Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Prom Night with Zach and Aura

EDITED 8/13 TO ADD WINNERS!!

The 6 printed, illustrated versions of Zachary's novella, "Shattered," have been won by the following folks:

Traci @The Reading Geek
Suzanne
cristina
alicia marie
Marisol Gaddi
Poochylover

Congrats! I have emails for everyone but Suzanne, so Suzanne, please email your mailing address to me at jeri AT jerismithready DOT com within the next week, or I will draw another name. 

Also, I wrote a rough draft of the de-kilting scene over the weekend. Half of it is funny and cute, and the other half is just, ugh, so awfully cheesy. I'll have another go at it next weekend and try to get it ready for public consumption. I'm still working on it, trying to make it worthy of Zach and Aura. Hopefully it'll be done in October once I get past this deadline. Thanks for your patience!

If you're looking for a Crush Tourney wrapup post, check out Fictitious Delicious's phenomenal summary with links and fundraising totals and all sorts of goodness. And this SHADEboys tumblr post pretty much sums up my own feelings.


For every 100 votes Zachary gets in the YA Crush Tourney Round 2, I'll add another 100 words to this little story about Senior Prom. Aura briefly alluded to it in the final chapter of SHINE, but she gave no details other than "yeah, he wore the kilt."

I think it's time for details.

I only wrote about 1000 (unpolished) words ahead of time, which means eventually I’ll be writing on the fly. Who knows what joys and griefs await Aura and Zachary? All I know is that it'll be fun for those of us watching at home. 

Oh, if Zachary wins this round, I’ll finish the story and get Aura and Zach back to their hotel room.

If Zachary wins this round, that kilt is coming off.

EDITED 7/26 TO ADD: The story is now finished--I hope you enjoy it! Much of it was written on-the-fly, which was an interesting experience, one that forced me to forgo my perfectionism and just ride the flow of the story. It's a bit goofy, but that's part of the fun.


The first 100 words are free:

----


“That dress is killing me.”

Aura smiles in response and gives a self-conscious tug on the hem of her skirt. The black dress is short in the front, mid-thigh, but long in the back, and flowing all round, so that the right breeze might lift it farther. At least in my imagination.

“Only a spectacular dress would keep you from upstaging me in that.” She leans back on the limousine’s leather seat and gestures to my kilt, stopping a few inches short, as if it’s a sacred relic.

“What, this auld thing?” I smooth down the green wool over my right thigh. I’m not usually one who cares for clothes, but I’ll not lie—I love this whole getup: the kilt, the jacket, the vest, the sporran…even the shoes that lace up and around my calves, tied in a neat bow in front.

It took literally hours to make it all perfect, with no one to help me this year. But worth it. Wearing the kilt is like a following a thread to the past, tapping into the strength of my blood.

Also, it’s incredibly expensive, so I feel a wee bit James Bond. On the outside, at least.

Inside I’m wound tight, and not because of the way the black dress dips between her breasts, the neckline framing them in a silver beaded V that says, “Here, ya numpty! Look here!” Were it not for the all-too-short hour together in my hotel room last night, we’d be ruining each other this moment. My mouth would be smearing her makeup and my hands tangling her hair. That maddening skirt of hers would be hitched up to her waist so her bare legs could wrap around me and—

A’right, her dress isn’t the only reason I’m tense.

It’s being here again, gliding down roads I traveled without care for eight months. While I lived here last year, I feared for many things—my father’s life, my happiness with Aura, my ability to not crash a car. But I never feared for my freedom. Why would I, in the land of the free?

We pass the street that leads to the regional DMP office. My chest thickens, as if my heart’s filling it up with its uneven, swollen beats.

“Zach, what’s wrong?”

The word, “Nothing” comes out before her question is even finished. “It’s a wee bit stuffy in here.” My fingers fumble for the window controls, and I press the first one I find.

A hole in the roof of the car slides open. “Ah, that’s better. Let’s pop our heids oot, like dugs.” At her confused look, I drop open my mouth and stick out my tongue in a look of canine joy.

She laughs. “Definitely on the way home tonight, once my hair’s already a disaster.”

Good, we’ve changed the subject from my state of mind. “I’m glad you wore it doon.” I risk a brief touch of one long, dark brown lock, just my fingertips.

Mistake: I want to bury my hands in all of her hair, now.

“With the strapless dress, I had to, or I’d feel naked.”

Her little laugh after she says the last word goes straight to the base of my spine. I try not to groan, but there’s one less-than-perfect element to my ensemble, a foreign element that’s suddenly become quite, em, constrictive.

I brush my bare knee against hers. Her lower lip pulls in, just a bit.

“Ye can touch it,” I tell her. “It won’t break.”

She clears her throat. “What?”

“The kilt.”

“Oh! Okay.” Slowly Aura rests her hand on  my right hip, closest to her, then she breaks into a smile. “Wow, it’s softer than it looks.”

Nae comment.

She clears her throat. “I mean, I thought, since it’s wool, that it’d feel like a sheep.”

“Sheep are softer than they look, too.” That didn’t come out right.

Her hand drifts down to the hem. “Is it okay if—can I?”

I nod, since my lungs are too tight to breathe, much less help me speak. I close my eyes as she slips her fingers underneath the kilt. I know it’s curiosity as much as lust on her part, but I don’t care.

Her hand stops at the top of my thigh, as I knew it would. “Wait. What’s this?”

“What’s what?”

Aura pulls back. “You’re wearing briefs? I thought you didn’t wear anything under the kilt.”

“Usually, but this is prom. I plan to be oot there spinnin’ on the dance floor. It’s dodgy.”

She gives me a sideways look. “You’re telling me you don’t know how to dance in a kilt without flashing the world?”

There’s no point in arguing with Aura, so I tell her the truth. “It’s the rules.”

“Whose rules?”

“Yer school’s. Last year before junior prom, Principal Hirsch called me to his office just to tell me to wear something under my kilt.”

“Principal Hirsch ordered you to wear underwear?”

