Excerpt & Giveaway: Molly McAdams’s SHOW ME HOW

SHOW ME HOW by Molly McAdamsThe weekend is almost upon us, which means lots of time for reading! May we suggest this lovely excerpt from Molly McAdams's Show Me How, available next week?

After losing her love, Charlie did not think she would ever give her heart away again. But a secret admirer and a persistent childhood friend help pull Charlie into the light and make her see that love can be found where she least expects it.

Charlie

June 4, 2022

The glow from the strings of lights became hazy and faraway, and the faces of the couples dancing on the floor in front of me blurred until they were unrecognizable. Until my thoughts were no longer on Knox and Harlow’s wedding reception, or Keith fast asleep in my arms as my fingers trailed over his little back.

Until my mind was consumed with nothing but a stranger’s notes, mentally poring over them again and again as I worried over the next response.

It will come, I told myself. It has to.

One of these days I’m going to come back for you, and your words won’t be here.

That had been the note waiting for me when I’d arrived at work that morning. Below, a phone number, and one final word ...

Please.

I hadn’t responded, and I hadn’t left my notebook when my shift had ended. I’d spent hours agonizing over whether or not I should message him—because calling him was out of the question—and even longer hating the giddy smile that refused to leave my face, and the stupid fluttering in my stomach.

Because that’s all this was: stupid.

Because, as he’d pointed out, I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me. For all I knew, he was old and married. Or young...too young. This was stupid.

But despite every warning I told myself, I sent a message to the number when I arrived at Knox and Harlow’s wedding hours before. One word. Nothing profound; and nothing that would embarrass me if he’d given me a fake number.

Stranger...

I blinked quickly, bringing the reception back to focus, when the chair next to me was pulled out and someone filled it.

I looked over my shoulder, and my hand paused on Keith’s back for a second when I took in Graham, so close to me.

“Having fun?”

After a short hesitation, I nodded. “Are you?”

He stretched back in the chair, and took out the scene before us. “Yeah, still seems weird that it’s Knox’s wedding though.”

“Did you think it was going to be the three of you forever?” I asked softly, the teasing evident in my tone.

A short laugh was forced from his chest. His shoulders slid up in the barest of shrugs. “Kind of.”

“Deacon, Graham, and Knox...the Three Musketeers,” I mumbled, my eyes fell to my son as a smile touched my lips.

Graham’s next laugh was fuller. “Ah, man. I’d forgotten about that. I can’t believe you remembered.”

“Hard to forget. Knox tried to rescue me from my bag full of chocolate and ended up ripping my costume in front of everyone. I’m pretty sure that Halloween night scarred me and is the reason I never went to another party. Until now.”

Graham leaned closer like he was going to tell me a secret, but stopped a few inches away and nodded toward Keith. “I noticed your dancing partner passed out. Will you dance with me if I promise not to rip your dress in front of everyone?”

The confusion and suspicions I’d been plagued with the past days rose up again at Graham’s question, and I felt my body still and my breathing pause as I studied him. Just as quickly as everything had stopped, it all started up again, this time faster than it had been before.

There had been no fluttering in my stomach or racing heart during our short conversation. My breath hadn’t caught at his smile or laugh, even though Graham had always been one of the most attractive guys in town. But now, now my pulse was erratic and speeding up with each passing second. I couldn’t seem to form words as I tried to make connections between the person sitting next to me, and the one I had been writing to.

“Uh,” I forced out.

“Come on, one dance. We finally got you out in public with everyone, we’re all having fun, you can’t just sit back and watch the party happen.”

I nodded slowly, and then more confidently. “Okay.”

I stood and gently laid Keith across two chairs, then let Graham lead me out onto the dance floor.

The song was an old one, and fast paced. I didn’t have time to let insecurities take over before Graham spun me away, then pulled me closer. A laugh bubbled from my chest before I could attempt to stop it, and then we were moving.

We quickly got lost in the mass of people trying to figure out a way to dance to a song that clearly had no right way of dancing to it. My cheeks burned with heat from trying to let loose for once, as well as the look Grey gave me when she saw me dancing with her older brother.

In that look from Grey, I remembered why I’d let Graham bring me out here at all. But there was no way to try to understand Graham or why he had been so nice lately, and there was no connecting him to a stranger in that moment.

Like before, the fluttering was gone. The racing in my heart was only from our fast movements and the loud music. Even when Graham’s hand slid around mine to pull me toward him, or to quickly spin me away again...there was nothing.

All of it, every feeling had only been prompted by the thought that I might be face-to-face with a guy who hid behind pages in my book.

The song ended and transitioned into something slower, more intimate, and I felt myself retreating from the reception and the dance floor before my body could begin doing the same. Almost impulsively, my arm curled around my waist as my head bowed. Just as I began to take a step back, a warm voice came from behind me, and a shiver moved down my spine at the sound.

“Charlie Girl ...”

Irrational, betraying heart.

My chest rose and fell in an exaggerated movement, and a longing to hear those two words rose up inside me at the same time I wanted to demand he never call me that again. Instead of turning around, I looked up at the suspicion crossing Graham’s face.

One of his eyebrows lifted slowly, but otherwise he didn’t say anything as he stared at his best friend.

“Can I cut in?” Deacon asked.

Graham’s lip curled to match his brow. “Can you be nice?”

Something silent passed between the two, and seconds later, Graham’s face relaxed and he took a step back.

I glanced over my shoulder to find Deacon watching me patiently, his hand slightly extended toward me.

“What do you say?” he asked gruffly.

“I don’t slow dance.”

“Neither do I,” he responded immediately, but still he took a step toward me and slid his hand around my waist.

Deacon turned me slowly and pulled me closer until our bodies were pressed against each other. He grasped my hand in his, and brought our joined hands between our chests as he began rocking us.

