About ALL PLAYED OUT:
First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? …..yeah, about that….
With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay… Scratch that. She knows she hasn’t had the full college experience).
So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a “to do” list of normal college activities.
Item #1? Hook up with a jock.
Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it’s impossible to get hurt… again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.
Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she’s never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he’s willing to take the chance when it’s more than just a game.
Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real.
He calls Carson, and that’s when I get the real explanation.
Nell is drunk, and Dylan doesn’t want to leave her home alone. When he hangs up the phone, I can’t hide my shock. “Nell is drunk? The Nell that lives with Dylan?”
“I’m in,” I say, and when we both look at Brookes, he’s watching me. And I can tell by the look he’s giving me that he knows I’ve got something going on with Nell and doesn’t approve. I lift an eyebrow in the most casual so-what? gesture I can offer.
He nods. “Sure. I’ll come.” But the words are said to me not to Silas, and I get the feeling what he actually means is, Sure. I’ll come watch and make sure Torres doesn’t do anything stupid.
We tell Silas to go on ahead, and we’ll come along in a few minutes. But as soon as Brookes is in his room, I jog after Silas, and catch him as he’s getting into his truck. “You mind if I catch a ride with you?” I lie, “Brookes got a call, and he’s gonna be a bit.”
While Silas drives, he has me text Brookes and McClain the address. Brookes wants to know why I left with Silas, but I’m not about to tell him that I didn’t want to spend the car ride with him harping on me to leave Nell alone.
Because I can’t leave her alone. I just can’t.
Silas parks the truck, and I follow him up a metal and concrete staircase to a second-floor apartment. He opens the door without knocking, and that’s when I see Nell standing on the coffee table with some big red-haired dude, singing Spice Girls at the top of her lungs. We step inside just as she’s telling him what to do if he wants to be her lover.
I think of her list. She told me getting drunk was on it, and all of a sudden I’m furious that this guy got to help her check that task off instead of me. “Nell,” I say, before I think better of it. She twists to see me, and her socked feet slide on the coffee table, and then she’s stumbling into the ginger giant, and both of them are going down. I dart forward, but I can’t catch up to her. They hit the ground with a thud, a groan, and Nell’s too-cute giggles. She’s lying right on top of him, and he has his hands on her bare back where her shirt has ridden up from the yoga pants that fit her like a fucking miracle.
She lays her head in the crook of his neck like she’s completely forgotten that I’m here. If I stopped to think, I’d have known how crazy it would look to storm over and tear her off the guy. I would realize what my actions would mean to Silas and Dylan. But I don’t think. I just know I can’t spend one more second watching her snuggled up against this guy without losing my mind. She squeals as I pull her up into my arms, and I don’t think her feet are even touching the ground.
“You okay?” I ask, but all she does is laugh again and lay her head on my chest. I catch a whiff of alcohol, a strong one, and I realize she really is completely smashed. She probably doesn’t have a clue who she’s snuggling up against. Probably can’t even tell the difference between me and whoever the fuck is on the floor.
But even if she doesn’t realize what she’s doing … it feels damn good to have her wrapped around me again, and for a few seconds it dazes me. Then I look up to find everyone in the room watching us.
I lock eyes with Dylan and say, “How did this happen?”
“I’m still working on that. As far as I can tell, she decided she wanted to invent her own cocktail, and she enlisted our friend Matt’s help.” Ah. Matt. He’s one of Dylan’s activist friends. I didn’t realize he was close to Nell, too. Nell points to him sprawled out on the floor and adds, “This is what happens when you spend all day trying lots of different mixes of alcohol.”
That seems to catch Nell’s attention enough to rouse her, because she pulls back and places both her small hands on my face.
“I figured it out. It took me a long time, but I got it. I call it Newton’s Third Law.”
“Get it? Yours was Bad Decision. And mine… is Newton’s Third Law.” She descends into giggles again, and I scan my minimal science knowledge to try and remember what she’s talking about. I’d taken a physics course last year for my kinesiology major, but I just barely scraped by. Unlike high school, where I was concerned with keeping up to impress Lina, last year I’d been mostly focused on forgetting her.
“Is that the one about actions and reactions?”
“Exactly! Every action has an equal and . . .” She pauses and swallows, and man, she’s so far gone. “Reaction. Equal and opposite reaction. So … action.” She gestures to an empty cup on the bar, then to her own drunken state. “Reaction.”
Then she does this little move that’s halfway between a fist pump and a celebratory dance. She’s so fucking adorable, it actually hurts. Somewhere between my chest and my stomach there’s a knot that twists every time I see her. And I’m starting to enjoy it, the strange pleasure pain of wanting her.
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ALL LINED UP, Book 1
ALL BROKE DOWN, Book 2
About Cora Carmack:
Cora Carmack is a twenty-something New York Times bestselling author who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She now splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City and spends her days writing, traveling, and spending way too much time on the internet. In her books, you can expect to find humor, heart, and a whole lot of awkward. Because let’s face it . . . awkward people need love, too.
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