Amanda Thrasher, author, books, Excerpts, Fiction, Life, Sharing, Uncategorized, writer's life, Writing Process, YA

BITTER BETRAYAL, NOT A TYPICAL TEEN ROMANCE

Being a mother of two teen girls, I am often surrounded by groups of teenagers. The stories that they share from time to time are both disturbing and concerning. Teen novels often glorify teen dating and teen romances, but there are so many dangers out there in the real world that many people do not always discuss the ugly side of dating for fear of shaming their kids or admitting it could happen in their family communities. After listening to more than one story about terrible, dangerous dating experiences of teens, interviewing teens and listening to their examples of neurotic behavior when where actual individuals personalities were compromised and changed while dating due to their emotions, I was compelled to write a novel based on the ugly side of teen dating. I set about writing a book titled Bitter Betrayal, that shows the parallel lives of a teen boy and girl and how they think and react differently to the exact same situations that they find directly or indirectly involved in. I also wanted to point out how certain situations become dangerous and life-changing within in a blink of an eye. 

The purpose of the book is to demonstrate how the simplest actions in the name of fun can have devastating consequences. Some results are everlasting and can’t be undone. And the circumstances and decisions themselves, due to the maturity level of impressionable teens, is often confusing and leaves lasting emotional scars that can take years to overcome, if ever. Consequences of reckless actions can put kids, families, friends, and communities at risk. I hope that the story I’ve written triggers discussions, emotions, and allows teens—girls and boys—to make smart, intuitive decisions, and that they remember to respect each other’s boundaries.

I understand that the Young Adult (YA) category covers the ages of thirteen through eighteen years. But I believe impressionable teens—thirteen through sixteen years old—aren’t as emotionally mature as the older teens, yet they’re in the same category. For this reason, I intentionally kept the language and descriptive scenes in Bitter Betrayal clean so all teens could enjoy the book. The book is a two-time award-winner (The Mom’s Choice Awards® Gold. (MCA) evaluates products and services created for children, families, and educators. The program is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services, and an Apple Literary Summer Ebook Award winner).  Here’s an excerpt; enjoy.

Cover for Me

“They say there are two sides to every story and somewhere in the middle lies the truth; there’s no exception to this one. But whose truth will you believe . . . his or hers?”

         DTB CU there!

         (Don’t text back see you there)

The message flashed across her phone, and that’s all it took. Not even a whole sentence and suddenly all she could think about was getting out of class. As her fingers frantically tapped away on her phone, Payton didn’t hear a single word from the kid speaking nervously in front of the class. Looking back, what was she thinking?!?!

Payton: Cover for me

Aubrey: Seriously?

Payton: Problem?

Aubrey: Yah

Payton: Really? J

         Aubrey: Nah

         Payton: K

         Aubrey: BTW 182

         Payton: U don’t hate me 🙂 Luv u

         Five, four, three, two, and the bell finally rang. Payton shot out the door. Aubrey, her best friend since sixth grade, shoved the books Payton had left behind in her own backpack. Payton’s behavior, though frustrating at times, wasn’t surprising. She was head crazy about that boy, Reece Townsend, and it helped that Aubrey liked him as well.

With less than ten minutes to freshen up, get across campus to her car, and make it to the dam in time to meet Reece, Payton didn’t have time for small talk with anyone. Dodging in and out of students, she avoided eye contact with as many people as she possibly could. The boy’s football coach, Coach Duncan, was headed her way. His voice, undeniably recognizable, bounced off the walls and echoed through the corridor before he was physically present. When finally in view, she purposely looked at her feet and rushed past him. No way did she want him stopping her and stalling her with questions about her brother and his playing time at college.

“Whoa girl, where’s the fire?”

Coach grabbed her arm as she tried to rush past him and her whole body swung around, forcing her to face him. Arm still in his grasp, he shook his head.

“Slow it down, girl! If only my boys had moved half as fast this morning.”

