by Kristin Halbrook
Publication date: December 10th 2014
Genres: Mystery, New Adult
Katie Sawyer has spent the past three and a half years cultivating the perfect UCLA experience. She has the perfect boyfriend: a football star. She has the perfect social life: she’s President of Delta Gamma. But her perfect best friend, Chelsea, just drowned. Worse, the body tumbled out of the closet in Professor Griffin’s chem lab.
Katie’s fairy-tale façade hides a past she would like to forget, but Chelsea’s death brings every old emotion to the surface. If she’s going to move on from her hurts, Katie has to pull her not-so-perfect self together and search out the identity of Chelsea’s killer, even if it means turning to Josh Hunter for help. It’s not easy. Josh infuriates her. Once upon a time, they were next door neighbors and best friends. They were confidants. They were even teenagers fumbling and exploring each other in the dark. He knew everything about her. He owned her heart. That was before things changed.
Now, secrets are surfacing. Chelsea was seeing someone. And she was pregnant when she died. Katie must come to terms with Chelsea’s other life…and face the fact that she has some secrets of her own. Even if it means letting the past–and Josh Hunter–back into her life.
A college Clueless meets Veronica Mars, Kristin Halbrook’s new adult mystery is full of sexy romance and twists that will keep you guessing until the end.
He’d said he had an early soccer game, so I headed to the fields before my classes. His intramural team had enough of a crowd that I could slip in unnoticed to watch the last ten minutes. There was something exhilarating about watching him streak across the field, about seeing his intense expression as he passed the ball, watching his team jump all over each other when they scored.
At the way his muscles tensed and relaxed, the way he was completely zoned into the action. Passion, of a sort. I pressed my fingers to my throat. I knew that look so well. Remembered how it had been focused on me, long ago.
At the final whistle, I caught up with him on the sidelines.
“Josh, can I have a minute?”
He looked at me over his water bottle. I had just finished studying the lines of his neck and shoulders as his head tipped back for a drink. A couple other guys exchanged a look but Josh shrugged coolly and dropped his bottle in his bag.
“See you guys later,” he told them. He shouldered his backpack and stood with an exaggerated sigh. “Where to?”
“We can walk, if you don’t mind.”
I led him blindly away from the field. I wasn’t sure where to go. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted from Josh.
He could tell.
“Here,” he said, stopping me with a touch of his finger on my arm. “Come down here. I need to drop these cones in the equipment room.”
In the equipment room, dust swirled among the limited oxygen supply and the smell of sweat soaked leather dominated everything else. I plugged my nose and gave Josh a look.
“This was the only place you could think of?”
He leaned against a steel frame rack of football helmets.
“You’re the one who needed alone time. Damon not meeting your needs anymore?”
I hated how we flip-flopped. How one moment with him could be absolute perfection, and the next a battle. Josh had no right to act jealous. We were nothing to each other. No matter how he made me feel. And the way he made me feel…frustrated me. I picked up a plastic orange cone and launched it. He ducked with an exasperating laugh.
“Shut up, Josh. When’s the last time you had a girlfriend?”
It wasn’t as though I expected him to list them. We both knew he wasn’t lonely. But he shrugged the question off, folding his arms across his chest, refusing to answer me. His eyes, usually so warm and inviting, were closed to me.
“What do you want, Katie?”
I retrieved the cone, being sure to avoid Josh’s personal space, and replaced it at the top of its stack. I straightened a shoulder pad on the shelf behind me, realized what I was touching, and wiped my hand on my skirt. Ew.
“Did you find anything yet? About Chelsea’s – about the frat guy?”
“You mean anything in the very short span of time between yesterday afternoon and now? What did you expect from me?”
“I’m so sorry to expect anything from you.”
“Believe me, I already know that.”
A heavy silence hung between us.
“Why aren’t you over that, anyway?” he continued. “They arrested the janitor, didn’t you hear?”
I picked a stopwatch up off one of the shelves and played with the buttons, resetting the time to zero. I set it back down quickly, hoping no one was saving that time for something important.
“Yeah, but I’m just not sure –.”
“Just not sure what?”
When I failed to answer him he heaved a sigh.
“What do you want from me, Katie?”
I blinked back a surprise rush of tears. How could I tell him I wanted both everything – and nothing – from him, but that I knew I deserved less than either?
“I want to find . . . I want to know who . . .” I shook my head. Why was Josh the hardest person on the planet to talk to, when I knew for a fact he was the easiest person to talk to?
“It’s not your job to solve this crime,” he said, after the silence between us filled the room, pressing against our skin painfully. “You need to give your energy to dealing with it in other ways.”
“Chelsea’s murder,” I corrected. “Not just some random crime. I don’t think the janitor did it.”
“Stop it,” he whispered. He started to reach a hand out to me, but pulled back before touching me. I couldn’t tell him that I wanted him to. To reach out to me. To touch me. To everything.
“I can’t. Please.” I’d lowered myself to whimpering. My shame had no end when it came to Chelsea.
“I don’t have anything for you.”
For a moment, my heart melted under the regret in his voice. But then I realized I was doing it again: setting him up to get hurt. I replaced my guilt with anger.
“Then why did you bring me in here?”
“What? I’m not the one who dragged me into this equipment closet.”
I smirked. I had him there.
“Actually, yes you did.”
“Right. The idea to be alone with you was mine.”
I bit back my retort and paused. Wait. He didn’t want to be alone with me? What boy wouldn’t?
“I just wanted to ask you about the username. Somewhere where your entire soccer team wasn’t going to overhear. You were the one dragging us into rooms that reek of the gladiators time forgot.”
He pushed off the rack and came within a foot of my face. Electricity fizzed in the air. I clutched the rack behind my back to keep from curving my body into his.
“So, you’re saying you don’t want to be alone with me? Katie Sawyer, you break my heart.”
His mouth hesitated around the next word, the one he didn’t say but that we both knew had almost spilled out: again.
When she was little, Kristin Halbrook wanted to be a writer, the President of the USA or the first female NFL quarterback. The first one stuck. Even when pursuing other dreams, she always took time to write, including stories for adults, teens, and children. She is the author of Nobody But Us (HarperTeen, 2013) and the forthcoming Every Last Promise (HarperTeen, April 2015). Surfacing is her new adult debut.
When she’s not writing or reading, she’s spending time with three pixies, her Mad Scot soulmate, and one grumpy cocker spaniel; traveling across oceans and time; cooking and baking up a storm; and watching waves crash and suns set on the beach. She currently lives, loves and explores in The Emerald City, though she occasionally makes wispy, dream-like plans to move to Paris or a Scottish castle one day (if just temporarily).