I have heard it said a million times, “teens will be teens, and that is what they do.” While I understand the statement to some degree (I have a teenager still at home, one in university, one out of the house, teens constantly in and out of my home), I do not agree with it. I continually research and visit with other teens, this is a key phrase, other teens! This has given me a brand new perspective on that statement. You see, when one speaks candidly with other kids they will tell you the truth. Teens often tell their parents what they know a parent needs to hear (my kids have done the same). Let’s face it; it is far easier to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission, but the problem is that what kids are doing today has been amplified due to social media, their maturity level, their attitude of entitlement, and the laws that they are subject to if caught, (teens are going to be teens statement) is flat out scary and dangerous.

There are too many dangers to list out there, but the book BITTER BETRAYAL touches on the dangers of teen dating. It parallels a relationship between a girl and boy, and focuses on how differently they portray, act, and define that same relationship. The consequences of how their actions trigger responses from each other that neither of them had anticipated and how it affects their relationship in the long run. Worse, neither of them had thought about the legal consequences or the damages that they would carry for life, emotional, physical, and potentially legal that they could have inflicted on themselves, their families, community, and friends. These simple things, relationships that are rushed into too quickly affect everyone at times. This book is based on real-life events that teens face daily. It isn’t a funromantic, or necessarily sweet read. But it is important if you have teens, girls or boys. – Enjoy. – Amanda M. Thrasher

Love, Trust, and Betrayal!

They say there are two sides to every story, and somewhere in the middle lies the truth. There’s no exception to this one. Impaired decisions, questionable actions, and consequences with irreversible damage destroy the lives of two young teens. High school junior Payton Phillips is dating the boy she knows she’s going to spend the rest of her life with: Reece Townsend. An opportunity for the dating teens and their friends to have the night of their lives–an invite to Stacie Wiggin’s party–will go down in the books as epic. But when things escalate and emotions run high, the evening of their dreams turns into a nightmare of he said, she said. Who did exactly what that night? As teens tweet, Snap, and play their stories out online, social media threatens to ruin more than the teens’ reputations. Relationships, scholarships, and entire families are at stake. Whose side of the story will you choose to believe, his or hers?



Chapter 23


Reece stayed with Payton until she fell asleep. Carefully, so not to disturb her, he made his way outside. He needed some fresh air, get his head together. He wasn’t feeling great about the way things ended; not his ideal first time with his girl puking in the tent afterward. A few people were still standing around talking, and a couple of Reece’s friends were still up. But most of the partygoers had finally crashed. Some of them hadn’t bothered finding their tents, hitting the back of their trucks, blankets making pallets, and coats thrown on top of them to stay warm. Taking a last glance at his phone, Reece noticed it was four-thirty in the morning. Trevor and Cody were planted on the porch steps.

“What’s up?” Trevor asked as Reece approached.

“Nothing,” Reese responded, realizing for the first time he was exhausted.

Trevor’s phone was being passed around. Shot after shot of the party had already hit the social media scene. Pics were on snap stories and everyone was talking about the party. As soon as the drinking had kicked in, all inhibitions had disappeared. Stacie, despite her best intentions, had no way to control it as kid after kid pulled out their phones and started to take group photos, selfies and worse, sneaking photos of unsuspecting couples hooking up. Funny, they said, as they snapped away. The sneaking around part became a game, but the end result was the same—out on the net for the world to see. Stacie landed in a few of them; it was a move that she would later regret. Mouth dry and dehydrated, Reece grabbed a soda and downed it. It didn’t taste good, too sweet. Cody suddenly grabbed Trevor’s phone out of his hand.

“Who took that?” he asked.

Trevor leaned over, peeked at the photo, grabbed it, and deleted the pic before anyone could see it.

“Man, I have no idea!”

“What was it?” Reece asked.

Cody didn’t say anything, and Trevor looked like a deer in headlights.

“Some girl acting stupid, that’s all,” Trevor replied.

Cody nodded. His stomach growled, reminding him he hadn’t eaten anything all night; too busy drinking. Starting to feel sick himself, he needed to eat.

“I’m starving. Anything left to eat?”

Trevor pointed to a bag of chips. “Here, bro, you can have these.” He handed Cody the bag, but not before grabbing a handful of chips first.

“So you and your girl snuck off for a while, taking care of business,” Trevor playfully shoved Reece.

“Something like that,” Reece laughed.

He didn’t add to the conversation, but he didn’t deny it, and that’s all it took. Boy talk, locker-room style, took over. Admired by his friends, the conversation about his actions in the tent with Payton gave him additional bragging rights. The fact that he didn’t deny any of their speculations about what they’d done in the tent fed the fire. Only thing he did right in that moment was to keep his mouth shut. The truth was, if he were going to be honest with himself, it wasn’t exactly the way he wanted it to go down. Starting off fun, ending with his girl puking afterward. Nice. Not exactly something he was proud of.

