Monday, March 25, 2013

The Avery Shaw Experiment Sneak Peek!

I know, lots of stuff today! Yay! (Since I've been neglecting my blog lately and all...) Anyway, here is the prologue and first chapter to my upcoming contemporary romantic comedy The Avery Shaw Experiment! This one is coming out in May, so keep your eyes open for it! Woohoo!



The following journal is a scientific study on the process of overcoming heartbreak, and is my official entry for the 2013 Utah State Science Fair.

My theory is that having your heart broken is very similar to experiencing the death of a loved one. Therefore, it stands to reason that by using the commonly accepted seven stages of grief (shock/disbelief, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, and acceptance/hope) one can overcome the devastating effects of a broken heart.

In this experiment I will prove my theory by taking you through the seven stages of grief as applied to my own severely damaged heart. I hypothesize that once I have experienced all seven of these steps I will have cured my heart of all cracks and tears and will be otherwise ready to fall in love again.

As I, Avery Shaw—average sixteen-year-old junior in Spanish Fork Utah—am obviously not impartial on this topic, and will not always be able to make unbiased observations, I have recruited the help of fellow Spanish Fork High student Grayson Kennedy to be an objective outside observer throughout this study. Unlike me, the eighteen-year-old basketball star and womanizing socialite has absolutely no personal interest in the outcome of this experiment. (He’s in it for the extra credit.)

We call this project The Avery Shaw Experiment.

Chapter 1 – Shock and Disbelief


To really grasp the full extent of the shock I experienced when Aiden Kennedy broke my heart, you need to understand the unusual circumstances of our relationship up until that point.

Aiden and I had known each other since birth. Our mothers met in a prenatal yoga class and became instant best friends, bonding over the same due date and a mutual tendency to throw up during class.

 Aiden and I were born on the same cold winter day, February 11, 1997. As babies we went to all the same play dates and mommy-and-me groups. When we got a little older it became the same preschool and then the same elementary school, middle school, and high school. We have all the same friends, participate in all the same extra curricular activities, and have even celebrated every single one of our birthdays together.

I’d been desperately in love with Aiden for years, but despite my secret undying devotion we’d never been anything but the very best of friends. Knowing boys are slower to develop in the romance department, I waited patiently for Aiden to catch up to my feelings. I never had any doubt that he would one day see me for the girl I am and give me my first kiss. Then we would go to Prom together and eventually end up as Mr. and Mrs. Aiden and Avery Kennedy. Even our names fit perfectly together.

Aiden dropped the bomb that changed my life this past New Year’s Eve. My mom and I had gone—as we did every year—with the Kennedy family up to their insanely nice condo in Park City for winter break. It was nearing dinnertime and Aiden and I were watching this fascinating documentary about the effects of steroid use on the human body.

“Where in the world is your brother?” Aiden’s mom Cheryl stood in the kitchen, frowning at the pile of dishes in the sink.

Grayson Kennedy is not my brother, technically, but I didn’t think twice before answering his mom’s question. “He went downstairs to the gym about an hour ago.”

“Shirtless,” Aiden added with a snort. “I guess the new tenants down in 7 B have a good looking daughter. What was the term he used?”

“Whooty.” I laughed.

“Whooty?” Cheryl echoed.

“It was a new one for us too. We had to look it up.”

Aiden happily recited the definition we’d read on “ ‘A white girl who has a pretty face, a nice slim waist, and a voluptuously large, bountiful, beautiful booty’.”

Cheryl let out a long exasperated, sigh, yet there was a hint of amusement in her voice when she said, “Where does he come up with that stuff?”

As if he’d felt his ears burning, Grayson burst through the front door and answered his mom’s question. “Some people just have a gift.” He trounced into the kitchen—still shirtless and now drenched in sweat—scooped his mom up into a big hug and plastered a sloppy kiss in her cheek. “Love you Mom! What’s for dinner? I’m starving.”

“Gross!” Cheryl shrieked and slapped him away. “That is disgusting, Grayson! I know I’ve taught you better manners than that!”

Grayson frowned. “Since when is hugging your mom and telling her you love her bad manners?”

Cheryl sighed again, but cracked a smile. She shoved a chocolate chip cookie into her oldest son’s mouth after seeing the pout on his face.

Some people have gifts all right. Grayson Kennedy could charm the pants off of any girl he met, and frequently did if the rumors around school are to be believed. Which they are.

