Five years. That’s how long I’ve been gone. Since I left my best friend—the girl I loved—behind.
Five seconds. That’s how long it takes to realize I am completely, utterly, screwed. Because now that I’m back, my childhood crush has turned into so much more.
Rylee has changed. We both have. And now I’m drawn to her in a completely different way. To her smile. Her touch. To reliving old memories and making new ones. To the happiness she’s always given me that I haven’t felt since I left.
But her friends are hell-bent on keeping us apart. My dad is one drink away from destroying both of our lives, and maybe I am, too. It’s only a matter of time before I have to leave again, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I never get a choice.
The one choice I can make? Stay away from Rylee. Because if I don’t, I’ll break her heart—and mine—all over again.
Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains references to drinking, addiction, and just the right amount of angst. You’ll want to save this tortured hero, while at the same time, not want to change a single thing about him!
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Pieces of You and Me
By Erin Fletcher, Heather Howland
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Erin Fletcher
All rights reserved.
"Well, don't keep me waiting," I said. "Tell me the big news."
Mya shut her locker and turned to me with a smile. "We have a new student starting today. A junior. People are losing their minds over this guy."
I cringed. There hadn't been a new industry or even a new strip mall in Meridian Heights for years. Most people were looking for a way out of town, so for a new family to come in? "Don't you remember our last new student? That guy who intentionally started a fire in the chem lab on his second day? Such a mess."
Mya elbowed me. "From what I saw, this guy is a hot mess, too. Emphasis on hot. You should go to the office and volunteer to show him around. You're our future valedictorian. Principal Lee probably already has you in mind for the Welcome Committee."
"We don't have a welcome committee. And besides, I'm not going to be valedictorian if I fail AP English."
Mya groaned. "You got a B plus on one test. You'll live. Do you know how happy I would be with a B plus in non-AP English? Or any kind of B for that matter?"
I took the book I needed for first hour out of my locker. "Maybe you should try studying more."
Before Mya could argue, D'Andre walked up, and the conversation was all but forgotten. Mya's face lit up the same way it did every time since they started dating five months ago.
"Shield your eyes, Dunn," D'Andre said, then handed Mya a single red rose and placed a sweet kiss on her lips. "Good morning, beautiful."
Mya squealed. "It's perfect! What's this for?"
It really wasn't fair. Not only was D'Andre the star of our school's soccer team, but he was tall and handsome, all dark skin and bright smiles. Plus, he pulled "just because" stuff like that for Mya all the time. He needed to share the wealth. Or at least teach a Dating 101 class for the rest of his male classmates.
Maybe that was one thing to be hopeful about, whoever this new guy was. Maybe he'd bring the kind of romance and chivalry that was in such short supply in Meridian Heights.
"You couldn't have bought two roses?" I asked.
D'Andre raised an eyebrow. "For a friend?"
"Mine wouldn't have to be red. Isn't yellow the color of friendship? Aren't we friends?"
He laughed. "Sorry. Next time. Yellow rose. Consider it done."
"Rylee doesn't need it," Mya said as she rolled the stem of the rose between her thumb and forefinger. "The gorgeous new guy is going to buy her roses."
D'Andre scratched his chin. "New guy? How do we know he's good enough?"
For the love of ... "He's not," I answered. "I told you. I'm done with high school guys. I'm just biding my time until college. Hopefully a fellow Duke student."
When I was a freshman, I thought I wanted a high school boyfriend. But then I got one. Boyfriend One only wanted me to do his homework and watch him play video games. Boyfriend Two cheated on me and lied about it, even though I walked in on him and the other girl in action. Boyfriend Three panicked and bolted when I gave him a Valentine's Day card because he "wasn't ready for that kind of commitment." College guys had to be better than that.
"You're done with the old high school guys," Mya said. "Not the shiny new ones."
The first bell rang, interrupting our conversation and scattering students in different directions.
"I gotta talk to Mr. Green before class starts," D'Andre said. "See you ladies at lunch?"
