Tuesday 12 February 2019

My small town romance, Sing it, Sam is LIVE on all platforms! Paperback giveaway!

I hope that life is good and you’re getting lots of reading time! I’m so excited to announce that my latest release ‘Sing it, Sam’ is now LIVE ON ALL PLATFORMS! Early reviews have blown me away!

“This is my first book by the author... there are only two other authors that scare me this way... Colleen Hoover and Jojo Moyes.” ~ 5 stars, Jeri’s Book Attic.

"JR has delivered an exquisite small town romance. Following Jane and Sam on their journey to love was sheer delight.” ~ 5 stars, Kirsty Dallas Author.

"Wow. Just wow." ~ 5 stars, BJ's Book Blog

"This is one of those books that I know will stay with me for a long time.” - 5 stars, Kell’s Bookmark Clique.

“Beautiful. Poignant. Heartfelt.” ~ 5 stars, Alicia, Goodreads Reviewer.

Check out other reviews on Goodreads and add Sing it, Sam to your TBR  - HERE
Jane Rhynehart has a cosy shack in the pumpkin-obsessed town of Willow Creek, and a new job—if only she was able to write like the other women in the local writers’ group. But how can Jane write the perfect romance when she’s never experienced love?
After a lengthy stay in hospital, budding singer and songwriter Sam Marshall ends up as a resident in Willow Creek Nursing Home. Jane soon becomes his guiding light. But how can he be a man for her when he relies on so many others day-to-day?
Will Sam turn out to be the perfect muse to help Jane write her epic romance? Will Jane be the one to teach Sam how to truly live? Does love truly know no barriers?

Here’s where you can grab your copy of Sing it, Sam:   iBooks, B&N, Kobo     Amazon
Ooh! And I’m also giving away a SIGNED PAPERBACK of Sing it, Sam - make sure you enter the pinned post on my Facebook page HERE 
I'm so excited for my next signing which will be at Fictionally Yours, Melbourne, 6-7 July 2019. I hope to see you there! I have a pre-order open, so if you don't want to miss out on any titles, please fill out the pre-order form by clicking HERE

Thank you, as always, for your support.

~JR~ x

Tuesday 1 January 2019

"Sing It, Sam" is coming on 12 February!

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2019 to you! In case you missed it, on 14 December 2018, I revealed the cover of my upcoming release, Sing It, Sam. I am so grateful to Ben Ellis from Be Designs for such an epic cover. I’m in love with it!


Jane Rhynehart has a cosy shack in the pumpkin-obsessed town of Willow Creek, and a new job—if only she was able to write like the other women in the local writers’ group. But how can Jane write the perfect romance when she’s never experienced love?
After a lengthy stay in hospital, budding singer and songwriter Sam Marshall ends up as a resident in Willow Creek Nursing Home. Jane soon becomes his guiding light. But how can he be a man for her when he relies on so many others day-to-day?
Will Sam turn out to be the perfect muse to help Jane write her epic romance? Will Jane be the one to teach Sam how to truly live? Does love truly know no barriers?

Add Sing It, Sam to your TBR on Goodreads HERE

BLOGGERS: Sign-ups now available for:

PRE-ORDER is also available:

Make sure you keep an eye on my Facebook and Instagram for chances to win Advanced Reader Copies!

Saturday 28 January 2017

The Surfers Way series is on SALE!

Graduation was never meant to end like this...

LOSING FAITH and SEEKING FAITH are only 99 cents for a limited time!

Grab your copies of LOSING FAITH and SEEKING FAITH while they are on SALE at just $0.99 each. First time on sale :)

Get the books reviewers are calling "inspirational" and "simply breathtaking", and discover the truth about the secrets that changed Lacey and Mack's lives forever.

LOSING FAITH by Jennifer Ryder
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/book/losing-faith/id1091607931
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FPI64DS
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01FPI64DS
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01FPI64DS
Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/jgkkxqu
B & N: http://tinyurl.com/z44uc7o

SEEKING FAITH by Lauren McKellar
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/book/seeking-faith/id1091704654
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FPQMB96
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01FPQMB96
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01FPQMB96

Thursday 5 January 2017

Epic news for Kindle Unlimited subscribers - Spark Series now available

Epic News for Kindle Unlimited subscribers!