 “I love you too honey,” Cheryl said, “but you stink. Go shower please, and then get in here and do these dishes.”

“The dishes?” Grayson whined, heading for the fridge.

Thankfully Cheryl intercepted the milk and handed Grayson a glass before he could slobber all over the carton. “Yes. The dishes. It was your turn to do them after lunch. If they’re not done before dinner then you will be in charge of all the dinner dishes as well, and Avery will be off the hook tonight.”

“Sweet,” I called over my shoulder from the living room. “By all means, Grayson, put it off a little longer.”

Grayson finally noticed Aiden and I on the couch. “What are you two dorks doing?”

“Learning about steroids,” I said cheerfully. “You should probably know that using them can cause acne, testicular atrophy, decreased sperm count, prostate enlargement and gynecomastia.”

 Grayson looked rightfully appalled. “Gyneco-what-ia?”

“Enlarged breasts in men,” Aiden translated. “So you should lay off the juice before you have to start borrowing Avery’s bras.”

I gasped at the mention of my underwear and whacked Aiden’s shoulder hard.

Behind me, Grayson laughed. I knew he was about to deliver a comeback, but I refused to look at him. Seconds later his breath was warm on my neck. He whispered just low enough that his mother couldn’t hear what he said. “I like my bras colorful and lacey, Aves. Not sure your collection would do it for me.”

Total mortification. Grayson may be as close as family to me, but he was still one of the hottest, most popular guys in our whole school. Him discussing my bras in that low sexy voice that could stop a girl’s heart on the spot made my lungs constrict. Plus, he was right of course. My bras were all of the plain white cotton variety.

“Mom! Grayson’s picking on Avery again!”

Aiden’s shout startled me back from my panic attack. Grayson was still watching me, a wicked smile playing on his lips, so I did the only thing I could think to do. I sniffed once and then pretended to gag. “Ugh. Your mom’s right. You really reek. Please go sweat all over someone else.”

Grayson laughed his way back into the kitchen in search of more cookies.

“What is it that makes your brother a walking hormone?” I asked Aiden. “Is it all the physical activity you think? I mean with the working out, the snowboarding and the basketball he’s got to be on an endorphin high like, what, eighty five percent of the time? Do you think there’s a correlation between the two? Like the more active the athlete the bigger the sex-craved maniac?”

Aiden shrugged. “Probably. Think about the reputations of professional athletes.”

“Ha! Maybe that should be the topic of our experiment for science club this year.”

Aiden gave me a weird look. “How, exactly, would you go about testing that theory?”

I thought about the practical application that would be required for an experiment like that and promptly blushed again.

“Fine,” I relented. Though the thought of Aiden and I working up a sweat together only to then go work up another one with a hot make-out session was highly appealing. “But we need to come up with something soon. The fair is in March this year. It doesn’t give us a lot of time.”

Aiden’s entire body suddenly went stiff. I glanced at him just in time to watch his face turn a little green.

“What’s the matter with you?” I wanted to make a joke about him being strung out due to steroids or something, but he looked too freaked to tease. Something was really wrong with him, so I paused the TV, sat up straight and gave him my full attention.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah.” Aiden gulped. “It’s just…I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that.”

“About what?”

He took a big breath and then let it out. “I’m not going to do the science fair this year.”

It took a minute for this news to sink in. We’d been partners at the Utah State Science Fair every year since sixth grade.


“Um… Well… You see… Miles Fuller moved over break so the debate team needs one more person or they won’t be able to compete anymore. Mindy Perez and I had public speaking together last semester. She asked me to fill Miles’s spot. She said I have charisma and a natural talent for persuasion.”

I couldn’t talk for a full sixty seconds. He was speaking English, but I still couldn’t make sense of his words. “You joined the debate team?”

He nodded.

“But they meet at the same time as science club.”

 “I know.” Aiden’s gaze dropped to his lap as if he could no longer stand to look at me. “I quit science club. I already emailed Mr. Walden about it.”

 “You quit?” My voice jumped so many octaves that it broke half way through the word quit. It had the unpleasant affect of making me sound like a mouse. “But you’re my co-president!”

“You’re better with all the science stuff than me anyway.”

“Yeah, but I’m not like, a leader. That’s why the gang voted us both. Together. I need you.”

Aiden winced and then forcefully shook his head. “You don’t.”