“Basically. I wouldnae dae it otherwise, especially not these…” I shift on the seat. “I’m a boxer man, you know that.”

“Why not wear boxers under the kilt, then?”

“Same reason you don’t wear shorts under yer skirt. It ruins the streamlined look.”

She heaves a frustrated sigh. “Zach, this is stupid. You don’t even go to our school anymore. It’s not like he can give you detention.”

“But he could make us leave the dance. I don’t want that.” I brush my hand over her bare shoulder, where there’s the faintest subtle dusting of glitter. “I want tonight to be perfect.”

“Me, too.” Aura turns her head to rest her cheek against my palm, then lifts her dark gaze to meet mine. “So take them off.”

I swallow hard, wondering if she’s serious. “Sorry?” My voice comes half an octave higher than usual.

“Take them off. I don’t care if we get kicked out. I want you to be comfortable. I want you to be you.”

I feel I should argue. I always argue. But I can’t think of a good reason—or even a bad reason—to deny her this. I do consider a negotiation, however, asking her to remove her own underwear as well.  But she’ll say no, and then if I say yes, anyway, I’ll look weak.

“Compromise. I’ll take them off now, but only until the dance.”

One side of her mouth curves down. “’K,” she says, her flat tone in complete disagreement with her letter-word.

I glance at the driver, who suddenly seems much closer than before. But he’s no doubt seen worse, and anyway, the window between him and us is tinted.

Still, I keep the kilt down as I slip the briefs off my hips and over my legs. They get tangled about my knees, of course. I’m careful not to disturb the laces around my calves as I stand to step out of the hateful piece of cloth.

I give a deep breath of relief as I sit back down. Now the outfit is perfect.

“Told you you’d feel better,” she says. “These are nice, by the way.” Aura examines the scrap of blue silk, which looks small and pathetic. “Now close your eyes.”

A smirk slips over my lips. “Why?”

Aura looks at the tinted windows on either side of the limo. We’re entering the expressway headed south, a good ten minutes from the restaurant. “Just do it.”

“No, you cannae win this battle.” I try to hold onto the smirk, but it falters. She still doesn’t know how hard it is to close my eyes, whether I’m alone or with someone, even her. It’s been almost a year, yet sometimes I still see that void on the backs of my lids. I still worry that when I open them, there’ll be nothing but a white ceiling.

“Then I’ll have to find another way to surprise you.” Her wide, innocent smile turns dark and ominous. She waves my briefs at arm’s length, then stands, steps back, and tosses them out the sunroof. All before I can move an inch.

“What the—” I can do nothing but turn and watch the tiny scrap of cloth tumble down the road, tossed by the wind. Far behind us, a red pickup truck runs it over.

Aura sits beside me again, smoothes her hair, then folds her hands in her lap. “You can thank me later.”


#

If I hadn’t once been a rock star’s girlfriend, I’d totally freak out right now.

My classmates swarmed Zach the moment we walked through the door. They all loved him last year when he went to Ridgewood, and absence makes the heart grow insaner, I guess. He’s created a human traffic jam here in the foyer, with his tux and kilt and that accent, which is so much stronger now that he’s been living in Glasgow.

As is he. It’s hard to even glance at him without remembering how the contours of his muscles looked and felt last night in his hotel room. He always had a good body, but in that general-fitness-healthy-weight sort of way that guys have when they play sports instead of video games for fun. Above average, but nothing extraordinary.

But now…he’s several standard deviations above the mean.


(Author's note: I thought an image might help, since visual descriptions are not my strong suit. :-)

(Back to Aura now.)


I hated leaving Zachary last night, and not just because he’s more delicious and addictive than all my grandmom’s Italian pastries combined. I knew it was his first night spent alone in months, since…

My gut curdles at the thought of what they did to him. He thinks I don’t see the fear flash across his face at the commonplace sight of a white DMP van, that I don’t feel the tension in his fingers grasping mine. He’s afraid of my country.

But based on the attention he’s getting right now, he’s warming up to it again.

“Zach, you look amazing!” My best friend Megan shoulders the forty thousand other girls out of the way to hug him. I send her a mental thank you and try not to laugh when she stomps on Tori Benson’s toes.

“Hey, Aura,” says a warm, familiar voice behind me. I turn to see Dylan, Megan’s date—also, my date last year and younger brother to my dead ex-boyfriend.

This should be awkward. “Hi, Dylan.”

“Hey. You look…amazing, of course.” He shifts his feet awkwardly, and in one second I’m taken back to a year ago, when we stood on this spot and he admitted he wanted me. He did that same foot-shift.

But things have changed. He’s with Megan now, sort of. It must just be the memories.

Zachary’s at my side in an instant, extricated by Megan from the crowd of admirers. “Hiya, Dylan.”

“Hey.” Dylan lifts his chin, then points to his own cheek. “Got a little lipstick there, bro.”


Zachary’s eyes widen, and he reaches for the handkerchief in his tux pocket.

“You do not,” I tell him.

Dylan shrugs and looks away. “Sorry, guess it was the light.”

For a moment, we all say nothing, and the James Bond theme playing at the photo booth behind us seems suddenly loud.

And then, a moment later, it gets even louder, as all the voices in the foyer stop.

“It’s okay, kids!” says a deep, authoritative voice. “Just have your fun. Nothing to see here.”

I step to my right to look between Zachary and Megan. Four DMP agents in white uniforms are at the front door, blocking the exit.

“What the hell are dumpers doing here?” Dylan says.

Zach freezes. Megan puts a protective hand on his arm. “You have GOT to be kidding me,” she growls.

The two youngest, buffest agents step forward. “Mr. Moore, we’d like you to come with us.”

Zach’s eyes meet mine. He wants to run, I can tell. So do I.

But the last time he was detained and resisted arrest, trying to defend his mom and sick father from the FBI, they used it as an excuse to keep him. And from the FBI, it only got worse.

I move forward to press against him, entwining my arm with his. “They won’t take you alone.”

#

F***ing hell. Another van. Same dark interior, same white uniformed agents.

I really need to stay oot of this country.

