#Excerpt “The Watcher Girl” by Minka Kent

Amazon 

 


~~~

A woman’s suspicions about her ex-boyfriend become a dangerous obsession in a twisting novel of psychological suspense by Washington Post and Wall Street Journalbestselling author Minka Kent.
 
Eight years ago, Grace McMullen broke Sutton Whitlock’s heart when she walked away. But it was only to save him from the baggage of her own troubled past. Now all she wants is to make sure he’s okay.
 
Only everything she learns about him online says otherwise. According to his social media accounts, he placed roots in her hometown, married a look-alike, and even named his daughter Grace. He clearly hasn’t moved on. In fact, it’s creepy. So Grace does what any concerned ex-girlfriend would do: she moves home…and watches him.
 
But when Grace crosses paths with Sutton’s wife, Campbell, an unexpected friendship develops. Campbell has no idea whom she’s inviting into her life. As the women grow closer, it becomes clear to Grace that Sutton is not the sentimental man she once knew. He seems controlling, unstable, and threatening. And what a broken man like Sutton is capable of, Grace can only imagine. It’s up to her to save Campbell and her baby now—but while she’s been watching them, who’s been watching her?

~~~


“So . . . what brings you back?” My father’s tone is pleasant, but his eyes squint as he studies me in the blue-green twilight of early evening.

The truth is complicated.

“Been gone long enough,” I say on a long exhale. “Thought maybe it was time to come home.”

Home.

I use the word for his sake. It makes him smile.

While I resided at 372 Magnolia Drive the first ten years of my life, calling it “home” would be a stretch at this point.

His dark eyes turn glassy, and his fingertips twitch at his sides. He wants to hug me, I’m sure, but he knows me too well. At least that part of me.

“Your room’s exactly how you left it,” he says instead of asking more questions. I imagine he’ll space them out, fishing casually for tidbits until he has the whole picture. An investigational paint-by-numbers. “Good to have you back, Grace. I mean that. Stay as long as you need. We’ll catch up whenever you’re ready.”

I thank him before grabbing my roller bag and climbing the winding staircase in the sweeping foyer. Every step rustles an unsettled sensation in my center, but I force it down with tight swallows.

I’m here on a mission, and as soon as it’s over, I’m leaving again.

Stopping at the top of the stairs, I’m greeted by an outdated family portrait—the original McMullens dressed in coordinating navy-blue outfits, the children hand in hand, grinning against the autumnal backdrop of some local state park.

There we are.

Frozen in time.

Blissfully unaware of fate’s cruel plans for us.

We were beautiful together—enviably happy from the outside.

Hashtag blessed.

My attention homes in on my parents, the way my mother gazes up into my father’s handsome face, her golden hair shining in the early evening sunset, his hand cupping the side of her cheek. If I didn’t know better, I’d think their love for one another was equal and balanced.

I trace my fingertips against the burnished-gold frame before pressing it just enough that it tilts, off-center. Noticeable only if you stare too long.

I have no desire to rewrite history, and I have little patience for those who feel the need to do so.

When I reach my old room, I flick on the light and plant myself in the doorway.

My father’s right. It’s exactly how I left it: Dark furniture. Blue walls. Pile of stuffed animals in the corner. Perfectly made bed complete with an ironed coverlet and a million pillows.

Aside from the fresh vacuum tracks in the carpet, no one’s set foot in this room since the last time I was home my senior year of college.

I lock the door and collapse on the bed, digging my phone from my bag and pulling up the Instaface account for my ex from college and staring at his profile picture for the tenth time today—the hundredth time this week. Same coffee-brown hair trimmed neatly into a timeless crew cut. Same hooded, almond-shaped eyes the earthy color of New England in autumn. Same dimples flanking his boyish smile like parentheses. He’s exactly how I remember him, only with a decade of life tacked onto his face. Shallow creases spread across his forehead. A deep line separates his eyebrows. Maybe there’s a little more hollowing beneath his jovial gaze. But other than that, he’s the same as I remember.

I could describe Sutton Whitlock fifty thousand ways, but at the end of the day, I can sum him up in five words: he was a good man.

Eight years ago, I broke his heart—and not because I wanted to.

I had to save him from a lifetime of disappointment.

I had to save him from me.

But a handful of things have come up online recently—things that indicate he’s not okay.

I need to rectify what I’ve done. I need to apologize for hurting him. Explain my reasons. Give him permission to move on, to be happy.

