Spotlight on Ask Me Anything (Molly E Lee), Excerpt, Plus Giveaway!
Today we're excited to spotlight Ask Me Anything by Molly E Lee.
Read on for more about Molly and her book, an excerpt, plus an giveaway!
Meet Molly E Lee!
Molly E. Lee is an author best known for her romance novels: the Grad Night series and the Love on the Edge series. She is a 1001 Dark Nights Discovery Author for 2017. Molly writes adult and young adult contemporary featuring strong female heroines who are unafraid to challenge their male counterparts yet still vulnerable enough to have love sneak up on them. In addition to being a military spouse and mother of two + one stubborn English bulldog, Molly loves hiking, enjoying the outdoors around her mountain home, and digging for treasures in antique stores. Visit her online at https://www.mollyelee.com.
Meet Ask Me Anything!
I should’ve kept my mouth shut.
But Wilmont Academy’s been living in the Dark Ages when it comes to sex ed, and someone had to take matters into her own hands. Well, I’m a kick-ass coder, so I created a totally anonymous, totally untraceable blog where teens can come to get real, honest, nothing-is-off-limits sex advice.
And holy hell, the site went viral—and we’re talking way beyond Wilmont—overnight. Who knew this town was so hard up?
Except now the school administration is trying to shut me down, and they’ve forced Dean—my coding crush, aka the hottest guy in school—to try to uncover who I am. If he discovers my secret, I’ll lose him forever. And thousands of teens who need real advice won’t have anyone to turn to.
Ask me anything…except how to make things right.
~ Excerpt ~
ASK ME ANYTHING by Molly E. Lee excerpt for YABC
NightLocker: Please talk to me
NightLocker: Let me explain
NightLocker: Pixie...I’m sorry
NightLocker: There are things you don’t understand
tucked my fingers under my arms, ignoring the tingle to respond immediately.
Damn straight I don’t understand.
Betrayal stung like a paper cut while opening a package of lemonade mix.
My heart hurt. Like, I’d been burned before…but this? This physically turned my stomach and seared my chest.
This was true heartbreak.
This was can’t sleep, can’t eat unless it’s chocolate, can’t breathe without sharp spikes rattling my lungs, relentless heartbreak.
NightLocker: Give me a chance
NightLocker: I can make this right
NightLocker: I want to...
NightLocker: I need you...DC remember? Doesn’t that mean anything to you anymore?
Tears stung my eyes as I read his pleas. His use of our secret word, a code that had become something so much more than a warning. Something as vital as breathing and as true as the ache in my heart.
Some deep part of me, the one he’d branded his name on, wanted to forgive him. Needed to.
Because who was I to judge…after what I’d done?
I should forgive him. I should tell him the truth about what I knew.
But what was the point? Once he uncovered it…once he learned what I’d really done…
He’d hate me.
I reached for the keyboard, the motion almost painful.
NightLocker: I need you...DC remember? Doesn’t that mean anything anymore?
PixieBurn: everything & nothing
NightLocker: What does that even mean?
I paused my response, choking back a sob.
It didn’t matter. He’d find out soon enough.
Might as well endure the break now.
I just wished like hell it didn’t have to hurt so damn much.
PixieBurn: It means
PixieBurn: Hack my gear like this again
PixieBurn: for a chat
PixieBurn: for help
PixieBurn: for anything
PixieBurn: and I’ll crash your entire system
I hated myself a fraction more with each message sent.
NightLocker: Listen to me
God, did I want to. I wanted him to not be breaking into my system, showing up on my screen…I wanted him here. Telling me we could find our way back to common ground or, hell, hit the reset button and start fresh. Erase every dark piece of our past.
But this was real life.
And it was heavy and hard and harsh.
PixieBurn: goodbye, Dean
I logged off and shut my gear down. He couldn’t find me if I wasn’t online.
Unless he shows up at my door…again.
My heart skipped at the thought—it was betraying me as much as he had.
I’d barely survived his friendship, his light.
I certainly wouldn’t survive his hate, his disappointment, the way he’d judge me when he knew…
Six months earlier…
nd then I actually got the condom out of the wrapper,” Hannah whispered as we walked toward the largest seminar room in Wilmont Academy. “But I wasn’t expecting it to be…slimy”—a shudder rippled her long blond hair—“so I freaked. And that freak-out resulted in me kneeing his junk.” She clenched her eyes shut, rubbing her palms over her face. “It was a disaster. Jake is probably going to dump me.”
