She thought she had everything under control, that her future would always include her best friend Katie… Until everything changed.
Now her life in Bloom is one big morning after hangover, filled with regret, grief, and tiny pinpricks of reminders that she was once happy. A happy she ruined. A happy she can’t fix.
So, she is counting down the days until she leaves home for Colson University, cramming her summer with busywork she didn’t finish her senior year, and taking on new hobbies that involve glue and glitter, and dodging anyone who reminds her of her old life.
When she runs into the stranger who drove her home on graduation night, after she’d passed out next to a ditch, she feels herself sinking again. The key to surviving the summer in Bloom is unraveling whatever good memories she can from that night.
But in searching for answers, she’ll have to ask for help and that means turning to Evan, the stranger, and Kyle, Katie’s ex-boyfriend. Suddenly, life flips again, and Whitney finds herself on not only the precipice of happy but love, too, causing her to question whether she can trust her feelings, or if she is falling into her old patterns of extremes.
As she uncovers the truth about her memories, Whitney sees that life isn’t all or nothing, and that happy isn’t something to wait for, that instead, happy might just be a choice.
From Chapter 14
I went to the rec center.
The front desk pointed me down a checkerboard-tiled hallway. Halfway down, I heard guitar strumming and a mish mosh of clanging tambourines. I transferred the paper bag with the last muffin to my other hand and swiped my damp palm against my shorts. I moved toward the music, my gaze darting from one closed door to the next, until I found the right classroom. There, I peeked into the square window on the door.
He stood in the middle of the room, chairs pushed to the edges, orchestrating a dozen or so kids holding tambourines, triangles, and recorders. The sound they made was loud, shy of any sort of regular rhythm, much like my heart suddenly, but they were all smiling, including Evan. He clapped his hands over his head, while the guitar strapped around him swayed. His shirt was blue—another button down, sleeves rolled to his forearm and shirttail hanging over his shorts as they played to their finale. The tallest boy crashed his cymbals together while the kids with tambourines shook them wildly in the air.
The butterflies in my stomach joined the ruckus, and I pressed a palm to my stomach. It was just nerves thinking about our forthcoming conversation. It wasn’t going to be easy to ask him about that night.
A girl in braids, the one holding the triangle, pointed at me and, in the moment, before Evan turned, I felt the muscles in my legs tense, but I stayed still. I wasn’t going to run the other way anymore, not when I wanted answers. Instead, I waved, and Evan raised his hand before heading in my direction.
“All right guys.” He opened the door wide. “I’ll see you Friday.”
One by one, the kids streamed past me, chattering to one another. I focused on the tops of their heads, unsure of how I would start my conversation with Evan.
“Hi.” I said, when the last kid was halfway down the hallway. Then I got tongue-tied. I smiled at him, but my lips trembled, drawn up by sudden nerves.
Evan put out his hand for me to shake. I smiled, scrunching up my nose.
“Hi,” he said. “I’m Evan Foster.”
I laughed. A slow smile spread on his face, and I felt the butterfly orchestra in my gut move into crescendo mode. I held out my own hand. His hand closed over mine. It was warm, strong.
“Whitney Denison,” I said, feeling a little bit silly. That turned out to be good though, because as I took a deep breath, my nerves evened out. “Whitney Elizabeth Morgan Denison.”
Evan raised an eyebrow. “Oh, well in that case, I’m Evan Sebastian Foster.”
“Yes, my mom was really into The Little Mermaid.”
Again I laughed, but then stopped. “What? Wait, you’re serious?”
“Yeah. She named me after Sebastian the crab.”
“And you tell everyone this story?”
“Not really.” He watched me in a way that sent my heart on a faster pace. “So, girl-with-two-middle-names…”
“I don’t think I’m ready for you to be calling me by my Native American name.”
He grinned and glanced down at the floor for a moment. Then, he reached a hand in his jeans, pulling out his car keys. Immediately, I was disappointed. I didn’t want to be done talking with him. I was just getting started.
I remembered the bag in my hand and held it up to him. “Are you hungry?”
**Q&A with the author herself, Coleen Patrick**
When and how did you get the idea for COME BACK TO ME?
The idea first came to me around three years ago. I was driving (this seems to be an idea generator for me), and Pink’s song, Sober, was on the radio. I pictured a guy and a girl in a car. All I knew in that moment was that she was confused, but projecting a tough exterior—and this guy, who seemed to be a stranger, calls her out, gets her to think about things she’d been avoiding. The story evolved over the next couple of years, but there is an important scene between Whitney and Evan that takes place while he’s driving. That scene is a nod to that first glitter speck of idea.