Aura stays close beside me in the rear of the vehicle. Not huddling, though, or looking to me to protect her. I know she’s pepper spray in her purse, and they’ve not taken it. They’ve not searched me, either.

That’s how I know they’re fake. They aren’t the DMP agents they pretend to be.

Their guns, however, are real. I’ve been shot once, with no desire to repeat that experience. Staring at the bigger “agent’s” sidearm, I rub the exit-wound scar just under my right collarbone. Aura notices, and I stop, putting my hand back in hers.

If they’re not DMP, could they be Nighthawk? If so, we could be on our way to a quiet execution in some dismal swamp. Or to a concrete interrogation cell.

I won’t let them take her. They can beat me, cut me, break me, and it’d be nothing compared to what I endured last summer. All for Aura.

We slow for a traffic light. Through the front window I can see we’re at the intersection of Pratt Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard, only a few streets from the exit to the highway. This could be our last chance.

Aura sees it, too, and slips her feet out of her high-heeled shoes, ready to run.

The van starts to ease into the right lane, then suddenly swerves left. I grab Aura as we’re thrown back against the wall of the van. My head slams something hard, making my skull reverberate with pain in every direction.

One wheel of the van bounces onto the median strip of the boulevard. The “agents” across from us spill onto the floor. Aura yelps in fear, and my mind fills with the image of the traffic coming the other way.

But the van lurches to a halt. The bigger chap, the one with the shaved head and sunglasses, reaches across the floor for a dark, dull grey shape.

The pistol he dropped.

In a split second that seems an hour, I choose between tackling him or going for the gun. But it’s too far to get and he’s too big to overcome.

I opt for the third choice. Reaching under the left side of my kilt, I jerk down the collapsible Smith & Wesson baton attached to the inside of my belt. The clasp releases, and with one hard snap of my wrist, the baton expands from the length of my hand to the length of my arm. Two feet of steel encased in solid black rubber.

Aye, that’s what’s under this lad’s kilt.

The thug’s hand closes around the pistol’s barrel, but before he can lift it, I slam the end of my baton on his knuckles. He howls in pain and lets go, long enough for me to kick the gun out of his reach, with my heel so it goes behind me.

The guy grabs my ankle. In adrenalin-fueled panic, I crack the baton against his wrist again and again. Finally he releases me, and I stumble back.

Behind me comes a Valkyrie screech, then a man’s high-pitched cry of pain. I turn my head to see the other agent on his knees, covering his left eye. Aura draws back for another blow, wielding her spiked-heeled shoe. His other hand snakes out, seizes her wrist.

“NO!” Swinging the baton with both hands, I bring it down and around with full force, against the back of his shoulder. He pitches forward, dragging her with him onto the floor.

I raise the baton again, ready to bash in his head, knowing it could mean losing my freedom forever. I’ve given that up for her once. I’d do it again, for the rest of my life, if that’s what it takes.

The rear doors open, letting in a flood of flashing red and blue lights. Four police officers stand with their weapons drawn, shouting words so fast I can’t understand.  I step back, drop the baton, and put my hands up.



[Author's note: I was asked what the baton looks like. Here it is in its deployed state. Collapsed and concealed it would just be the part on the right that looks like a handle.]

But for once, the guns aren’t pointing at me.

“Kids, it’s all right,” one of the uniformed officers says. “Come on out of there. Careful.” He steps forward, offering a hand to Aura while his partner trains the gun on the man who was holding her.

Behind them on the median strip, Dylan and Megan, along with two other students whose names I can’t remember, are standing next to a female officer. The right front bumper of Dylan's black SUV is streaked with white paint, the same white of the van I’m standing in now.

Nice one, mate. 

I pick up the baton I dropped and step around the fake agent.

“I’ll take that club,” says the young officer helping us out of the van. “You know it’s illegal to carry a concealed weapon in the State of Maryland.”

I wobble a bit as I step down onto the grassy median. Still dazed from the fight, I look at the baton held at my side. “It’s not concealed. Where would I—”

“Here.” The officer takes the baton from me and jabs the end against the side of the van. With a bang and a zip, the thing collapses back to its original eight-and-a-half-inch length. He holds it up. “You could hide that anywhere.” He glances down at my kilt and shakes his head. “Man, something new every day in this job.”


#

By the time Zach and I—and Megan, Dylan, Jenna, and Christopher, who saved our butts by running the kidnappers’ van off the road—finish at the police station, the prom is almost over.

Gina showed up—as my aunt to make sure I was okay, and as a lawyer, to make sure they didn’t charge Zachary with the misdemeanor of carrying a concealed weapon under his kilt. It was one of those gray areas where law enforcement can use its discretion. Zach did, after all, fend off people who were trying to kidnap us.

They weren’t really DMP agents, which we’d figured out. But they knew we were the First and the Last, born on either side of the Shift. It was only a matter of time before some random criminals thought we’d be valuable enough to hold for ransom.

I wish I could say this was the worst Prom Night ever, but it still beats last year. I’d rather be kidnapped at gunpoint than watch Zachary dance with Becca Goldman. Probably.

When we arrive back at Ridgewood High, most of our classmates have left, off partying in hotel rooms or people’s houses. The photographer is breaking down his cheesy James Bond casino backdrop, and the “bar” is all out of “mocktinis.” Sadness.

In the gymnasium, where the pulled-back bleachers are draped in silver, black, and gold, there are maybe twenty people still on the dance floor, jamming to a nu-metal/hip-hop mashup.

“Wait here.” Zach squeezes my hand and heads for the DJ station. I watch him walk away, his stride confident and steady, the kilt brushing the top edge of the backs of his knees.

“Wow.” Megan puts her arm around my shoulders and watches him with me. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I am at this moment burning that mental picture into my permanent memory.”

Dylan comes to stand on my other side, then sighs. “Takes a lot of, um, guts to wear that.”

I nudge him with my elbow. “Thanks again for saving our lives. Or almost killing us.”

He shrugs. “Since Operation Scot Free last summer was a complete fail, I had to try version 2.0.”

