Thursday, 20 March 2014

Book Spotlight ~ Divine Vices (Divine Vices #1) by Melissa Parkin

Divine Vices (Divine Vices, #1)Divine Vices

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Self-published
Released: November 1st 2013

Danger seldom leaves its victims unscathed in the ways of seduction, and this lesson is one that sixteen-year-old Cassie Foster now knows all too well.

Nine months following the traumatic accident that claimed the life of her mother and sister, this high school junior has at last found a fresh start in the quiet town of New Haven, Maine. In the company of her best friends, Ian and Gwen, she’s bracing the usual turmoil of adolescence and taking all in stride…until the new transfer student, Jackson Matthews, comes walking into her life. He’s arrogant, sarcastic, roguish, devastatingly sexy, and the very last thing Cassie wants to entertain. But when circumstances drive these two together, she finds herself a bit too close for comfort as their bond intensifies. Plagued by unexplainable events, a sudden string of disappearances, and even a cult-related murder, Cassie begins to fear for her life. Is it all just a coincidence that these happenings began when this Casanova strolled into town, or has she in fact fallen for a real lady-killer, or worse?

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About the Author
True solace for this Chicagoland native is no further than a minute's walk away from her, right to the keyboard. Having always been blessed/cursed with an overactive imagination, she's constantly encouraging her predisposition with late night writing fits fueled by her mild Dr. Pepper addiction. A connoisseur of music, movies, and literature, Melissa is always finding inspiration in everything around her. When she's not diving into the depths of her mind's eye, you will undoubtedly find her with a book, a camera, her iPod, or a can of Dr. Pepper in hand.


Droplets of water cascaded into small puddles across the cement floor, affixing to the potent odor of mold and mildew permeating the cellar. No matter how strong the musty stench was though, nothing could conceal the unmistakable metallic tang of blood, both new and old.
“Just tell us what we want to know, and this can all end now,” spoke a calm voice, resonating from a dark corner of the room. “If not, my friends here will happily continue in their quest to persuade you.”
A single light bulb hanged overhead in the center of the basement, its bright intensity creating an island of isolation over the man in question as he sat limply in an iron chair. Broken, beaten, and desperately coughing to find relief, Donovan choked on the blood sliding down his throat. Looking through the dampened tangles of hair plastered over his eyes, he watched figures loom about in the shadowed open space, inching closer like great white sharks about to make surface-charges.
“Go to Hell,” he said, bracing himself for the impact.
“Not my first choice for vacationing this season,” cracked the same voice in the darkness. “Unseasonably hot this time of year.”
Still desperately fidgeting at the restraints digging into his wrists and ankles, Donovan yelped in agony as a blow from a heavy fist registered to the back of his head.
“Stubbornness doesn’t suit you,” said the stranger, striking a lighter with a gleeful snap. The subtle glow highlighted his mouth, which was tightened to a sadistic grin as a cigarette sat between his lips. Taking a deep breath, the bud burned like smoldering coal as he snapped the lighter shut. “And I’m not entirely certain why you’re resisting here? We both know that there’s no cavalry coming to your rescue. You’ve done an impeccable job at isolating yourself.”
“So what makes you think I would know anything then?” barked Donovan.
“Glad you asked,” replied the stranger, emerging from the shadows with an assertive stride. “Not only do I have it on high authority that you do know, but the very fact of your existence says everything. It was your job.”
“Hasn’t been for some time.”
“Oh, don’t tell me that transgression and age have robbed you of your memory,” the stranger said, grabbing a folding chair resting against the wall. He opened it up and placed it in front of Donovan, turning it backwards so that when he sat, his arms slackened on the backrest. “You’ve been in this game almost as long as we have, so spill.”
“And why would I tell you? My fate was decided the moment you dragged me down here. Doesn’t matter what I say, we both know I’m not leaving.”
“Don’t be so sure of that. I have the distinct feeling that living with the ensuing destruction you’ll implement will be acceptable punishment enough. Wouldn’t want you to get off easy now. Sometimes the conscience can be deadlier than any manmade weapon.”
“All the more reason to keep my mouth shut,” spat Donovan.
“Now, now, don’t go all altruistic on me,” teased the stranger, blowing a mouthful of smoke into Donovan’s face. “It’s not exactly rocket science to put two and two together. That’s the one thing that separates us from you. We don’t have weaknesses. You, on the other hand, wouldn’t have turned from the high life unless it was for something, or someone, truly worthwhile, giving you a distinct disadvantage.”