Managing a slight smile, she pointed toward the bathroom. Coach raised his hands in the air and shook them back and forth, stopping her from saying another single word. He wanted no part of what could pop out of that girl’s mouth. She was liable to say something for the shock value alone. He didn’t need to know, want to know, or care to know, for that matter. He let her on her way, no questions asked. A healthy spritz of perfume, lip gloss, duck-lip practice, and Payton climbed into her car. She must have sped, because she made it in record time.

“What took you so long?” he asked.

The love of Payton’s life, well, at least to a sixteen-year-old, love-struck teen. One look at his smile and she melted. It was bad enough that they attended different schools, but he was a senior, in the process of narrowing down his college options, which meant she’d be stuck there without him. The thought of it made her cringe. On a daily basis she obsessed about him leaving, even when he asked her not to, but she couldn’t help it. Not today, she told herself, pushing the thoughts out of her head.

The best part of his day was right then, as he watched her walk toward him. He was sitting on the back of his tailgate, swinging his legs back and forth, waiting for her to join him. He tapped the cool metal, her cue to jump up next to him. She grinned. So freaking hot! He always looked that way to her, and all she wanted to do was kiss that face of his! Her grin turned into a giggle.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“Nothing.”

“Whatever!” A cute smirk crossed his face. “Something, or you wouldn’t be laughing.”

She grabbed his face in her hands, laughed out loud, and kissed him before hopping up next to him on the tailgate. Right before she jumped up, Reece playfully pulled her back toward him instead. Now face-to-face, she brushed his sandy-brown hair to one side, revealing his green eyes. She could get lost in them; they were that pretty.

“What?” he asked.

“Nothing,” Payton giggled. “You grabbed me, remember?”

“I did. But why are you staring at me like that?”

His breath hit her face. Truth be told, all she wanted at that moment was for him to kiss her, really kiss her. Move, Payton. Move now, she thought as she stepped back and took a deep breath.

“I’m just looking at you, that’s all. You’re kinda cute like that.”

He rolled his eyes. But Payton could tell by the boyish grin on his face that her comment had pleased him. She loved that look on his face. He looked a few years younger, like a real kid. It was sweet. She stared a second too long, capturing that face a moment longer in her mind.

“You know I’m supposed to say that kinda stuff,” he said as seriously as he could, but it wasn’t working.

He tapped the tailgate again and held out his hand. So thoughtful! Payton thought, and this time she jumped up and joined him. The long cotton skirt she’d chosen to wear that day wrapped around her legs as she swung them back and forth off the back of the truck. Sandals, painted toes, and a T-shirt completed her outfit. Her long dark hair, with a delicate headband complimenting her outfit, finished off her look.

“You look hot. But I know you know that, so I’m not going to tell you!” He laughed. “Just kidding. You look amazing. Beautiful as usual!”

Payton’s face lit up. She leaned in and kissed him gently on the lips. Funny thing, though, she thought Reece was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. They’d actually argued about that statement once. Guys aren’t beautiful, he’d stated. They could be handsome. Good looking, sexy, dope, hot, or even cute, but not beautiful! Men were not beautiful. But it didn’t matter what he thought. To Payton he was, and she could look at him all day long.

“Hey, you never did answer my question,” he said.

“What question was that?”

“Why were you late?”

“You idiot!” She nudged him playfully. “I’m not late; you’re early, and for the record, I’m the one who’s usually waiting for you!”

He held her by the elbows, leaned in, and kissed her quickly on the lips. She would have kissed him back, but he’d already pulled away. Just as well, she wouldn’t have wanted to stop, and that wouldn’t have been good, since time wasn’t on their side.

“Aubrey covering for you?” he asked as he rummaged through a sack next to him.

“Yep. Advisory. Shouldn’t be too hard.”

She was always late getting back when they met for lunch, but there was no way she was going to tell him that. He’d cut their time short for sure. Payton had never struggled with confidence before Reece, but he unknowingly made her question herself. She didn’t need to worry, though; she was popular, a good student, considered hot, and well liked.

“Whole or half?” he asked, holding a sandwich in his hand.

“Half,” she answered, knowing she couldn’t eat in front of him anyway.

The breeze was cool but not cold, a perfect day for a picnic on the back of her boyfriend’s truck. Why did they have to go back to school?

