Check out my new book trailer!!

Free books!  One of my FAVE book bloggers is giving away an entire series(three) of YA books. Check it out!! Go Haley!!

Book Giveaway

Paperback Book Giveaway!  USA ONLY! I will also give away an Ebook version...Kindle or Epub, worldwide.
My novel sold over 600 E-copies in June alone! To celebrate, I am giving away a signed-and you know you want it signed;}- copy of Unlovable in paperback!!


If you want a signed paperback copy, here is what you have to do.

1.    Go to my book blog and add yourself as a follower- BUT not anonymously! I can’t mail a book to anonymous!! here is the address:

THAT IS ALL YOU HAVE TO DO, BUT... If you want to increase your odds of winning, please do the following ALSO!

2.    "Friend/Like/Follow" my book's FB page.
 And leave a comment so I know you were there... Just a simple 'HI, I was here' would be fine, or you can comment on the novel if you'd like to!! Make sure to leave your Facebook name in your comments so I can find you if you win!

3.    "Like" my Amazon page.

4.     "Like" my Barnes and Noble page.

5.    If you have Goodreads account, you can become a Fan…I know, weird, me with fans!!

That's it!! Contest ends JULY 31, 2011!!

Thanks! I'm grateful for all of your support!
Sherry Gammon


It is the story of a high school senior who is trying to get through life while caring for her heartless alcoholic mother. Seth is a DEA agent assigned to Fairview High. He is trying to find out who is supplying the local kids with heroin. He also has a serious crush on Maggie. Give me feedback!!


Before I could reach the lifeless body, Alan grabbed my face, lifting me up on my tiptoes. My lungs begged for air.
“I’ve waited so long to have you.” He dragged his slimy tongue along my neck. “I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to control myself as long as I’d hoped.”
He then pinched his eyes shut and dropped me back to the ground. “No, Alan, you can wait a bit longer for your revenge,” he counseled himself while stroking my hair. “But maybe a little taste wouldn’t hurt.” He jerked my face to his, dropping his foul lips to mine.
Something inside me snapped. If I was going to die, I was going to go down fighting. So fight I did. I raked my fingers over his face, digging up flesh. While forcing my thumbs into his eyes, I brought my leg up between his, hard, crushing his groin.
He went down, right on top of me. I was pinned between him and the ground. His weight added pressure to my already tender ribs, and I screamed out.
However, Alan’s screams overshadowed mine. He was in serious pain. I began scratching, biting, and punching every inch of him I could make purchase with, holding nothing back. Still reeling from my well-placed knee, he spewed out a list of profanities a mile long.
I finally broke free and forced my broken body across the floor into the kitchen toward the gun. I was almost to the drawer, when, from his prostate position, he hooked my foot, dragging me back several feet.
I looked at his sweaty face, now scarred and bleeding thanks to my fingernails. “You. Will. Pay. For. That.” Reaching into a pocket by his left knee…

I added

I added all the edits to the chapters
myspace layouts
...hopefully they're all cleaned up now...but probably not!