Mya stood on her tiptoes and kissed her boyfriend. "Thanks again for the rose."
D'Andre said good-bye and took off toward his classroom.
"Come on." Mya grabbed my hand and dragged me down the hall, barely giving me time to grab my bag. "Let's stop by the office on the way to class."
"The office isn't on the way to class," I argued.
"It is today."
Mya ignored my complaints all the way from junior hall to the front of the building where the office, library, and cafeteria were located. A sulfurous smell wafted over from the cafeteria, indicating that eggs were on the breakfast menu, but probably not ones anyone would actually want to eat.
Mya peered in through one of the office windows. "There he is. See? Gorgeous."
I just stood there with my arms folded across my chest, not about to get excited only to end up disappointed all over again. How great could a random stranger be, anyway?
"Would you get over here?" Mya hissed, tugging my arm hard enough to leave a bruise.
"Ow! Not necessary," I said, but I peered through the window anyway.
The new guy stood at the front counter, filling out a giant stack of paperwork. Even though I couldn't see his face, the back of his head, the slope of his shoulders, his whole body ... all of it said Mya was right. The guy was gorgeous. The dark jeans and gray T-shirt he wore clearly highlighted both his height and athletic build. His hair was dark and the kind of messy that was intentional. The flip-flops on his feet were an odd choice for this weather, but I could look past that.
"Well?" Mya asked.
"I don't know," I said. "I need to see him when he turns around."
"Trust me. It's worth the wait. But not now. Let's go. If I get another tardy in first hour, I'm going to end up in detention."
I forced myself away from the window. Just the thought of a T going on my attendance record made my stomach flip over the already nauseating egg stench. "If I don't get into Duke because you made me check out some guy ..."
"I'm pretty sure Duke isn't going to check your attendance record. In order to get a thirteen-point-four or whatever ridiculously high GPA you have, they know you have to be in class."
"Four-point-four," I said. Which was exactly the problem. Yes, I had the highest GPA in my class, but rumor had it that Duke University only took one new female student and one new male student per county in North Carolina per year. The rest of the admitted students were non-local, from places as close as Virginia and as far as China. Plus, I didn't just need to be accepted, I needed a scholarship to help pay for the biomedical engineering degree I wanted. A degree like that would challenge me and allow me to make a difference far beyond college and, more importantly, away from Meridian Heights. I picked up my pace.
Mya jogged up beside me as she threaded the stem of her rose through the spiral of her notebook. "Close enough," she said. "So, are you volunteering to start Meridian's first welcome committee? When are we going on a double date?"
"Don't get your hopes up. We don't know why he's starting here in the middle of the year. We don't know anything about him."
"I'm making it your mission to find out," Mya said.
We almost ran into a freshman rushing in the opposite direction, a sure sign the bell was about to ring. "I think you confused 'your' with 'my.' Let me know when you've got him figured out."
The bell rang. Crap. I turned toward my classroom and started running.
"No one that hot can be a complete disaster," Mya called out.
"Famous last words," I yelled back, and made it through the door just as the bell stopped ringing.CHAPTER 2
All this time away from Meridian Heights, I'd expected something to change. Something besides the fact that my mom wasn't here and had a shiny new husband, or that my dad was finally sober enough for me to step foot back in North Carolina. But everything else was pretty much how I remembered it. Same tiny town. Same nice people. Same cool air that smelled and tasted clean and fresh.
And somewhere, the girl who'd stolen my middle school heart was probably flipping through the worn pages of a graphic novel, living in the fictional worlds we'd loved to share.
At least this time I knew not to get too attached.
If I ever saw her again.
Maybe I'd get lucky and find out she moved away, too.
"Mr. Walsh. Have a seat."
I did, but only after nudging the chair away from Principal Lee's desk to put a few additional inches between us. "No need for the formality. It's Chase."
Mr. Lee quirked an eyebrow in my direction, then turned his attention back to the computer. "First name basis, huh?" He clicked a few times. "Looks like you were on a first name basis with your recent principals, too. Every ... wow, how many schools have you attended?"
