Book & Author Details:
Whatever It Takes by Lindsey Pogue
(Nothing But Trouble, #1)
Publication date: January 22nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
Four years ago, I thought my life was pretty normal for a teenager. Three years ago, my world was shattered, and now I’m just trying to hold the pieces together. But regret and anger aren’t so easy to ignore.
I just need to catch my breath … for it all to go away …
I thought I might finally be ready to move on from that horrible night, but then he decided to come back.
He can’t come back … he’ll ruin me completely.
One horror-filled night changes the course of Samantha’s seemingly normal life. She’s ruined everything. Despite her determination to keep the family ranch up and running, her guilt makes it impossible to completely move on or forget.
Sam takes comfort in her quirky, endearing friends as she tries to balance between the girl she was and the woman she wants to become. Just when she thinks she’s finally making amends with her past, someone she never thought she’d see again returns, and Sam’s life is once again turned upside down. Both her head and her heart want different things, so she’s lost when, once again, she’s forced to make a decision that will inevitably change her life.
“Hey, Jack,” I say, offering him a half-smile as I step inside.
“Well, I’ll be… If it isn’t little Samantha,” Jack greets me in his old, shaky voice that sounds like he’s been smoking a pack of cigarettes a day all his life. He tips the brim of his cowboy hat. “Fillin’ her up today?”
“Not today,” I say, and I scan the aisles ahead of me, looking for hygiene products or first aid or anything that might guide me in the right direction. Spotting a row of deodorant and medicines, I meander down the aisle. There’s only one small bottle of ibuprofen, and I pick it up to examine.
Turning it in my palm, I balk at the price tag. “Jack, you’re killing me with these prices.” Almost ten dollars for an off brand seems excessive.
Hearing the doorbell jingle once, then twice as other customers step into the store, I decide to make my peace with the price tag and get in line. Just as I turn around, my body rams into a larger, firmer one.
“Shit!” I hiss, nearly stumbling. I catch the bottle I almost drop, then realize the back label is so faded I can barely read it. “Sorry,” I say, turning the bottle upside down.
“My fault,” a deeper voice says as I head up to the counter. I only wave.
“I should’ve known,” I mutter. The bottle expired six months ago, but all I can think about is the food in the sun in the back of the truck, and I just hope Alison doesn’t notice.
“You okay, Samantha?” Jack calls out as I walk up to the counter.
I scowl at him. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
Waiting in line proves to be another test. I’m behind a short, brown-haired little girl holding a soda and two candy bars at the counter. She has a wad of ones and quarters she’s slowly counting out, no doubt the money she raided the couch looking for.
After counting and recounting her money for Jack since he can’t seem to see if the weathered bill is a one or a ten, the little girl takes her receipt, though she doesn’t know what to do with it, and says she doesn’t need a bag before she skips out.
When I step up to the counter, Jack’s existing smile warms. “Did you find what you needed?” For the first time, I notice Jack’s missing one of his front teeth. My smile widens, more genuinely this time. At least for a minute. I hold up the white plastic bottle. “These are expired, Jack,” I say, just in case he has no idea, though I doubt it.
Jack’s brow furrows. “They’re still good,” he says. “That’s just the sell-by date.”
Wondering if it’s illegal to sell expired meds in a public store, over-the-counter or not, I relent. It’s easy enough to convince myself the expired pills can’t do much more damage to Alison’s body than her excessive drinking already does.
Jack scans the container, and after a beep and the press of a button, he says, “That’ll be $10.96, please.”
“This container”—I lift it up—“that has twenty capsules in it is eleven dollars? And it’s expired,” I grumble. “Fantastic.”
“You forgot about the tax,” Jack replies, his eyebrows waggling. I’m glad he finds this whole thing so amusing.
I reach for my debit card in my back pocket. “You’re killing me, Jack. In fact, I’m sure this is extortion—shit.” I pat all my pockets, only finding my keys in one. I left my debit card in the truck.
“Here,” an eerily recognizable voice rumbles from behind me. “I’ll get it.”
I turn around to find a familiar, dark-featured face staring back at me. Reilly pulls out a few loose bills from his wallet that I pay little attention to. I’m shocked to see him, though I know I shouldn’t be. I’ve known all week I’d run into him eventually.
Dumb and frozen, I take in the sight of him. He’s . . . different than I remember, but I do still see Reilly in there somewhere. His brown hair is cropped shorter than before, with only a couple weeks’ worth of growth. He even smells different—clean and freshly pressed, like he just stepped out of a shower, though the day-old stubble on his face tells me otherwise. He looks older, tougher, and more severe than I remember. And the sheer strength his body exudes makes him seem a tad more imposing than I’m sure I’m comfortable with. He looks physically honed to fight—to survive.
My body warms and my stomach coils a bit as I process the magnitude of him standing there, of him being back. I briefly wonder if I might throw up.
“Add these, would you?” Reilly says, and he holds up a bottle of iced tea and pack of spearmint gum. His voice is just as steady and kind as I remember, and the thrum it elicits sparks a fire in my chest I’m not expecting and definitely don’t appreciate.
Finally, his eyes meet mine. I take a step back, almost stumbling, and lick my lips. His lapis gaze is different than the one I remember, this one an expression that seems matured by sights and experience only a harsh life can bring.
With too many emotions to process, all I can do is stand beside him, speechless.
Lindsey Pogue has always been a little creative. As a child she established a bug hospital on her elementary school soccer field, wrote her first YA manuscript in high school, and as an adult, expresses herself through writing. Her novels are inspired by her observations of the world around her—whether she’s traveling, people watching, or hiking. When not plotting her next storyline or dreaming up new, brooding characters, Lindsey’s wrapped in blankets watching her favorite action flicks or going on road trips with her own leading man.