Chapter 4



“Here’s the artist rending of the man who attacked Michelle Stringer.” Booker placed the drawing on my desk as I ate my breakfast; a bowl of Honey-Nut Cheerios. “Hmm, looks tasty, kid,” he said dryly.
“It’s not as if I have all the time in the world to make a hot breakfast. I have to get to school and do my job, unlike some of us.” I frowned down at the soggy O’s. Man, I’ll be glad when this assignment’s over.
“Someday you’ll be in charge of your own team, and you can call the shots.” He set a mug down next to my bowl. “To show you my heart's in the right place, I made you some of my famous hot chocolate.”
I inhaled the sweet chocolaty steam escaping from the cup. “Formula number seven?”
“Would I bring you anything less?” He sat down and propped his black hard-soled shoes on the corner of my desk, beaming as I savored the warm liquid.
“Are you ready to share the secret ingredient with me?” I asked between sips.
“Nope.” His grin broadened. “So does the drawing look like the guy from the park last night?” he asked, pointing to the picture.
I studied the man’s face. “It’s hard to tell. It was pretty dark, and he was alone. Didn’t Ms. Stringer state there were two of them?”
“Yes. But that doesn’t mean they can’t do a little business alone.” He had a point. The drug community didn’t seem to have a problem stabbing each other in the back.
“You watched this guy walking throughout park, but didn’t witness any drug deals going down?”
“None." I laughed. "However, most of the people in the park last night weren’t exactly looking to score. Well, not drugs anyway. There was a whole lot of making out going on.
“Once he spotted Maggie, his demeanor changed. He stayed hidden in the trees, as if he was tracking a defenseless animal, and he kept licking his lips.” Repulsed, I shoved my breakfast away.
“I worked my way over toward him just as he got a phone call. He was angry and kept telling whoever it was, no, and that he was in charge, all the while watching Maggie.”
I got up and walked over to the window, resting my arm on the sill. “He said there was this hot girl who was all alone and that he was a man with needs.” My jaw tightened. “He kept smiling and scratching himself.”
Booker walked over and patted my shoulders. “She’s okay, Seth. You saw to that.” I nodded and took a deep breath to calm my gut.
“I should have arrested him.”
“On what charges? Gawking at a cute girl?” Booker laughed. “I would have had to charge you too. I’m sure you were doing some pretty heavy gawking yourself at Ms. Brown.”
“I can guarantee you my thoughts weren’t lascivious. All I wanted was to talk to her. He, on the other hand...”
 “I have no doubt your thoughts were pure, Son of a Preacher Man,” Booker said, walking back over to my desk. My dad served in the Air force as a Chaplin, among other things, and Booker was forever singing the old Dusty Springfield song to me as we were growing up. “This guy was probably some loser guy hoping to score. No need getting uptight over nothing.”
I knew Booker was trying to downplay the incident. Until we had any evidence proving otherwise, he saw no need for me to tie myself up in knots. Vintage Booker. Out to save the world.
“Which reminds me.” I narrowed my eyes at him. “It’s not working.”
“What’s not working?”
“The scheme you had to, how did you put it? Win the ladies heart. Cheesy, Booker. Even for you.”
“So what’s not working? You must be doing it wrong,” he said playfully.
“You said to make her laugh, make her the nervous one. Well, she doesn’t ever laugh at my jokes. They seem to put her on edge. Although, I do believe she’s nervous. She has this cute habit of twisting her hair around her fin—” I looked over at Booker. His chest was bouncing with laughter. I smiled. “I did kiss her last night,” I admitted. “Twice, actually.”
“See. I hate to say I told you so,” he glowed proudly.
 “But she got mad after I did.”
“You must be a pretty rotten kisser. Did she kiss you back, or was she cringing the whole time?”
“I kiss just fine, thank you very much. And yes, she kissed me back. Actually, she kissed me first,” I bragged. “But I don’t think she’s interested in having a boyfriend. Maybe I should try being her friend.”
“No, no, no. You’re making real progress, kid. You need to—”
A knock on my office door brought Booker’s love advice to a premature end, thankfully. In walked a lanky blond woman in a MET uniform with a sheet of paper in her right hand.
“Hey, Connie. What’s up?”
 “Captain, you said you wanted to be notified if another stabbing occurred with the same MO as Michelle Stringer.” Booker nodded slowly. “A 24 year-old female identified as Tammy Byrne was found shortly after two a.m. this morning behind some empty buildings near Applegate Park. She had several knife wounds almost identical to those of Ms. Stringer. She didn’t survive, Captain.”
“Was she raped?”
“It’s hard to tell, the body’s a mess, but the forensic team doesn’t believe so. Sir, the woman who discovered the body is a reporter for The Democrat and Chronicle. She and a staff photographer were there doing an exposé on the growing drug scene at Applegate park. It’s already hit the morning papers.”
She handed the report over to Booker along with a small plastic bag. “This was found under the body. We couldn’t get any fingerprints off it. We’re not even sure it’s part of the crime scene, but I thought you might want to see it.”
“Thanks, Connie.” Booker closed the door as he read over the paper.
“What’s in the bag?”
Booker twisted the baggy with his fingers, quickly pulling the small notebook from his left breast pocket. “I believe the guy who attacked Michelle Stringer had a silver disk in his right ear lobe,” he said, thumbing through his notes.
“A silver disk?” I took the evidence bag from Booker. “The guy in the park last night wore a silver disk.” I shoved it back into Booker’s hands and stumbled over to my pleather chair, all but falling into the cold seat. Dropping my elbows on the desk, I buried my face in my hands.
“Book! If I hadn’t …”
“I know, kid, I know. Look, you had better get to the school. I’ll talk with the team and head over to the crime scene, see if I can find anything.”
“I’m going with you.” I said, burning my throat as I downed the last of my hot chocolate.
“Seth, you’ll be late for sc–”
“I’m not going! This murder is part of the assignment too!”
“Maybe. This may be some random killer. We don’t know for sure if he’s part of the drug investigation.”
“So why are you following up on it? Why aren’t you letting the local cops handle this?” I had him there, and he knew it.
“Okay, fine,” he said, slipping the disk into his pocket. “Once this murder hits the school, there’s going to be lots of talk. I want you and the team all ears for the rest of the day.”
If we finish this before school ends, I’ll go. The other three agents can keep their ears open.”
“Seth, don’t you think Maggie is going to need someone to lean on when she hears about this?”
I hadn’t thought about how she was going to react. She was probably going to take it hard. “Let’s get going so I can make it back in time for class.” I jumped up, snagged my jacket from the top of the filing cabinet, and rushed for the door.
“I suppose when we’re done, I’ll have to write a note for the principal explaining why little Sethy was late for school today,” Booker said, to which I gave him an elbow to the ribs.
“Oof!” He laughed, rubbing the spot,
I was the first one out of the car and was taken aback by the size of the crime scene. Tammy Byrne must have put up a good fight. Booker checked in with the lead detective on the case.
“Detective Michaels,” he said, greeting him with a handshake. My palms were sweaty so I nodded to him instead. “I read your preliminary report. Have you learned anything new?”
“Only that the victim wasn’t raped,” Michaels said, showing Booker the preliminary autopsy. “Her face wasn’t touched, but her body was a mess. They weren’t random cuttings either, Captain. This guy knows his way around anatomy.”
“Like a doctor, maybe?” I asked, though I couldn’t imagine someone who’d spent years in medical school throwing it all away to be a murderer.
“Not necessarily. My old man was a farmer, and we butchered our own cows, chickens too, for that matter. These cuttings were precise, but crude, not skillful like a surgeon’s. Maybe the perpetrator’s a farmer, or a butcher.”
“Good call. I’ll run a check and see if there are any local farmers or butchers with a violent record,” Booker said. “Let me know if any new leads turn up. We’re going to look around.”
We passed under the yellow police tape and began searching the area, finding nothing new. I couldn’t believe the amount of blood there was everywhere. I prayed the slime ball had cut the poor victim up postmortem, otherwise, Ms. Byrne suffered tremendously.
I tried to keep Maggie out of my thoughts, but it was tough. It could very easily have been her blood we were sifting through. She could have been the one–
“Hey, sit down before you pass out.” Booker took my arm, steering me over to a couple of dented trashcans.
“I know you want to be here, Seth, but I think you should head over to the school. I don’t need you fainting onto potential evidence.” I nodded weakly.
Wiping my damp hands off onto my jeans, Booker arranged for a patrol car to take me back to the station for my car. He was right. I was useless here. I needed to be at the school. I needed to see Maggie.

