122 Rules by Deek Rhew

Friday, February 24, 2017

Teri Polen Guest Post - Does Anyone Still Read Horror?

I'm fortunate to have author, Teri Polen grace my blog today. She's a YA horror author from Bowling Green, KY, who's just released her debut novel, Sarah.

Take it away, Teri!

“So, the book you’re writing, what’s it about? Families and their lives?”

“No, it’s a young adult horror novel.”

This is the question I was asked a few years ago. At my response, the look on the person’s face was one of, well, horror. It may even have been intermingled with a touch of pity, because no one reads horror. Everyone knows that.

Or do they? If you haven’t heard of Stephen King, I’d have to question where you’ve lived for the past few decades – a life of solitude on top of a mountain? A different planet?

Someplace with, God forbid, no Wi-Fi? The man writes books that are consistently best sellers (which are then tragically ruined when adapted for movies, but that’s another story for another
time), and the majority of them are horror novels. King’s son, Joe Hill, has made a name for
himself in the horror genre as well. Anne Rice, Jonathan Maberry, and relative newcomer, Nick
Cutter – all successful horror writers. I grew up reading King and Rice, practically devouring
their books upon release. To this day, I can remember reading my first ‘age appropriate’ horror
book in the third grade.

So when I decided to write a book, horror was a natural fit for me. But the voice in my
head was a seventeen-year- old male, making the category young adult. Given, YA horror novels
aren’t as plentiful as YA fantasy, romance, contemporary, or even dystopian – but they do exist,
and there are some excellent ones out there. Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of
Nightmares are among my favorites, with a movie in the works for Anna Dressed in Blood.
Blake’s newest book, Three Dark Crowns, is a dark fantasy skirting the fringes of horror. Rin
Chupeco and her Girl From the Well series is exceptionally chilling. In addition to writing adult
horror novels, Jonathan Maberry is also the author of the award winning YA horror series, Rot
and Ruin. My son plowed through those books at a rate that had me beaming with pride, and has
re-read the series through a couple more times. I’ve read the first three and they’re absolutely
deserving of those awards.

So imagine my disappointment when, after entering the query trenches for Sarah, my YA
horror novel, I discovered agents representing that genre are few and far between. I’ve read
articles advising writers to research the current trends in the industry and start from there (advice
I’d never recommend). Fantasy, contemporary, and romance are all big sellers – fantasy is in my
comfort zone, but contemporary and romance are foreign territories; however, none of that
mattered, because the book of my heart was horror. For me, once the idea for a story forms
somewhere in my brain, the characters soon follow, and they give me no peace until their story is

A popular, traditionally published author offers a query critique on her website and I sent
mine, hoping to receive some helpful suggestions. She said my query was well-written, but YA
horror is a hard sell – something that had become very evident. So I expanded my search to
include independent publishers and found them to be more receptive to the horror genre.
Strangely enough, my current publisher, Black Rose Writing, found me through Discovery on
Authors.me, and offered a contract. Signing with an independent publisher has been a good fit
for me and BRW is wonderful and accommodating - in fact, I just signed a contract for my
second book with Black Rose, a YA sci-fi/fantasy.

Yes, people still read - and watch - horror. Low budget movies such as Paranormal Activity, The Purge, Sinister, Insidious, and The Conjuring brought in over one billion dollars at
the box office and The Walking Dead and American Horror Story continue to be two of the
most-watched series on television. Maybe horror is a smaller slice of the pie chart, but the
demand exists – you just have to find your people.

Seventeen-year-old horror fan Cain Shannon thought helping a ghost find her killers would be the supernatural adventure of a lifetime. Now, he just hopes to survive long enough to protect his family and friends from her.
Sarah by Teri Polen
A bet between friends goes horribly wrong, resulting in Sarah's death. When she returns to seek justice against those responsible, Cain agrees to help her. But when he discovers Sarah has been hijacking his body, he realizes she wants retribution instead of justice.

Terrified of what could have happened when he wasn't in control, Cain commands Sarah to leave his house - but exorcising her isn't that easy. She retaliates against her murderers in bloody, horrific ways, each death making her stronger, then sets her sights on Cain. With the help of friends, Cain fights to save himself and his loved ones and searches for a way to stop Sarah before she kills again. 

Available now from:

About the Author
Teri Polen - Author of Sarah

Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy.  The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium.  She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat.  
Sarah, a YA horror/thriller, is her first novel.

Visit her on:


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Book Randomness

Erin is in the Library

What? Yep, it's true! My beautiful brilliant bride's books are starting to grace the shelves of your public library!