Awesome. This move was turning out to be just like all of the others, right down to the same questions all of the other principals had asked on my first day.
"Nine in five years. Is that a new record? Do I win some kind of prize?"
"No prizes when your record looks like this. Truancy, alcohol on school grounds —"
"Which I wasn't drinking. Check the record. The cops did a breathalyzer test." I still had no idea what was wrong with the machine that made it read point-zero-zero, but the least I could do was use that error to my advantage. The classmate who'd smuggled the vodka from his dad's liquor cabinet hadn't been so lucky.
Mr. Lee turned away from his computer and leaned on the desk, his hands folded like he was praying. "That's beside the point, Mr. Walsh. The point is that things are going to be different here at Meridian, right?"
"Yes, sir." I threw in a military salute for good measure.
"We have a great team here. Guidance counselors, fantastic teachers, administrators who care about you."
Yeah. So did every single one of my other schools. Or so they claimed.
"What can Meridian do to help you reach your potential?"
A framed sign on the wall behind Mr. Lee's desk touted Meridian High's mission statement: Help All Students Reach Their Highest Potential. But there was an invisible asterisk next to the "all." The school could only help if you were there longer than a few months. I wouldn't fall into that "all." But that wasn't Mr. Lee's fault.
"No clue," I said. "But if I figure it out, you'll be the first to know."
Mr. Lee ran a hand through his thin, gray hair and sighed. "Let's start by having our guidance counselor check in with you in a week or two. See how you're doing. If you need anything before then, you can certainly stop by anytime."
I tapped my right flip-flop against the base of the desk. The wood was covered in scuffmarks from previous students who'd been in this same situation. "Sounds like a plan."
"Here's your class schedule. A building map. A copy of the student handbook."
At least the class list wasn't too demanding. Math, English, American History, Forensic Science. That one actually sounded kind of cool. And then there was —
"Wait, what? Cabinetmaking? Is that seriously even a class?"
"It's one of the few electives with seats available. Unless you'd like to take modern dance?"
I pocketed the schedule. "Cabinets it is."
Mr. Lee tapped his fingertips on his lips, then lit up like he'd just had the greatest idea in the world. "I know. Let me call one of our students down to the office. She has the top GPA in your class and a great group of friends. I'm sure she can show you around. Make you feel comfortable."
Yep, this was going just like every other first day at school. The resident perfect student would show me around, tell me hey, we're nice here, let me introduce you to some people. But I knew better. Even if I was welcome, I'd moved around often enough to know you didn't get close to people when you never knew how long you'd stick around.
The good thing was that I'd done this often enough that I knew how to get out of it.
"No need to break out the Welcome Wagon," I said. "I'll figure it out on my own." I got up and showed myself to the door.
"Are you ... are you sure?"
"I'm sure." I opened the door. That was the key to getting away fast. You just kept walking. Most people didn't bother to stop you.
"Mr. Walsh, you forgot your student handbook," Mr. Lee called.
"No, I didn't," I called back. It wasn't like I was going to be here long enough to need it, and it wasn't like I was going to follow it even if I was.
I walked out of the office and down the hall.
Meridian High wasn't much different from Meridian Middle back in the day. Same industrial gray lockers. Same boring teachers. Same combined scent of dry-erase markers, lemon floor cleaner, and teenage sweat. I recognized a few of my former classmates, not that I remembered their names or had any desire to reconnect with people I hadn't seen or talked to since seventh grade. No Rylee, though. If she was at Meridian, I'd have seen her. That's how it always was with us. Maybe her family had moved away. Not having to face her would make this whole thing a lot easier, at least.
So why did I feel sick at the thought of her being gone?
Get your shit together, Walsh.
I sailed through my classes before lunch without trouble. There were a few flickers of recognition when my teachers introduced me to the class, but I kept to myself, and everyone left me alone, including the teachers. Just the way I liked it.