In a minute, Zachary returns to us, looking a little nervous.

“What’s wrong?” I ask him.

“Nothing.” He gives a quick tug to each sleeve of his short black tuxedo jacket. “I hope you like the song I chose.”

“Why wouldn’t I—” I cut myself off as the pounding bass fades into a sweet acoustic guitar. “Oh.”

He bites his upper lip, dark brows pinching together. “Is it a’right, then?”

“Zach, you…”

Any other words are useless, especially considering the song. I step close to him, wrap my arms around his neck, and pull him into a sweet, aching kiss.

Zachary makes that low, soft sound in the back of his throat and draws me closer, his hands firm around my waist. He deepens the kiss as Alison Krauss breaks into the chorus of “When You Say Nothing at All.”

“We’ll just be over…away…now,” Megan says. “Yeah.”

When Zachary and I finally open our eyes, she and Dylan are gone. We start to dance, our bodies pressed together, barely moving.

“I really wanted to do that last year,” I tell him, “when we were dancing to this song.”

“Aye, me, too.”

“Why didn’t we? Besides the fact that we had other dates.”

“Because we were daft.” He brushes his lips over the corner of my jaw, right below my ear. “Because we didn’t know we were already together.”

We stop talking, letting the wisdom of the song dissolve our past foolishness.

So many have tried to steal our future. They put Zachary away, tried to shatter his spirit and shake my faith. All to gain the powers we were born with, the powers that become something new and world-changing when we’re together.

But no matter the odds, or the ferocity of our foes, somehow we always come out stronger, and closer, and more hopeful than ever.

And that? Is the best power of all.

The End


(A short hotel-room epilogue to come in a separate post!)


-----

Want more? Vote for Zach now! You can vote once per browser, per device, from what I'm told.

EDITED TO ADD: Some nice person added this scene to GoodReads, so rate it if you like. Don't worry--I won't look.

Voting has now ended, and Zach didn't win in terms of getting the most votes, but Team Kilt made a brave showing and had a brilliant time. Thank you SO MUCH for all your support. It really meant a lot to me. 

In the meantime, you have through the end of Friday to enter by commenting on this post. Thanks!

Comment on this post to be entered to win an exclusive printed, illustrated (with photos!) version of "Shattered," Zachary's upcoming novella. One will be given away for every 500 votes Zachary receives. (EDITED TO ADD: These will not be available when the novella comes out--it will be ebook only.)

Open to international entries. Deadline: Friday, July 27.

Labels: , , ,

144 Comments:

I will definitely be voting for Zach!
*fingers crossed!*

Posted by: Blogger Michelle @ Hooked to Books at 7/24/2012 10:55 PM

I'm writing this is as I am screaming like reading those 100 words, which I have been reading all day! xD

Wow, a printed copy of Shattered, I'd love to have one!

And what can I say? ever since I join Team Kilt, my life is definitely brighter, I love every single thing about it, specially the wonderful people and Jeri of course!

Whatever happens, we do this for our love for this series, so let's have some fun and do our best, ok?

Team Kilt Forever!!

Posted by: Blogger Gaby Pendragon at 7/24/2012 11:11 PM

:o Now this is exciting.

I will definitely be voting and joining in the festivities for a while, as well as bribing people... I mean, ASKING PEOPLE NICELY... to vote.

Win or lose (hopefully win, but hey), we know #TeamKilt is already made of win.

Posted by: Blogger Ashley @ Book Labyrinth at 7/24/2012 11:13 PM

EEP!!

I'm going to do my bestest to get everyone I know (and some people I don't) to vote for Zach so we can get that kilt off!!

Posted by: Blogger Judy (shellseeker93) at 7/24/2012 11:18 PM

I can't wait to read more of the Prom Scene. Definitely going to be spreading the word to get Zach votes!

Posted by: Blogger Kimberley S at 7/24/2012 11:27 PM

WE NEED TO BE REALLY GOOD GUYS. I remember the Shine chat when I was asking about this scene. Now we might finally get it!

Posted by: Blogger Jill Kaplan at 7/25/2012 12:18 AM

I really hope #TeamKilt can pull off the win!!! That'd be super wicked!!! :)

Posted by: Blogger smiling_ina at 7/25/2012 12:26 AM

Love this! #TeamKilt FTW!

Posted by: Blogger mary at 7/25/2012 12:37 AM

Promy-goodness with Zach and Aura? Thank you, Jeri!

N.F.F. #TeamKilt!!

Posted by: Blogger Marissa at 7/25/2012 12:45 AM

Oh Jeri, I think I'm going to LOVE this story ;)

Posted by: Blogger writer.dreamer at 7/25/2012 12:46 AM

Already loving the first part of the Prom Night with Zach and Aura! Go Team Kilt!!

Posted by: Blogger Traci @ The Reading Geek at 7/25/2012 12:49 AM

As if we didn't already have a million reasons to vote for Zach. But still...thank you for reason 1,000,001 ;o)

Can't wait to read the rest! I'll be voting from every browser on every computer in my house.

Posted by: Blogger Erin_Schultz at 7/25/2012 12:50 AM

I'm loving this so far! Can't wait to read more!

TEAM KILT!

Posted by: Blogger Tabitha at 7/25/2012 12:55 AM

I'm about to die over here!! Love my some Zachary!!

Posted by: Blogger Cartmill Crew at 7/25/2012 12:55 AM

After reading that Zach isn't the only one that's tense! I'm on the edge of my seat here!

Posted by: Blogger Saleana at 7/25/2012 1:05 AM

Go Team Kilt! Thank you for doing this!

Posted by: Blogger Suzanne at 7/25/2012 1:10 AM

Go Zachary!!! YAY TeamKilt u guys rock!!! Thanks Jeri!!!!

Posted by: Blogger jware at 7/25/2012 1:13 AM

I have voted for Zach! Go Team Kilt!

Posted by: Blogger Jenn Nix at 7/25/2012 1:16 AM

Voted once, waiting for tomorrow to get the real votes in. Gah I want more of this story!!

