I’m a mom of a grown son and two teen daughters. This has provided valuable information over the years for the research often needed to complete a few of my YA novels. Between them, their friends, events that they’re involved with, and kids in and out of my house, I’ve been exposed to tons of teens. However, the research does not stop with the information gathered around the family or my hometown.
Between speaking with hundreds of teens, girls, and boys, attending multiple teen events, talking with doctors, teachers, parents, librarians, counselors, police officers, the research compiled over the years confirms what most parents already knew. Many kids, though great kids, can often make ridiculous life-changing decisions during those times when ‘teens are going to be teens.’
After listening to several heart-breaking accounts of girls that had made decisions based on being ‘in love’ or ‘impaired’ and having their reputations ruined by social media, not to mention the flip side of that, boys, who have had their futures threatened by lawsuits and threats of being labeled sex offenders for the rest of their lives, I decided to write BITTER BETRAYAL. This book portrays both sides of a teen relationship, girls’ point of view versus the boys’ point of view, and shows the different perspectives of what happens to them during their relationship, how it affects their families, and the community when things go horribly wrong.
Decisions, consequences, and the healing process of all involved are exposed.
My intent with the book was to allow teens to read it through the eyes of a character that they understand, hoping they could possibly avoid the same type of situation as the characters in the book. The story, unfortunately, is based on every-day life events.
Excerpt – BITTER BETRAYAL – Mom’s Choice Gold Recipient & New Apple Literary Award Recipient for YA and General Fiction
It took nearly two-and-a-half hours to get to the lake. Nice and secluded, no locals to worry about. Everyone invited knew that they had to stay for the night, no exceptions, and upon arrival Stacie had decided that Trevor or Cody would stand with a bucket and all keys would have to be turned in as soon as vehicles were parked. Safety measures: ensuring that once they arrived, they didn’t drive. The girls had stuck to their plan, providing food and sodas, but hadn’t provided alcohol. However, they weren’t stupid, knowing kids would show up with alcohol all by themselves. Private invitations on social media with the rules and directions had been axed at the last minute. If they were leaked, she’d be busted for sure; a paper trail wasn’t worth the risk. Everyone relied on word of mouth, coded texts, and phone calls. They climbed higher and higher as they drove up the long, twisted driveway to the cabin. Between the trees, the height of the location, and the lake below them, the view was spectacular. The lake house, a massive stone-and-log cabin, was two stories, complete with a wraparound porch that extended all the way around the house. Picnic areas were located on the east and west sides of the cabin, complete with fire pit and grills, and both sides had views overlooking the lake. A rock path led down the bluff to the dock and boat ramp. A covered area housed the boats and water toys, too many to count, and a boathouse sat to the left of it. Impressive to say the least, especially for a secondary home; most people never lived in anything as beautiful in their whole lives, let alone vacationed at home in such luxury.
“It’s beautiful up here,” Sophie said as they pulled up to the house. “Absolutely beautiful.”
“Thanks.” Stacie knew it was a one-in-a-million location. It was her dad’s future retirement home. “This is my dad’s dream place. Not so much my mom’s.”
“She doesn’t like this place?” Sophie asked, shocked. “Really?”
“She likes to vacation here, but not so much live. Too far away from town, she says.”
As soon as she entered the house, Stacie disarmed the security system. Unlike their main residence, her parents couldn’t access the system from their devices. Nor were they notified if something was amiss. Just an old-style, regular system had come with the property when they had purchased it. Advanced for then, it had cameras, but not like the ones at their main house, where when the alarm went off the security company was notified, and they received the call. Her dad had said on numerous occasions that he’d like to have the alarm system at the lake house updated. Fortunately for Stacie, he hadn’t done it yet. Once the alarm was dismantled, Stacie opened the wooden shutters and the windows, and cool air immediately rushed through the house. For the first time, Stacie was glad she hadn’t listened to her nerves and bailed on the party.
“Surely they’ll stay out of here, right?” It wasn’t a real question. Stacie was praying people wouldn’t trash her parents’ cabin.
“We know these guys, they’re our friends,” Sophie reassured her. “There’s really no reason for them to come in the house.”
“Well, let’s put our stuff in our rooms.” Stacie smiled. “I’m taking the master, but you can pick any other room you like.”