Chapter 3


With a ten-page research paper for my Mythology class looming over my head, Sunday morning I got up early and went to the library while my mom slept. I could have chosen to do ten hours of community service, the alternative Bore offered those who didn’t want to do a paper, but without a car I didn’t have that option. He insisted we become mindful of our community. To quote Bore, ‘The needs of our community are not a myth.’ A pretty good idea, only for me it meant spending more time away from home since we didn’t have a computer.
In my rush to leave I accidentally pushed my big toe out the end of my worn blue sneaker. “Great!” I hurriedly tied the ruined shoe and said goodbye to my mother, mostly out of habit. She was still sleeping off yesterday’s vodka and resting up for today’s onslaught. She didn’t stir. Even though I knew she wouldn’t acknowledge me, a slight twinge still tugged at my heart. I ignored it and left.
The frigid morning welcomed me with a bone chilling blast of icy cold as I stepped off the porch and right into a slush puddle. “Yuck!” I shook the mess out of my shoe and trudged off.
While tracking down information on local children’s charities, my eye caught the calendar hanging on the wall above the reference desk. It was January 9th. Thirteen years ago today my world changed forever.
I remembered my grandmother and I being in the kitchen. She was tying a yellow ribbon in my hair to match the dress she’d made me; blue with white and yellow daisies. I was sitting on a stool, fidgeting. The room smelled of fresh-baked cookies and I desperately wanted one.
“Hold still, sweetheart,” she said, fishing the silky ribbon through my ponytail and tying it into a bow. “There, perfect.” I jumped off the stool and began spinning in circles. The dress had a full skirt, and when I swirled around it floated out in a huge circle.
“I love it, grandma, thank you very much. It’s delightful.” I ran over and gave her a big hug.
“Delightful? What a big word for such a little girl.” I looked up into her blue eyes, and watched her smile fade. She cupped my chin and kissed my forehead. “I guess it’s a good thing you’re mature far beyond your four and a half years.”
She took a tissue from her pocket and wiped her eyes. “Alright, Princess Maggie. Scoot along and find your grandfather. Let him know your mom will be here any minute.” I spun around one last time and skipped off to find him. “And no cookies, you’ll spoil your appetite,” she added.
I found my grandpa in the bathroom as he’d finished shaving. “Oh, my, aren’t you the sweetest little princess in all the land.”
“Thanks, grandpa. Mom’s on her way. Why is she coming over?” I sank down onto the edge of the tub and studied him as he put on his tie.
“It was her 21st birthday a few days ago, remember? We’re going out to dinner to celebrate tonight.” He looked over at me. “What’s the matter, Magpie?”
 “Do I have to go and stay with mommy again?” I seldom saw her when I was very young, and the few times she did come to visit, the three of them would usually end up arguing. My grandfather would demand she act more responsibly, and I’d have to go stay with her for a day or two. My grandmother would prepare a backpack for me to take, putting cereal, peanut butter, jam and some bread in it. She’d taught me how to make sandwiches and had me practice pouring cereal into a bowl and adding milk. Of course, at my mom’s place I usually had to add water; she never had milk.
 My mom hated it when I played with my toys in her living room and often banished me to the bedroom. “Get out of my hair,” she’d demand. I spent most of the time alone playing with my dolls.
 After a couple of days my grandparents would check on us, they’d have another huge fight, and I’d go back with them until my mother came around again, and the cycle would repeat itself.
“Not today, princess.” Sorrow touched his face as he spoke of my mother, and I felt bad for having said anything. “Hey, how about a butter-rum Lifesaver?” He held out a tattered roll of the candy, inviting me to take one.
“Grandma will be angry if I have one before dinner.” He was forever tempting me with butter-rum Lifesavers, and I was forever falling for the temptation.
“I won’t tell if you won’t,” he whispered.
“I heard that, Harry,” my grandmother chided from the other room. “You’ll spoil her dinner.”
“Yes, dear,” he said, handing me one with a wink. I popped the candy into my mouth and sucked on it until it dissolved into nothing.
My mother arrived reeking of alcohol. At the time I didn’t know what the smell was, only that she smelled funny. We all climbed into their car with my grandparents up front. I sat in a booster chair next to my mom in the back.
On our way to the restaurant, an uninsured drunk driver ran into us, killing my grandparents instantly. I wasn’t hurt, thanks to my car seat, however, my mom wasn’t wearing her seatbelt and was thrown from the car. She hurt her right leg and her back and never fully recovered from the injuries. With what little insurance money my grandparents had, she bought the singlewide trailer we currently called home. I don’t know how we’d have survived otherwise. It wasn’t much, but it was paid for. I often wondered how different things would have been if not for the accident.