Posted by: Blogger Poochylover at 7/25/2012 1:17 AM

hahahha Zach is such a boy. :D This, Jeri, is awesome. And you know I voted/am voting for him anyway. :D

Posted by: Blogger Julianna Helms at 7/25/2012 1:35 AM

Loving the prom scene incentive! You rock!! Stayed up way past my bedtime on a work night for team kilt! Tweeting resumes tomorrow.

Posted by: Blogger Mandie Baxter at 7/25/2012 1:54 AM

Loving this prom scene. Hope we can take off that kilt soon enough! Team Kilt FTW!

Posted by: Blogger cristina at 7/25/2012 2:12 AM

voted for Zach! love the prom scene! :) team kilt all the way!!

Posted by: Blogger elsie chan at 7/25/2012 2:56 AM

Voted for our sexy kilt-wearing hottie named Zach ;) Awesome incentives!!

Posted by: Blogger Pavan at 7/25/2012 3:12 AM

Oh my word... this is gettin' good! I can't wait to hear more and more of the prom night story. You're simply amazing, Jeri! I LOVE TEAM KILT!!! Go Zachary! <3

Posted by: Blogger LitzaLou at 7/25/2012 3:28 AM

Arrrgghhh LOVED it:)

I've voted and have a little giveaway of my own up too.

Posted by: Blogger My keeper shelf at 7/25/2012 4:35 AM

What an amazing incencitive, i want that book so bad! But to be honest hou had me when you said the kilt would go :P I now started to harass some friends for their votes and i have to admit i voted at home, from work and from my cell

Team Kilt all the way!!

Posted by: Blogger devil_gurl at 7/25/2012 4:42 AM

Congratulations on making round 2! I can't wait for more of the prom scene. =)

Posted by: Blogger Raychelle Smith at 7/25/2012 5:29 AM

I can't believe I only found out about the Crush Tourney today, but to make up for it I voted for Zach every way I could (phone, computer, laptop, kindle etc) :) I loved the Shade Trilogy and that scene!

Posted by: Blogger Sharon at 7/25/2012 5:50 AM

Okay, cast my vote for our guy! :) Go Team Kilt!
Can't wait to read Shattered and I'm loving this Senior Prom story so far. :D
Thanks Jeri, for giving us such great characters & fantastic stories!

Posted by: Blogger smj587 at 7/25/2012 7:05 AM

Voted for Zachary every way possible at my house and will be doing it again at kidlets' house!! Also not above bribery, begging, pleading, and groveling for others to vote : ) Love Senior Prom Story! Thanks for the awesome incentive!!

Posted by: Blogger alicia marie at 7/25/2012 7:42 AM

voted! #TeamKilt!

Posted by: Blogger Lisa at 7/25/2012 8:03 AM

Vote, Vote, Vote...I need to know what is under that kilt ;-)

Posted by: Blogger Malissa at 7/25/2012 8:30 AM

I voted for him fist thing in the morning from all my devices at home :D He must win!

Posted by: Blogger Veronika at 7/25/2012 8:36 AM

I am laughing AND fanning my face right now! :D That dress is gorgeous - LOVE IT! #TeamKilt FTW!!!

Posted by: Blogger Jen at 7/25/2012 8:36 AM

WOW! I'm loving the dress! ZACHARY MUST WIN! Damn, I need that kilt off.

#TeamKilt or should I say...#TeamNOKilt

Posted by: Blogger Sam at 7/25/2012 8:42 AM

I was vote 850 (38%) and the other guy was 68%(1395) BOO!!!! we need more votes

Posted by: Blogger TracyH at 7/25/2012 8:44 AM

OMG. I AM LOVING THIS. GOING CRAZY HERE!!!!

Got to look for more peeps to vote for Zach! Must finish reading this

Posted by: Blogger Marisol Gaddi at 7/25/2012 9:34 AM

I'm vote vote voting for Zach! Ahhh, such an excellent little story up there. But you know how much I love Zachary. :) And Logan, but this is TOTALLY about Zachary... sigh... (stares off into space dreaming of Zach) hehe

Posted by: Blogger Bwyatt at 7/25/2012 9:36 AM

Whoa!!!!! Talk about HOT!!!! And funny!! I love this scene!!! :) Zach's already got my vote!

Posted by: Blogger Vi Nguyen at 7/25/2012 9:38 AM

ZACH FTW!!!
I have now officially run out of devices to vote on for Zachary.
A printed copy of Shattered *fingers crossed I win one*
Team Kilt 4ever!

Posted by: Blogger JennH at 7/25/2012 10:01 AM

Wow! I'm a bit glad I was behind on this, the wait for more is torturous enough ;)

And I voted for Zach--whoohoo!!

Posted by: Blogger Mag @ Geek Chic at 7/25/2012 10:16 AM

Oh holy hell. *fans self*

Posted by: Blogger Ginger @ GReads! at 7/25/2012 10:22 AM

GO ZACH!

Posted by: Blogger Victoria Anne at 7/25/2012 10:33 AM

Jeri, I love it!! Just a little bit of Zachary before bed (nearly 1am here)!! Looking forward to reading more in the morning!! Go ZACH!! #TeamKilt forever!! I cannot tell you how awesome a printed copy of "Shattered" would be!! <3

Posted by: Blogger thelastunicorn at 7/25/2012 10:47 AM

Omg vote for Zach ppl I want more!! *Squee*

Posted by: Blogger JessicaLou at 7/25/2012 10:57 AM

Man, I love Zach. A copy of Shattered would be amazing!

Posted by: Blogger So Many Books, So Little Time at 7/25/2012 10:58 AM

Go Zachary! Voted for him!

Posted by: Blogger Ana Maria C at 7/25/2012 11:06 AM

I voted for Zach!! #Team Kilt for the win!!

Posted by: Blogger Megan at 7/25/2012 11:09 AM

I'm torn on whether I should read it now or wait until voting ends. I have a feeling I'll have a hard time waiting. It will be very similar to the hard time I had waiting to vote. I didn't make it until morning. Now I have to sit ALL DAY without voting. I will spread the word, but it's just not the same as doing the voting myself!