The color in Donovan’s cheeks waned, leaving him as ghostly white as snow blossoms.
“Oww, I hit a nerve there, didn’t I?” the stranger teased, pulling out a menacing 12 inch ka-bar knife from inside his jacket. Its carmine stained carbon steel blade gleamed under the burning bulb as he admired the device. “If your years in the business have taught you anything, you’re well-versed on our tactics. We have the patience for execution, and not only do we have no mercy for those who hinder our plans, we truly savor the sadism of inflicting pain on those individuals. So don’t think that your loved ones will be spared from our cruelty. And yes, we know all about them.”
Amid the external pain, nothing was more agonizing than the knot that manifested in Donovan’s stomach as morality and love dueled for victory. His eyes clouded over, tears streaking down his battered face upon blinking.
“Ahh,” said the stranger, running the clip point of the knife beneath his own bottom lip satisfyingly. “Looks like we may have just come to a compromise.” 
New Perspective
Tinges of orange and gold haloed the borders of my window shades, notifying me that it was just after dawn. I pulled my arm out from under the covers and slapped the alarm clock until its incessant, strident shrieking stopped. The cool morning air bit at my bare skin, so I instinctively retracted my arm back into the warmth of my comforter. I snuggled up again, but as much as I wanted to return to the safety of a dream state, it was still Tuesday. It was time for school.
I finally surrendered to the morning and threw off the blankets. As I opened my bedroom door to head to the bathroom, I was greeted with the mouth-watering aroma of coffee overwhelming the upstairs hallway. My dad was an early riser and always had a fresh pot ready in the kitchen even before the sun would rise. That was one of the ways that I differed from him. I’d never really been a morning person. Granted, I wasn’t the type to sleep until noon if given the chance, but I didn’t want to be the one waking up the roosters either.
Going through my same, monotonous morning routine with bleary eyes urging me to return to my bed, I threw on a self-made, off-the-shoulder Aerosmith top and a pair of vintage leather pants before hurrying downstairs to knock back a full cup of Joe. Normally, I’d make some eggs, but I settled for the simplicity of a bagel. No preparing time. Best friend of the lethargic. I didn’t even bother with a plate out of sheer laziness, and ate the butterless bread over the sink to avoid getting crumbs anywhere.
“Bagel, huh? You stay up studying last night?”
I turned to see my dad standing in the entryway of the side door that went out to our driveway.
I shook my head, downing the last bit of my breakfast. “No, I just didn’t sleep well. Restless mind, you know.”
“Well, make sure to eat something with some actual nutritional substance for lunch,” he said.
“Will do,” I replied. “How’s Lucille?”
“Like all other women, she’s giving me a hard time,” my dad said, his long dark hair falling into his eyes as he cleaned oil and grease out from under his fingernails with an old rag. “I’ve been under her since five-thirty, but her engine just won’t give me anything.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s the only time I’m ever gonna hear you say something like that and not be creeped out,” I chuckled.
“Don’t be a smartass,” he said, playfully nudging me away from the sink so that he could wash off his hands.
Lucille was a black 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass SS, and she was worth every bit of frustration he put into fixing her. He inherited Lucille from my grandmother, who somehow inherited it from her former neighbor. It had been sitting in her garage for ages, and he had made it his new pet project to get the car up and running.
I unbuckled my black satchel book bag that was sitting on the kitchen table and sorted through it to make sure I had everything I needed for the day.
“Houdini’s here,” said my dad, seeing a red 1994 Saturn Sport Coupe pull up in front of our house.
“Hey, take it easy on him,” I said. “There’s nothing wrong with being eccentric.”
“A young man who aspires to be a Steampunk David Copperfield, yeah, what’s not to love?”
I pulled on my leather coat and shoved the ends of my pants into knee-high stiletto boots before collecting my things.
“So, what, you’d be more accepting of him if he lived out of flannel shirts and Lynyrd Skynyrd concert tees like you do?” I chimed back.
“Wouldn’t hurt,” he replied with a sarcastic smile.
“Love you,” I said, kissing him on the cheek before heading for the foyer.
“Love you, too.”
