Tag Archives: Book Reviews

50 Shades of haters: The warranted Review for E.L James’s work

I’m a little excited. When I read the Fifty Shades trilogy the first time round, it was pre-goodreads, so I never got a chance to review it, and doing reviews in the far-past tense are so hard to do, so I might make this one count for the whole series.

Okay, Confession Number One: Christian Grey got me pregnant.

I started reading this when I was halfway through writing Heads Or Tails, in early 2012- I think March. the first thing that struck me was that she’d used the surname ‘Grey’ which was the same as the protagonist I was writing then, the second was that she overused the words: ‘Oh My’ and ‘Inner Goddess’ so often that I was ready to beat my head against the mirror until my bathroom became the red room of pain… the third was that Oh My, did my Inner Goddess like Christian! Turns out, hubby liked the things that Christian did too and boom- pregnant!

Confession Number Two: I hated Fifty Shades Of Grey.

It took me soooo long to get onto the Grey train. I was hitting the emergency brake loudly- and on Facebook every few pages. ‘Oh, the writing is awful!’ ‘Oh, I don’t know if the sex scene are worth the inner dialogue!’ ‘Oh if this was my man, I’d beat him into submission!’ It was painful for me, and my first erotic read- ever-so it didn’t go down so well. The truth is, if I hadn’t bought it on audio ‘just to see’ I wouldn’t have turned the pages.
But thirty bucks is a lot of money to pay for a story so I listened on, updating my FB constantly with a stream of jackass ‘I am so much better than this’ posts that implied superiority, and then- she left him. She LEFT him! I couldn’t believe it. Not only that the heroine had actually managed to save herself, but that it hit me in the gut like a fist. I’d JUST started to glimpse the man inside the beast and she was walking out the door and she kept walking and I was crying- and I was hooked. Absolutely hooked. Never before or since have I read/ watched a break-up scene that hit me harder than this one did- every time they almost separated too. It was gut-wrenching. I didn’t like him, but it broke my heart. How weird is that? How cool to be forced to feel?

For me, this book is the reason why I try not to DNF anything. You never know what you could miss out on, if you give up, or if you let hype talk you out of something, or try to make up your mind before the ‘The End.’ I couldn’t get my hands on books 2 and 3 fast enough and oh my GOD, did I love book two! When he drops to his knees… that is some powerful shit. I was riveted, absolutely riveted. I was pregnant by the time I finished it, loaned hubby the audiobooks and between us, we must have listened to that trilogy 5 times.

Confession Number Three: 50 Shades got me pregnant again

A few weeks ago, after having invested 6 solid months in theatre (my ultimate goal is to write a musical) I came out of an audition feeling pretty disillusioned and knowing that the time I was spending on it wasn’t worth the time I wasn’t getting to write. I turned down the part I got and came home with a copy of the 50 Shades DVD and a bottle of wine, choosing downtime for the first time in months and a couple of hours later- pregnant! Now I’ve got no choice but to write for the next 10 months or so 🙂
That strikes me as hilarious because reading Fifty the first time lead me to think it was okay to have real, graphic but sparse sex scenes in my own books, which had been what was coming between me and agents who wanted my mermaid series to be YA for it to sell. Well, I stuck with my gut and the book I released got my three Beta readers pregnant too. I’ve had heaps of messages from people saying that my sex scenes have revved up their sex drives and have improved their marriages or gotten them pregnant, so I think the chain reaction is neat and proves that a story does not have to be perfectly written to have a perfect effect on the reader and to have a positive impact on their lives. Nor does it have to be hard-core porn to be arousing.

This series did up my sex drive. Maybe it had something to do with me turning 30 around the same time, but in the past, pregnancy had made me less amorous, not more, and the effects of 50 Shades on my libido and my husband’s sudden desire to send cute e-mails and text messages and look good for me is astonishing, really. Sorry if that’s an over-share, but books are so much more to me, than just a story. They’re little pages of dreams- they make you think of the house you want, the places you want to go, the relationship you want to have- especially with yourself- and I think what 50 Shades lacks in originality, it makes up for in impact for those who connect with it.

And what do women want? A man like Christian Grey. Not like him in every way of course- but someone imperfect and flawed who can knock us on our asses all the same, and will fall to their knees beside us to change because they want US just as badly.