Each room had a fireplace and its own bathroom. It didn’t matter which room Sophie picked; she would be more than comfortable. Both girls sent random texts to their parental units. They each waited for responses. Once they received them, breathing easier, they cranked up the music and started to prepare for the party. Sheets pulled off the furniture, counters wiped down, sodas iced, and extra chests filled with ice for whatever people brought with them to drink. Snacks were ready to be put into bowls, wood placed in the fire pits outside, and chairs set out around sitting areas. It was safe to say that things were coming together nicely. A truck pulled into the driveway, startling both girls. Trevor and Cody had shown up early to help. Stacie had never been happier to see that face. Somehow he made her feel safe.
“Wow! You can’t hide money,” Cody joked.
“Hey babe, looks great, what can we do to help?” Trevor asked.
Trevor picked her up, held her at eye level and kissed her on the lips before setting her back down again. Cody, still shocked that Trevor had a girl like that, shook his head and walked over to the top of the bluff to look at the view. Sophie joined him.
“Bet there’s some good fishing out there!”
“Yeah. That’s what Stacie says,” Sophie agreed.
“Now I wish Ryan or Reece were here already, but they’ll be here later.” He smirked. “You know we love to fish.”
Cody took his cap off and scratched his head. “How long have you and Ryan been dating, anyway?”
“Almost a year.” Sophie grinned. “And yes, I do, the fishing part. You? Bringing someone or meeting someone?”
A smile crossed Cody’s face. “Meeting someone here. Aubrey. Do you know her?”
Sophie nodded. She had met Aubrey several times and liked her. Aubrey was easy to get along with and was cute. Trevor and Stacie joined them. Trevor also made a comment about the fishing. Stacie offered to have them over when her dad was there, take them out on the boat and fish to their hearts’ content.
“How did you get this girl?” Cody joked. “Hot. Likes football, Dad’s the Coach, and she’s a dudes’ dude. Too good to be true.”
“Well, he won’t have me for long if I’m dead!” Stacie flopped down in Trevor’s lap. “We’ve got to pull this off with no hitches. None!”
Getting back to work, they finished setting up. Stereo outside worked. Didn’t matter anyway, they’d pull a truck over and attach an aux cord to play their own music. The ice chests were placed by the fire pits and outside sitting areas. Stacie hoped this would help keep people out of the house. Trevor and Cody set up two tents in the area to show everyone where to start setting up their tents. It was going so well; nothing could go wrong!
“Grab that bucket over there, the big one from under the outside faucet on the left,” Stacie instructed. “It’s for everyone’s keys. No exceptions.”
“How are we going to do that?” Sophie asked.
“I’ll do it,” Trevor offered. “As soon as they park, I’ll take their keys. Have them put them in the bowl themselves.”
Perfect. They were all on the same page. They went through the cabin with a checklist and confirmed everything had been done. It was about that time, party time, and everything was ready. The boys picked a bedroom and hit the shower, and the girls went to their rooms and did the same. Casual attire, yes, but hair and makeup still needed to be perfect; after all, girls will still be girls. A call from her mom couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Stacie was as calm as could be. Small talk and lots of questions about the game, complete with a request for her dad to text the final score, sealed the conversation as a success. No nerves to be found. Excitement and adrenaline rushed through Stacie’s body. Now ready, she couldn’t wait for the party to begin!
Pouring food into the bowls, Sophie placed the snacks on the tables outside, another deterrent from the house. Texts were coming in left and right. Were they on the right track? Did they miss the turn? Should they bring anything special? Stacie finally handed her phone to Sophie.
“Unless my dad or mom texts, please handle these.”
Cody set up by the main gate. As cars pulled in, he directed them over to Trevor and the parking area. Once parked, Trevor stuck out the bowl. Keys in the bowl or don’t stay, that was the rule. Surprisingly, no one seemed to object. Once parked, most put up tents or makeshift tents. Some more like windbreakers for ball games, but once a sleeping bag was thrown inside, all looked like they were functional. Others set up pallets in the beds of their trucks, and some said they’d sleep in the back seat of their cars. It was coming together better than Stacie had even imagined. It was starting to look like a camping resort by eight p.m. By nine p.m. it was hard to find a parking place. It was apparent that more people than had been invited had shown up. Payton, Aubrey, and Maddie, had followed Reece. Reece had a cab full of guys, Dustin, Gavin, Larry, Dolton, Ryan, and Mick; they all played football together. London and Zoe arrived shortly after Payton and Reece. Gavin was waiting nervously for her. Needless to say, they all arrived safely.