“No, he isn’t,” I said, resting my hand on her shoulder. We stopped outside the lecture room doors as the rest of the school filed in. “You’ve been together, what? Eight years?” I asked, totally blanking on the actual mileage of their relationship.
“Ten,” she said, sighing. “It was the second grade when he asked to trade sandwiches—”
“And you’ve been in love ever since,” I finished for her.
I’d heard the classic tale of love at first sight over a hundred times. Hannah and Jake were the perfect couple—they challenged each other, supported each other, and, well, they loved each other.
“In all that time,” I said, lowering my voice to ensure we weren’t overheard, “you never once put it on for him?” I wished I could ask the question without blushing, but no matter how hard I tried, it was useless. Hannah was my best friend. I knew all about her sex life with Jake, but I had little experience myself. Whenever we talked about it, I felt like zero help.
She shook her head. “He always does it.”
“Why try to switch it up?”
“Because,” she said, shrugging, “I was, like, trying to be adventurous. I don’t know. It was a total, horrid fail.” She glanced toward the seminar room and lowered her voice to barely a whisper. “You think Ms. Conner will cover the art of rolling a condom onto your boyfriend’s dick in the ‘sexual awareness’ assembly today?” Hannah put the words in perfectly timed air quotes.
A laugh ripped from my lips, and soon she giggled with me. The tension broke for a moment before reality crashed it hard. “No,” I said. “She won’t.”
Every year on the first week of school, the students of Wilmont Academy were ushered into seminar room #3 for an education on the dangers of being sexually active. Wilmont might be the last non-religious school on the planet still operating under the abstinence only policy.
Ms. Conner and Principal Tanner had to know more than half the juniors and seniors, and, hell, some underclassmen, were having sex. They couldn’t be that blind. But they treated the topic like a plague warning—if you have sex while in high school you will either suffer from diseases or get pregnant. Not once had they ever talked about where to get birth control or how to handle a pregnancy scare. It was ridiculous and totally not helpful to those seeking advice on how to be safe and healthy. Like Hannah.
“This is such a waste of time,” I whispered. “If they’re not actually going to teach us anything about healthy sex, then they could at least use this time to talk about more important things.”
“Like what?” Hannah asked, looking happy to delay entering the room for as long as possible.
I shrugged. “Maybe a lecture on sexual harassment? Or voting awareness—some of us are actually old enough to vote now. Or the double standards between boys and girls in this school?”
“Whoa,” Hannah said, her eyebrows climbing high on her forehead. “Someone ate her feminist Wheaties this morning.”
I chuckled, waving her off. “I’m just saying those things would—might—have more of an impact than this.” I jerked my head toward the door. “Everyone tunes this out because barely anyone in school actually believes in abstinence.”
“Ugh,” she groaned, pushing off the wall and turning into the room.
Our chat had forced us to the back of the long line of students piling in, and that meant the only available seats were front row and, miserably, center. We both swallowed our groans as we sank into the practically spotlighted chairs.
Hannah leaned close to me while Ms. Conner shuffled her note cards behind the podium on the stage not three feet from us. “Cosmo makes me feel like I’m in way over my head,” she whispered into my ear. “My mom would have a legit aneurism if I tried to broach the subject with her. You’re the only sister I have…” She winked at me. “And I tried typing it into Google—”
“Omigod, you didn’t.” I clamped my hands over my mouth.
“Totally did. Totally regret it.” Another shudder shook her body. “Blech,” she said, sticking out her tongue. “Don’t ever Google anything with…” She huffed. “Just don’t Google. It’s dangerous.”
We laughed until the sound of the doors sealing shut rang out like a prison sentence. The lights dimmed enough to illuminate the giant screen behind Ms. Conner, who clung to the note cards like a lifeline.
Principal Tanner stood at attention in the front right corner of the room, just to the side of the screen. His arms were crossed tightly over his chest, but the navy suit he wore wouldn’t dare wrinkle. Not only was he the stiffest, strictest human being I’d ever met, but so was his wardrobe. It was no wonder he’d forced me and my fellow classmates into a suffocating uniform that sucked creativity and individuality from everyone who wore it. No use trying to be yourself at Wilmont—not when Principal Tanner was dead set on pumping out legions of worker drones.