Around noon, the librarians began setting up tables in a conference room off to the side for a luncheon. I did fine until they brought the food out. The smell drove me crazy. I’d used the last of the bread to make my mom a sandwich before I’d left and hadn’t eaten anything since lunch yesterday. Unable to stomach the enticing smells of food any longer, I shoved my belongings into my bag and left.
  The wind pounded me mercilessly, making it difficult to keep from being blown over. Reaching the corner, I collapsed onto a bus stop bench and dropped my head to my knees, exhausted and dizzy. Somehow, I had to find a way of getting more food into the house without my mother knowing about it. If I spent too much of her money on food, she’d berate me for my selfishness, but the hunger headaches which plagued me and now this dizziness was plain ridiculous.
I heard a car pull up next to the bus stop. Too weak to look up, I kept my head down. “Are you alright?” It was Seth. Unbelievable!
“I’m fine. Just waiting for the bus.” I kept my head down, still not bothering to look at him. I was surprised he even stopped. We’d hardly spoken since the candy disaster in Culinary class earlier in the week.
“You’ll have a long wait. This bus doesn’t run on weekends.” I glanced up at the bus sign. Sure enough, it was a ‘weekday only’ bus. I closed my eyes and dropped my increasingly dizzy head back into my hands.
“Come on.” Silently, he appeared at my side with an arm around my waist before I could argue. “You look awful, let me take you home.”
“Did I ask your opinion on my outfit?” I tried sounding fierce with my retort, but thanks to the dizziness, it sounded silly more than anything.
“That’s not what I meant. It’s your face. It looks awful.”
I snapped my head up to his. I’d known of Seth’s high cheekbones, having drooled over them many a time. Today, however, they were slightly pink, probably from the cold. It gave his face a warm friendly glow. It was then I noted his mouth for the first time. It was definitely kissable, with its full round lower lip, and the Cupid’s bow on the upper. There was a strong temptation to reach up and… I jumped back a few inches and shook my head to clear it. I needed some food, quick!
He laughed. “That didn’t come out right, I meant you look pale. Please let me take you home,” he said, sliding the arm of my sweater up above my elbow.
“What are you doing?” I pulled my arm away from his warm hands.
“Just checking your pulse to make sure you still were alive.” He offered a chortled grin.
“I believe a person’s pulse is in their wrist.”
“Oh, yeah. Sorry. I didn’t do so well in Human Physiology.” He began guiding me toward his car.
 I pulled back. “I don’t need a ride, thanks. Really, I’m fine,” I said as a gust of wind came by blowing me back into his arms.
“I can see that.” Too weak and dizzy to fight anymore, I allowed him to lead me over to the car. He opened it, and I stood there for a moment debating.
“Please get in, Maggie.”
Impressive, he actually looked concerned. I decided that pride was easier on a warm day and settled into the car. He turned the heater vents toward me as he had before and set the temperature on high. Our trailer never felt this warm.
“Thanks.” I wasn’t sure he understood me through my half frozen lips. Holding my hands in front of the heater vents, the warm air blew up my sleeves and down my thin sweater, thawing my frozen body. It felt wonderful. He didn’t make a single comment about my sweater, or the hole in my sneaker, though the fact that I’d kept the shoe tucked strategically under the seat might have been why.
Or maybe he was a really nice guy, and I should cut him some slack.
“Warm enough?” Short of starting a small fire, I had no idea what he planned to do to make it any warmer.
As I thanked him, I noted the undeniable smell in his car. “Why do I smell food?”
“I’m delivering lunches to some of the local senior citizens.”
My first thought was to question why, until I remembered our Mythology class assignment. He must have opted to do the community service.
“Are you sure you’re okay? What did you have for breakfast?” He felt my head causing goose bumps to dance up my back.
 “I was in a hurry this morning and forgot to eat.” And the lies kept piling up! Besides, he didn’t need to know about our family struggles.
“If I give you a lunch, will you eat it?” He looked at me skeptically.
Great, he thinks I’m anorexic. Oh, well, may as well feed the anorexic rumors. My clothes hung on me anymore, and I’d heard the whispers as I’d walked down the hall at school. “No thanks, I’ll eat something later.”
“You know these lunches don’t have a home, and if you don’t eat them they'll go to waste.” How sweet, he was trying to encourage the anorexic to eat. I muffled my laugh.
“Why don’t you eat it?” I dared him.
“I’ve already had my lunch,” he said. “Here.” He grabbed two Styrofoam boxes from the back seat and held them in front of me. “You have your choice of a chicken, or a roast beef sandwich.” He began reciting the menu as if he were reading a brochure. “There’s also mixed vegetables with a creamy white sauce, or broccoli smothered in cheese, and a brownie.” He tempted me once more with the small white boxes, and my stomach let out a huge growl. Ugh! I thanked him and took one, forcing myself to pick casually at the food instead of inhaling it. I was unbearably hungry.
“I have two more stops, if that’s alright with you. They’re on the way. You said you live over by the park, right?” He asked right as I took a huge bite of the chicken sandwich, blowing my casually picking plan. I could only nod.
