Life in the Lucky Zone (The Zone #2)
by Patricia B. Tighe
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Seventeen-year-old Lindsey Taylor has been living a charmed life—always the lead in school plays, possessor of a healthy entourage and a hot boyfriend. But halfway through her junior year, the unthinkable happens. Her boyfriend dumps her. She screws up her audition for the spring play. And to top it all off, her theater teacher wants her to run lines with Trey Berger, a gamer guy who irritates her practically every time he opens his mouth. Lindsey needs to find some better luck and quick.
Trey Berger can barely tolerate Lindsey Taylor. It’s bad enough that their best friends are dating and he has to see Lindsey at group hangouts. Now they have to rehearse together. Berger would rather do just about anything else, even chill with his grandmother, whose dementia has forced her to move in with his family.
But as the semester continues, Berger discovers there’s more to Lindsey than the drama queen
persona she puts on for everyone else’s benefit. And the person behind the mask might be someone he cares about. A lot. So what exactly is he going to do about it?
And while Lindsey desperately tries to change her luck and heal from the breakup, she slowly realizes Berger has become her best friend. This video-game-playing boy makes her laugh. And holds her when she cries. Could he possibly become something more?
Life in the Lucky Zone Excerpt #1:
People filled the baggage claim area, grabbing their items from the carousel, their conversations muffled by all the noise. I stepped out of the way of a man heading for the exit and scanned people’s faces. Where was Adam? Were his parents already here to take him home? That might make things awkward.
I edged through the crowd and finally saw him. Relief ran through me, but immediately drained away at the sight of the people with him. Dressed in a T-shirt and hoodie, Adam was placing a huge duffle bag on the floor beside an elderly couple and a teenage girl. A gorgeous teenage girl with dark hair. I didn’t know who she was, but I hated everything about her. From her long, curling hair to the tight shirt that showed off all her curves. Even the tiny belly curve.
Should I go over there? I kind of had to if I wanted to talk to him. But something held me back. Some sense that prickled up my neck. I shouldn’t meet those people. At least, not right now. Then the problem took care of itself. Adam straightened and looked across the room. Our gazes met. Locked. But I couldn’t read what might be in his. It was too far away.
He tilted his head down toward the others, said something, and then started working his way through the crowd. I knew the people he was with must be watching, but I only had eyes for Adam. He did not look happy.
Crap. I hadn’t planned on a fight. Surely that wasn’t what he had in mind. My pulse sped up, and I squeezed my fingers around the strap of my shoulder bag. And then he was standing in front of me, his hands hanging loosely at his sides, a vertical line between his eyebrows.
“Hey,” he said, with no kiss or hug. “What’re you doing here? I told you I had a ride.”
I made myself smile. “I wanted to surprise you.”
He ran a hand through his hair. It had gotten long; a couple of strands curled toward the snake tat on his neck. “How’re you doing?” he asked, sounding like he really didn’t care.
I could barely choke out the word. “Fine.” Touch me. Tell me everything’s okay.
Someone jostled him, and he stepped closer. “Look, you know things have been weird between us. I should’ve talked to you about this before I left, but I didn’t know how. Stuff has … changed.”
I had to find Lindsey. Lines of cars inched along the road just past the parking lot. It was peak everybody and their dog leaving school time. I scanned the small groups of people that were standing around by the buildings or parked cars. Where was she? I sighed. I should’ve gotten her phone number so I could find out what was going on. I’d give it five minutes, and if she didn’t show, I’d head home.
Three minutes later, a silver sedan that had been working its way around parked cars pulled up to the curb in front of me. The automatic window went slowly down. “Come on, Dragon Boy,” Lindsey said, leaning over the passenger seat. “Let’s go.”
A Honda? And by the scratches on its doors, it wasn’t even new. This was a surprise. I climbed in, setting my backpack between my feet. “Where are we going?”
“To my house,” she said, pulling into the line of cars exiting the lot.
“How am I supposed to get home later? And you can stop with the ‘dragon’ stuff. I don’t play that many games with dragons in them.”
She pursed her lips as though she were fighting a smile. “But you play at least one, right?”
“Then ‘Dragon Boy’ stays.”
I let out a huge exhale. “Whatever happened to ‘Dragon Master,’ anyway? Why’ve I been reduced to just a boy?”
“I like the sound of it better. And, don’t worry, I’ll take you home later.”
“Okay. But why aren’t we rehearsing at school?”
“You’re just full of questions, aren’t you?” She checked out her side window, then turned right onto the road. When I didn’t say anything, she mumbled, “I’m expecting a package.”
I thought she might tell me more, but instead she turned on the radio. Pop country music almost shattered my eardrums, and she lowered the volume. Oh, goody. We were going to listen to, “You cheated on me and I’m getting revenge,” all the way to her house. Maybe I could fix that.
