It’s senior year at Pacific State University and all-night parties, cheap hookups and regrets are the ruling pastimes.
Sophie DeLuca used to be a nice girl—but that was before Luke Lamanuzzi tore her heart to shreds. Now she’s a walking trail of vodka-soaked destruction, something her sexy, smooth-talking coworker Davis won’t let her forget. He might have a secret crush on her—but his playboy reputation would never let him admit it. His best friend Blake’s own love of all-nighters and debauchery comes crashing to a halt when a one-night stand backfires. Wise-cracking Cassie seems like she’s the one who has it all together, but she’s just better at hiding her skeletons.
Ungracefully pirouetting in and out of love triangles, drug addictions and unwanted pregnancies, four friends stumble their way through their last year of study and try to grasp the realities of the world on the other side.
Available at Amazon
Excerpt from Lies in the Darkness, Chapter 1:
Once upon a time, Sophie De Lucca was a nice girl.
She pressed her chapped lips to her Bud Light bottle and stared into Jay’s puppy dog eyes as he suppressed his tears with mustered masculinity. Didn’t he know she really did used to be a nice girl? That was before all of this of course — before Pacific State, before senior capstone, before the vodka, before Luke Lamanuzzi surgically removed her heart. Before she had become a deep crevice of black despair, sucking in anything that came near her. It seemed like years since she’d been a nice girl, but she really, really had been. She never meant to use Jay as a crutch. She just … needed something, someone, tangible right there, right then, to anesthetize her life.
The small bedroom was sweltering and stuffy, the scent of stale beer and sex still lingering in the air from the previous night.
How did I even get here? she mused, as she tried to avoid eye contact with Scarface, who stared down at her from the left wall with loathing eyes. She rolled over, kicked off the clichéd — so juvenile — plaid sheets and glanced at the cheap digital alarm clock on his oak desk.
Damn it. Why do I always do this?
Scarface rarely showed her sympathy.
Gulping down the last of her lukewarm beer, she reached for her purple push-up bra hanging on his desk chair. She then scooped up her white denim skirt and black lace tank top that lay in a crumpled pile on top of Jay’s Biology 243 books, all of which reeked of the pale ale that he had clumsily dumped all over her last night.
“Don’t go yet,” Jay whispered as he swept his callused fingers across the soft skin of her lower back, tracing her dove tattoo.
“C’mon Jay, don’t do this,” she said, squirming her body away from his touch. “It’s getting late.”
“It’s not that late.” He skimmed her arm lightly, attempting to seduce her into dropping her guard for even a moment.
“We talked about this.” She pulled her arm away awkwardly as she fumbled with the overpriced Victoria’s Secret satin that gave her a false sense of confidence.
“So,” he muttered, sharply pulling away from her. He reached for another warm beer from the 12-pack box on his end table and wiped sweat from his forehead. “I think you’re wrong.”
“And who cares what you think?” Her mastered art of cruelty flowed from her mouth like breath.
“You don’t have to be heartless.”
“Like you said last night, I have a poor excuse for a heart.” She slipped on her tank top and buttoned her skirt.
“Soph, please. You know I didn’t —”
“I have to go to work.”
“Can I come in and see you tonight?” He sat up and stared at her with big brown eyes that looked like giant Hershey’s kisses—sad, melting chocolate eyes that pulled at her heartstrings. She shrugged her slender shoulders back nervously and darted her eyes from wall, to floor, to Scarface.
“I’d rather you didn’t,” she threw her tangled hair in a ponytail. “But hey, it’s not my bar so I can’t stop you.”
Jay reached across the bed and pulled on her arm until she tumbled back into the pile of sweaty sheets. He pulled her into his body, softly grazing his lips across her flushed cheek and running his fingers over her stomach.
“Sophie, stay,” he whispered.
“Stop it. I gotta go.” She twisted her body away from him. “Look, I’m sorry I texted you last night.”
“I’m not.” He shrugged and let her loose from his arms.
She pulled herself up and smoothed out her hair and clothing, the nauseating stench of his sweat, cheap vodka and pale ale washing over her. She collected her black clutch, found her Reef flips underneath his black Bacardi t-shirt and walked toward the bedroom door. Her fingers lingered on the brass doorknob as heavy guilt attempted to pull her back. She looked back at him. He sat in bed and raked his fingers through his disheveled and sweaty sandy hair. Beads of sweat formed on his tan, taut skin. He had the boyish comeliness of a hometown swimmer — tall and slim with wide shoulders and defined, lean muscles paired with gentle brown eyes and a genuine smile. It was what had attracted her to him in the first place and sometimes it was enough to convince her she still felt something for him.
“I just don’t feel that way about you Jay,” she said, fighting her instincts to stay but not turning around. “I’m sorry. I won’t text you again,” she lied the way she always did on Sunday mornings and turned the doorknob.
Amanda J. Clay is a California native writing YA and New Adult from the charming community of Berkeley, CA. She had a fantastic time studying English and Journalism at Chico State University and then a very serious time slaving away for a Master’s degree in Communications from California State University, Fullerton. When she’s not staring at a computer screen, she spends most of her spare time plotting world adventures.