Title: HOW TO DISAPPEAR
Author: Ann Redisch Stampler
Release date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
This electric cross-country thriller follows the game of cat and mouse between a girl on the run from a murder she witnessed—or committed?—and the boy who’s sent to kill her.
Nicolette Holland is the girl everyone likes. Up for adventure. Loyal to a fault. And she’s pretty sure she can get away with anything…until a young woman is brutally murdered in the woods near Nicolette’s house. Which is why she has to disappear.
Jack Manx has always been the stand-up guy with the killer last name. But straight A’s and athletic trophies can’t make people forget that his father was a hit man and his brother is doing time for armed assault. Just when Jack is about to graduate from his Las Vegas high school and head east for college, his brother pulls him into the family business with inescapable instructions: find this ruthless Nicolette Holland and get rid of her. Or else Jack and everyone he loves will pay the price.
As Nicolette and Jack race to outsmart each other, tensions—and attractions—run high. Told in alternating voices, this tightly plotted mystery and tense love story challenges our assumptions about right and wrong, guilt and innocence, truth and lies.
In these two chapters, Nicolette and Jack are starting to have complicating feelings toward each other. In chapter 34, Nicolette (who is calling herself Cat because the driver’s license she stole belongs to a girl named Catherine) is starting to have feelings for Jack (who is calling himself J). The problem is that she doesn’t actually know who he is or what he’s been sent to do to her. In chapter 35, it’s Jack’s turn to beat himself up about the inherent conflict between what he’s supposed to do to Nicolette, and what he wants to be doing with her.
The background information needed is that Don is Jack’s older, imprisoned brother who sent Jack on his lethal errand, with the threat that if Jack failed to comply, their mother would die.
So great, I told him where I live.
Semi-safe solitary life as wily fugitive versus life of mad kissing.
Score one for kissing.
There’s no point in changing out of a bad-looking outfit to promote the kissing, though. All I have are bad-looking outfits.
Reminders of reality.
The reality in which the safety of bad, brown outfits trumps romance. The one in which loneliness trumps good decisions, and bad impulses trump everything.
I could be packed and gone before he got here.
Race out the door.
Slip down the street.
Duck down alleys and through parking lots. There are clumps of trees and huge flowering bushes that could shelter a motionless person until it was pitch-black outside.
I could be on a bus out of town with bronzed skin and pink-rimmed glasses in an hour. Less if I pushed it. Or if I hitched.
And then he’d look for me.
How romantic and deadly would that be? If he made noise about the missing girl with the bad wardrobe.
The noise he’s making is banging the knocker on my door.
I just about flatline. Press myself against the wall between the bed and the dinky refrigerator. Know this is bad. Do it anyway.
Unchain the chains. Unbolt the bolt. Pull the key out of the deadbolt.
“Are we expecting a crime wave?” He looks so much larger in my doorway than in his. “Hey, I brought you doughnut holes.”
He steps in over the threshold. Holding out a paper bag as if he gave it a great deal of thought and determined that the perfect gift for me is junk food that gives the sack it comes in grease spots.
What kind of normal girl is happy when a guy brings her this stuff?
“Really?” His face. I go, “No, J! I love this stuff.” Happy face. “This isn’t a comment on the size of my butt, right?”
“If I’m remembering correctly, I’ve never seen your butt.”
Perfect. I’ve introduced body parts into the conversation.
Cat’s so forward!
It wasn’t this awkward at his place. Then again, the bed was in another room at his place, and we weren’t sitting on the edge of it.
He picks up a doughnut hole and gazes at it. “Are these gross? Should I try again? I could run to Food 4 Less and get something else.”
“Doughnut hole. Now.”
He spreads a dishtowel on the bed and pours out the doughnut holes. Powdered sugar billows up around the mound of them. Three minutes later, when we’re both in the throes of a sugar rush, he leans across the dwindling doughnut hole mountain and aims for my sugarcoated mouth.
My hands are in his hair. I’m holding his face in my hands, prolonging this kiss. I am so suddenly aware of the several layers of cloth between my breasts and his chest. When he’s kissing me, when he’s going after every molecule of sweetness on my lips, there’s a total eclipse of reason. I want more than I can have.
