Today, I have the distinct pleasure of hosting Jennifer Acres (one half of another husband and wife author team) for the debut of her novel On the Way to Simple!
Title: On the Way to Simple
Author: Jennifer Acres
Publication Date: December 6, 2016
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Amazon Link: http://amzn.com/B01LYWWN3I
About On the Way to Simple
Dakota Ames had everything under control, or so she thought.
Ever since her father's accident on duty as a fireman, she promised herself she would always have a plan. Life couldn't throw her a curve anymore.
That is until her best friend Alex enlisted in the Navy.
This couldn't happen. It wasn't part of her plan. She hadn't even worked up the nerve to tell him she loved him.
Alex was wrong to go and she was going to prove it. But when she meets Will, one of Alex's fellow recruits, she finds that things aren't always so simple.
About Jennifer Acres
Jennifer Acres' writing experience began back before she attended Houston Baptist University, where she earned a Bachelor of Music in Composition. She wrote three screenplays both during her time there and after, all of which received awards from the Houston International Film Festival. After working as a script supervisor in Houston and L.A., she discovered that she was in love with story and wanted to pursue writing novels.
So now, Jennifer is a YA and NA author who loves complex characters in emotionally moving stories. She writes to encourage empathy and understanding of one another. When she is not writing, she is often reading, crafting, and following her fandoms. Jennifer and her husband have made Houston their little corner of the world.
Find Jennifer Online!
Find Jennifer Online!
Full Name: Jennifer Acres Dailing
Twitter: @JenniferAcres https://twitter.com/JenniferAcres
Instagram: @JenniferAcres https://www.instagram.com/jenniferacres/?hl=en
Read the First Chapter!!
"You have to say something, Dakota. Tonight. The world will end if you don't." Kaylee's big, dark eyes were wide and excited as she followed me into my bedroom.
"It will not." I looked for a change of clothes to switch into before heading to Alex's house. I wouldn't be caught dead on his doorstep looking as grungy as I was after a full day of classes.
There was a long pause. She headed back into the living room of our little campus apartment. I almost stupidly thought she was done fighting this, but Kaylee always got her way and somehow made you grateful for it.
"My world will," she pouted.
"Your world cannot possibly be small enough to care whether Alex and I hook up."
"Yes, it can." I heard the grin in her pout.
I checked myself in the mirror. Somehow, no matter how girly the clothes I wore, I still looked vaguely like a boy. It's the only reason I kept my brunette hair long, so people would be able to tell the difference. Like when people put a bow on a bald baby's head so you'd stop calling her a 'cute little fella.'
Kaylee popped her head back in my bedroom door. She, on the other hand, had no problems looking like a girl. Not a girl, a full-fledged woman. She was an Amazonian goddess with a crown of natural curls and curves no plastic surgeon could ever sculpt. It almost made me more jealous than I was willing to admit, but no one could truly hate Kaylee. She had a way of making every single person feel like they were her favorite person on the planet.
Since she was my roommate, I had a slightly higher claim than the others.
I gave up my search and started changing into jeans and a tee. Alex couldn't care less if I was a girl or not. That was the thing about being best friends since kindergarten; the history made it impossible to hide anything right down to our deepest faults. That is, except the fact that I liked him as more than a friend. Otherwise, Alex knew all there was to know about me. There was no prettying up the wizard once he saw behind the curtain.
"Why is this so important to you?" I asked.
"Because I want you to be happy."
"I am happy."
"Mmhmm." She pursed her lips like I did when she said something stupid.
"I'm serious. Happy."
In a grand sweeping motion, she tossed herself down on my bed. She couldn't do anything without a little dramatic flair.
"Dakota, you're in love with him. Can't you just say it?"
Her words made me jolt. There was so much she didn't understand. I couldn't just come right out and say it. It would ruin everything. She knew I couldn't tell him. I had told her a million times before. I could name hundreds of reasons why I couldn't, but I only needed one.
I couldn't lose him as a friend if things didn't work out.
"It's not part of the plan," I said quietly, pulling my t-shirt over my head.
"Oh, screw your plan. What has your plan done for you lately?"
It hadn't done anything for me yet, but it would. Plans are for the long term, not what feels good in the moment. I had worked too hard to throw everything away. I had to graduate Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Business Marketing, which would get me a good, stable job, and then I could think about superfluous things like dating.
Alex certainly wasn't superfluous. If I tried to add him into the equation now... Would it be such a bad thing?
I grabbed my purse and backpack off of the floor next to the door.
"I have to go," I said.
"Wait, wait." Kaylee followed me to the front door. "Are you gonna tell him?"
Her eyes widened. "So, another night?"
I paused. I had to be careful what I said, or it could spell high pitched squeals of glee and another victory for Kaylee that I personally didn't need.
"I'm considering devising a plan for a later encounter. Possibly."
She seemed to deflate. "You know, you better say something soon or he's gonna stop waiting for you. He's a good guy. You keep pushing him away, and he's gonna stop trying."
I opened the front door. "Noted."
I closed the door behind me as fast as I could without being suspicious. The idea of Alex with someone else made me physically shake. He had always been my Alex, ever since the first day we met when my dad and I moved into that tiny house around the corner from his. It was a maddening thought, and also completely ridiculous. At least, that's what I tried to tell myself.
