Above-All-Cover-1A little teaser from ABOVE ALL, coming out on FRIDAY!

Ben’s cheeks were dotted with pink. His long hair hung in his eyes, the stubble growing in around his jaw. He smelled so strongly of campfire smoke, she wanted to bury her face in the crook of his neck and breathe it all in.

She wanted to slam the door in his face too. She knew she looked a mess in her pajamas with her hair tangled and eyes rimmed from all the bourbon. What was he doing here?

He held up two black blobs. Casey stared.

“Your mittens,” he prompted, and at last she remembered having taken them with her to the campsite, what seemed like ages ago. “You forgot them.”

“Thanks.” She extended her hand, genuinely glad he’d returned them. She would have been disappointed to lose Hannah’s handiwork after so many years.

She thought there’d be some kind of moment—some buildup or conversation or indication beyond “your mittens” and “thanks” to signal that what she’d been imagining nonstop for the whole day was about to come true.

But there was no magic moment. It just sort of happened. As if it were inevitable.

As if there were no other way.

All of a sudden his lips were on hers, his mouth hot and sweet with cider and smoke, his strong arms holding her up as her knees threatened to give way underneath.

His tongue searched hers gently, then insistently, and it was as if her whole body was liquid, drunk with wanting. She hooked her fingers through his belt loops and pulled him toward her. Even with all the cloth between them, the flannel and fleece, she could feel his body pressed against hers, fitting with her perfectly, shoulder to shoulder, hip against hip, his fingers buried deep in her wild red hair.

The kiss was long but over too soon. He pulled away softly and she looked up into his eyes, unable to make sense of how one kiss could do this much. It was as if everything she was had melted into him and now she wasn’t sure where she ended and the rest of him began.

But instead of pulling him tighter as she wanted, she loosened her grip on his waist. The momentary pause had given her time to think again, and it was insane what they had done. Her mind screamed at her heart and everything pounded in her head. What was she doing?

Ben seemed to sense her uncertainty, but he only smiled. He knew she would come around—there was no reason to push. He kissed her once more on the mouth, softer this time. “Goodnight,” he whispered, and his breath on her ear sent a shudder all the way down her spine.

He turned and trotted off into the darkness, leaving her to her thoughts. Making sure that the next time she saw him, she’d be able to think of nothing else.

She stood for a long time in the doorway, clutching her mittens, her pajamas slightly askew and her mouth open in shock.



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