“I thought you got lost. Scared me.” Gavin leaned into her window and kissed her cheek.
“You are the sweetest!” London grabbed his face and placed a kiss on his lips.
Gavin jumped into the back seat of her car and rode with her over to the parking area. Stacie checked her watch. Surely arrivals would start to slow down. Trevor jumped up on the tailgate of Reece’s truck and made an announcement.
“Guys, find a tree.”
“Girls. You can use the bathroom, lower level, by the kitchen on the right, in the house. That’s the visitors’ or guests’ powder room.” He raised his hands in the air and quieted everyone down. “Seriously. Have a good time, but don’t do anything stupid. You break it, you pay for it and you’ll have answer to her dad for damages and we all know who that is . . . Coach.” Trevor took a breath. “My advice, stay out of the house.”
“Thank you, babe, appreciate you looking out for me,” Stacie whispered. “Glad you handled that.”
“No problem. It’s what I do.” Trevor pecked her on the lips, popped a can, and handed it to her. “Here ya go. Ladies first.”
Stacie reached out and took the beer. She didn’t ask where it had come from or if Trevor had brought it with him. The truth was, she didn’t want to know. She hadn’t brought it, right? She was only going to sip it. Payton and Reece walked over to where Trevor, Stacie, Sophie, Ryan, Gavin, and London had gathered around one of the fire pits by the bluff. Aubrey and Cody soon joined them. Teens were in small groups all over the property, having fun and talking among themselves. Music was blasting, but no one cared. There were no neighbors to be had. Sophie was right. People managed to bring their own liquor and beer in, and no one said a word. That wasn’t her problem; she didn’t bring it, buy it, suggest it, or even say it was OK. Drinks of all kinds were flowing and despite having soda available, the only time they seemed to drink it was with the liquor. Some of the boys had made a drinking game out of throwing horseshoes, and a round of beer pong was next. A team of girls, including Payton and her friends, challenged them to a round. Drinking. Laughing. Seemed like fun, at first.
“Every time we’re supposed to drink, let’s not,” Payton giggled.
“Sounds like a deal to me.” Stacie laughed, enjoying the challenge and the thought of tricking the guys.
Beers were opened, and Gavin explained the rules. The boys allowed the girls to go first. It didn’t go as planned. They couldn’t fake taking the sips of drinks; they got caught up in the fun, and the boys had marked the cans with sharpies. Time was flying by. And after a while Stacie had no idea who was outside, who was in the cabin, or what was going on at her own party anymore. A drinking game consumed the whole group, which turned into a game of truth or dare. Laughter, sometimes bitterness, and the occasional temper flared. Payton didn’t care. It was late, she was feeling ecstatic, and Reece hadn’t left her side. He slipped his arm around her waist and kissed the back of her neck. Nestling into him, she felt the warmth of his body on hers. She’d been sipping more than she’d realized. Between the laugher and the fun, she hadn’t been keeping track of how easily it could go down. Reece sat down in a chair and pulled her into his lap. Payton didn’t question it, automatically sitting down on his knee. The music blared out across the bluff, and the louder it got, the more fun they seemed to have, as the kids’ voices echoed the words of all the rappers and the artists that they played. The no-pic rule didn’t last; but looking back, why had Stacie thought that it would? Teens and their phones; inevitable they’d start pulling out their phones and snapping pics for their streaks and social media favorites. #litparty #beerdoesabodygood #litnight #whereru #bestnightever
A trash can full of party punch had finally surfaced. A concoction of whatever liquor, juices or sodas they could find, a bad deal for everyone. No one really knew what was in it; they never did. Disguised with anything to make the flavor doable, most of them downed it. Sophie poured plastic cups and left them on the table, but soon Zeke was handing them out. Payton’s hand reached for one of the infamous plastic red cups. It tasted like cotton candy and went down like Kool-Aid. She had never felt so happy and in love in her life. Invincible. Guilt—what’s that? No adult supervision. Feeling intoxicated without knowing it. Sitting in her hot boyfriend’s lap, while he whispered how much he loved her and wanted her, all at a party she was invited to with him. The Coach’s daughter’s party at that . . . Payton never wanted to go home. Stacie’s favorite song came on, and a group of girls jumped up and started dancing in a big circle. Reece and the others were watching and hollering, egging them on. Some of the guys joined them, but most just watched. Payton stood up to join in, but Reece pulled her back onto his lap.
