Friday, January 10, 2014

DEEPER by Robin York, Excerpt Reveal

I'm thrilled to be apart of today's excerpt reveal for Robin York's upcoming New Adult book, DEEPER. This is the first book in Robin's new adult contemportany romance Caroline & West series. It's also Robin's debut book! But, fans also know her as author RUTHIE KNOX!! 

Between now and release day, fans will be able to read excerpts that are being revealed on various blogs. Today I'm am pleased to be able to share excerpt #2 with you. Next week's excerpt will be revealed on 1/13 on Harlequin Junkie, and on GReads Books! The serial excerpts will end on the book's release day, January 28th.

DEEPER Synopsis:
In this New Adult debut by Robin York, a college student is attacked online and must restore her name—and stay clear of a guy who’s wrong for her, but feels so right.

When Caroline Piasecki’s ex-boyfriend posts their sex pictures on the Internet, it destroys her reputation as a nice college girl. Suddenly her once-promising future doesn’t look so bright. Caroline tries to make the pictures disappear, hoping time will bury her shame. Then a guy she barely knows rises to her defense and punches her ex to the ground.

West Leavitt is the last person Caroline needs in her life. Everyone knows he’s shady. Still, Caroline is drawn to his confidence and swagger—even after promising her dad she’ll keep her distance. On late, sleepless nights, Caroline starts wandering into the bakery where West works.

They hang out, they talk, they listen. Though Caroline and West tell each other they’re “just friends,” their feelings intensify until it becomes impossible to pretend. The more complicated her relationship with West gets, the harder Caroline has to struggle to discover what she wants for herself—and the easier it becomes to find the courage she needs to fight back against the people who would judge her.

When all seems lost, sometimes the only place to go is deeper.

Pre-Order Links:

Advance praise for DEEPER: 
“The perfect new adult story . . . West will make you swoon!”New York Times bestselling author Monica Murphy

“Beautifully written and full of swoony tender moments, toe-curling chemistry, and delicious, twisty angst . . . Stop whatever you’re doing and read this book.”—Christina Lauren, author of the Beautiful Bastard series