The ENTIRE Spark Series is now available on Kindle Unlimited so these holidays you can read to your heart's content about MX Boys, steamy undercover detectives, feisty and adrenaline-seeking heroines and one very broody tequila-swilling mechanic. Access the Spark Series here: Amazon

Thursday 8 December 2016

Like A Boss:  A motivational coloring book
by Jennifer Ryder is LIVE!

I'm sure you weren't expecting a coloring book from me ... well, surprise!

I am all about spreading positivity, and as a mother of a ten year old daughter, I wanted to produce a book for her, to inspire her. My daughter has been obsessed with coloring in since she could hold a pencil, and even at her young age, she is an inspiration to me.

Like A Boss combines a love of art, coloring and positive messages to empower women and girls.


Mantras to live and color by for women and girls. A collection of 22 motivational mantras and a mix of designs to inspire the boss in each of us. Let the positive messages sink in and the stress melt away as you unwind and bring each page to life. LIKE A BOSS comes with a test page and each design has space at the spine, is blank on the reverse side, making it perfect for easy removal and framing of your favorite designs.

Like A Boss is available NOW through Amazon and Createspace 

Order now and receive it for that special girl in your life,  in time for Christmas

AND... I would love to see your images once you've colored them! Be sure to share them through Instagram or Facebook.

Sunday 22 May 2016


The Surfers Way series is now available! Are you ready to discover the many secrets of Runaway Beach? Grab your copies now via the following links:

LOSING FAITH by Jennifer Ryder

Amazon US
Amazon AU
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

SEEKING FAITH by Lauren McKellar

Saturday 14 May 2016

Early preview - Chapter One of Losing Faith!

It's 5 days until the release of Losing Faith, and I wanted to give you all an early preview!


Only six more hours of pretending that my feelings for him don’t consume my every thought. Six more hours and he’s mine. On the flip side, tomorrow I’ll find out if a friendship so entwined in my heart will survive the news. I’m in love with your brother.
           Will we still remain the best of friends we’ve always been? How will I handle it if she can’t deal? Can I have both the Kelly siblings in my life the way I’ve always dreamed? My best friend and my boyfriend?

I stare myself down in the mirror, mindful we’re leaving any minute now. With shaking hands, I fiddle with the dark brown waves that my girls have created from my dead-straight locks. I’ll treasure every moment of our little pampering session this afternoon. I can only hope that it isn’t the last. Everyone is moving on but me.

We’ve graduated. Final exams are over. Tonight we celebrate. Tomorrow we get ready to take on the rest of our lives as adults. Adults. I’m not ready to adult. By now, I was supposed to have my future sorted, but I have no idea.

Nada. Zip. Zero.

Apart from working in the Palace, the only thing on my radar for the foreseeable future stands about six-foot two and has dreamy chestnut hair and magical blue eyes. With a lazy smile he weakens my knees and sends my heart racing with a sly touch when no one is watching. My best friend’s older brother.

A perfect mop of long blonde curls appears beside my reflection. Speaking of

“I have no clue,” I blurt out to her, staring at her twinkling blue eyes in the mirror. I know I don’t have to explain to her what I mean, because we’ve been talking about it for forever. She also knows me better than anyone on the planet. I only have to give her a certain look, and she knows exactly what I’m trying to communicate. We have our own secret language, something that frustrates Quade on occasion. Which I enjoy.

“Lace,” Faith says, her voice almost a growl. Her perfectly manicured hands slip around my waist and she rests her chin on my shoulder.

I let out a loud sigh. Her hold on me tightens, relieving some of the unease that descended in my stomach with all these thoughts of adulthood.

“You have it all figured out,” I say.

“Like I keep telling you,” she says with a dramatic eye roll, “one day you’ll wake up and you’ll just know. Then you grab it and take it all the way, Lace.”

