VBB Exclusive Excerpt: Penny in London by Fisher Amelie

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Exclusive Excerpt: Penny in London by Fisher Amelie

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Penny in London—Fisher Amelie’s newest novel about a girl who finds herself in a situation she never imagined, falling for a boy she never expected to love. The book is coming next week and I’m almost halfway through it and loving it! Full of wit, heartbreak and romance, you won’t want to put it down! Today, I’m thrilled to give you a never-before-seen sneak peek of Penny’s story!

ADD TO GOODREADS ✦

Synopsis

Penny in LondonYou know how everyone says when one door closes another one opens?

At the time, you find this statement obnoxious as all get out because a) you don’t really know what the future holds, it certainly hasn’t been a cakewalk so far, and b) the thought of change is unbearable.

You feel like your life is falling apart and everyone around is feeding you clichés like they’re made out of kale or quinoa or whatever the trend health food is right now. You don’t want kale clichés, you want double-chocolate fudge realisms, and you want them now. You just want things the way they were, but then something happens, a moment, an instant that sets you out on a path toward happiness you never knew could exist, and suddenly you think, huh, I don’t think I want double-chocolate fudge anymore. I think I’m in the mood for this heaping serving of strawberry cheesecake sitting in front of me…with a side of kale. And a pair of split pants, but we won’t get into that right now.

Graham Glenn may have tossed her in, but Oliver Finn made her feel again.

Excerpt

“Right. We have to do that,” Oli said, pointing at the dancers.

I laughed. “Oliver,” I said, holding up my arm cast.

“No worries,” he said, shifting out of his seat and stepping to my side of the booth.

Without preamble, he picked me up, tucking his arms under my knees and back as he always did. Surprised, I let out a little squeal and we both laughed. I wrapped my good hand around his neck and he held me a little tighter than usual. I could only assume the shot had given him a little bit of liquid courage and, goodness help me, I think the same made me let him do it.

Uh-oh.

When we reached the area with the other slow dancers, he let my body slide down his.

“Trust me?” he whispered.

“Of course,” I answered.

He wrapped his arms around my waist and pressed me close. My legs dangled beside his. We smiled at one another, but they dissipated. He swallowed and I followed the line of his throat.

Uh-oh.

“Penelope,” his deep voice grated.

My good arm was folded at the elbow and my hand rested on a broad shoulder. He stared at me, something desperate in the look, and I knew what he was about to do.

“Let’s not do this. Please, let’s not do this,” I begged.

“I have to. I need to,” his pained voice expressed.

“He’s your best friend,” I whispered.

“I know,” he agreed.

“I can’t be that girl.”

“What girl?” he asked, resting his cheek against mine and whispering in my ear. I felt his five o’clock shadow and tried to ignore how it made my heart speed up.

“That girl.”

“You wouldn’t be,” he said.

“I would be, though. Don’t you see?” I asked. I pushed at his shoulder a little and he let me slide down his lean, tall body once more until I gained some footing on my good leg. “I wouldn’t just be the girl who went from one friend to another. I’d also be the next girl. Another notch on Oliver Finn’s bedpost. You’d sleep with me once and grow tired of me just like all the others. I can’t be that girl, Oliver. I’m not that girl. And as much as I like you, respect you in so many other ways.” I swallowed and my eyes burned. “As much as I find you attractive, as much as you seem ideal, as much as I love calling you friend, I won’t be the girl who tumbles around your group. I’m better than that,” I told him.

I broke away from him and limped toward our table. I grabbed my canvas satchel and made my way toward the pub’s exit. I didn’t have a plan. I just needed space, needed air.

Oliver caught up with me, grabbing me by the elbow. “Penelope,” he said, out of breath. “Wait. Please, wait.”

“I think I’ve made a terrible mistake,” I told him.

“No,” he said. “No, you haven’t. You’re right. You are better than that. You’re better than me, better than Graham. If you just stay a moment, let me pay the tab and I’ll get us out of here. We’ll talk or not. Whatever you want.”

I nodded and stayed where I stood while he ran in and paid the tab. A few minutes later we walked silently to his car. He helped me inside and we drove back to his parents’ house. Trying to seem as casual as possible, we both gathered our things and said our goodbyes. Eleanor looked a little panicked, but I tried to appease her by being as warm as possible. I don’t think it fooled her one bit.

We left for London and drove the distance in silence. I hated the change in dynamics, detested it. I felt abandoned all over again. Justified or not, it was how I felt. The loneliness was overpowering.

“We never should have talked of it. If we’d kept silent, we’d be okay,” I told the passenger side window.

“A lie,” he said, cutting me deep. “I’ve been quiet for too long. My only regret is I did it too soon. You weren’t ready to hear what I had to say. You still aren’t, but now it’s too late.”

“I don’t believe in regrets,” I told him.

“You don’t, but you’re going to believe in mine, Pen, because you don’t have a choice.” He turned into his garage and parked, whipping his head my direction. “You were supposed to be mine. From the beginning, you were supposed to be with me,” he said, shocking me.

“After giving in to Graham, you were an immediate regret. I should have never let him near you. I should have fought him tooth and nail for you, stranger or not, and now I am paying for that in unspeakable ways.

“Do you know what it was like to see him hold you, touch you, and kiss you?” His hands went to his hair and he tugged. “It’s fucking torture! Every time I witnessed his hand graze your skin, his lips touch your lips.

