Did you see this sweet cover illusration by Miss Vie Book Designs? I announced it on Instagram first, but I thought you'd like to see it here, too! I've had A LOT of book covers designed by this artist lately (Dark and Devious was designed by Miss Vie!) some of which haven't even been announced yet!
I'm also commissioning six interior images of the characters Conor, Noah, Shay, Sam, Scott, Bianca, Delilah, and Jacob! Here's a peak at the Conor illustration! Guess what she's reading! (Yep, that's her reading her first ever yellow note!)
And the great thing about this SE is the bonus content! There are five bonus chapters coming PLUS The Red Pen, a novellette that takes place long after our yellow note gang has grown up! Want to read the first chapter in rough draft? Keep scrolling for a sneak peak!
THE RED PEN, CHAPTER ONE (unedited)
I opened my locker for the last time that week, so ready for the start of winter break and frustrated with myself for putting off my responsibilities yet again. If I didn’t send my college applications soon, I’d risk losing my top choices, and Westmore frowned on such things. Heaven forbid I not know what I wanted to do with my life at eighteen.
Just down the hall, cramming his books into his locker, was Aston Hale, the guy everyone wanted but someone like me couldn’t touch in a zillion years. Ten zillion was probably more accurate. He was the least of my concerns, but he sure was nice to look at while he was throwing things in his locker with a look on his face that said he might just tear those lockers right off the wall and throw the whole thing in the trash.
What in the world?
The school was virtually empty except for the teachers and a few students who had after school activities. Like Aston, who was Westmore’s lacrosse king… and soccer prince… and at the top of just about every other sport offered at the prestigious school. Not that I’d noticed.
Okay, fine. I noticed. You’d have to be blind not to notice him.
Once he was finished with his tantrum, he stood staring into his locker seeking answers. Far be it from me to question his tactics for dealing with life, but it seemed awfully unhealthy, if you asked me. Still, I couldn’t stop staring at him, wondering if I should offer support in some way. I’d never seen him act like that before. Come to think of it, I didn’t think I’d ever seen him angry at all.
In almost slow motion—or maybe it was just how my brain processed it—Aston turned his head to the left and a pair of stormy gray eyes connected with mine. Sweat prickled my forehead, and I diverted my attention back to my locker, dipping my head behind the door to blend into the scenery. I dumped my last book and grabbed my notebook, then crammed it in my backpack and zipped it up. When I reached for my locker door to close it, I grabbed a hand instead.
“Oh!” I startled and took a small jump back, leaving space between Aston and me.
His cheeks were a little pink, probably from throwing a fit, but he still made eye contact.
“So, if you could not tell anyone you just saw me freak out, that would be great.” He nodded down the hall toward his locker, which made me look that way, then back to him. It was so hot in that stupid hallway. Why was it so hot? My cheeks flamed, and I swallowed.
“Sure. I wasn’t planning on telling anyone, so… yeah, no worries.”
Did he ever blink?
“Thanks, Alice,” he said, then shut my locker door for me and stepped away. “I appreciate it.” He started back to his locker, leaving me to compose myself.
A little flushed by our interaction, I tried to adjust the weight of my bag before slinging it over my shoulder, but something stopped me mid-swing. Aston was there, holding the strap to help me get it on. He was stealthy, or I was just oblivious, but he seemed to just pop up. It was officially the most interaction I had ever had with the most popular guy in the school. Before that, the only time he’d spoken to me was when he bumped into me and excused himself.
“Sorry, I was rude just walking away after asking you to keep a secret for me. Can I walk you to your car?”
I let him slip the strap over my shoulder and pulled my long brown hair out from behind me, letting it flow over my shoulder in long waves. I needed a haircut, but I didn’t have time. It was down to my waist now, probably tangled and horrible compared to what Aston liked. His girlfriends had always been… well… not different but they did have their act together where I tended to bumble and stumble along. He liked outgoing girls, girls who played sports and went to all the parties. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with that, but I was as clumsy as an eight-legged giraffe.
“Oh, I have a study group at the public library. I usually just walk, then my friend takes me home after.”
Aston pointed out the window. “It’s raining. I can drop you off at the library.”
We were walking now, almost to the door where I would need to make a decision. “It’s okay, really. I’ve walked in the rain before. Got an umbrella and everything, I said, holding up my embarrassingly childlike pink umbrella with sparkly unicorns on it.
Aston smiled and brushed his golden hair from his face. It wasn’t blonde, but it wasn’t brown either. It was some shade of holy cow in between that made those gray eyes pop, though it seemed entirely against the laws of genetics.
“Cute. I think my little sister has one just like it.”
Kill me now. My brain almost melted, but I managed to remind myself this was just a friendly interaction between two virtual strangers, and his opinion of my rain gear did not matter. I pushed the door open and headed out, but he kept pace with me even after I opened my pink umbrella.
“So, Alice Hazelwood, what do you like to do when you’re not in study group at the public library?”
The toe of my shoe caught in the seam between two sidewalk pavers, and I hurtled forward, likely to my own social devastation. I wasn’t high on the social ladder, but I’d crash to the bottom just as soon as my face hit the concrete, I was sure.
“Easy there. You okay?” Aston caught me. Aston oh my gosh, look at that grin Hale caught me… draped over his arm like some kind of superhero… while he grinned like a kid who just stole a chocolate cake and ate it until his gut almost popped. He stood me upright again, relieving me of the rest of my composure.
I didn’t want to cry. Really, I didn’t, and I couldn’t even figure out why the tears welled up in my eyes like they did, but just as my feet were settled again, the traitorous tears slipped right out and I hiccupped.
Aston’s head snapped so fast to look at me, he could have given himself whiplash.
“What? Did I hurt you?”
I shook my head, furiously swiping tears, but it was useless.
“Did you hurt your foot?” He glanced down then back up, taking in every inch of my Westmore uniform-clad body before deciding I was perfectly fine and had no reason to blubber like an idiot… other than being mortified by what happened. And he knew that was the problem.
Aston grinned again, then nudged my arm. “Hey, it’s fine. You keep my secret, and I promise I won’t tell anyone you almost scarred this beautiful face by kissing a sidewalk, okay?”
Beautiful? What in the name of… ah. It had to be a dream. I was dreaming, probably still standing at my locker staring at him like a moron, and if I just shook my head, everything would go back to normal. I shook my head. Nope. He was still there.
I was officially out of my depth.
“So, I asked what you like to do before you tripped.” Aston picked up the conversation with ease, not seeming to understand that I had no idea why we were even having a conversation.
I cleared my throat and let him lead the way to the library since it appeared he would escort me the entire three blocks.
“I ride horses, mostly. My great-aunt runs a therapy farm in Kentucky, and I help there in the summers. Other than that, I really just like to read, and I dabble with writing fantasy novels.” Oh, my gosh. Why did I tell him that?