“I’m so frickin’ proud of you, Faith. You’re gonna be the best lawyer ever. Me, on the other hand? I’ll be sweating near a pizza oven ’til who knows when.”

“Hey. You are one of my best bitches. I have every faith in you. Whatever you decide to do, I know you’ll smash it.”

I dab at the tear at the corner of my eye with my finger before it ruins my put-together look. Faith places her hands on my shoulders and swings me around. A nervous giggle erupts from my mouth when she hugs me so hard my ribs ache.

She steps back and hooks her hands on her hips. “Now, get your shite together, biatch, because tonight we are partying hard.”

I nod and mentally tell myself to harden up. “You got it.”

“I’ll go hurry Mack,” Faith says with a kiss to my cheek, and then floats from the room.

After taking a few deep breaths, I smooth my hands down the front of my pale pink dress which fits tight at my waist. The square neckline gives the illusion that I actually have boobs. Hopefully Quade likes it. With deliberately slow steps I navigate down the timber stairs. With each movement, my dress flares out at the knee and then flows back against my thighs as I near the grand entry of the Kelly house.

A flash of light brown hair comes into view. I choke as Quade plants his feet shoulder-width apart at the bottom of the stairs. I halt mid-step as he links his hands behind him. The stark white T-shirt pulls tight across his chest, accentuating his muscular frame. He rocks back in his black Converse sneakers, and of course he’s wearing my favourite pair of his boot-cut jeans. Who am I kidding? Anything he wears is my favourite.

His eyes grow wide as his smouldering gaze burns a trail down my body, slowly returning to meet my face. This guy has turned me into a blushing beetroot within seconds.

I told him he can’t look at me like he wants to pick me up and hoist me over his shoulder. Not yet, anyway. After what happened here yesterday, stealing kisses when Faith was in the next room, he knows he can’t ogle me like that. Even though we’ve only ever kissed twice, he must know that he blends my insides to pulp with a look that holds such promise. As a scowl unfolds on my face, a smug smile spreads over his kissable pink lips.

Do I need to remind him that up until midnight is about me and my girls?

“Quade,” I say in a gruff voice to try and break the weird hold he has on me with his penetrating gaze. My lower belly tingles knowing what’s to come. Second base, third base …

            “Lookin’ good, Lacey Lou,” he says and winks, holding his outstretched hand towards me, aiding my last few steps. My insides dance and my heart responds with an up-tempo beat. His touch always does that.

“Thanks. You like?” I say in a soft voice.

            His mouth curls on one side. The dimple on his cheek threatens to swallow his small beauty spot as his smile grows. That damn dimple.

“I really do, but something’s missing,” he says, and brings his other hand from behind his back. He takes my hand and slides something over my fingers. An elastic-type band cinches around my wrist. He raises it, revealing an arrangement of small pink rosebuds.

“It’s not weird that I got you this, right?” Quade says, his blue eyes shining under the sparkling chandelier.

            “Nope,” I choke. “It’s very sweet of you.” I want you so bad.

“I got one for Mack too, because, well, you know.”

My smile falters, but I pull it back into place, trying to ignore the uncomfortable niggle in my chest. It’s my fault we’re not out in the open yet. I can’t be annoyed that Mack is getting his attention, to put everyone off the scent.

“I would’ve given them to you guys for the proper formal if I had’ve been back from uni, so hopefully it’s not lame doing it before you go to a bonfire at my relo’s.”

I nod and take in a deep breath. In doing so, I take in a lungful of his crisp aftershave, which sends goosebumps flooding over my skin. Pretty sure I just hummed, too. Tonight I’m needier than I’ve ever been. I guess the clock is ticking. My hormone-stricken body is on the final countdown to getting some attention.

“Lace?” he mumbles.

I take a few seconds to truly appreciate him in all his edible manliness. My eyes lock on his crotch. Smooth. I bet he feels smooth. Hmm.

“What are you thinking ’bout?” he prompts.

My head shoots up to meet his heated expression. I swallow down.

“Um, baseball,” I blurt out.

