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Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Help or go to jail - Defenseless (Diamond Girls #3) by Elisa Dane

"This series, I can't even begin to tell you how much I have loved every page. It really makes you think about the stereotypes that we label people with before actually knowing them as a person. [...] This story has everything you would want in the main characters; a kindhearted girl on the outside, but a strong willed athlete driven by her passions, and a bad boy with an attitude, but so caring and devoted when you peel the layers back." - Goodreads
Description:

High school senior, Claire Reilly’s world revolves around All-Star cheerleading. The Diamond Girls, are gearing up for a major competition, which, if they win will allow them to compete at Worlds for the first time. But the unimaginable happens, and both Claire and her team are rocked by a devastating loss. Determined to get to Worlds any way she can, Claire finds help from the last person she imagined would give it—up and coming UFC fighter and notorious bad boy, Ryker Vaughn.

Fouled out of the octagon by a dirty opponent and a vicious kick to the head, Ryker loses control when he learns he may never fight again. Angry over the loss of his mother, an unsupportive family, and the world in general, he gives up, gives in, and unleashes his rage—destroying part of his cousin’s cheer gym in the process. Things go from bad to worse when Ryker is given an ultimatum: help the Diamond Girls compete for a bid to Worlds, or go to jail.

Overwhelmed with anger, sadness, and grief, the unlikely pair learn that what you see is not always what you get, and that the most difficult losses sometimes open the door to a frightening, yet amazing new future.

EXCERPT


The full moon rode high in the sky, providing just enough light for me to see where I was driving. Bodie Scott—Nev's boyfriend—lived on a large horse ranch on the outskirts of Indigo Falls. Nestled against the outlying hills, his large country-style home was as welcoming as it was posh. Bodie and Nev had been together for about a year now, and the gang regularly hung out at his place on the weekends for the simple fact that he had the most space.

Bodie was a year ahead of me, Nev, and the rest of the girls, and currently attended the local junior college. The anger and despair that once clung to him after the devastating loss of his sister and best friend had dissipated after he and Nev got together, and it seemed like every day he grew more open and accepting of people. He'd made fast friends with a college classmate named Andrew—who Erin was currently dating—and he'd hit it off with Livvie's boyfriend, Reid, right away.

The guys were all excited to watch the big fight tonight. I liked sports as much as anyone, but as far as UFC, MMA, or boxing went, I just didn't see the appeal. Two opponents beating one another to a pulp didn't seem very sporting. In truth, I felt it was downright barbaric. That being said, the fight gave us all an excuse to hang out, and spending time with my friends was every bit as important to me as cheer.

It also didn't hurt that Bodie and Andrew had invited two guys from their weight-lifting class to hang with us. I'd been going through a dry spell as of late when it came to guys, and was hoping to remedy my bad luck tonight. Casual dating no longer held its appeal, and I was looking for more than a random hookup with a hot guy. I wanted what Nev and Bodie had, what Livvie and Reid had: unconditional love. The whole thing sounded corny and clich├ęd when I said it out loud, but the simple truth was: I was lonely and wanting to connect with someone on a deeper level.

****

I was exhausted by the time 7 p.m. rolled around, but it was a good tired. My muscles felt warm and pliable, the tension that had bunched them into knots over the past few days easing up the more I moved around the gym. The ache in my middle refused to go away, reminding me I'd yet to eat anything of substance. The thought of food made me sick to my stomach.

Coach Shea, who'd been visibly missing from Onyx's practice, strode into the room, followed by a slender blond woman I'd never seen before. I'd been with X-Factor since the gym opened and I knew Tayla was the first athlete our cheer home had ever lost. I'd never wish bad feelings on anyone, but I took comfort in the knowledge that Coach was as upset over Tayla as the rest of us.

I fell in alongside Nev and the rest of the Diamond Girls as they gathered at the front of the mat.

Coach Shea pulled up a nearby stool and slung one leg over it, half resting, half standing as she addressed the team. "I know how hard it must have been for you all to come to practice tonight." Her gaze fell on me for half a second, after which she focused on the team as a whole.

"This is Ms. Emmaline Slater. She's a sport psychologist and a good friend of mine. I felt it was important to have someone here in the event any of you needed to talk. We lost a sister this past weekend. Tayla wasn't just part of our cheer family. She was family. Period. And the loss we're all feeling right now is tremendous."

I felt callous, like a horrible person, but the moment my teammates began sniffling and crying, I shut down. Blocked out Coach's words and the familiar sounds of grief ringing out around me. The cliff I stood on was too steep. If I stepped forward, if I tumbled over the edge and allowed myself to give into the grief threatening to pull me under, I'd never stop falling. If my teammates wanted to talk to Ms. Slater, that was fine with me. I wanted nothing to do with her.

Coach Shea gestured toward the tall blond. "Emmaline will be hanging out in the pro shop if any of you need help coping with what happened."

The woman cast us all a warm smile, a few of the girls following after her as she left the room.

I swallowed back the lump in my throat and steeled myself against the flood of emotions brewing deep inside. Breaking apart was not an option. Not with Cheer America coming up. Tayla's commitment to the team was fierce and she'd wanted us to win the bid to Worlds. She was my sister, my family. I would do all I could to ensure we fulfilled her wish. The Diamond Girls would earn the bid to Florida, and we'd do it in Tayla's name.

"What?" The strain in Nev's voice yanked me out of my bubble.

"No!"

"There has to be something we can do."

Several quiet gasps carried across the mat, the mood amongst the team having quickly changed from somber and sad to shocked and disappointed.

Coach Shea held up her hands, at which point the talking ceased. She shook her head once, weariness tugging at her shoulders. "I know it's a tough pill to swallow, especially after losing Tayla, but at this point, I don't see a solution. There isn't anyone in the gym that is qualified to move up and fill Tayla's spot, and I don't know of anyone outside the gym who possesses the skills or desire to step in. I'm sorry, girls, but we won't be able to compete for the bid to Worlds. We're out of the running this season."

Something inside me snapped. No. No. No. "No!" My body revolted, my lungs burning for air, but refusing to take it in. Anger shattered the numbness I fought to shroud myself in, my hands balling into fists as I glared at Coach Shea. I jabbed my arm out, pointing toward the rest of the girls. "Tayla worked twice as hard as everyone else in this gym. She worked herself into the ground learning her skills. Bled for her spot on this team. Making it to Worlds was her dream. It has to happen. We have to compete for the bid. We have to win. For her."

A myriad of voices drowned out the silence as the girls all shouted in agreement over one another, begging for Coach Shea to reconsider.

"Girls." Coach Shea slid off the stool and held up her hands. "Girls!" Once everyone had settled down, she continued. "Trust me when I tell you, I want us to compete as badly as you do. I just don't see how it's possible. I've exhausted all my efforts looking for someone who can compete at your level." She sucked in a deep breath and sighed before shaking her head. "If you know of someone I may have overlooked, please … tell me."

About the author:
I'm a lover of books (YA & Adult romance), chocolate, reality television, and am a proud mother to three All Star cheerleaders. Woot!

I write Contemporary YA romance with cheerleaders. Yep. I write what I know, and it's my hope that my stories will not only take you on a romantic journey that will warm your heart, but that you'll find a new respect and interest in the sport of Cheerleading you may not have had before.

Website ** Goodreads ** Twitter ** Facebook
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5 comments:

karin said...

this series looks amazing!

Natalie said...

What was your inspiration for writing this series?

Anonymous said...

this looks awesome!

gemiinii said...

Love the cover

Wendy Hutton said...

sounds like a great read