Posted by: Blogger Lindsey at 7/25/2012 11:16 AM

O.M.G.!!!!!!!! Loooooooove it! *faints*
How can you not vote for Zach??

Posted by: Blogger Pao Martinez Parente at 7/25/2012 11:16 AM

Great start! Looking forward to reading more! And would love a print copy of "Shattered" to add to my bookshelf!

Posted by: Blogger Leighann at 7/25/2012 11:31 AM

Oh, how I want to read more!!! I wish we could vote multiple times in one day!! As I voted, Zach was behind. Booooo!!! Time to rally the troops!! Let's get him up there girls!!

Posted by: Blogger Virginia Carter at 7/25/2012 11:35 AM

Ooh, I love this excerpt! Thanks for sharing. I voted for Zach!

Posted by: Blogger Rachel498 at 7/25/2012 12:16 PM

I *love* Zach and Aura! I would absolutely read EVERY and ANY thing about them for as long as you were willing to share stories about their life together!
Thank you so much for this!

Posted by: Blogger mmph at 7/25/2012 12:36 PM

OH MY GOSH!!!!!
I love them, thay´re so beautiful together!!!!
Team Jeri all the way!!!

Posted by: Blogger Lis at 7/25/2012 12:38 PM

Amazing post! I want this dress. Thank you for the giveaway.
Artemis

Posted by: Blogger Diana at 7/25/2012 1:03 PM

I already voted for Zach!
Aye! :D

Posted by: Blogger Gisele at 7/25/2012 1:06 PM

Voted for Zach!!!!!!! Goooooo Team KILT!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Blogger Tiffany at 7/25/2012 1:20 PM

ALL I CAN FOCUS ON IS THIS PURE FLIPPING, AMAZING BRILLIANCE! AND SHOWING SOME #TEAMKILT SUPPORT IN ZACHARY MOORE'S #YACRUSHTOURNEY - THANKS JERI FOR ALL THE WONDERFUL INCENTIVES.

Posted by: Blogger Kimberly Callegan at 7/25/2012 1:39 PM

Thanks so much for everything Jeri!

Avery

Posted by: Blogger Avery at 7/25/2012 2:04 PM

Can't wait to read it ALL! Already voted Zach, obviously <3
God Team KILT!

Posted by: Blogger Isabella at 7/25/2012 2:31 PM

I voted for Zach!!

Jenny :)
tea4my3 at gmail dot com

Posted by: Blogger Jenny at 7/25/2012 2:46 PM

I really wish I could vote multiple times. I would just be sitting at my computer all day voting for Zach :)

Love the little story about Prom Night!!

Posted by: Blogger Melissa at 7/25/2012 3:04 PM

This is so very awesome!!! Thank you Jeri!!!! And whether I win or not, I will definitely get a print of Shattered.

Posted by: Blogger Tine vs. The World at 7/25/2012 3:47 PM

#TeamKilt forever! And, not just because Zach is such an awesome character (which he is! totally the most crushable, in my opinion!), but also because Jeri is so awesome!

Posted by: Blogger CJ at 7/25/2012 4:22 PM

Go Team Kilt!!!!

Posted by: Blogger Bridget Howard at 7/25/2012 4:28 PM

I go mushy thinking about that accent :) Go Zach!

Posted by: Blogger Dalia Little at 7/25/2012 4:42 PM

I go mushy thinking about that accent :) Go Zach!

Posted by: Blogger Dalia Little at 7/25/2012 4:42 PM

Of course I'm voting for Zach! As many times as I can!

Ahhh, this story is amazing, and I definitely want the rest of it!

*fingers crossed*

#TeamKilt!

Posted by: Blogger Jude at 7/25/2012 4:45 PM

I VOTED GO ZACHARY!!!!!!!!!!! :D

Alyssa Susanna

Posted by: OpenID 776233f0-4e03-11e1-8277-000f20980440 at 7/25/2012 5:16 PM

OMGGG EXCITING!!!!

Posted by: Blogger Joti Bilkhu at 7/25/2012 5:26 PM

Yay! I love it!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Blogger Abigail Elliott at 7/25/2012 6:00 PM

Love love this story. Seriously and I voted Zach and share links on twitter and facebook and hopefully, it will help! :D

Posted by: Blogger Julie M. at 7/25/2012 6:08 PM

*screams and tries to catch the blue scrap of silk* LOL. Oh, wow. That soudns like the best prom night ever. ;) GO, team kilt!!! thanks for the chance! *-*

Posted by: Blogger Kah Cherub at 7/25/2012 6:27 PM

See, I love Will... but by far not as much as I love Zach! #TeamKilt FTW!

*runs off to my brother's computer and votes again*

Posted by: Blogger FreakChiq at 7/25/2012 6:28 PM

Oh my gosh, "Their guns, however, are real."
CLIFFHANGER

Posted by: Blogger Grace Lo at 7/25/2012 6:32 PM

I love Zach. He's in my list of top 10 guys in books. He's sweet and charming, and I love Scottish accents.

Posted by: Blogger Name: Aine at 7/25/2012 6:33 PM

Loved it!

Thank you. :D

Posted by: Blogger Carla at 7/25/2012 7:05 PM

I love Zach! Definitely #TeamKilt!

Posted by: Blogger Tabitha Michelle at 7/25/2012 7:07 PM

Holy, Schmolly!! A printed copy would totally rock my world. Of course I voted for Zach!!!

ZachFTW!! TeamKiltForever!!

Posted by: Blogger Patricia M at 7/25/2012 7:59 PM

Team Kilt! I love your voting incentives!
Hope I win!

Posted by: Blogger Kim Reads at 7/25/2012 8:05 PM

I have voted & encouraged others to do the same.

Posted by: Blogger Heather at 7/25/2012 8:17 PM

I have voted & encouraged others to do the same.

