by Kimberly Loth
Publication date: March 21st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Every Sunday Savannah Ray gets an email from her dead dad. She doesn’t know how the emails work and she doesn’t mind either as she’s not ready to let go. Now that her mom is fed up of her rebellious behavior, she has to go to the one place she swore she’d never set foot in after he died—Haunted Valley, the amusement park. Once there and bullied by co-workers & customers, she is distracted by the charming Dallas and falls hard for him. But Savannah and Dallas both hold secrets that threaten their new relationship. Will Haunted Valley help her move on, or will it destroy her from the inside out?
Dallas sat on the rock, his face turned up to the sunlight. Damn, he was hot. My head went a little fuzzy. Whoa. Where did the nothing go? Feelings were coming more and more often now. It was crazy that I’d never felt a thing for Zane, but in less than two weeks I was feeling all kinds of crazy things for Dallas.
“I’m still not sure about this,” I said as we walked out into the park. He wore a real polo shirt with a popped collar and loose khaki shorts. Definitely a rich boy. Usually I avoided this type at school, they were cocky and never had the time of day for a girl like me unless I was the butt of a joke.
“Do coasters make you sick?” he asked.
“No, they just hold too many memories,” I kept my eyes trained on my tennis shoes instead of him.
“More cryptic answers. I’ll get them out of you one of these days.” I risked a look and he had that devastating smile plastered on his face again. If he kept looking at me like that, then he was right. I’d spill my guts faster than the Demon Drop plummeted.
All of the rides in Spook Alley were built with dark brown wood, and when I stepped inside I felt like I was in a massive haunted tree house with pictures of little witches and cute ghosts everywhere. The smell of cotton candy was overwhelming. Instead I inhaled deeply and smiled. Amusement parks always smelled like cotton candy. That and corn dogs.
He cocked his head.
“What?” I asked, suddenly self-conscious.
“You’re smiling a real smile. It’s a sight I don’t see very often. It’s much prettier than the fake one.”
“I smell cotton candy. It’s one of my favorite smells.”
He nodded. “I’ll remember that next time I buy cologne. Cotton candy and chocolate.”
I laughed. “Good luck with that one. FYI, chocolate scented things don’t really smell like chocolate. It’s the real stuff or nothing.”
“So if I carry a Hershey bar in my pocket, will that work?”
“No. That’s weak chocolate. Go European.”
He was quiet for a minute as we walked deeper into Spook Alley. The rides got smaller and smaller. I didn’t even know if we were allowed to ride them.
“Do heights bother you?”
“Not really.” I looked around at the little kid rides. All the lines were empty.
“Then the Sneaking Ghost it is.”
“Sounds scary.” I replied.
“Oh yeah, real scary.”
We climbed two flights of stairs and into a little ghost car. The girl checking our belts flirted with Dallas. I rolled my eyes. Was there any girl who didn’t want him?
“When are you going to come out with the Spook Alley gang again? We miss you.” She pouted a little. Unfortunately, it just made her look cute. He really could have anyone. No way he actually wanted me. This was either about Grant or chocolate.
He held up his hands in an “I don’t know” gesture.
“My evenings are a little full,” he said and put his arm around me. Some girls would’ve been ecstatic, but I was a little annoyed he used me to put her off. Shame on him to lead me on.
The car jerked a little and off we went. About two miles per hour on an elevated flat track. I shrugged off his arm.
“My, my, you are in high demand.”
He grimaced and rubbed the back of his neck.
“Obviously that was a total lie. Most nights I go home and read a book.”
I didn’t believe that for a second.
“Right and I party every night with a different guy.” I folded my arms in front of my chest. Why was I doing this again?
He sat back and looked out over the kids running around under the track. I thought maybe I’d offended him until he turned back to me, his eyebrows creased.
“It’s true. But I have an idea. Why don’t we hang out every night? Then I wouldn’t be lying, would I?”
I looked over at him and he smiled. I replied without thinking.
He put his arm around me again. This time I let him. The girl was nowhere in sight and so he wasn’t just using me. Plus, it felt nice. Then I immediately felt guilty. What right did I have to feel nice? Never mind that I was feeling again.
“Why are you so concerned with the little white lie?” I asked.
“I don’t like lying to people. Ever. But when she pounced on me like that I didn’t know what else to say.”
“I take it you don’t like her.”
He sighed and tugged me a little closer. My heart beat faster. I took a deep breath, hoping to still my heart. He didn’t seem to notice. A few kids screamed below us and I had to lean closer to him to hear. He had very nice lips. They weren’t cracked like a lot of boys’. He must use Chapstick or something.
“She’s nice enough. But she came with us to the casino last week and I couldn’t shake her off. She followed me around to all the tables. I’d finally found a slot machine deep in the middle of a crowd and I thought I’d lost her but just after I put a twenty into the machine the person next to me left and she sat down. She went on for thirty minutes about why we would be perfect for each other. As soon as she said the M word, I bailed. Left six bucks in the machine and didn’t look back.”
“The M word?”
I laughed. “Poor girl.”
He mocked outrage.
“Poor girl? Poor me. Well, not anymore, as my social calendar is now completely full. Thanks to an unsuspecting Savannah.”
The little ghost pulled back into the station and Dallas held out his hand to help me out. Instead of letting go, he adjusted his grip so that our fingers intertwined. His hand was smooth and his fingers swallowed mine.
The last time I felt butterflies was the summer before my sophomore year when Eddie kissed me on the Ferris wheel at the fair. So cliché, but I remembered the butterflies because Dad had died the following week. I hadn’t felt that way since. Even now my chest ached, the pain of my dad’s death as raw as it was two years ago. I shook my head. Empty. Go back to the empty.
Kimberly Loth can't decide where she wants to settle down. She's lived in Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Utah, California, Oregon, and South Carolina. She finally decided to make the leap and leave the U.S. behind for a few years. Currently, she lives in Cairo, Egypt with her husband and two kids.
She is a high school math teacher by day (please don't hold that against her) and YA author by night. She loves romantic movies, chocolate, roses, and crazy adventures. Kissed is her first novel.
Individual giveaways:One (1) ebook copy of Bittersweet.
End by May 10th, 2015.