         Reece’s phone buzzed. She didn’t glance at it, but she wanted to. It buzzed again. He didn’t read the text, but did check the time. Pointing at the sandwich she hadn’t touched, he nudged her to take a bite. She didn’t think he’d noticed she hadn’t eaten, but he had.

“We’re going to be late if you don’t hurry up. Eat.”

She leaned into his arm. It felt good just being close to him. The feeling of closeness made her want to kiss him, and she had no idea if he knew that. It was so stupid and irritating that she felt this way every time they were together. Not to mention when it was time to head back to school. It made leaving incredibly difficult. Payton missed him before they’d even left. Surely this was normal for a teen like her, wasn’t it? She looked at her sandwich just as Reece took a bite of his.

“I’m not really hungry.” She hesitated for a second, opened up her mouth to speak, but closed it again.

“What is it?” he asked, knowing she wanted to say something.

The words unexpectedly flew out of her mouth, surprising even her.

“We could cut class.”

Reece’s eyes darted toward her.

“Stay here and hang out a bit longer,” she added.

Payton Phillips suggesting they cut class. Sweet! He wasn’t sure if he was shocked, but he was definitely impressed that it was her idea. They’d been together nearly two years, but she’d never once insinuated they should cut class before. Grinning, he shook his head.

“I can’t. I’ve got a test this afternoon. No pass, no play, remember?”

Even though she knew he was right, her heart sank.

“But I can’t believe you just suggested that—it’s something I might think of, might, but I didn’t think you would.” Reese took a drink of his Coke. “Um. OK then. I think you just kinda got yourself in a bind. I might hold you to it later!”

She didn’t care. Hell, Advisory or Reece?
Seriously . . . was that a real question? Worth the trouble if she got caught? Hell yeah! Reece jumped off the tailgate of his white dodge and stood in front of her. One arm wrapped around her neck, one around her waist, he kissed her, a real kiss, and she kissed him back. An incoming text interrupted them. Flushed cheeks, heart racing, and although Payton wouldn’t have agreed in that moment, it was for the best that the text came in. They may not have left that spot for a while longer, and then they both would have been late. Not to mention Aubrey couldn’t cover for that long. After all, Aubrey wasn’t a miracle worker. Covering for lunch and half of sixth period, Advisory, was no problem, but more than that rose the red flags. Reece’s phone buzzed again; this time he answered the text.

Reece: K CUS – DTB

         (OK See you soon, don’t text back)

“Hey, can I ask you a question?”

Reece shrugged his shoulders. “Sure.”

“How come when you text me sometimes, and apparently others.” Her raised eyebrows indicated she’d read his response.

“Yeah,” he said hesitantly.

“You don’t let me text you back?”

He looked puzzled.

“What are you talking about?”

“What’s with the DTB, don’t text back?” she asked.

Reece shoved his phone into his back pocket and packed up the trash. Payton waited for his response.

“What? Seriously?” He laughed. “That’s your question?”

She nodded. “Yeah. That’s it,” she said, moving her foot in tiny circles in the dirt. “Like, if you text me first, why can’t I text you a response back?”

He grabbed his phone and pointed to her texts. Now she wished she hadn’t asked such a stupid question. It felt like she was invading his privacy or something, but a simple explanation hadn’t seemed too much to ask for a second ago.

“Really, you want to know why?” He didn’t wait for a response. “It’s simple. Sometimes I’m in class. Sometimes I can’t talk for various reasons. Like right now, I’m here with you, and dip-wad Walker is looking for me. Or sometimes I’m driving, at practice, whatever.”

He glanced at his phone to check the time. “But right now I’ve gotta go, and so do you.”

DTB. A way to communicate without communicating. Cute, wasn’t it? Was it? Why was she suddenly questioning it?