 “The first delivery is to a man named Frank McSheehy. He was injured in World War II and struggles with getting around these days. He fell and broke his hip three months ago, and now he's temporarily confined to a wheelchair. Oh, one more thing, he likes to talk. You’ve been warned!” He winked, causing my heart to skip a beat. For crying out loud, Maggie, get a grip on yourself.
We pulled up in front of a tiny run down cottage on Front Street. A frail-looking man, Mr. McSheehy I assumed, was sitting by the front window waiting for us. He pushed open the door when we reached the porch. The petite man seemed to disappear in his oversized wheelchair. A few wisps of white hair danced around on the top of his head with the wind, and his thick black-rimmed glasses made his eyes bug-like in appearance.
“Good afternoon, my guardian angel.” He held out his hand and shook Seth’s warmly. “Who is this beauty by your side? An angel in training?” He took my hand, squeezing it softly.
“Maggie’s a friend of mine, although an assistant would be helpful,” he said. “Maggie, this is Mr. McSheehy, also a friend of mine.”
“Come, sit down for a minute.” He led us inside and pointed to a coffee table in the living room. “I was looking through some photos of my days in the war.” He had several photo albums spread out on the small table. “I promise to keep you for no more than ten minutes. You still have to deliver lunch to Miss Ethel, correct?” Seth nodded.
Seth and I sat on a small tattered couch while Mr. McSheehy went through several pages of his album with us. He had received the Purple Heart during World War II of which he was very proud. He shared some photos he had taken on the day the Americans liberated the Concentration camp, Gusen.
“This was taken in May, 1945. That’s me,” he said, pointing to a handsome young soldier. “My troop went into the Gusen camp. Tens of thousands of Jews died there. The day we arrived thousands of bodies had to be buried in a mass grave and about 300 people a day died thereafter. Not only were they starving to death, there was also a horrible typhus epidemic throughout the camps.”
He slid a photo across the table toward me of several dead bodies piled on a cart. The people looked like skeletons with skin on them. It broke my heart. “There was no food in the kitchen. We were able to find some potatoes in storage and made a thin soup to feed them. We were also able to make up some unleavened bread out of oats. The enemy was barbaric!
"We as people have become complacent.” He shook a finger in the air dramatically, stretching up tall in his rickety wheelchair. “We seemed to have forgotten that some things are worth dying for, number one being our fellow man. Fighting to free God’s children from wickedness like this,” he held up the picture of the dead bodies in the wheelbarrow, “that price will never be too high for this soldier to pay.”
His story touched my soul, and for the first time ever I felt a connection to the past. I swore never to forget what Frank McSheehy and his fellow soldiers did that day in Austria.
After a few more stories, Seth stood up. “Mr. McSheehy, we have to deliver lunch to Miss Ethel.” Seth took my elbow, guiding me toward the door. “How about next Saturday we deliver your lunch last, and you can share more of your experiences with us?”
“Oh, no. You a handsome young man, here with a beautiful young woman,” he nodded his head toward me. “You don’t need to listen to an old man ramble on about days long gone.”
“I’d love to hear more.” Something in my eyes must have told him of my sincerity because he cheerfully agreed to let us return next week for another mini history lesson. After a hastily offered goodbye, we headed over to Miss Ethel’s.
“It’s sad that so many of our senior citizens are ignored or shoved into rest homes unnecessarily. Many still have a lot to offer,” I said as we drove down a crooked narrow street.
“I feel exactly the same way,” Seth said. The guilt I felt for judging him was now choking me. I had been slowly turning into my mother and didn’t even realize it until that very moment. I had an ache in my gut, which for once wasn’t from hunger.
Our next stop was at a shabby green house on Ridgemont. A woman with a deeply lined face and short, choppy gray hair, Miss Ethel Seth informed me, was standing at her window waiting. However, unlike Mr. McSheehy, she looked angry.
“Her bark is worse than her bite, most days.” I looked at him warily, and he chuckled. “Don’t worry I’ll protect you.”
“Yer late! Talkin’ to old jabber jaws McSheehy again, I ‘spose.” Her hands were planted firmly on her wide hips. She glared hard at Seth as we entered her humble home. He smiled and her pursed lips gave way to a grin, though she tried to stop it. She dropped her hands into the front pockets of her faded orange housedress and forced her mouth back into a grim line.
“I’m sorry, Miss Ethel. Tell you what. How about next Saturday we deliver your lunch first?”
“That’d be good,” she said, looking over at me. “My, who’s this pretty little thing with the big blue eyes?”
“This is Maggie.” Seth put his arm around my waist as he answered. It startled me. It also felt kind of nice. “Maggie, Miss Ethel.”
Before I uttered a word, Miss Ethel’s eyes narrowed on me. “You sure are a skinny little gal. Bet ya I cou’d snap one of them scrawny collarbones of yours in half without even tryin’. Are you one of them anorexians?”
