Thursday, May 26, 2016

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Editorial Comments

A Frayed Web is amazing! I can't believe how much Mr. Ripslinger's writing intrigues me. Page after page, I couldn't wait to find out the ending! The story itself is so awesome. —The Book Adventures of Emily

If you’re looking for a wonderfully written YA story flavored with suspense then don’t pass this one up.— I'm a Voracious Reader

The writing is incredible and the story is so engrossing that you are absorbed into it right away and don’t put it down until the very last page.—Books Are Love

If you are looking for a YA or MG mystery then this is the book for you,—Charlotte Lynn's Reviews

Walter Bohannon fears love has blinded his mom. After his dad’s death, she reconnects with an old sweetheart, but Adam Kingsley may not be the same person she dated in high school. Even his teenage daughter, Kristi, doesn’t seem to know him very well.
Probing into Kingsley’s background, Walter discovers disturbing facts about his soon-to-be stepdad. Kingsley is hiding behind a web of secrets, and he might be willing to kill to protect them. Can Walter convince his mother of the danger before it's too late? What will he tell Kristi, his stepsister-to-be, with whom he's falling in love?

I'm not supposed to be staring at my soon-to-be stepsister like this, my tongue hanging down to the middle of my chest, but at the moment, hormones rule my heart.
Usually Kristi swaggers around the house in a tank top, ratty denim cutoffs, and flip-flops. Long bare legs flashing. Silver-blond hair framing her face and spilling to her shoulders.
Tank top, cutoffs, bare legs—that's bad enough.
Today, she's popping out of a red bikini that hardly covers the essentials, and she’s lying flat on her back on a towel by the edge of the pool. Mirrored sunglasses hide her eyes.
The curtain pulled back, I'm peering at her out of my second-floor bedroom window. The sight of her burns itself into my brain. Half of each honey-colored boob is glistening in the sun; her belly's flat; her legs, long. I'm yelling at myself in my head, Wrong thing to do, Walter. Stare at her. Lust after her.
Kristi and her dad, Adam, have been living in my house for three days now. No one's told me what the hell's going on, like when Adam's going to marry my mom. Or how long Kristi's going to hang out here. I suppose until she graduates from high school and gets a job or goes to college. Maybe she'll get bored in Iowa and run back to her mom in California. Half of me wishes she would. The other half hopes she doesn't.
I do wish she and her dad had stayed in a motel. But Mom said, "We're all going to be family, anyway. Why waste money on a motel? I'll have them move in."
"Won't people talk?" I asked.
"Nonsense," Mom said. "After Adam and Kristi get settled, a week or two at the most, then Adam and I will have the justice of the peace marry us."
I'm sure Mom knows I want her to be happy, and I think that even though she's a widow, we've been happy together since Dad died seven years ago.  I know for sure I bring her happiness. She tells me that all the time. I'm a good student. Great tennis player. I never get into trouble.
But I can't believe she's going to marry this guy.
A sharp knock on my bedroom door jerks my eyes away from the window. I swivel around. The door swings open, and there stands my mom, the bride-to-be. She never asks if I'm decent. She forgets I'm no longer five years old. I'm seventeen, eighteen in December. Unless I lock my door, she whips it open and stands in the doorway. Like now.
"What are you doing, Walter?"
I shrug. You don't want to know, Mom.
"Adam and I," she says, "are going to be gone practically all day, sightseeing."
"What's to see in Iowa?"
"Everything's changed since Adam lived here. The whole Iowa City area. The new mall. The gambling casino at Riverside. You sure you don't want to come?"
"I've seen all that, Mom."
"Kristi doesn't want to come either. So we're leaving you two alone."
"Have a good time," I say, realizing being alone with Kristi for the first time could be a little nerve-racking, the way she dresses and flirts. I need to ditch right away.
Mom's eyes scan my room. I hope she notes I've left no dirty clothes cluttering the floor, and my bed is made. A compliment would be nice, proving she's thinking of me, too—not only Adam. But she says, "I need you to vacuum this morning. First thing. Living room, dining room, hallways, stairs. Might as well do it now when you have the time, honey."
I cringe. "Mom!"
"I'm sorry."
I hate it when Mom calls me honey. Or says things like Such a sweet boy. Back in sixth grade, I told her not to say stuff like that anymore. Talk like that makes me feel like a baby, but she still does it. Sometimes right in front of other people.
Mom says, "If you play tennis with Blake this afternoon, take Kristi with you. She needs to make new friends."
"She needs to get off her butt."
"She's a guest. Treat her like one. For me? Please?"
"A guest forever?"
"For a while. Then she'll be family. And she'll have chores, same as you."
I roll my eyes. "I'll bet."
"Be nice," Mom says, frowning.
"As far as I'm concerned, after you marry her old man—"
"Don't be disrespectful."
"—she's no longer a guest. She'll have to carry her own weight." I glance out the window, wondering if Kristi's loosened her bra and tossed it aside. Nope.
"What are you doing standing there in front of the window and looking out?" Mom asks. She takes a step toward me. Like she wants to glance out the window, too.
"Nothing," I say quickly. "I spotted Kristi by the pool. I'll start vacuuming right away."
