Alex, Alex, Alex.
When I get feedback from people who have enjoyed the JACT series, it almost always includes a plug for Alex, and the question: Is Alex getting his own book? (Or the demand: Alex better get his own book!)
The answer to that is YES!! I promise, Alex will have a book. There’s even a page on my website for his future untitled book, under the JACT series heading. The best way to find out WHEN Alex will be happening is to subscribe to my newsletter or join my Facebook reader group. Both links can be found here.
So what’s the deal with Alex? Why has it been forever since Wildflowers was released and still no Alex? I actually just looked it up and it’s been two years since I released Wildflowers! It’s honestly surreal that I’ve even been writing that long. Crazy. Anyway, I’ve mentioned this before so you may have heard it once, twice, or ten times, but when I published Our Moon, I had planned for it to be a standalone. In fact, in all my efforts to find reviewers and do blog promos in the very beginning, I said “STANDALONE!!!!” I honestly didn’t know if I’d ever write another book, let alone a follow-up to Our Moon. But readers loved the characters and I loved the readers, so I decided I’d proceed with the series (a book for each band guy) when their stories came to me. I hadn’t planned out additional books, and I didn’t want to force a story and make it crap.
I got inspired to write Hearts in the Sand when I was on vacation in the Outer Banks right after I published Our Moon, in the summer of 2015. I didn’t know it was going to be Trevor’s story until I was thinking one day…hey…this could totally work with Trevor has the main character. The JACT crew can go on vacation, right?! Wildflowers was pretty much already finished in the sense that we all know in Our Moon that Joey and Evie were married and it was a whirlwind, so it was just a matter of filling in the blanks. So that was a piece of cake (Even though it took forever! I actually started it before Hearts in the Sand, it was slow going).
That leaves Alex. My little trouble maker. I know what I want to do with him. I have a lot of his book outlined in my head, it just doesn’t translate to paper in the way that I want it to. Alex is my favorite, no lie. He’ll also be the last JACT book, so I want it to be the best.
Anyway…without further ado, I’m going to share with you the first chapter of Alex’s story. It’s literally all I have written thus far, but I know y’all miss him!
Thump thump thump thump thump.
I pull Sara’s Jeep to the side of the road and turn off the ignition.
The thumping stops.
I open the door and get out, walking around to the front of the vehicle. I look at the hood, but have no earthly idea how to open it. Not that it matters, if I could see under the hood I wouldn’t know what to look for anyway. We usually pay people to do this shit for us.
I know, I know. #firstworldproblems
Pulling my cell phone out of my pocket, I hope for cell service. Ally and Chase had chosen a beautiful, private mountain inn for their wedding ceremony and reception. Only problem? It’s in the middle of nowhere and we had no cell reception or WiFi. I actually had to go to the business center in the inn to update my social media. That’s some primitive shit right there, but I do what I have to do for my fans.
Two bars, I note as I look at my phone. That’ll be enough. I pull up the web browser and search for a tow truck near me. There’s only one hit, and it about twenty-five miles away, but it will do. I tap the screen to call Joe’s Garage.
“Joe’s,” a woman’s voice says.
“Hey, I need a tow.”
“What’s your location?” she asks.
I turn in a full circle, seeing nothing but woods. “I’m not sure. I’m not from here. I’m coming from the Tall Pines Inn and there’s nothing but woods. I can check the map on my phone if-”
“I know where you’re at. It’ll be about twenty minutes.”
“Don’t you need my-” I hear a click on the other end. “Hello? Hello?” She hung up on me. I scratch my head, unable to believe that I was just hung up on. I didn’t even give her my name. I take one more look around the desolate roadway before heading back to the driver’s seat to contemplate my next move.
I’ll get a lift with the tow truck back to the shop. Then what? I can’t exactly call my brother or sister for a lift. Ally’s already left for her honeymoon and Trevor is celebrating his engagement with Sara. Joey and Evie are doing some partying of their own since she just told him they were expecting baby number two. I can’t bother any of them doing all their couple-y shit. Maybe I can find a driver to get me back to Charlotte? I make a mental note to check Uber when I get to town.
I pull up one of my rock playlists on my phone and press “shuffle,” leaning my head back and letting the music roll through me as I wait for the truck. I’m deep into 10 Years’ “Novacaine” when I hear the rumbling of a big diesel engine. I lift of my head just in time to see the truck pass by. I watch in the rearview mirror as it expertly pulls a three point turn on the narrow roadway, then passes by again, pulling to a stop in front of the Jeep.
I get out of the Jeep and approach the driver’s side door of the rig, pausing in my tracks as the door pops open and the driver hops out. She—yes, she—is wearing a charcoal jumpsuit, not the trendy kind chicks usually wear, but the kind a mechanic would wear. It’s darker in some spots due to what I imagine is dirt and grease. She’s wearing a backwards black, ball cap on her head, covering her pin straight black hair. Think Megan Fox in Transformers, only a little more girl next door.
“Can you put it in neutral for me?” she asks, making her way to the panel of levers on the side of the truck.
I stand there, staring at her. Did she just say something? Her lips are a soft pink, just the right contrast to her lightly tanned skin. I swear they just moved.
“Huh?” Not my finest moment, I admit.
“The Jeep. Neutral. Please.” She annunciates each syllable as if I’m hearing impaired. I suppose I deserve that.
“Right,” I say, pulling the keys from my pocket and returning to the Jeep. I turn the key just enough to be able to change gears, then keep my foot on the brake since we’re on a slight incline. It would really suck if the Jeep rolled right into her truck.
Hot Mechanic Chick now has the flatbed of the truck on an angle, with the end meeting the road. She’s messing with some metal cords as she walks towards me. Her head disappears in front of the Jeep right before I hear a clanking sound, accompanied by a few vibrations. Then she’s back.
“Watch this line,” she says, pointing to the cable that seems to attach the Jeep to the truck. “When it gets taught, slowly let your foot off the brake. Once the front tire hits the ramp, take your foot completely off the gas and let the cables do the work. Got it?” She’s all business, no bullshit.
I give her a quick nod, and watch her ass as she walks back to the control panel. When I hear the whirring of the machines, I quickly redirect my attention to the line she told me to watch, and follow her directions. Once the Jeep is fully on the platform, she tells me I can get out, so I do. Then she flattens the bed and we both get in the cab of the truck.
“Is your spare tire flat?”
“What?” I ask, surprised at the question.
“That spare tire on the back of the Jeep. Is it flat?”
What is she talking about? “I don’t know.”
She looks me over, taking in my light blue jeans and plain white t-shirt. “Do you know how to change a tire?” The corner of her mouth is twitching…she’s trying not to laugh…at me…
“Of course I know how to change a tire,” I lie. I totally don’t know how to change a tire. Again, we pay people to do that shit for us.
She raises her eyebrows and gives me one of those condescending nods, you know the type. The ones designed to pacify the recipient and stop them from having a hissy fit. Yeah, well those nods only made me want to throw a hissy fit, but considering I’m riding shotgun with Hot Mechanic Chick, I’ll tamper down my inner diva.
“Why do you ask? About the tire thing?” I ask as an afterthought once we’re down the road a ways.
“Because the Jeep has a flat. Isn’t that why you called it in?”
What. The. Hell? Really? Really Alex? A flat freaking tire.
This is embarrassing.
“Honestly,” I tell her. “I didn’t even look. I heard a thump and pulled over. The Jeep belongs to my brother’s girlfriend and it was having trouble a while back, but we got that fixed. I figured it was related. I didn’t even look at the damn tires.”
I can tell she wants to laugh again, but I’m thankful she doesn’t. I’m not sure my ego could take it. “Understandable.”
The rest of the ride to the service station is in silence. I’m afraid to open my mouth and let more idiocy spill out. I can’t even believe the damn Jeep has a flat tire. Not that I’d know how to change it if I had noticed, but how could I be that oblivious?
“I can drop the Jeep in the lot and you can just change the tire there,” she says as she gets out of the cab. I hurry out my door and run around the front of the truck to catch up with her.
“It’s all good. Wherever you want. I don’t think there are tools in the Jeep,” I tell her, shrugging my shoulders. “I can pay you guys to do it.”
She stops messing with the control panel and turns to face me, hands on her lean hips. “You don’t know how to change a tire, do you?”
I tuck my hands in my jean pockets and give her one of my signature smiles. This one, I call “the bashful.” “You caught me.”
She eyes me for a long minute, and for the first time, I wonder if she knows who I am. The members of the band, JACT, and our families are often recognized in bigger cities, particularly around our hometown, or a location where we’re playing a show and people are expecting us, especially if we’re all together in a group. When we’re alone, or there’s just a couple of us, we blend in. We look like regular people and, while I do enjoy some of the spoils of celebrity life–or many of them–we all live relatively modest lifestyles. We don’t stand out. Well…I stand out, but that’s only because I’m so damn good-looking.
“All right, we’ll get your tire changed. There are a few seats just inside. Why don’t you go sit and wait, and I’ll have this ready for you in a few.”
“Sounds good.” A small bell rings as I open the door, and a gust of warm, oil-scented air greets me. I take a seat in one of the black reception chairs and pick up an old People magazine to flip through while I wait.
I peer out the window and watch as what is, quite possibly, the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life, changes my tire.
The guys are going to take my man card when they hear about this shit.