That’s the magic. That’s the hook, that’s the point- There isn’t a woman in this world, hater of the series or not, who wouldn’t kill to be the one to bring this egotistical bastard to his knees. And the fact that the girl who does it isn’t excessively beautiful, a genius, a walking nymph, a fashionista, outgoing, world-wise or with a type-A personality is reason number two as to why it’s so relatable. It gives us hope.

It take a lot for a book to have an impact on me right now, and I’m certain that many people can empathise. In this world where you can easily read 10 fluff novels for free a week on a Kindle, grabbing your attention and making you want to slow down and bask in a story is a pretty tall order. And it’s a really tall order for me because like Ana, I’m one for the classics. My favourite books are Twilight Eyes, (Koontz) Gone With The Wind and The Godfather, so it takes a lot to make me turn the page- but this book got me, and whether it had a profound effect on it’s readers in a positive or negative way, there’s no forgetting it, and that makes it worth itself.

And here’s a little known fact: Fifty Shades wasn’t obligated to be better than any other book! And the fact that it came out publicly announcing that it was a re-hashed fan fiction and intentionally knocking off Twilight was disclaimer enough for people who consider themselves to be above such things to avert their eyes. But did they? Nope, they inhaled it and spat out the font afterwards like it tasted bad and this is really starting to get on my nerves now that I see people who disliked the first three books going out of their way to read Grey, even if he was the reason why they hated the first three.

Christian Grey is apparently abusive, and I get why people are turned off him for that- but once again, he’s not the worst offender in erotic fiction. Hell, he’s not even close! Compared to other books… does he imprison her? Brainwash her? Share her? Humiliate her? Belittle her? Nope, he tries to get her to eat a lot and this does NOT a monster make, so it’s illogical that this is the book people choose to make the yardstick for bad writing. Captive in the dark on the other hand, OMFG! Now there’s an asshole! There’s NO rape in Fifty Shades. There’s no abuse that isn’t asked for. None of the bossing around actually takes and there isn’t a thing Christian does that he doesn’t make right by the end, so the claims that it’s encoring domestic abuse and submission are just ridiculous. If anything, it’s about a woman breaking a man of such dangerous habits, so these accusations are clearly made by people who haven’t read one single other erotic book ever, or are pretending that letting a werewolf share you with the rest of his pack is okay, ‘cos it’s fantasy…nope, sorry wrong.

Most of the reasons why others don’t like it are the reasons why I do. It’s porn for people who can’t stomach hardcore, storyline-less porn. It’s BDSM for lightweights who don’t particularly want to immerse themselves in a world of depravity. It’s a romance without too many hearts or flowers. It’s unrealistic, unoriginal, over-long and in many ways, factually inaccurate but does that make it wrong? Absolutely not. I am so sick of feeling judged every time I read a negative review. The implications that it is stupid, pointless and a waste of time is pretty offensive to those of us who disagree. Reader’s private relationships with their favourite books are special things to them. Yeah, we can handle seeing other people who don’t like it, but this brings me to confession Number Four:

Fifty Shades Of Grey has made me want to be a better writer, reader and reviewer.

I am so embarrassed by the way that I mocked this when I first read it. Oh, all of my criticisms were bang-on and I stand by them (her editor seriously needed to red-pen about thirty ‘Oh-My’s’ ) and every single book could have stood to be about 10,000 words shorter… but the mistakes don’t make this book a write-off. People who criticise the writing style probably shouldn’t be swimming around in the erotic section in the first place, because aside from Tiffany Reiz’s ‘The Siren’ and ‘Captive In The Dark’ I’m yet to see a well-written novel with more than 5 sex scenes in it. (And for the record, as well-written as the other two were they depressed the HELL out of me- different strokes for different folks! let’s STOP the hate.)

And while we’re on that note- 50 Shades has been circulated the most widely and has received a LOT of publicity, but it no way is it one of the worst written books in history. I could roll off the name of 15 attempts at erotic fiction on my Kindle which read as though they’d been drafted in crayon compared to this- and judging by the cover art and sample of others, there are easily 10,000 that are worse in this genre alone- and a lot of them are getting five stars while 50 shades gets one by the same reviewers and it makes no sense. Take note peops: E.L James does not even come close to being the poster child for bad writing, so why is she copping all the flak? Why do we feel the need to make an example of her? Why do people who hated the first three go out of their way to read the fourth and torture themselves, just so they can mock it? Is that why we’re reading… to make ourselves feel superior to others? People doing that obviously need to step back from the books for a while and get a bit of perspective, because it speaks more about the books and authors that they love, than it does about E.L James’s ability to tell a story. You’re bored- try movie reviewing for awhile, because you’ve lost that lovin’ feelin when it comes to the written word if you’re going out of your way to hate.

