So Ginger Scott has a new release coming. It’s called Varsity Heartbreak. It’s a standalone! And today we have an excerpt from the book. And you guys, whoaaaaaaaaa! I just read this sneak peek and THE. FREAKING. FEELS! Just from that excerpt my chest was aching and I’m COMPLETELY hooked. READ THIS. Gah! I am so ready for this book! Sounds amazing.
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A heavy clunk to my right jerks my attention around. Lucas is pushing the tailgate of his truck up, missing the catch the first few times and shoving it three more times before it holds. He claps his hands together to remove the dirt—his truck’s been through some mud, it seems—but remains behind his vehicle for a few long seconds, his eyes focused on the ground. His jaw works back and forth in thought before his gaze finally lifts to meet mine. It doesn’t stick. He and I, we can’t seem to look at each other for long.
“Be smart with that,” he says, signaling with a short wave to where Tory is talking with my friends. I stare at the scene for a beat to decipher his message. I glance back his way to find the top of his hat, the brim turned forward again so he can hide. Coward.
“You jealous or something?”
I can’t believe that was out loud.
His shoulders quake with a quiet laugh and he shakes his head, eyes looking back at the ground. He lifts his head to meet my stare and to raise the right side of his mouth in a mocking laugh.
“Sure, June.” His gaze lingers a little longer this time, a flatness to his eyes that insults me without words. That look is meant to call me stupid. But I know that look wouldn’t be necessary if what I said didn’t hurt him a little.
I had him. Once. In my own way. And that’s why his girlfriend hates me.
Lucas walks in the opposite direction from me, heading into a thick outcropping of trees that sinks down a ravine. It’s where Ava is, and a few of the others I saw smoking joints by the beer. Maybe he’ll get high and find some sort of peace. None of that will do anything to solve how he’s going to feel when his parents’ marriage falls apart. Of course, there’s always the chance that his dad gets away with it forever.
I sit on the back of Tory’s truck, waiting for him to come back, uneasy again when half an hour passes. I busy myself playing dumb games on my phone, eventually texting Abby to come rescue me. She doesn’t show up for ten more minutes, and when she does, the other girls are with her. We all crawl into the bed of the truck and pull our knees up to gossip and talk shit about other people who are probably having the same conversations about us. For the first time since freshman year, I feel I belong. An hour of easy jokes passes, girl time and camaraderie. Tory and his brother eventually join us and we censor our jokes from including them, but the easiness continues.
Tory doesn’t start next to me, but eventually he winds up there, sitting on the side of the truck bed, his leg against my shoulder, keeping me close. A few times, he even reaches down and squeezes my shoulders gently while telling a story. I look up at him, both nervous but kind of glad to be the object of anyone’s anything. I should have known none of that would last.
“Careful there, Tory. Little virgin girl might just be a cock tease,” Ava says, her voice carrying up and over our conversation from the end of the tailgate. It takes me a second to understand what’s happening, how those words are meant to hurt me, but when I do, I scramble to my feet and walk to the edge of the truck. I might not have curves, but I do have muscle. And I have rage. I could pound Ava Pryor into the dirt if I wanted to.
“At least I’m not the one who throws her panties around people’s cars,” I say, drawing exaggerated ooo’s from my friends and a few who pretend they know what I’m talking about.
Ava lets out a short laugh and puts her hand on her hip, her makeup smudged from being drunk and her hair tangled from whatever it is she probably just did with Lucas. I hop down and land a few feet in front of her, my act tough enough to make her flinch back a step or two. Her reaction emboldens me. I step closer, but this time she holds her ground. Pretty soon, we’re close enough to kiss.
“Mommy out working the streets tonight? That why they let you come out to play?” she says, her voice low but the words loud enough that the people around us hear.
My mouth waters with instant rage, and without thinking it through, I step back and fling my right open palm against her face hard enough that her body staggers a few steps to my left. Her squeal gets even more attention, and my hand throbs from the contact. That fucking hurt! She’s totally going to have a black eye.
I’m glowing off this power trip, energized by the shouts from my friends behind me. Ava finds her balance and spits at the ground, then shifts her weight to come back at me. I lift my right arm again, figuring I might as well keep all the hurt in one place. Before I can take a good swing though, this time with a fist, a strong hand wraps around my wrist and pulls it to the side before another hand holds at the center of Ava’s chest.
“You!” Lucas is staring Ava down, a warning in his wide eyes. She argues a few times but he talks over her, pointing to his truck. “Get your ass in there. That’s enough!”
I’ve started to laugh, but Lucas’s attention focuses on me next. His eyes lock on mine, a million words passing behind them all at once. Disappointment, regret . . . apology maybe?
“Just . . . fucking stop, June,” he says, exasperation in his voice. My clenched muscles weaken, and my arm grows limp and falls from his hold. My eyes peer over his shoulder to Ava, slowly walking backward. Why her?
“Your mom’s a fucking whore, you know!” she shouts, her words stunning me where I stand. Lucas took away my weapons. He left me defenseless.
“I said get your ass in my truck!” He points at her more forcefully, a redness coloring his neck, the lines showing how tense he is, how angry.
His eyes come back to me and the expression isn’t soft. There is no pity in his gaze. He’s holding back. There are things he wants to say, and I wish he just would. What else could be said that would hurt me now? He doesn’t speak though, instead falling back a step or two as he shakes his head, a silent way to say “don’t.”
I shake my head in response, a shudder kicking my chest with a short cry that I wipe away in an instant with my forearm.
“Is she your girlfriend? That?” I let out a judgmental laugh and point at the cruel person crawling into his passenger side. I bite my lip through more sad laughter, then look into his eyes, the blue now roiling with fire. “Or is she just some girl you fuck? No matter what, you know she’s part of your story now. That . . . that is what you are—who you are.”
Everything around us has become quiet. Lucas doesn’t flinch. The burn settles into my cheeks the longer he stares at me. I’m being foolish.
Foolish, foolish girl with some unrequited crush.
Goddamn, what have I done?