Meet Sage’s best friend and Abby’s cousin as they find love in the most unexpected places.
Madison Bentley has always followed the rules. Always. But after years of meeting everyone else’s expectations, she lost track of her own dreams. When she catches her boyfriend with another woman on the day he planned to propose, Maddie decides she’s done making other people happy and books the first train back to college.
Her tattooed and pierced seatmate, Soul, is Maddie’s complete opposite. As an environmental activist, he spends his time protesting unjust laws. When an odd coincidence throws them together, Maddie finds that the more she gets to know Soul, the more she discovers herself. Will her rebellion lead to romance or ruin them both?
Want a sneak peek?
His phone buzzes. He has one of those old flip phones, the kind that only makes calls and sends texts. Sage’s name appears.
Are you really on the train with Abby’s cousin?
Yes, Soul types back.
I know I shouldn’t be reading his texts, but he’s not trying to hide them, even though they’re focused entirely on me.
Soul frowns at the half sentence. ???
If she believes in coincidences.
“Well, do you?” he asks.
He totally caught me reading his texts. I should be mortified after making such a social gaffe, but if he doesn’t care, why should I?
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
A minute after Soul texts my answer, his phone rings. He listens for a moment then turns on his speakerphone. “Sage wants to speak with us.”
With us? I’ve only heard of Sage from Abby’s late-night phone calls. I owe him, though. He brought my cousin back from a really dark place. She didn’t call me for the entire second half of last year—the longest we had ever gone without talking. I had no idea she’d even gone to Australia.
I guess that’s depression, though. It leaves people feeling alone, paralyzes them so they don’t respond to their messages, and causes them to abandon their families. I owe Sage for bringing my cousin back to me.
Sage barely raises his voice above a whisper, so I have to listen intently. “How can you believe in happenstance? There are a gazillion ways to get between Chicago and Denver. Even if we narrow it down to your particular train route, a different train travels that track every single day. If we focus only on today’s train, there are still hundreds of seating possibilities.”
“Let’s not forget this one,” Soul says, making sure the phone’s speaker is positioned near his mouth. “Out of all the times Maddie could have caught her man cheating, it just happened to be today. Right before my train was scheduled to leave.”
Thanks for sharing my private information with the world. When I glare at him, he presses mute. “This is the most I’ve heard Sage speak since his surgery. I need to encourage him.”
“I’m glad to be of help,” I mutter.
Sage begins to cough. His long, raspy gasps fill the silence.
“His throat has been real sore since they yanked that surgery tube out,” Soul whispers, even though his finger’s still on mute.
“Do you really think Andrew cheated on me other times?” I’ve been wondering the same thing. If he couldn’t be faithful on the night he planned to propose to me, how could I expect loyalty during the rest of our relationship?
“Once a cheater, always a cheater.” Soul waves off more talk of Andrew and takes his finger off the mute button. “Hey, man, are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Sage says hoarsely. “I think you’re being pushed together for a reason.”
This conversation is getting way too loopy for me. Am I really supposed to believe that fate led me to catching Andrew in the act? Or that Soul and I were destined to sit next to each other? Despite how hokey his ideas seem, I don’t want to upset Sage. I have the feeling if I make a snarky comment, Abby and Soul would jump down my throat. “What kind of reason?”
“I have no idea, but you have to find out.” Sage begins to cough again, and the phone disconnects.
Soul stares at the still-open phone. I can tell he’s worried, and for good reason. His friend sounded terrible. I’m afraid—really afraid—for Abby. If she loses someone else she loves, she’ll return to her dark place, and I’m not sure I would ever get her back again.
Soul’s phone buzzes. Promise me.
He slowly types out, Promise what?
Find out why the universe pushed you together.
“I knew he’d bring up the universe,” Soul whispers. He gazes at me, his eyes brimming with tears. “We have to. We have to promise, for Sage’s sake.”
In that moment, Soul loses his hard edge. I don’t even notice his piercings. I just see a worried boy, scared of losing his best friend. The same feelings probably reflect in my eyes because if Sage doesn’t make it, I’m just as terrified about losing my dearest friend.
Rebel & Soul will be released later this month. To receive an email on release day, sign up for my mailing list: Anna’s Updates
If you haven’t read Wander & Roam yet, check it out on Amazon.