“Baseball?” he asks in a higher-pitched voice.

“You know, bats … balls.” I swallow down hard. “Sliding home.”

He looks down to his crotch, and I swear the bulge in his jeans does this twitchy thing. “Jesus, Lace. Think of another sport would you?”

“Um.” Think Lacey. “Cricket?”

“No good. Still bats and balls,” he says with a shake of his head.

“Um.” Think of summer sports. “Tennis?”

“Same problem.” His hands shifts and he re-adjusts himself. He can’t be hard now, can he? Don’t boys have better control over this stuff? The last thing I need is his family walking out here and his soldier trying to escape through the zip in his pants.

“Beach volleyball?”

He takes a step closer, the warmth of his breath tickling my ear as he slips his hand into mine. “Now I’m imagining you bouncing around in a bikini. Nice work.”

“How about chess with your mother then?” I say and poke him in the chest. I move one hand to my hip and challenge him with a scowl, just like the one I’ve seen grace his mother’s face on occasion.

He lets out a forced breath, his shoulders pulling free of the tension in his upper body. “There we go. Instant mood-killer. Deflation has commenced.”

            The warmth of Quade’s hand disappears from my touch, leaving me desperate for the party to be over so I can finish this conversation, with any luck under the sheets in his bedroom.

“Let’s go!” Faith shouts as she makes an entrance into the room. She loops her arms around my waist and squeezes me from behind. Faith dances around me in her bright floral dress, which is scattered with pinks and reds. “Party time!”

One by one we exit the house, Quade locking up behind us.

Faith, Mack and Byron climb in the back of Quade’s black V8 Commodore and I hop into the front passenger seat. As we fasten our seatbelts, Quade kicks over the engine and takes his time revving it higher and higher. I’m sure he knows the engine is warm. Boys.

I snort and roll my eyes at him. His smile widens and he shrugs as if he doesn’t know what I’m eye-rolling over.

I swing around to check out everyone. Faith sits in the middle, her grin a mile wide, and Mack and Byron stare out their respective windows. What’s with those two? Why aren’t they as pumped as Faith and I are about tonight?

I turn up the volume on the radio. Quade says something that I don’t catch.

“You guys ready to party?” I yell over the R&B song.

Three sets of eyes shoot my way, and I’m met with smiling faces.

“Hell yes!” Faith squeals, raising her fist to punch the car ceiling.

“Absolutely,” Mack says and winks, brushing her auburn hair from her freshly made-up face. “Bring on the bonfire!”

“You know it,” Byron calls out and nods his head to the thumping beat.

After weaving through the streets of Runaway, we reach our destination. The tyres crunch along the gravel driveway as Quade pulls up near the house. The car comes to a grinding halt. Shit! I press my flattened hands against the dash and brace for impact. Quade chuckles beside me, and for that, I knuckle-punch his upper arm.

He rubs at the point of impact and then turns off the music. “Just ring me guys, whenever, and I’ll come pick you up,” Quade says casually.

“We don’t need a babysitter, Quade,” Faith scoffs.

“I know you don’t, Faith, but with Mum and Dad out at yet another fundraising dinner, I’m on orders to make sure you all get home before you turn into pumpkins or some shit.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Faith drawls, as everyone climbs out of the back seat. The rear doors slam shut, leaving the two of us in silence.

“So, um, thanks,” I tell him, and tap his hand, which is clutched around the gear stick.

“Later,” he says, with his eyebrows raised.

That one word rings true in my ears and rattles around the chambers of my heart as a sweet promise. Later. Tonight is the night. Together at last.

“Yeah. Later,” I breathe.

Before the party is over I’ll tell Mack and Faith. I’m not holding back my feelings for Quade anymore. I don’t know how far we’ll go tonight, but I do know that I’m ready to take the next step.

Soon I’ll be more than just his baby sister’s friend. I’ll be the girl that he takes in his arms and holds tight until morning light.