When the bell rang for lunch, I intended to search out a chill place to spend thirty minutes with a pair of headphones and the protein bar my dad threw at me on my way out the door. But then a girl stepped directly into my path.
"Hey, you're new, right? I'm Mya Briggs."
Mya wasn't familiar at all. She must have attended the other middle school that fed Meridian High. She was hot. Blond. Thin. Wearing a low-cut shirt that couldn't possibly be permitted in Mr. Lee's student handbook. She seemed a little too high-maintenance for my tastes. Judging by the rose sticking out of her bag and the guy standing too close to be anything other than territorial, that was okay.
"Nice to meet you. This is my boyfriend, D'Andre Wilson."
"Welcome to Meridian," D'Andre said and extended his hand for a fist bump.
Really? A fist bump? I returned it halfheartedly.
Mya twirled a strand of hair around her index finger. "If you don't have anyone to sit with at lunch, you can sit with us. I'm sure we can squeeze you in."
The way she said it, so genuinely, made me feel guilty saying no, but I wasn't going to make such an obvious mistake. "I'm good. But thanks."
Mya's jaw dropped. Maybe this was the first time anyone had ever told her "no."
"Are you sure?" she asked. "Because we have a lot of really great friends, and I'm sure they'd love to meet you."
Not in this lifetime.
I'd tried that the first couple of times we moved. I'd made friends thinking hey, it was okay to have some company, right?
Maybe that kind of thing worked when you got to live in the same city longer than six months, but for people like me, the whole "let's be friends" thing never worked. What was I going to do? Get close to people only to tell them good-bye? Been there, done that. No thanks.
"Yeah, I'm not really here to make friends. But thanks for the offer."
D'Andre didn't seem to be quite as confused by this turn of events as his girlfriend. "If you change your mind, you can come find us in the cafeteria. And let us know if you need anything."
"Appreciate it," I said and turned away before I had to engage in another fist bump.
I headed for the nearest classroom. It was an art classroom. An empty art classroom. The perfect place for killing some time.
I started munching on my lunch of champions — at least the protein bar claimed to be chocolate flavor — while wandering the room. There were color wheel projects, lessons in points, lines, and shading, all standard stuff. But then I saw pop art, some of it with the paint still drying.
The art teacher at my first high school had been ancient, and the art class even worse. No technology, no modern art, no originality. I'd tried to do what I did best — comic book art — and the teacher had shot that down quick. It'd been enough to convince me to drop the class and not step into another art room since.
But this could be different. Screw cabinetry. I needed to get into an art class next semester.
Assuming I stuck around that long.
I popped the last bite of the protein bar into my mouth and headed over to the art supply table. It was well stocked with drawing pencils, pastels, paints, and multimedia materials.
Perfect. Time to get to work. People came and went. But my art? The stories, the characters, those went with me everywhere.
Excerpted from Pieces of You and Me by Erin Fletcher, Heather Howland. Copyright © 2016 Erin Fletcher. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
**Thank you so much to Entangled for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review!** Before I start this review, I just want to tell you that this book is perfect for getting into the summer mood! Pieces of You and Me follows both Chase and Rylee in alternating perspectives. Chase moved away 5 years ago and is finally back. He and Rylee used to be really good friends, though he had to leave because his parents were fighting a lot. Rylee was upset because Chase basically cut off all means of communication with her, but now that he's back, she wonders if things could go back to normal between them even though so much has changed. I really loved Chase. I really felt for him and his situation. It would have to suck leaving everything you knew at such a young age and then continue leaving other places everywhere you went. It would be really hard to make friends and keep them as well. I think what he felt for Rylee was the cutest and it just sucks because all he wanted was to never hurt her again. Rylee was really great too. She was very fun and I liked how she felt for Chase, of course. The two of them together was honestly the cutest and I loved learning more about their old relationship. I also liked Rylee's friends as well and I thought it was funny that Mya found Chase really attractive only to realize that her best friend actually knew him already. I honestly can't wait to read more by Erin Fletcher after finishing this book. I read it in an entire sitting and now it's really got me in the contemporary and summer mood! If you have the chance, I highly suggest you check it out!