Excerpt #2

I cross campus with my arms wrapped around my torso, scanning the blue sky, the cheerful red flowers, the students heading off in all directions, alone and in groups, purposeful as ants.
Before, I was so excited to be back at Putnam again. I love the campus, with its red-brick buildings and the arched open-air walkway that connects the dorms marching alongside an expanse of green lawn. I love my classes and the challenge of being at a college where I’m not the smartest. Unlike kids in high school, no one here gives me a hard time for caring too much about my classes or nerding out about Rachel Maddow. Pretty much everybody at this school is at least a little bit of a nerd.
But in the past few weeks, Putnam’s been spoiled for me. Maybe forever.
The thing is, Nate didn’t just post the pictures. He used the website where they went up to forward an anonymous link to a bunch of our friends. It got emailed around, and when I forced Bridget to tell me if anyone had sent it to her, she admitted that she’d gotten it in her college email seven times. Seven. There are only fourteen hundred students at Putnam—three hundred fifty in our class. I can’t imagine how many times the message circulated among the ones who aren’t my best friend.
The original post Nate put up is gone, but the photos keep popping up on different sites, and some of the posts still name my college, my hometown, me.
When I walk around Putnam now, I look at every guy I pass, and I think, What about you? Did you see me naked? Did you save my picture onto your phone? Do you whip it out and wank to it?
Do you hate me, too?
It makes it difficult to get excited about dancing with them at parties or cheering them on at a football game.
My phone vibrates in my back pocket. Bridget is texting to ask if I’m heading to lunch.
I type, Yes. You?
Yep! Gardiner?
I’m 5 min out.
Cool. Did u hear abt West?
I’m not sure how to answer that, so I type, Sort of.
She replies with *Swoon*.
Bridget likes to pretend West and I have a silent, simmering affair going on.
I like to pretend he and I are complete strangers.
The truth is somewhere in the middle.
When I met West, it was move-in day for first-year students, and it was hot. Iowa hot, which means in the mid-nineties with 98 percent humidity. The best thing to do under those conditions is to lie on a couch in someone’s cold basement and watch TV while eating Cadbury Eggs. Or, if you must be outside, to seek shade and ice cream. Not necessarily in that order.
Instead, I was carrying all my earthly possessions from my dad’s car up four flights of stairs to the room I would share with Bridget. I have a lot of possessions, it turns out. I’d gotten a little dizzy on the last trip up, and my dad had insisted I plant my butt on the step by the dorm entrance and sit this one out.
So at that particular moment he was on his way up to the room, Bridget hadn’t arrived yet, and Nate was off moving into his own room on the east side of campus. I was alone—sweaty and grimy and red-faced and hot. It’s possible that I was mentally griping a bit, about my tired hamstrings and the lack of trained helper monkeys to do the moving work for me, when the ugliest car I have ever seen rolled up.
The car was the color of sewage, dented and rusty, with a passenger-side door that had been duct-taped on. As I watched, it cut across an open parking space and slow-motion-bounced right up over the curb onto the manicured college lawn, rolling to a stop in front of my sneaker-clad feet.
I glanced around for the RA, good-girl radar pinging like mad. There were tire tracks in the grass! The car was farting out oily-looking clouds of noxious exhaust! This could not possibly be allowed!
No RA in sight.
The driver’s-side door opened, and a guy got out.
I forgot my own name.
Now, probably that was because I stood up too quickly. It was hot, and I’d only had a Pop-Tart for breakfast, too excited to eat the eggs and bacon my dad tried to push on me. I definitely didn’t get woozy because of how this guy looked.
I mean, yes, I’ll admit, the way he looked might have contributed. The lizard part of my brain greedily took in all the details of his height and build and that mouth and his face oh my God—and then the rational part of me filed them carefully away in the appropriate mental binder.
That would be the binder neatly labeled If You Weren’t with Nate.
But it wasn’t the way he looked that got me. It was the way he moved.
I want to say that he swaggered out of the car, except that makes it sound like he was trying too hard, and he just obviously wasn’t trying. He was naturally that graceful and loose-hipped and, God, I don’t even know. You’ll have to take my word for it.
He glanced all around. His gaze settled on me. “You the welcome wagon?”
“Sure,” I said.
He stepped closer and stuck out his hand. “I’m West Leavitt.”
“Caroline Piasecki.”
“Nice to meet you.”
His hand was warm and dry. It made me conscious of my clammy, gritty grip and of the sweat under my arms. My deodorant had failed hours ago, and I could smell myself. Awesome.
“Did you drive here?” I asked.
The corner of his mouth quirked up, but he sounded very serious when he said, “Yes.”
“From where?”
That made his mouth hitch up a little more, almost into a smile.
“How far is that?”
“About two thousand miles.”
I looked at his car. I looked in his car.
Okay, so the truth is, I stepped closer to his car, away from him, and leaned over and peered inside. The backseat was crammed with camping gear and an aquarium full of lightbulbs and tangled electrical wire, plus a giant clear trash bag that was moist with condensation and contained what appeared to be dirt. There was also a huge box full of cans of Dinty Moore beef stew and a few randomly flung shirts.
The car looked like a hobo lived in it. I was fascinated.
I was also kind of afraid to keep looking at him. I could see from his reflection in the car window that he was stretching his arms behind his back, which had the effect of tightening his T-shirt and putting things on display that I was probably better off not looking at.
