A study session goes to the dogs in a new BREAKING THE ICE excerpt!
When two opposites collide, things are bound to go awry in Breaking The Ice, the second book in Julie Cross‘ Juniper Falls series.
In this midwestern hockey town, Haley is a popular “princess” who’s struggling to keep her grades up. When she finds herself teamed up with low key, secretive Fletcher in a summer Civics class, both will find their patience tested.
But don’t worry, while Haley and Fletcher have a moment of angst in our exclusive excerpt thanks to Entangled Teen, you’ll also be introduced to the goodest doggo ever to grace the pages of a Julie Cross novel (and her mischievous sisters!)
“What are you up to?”
His eyes widen, all innocent-looking. “I’m not—”
“Yes, you are. I thought your ‘you should hang out with my cousin’ comment the other day was odd, but now it makes sense.” I tap my foot and wait for him to confess. He doesn’t, of course. “Are you so naive that you think I’m not aware of Cole’s little crush on me?”
The dogs choose that moment to exit the barn and come barreling at us. Fletch lifts a hand to stop them, but I shove it away. “It’s fine.”
The two chocolate labs are the first to get a dirt-covered paw on me, leaving several marks up my dress. But the yellow lab hangs back.
I laugh at the paw prints and then reach a hand out to pet the yellow lab. “Look at you, you’re the good one, aren’t you?” I bend down and sit on the gravel driveway with the dogs, then look up at Fletch. “He or she?”
“They’re all girls,” he says, then pats the yellow lab on the head. “She’s mine. Vixen.”
He nods and then points to the other two. “Prancer and Dancer. They were born on Christmas Eve.”
I turn my attention back to Vixen, my hands now rubbing under her ears. She licks my cheek and wags her tail. “She’s so happy. Are you sure she’s your dog?”
Fletcher kicks a rock in my direction, but there’s a tiny hint of amusement on his face. “She’s not happy. She’s fierce. Vixen! Attack!” he commands, snapping his fingers.
The other two dogs sprint toward the mailbox and start barking at nothing—there’s nothing around here—but Vixen stays put and continues licking my cheek and sniffing my neck.
I’ve forgotten why we even came out here. My dog addiction took over. “I’ve always wanted a dog, but my dad’s allergic. Cats, too.” I look into Vixen’s brown eyes. “You would come with me if I invited you, right? You can sleep in my bed and lay on a pile of clean laundry if you want.” The other day, Jamie’s mom screamed at their dog, Alpha, for sitting on clean laundry. I wanted to strangle her after that. The way his little head hung down when he trotted away, it was heartbreaking.
“Maybe if you make her a glittery invitation…”
Fletch has his thumbs jammed into his pockets, and he’s leaning against my car. For a quiet, nerdy type, he has an ease about him. He’s comfortable in his own skin. This is probably my biggest issue with Cole. It was the same thing with the sophomore I dated briefly last fall. Call me horrible, but when a guy talks to me—especially when he kisses me—I want him to be in control, I want him to be sure of himself. I’m over the boys.
But speaking of Cole…
“So, Cole…” I pull myself back on my feet and dust off as well as I can. “It’s not gonna happen. If that’s the only reason you agreed to be my partner, then I think you should change your RSVP to no.”
Fletcher stares at my dress and then shoves his glasses again. Hmmm…
“Is that the only reason you agreed?” I press. Of course I figured he had some ulterior motive, but I assumed he either wanted me to shut up and saying yes might make that happen, or he thought maybe all the partnerships were figured out since he’d left class early that day.
The way he diverts his gaze and scratches his head, I already know the answer. “Does it really matter? I’ll do the project. It’s no big deal. Just go in there and talk to him for a few minutes.”
“I’ll talk to him, and you’ll do the project?” I’m trying not to ball my hands into fists, but seriously? What the hell?
“I’m not saying you have to lie to him or anything,” Fletch explains. “You’re into helping people and all that shit, right? The kid needs practice talking to girls. Just help him out. And don’t worry about the project. I got it covered.”
I blow the loose hair off my face and then draw in a slow, deep breath. Don’t yell, Haley. Or swear at him. Be a lady. “You know what I think? Cole’s not the only one who needs lessons in how to talk to girls.”
Vixen must be one of those dogs who sense when humans are upset, because she moves to my side immediately, rubbing her sweet, happy face against my thigh. See? I don’t need a boyfriend, I need a dog. I reach down to pet Vixen again. “You are so sweet. Just don’t let that grouchy guy rub off on you.”
Fletcher folds his arms across his chest. He looks pissed. Good. “So I’m mean now? Why? Because I didn’t accept your fucking cookies? Are you really that self-involved, Haley? I’m a horrible person because the Princess of Juniper Falls gave me a gift and I didn’t want it?”
I swallow back the overflowing anger. His words are too close to the ones Tate shouted at me so many months ago. Back then, he’d been kind of right. I was scared and thought I needed him, but my words and behavior had been shallow and selfish. But I’ve come a long way since then, and I’m not about to let Fletcher Scott label me as that girl again.
“I’m gonna go in there…” I point a finger at the door. “And I’m going to talk to your cousin because you’re right, I do like helping people. But as far as the project goes, you don’t get to do it by yourself. You’re stuck with me. Consider it your punishment for being an asshole.”
Fletch’s mouth falls open in surprise, but I don’t wait for him to come up with some asshole reply. With my bag on my shoulder again, I fling the back door open and stomp inside.
Breaking The Ice (Juniper Falls #2) is out on December 26, 2017. You can preorder it now via…
Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Entangled Teen
MORE BOOK INFO
Haley Stevenson seems like she’s got it all together: cheer captain, “Princess” of Juniper Falls, and voted Most Likely to Get Things Done. But below the surface, she’s struggling with a less-than-stellar GPA and still reeling from the loss of her first love. Repeating her Civics class during summer school is her chance to Get Things Done, not angst over boys. In fact, she’s sworn them off completely until college.
Fletcher Scott is happy to keep a low profile around Juniper Falls. He’s always been the invisible guy, warming the bench on the hockey team and moonlighting at a job that would make his grandma blush. Suddenly, though, he’s finding he wants more: more time on the ice, and more time with his infuriatingly perfect summer-school study partner.
But leave it to a girl who requires perfection to shake up a boy who’s ready to break all the rules.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press). She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, Chasing Truth, Off the Ice and many more to come! Julie Cross was a long time resident of central Illinois but has recently moved her entire family across the country to continue her academic studies at Stanford University.