And then I’ll disappear . . . again.

~~~

 
Minka Kent has been crafting stories since before she could scribble her name. With a love of the literary dark and twisted, Minka cut her teeth on Goosebumps and Fear Street, graduated to Stephen King as a teenager, and now counts Gillian Flynn, Chevy Stevens, and Caroline Kepnes amongst her favorite authors and biggest influences. Minka has always been curious about good people who do bad things and loves to explore what happens when larger-than-life characters are placed in fascinating situations.
 
In her non-writing life, Minka is a thirty-something wife and mother who equally enjoys sunny and rainy days, loves freshly cut hydrangeas, hides behind oversized sunglasses, travels to warmer climates every chance she gets, and bakes sweet treats when the mood strikes (spoiler alert: it’s often).
 
Want to hear about sales and new releases? Sign up for her non-spammy newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/cwOMSD

 

Facebook  Web   Goodreads   Amazon

~~~


#BlogTour “The Watcher Girl” by Minka Kent

Amazon 

 


~~~

A woman’s suspicions about her ex-boyfriend become a dangerous obsession in a twisting novel of psychological suspense by Washington Post and Wall Street Journalbestselling author Minka Kent.
 
Eight years ago, Grace McMullen broke Sutton Whitlock’s heart when she walked away. But it was only to save him from the baggage of her own troubled past. Now all she wants is to make sure he’s okay.
 
Only everything she learns about him online says otherwise. According to his social media accounts, he placed roots in her hometown, married a look-alike, and even named his daughter Grace. He clearly hasn’t moved on. In fact, it’s creepy. So Grace does what any concerned ex-girlfriend would do: she moves home…and watches him.
 
But when Grace crosses paths with Sutton’s wife, Campbell, an unexpected friendship develops. Campbell has no idea whom she’s inviting into her life. As the women grow closer, it becomes clear to Grace that Sutton is not the sentimental man she once knew. He seems controlling, unstable, and threatening. And what a broken man like Sutton is capable of, Grace can only imagine. It’s up to her to save Campbell and her baby now—but while she’s been watching them, who’s been watching her?

~~~


“So . . . what brings you back?” My father’s tone is pleasant, but his eyes squint as he studies me in the blue-green twilight of early evening.

The truth is complicated.

“Been gone long enough,” I say on a long exhale. “Thought maybe it was time to come home.”

Home.

I use the word for his sake. It makes him smile.

While I resided at 372 Magnolia Drive the first ten years of my life, calling it “home” would be a stretch at this point.

His dark eyes turn glassy, and his fingertips twitch at his sides. He wants to hug me, I’m sure, but he knows me too well. At least that part of me.

“Your room’s exactly how you left it,” he says instead of asking more questions. I imagine he’ll space them out, fishing casually for tidbits until he has the whole picture. An investigational paint-by-numbers. “Good to have you back, Grace. I mean that. Stay as long as you need. We’ll catch up whenever you’re ready.”

I thank him before grabbing my roller bag and climbing the winding staircase in the sweeping foyer. Every step rustles an unsettled sensation in my center, but I force it down with tight swallows.

I’m here on a mission, and as soon as it’s over, I’m leaving again.

Stopping at the top of the stairs, I’m greeted by an outdated family portrait—the original McMullens dressed in coordinating navy-blue outfits, the children hand in hand, grinning against the autumnal backdrop of some local state park.

There we are.

Frozen in time.

Blissfully unaware of fate’s cruel plans for us.

We were beautiful together—enviably happy from the outside.

Hashtag blessed.

My attention homes in on my parents, the way my mother gazes up into my father’s handsome face, her golden hair shining in the early evening sunset, his hand cupping the side of her cheek. If I didn’t know better, I’d think their love for one another was equal and balanced.

I trace my fingertips against the burnished-gold frame before pressing it just enough that it tilts, off-center. Noticeable only if you stare too long.

I have no desire to rewrite history, and I have little patience for those who feel the need to do so.

When I reach my old room, I flick on the light and plant myself in the doorway.

My father’s right. It’s exactly how I left it: Dark furniture. Blue walls. Pile of stuffed animals in the corner. Perfectly made bed complete with an ironed coverlet and a million pillows.

Aside from the fresh vacuum tracks in the carpet, no one’s set foot in this room since the last time I was home my senior year of college.

I lock the door and collapse on the bed, digging my phone from my bag and pulling up the Instaface account for my ex from college and staring at his profile picture for the tenth time today—the hundredth time this week. Same coffee-brown hair trimmed neatly into a timeless crew cut. Same hooded, almond-shaped eyes the earthy color of New England in autumn. Same dimples flanking his boyish smile like parentheses. He’s exactly how I remember him, only with a decade of life tacked onto his face. Shallow creases spread across his forehead. A deep line separates his eyebrows. Maybe there’s a little more hollowing beneath his jovial gaze. But other than that, he’s the same as I remember.