I shifted in my seat, itching to pull out my laptop and play with a tricky set of code that had been giving me a headache since this morning. The security measures around the site were a real jerk, but I’d crack it eventually. Though, I’d be just as willing to start Googling, as Hannah had warned me not to do, if it meant I wouldn’t have to pay attention to this.
One more look at Principal Tanner shot down that blissful idea. I didn’t need to give him another reason to hate me. He barely tolerated my presence with my pixie-cut dark hair—the left side streaked with a few strands of light pink.
Also, my mom was an erotica author.
I got away with the hair because it was technically within the school’s guidelines of not being distracting enough to draw away from academics. The erotica author mom was easier to get away with because she donated boatloads of cash to extracurricular activities in need. Tanner would be selfish to question her motives because her profession “disgusts me”—as he’d once boldly told me when I’d been caught chatting with my ex over Messenger instead of working on actual class work during computer science last year.
I crossed one leg over the other, satisfied that underneath the horribly thick black pants I wore as required by “school policy,” I could feel the warmth of my purple-and-pink-striped socks. They were enough to earn me detention, but he’d never see them.
Ms. Conner paced around the podium situated on the stage, the massive white projector screen behind her. She had to be the sweetest, gentlest, and clearly the most uncomfortable one in the room. Her pale pink sweater hugged her tiny shoulders, the light blue blouse she wore underneath tightly tucked into a floor-length black skirt. Tanner hand-selected our school nurse to run this assembly every year, even though she fumbled over her words whenever the discussion even came close to sex. Which it rarely did at Wilmont.
“What about someone else?” I finally whispered back at Hannah.
“What, like a teacher?” she scoffed, her blue eyes narrowing on Ms. Conner.
“Or, I don’t know,” I said, glancing to the right, where the most popular seniors sat. Girls like Sabrina and Morgan. The ones with shiny hair and perfectly polished nails. The ones who always looked like they walked off the pages of Teen Vogue. “Them?” It wasn’t a secret that Sabrina and Morgan’s clique knew their way around guys…and girls…or sometimes both at the same time, if the rumors were to be believed.
Brandon included. Not that I cared where my ex-boyfriend had wound up.
“You’re joking, right?”
“I’m trying to help.”
“I know,” she said. “But seriously? If I approached them it would be all over school in, like, two seconds.”
“So?” I said. “Everyone knows you and Jake have been together forever. Who cares?”
“I know that,” she answered. “But I would rather the entire school not know I’m a complete loser when it comes to this kind of stuff. Just because we’ve done it multiple times doesn’t mean I’m confident I know what I’m doing.”
My cheeks heated again. “If you’re a loser, that makes me a social reject.”
“You know I didn’t mean it like that.” She wrapped her arm around my shoulders.
“It’s fine.” I shrugged. “Look, I’m not dying to hand out my V-card, but I hate that I’m totally useless to you right now. You should be able to talk to someone about this stuff and not feel like you’re breaking the damn law.”
She giggled. “It always feels like that.”
“Well,” she said, lowering her voice even more despite the chatter in the room. “It may not be that way anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
Hannah glanced around to make sure no one was listening. “You know my mom’s on the review board, right? The one Tanner answers to?”
“I overheard her talking to Dad last night. More like venting. She was going on and on about the start-of-year meeting. How Tanner had dug his heels in when some other board members suggested a more progressive change to the school rules.”
“Nope. Looks like a lot of people think this approach is outdated. But he swore up and down that this has been the way Wilmont has done things for decades. Brought up his grandfather and his father who were principals before him.” She rolled her eyes. “Claimed that his approach equated to better standard test scores and more Ivy League college acceptances.”
“Wow.” I was stunned that anyone would try to go up against Tanner. Stunned and awed. It was about time someone pushed for change at this school.
Sure, Wilmont had the best academics program in the state—the sole reason my parents, and many others, tolerated the school’s more archaic rules—but I thought it was more detrimental than helpful. Trying to keep my friends and me ignorant on sexual health was ridiculous.
“I know,” Hannah said, drawing me to the present. “Mom said they gave him a year to prove it—she didn’t mention how—but if we thought he was strict before, I can’t imagine what he’ll be like now that his job is on the line.”
