Love is not a game!
A summer bash on the farm kicks off our official year as seniors. It’s my first time hosting a party, and it’s sure to be the talk of the school when we return in the fall. But a brawl is not what I had in mind for people to remember. To make matters worse, senior year erupts with a bang, and I mean literally. Pranks and mayhem break out, and the blame is pinned on me.
None of that matters when my life takes a turn I’m not expecting. Senior year is supposed to be fun and exciting, and mine is anything but, especially when I turn to
Maiken for a shoulder to cry on and he’s not there.
I can’t worry about him. I have my own problems, and if I can’t crawl out from under them, I might lose everything important to me.
My basketball season was toast last year due to my injury, and I vow to do everything in my power to have the perfect season. I can’t afford to screw up if I want scouts to notice me.
But I also want to let loose and enjoy my senior year. That means hanging with my girl, Quinn, and taking things to the next level in our relationship. Only her idea of having fun doesn’t match mine.
We’re on two different paths, going in opposite directions, especially when I learn that my mom has plans to ship my siblings and me to a private academy.
Now I have a decision to make, and if I make the wrong choice, then I could lose Quinn. Although if I stay, I’m not sure we’ll be dating anymore.
My Heart to Keep is a sweet young adult romance and is the fourth and final book on Maiken and Quinn. Start their story from book one in My Heart to Touch for a better reading experience.
My Heart to Touch
My Heart to Hold
My Heart to Give
My Heart to Keep
Summer was in full swing, and the weather was cooperating. High nineties, humid, and stifling, with no rain in sight. By the time the party of the century kicked off later that night, the weather would be cooler.
I couldn’t believe Daddy had agreed to let me throw the biggest bash Ashford had ever seen. Take that, Tessa Stevens.
Nevertheless, I was a ball of nerves. I wanted the party to be perfect, and so far, it was stacking up to be. Jack James, a junior at Kensington High, who was one of the best DJs in Ashford, was in charge of the music that night, thanks in part to Emma Maxwell. She and Jack were friends, although I suspected they were more than friends by the way Emma blushed when she talked about him. At the very least, she liked him.
Plus, about forty or so kids were coming that we knew of. Momma wanted to keep the guest list small, but we were teenagers, and I couldn’t promise we wouldn’t have more than forty, especially when word got out.
Celia skipped alongside me like she was seven again, her breasts bouncing along with her ponytail. “I can’t believe your dad is letting you have a party.” She skidded to a halt in the dirt outside the barn, sending a cloud of dust billowing around us.
I couldn’t believe it either. Daddy hated parties. He felt they brought trouble.
I grabbed a hammer from the toolbox at the base of the ladder. “I promised him nothing would happen.”
She snorted. “He bought that?” She knew my dad well.
With the hammer, two nails, and the welcome banner, I climbed the ladder. “You don’t think anything will go wrong?” I asked myself more than her. I knew firsthand that fights happened at parties involving high school kids. After all, Tessa Stevens and I had gotten into a fight at her Christmas party a couple of years prior. But Tessa and I weren’t enemies anymore, although we weren’t best friends either. Still, I didn’t have anyone else who hated me, at least not that I knew of.
Celia held the ladder. “Nah. Unless you invited Marcus and Sloane.”
I tacked the banner over the barn door. “Of course not.” Marcus wasn’t a senior, but Sloane was. We were not friends. Rumor was that she was moving, so I didn’t have anything to worry about.
“Then you’re fine.”
I climbed down. “Yeah. The party will be a success.” I wanted kids to remember this night, and not for fights, but for the great time they had.
She smiled, her white teeth standing out beneath her tanned skin. “Heck yeah, it will.”
We’d been spending time at the Maxwell lake, floating in rafts, swimming, and having a great time since school let out last month. Even my skin was tanned.
I tossed the hammer in the toolbox at the foot of the ladder. “We should set up the tables inside.”
The party hall was one of our old barns that we didn’t use much except for storage when Daddy had an oversupply of hay or other farm items. As of late, the barn was empty, though. Daddy was about to turn the building into a workshop where he could tinker on cars and farm equipment, something he and my brother Carter loved to do. He’d even promised Carter that he would have it ready for him when my brother graduated college. I believed it was Daddy’s way of luring Carter back home. I didn’t think Daddy had to do much coaxing. Carter was a homebody, and if anyone loved working on the farm, it was my older brother.
“Wait. I have something to tell you.” Celia’s light and airy mood had vanished.
“Liam and I broke up.”
My jaw came unhinged. “What? When?”
She lifted her small shoulders. “It’s no big deal. We called it quits last week.”
