I'd like to introduce you to my friend Elena Dillon today. She writes YA (Young Adult) novels with lots of action and suspense and emotion. Read on as she tells us about her free-this-week novel, Crushing.
Elena: How do you all feel about love triangles? I know some people love them, and some people hate them. When I sat down to write Crushing I hadn’t thought much about them either way but I also didn’t intend for Crushing to have one as a key part of the romance. Not in my plan at all. I thought I was writing a teenage mystery with a romance. Shows what I know.
The problem started when one of the characters that I intended to be kind of a jerk, Dominic, had other ideas. As it turns out, he’s had a crush on Rory, the main character for a long time. And he refused to be a jerk, he was a sweet guy. He was her friend and, by the way, he had no intention of stepping back and letting this new guy step in and take his girl. Wait, what?
Rory and the other love interest each had a different viewpoint about this situation which added to the complexity of the story. I actually had conversations with Dom, in my head, explaining what I had planned, but he was extremely uncooperative. The entire book felt like one long battle. Looking back I realize I shouldn’t have worried. It all worked out in the end.
All that being said Crushing is all about love, friendship, and choices. I had no idea writing a love triangle could be so complicated. It was a really fun book to write, but I’m not sure who was in charge, me or them.
Crushing is available for Free on Amazon October 19th – October 23rd!
Here’s an excerpt of one of the scenes:
A small clinking sound coming from the balcony distracted me. Huh.
Then another one. Clink.
I got the chills. What was that?
I stood up and slowly moved over to the French doors. On my balcony were two pennies.
Clink. Another one hit the glass right between my eyes.
My heart in my mouth, I looked out into the yard. Gage was standing there holding the puppy and getting ready to throw another penny. He jerked his head toward the beach, turned, then went through the gate on the side.
Oookay. I guess I was just supposed to follow? Why were all the males in my life so overbearing? I huffed and put my shoes on. I needed to revert back to my old ways a bit. My parents were still up, and no way would a walk on the beach go over without a fight. And walking with Gage wouldn’t be any better in their eyes.
I went out onto my balcony. The drainpipe was still there even though it didn’t look quite as sturdy as it did a few years ago. I hadn’t shinnied down a drainpipe in years, but I imagined the process hadn’t changed that much. Good thing I had on appropriate shinnying clothes.
As I climbed over the rail and reached out for the drainpipe, I felt a flurry of excitement. Trouble—an old friend I hadn’t visited in a while. I had to suppress the giggles that wanted to bubble out of my chest. I missed this. I made it to the bottom without too much damage, although I wouldn’t be wearing a skirt anytime soon, what with the scrape on my knee now.
I came through the gate, and he and the puppy were waiting at the beginning of the beach path. By the time I caught up, the puppy was running ahead toward the water and then running back to us, barking and tripping over her feet. Her paws were almost the size of my palms. I think she had grown since I saw her yesterday, and Gage must have given her a bath because her fur was fluffy and she looked even more adorable.
He didn’t say anything; we just started walking. This felt weirdly familiar. Because of his stutter, we had spent a lot of our childhood not talking. If I had something to say, I would just jabber on like a monkey in a tree, and he listened. Too nervous for speech now, though, I tried to figure out exactly what I wanted to say.
We walked and our arms brushed. The squirrels in my stomach were at it again, and now they were doing the Mexican Hat dance. Really? I needed to calm down. I annoyed myself.
Clear and beautiful, the night was made for a walk on the beach. I loved the sound of the ocean, and most nights I fell asleep with my balcony doors open. A bit of a breeze blew, but even though it was still winter, it was only a little chilly.
We found a small sand dune and sat down to watch the puppy running at the waves and barking. Gage was looking out over the water. He looked relaxed, but I could barely keep my knees from bouncing. I really had to focus to keep myself calm. I breathed deep.
“So why didn’t you tell me who you were the other day?” I blurted out.
He laughed. “Sorry, I guess I was shocked you didn’t recognize me. I’m pretty forgettable, huh?”
