Author: Erin Watt
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Genre: Young Adult
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Amazon UK
Purchase: Amazon Print
From No. 1 New York Times bestselling author duo Erin Watt comes an addictive new contemporary YA tale of a girl who falls for the boy who inadvertently killed her sister in a car accident—perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Kasie West and Huntley Fitzpatrick.
Title: One Small Thing
Genre: Young Adult Romance
Author: Erin Watt
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Scene setup: Heroine Beth sneaks out of the house undetected to attend a party — where she meets the hero.
“What’s your name, anyway?” the blonde girl asks.
“Ashleigh, but you can call me Ash.” She points to the front seat. “That’s Kylie and Max. We all go to Lexington High. Gonna be juniors this year.”
“I’ll be a senior at Darling,” I tell her.
A slight sneer mars her red-lipsticked mouth. “Ah okay. You’re a Darling girl.”
I bristle at the implication. “Not everyone in Darling is rich, you know.” I’m not lying; my family definitely isn’t as rich as some of the other families in town. Our middle-class suburb is safe and quiet, though.
The party we’re going to is in Lexington Heights (or Lex, as its residents call it), a working-class neighborhood where the houses are smaller, the people are poorer, and the kids are rowdier. In Darling, coke and molly are passed around along with hash. In Lex, you’re more likely to be offered meth.
My parents would freak out if they knew I was here. Scarlett nearly had a panic attack when we had to stop for gas in Lexington tonight.
“So whatcha doing over in Lex on a Saturday night?” Kylie twists around from the front seat to voice the question to me. “You looking to score some party favors?”
I offer a shrug. “I just want to have a good time before school starts.”
Max whoops loudly. “Girl after my own heart! What’s your name again, good time girl?”
“Beth,” I repeat.
“Beth.” Driving one-handed, he reaches his other hand toward me. “Gimme some sugar, Bethie. Time to get our party on.”
I awkwardly slap his hand and manage a smile. I suddenly feel really bad about ditching Scarlett, but I tamp down the guilt until it’s buried deep and forgotten. Besides, she was okay with me going in the end, even though I don’t think she totally gets why I had to go. Scar’s parents are cool. They’re laidback and hilarious and they give her so much freedom she doesn’t even know what to do with it.
I get it. I really, totally get it. I do. Mom and Dad lost a daughter. I lost a sister. We all loved Rachel and we all miss her, no one more than me. But my sister’s accident was just that—an accident. And the person responsible was punished for it. Isn’t that all we can ask for? Rachel’s never coming back, that’s not how life works. But justice was served, as much as it could’ve been.
And I’m still alive. I’m alive and I want to live.
Is that such a bad thing to want?
“We’re here!” Ashleigh announces.
Max parks across the street from a narrow house with a white clapboard exterior and an overgrown lawn that’s littered with teens. Beer bottles and joints are being passing around right there in the open, like nobody even cares if a police cruiser drives by.
“Who owns this place?” I ask.
“This guy Jack,” Ash answers in an absent tone. She’s too busy waving to some girls on the lawn.
“Are his parents home?”
Kylie snorts. “Um. No.”
We climb out of the Jeep and weave our way through the crowd toward the front door. Kylie and Max disappear the moment we enter the house. Ashleigh sticks close to me. “Let’s grab a drink!” she says.
I can barely hear her over the deafening hip-hop song that’s shaking the walls. The house is crammed with bodies, and the air smells like a combination of perfume, body spray, sweat and stale beer. Not exactly my scene, but the bass line is sick and the kids look friendly enough. I half expected to see bare-knuckle brawls and people screwing against the walls, but it’s mostly just dancing and drinking and very loud conversation.
Ash tugs me into a small kitchen with linoleum counters and outdated wallpaper. Half a dozen boys crowd around the open screen door, smoking a joint.
“Harley!” she shrieks happily, and then she lunges forward and throws her arms around one of the guys who separates himself from the group. “Omigod! When did you get back?”
The tall boy lifts her off her feet and gives her a very sloppy-looking kiss right on the mouth. I think he’s high, because his eyes are almost completely glazed over. I awkwardly lean against the counter and pretend like I belong here. This is what I want, I tell myself. A hard party that would drive my parents insane.
“Really late last night,” he says. “We stopped for dinner in Chicago and then powered through for the rest of the drive. Marcus said he’d rather drive through the night than pay for a motel.”
“You shoulda called me first thing this morning,” Ash whines.
He slings an arm around her shoulder. Is he her boyfriend? She hasn’t introduced us yet, so I have no idea.
“I didn’t even wake up ‘til like an hour ago,” Harley says with a laugh. “Otherwise I would’ve called.” His eyes narrow. “You seen Lamar yet?”
“Nope. Don’t plan on it, either.”
“Tonya says she saw him with Kelly at the arcade last night.”
“Goodie for Kelly. Can’t wait for Lamar to dump her skanky ass just like Alex did.”
Harley. Marcus. Tonya. Kelly. Lamar. Alex.
Who the heck are all these people? I stand there by the counter, growing more and more uncomfortable as Ashleigh and her maybe-boyfriend toss random names back and forth to each other.
I look around the kitchen. It doesn’t matter. I didn’t come here to listen to gossip. I’m tired of being passive, of allowing myself to be controlled. For the past three years, I’ve done what I’ve been told, taken the electives recommended, gotten the job that my parents set up for me, befriended the girls and boys that my parents deemed appropriate.
And what’s my reward?
Another four more years added to my sentence. The cell door got slammed shut before I even got a chance to take a step outside. I glance at the case of beer. I could get drunk, but that’s too easy. I could get high, but that’s too dangerous. I need to do something between drunk and high that would make me feel good and tick my parents off.
A flash of movement catches my attention, and I turn to find a very good-looking guy leaning in the kitchen doorway. He has the darkest blue eyes I’ve ever seen. They’re incredible. Over the left one, his eyebrow has a gap. It looks like a scar from this distance. Or a bad plucking accident, but he doesn’t look like the type to manscape.
His jaw is covered with dark-blond stubble, making him look older than all the other guys here. The boys in the kitchen, Harley included, don’t have any facial hair. And they aren’t nearly as tall as Blue Eyes, or as built, or as attractive.
Him. That’s what I need. A very bad boy to take me down a very bad path.
A sense of power sweeps through me. This would make my parents angrier than anything. All kids drink, but hooking up with some random stranger? It would drive my proper mother nuts.
Internally, I rub my hands together with glee and start plotting. He’s not making eye contact with me, but he’s not staring at someone else, either—guy or girl. He’s not exactly aloof, but there’s space between him and the others. As if they’re afraid to approach him. He’s got an aura of someone cool and together.
The very things that I’m not.