“No. Stay here with me,” he said. “I want to do this.”
She never asked what. He slipped his hand up inside of her shirt and rubbed her back. Payton smiled and leaned back into him, glad she’d sat back down. The air was nice and cool, feeling good on her skin as he rubbed her back. Happy, Payton turned around and kissed Reece. He kissed her back just as hard. Their mouths locked together as they kissed in sync with each other effortlessly, barely able to breathe. Reece’s hands started to roam. Payton grabbed his hand, stopped him, and whispered in his ear.
“A lot of PDA. Not right here.”
Reece kissed her again and then checked his watch. It was still a tad early to disappear unnoticed. Holding her face in his hands and staring into her beautiful brown eyes, he took a deep breath and pushed her out of his lap. Puzzled, she stood up. He ran his fingers through her hair, kissed the back of her neck, and whispered in her ear.
“In a bit, we’ll disappear and do whatever we want. OK?”
Payton, not thinking about the words he was actually saying, immediately nodded. She couldn’t wait to spend alone time with Reece, but wasn’t thinking literally about a thing. Here they were, only an hour away from her usual curfew, and she still had all night. Any nervousness she had about breaking rules had long disappeared. Blissfully in love, she couldn’t wait to slip away.
Cody cracked open another beer, and everyone gathered around their host. Laughter and voices continued to echo around the bluff, but no one cared, no noise violation to worry about that night. Trevor lifted his cup and kissed his girl.
“Can I have your attention please?” He laughed. “Hey, for just a second,” he yelled again when no one seemed to stop talking the first time.
Reece offered his assistance. “He’s trying to say something here, shut up!”
One by one the voices lowered, and all eyes were upon Trevor.
“I just want to thank my girl for pulling off this amazing night. Is this fun or what?”
Everyone hollered and cheered, and applause broke out for Stacie. People were truly enjoying themselves, and for the most part, no one seemed to be acting like an idiot; no fights to be had. Drinking, yeah, they were doing that, but Stacie had convinced herself they were doing that responsibly. She was wrong. Not one of them thought twice about being a minor and breaking the law, deceiving people, let alone the effects of the alcohol itself. The party, in her mind and everyone else’s, was a huge success. They’d gotten away with it; pulled it off. If only they’d known.
Stay Out of the House
No matter how hard Stacie, Trevor, Sophie, or Ryan tried to keep people from lingering in the house, it wasn’t working. Kids were everywhere, and that included upstairs. Most were just talking and hanging out, but some were looking for areas of the house where they could hook up; hardly unusual for teen gatherings, but even Stacie didn’t want to deal with any of that in her parents’ cabin. Something inside her allowed her to block out what they might be doing if she knew they were outside and she didn’t have to deal with it. But in her parents’ house, different story, get out. Things out of place or damages were constantly on her mind, knowing she couldn’t possibly duplicate everything in time the way her mom had left it. The housekeeper wouldn’t be back until her mom called her, and if she noticed too many things out of order, Stacie’s mom could expect a call from her. Stacie needed them out of the house. She went from room to room and told them they had to go outside; some listened, some couldn’t care less. It seemed that every time teens gathered, there were always people who brought people. Those were the ones who didn’t care; they didn’t really know anyone anyway, except the person they tagged along with in the first place.
Payton didn’t have to worry about hooking up or hanging out with guys or finding a boyfriend; she was with her boyfriend, and her best friend Aubrey had Cody by her side. Maddie was hanging with them as well, talking to Dustin. The fire pits were awesome since the air had chilled, perfect for a camp night, and another round of truth or dare had been started. Stacie was freaking out as she tried to monitor the house. The thought of locking it up crossed her mind, but the girls were running in and out of the bathroom, and the kitchen and her bedroom were in there, and she decided against it.