“Well, since you don’t look the same at all, and you are about a foot and a half taller, I think I should get a pass.” I narrowed my eyes at him. “I hear you’re either a drug dealer, a cheater, or you got the dean’s daughter pregnant. Should I be worried about being out here on the beach with you? I came prepared.” I dangled my keys with the pepper spray my dad insisted I keep at hand. I knew I was perfectly safe, but I wanted the real story.
He laughed. “Wow, is that what’s going around? I guess I’m not surprised. We Southerners do love our gossip. I didn’t actually do any of those things, but in the spirit of honesty, I did get expelled.”
I nodded. If I let my mouth run away with me now, I would never get the story out of him.
“It was for fighting.” He did have the grace to look a little embarrassed. “I would imagine you aren’t shocked about that, but it was unavoidable so—”
“So that’s why you’re back? Because you got kicked out of school?”
He opened his mouth to answer, when the puppy came skidding to a halt right in front of us and decided to shake the water and sand off her body all over us. I shrieked and tried to block it with my hands, but too late. Lovely. Good thing she was cute.
“Did you come up with something to call her?” I asked while I was attempting to brush myself off.
“Cute. What made you pick it?”
“Well, we had to bail her out, so it seemed to fit. She reminds me of you, actually.” He nudged me with his elbow.
“I remind you of a dog?” He was obviously not trying to win any points with me. First I’m fat, and now I remind him of a dog.
“Uh, no. She reminds me of you. Getting herself into messes I have to get her out of.”
“Oh really?” I smiled. “Well it’s been a long time since you have attempted to get me out of any messes.”
“Until yesterday. And tonight.”
I frowned at him. “As a matter of fact I was thinking earlier that my life has never been more dramatic than since you showed back up.”
“So it’s my fault?”
“Well, it stands to reason. My life seemed normal before, and it’s been upside down since you got back . . .”
“Ah. I see.”
That reminded me.
“Hey what did you mean when you saw me in the storm drain and said ‘of course’?” I glared at him again.
“Just that. Of course you would get stuck in a storm drain trying to save a puppy.”
“You act like you know me now. You don’t, so don’t pretend you do.” I wasn’t sure why, but I was mad. It didn’t make any sense, since I was pretty sure he hadn’t had a choice about leaving. Still, he didn’t get to pretend like he knew anything about my life now.
He didn’t say anything, just turned away. Now I felt bad.
We stared out at the ocean for a while just listening to the waves. I thought about when he left. There had been a hole in my heart where only he fit. I had shut off that part of my heart and didn’t even realize it. We weren’t the same people now, and I didn’t know if we would ever be able to get back to the closeness we had when we were kids, or if I wanted to.
The puppy had finally tired herself out. She came over to me and climbed into my lap, then she curled up and went to sleep. She was adorable.
There was something I wanted to ask him. I wasn’t sure if I should, but I really needed to know.
“What happened with that fight? I don’t understand.”
“Holden’s a tool,” he said with a grimace.
“Well, yeah, but you knew that when we were eight. Why would you hit Dominic when Holden was the idiot?”
His face got serious, and he didn’t answer right away. He looked back out to the ocean.
“Is he your boyfriend?”
He looked back at me. “That didn’t sound too convincing.”
“Well, we’re good friends. It’s complicated.”
He rolled his eyes. “You’re either dating or you’re not. I’m hoping not, since you’re out here with me. That wouldn’t be cool.” He sounded disapproving.
I didn’t want him thinking I was like that. Eww.
“We aren’t. Our parents would love it, and I don’t think he would object, but he hasn’t asked, and I made it clear I don’t want a boyfriend. Clear enough?” Sheesh.
“You don’t want a boyfriend, or you don’t want him for a boyfriend?”
“As you well know, I have two very large overprotective brothers and a dad who still likes to think I’m six years old. Would you want to deal with that?” I realized he had turned the conversation back to me and away from him. Convenient. “You still didn’t answer me.”
He looked back out to the ocean before he answered. For some reason I knew the answer was important.
“I don’t like him. He should have made Holden let go of you himself. No guy has the right to put his hands on a girl against her will. Ever. If you aren’t doing something about it, you are enabling it, and I hate that almost as much. Even if he isn’t your boyfriend, as your friend he shouldn’t have allowed it. If you don’t believe me, ask your brothers.”