Now you can checkout her amazing books from the NC Cardinal Library!

I'm so incredibly proud of her, I could just burst!

Audiobook of 122 Rules, Chapter 1

I've been toying with the idea of creating audiobook versions of my books. Well, this week I put my time and efforts where my mouth is and laid down chapter 1 of 122 Rules. The experience is both technical and artistic, so I got to geek out and have fun at the same time. I'll be writing up a how-to in a couple of weeks when I start recording the full-length version of Birth of an American Gigolo as well as my short, Norman and the Demon.

For now, you can enjoy the first chapter of 122 Rules right now. Head on over to the 122 Rules Homepage and scroll about halfway down, as yours truly does his best Monica and Jon Smith impersonations.

Start Writing Podcast

I was featured by Joe Bendoski in his podcast Start Writing. Hear about Joe's favorite parts of 122 Rules, my brilliant editors, Erin Rhew Books and Anya Kagan, my amazing cover artist, Anita B. Carroll, publishing Indie, breaking the writing rules, and more!

Here are some of the highlights if you want to skip to them:
 * 24 Minutes - Anya
 * 25 Minutes - 122 Rules Redemption
 * 29 Minutes - Anita
 * 31 Minutes - Erin
 * 33 Minutes - Joe discusses my writing style
 * 35 Minutes - I talk about my favorite scene
 * 38 Minutes - The great, "Also, it was short." debate.
 * 46 Minutes - Pen names

This podcast is also available on Google Play and iTunes.

Also, check out his article How to Manipulate the World: Interview with Deek Rhew about his book '122 Rules' We talk about the ways to use the 122 Rules of Psychology to control everyone around you. Beware! Don't let this power go to your head!

Erin and Deek Read Live at Illogicon

Boom! Erin and I got to read the first chapters of our books LIVE at Illogicon! Calvin Powers recorded the session then wrote a blog post listing all the great authors and links to their readings. Yep, the Rhews have finally made it to YouTube!

Stop in and give us a listen!

Blog Lovin' and It Feels So Good...

This week, I joined a huge cast of great bloggers on Blog Lovin'! If you ever wondered where to go to find the best blogs for whatever you're interested in, look no further! Follow me and a slew of other bloggers.

Mystery Thriller Week

Thought I'd share this blog post I made for Mystery Thriller week. Vicki Goodwin also republished it on her blog, The Page Turner.

There are so many blogs dedicated to romance and other genres, it's totally fun to have one for those of us that like to make the adrenaline pump, and the mind gears churn. Stop in and find a new thriller or mystery author.

Also, be sure to stop by the Mystery Thriller Week Facebook Page on 02/20/2017 at 9 PM EST. I'll be online answering questions and chatting it up. So stop by for fun!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Happy Birthday, Birth!

And on this day, in the city of Alabaster Cove, a gigolo was born...

Wow, it's hard to believe but it's almost Birth of an American Gigolo's first birthday, and what better way to celebrate than come party with Erin and me in a big ol' #Birthday bash...and a giveaway!

Yep, it's time to get out those leg warmers, put on the acid washed jeans, and party! This year, Erin and I have something special in mind, but first, a trip down memory lane!

The History of Birth

The crazy thing about this book is that I never actually set out to write it.

Wut? Wut? Yep, totally true. I have a ton of ideas for books, but this one just happened. I was working on my first novel, 122 Rules, when in the middle of it, this obnoxiously persistent woman, Lindsey, just took over a chapter. It was the oddest most remarkable thing ever. One chapter, I'm talking about guns and bad guys, and the next, Lindsey is telling me about her terrible cheating husband and, in the most absurd way ever, of how she was going to get her life back.

Birth of an American Gigolo
As page after page of her life came pouring out of my keyboard, I remember thinking a couple of things:

1) Lindsey and her story will be my introduction to the world as a writer.

Lindsey is queen of Alabaster Cove!
2) Some people are going to give this books a very wide birth (Har!). It will make some folks uncomfortable to the point of getting puckered butthole syndrome or PBS. But I had to tell her story the way she told it to me. To do any less would be dishonest.

The Cheating Husband and the Wanton Wife

So, given that the story is about a wife who gets revenge on her cheating husband, how has the world accepted Lindsey and her wanton ways? Erin and I watch in wonder, wondering which of the two categories people will be in:

Those that get an instant case of PBS (Puckered Butthole Syndrome) - They will stare at the book cover, ask what it is about, smile awkwardly, then walk away watching it as though it will jump off the table and pinch their bottoms.