“By yourself?” I asked.
He lifted his arms up into the air to stretch his shoulders. His shirt rode up, and I glanced away, embarrassed. “With the windows down?”
I was just making words with my mouth at that point. All sense had abandoned me.
“Yeeeeeah,” he said slowly. When I turned back to him, his eyes were full of mischief. “Sometimes I even got crazy and stuck an arm out.”
I felt my throat flush hot. Returning to being unforgivably nosy about his car seemed the wisest course of action.
I noticed a sleeping bag on the front seat and wondered if he’d been using it right there where it lay. Did he just pull over on the side of the road, lower the passenger seat, and sleep? Did he eat cold stew out of cans? Because that was definitely a can opener in the cup holder.
And that was definitely a slightly crushed, open box of condoms on the passenger-bay floor.
“Don’t you worry about botulism?”
Now, in my defense, I actually did have a reason for the question. I saw the cans, noticed that a number of them were dented and dinged up, and then remembered this high school bio class where we learned about anaerobic bacteria and how they grow in airless places. Sometimes cans get dented and there’s a teensy tiny hole that you can’t even see, but bacteria get in and they go crazy replicating themselves. When you open the can, the food just looks normal, so you eat it, but then you die.
It all made sense in my head. It wasn’t until I straightened and turned around—which made me dizzy again, I guess because I’d been bent over too far, peering into his car like some kind of peep-show freak—that I realized it hadn’t made any sense to him. His eyebrows were all knit together.
“From the cans. With the dents,” I said.
No change in the eyebrows.
“Anaerobic bacteria? Gruesome, painful death?”
He shook his head slowly back and forth, and then he did the worst thing.
He grinned.
It was like a nuclear attack.
“You’re a weird one, aren’t you?” he asked.
I’m not the guy with condoms and beef stew in my car.
I didn’t say it, though. I was too busy smiling like a complete idiot.
West’s grin has that effect on me. He doesn’t deploy it often, but when he does, I go brain dead.
Also, the world had gotten kind of fuzzy and sideways at the edges. My hip hit something hard, which upon further investigation turned out to be his car door, and then I was sinking down, resting my forehead against the hot front tire and saying, “It’s because they don’t have helper monkeys.”
I don’t even know what I meant. I was all addled and sleepy suddenly, and he was really close, reaching for me. I felt his breath on my neck, heard him mumble something about get inside and you.
I liked the sound of that.
A heavy weight on my shoulders turned out to be his arm coming around me, easing me down onto my back. For one slow, perfect beat of my heart, he was poised on his elbows above me, his hips pressing into mine. He smelled good. Warm and rich, like something amazing to eat that would melt on my tongue.
Then he shifted away, and we were lying side by side on the ground. I wondered vaguely if my desire for him to climb back on top of me made me a bad girlfriend. Did it count as cheating? Because I liked his hands on me. I liked the smell of him.
I closed my eyes and breathed in West Leavitt and green grass and warm earth.
I’m pretty sure I was still smiling when I lost consciousness.
Bridget hails me from beside the glass-paned doors that mark the entry to the dining hall.
She’s beaming the whole time I cross the lobby, right up until I get close enough for her to see my face.
“What happened to your nose?”
“I collided with an elbow.”
“You’re going to have to explain that.”
“Yeah, I know. But give me a second.”
We go through the doors, grab trays, and wait for the handful of students in front of us to make their way down the line before I dive in. “You know the fight? West and Nate? I kind of got caught in the crossfire.”
“Nate hit you? Oh my gosh! That’s terrible. Did you call security? Because that’s serious, Caroline. I’m not even kidding, you can’t let this keep going on like it is, or—”
I touch her arm to stop the flow of words. Bridget talks like a faucet. She’s either on or she’s off. You have to interrupt the flow if you want to get a word in edgewise. “It wasn’t Nate. West elbowed me, I think. Neither of us was too sure, actually.”
Her eyes get huge. “You talked to him?”
I know what she’s imagining—West and me huddled somewhere private and intimate, and him holding a warm compress to my forehead. That’s how I met her, in fact. I had passed out next to West’s car, and I woke up on my dorm bed with a cold paper towel on my head and Bridget leaning over me, all forehead wrinkles and concerned blue eyes, like some kind of adorable red-haired, freckle-faced angel.
“Not really,” I say. “I like that color on you.”
I do like it. Bridget looks good in blue. But mostly I tell her because she’s a jock—a long-distance runner on the track team—and I make a habit of complimenting her whenever she wears normal clothes, just to encourage the practice.
We’re making our way down the hot-food line now. “Do you have chicken without the fried stuff on?” she asks the student worker.
“No, just what you see.”
“Okay, thanks.”
She puts green beans on her tray and skips everything else on the line. She’ll probably add hard-boiled eggs from the salad bar, a few short glasses of milk, a piece of fruit. She’s in training, so she’s super careful about what she eats.
I take a plate of chicken-patty parmesan and two chocolate mint brownies. I have bigger things to worry about at the moment than calories.
“Don’t even think I didn’t notice you changing the subject,” Bridget says when we’ve made our way from the line to the salad bar, where she loads up on hard-boiled eggs and greens. “I need to know what he said. Like, was he still mad from fighting, or was he nice? Did you guys go somewhere quiet, or were you in a crowd? How upset was he that he hit you? Because Krishna says—”