I know he’ll be heading back to uni in the new year, but for the next six weeks he’s here. I have no idea where I’ll be next year or what I’ll be doing. If things work out like I hope, then I’ll happily move to Sydney so we can be close. Surely it wouldn’t be too hard to find a job? There are always jobs going in hospitality.

I blow Quade a kiss and wave him goodbye. Alone, I make my way towards the back paddock, following the sound of music, laughter and chatter.

My phone beeps in my small clutch bag. Ha. Quade’s barely out of the driveway and he’s texting me. The anticipation is getting to him, too. When I see who the text is from, my smile slips from my face.

Jamie: Just doing a run to the grog shop on our way. Do you want me to pick you up anything?

It’s not the first text I’ve got from him today. God, I hope things won’t be weird when I see him tonight. When he’d wanted to pick me up earlier this arvo so we could come to the party together, I had to turn him down. He’s a super nice guy, but I didn’t want to give him the wrong impression. Not when my heart is set on someone else. It wouldn’t be fair.

I send a reply so I can get on with the party.

Me: All good thanks :)

I jog to catch up with Mack and loop my hand inside the crook of her arm. I’ll cherish these last moments with her before she heads off for study. It won’t be the same without her, but I’m so proud she’s going places. Both her and Faith. I just need to hurry up and find my path, so they can be proud of me too.

I strip off my bra and underwear and toss them on the pile of clothes we’ve created. Goosebumps roll over my skin and I start to shake. Am I trembling from nerves or of being seen naked? Nothing to hide behind, here.

I close my eyes and then open them as a whoosh of air leaves my lips. I turn to Faith, who is also as naked as the day she was born.

“Are we really going to do this?” I ask her, trying to ignore the painful way that goosebumps ice over my skin, despite being semi-numb from all the tequila.

            My BFF smiles and gifts me a look laced with mischief, reminding me that she’s not just the good girl that everyone thinks she is, that her parents are always harping on about. They were never around for the pool parties. Faith can be trouble when she wants to. It’s good to see her relax a little and not take everything as seriously as she does her studies. I worry about how she’s going to cope with her parents getting divorced, though. I can’t imagine what that must be like for her.

            We sprint through the trees and run straight for the party. My heart pumps hard and fast in my chest as a cast of heads turn our way.

            “Shit,” I curse under my breath. No one better have a phone ready to record this.

I cover my beaver with one hand and try and shield my poor excuses for boobs with the other. Jamie looks up. His square jaw drops.

            “Nudie run!” Jake yells, alerting the rest of the footy team. Whistles and howls call out into the night.

            The three of us scream as we scramble towards the house.

            “We did it!” Mack yells as we circle around the residence and run back to the party before heading to the shelter of the bush again.

“This is amazing,” Faith yells over the ruckus of party-goers.

We dive into shelter of the trees, the shadows protecting us from view. In record time, I pull my underwear on.

“Are you okay?” Faith says to Mack who’s leaning over, her hands on her knees.

“Yeah,” Mack gasps.

I zip up my dress and move my head around a tree. That’s when I see them.

“They’re coming!” I cry out as the soccer boys run towards us. I toss Mack her dress, and do the same for Faith.

The girls pull on their outfits just in time. We stroll out into the moonlight towards the bonfire, as if we didn’t just bare all to our entire class. Faith walks in front, reaching back for us. We each take her hand, the three of us, united. The way it’s always been.

“Best friends forever,” Faith whispers.

Those three little words draw a tear to my eye and wrap around my heart like a big squishy hug. I will treasure this moment for the rest of my life.


After milling around the fire for the last couple of hours, I set my sights on Mack, who’s walking towards the house. I jog to catch up to her and link my arm around hers.

            “You feeling better about the move?” I ask her, and nudge my shoulder against hers.

            “What’s that?” she says, shaking whatever thoughts are bombarding her. She’s been quiet tonight. Maybe she’s stressing about leaving us. I can’t say I’m happy about her going.

            “The move. You ready for it?”

            “Yeah. I know I wanted to stay before, but leaving’s the right thing to do. Tonight’s just been a big night.”

