Choosing You (Jade #1)
By Allie Everhart
As soon as I start running, I feel the calmness I was craving. I get lost in the repetition of my movement around the oval track and I lose all sense of time. After a while the sun is really hot and I realize that it’s probably way past noon. I take a break and sit at the side of the track, completely soaked in sweat.
“Have a good run?”
I turn to see Garret walking toward me in navy athletic shorts and a gray t-shirt. It looks like he’s been running, too, although he’s not nearly as sweaty as me.
“It was all right,” I say. “I don’t usually run on a track.”
“You should’ve come with me. I ran a couple miles around campus.”
I shake my head, sweat dripping off me like a wet dog. “That’s not far enough. I usually run 8 or 9 miles.”
He sits down next to me. As in right next to me. Can he not see how sweaty I am? I’m sure he can smell me from 10 feet away. I can’t even stand the smell of myself.
“Eight or 9 miles? You must be a serious runner. I’m a swimmer. I only run to improve my cardio for the pool. I do a couple miles at a normal pace and then I do sprints on the track.”
So that’s why he has that body. He’s a swimmer. That explains the broad shoulders and narrow waist V shape he’s got going on.
“Go ahead.” I point to the empty track. “It’s all yours.”
“Why don’t you do them with me?” he asks in a challenging tone. “Let’s race.”
I never turn down a challenge. Well, sometimes I do, but it’s rare. “I’m a distance runner, not a sprinter. But a distance runner can beat a swimmer any day. This should be easy.” I stand up, stretching my legs which are stiffening up after my short break.
“You think you can beat me, huh?” He stretches as well. “So what’s with the insults? You don’t like swimmers?”
I shrug. “Swimmers are okay. I just don’t think they have to work that hard. I mean, the water makes you basically weightless. It’s easy to go fast when you don’t have to drag your body weight around. You don’t get that benefit with running.”
His jaw basically drops to the ground. I’ve just insulted both him and something that’s near and dear to his heart. Apparently this has never happened to him before. Pretty boy must be used to only getting compliments.
“Are you shitting me? Did you just say swimmers don’t work hard?”
“Yeah, why?” For some reason, I’m really loving insulting this guy.
“Game on, Iowa girl. Get your ass in position.”
He sets himself up in lane one of the track. I take my sweet time walking over to lane two, yawning just for added effect.
“Do you need a head start?” I ask him, stretching my arms behind my back.
“Damn, you’re annoying.” He smiles when he says it. “We do one lap around. Ready? Three, two, one. Go!”
I take off down the lane, my eyes straight ahead pretending he’s not there. I quickly round the first end of the track and hit the straightaway. I imagine myself running far away from that place. Running back home and seeing Frank and Ryan again. I round the next end and keep running.
“Stop! We’re done!” I hear Garret’s voice and slow down, noticing that I’m already halfway through a second time around the track. I finish the loop and meet up with him again. He’s bent over, hands on his knees trying to catch his breath.
“Okay, I admit it. You’re fast,” he says, panting as sweat drips off his face.
“Fast? That was my normal pace.”
He glances up at me, trying to figure out if I’m kidding. Then he stands up straight and wipes the sweat off his forehead. “Remind me never to do that again.” He walks over to the edge of the track and gets his water bottle. “You should sign up for cross country or track. You’re really fast.”
“Nah. I ran cross country in high school. Now I just run when I’m stressed.” It’s true, but I wish I hadn’t said it. It makes me sound weak and I hate sounding weak, especially around a guy.
He puts his phone away. “Can I come in? I’m kind of a target out here in the hall.”
“A target for what?” I ask, moving aside to let him in.
“Girls fondling me.” A smirk crosses his face as he waits for my reaction.
“Please tell me you’re kidding. Because if you’re not, then I need to start upping the insults again to bring you back down to earth.”
He’s trying hard to keep a straight face. “You saw Ava just now. Girls just can’t help themselves. What can I say?”
I shake my head and start rummaging through my drawer for a shirt. “I can help myself. I’m completely immune to whatever you think you’ve got going on over there.”
“Yeah, I know,” he mumbles. “You need some help?”