Amanda M Thrasher Website

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Amanda Thrasher, Article, author, books, Cereal Authors, Life, Literary, Sharing, Social media, writer's life, YA

BACK TO SCHOOL – BULLIES DON’T CARE

Back to school is right around the corner; some kids have already started the new school year, while others make final preparations. Usually, it’s an exciting time, but some kids dread the thought of going back to the place they feel the most insecure or where they’re an easy target for others entertainment. Bullying comes in all forms such as verbal, physical, isolation, and bullies themselves are often hard to identify. Sometimes they’re the stranger in the shadows, others, they’re the most popular kids on campus, and sometimes they hide behind being kind and respectful. But these days any kid given the right circumstances such as being in a group egged on by their peers, hiding behind a device, can feel empowered, and  become hateful or bolder in their word choices than they normally would to others.

Social media has played a huge role over the years desensitizing kids to bullying acts that occur both physical and verbal. Behavior once considered unacceptable has slipped into the realm of socially acceptable, not only in teenage circles but often in households all across the world. Watering down meanness and turning it into humor is unsettling to me as a parent.

Outrageous name-calling or verbal onslaughts for the sake of the latest trend or lingo, can often turn conversations into subtle attacks that can cause harm and inflict damage in less than ten words. Especially if one has no idea how fragile the other person on the receiving end might be. Words and rumors causing reputations to be ruined, individuals isolated, and unfortunately, too many times we’re witnessing the unthinkable when tweens, teens, and sometimes even adults take their lives without a solid punch ever being swung. Weapon of choice these days? Phones mostly, but bullies aren’t limited to those, tablets, and the ol’ desk top still works as well. 

Teen language and lingo is so foreign to me, it changes daily, and I have two teens still at home. It often sounds like slang bombardments with laughter attached. “I hate you.” “Everyone hates you.” “No one likes you.” “Drink bleach.” “Kill my self.” And I hate this one, “Kill yourself.” “Do it!”

If questioned the standard answer is the same, “I was just kidding,” or “It’s a joke.” Alternatively, “I didn’t mean it!” But unfortunately, fragile teens will take those type of words literally to heart. It wears on them and breaks them down. One has no idea of the fragile state of mind of young teens, many who are legally medicated without others knowledge.

According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year. However, for every successful suicide, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Unfortunately, many of those are related to bullying. Cyberbullying is experienced on some level by many kids today. Kids are killing themselves because the bullying is torturing them and affecting them to such a degree they’d rather be dead. How disturbing is that! Again, no one can tell how the fragile state of mind is of the child on the receiving end. Disturbing.

I was inspired to write a book that addresses bullying and teens, The Greenlee Project, it’s a MCA® winner for YA and General Fiction and has been named among the best in family-friendly media, products, and services by the Mom’s Choice Awards®. It also won for YA and General Fiction at NTBF. The Greenlee Project demonstrates the effect of using social media negatively. How it affects the victim, family, friends, communities, and even the bully or bullies that are sending the damaging texts. So-called good kids, unexpectedly, become the so-called bad kids. How? Easy, one touch of a button; send!

During my research for The Greenlee Project, I observed teens on different campuses, sat at football games and in cafeterias with the teens. Visited libraries, and interviewed teens, teachers, parents, and counselors. I have teens of my own, and my house is often full of kids. But I can honestly say I was shocked about some of the things I learned during my research.

We all know that bullying has existed for years, but no one will argue today it’s a different world. Social media can put the victim on a public platform delivering the maximum amount of damage within seconds. It spreads like wildfire. 

We can’t take away nor do I suggest taking away devices. But be vigilant. Watch your teens. Bullies pick on kids of all sizes and economic status. They do not discriminate and most victims, once tweens or teens, do not openly share their feeling of being abused by other kids. If you’re looking for a book that will open up a conversation about this topic, girls, and boys, read The Greenlee Project with your teen. I gurarentee emotions will brought to the surface and a discussion will start. There are even discussion questions in the back of the book to assist with the topic. Don’t wait. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes.