            “I’m gonna miss you like crazy. Like loopy, wear-underpants-on-my-head crazy,” I tell her and swoop in to kiss her temple.

            Mack throws back her head and laughs. “Yeah, well I’m gonna miss you like a woman with PMS needs her chocolate.”

            Laughter bursts from my mouth. “Aw! You’re gonna miss me that bad? Wait, let me think for a second. I’m gonna miss you like …” I huff out a breath. “Nope. I’m out of ideas. Crazy-underwear lady about covers it. Thank God we have Byron Bay at Easter. Don’t you dare forget about that.”

            “I doubt you girls will let me,” Mack says and laughs.

We look at each other and smile. “Road trip!” we shout in unison.

            Quade’s car creeps down the driveway, sending my heart into a mad flutter. Butterflies awake in my stomach. I need to tell the girls. He parks the car and walks toward us. Eden appears out of nowhere.

            “Quadie!” Eden shrieks and jumps on him, hugging him like a koala scrambling for higher ground. Man, she must have had way more jelly shots than I thought. Maybe she had a secret stash to herself.

            “Hey,” Quade mumbles. “Good party?” he asks, holding Eden’s shoulders to stop her from swaying. Ever since we started experimenting with drinking, she’s been the life of every party.

            “Great,” Eden says and makes a weird noise with her mouth. She cups her hand over her mouth. Spew alert.

            “Hi Lacey, Mack,” Quade says, drilling me with those eyes … eyes I get lost in every time he looks at me. By the look of his heated gaze, I know exactly what he’s thinking about. It sends a shiver right through to my bones. My lady parts tingle with anticipation. Can we go already?

            I line up for a hug after his cousin. When I lean in, his fresh aftershave tickles at my nose. Did he just get out of the shower or did he smell this good earlier?

            “Guess what?” I ask him.

            Mischief dances in his eyes. “What, Lace?”

            “It’s later,” I whisper.

            A cheeky smirk toys with his dimple, and then his smile meets his eyes. “You’re right. It is.”

            Boy, are you about to be kissed stupid.

            I peel my arms from him, instantly suffering withdrawal from his warmth.

            “So where’s Faith?” he asks.

            “Her and Byron are having a talk out back,” I say, waving towards the back of the property, where the gardens meet the scrub.

Quade’s brows pull together. “Oh. Everything okay?” he asks.

I shrug. “I think so.” I turn to Mack. “Mack, do you know anything?”

“Uh, no. Everything’s fine,” she says and shakes her head. “I’m sure they’re just discussing … things.”

And they’re taking their time. Probably making out.

Not thinking about my friend having a pash-fest right now. Urgh.

I shake off those thoughts and lead Quade over to the porch. We sit down and I tell him about how popular Eden’s jelly shots were as well as the throat-burning tequila that’s had me teetering on the edge of drunk all night. Quade laughs when I tell him about the horrifically bad top-forty songs we danced to. I leave out the part about the nudie run, because I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be happy that the three of us had been naked in front of our entire grade. I don’t know why I let Faith talk me into it. Who am I kidding? As if I would’ve said no. Not only would I not want to, but I never say no to Faith. She’s too good to me.

I look over at Mack, who’s been really quiet since we came over here. She won’t hold my gaze and seems to be ignoring Quade. Is she thinking about the nudie run? Surely she’s not ashamed? She has a banging body, and besides, who cares? It’s done.

Did you tell the girls yet? Quade mouths to me.

“I thought we could do it on the way home,” I whisper. I could have done it already, but I want Quade to be with me.

After about fifteen minutes or so of chatting and waiting with no sign of Faith or Byron, Quade stands and stretches his hands above his head. I gawk at the flash of skin at his hip as his shirt gives me the ultimate tease. I want to lick it.


            “Okay, we’ve given them long enough. Let’s go find ’em,” he says.

            Mack and I trail behind Quade as he walks around towards the backyard. There aren’t as many people milling about as there were before, and the fire is nearly out. We approach three people sitting on a log, staring into the flames.

            Eden, Andy and Byron.

Wait a sec, isn’t he supposed to be with Faith?