I could describe Sutton Whitlock fifty thousand ways, but at the end of the day, I can sum him up in five words: he was a good man.

Eight years ago, I broke his heart—and not because I wanted to.

I had to save him from a lifetime of disappointment.

I had to save him from me.

But a handful of things have come up online recently—things that indicate he’s not okay.

I need to rectify what I’ve done. I need to apologize for hurting him. Explain my reasons. Give him permission to move on, to be happy.

And then I’ll disappear . . . again.

~~~

 
Minka Kent has been crafting stories since before she could scribble her name. With a love of the literary dark and twisted, Minka cut her teeth on Goosebumps and Fear Street, graduated to Stephen King as a teenager, and now counts Gillian Flynn, Chevy Stevens, and Caroline Kepnes amongst her favorite authors and biggest influences. Minka has always been curious about good people who do bad things and loves to explore what happens when larger-than-life characters are placed in fascinating situations.
 
In her non-writing life, Minka is a thirty-something wife and mother who equally enjoys sunny and rainy days, loves freshly cut hydrangeas, hides behind oversized sunglasses, travels to warmer climates every chance she gets, and bakes sweet treats when the mood strikes (spoiler alert: it’s often).
 
Want to hear about sales and new releases? Sign up for her non-spammy newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/cwOMSD

 

Facebook  Web   Goodreads   Amazon

~~~


#Review “The Stillwater Girls” by Minka Kent

~~~

3.5/5 Stars!

Abandoned children, missing children, a missing mom, a marriage in crisis, a ne’er-do-well brother… there’s a lot going on in The Stillwater Girls.

Wren and Sage live off-the-grid with their mother and little sister, Evie. When Evie became ill, their mom bundled her up and left to find help, admonishing her teenage daughters to open the door to no one.

That was two months ago.

Winter is on the way, and the girls are running out of food… and hope.

Wren and Sage don’t know what electricity is, have never seen a phone, and only know about television from the stories their mother told them about “the outside world.” But she’s also told them the world is a cruel and evil place and they’re never to go into the woods surrounding their little shack.

So, they don’t.

However, while there are many things nineteen-year-old Wren doesn’t know, she knows how to survive.

When a stranger appears at their front door, Wren bides her time and plots a way out for her and Sage.

This girl is resourceful! Her mama told many lies, but she taught the girls well.

Nicolette Gideon is affluent, married to the love of her life and living a charmed existence.

Or so it would appear.

Unable to have children, Nic is pushing her husband, Brant, to become foster parents. She’s desperate to be a mother and wants Brant on-board fully.

She blames his lack of interest on the up-and-coming artist’s preoccupation with his first gallery show.

Until she finds the photo of a little girl hidden in his sock drawer and money is being removed from her trust fund account.

Is Brant already a father?

Two stories become one when the girls’ escape leads them through the forbidden woods and into Nic’s life—and distract her from her marital woes, but not for long.

Questions lead to more questions no one can answer until a mega-reveal in the story weaves loose ends together… and I felt like someone doused me with ice water.

It did not work for me and left me disappointed and angry.

I have no problem suspending belief for a book, but this felt more like bent reality.

I don’t do spoilers, but I will say this—family and friends conspiring to keep a secret is plausible. But the town isn’t a party to the conspiracy, yet say nothing… for a decade?

No, that’s a bridge too far for me.

The Stillwater Girls IS a good story. Suspenseful writing will pull you in right from the beginning, and the alternating POVs of Wren and Nicolette only heighten the suspense. While the plot twist didn’t work for me, I’m sure readers of crime fiction and thrillers will enjoy this read.

~~~

Two sisters raised in fear are about to find out why in a chilling novel of psychological suspense from the author of The Thinnest Air.

Ignorant of civilization and cautioned against its evils, nineteen-year-old Wren and her two sisters, Sage and Evie, were raised in off-the-grid isolation in a primitive cabin in upstate New York. When the youngest grows gravely ill, their mother leaves with the child to get help from a nearby town. And they never return.

As months pass, hope vanishes. Supplies are low. Livestock are dying. A brutal winter is bearing down. Then comes the stranger. He claims to be looking for the girls’ mother, and he’s not leaving without them.

To escape, Wren and her sister must break the rule they’ve grown up with: never go beyond the forest.

Past the thicket of dread, they come upon a house on the other side of the pines. This is where Wren and Sage must confront something more chilling than the unknowable. They’ll discover what’s been hidden from them, what they’re running from, and the secrets that have left them in the dark their entire lives.