“Why? You think I can’t dress myself?”
He stands next to me, staring down at the open drawer. “Everything in here is black.”
“Yeah.” I close the drawer and open the one beneath it. “And everything in here is white.”
“Where are your other shirts?”
“That’s it. Well, I have a few in the closet.”
He walks over to look. “You only wear black or white?”
“Uh, yeah. Are you just getting that? You’ve seen me how many times and you’ve never noticed that?”
“Huh. I guess not.”
“It’s just easier that way. Black and white go with everything.” I take a black t-shirt from the drawer.
“You should wear purple sometime.”
I almost choke laughing. “Purple? Are you joking?”
“What’s wrong with purple?”
“I’ve never worn anything purple in my life. I’ve never even considered it. It’s one of those weird colors that old ladies wear.”
“Lots of people wear purple. And with your green eyes, you would look great in purple.”
“I hate my green eyes. The last thing I want to do is draw attention to them.”
He comes closer and lifts my chin up with his hand. “How could you hate your eyes? They’re the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. Why do you think I’m always staring at them?”
“Yeah, that’s hilarious.” I push him back. “Now get out of here so I can change. Wait in the hall. I’ll be like two seconds.”
“Jade, you know I’m not safe out there.” He says it as if he’s really in danger. “Did you see all those girls running around in towels and robes?”
I roll my eyes. “I swear. The insults are coming, my friend. So tell your ego to get ready.”
He stands there.
“You’re really not leaving? Fine. Then turn around.”
I change into my jeans and black shirt. “Okay, I’m done.”
He inspects me. “Yeah. You definitely need some color. The black and white thing is getting old.”
“Well, I’m not planning on buying new clothes so you’ll have to get over it.” I search through my desk drawer for money. “How much are movie tickets? I haven’t been to a movie in years, so I have no clue. Six bucks? Seven?”
“Don’t worry about it. Let’s go.”
“Garret, you’re not paying.”
“You just saved me from being man-handled by Ava. That’s at least worth the price of a movie ticket. Maybe even some popcorn, too.”
Why did you write Choosing You?
About a year ago I started reading some New Adult books and I liked them so much I couldn’t stop! At the time I wasn’t even considering writing my own New Adult book because I was still writing my Young Adult series, The Samantha Project, (written under a different name). That series has some romance in it and I found that I really liked writing those scenes. I liked all the emotion that came through when the main character was dealing with her conflicted feelings over the two guys in the book. So when I finished that series, just for fun, I wrote an emotion-packed scene in which a girl in college is struggling to deal with issues in her relationship with a guy as well as issues from her past. After writing that scene, I instantly connected with Jade, the main character. The story took off from there and that scene ended up being the opening scene in Choosing You.
What else can you tell us about Choosing You that’s not in the description/blurb?
Jade and Garret take time to get to know each other in this book. There’s no insta-love. In a lot of the books I read, the guy and girl meet and are in love the next day. I didn’t want that for these characters. I wanted the relationship to build over time. Jade and Garret are definitely attracted to each other from the very beginning but they’re not in love right away. They’re friends first and Jade has to learn to trust Garret before she’ll move the relationship forward. This is more like real life, but it also creates tension and anticipation for the reader which is good because it keeps the story moving forward.
Another thing to mention is that I really wanted this book/series to have a strong female as the main character. Jade is tough and resilient. She lived through a difficult childhood and came out ahead. But sometimes her tough exterior is used to hide the emotions that she needs to deal with, and that’s where Garret comes in. He’s the only person who’s able to get her to deal with things and express the emotions she tries so hard to hide.
Why did you decide to include a mystery in the book? Why not just straight romance?
I wanted to make the story run deeper than just the romance. My YA series has lots of twists and turns, suspense, conspiracies, secrets, etc. I like all that stuff. I find it fun to read about. The Jade Series doesn’t have all of that, but it has some of it. There’s a mystery that runs through the whole series that involves both Jade and Garret. And as with my other series, there are some unexpected twists and suspenseful moments.
Win a $15 Amazon Giftcard!
Check here for chances to win!