Every time he’d run his hand down your hair, hair I’d only dreamt of touching, it was excruciating.

“When the nurse called me that day from the hospital? I had to pull over twice to vomit. I raced through London to get to you. I must have lost five years off my life. I imagined the worst. Seeing you lay there hurt, finding out what Graham had done, I knew I had been the one who’d made the mistake. I knew I should have revealed myself to you that first day, but loyalty won out and what did it get me? Eight months of torment. I waited for you to leave him, waited for you to see what a terrible person Graham was to women, but time went by and you fell in love with him and I watched it happen and it was pure anguish, because as you fell for him, I fell for you.

“I’ve wanted you for so long. And that’s the terrible part, Pen. For you, this is sudden. For you, this is but days. For me, though? For me, it’s been eight months of trying to forget you, trying to move on, trying not to dream, to think, to want you.”

His chest panted from the acknowledgment. He looked at me, expecting something, but I was struck speechless.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked, feeling incensed.

“It wasn’t my place to break you up!”

“You knew what he was and you let me make the mistake!”

“It was not my place!” he yelled.

“You let me fall in love with the wrong guy!”

“You were supposed to see him for what he was. You were never supposed to love him.”

The tears started streaming. “That’s an issue, Oliver, you know why? Because I did fall in love, but it was the version of him he wanted me to love. It’s the most damaging consequence associated with sociopaths. You love the person they want you to love, and then you’re left with the aftermath when they finally decide to show their true colors. You could have spared me that, but your gosh damn loyalty to that snake in the grass overpowered these so-called feelings you hold for me!”

“Are you questioning me?” He looked offended, but I didn’t have time for offended.

Because I was pissed, I didn’t respond. I let my answer hang in the air.

“You think I don’t want you?”

“Look at your patterns, Oliver. You sleep with every girl who will look at you. You claim that you’ve liked me from the beginning but let Graham have me,” I bit out. “I don’t really think you want me, not really. I think you want what you gave up. I think you want the closure, the triumph, the victory. Now I’m expected to believe that your yearning for me is sincere?”

“Bullshit!” he shouted. “That’s bullshit,” he said again, quieter. He grabbed my shoulder and brought me closer to him. “You know it is.” He searched my face for something. “You felt something these past few days. I didn’t imagine the searing chemistry between the two of us. You can lie to yourself, but you can’t lie to me.”

I refused to acknowledge how right his words were. “Answer for yourself, then,” I said instead.

“For what!”

“Have you struggled these last eight months because it’s actually me you want, or was it the missed opportunity for another conquest?”

“I want you,” he said without hesitation. The heated, searing declaration melted me to my seat.

“I-I don’t believe you,” I lied. I did believe him, but I couldn’t let it go. Things had gotten too complicated and I needed an out. Don’t hurt him like that, though.

His shoulders sagged, and I regretted my words immediately. He opened his door and climbed out. He came to my side and helped me from the car but wouldn’t look at me.

“Oli,” I said, hoping to apologize, my head swimming.

“Don’t,” he insisted. “Don’t, Penelope.”

In an instant he went from hot to cold.

“Listen to me,” I told him, hoping to talk further.

“Penelope!” he shouted, his voice echoing off the walls.

I clenched my jaw shut and scrambled up the stairs to the metal door. I waited for him to open it and moved aside when he entered first. He tried to help me over the slight hitch between the door and the floor, but I wouldn’t let him. I headed for my room and closed the door behind me.

I packed all my stuff as quickly as possible and sprinted as fast as my cast would allow toward the garage door and opened it, tossing everything I had down the steps, hobbling after it and booking it toward street level, waiting at the curb for a passing taxi.

“Please, please,” I whispered, praying for one to pass by.

“Penelope!” I heard from the garage.

“Shit,” I whispered toward the street.

“Pen! What are you doing?” Oliver asked.

“Just let me go, Oliver,” I pleaded as a taxi pulled around the corner. I shot my hand out for him and he pulled up beside me.

“You are not fucking leaving right now,” he said, hitting the top of the taxi, signaling for the driver to keep going.

The driver drove away, looking for another rider.

I stuck out my hand again. “What the hell, Oliver?”

“Come back inside,” he asked softly.

I shook my head. “It’s all a little too much to take, for me to take.”

“I understand,” he said, “but let’s not jump the gun here.”

“Graham ripped my heart to shreds.” He nodded. “I’m not healed enough to look at you the way my heart wants me to. And, to be honest, neither are you.” A look of disappointment flashed across his face. “You need to deal with the heartache Brooke caused that still lies at your feet.” He bit his bottom lip and looked away from me. Another taxi pulled next to me and the driver got out to put my bags inside. “I lied before,” I told him. “I know it’s me you want. Know it’s you I want too, but there’s a canyon between us neither of us are ready to vault over. Neither of us would survive it.”

Oliver’s jaw gritted. I reached for it and smoothed my thumb across his cheek. The muscle relaxed and he turned his face into my palm. I pulled him down and placed a firm, trembling kiss on his mouth. Altogether too soon, I forced myself to push away and sat in the taxi. We took off and I refused to look back because that brief brush of our lips did more for me than a thousand passionate kisses from his best friend. If I’d let my eyes meet his, I wouldn’t have left.

And I needed to leave, because Oliver had been right. I had changed for Graham. It was time for me to find myself again and hope I was still there.

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