Amazon – smarturl.it/StillwaterGirlsMK

Goodreads – http://bit.ly/2YSl5QJ

~~~

#BlogTour “The Stillwater Girls” by Minka Kent

Two sisters raised in fear are about to find out why in a chilling novel of psychological suspense from the author of The Thinnest Air.

Ignorant of civilization and cautioned against its evils, nineteen-year-old Wren and her two sisters, Sage and Evie, were raised in off-the-grid isolation in a primitive cabin in upstate New York. When the youngest grows gravely ill, their mother leaves with the child to get help from a nearby town. And they never return.

As months pass, hope vanishes. Supplies are low. Livestock are dying. A brutal winter is bearing down. Then comes the stranger. He claims to be looking for the girls’ mother, and he’s not leaving without them.

To escape, Wren and her sister must break the rule they’ve grown up with: never go beyond the forest.

Past the thicket of dread, they come upon a house on the other side of the pines. This is where Wren and Sage must confront something more chilling than the unknowable. They’ll discover what’s been hidden from them, what they’re running from, and the secrets that have left them in the dark their entire lives.

“You’re not just my muse,” he says. “You’re my everything. None of this would’ve been possible without you.”
A year ago, I’d have believed him—as I always have.
But after finding the photograph of a towheaded little girl with Brant’s sea-green eyes hiding beneath the leather organizer tray of his sock drawer last month, I don’t know that I can.
Brant kisses me once more before dragging the tips of his fingers down my arm and stopping to give my hand a squeeze. “Moffatt just walked in, and his pockets are looking a little heavy. Should probably say hello . . .”
He smiles at me, expecting a knowing chuckle, which I force myself to give him, and my chest tightens.
Extending his bent arm, he nods. “Come with me. I’ll introduce you.”
I’ve spent the majority of my adult life following this man through Moroccan souks and over Grecian cliffs, through ancient Mayan ruins and lush Amazonian paradises. I left Manhattan—the only home I’d ever known—because he asked me to. And then I made us our own little domestic nirvana in his depressing, hole-in-the-wall hometown of Stillwater Hills, New York, ignoring the gnawing homesickness that never quite passed. I cooked his favorite gourmet meals each night and learned to like his beloved jazz standards. I made love to him when I sensed he needed a release, even if I wasn’t exactly in the mood myself. I brought him coffee when he pulled all-nighters, and I massaged his shoulders when he’d spent too many hours hunched over his computer, knee-deep in edits.
But the one and only thing I could never give him was a family.
It kills me that someone else may have.
Slinking my arm into his and burying my unease, I feel like a fraud as he introduces me to real estate mogul Robert Moffatt and his stunning young wife, pedigreed and pregnant socialite Temple Rothschild-Moffatt, who clearly hasn’t let her third trimester keep her from dressing in head-to-toe Versace and six-inch stilettos.
Brant and Robert’s conversation fades to the background, and Temple excuses herself as I scan the gallery once more, my gaze landing on every pretty face in the room.
The cigarette-thin blonde with the faux fur stole.
The bookish brunette with the red-painted lips and clear-frame glasses.
The lavender-haired socialite who steals glances at my husband when she thinks no one’s watching.
It could be any of them.
And it could be none of them at all.
The only thing I know for sure is that needing to know exactly who she is is beginning to consume my every thought.
Brant’s hand slips to the small of my back, and he pulls me closer. The room spins, my breath shortens, and a prickle of sweat collects across my brow.
“Excuse me,” I say, interrupting their conversation and showing myself outside. I’ve never had a panic attack before, but I’m quite certain I’m standing at the water’s edge of my first one.
It’s mid-December, and the sidewalks are dusted with powdery snow. A few nearby shops are closed for the evening, but their holiday lights flicker in the windows, and holly wreaths hang on their glass doors. These things used to send a blanket of warmth cascading through me when I’d see them.
Now I feel nothing.
Gasping for air, I close my eyes and try to focus on the sensation of the chilled air in my lungs, and then I count backward from ten, telling myself that when I get to one, I’m going to be fine . . . at least for now.
Ten . . .
Nine . . .
Eight . . .
Seven . . .
“Nicolette.”
I open my eyes to find my husband standing outside the door to the museum, his hands shoved in the pockets of his Prada suit. The casualness in his pose is an insult.
“Talk to me,” he says before he strides toward me, head cocked ever so slightly. He looks at me like I’m an impossible riddle he can’t quite solve. “You’re not you, and you haven’t been all night.”
My lips part in response, but I don’t know what to tell him.
I’m still trying to figure out where to go from here—when to confront him, how to confront him, not to mention how I’m supposed to feel given the fact that I’ve conjured up some worst-case scenario over a single photograph.
Brant wraps his arms around me, the warmth of his body and heaviness of his hold equally comforting and suffocating.
“If you don’t mind,” I say, my voice muffled against his pristine suit jacket, “I’m going to catch a cab back to the hotel. I think I’m coming down with something.”
He pulls away, and his eyes rest on mine. Again, he doesn’t believe me, but at this point I don’t care. All I can think about is peeling myself out of this dress, yanking the bobby pins from my hair, and washing the makeup from my face before tears have a chance to ruin it.
Everything else I can deal with another time, when I haven’t had three glasses of champagne and unraveled myself all because a beautiful woman was staring at my photo for too long and then my husband greeted her with his signature dimpled smile and sparkling-green gaze.
Brant peers over my shoulder toward a set of oncoming headlights and lifts his arm to hail the taxi.
“Get some rest,” he says, gathering the train of my dress and helping me in. Closing the door, he motions for me to lower the window. “I’ll have my phone on if you need anything.”
I appreciate his concern, but I can’t deny the tiniest voice in the back of my head telling me how strange it is for him to send me off without a second thought.
Taking my hand from his, I give him a small wave, catching the glint of his eyes as they reflect in the full moon above. Once upon a time, those eyes felt like home every time I looked into them.
Now all I see is that little girl.



Minka Kent has been crafting stories since before she could scribble her name. With a love of the literary dark and twisted, Minka cut her teeth on Goosebumps and Fear Street, graduated to Stephen King as a teenager, and now counts Gillian Flynn, Chevy Stevens, and Caroline Kepnes amongst her favorite authors and biggest influences. Minka has always been curious about good people who do bad things and loves to explore what happens when larger-than-life characters are placed in fascinating situations.

In her non-writing life, Minka is a thirty-something wife and mother who equally enjoys sunny and rainy days, loves freshly cut hydrangeas, hides behind oversized sunglasses, travels to warmer climates every chance she gets, and bakes sweet treats when the mood strikes (spoiler alert: it’s often).

Want to hear about sales and new releases? Sign up for her non-spammy newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/cwOMSD

#NewRelease “The Stillwater Girls” by Minka Kent