The Gimme Mores - They ask about it and they start to laugh as they have me sign their copy.

Really, both walks of life are quite amusing.

I think that blatantly talking about a cheating spouse touches a nerve. It's too common. Too many people know someone that has had this happen to them, or they themselves have had experience with it.

I think that they also believe that this books is an erotic novel. Nope!

Remember this book is NOT about sex!

It really isn't. In fact, here's the disclaimer on the Amazon sales page:

The most common perception when folks read the description is that this is an erotic novel. Um nope. Nada. No, sir and no, ma'am.

This book is NOT about sex. There is a little of course, because, well, it's about an angry and betrayed party girl and her boy toy. But if you're looking for long descriptions of people's kibbles and bits and how they sizzle and sauté them into a goulash of passion and uninhibited fornication, then you'd better look for a different blend of Chex Mix, cause, brother, this ain't it.

Alright, you know what this book ISN'T about? What is it about?

One word: Revenge!

An old party girl shoehorned into domestic divaship, infuriated by her husband's cheating and his holier-than-thou, tree-hugging, no-tits and no-hips girlfriend, inflicts her wrath by training a local boy in the fine art of seduction.

She and her new boy toy turned love god start a gigolo business as a distraction for the neglected and mistreated housewives of Alabaster Cove

If you've even been betrayed.

If you've ever been cheated.

If you've ever wanted to serve up a can of whoopass on someone that desperately deserved it
but never got the chance...
It's time for you to get the revenge you so truly deserve.

Okay, time to meet the cast and crew!

Cindie, the girlfriend

Stuart, egomaniac and cheating husband

Lindsey, domestic diva extraordinaire

Dios, the original American gigolo
Celebration Giveaway

So, now that you've met the peeps, and you have the background, you ask: Deek, how can I, a highly intelligent, classy, well-refined fan of yours, get my hands on a FREE signed copy?

Well, Super Fan, I'm glad you asked that question!

Enter to win a copy via our Rafflecopter giveaway:

Birth of an American Gigolo Rafflecopter Giveaway

I will be giving out a signed copy to TWO lucky entrants and as well as an eBook copy to a third!
NOTE: Due to the excessive cost of shipping books out of the country, USA residents only can win the printed copy. However, anyone, anywhere in the world can win the eBook version!

Eeeeeee! How cool is that?

Pretty cool, Deek. But what will we do while we wait for the contest countdown?

Discriminating Reader, I'm glad you asked that. Not only are you smart and good looking, but you have a nose for asking just the right questions.

What about a free chapter? Get Birth's chapter one NOW!

Okay, my friends, that's it! Thanks for celebrating with us.

Adventure on!


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas Time Special - Movies and Snowman Poop!

It's the most delicious and fun time of the year! Every year, Erin and I have a list of Christmas movies we watch starting right after we put away the turkey and cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving. I thought it would be fun to include a few of our favs along with a recipe that Erin has been talking about forever, but I've never actually tried.


Yep, as difficult as it is to believe, this foodie has never had this delicacy. So we will make it today and post pictures as we go along!

Okay, first the flicks!

Erin and I LOVE Home Alone!
Home Alone parts 1 and 2 are da bomb and a holiday must! Marv and Harry are the perfect criminals, and what kid doesn't dream of thwarting the bad guys? It's always a little sad in part 2 where Kevin is standing on top of the World Trade Center.

The Santa Clause has become one of our favorites
Tim Allen is just awesome in this flick, and Erin and I have made it part of our regular holiday watching. The story is a bit silly and the graphics are downright primitive, but it's campy enough to make us come back again and again.

No one dives into a role like Will Ferrell. No one. He totally gives it up for Elf and you just have to love him. Erin and I have added this a regular to our holiday viewing.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Seriously, this is Jim Carry at his finest over-acting. Okay, maybe Liar Liar or Pet Detective are right up there too. And anyone who's seen The Good Wife has to love Christine Baranski as Martha May.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas - the Cartoon Version
Erin and I watch the cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas every year too. When she was a girl, Erin got to stay up and watch this movie every Christmas Eve, and to this day, it has remained aglow in her heart. And it never gets any better when Ravenscroft sings "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." No one can ever replace that man's rich bass and perfect delivery.

