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Crushing Summer

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Title: Crushing Summer

Author: C.M. Stunich

Release

Date: November 7, 2013

Genre: New Adult Romance

Hosted

by:Love Between the Sheets

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Synopsis

I’m a girl. I met a boy. Why can’t it stay that simple?

Here, in this town, summer doesn’t just mean tiny

bikinis and sunglasses, white toothed grins and lounging at the beach. It means pain.

And loss. And false promises.

It means liars pretending to be saints, friends

pretending to be enemies, rivals pretending to be lovers.

For me, it means being crushed. The Crush, actually.

The one they all want simply because they were told to. It means being surrounded

by beautiful faces and gorgeous bodies, sweet words and sizzling kisses.

It means being wanted and despised.

My name is Chloe Summer, and I’m afraid that if I’m

not careful, this summer could be my last.

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Excerpt

EXCERPT #1:

“Just follow me and holler if you get stuck.”

“Stuck?” Casper asked, face paling as I dropped to my knees in the

wet sand. He and his sister were so pale that they were visible even in the

dark. I smiled and shrugged.

“It can get a little tight in here,” I explained, examining his strong

shoulders and muscular chest. Casper was more … developed than the

other guys in my grade. He looked more like a man than the rest of them.

As soon as this thought ran through my head, I flushed neon red and

turned away, nestling my fingers into the wet ground for support. Wow.

I might be the Crush, but I think I also have a crush. A smile teased my

lips as I started forward and listened for the sounds of Casper and Julie

crawling after me. I really hoped that he wouldn’t get stuck. I couldn’t

even imagine how that would play out.

“Casper’s claustrophobic,” Julie began, her hair brushing against

my bare feet as I squeezed my body past the first curve and around the

corner. It was so dark in here, and moist, like the air was liquid, coating

my tongue and the insides of my cheeks with salt water. It should’ve been

stifling, but it wasn’t. It was almost comforting in a way.

“Not clinically,” I heard him call out from behind us. “But I’m not going

to lie. This is not my idea of a good time.” With a grunt, I listened as he

moved behind us, scraping past the curve with a flurry of curses and a few

choice words for The Assignment.

“It’s not too far between caves,” I explained, listening as the earth

muffled my voice and made me sound small, like a little kid wrapped in

a blanket. Only this blanket was tons and tons of rock and sand and dirt

towering above me, ready to crash down and suffocate us at any moment.

I pushed the thought back, sent up a silent prayer for Casper and kept

going. If he really was claustrophobic, this could not be an easy task.

“We can rest in between and take a breather. The others aren’t quite tall

enough to stand up in, but at least we can sit comfortably.”

“This,” Julie said with a small hiccup, one that had her brother sucking

in a lungful of harsh breath. “Is like an adventure.” When she started to

cough, my heart rate picked up and guilt came crashing down around me

like a wave. How could I have been so stupid? Of course we were going

to get discovered. The first day after Assignment Night was notoriously

bad for the Outcast. It was a day of limbo, somewhere in between beach

parties and road trips. They had nothing else to do, so they came looking

for her. Or rather, they were called. As soon as I saw Justin, and Heidi for

that matter, I was going to go off on them. Especially Heidi. How could

she have let this happen? I expected more out of her. “Something you

could write books about.”

“Julie, save your breath,” Casper said, but his voice was soft, even

softer than mine.

“It’s just a cough, Casper,” she choked out as I finally emerged out the

end of the tunnel and spun to help her, grabbing her hands and pulling her

into the bubble of open space beneath the earth. There wasn’t much of an

entrance into this particular cave. The mouth was narrow and wide, filled

with water that bubbled and licked at our flesh as it rose and fell, reminding

us that we were only temporary fixtures here, that we couldn’t stay long.

Julie’s hands were flecked with little spots of blood that she quickly

washed away in the surf, hiding the evidence before her brother emerged

behind her, covered in sweat and panting. He slicked his hair back as he

collapsed to his side and looked up at the low ceiling with a grimace. Surf

kissed his dark hair and brushed across his skin, drawing goose bumps

along his bare flesh.

