I've teamed up with Sourcebooks Fire to share an excerpt and giveaway for Dare to Fall by Estelle Maskame!
I've never known why Monday gets all the credit for being the worst day of the week. I disagree entirely. Sundays are. There's just something so quiet and still about Sundays that I've really grown to hate. Maybe it's because half the town goes to church in the mornings, while the other half attempts to cook a pot roast before giving up and finally ordering takeout. That tends to be the case in my family at least. Or maybe it's because half the people we got to school with are at home rushing to finish all those assignments that have been left until the last minute, while the other half spends the entire day in Dairy Queen because there's nowhere else to go. We belong to the latter half.
"Do you want another?"
I didn't realize I'd zoned out until now. Tearing my gaze up from the table, I blink a couple of times at Holden while straightening up a little from my slouched position in the booth. I didn't even notice him get up. "What?"
Holden looks down at me and nods to the remainder of my iced coffee. There's only a small dribble left. "Do you want another?" he repeats.
"Oh," I say. "No thanks. I'm good."
As he turns around and heads to the counter to order again for what must be the fifth time tonight, I rub my hand over my face, remembering too late that I'm wearing two thick layers of mascara. I curse under my breath and grab my phone from the table, opening up my camera. My eyes are now smudged and rimmed with black. I reach for a napkin and try my best to clean up the mess I've made, but I only seem to make it worse.
Will lets out a laugh, and I fire a heavy glare across the booth. He's chewing on the straw of his chocolate shake, but he quickly ducks when I scrunch my napkin into a ball and hurl it at him.
"You'd think you were hungover," he says as he sits back up, flicking his hair out of his eyes.
I can't remember the last time he had a haircut, but he definitely needs one.
"I'm just tired." I breathe a sigh and turn my attention to the trash that's amassed on our table. I swear, all we do on Sundays is eat because there's nothing else to do in this town. There are at least half a dozen empty cups, three of which are mine, and most of the food wrappers are Holden's. The ice-cream tubs are Will's.
"Have you noticed who's here?" Will asks, lowering his voice. He tilts his head down and leans over the table, subtly giving a pointed glance over my shoulder. "I think this is the first time I've actually seen her out."
I shift in the booth and steal a quick glance behind me, and spot her immediately: Danielle Hunter.
Over in the booth right by the door, Danielle is sitting with her hands wrapped around a cup, her black hair falling over her eyes. She's with three other girls, all of whom are engaged in conversation, but Danielle is staring blankly at the table as though she is entirely tuned out of her surroundings. As I study her from across the restaurant, a lump forms in my throat. It's a surprise to see her here. She rarely goes out. No one ever sees Danielle Hunter anywhere other than school these days.
"Well," I murmur as I turn back around to face Will. "That's new." I steal another glance over my shoulder, feeling strangely unnerved by the sight of her. I haven't spoken to her in a long time, so I am praying she doesn't spot me, but I am intrigued by how alone she seems.
I only turn my attention away from her when Holden returns to the table with another burger, his third of the night, and slides back into the booth next to me. The football team lost against Pine Creek yesterday, so he's in a sulky mood, disappointed with his performance, and Will and I have agreed not to mention it.
I leave the two of them goofing around and head to the restroom. The closer it gets to ten o'clock, the more empty Dairy Queen becomes, though there're still some people from school hanging around. Once the manager kicks us out, that is: there's nowhere else to go other than back home. I briefly give Jess Lopez a smile and a "hey" as I pass her table, but she's with some girls I don't know all that ell, so I don't stop to chat.
I continue into the cramped restroom instead and lock myself in one of three tiny stalls. While I'm there, I send my dad a quick text to let him know I'll be home within the next hour, resigned to the fact that Sunday is almost over. I slip my phone into the pocket of my jeans as I unlock the door and swing it open. My heart stops for a split second when I glance up and there's someone there, standing motionless in front of the sinks. I hadn't heard anyone come in, and the moment I realize it's Danielle Hunter, I freeze on the spot. Her back is to me, but in the mirror's reflection, her eyes meet mine.
I haven't said more than a few words to Danielle since last year. I've barely seen her, and when I hve, I've never known how to act or what to say. So I just don't say anything at all. What are you supposed to say to someone who's grieving the death of her parents? I don't know. No one does.
But right now, I can't just turn my eyes to the floor and keep on walking like I would do otherwise. I'm suddenly aware of how small it is in here, and she's watching me with those blue eyes of hers. They are such a stark contrast with her newly jet-black hair that is just doesn't quite look right. Her entire face is blank, emotionless. I swallow and shift past her to the sink farthest away. I turn on the water, staring robotically at my hands as it cascades over my skin. Do I say something? I know I should, but I don't know what and I don't know how. My cheeks feel hot from the pressure bearing down on my while I deliberate over whether now is the right time to finally say something to Danielle Hunter. I have always wanted to talk to her again but never could.
I have the rest of the chapter that I would be more than happy to send to anyone who asks!!
US and Canada ONLY
Open December 4-31