Just as the first knock registered at the front door, I unlocked and pulled it open to see none other than my best friend, Ian Callaghan, standing at the front steps dressed in his unusually-usual attire. Donned in a black brocade frock coat with bucket cufflinks, a partially unbuttoned black dress shirt, dark acid-washed blue jeans, and black pointy-toed boots, he looked as if he had stepped out of the Victorian era and had not yet become fully accustomed to modern fashion, which was quite refreshing. His peculiar choice in style accentuated the slightness of his frame, which made him appear lankier than he really was. Though the weeks of autumn had washed away the tan from his complexion, his long, chest nut, razor cut locks were still kissed with sun-induced highlights. Despite his deceptively matured, sharply angular cheekbones and his thin, almond-shaped, pale green eyes, his infectiously wide smile and cleft chin managed to give him a boyish charm.
“Good morning, beautiful,” said Ian.
“Hey, stranger,” I replied.
“Mr. Foster,” Ian acknowledged, looking over my shoulder to see my dad eyeing him back with a somewhat judgmental once-over.
“Ian,” my dad replied out of politeness. “You two have a safe drive.”
“Unlikely,” said Ian. “Fast and the Furious is behind the wheel today. She insists that since it’s her car, she gets to drive.”
“Did Gwen at least take off her shoes?” I asked.
“Nope, she’s wearing five inch wedges, and is hell bent in believing that they don’t impair her ability to work the foot pedals.”
“Well, I’ve clocked in sixteen years on this planet. Despite my hopes for an extension, I guess I’ve had a good run. Just make sure not to bury me in the Pet Cemetery,” I teased.
“Will do,” said Ian.
“Seriously, be safe, Cassie,” cautioned my dad.
“Always,” I replied, waving goodbye as Ian and I walked down from the porch.
“I’ll take the back seat,” I said, approaching the car.
“You sure? I will happily relinquish my position at shotgun,” he said.
“If Gwen hits something, which will most likely be head-on, the back seat may help lessen the impact,” I remarked.
“In that case, may I join you?”
“Somebody’s parking their butt in the passenger seat!” called out Gwen, seeing Ian open the backdoor and gesturing me through. “I’m not gonna look like I’m chauffeuring you two around.”
“Time for me to grab my ankles and kiss my ass goodbye,” said Ian, closing my door and taking the seat up front.
Gwen smacked her lips as she coated them with a fresh layer of peach-colored gloss and turned up the volume on the radio before putting the car back into gear.
“What are we listening to?” Ian asked, cringing at the sounds of a hyper pop song.
“Do you have to hate everything popular?” Gwen snapped back.
Clearly, the ten minutes they spent in the car together between Ian’s house and mine had been nine minutes too long.
“If what’s popular is total crap, then, yeah, I do,” he replied.
“If it was total crap, then it wouldn’t be popular, would it? The general populace overrules your verdict, so I declare victory.”
“I’m not even going to dignify that with a response,” said Ian.
“Because you don’t have an actual argument. There’s music out there other than your miserable, anger-infused hard rock garbage,” said Gwen.
“Well, at least the artists I listen to have enough talent to not have to make up their own vocabulary just so their lyrics can rhyme, unlike what your generic pop-princesses resort to,” he shot back as he shuffled a deck of cards in his hands.  
I reached between them and changed the radio to a classic rock station, where The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” granted us equal satisfaction, so Ian and Gwen surrendered to call the outcome of their debate a draw.
"Pick three cards," said Ian, turning to me with the deck fanned out.
I did as he said, pulling out each from a completely different location in the pile.
"Let me guess... Queen of hearts, nine of clubs, and the four of diamonds," he declared, even without me returning the cards to the deck.
"Okay... that's unsettling," I said laughingly, turning the cards around to reveal their identities. "Cool, but unsettling."
"You know, they had a place for people like you around here back in the seventeenth century," said Gwen, looking over at Ian as he showed her the results as well.
"What, an asylum?"
"A noose."

The fallen foliage of autumn danced about the streets as the Saturn rocketed down each stretch, the greenery of the trees overhead ablaze with vibrant tinges of red, orange, and yellow. This was the first time I saw with my own eyes the splendor of the fall months. Up until eight months ago, I had lived in the city, and there wasn’t much distinction between the seasons other than the temperature if you didn’t visit the scarce parks.
When we rolled out of the woodlands to the temporary open stretch of the oceanfront, I observed the heavy overcast hanging above the Atlantic tides just off shore. Despite the sun’s higher position in the sky, Maine’s coastline still burned with the warm palettes of sunrise.
Gwen roared into the school parking lot at 7:21 a.m. and took our designated space. The seniors were privileged with seats closest to the building, but because we registered our parking permit under Ian’s name, Callaghan granted us the next best available parking for juniors since the charts were arranged alphabetically.