“It’s not just a cough, Julie,” he said, as he glanced up, presumably

looking for blood. She didn’t show him anything, but a smile and continued

talking.

“I’ve always thought it would be fun to trade places with someone

legendary, someone whose name won’t be erased in time.” She sat back

against the wall and closed her eyes. “First name that comes to mind …

Casper?”

“I’m not playing this game, Julie,” he said, sounding tired. I imagined

that it couldn’t be easy on him, looking out for her all the time, worrying,

afraid that around the corner, something bad might be waiting to take her

away.

“Chloe?”

I thought for a moment, trying to word my answer carefully. I felt like

honesty was vastly important, even in this hypothetical situation. I still felt

guilty for the almost lie I’d told Casper earlier. I should’ve just told him the

truth – that my friend and her boyfriend had called the cavalry and they

were out for blood.

“Homer.”

Julie grinned.

“From The Odyssey?”

I shrugged, reaching up to pick bits of kelp from my hair.

“I mean, just for a day or two. I don’t know if I could handle the weight

of Olympus on my shoulders for a lifetime.” Julie grinned at me, and I

smiled back.

“I’d like to be the Oracle at Delphi, breathing in noxious gasses and

uttering mad prophesies. Or, barring that, maybe Athena. I suppose

it wouldn’t be so terrible to be a goddess. Well, except for the whole

immortality thing. That would blow.”

“Hello?” It was Heidi’s voice, echoing through the tunnel and

bouncing around the rock. Even though I knew she was quite a ways

away from us, it sounded like she was just outside the rock. “Chloe, are

you in here?” I knew Heidi knew about the tunnel though she’d never

climbed through it. All it would take though would be a brave soul or two,

someone trying to show off, and we’d be trapped. I held a finger to my lips

and turned around, ducking into the next portion of the tunnel and sliding

along my belly in the shallow water. This was by far the worst part. If we

could get through here, we’d be home free.

Well, sort of. I still had to go into the bank, shoeless and wet, covered

in sand, and explain to my dad why I needed a ride home. Not exactly my

idea of fun, but there it was. He’d understand. He’d been the Heartthrob

back in his day. It was rough. Having a whole town full of admirers is not

as fun as it sounds. Dad had even been kidnapped once and tied to a

chair by a crazy chick from his class.

And then a year later, he’d married her. Yes, my mother had

kidnapped my dad during the Assignment. Explains a lot, huh?

“Once we get through here, we’re home free,” I whispered as I rose to

my knees and snuck a glance over my shoulder. As tiny as she was, Julie

had no problem getting through the low point. But Casper …

“Shit,” he growled as his arms appeared first, and then his head.

It was his chest and shoulders that were having a hard time squeezing

through the rock, keeping him trapped in a very awkward position. I could

only imagine what the others would think if they came in and found his feet

sticking out into the cave. “You weren’t kidding, were you?” he asked as

he pushed the goopy sand aside and dug his fingers into the sticky clay

beneath looking for a handhold. “This is ridiculous. I should’ve just stayed

back there and beat those jerks up.” Julie and I waited while Casper

grumbled and clawed his way through. He made it just barely and ended

up red faced and pissed behind his sister. When his eyes met mine, I

had to look away. I was really screwing up this whole first impression bit.

Casper Alice and I were off to a very rough start.

EXCERPT #2:

“Casper,” I began, knowing I couldn’t put this off any longer. I hated to

break the moment, but I could hear the shouting and cheering coming from

the drive-in and knew it was only a matter of time before he figured out

there was something odd going on. “I know we just met and this might

sound a little weird, but there’s something you should know about this

town.” His raised his thin brows and sat back, draping his arms over the

back of the bench.

“Do you sacrifice kittens on the full moon? Because if so, I’m totally

out. I won’t sacrifice kittens. Goats, maybe. But not kittens.” I tried

to smile back at the joke, but thinking of The Assignment was akin to

strapping weights on either side of my mouth. The corners of my lips

pulled down into a frown.