~~~

Two sisters raised in fear are about to find out why in a chilling novel of psychological suspense from the author of The Thinnest Air.

Ignorant of civilization and cautioned against its evils, nineteen-year-old Wren and her two sisters, Sage and Evie, were raised in off-the-grid isolation in a primitive cabin in upstate New York. When the youngest grows gravely ill, their mother leaves with the child to get help from a nearby town. And they never return.

As months pass, hope vanishes. Supplies are low. Livestock are dying. A brutal winter is bearing down. Then comes the stranger. He claims to be looking for the girls’ mother, and he’s not leaving without them.

To escape, Wren and her sister must break the rule they’ve grown up with: never go beyond the forest.

Past the thicket of dread, they come upon a house on the other side of the pines. This is where Wren and Sage must confront something more chilling than the unknowable. They’ll discover what’s been hidden from them, what they’re running from, and the secrets that have left them in the dark their entire lives.

Amazon – smarturl.it/StillwaterGirlsMK

Goodreads – http://bit.ly/2YSl5QJ

~~~

#ReleaseBlitz “The Stillwater Girls” by Minka Kent


Two sisters raised in fear are about to find out why in a chilling novel of psychological suspense from the author of The Thinnest Air.

Ignorant of civilization and cautioned against its evils, nineteen-year-old Wren and her two sisters, Sage and Evie, were raised in off-the-grid isolation in a primitive cabin in upstate New York. When the youngest grows gravely ill, their mother leaves with the child to get help from a nearby town. And they never return.

As months pass, hope vanishes. Supplies are low. Livestock are dying. A brutal winter is bearing down. Then comes the stranger. He claims to be looking for the girls’ mother, and he’s not leaving without them.

To escape, Wren and her sister must break the rule they’ve grown up with: never go beyond the forest.

Past the thicket of dread, they come upon a house on the other side of the pines. This is where Wren and Sage must confront something more chilling than the unknowable. They’ll discover what’s been hidden from them, what they’re running from, and the secrets that have left them in the dark their entire lives.


Minka Kent has been crafting stories since before she could scribble her name. With a love of the literary dark and twisted, Minka cut her teeth on Goosebumps and Fear Street, graduated to Stephen King as a teenager, and now counts Gillian Flynn, Chevy Stevens, and Caroline Kepnes amongst her favorite authors and biggest influences. Minka has always been curious about good people who do bad things and loves to explore what happens when larger-than-life characters are placed in fascinating situations.

In her non-writing life, Minka is a thirty-something wife and mother who equally enjoys sunny and rainy days, loves freshly cut hydrangeas, hides behind oversized sunglasses, travels to warmer climates every chance she gets, and bakes sweet treats when the mood strikes (spoiler alert: it’s often).

Want to hear about sales and new releases? Sign up for her non-spammy newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/cwOMSD

“The Perfect Roommate” by Minka Kent #BlogTour

She’s my roommate.

I know how she takes her tea, how she organizes her closet.

I know when she goes to bed each night, what she eats for breakfast, the passcode on her phone.

I know she calls her mother on Mondays, takes barre on Thursdays, and meets her friends for drinks on Fridays.

But more important than any of that … I know what she did.


It’s a pretty little house with an ugly little address.
47 Magpie Drive.
What should have been an ordinary Sunday kicked off with an eviction notice on my door and ended with my belongings shoved into wrinkled grocery sacks and the neighbor’s stolen WiFi on my computer. With just minutes to spare, I managed to find the perfect place—one that didn’t require credit checks, a huge deposit, or a long lease.
With clammy palms stuck to the peeling steering wheel of my ’97 Civic, I stare through my cracked windshield at an adorable white-washed brick ranch nestled in the heart of a family-friendly neighborhood south of Meyer State’s picturesque campus.
I find it difficult to believe that a college student lives here, but her ad was posted on the Tiger Paw Portal and a quick reverse search of her email address in the student directory revealed her name to be Lauren Wiedenfeld, senior in English Lit.
Just like me.
In fact, I recognized her photo immediately, having taken a good handful of classes with her over the years. Shiny ash blonde hair. Dimpled smile. Crystalline eyes accented by thick, curled lashes. I couldn’t count how many times I’d seen her stare past me like I was invisible.
