sammy to bump.
Sammy hesitates but then he spots the Quakes logo on both Drew’s shirt and hat and his eyes go wide. He looks dazed as he bumps his fist against Drew’s. “You’re on the Quakes, aren’t you?” His voice is full of awe and wonder, as if he just met a real life celebrity and not just a freshman pitcher for the local college baseball team.
“You remember Drew, Sammy? He’s friends with me and Evie? Drew, this is my little,” Sammy shoots me a glare, “sorry, my younger brother, Sammy.”
“Hey Sam,” Drew says. Sammy’s chest sticks out when Drew calls him Sam. I can tell him it makes him feel more grown up, much more than Sammy. Drew notices as well and smiles widely, doing a number on the butterflies currently doing gymnastics in my stomach. “Yeah, I play for the Quakes.”
“That is SO awesome,” Sammy cries out and a few heads turn our way. “What position do you play? Is it super cool to play in that stadium? What’s it like to have Jesse Valdez as your teammate?”
Drew and I both exchange wry looks at the mention of Jesse but neither of us comments.
“I’m a pitcher,” Drew finally says. “Just like you. And playing in that stadium is pretty much the best thing ever.”
“I can’t wait to play in that stadium someday. Syd says if I get good grades and work hard, I can go to Izzy and try out for the team.” Sammy’s face, covered in streaks of dirt and sweat, lights up. “Wait, you can help me practice my pitchers. He can, can’t he, Syd?”
My face flushes. “No, Sammy, he’s really busy with his own practices and stuff…”
“Nah, it’s fine,” Drew cuts in. “I can come over to your house this summer, teach you a couple things.” I open my mind to protest but Drew’s hand comes out and lands on the bare skin of my thigh and all discernible words fly right out of my head. That hand, calloused and rough, is barely touching me and I can feel the heat of it throughout my entire body. His thumb brushes along the skin of my inner thigh. I gasp and hope that Sammy doesn’t hear me. “You’re a great pitcher, Sam. You just have to fine tune some things and keep working hard.”
Sammy throws a triumphant look in my direction and it immediately softens me. A wave of affection rushes out of me, for both Sammy and Drew. The only thing I want in the world is for Sammy to be happy and I have a soft spot in me for anyone who makes Sammy happy. He’s looking up at Drew with an expression of hero worship and I start to think that my face might match his. Drew’s eyes meet mine and hold them. They’re dark, just like they were that night in my bed and it sends shivers up my spine. Drew grins, as if he can read exactly what’s going on in mind.
“Hey Sammy?” I ask, faintly. I hold my keys out to him. “Why don’t you load your gear into the gear and get the AC running? I’ll be right there. I’m just going to say bye to Drew.”
Sammy glances back and forth between us, his eyebrow raised. “Are you guys together?”
“No,” I blurt out immediately, at the same time Drew says, “maybe someday.”
There’s a long, awkward pause before Sammy reaches out and takes the keys from me and says, “You guys are so weird. I’ll see you in the car.”
Drew and I watch as Sammy takes off toward the car, his baseball bag bouncing between his shoulder blades as he runs. I chew on my bottom lip before turning back to Drew whose sole focus is now on me. The attention feels great and I let it settle into my skin. His stare is so heavy that it feels like a genuine weight on me but god, I love it. I could sit here all day, if he continued to stare at me like he wanted to devour me.