Some people wait decades to meet their soul mate. Courtney Kaufman suspects she met hers in high school—only to lose him at seventeen. Since then, Courtney’s social life has been a series of meaningless encounters, though she’s made a few close friends along the way. Especially her roommate, Max Cooper, who oozes damaged bad-boy vibes from every pore.
Max knows about feeling lost and trying to move beyond the pain—he’s been on his own since he was sixteen. Now it’s time to find out if he can ever go home again, and Courtney’s the only one he trusts to go with him. But the trip to Providence could change everything…because the more time he spends with Courtney, the harder it is to reconcile what he wants and what he thinks he deserves.
It started out so simple. One misfit helping another. Now Max will do anything to show Courtney that for every heart that’s ever been broken, there’s another that can make it complete.
“Hey,” I said, before they could notice me staring. “I think you’re waiting for me?”
“Oh, hey.” The girl hopped up to clear the chair for me. “I’m Dana. I bet Ji Hoo that it was another prank call.”
“I should’ve taken your money,” the blond guy said.
He must be Ji Hoo.
“I’m Evan.” The guy radiated a thuggish vibe between the hair and his tattoos on his forearms. He had on an ouroboros ring that wrapped halfway to the knuckle of his middle finger. By the look of his hands, he was also the guitarist.
Dana waved at the seat. “Go ahead, I’ll tell you a little about the group before you play. If you don’t like what you hear, it’ll save you the trouble.”
“You want a beer?” Ji Hoo asked.
When I nodded, Evan stood to get one from the bar. He was shorter than I’d have guessed from the width of his shoulders. He rapped on the counter, his voice a deep baritone rumble as he ordered my drink. I swung my gaze back to Dana, who was talking about Racing Sorrow.
“Ji Hoo and I are both majoring in music,” she was saying.
“Whereas I’m between academic engagements,” Evan added. “I was, but I lost faith in the system.”
“You were just too lazy to go to class,” Dana said.
Ji Hoo tapped out an impatient rhythm against the table. Betting he’s the drummer. “Do you plan to tell her about our sound at any point?”
That means Dana probably plays bass.
“I’m on it. Basically we play a 50-50 mix of original music and covers. Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, Imagine Dragons—”
“I think she gets the idea,” Evan cut in. “Can you sing?”
“Not well enough to front a group, but I can harmonize.”
“Alto or soprano?” Dana asked.
Ji Soo nudged her. “Five bucks says alto.”
“You win.” I told him.
Dana seemed pleased, at least. “Nice. I’m mezzo soprano. Ji Soo is tenor and Evan brings the bass-baritone.”
“We’ll talk about that later,” Evan said. “Back to basics for a minute. We’re folk rock-indie, harder than Mumford. If that sounds like your thing, go play a song.”
It took me a few seconds to realize they were all staring expectantly, waiting for me to respond. I bent down to check the sheet music and picked out Ho Hey by the Lumineers. Maybe this was a stupid idea since I’d never performed, not even a piano recital when I was eight. But at worst, I’d embarrass myself in front of the ten people currently in the bar.
Sitting down, I pretended I was home, playing in our dining room. The tinge of nerves faded when I imagined Eli sitting beside me. I delivered a simple, wistful version of the song devoid of showy flourishes. Lifting my head, I took a breath and faced my three judges.
Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. Ann likes books, emo music, action movies, and she writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens, published with Harlequin, Macmillan, and Penguin, among others.