Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Book Blitz & Giveaway ~ Falling for Shakespeare by Erin Butler



Falling for Shakespeare
by Erin Butler
Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: September 8th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Katie thought she knew where her life was going. She was dating the captain of the football team, had a BFF for life, and everyone at school wanted to be her. But then her pregnant teen sister’s pregnancy changes all that. Everyone dumps her, including her friends and boyfriend.

Hey, Katie, welcome to life at the bottom of the high school food chain. This is how the other half lives.

Then there’s Nick. He’s a straight-A student and self-professed geek who’s had a thing for her since middle school. He needs a date for the winter formal, and Katie needs something to keep her busy. 
Nick’s plight becomes her personal pet project. She will help him get over his insecurities and get a date. Besides, she was popular once. She knows how to get dates.

But Nick has other plans. He’s going to use these “dating” lessons as a way to win Katie’s heart. 

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Chapter Four
Katie

“Excuse me, Mr. Henkel?”
Reese walked in dressed in angel wings alongside Trish, my replacement, who dressed in the exact same outfit. It made me sick to think I used to do the same stuff. For all the talk we always did about being ourselves and ragging on others when we thought they were being joiners or followers, we were the biggest hypocrites.
Since middle school, Reese and I had dressed in the same Halloween costume. We were both witches, or vampires, or sexy cowgirls (only when we got a little older). Whatever it was, we were it together. And I’m not just talking about being the same thing, we wore the exact same costume. We were clones of each other. Actually, I was more like her clone. She said, “Let’s be Indian princesses” and I said, “Sure.”
She strutted up to Mr. Henkel’s desk, her translucent, sparkling white wings flowing behind her. “The Halloween grams are here.”
“Oh joy.” He sat at his desk in front of the class and clasped his hands behind his head. “I do so enjoy when education is interrupted for frivolity.”
He waved them forward but there was such disdain in his gesture I had to hide the smile that slipped onto my face by burying my head in my notes. I’d tried to start reading Taming of the Shrew yesterday when I got home from school but it was difficult. Even with the little notes in the margins of the textbook, it was hard to grasp every little nuance of the prose. I knew I’d have to ask Nic for help, which I hated doing.
Nic was a true Einstein, while I was the dumb assistant. Sure, he never acted put out when I asked him, but I hated showing my weakness, even if it was just in front of him. If I could understand things like him, I wouldn’t need his help. Not for the first time, I wished I was as smart as Nic or Jackson. Basically anyone in their group. I was surprised they’d even let me in, considering I had to be the dumbest member.
I tried to keep my head down, but every time one of Reese or Trish’s angel wings fluttered in my peripheral, I couldn’t help but get a spark of hope. There once was a time when I expected to get a handful of grams. Not so much anymore. It was stupid to think anyone would send me one.
Reese and Trish glided past me again, dropping off notes attached to big huge lips on desks in the aisle next to mine. Reese had saved Jer for last and made a big show of giving him his lips. I didn’t see how many grams he got but it must have been a good haul because she whispered, “I’m only allowing you to have these because you know, along with everybody else, that you’re mine.”
Puke, I thought. However, there was an unexpected twist in my stomach. Was it because Reese and Jer were together or because there weren’t any more lips in their baskets for me?
I was betting on the lips.
They were almost to the door, Mr. Henkel just beginning to stand, when Reese turned around. “Duh. I almost forgot.” She reached into the bottom of her pearlescent basket, her fist curling around something, and then sprinkled chunks of paper all over my desk. “This got ruined but it was for you.”
Heat pricked behind my eyes as I stared down at the piles of white. I blinked a few times, tamping the threat of tears of pain and anger that wanted to spring out. I wouldn’t let Reese get the best of me.
I looked away from the white confetti decorating my desk and stared at Reese. She was looking down at me with her sickeningly sweet smile. How could I ever have been friends with this horrible person?
I stood, my legs shaking but willed my hand steady as I held it out. “My lips?”
Her own lips curled into a snarl. “It turned out we didn’t have enough for everybody so you didn’t get one. More people got grams than we thought.”
I smiled right back. “Oh, well, since Jer got so many I’m sure he won’t mind sharing.”
I snatched a set of lips from his desk and ripped the note attached to it off. “You don’t mind, do you?” I asked, trying to mirror Reese’s smile as best I could.
Jer looked amused. Reese looked anything but. I could practically feel the heat coming radiating from her.
“Mr. Henkel,” she hissed.
“Miss Ross,” Mr. Henkel sighed. “Please give Mr. Davis back his lips, and Miss Barnes, might I suggest you keep better track of the grams when Christmas comes around?”
Her body relaxed and the perfect façade she always wore shone through again. “Oh, of course, Mr. Henkel. It won’t happen again.”
After tossing Jer back his lips, I looked down at the ripped chunks of my gram. There were words on most of the pieces. I saw “mask” and “inside” and a big cursive “R”, but that’s all I could take. Someone had actually written me something but it was all ruined now. All ruined because of Reese. I swept the pieces onto my page of notes, walked to the front of the room, and let them fall in the trash.
