Pushing the Limits, стр. 1

Praise for Katie McGarry’s brave, unflinching and

powerful debut novel

‘A riveting and emotional ride!’

—Simone Elkeles

‘McGarry details the sexy highs, the

devastating lows and the real work

it takes to build true love.’

—Jennifer Echols

PUSHING

THE

LIMITS

‘I won’t tell anyone, Echo. I promise.’

Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins?

His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. ‘You didn’t do that—did you? It was done to you?’

No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

About the Author

KATIE McGARRY

was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings and reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie would love to hear from her readers. Contact her via her website, katielmcgarry.com, follow her on Twitter @KatieMcGarry, or become a fan on Facebook and Goodreads.

Find out more about

KATIE McGARRY

at www.miraink.co.uk and join the conversation on

Twitter @MIRAInk or on Facebook at

www.facebook.com/MIRAInk

Pushing

the

Limits

Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits - _1.jpg

www.miraink.co.uk

Acknowledgements

To God—Luke 1:37

For Dave—it is because of you I know love.

Thank you to …

Kevan Lyon—I can think of no one else I’d rather have in my corner. You’re the right mixture of energy, enthusiasm, and kindness.

Margo Lipschultz—You are brilliant plus you have a heart of gold. I am honored that you took a chance on me, Echo and Noah.

Everyone at MIRA Ink who touched this story, especially Natashya Wilson—I am thankful to you all.

Angela Annaloro-Murphy, Veronica Blade, Shannon Michael and Kristen Simmons—my beta readers. You were brave enough to sludge through first drafts and tell me your very honest opinions.

Anne Cook and Rodolfo Lopez Jr.—Thank you for answering my questions, thus enriching the story.

Colette Ballard, Bethany Griffin, Kurt Hampe and Bill Wolfe—You are more than a critique group. You are my lifeline.

Louisville Romance Writers—you are a terrific and talented group of ladies.

My parents, my sister, my Mt Washington family, and my inlaws … I love you.

My friends and family—thank you for all your love and support. There are too many of you to mention, but know that I think of you always.

Echo

“My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead and my mother has … well … issues. How do you think I’m doing?”

That’s how I would have loved to respond to Mrs. Collins’s question, but my father placed too much importance on appearance for me to answer honestly. Instead, I blinked three times and said, “Fine.”

Mrs. Collins, Eastwick High’s new clinical social worker, acted as if I hadn’t spoken. She shoved a stack of files to the side of her already cluttered desk and flipped through various papers. My new therapist hummed when she found my three-inch-thick file and rewarded herself with a sip of coffee, leaving bright red lipstick on the curve of the mug. The stench of cheap coffee and freshly sharpened pencils hung in the air.

My father checked his watch from the chair to my right and, on my left, the Wicked Witch of the West shifted impatiently. I was missing first period calculus, my father was missing some very important meeting, and my stepmother from Oz? I’m sure she was missing her brain.

“Don’t you just love January?” Mrs. Collins asked as she opened my file. “New year, new month, new slate to start over on.” Not even waiting for a reply, she continued, “Do you like the curtains? I made them myself.”

In one synchronized movement, my father, my stepmother and I turned our attention to the pink polka-dotted curtains hanging on the windows overlooking the student parking lot. The curtains were too Little House on the Prairie with the color scheme of a bad rave for my taste. Not a single one of us answered and our silence created a heavy awkwardness.

My father’s BlackBerry vibrated. With exaggerated effort, he pulled it out of his pocket and scrolled down the screen. Ashley drummed her fingers over her bloated belly and I read the various handpainted plaques hanging on the wall so I could focus on anything that wasn’t her.

Failure is your only enemy. The only way up is to never look down. We succeed because we believe. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Okay—so that last one didn’t make the wall of sayings, but I would have found it amusing.

Mrs. Collins reminded me of an overgrown Labrador retriever with her blond hair and much too friendly attitude. “Echo’s ACT and SAT scores are fabulous. You should be very proud of your daughter.” She gave me a sincere smile, exposing all of her teeth.

Start the timer. My therapy session had officially begun. Close to two years ago, after the incident, Child Protective Services had “strongly encouraged” therapy—and Dad quickly learned that it was better to say yes to anything “strongly encouraged.” I used to go to therapy like normal people, at an office separate from school. Thanks to an influx in funding from the state of Kentucky and an overenthusiastic social worker, I’d become part of this pilot program. Mrs. Collins’s sole job was to deal with a few kids from my high school. Lucky me.

My father sat up taller in his seat. “Her math scores were low. I want her to retake the tests.”

“Is there a bathroom nearby?” Ashley interrupted. “The baby loves to sit on my bladder.”

More like Ashley loved to make everything about her. Mrs. Collins gave her a strained smile and pointed to the door. “Go out to the main hallway and take a right.”

The way she maneuvered out of her chair, Ashley acted as if she carried a thousand-pound ball of lead instead of a tiny baby. I shook my head in disgust, which only drew my father’s ice-cold stare.

“Mr. Emerson,” Mrs. Collins continued once Ashley left the room, “Echo’s scores are well above the national average and, according to her file, she’s already applied to the colleges of her choice.”

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