“Do you want to run some lines right now? Save some time?”
“No,” she said. “I like to focus on one thing at a time.”
“Driving and listening to music are two things.”
We made it through the major four-way stop and sped on, the traffic thinning out. “That’s different,” she said. “I don’t have to focus when I listen to music.”
I had to give her that point, but I still wanted the music off. “Is there any other kind of music we could listen to? You know, like music without words?”
She laughed. “You don’t like this?” She gestured to the radio. “Were you born in this country?”
She pushed the radio button, cutting off some guy mid-wail. “Whatever you want, Dragon Boy. I was just trying to save us from awkward silence.”
“Awkward silence is completely underrated. You should try it sometime.”
Berger leaned against the back of the couch and clasped his hands behind his head. A sneaky gleam entered his light brown eyes. “You know, watching the street won’t make it get here any faster.”
For some weird reason, heat rose up my neck and into my cheeks. I frowned at him. “Au contraire. They’ve done studies on it. When you’re waiting for something, if you watch out for it, it arrives faster.” Pretty lame joke, but I didn’t want him to have the upper hand.
He grinned. “That’s only if you’re standing in the middle of the street.” He started to get up. “Should we try that now?”
“Oh, shut up,” I said, dropping into the armchair across from him.
He chuckled, but then his face grew slowly serious. “Why do you think Mrs. Mac wants us to rehearse together for weeks and not just a few days?”
Because she was mad at me. “I don’t really know. I mean, she’s supposed to decide on the parts by Friday, and after that there’ll be regular full-cast rehearsals.”
“Maybe she thinks I’m too stupid to pick up on your brilliance right away.”
I shook my head. This topic made me want to pace across the room. “You know how quirky she is. Sometimes she does stuff that doesn’t make sense to anyone.”
The loud peal of brakes made me jerk. Through the wood blinds, I could just make out the white van with its huge purple and orange letters on the side. I jumped up.
Berger waved his hands up and down. “It’s here, it’s here!”
“Shh,” I said. What with squealing brakes and Berger’s noise, my mom was sure to saunter into the room.
“Oh,” he whispered and then got up. “Is this a secret from Mommy?”
I wanted to laugh. I also wanted to put my hand on his face and shove him back onto the couch. “Would you relax?”
“Are you kidding? This is way too exciting.”
“Come on, then,” I said, leading the way to the front door. I had to stop the FedEx guy from ringing our doorbell.
We spilled out onto the front walk, jostling each other and laughing. Berger was worse than my brother, Austin. I started to stride forward, but Berger grabbed my elbow. “Have a little dignity,” he said, laughter still in his voice.
“I would if you’d just let go.”
“All right.” He released me.
By this time, the delivery guy was approaching us slowly, as if we were rabid dogs or something. I hurried forward and met him before he’d even made it halfway. “Lindsey Taylor?” he asked.
I smiled. “Yes, that’s me.”
“Here you go,” he said, handing me a padded mailer the length of a piece of paper.
My heart thudded somewhere near my throat. My luck was about to change.
With a weird sensation in my gut, I set the tea on the TV stand and then awkwardly put both arms around her. She turned her face into my chest and gripped my flannel shirt in her fists. I held her shaking body tighter, which seemed to make her cry even harder.
Well, this was fun. It looked like more comfort equaled more tears. Who knew? And why hadn’t that unnamed person ever told me? Jerk.
I had no freaking idea what to do next. Apparently Rose and Claire were right. Lindsey was in a lot of pain. Should I say something? Pat her on the back? I went for the easiest thing I could think of. I moved one hand to the back of her head and just held on. Some kind of citrusy scent floated up from her hair, and I had to swallow the urge to sneeze.
It must have been three minutes, but it felt more like three days before she stopped shaking in my arms. Then she shifted, resting her cheek against my chest. Her breathing began to slow. She wasn’t falling asleep, was she? But no. She let go of my shirt and slid her arm around my torso. Holy moly. How long was I expected to stay in this position? I mean, she was soft and everything, so holding her was nice, but we were only friends. If this went on much longer, it was bound to get seriously awkward.
I had to do something. I started running my hand up and down her back. “You asleep?” I whispered.
“No.” She lifted her head and yawned.
I chuckled. “But you were close.”
She sighed. “Yeah, guess I was.” She straightened and pulled herself out of my arms.
Her green eyes looked huge against her blotchy face. “You’re an amazingly good person.”
I tilted my head slowly from one side to the other. “Don’t say that.”
“Because if you think like that, then you probably won’t argue with me. And I’d miss our fights.”
She smiled. “I promise to always fight with you.”
“Even though you’re amazingly good.”
This time she actually laughed.