I stared at the clock the rest of class and was the first one out when the bell rang, Jer following right behind me. “Katie.”
I waved him away. “Not right now.”
He grabbed my shoulder. “You know how she is.”
That was the excuse I always used for her. She’d say something mean about my mom and I’d shrug it off.
That’s just how she is.
It was a justification for her behavior. An explanation for why I was still friends with her. If she couldn’t be a different kind of person, why would I try and make her be? If that was just how she was, I couldn’t get mad at her for it. If that was just how she acted, I had to live with it because she was my best friend.
It was all bullshit. I knew that now.
I spun on Jer, my hands curling into fists around my book bag. “I can’t believe you’re dating that bitch. What happened to you?”
He frowned and looked at the ugly lockers. A moment or two passed and then he pulled his hand from my shoulder. Without another word, he turned and walked away.
Well, wasn’t that par for the course? That was exactly what he did when he found out Alicia was pregnant, just on a smaller scale.
Reese was a bitch and Jer was a coward. Nothing had changed. Absolutely nothing.
“Katie?”
I closed my eyes and let the warmth of Nic’s voice seep inside me. I had no right to even be calmed by his voice. I was a hypocrite. Had been a hypocrite. It was still a wonder he’d even decided to start talking to me again. Seeing Reese in all her glory always made me ache for the hurt I’d caused others.
I shuffled my feet around to face him.
“Hey? You okay?” he asked.
I shook my head slowly, still not meeting his eyes.
“What is it?”
His voice trembled. I looked up, expecting he’d seen Jer and me talking. Expecting he knew Jer had upset me. Expecting he was so angry his voice trembled because of it. Instead, his face was pale and ashen.
He looked as if his dog just died.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, reaching for his hand but noticing they were both occupied with text books, I brought it back down to my side. “You okay?”
His face pinched. “You first.”
“It was Jer and Reese,” I said, needing to erase the weird look on his face. “They’re being themselves.”
His eyes closed and he was still, a frozen replica of himself.
“Reese said I got a Halloween gram today but it got ruined. She dropped little pieces of white paper all over my desk. I couldn’t read a thing. And I didn’t get any lips.”
His eyes flew open. “She tore up your gram?”
I nodded. Then, remembering how good I’d felt for a split second only to have it ripped apart and scattered all over my desk, pricks of tears returned to my eyes.
“Hey,” Nic said, switching his textbooks to one hand and grabbing my hand with his other. “Don’t do that. I’ll buy you another one.”
I looked away, blinking again. “What good would it do? She’d just rip it up anyway and I’ll never know who the original one was from.”
Nic gazed at me as the warning bell rang over our heads. When it stopped, he steered me away from the classroom. “Come on.”
He was quiet as we walked toward gym. Instead of taking a right down the gym hallway though, he led me right out the front entrance, his fingers still wrapped around mine.
I couldn’t help but smile. “What are you doing, Nic?”
“I’m getting you a replacement gram. Something better. And besides, it’s just gym. No one has ever not gotten into college just because they skipped gym class once.”
That was probably true. If Nic said it, it was most definitely true.
When we got to his car, I pulled back on his hand and he stopped by the passenger door. I swallowed, there were all sorts of words bubbling to the surface but none of them seemed appropriate. Nic was really great to me. Not only was he the smartest person I knew, he was also the most kind-hearted, which sounded weird when I was talking about a seventeen-year old guy who enjoyed blowing people up in video games and reading sci-fi stories. But he also read poetry and was a good friend. Better than I could ever hope to be.
When I’d called Nic a juxtaposition, I was right. Juxtaposition is the state of being side-by-side, especially for comparison purposes. To me, Nic always needed contrasting. There were always two parts of him to compare. There was the shy, geeky guy and the almost confident guy.
Nic licked his lips and stared down into my eyes. I swallowed again, my throat suddenly dry. This was the other part I’d started to notice about him recently. This serious, secretive part that made my skin tingle a little.
He stepped back to lean against the car, drawing me with him. When the anti-theft alarm blared all around us, I jumped back, my legs hitting the side of the car next to us. Nic spun, grabbed the keys from his pockets, and started pushing buttons on the remote key chain as fast as he could until the alarm stopped.
My heart beat like mad through my shirt. Nic slowly turned and after seeing the horrified look on his face, I started to laugh. Hysterically. His eyes narrowed at first but then they softened and a smile filled his face.
He glanced toward the school and then opened the passenger door for me. I got in, still chuckling my butt off while Nic walked around the front of the car.
When he sat, he said, “As you can tell, this is the first time I’ve tried to skip. I could never be a secret agent.”
“Yeah, I don’t think they usually announce their whereabouts when they’re trying to be sneaky.”
“Next time we try to skip, I’ll let you handle the details.”
Ouch. That stung. Not that Nic had meant it as a dig to how I used to be, but it still stung knowing I was seen that way, no matter how true it was.
He started the car and pulled out of the school parking lot with his normal calm demeanor, not realizing all he did was bring me back to the past and made me see how different from him I was.
Nic was good. I was striving to be, but I had a hell of a lot of making up to do.