Just like everyone else.
Sniffing my shirt, I’m relieved to drag the scent of dollar store fabric softener into my lungs. I was in such a hurry on my way out, I wasn’t sure if the clothes I’d grabbed were from the clean basket or not.
I need this girl to like me. If she doesn’t? I’m not sure where I’ll go. Apartments in this town come at a premium, and if it weren’t for the fact that my car needed new tires and a new transmission this winter, I might still be holed up in my studio right now. Un-homeless.
Killing my engine, I shove the keys in my purse and check my reflection in the rearview.
At least I got to shower today. My hair is clean, my teeth are brushed, and my pits are slicked with two layers of store-brand deodorant. Plus, I don’t reek of stale alcohol—which is more than most students around here can say on the weekends.
My hands threaten to tremble as I climb out of my car, and I try not to slam the door—I don’t want to seem careless. The ground wobbles beneath my feet. If I were a super hero, social awkwardness would be my power. My entire life, I’ve struggled to get out of my head, constantly overanalyzing every little word or movement or shift of a gaze. I’ve learned it’s easier to sit back and shut up. I find I don’t make as much of a fool out of myself that way. Quietude has become the law of my land, with silence being my official language.
But I don’t have a choice today.
If I want Lauren to welcome me with open arms as her shiny new roommate, I have to plaster a smile on my face, see her bubbly personality, and raise her one of my own.
After rapping on the front door a moment later, I wait with my arms straight at my sides. Signature awkwardness. My heart knocks in my chest before whooshing in my ears, and warmth blooms in my cheeks.
I haven’t officially met her and already I’m blushing.
Shit.
Inhaling a breath of frosty February air, I soften my expression, loosen my shoulders, and wrap my right hand around the worn leather strap of my purse. I’m not sure if this is what casual and confident looks like, but the sound of the door latch tells me I don’t have another second to try and figure it out.
“You must be Meadow?” I’m not sure what I was expecting, but Lauren is all smiles as she gets the door—as if she’s happy to see me. “Come in!”
The scent of soft gardenia emanates off a flickering boutique candle centered on her glass coffee table, and in the corner, the glow of diffused lamplight paints the room in a welcoming ambience. Her phone is docked on a set of speakers next to her TV, playing the kind of chill music I’d expect to hear in some upscale Manhattan bar.
“Have a seat wherever you’d like,” she says, lowering herself into a rattan chair covered in a faux fur throw. Lauren tucks her mile-long legs beneath her and adjusts her sweatshirt so it hangs just so, revealing a hint of her left shoulder. Her hair is piled on top of her head, and I’m convinced she’s one of only ten people on the planet who can make a messy mane look chic.
Glancing around before I settle in the middle of her gray linen sofa, I have to remind myself to talk. “Love your place. So cute.”
I can do this. I can be friendly even if I have to fake it. People like her don’t understand people like me—the quiet type. They think we’re weird. And no one wants to live with a weirdo.
Lauren’s face lights and she shrugs, almost as if the flattery makes her uncomfortable. “Thanks.”
“Is that your major? Interior design?” No way in hell I’m going to tell her I did a little research on her before I came here.
She shakes her head. “English lit. What about you?”
“Same.” I exhale, sinking into the cushions. She’s easier to talk to than I assumed she’d be. “I think we might have some classes together? I swear I’ve seen you in World Lit.”
Lauren laughs, rolling her eyes. “No kidding? I’m so oblivious most of the time.”
Of course.
That’s why she looked through me all those times …
I’m still not sure if I’m buying this cutesy, friendly shtick of hers because girls like her can be sickeningly fake when they want to be, but I’m willing to give her a shot if she’s willing to take a chance on me.
Besides, it’s not like I have any other options to fall back on.
“People probably think I’m some snob.” She waves her hand, endearing almost. “But I’m just in my own little world most of the time.”
I pride myself on my keen observational skills, something I’ve honed and polished to sheer perfection over the years … but I may have been wrong about this one.
Maybe.