And authors who do this- especially Indies- don’t even get me started, People in glass houses with shoddy grammar (like myself) and all that… Ripping another person’s work apart implies that we do better. Well, read your own one-star reviews, because none of us have the right to judge anyone until we’ve out-sold that person’s work and have gotten glowing reviews.

God, writing is something I wake up and have to do and I know that I’m far from perfect. I’d sooner die than spend more time picking apart someone else’s baby, when I could be writing, and I’d certainly never try and get attention by mocking someone else’s work!

That being said, I do thank the authors who go out of their way to hate the written word. It helps me eliminate a lot of potentially soulless books from my TBR.

So I’m not saying that people have no right to put this novel down. I’m saying, it doesn’t warrant the hate it’s gotten, and nor do it’s readers deserve to be made to feel as though they’re without taste for liking I, which is how a lot of us feel.

For me, Fifty Shades made me want to fall in love again. It made me want to have great sex. It gave me the push to self-publish, and even if all it did was inspire thousands of other potential author’s (like me) who think that they could do better to go ahead and put themselves out there. or drafted hundreds of lonely wives and mothers back into the reading well- or maybe into it for the first time- then it’s made a contribution to the literary world, and demands the basic level of respect that all books should be granted.

Because they’re books. For people who love reading enough, there need not be another reason to justify its existence or to pardon its shortcomings.


Review: to All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. 5 Stars!

I started out reading this book with a knowing snicker that the author has wiped clear off my face. I admit it- I jumped to a conclusion and mentally mocked a book that’s probably going to be a novel that actually sticks with me forever.

What a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL story. Ahhh Jenny Han you have stolen my heart!

When I began this, two words came to mind: ‘Little Women’ and I will say that even now that I’ve finished, I do still suspect that the author may be a Louisa May Alcott fan because so much of the premise of ‘To all The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ is reminiscent of Little Women.

There are only three sisters in this one and they are Korean and modern, but they have a very similar bond those in the afore mentioned story and a few of the plot elements are the same: the boy next door they all fall in love with in their own way who ends up with the eldest sister, the brave, quirky middle child who is more Anne Shirley than Jan Brady, and the hot-headed, mischievous little sister manipulating the eldest ones and every situation behind the scenes. This kid is an absolute handful and if she were my sister well, I would have gone on a cupcake-baking strike for what she does in the beginning of this story. It’s not as bad as burning something precious in a fire, but it is akin to it by modern standards.

The sisters have a lovely bond but off the bat, I’m not the biggest fan of Margo. She’s just a bit bleh in the way that little Kitty is a bit overbearing. Margo is the oldest who has been the mother figure in the home since their biological mother died, and she’s leaving now to go to college in Scotland and leaving the middle sister in charge. Not only that, but she’s leaving the boyfriend behind too.

Look I don’t know if it’s possible to actually dole out spoilers with a book like this that everyone won’t see coming already, but Lara has always been in love with her big sister’s boyfriend and once the sister leaves well, you can imagine what notions occur to her.

It’s pretty predictable but I will say that that’s where the predictability ends.

Basically, Lara has written five love-letters in her life to silently farewell a boy once she’s over her crush on them, but instead of sending them to the boy, she’d held onto them. It’s cute and it’s something I have done so right off the bat, I feel like this character is a bit of a soul-mate of mine. But, shock and horror, those letters end up finding their way into the boys hands and though this probably could have been played out with a bit more mortification involved (come on! they wouldn’t all take it so well!) it sets up an exciting beginning to a story that DOES NOT FAIL TO DELIVER.

I love how this novel develops. The things that you think are unexpected are the things that you end up hoping for without realising that you’re hoping for them, and the things that happen that you see coming hit you square in the gut even though you see them coming. I once had a very nice reviewer use the word ‘Tummy Butterflies’ to describe one of my own novels and I have to say that I felt like I’d feasted on butterflies once I got into this. I just love love LOVE this heroine, and I love the male characters and Peter ohmigosh he’s my new underage sexy book boyfriend. he reminds me like a modern day take on Gilbert Blythe when he was young and clumsy with his ego.