I chewed on my lip, gazing behind Ms. Conner.
Dean Winters sat at the desk to her left, clicking away on the keyboard, his blue-gray eyes flitting over the monitor screen. He was dubbed Wilmont’s resident genius hacker—mostly because his older brother, Sean, had made a name for himself here before graduating two years ago—but I wasn’t far behind Dean’s skill level.
We’d made a game of topping each other in our coding class, but he had this laid-back calm about him that always combated my can’t-sit-still-for-one-second persona that drove me nuts. I was certain Dean didn’t need any advice on the stuff Hannah and I were talking about. He was wicked gorgeous, and though he likely could have his pick of any girl at Wilmont, he flew solo on the reg.
I understood that. The hacker lifestyle—late nights lost between codes and crossing boundaries that begged for it—was hard to understand if you weren’t also into it.
Brandon had complained on a daily basis about the amount of time I spent with my gear.
Dean pushed some stray sandy-blond hair off his forehead, his eyes sharp on the computer screen. No doubt booting up the presentation that Principal Tanner created himself every year—slides and videos with facts on how sex was as dangerous as drinking and driving. I don’t know why he had to enlist Dean to get the presentation up; it wasn’t any more technical than pressing play, but then again, Tanner loved a power trip.
“I still think you should give it to him.” Hannah nudged me, and I tore my gaze from Dean.
“What?” I blinked at her, and she laughed again.
I gaped at her, my mouth opening and closing several times. “Stop it,” I finally managed. She’d brought it up more than once since Brandon and I broke up. “If I didn’t give it to Brandon—”
“Come on,” she said. “Brandon was an absolute dick. And you broke up two months ago. Dean would be perfect for you.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Really?” she asked. “I think it’s time you admitted it. It makes total sense. He’s a hacker, you’re a hacker—”
“That is horrible logic,” I cut her off. “That’s like saying you play basketball, he plays basketball…”
“Ugh,” she said. “That is so not the same thing. And you know I meant more—”
“I’m happy with the way things are.”
And I was. I’d dated Brandon for a year too long. I wasn’t ready to dive into a relationship again.
“You’ve been friends with Dean almost as long as you have with me,” she said, like that explained everything.
“Right, but it’s not like we’re out of school friends. We only hang in the coding room or random times at lunch.” I sighed.
“He gave you his cell number a year ago.”
“Yeah, to swap tech or stories.” I rolled my eyes. “It’s not like he told me to call him for fun.”
And why would he? He was Dean effin’ Winters. A hot hacker-boy-after-my-own-heart genius. In a snap, he could have Sabrina, the most beautiful, popular, and hard-to-get girl in school, turn to putty in his hands. Besides, we may have been friends in class, but my dating Brandon had always made me see Dean as a non-datable entity.
“Right,” she said. “And he just happens to bring you venti iced green teas to coding class…for what? Professional hacker courtesy?”
“Exactly,” I said. He’d brought me my favorite late-night fuel on four different occasions, but I tried not to read into it. He was a decent guy. A good friend. A gorgeous, mysterious, funny, perceptive, way-out-of-my-league friend.
My eyes drifted back to him. His fingers flew fast and confident over the keys. What would it be like to cross that line with him? To feel those fantastic fingers in my hair as we kissed…
I bet he tastes like that spearmint gum he’s always popping. I bet his lips are warm and—
“You can have herpes without even knowing you have it.” Ms. Conner’s voice was higher than a mouse’s, but it soared easily enough through the domed lecture hall, dousing my thoughts with a giant bucket of ice water.
The room instantly fell silent, and she pointed behind her without bothering to look. Dean ducked his head and clicked a few keys. The projector lit up with the first slide.
HERPES: Do you have it? One in four sexually active teens does.
I cringed at the picture that accompanied the headline. I understood her need to shock the room into attention—especially with the school year just starting, none of us actually wanted to be here—but the pictures were a little much. I glanced around the room, and it was clear she’d scarred half the audience while the other was ignoring her scare tactics by discreetly checking their cells.
Sinking back into the chair, I demanded the blueberry scone I’d had for breakfast to sit tight. A hard feat as slide after slide of the diseases that can occur with unprotected sex flashed across the screen. Not that Ms. Conner or Principal Tanner’s presentation taught us about protected sex.
