“Friendships are rough, aren’t they?” Brad asked.
“Uh, yeah.” Zoe pretended to understand. She didn’t exactly have a lot of experience to argue one way or the other.
“Did you steal her boyfriend?”
“What?” Zoe’s mouth dropped open.
“Did you steal your best friend’s boyfriend?” Brad’s face was serious.
“No. I would never do something like that!” Her indignation was hard to control.
“A lot of girls do stuff like that.”
“I wouldn’t! I’m a good friend. I’m just not…” Zoe looked away from Brad’s prying gaze.
“I’m just not popular. I’m the kind of friend you can count on to have your back and be there, but I can’t make anyone popular.”
“Popularity is a just a smoke screen teenagers hide their insecurities behind.” He tilted his head to the side. “You don’t need that. You know who you are, so why should you hide?”
Zoe smiled. “Thanks.”
“For seeing me.”
They shared a long, lingering look. Zoe’s heart pounded as if she’d just blitzed a five-minute mile.
When Brad Sorenson crossed paths with Zoe O’Loughlin at a high school graduation party, the connection was undeniable. He noticed her when no one else did; she inspired him to want more out of life. But it would be years before they’d meet again…and in the most unlikely of places. Brad was looking for a good time online, not love. But Zoe was so sweet, so kind. Everything about her was perfect—until she fell in love with him. Zoe doesn’t know why Brad left her standing in an airport; he won’t return her calls or texts. With her self-esteem and dreams shattered, she can’t imagine ever loving anyone else. A single phone call changes Brad’s life forever. Now he wants just one thing: to make amends with the only woman that’s ever mattered.
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Michelle Alstead is a single, divorced mom of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, who tries to promote autism awareness and advocate for gender equality while raising Sheldon Cooper and searching for some semblance of a love life. Michelle has experienced a wide-range of reasons for being dumped by the opposite sex (her favorite reason of all time – “she wasn’t crazy enough and crazy girls are so much fun”). She maintains that she is both Irish and Spanish and can bring the “crazy” just as good as the next woman. This author copes with the difficulties of raising her challenging child and failing at love, by eating copious amounts of chocolate, binge watching Netflix late at night, and writing novels about characters who find happy endings. Every great story has a grain of truth. Truth inspires freedom. Michelle has decided to free herself by acknowledging that life can be ugly, brutal, and wickedly unfair. Her stories aren’t the typical romances or the standard young adult fare. She seeks to be honest in her storytelling rather than playing it safe. Blending in wasn’t much fun anyway.
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