Wow. Okay. I think I hit a sore spot.
“I guess I can see your point of view. I don’t actually think Dom saw it until you guys started pushing and shoving, but okay. He probably doesn’t take Holden seriously, since we see him like that a lot.”
“He grabs you a lot?” He was starting to look angry.
“No. He’s obnoxious and drunk a lot. I appreciate that you were concerned, but it wasn’t necessary.”
He shrugged. “That’s your opinion.”
“I can take care of myself. I’m not sure why nobody gets that.” Why were guys so irritating? Ugh.
“Yeah I saw how well you were taking care of yourself.” He didn’t look convinced.
I wasn’t getting anywhere. I looked at the time on my phone. I didn’t want to go, but I also didn’t want my parents to check in and find me gone. That would not help my situation.
“I’d better get going.”
I handed him Bailee so I could get up. She was obviously exhausted from her adventure. “I’m glad your uncle let you keep her.” I rubbed her head.
“Yeah, I think he feels bad because he isn’t home much.”
“I worried he would make you take her to the pound,” I said as I brushed myself off.
“Well, I think he wishes he could change his mind now,” he said with a laugh.
“She chewed a pair of his seven-hundred-dollar shoes. Not a banner moment for her.”
“Oh man. Poor Bailee.” I reached over and gave her a scratch. “It’s not fun to be labeled a troublemaker.” She looked at me sleepily and licked my hand.
I worked up the nerve to ask him something I’d been wondering about since he came back.
“So…” We started back up the beach toward home.
“Uh-oh.” He laughed.
“No more stutter?” I asked.
“Nope. Gone for good.”
“I’m going to be totally nosey here. What happened?”
“It’s fine. When we moved to Florida, my grandma and I took foreign language classes.”
“And that helped?”
“Yup. She read somewhere that it could help. I became fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.” He shrugged like it was no big deal. “Once I could speak another language without a stutter, it pretty much went away. Totally gone by the time I was fourteen.”
We had stopped in front of my gate. I reached out and gave him a hug, squishing Bailee in the process.
“Whoa. Okay.” He hugged me back.
“I’m sorry. I’m just so happy for you.” I knew it must have been more work than he let on. I was relieved he didn’t have to live with that stutter forever. I could feel tears behind my eyes trying to get out.
“It’s okay, Rory. I’m all good.” He shook his head at me.
I gave him another squeeze, then let go and stepped back.
He walked me through the gate up to my back door. I turned and we just stared at each other.
“I’d better go in.”
“Wouldn’t want the parents to know you are out with the bad boy and not the ‘Mr. Perfect’ they’ve picked for you,” he said.
I felt bad that he knew how my parents felt about him. My life was not usually this full of drama. I huffed out a breath. “Sorry.”
“Here, give me your phone. I don’t want you to have to climb down a drainpipe just to talk to me. I thought you would just come out the back door like a normal girl. I should have known you would do things the hard way.”
We exchanged phones and put our numbers in.
He handed me back my phone. His face was serious all of a sudden. “Now I won’t lose you again.” He gently brushed his fingers over my cheek and pushed a piece of hair behind my ear.
I shivered. We stood there staring into each other’s eyes. Bailee yawned a huge yawn, and the moment was lost.
“See you,” I whispered as I snuck in my back door. I turned and looked through the window. He was still watching me. When he turned and walked away, there was a tiny ache in the area of my heart. I already missed him. Not good.
* * *
Author, Elena Dillon, is the winner of a Weta Nichols Writing Award and an InD'tale RONE award. She was also a finalist in the Book Buyers Best, the Published Maggie’s and the Reader’s Favorite Awards all in the Young Adult category. She writes sweet teenage romance with sass, suspense and swoon.
Elena has never lived anywhere besides Southern California, which is probably a good thing since she hates being cold and is terrified to drive in the snow. She loves being a wife to her husband of twenty-five years and a mother to her three kids and high-maintenance bulldog, Brutus. A self-proclaimed nerd, she spends her days writing and catering to Brutus, who considers her “the help.”