Crave by Adriana Locke, now you can read online.



“This is the best idea I’ve ever had,” I say to myself. “Or it might be the worst.”

I park my car along the curb a few spaces down from Crave. The bar sits in front of me with its crooked ‘a’ hanging sideways on the sign. Some of the red tube lights used to form the letters are bright, while others are dim, and I wonder if I should just re-start my car and go back home.

“No,” I say aloud. “You have to do this.”

The sun hovers over the horizon. The sky is spectacular with bright oranges and deep purples. Sunsets are one of my favorite things in the world, but I can’t enjoy this one. There are too many distractions.

Like how I didn’t tell my brother, Cross, I was coming to visit a night early.

And how I forgot my toothbrush and cell phone charger back at my apartment.

And how the underwire in the push-up bra that’s supposed to make me confident is actually poking a hole in the side of my boob.

Distractions abound, and I haven’t even made it to the biggest distraction of all—the one with deep chocolate brown eyes and a smirk I usually want to punch off his handsome face.

Machlan Gibson. The man I’m here to convince myself I can live without.

He might tie up my insides without trying. He might’ve been my first kiss and my first unofficial date—the first boy I snuck out of the house to meet in the middle of the night. He might know more about me than anyone in the world and be the one person with whom I hold the most secrets.

But it doesn’t matter. Not to him. And it can’t to me anymore.

Every time I come back to Linton, Illinois, I hope it’s the visit I stay for good. That Machlan will see what we can be, wrap me up in his arms, and ask me to work things out.

I’ve had that hope for years. That ends now.

This time, I’m over him. Or I will be before I leave. Somehow.

Taking a deep breath, I look back at the sign hanging askew. “You can do this,” I prep myself. “Just go in, lay some groundwork, and get out before you get in over your head.”

My sneakers hit the asphalt before I can rethink this entire thing. My stomach squeezes so hard I think I might have to sit back down.

Straightening my shirt, I pull a deep, steadying breath. The only indication of how wobbly I am on the inside is the way the little four-leaf clover necklace vibrates on my chest. “I’ve got this.”

“You got what?”

I spin around, hand covering my heart, and find Peck leaning on the hood of my car. My friend since the day I met him, he’s also Machlan’s cousin. Ridiculously charming with his blond hair poking out the sides of his baseball cap, he has a smile that could end a world war.

“I got your number, that’s what I got,” I say with a laugh. “What are you doing, troublemaker?”

“Oh, just seeing what this cute little redhead was doing talking to herself. Then I realized it was you and I was like, ‘Eh, I don’t really need a trip to the ER tonight.’”

I know what he’s getting at. Machlan is at Crave.

I pop him in the shoulder. He winces, humoring me, before shoving off the car and following me as I head down the sidewalk.