Whether or not we were moving to the music, I didn’t know.

Because at that moment, I couldn’t look away from his eyes.

For the first time in so, so long, there was something missing from them. Coldness. Anger. Everything I’d come to expect from Deacon, and everything I’d been shying away from was now replaced with guilt and confusion and wonder.

“Why are you doing this?” I asked. My words were so soft they almost got lost in the music filling the outdoor tent.

“I’m sorry.”

If it weren’t for Deacon leading us, his apology would have halted our movements the way it halted the pounding of my heart.

“I’m sorry for what I said to you. You didn’t deserve it—”

My head tilted to the side and shook once in a subtle plea for him to stop talking. I tried to pull away from him, but he held me tighter, his eyes pled with me to stay as his words tumbled from his lips quickly and quietly.

“—the way you looked at me that day, I can’t stop thinking about it. I hate that you looked like you—”

“Please stop.” My head shook faster as panic started rising in my throat. My gaze quickly moved through the couples on the floor, searching for Jagger and Grey, making sure they weren’t close enough to hear Deacon.

“I shouldn’t have said anything. I was stressed out over this—”

“Deacon, stop,” I demanded, my voice still as soft as a whisper.

I finally succeeded at shoving away from his hold, and turned to walk away from him, but he was still there.

Within seconds his arm was around my waist and he was guiding me from the dance floor, past the tables, and out of the tent. As soon as we were a dozen feet away, surrounded in equal parts night and light from the reception, Deacon pulled me into his arms as if we were dancing again.

“What are you doing?”

“Making you talk to me.”

In the back of my mind, I knew it was because he thought I would walk away again, but something about the darkness, his voice, and being with him like this made me shiver again.

Before he could begin talking again, I shook my head quickly to clear my mind of the way he made me feel, and grit my teeth as I focused on my anger. “I don’t want your excuses.”

“They aren’t excuses, I’m explaining why—”

“I don’t need explanations for what you said, either!” I hissed, cutting him off. “All I ever wanted was to know why you suddenly had so much hatred toward me. You told me. That’s it; it’s over. There’s nothing left to explain. You don’t have to apologize for feeling the way you do. And you didn’t have to dance with me to try to make up for some words you said.” I pressed my hands against his chest and pushed, but he held tight to my waist, not willing to let me go.

“It was the only way to get you to talk to me.”

I hated that a part of me had foolishly believed that he would want to dance with me.

Irrational, betraying heart.

“Both were unnecessary. I’m a big girl, Deacon, and as you reminded me, I have a spine; I know how to handle you and move on with my life.”

Deacon’s shoulders sagged, but his eyes burned into mine. “Fuck, Charlie. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what I said. Can’t you hear that? Can’t you see that?”

“When have you ever been sorry for anything you’ve said or done in your entire life? That’s part of who you are—that’s part of Deacon Carver—unapologetically arrogant and unaware.”

A few seconds of silence passed between us before a mumbled “Christ” slipped from his lips. Instead of loosening his hold on me, his fingers contracted slightly, bringing us impossibly closer together. “Where did shy, sweet Charlie go?”

“You’d be surprised what I can say when I think it long enough.” It also helped tremendously that we were mostly hidden in the darkness.

He huffed. “Clearly.” But there was something in his voice that caught me off guard. Instead of the sneer I had come to expect from him, it sounded like a mixture of amusement and pride.

And I didn’t know what to make of it or him or the fact that he was still holding me and my heart was beating loud enough that I was sure he could hear it.

“I’m ready for you to let me g—”

“Your face on Monday,” he said softly, his voice gruff. “I can’t stop thinking about the way you looked at me.”

“I already asked you to stop.” I pressed harder against his muscled chest, but my strength suddenly gave out at his next words.

“Just tell me if you’re okay with what happened to Ben.”

“What?” I asked breathlessly.

“Tell me if you’re okay. With what he did to you, with his death...all of it.”

“Why ...” I stared at my hands and blinked slowly as I replayed his words, then lifted my head until I was looking into Deacon’s eyes. Mine narrowed in suspicion. “Why would you ask me that?”

“I’ve known you most of your life, Charlie, and—”

“We live in Thatch. Everyone has known everyone for most of their life.”

“You know it’s different with us. But I always saw you as shy, sweet Charlie, who hid behind her brother and Grey so she wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. When I found out about you and Ben, and the way everything was handled after, I thought you were selfish and immature. It looked like you didn’t care, and let Jagger always take care of your problems. That look on your face this week—like you agreed with me—has fucking haunted me because I know I had it all wrong.”

“So because I agreed with you, suddenly you want to apologize and check on me?” I said with a disbelieving laugh.

Judging from his expression, he knew it didn’t make sense, either. “Charlie, I just want to know if you’re okay.”

My head shook subtly, but instead of responding, I asked, “Why are you doing this? This isn’t you and this isn’t us. We aren’t friends, Deacon. So why don’t you go back to being your unapologetic, arrogant self, and I’ll go back to not speaking to you, now that I’ve gotten out everything I’ve been thinking all week.”

Deacon’s brow pinched in frustration and hurt, but just as he opened his mouth to respond, a deep voice came from a few feet away.

“Everything okay out here?”

I whipped my head to the side, and stumbled back a step when Deacon suddenly released me.

A freezing feeling shot through my veins as I stared into my brother’s narrowed eyes, and my stomach rolled as if he’d just caught me doing something I wasn’t supposed to.

Deacon cleared his throat and shifted his weight. “Jagger.” 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Show Me How will be available in digital and print on August 23 — that's Tuesday, people! Digital copies start at $1.99, grab yours here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play. Need more weekend reading recommendations? Check out our other exclusive excerpts!