Between Now and Never by Laura Johnston
Buh boom, buh boom.
My heart thrusts with a force that takes me by surprise. Telling me something I don’t understand. A splitting pain, a longing to slip back under. They tell me I was in a hit-and-run, but I can’t remember what happened that night. All I know is that I woke up with pictures in my pocket, a card from one of those photo booths in the mall. And I’m in the pictures. Cody Rush. Me and…
Her brother was there that night, and my dad, the FBI agent, was the one who put her mom behind bars. What’s the connection? And why won’t Julianna talk to me now? Somehow, she holds the key to it all, and getting close–real close—to her for the answers I need will be no hardship at all…
Excerpt 3—Dinner Conversation Gone Wrong - CODY
“So, Julianna . . .” I say at the dinner table forty-five minutes later, “the girl who tutors me—”
“She’s purty,” Lizzy says with a mouth full of mashed potatoes. “Can I have some chocolate milk, Mom?”
“You’ve got a tutor?” Dad asks, his forehead gathering up over a confused stare. “Since when do you need a tutor?”
“He needs help in art, honey,” Mom cuts in with a light whack on his arm. “There’s no shame in that. Rachel, take out your earbuds.”
Rachel doesn’t hear. It’s almost six o’clock and Julianna still hasn’t woken up. She’s been asleep upstairs for over an hour and a half. I’ve checked on her several times, wondering if I should wake her. Each time I chicken out.
“Ryan, say something,” Mom whispers, her eyes shifting between Dad and Rachel.
“Rachel. Earbuds. Out,” Dad orders.
Rachel’s eyes snap up to meet his gaze and she yanks the earbuds out.
“Anyway,” I say, “she’s sleeping in my bed.”
Now all eyes are on me.
There’s a real possibility Julianna might walk down any minute, so I figured it was best to get this out in the open. It was either this or wake her up and sneak her out. Now, with everyone staring at me and Lizzy’s mashed-potato-covered mouth hanging open, I wonder if that wasn’t the better option.
Dad drops his silverware and directs a firm hand toward me to emphasize whatever point he’s about to make. “Son, I know we’ve discussed the importance of using protection, but I figured it went without saying that bringing a girl into our home—into your bedroom!—is out of the question.”
“Ryan!” Mom snaps. “Lizzy, cover your ears. Cody, save it for marriage.”
This is the first dinner conversation Rachel has been interested in for months. She snorts back a laugh.
“It’s not like that,” I say, hardly able to hold back a laugh myself as I realize I should have phrased this better.
Dad’s lips form a stern line. “This is not a laughing matter, Cody.”
“She fell asleep in the living room, okay? While I was working on my art project.”
“Your art put someone to sleep?” Rachel says. “What a surprise.”
“Rachel, cut it out,” Dad barks.
Mom simply looks grateful to have Rachel participating at the dinner table.
“How did she end up in your bed?” Mom asks.
Lizzy’s wide eyes ping-pong from Mom to me.
“I carried her.”
“And she didn’t wake up?” Rachel asks.
“She was pretty out of it,” I say. “I think she isn’t feeling good. Had a fever.”
Mom looks at the clock. “Won’t her parents be worried?”
“They—” I say and pause. “Aren’t home.”
A muscle in Dad’s jaw flinches. He picks up his fork and knife and starts cutting into his meat again. An awkward silence with no end in sight falls over the table.
“Can I have my chocolate milk now?” Lizzy asks. I’m not sure how I figured this conversation would go, but this certainly wasn’t it.
Praise for Between Now & Never
“A romance that will keep teens turning pages.” ~ Janette Rallison
"This was a lot different than I was expecting and I was honestly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. The cover led me to believe this would be a cute, love story but it was a suspenseful and gripping read." ~ Review from Goodreads
“Best book I read all year! On the edge of your seat suspense, heartwarming romance, and characters to cheer for—Between Now and Never is one you won’t want to miss.” ~Kelly Nelson, author of The Keeper’s Saga
"I had the privilege to read BETWEEN NOW AND NEVER when it was in manuscript form. I loved loved loved it from page one! Laura Johnson is such a talented author -- really looking forward to reading more of her work!" ~Kay Lynn Mangum, author of The Secret Journal of Brett Colton
Author Laura Johnston
Laura Johnston lives in Utah with her husband and two children. Growing up with five siblings, a few horses, peach trees, beehives and gardens, she developed an active imagination and always loved a good story. She fell in love with the young adult genre both through her experience in high school as well as her job later as a high school teacher. Laura enjoys running, playing tennis, sewing, traveling, writing, and above all, spending time with her husband and kids.
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