Then he starts to lift my T-shirt over my head from the bottom like he means it.
“Don’t.” This might be the most conflicted syllable ever spoken by a girl on a bed.
Score one for impulse control.
I say, “No, because if we do, you know…”
All I want is for him to keep kissing me and stop undressing me.
“I know you better than you think.”
Which is unnerving. But it’s just master-of-the-universe boy crap. It’s not like I’ve never met a boy before.
Steve, explaining why I was supposed to keep my legs crossed, basically said I had something they wanted. If I didn’t give it to them, they’d follow me down the street like a pack of hungry dogs. Which proved more or less correct. (Leaving out the part where girls who hand out doggie treats have even bigger packs following them around. Which I guess he hoped I wouldn’t notice.)
I can’t make out with this guy while I think about Steve trying to get me to behave.
I say, “Leave my clothes on me.” It comes out sharper than intended.
J pulls back. Holds up his hands like I’m arresting him.
Then I think, what kind of college girl keeps her shirt on? Either way I go, this blows south very fast. I say, “Religious zealots. Remember? In the trailer. Homeschool. Fire and brimstone.”
“I wouldn’t want you to burn in hell.” He might not be taking me that seriously.
“Next time you want to get it on with someone, try not to make fun of her.”
He’s sitting so he isn’t even touching me. “I understand the word no. Not that I’ve heard it before, but I get it.”
“You’re so full of yourself! Did anybody ever tell you that?”
“So we can assume the Zealots beat the sense of humor out of you?”
The only thing in reach is a handful of doughnut holes. Which I throw at him.
He pretends he doesn’t like this and returns to kissing. Maybe just to distract me. I feel it in places I don’t want to be feeling.
Not when I’m hiding.
Not when I have to be on top of my game and not under some guy who doesn’t even know my real name.
Doughnut holes might have been the wrong thing to bring. She eats them, but then she wants to know if I go out with a lot of girls, the message clear that guys who go out with lots of girls know enough not to bring doughnuts. I tell her the truth, maybe because no matter how this goes, it’s not destined to be a lasting relationship where things you said at the beginning come back to bite you later.
“There was one long thing, not much else.”
“When did it end? It did end, right?”
“Six weeks ago. Something like that.”
She screws up her face. “Was she an evil bitch?”
She tosses a doughnut hole at my face, presumably aiming for my mouth.
“Don’t worry,” she says. “I’m not looking for touchy-feely. I’m just not helping you two-time anybody while we have a good time.”
“Do people say ‘two-time’ this century?”
I have my hands on her shoulders, and all I want to do is kiss her and anything else she’ll go along with. I slip my hands under her big shirt, fingers against her skin, which is so soft, softer than you’d expect, softer than Scarlett.
She says, “Uh. Not that good a time.”
This is when my phone vibrates again. Don has a seemingly endless supply of cell phone minutes and an unerring ability to call when I lease want to hear from him. She’s pressed against me, so she feels the phone’s vibration.
“Speak of the devil,” she says. “Is this her? And if it is, you’d better lie because I’ll hand you your ass tied up in ribbons.”
“You’ll hand me my six-foot ass with your hundred-pound-girl hands?”
“Does your girlfriend like it when the six-foot ass tells sexist jokes?” She sighs. “Not that you can’t see tons of other girls. It’s not like we’re together or anything. Just not one cheated-on one.”
I take her hand, and this time she doesn’t pull away from me. The phone starts buzzing again, and I tighten my grip. There has to be some other way out of this damn yellow wood, a shortcut I can find before Yeager finds it for me.
Somewhere in this confusion, there’s a workable syllogism.
Cat is a girl; I like Cat; therefore, I don’t dispose of Cat?
Then I think, hurray for me; I only get rid of girls I don’t like. What a stand-up guy. I only get rid of girls I don’t like who cut the throats of people I do like. And I only do that when my pathologically dishonest brother says my mom dies if the girl doesn’t.
Girl whose-pants-he’s-trying-to-get-into versus mom-he’d-prefer-not-to-see-burned, and the guy stands there lusting after the girl in a converted garage, waffling about whether he’s going to answer the phone and deal with his shit brother. What a sick story that makes.