I angled my head at my BFF. “You sound sad but don’t look it.”
She sighed, her espresso eyes glinting in the sunlight. “I was afraid to tell you.”
“He’s your brother. But it was a mutual decision. He’s going off to college. I’ll be here. We felt it was a good time. And he wants to play the field. I do too.” Not an ounce of sadness tinged her voice.
“Do you still love my brother?” Celia had been drooling over Liam since she was a little girl.
“It’s not the kind of love you have for Maiken.” She grasped my hand. “I don’t want you to worry about Liam and me. We’re cool. And if, in the future, an opportunity presents itself for us to reunite, then Liam and I will cross that bridge then.”
“You sound old. Are you sure you’re my best friend?”
She giggled. “I know what I want, Quinn. I don’t want to be tied down. I want to date who I want. So does Liam. I also want to explore more of me. I’m excited about filling out college applications. I’m excited about our senior year, making new memories, trying new things for the first time, and I’m excited about being the school’s sports reporter. So many possibilities.”
I shared her excitement on most of what she’d said, except I wouldn’t be breaking up with Maiken. “What new things do you have in mind?”
She tucked her bra strap under the sleeve of her tank top. “I don’t know yet. I’ve never tried liquor. Maybe I’ll start there.”
I reared back as my mind grappled with her statement. Liquor wasn’t the first thing that came to mind when I thought of trying something new for the first time. I was thinking more along the lines of officially becoming a woman. Maiken and I had yet to take that plunge. We’d been dancing around the topic of sex.
“You know how that went down with Marcus at Sloane’s party last year?” Marcus had gotten so stinking drunk he’d fallen and busted up his face. That had been the beginning of a tense junior year for Maiken. His brother had ruined Maiken’s basketball season because of his drinking and acting out, causing Maiken to get hit by a car driven by Marcus’s girlfriend, Sloane.
“I didn’t say I would get drunk. I just want to try it. Maybe we should both try one alcoholic beverage tonight. We should experience that together.”
I shook my head. “Absolutely not. I have to have my wits about me. You know my parents will be up at the house and no doubt watching from a distance.”
Celia rolled her eyes. “Live a little. One drink will loosen you up too. I can see you’re already wound tight.”
I snorted. “I’ll pass.” With my luck, one drink would turn into two, and since I’d only tried a sip of beer once in my life, anything harder than that would surely mess me up.
She pouted. “You’re a downer. We’re seniors. We’re young adults. Let’s have fun.”
I trudged inside and snagged the box of balloons off one of four tables and threw it to my best friend. “I plan to have fun, just not with alcohol.”
She began blowing up balloons with Daddy’s air pump while I unpackaged the tablecloths. Aside from string lights hanging from the rafters, the decorations weren’t that elaborate. In fact, if anyone wanted to sit, they could use the bales of hay scattered along the walls.
Celia flicked through her phone. “We need music.” Within a beat, Selena Gomez’s voice filled the barn, and Celia sang along to “Lose You to Love Me.” She had a pretty voice, and sometimes I wondered why she didn’t take up singing.
“Are you sure you want to study communications?” I asked. “With your voice, you could sell records.”
“I don’t think so. My voice isn’t all that great.”
“I beg to differ.” My phone pinged, and I plucked it out of my short shorts. I beamed from ear to ear as I answered. “Maiken.”
“Hey, babe,” he drawled in that Southern accent that made the butterflies come alive in my stomach. “You ready for tonight?”
I swallowed. “Why do you sound like you’re about to give me bad news?”
Celia stopped singing and gaped.
“Sorry. No bad news. Marcus and I were arguing. That’s all.”
I bit my tongue. Marcus was the bane of the Maxwell family, the little black sheep in some ways. His rebellious nature was epic, but Marcus wasn’t my concern.
“You’re coming to my party, right?” I held my breath. I would strangle Marcus if he screwed things up for Maiken.
Bestselling author S.B. Alexander writes young adult and new adult romances that span the sub-categories of coming of age, sports, paranormal, suspense, and military fiction. Her writing is emotional, angsty, and character driven. She’s best known for The Maxwell and The Maxwell Family Saga series.
S.B. or Susan as she likes to be called is a navy veteran, former high school teacher, and former corporate sales executive. She’s a lover of sports, especially baseball, although nowadays you can find her glued to the TV during football season.
When she’s not writing, she’s a full-time caregiver to her soul mate of twenty-one years who got a bad deal in life when he was diagnosed with ALS. Her motto: “Life is too short to waste. So live every moment like it’s your last.”