            “Where’s Faith?” I ask Byron.

            In a quick move, his gaze darts from the fire to us. He frowns and shakes his head. “I thought she was with you.”

            Then where the hell is she?

            “No. Don’t be silly, you went and talked to her over …” I squint as I point to the part of the yard they walked off to earlier. “Over there.”

            “That was almost half an hour ago,” Byron says, stringing out each word as if he’s calculating the time in his head. “Then she said she was going home. With you guys.”

            “Why wouldn’t you be coming with us?” Quade asks, his brow wrinkling. Quade’s right. That was the deal. We all leave together.

“We broke up,” Byron says.

My stomach drops. Air is forced from my lungs in a whoosh. Holy shit, it’s over?

“You what?” I shriek, unable to stop the words coming from my mouth. “But you guys are crazy about each other. You’re in love … Faith would’ve done anything for you.” She hadn’t said anything about leaving him. She would have told me, and we sure as anything wouldn’t have been out shopping for condoms earlier today if this was the plan.

Byron huffs out a breath as I draw air in deep. Why is he being so bloody quiet?

“Why did you break it off with her, Byron?” I bark at him. I have to know. I have to know how a relationship that seemed so perfect to me was somehow so flawed. “What’s your problem with her?”

“Look, I don’t wanna talk about it, okay?” Byron rests his head in his hands. Why is he acting all sad and mopey, as if she broke up with him?

“Well, that’s too bad because you’re gonna have to,” Eden slurs. “Nobody hurts my cousin and gets away with it. We love Faith.” Eden stumbles and looks around at each of us. “Everyone loves Faith.”

“We need to find her. Now,” I say, trying to hold back my anger. Byron must have really hurt Faith for her to keep her distance from us. I need to get to her now. My bestie needs me. “Byron, did she come back here with you? When did you last see her?”

            “When we finished our … our talk, I went into the bush to take a leak. I didn’t see where she went. She just said she was going home.”

            “She didn’t come back here,” Eden pipes in and shakes her head, her blonde locks getting stuck in her long lashes. She pulls the strands free from her face and tucks them behind her ear. “After I went and said hi to Quade, I came back around. Everyone was leaving. I would’ve seen her.”

I suck in a breath and force it out through my mouth in a long stream. Okay, so I need to calm down. Faith might be heartbroken, but she’ll be okay. She’s decided to go home. “I’ll call her,” I say, opening up my purse and grabbing my phone. “There’s probably a really good explanation for this.” When she answers, I’m gonna kick her arse for doing this. So not cool.

I go to favourites, where there are only two numbers saved. Mack and Faith. My best bitches. I dial my MIA friend and press speaker.

The rings echo into the night. Each unanswered ring has my heart beating faster. Just pick up the phone already.

            “Hi, you’ve reached Faith. You know what to do.” Beep!

            “I’ll try,” Mack says, trying from her phone.

            It rings until it hits voicemail. The phone slips from her fingers onto the ground.

How much did she have to drink?

            “I’ll call Mick,” Byron offers. I guess he was one of the last to leave. Maybe she got a ride with them.

“I’ll try Pia,” I offer. Even though she’s been a bit of a bitch to me lately.

“This is so unlike Faith,” Quade says, running his hand through his hair. “I’m gonna to do a lap of the property, then maybe we should head home. She might have decided to walk.”

            “Yeah, after some douche knuckle broke her heart.” Eden shoots a filthy look at Byron. He turns away.

Douche knuckle, alright.

I should grab Byron by the neck and make him talk, find out what the hell happened between them. Maybe later. First I need to find my friend.

Quade and I walk in one direction. Mack goes in another.

“I knew I should’ve come earlier,” Quade says and huffs. “Mum’s gonna be pissed. She carried on about getting here at a reasonable time so I could make sure Faith wasn’t too drunk.”

“Faith would’ve been pissed if you came too soon. You know that.”

“Yeah, but try explaining that to my mother. Besides, I had other things planned for tonight than chasing my sister. As soon as we find Faith we can finally tell her and Mack about us, and then tonight becomes all about you and me.”