“Fine,” I said, even though it felt very, very not fine. “But even if you quit you could still do the science fair with me. Everyone’s already partnered up. I’ll have to do it alone.”

Aiden finally met my eyes. He looked even guiltier now. “I won’t have time. Mindy said debate gets pretty intense. Plus with all the honors courses we have this semester? The science fair is a lot of work.”

“I know! And we’ve already waited until January to get started. I won’t be able to do it by myself. I’ll have to drop out.”

“No, you won’t,” Aiden insisted. “You’re amazing Avery. You’ll find a way. You always do. And hey, without me bringing you down, you’ll probably win first place for once.”

“Shut up! I will not! I will fall apart without you!”

Aiden sighed and took my hand in his. “Aves,” he said slowly. “That’s also sort of why I said yes to Mindy. I think I need a little space for awhile.”

For just a brief moment time stopped, like a heart that skipped a beat. When it started back up, my life had been forever altered.

“Space? What do you mean?” I knew what he meant. I was just praying I was wrong because otherwise he’d just ripped my heart in two and I couldn’t deal. “Are you saying you don’t want to be my friend anymore?”

Aiden quickly shook his head. “Of course not. We’ll always be friends. You know we will. But, Aves, we spend more time together than conjoined twins. I think it would be good for us both to maybe start hanging out with other people sometimes, you know? Like, separately. And…” Another shrug, and painful swallow. “I don’t want to celebrate our birthdays together this year. I kind of want to do my own thing.”

At that last request there was a gasp and the sound of shattering glass in the kitchen. I was grateful for the distraction until I realized that Cheryl was standing there practically comatose, staring at us with a hand over her mouth and tears in her eyes. The gasp had been hers, and the glass of water she’d been holding was now on the ground around her bare feet in as many tiny pieces as my heart was.

“Mom!” Aiden jumped up and started picking up the larger pieces of glass.

I went to get a dishtowel and the broom, but my movements were robotic. My body was on autopilot because my brain was pretty much dead from shock.

I simply couldn’t understand how this had happened. Was the earth suddenly tilted off its axis? Were the boundaries of space and time blurring, causing reality to splinter off into alternate universes? Was Park City, Utah secretly the Devil’s Gate and I’d fallen into hell without knowing it?

I handed Aiden the towel and then swept up the remaining glass, but when I went to dump the dustpan I accidentally ran into a wall of solid, sweaty muscles. “Sorry,” I muttered to Grayson.

He was standing there shifting his eyes between his brother and me, with un-swallowed chocolate chip cookie bits threatening to fall out of his gaping mouth.

“Can you get out of the way? You’re blocking the trashcan.”

This made him jump into action. “Oh, right. Sorry.” He stepped aside and fled the kitchen muttering something about needing to take a shower.

I watched him go because it was easier than facing his brother.

Form behind me, Aiden’s fingers gently grabbed onto mine. “Aves.”

His soft voice made my eyes burn. He tugged lightly on my hand but I couldn’t turn around yet. I was about to cry, and there was no way I wanted him to see that.


After a nice deep breath the burning sensation subsided. I was able to face him and force a smile, but I think my injured pride was the only thing that kept the tears at bay.

“You okay?” Aiden asked.

The answer was a definite no, but I nodded anyway. “Of course. Yeah, sure, I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be? It’s just a science project. Like you said, I’ll manage. As for the other stuff, I get it, and that’s cool. If that’s what you want. I suppose it could be fun to change things up a bit.”

Lie! Complete and utter LIE!

The lie was so big it hurt me all the way to my soul, but what hurt even worse was that Aiden believed it. He let out a breath and then threw his arms around me. His whole body sagged with relief. “I am so glad you understand. I was so scared that you were going to hate me for this and never speak to me again.”

“I could never to that,” I muttered.

His grip tightened gratefully, but he may as well have been reaching inside my chest and squeezing the last of the life out of my heart instead of hugging me.

I pinched my eyes shut. I was going to lose it. The tears weren’t going to stay back forever. I had minutes, maybe seconds left before I fell apart.

“It’s fine,” I insisted again as I pulled out of Aiden’s embrace. “You know I could never hate you.”

Aiden sent me a mega-watt smile. “Thanks Aves.” He kissed my cheek and whispered, “You’re the best.”

I couldn’t speak now without giving myself away so I just nodded.

