Do nice guys always finish last? In the new Extreme Risk novel from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Tracy Wolff, a burnt-out underdog and a vulnerable tomboy defy the pressure to be perfect and go after what they really want.Bighearted and easygoing, Luc Jennings is falling behind in a family of serious overachievers. While he may be decent enough at snowboarding to turn pro and rack up some sponsors, he’s never topped any podiums—unlike his friends Z, Ash, and Cam. Luc’s always been head over heels for Cam Bradley, but she’s never seen him as anything more than a friend. Now, after years of coming in second, Luc can’t take it anymore—especially if it means watching Cam chase another guy.Cam hangs out almost exclusively with dudes, and that’s fine by her. She’d much rather be shredding at the Olympics than primping in the mirror. Cam’s wildest dreams have a way of coming true—except when it comes to getting her longtime crush and best friend, Z Michaels, to notice her. Then her mother suddenly shows up after being gone for, like, ever, and Cam’s whole world comes crashing down. Desperate for a place to lay low, she turns to the one person who’s always had her back.Try as he might to move on, Luc could never leave Cam hanging. He lets her crash at his place—and it isn’t long before she winds up in his bed. With Cam running scared and her icy facade starting to melt at last, Luc’s determined to finally win the only prize that matters.
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I don’t like being ignored. Or, more specifically, I don’t like being ignored by Luc.
The guy who’s been my best friend since I was four years old.
The guy who taught me how to ride my very first snowboard.
The guy who knows everything about me—and who I know everything about.
Or at least I did. Now, as he sits across from me talking and joking around with anyone and everyone but me, I’m not sure I know anything about him anymore. He sure as hell doesn’t want to know anything about me. He won’t even look at me. And if he puts any more distance between us, he’s going to end up falling off the back of the damn boat the first time we hit a rough wave.
Which at the moment, I might actually pay good money to see. Especially when he glances up from his super intense conversation with Ash, and our eyes meet for the first time in way too long. I start to smile, but he yanks his gaze away before he sees it. And I’m left feeling like a total idiot.
And the worst part is, it’s all my fault. The weirdness, the awkwardness, Luc’s inability to even look at me—I’m responsible for all of it. I’m the one who got drunk a few months ago when Z first got together with Ophelia. I’m the one who threw myself at Luc when he was equally drunk, who kept pushing and pushing until he took me back to his place. And I’m the one who freaked out so completely when I woke up in bed with him the next morning. He’d tried to be cool, to be nice—and I had lost it completely.
Nothing has been the same since.
I’ve spent the last few months trying to clean up the mess I made—doing anything and everything I could think of to get us back on even ground—but it isn’t working. We used to practically live in each other’s pockets, and now we only hang out when the others are around. When he can use Z and Ash and Tansy and Ophelia as a buffer between us. And only when he doesn’t have to say more than one or two sentences to me at any given time.
It’s driving me absolutely, totally, completely, batshit crazy.
Part of me wants to apologize—again—for freaking out on him instead of just going the whole one-time friends-with-benefits route, especially since I’m the one who initiated everything. But there’s another part of me that wants to slap the hell out of him. I mean, yes, I handled the morning after badly. But, really, one mistake and sixteen years of friendship are suddenly null and void?
Just the thought makes me mad. I’d never shut him out like this—I wouldn’t even know how. The fact that he’s doing it so easily hurts me more than I want to admit, even to myself.
“So, who’s up first?” Ash calls from where he’s lounging against the side of the boat, his girlfriend, Tansy, balanced on his lap.
“I am,” I tell him, reaching for my wakeboard.
“That’s my girl!” Z whoops as he starts to slow the speedboat down. “Get out there early, show ’em how it’s done!”
“Oh, I plan to.”
Z’s girlfriend, Ophelia, laughs even as she holds her hand up for a high five. “Ten bucks says Cam can stay up longer than any of the guys.”
“No bet there,” Ash tells her. “Cam fucking rules on a wakeboard.”
I shoot him a look. “Almost as much as I rule on a snowboard.”
“Hey now, it’s a little early for trash talking, isn’t it?” Z asks.
“It’s not trash talking if it’s true,” Ash’s younger brother, Logan, says. He flashes me a huge smile and I can’t resist giving him a quick, one-armed hug. I love this fourteen-year-old kid so much it’s ridiculous, and the fact that he can still smile, still be so upbeat even with everything he’s had to handle in the last year, blows my mind completely. Not only did he lose his parents in a horrific car wreck, he also lost the use of his legs in that same wreck. And yet, here he is, laughing and joking around like the total badass that he is.
“At least Logan knows the truth,” I tell him with a wink. “And that’s all that matters.”
“Can you teach me?” Tansy asks as Z brings the boat to a stop.
“Hey, I’ll teach you, babe,” Ash tells her.
“But you just said that Cam’s better than you,” she tells him, eyes wide and innocent. “And I want to learn from the best.”
I crack up. I can’t help it—the way Ash’s mouth drops open is absolutely priceless, and for a second, I wish my phone were out so I could get a picture of it. I glance at Luc, wanting to share the joke, but he’s looking out over the water. Deliberately not looking at me. Deliberately not joining in the conversation about me.
I freaking hate it.
New York Times bestselling author Tracy Wolff lives in Texas and teaches writing at her local community college. She is married and the mother of three young sons.
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