He would always be my Alex. My best friend. Telling him I loved him would ruin everything, plain and simple.
But could she be right? Was I pushing him away? No, he was an adult. He could say what he wanted whenever he wanted. He didn't need an invitation from me to speak. It was much more likely he wasn't interested in that way. Which was fine. I didn't need him to like me.
I needed him to be my friend.
The drive out to his house was a bit precarious. My crappy little Honda was already on its last legs when I bought it, but it was all I could afford. Luckily, Alex was a mechanic, so he kept it limping along the best he could. But I could feel it. My car was about to give up. It usually left me high and dry at the worst possible moment, like a no-show prom date, and it was about to leave me sobbing on the curb in a big poofy dress yet again.
Each turn I made got me a little closer to Alex's. I rubbed the dashboard and talked sweet to it, hoping to get close enough to his house. When I finally turned onto his street, I let out a little cheer.
After a few more knocks and a sputter, my car died.
I forced out a breath and angled my car at the curb as I coasted to a stop. It would have to stay parked there until Alex could check it. Thankfully, it broke down only about ten houses away from Alex's, so it would be a fairly short walk. I got out, shouldered my bags, and headed off. But that wasn't enough. I glanced back and gave my front tire a little kick.
"I would have made you cookies!" I shouted at my car, which was ludicrous, but I needed to tell it how much it let me down. Before anyone could spot the crazy girl yelling at her car, I ducked my head and hurried down the street feeling like an idiot.
As I stepped in front of Alex's house, I could already hear voices inside. Yelling, screaming at each other. I didn't know what to do. I walked cautiously up to the door, but before I could reach it to knock, Alex flung the door open and stepped out quickly. He slammed the door behind him just in time to block something glass that shattered on the other side. We both flinched.
"You're early," he said, surprised. His shoulders instantly dropped. I caught a glimpse of the fury on his face before he switched back to his usual smirk.
"I always am." I tried to sound normal, but he was backing me away from the door.
"We can't study here," he said.
"What happened?" My heart raced. Had I seen what I thought I did?
"That was no nothing. Did he throw something at you?" I snapped.
"Let's just go—"
"Hell no! He can't do that—" I spun out of Alex's grip and marched back toward the door, readying my bag to use as a bludgeon. I saw red. Had his dad actually attacked him? Even the thought of it had me ready to beat that waste of a man down.
"Stop!" Alex ordered. He yanked the bag out of my hand and pulled me away from the door. "Please, just leave it alone," he said, only slightly more calm. He was trying to hide what had happened from me, and I wasn't sure I was okay with that. But this wasn't the way to get him to talk. I'd have to work it out of him.
"Fine. We can take over a booth at Burgermeister."
He nodded. "Where's your car?"
I lamely pointed down the street at my sleeping crap pile.
"We'll have to take yours." I looked around the nearly empty street for Alex's prized possession: his deep red '68 Camaro RS he'd restored himself. I knew nothing about cars, but it was beautiful. Except I couldn't see it anywhere.
"I'll get it towed to the shop and take a look at it in the morning. You need anything out of it?" Alex asked while fiddling with his keys.
"No, I'm good," I said, holding up my purse and backpack. It had everything in there.
He nodded and walked a couple houses over to a run-down blue Ford F-150. A pink breast cancer awareness ribbon on the bumper. After unlocking it, he opened the passenger door for me.
"Where's your car?" I asked.
He shifted in place. "It has a bat in it. I borrowed this from a friend."
"Like a bat bat?" I made little flapping motions with my hands.
He forced away a smile. "Do you want burgers and studying or not?"
I pursed my lips at him. I knew when he didn't want to talk about something.
“Fine, but you’re not getting off that easy.” I pulled myself into the truck.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” He slammed the door shut behind me; based on the sound the door made, it actually needed that much effort.
We drove in silence. Awkward tension mingled with the smell of old cigars and shoe polish. I peeked over at Alex, but he kept his bright blue eyes straight ahead. Tension made his already toned muscles stand out, the definition evidence of his success as a mechanic. His dark hair was more disheveled than usual. It normally had a natural bed-head sort of look, but now it was as if he had stuck his head out the window during a car wash. His hair seemed to be a signifier of his mood. I could tell just by that what kind of day he was having.
I hated how messy it was then. I almost reached out to settle it back into its normal, calmer state of chaos. But that wouldn't fix anything. Not really.
To kill some time, I perused the truck. Some camping equipment sat in the back seat. Loose change jingled in the cup holder. When I popped open the glove box, a few maps, a brochure for Enchanted Rock in the Texas hill country, and a few burned CDs fell out.
"Don't do that," Alex said.
"You always let me snoop."
"In my car. This isn't mine. Put it back."
I huffed and started gathering the stuff from the floorboard. The CDs were all spread out, so I scooped them up, sorting them to face the same direction. I noticed almost all of them were for musicals. Carousel, Funny Face, Meet Me in St. Louis. A couple crooner albums were in there too. Dean Martin and Sinatra.
I noticed something shiny on the floor. It was silver and looked like a pin of some kind. I picked it up and flipped it over.