“He didn’t say anything,” I clarify. “He had to leave so he didn’t get caught and end up expelled or whatever.”
“But you said you talked to him.”
“No, I didn’t.”
She rolls her eyes. “You implied it, lawyer girl.”
“We exchanged a few sentences. He wanted to make sure I was okay.”
We’re on to drinks now. Bridget goes for the milk. I get myself a Coke with ice. “Did he say anything about why he did it?” she asks.
“Did you ask? Did you hear them arguing? Give me something here. Only you could act like West and Nate hitting each other and you getting whacked in the face is no biggie. Hey, where’s your sweater?”
“I had to throw it out. Blood all over it. And, no, I didn’t hear them or ask.”
“That sucks. I liked that sweater.” We swipe our cards at the checkout to put the food on our meal plans, and she starts walking toward the closest free table. Looking back at me over her shoulder, she smiles. “Want to know what I heard?”
“What?” I set my tray down on the table a little too hard.
Her smile falters. “You’re upset.”
I’m not. I’m just . . . confused. Something’s going on, and these days when something’s going on, it’s rarely good. And if the something involves West and Nate, I’m very much afraid I don’t want to hear it.
We sit down. I brace myself. “Just tell me, okay?”
“I heard they were fighting about you.”
Crappity crap crap crap.
“Who told you that?”
“Somebody in their class. They’ve got Macro together.”
“Nate and West?”
“Yeah, and Sierra, you know her? She said that after class Nate made some random joke, and West got on his case, and it turned into an argument about you.”
“What did they say?”
But I’m not sure I want to know. There’s a rock in my stomach, dense and hot. I sip my Coke, closing my eyes against the doomed feeling slipping over my shoulders.
“I’m not sure.” Bridget’s tone is cautious. “Sierra didn’t catch all of it, only your name.”
I push at my chicken with my fork, but I can’t even bring myself to cut it. When I put it in my mouth, it will taste like ashes. The burned-up remains of the life I used to have.
People talk about me. Not to my face, but behind my back? All the time. I’d made Bridget promise to tell me whatever she heard, because I need to know. It’s the only way I can be sure they’re forgetting, like I want them to.
I’m nothing special—just a normal-looking college girl. I should be able to fade into the background if I keep my head down. In a year, I’m hoping that barely anyone will remember this. Caroline who?
It’s not what I had planned, exactly. I’d thought I might shoot for student-body president my junior year, senior year at the latest. But I can table that ambition if I have to. I’d rather be anonymous than notorious.
“Sierra said it was kind of romantic,” Bridget offers. “He was defending your honor.”
It’s such a preposterous idea—that I have honor. That West would defend it.
I barely know him. I’ve only talked to him one time.
West and I are not friends.
And for the past few weeks, the only people who have cared about my honor are Bridget and me. None of my old friends can look me in the eye. Nate and I came as a unit, and when they had to pick sides, I guess his side looked like more fun.
“I would never do something like that,” Nate had said, straight-faced, when I confronted him in front of a bunch of those friends in this very dining hall. “How could you think I would?”
And then, after I sputtered and he denied for another few minutes, he’d said, “I guess a lot of those girls just want attention so bad, they’ll do anything to get it.”
I look out the window at the lawn, unable to chew up and swallow the idea of West Leavitt defending my honor. Unable to process it at all.
Last year, when I regained consciousness after fainting by West’s car, the first thing I heard was an angry male voice in the hall. My dad was shouting, which was nothing new. He’s a judge, so he spends most of his professional time being calm and rational, but at home he’s the single parent of three young daughters, and he has a tendency to get shouty when he feels threatened. Which is a lot.
You just have to know how to handle him. My oldest sister, Janelle, sucks up. Alison usually cries. I present him with reasoned arguments, appealing to the logical brain until the ranty brain calms down.
Dad must have been all the way down the hall by the stairs, because I couldn’t make out what he was saying. Occasionally a lower, calmer voice broke into his rant.
West’s voice.
I didn’t sort all this out until later. At the time, my head felt overlarge and tender, and I asked the girl leaning over me, “Who are you?”
“I’m Bridget,” she said. “Are you okay? You fainted. This cute guy carried you up the stairs, and I don’t know what he said to your dad, but your dad is ticked, and is he always that scary? Because, if so, I’m glad you’re here—it’s going to be a lot more pleasant for you—and also . . .”
She kept going until the door flew open and my dad came back into the room, red-faced and sweaty under the arms of his golf polo. He sat beside me on the bed, so obviously agitated that fume lines might as well have been rising off his head.
“How are you feeling?”
“Okay.” This was a lie.
“I’m going to get you moved to one of the girls’ dorms.”
I sat up abruptly. “What? Why?”
“That boy out there—he’s not a good influence. You shouldn’t be living near a kid like that.”
“Like what? What did he do?”
Well. That was the wrong question. For the next several minutes, I learned how entirely alarming it is for a father to leave his youngest daughter for just a few minutes and then rediscover her laid out on the ground underneath an unknown male. Especially when your daughter turns out to be unconscious, the kid has “an attitude,” and you don’t “like the look of him.”