This story is just beautiful and moving but never too shocking or too predictable. Some of the ‘touching’ moments between the sisters made me want to dry-retch a little but I have an incredibly sweet sister of my own so I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to be so tightly bonded. Unfortunately for me, there are seven years between my older sister and I, and sixteen between my eldest and me so we barely got to live together, let alone go through puberty together and I applaud the author for opting for sweet, rather than bitchy for the dynamic between all three of them.

This story isn’t over and I love that. I love how it ended, not a cliffhanger but with the promise of more, and I love reading a novel from a Korean girl’s point of view because it’s an absolute first for me. I loved the writing, the pacing, the surprises, the way it made me feel for her, the way it made me feel for everyone involved really, and I’ll be getting book 2 the second I can.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved before isn’t modern or risky, but it doesn’t infantalize teenagers either and I admire how a story can be so sweet and yet so current. Sex is mentioned a lot but never taken too far, there are a few cuss words involved that were used in the perfect way, and it forces you to care for people without shoving it down your throat.

Read if you love the old Judy Blume and Caroline B Cooney novels of the 70’s to 90’s, read if you’re a teen, read if you’re an adult- just read and have your heart stolen 🙂

FREE Zombie Apocalypse Adventure!

Zombie Apocalypse adventure palpitations is also free on Amazon this weekend!


‘I do not give out 5 stars all willy nilly but in this case if I could I would reward this book with about 30+ stars. Five for each genre it dominates. ‘ -JJ

‘Witty, snarky, funny and sexy!,’ by Lisa Jane

‘This book was spectacular. I really enjoyed it. I had so much trouble putting it down’ Aleena Hope Thompson

‘I LOVED the story right from the start, LOVED the main characters, LOVED the gore, LOVED the sexy scenes, LOVED the suspense, LOVED the humour, LOVED IT ALL! This is the first zombie book I have read and, WOW, I was so impressed. Hooked right from the first chapter and I cannot wait for the next book.’- Rebecca Bollard


FREE Dark fantasy today for Kindle


FREE Kindle download on Amazon.com this weekend only!

This epic dark fantasy romance set at a travelling circus, full of demons!

US link http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00O3QE7LA
AU Link https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00O3QE7LA

*Warning contains mature content not suitable for those under 18*

Excerpt from The Harlequin Doll

‘Thank you for agreeing to meet with me, Jarrah. I know these are quite unconventional circumstances and so I appreciate the trouble you have gone through already, and the trouble you obviously intend to take on, if we can come to an arrangement today.’
His brother’s voice was even when he answered: ‘Being asked to visit a beautiful woman in such a romantic place is no trouble at all, your highness.’
There was a breathy laugh then. ‘I see that my memory of your countenance has not been exaggerated in my mind by time.’ She sighed. ‘But I must say, I am surprised that you are the one the village has selected to represent them. I was certain that you would have been married off some time ago…’
‘Unfortunately for me, too many women suspected the exact same thing,’ Jarrah answered winsomely, ‘so I stood back and decided to let them pick a bride on my behalf.’
Archer snorted, thinking he’d give his entire quiver of arrows just to be close enough to see the thagarni’s response to THAT.
‘And how has that gone?’ there was amusement in the queen’s voice.
‘Well, It’s been four years since I came of age and they’re still squabbling about it…’ a low, male laugh. ‘But it’s an argument I’d be delighted to see you join- and win.’
The queen sigh was more than a little audible. ‘Oh dear… you haven’t changed a bit, have you?’
‘Not true, your highness,’ Jarrah said, ‘I’ve gotten much taller.’
Archer couldn’t help but grin. His brother was an ass, but at least he had the confidence to be utterly himself regardless of where he was.
‘So I see.’ There was a faint rustling noise. ‘And have you grown in other ways, Jarrah Garibaldis? Are you kind? Are you patient? Are you honest and righteous?’
‘If I answer no to the honest and righteous ones, will that admission make them so?’
‘No,’ the queen said. ‘But I will respect you more for it.’
‘Then no- I can be quite dishonest and I have been known to scheme… but I believe that I am kind and considering that I have refrained from marrying until I could set eyes on you again, I suppose I am also patient.’
Oh brother…THDpromo2

Extract from The Harlequin Doll SK Munt


Excerpt from The Harlequin Doll S.K Munt

‘Mr Harlequin!’

The entire room seemed to shift to watch a girl in a sexy red corset, French knickers and blood-coloured leather boots run onto the mat, her Betty Boop eyes wide with anxiety on her powdered face. ‘Mr Harlequin! You can’t start the show yet!’

