Things You Can't Take by Erin Lockwood (Excerpt & #Giveaway)

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Things You Can't Take
by Erin Lockwood
YA Contemporary
Paperback & ebook, 304 Pages
January 23rd 2018


How far would you go for your best friend....

Abigail and Kessia shared a childhood bond that couldn't be broken. Challenged, yes—but never broken.

Born into Hollywood lineage, Kessia understood the risks and pressures of celebrity life and willingly dedicated hers to serving and protecting her best friend’s rise to stardom. But when Abigail learns of Kessia’s own behind-the-scenes battles with a predator, her sense of friendship drives her down a path that blurs the lines between loyalty and revenge at all costs.

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We unpack our bags in the City of Light. Kessia hangs up a sundress and finds a note under it. I smile, knowing it’s from my mom, and there’s one for me in my suitcase, too. She grabs the paper and slowly walks to the short balcony overlooking the Eiffel Tower.

Every time we travel, Consuela packs our bags, and my mom slips in a note for us. I push a shawl aside and find mine. We’ve been here for only a few hours, but I’m already feeling homesick. I pick up the handwritten note and walk to the balcony next to Kessia

We’re sixteen, and we’ve been let loose in one of the biggest cities in the world. I know my mom is writing to me to tell me to enjoy myself here, but I have a job to do. I need to focus on that. The only fun thing about working is that Kessia is always with me.

When I finish reading my mom’s note, I lean over the balcony and feel the slightly cooled night air on my face.

“I love how it’s prettier at night,” Kessia says about the Eiffel Tower lit up in front of us. “I think we have three days off in a row, so we should go to Amsterdam!” She widens her eyes, excited about the possibility.

I just smile and shake my head, remembering my mom’s note about having fun. But being irresponsible doesn’t sound like fun to me. “No way.”

Kessia gives me a sarcastic smile. She’s more adventurous. But that’s not a very fair comparison because I’ve always had a lot more responsibility.

“Come on.” She nudges me. “We’re sixteen. Even your mom says we should have a little fun.” Kessia waves her note in the air.

I give her a wry look. “I don’t think Amsterdam is what she had in mind. Fun, yes. But I can’t afford to be reckless.” Kessia nods. I know she understands.

After we unpack, we head downstairs to the lobby, crossing the white stone tiles to a plush brown and red lounge area. Everything is different in this old-world atmosphere—the smells, the flowers, the taste in the air. Even the wood and paint on the walls seem different than what our buildings are made out of in America.

Most of the cast and crew have arrived, and they’re all gathered together, occupying the entire lounge area. We only have one day to acclimate ourselves to the new time zone before shooting starts. Kessia and I go make the rounds, hugging and saying hi to everyone. They’ve always treated her like part of the show’s family. She’s a part of everything I do. “Mason, how was your flight?” I ask him when I can’t think of anything else to say. I’ve known him since the show started, but some time in the last year, I’ve become so nervous around him.

“Can I have your autographs?” a girl asks behind us, holding a notepad and pen. She has an English accent and must be a fan of the show.

I see her parents standing off to the side, waving excitedly for her.

“Of course.” I bend down and say, “Are you here on vacation?”

She nods and can’t stop smiling, looking up at Mason. He joins me, taking the pen from my hand when I’m done.

“Do you want a picture, too?” he asks the little girl.

She squeals and says, “Yes, please.”

We scrunch together with the little girl between us. When Mason’s arm reaches around to pull us closer, he rubs my side. I can’t help but overanalyze his touch. Does he like me? I smile anxiously, but the little girl thinks I’m smiling at her.

She thanks us and walks away. One side of Mason’s face lifts, and for a moment, I wonder if we’re staring into each other’s eyes. He twists around and grabs a brown bottle from one of the lobby’s side tables.

I can feel my forehead cave down on my eyes. “You’re drinking?” I ask cautiously. You’re only nineteen.

He casually places his free hand in his pocket and shrugs. “Yeah, it’s legal here.”

I try not to shake my head at him, disappointed. It’s not legal for your underage fans back in the United States. I look around, knowing that anyone could be watching.

“What’s wrong?” he asks.

I step back. “Nothing. I just forgot to tell Kessia something.” Spinning on my heels, I spot her only a few feet away.

“Hey, Kessia.” I grab her arm and turn her away from Mick, one of the writers. “We should go back to the room,” I say just low enough for her to hear me.

“Why? Everyone is getting in. We slept on the plane; we can’t sleep now.”

I move my hands in a circle in front of me, trying to find the right words. “There’s this thing with our bodies. If we don’t lie down right away when we get to a new country, we’ll get sick.”

Kessia stops and tugs at my arm. “You’re telling me this now? We’ve been out of the country several times before. What’s the real reason you want to leave?”

I take a breath. “It’s Mason. I like him.”

“Duh. Who doesn’t?”

I purse my lips together and swallow. “He’s drinking beer. I can’t be seen near him. What if someone takes a picture and assumes that I’m drinking with him?” What would my fans think?

Kessia leans back on her heels and tilts her head. “Isn’t that a little bit of a stretch?” She reaches down and holds both my hands. “Just because he has a beer doesn’t mean you do. People aren’t stupid.”

“I know. You’re right. I’m overreacting. But remember when I got that henna tattoo? It was in the tabloids the next day.”

“It was fake,” she says with an even tone.

“Yes,” I agree, “but that’s not what the tabloids said.”

“But they were wrong,” she argues further, not taking me seriously. “Come on.” Kessia smiles at me and starts to turn back toward the lobby.

“But”—I stop her—“I still don’t feel like being down here. Let’s just go upstairs and watch a movie. Pete’s going to be here for the shoots, and I really want to be rested, so I do my best work when he’s around. Tammy says he has a big project coming together. He could be considering a spin-off show just for me.”

Kessia tries to smile but looks uneasy.

“That’s good news.” I shake her arm, trying to loosen her up. Why aren’t you happy for me?

“Yes, that’s great.” Her eyes open wide. “Of course. Let’s go upstairs.” She looks sick to her stomach.

It must be the jet lag.

About the Author

Erin Lockwood grew up in Castro Valley, California and attended the University of Oregon, where she graduated in 2003 with a degree in journalism. From there she moved to Denver and spent the next seven years searching for the love of her life and building the family of her dreams.

It wasn’t long until, with children starting preschool and more time on her hands, Erin refocused on her career, beginning with a successful entry into the world of residential real estate as a Realtor. Free time was spent reading book after book (and binge-watching the subsequent films) in the New Adult genre. Feeling hopelessly in love with her husband, she wrote him a short story leading up to their fifth wedding anniversary. That’s when she discovered her tireless passion to share her experience of falling in love through fictional characters. That story evolved into the first novel in the Angles trilogy.

Erin still lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, Phil, and their three children.

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