“You and Stacie?”

“Nah, man. Like a zoo around here, keeping up with who was doing what and where. Don’t touch this, don’t touch that, I’m freaking tired!” Trevor took a swig of Coke. “I hope we get this place put back together in time before she has to be back, I mean. Can you imagine facing Coach after his lake house had been trashed?”

Creeping back into the tent, Reece laid next to Payton. He left the flap open to circulate the cool air, which helped with the stench of alcohol puke. She was out of it, which was likely for the best. She was going to feel like crap the next morning. Not having a clear head himself, he continued to push the entire thing out of his mind. Do-over. Do-over. Do-over! They’d redo that night. Even Reece wanted a do-over first time with his girl. Tired. Not feeling well or good about himself, Reece wished he were home in bed. He closed his eyes, but the tent started to spin. Lying on his back with his eyes wide open, Reece tried to fall asleep. It seemed to take forever, but finally he drifted off. The sound of people moving around alerted him that morning had arrived too soon. He felt like crap and could only imagine how bad Payton must feel.

Payton reached for her phone, but felt a person next to her instead. Rolling over, she came face-to-face with Reece. Images of the night before flashed through her mind and feelings of embarrassment and panic set in. Before she could compose herself or her thoughts, vomit rushed up her throat and into her mouth. Jumping to her feet, tripping over Reece, this time she managed to puke outside the tent. To her horror, groups of people stopped and stared. Reece suddenly appeared at her side.

“Still not doing good?”

What a stupid question, she thought. But was grateful her words hadn’t popped out of her mouth. Payton shook her head and walked over to the picnic table and sat down on the bench. Despite how hard she tried not to, her eyes filled with tears and she started to cry. Reece slid his arm around her back, but to his surprise she jumped like a cat out of its skin. Even Payton noticed her own reaction.

“I’m sorry. I feel like crap.”

The shocked look on his face hurt Payton, but not as much as it had surprised her. He pulled his arm away, embarrassed, and headed to the cabin to find a cool washcloth for her face. Confused by her sudden anguish from the night before, Payton didn’t know how to feel. She racked her brain for answers about what had taken place. Did they have sex? Yes. But had she said yes? She didn’t think so, but wasn’t sure. She had asked him to stop, right? Had she? She couldn’t remember, but she did remember saying she didn’t feel well and could have sworn she’d said the words “not yet.” She remembered that Reece had mentioned they’d talked about it that night. But despite how hard she tried, she just couldn’t remember discussing the issue of having sex with him that evening. Was it really possible she didn’t remember such a conversation—or worse, they didn’t have one? Her head was throbbing, her stomach nauseous, and the flashbacks, combined with rapid-fire questions, wouldn’t quit coming. Faster and faster they came. But the question that haunted her most was horrific; it was about the person she loved the most in the world, Reece. Why didn’t he listen to her and wait? How much did they drink? Confused beyond belief, not knowing what to do or how to feel, ashamed and scared, Payton’s body started shaking uncontrollably.

“OMG! Stop thinking,” she whispered to herself. “Please don’t overthink this thing; not here and not now!”

“Can I get you anything?” Reece asked as he handed her a cool cloth. “Are you OK?”

“I’m trying not to puke again,” Payton replied. “But we probably need to talk.”

Reece picked up her hand. For the first time ever, she wanted to pull hers away from his. That had never happened before. How had twenty-four hours changed everything? She felt dirty and confused, and wanted nothing more than to climb into a hot bath. Her hand hung limply in his, which he noticed immediately. Squeezing hers, trying to get a response, he leaned in toward her and kissed her on the cheek. Her long dark hair fell over her face, and Reece, as always, moved it to one side. Payton didn’t flinch, but it felt weird. It would take her a moment to process. She didn’t realize that she didn’t know how. Even though her whole life her mom had said she could tell her anything, Payton felt she couldn’t confide in her mom now. It wasn’t true, but she wasn’t prepared to test the waters. The disappointment she could only imagine she’d see in her mom’s eyes: lying, drinking, and going to the party had put her in this mess in the first place. Not to mention her parents would hate Reece forever. She didn’t want that; she loved him, and she wasn’t convinced it wasn’t both of their faults.

“I brought you a Sprite for your stomach.” Aubrey handed her a cup of ice and soda. “They don’t have any crackers.”

Payton sipped the cool liquid and actually kept it down. She wanted to talk to her friends, but didn’t dare tell them her first time hadn’t gone according to her life plan. Maybe she wouldn’t have to discuss it at all. Ever. Maybe they’d just think she was sick and that was that, hanging, too much punch. A thought popped in her head, and she almost had a panic attack on the spot. Fear swept over her. Did they use anything? She certainly wasn’t prepared. Was he? Was she protected at all? Did he think about that, did they? Was anything about this really OK? Nothing was! White as a sheet and scared to death, Payton needed her mom.

