Jude Brooks is bad news. He’s the kind of guy that leaves behind a string of broken hearts and Tatum O’Connor is not about to be one of those girls, despite all of Jude’s advances. They have a past, and Tatum’s determined to make sure they don’t have a future.
Unfortunately for her, “no” isn’t a word in Jude’s vocabulary.
The more she backs away, the more he pushes.
But what if he pushes too far?
Tatum’s hiding a pain that no one sees and holding on to a hurt that may never heal. Letting Jude into her heart could shatter her completely—and what if she opens up to Jude and he can’t handle her baggage?
Love is never easy—especially when the person you’re falling for is the person you blame for the worst event in your life.
Love, heartache, and despair.
That’s the name of the game when you’re Saving Tatum.
I jolted awake at the sound of someone trying to beat our front door down. I sat straight up, the blankets pooling at my waist. My head twisted to look at the blinking orange numbers flashing on the clock beside my bed. Three in the morning.
Fear slithered down my spine like a serpent.
Nothing good came from someone at your door that early in the morning.
I heaved my tired body out of bed. My muscles were stiff and overworked from a rigorous cheerleading practice the night before.
I opened my bedroom door and poked my head out. I saw my mom and dad coming out of their bedroom. A baseball bat was clutched in my dad’s hand. What did he think he was going to do to an intruder with that? Knock them out? Besides, if someone was trying to break in, why would they be knocking on the door?
“Stay up here, Tate,” my dad warned, quietly tiptoeing down the steps. My mom followed him even though he warned her to stay put as well.
I kept watch on the door.
My dad looked through the peephole and muttered, “What the hell?”
Swinging it open, I saw red and blue flashing lights and an officer stood at our door.
I rolled my eyes. The neighbor’s kids were probably vandalizing again.
I was about to close my door and get back in bed, when I heard the officer speak.
“Mr. and Mrs. O’Connor?” He asked. He was young and nervous, obviously new to the police force.
“That’s us,” my dad answered, “is there a problem?”
“It’s about your son, there’s been an accident. I’m so sorry to tell you this, but he didn’t make it.” His face was somber, eyes downcast.
My mom let out a piercing, soul-crushing wail, and started to fall. My dad’s arm held her upright.
But there was no one there to hold me up.
I crumbled to the floor, clutching at my chest.
I couldn’t breathe.
I was suffocating under the pressure.
He didn’t make it.
He was dead. My big brother—my best friend—was gone.
“I’m sorry,” I heard the officer say one more time before my dad closed the door. His cries soon joined the sound of my mother’s.
Tears streamed down my face, but my sobs were silent.
Graham was gone. In a matter of hours he’d been ripped from my life forever. I’d just seen him at dinner and we’d been talking about school and how I’d be cheering at the football game on Friday. He was telling me how proud he was of me.
Everything had been perfect. The way it was supposed to be.
Something like this wasn’t supposed to happen.
This was Graham’s last year of high school. He was supposed to leave for college and study to be a lawyer like our dad.
He. Wasn’t. Supposed. To. Die.
None of this was supposed to happen.
My perfect life wasn’t supposed to explode like this.
But it did.
Over night, I went from having it all, to having nothing.
I watched my mom close herself off from everybody.
I watched my dad spend his every waking hour slaving over his job so he didn’t have to think about Graham, or mom, or even me.
I watched myself slowly spiral from a carefree happy girl, into a complete and utter cynic.
And I knew exactly who was to blame for everything.
Micalea Smeltzer is a bestselling Young and New Adult author from Winchester, Virginia. She’s always working on her next book, and when she has spare time she loves to read and spend time with her family.