“I wish they’d at least stay the hell out of the house, that’s all!” she snapped. “It’s not a lot to ask!”
Cody handed her a drink of something in a cup. Lifting the cup to her nose, she drew in a big whiff of something sweet: trash-can punch.
“Relax. It’s your party. Remember?” He laughed.
Stacie threw her head back and downed the sweet-tasting punch. It went down with ease.
Cody pulled Aubrey closer and asked if she’d like some as well.
“What is it?” Aubrey asked.
“Honestly, I don’t know. Some concoction that Justin threw together—trash-can punch. You know, anything they were able to get their hands on. Taste it, it’s good.”
Aubrey shook her head and pointed to the half drank, warm beer in her hand. She’d made that one last for over an hour. Not liking the taste, but trying to fit in, she hung on to it. She knew better. Trash-can punch: good going in, nasty coming out and that was only one-way—puking.
“No thanks, still drinking,” she held up her beer.
Cody didn’t pressure her to try it, and she was grateful for that. But he didn’t slow down on his, either. Between the kids who had snuck alcohol or paid older friends with fake IDs to buy them alcohol, they’d combined quite an assortment of liquor and beer. No one was concerned about how much they’d consumed. No need. There wasn’t a single threat of anyone coming home or breaking up the party. The party was lit, all that, that’s for sure, everyone on social media said so!
It didn’t take long before one of the beer pong games was interrupted. Josh fell onto the makeshift table and knocked all the drinks over. Should have been their first clue to shut it down, but it wasn’t. The boys were getting rowdy and the girls were getting crazy. The partying and laughter didn’t seem to slow down. A game of hide-and-seek broke out, but as soon as Stacie realized they weren’t listening to the rules and going too close to the bluff, she ended it. Too bad, because that was fun!
Reece grabbed Payton’s hand and led her toward the tent that he had put up for them to crash in that night. Cody and Aubrey were sitting outside the tent, but that didn’t stop Reece and Payton from moving past them and crawling inside. Neither one of them had been keeping track of how much they’d drank. Consumed with the party and hanging out with their friends, with zero supervision or the worry of a curfew, they both had more than they thought they’d had. Reece pulled open the canopy, letting the breeze flow through the mesh netting of the roof. The air was cool, which felt good on Payton’s face as she lay down on the makeshift pallet he’d made out of sleeping bags. Muffled voices outside could be heard, but they suddenly sounded so distant. Reece lay next to her and moved her long dark hair that had fallen over her face to one side. Grasping her face in his hands, he leaned forward and kissed her. She kissed him back just as eagerly.
Within minutes they both forgot that they were at a party at all, lost in each other. Hands roaming, mouths barely breaking apart from each other’s, the two teens found themselves in a position they had never been in before. They were alone, in love, and worst of all, without understanding it, totally impaired. Neither one of them was thinking clearly; intoxicated, having the time of their lives, they felt invincible. Feelings, emotions, and being wrapped up in each other, they had no reason to stop a single thing that they were doing; every touch felt amazing to both of them as their hormones raged. Zero threat of anyone walking through a door, and in that moment, if they had, they wouldn’t have heard them anyway. Payton’s heart was pounding as she continued to reciprocate each and every move that Reece made. Between the two it was a disastrous, heated, unstoppable situation, until Payton finally gasped for air.
A glimpse of the dark blue sky through the window of the tent above her, the stars scattered as if just for her, the muffled voices, the smell of the fire, and then all of a sudden the alcohol that she had consumed hit her like a freight train. It was like an oven in the tent; no longer cool. So hot that condensation had formed on the sides. Her head was spinning, and she couldn’t breathe. Nauseous, she felt as if she might throw up right then and there on Reece. She tried to push him off her body, but her arms felt like jelly; no strength in them at all. Reece’s mouth clamped once again over hers, still in the moment and unaware she now felt ill. He kept touching her and kissing her. She tried to push the nauseous feeling deep down inside, and moved her head to one side to avoid Reece’s kisses. Reece kissed her neck, as Payton tried to locate any cool air that might blow through the tent. Unaware of what was going on, his hands continued to roam her body. Uninhibited, she no longer knew where her safe zones were. Pushing the limits without thinking, Reece tested the waters with his wandering hands and Payton didn’t think to stop him. Spinning out of control, both of them, faster and faster with no time to think. When the cool air finally hit her leg, Payton realized her clothes were half on and half off. Shouldn’t she have felt her buttons being undone or her zipper go down? But she didn’t remember them being undone. She did remember trying not to puke. Reece’s pants were about the same, half on and half off. Had she done that, taken off his clothes, or had he assisted? Suddenly embarrassed, not knowing what she’d done, fear and panic swept over her. She turned her head, but he turned his with hers, thinking they were merely changing positions, not knowing for a single second that she wasn’t prepared for the unexpected situation that they both found themselves caught up in. Turning her head again, this time with force, she muttered the words she thought would make it all OK.