“No. I’m not anorexic, just petite.” So much for feeding the anorexic rumors. I walked back over toward the door and stood there waiting to leave.
“Ya know, boys don’t like huggin’ and kissin’ skinny gals, Missy. My husband, Jack, God rest his soul,” she touched her forehead, chest, and each shoulder with her heavily creased right before continuing. “He always said men don’t like kissin’ and huggin’ sticks. He said gals with a little meat on their bones is more comfortable to have your arms ‘round, and a lot more fun.” She laughed mischievously. “They isn’t as ornery cuz they ain’t hungry all the time, like them scrawny gals.”
Horrified, my face blushed a deep scarlet.. To Seth’s credit so did his. Undaunted, she continued.
“You like kissing her all bony like that, Seth?”
“I haven’t kissed her yet, Miss Ethel.” His red face now carried a grin from ear to ear. Will the earth please open up and swallow me whole?
 Did he say yet?
 “Why not, boy?” She looked genuinely surprised. “Is you one of them gay fellers?” She didn’t ask the question with any repugnance, merely curiosity.
“No, I’m not, Miss Ethel.” The stupid grin never left his face. “I’m very much a heterosexual.” Evidently, she didn’t know what the word meant because her brows knit in confusion. “I like girls,” he said reassuringly.
“So what ya waitin’ fer?” She didn’t let him answer. “She’s too skinny for you, ain’t she? I’m telling ya, boy, a few home cooked meals will fill her out in all the right places, if ya know what I mean,” she said with a crooked grin.
“I agree wholeheartedly. Thank you for the advice.”
I desperately wanted to leave.
“Get going, and don’t forget next Saturday yer comin’ here before McSheehy’s.” He nodded, giving her a peck on the cheek. “You bringin’ Bones with ya?” I was beginning to wonder if the verbal abuse was ever going to stop.
“She may come if she wants. Maybe I should leave her at the Burger Palace instead, see if I can fatten her up a bit before I kiss her.”
“Bye.” I opened the door and ran for the car. I’d have run home if I knew where we were. Instead, I plopped down into the seat, slammed the seatbelt into position, and crossed my arms over my chest. Seth slipped casually into his seat.
“I warned you, she’s a spitfire."
“And what about the protection you promised before we went in?”
“She wasn’t so bad. She’s worried about how skinny you are. You do look as if someone could snap you in half without much effort.” He softly took my arm as I reached for the door. I looked back to demand he let me out of the car, and somehow my face ended up only a few inches from his. The closeness stunned me into silence.
That and the overwhelming desire I had to kiss him. I was crazy, no doubt about it. Why in the world would I want to kiss a guy who drove me insane?
“Maggie, I'm sorry.” His eyes burrowed into me, rendering me speechless. I nodded, shoved my hands between my legs and pinning them there to keep from reaching out and pulling his mouth down to mine. “I’ll take you home.”
I sat silently, forcing my breathing to slow. We arrived at the park a few minutes later. “Alright, where to from here?”
“Let me out here, thanks. I need the exercise.”
“Maggie, please tell me where you live? It’s cold, let me take you home.”
“I told you, I’m thinking about trying out for the track team in the spring. I have to be in shape.” For a moment I wondered why I cared what he thought of me. Nevertheless, at the stoplight, I took my book bag and jumped out.
“Here.” He handed me the last lunch from the back seat. “You may as well have this,” he said, frowning. I hesitated, but hunger won out. I took it, thanking him, and walked to the middle of the park and began doing stretches I’d seen the kids who were actually on the track team do as he drove away. I waited five minutes before walking home.
“Where you been?” My mother’s speech was slurred in an all-too-familiar cadence. She rolled over and looked up at me through her bloodshot eyes, blinking to clear her vision. She rolled back over, passing out completely. I grabbed a blanket from my bedroom and covered her up. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol depletes body heat. I put the lunch in the fridge, retrieved my AP Calculus book from my bag, and began the long, tedious journey down the road of confusion. I hate math.
The rest of the day and half of the evening were spent struggling through my assignment. More than once I’d had to untangle a knot I’d made in my hair with my fingers. I really needed to stop twisting my hair. After a particularly grueling problem, I slammed the book shut and slid it across the table in surrender, near tears. “I’ll bet Seth understands this garbage.”
“Who you talking to?” To my surprise, my mother was sitting upright on the couch. Wondering if she had eaten yet today, I took the lunch out of the refrigerator and placed it on a plate before handing it to her.
“What’s this?”
“Food.” Still annoyed over my calculus homework, the answer came out harsh, not a good thing. “What have you eaten today?” I softened my tone, fearing she’d become angry. Then she’d drink instead of eat, not a good thing.
“None of your bisness.” Her speech was still slurred. “Who’s the mother here? Me!”
“Mom, please eat.” She shoved the food back at me, spilling half on the floor. Ugh! “You drink too much.” Frustrated, I gathered up the mess, reluctantly tossed it in the garbage, and headed for my room. I’d learned from sad experience that it was pointless to argue with a drunk.