Payton: Got your text. Love you too, can’t wait to see you.

Mrs. Phillips: Did you have fun?

Payton: Yes

Mrs. Phillips: See you soon

“Babe, can I get you anything? Something to eat?” Reece asked.

Payton shook her head. “No thanks. Guess I know now why teens aren’t supposed to drink.” She took a deep breath. “I’m never drinking again. Ever!”

He nodded sympathetically. Hangovers. It would take at least a few more hours before she felt any better. Reece gently rubbed her back as she sat with her head hanging between her knees. Payton tried to act as normally as possible, but all she wanted was for him to leave her alone. Before last night, if she were sick, the thought of him taking care of her would have been the sweetest thing in the world. Now, if he would just leave her alone, she could actually breathe.

He kissed her softly on her forehead. “I love you,” he said. “I want you to be OK.”

As if forcing the words out of her mouth, she managed to say them back. “Love you too.”

Reece took down their tent and loaded up their stuff so they could go home. Stacie walked the property with Sophie and Trevor. The damage was worse than she had feared. Trash. A broken bench, two fire pits that needed to be emptied or her parents would know they’d been there, unmade beds, bathrooms that needed to be cleaned, as did the kitchen. She’d received a text that her parents were on their way back into town. Trevor started gathering as many people as he could who weren’t feeling like crap to pitch in and help clean up the place. There were a lot of teens who had overdone it and were feeling as ill as Payton, all vowing to never touch a drink again—that likely wouldn’t last. If you arrived in a truck, bags of trash were going home with you; how you disposed of them was your problem. He pointed to Reece’s truck; Reece nodded. That was fine. Load it up, he’d find somewhere to dump it on his way out of there. Aubrey, Maddie, and Payton were starting to get messages from their parents, as were most of them. Stalling for too much longer was going to be a problem. Stacie opted to allow her parents to believe random trespassers camped out on the broken bench, or weather had worn it down. She knew it didn’t look weather-worn, so was going with random trespassers. The likelihood of them buying it, slim to none, but it was all she had to go with. The key would be getting the inside of the house to look as pristine as it had upon their arrival, and that was proving to be problematic. Overall it looked somewhat passable, if her mom didn’t purposely inspect it, but to say it looked the way it had upon arrival was a stretch. It was clear that someone had been in the house; that’s all there was to it. Stacie had a plan. The next time they went to the lake house, she would take a few friends and hopefully they could head up there early. Let her friends pick rooms; that way her mom wouldn’t enter them. It just might work—doubtful, but possible.

Maddie, being a sweet friend, offered to drive Payton’s car home. In her mind, she thought Payton would ride with Reece, and Aubrey would ride with her before meeting and switching drivers. She was shocked when Payton turned her down. Even more surprising was that Payton asked Maddie not to mention her offer to Reece.

“I won’t,” she promised. “But what’s going on? Did you guys have a fight?”

Payton shook her head. It was the first time ever she wished that they had. Fights were easy. You got mad and you got over it. Hurt and confused, and she didn’t know how to deal with that yet, especially the confused part. Something else she didn’t know how to deal with: the situation or mess she was in. If she objected to having sex with someone she loved more than anything or anyone else in the world, did that count as being defiled? She couldn’t even think the words, let alone say them out loud, that were trying to pop into her head. Did that count as rape? She had said “not yet,” hadn’t she? But she didn’t use the word “no.” The waters were muddied. Impaired judgments, both parties, and he loved her and she loved him. Confused. Scared. Ashamed. Payton struggled to say her goodbyes. A forced, swift kiss was all she could manage before she climbed into her car with her friends.

“OK, babe, follow me,” Reece instructed.

“Got it.”

“Love you,” he said.

“Love you too,” she barely spat out.

Payton didn’t have the answers that she needed, and she didn’t know half of what to expect from the consequences of the situation that had taken place the night before. Emotions she’d never felt before ran through her, and she wasn’t mature enough to know what to do with them or how to feel. Fears she didn’t know existed consumed her mind. Damage beyond repair had only just begun, and she hadn’t even made it home.

Text Copyright © 2017 Amanda M. Thrasher All rights reserved. Published 2017 by Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, LLC

A recipient of the Mom’s Choice Awards for YA and General Fiction!
The Mom’s Choice Awards(R) (MCA) evaluates products and services created for parents and educators and is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. Using a rigorous evaluation process, entries are scored on a number of elements including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal and cost. Around the world, parents, educators, retailers and members of the media trust the MCA Honoring Excellence seal when selecting quality products and services for families and children. A recipient of the Mom’s Choice Awards!

New Apple Literary Award Recipient for YA and General Fiction.

Amanda M. Thrasher