Cheryl must have recognized the truth of my emotional state because she cleared her throat and asked Aiden if he wouldn’t mind taking the garbage bag with all the broken glass out to the dumpster.

Cheryl threw her arms around me the second he was gone. “Avery I am so sorry! So, so sorry! I don’t understand…” She let her voice trail off. She was every bit as bewildered as I was.

“It’s okay, Cheryl. It’s fine. Really.” I pushed away from her and practically ran out of the room. I only made it to the upstairs hallway before I collapsed to the floor and cried.

A few minutes later the door downstairs slammed. I sucked in a deep breath, knowing I needed to at least make it to my room before Aiden rounded the corner and saw me, but it was my mother’s voice I heard, not Aiden’s.

Her jovial, “Grayson! Avery! Go help Aiden bring up the groceries!” was not repeated like it normally would have been when neither of us responded. Instead, I could hear a few hushed whispers and then one very loud, startled gasp. Cheryl had just spilled the beans to my mother and they were no doubt discussing how destroyed I was.

I scrambled to my feet when I heard my mom say “I’ll go talk to her. Maybe I’ll take her out just the two of us for New Years Eve tonight.”

No way did I want to do that. I loved my mom and all, but I wasn’t ready to face the truth yet. I was in way too much shock. Stage one of the grieving process? Currently underway.

I also didn’t need a special pity party tonight while the Kennedy family pretended like they didn’t know why mom and I ditched them.

In a panic I burst through the first door I could find and backed up against it. I’d been known to have an anxiety attack or two in my time, but I’d never experienced one quite as bad as this. My head was swimming, every part of my body hurt, I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t think straight.

I was so out of it that I’d slipped into the bathroom while Grayson was in the shower and didn’t even notice until he poked his head out from behind the curtain with a surprised look on his face. “Aves, babe, I’m a little busy here.” He cocked an eyebrow and gave me a crooked smile. “Unless you’re planning to join me…?”

Just then there was a loud knock on the door and my mother’s worried voice called out to me. I looked up at Grayson and in a moment of sheer panic didn’t think twice before jumping behind the curtain with him.

“Whoa! Avery! I was only teasing!”

I could hear Grayson, but I couldn’t really respond. I leaned my back against the cold tile wall and closed my eyes, letting the hot water rain down on me.

There was another knock, louder this time, and then the door opened. “Avery? That you in here sweetie?”

I frantically shook my head, praying that Grayson would do the right thing.

“Sorry, Kaitlin. It just me.”

“Oh. Sorry Grayson. I thought maybe you were Avery.”

“Yeah, I get that a lot,” he teased.

My mom laughed and then sighed heavily. “If you see her after your done, tell her I’m looking for her.”

“Will do.”

The door clicked shut and things got quiet. I stood there for so long that my head started to hurt and I got really dizzy. My knees buckled.

Grayson quickly caught me under the arms. “Avery, breathe,” he commanded.

I took a breath. As oxygen flooded my lungs I realized it was probably the first breath I’d taken in minutes. Literally.

“Aves,” a low steady voice said. I felt hands on either side of my face.

I opened my eyes and Grayson’s beautiful piercing blue ones were staring down at me from just inches away, taking up my entire field of vision. “You good now?” he asked.

I may have been breathing, but I would never be “good” again. I flung my arms around him and began to release gut-wrenching sobs into his chest.

I have no idea how long I stayed like that, holding onto Grayson for dear life while I shattered from the inside out. However long it was, Grayson never tried to stop me. He held me close and rocked me beneath the spray of the hot water, all the while whispering encouraging sentiments to me and stroking my hair.

Eventually the anxiety attack faded and I regained control of myself. Of course, that’s when I realized I was standing in the shower clinging to a very naked Grayson Kennedy, and that certain parts of him were not objecting to the situation.

I gasped and tried to wrench myself away from him, but he held me tight and chuckled. “It is what it is Aves. I’m a warm blooded guy standing naked in a shower, holding a girl whose t-shirt is drenched and clinging rather poetically to her surprisingly impressive figure.”

This time when I gasped Grayson let me go. He was still laughing long after I scrambled out of the tub. I didn’t feel bad when I stole his towel, and left him to fend for himself when he was ready to get out.

And there you have it! This one flips back and forth from Avery to Grayson's point of views. I've never done that before and I had a lot of fun telling the story from Grayson's POV! Anyway, hope you're as excited for this book to come out as I am!

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