“You thirsty?” Lauren rises from her chair, straightening her shirt and eyeing the doorway to her kitchen. Since she’s already up, I can’t exactly say no. “Fiji water? San Pellegrino? Tea? I’d offer you a glass of wine, but it’s only ten o’clock in the morning.”
I chuckle out of politeness, not because I think she’s funny. “Tap water is fine.”
Her expression falls, as if she’s unable to comprehend that my broke college student taste buds haven’t yet acquired the taste of artisanal water. “Meadow, the lead levels in the water here are off the charts. Haven’t you been following the news? It’s all they’re talking about anymore. And the city’s broke. No plans to do anything about it. I’m telling you, Bonnet Creek is going to be the next Flint, Michigan.”
She disappears around the corner before I get the chance to tell her that between working twenty-four, sometimes thirty hours a week cleaning houses and taking sixteen credits, I don’t exactly have time for late-breaking local news stories.
Lauren returns a moment later, a square bottle of luxury water in one hand and a floral printed paper napkin in the other. She places them before me, like a proper hostess, and I can’t help but wonder if she’ll always be this formal once we live together.
If we live together.
This has to be an act.
People aren’t actually this formal, are they? At least the ones back home, the ones I grew up around, weren’t. I’ve never heard of anyone needing a coaster to go with their bottled water.
Then again, this coffee table looks pricy with its reclaimed wooden legs and crystal-clear glass top.
“Thanks.” I take the water from her, unscrewing the cap and ensuring I don’t so much as spill a drop.
This place is much too nice of a dwelling for a typical Meyer State student. Her family clearly comes from money.
I’ll try not to resent her for that.
“So, tell me about yourself.” Lauren settles into her chair again, resting her elbow on her knee and her chin on her hand, leaning toward me. My Intro to Psychology professor taught us years ago that when someone leans in to you, they’re interested, genuinely interested in what you have to say. “What’s your schedule like? Who’s your ideal roommate? Do you smoke? Throw parties?”
Brows lifted, I let her questions marinate, unsure of where to begin. “Oh. Um. I don’t smoke or drink. I don’t party. So nothing to worry about there. I work. Part-time. And when I’m not working, I’m home. Usually studying. I don’t make a lot of noise. Basically, I’m a clean-freak, studious homebody.”
My cheeks flush and I feel myself growing flustered, but the fact that she isn’t staring at me like I’m some kind of social reject is somewhat reassuring. I suppose I’ve never stopped to examine my uneventful existence, but I’ve always been content to keep to myself.
It’s better if I don’t know what I’m missing out on.
Lauren’s face is lit as I ramble on, like I’m telling her everything she wants to hear.
“Okay, so what do you do for fun?” she asks.
I was hoping I could avoid that question. Pretty sure to someone like Lauren, I’m a shining example of a boring bookworm. Not the kind of person she’d be caught dead with.
“I like to see plays,” I lie. I don’t have money for a theater membership. Not even with the gracious 50% student discount. “And I see movies.”
At the dollar theater. Maybe once every three months.
“Do you ever do Friday After Class at Wellman’s?” she asks. “They have dollar wells from four to six.”
Beer. Pass.
“Sometimes,” I lie. Again.
Lauren sinks back, eyes still glued on me. “That place is always crazy packed. I bet we’ve been there at the same time and never even noticed.”
Taking a sip of water, I nod. “I’m sure.”
My tone echoes hers, something I do when I’m nervous. It’s like second nature, adopting her body language, her intonations, the cadence of her words.
“Where do you work?” she asks.
I push a breath through my nostrils and roll my eyes. “Sparkle Shine Cleaning Co.”
I hate that fucking name.
And the Minion-yellow car I’m forced to drive from client to client, the one that matches the Minion-yellow uniform I’m forced to clothe myself with.
But the pay is decent.
And it sure as hell beats working in food service. Food service means interacting with people all day long, being yelled at by customers when the kitchen screwed up their order or their fork has a water spot on it or I’m not refilling their third glass of Diet Coke fast enough.
No thanks.
“Never heard of it,” Lauren says. “Do you like it?”
What kind of question is that? And what does she expect me to say? That I love scrubbing people’s shit-stained toilets? Don’t even get me started on some of the bathrooms I’ve had the pleasure of bleaching from floor to ceiling. Rich people—or people rich enough to pay someone to clean their house for them—aren’t always as clean as one might expect.