‘What?!’ Jarrah’s bark made half of the room flinch, Elle included. The fury twisting his features was as authentic as Elle’s father’s retraction-request face. ‘Why ever not?!’

The girl, who looked like an extra from Rocky Horror only sexier, leaned on the Ringmaster’s side and waved her fingers to the house. There were a few chuckles and quite a few more wolf-whistles when she faced the front and revealed the fact that her corset only reached her ribs, and that her voluptuous chest was bare above it. Elle’s hand went to her lips. Nudity in the first minute? Were they going to have an orgy for the finale?

‘It’s your brother!’ she cried, holding up her hands comically. ‘He’s supposed to be on after Amelia’s knife-throwing act, but he’s getting a blow job out the back from some groupie, and told me to tell you that she’s a virgin, has no idea what she’s doing- and that he may need an extra fifteen minute buffer to get her on track!’

The laughter was slow to start, but those who laughed did so heartily while those who realised they’d underestimated the term ‘Risqué’ on the bill stared at the stage; silent and agog.

‘I don’t care if he’s got the Dallas Cowgirls back there- you tell him to get backstage and warming up, or I’ll throttle him!’

‘I’m not doing that!’ The girl stepped back, shaking her head. ‘No way!’

Jarrah looked fit to be tied. ‘What? I’m your employer!’ His acrylic fangs affected his voice with a slight lisp. ‘You’ll do as I say!’

But Shelby put her hands on her hips and lifted her ski-bump nose primly. ‘Archer is my employer as well, Jarrah… and he just offered me the promotion of a lifetime if I stall for him.’

‘And that would be?’

Shelby pressed her folded hands to her cheeks and smiled dreamily out at the crowd. ‘He said that if the virgin can’t learn on her feet, that he’ll let me finish the job!’ She cocked her hip to the laughing audience and shimmied sexily. ‘Don’t you just love overtime?’

Beside her, Anya groaned and buried her face in her hands, but Elle couldn’t help but giggle at the bawdy, fluffy banter. She was about to lean forward to hear what Jarrah’s response was going to be over the resounding laughter, when the ringmaster reached out, took the girl’s neck in his massive hands- and wrenched it until her head snapped sickeningly to the left and beyond. The crack was so loud in the stunned silence that Elle thought she was going to black out, and when the ringmaster released her body, letting it slump lifelessly to the ground beneath his feet, bile rose in the back of her throat.

What? What? WHAT? That was FAKE right? By why is her head like that? Oh god, is she holding her breath? She actually looks dead!

‘Like I was saying…’ The ringmaster motioned to the two leather-clad clowns waiting on the edge of the ring and they rushed forward and began to drag the body away by the feet after their boss had grandly stepped over it. ‘I don’t like it when people ignore the rules, and I don’t like being interrupted.’ He tilted the brim of his hat to the crowd with the chrome carved skull at the end of his walking stick, and winked to his astonished, captive audience. ‘So don’t smoke, don’t touch anything, don’t molest the staff, don’t take photographs and whatever you do… don’t offer my brother sexual favours because you never know where he’s been and if you did, you wouldn’t like it,’ he lowered his stick. ‘Oh and turn your cell phones off people- no one on Facebook actually cares about you.’ He swung his walking stick and grinned. ‘Now… Enjoy the show!’

The lights went out again and this time, chills crawled across Elle’s skin. One blink, one flicker, and the stage was there again and Jarrah Harlequin had vanished into an actual puff of smoke.

Okay no seriously… HOW?