Greenlee Lynn Granger is about to find out the meaning of technology used as a malicious tool: a normal teen one day, and ruined the next. Who knew a boy’s affections could turn her life into such turmoil? Becoming a designated project, a joke in front of the whole school, turns Greenlee’s life upside down. What she does next is shocking. An emotional glimpse into the reality of cyber bullying : cruel betrayal of such magnitude devastates Greenlee. Greenlee knows her choices will determine the future of her abusers. Her relationship with her family and friends strained, she’s forced to make mature decisions. Cyber bullying affects the victims and everyone who surrounds them. What a waste: what path will Greenlee, her persecutor, and family take?
We have all seen the devastating and lasting effects upon children, teens, their families, and the community as a whole, due to bullying and cyber bullying. This book sheds light on the impact that the bullying act has not only on the victim but also on the families of the victim and the bully, teachers, communities, friends and the person acting as the bully. Greenlee’s strength, courage and determination to stand up and right this grievous wrong is encouraging and inspiring. Greenlee could be any girl, anywhere, in America. And Clay Monning, a star athlete, could be any parent’s great kid. Peer pressure, bad decisions with horrific consequences, changes everything for both of them. Good kids, turned bad. How? Social media.

Reviewed by Stephen Fisher for Readers’ Favorite

The Greenlee Project by Amanda thrasher is a brilliantly written story about a selected few students who are considered to be the B.P. (Beautiful People) who truly believe that it is they who run the high school that they attend in today’s electronic society. The story begins with Greenlee Granger, a fourteen-year-old girl who is going through a huge social dilemma at school. After her father drops her off at school, instead of going inside, she decides to take a long ride on a public bus. Time doesn’t seem to exist until she finally gets let off, God knows where, in a town 20 miles away. She finally gets back to reality and calls her father to pick her up.

From here the story unfolds as you get to know her circle of friends and social status, as well as the cute new boy that just transferred to her school. Clay joins the football team because he was the star quarterback where he came from. Now he has to prove himself and make the team. When it comes time for him to be initiated, he is allowed to decide the ritual, and sets out to make it a memorable one, so he proposes “The Greenlee Project.” The only people that can know about the initiation are his new team mates. That is until queen bee, Laurel, sets her sights on Clay as well.

Amanda Thrasher does a superb job of describing the intense situations that arise when the elite crowd’s attention is threatened by those that they feel are beneath them. Ms. Thrasher also delivers the pressures that the B.P. experience to maintain their status quo. All of her characters are well developed and, by the end of this powerful story, Amanda adds some unexpected surprises that really put a twist in the outcome. The Greenlee Project is an eye opening, powerfully written book that I highly recommend for teenagers, faculty, and parents. Well done!

Author Website Amanda M Thrasher

The Greenlee Project

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Amanda Thrasher, books, Cereal Authors, childrens stories, Excerpts, Fiction, Life, Sharing, Uncategorized, YA

BITTER BETRAYAL

My new book BITTER BETRAYAL like the award-winning title, The Greenlee Project, focuses on consequences of action. I’m passionate about protecting impressionable teens that are between the ages of thirteen and sixteen years olds. Teens this age fall into the YA category, which caters up to eighteen years old, but there’s a huge maturity difference between a thirteen and eighteen-year-old teen, so I have to write carefully. In today’s world with all of the technology and freedoms that teens have, every parent thinks their kid is protected and makes wise choices, but they are wrong. Dating has been complicated these days as kids hook up and have casual sex because it’s what kids do at parties if they’re a couple or not, at least that’s what the kids are saying. Their answers, “That’s what kids do, kids have been doing it for years.” And they have, right? Does is it make it right? But when alcohol and minors are involved, dating or not, he said she said, becomes the question of the day, and whose version of a terrible truth does one believe when innocent lives are at stake? “If you have a daughter or a son, who do you protect? Or how do you protect them? Whose version of the story do you believe?” Everything is fun and games until it gets out of hand and complicated!

Excerpt of BITTER BETRAYAL Copyright © 2017 Amanda M. Thrasher

Chapter Eighteen 

Start Planning

Every kid who planned to attend Stacie’s lake party was preparing the necessary groundwork to avoid complications for when the actual event rolled around. Stacie had already discussed her plan with her partner in crime, Sophia, working out every detail to a tee. Sophia would spend the night at Stacie’s, then Stacie would go to Sophia’s; they’d make a routine out of it for the next few weeks. The night in question, party night, there shouldn’t be any red flags at all. And if there were, they had a plan for that as well. Sophia’s Aunt Chloe, would put in a text on their behalf and if the text wasn’t enough, a call would be placed as backup. Patterns. Stacie had learned from her brothers that patterns didn’t raise red flags, but sudden changes in behaviors did. Stick with the pattern, and worse-case scenario her parents might make a comment about her staying at her friend’s home too much, but it wouldn’t be weird or out-of-the-norm behavior for her.

