Title: Painted Boots
Author: Mechelle Morrison
Release date: July 15, 2013
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: mature Young Adult
Event organized by: AToMR Tours
It’s been four weeks since I poured my heart against Kyle’s sleeve. Four weeks since we gave each other a full body hug on the front porch of my house. That day had me feeling so good about things: about Mom and life, about going on. But since that day Kyle and I have hardly spoken.
I don’t get it.
He frowns through class, with his head down. No more poetic insights. No thoughtful answers. When we cross paths in the hall he says, “Hey Aspen,” and keeps on walking, pretending he can’t see the questions burning in my eyes. It’s pathetic, but the more he ignores me the more I listen to his music on YouTube, feeling stupid for telling him about my mom, stupid for falling apart in his arms. I hate how inside I seem broken, like telling Kyle the truth has come back to mock me, shredding my new-found happiness with the same precision a magpie exhibits for road kill.
When her father drags her to a new life in Wyoming, Aspen Brand doesn’t expect to fall for a cowboy named Kyle Thacker—but she does. At seventeen, Aspen and Kyle share unexpected ground: guitar, running, physics. And guilt. Aspen blames herself for her mother’s car accident, while Kyle can’t find a way past his brother’s suicide.
On their first date they open up to each other, forging an unbreakable bond between them. But Kyle has spent two years living with a vicious secret—one his ex-girlfriend will do anything to protect—and sharing his truth with Aspen makes her a target. Now if Kyle is to be her love story, Aspen must first win the fight of her life.
Above us, the Christmas lights flicker.
I know about sex and stuff—I mean, Mom bored me with her lectures until I thought I’d scream. And I’ve seen my share of movie-love, so it’s not like I don’t know the motions. But none of that is this. This is me alone, with Kyle touching my body and tasting my mouth and pressing against my legs. I’ve never let a guy get this far. Some inner boundary has always clicked in my head. But I’m not feeling boundaries now. I want Kyle’s hands on my bare skin. I want his touch. I want to explore him and be explored, but I should probably tell him, “I’m not ready for sex.”
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As Kyle walks to my bedside, my eyes fill with tears. I want him to wrap his arms around me and hold me like he’ll never let me go, the way he did the day we danced together at Monsters Stomp. I want to hear his beautiful, tenor voice telling me everything will be all right, that his heart hasn’t changed. But all he does is hunch over me, resting his forearms on the white railing between us. When Kyle gathers my hand in his, Dad coughs and mumbles something. Then Dad’s gone.
Maybe Kyle was waiting for Dad to go. Maybe now he’ll pull off his boots and climb up next to me and settle by my side. I want to cradle my head on his shoulder while we talk and talk and talk. I crave the warmth of his body. I need the soothing sound of his voice. But he just stands there.
He inspects my hand for a while, rubbing his thumb across my knuckles with careful, light strokes, his wheels turning. Terrifying silence builds between us. I worry this is all too much for him, that knowing Em hurt me brings back too many bad memories of his own. It’s possible that what she did to me scares him, like he’s next or something. Maybe his demons are too strong, even stronger than all the intimate things we emailed back and forth: putting our bodies together and kissing and our future and stuff.
Kyle’s gaze shifts. He’s so intent on wherever he’s looking that I follow his stare to the far white wall of the room. A watercolor print hangs there, framed in cheap bleached wood, the flowery bouquet faded into tone-on-tone. As I look at it, the image blurs into nothing. I hate waiting on what he’s going to say. I don’t want to hear him grope around for a perfectly phrased good-bye. Not now. I draw one breath and turn to face him, determined to ask him what he’s thinking. It’s better just to know. But before I can speak, his eyes lock on mine.
About the Author:
Mechelle Morrison loves language--she's always wished she could speak and write them all. She lives for chocolate, lazy summer days, spontaneously funny things . . . and family. She's sort of scared of dogs.
When she's not reading or writing or wandering the world, she can be found in her backyard in Utah with her husband, their daughter and the bevy of quail that live behind their garage.
If she didn't write she'd make stop-motion animation shorts. So she does that anyway.
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Kyle pulls my boots from my feet then lifts my legs, gently easing me down until I’m lying flat on my back in bed.
He stands over me, deliberating, as I relax. “I need to see what happened to you,” he says.
“No, you don’t. It’s gross.”
He leaves me long enough to close his bedroom door, locking it with a firm click. “Let me see anyway.”
I reach for the buttons on my shirt, but my fingers only twist at the mother-of-pearl. “I can’t,” I say. “It’s too embarrassing.”
Kyle roughs his hair. He walks to the other side of his bed. After a few moments he removes his shirt and tosses it for a chair. He grabs the back of his tee and with both hands, pulls it over his head. The small white scars peppering his shoulders glow in the lamplight, like ice crystals on a frosted window. He folds the tee flat and shoves it under his pillow.
His boots are next, followed by the clink of metal on metal, soft as distant bells, as he unfastens his belt. He unbuttons his jeans and takes them off one leg at a time, revealing green plaid boxers.
“Um. What are you doing?” I ask.
He snuggles into the covers then, pulling the sheet and comforter over himself. My side twinges as my body tilts toward his weight. After a bit of wriggling, his boxers and thick gray wool socks fly for the chair. “Naked communication,” he says.
Event ‘Giveaway’: The author is hosting a Release Giveaway
(2) Signed Print Copies of Painted Boots – US/Canada
(1) Swag: Ceramic mug from the author’s ‘AspenBlovesKyleT’ Etsy store (a mug with the lyrics from Kyle’s songs on it) and (1) Pair of Vintage Earrings – US/Canada
(2) eBook Copies of Painted Boots - International
US/Canada Items Code:
International Items Code:a Rafflecopter giveaway