“Tonight is Assignment Night.” Casper remained still, listening, not at

all nervous about what I was going to say. He didn’t think it was going to

be bad or that it was going to affect him, but I knew it would. Somehow, I

just knew.

“Like, for classes or something?”

“Like, for the summer. All summer. Tonight, all the students, ages

thirteen to eighteen, will be assigned a title. Most of them will stay

Students, but a select lucky and unlucky few will be … Something else.”

Casper gave me a look that said I was totally and completely nuts. Again,

I attempted a smile, but this one fell even flatter than the first. I resorted to

keeping my eyes on the sea and letting my fidgety hands spin the conch

around in circles. “You know all the stereotypes people think about when

they talk about high school? Jocks? Losers? Party boys? Goths?”

Casper pulled a cigarette out of his pocket and slipped it between his lips.

“Yeah, sure, okay.”

“Well … on Assignment Night, tonight, people get nominated by their

peers for certain … positions, and then they have to act them out until the

Friday before Labor Day. Every day until that day, at midnight, they have

to be who everyone wants them to be, for good or bad. And everyone

else, the Students, they have to play along.”

“Um, you’re kidding right? Is this some kind of game?” My faux

smiled turned into a grimace.

“I wish it were. If it were just a game, it’d be fun, right? But it’s not.

I mean, I used to think it was, but not anymore. People get hurt playing

this game.” I paused, not necessarily for dramatic effect, but there it was.

“They get killed.”

Crushing Summer Tour Banner

About the Author

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C.M. Stunich was raised under a cover of fog in the area known simply as Eureka, CA. A mysterious place, this strange, arboreal landnursed Caitlin’s (yes, that’s her name!) desire to write strange fiction novels about wicked monsters, magical trains, and Nemean Lions (Google it!). She currently enjoys drag queens, having too many cats, and tribal bellydance.

Always a fan of the indie scene and ‘sticking it to the man,’ Ms. Stunich decided to take the road less traveled and forgo the traditional publishing route. You can be assured though that she received several rejections as to ensure her proper place in the world of writers before taking up a friend’s offer to start a publishing company. Sarian Royal was born, and Ms. Stunich’s books slowly transformed from mere baking chocolate to full blown tortes with hand sculpted fondant flowers.

C.M. is a writer obsessed with delivering the very best and scours her mind on a regular basis to select the most unusual stories forthe outside world. Ms. Stunich can be reached via e-mail or by post and loves to hear from her readers. Ms. Stunich also wrote this biography and has no idea why she decided to refer to herself in the third person.

Come visit me at www.cmstunich.com and follow me on Facebook !

CRUSHING SUMMER Playlist

“About A Girl” by The Academy Is…

“Summer Hair = Forever Young” by The Academy Is…

“Swing, Swing” by The All-American Rejects

“One More Sad Song” by The All-American Rejects

“Flavor of the Weak” by American Hi-Fi

“Sk8er Boi” by Avril Lavigne

“The Great Escape” by Boys Like Girls

“Just the Girl” by The Click Five

“Catch Your Wave” by The Click Five

“Hot Mess” by Cobra Starship

“Brand New Skin” by Count the Stars

“On the Way Home” by Count the Stars

“The Curse of Curves” by Cute is What We Aim For

“If It Means a Lot to You” by A Day to Remember

“Graveyard Dancing” by Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows

“Note to Self” by From First to Last

“Secrets Don’t Make Friends” by From First to Last

“Ride the Wings of Pestilence” by From First to Last

“Hot N Cold” by Katy Perry

“Roar” by Katy Perry

“The Show” by Lenka

“Trouble” by Never Shout Never

“Time After Time” by Quietdrive

“Both Ways” by Quietdrive

“Say You Like Me” by We The Kings

“Skyway Avenue” by We the Kings

“Check Yes, Juliet” by We The Kings

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