“That’s a great idea!” Sophia agreed.

“Right!” Stacie said proudly. “It’s practically a no-fail plan if we start getting them used to it now. They’ll think we’re just taking it in turns, yours, mine, yours, mine, sometimes yours, and then mine, and we’re home free!”

Sophia took a sip of her Coke and tried to calculate how many people would show up. Imagining each face of those they’d invited and had said they’d be there, she quit counting after thirty.

“Dang, girl, it’s going to get too big if we’re not careful.”

Stacie wasn’t worried. She had every intention of making sure everyone stayed outside of the house as much as possible. There was plenty of room, no need really for anyone to go in and out of the cabin, except maybe the girls to use the bathroom. The guys, hell, she’d seen her brothers disappear behind a tree on numerous occasions out there in the woods. Her mind was focused on food, as in snacks, and alcohol, as in beer and whatever else they could get away with that night.

“I’m already nervous, about your dad, I mean. And the beer part; not sure about that.”

“Don’t talk like that,” Stacie said somberly. “You’ll make me second-guess myself. I don’t need to envision him and what he’d do to me if he had any idea what I’m planning. He’d absolutely freaking kill me!”

Sophia hesitated, and then asked Stacie a question she wasn’t sure her friend would answer. “Then why do it Stacie, the risk? It’s crazy. You know what I mean.”

“Do what?” Stacie purposely avoided the question, knowing exactly what Sophia wanted to know.

“Why risk him finding out? You get away with so much; I mean really, compared to most kids. Let someone else throw a party. You could let someone else take that kind of risk.”

Stacie stared out of her bedroom window. She thought about the question that Sophia had just asked. Why did she take such stupid risks? This one by far the worst she’d ever contemplated taking, and if she pulled it off, what next? But why risk literally making her father so furious? She could lose her car, be grounded for life, have her brothers hate her for embarrassing them, her dad the Coach, and her mother would look at her with such disappointment in her eyes that it would hurt. Why? She thought about all of the times they had moved. All the tricks and stunts she had pulled over the years, no one had asked her this question before. Being asked such a question head-on irritated her and made her feel uncomfortable. She didn’t have an acceptable answer, because there wasn’t one. Taking the risk made her feel like she was in control of something and that certainly was an unacceptable selfish answer. Stretching out onto her bed, she finally answered Sophia. She said the most shocking thing she could think of, but her answer didn’t surprise Sophia, though she’d hoped for something different. Her answer was chilling and convincing.

“I guess because I can.”

Sophia’s phone buzzed, and she held it up to show Stacie the message. Her mom’s response was “yes.” Stacie could spend the night, but she had to pick up her clothes. Phase one in motion; phase two, start stockpiling snacks; phase three, work on possibly hiding beer and a bottle of liquor. She could swipe beer from the fridge in the garage, a few from the house, and find a spot to hide them from her parents and brothers when they came home. Oh and don’t forget the housekeeper—she’d have to think about that one; she’d need a secure hiding place. But that was going to be the easy part. Phase four, getting everything to the lake house, unnoticed: that was going to be difficult.

“I don’t want people to feel like they have to drink it though, the beer and stuff, you know what I mean?” Stacie stated. “I do know I don’t want to be responsible for that, pushing alcohol on anyone. That I know is way bad, off limits. Gotta be their choice.”

Sophia started to laugh and interjected something for Stacie to consider. “Yes. I get it! Can I make a suggestion?”

Stacie nodded. “Shoot.”

“I don’t think you should supply it at all—liquor or beer. Or even suggest or recommend it. In fact, I don’t think you should insinuate it’s OK to bring it or anything at all relating to it, if you know what I mean.” She raised her hands to silent Stacie when she tried to object. “Let me finish. Look, you’re already risking the party. But if you supply the alcohol or say it’s OK that people bring it and someone gets sick or worse, and your parents or their parents find out, can you seriously even imagine? Stacie . . . your dad is the new coach.”