I threw the strap of my satchel over my head and adjusted it on my shoulder as the three of us climbed out of the car.
“Hey, Ginger-vitis!” called out a blonde four rows down. It was Stacy MacArthur, captain of the cheerleading squad and resident high school tormentor, not to mention Gwen’s arch nemesis.
“Keep talking, Stacy. Perhaps one day you just might say something intelligent,” Gwen replied with a fake smile as she smoothed out her red locks.
“At least my head doesn’t look like it had a misadventure in Kansas,” Stacy fired out.
“At least I’m all natural, unlike a certain bottle blonde I just so happen to be staring at,” rebutted Gwen with wicked delight. “Don’t think anyone’s forgotten about that mousy brown hair you sported for fifteen years.”
“It’s too early in the day for this,” I said, urging Gwen away from what was inevitably going to be a physical confrontation.
Ian and I each took one of her arms and guided her to the front of the building.
“I hate her,” said Gwen, shaking herself out as if Stacy’s invectives had dampened her. “I revel in the concept of karma, because when things come 360 for her...”
“It’s gonna be an even bigger bitch than she is,” Ian finished as we headed up the stone steps to the duel door entrance of the high school.
“Aww, I love when you speak foully,” said Gwen. “And trust me, she’s every bit disserving of it.”
“Although, those are rather harsh words coming from you,” I said to Ian. “Something personal there?”
“Asides from the time when Stacy convinced everybody in our second grade class that I was responsible for killing all their pets, then no,” he replied.
“Come again?”
“When we were seven, there was a serious case of canine influenza going around. A lot of the kids’ dogs started getting sick. Some even died. And Stacy, being the opportunist she’s always been, took it upon herself to persuade everyone that I was dabbling in dark magic and was using it to wreak havoc on man’s best friend.”
“And they bought into that?”
“Unfortunately, yeah,” said Gwen. “I seriously thought up until I was ten that he was responsible for killing Archibald.”
“He was an Irish Wolfhound I had growing up. We nicknamed him Baldy, because he had a skin disease that caused severe hair loss,” Gwen affirmed.
“In other words, it was the ugliest dog you’d ever see,” Ian chimed in.
“Hey!” Gwen cracked, slapping his arm with the back of her hand. “Who asked you anyway, Harry Potter? For all I know, maybe you did kill him.” 
“I’ll take full responsibility for it if you admit that Stacy was actually right about something for once then,” replied Ian, merrily greeting his pre-victory.
Gwen simply pursed her lips, not even bothering to contemplate such a notion. Admitting something complimentary about her greatest enemy was one thing she was incapable of doing. 
As much as I tried not to hate anyone, Stacy MacArthur topped my list of most-unfavorable, teetering a fine line between that anddespicable. Her bullying was spared from no one, not even if you were a blind, handicapped nun. Thankfully, Stacy had never crossed paths with such an individual, so I guess that could still be left to speculation.
“Kansas?” piped Gwen, pulling out her compact mirror to check herself out. “That doesn’t even make sense! My hair doesn’t look like that, does it?”
Ian and I both struggled to hold back our laughter, seeing Stacy’s main purpose of getting under Gwen’s skin take root.
“No,” I assured. “Your hair’s fine.”
That was a complete understatement. Gwen’s hair was far from fine. It was beautiful. She had inherited her flaming red, multihued auburn locks from her mother, and it had natural body and a silky smooth texture. Her hair was the envy of every girl in school, even Stacy MacArthur.
In fact, everything about Gwen was enviable. She was just short of 5”5 (minus the heels, of course), naturally slender, blessed with just enough curves desired by the opposite sex, and had dark blue eyes she accentuated with smoky makeup.
I could not declare Gwen Meyer to be my best friend. No, she was more like my partner in crime. She was impulsive and reactionary, daring and direct. Surprisingly, those qualities were the ones that I found myself most desirous over.
“You’re lucky your hair is so low maintenance,” said Gwen, pointing at my long, black mane. “Mine can never decide what it’s doing.”
“Yeah, I’ll call in Disaster Relief on your account,” I joked. “FEMA has some cleaning up to do, just above your shoulders.”
It’s not that I’m tragic looking or anything, but when someone as naturally alluring as Gwen tries to downplay the attractiveness of her appearance, it only makes me scrutinize my own faults all the more. My sister use to do the same thing, and it always put me one step closer to dressing in ponchos and ski masks.