Nic

I’d come to the conclusion on the short trek to the mall that I’d always be a dork. I was one of those too-stupid-to-live characters in books, who instead of making the obvious correct choice, made the worst decision possible just so the story could continue on.
I almost kissed Katie.
Shit. What was I thinking? I was two seconds away from pulling her to me when the stupid car alarm went off, which was another total dork move. I’d never been so pissed at technology in my life. Yet, it had saved me from copious amounts of embarrassment. She probably would’ve laughed at me. Or worse, felt bad for me and my stupid unreciprocated feelings.
Katie was quiet on the drive across town. I could tell she was thinking of Reese and Jer. Or maybe even Alicia and Hanna. It was something that made her forehead wrinkle. I didn’t ask her about it. As much as Katie used to idolize her sister, she hated her now. One mistake made Katie question everything, made her life as she knew it crumble, and it wasn’t even her mistake. That was a hard pill to swallow.
I didn’t need to complicate her life by buying her grams and writing her love poems, and mentally dreaming about the feel of her lips on mine. I was glad Reese decided to ruin Katie’s gram I’d bought her. It’d been an impulsive move. She wouldn’t have exactly known it was from me but she probably could’ve figured it out. I’d left some subtle hints in the few lines I’d scribbled down.
Oh well, it was all for the best.
I parked outside the mall entrance nearest to Gertrude Hawk and waited until Katie made the first move. Eventually, her gaze lifted out the window. “What’re we doing here?”
“I told you I was buying you another gram.”
The upturn of her lips made all my wallowing on the way here worth it. “You don’t have to.”
“I know, but you deserve to have one.”
She stared down at her hands. “I’ll never know who the original one was from.”
“Katie. I …” I stopped myself from the word-vomit that was about to explode from my mouth. I could never control myself around her. She made my guard fall. She made all my thinking cells turn off and go on feel.
“Reese is such a bitch,” she said. “Always was a bitch too. I don’t know how I stayed friends with her for so long. She deserves to be humiliated in front of everybody, just like she humiliates others. Like you and me. And half the stupid school. She should really know what it feels like.”
The sharpness of her words startled me. Not that I didn’t entirely agree with her, but I always took the passive approach. Ignore Reese and she’ll go away. Eventually. For instance, I’d go off to college and she’d become a waitress at the local diner. Then, when I graduated, I’d be one hell of an awesome physicist and she’d still have her crappy little job at the diner.
“I see that look on your face, Nic, but I’m serious. What goes around comes around.”
I lifted my gaze to hers. The steely look in her eyes troubled me for a reason I couldn’t pin down exactly. I didn’t want her to go through any more hurt, but that wasn’t all of it. There was something more. “I thought you handled yourself pretty well the other day, Miss Double Barrel,” I said, bringing up my two middle fingers and pretending they were guns.
She shook her head and smiled. “Maybe that’s just the beginning.”
A cold smile disfigured Katie’s face. It was worse than the fake smile and worse even than no smile at all.
“Before you start plotting everyone’s demise, can we please go get some chocolate? You weren’t the only one who didn’t get a gram today.”
The forced, teasing smile on my face fell as I saw the look on Katie’s. Her coldness vanished and sympathy filled its place. “I’m sorry, Nic. You deserve a gram more than I do. I’ll buy, okay?”
I shook my head. “No way. I’m buying.”
We argued back and forth a couple times but she agreed to my buying the chocolate. Eventually.

  


Erin Butler is lucky enough to have two jobs she truly loves. As a librarian, she gets to work with books all day long, and as an author, Erin uses her active imagination to write the kinds of books she loves to read. Young Adult and New Adult books are her favorites, but she especially fangirls over a sigh-worthy romance.

She lives in Central New York with her very understanding husband, a stepson, and doggie BFF, Maxie. Preferring to spend her time indoors reading or writing, she'll only willingly go outside for chocolate and sunshine--in that order.

Erin is the author of BLOOD HEX, a YA paranormal novel, HOW WE LIVED, a contemporary NA novel, and the forthcoming YA contemporary romance title, FINDING MR. DARCY: HIGH SCHOOL EDITION. Find out more about her at www.erinbutlerbooks.com or @ErinButler on Twitter!


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