Surprisingly, Stacie didn’t object. “I could just say bring what they want to drink. Then it’s up to them, not me.” She smirked. “Because I already know they’ll bring it. It’s what they do. Right! No worries; they’ll be plenty of booze.”

“That’s a great way out of it. That way you’re supplying the venue but not any alcohol. Who knows what they’ll bring, but you’re not the one who’s supplying it.” Sophia lowered her voice, as if she shouldn’t say it for fear of upsetting her friend. “If we’re lucky, they really won’t be a bunch of alcohol there. We don’t need the trouble.”

It was decided right then and there: that’s what they would do. When the time came, they’d announce that everyone coming to the party would bring their own beverage. Stacie would never admit it, but she felt one hundred percent relieved about that scenario. Why couldn’t she just tell her friend the truth: she didn’t want to be responsible for kids on booze anyway. It made her feel semi-responsible while being completely irresponsible. She pushed the irresponsible part out of her head. Who didn’t have parties at their age? It’s just that hers would be ten times better than everyone else’s. Keep blocking out the negative, focus on the positive, she told herself. At least there would be no drinking and driving, and no trashing the house or damaging property. Think of it like a great big camping trip for teens. That was responsible, wasn’t it? That was the theme. Camping party for teens, with no mention of alcohol at all. They would focus on cooking, hanging out, and fun for everyone!

***

Reece couldn’t wait to text Payton. Surely she was over being disappointed and mad at him; the excitement of spending extended time together had seemed to help. Not to mention they still had plenty of regular date time to hang out, prepare, and anticipate the big party ahead. It was all everyone in their circle was talking about—a night at the lake, all night.

Reece: Can’t wait to see you. Picnic?

Payton had a test, but when it came to that boy, she couldn’t say no, and without hesitation she texted back.

Payton: OMG Yes. Can’t wait!

Reece: love ya DTB

She didn’t try to analyze why she couldn’t text him back. Maybe he was driving or was about to hit the locker room shower. Who knew? All she cared about right then was that in a few hours she’d be at meeting that boy at the dam. From there, she knew she’d hop into his truck, plant a great big kiss on that beautiful face, and they’d head to their tree by the lake. Texts to Aubrey to make sure she’d cover her during lunch and advisory, no problem. Quick text to Maddie; she’d know how to get out of the make-up test that she was scheduled to take after she’d been sick. A great knack that Maddie had was thinking on her feet. She was always good with coming up with excuses if someone needed one—plus an added benefit, the teachers loved her!

Maddie: Easy peasy. Tell her you’re double-booked for tests due to being out sick, but immediately ask if you can come back by after school to take it. Chances are she doesn’t want to stay late and will reschedule for lunch tomorrow.

Great idea. Payton recognized that asking the teacher if she could come back the same day after school and take the test showed that she was sincerely sorry for missing it in the first place, booking two tests during the same lunch period, and she was trying to keep up her grade. Again, Maddie had come up with another great idea on the spot!

Payton: Do you think she’ll check with Ms. Taylor?

Maddie: Nah. Why would she?

Payton: True.

Payton: Thanks.

Maddie: No problem.

As soon as the bell rang, Payton ditched her friends and literally ran to her car. Reece was already waiting for her when she arrived at the dam. Pulling up next to him, he rolled down his window as she parked and climbed out of her car. His smile radiated across his face, making Payton smile too. She couldn’t see his pretty green eyes, because his shades covered them. Hopping into his truck, she leaned over, held his face in her hands and kissed him hello. He reciprocated, kissing her back just as sweetly. As soon as they pulled up to their spot, Reece parked under the branches of their tree.

“Let’s eat,” he insisted, pointing to two brown paper sacks on the floorboard.

They jumped out of the truck and perched themselves on the back of his tailgate. Perfect picnic weather: clear, with lots of sunshine and a cool breeze. Rummaging through the sack, Reece handed Payton her favorite sandwich. He smiled, knowing he’d done a good job with his restaurant selection. Pleasing her pleased him.