Posted by: Blogger Heather at 7/25/2012 8:18 PM

Dang it! Now I want to vote for Zach AGAIN... and agian and again and so forth. Go Team Kilt!

Posted by: Blogger Rueful at 7/25/2012 8:37 PM

Can we just keep voting forever?! I don't want it to ever end! lol #TeamKilt

Posted by: OpenID evilqueen21 at 7/25/2012 9:05 PM

Go Team Kilt! I'm voting so hard! xD

Posted by: Blogger Lynn K. at 7/25/2012 9:14 PM

i'm so excited for "Shattered"!
apparently, i can't get enough of this series!
#teamkilt!

Posted by: Blogger maria boson at 7/25/2012 9:26 PM

Voted for Zach!

Posted by: Blogger donnas at 7/25/2012 9:38 PM

TEAM KILT!! :D

Posted by: Blogger Reading Angel at 7/25/2012 10:35 PM

Jeri I want to be just like you. For reals. You are one of the most amazing women I've ever met and ten to be so freaking talented too...it's just not fair. SHARE THE TALENT. Lol! Thanks for being the best!! <333

Posted by: Blogger Lynn Marie at 7/25/2012 11:24 PM

So I waited to read this until now so I wouldn't be left with a cliffhanger...that didn't work out at all, lol. I freaking love it, Jeri!! But, oh my Jesus, I hope you finish it!! :)

Posted by: Blogger Jess (Gone with the Words) at 7/25/2012 11:25 PM

Can't wait for the rest of the story!

Posted by: Blogger Leighann at 7/26/2012 12:06 AM

CLIFFHANGERS MY MORTAL ENEMY. Honestly, TeamKilt is the most awesome thing ever and this match just showcases our ability to stay cool and calm under pressure. Jeri, you ROCK except when you're causing angst which makes me want to hit a wall with my feelings. GAHH, I CAN'T WAIT. *re-reads the Shift series because feelings!*

Posted by: Blogger Jazmin at 7/26/2012 12:44 AM

I voted for Zach!

Posted by: Blogger Colleen Perron at 7/26/2012 8:36 AM

This comment has been removed by the author.

Posted by: Blogger Rebecca Hipworth at 7/26/2012 8:48 AM

#TeamKilt FTW! :D

Becky01x@gmail.com

Posted by: Blogger Rebecca Hipworth at 7/26/2012 8:51 AM

WOW. I am impressed with the class of everyone in Team Kilt! Making the competition FUN and POSITIVE, despite constantly being behind in the voting. Go JS-M and all of Team Kilt!!

This is a great series! And I definitely voted for Zach.

Posted by: Blogger Lauren at 7/26/2012 9:09 AM

Fingers crossed? It's the 100th comment - shouldn't that be lucky or something? XD

Posted by: Blogger Misa G. at 7/26/2012 9:12 AM

This is one amazing snippet. Such an amazing series, characters, everything. And as I am very disappointed that Zach did not win against Will this year (*sniffle, sniffle*) he is a winner in my heart. As much as I would love to win a copy of Shattered, I mostly just wanted to comment about how amazing the prom scene is. And how n the edge of my seat I am right now to find out what is going to happen.

Posted by: Blogger Kendra at 7/26/2012 10:10 AM

Ughhh who knew a little snippet extra story could make you crazy?? I love Zach and of course, voted for him yesterday. I'm actually just about to start reading Shine because I've been caught up with crazy summer reading and needed a little break from books.

Team Kilt Forever!!! <3

Posted by: Blogger Victoria at 7/26/2012 3:57 PM

This comment has been removed by the author.

Posted by: Blogger éme at 7/26/2012 5:24 PM

Thank you for doing this! So, so fun to read!

Posted by: Blogger Jen at 7/26/2012 5:25 PM

Jeri is killing me with that! LOL
* Catching Fire *

#TeamKilt forever!!

Posted by: Blogger éme at 7/26/2012 5:26 PM

Holey Moley! THIS is what #teamkilt is always so jazzed up about? If I had known, I would have joined much earlier. I'm going out to buy the first book in this series, ASAP!!

Posted by: Blogger Penelope Lolohea at 7/26/2012 5:41 PM

#TeamKilt put up a great fight!

Posted by: Blogger Heather at 7/26/2012 5:49 PM

Oh! And I most definitely voted... forgot to mention that. I even had a giveaway! Thanks for a grand 24 hours. :)

Posted by: Blogger LitzaLou at 7/26/2012 5:51 PM

Oh! And I most definitely voted... forgot to mention that. I even had a giveaway! Thanks for a grand 24 hours. :)

Posted by: Blogger LitzaLou at 7/26/2012 5:53 PM

Great story so far!! Love #TeamKilt and all the fun we had yesterday!!

Posted by: Blogger Deanne at 7/26/2012 6:15 PM

I don't even know how many times I voted, but I definitely voted like crazy for Zachary! I'm loving this story so far and can't wait to see how it progresses. And it was SO COOL to see Team Kilt trending on Twitter.

Woowoo!

Posted by: Blogger Rachel at 7/26/2012 6:16 PM

Oh dear, I can't remember if I already commented here yesterday. All those hours voting, it's all a blur!
This story is brilliant! And we haven't even gotten to the dekilting yet ;)
Thanks JSR!

Posted by: Blogger cegluna at 7/26/2012 6:36 PM

Wow Jeri, You are an amazing writer. I often forget that these characters are just that, characters. you make them so real and so believable. Thanks you for creating these amazing people.

Posted by: Blogger Lynna at 7/26/2012 6:44 PM

Honeslty, how awesome is this?!
I LOVE IT!!!

Posted by: Blogger Gaby Pendragon at 7/26/2012 7:15 PM

Love love love this!! Can't get enough of these two!! Congrats to Team Kilt for an awesome job supporting Z! I'm proud to be part of this fanbase!