All of this was compounded, according to my dad, by the “drug paraphernalia” in the backseat of the punk’s car. By which I think he meant the aquarium and lights and the bag of dirt, not the Dinty Moore. Although who knows? I was entirely out of my league. I heard the words drug paraphernalia, and I imagined short lengths of thick rubber, bags of heroine, syringes.
My dad was still lecturing when Nate showed up. He walked right in to the room without knocking. Dad had invested three years in trying to guarantee that Nate and I were never alone near a horizontal surface, and now here Nate was, sauntering into my bedroom.
My dad turned a deeper shade of red.
Quickly, I introduced Bridget to Nate and Nate to Bridget and Bridget to my dad. I smiled a lot, making an effort to seem healthier than I felt, because this was the first stage of what would turn out to be an arduous campaign to ensure that when my father left—three days later instead of one, because the campaign was freaking long and hard fought—I’d still be in this dorm, in this room, with Bridget.
I won, but West was the necessary sacrifice. My dad wouldn’t leave until I’d agreed I would have nothing to do with “that boy.”
It was laughable, really, to think I might have. It turned out Dad was right about the drug thing.
West and Krishna’s door was always closed, the curtains pulled shut. They had a steady stream of guests, played loud music, and annoyed me with their late hours and the whiff of sandalwood and sticky–acrid smoke from their room that infested our entire floor.
West set up that aquarium and those lights someplace secret—no one seemed to know where—and grew a bumper crop of weed. This was according to Krishna, who hung out in our doorway a lot, chatting with Bridget and me.
Krishna I can talk to. But West . . . no. The way he walks—that swagger that isn’t a swagger—it’s like he knows his way around, even if he’s somewhere he’s never been before. His confidence makes him seem older than me, and Bridget is always telling me stuff about him that cements the impression. Apparently he loaned money to this guy in Bridget’s psych class so the guy could buy a plane ticket to see his girlfriend. West charged him interest. It makes me wonder whether he breaks kneecaps if someone doesn’t pay him back.
He’s just more than I could handle, even if I were allowed to talk to him.
I confined my relationship with West to looking at him—and I wouldn’t have done even that, except I can’t help it. When he’s around, I have to look at him.
He knows it, too. He smirks at me sometimes. One time, when he was coming down the hall in a towel? God. I think I was red for an hour afterward.
I never found out what he said to my dad. I have a feeling that, whatever it was, he wasn’t defending my honor. It’s hard for me to see why he would start now.
Maybe I should be grateful, but I can’t. I don’t need guys like West Leavitt defending me. He’s notorious. Between the drug dealing and that face, that smile . . . pretty much everyone on campus knows who he is.
He’ll draw attention to me. My primary purpose in life at the moment is to disappear.
When I mentally come back to the table, Bridget is peeling a hard-boiled egg and watching me. She’s gotten used to my long silences. She’s fiercely loyal, endlessly supportive. The best person I could possibly have on my side.
“If people want to know what I think about what West did?” I began.
“Tell them it was all a misunderstanding. It had nothing to do with me.”
Her forehead wrinkles. “But I figured it was good. Somebody else on our side, right?”
“I don’t want to be on a side, Bridge,” I say gently. “I want people to get amnesia on this whole issue. Fighting tends to be a thing people remember.”
She bites her lip.
“I don’t need people linking me up with him, okay? I need to keep a low profile.”
“If that’s what you want me to say, that’s what I’ll say,” she assures me. “That’ll be the end of it.”
I try on a smile and push my chicken across the tray, then pull my mint brownie closer and sink my fork through the thick layer of frosting. Dark fudgy black over a green so bright it’s almost neon.
That’ll be the end of it.
I wish I could believe her, but I can’t make assumptions like that anymore. I’ve learned that when evil crawls out of a snake pit, you have to track it down and squash it. Then you have to assume it had babies and go looking for them.
I have a past to erase if I’m going to claim the future I’ve always wanted—a future that requires me to get into a good law school so I can clerk with a great judge and start making the connections my dad says I need if I want to be a judge myself someday. Which I do. I want to go even further. State office. Washington, D.C.
My dad always says the first step to getting what you want is to know what you want and what it takes to get it. There’s no shame in aiming high. For my sixth-grade History Day project, I wrote a book of presidential limericks, one for each president. By ninth grade, I was volunteering to canvass door to door, and I got on the mailing lists for the Putnam College Democrats and the Putnam Republicans before I even received my acceptance letter.
I know what I want, and I know what it takes to get it. It takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice—but it also takes a clean record. No arrests, no scandals, no sex pictures on the Internet.
I don’t need anyone going around beating people up on my behalf. I can’t chance it happening again.

I need to talk to West.

Robin York grew up at a college, went to college, signed on for some more college, and then married a university professor. She still isn’t sure why it didn’t occur to her to write New Adult sooner. Writing as Ruthie Knox, she is a USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary romance, including RITA-finalistsAbout Last Night and Room at the Inn. She moonlights as a mother, makes killer salted caramels, and sorts out thorny plot problems while running, hiking, or riding her bike.


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