Wednesday, May 10, 2023

No Matter What by KM Frost - spotlight excerpt

No Matter What

Author: KM Frost

Amazon Kindle: 442 pages

Release date: May 12

YA Contemporary Romance


My head knocked against the window as the bus trundled into a nearly empty parking lot, sending a painful pulse across my skull. I turned up my music to block out the pain. There was no blocking out the stale vanilla-scented air, or the depressing landscape of this tiny town that was so small there wasn’t even a bus station. I’m not making that up. The bus just stopped at the back of a McDonald’s parking lot and opened the doors to let the poor souls off.

Unfortunately, I was one of those poor souls.

I was seriously tempted to stay in my seat and ride this bus to the end of the line. But when Margie had marched me to the station that morning, she’d made it infuriatingly clear if I tried to run, if I missed a single check-in with her, or if I got into trouble of any kind, then she would bring the cops down on my head so fast I wouldn’t even have a chance to cuss her out.

She wasn’t the only social worker I’d dealt with, but she was definitely the most tenacious.
I stepped down onto the pavement with my backpack slung over my shoulder and my duffel bag dangling from my fist. My fellow exiles peeled off, greeting friends or family who had come to pick them up. Though I had never met the grandparents I was going to be stuck with for the next three months—until I turned eighteen and was free—I looked for them anyway. No one came toward me and, two minutes later, everyone had driven away. I was left standing alone in the parking lot.

I should have known the dad who hadn’t bothered to stick around would have parents who couldn’t be bothered to show up.

Music blared against my eardrums as I stood there like an idiot.

Screw this, I thought, and made a beeline for the restaurant. There was no way I was going to stand around waiting for grandparents who may or may not show up. I had enough cash for a ticket back to Chicago. I would probably have to wait hours for the next bus, but anything was better than this. I could crash at Leo’s and BS the check-ins with Margie. I’d have to keep my head down, but I could pull it off. Except there was a chance my grandparents would report me missing, and Margie knew enough about me to find me. Then there would be—

Something hard hit my leg and almost knocked me over. I lost my grip on my duffel bag as I threw out my hands to catch myself. My palms slapped against a white trunk so hard I felt it all the way to my shoulders.

A car. A freaking car had almost run me over!

Was this the universe’s way of flipping me off?

The driver’s door flew open and a girl around my age sprung out. “Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry! I can’t believe—! Are you okay?”

I swore and shoved back from the car, palms stinging. “You almost ran me over!”

She clapped her hands over her mouth. “I am so, so sorry. I didn’t see you. I didn’t think anyone was out here.” Her hazel eyes were so wide it would’ve been funny if I wasn’t so mad. Music throbbed in my ears in time with the ache in my leg but didn’t come close to blocking out her voice or my irritation.

“Is that what they teach you out here in the boonies? Just assume no one’s there and hope you don’t kill someone?”

“Are you okay?” She reached a hand toward me but quickly drew it back. “Oh my gosh, did I hurt you?”

“You freaking hit me with a car!” I slapped my palm off the trunk.

“Hey!” She tried to push my hand away, but I’d already moved it. “What was that for?”

“I don’t know, maybe you trying to kill me.”

“I wasn’t trying to kill you.” She crossed her arms, shock and concern giving way to frustration. “I didn’t see you. If I had—”

“You would’ve gunned it?”

Her eyes narrowed to dangerous slits. “Do you want me to run you over?”

That was unexpected. And oddly . . . entertaining. It’s the kind of thing Leo would have said when he wasn’t in the mood for any of my crap. Anger and annoyance still crowded in my chest, but a swirl of amusement wiggled between them.

My eyes cut across her face, taking in her round features and fly-away ponytail. Golden-brown hairs had come loose, framing her sun-tanned face, and freckles lightly dotted her nose and cheeks. She was a good head shorter than me, but what she lacked in height, she made up for in attitude. Her glare skimmed over me, giving me the once-over. She didn’t seem impressed by my ratty jeans or faded Silent Theory t-shirt.

The song in my ears changed as I matched her stance, crossing my arms over my chest. “You know, making death threats is a crime.”

“So is vandalism.”

 I raised an eyebrow at that. “Vandalism?”

“You hit my car.”

“And you hit me with your car. Pretty sure the judge would be on my side.”

She dragged a breath through her nose, color flushing her cheeks. “Who do you think you are?”

“I think I’m a guy who’s lucky to be alive, with you loose on the streets. I mean, I figured this place would be the death of me—I just didn’t realize how literal that fact was.”

Goodreads Summary

Mason’s life is far from perfect, but it turns out it can get worse. When his mom ends up in prison, he’s shipped off to the middle of nowhere. Apparently he’s got grandparents—parents of the father he knows nothing about. Mason’s not interested in bonding with these newfound grandparents. He just wants to survive until his eighteenth birthday so he can escape this backwater town and finally be free.

Emily is struggling to keep what’s left of her family from falling apart after a horrible accident stole her mom. She has enough on her plate with mothering her younger siblings and protecting a secret that could destroy everything, when she runs into Mason—literally. Her life doesn’t need more complications, and this distractingly attractive, clearly damaged boy promises nothing but trouble. Still, she can’t help but be drawn to him.

Mason and Emily are opposites in nearly every way, but neither can deny the attraction between them. Mason knows he isn’t good enough for her, and Emily knows she should stay away, but that doesn’t stop the pull they feel toward each other. Their tentative relationship is threatened when Mason is put in the crosshairs of the local gang and the town sheriff. Mason and Emily will have to decide what they really want—and if they’re willing to fight for it.

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