“Get o’er here, young lady.” As she started to stand up, her eyes appeared to move in opposite directions. She fell back down onto the couch. “What I do with my life is none a’ your bisness.”
“You don’t do anything with your life except drink, that’s my point. You wake up, and you immediately get drunk. The moment you start to sober up, you start drinking again. It’s not much of a life, mother.” I was ignoring my “don’t argue with a drunk” counsel, but first Seth, then math, now this? How much could a girl take in one day?
“You ungrateful li’le brat. I paid for this house, and I pay for the food. You’re nothin’ but a leach, you unlovable nothing, get out of my house.” I thought to mention that she didn’t pay for the food the government did, only to what point. I grabbed my sweater and house key and left, chastising myself for fighting with her.
Thanks to the cloud coverage, it had to be 45 degrees out, not too bad for 10:45 p.m. in the middle of winter. I slipped on my sweater and walked down to the park knowing it would be well lit there. The city didn’t bother with streetlights in my rundown neighborhood.
After an hour of roaming around the park, I’d calmed down and managed to shove away the bitter words my mom had spewed at me. She was sick and her words shouldn’t upset me, she didn’t mean them. At least that’s what I told myself.
 Applegate Park had become my favorite refuge over the years. In the summer, the shade from the tall leafy trees kept me cool, and in the winter, they blocked some of the wind as it howled through their naked branches. Sadly, over the past two years it’d become known as the place to buy drugs, making it a somewhat scary place to be at night.
It was also a Mecca for couples who came here to make out, even in the dead of winter. Walking through the trees, I had to step around more than one couple tangled up in each other's arms. I wondered if Seth had Hillary in a lip lock somewhere. Clearly, no one could accuse her of being an unlovable nothing. Dropping onto a bench, my mind wandered back to Seth’s soft, full lips smiling at me this afternoon, his piercing green eyes…
I shot straight up. A man dressed all in black was staring at me through the trees. His hair was slicked back from his face, and there was a small silver disk in his right ear lobe. He looked to be about my mother’s age, though the expression on his face was anything but parental. He was on his cell phone, except whoever he was talking to didn’t have his full attention. I did. His eyes swept my body, while his tongue lapped repeatedly over his lips, as if he were imagining what I would taste like.
 Looking around, I realized I was the only one in the park alone, completely alone. No one would notice if I were to disappear, and it’d take days before my mother would be sober enough to figure out I hadn’t come home. My heart beat so furiously, I feared it would explode out of sheer terror.
I thought to start screaming except the strangely dressed man was only looking at me, so that was probably overreacting. However, I should leave! I jumped up and walked quickly toward the nearest park exit in the opposite direction of him. He followed. I was about to take off running when someone seized my arm from behind. My voice froze in my throat, making it impossible to scream. To my surprise, the creepy guy hadn’t grabbed me, Seth Prescott had!
“Sorry I’m late, love, thanks for waiting.” He pulled me into his arms and whispered softly, “There’s a man dressed all in black following you. Pretend we’re here together.”
“What?” I tried nudging him away, except I was shaking too hard.
He pulled me closer, dropping his mouth back to my ear. “If you’ll notice he’s not watching the couples here, just you. He thinks you’re alone and therefore an easy target. Maybe if he believes we’re here together, he’ll leave.”
How did he know what the greasy hair creep was thinking? What if he was wrong? Did he have a plan B? I was all for running away. He dropped his lips to my neck and started nuzzling against it softly. I stood perfectly still.
“That’s a pitiable effort, Maggie. Put your arms around me and at least pretend this is enjoyable,” he hissed in my ear. I slowly slid my arms around his waist between his shirt and jacket and was surprised at how sinewy his body was. My hands felt the muscles bulging in his back as they made their way up to his shoulders. I could feel the warmth of his skin through his shirt and all the while, his lips caressed my neck and jaw. My eyes slowly shut, to help with the illusion.
“Can you see him? What’s he doing?” His voice sounded rich and low in my ear. I forced my eyes open, bringing me back to reality.
“He’s dropped back into the trees, but he’s still staring at us.” Seth asked me another question, however the sound muffled against my skin, and I couldn’t understand him. I turned my face toward his to ask him to repeat it, and realized our mouths were almost touching. We had to kiss. There was no way out of it, anything else would’ve looked awkward. I pressed my mouth onto his.
His lips were soft and warm on mine, though somewhat hesitant. And I felt incredibly stupid. He obviously did not intend on really kissing me. Why in the world would this gorgeous guy want to kiss me anyway? I started to pull away when his hands began winding their way through my hair. He held my face gently to his as his mouth moved carefully against mine. It felt wonderful. My head began swimming as I drew myself tighter against him, again, to help keep the illusion going.