A Christmas Story
"Ho! Ho! Ho!" Who can't hear the grumpy Santa as he pushes Ralphy down the slide. Or "Fra-ge-lee" or "It's a major award!" There are so many awesome one-liners in this movie that you could have an entire conversation in just A Christmas Story quotes.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Erin and I sometimes watch this one twice during the holiday season. It just never gets old and Chevy Chase delivers the performance of a lifetime.

Nobody does it better than Chevy!
There are a zillion one-liners in this one, and Erin and I will usually start laughing as soon as a scene starts to get set up:

Smells like fried pussycat.
Give me someone. Anyone. And give me someone while I'm waiting.
Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Kiss my ass. Kiss his ass. Kiss your ass. Happy Hanukkah.

And of course, who could forget Chevy's epic tantrum when his boss gives him a jelly of the month club membership instead of a bonus.

Alright, we have the entertainment lined up, now for some food! Here's the recipe we are making tonight!

Snowman Poop
1 package of Oreos
1 package of creamed cheese
1 package of white chocolate chips

Grind the Oreos up in a food processor until they are powder.
Mix in the creamed cheese until it forms a paste.
Form into bite-sized balls.
Melt the chocolate chips.
Dip the balls into the melted chocolate and place on wax paper to cool.

Enjoy! Don't worry, in January, I'll post some workout routines to help burn off those extra holiday calories!

Grind the Oreos to powder
Add the softened cream cheese into the Oreos.
Use a double-boiler to melt the chocolate
Once the cream cheese is thoroughly mixed, make small balls out of it.
Dip the balls into the chocolate
Put on parchment paper
Place in fridge to cool
Put in a festive bowl and serve coffee in a
Birth of an American Gigolo cup

For whatever reason, my chocolate got harder and harder to work with. Eventually I was making reindeer poop topped with chocolate. But guess what? It was still delicious!

I highly recommend serving your snowman poop with coffee in a Birth of an American Gigolo cup of course. LOL!

There isn't much I want for Christmas that I don't already have. The best gift I've ever been given is Erin's love. I treasure her more than anything. There's nothing under the tree that can even begin to compare. Her love and her heart are the axis of my universe and the atoms of my being.

I wish that for each of you, my friends. Hold on to those that mean the most to you. Treasure them and appreciate them. Show them just how much they mean to you.

Happy holidays, my friends! Adventure on!


About the Author
Deek Rhew
Deek Rhew is a transplant from a rainy pocket in the Pacific Northwest. Deek now lives in a sultry corner of the US of A where the sun shines bright, the sweet tea flows, and the hush puppies are hot and delicious.

He and his brilliant, but stunning author bride, Erin Rhew, live a simple life with their writing assistant, a fat tabby named Trinity. They enjoy lingering in the mornings, and often late into the night, caught up Erin’s fantastic fantasy worlds of noble princes and knights and entwined in Deek’s dark underworld of the FBI and drug lords.

He is the author of two books:

122 Rules

A federal assassin grows a conscious just when he's about to pull the trigger.

He has decision to make: Finish his assignment, or follow his gut and save his quarry.

Read #122Rules to join the fray.

Birth of an American Gigolo

If you've even been betrayed.
If you've ever been cheated.
If you've ever wanted to serve up a can of whoopass on someone that desperately deserved it
but never got the chance...
​It's time for you to get the revenge you so truly deserve.

A Husband.
A Mistress.
A #WifesRevenge

Get your revenge.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Jennifer Acres - On the Way to Simple

Today, I have the great pleasure of hosting Jennifer Acres (one half of another husband and wife author team) for the debut of her novel On the Way to Simple!

Title: On the Way to Simple
Author: Jennifer Acres
Publication Date: December 6, 2016
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32313581-on-the-way-to-simple

On the Way to Simple
Dakota Ames had everything under control, or so she thought. Ever since her father's accident on duty as a fireman, she promised herself she would always have a plan. Life couldn't throw her a curve anymore.
That is until her best friend Alex enlisted in the Navy.
This couldn't happen. It wasn't part of her plan. She hadn't even worked up the nerve to tell him she loved him. Alex was wrong to go and she was going to prove it.
But when she meets Will, one of Alex's fellow recruits, she finds that things aren't always so simple.

About the Author
Jennifer Acres' writing experience began back before she attended Houston Baptist University, where she earned a Bachelor of Music in Composition. She wrote three screenplays both during her time there and after, all of which received awards from the Houston International Film Festival. After working as a script supervisor in Houston and L.A., she discovered that she was in love with story and wanted to pursue writing novels.

So now, Jennifer is a YA and NA author who loves complex characters in emotionally moving stories. She writes to encourage empathy and understanding of one another. When she is not writing, she is often reading, crafting, and following her fandoms. Jennifer and her husband have made Houston their little corner of the world.