"Thank you." Mom pats my shoulder. "I appreciate all your help. I really do. I don't know what I'd do without you." She backs away and closes the door.
I heave a deep sigh. A future stepdad and a future stepsister both arriving all of a sudden at my house—this is turmoil. I don't know if I can survive.
* * *
"You missed this area," Kristi says from where she's flopped on the couch in the living room, one long leg flung up on its back. I think she's still wearing her bikini, but a tube top and cutoffs hide it. She's munching an apple. I don't think she jumped into the pool earlier. She soaked up the sun. The scent of her coconut suntan lotion drifts about the room.
While she's pointing to the area underneath the coffee table, I'm zipping the vacuum around the beige carpet, dodging furniture. I'm trying to ignore her. I don't want to scan her because when I do, my eyes won't leave her alone. They, like, caress her. I don't even want to listen to her. I'm hoping the vacuum’s drone will swallow her words. No such luck.
"You need to move all the furniture," she says. "That's if you want to do a good job."
I switch off the vacuum. "Why don't you move the furniture for me?"
She crunches a bite from her apple, her pale-pink lips bouncing as she chews. "We're going to be stepsister and stepbrother," she says. "We should get along."
"I’m trying."
"No, you're not. You haven't been nice to me since I got here."
"How about if you help me move the furniture?" Man, if she realized how hot she is, she'd know that I've been avoiding her because I'm afraid to be nice to her. I don't want to get too close.
She cocks her head, drills me with her saucer-like, light-blue eyes, and gives me the once-over.
My heart skips.
"You're cute, dude," she says. "You know that?"
My face heats up.
"All that curly black hair," she says. "A few muscles. I'll bet you're a real ladies' man. Maybe you could teach me a few things."
What would you like to learn? I'm smart enough to ignore that. "You going to help me move the furniture or not?"
"I can do that."
I point at the apple core in her hand. "The garbage pail for that is under the sink."
She bounces off her butt and prances into the kitchen, presumably to dispose of her apple core. She comes back to help, and with her dragging the furniture around—she's strong and doesn't need any help—and me slinging the vacuum back and forth, with finish in no time.
Planting her hands on her hips, Kristi says, "There, that wasn't so bad, was it?"
 "Perfect," I say. I love her full, heart-shaped, pouty lips.
I've kissed a few girls like at parties and in the backseat of a car. Not too long ago, I had a girlfriend for a month. Our breakup is a painful story I don't like to think about, one I still can't believe and don't want to repeat, ever. Giving in to an impulse and hitting on Kristi would turn my life into a disaster. My mom would be so pissed at me she'd probably never talk to me again. If anything really happened, Adam would say I raped his daughter, and then my world as I know it would end.
Still, Kristi's lips are so kissable, like they're begging to be kissed.
I know what! Instead of ditching Kristi this afternoon, maybe I can hook her up with Blake McCoy, my best buddy and doubles partner in tennis. Get her out of my way. Out of my mind. Blake's beyond horny. He'd die to latch onto someone like Kristi Kingsley.
* * *
An hour later, when Kristi and I are finished and sitting at the kitchen table, having a root beer, I ask, "Would you be interested in meeting a friend of mine? A nice guy. A stud. Blake McCoy."
She flips her long blond hair over her shoulder. "Oh please, I've had too much experience with studs who are supposed to be nice. I think my next boyfriend is going to be—I don't know—a nerd." She eyes me with a grin.
I try to ignore her, but heat creeps into my face again. "You play tennis?"
She sips her root beer, then squints at her short, unpainted nails. "Why?"
"I discovered a couple of rackets in cases when I helped you unpack the other day. So I figured you play."
"A little."
"Blake and I are going to practice this afternoon. We're on the high school varsity team and play all summer. Come along. Meet him."
"No, thanks," she says, sitting back in her chair.
"You'll get bored to death, hanging around this house alone."
"You'll be gone. Your mom and Adam are gone. That means I'll have the entire afternoon to myself, and I can swim nude in the pool." She unleashes a coy smile. "I love swimming nude. The feeling of freedom is unbelievable."
My heart picks up a beat. I knock back a swig of root beer, amazed at what she said. Like people swim nude in the pool at my house every day. "Whatever turns you on," I say.
"You ever swim nude?" she asks, her question sounding like an obvious invitation.
I shove my chair back from the table. I don't know how to answer that. I don't want to say no and sound like a total dork. I don't want to lie and say yes, then have to make up a story that proves I'm not lying, so I decide my best bet is to get the hell out of here.
"Got to go," I say. "Have a good swim. Blake's waiting."
"You chicken?" she says.
"I'm cock of the walk," I say without thinking, then flinch, wondering what kind of image that creates in Kristi's evil little mind. I don’t want her to think I'm hitting on her. "So long."
While I take deep breaths and flee the kitchen, an astounding thought blasts into my brain, my best plan of the day. Kristi will be swimming all afternoon and probably lying around on the deck. With Blake's help, I think I can sneak into her room, dig around in her stuff, and maybe find out what the hell makes this blond California chick tick.

For other Jon Ripslinger contemporary YA novels with an impact visit: