A young adult hockey romance filled with making amends, family, friends, and discovering the real person inside while juggling the crazy, upside-down world of high school.
Jonah Robinson has really messed up. He’s spent the last year hanging out with someone who wasn’t leading him in a good direction. Now that Felix has seen the light, perhaps it’s time for Jonah to do the same. Making amends is not going to be easy when he’s not exactly been the nicest guy at Chesterford. With the help of his family and a special friend at the school, Jonah is ready to try to make things right with those he wronged. The first person on that long redemption list is Tyler, the brightest player on the Coyotes, at least in Jonah’s eyes. He’s taken a thousand pictures of Tyler for the school paper, but he’s going to have to learn how to develop more than just negatives if he wants to grow close to Tyler.
Tyler Corrigan’s dad has left, his mom is terrified he’ll come back, and it’s Tyler who’s left to keep his little family in one piece. The only respite from real life is playing hockey, and he’s an important part of the Chesterford Coyotes. Despite not being the biggest person on the ice, speed is his superpower, and the team has his back during the worst of the bullying he’s had to endure. His friends make him feel safe when his real world is full of fear, but no one can protect his heart when an awkward and messed up Jonah—one of the worst of his bullies—is suddenly around every corner, wanting to make things right.
Sorry can be a difficult word to believe, but trusting your heart is everything.More info →
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“Jonah, if you knew it was wrong why did you do it?” Mom asked, pushing a strand of strawberry blonde hair behind her ear.
I wanted to explain that I’d overheard Mom and Dad talking about her job with Felix’s family’s company, about how losing her job would be a major hit to the family budget, how it worried them, how they wished they had something real they could hold onto.
I wanted to tell them the horrors of being bullied at my old school—that it didn’t matter what school I was at, I never fitted.
I wanted to explain that this was why I’d hung onto Felix, and by extension Miles, just to keep myself protected, to keep my mom’s job safe. Felix would go to bat for my mother if he and I were friends.
To try to fix everything wrong in my head.
All I could do was hang my head in shame.
“Peer pressure,” Dad snapped, pushing to his feet to get another cup of coffee. It was his third in the past hour. He’d given up smoking two years ago and had substituted coffee for the nicotine. Mom had been giving him decaf for the past six months, unbeknownst to him. “Why stay friends with Felix and Miles? You had to know that no good would come of it.”
I winced because it was all on me. I’d chosen to hang around them; it was me who’d put myself in that position.
Dad continued, this time with way more anger. “That damn Brooks family is a seething den of bigots. Remember the first time we went to the Chesterford Spring Carnival?”
“I remember,” Mom whispered, her jaw tightening.
“Greg Brooks walks up to me, big as you please, and asks me if I had permission to be on the school grounds.” Dad thunked his Carlisle Parks & Recreation mug on the counter next to the Keurig. “Does that man think that only White people are allowed to be on the Chesterford campus?” he asked the coffeemaker as he pawed in the big plastic container for the right pod. They were all the same, all green covers, but he dug around anyway, muttering to himself until he found the one that he wanted. The lone, red-covered pod amongst all the green. “Ha! Found one. Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing with the coffee, Emma.”
Mom gave me a wobbly smile as Dad went off about the Brooks clan. “I know that there aren’t many people of color on that campus, but to come right up to me and ask… why is this damn pot not making coffee?”
“Something probably plugged the needles. Let me fix it, just sit down, and talk to Jonah.” Mom gave my arm a pat, then rose to poke at the coffee pot needles with a paperclip. Dad sighed and flopped down across from me, then gave me one of those long, sad looks of his.
“I’m so disappointed in you, Jonah. I know it’s been hard to adjust to the new school. And I know we don’t have all the cash falling out of our—”
A shadow fell across my books, and I sighed, hoping to hell it wasn’t someone who wanted to talk to me because this essay on evolutionary principles wouldn’t write itself. I waited for the shadow to leave, or move, or something, but it seemed like I was waiting in vain, and finally, when I couldn’t ignore it any more, I glanced up.
My flight instinct kicked in, but eased almost immediately when I realized it was just Jonah and there was no sign of Miles. Talk about a Pavlov’s dog-type reaction.
Jonah was mostly okay when it was just him, a bit of a dick for watching things go down, but okay when he was solo. Not that we talked, because if we were on our own, he would move away to avoid me, and then scurry off in any direction he could find. Only, here he was standing in the light and staring down at me, and I could see his mouth moving.
All I could hear was the chorus of “Defying Gravity”, and I gestured to my ears to indicate the buds under my layered pink hair.
He nodded and indicated I take them out. Fuck. If I removed them, I’d have to talk to him, and I didn’t have it in me to have a heated chat about whatever made Jonah look so determined.
He stared at me.
I stared back.
Then, with a sigh, I pulled out the buds and the song stopped.
“Hi,” he said after a pause. I glanced past him, making sure Miles hadn’t in fact made his way into the study room and was waiting to pounce on me. He’d already threatened me with payback for turning him in and said that in the less than thirty seconds he’d had before his father pushed him out of the main door.
I’ll get you for doing this. That was what Miles had snarled at me. It didn’t help that Miles’ dad had sneered, snorted in disgust, and then, shoved his son in the back. The parting words from his dad were just as nasty as Miles were—the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
You couldn’t take that kid out? Didn’t raise you to be a freaking loser.
I knew all about shitty fathers, and for a moment, I recognized the hate in his father that meant maybe Miles never stood a chance. I knew how hard it was to fight out from under all the hate, but I’d had Mom, and she’d been my guiding light every single day of my life.
Maybe Miles’ mom was as much of a loser as his dad?
He couldn’t be more wrong about me making the complaint—nothing good came from involving outside parties after threats of intimidation—just ask my mom. I had no idea who’d accused the two boys of bullying, given it was anonymous, but it definitely hadn’t been me. If I thought it was worth bothering with, I would have reported things long ago, but I had knowledge of bigger bullies than Miles, and had terrifying firsthand experience of what happened when an aggressor was backed into a corner.
“And?” I prompted Jonah, who was bouncing on his toes a little, as if he couldn’t stay still. I waited patiently, and when he opened his mouth a couple of times, just to shut it again, I was about done with waiting for him to talk and picked up the buds to continue my research.
“I’m sorry,” he blurted, his dark eyes shining with emotion.
I could feel the gaze of all the students in the study room focused on whatever was going on here. I should have gone to the library—no one goes there to study except the kids who actually had to try really hard to do well in subjects. Now was the perfect time for me to make a big thing of him standing there; humiliate him, shout at him, rail at him for all the times he could have done more than just watch.
Instead, because I was so torn between understanding and the hateful need for revenge, I deliberately replaced my earbuds and bent my head to the book open on the desk. He was still there. Still bouncing.
Then, he placed something on the corner of the desk and walked away. I refused to watch him leave.
He’d left me a candy bar, my favorite—Snickers—right there with a Post-it note stuck to the front. It held one word. Sorry.
Only then did I glance the way he’d gone, to find him watching me through the glass of the door, a hopeful expression demanding I acknowledge the weird-ass gift.
Then immediately pretended to go back to studying.
It was safer not to engage.