After several moments, he pulled away. I didn’t open my eyes, instead drawing my bottom lip into my mouth to get one last taste of him. Suddenly realizing how long my eyes had been shut, I popped them open to see him smiling down at me. I was mortified!
“Is he gone?” His thumb stroked my cheek.
Refocusing my thoughts on the man in black, I glanced around. “He’s still watching us, but he’s moved over by the northwest exit gate now.”
“I guess we had better keep up the act.” Before I could answer, his mouth dropped back onto mine, and this time there was an undeniable eagerness to his kiss. I struggled to stay calm, if only he hadn’t tasted so incredibly good and felt so incredibly warm. Zack’s kisses never made me feel like this. He slowly spun us around until he faced the northwest gate. His lips never left mine while his eyes searched the park. Finally, he pulled away.
“I think he’s gone. Come, I’ll take you home, just in case,” he said, sliding his hand in mine. “Which way is your house?”
“No, I’m fine.” I pulled my hand free, taking several deep breaths trying to regain my composure. “He went the opposite way of my house. Anyway, I only live a few minutes from here. Bye.”
“Maggie, we can do this two ways. Either you let me take you home, or I’ll follow you without your consent. Simply put, you’re not going alone.”
“I live east of the park, he went toward the northwest. I’ll be fine.”
“What if he decides to double back? You did hear about the girl who was stabbed and left for dead in front of those buildings a few days ago, correct?” He pointed to a row of abandoned buildings that were adjacent to the park.
Grrr! He was right. Her story was the topic of conversation at school lately. Moreover, it was almost midnight, definitely not safe to be out alone. “Fine.” I stuffed my hands into my jeans pockets and stomped off speedily toward my house.
My 5’6” stature proved no challenge for his Mr. 6’2”. He easily matched my stride. “Where’s the fire?” he asked. I slowed a bit, not wanting to look as foolish as I felt. When we reached my corner, I spun around to face him.
“Why were you in the park? Did you have a date?” Like, perhaps with Hillary?
“No, just out with a friend.” A nice, safe generic reply. He must be trying to keep his options open.
“Here’s my street, thanks for walking me home, see you at school tomorrow.” I said it fast and without taking a breath. It would have been a miracle if he’d understood. I started walking again, and he continued to follow. “Really,” I called over my shoulder. “Thanks again for your help at the park, you're a lifesaver.”
“Anytime, well, not anytime. Hopefully, you’re smart enough not to take midnight strolls through the park anymore.” I twisted around and glared at him. He flashed an impish grin before taking my arm. “Maggie, please allow me to see you home—all the way home.”
It was evident he wasn’t giving up. “Alright. Thanks.” I had no choice. I stuffed my hands back into my pockets and walked on.
He didn’t say anything until we approached my trailer. “Truth be told, I was hoping for a goodnight kiss, you know, after the park and everything.”
I ignored him and increased my pace again. After a few more steps, I had a small brainstorm and sallied around with a smug expression. “Sorry, it’s not cold enough to kiss you.”
He looked puzzled. “Okay, you’ve lost me. What does the cold have to do with you kissing me?”
“Simple, the river Phlegethon will have to freeze over before I’ll ever kiss you again.” Dr. Bore would be proud of my mythology reference. Seth just threw his head back and laughed. “I’m glad you think that’s funny.”
He gently, but firmly, took my chin in his hand. “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”
He did not just misquote Shakespeare to me!
“I watched you taste my kiss back at the park, Maggie. You enjoyed it as much as I did. You know it and I know it.” His voice rumbled soft, low, and yummy. I yanked my head free and walked up the small path to my porch.
“Sooner or later, Maggie, our lips will meet again. Personally, I’m voting for sooner.”
I wheeled around, almost losing my balance. “Why do guys like you think every girl wants to make out with them? I don’t get it.”
“I didn’t ask you to make out, Maggie. Goodnight.” The playful grin had vanished from his face. A twist of guilt clutched at my belly as he walked away.
Safely inside my house, I slithered down the closed door, burying my face in my hands. There was no need to be cruel. My mother was right, I was an unlovable nothing.
“You’re back?” It shocked me to find my mother still awake. Her voice carried a strange tone. She was probably disappointment that I’d returned.
“Yes.” Thankfully, the lights were still off. I didn’t want to explain to her why my face was flushed.
“Go to bed! You have school tomorrow.”
Geez, my mother picked the strangest times to go parental on me.
I forced my weary body up and headed toward the bathroom fully intending to wash off Seth's kisses and forget the whole night had ever happened. I marched down the hall, past the bathroom, and went straight into my room, dropping onto my bed. My mind wouldn’t stop thinking about him. I ran my fingertips over my lips, remembering.
“Stop!” I rolled over, forcing myself to sleep. Sorry to say, it didn’t end my thoughts of Seth. He stayed front and center in my dreams. I gladly welcomed the hideous sound of the alarm clock the next morning.