Twitter: @JenniferAcres https://twitter.com/JenniferAcres


"You have to say something, Dakota. Tonight. The world will end if you don't." Kaylee's big, dark eyes were wide and excited as she followed me into my bedroom.
"It will not." I looked for a change of clothes to switch into before heading to Alex's house. I wouldn't be caught dead on his doorstep looking as grungy as I was after a full day of classes.
There was a long pause. She headed back into the living room of our little campus apartment. I almost stupidly thought she was done fighting this, but Kaylee always got her way and somehow made you grateful for it.
"My world will," she pouted.
"Your world cannot possibly be small enough to care whether Alex and I hook up."
"Yes, it can." I heard the grin in her pout.
I checked myself in the mirror. Somehow, no matter how girly the clothes I wore, I still looked vaguely like a boy. It's the only reason I kept my brunette hair long, so people would be able to tell the difference. Like when people put a bow on a bald baby's head so you'd stop calling her a 'cute little fella.'
Kaylee popped her head back in my bedroom door. She, on the other hand, had no problems looking like a girl. Not a girl, a full-fledged woman. She was an Amazonian goddess with a crown of natural curls and curves no plastic surgeon could ever sculpt. It almost made me more jealous than I was willing to admit, but no one could truly hate Kaylee. She had a way of making every single person feel like they were her favorite person on the planet.
Since she was my roommate, I had a slightly higher claim than the others.
I gave up my search and started changing into jeans and a tee. Alex couldn't care less if I was a girl or not. That was the thing about being best friends since kindergarten; the history made it impossible to hide anything right down to our deepest faults. That is, except the fact that I liked him as more than a friend. Otherwise, Alex knew all there was to know about me. There was no prettying up the wizard once he saw behind the curtain.
"Why is this so important to you?" I asked.
"Because I want you to be happy."
"I am happy."
"Mmhmm." She pursed her lips like I did when she said something stupid.
"I'm serious. Happy."
In a grand sweeping motion, she tossed herself down on my bed. She couldn't do anything without a little dramatic flair.
"Dakota, you're in love with him. Can't you just say it?"
Her words made me jolt. There was so much she didn't understand. I couldn't just come right out and say it. It would ruin everything. She knew I couldn't tell him. I had told her a million times before. I could name hundreds of reasons why I couldn't, but I only needed one.
I couldn't lose him as a friend if things didn't work out.
"It's not part of the plan," I said quietly, pulling my t-shirt over my head.
"Oh, screw your plan. What has your plan done for you lately?"
It hadn't done anything for me yet, but it would. Plans are for the long term, not what feels good in the moment. I had worked too hard to throw everything away. I had to graduate Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Business Marketing, which would get me a good, stable job, and then I could think about superfluous things like dating.
Alex certainly wasn't superfluous. If I tried to add him into the equation now... Would it be such a bad thing?
I grabbed my purse and backpack off of the floor next to the door.
"I have to go," I said.
"Wait, wait." Kaylee followed me to the front door. "Are you gonna tell him?"
"Not tonight."
Her eyes widened. "So, another night?"
I paused. I had to be careful what I said, or it could spell high pitched squeals of glee and another victory for Kaylee that I personally didn't need.
"I'm considering devising a plan for a later encounter. Possibly."
She seemed to deflate. "You know, you better say something soon or he's gonna stop waiting for you. He's a good guy. You keep pushing him away, and he's gonna stop trying."
I opened the front door. "Noted."
I closed the door behind me as fast as I could without being suspicious. The idea of Alex with someone else made me physically shake. He had always been my Alex, ever since the first day we met when my dad and I moved into that tiny house around the corner from his. It was a maddening thought, and also completely ridiculous. At least, that's what I tried to tell myself.
He would always be my Alex. My best friend. Telling him I loved him would ruin everything, plain and simple.
But could she be right? Was I pushing him away? No, he was an adult. He could say what he wanted whenever he wanted. He didn't need an invitation from me to speak. It was much more likely he wasn't interested in that way. Which was fine. I didn't need him to like me.
I needed him to be my friend.
The drive out to his house was a bit precarious. My crappy little Honda was already on its last legs when I bought it, but it was all I could afford. Luckily, Alex was a mechanic, so he kept it limping along the best he could. But I could feel it. My car was about to give up. It usually left me high and dry at the worst possible moment, like a no-show prom date, and it was about to leave me sobbing on the curb in a big poofy dress yet again.