Excerpt from unchained Melody S.K Munt

Excerpt from unchained Melody S.K Munt

Ryan had showered while Meredith had been kissing Hunter good night and was now wearing black track pants with white stripes down the sides and no shirt as he stood in the centre of the room and sculled a bottle of water until it concaved with a crack. He threw the empty receptacle carelessly to the floor, looked up at Hunter and said: ‘Hey man. That only took forever. I’ve made your bed up though and there’s a fresh towel in the bathroom when you want it…’ He threw himself down on his own four poster bed and picked up a book: Don Quixote. Hunter knew that because he’d seen it on the table in the music room upstairs earlier. ‘I’m probably just gonna read until I pass out.’
Hunter said nothing in response, watching Ryan settle comfortably into the centre of his bed, his nose already buried in the book. Water was shining like blood on his damp hair in the light, giving him the impression of being someone’s master or vampire lord, not a seventeen year old kid with mummy and daddy issues. Hunter resented him for that- for being so flippant, so fucking cool in the face of everything all the time. For reading a book with a title Hunter wouldn’t attempt to pronounce out loud. No one talked shit about Ryan. Callie was a slut, and Hunter was a wannabe rock-star who should have been a boy scout instead; but Ryan Weaver was Ryan Weaver and had never, a day in his life, tried to be anyone else or had been expected to be.
Hunter leaned against the wall, crossed his arms and stared harder, waiting to see how long it would take for Ryan to feel a burning sensation between his eyes.
It took four seconds.
Ryan glanced at him, then turned back to the book. ‘Geez, how wasted are you? I’m not going to carry you to the shower, man.’ Hunter pressed his lips tightly, his scowl intensifying naturally in the face of that remark. Ryan sighed and put his book down on his chest, ‘Okay what? Did you drop acid or something?’
Hunter stared.
Ryan looked at him then, and after a few beats, a wearied look came over his face. ‘Fuck.’
Hunter raised an eyebrow.
Ryan sighed and sat up, tossing the book to the bedspread and resting his elbows on his knees, with his head in his hands. ‘She told you, didn’t she?’ Hunter tapped the side of his nose, afraid that if he opened his mouth now, nothing but the F-word come out. And he owed Ryan the chance to be heard out before he threw him into a few walls. ‘Look, I’m sorry.’ Ryan regarded him with an earnest expression, his drooping gait reminding Ryan of a scolded dog. ‘It wasn’t intentional. She was asleep, right there on the couch next to me, it was dark and raining, I was lonely, she was beautiful and smelled like fucking flowers…’ he exhaled. ‘But nothing happened.’
‘Because lightning struck?’ Hunter asked coldly.
‘Yeah.’ Ryan snorted. ‘I think the Gods were telling me to back off.’
‘Someone had to.’
Ryan’s eyes flashed, looking a bit like muted lightning themselves for a moment. But then he sighed, flopping back on the bed and bringing his hands to his face. ‘Look I know it was stupid okay?’ Gavin Rossdale’s husky voice making lyrical anguish to ‘Glycerine’ filled the room and suited to match both of their moods perfectly. ‘But I told you weeks ago that I was beginning to suffer in her company and what did you do?’ He sat up on his elbows and glared at him. ‘You pissed off. You left us alone almost every day for a month Hunter! It’s a bit late for you to lecture me for breaking the Three Musketeer code when you were off sticking your musket elsewhere!’
‘Okay, for starters, I haven’t stuck anybody with a musket.’ Hunter pushed off the wall, holding up a finger. ‘Secondly, I’m not just pissed off that you risked our friendship with Callie because you had a hard-on, but because you then asked her not to tell me about what happened. To keep a secret from me. How is that keeping us a trio, Ryan? Since when are secrets even a thing with us? What else haven’t you told me?’
‘Nothing!’ Ryan bounced to the balls of his feet, looking squarely at Hunter. ‘That’s it, okay? I almost kissed Cal. Almost. We were interrupted by thunder, and the way she answered that little Truth Or Dare round robin tonight tells me that she might have waved a red flag even if we hadn’t been- because you’re the one she’s imagined kissing anyway, not me!’
But Hunter held up his hand. ‘She was full of shit, Ry. I don’t know what her real answer was, but she basically told me that she made it up for the simple fact that I was the only one of the three options that wasn’t available and therefore, wouldn’t get any ideas.’
‘Oh bullshit. She told you that because she doesn’t want you to know how much she really likes you.’ Ryan turned away and kicked his rubbish can aggressively. ‘Everyone knows it Hunter. Why do you think Sacha asked you what she did? About why you haven’t kissed Cal? Everyone assumes that you two have hooked up because clearly, there’s something between you guys that has been excluding me for a while!’
