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While You're Away Part I: Our First Encounter

While You're Away Part I: Our First Encounter

3.8 7
by Jessa Holbrook
Once a cheater, always a cheater? 

From the moment Will and Sarah first set eyes upon each other, they know that what they have is special.

There's just one little problem . . . each of them already has a significant other.

After flirting with danger, it becomes clear their passion is too strong to be denied. But even if they


Once a cheater, always a cheater? 

From the moment Will and Sarah first set eyes upon each other, they know that what they have is special.

There's just one little problem . . . each of them already has a significant other.

After flirting with danger, it becomes clear their passion is too strong to be denied. But even if they make their relationship official, there are plenty of challenges in store. Will leaves for college at the end of the summer, while Sarah faces her senior year of high school in their small suburban town. Long-distance relationships always come with their fair share of troubles—mismatched schedules, jealousy, and temptation are only the beginning.

Can cheaters ever change?

WHILE YOU'RE AWAY is a steamy story about a love triangle, a long-distance relationship, and learning the true meaning of commitment.

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
While You're Away Series , #1
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


To make it sound classier, Tricia Patten called it a Gods and Goddesses party.

Everybody was supposed to show up in togas. A lot of skin and a lot of beer to celebrate the crazy weather, almost eighty degrees in April. Unfortunately, The Avengers was a thing. That’s why half the Aphrodites at Tricia’s lake house that night were getting flirty with a palette of Thors.

“I don’t think this is what Tricia had in mind,” I told my boyfriend, Dave Echols, grabbing his hand and nodding at the mixed-deity crowd as we set up our stage gear.

With a grin, Dave said, “She wanted a party, she got a party,” and leaned over to kiss me.

Dave and I were the intermission entertainment—a local band that would already be at the party when the deejay had to go pick up his mom at work. Usually, we played our own songs. But tonight it would be an hour of funny indie covers of frat rock songs.

As I tested the pickup on my acoustic guitar, I cut a quick look at the crowd. A spotlight seemed to follow me, and not in a good way. Everyone hesitated and ran their eyes down my costume. The best expression was bafflement, but the worst was amusement. I forced a smile and kept setting up.

I hadn’t gotten the memo that a sheet over a regular little black dress was enough of a costume. Geek that I was, I’d raided my sister Ellie’s closet. She danced for the Columbus Repertory Ballet Theater, so she had plenty of bits and pieces that added up to a goddess. A gauze wraparound skirt over a silver-shot leotard. Silver slippers with matching ribbons crisscrossing my legs.

Producing extra ribbon, Ellie threaded it through my thick, dark hair. Alternating white with gold, she plaited and twisted, taming my wild halo. Then, because it was a permanent part of her ballet DNA, she knotted it in a perfect chignon on the top of my head. Pulling tendrils out around my face, she considered the look. After taking a picture with her phone, she declared me ready to rock and sent me on my way.

When I’d left home, I felt good—pretty, even. A little bare, because I never wore my hair up. But good.

That confidence burned away as soon as I stepped onto the temporary stage in front of Tricia’s French doors. The party was packed. A wood dance floor stretched over the pool. Snacks and drinks circulated under a white light-strung arbor. And there I was, the trying-too-hard girl on stage, crazy obvious in front of a sea of sheets and plastic plate mail.

Power-mingling, Tricia buzzed the stage. “You guys are so great. Thank you so much for doing this.”

“Anytime,” Dave said, zeroing in on her.

As soon as he did, Tricia turned her attention to him and him alone. Why shouldn’t she? With his fresh, all-American face, Dave got all kinds of attention. He was the blue-eyed, blond-haired boy next door, wrapped in a flag and carrying Mom’s apple pie. Seriously, at Fourth of July parades, people practically worshipped him. And after our gigs, girls did. By the bucketful, even if they had boyfriends.

It always bothered me when Dave flirted. Even if it meant nothing, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy whenever he turned his attention elsewhere.

Tricia had her own boyfriend—none other than Will Spencer, our high school’s biggest player. Exactly nobody understood how she’d caught him and kept him. Tricia was well-off, gorgeous, and genuinely likable, definitely a catch. She stood apart from other girls, with a mane of copper hair and green eyes clear as glass. But Will had never seemed like the type to settle for one girl. Or ten. Or a hundred. Not when he could have his pick and have them all. Will and Tricia were the senior class’s enduring mystery.

I couldn’t help but wish the enduring mystery would step away from my boyfriend.

“I’m so glad you do private parties,” Tricia purred, clutching Dave’s mic stand.

Dave powered up his amp and smiled. “For you? Anything.”

My heart sank, but I said nothing. Dave flirted with everyone. Everything. Once, I’d seen him wink at a baby, and then a dog. People fawned over him, and he couldn’t help reflecting some of that glow back.

To be fair, he flirted with me, too. When we played, sometimes he’d lean over to murmur in my ear. Between the mics, just loud enough for me to hear: You killed that verse, love the way the lights catch your eyelashes. Things no one else could, or would, ever say to me.

