Strawberries (Alex) – Plus today’s giveaway

This is first draft material from a story I’m working on during a two week hiatus before I start editing Insurgent. It’s a departure for me, because it falls under the “new adult” genre.You can find the beginning of the story, discussion of what NA books are, and contents of the story, here.

Strawberries (Alex) 

When he finally got himself standing, he leaned close and said, “I think we need one more rule.”


He took a deep breath through his nose, and said, “Yeah. Um, yeah… you need to get different shampoo.”

What. The. Hell?

“What are you talking about?” I asked, suddenly very uncomfortable.

“You still smell like strawberries, and its breaking my heart,” he said, his voice a low growl. With that, he turned, slung his bag over his impossibly broad shoulder, and began to walk away.

He was twenty feet away before I could even think again.  Without thought, without regard for consequences, I shouted as loud as I could, “You can’t do that! That’s breaking the first rule! Do you hear me, Dylan?”

I was attracting stares. He waved over his shoulder and kept walking.


I gathered my bag and turned to go in the other direction, back to the dorm. Oh God, I was a mess. I was a mess because of his impossibly blue eyes, because of how in the Army his arms and chest had become … so developed. He smelled the same as always, and being around him was impossible. Sometimes when he was close to me I couldn’t even breathe. How in hell was I supposed to stay detached and professional when he set off every single nerve in my body?

Why did he have to say that?

I still remembered. I remembered him saying to me on the plane a million years ago, during our questions and answers game, he asked me Why do you smell like strawberries?

Damn it.

It’s not like we even really knew each other. I was a different person in Israel. Free. At home, and here in college, I was … well, I was kind of a bitch. I focused, one hundred percent, on my studying, on success. I was driven. I didn’t have room for the crazy sensations and emotions I’d experienced during our trip.

As I walked, I remembered. His smell. His touch.

Three days after we arrived in Israel, we’d gone to our first set of host families, in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv. Somehow, because of a stupid mixup, I ended up being the only female student assigned to a male host. Ariel was nothing but a giant ball of hormones and glands, a hyper-masculine dickhead who was absolutely certain he was going to sleep with me sometime during my ten day stay in his home. By the end of the second day I was exhausted from fending off his advances, and went to our advisor. She got me placed with a different family, thank God. That night, our host families held a party for all of us.

I remember watching Dylan at the party. All of the kids were drinking. Some, like me, kept it to a minimum, but some, like Rami, the host of the party, were really packing it away. Everyone except Dylan. He spent the night nursing a coke, and relaxing in a corner. At one point he took out his guitar and played some songs, and had several of the drunken students singing along with him. I watched, and smiled, thinking to myself how beautiful his eyes were. When he played the guitar, his face went through exaggerated facial expressions, sometimes his lips pursing, sometimes his eyes closing. He kept looking at me.

Later that night, he approached me and asked, “Can we talk for a minute?”

I shifted a little. Oh. God. What was this? Was he going to ask me out? I wanted him to. So badly.  We walked to Rami’s room in the back of the apartment and sat next to each other on the bed.

“Listen,” he said. “I know we’re only here for a few weeks. And that’s it. Nothing could ever work between us. But … I’m really, really attracted to you. And I’d like to know if you feel the same.”

I was breathing in low, shallow breaths. I couldn’t believe this was happening. Finally, I nodded, quickly.  “Yes.  I do,” I replied.

“Maybe… maybe we can just see what happens then?”

I smiled. “Okay,” I said.

The last two years would have been a lot less painful if I’d just told him, then and there, to go to hell. But maybe I was a little book smart and not enough life smart, because I fell for him. I fell off a cliff. And I still haven’t recovered.

When Kelly and I met, later, she gasped when I told him what he’d said.

“He said what?”

I sighed. “He told me he wanted to change my shampoo. Because the smell of strawberries was breaking his heart.”

She looked at me, her eyes wide, and said, “That’s so romantic.”

“Oh God, Kelly, that’s no help at all!”

She nodded. “I know.”

“I thought you hated him.”

“Only because he hurt you. But it’s obvious you still have a huge thing for this guy. Maybe you should just jump his bones and get it out of your system.”

“That is enough! The only thing I’m going to do with him is survive the year working for Forrester. He hurt me, Kelly. Worse than I could have imagined possible.”

“I know,” she said, quietly. “But maybe there’s more to the story than you know. I mean… I’m just saying, it’s possible.”

“No. It’s completely impossible. Me and Dylan? Never again.”

She sighed, and leaned back in her bed.

“What’s going on with Josh, anyway?” I said, trying to change the subject.

She shrugged. “He’s still an asshole.”

“There’s a shock,” I replied.

“Was I too clingy? I don’t understand it.”

“No,” I said. “There were times last year you couldn’t have separated you two with the Jaws of Life. Something else going on there.”

“Oh, God. You don’t think he was cheating on me while we were dating, do you?”

I shook my head. “I’d have given odds that couldn’t happen. Maybe he’s just … I don’t know. Scared?”

Kelly frowned. “What does he have to be scared of?”

I gave a sad, sort of bitter laugh. “Maybe he’s scared of getting his heart broken. It happens.”

She looked me in the eyes. “Could be,” she said.


Would love any feedback on the story so far!

And for today’s giveaway for the Summer Splash Blog Hope (you can find more info about the blog hop here).

Today I’m giving away a signed paperback copy of Republic: A Novel of America’s Future. With 99 reviews on Amazon (as of today) averaging 4.5 stars, Republic is a story of what could easily happen in an America reacting to terrorism. You can read more about the book here. Described by reviewers as heartbreaking and intense, it’s a good solid read.

To enter to win, follow me on Twitter, Goodreads or Facebook (there’s links to all of them in the upper right hand corner of every page on the blog), then post a comment below!

You can check out the rest of the sites on the blog hop at It’s an awesome group of writers participating, with some excellent books, and some really awesome prizes, including two Kindle Fires, Amazon gift cards and more. Check it out!


    • Charles Sheehan-Miles

      Jeffery, you’re the winner! You’ve got my Facebook and email, send me your address and I’ll get the book to you!

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