‘She doesn’t want me.’ Hunter snapped, the words causing him actual anguish. ‘She had her chance but she-’
Ryan’s head whipped around. ‘What?! What chance? When?’ Hunter cringed. Everything inside him cringed just as everything inside Ryan began to straighten. His mate started laughing- actually laughing!
‘Oh no way- you’ve tried kissing her too?’ He loped towards Hunter with a half-amused, half-hateful grin on his face. ‘And I’m the one keeping secrets?!’ He poked Hunter in the centre of the chest. ‘When? Come on, Marks, fess up! I can see in your eyes that I’m fucking right!’
Hunter slapped his finger away. ‘I just told you man, and it happened two hours ago. What was I supposed to do? Run inside with Meredith’s hand in mine, curl up in your lap and sob because I tried to take Callie up on her offer and she actually ran away after literally pushing Meredith into my arms?’
Ryan’s brow smoothed out. ‘She did?’
Hunter nodded. ‘I was drunk. I only meant to go after her, to ask why she’d never mentioned the whole virginity thing to me-’
‘Because it excited you to hear it-’ Ryan pointed out.
‘Yeah well, fuck I’m not made of stone!’ Hunter stepped back, throwing his hands in the air. ‘Anyway I had her up against the wall, and she reacted like I had leprosy, told me that she’d exaggerated the wanting me thing, because she didn’t want you to think that she wanted you, or for Reece to think he had a shot in hell, period.’ He sagged back against the wall, feeling depleted in every cell. He shrugged. ‘And then she bailed.’
Ryan stared at him, his gaze shifting from one of Hunter’s eyes to the other quickly, as though searching for a tell that Hunter was now lying. But Hunter returned the suspicious look with a defeated look of his own, and held up his hands again.
‘She doesn’t want either of us, Ry. She’s our friend. And now, she’s this close to running to the hills, because we’re crossing lines all over the shop since she got boobs!’
Ryan turned away. ‘Fuck! This is bullshit!’ He bounced lightly on the balls of his bare feet. ‘And it’s all my fault, of course! Why did I have her over? I’ve known this was coming. I didn’t plan to do it, but I knew there was a chance I might!’
‘You did?’ Hunter asked, stiffening again. ‘Why? How often have you thought about it?’
‘How often?’ Ryan leaned over and pulled up the spiral, five-subject notebook he used to write lyrics in. Loose leaves of paper were stuffed between the attached pages and Ryan pulled them out, throwing them above his head like he was in a parade. ‘This often!’ Dozens and dozens of pages took flight and floated to the ground. He paused, peered in the dim light at the title of one, shook his head and threw it into the air above his head. ‘Sun-Kissed Snow White!’ He pulled out another fistful. ‘Fisted heart!’ He reached for another and once again, flung it behind him. ‘I want to be inside you Callie!’ He shot Hunter a foolish look. ‘Okay that one was never meant to be seen…and they all suck anyways!’
Hunter snorted. ‘Can I read it?’
‘Could you read, with a fist down your throat?’
Hunter laughed, and then Ryan chuckled.
‘I’m sorry.’ He turned to Hunter, his arms hanging limply at his sides. ‘I don’t want to be Callie’s boyfriend, well, at least I don’t think I do. And even if I did, I wouldn’t risk what we all have together by trying to keep her to myself.’
‘Well that’s a good thing,’ Hunter said. ‘Because I’d kill you before I let you take such a risk. Just like I expect you to snap my neck if I ever try anything like I tried tonight again.’
Ryan rubbed his temples with his hands. ‘Yeah well… how are we both going to make it to grad alive then, Hunter? Because I can’t even look at her without wanting to throw her down on the nearest surface. You’ve been off and so she sang with me and holy crap…’ He sank back down onto his bed. ‘Holy crap- that girl can sing me hard…. That husky thing…’
‘I know.’ Hunter was actually jealous that Callie had sung with Ryan. He sat down on Ryan’s desk. ‘She’s changed, hasn’t she? It’s not just the physical thing. She’s like… more alive or something.’
Ryan scratched behind his ear. ‘Yep. And whether she knows it or not, everything she’s doing is sexy; the clothes, the dancing-’
‘That thing with the tights!’ Hunter added.
Ryan groaned. ‘I almost stopped living.’
‘Okay so we can’t help but look,’ Hunter surmised, ‘but we just need to agree to keep our hands and lips to ourselves.’
‘By not drinking around her- ever again.’ Ryan agreed.
‘And not walking her anywhere or driving her anywhere alone.’
‘Which means you can’t miss any more practices and you need to stop being a shitty best friend in general so I’m not stuck with her by myself so much.’
‘Agreed.’ Hunter conceded. ‘But it also means, that we either need to get her a boyfriend, or get you a girlfriend as a distraction.’
Ryan screwed up his nose. ‘That seems like a dog thing to do.’
‘You wanna be a rock star?’ Hunter reminded him. ‘Well you better start treating girls like groupies and get some of that frustration out of your system before you break down our system completely.’