Monday, August 12, 2013

Author Spotlight: Lila Atkinson

               

 Zadie Parker is all about reinventing herself. Switching colleges after a
humiliating freshman year is her latest upgrade. She’s excited to be
living with her two best friends and looking forward to her new summer
lifeguarding job. Life seems headed toward more stable waters, or so she
thinks. On her first day of work Zadie comes head to head with her biggest
regret, Henry Fletcher.

Henry’s the stupidly adorable boy Zadie crushed hard on in high school.
The one too chicken to make his move three years before. He’s the reason
Zadie found the courage to move from the sidelines to being a risk-taker.
But calling attention to yourself isn’t without consequences, especially
when every co-ed has a camera phone.

Hot summer days and warm, tension-fueled nights set the backdrop for Zadie
and Henry to figure out if there is any chance they can heal while
navigating the landmines of Zadie's life.

Excerpt: 
Six hours later I stand by the car, sunburned and exhausted. Lifeguarding a pool packed with kids is way different than supervising lap swimmers. Less spitting, more horse play. For the first time I got to use my whistle. I have to admit it carries a level of power and exhilaration I never expected.

Another bonus was the non-stop Henry ogling. Damn he’s hot. Really hot. I tried to act aloof while he peeled off his shirt and covered himself with sunscreen but I failed. Epically.

On the flip side, I know he peeked when I masterfully put on my bathing suit in the backseat of the car, expertly flashing just enough skin to raise his interest.Sucker.

“You ready?” Henry asks, throwing his stuff into the back of the car.

I toss my bag in behind his and sit in the passenger seat. He cranks the air conditioning and the radio, blasting our senses with something other than heat and sweat. I lean back in my seat and say, “Okay, I admit it. I thought working the indoor pool was tiring. That was killer.”

“The indoor pool is just boring. At least this way the day goes by faster.” He reaches over and presses his finger against my nose. “You got a lot of sun.”

“Too much,” I tell him, looking down at my chest. It’s turning a purplish red.

“I told you to wear more sunscreen.”

He’d chided me more than once for not applying enough. “I was tired of being inside so much I’d wanted a tan. Looks like I got fried instead.”

Henry doesn’t reply but I see him twisting his hands on the steering wheel. I keep my eyes on the window because his fidgeting makes me nervous. The car ride home is mostly silent, other than the radio. We’re both beat and I catch myself dozing off more than once. I feel the car slow when we get off the highway and force myself awake. When we’re near the apartment Henry surprises me by saying,“I want you to change your mind about this summer.”

“What?”

Today was fun, right? Come work at the pool with us.”

“It was fun,” I say slowly, trying to catch his angle “But my argument about Tate still stands.”

He turns into the apartment complex and finds a parking space. He shifts into gear and pulls up the parking break. Looking directly at me with those lethal blue eyes he says, “Are you sure Tate’s the real reason you won’t work with us?”

And there it is. I turn away from his gaze. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“The last interaction between us was when you wrote that poem about me in the school newspaper.”

My heart jumps to my throat and I cough. “Why do you think that was about you?”

Zadie.”

“Henry.”

“When added together, the first letter of each line spelled out Fuck You Henry Fletcher.”

“Oh, that.”

“Yes, that.”

Right before prom, when he’d made it clear he wasn’t going to take me but no one else could either I took my vengeance out with my pen. It’s not just my mouth that gets me in trouble but my hands, too. Unfortunately for Henry, the newspaper supervisor, Mrs. Chance, didn’t realize the secret message in my writing.

I don’t have a lot to defend myself with, so I shift the blame back to Tate. “That has nothing to do with it. I just don’t want to deal with Tate and his womanizing all summer.”

He tenses his jaw. After an awkward pause he seems to let the topic drop. “I can’t either. There is no way I can work with them all summer. I caught them in the back seat of Tate’s car the other day during adult swim. The flirting is nauseating. I’m afraid I’ll walk into them all the time.

I wrinkle my nose in disgust. “Yeah, no thanks.”

He drops his head against the car seat. “Please, Zadie. You’re my only hope. Don’t leave me with them alone all summer.”

“What makes you think I won’t fall prey to Tate Christensen myself?”

“I’m sure you will,” he chuckles darkly. “But at least I can call you on it if you do.

I twist in my seat so I’m facing him. “First of all, I won’t fall for him. I’ve known him for years and even if I was interested, trust me, he’s not in return. I have a brain and my boobs are too small. Second, I already told you no. I got stuck working with him already. He sucks.”

He studies me with an impressed grin and says, “What if I can get him to promise not to bring any girls to the pool?

I give him a suspicious look. “You know that won’t work.”

“I think it will. He wants Shelly gone anyway.”

I narrow my eyes. “Wait, what? Why?”

“I guess he’s done with her.”

“You’re kidding, right?” I’m incredulous. “He’s such a pig.”

“I think he prefers the one night stand and it’s all too close. Look, I don’t care, but if I can get him to agree, will you come? I need some sort of rational person there. Also, together we can gang up on him.”

“Hmm…” I consider. “I do like that idea. Can we make him clean the bathrooms?”

A wider smile crosses his face. “I think I can arrange that.”

I look out the car window. I really don’t want to spend the summer trapped inside. And spending time with Henry at work is the best way to get his full attention. “I’ll do it,” I say. “But only if he agrees. I have some other rules, too.”

“Like what?” He frowns.

“No weed at work. I’m not dealing with a pothead.”

He lifts an eyebrow but nods. “Okay.”

“And no sexist jokes. Or rude behavior from either of you.”

“Obviously,” he rolls his eyes.

It may be that I’m lightheaded from the sun and heat or I’m just simply exhausted, but I rub my eyes with my hands and say, “Fine, I’ll do it.”

“Excellent,” he says, with a huge, adorable grin. He offers me his hand over the center console and I brace myself not to sway from the feeling of his hand in mine. This is going to be a disaster.

“When do I start?” I ask once we’re out of the car.

“Tomorrow. I’ll drive.” He starts up the steps but pauses. “I have one condition, too.”

“What?”

“I’m serious about you not falling for that puppy dog face thing he does to chicks. I’ll call you on it.”

“What face?” I ask. Henry rolls his eyes and then stuns me making his own sexy pout. My knees give out from under me and I grab the railing. Where the hell did that come from? I gather myself and declare, “I’m immune to Tate Christensen and I’m damn sure he’s immune to me.”

“Good.”

I may be immune to Tate, but Henry Fletcher is another situation all together.


No Regrets is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/No-Regrets-ebook/dp/B00DYKHASI/ref=pd_sim_kstore_6

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