Reading Between the Lines

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Reading Between the Lines is the fourth book in The Rosewoods series. You can pick it up at your favorite retailer.

Excerpt from Reading Between the Lines by Katrina Abbott.

Coming down. c u in 5.”

I texted Jared back a smilie face and put my phone back down on the table.

He on his way down?” Dave asked.

“Yeah,” I said.

And then there was another long, awkward pause. The ticking of the clock on the wall was deafening against the silence that crackled between us, ticking off moments that felt like eons.

It had been almost a week since the masquerade ball, and things had seemed okay between Dave and I, although I guess we hadn’t actually seen each other since the dance. But I hadn’t had any more heart-to-hearts with Emmie and she’d seemed happier than she had been, so I figured all was going well with them.

So when I’d arrived at Westwood tonight to meet Dave so we could go over our plan for the Thanksgiving food drive, (chauffeured by the dean, because awkward seemed to be the theme of the day) I’d come to the student council room, assuming we had moved past that whole bed thing. I was officially dating Jared now and Dave had seemed cool with that; I mean, he’d practically set us up. So I’d thought we were good.

I’d thought wrong.

And now I had less than five minutes to make it right.

“Dave?”

He looked up from his phone. He’d been fiddling with it since the moment I’d arrived. At first I thought he was texting, but his expression didn’t change, so I figured he was probably playing a game. It was kind of rude, but there was more to it than just bad manners: he was totally avoiding me.

“Are we okay?” I asked, putting it all out there with three little words.

He worked his jaw and looked away.

“Dave,” I said, starting to feel panicked. “Why is this weird? I thought we were done with this.”

He looked down at his phone again. But he wasn’t playing his game; he was just staring at it. Avoiding me.

“You promised me…”

Finally he looked up and I stopped talking, although I think he might have interrupted me if I hadn’t. “I thought you would have known by now.”

“Known what?” I asked, taking a breath because my heart had started pounding, waiting for whatever news was coming. It wasn’t going to be good, whatever it was.

“Emmie broke up with me.”

“What? When?”

He shrugged, his eyes back down at his phone. “Probably when you were on your way over here. Like, twenty minutes ago.”

The gears in my brain started turning as I processed this.

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“Did you know?” he asked casually, as though he was asking me if I knew the sky was blue. “Did she tell you she was going to dump me?” His tone was so…normal…but by the way he was acting, I could tell this was having a profound effect on him. I knew he loved her. Maybe he’d even thought she was the one. I fought the urge to hug him—now was not the time to get close to him physically.

He looked up at me, still waiting for an answer.

Did I know she was going to dump him?

Not today, my brain said as I thought about how she’d had her doubts for some time. I guess deep down I probably knew this was going to happen eventually. But did I know for absolute sure she was going to dump him? And so soon? “No,” I said. “I haven’t seen her since lunchtime, but she didn’t say anything.” At least that much is true, I thought.

“She said there’s someone else.”

I recoiled. “Emmie?” I couldn’t imagine it—who could it be? She’d never mentioned anyone and she’d confided in me about Dave, so why wouldn’t she mention someone else? Although, I was hardly one to talk about keeping secrets…

He shook his head. “No, she thinks there might be someone else for me.”

My heart stuttered in my chest. What was he saying? What had Emmie said? What did she know? Had he told her about the bed thing? And the most terrifying question of all:

“Is there?” I whispered.

He looked up at me, his crystal blue eyes suddenly intent on mine.

“Maybe.”

Two heartbeats later, Jared walked into the room. How’s that for perfect timing?

I barely had time to school my face into a breezy smile, though my thumping heart would have been a dead giveaway to my sudden anxiety if anyone had thought to feel my pulse in that second.

“Hey,” I said, my voice slightly higher than usual. I hoped he couldn’t see the guilt on my face, though it felt like it may as well have been branded on my forehead.

“Hey yourself,” he said, dropping into the empty chair beside me and nodding at Dave. “So, what are we planning tonight?”

Betrayal? I thought, glancing at Dave, but his face was maddeningly blank. How could he drop that bomb on me, knowing Jared was on his way down? Didn’t he have any idea how unsettling that was? Forget unsettling, it was downright cruel.

“The Thanksgiving food drive,” Dave said.

Jared nodded. “Can I help?” he asked reaching for my hand under the table, his fingers twining with mine.

It was only hand-holding, but with Dave in the room after what he’d just said, it felt too intimate, like he was scrutinizing every move, every word. And as I looked up and saw him staring between us, where, if he had x-ray vision, he’d see our clasped hands through the table, I felt like I was betraying him. Which was crazy, since I was officially with Jared. Dave’s roommate. The one Dave had practically set me up with while he’d been in a relationship with my roommate.

It was a bit too incestuous and warped, but just as I was about to beg off and go find the dean to drive me back to Rosewood because it was getting too intense, Dave pushed back from the table and stood up. “We’re pretty much done here. I’ll see you back at the room,” he said to Jared before he muttered something that sounded like it had my name in it and stormed out.

“What was that all about?” Jared said, looking from the door to me and then back again.

At least I had a good answer, even if it was only half of the truth. “Emmie dumped him.”

His eyes went wide. “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.”

The breakup wasn’t what I didn’t see coming. But as I looked at the boy beside me, I hated myself for my adulterous thoughts. We’d barely been dating a week and here I was, thinking about someone else and what it meant that he’d looked into my eyes and implied he was into me. Not to mention that night when he’d found himself in bed with me and instead of leaving when he realized it was me and not Emmie, he’d kissed my neck and made me feel crazy things I’d never felt for any boy before.

Until that kiss with Brady at the dance which had made me feel those crazy things and more. Which had been even worse, especially since we couldn’t be together.

But now…


Reading Between the Lines is the fourth book in The Rosewoods series. You can pick it up at Amazon, Barnes & Noble (Nook), Kobo, iTunes, or Google Play.