When we reached my locker, Gwen spent the entire time analyzing herself in the small magnetic-backed mirror I had pinned on the metal door.
“You both have equally beautiful hair,” said Ian, coming up and roughing his fingers through the top of my head until my face was covered with hair.
With obscured vision, I grabbed a pair of sunglasses I knew was sitting on the top shelf of my locker and I put them on over the hair. “I know, aren’t I just adorable?” I cracked.
“Even prettier than Cousin It,” laughed Ian.
“You should try that look, Gwen. Not many could pull that off, but I think it would do you wonders,” said Stacy, strutting passed us with her posse of wannabe followers.
“Try holding your hands over your ears. Maybe it’ll help keep what’s left of your brains from spilling out,” I said unexpectedly, brushing the hair off my face.
Stacy certainly seemed taken aback by my comment as well, since I usually assumed the role of mediator between Gwen and her. She simply gave me a sharp glare and stomped away.
“Look who’s taken a turn to the dark side,” remarked Gwen. “I like it.”
“I’ll catch up with you guys,” I said, seeing our English teacher, Miss Tipton, heading into her classroom.
She didn’t close the door behind her, so I knocked on the doorframe upon arrival.
“Ah, Cassie,” she said, looking up from her thick rimmed reading glasses and motioning me inside. “What can I do for you this morning?”
“I was just wondering... you wouldn’t happen to have any extra credit work available, would you?”
“Is this for you or someone else?”
She chuckled. “Cassie, you already have an A.”
“Yeah, well, that’s just a grade. What I’m more concerned about is my grade point average. If I can raise it with the help of my better subjects, it’ll help cushion my worse ones,” I said, taking a seat on top of a desk in the first row. “AP Bio’s proving to be a bit tricky for me, and you know Mr. Rothenberg’s grading system hardly leaves chance for improvement.”
“What’s your grade, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“Eighty six.”
She laughed again.
“I’m serious. I need help. One less than perfect test from him and I’ll be straddling the terrifying lines between a B- and a C+.” At this point, my voice had fallen into that of a plea. “Please, I’d be eternally grateful.”
“I’ll look into it,” Miss Tipton assured. “If I can think of anything, I’ll let you know. Now, go run along, and try to actually lighten up. Take a chill pill. Kick back your feet. Hang loose. Whatever it is you kids do.”
“Thank you!” I bounced back up off the desk and nearly did a victory dance when I exited, but since there were more students heading into the building, I decided against it. Last thing I needed was a hideous video of me on YouTube doing the fist pump or moonwalk.

Upon being dismissed from Miss Tipton, I hastened down the hall to find Ian already waiting for me at my locker.
“Chop chop, little lady,” he said. “If you don’t get a move on, you’re not gonna beat Mr. Rothenberg to Bio.”
I slapped my textbook against his arm after dialing in my locker combination. “As Franklin P. Jones would have said, ‘The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it.’”
“I love it when you talk like that,” he said cheerfully.
Ian’s complete acceptance and appreciation for my peculiarities was always welcoming in the morning.
“You’ll never guess what a little birdie just told me,” piped Gwen, rushing to my side with an exuberant bounce in her step.
“Probably because no one cares enough to speculate,” replied Ian.
Gwen returned his remark with one of her signature eye rolls. “Brad wants to ask Cassie to Homecoming.”
“Like, Oh. My. God!” said Ian mockingly. “Move over Mount Olympus. Gwen Meyer’s discovered the eighth wonder of the world!”
Amid my chuckling, I managed to ask, “Is that name supposed to mean something to me?”
“You know Brad,” said Gwen insistently. “Brad Stevenson!”
My unexpressive reaction said it all.
“My God, come out from under that rock you’re living under and join society!” Gwen exclaimed. “We have P.E. with him. He’s on the baseball team. Medium height, athletic build, has pipes as ripped as Jeremy Renner’s.”
“Yeah, not ringin’ a bell,” I replied.
Gwen led Ian and me to the west wing hallway that had a long, glass window overlook of the gymnasium. She set her sights out for the stranger in question, and pointed to Brad the second she saw him.
“Really?” I said.
“I know, right? Isn’t he a sweet slice of American pie?”
“Who told you he’s interested?”
“He did, just now during your little powwow with Miss Tipton.”
“I’ve never even talked to him.”
“Well, you’ve still seemed to have left an impression. So?”
