The first standalone novel in the highly anticipated All Saints High series from author L.J. Shen is finally here, and I have a little sneak peek for you.
I run to the girls’ locker room across the football field. No one’s there anymore because I’m late for practice now. I swing the door open and lock myself inside a shower-changing stall, collapsing against its wall, dragging my back along ugly graffiti of slut-shaming words, some of it written by me. I rake my fingers down my face. Shit. Why did I have to bring Via up? Why am I such a jerk? The Hulk pounded his fists against my chest when we were out there. He told me not to show weakness.
So, why do I feel so weak?
I wipe my face, down a bottle of water, and unlock the door. When I step out, I rid myself of my dress, yank my locker open, take out my cheer uniform, and slam it shut. Behind the locker, a familiar face pops into my vision.
“Fight or flight?”
I jump back, my spine slamming against the lockers.
“What the hell, Scully?”
He’s in the girls’ locker room. In a school he doesn’t even attend. He’s got the word trouble written all over him, and if my dad ever finds out we were here alone, he is going to hang him by the balls on All Saints’ flagpole and let his broken legs flap in the wind.
Not to mention—he is seeing me next to naked. Again.
“Fight. I always fight. So, does your girlfriend know you slept with Blythe Ortiz and kissed me?” I smile sweetly, trying to look unaffected. I immediately regret my question. I’m not supposed to know about Blythe, and I’m not supposed to care that he kissed me.
Penn whistles, nodding. “Keeping tabs, Daria? I just showed you that I could have you whenever I wanted you. But it doesn’t matter what she knows or doesn’t know, because I don’t want you. My turn to ask a question.” He takes a step toward me, crowding me against the metal cabinets. The place is spacious, if not embarrassingly luxurious. The lockers are the color of our uniforms—blue and black—and there are fancy chrome sinks, glass-door showers, and upholstered navy benches our rich parents shelled out thousands for.
Penn’s gaze is so penetrating, my skin blossoms into goosebumps. Like he can see beneath my skin. I’m ugly behind the tan and makeup and mascara. All flesh and inner organs and blood vessels and hate. Marx, why am I so hateful?
“Are you actively trying to be a bitch, or does it come to you naturally?”
A little bit of both, the Hulk inside me explains. I’m naturally envious and petty, but being a bitch is a knee-jerk reaction when I feel threatened.
Of course, I would die before giving him a real answer. I run my cold gaze over his healing face. Perfectly troubled and gorgeously flawed, like Johnny Depp in What’s Eating Gilbert’s Grape. I’d flip my hair if he gave me room, but his body is flush against mine—much closer than he was when we were in my bathroom yesterday—and if I move, I’ll touch him. I want to touch him. Which is exactly why I won’t.
“When it comes to you?” I run my eyes over his face. “I’m a natural, baby.”