            I don’t miss the heated gaze he shoots me when he says the last three words, causing my heart to beat like a jungle drum. You and me. Sigh.

I close my eyes for a brief moment, envisaging naked skin tangled in cotton sheets. Then I mentally slap myself. I shouldn’t be thinking of that now. I have a friend to find.

            “Let’s find her and get out of here,” I say in a thick voice as we continue to walk around the property, calling her name out into the darkness.

            We don’t find her.

“She must have walked,” I say to Quade’s steely face.

We decide to drive home, scouring the streets on the way. I try to ignore the acid that gurgles in my stomach as Quade, Mack and I get into his car. I kick off my sandals and stretch out my toes.

Leaving without her … this doesn’t feel right.

            Quade is a much more sensible driver this time around. He doesn’t treat his vehicle as if it’s a V8 supercar, instead letting the engine hum as he rolls around the streets of Runaway in search of his MIA sister.

            No one has uttered a word since we got in. I should try and lighten the mood somehow. After all, for all we know Faith is already in bed, probably crying herself to sleep after douche boy broke up with her. Instead of thinking about Byron, I decide to focus on Quade and his stellar driving.

            “Congratulations,” I whisper, and pat his closest hand on the steering wheel.

“On what?” he asks, taking a glimpse in the rear-view mirror.

            “Caging your inner rev head,” I say and bite down on my lip.

            “I’m a regular Driving Miss Daisy after dark.” His lips pull into a devilish smirk. His eyes don’t leave the road as he turns onto Surfers Way, the busiest road in town. It’s the main route between Eden and Faith’s house. If she decided to walk, then this is where we’ll find her.

Quade flicks on the high-beams, lighting up the bitumen and surrounding trees ahead. I prop one elbow back into my seat and scour the edges of the road for my BFF.

Windows down, we call her name out into the night.

I squint as a shadow on the opposite side of the road catches my eye. It’s just within reach of the lights.

            I grip Quade’s bicep. “Wh … what’s that?” I say, leaning closer to him.

            It could be anything. Someone dumped some rubbish. Something fell off the back of a truck.

The car is silent.

            Quade rolls the car to a stop, the lights revealing more of the dark shadow.

            That’s when we all see it.

It’s when we all know.

            “Faith!” I scream. I scramble for the handle and kick my door open as my heart rages a war inside me. What’s happened?

            Mack is already out of the car and running.

            “Faith!” I cry out over and over, chasing Mack. Loose gravel bites into the pads of my feet as I rush to the still figure lying down.

            “Fuck!” Quade growls beside me. “Faith.” His voice trembles. “No, no, no.”

            My eyes widen at the confronting sight. A pool of blood glistens in the crevices of the rough black tar beneath her head. Her blonde hair is stained red at her temple. Shards of mirror are strewn around her body.

            But her eyes …

            “Faith,” Quade roars, matching the intensity of the scream that wails from my mouth.

            “Faith,” I whimper. She has to be okay. She has to be. But I know she’s gone because life no longer flickers in her eyes. Those eyes …

            I choke on a sob. My chest constricts and I gasp for air. Is she …

            “Faith,” Quade barks as he kneels at her side, as if snapping at her will bring her back. He places two fingers on the side of her throat.

Time slows. None of us move.

I hold my breath, waiting. “Quade, tell me something?” I beg as tears barrel down my face.

            He removes his hand from her skin. His eyes don’t move from her, as he slowly shakes his head.

My legs come out from under me. I fall to my knees, numb. Mack crouches beside me, her body trembling as she hooks her arm around my shoulders.

            Quade hauls Faith’s lifeless body into his arms. Her blood paints his shirt as he squeezes her to his chest. The muscles in his jaw tick. Tears bound down his flushed cheeks.

He weeps into her hair.

“She can’t … No!” I cry out.

Trembling, I wrap my arms around them. Mack holds me from behind. Sobs overtake my body.

My heart splinters like the broken shards beneath us.

            What’s left to hope for when Faith is gone?


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