“You want me to introduce the two of you?”
“Because he’s cute, and you need a date for Homecoming.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Hold the phone! What aren’t you telling me here? Someone already asked you?” asked Gwen gleefully. “Was it Will? No, Nate! Or Ben?!”
“No, no, and hell no,” I declared. “I’m not going to Homecoming.”
“The hell you’re not. Homecoming is a staple for every teenage girl. It’s a milestone that you’re not missing out on. Only complete outcasts don’t go. If you want to ensure your fa├žade of normalcy, you have to.”
“As much as it pains me to say this, she does have a point,” Ian denoted. “It’s a necessary evil for surviving the shark infested waters of high school.”
Gwen began backpedaling towards the stairwell that led to the gym. “So, are you coming?”
“I’m not going with some random stranger, especially if I’m not interested in him.”
“You don’t think he’s cute?”
“I’m not saying he’s unattractive, but he’s not exactly making my pulse race. If I have to be dragged by my hair to this thing, I would prefer to go with someone that I at least like. Saying ‘yes’ to Brad inspires the same indifference as saying ‘yes’ to the cafeteria’s soup of the day. Isn’t the point of Homecoming to have fun and to be with someone you really like?”
“Excuse me, Bella, but if only the love struck, googly eyed, hopeless romantics went to the dance, then we’d have about as strong of a turnout as our chess team matches. For the female half of the class, it’s about getting dressed up and feeling like a princess for that one night with adorable eye candy on our arms.”
“While the guys think about nothing other than scoring with their dates after getting them tipsy on spiked punch,” added Ian.
Gwen instantaneously punched him in the arm.
“And that’s exactly why I’m not going,” I affirmed.
There’s no reaction more urgent to correct than that of a woman scorned, so Ian was clearly burdened with having to salvage Gwen’s hopes.
“Okay,” he said, wrapping an arm safely around me. “If it comes down to it and you can’t think of anyone worth going with, then I will happily accompany you. And I promise not to get you too drunk.”
“Aww,” I chuckled. “How sweet of you.”
“No!” exclaimed Gwen.
“What? I like that idea. If Prince Charming and his stallion don’t ride up, then at least I know that I’ll spend the evening with someone I know I can enjoy being around.”
“And you’ll look like an even bigger Bi-otch than if you didn’t go at all,” declared Gwen irately.
“Care to explain?”
“Based on calculation, you’re gonna wind up turning down at least a handful of offers. Then let’s say you go to the dance with Houdini over here. You’re telling me that won’t drop your high school social rating?”
“I’m right here, you know,” Ian pointed out.
“Take it easy. It’s not about you and your social status, mostly,” Gwen confirmed. “Everyone knows the two of you are friends, so when you go, people are going to ask if you’re more than that. Then you’re gonna pull the whole ‘no, we’re just friends’ bit, and it’s gonna make Cassie look like a snob because she rejected perfectly good classmen. They’ll know it won’t be because she was already taken or because she already had her sights set on someone in particular, but because her discarded suitors just weren’t living up to her pretentious standards.” 
“Did I not get some kind of teenager’s survival guide that the rest of you were issued?” I asked. “I’m really not sure if I’ve been living in a cosmic rabbit hole recently, but high school has never had this many rules.”
“This isn’t about high school. This is the basic system of modern dating,” replied Gwen.
“Terrific, so for the next two weeks I’m gonna have to dodge every potential suitor,” I moaned.
“Oh, babe, your naivety sometimes is truly adorable. No, the guys don’t ask the girls until the very week of the dance.”
“The logic being...? If this is supposed to be about us getting dressed up, then why is there no time given in advance to prepare?”
“Because, no man wants to come off as needy. If he asks the girl too early, then it gives us females the upper hand. We know he likes us a lot, and possibly too much. So if you’re skeptical about him, then his urgency corroborates further doubts because you don’t want someone clingy. And if you happen to be one of those clingy girls, then this could overwhelm the situation if the guy’s not as into you as you thought. In other words, it’s a man’s worst nightmare. In the meantime, we go out on the prowl for our dream dress and accessories. With our window shopping completed, we can step up to the plate at a moment’s notice with a simple run to the store. Crisis averted.”
“Averted? That whole logic in itself is a crisis,” I said, already mentally exhausted by Gwen’s rundown.
“Well, then at least appreciate your dodging-timeline being cut in two.”
The two-minute warning bell blared overhead, and we parted ways for class.

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