Posted by: Blogger Jenn at 7/26/2012 7:22 PM

Voted Zach :) He has to be one of THE HOTTEST fictional guys out there! Team kilt all the way :D

Posted by: Blogger Shelly Desjardins at 7/26/2012 7:42 PM

Love it!! In awe of how amazing you are to your readers, Jeri. Thanks so much for bringing these characters to life! Proud to be part of the inspiring group that is Team Kilt! :)

Posted by: Blogger wmbennett313 at 7/26/2012 7:46 PM

OMG, Zach! I love him, Jeri and all of #TeamKilt. Last night was so fun, just like the tourney last year. What an amazing group of people! <3

Posted by: Blogger Laura at 7/26/2012 8:15 PM

OMG, Zach! I love him, Jeri and all of #TeamKilt. Last night was so fun, just like the tourney last year. What an amazing group of people! <3

Posted by: Blogger Laura at 7/26/2012 8:16 PM

This is Awesome! So sad Zach didn't win. I voted from every possible computer I could find. #TeamKilt is wonderful and Jeri you're amazing. <3

Posted by: Blogger Melanie at 7/26/2012 8:27 PM

OMZ i do <3 you hehe! Jeri you areamazing i cant wait to read the rest!

Posted by: Blogger Stacey at 7/26/2012 9:22 PM

I didn't know who to vote for, so... I borrowed a friend's PC & voted for both guys :P
What can I say, UK men, they're just special. And my favourite Welsh against my favourite Scot just wasn't fair game ;)

Posted by: Blogger Mandy at 7/26/2012 11:29 PM

Jeri, I love you! Seriously! Thank you so much for taking the time to come up with more story to share of our beloved characters. You are amazing!!!!

Posted by: Blogger Dizneeee (Lisa) at 7/26/2012 11:38 PM

There is still next year and Zach is always number one in our hearts! That was a great scene. After the picture of the baton, I thought you were going to stop the story there. Whew! so glad you didn't! Thanks for always giving us a little extra story! Yay Team Kilt Forever!

Heather

Posted by: Blogger BURIED IN BOOKS at 7/26/2012 11:41 PM

Every time I read about Aura and Zach, whether it's for the gazillionth time or first, they make my heart tickle. Their adoration for eachother is so wonderful. So many challenges/obstacles faced, but yet their love remains strong. Their efforts at surviving to be together are reciprocated. They truly are the best YA couple out there.

Posted by: Blogger Kimberly Callegan at 7/26/2012 11:42 PM

Perfection. And we finally know what's under the kilt. ;) Haha!

Posted by: Blogger Bailey at 7/26/2012 11:42 PM

I voted and tweeted... it was a great attempt and you all should be proud at the turn out for our boy Zachary

Posted by: Blogger HockeyVampiress at 7/27/2012 1:10 AM

Now that the story is finished, I can honestly say I LOVED IT (of course I already loved it BEFORE it was finished)!! Thankyou Jeri for writing that scene for us, it was awesome!! <3

Posted by: Blogger thelastunicorn at 7/27/2012 1:14 AM

Oh wow! Prom Night! Fabulous! WOW!
Operation Scot Free version 2.0 just makes you love Dylan more, so adorable.

Can't wait for Shattered, I know I'm going to cry but it will be so worth it.

YA Crush Tourney was a blast.

Just love All Team Kilt!

Posted by: Blogger claire at 7/27/2012 3:14 AM

Loved this story! Thank you so much for sharing it with us! :-D

Posted by: Blogger Emerson Publishing Club at 7/27/2012 3:20 AM

Loved the story, just as I love Zachary! Can't wait to hear more from his POV.

A printed copy of Shattered?! You always find new ways to amaze us! Hoping I win one!

Posted by: OpenID akchip40 at 7/27/2012 7:03 AM

I loved reading this! You are so amazing and Zach did a great job in the tournament! :-)

Posted by: Blogger Heather at 7/27/2012 9:34 AM

I loved it it was so cute and funny 

Posted by: Blogger Isamar at 7/27/2012 11:16 AM

As always, I'm in love with anything Zach/Aura related. Even on the fly, your story-telling amazes me. :)

Posted by: Blogger Brandi M. at 7/27/2012 11:41 AM

I need to find me a Scotsman. Kilts are so hot.

Posted by: Blogger Jessica at 7/27/2012 11:52 AM

Team Zach! I just adore him! Can't wait to read Shattered. Thanks for a chance to win. <3

Shanna Roberson

Posted by: Blogger Pyxi Rose at 7/27/2012 12:10 PM

Jeri, you are amazing! Thank you so, so much for that short story about our favorites ones! It's always so good to read you! xx

Posted by: Blogger Isabelle Gélinas at 7/27/2012 12:11 PM

Oh my goodness! Never a dull moment for our favorite couple, eh? Fantastic story! Team Kilt Forever! :-)

Posted by: Blogger Amy at 7/27/2012 12:50 PM

Loved it so much! I voted for Zach as well. Even if he didn't win, he is always a winner in our eyes!

Posted by: Blogger Wendy Norris Roberts at 7/27/2012 12:54 PM

Loved it so much! I voted for Zach as well. Even if he didn't win, he is always a winner in our eyes!

Posted by: Blogger Wendy Norris Roberts at 7/27/2012 12:56 PM

Loved it so much! I voted for Zach as well. Even if he didn't win, he is always a winner in our eyes!

Posted by: Blogger Wendy Norris Roberts at 7/27/2012 12:56 PM

Loved it so much! I voted for Zach as well. Even if he didn't win, he is always a winner in our eyes!

Posted by: Blogger Wendy Norris Roberts at 7/27/2012 12:56 PM

Love this (of course)! Team Kilt forever! :)

Posted by: Anonymous Christy at 7/27/2012 12:58 PM

Awesome! Thanks so much for that...can't wait to read more!

Posted by: Blogger Alison at 7/27/2012 1:27 PM

Jeri! You are the best! Thanks so much for this. I love, love, love Aura and Zach and am so happy to get these wonderful little glimpses of them even after the series has ended. Can't wait for Shattered!

Posted by: Blogger Bookish Sue at 7/27/2012 2:14 PM

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Jeri Smith-Ready

Jeri Smith-Ready is a Maryland author of books for teens and adults.

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