“It’s not just intercourse, either,” Ms. Conner continued after the fifth slide on HPV popped up. “Most of these diseases can be contracted from oral sex as well.” She let out a deep breath, her arms behind her back. “The safest way to protect against this stuff?” she asked, scanning the faces that still paid her any attention.
I thought about raising my hand, but I didn’t want to steal her thunder. Especially if she was about to finally show a slide worth something—like how to get and properly use birth control.
“Condoms,” Chase, from the JV soccer team, mumbled from the center of the room. His buddies chuckled around him.
“No.” Ms. Conner fiddled with her note cards, her cheeks flushing. “The only surefire way to keep yourself healthy is to not have sex. That’s why here at Wilmont Academy we practice and preach abstinence.”
A few students groaned, and I rolled my eyes.
Sure, I wasn’t having sex, but almost all my friends were. And it didn’t mean that I wouldn’t do it someday if the perfect opportunity presented itself. Ms. Conner and the principal telling us not to have sex was about as helpful as saying don’t speed, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t swear, don’t, don’t, don’t.
It didn’t matter that not everyone chose to do every item on the don’t list. There were people who did.
“Whoa,” Hannah said, gripping my elbow. “Are you all right?”
“What?” I whispered.
“You’re all red and glaring.”
I relaxed my tense muscles as Ms. Conner motioned for the next slide. Another wave of Dean’s magic fingers, and it came up.
“It’s just so dumb, you know? Acting like this will make everyone stop having sex.”
“Here are some proven ways to enjoy your partner while maintaining an abstinent lifestyle,” Ms. Conner said. She pointed at the slide behind her that had a picture of a couple holding hands. “Hand-holding can be a very emotionally connecting and satisfying experience.”
A few more barely contained laughs and groans came from the mass of students in the rows behind us, and Ms. Conner cleared her throat. I almost felt bad for her. This ridiculous presentation wasn’t hers; it was Tanner’s. She was simply the one forced to present it.
“This”—she glanced at Dean—“is a video Principal Tanner has put together to show more examples of safe ways to enjoy your partner. Like hugging and high-fiving.”
Dean clicked another button, and a video popped up on the screen.
Abstinence: The Wilmont Way and How to Uphold It displayed in thick white letters, and a classic Bach song played in the background. Then the video faded to black, and the music instantly transitioned to a bow-chica-wow-wow tune straight out of every cheesy romantic movie ever.
A couple appeared on the screen—two vampires from a popular show. My jaw practically came unhinged as I watched the sexy af male vamp throw the blond against a wall. She hooked her legs around his hips while he kissed the breath out of her.
A startled gasp rolled through the audience like a tidal wave—myself included—as we watched a compilation of the hottest make-out scenes from every hit show currently on television.
One blink and the scene transitioned to a new couple kissing and sighing while a steamy shower soaked the little clothes they had on.
Another flash—sighs and kisses and moans.
Over. And. Over.
Ms. Conner dropped her note cards. Principal Tanner nearly slipped on them as he hurried over to Dean, the purple vein in his forehead damn near ready to pop. The fury rolling off him was enough to shake Dean out of his shock, and he quickly axed the video, the screen returning to white.
Dean held up his hands like Tanner had come at him with a loaded gun. “All I did was hit play on the video you had on here,” he said, his voice barely audible over the laughter and chatter rippling through the crowd.
And that much had to be true. Principal Tanner would’ve already had the video on his personal computer he’d given Dean to hook up to the projector. Dean was good, one of the best, but there was no way he could’ve switched out the videos that fast. Someone must have broken into the principal’s computer before the assembly. Which technically could’ve been Dean, but I highly doubted it. He was smarter than that. If he wanted to prank the principal, he’d do it without a trace.
Principal Tanner smoothed down his unwrinkled suit and faced us. The look was enough to suck all the sound from the room. “That was unacceptable.” He shook his head. “Be certain the responsible party will be punished.”
My stomach sank. With Tanner on his new personal warpath, I pitied whoever had decided to pull the prank.
Ask Me Anything
By: Molly E Lee
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: May 7th, 2018
Four winners will each receive a copy of Ask Me Anything (Molly E Lee) ~ (US Only)
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