Is there another book in the works? If so, what can we expect?
Yes! My next book should be out this fall—and it’s the first in a series. The main character’s name is Grace. She’s almost sixteen, and the great thing about writing her story is that she’s funny. The book is about friendship, family, and how she deals with falling in love with her best friend.
Where do you like to write?
I have an office. I don’t sit at my desk, though. Instead, I have a comfy chair in the corner that faces a window. Sometimes I have to close the window shade so I don’t start staring outside, but I put a big dandelion decal on the inside of the shade to remind me what I’m doing. Underneath the dandelion, it says, “Wishes.”
Do you have a special routine you like to do before you write?
Drink coffee, and then turn off the internet. The coffee is the easy part.
Ten Random Things about Me
1. I am the oldest of four siblings and there were times I let that power go to my head.
2. Sometimes I run errands only to notice later that I have toothpaste spatter on my shirt.
3. I think TV is awesome. Gilmore Girls is a favorite—I could live in Stars Hollow.
4. I love the smell of books. When I pull up to the drive thru at my library I inhale deeply when they slide back the window.
5. I broke my finger (and wore a cast for six weeks) after a battle with a spider. Obviously, the spider won.
6. I think mushrooms are way too chewy to eat.
7. I am gluten intolerant, so sometimes cupcakes and pizza seem like sparkly, shiny things. I just can’t look away.
8. When I was a kid, I thought it would be cool to marry Godzilla.
9. I’ve lived in the same house for the last 18 years, but before that, I moved 16 times.
10. After college, I turned down an interview with the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives), and instead got a job working at a library.
Last book you read? Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Last movie you watched? Remember Sunday
First TV character to come to mind? Damon Salvatore
Song that’s stuck in your head? When I was Your Man, by Bruno Mars
Last thing you Googled? Hair styles—because I was going to get my hair done.
Farthest place you’ve traveled? Israel
Favorite snack? Anything peanut butter and chocolate—and if you add in baked potato chips, I will love you forever.
Coffee or tea? I drink both during the day, but if I’m at Starbucks, soy lattes are a favorite.
Last thing you pinned on Pinterest? A beach pic, with a guy holding a surf board.
Sometimes I get Tattoo Envy.
There is a moment in my new YA novel, Come Back to Me, when Whitney realizes everything she’d ever assumed about Evan Foster could be wrong.
It’s when she gets a glimpse of his tattoo.
Whitney already didn’t want to like him, not because he was a typical bad boy, but because he was the opposite—the good guy who drove her home from a graduation party, after she’d passed out next to a ditch. The good guy who inadvertently got Whitney sent away for three weeks of trust falls, group therapy, and crafting.
The tattoo surprises her, makes her think about him in a different way.
Tattoos intrigue me too. I don’t have one (yet?), but there’s something about a tattoo that symbolizes a certain element of freedom, an ability to express yourself (almost) permanently.
Maybe I have tattoo envy.
And I’m not alone. According to a recent poll on BuzzFeed, the number one question people with tattoos are sick of hearing is,
Can I touch it?
It’s not that I’m a stranger to them. My husband has one (fraternity letters). Both my sisters and my brother got tattoos. Even my dad.
My mom is currently tattoo free. At least, I think. Although, when she finished reading Come Back to Me, the conversation started like this:
Mom: Who’s Evan?
Me: What do you mean?
Mom: Who did you base him on?
Me: Um, no one. I made him up.
Mom: Oh. (sighing, disappointedly). I wanted to meet him.
Me: (trying not to laugh)
Mom: He’s just…oh….hmm, well…he has that tattoo!
Tattoos are intriguing, polarizing, fun (even funny, ever seen one spelled wrong?), mysterious, sexy, romantic, rebellious, dangerous, bad…a million reactions over ink on skin.
*One of you lucky followers will win an e-copy of Come Back To Me. To enter, click on the rafflecopter logo below*
Coleen Patrick grew up in New Jersey, Virginia, Michigan, Louisiana, and Indiana. Always being the new kid, she learned that books and friends are precious—and dessert. She never met a dessert she didn’t like (except for flan).
When she’s not writing, reading (or avoiding flan), she enjoys TV, arts and crafts, quoting movies, and trying to take cool photos.
She lives in Virginia with her husband and two kids.