Rylee and Chase had been best friends, years ago, before Chase left. Now, he is back and trying his best to stay away from her. He does not want his bitter life to run over into hers. He wants better for her. Chase has been all over, being moved around by divorced parents. Back in the town with the girl he loves, he is trying to keep his cool until the next shoe drops. Rylee makes him feel different. Better. She is all the sunshine he will ever need. A very sweet love story that tugs at the heartstrings. I enjoyed this book. I laughed, cried, and wished some people would shut the heck up! ***This ARC copy was given by Netgalley and its publisher for an honest review only.
This was a sweet, cute read. Rylee and Chase were best friends until he disappeared five years ago. Now it's senior year and he's back in town. In those five years, Rylee and Chase have changed a lot. Rylee is on her way to be valedictorian and has a group of good friends. Chase is barely passing and drinks too much. Rylee tries to reconnect with Chase but he's distant and tries to keep her at arm's length. I loved the characters in this book. Rylee and Chase were great together. Rylee's friends were a little overprotective but it seemed to come from a good place. There were some funny parts, angst, and love. Chase's father is in recovery and this book did a fantastic job of showing how hard that is for the individual and their family members. This book was so well-written and I finished it in a day. *I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.*
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Entangled Publishing, LLC and NetGalley.) “Rylee Dunn, the girl I’d loved forever, kissed me back.” This was a YA contemporary romance story about a couple who had been separated for 5 years. Rylee was an okay character and seemed determined to work hard and put things behind her, whilst Chase seemed content to do as little as possible at school, and wasn’t sure if getting to know Rylee again was a good idea. The storyline in this was about the relationship between Rylee and Chase, although we didn’t get all that much romance really. I did find the pace in this a bit slow because of the lack of romance, and it did drag a bit for me. The ending to this was fairly happy, but this story was just missing something for me. 6 out of 10
Pieces of You and Me by Erin Fletcher....I enjoyed this sweet story between Rylee and Chase. This book is about friendship and love turning what you think will be bad circumstances into good choices. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a YA, weekend read. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.
I really enjoyed this one. The only thing that kept it from being a 5 star read for me was the ending. There was a huge build up (which was good) then it just seemed like it rushed to a conclusion. I adored the main characters of Rylee and Chase, the secondary characters that were Rylee's friends annoyed me a bit but if I remember high school correctly, teenage girls were a bit annoying so it seems fitting. Chase and Rylee were best friends until Chase's life imploded and he and his mom disappeared with out as much as a goodbye. Now he's back living with his father and as much as Rylee tries, she can't stay mad at him. She wants to know what happened 5 years ago and why he never contacted her. Chase obviously has a hard edge to him now and Rylee wants to help him if he will let her. I really enjoy this author's writing style and the pace she gives to the story. I just wish she would have worked on the ending a bit more. All in all though it was a very good read and one I would definitely recommend.
3 STARS After moving away with his mom after Chase's parents separate and subsequently divorce, he loses touch with his best friend and first love, Rylee. They were 12. Now it's five years later and Chase has moved back to town to live with his dad - a recovering alcoholic. Eventually, Chase and Rylee reconnect and romance ensues. With five years separating their time together, much has changed except for their childhood connections. Rylee is now a committed and excellent student seeking entrance into an elite college. Present day Chase has many demons and fears hurting Rylee all over again. This was a quick romance and I never felt fully connected to Chase. For me, he was unlikable and never fully redeemed that characterization. I couldn't help but feel like Rylee could do so much better. I also would have liked to see more development with the notebooks. I understood their significance, but wanted to see more of their connection through this process. There were a few sweet moments that I enjoyed, but overall it was hard to keep my interest. Of course, this is only my viewpoint and for young adults that want a quick romance with an equally swift resolution and HEA, this may be the perfect book for them. I received an advanced digital copy of this book from Entangled Publishing in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.