RPS is proud to offer this preview of D. L. Lane’s release, Book 2 in the Cedar Point Series
Rain pelted Danica as she slogged her way along the slick, black road, tears streaming down her cheeks, mortification becoming her and her rage’s new BFF—a real fun trio they were.
With stilted movements, she swiped her face, but it was a losing battle. The salty-anger mixed into the water dripping from her lashes, running off the tip of her nose, weaving over trembling lips, and dropping from her quivering chin. On the off chance he would try to find her, she hadn’t taken the direct path home, but every stupid decision she’d made that night, including putting her trust in Matt Jordan, was costing her. Not only was she going to be soaked to the bone by the time she walked through the front door of her house, but it had to be way past her eleven-p.m. curfew.
I’m so dead.
The thought had her crying harder as she rounded the bend. But if there was any solace to be had, at least she was closer to town.
Just a little bit farther.
Danica’s head throbbed so hard she could have sworn her temples pulsed, and her stomach decided to give up on the churning, staging a severe revolt.
Bending over, she heaved—the muscles in her body protesting as cramp after cramp struck.
All of this seemed like a nightmare, but unfortunately, it wasn’t.
Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand and straightening, a slice of light cut through the trees—a welcome reprieve from the darkness. Then the momentary relief morphed into worry.
Head whipping to the left, wet hair slicked to her neck, Danica considered the wooded area, knowing she could hide if she had to, but visions of the last Jason movie bounced through her thoughts, sending a shiver of fear up her spine.
Who would be worse? she wondered. Matt or some freaky masked madman?
“Matt,” she mumbled, squinting, lifting a shaky hand in front of her face as the bright headlights hit her full-on, and the vehicle stopped in front of her.
Heart pounding in her ears—two seconds from bolting—she heard, “Danny?”
That sandpaper-smooth voice enveloped her, making everything come to a halt—feet, panic, even her breath.
A second later, a slamming car door echoed, and then something warm—his letterman jacket?—went around her shoulders. “Danica? What in the hel-heck is going on? Gage touched her arm, causing her to suck in air through her teeth. “Are you hurt?”
She was, but she wouldn’t be copping to that.
Blinking up into the shadowed face that starred in her dreams, she shook her head and whispered, “I’m not hurt.”
Gage palmed her cold, wet cheek, sending an electric current through her. “Have you been drinking?”
He scowled. “Maybe?”
“Matt gave me a red solo cup of something.”
“I think he called it jungle juice.”
“How many cups did you have?”
“Three or four.” She shrugged. “I’m not sure.”
“You’ve definitely been drinking, Danny.” Gage sighed. “Come on and get in the car, you are drenched, and I’m getting there.” Taking her small hand in his much larger one, he tugged.
A few quick-steps later she was inside his dry GTO, watching him run around the front of his vehicle, cutting through the downpour, then slipping in behind the wheel.
“I’m getting your seat wet,” she said in a low voice.
“Don’t worry about the seat.” Combing his fingers through the wet strands of his midnight-colored hair, water flew. “You want to tell me why you were drinking with Jordan?”
Because I thought you’d be there, skipped around in her aching brain. “Matt invited me to a party at his parents’ cabin by the lake.”
Even in the dim light coming from the instrument panel of his car, his astonishing silver eyes flashed. “And you thought hanging with him, and the brainless crew of seniors who worship at his feet, was a good idea?”
Danica held her forehead. “I don’t know, Gage. It was something to do.”
“You can’t date until you turn sixteen. Isn’t that what your father has said, oh I don’t know, ten-thousand times?”
She mumbled, “It wasn’t a date.”
“Did your sister or Jill know about this invitation?”
“No,” she muttered, feeling like total roadkill.
“So, you went to a party with a bunch of as—” He cleared his throat. “No one knew you were with that group of jerks?”
“I guess not.”
“Look at me.”
Peeking up, Danica watched the muscle in Gage’s tight jaw jump. “Why were you walking out in this rainstorm at almost midnight?”
“Why were you driving this way?” she countered.
“It’s not important.” He tapped the steering wheel. “So why are you out here?”
“Can we just drop the interrogation?”
The sound of a million bb’s fell on Gage’s cherry-red ride as she stared out the windshield, the wipers hypnotically going back and forth. “Take me home, please?”
“We’re not going anywhere until you tell me.”
“Gage, I don’t feel well.”
“After four cups of hard liquor mixed with fruit, I’m sure you don’t.”
Another bubble of nasty came up.
Danica went for the door, opening it, leaned out, and puked—the chunky splat onto the wet pavement made her stomach convulse more.
Gage’s gravelly, “I’m going to kill Jordan,” would have sent needly chills over her if she hadn’t been dying. But even with her head pounding like a bass drum, cold and looking like a drowning cat while evacuating the entire contents of her stomach in the pouring rain, Danica Lorry knew she was safe. Gage would take care of her. He was good at that.
Righting herself, she shut the door, the sour taste in her mouth sickening. “Sorry.”
“It’s bad enough to go home late, but in this condition…” Reaching, he slicked aside some of the damp strands of hair from her face, causing a riot of sensations to dance across her skin. “You will need to sober up some and dry off before you meet the wrath of Mr. Lorry.”
“I’ve got some clean clothes at J.J.’s. You can take me there.”
“You’ll wake up the entire household at this hour,” he said.
“I know where the spare key is. I can sneak in.” Danica’s wheels turned. “In fact, I can stay there with her and let my parents know time got away from us, and I’m going to spend the night.”
A shaky smile formed on her face as she turned to look at him.
Just like he had the day she crashed and burned on her new bike, a significant wipeout, scraping her knees and hands when she was eight, he dried her face of tears, only this time he used his big hand instead of his Star Wars t-shirt. “All right. I’ll take you to Jillian’s, but I want to know why you didn’t call someone to pick you up, instead of choosing to walk in this rain?”
She nodded, not wanting to talk about her bad judgment, but agreeing to if it meant she could avoid the trouble waiting for her at home.
There it was, his brotherly protective mode.
Danica knew, without a shadow of a doubt, what she always did. She loved a boy who saw her as nothing but a little sister, causing a new pain to pop up, but not in her head. No, this hurt pummelled her, causing a desperate yearning deep in her breaking heart.