She says, “Did I just do something?”
“You want to finish eating carbs and go for a run?”
“Those are my choices? Let you take my shirt off me or run around the block? Very romantic.”
“I saw you running in the park. You run.”
She grins. “I hope you’re not the competitive type because I’m going to run circles around you.” She stretches out her legs straight in front of her, points her toes, and bends until she’s folded on herself.
“A little overconfident, are we?” I say as she looks up to see if I noticed how limber she is. I noticed. “You want to go right now?”
Of course running should happen later, when it’s dark and no one who’s looking for her can spot her. “If that’s not romantic enough, I can always recite poetry to you. We know how much you love that. Two rooooooads diverged in a yellow wood . . .”
“Kill me now,” she says.
I can’t help flinching.
She’s very close to me, still touching my hand, as if she wants me to touch her again—about time—but as I’m reaching for her, she flops back against the pillows. “You’re not obsessed with poetry, right?”
“’The Road Not Taken’ is the story of my life, but you don’t have to like it.”
“Don’t get upset, but that poet guy was probably tromping through the woods to drop in on his mistress,” she says.
“Did Robert Frost rise from the grave to tell you that?”
“Poets! Take Shakespeare. And that poem for his coy mistress.”
“Not Shakespeare, Andrew Marvel. I thought the coy mistress was his wife.”
“You don’t think he was cheating with some coy girl” she demands. Obviously, she does. “It’s all about getting girls on their backs,” she says. “Geez, Had we but world enough, and time, but we don’t, so lie down? Give me a break.”
“You memorize poetry? Hand over the borderline illiterate card.” I hold out my hand and she slaps it, palm to palm, as if we were playing the game where you extend your hands to see who has faster reflexes, and she wins.
“I’m not completely ignorant,” she says.
Then she throws back her head, laughing, her mouth lining up with mine. How am I supposed to resist this? I pull her back onto my lap, and she melts into me like warm wax, perfect fit, soft lips, her hands in my hair—for thirty seconds.
Then she says, “I’ve gotta go to work. Right now. Go write yourself a sad poem.”
About Ann Redisch Stampler:
Ann Redisch Stampler is the author of the young adult novels Afterparty and Where It Began as well as half a dozen picture books. Her work has garnered an Aesop accolade, the National Jewish Book Award, Sydney Taylor honors, the Middle East Book Award, and Bank Street Best Books of the Year mentions. How to Disappear (Simon Pulse, 2016), her first young adult thriller, will be released in June. Ann lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband Rick.
Tuesday, June 14th:
· Book Briefs – Review
· BookHounds YA – Author Interview
Wednesday, June 15th:
· Ryley Reads – Review
· Fiktshun – Review
· Becky on Books – Excerpt
Thursday, June 16th:
· Just Commonly – Review
· Emily Reads Everything – Review
Friday, June 17th:
· Such a Novel Idea – Review
· Curling Up With A Good Book – Author Interview
Saturday, June 18th:
· Here’s to Happy Endings – Review
· My So-Called Book Reviews – Author Interview
Sunday, June 19th:
· A Gingerly Review – Spotlight
· Book Whales – Excerpt
Monday, June 20th:
· A Dream Within A Dream – Review
· Jessabella Reads – Character Interview
Tuesday, June 21st:
· Owl Always Be Reading – Review
· The Cover Contessa – Character Interview
Wednesday, June 22nd:
· Dani Reviews Things – Author Interview
· Fishing for Books – Review
Thursday, June 23rd:
· Once Upon a Twilight – Author Interview
· Classy Cat Books – Review
Friday, June 24th:
· Star-Crossed Book Blog – Review
· Lilians Book Stuff – Author Interview
Saturday, June 25th:
· Pandora’s Books – Excerpt
· Reese’s Reviews – Review
Sunday, June 26th:
· The Phantom Paragrapher – Review
· In a Bookish World – Excerpt
Monday, June 27th:
· Movies, Shows & Books – Review
· Wishful Endings – Character Interview
· A Bookish Escape – Review