I smiled. Good, no awkwardness. We’d gone back to the way we were before. I showed her to the restroom, then helped her get her stuff together and walked her to the car.
She tossed her purse and books into the front passenger seat and lifted her head as though she were steeling herself for the drive home. She smiled up at me. “Thanks, Dragon Boy,” she whispered, and then kissed me on the cheek.
Um, okay. My face tingled where her lips had touched. I held on to the door while she climbed in and then waved as she drove off.
Nope, nothing different at all. Right.
Mrs. Mac stood. “All right, five-minute break, everybody.” She sat back down beside me. “Good job. Very diplomatic. I think you finally got through to her. I wouldn’t be surprised if this changes everything.”
She headed out of our row of seats. I scratched my head. Why couldn’t she see that we wouldn’t be wasting so much time on this if I was up there instead of Marta? I should’ve been up there. It was ridiculous. I got up to stretch my legs and found Berger waiting at the end of the row, his expression determined.
Dang it. He was going to ask me about our fight again, and I just didn’t want to talk about it. I’d have to put him off. I approached slowly.
“Is it really that bad?” he asked.
“Oh, no.” I rubbed my head, then flicked my hand. “Just have a headache.”
He shoved his hands in the back pockets of his jeans, making him look crazy cute all of a sudden. No. Do not think of Berger as cute. No good can come from it. “You busy after this?” he asked. “We still need to settle things.”
I shook my head. “There’s nothing to settle. We’re good. No worries.”
He backed up so I could get into the aisle. “Why don’t I believe you?”
I lifted my hands. “Hey, I don’t know. That’s not something I can control.”
“Lindsey,” he said, staring as if he could see inside my head.
And I really didn’t want anyone analyzing me. “I need to get to the restroom before we start again.”
“I’m not letting go of this.”
“I can see that.”
“Trey,” Lainey called from the stage. “Come here for a sec.” Kara stood behind her a few steps, motioning to him.
Why was he so popular with girls these days? I raised an eyebrow. “Your fan club awaits.”
He waved at them but moved a fraction closer to me. “You can run, but you can’t hide.”
I puffed out a loud breath. “Nice cliché usage. I’m not afraid of you, Dragon Boy.” I pushed him down the aisle. “Go on. They’re waiting for you.”
He walked on, but then paused and turned back. “I mean it.”
I nodded and headed the opposite direction. I didn’t want to watch him laugh and flirt with Lainey and Kara. It felt too much like watching our friendship dwindle into nothing.
1. What inspired the story?
First off, I was writing a series and needed to write a book. :D Second, at the end of Life in the No-Dating Zone, the situation with Lindsey and her boyfriend, Adam, was left a little up in the air—especially as far as Claire was concerned. I knew that I needed to settle it, to have Lindsey come to understand more about herself. And who better to instigate that than someone who drives her crazy? Plus, many readers wanted to see more from Berger, who was a secondary character in LitNDZ. So I thought, a drama queen and a gamer boy? Why not?
2. What is your favorite scene?
That would have to be when a hurting, tipsy Lindsey makes a move on Berger. His reaction was so much fun to write!
3. What was the hardest scene to write?
The video-game playing scene, because I had to continually stop to get information and critique from my son.
4. Who would play your characters in a film?
AnnaSophia Robb with auburn hair and Matthew Lewis with glasses—especially now that he’s grown up to what I’ve seen described as “nerd hot.”
5. What's your favorite book to film adaptation?
The Princess Bride
6. Do you have any pets/Which/What Kind/How Many?
I have two mixed-breed dogs, ages sixteen and fifteen. One is a cross between a lab and a chow, and the other is a cross between a boxer and probably a lab. They are ridiculous and I love them.
7. If you could be any character in your book who would you be and why?
The female version of Berger, because he loves to laugh and to make people laugh.
8. What's the best advice you can give someone who wants to be a writer?
Read! Read the genre you want to write. Read for pleasure and then re-read to analyze how it’s done.
9. How did or will you spend your release day?
Probably helping with promotion and checking sales rankings too often. But I do plan to go out to dinner to celebrate.
10. What are you writing now?
I’ve turned in the third book in the Life in the No-Dating Zone series, and now I’m working on a YA contemporary romance that I hope will be the first in a new series. We shall see!
About the Author:
The mother of two grown sons, Patricia B. Tighe lives in El Paso, Texas, with her husband and two dogs. Her love of the written word caused her to get a journalism degree from Texas A&M University in 1980 and an MA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in 2008. When not writing or reading, she can be found walking the dogs or yelling at the TV during an NFL game. She's also a fan of British TV shows. Downton Abbey, anyone?
Contest ends April 15, 2016 One (1) winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card and a digital copy of Life in the Lucky Zone by Patricia B. Tighe (INT)
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