“I want you to eat that, now, ya hear?” he mocked playfully.

“Thanks, Dad, I will,” she replied, knowing he was watching her eat.

She’d never been so relieved that she accidently looked decent. Her outfits were typically planned, but she’d half haphazardly thrown together something that morning. Her jeans fit her perfectly, and the light sweatshirt she’d pulled out of her closet complimented her casual look, black, low-top converse, and she looked cute.

It didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to Stacie’s party. Surprisingly, Payton brought it up first.

“Give me the details. I can’t stand it.”

Recce took a bite of his sandwich, washed it down with a swallow of water, and dove into his bag of chips. Making her wait for information was fun. Payton wasn’t good at being patient, and knowing he had information she wanted made him laugh. She asked him again, only this time she had that whiney girlfriend-working-it voice, not quite irritating, but almost.

“Seriously. C’mon babe. I’m dying here. Give me details!”

“You already know most of them,” Reece said. “Stacie’s throwing a party at her parents’ lake house, we’re invited, and it’s going to last all night due to location. The real question is, how are we going to pull it off?”

Payton’s entire face lit up. She didn’t even care that it was at Stacie’s parents’ lake house. She heard two things, “all night” and “Reece.” Her eyes sparkled, and she tried to contain her excitement. She already knew, just like Stacie, that she was going to pull her friends Aubrey and Maddie in her plan. Schedule a sleepover night, but one without raising any concerns. It wasn’t unusual for them to spend the night at each other’s houses, but Payton felt the need to secure that date. She thought if she had a viable reason in place that she’d be gone, and her parents checked up on her, all would pan out.

“I feel as if I should come up with something more than a sleepover, like a sleepover for a reason, to ensure that date is blocked.”

“Whatever you think will work, do it. Anything in particular in mind?” Reece asked.

“Maybe an opening of a movie, like we plan a sleepover specifically because we’re going to said movie.” Payton looked down at her legs, which were swinging back and forth as she sat on the edge of the tailgate.

“I think you’re way overthinking it,” Reece stated. “Just stick with the sleeping at Maddie’s or Aubrey’s and have them do the same. Worse-case scenario, you can always say miscommunication and you ended up at the wrong house.”

Payton agreed that might the best way to go, if she couldn’t come up with a viable excuse for the date in question. Lying to her parents made her nervous. But going to the party and spending extra time with Reece suddenly seemed worth it. She couldn’t believe she’d have a whole night with him. The excitement and anticipation of being with him for so long was consuming her every thought. He was excited as well, but showed it differently than she did. He’d already prepared his own groundwork. He’d be going fishing and four-wheeling for the weekend at Trevor’s Dad’s place, with Cody and a few other guys. If a group of boys were going, his dad would probably talk openly with the boys. They all had the same story and Reece had even pulled in Royce as back-up. As an added bonus, Trevor had asked his dad if he really would take them out to their hunting lease or at least to go fishing and ride the four-wheelers, in the next few weeks. His dad not only agreed, but started making plans as well. Only downside that they could see, which wasn’t a downside at all, they’d be taking a boys trip!

Reece’s phone vibrated and a message flashed across the screen. Payton never asked who it was, but she was dying to find out. He never mentioned it, but tapped away, ending with the infamous DTB. They wrapped up lunch and sat and visited for a few minutes in the bed of his truck. She didn’t want to leave, and truth be told, he didn’t either. Sitting in between his legs, his arms wrapped around her, she wished the party was already here. His warm breath hit the back of her neck. She took her hands and ran them softly through the back of his hair. Turning around to face him, she stared into his green eyes. He pulled her closer and kissed her. She kissed him back. Her phone broke the momentum this time; alarm, time was up. She had to go. Seeing him during the week always made her happy, but leaving him was always hard. She never dreamed, at her age, she could feel the way she did. Once last kiss and another, and then one more, before Reece finally peeled himself away and said goodbye.

BITTER BETRAYAL Copyright © 2017 Amanda M. Thrasher

Amanda M. Thrasher

BITTER BETRAYAL