Author: Denise Jaden
Genre: YA Contemporary (with romantic suspense elements)
Publication Date: April 20th, 2018
She’s not crazy.
Kass Bateman may be a lot of things, but she swears she’s not crazy—even when she wakes up strapped to a wheelchair in a psychiatric hospital and can’t remember how she got there.
When Kass’s family members go missing one by one, she enlists the smartest guy she knows to help find them. Unfortunately for her, underneath his brains and indifference are some dark secrets and a whole lot of distracting sexy.
Can Kass keep her head together long enough to rescue her family members from their captors—the truly dangerous and crazy ones?
Gritty, steamy, and rife with secrecy, Outcast is the first book in a new upper YA/NA crossover series for fans of Gayle Forman and Rainbow Rowell.
Denise Jaden’s novels have been shortlisted or received awards through the Romance Writers of America, Inspy, and SCBWI. The first draft of her debut novel, Losing Faith, was written in 21 days during NaNoWriMo 2007 and she loves talking with writers and students alike about her Just-Get-To-The-End fast-drafting process.
Jaden’s other young adult novels include Never Enough, Foreign Exchange, A Christmas Kerril, and Avalanche. Her non-fiction books for writers include, Writing with a Heavy Heart, Fast Fiction, and Story Sparks.
In her spare time, she homeschools her son, acts with the Vancouver film industry, and dances with a Polynesian dance troupe. Find out more at denisejaden.com.
His lips kiss me back, angrily. He’s so forceful, it hurts my mouth, but I won’t stop, and I slide my tongue through his lips to shock him. His mouth opens and his tongue reaches for mine, reaches past mine, and I don’t know if it’s angry or…hungry.
I fight for my balance. My hand is still on the back of his head and I grip the ends of his short hair. He moves toward me until I’m backed into the trunk of the nearest tree. The bark scratches through my cotton shirt, but I can barely feel it. The heat of his chest against mine is extraordinary—his hips shift against mine, his lips and tongue and whole face devour my mouth, my face, my ear, my neck.
And the worst part? I don’t want him to stop. I desperately don’t want him to stop.
But I need control here.
My free hand slides around his waist, gripping his shirt. Both of his hands reach into my hair. He grasps it at the roots and lets out a breathy groan as he turns his face to a new angle on my neck. He’s done this before. He’s probably done this many times before. The whole length of his body pushes me harder against the bark of the tree. It’s all I can do to keep breathing, to not slide my hands all over him. I ball my fist behind his head and notice how totally still I’ve become. He’s devouring me and I can’t stop him. I’m his paralyzed prey, and it freaks the shit out of me.
All at once, I pull back, put all my power behind my right arm, and knock my fist into the side of his jaw. Being so close, I hardly have any force behind it, but it still hurts like hell and I shake out my hand angrily.
“What the hell was that?” he says, stumbling back from me, and then leaning forward and cupping his jaw. He clears his throat harshly.
In that second one thing is clear: He still has complete control over himself. He’s not caught up in this at all, though, by the looks of things, I at least put him in a little bit of pain.
He tilts his head up so we can look at each other. Except he doesn’t look at me, and I wonder if that’s another power move. He scowls, looking into the distance like he’s thinking it over and his hand moves from his jaw to his lips. He clears his throat again. It occurs to me maybe that wasn’t his first beer. Maybe he’s messed up. Did he even know what he was doing or how he was talking to me? What do they call it—liquid courage?
Welcome back, Control. Sorry I let you go for a few minutes there, but it won’t happen again.
Eli’s eyes widen, and at first I think I’ve said the words out loud. But his hand moves down to his throat, grips around it, and something looks wrong.
“I didn’t hit you that hard,” I say.
He clears his throat yet again and grips harder like he’s choking.
“Are you…OK?” It’s not like I’ve done a whole lot of drinking or drugs, and I’ve certainly never OD’d or anything, but the dude wasn’t even slurring. I look from side to side, and no one is within yelling distance, especially over the loud music.
Eli’s free hand fumbles to his belt, to that navy blue pencil case. I stand there looking at it. If he wants to show me what kind of drugs he’s on, I still won’t know how to help him.
He fumbles with the zipper, and finally it rips open and a cylinder of some sort springs out into the overgrown grass and oak leaves. He falls to his knees and rummages frantically with his hands.
“What? What do you need?” I yell at him.
He whimpers and says something I can’t hear. I drop down to get closer. “Nuts. Peanuts,” he chokes out, and I can still taste the remnant of my peanut butter cup in the back of my teeth.
I stare at him and all of a sudden the pieces click into place.
No way. Nobody’s this allergic to peanuts. Are they?