Which meant I had to get over myself and get back to work. Giving my guitar a quick tune, I strummed a few chords—the universal notes for “stop flirting and let’s get this gig started.”

“Later,” Tricia said, and when the crowd surged, she was gone.

Meet the Author

Jessa Holbrook comes from a very small town that happened to have a very big library. When she was six, she decided to read her way from one end to the other. More than a few years later, she's still working on it. She's so in love with books that she also made them her career—and, she admits, she cheats on the book she's reading in the bedroom with the novel she left in the basement.

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While You're Away Part I: Our First Encounter 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SUCH great dialogue and an amazing story. Can't wait to read more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i havent read the book yet, but from what i hear.... its pretty good :) all the reviews are extremely helpful. cant wait to read it!
AlwaysYAatHeart1 More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars While You're Away is part one in a six-part serial novel.  It is very short and contains only six chapters, so it is really a quick read.  Sarah Westcott has been with her boyfriend Dave since they first met when she was a freshman in high school.  They are both musicians and play together, calling themselves Dasa.  Dave is a great guy and Sarah loves him, but she also gets really frustrated with him after the play somewhere because he always is surrounded by girls, the center of attention, and likes to flirt, though he would never cheat on her.  He's an all around great guy otherwise, but this one thing really grates on Sarah's nerves, though she tries not to let it show.  Will Spencer is the schools hot boy who all the girls dream about.  A former player, he is now the boyfriend of the girl whose house Sarah and Dave are playing at.  They bump into each other there, get to talking, and one thing leads to another and Will and Sarah find themselves in each other's arms.  The chemistry is electrifying between them, but the problem of each of them being involved with someone else is an issue.  Nevertheless, they can't deny what they feel for one another, which causes quite a dilemma.  I normally don't go for cheating novels, but this is nothing like your typical cheating novel.  First of all, they are in high school.  Sarah has had one boyfriend who she is comfortable with and loves, but is she really in love?  Dave has never made her heart pound or caused her to tingle and go weak in the knees, something just the sight of Will Spencer does.  Will has a reputation as a player, but Sarah sees a different side of him, or at least she hopes she does, and she thinks he is really honest about the way he feels about her.  The story is told from Sarah's point of view, so we really don't get to see what is going on inside Will's head.  While You're Away Part One introduces you to the characters and sets the stage for the rest of the installments.  It is really well written and captures your attention, while wetting your appetite as you look forward to the next course being served.  So far, I've enjoyed it. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LOVED this first part. Can't wait to find out what happens next week!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kimberlyfaye More than 1 year ago
"Was it just me?" "It wasn't just you." This was a great little series-starting novella. Jessa Holbrook did exactly what she should have done with this novella: hooked me. At 48 pages this was a ridiculously quick read. I devoured it. It was well-written with realistic dialogue and great characters that I connected with easily. Funny at times, sweet and sexy at other times, it was a great escape.  "Though his touch skimmed like a feather, it felt like a kiss. A whispered secret that carried an unexpected shot of heart. Caught short, I held a breath as I burned from the inside out. That urgent, animal reaction held me in place." I really liked Sarah. The story is told from her POV, so readers learn a lot about her through her internal dialogue. She's in a relationship with Dave, her music partner, but she's insecure. Dave goes a little "rock god" and seems to enjoy their fans' (especially pretty female ones) attention a little more than Sarah is comfortable with. She meets Will, the biggest player in their school, one night after a performance. They had a strong, immediate attraction to each other. Will was swoony. Flawed, but swoony. Sarah sees more under his playboy exterior and I can't wait to learn more myself.  "I didn't care that we were basically strangers. That I'd never been like this with anybody. That this was probably wrong. In fact, that seemed to be a reason to keep going. I'd seen a Will no one else had seen. The secret in his pale eyes, the real him that he shrouded in big smiles and lazy flirtation." I do feel like the blurb is a little misleading, however. Readers should be aware this isn't a full story as the blurb suggests. The majority of the first book centers on Sarah and Will's first meeting and the powerful connection they feel with each other, despite the fact that they are each in a relationship with someone else. It also deals with the guilt Sarah feels for her actions that night and the start of her "affair" with Will. I have very mixed feelings about cheating in books, but it was hard NOT to connect with Sarah and Will and cheer for them, given the obvious chemistry they have. But if you're sensitive about cheating in books, you might want to steer clear of this one.  "This felt like the beginning of something. A seduction that dared me to imagine what might come next. I felt like I'd be waiting for this. Needing it, without even knowing it." If, however, you believe sometimes people are just meant to be together, despite their current situation, and that nothing can stop destiny, this could be the series for you. (Of course, I say this after reading only the first novella and having no idea where the story ultimately ends up. But I have my hopes.) If you're a fan of the passion and intensity of young love, even when it comes with some angst and turmoil, definitely pick this one up. I have the other five novellas in this series all queued up on my iPad. I can't wait to read more! I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. All quotes come from the review copy and may differ from the final version.