Each turn I made got me a little closer to Alex's. I rubbed the dashboard and talked sweet to it, hoping to get close enough to his house. When I finally turned onto his street, I let out a little cheer.
After a few more knocks and a sputter, my car died.
I forced out a breath and angled my car at the curb as I coasted to a stop. It would have to stay parked there until Alex could check it. Thankfully, it broke down only about ten houses away from Alex's, so it would be a fairly short walk. I got out, shouldered my bags, and headed off. But that wasn't enough. I glanced back and gave my front tire a little kick.
"I would have made you cookies!" I shouted at my car, which was ludicrous, but I needed to tell it how much it let me down. Before anyone could spot the crazy girl yelling at her car, I ducked my head and hurried down the street feeling like an idiot.
As I stepped in front of Alex's house, I could already hear voices inside. Yelling, screaming at each other. I didn't know what to do. I walked cautiously up to the door, but before I could reach it to knock, Alex flung the door open and stepped out quickly. He slammed the door behind him just in time to block something glass that shattered on the other side. We both flinched.
"You're early," he said, surprised. His shoulders  instantly dropped. I caught a glimpse of the fury on his face before he switched back to his usual smirk.
"I always am." I tried to sound normal, but he was backing me away from the door.
"We can't study here," he said.
"What happened?" My heart raced. Had I seen what I thought I did?
"That was no nothing. Did he throw something at you?" I snapped.
"Let's just go—"
"Hell no! He can't do that—" I spun out of Alex's grip and marched back toward the door, readying my bag to use as a bludgeon. I saw red. Had his dad actually attacked him? Even the thought of it had me ready to beat that waste of a man down.
"Stop!" Alex ordered. He yanked the bag out of my hand and pulled me away from the door. "Please, just leave it alone," he said, only slightly more calm. He was trying to hide what had happened from me, and I wasn't sure I was okay with that. But this wasn't the way to get him to talk. I'd have to work it out of him.
"Fine. We can take over a booth at Burgermeister."
He nodded. "Where's your car?"
I lamely pointed down the street at my sleeping crap pile.
"We'll have to take yours." I looked around the nearly empty street for Alex's prized possession: his deep red '68 Camaro RS he'd restored himself. I knew nothing about cars, but it was beautiful. Except I couldn't see it anywhere.
"I'll get it towed to the shop and take a look at it in the morning. You need anything out of it?" Alex asked while fiddling with his keys.
"No, I'm good," I said, holding up my purse and backpack. It had everything in there.
He nodded and walked a couple houses over to a run-down blue Ford F-150. A pink breast cancer awareness ribbon on the bumper. After unlocking it, he opened the passenger door for me.
"Where's your car?" I asked.
He shifted in place. "It has a bat in it. I borrowed this from a friend."
"A bat?"
"Like a bat bat?" I made little flapping motions with my hands.
He forced away a smile. "Do you want burgers and studying or not?"
I pursed my lips at him. I knew when he didn't want to talk about something.
“Fine, but you’re not getting off that easy.” I pulled myself into the truck.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” He slammed the door shut behind me; based on the sound the door made, it actually needed that much effort.
We drove in silence. Awkward tension mingled with the smell of old cigars and shoe polish. I peeked over at Alex, but he kept his bright blue eyes straight ahead. Tension made his already toned muscles stand out, the definition evidence of his success as a mechanic. His dark hair was more disheveled than usual. It normally had a natural bed-head sort of look, but now it was as if he had stuck his head out the window during a car wash. His hair seemed to be a signifier of his mood. I could tell just by that what kind of day he was having.
I hated how messy it was then. I almost reached out to settle it back into its normal, calmer state of chaos. But that wouldn't fix anything. Not really.
To kill some time, I perused the truck. Some camping equipment sat in the back seat. Loose change jingled in the cup holder. When I popped open the glove box, a few maps, a brochure for Enchanted Rock in the Texas hill country, and a few burned CDs fell out.
"Don't do that," Alex said.
"Do what?"
"Snoop around."
"You always let me snoop."
"In my car. This isn't mine. Put it back."
I huffed and started gathering the stuff from the floorboard. The CDs were all spread out, so I scooped them up, sorting them to face the same direction. I noticed almost all of them were for musicals. Carousel, Funny Face, Meet Me in St. Louis. A couple crooner albums were in there too. Dean Martin and Sinatra.
I noticed something shiny on the floor. It was silver and looked like a pin of some kind. I picked it up and flipped it over.