I shrug and offer a tepid smile. “It’s a job. What about you? Do you work?”
Lauren bites her lip and scrunches her face, hesitating for a second. “I don’t.”
Of course not.
“My parents want me to focus on my studies,” she says, as if that makes up for her good fortune. “They said school should be my full-time job, so I get a monthly stipend as long as I keep my grades up. They did the same for my brother. They actually own this house. My brother lived here when he went to Meyer State and my younger sister will live here next year when she’s a freshman. My parents didn’t want to throw money away on rent, I guess. That’s their excuse anyway. If you ask me, I think it’s just a way for them to control their adult children.”
She huffs. I huff.
“Anyway.” Lauren shrugs, studying me, perhaps silently waiting for me to judge her. I keep a poker face.
“So what happened to the roommate before me?” I ask.
“I’ve never had one.”
“Okay. So, why now?”
Exhaling, Lauren says, “So that stipend? It’s based on my GPA. Last semester, I kind of got a little … distracted … and I failed a class. First time in my life. It was a seven AM on the north side of campus on Friday mornings. Anyway. It’s no excuse. I failed it. GPA plunged. Parents were livid. Chopped my stipend in half—essentially barring me from having fun. Their way of punishing their twenty-three-year-old daughter.”
“Oh.” Nice to know I’m scrubbing toilets so she can get wasted with her friends.
This explains everything. The lack of a deposit, the lack of a lease or a background check. She’s desperate for some supplemental income, willing to take in a stranger to maintain her cushy little life.
“Just to let you know … my parents won’t know you’re living here,” she’s quick to add. “And you’ll only be able to stay through May. Maybe July. Depends on how quickly I land a job after graduation. I hope that works?”
So, she likes me.
She’s choosing me.
Just like that.
“That’s perfect actually,” I say. “I’m graduating too. Hoping to get the hell out of here.”
I wear a smile that matches hers and we bask in a moment of mutual understanding for a single, endless second. Our desire to leave Bonnet Creek might be the only thing we have in common, but I’ll take it.
“You want me to show you around?” Lauren rises from her seat and straightens the hem of her top.
Returning my water to its floral napkin resting place, I stand. “Sure.”



Minka Kent has been crafting stories since before she could scribble her name. With a love of the literary dark and twisted, Minka cut her teeth on Goosebumps and Fear Street, graduated to Stephen King as a teenager, and now counts Gillian Flynn, Chevy Stevens, and Caroline Kepnes amongst her favorite authors and biggest influences. Minka has always been curious about good people who do bad things and loves to explore what happens when larger-than-life characters are placed in fascinating situations.

In her non-writing life, Minka is a thirty-something wife and mother who equally enjoys sunny and rainy days, loves freshly cut hydrangeas, hides behind oversized sunglasses, travels to warmer climates every chance she gets, and bakes sweet treats when the mood strikes (spoiler alert: it’s often).

Want to hear about sales and new releases? Sign up for her non-spammy newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/cwOMSD

“The Perfect Roommate” by Minka Kent #ReleaseBlitz

 

 

 

 

 

She’s my roommate.

I know how she takes her tea, how she organizes her closet.

I know when she goes to bed each night, what she eats for breakfast, the passcode on her phone.

I know she calls her mother on Mondays, takes barre on Thursdays, and meets her friends for drinks on Fridays.

But more important than any of that … I know what she did.

 

 

 



 

 

 

Minka Kent has been crafting stories since before she could scribble her name. With a love of the literary dark and twisted, Minka cut her teeth on Goosebumps and Fear Street, graduated to Stephen King as a teenager, and now counts Gillian Flynn, Chevy Stevens, and Caroline Kepnes amongst her favorite authors and biggest influences. Minka has always been curious about good people who do bad things and loves to explore what happens when larger-than-life characters are placed in fascinating situations.

In her non-writing life, Minka is a thirty-something wife and mother who equally enjoys sunny and rainy days, loves freshly cut hydrangeas, hides behind oversized sunglasses, travels to warmer climates every chance she gets, and bakes sweet treats when the mood strikes (spoiler alert: it’s often).

Want to hear about sales and new releases? Sign up for her non-spammy newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/cwOMSD