“I need some air,” Payton mumbled. “Not yet.”
Her voice so faint, he didn’t hear her. The weight of his body, suddenly like a ton of bricks on top of her, no longer felt loving but suffocating, and the cozy comfort of the tent became confining, as it seemingly spun around and around as she gasped for air. Trying with all her might to push him off her chest was impossible; she was tiny, and all of a sudden he seemed like dead weight. Continuing to kiss her and softly whisper kind things to her, including how much he loved her, she tried to swallow the vomit that was crawling up her throat. Swallowing, she pushed it back down into her stomach and hoped that she wouldn’t puke on him. For some bizarre reason, her eyes caught sight of a drop of condensation on the side of the tent, and she watched it drip down the wall. Feeling violently ill, trying to talk, but realizing he couldn’t hear her, she felt helpless. He couldn’t hear her, and she could barely talk anyway.
“I need some air,” she repeated for what seemed like the hundredth time.
He loved her, he said. She knew that, but in that moment, she didn’t care. She felt sick, incredibly ill, and needed some cool, fresh air. Where was the cool air? And why weren’t the words that she wanted to say forming in her mouth and coming out?
“I love you, baby,” he said again.
She couldn’t say them back and she didn’t care right then. “I’m going to puke.”
He hadn’t heard her; her voice was barely a whisper. For all he knew, she’d said she loved him too. She had no idea her voice was so muffled. Slurring her words due to the amount of alcohol she’d consumed, she was making no sense at all. Looking down, Payton could tell by the way they were positioned what they were about to do. Panicking, she kicked her legs, but they barely moved. Why didn’t her body respond to what her brain was telling it to do? She was scared and her arms pushed Reece as hard as she could, but she had no idea her strength wasn’t there, and Reece, impaired as well, didn’t pay the attention that he normally would have to her petition to stay away from areas that she was uncomfortable with at that time.
“I’m not ready,” she thought she’d said out loud. “Not yet.”
“I’m not ready,” she said again and again. “Not yet.”
But he hadn’t heard her earnest pleas. Fumbling with their clothing and lost in clouded judgment, her voice was truly muffled and barely audible. Both slurring words, in love, he kissed her again, and didn’t even notice that she hadn’t kissed him back. Barely able to breathe, as she concentrated on not throwing up, Payton wasn’t prepared for what happened next. What started out as the best night of her life was turning into a horrific nightmare. It felt like an eternity, but within seconds the entire situation had gotten away from her. Reece looked her in the eye before kissing her lips, and that’s when the excruciating pain that she felt told her that they had done it; pain, penetration, they’d done it. IT! Between the pain, fear, and panic, Payton let out a gasp that sounded like a scream. Reece, fearing she’d startle others, placed his hand momentarily over her mouth and whispered words that she couldn’t remember saying.
“It’s OK, baby, it’s what we wanted. Remember?”
But not yet, Payton thought, but didn’t have the energy to say. Her head was spinning around and around and so was the tent. The sound of Reece’s voice and the words he usually said brought her no comfort at all. His hot breath hit her face as his muffled words poured out of his mouth, but she didn’t care. She wanted him off her, as the vomit traveled up her throat and pooled in her mouth, she could hold it in no longer.
“I love you, you know that, right?”
Frozen. In shock, sick to her stomach, and blaming herself, Payton didn’t know what she was supposed to do. What had just happened? Images flashed through her mind, but she couldn’t process the horrific scene. A familiar voice brought her back to reality.
“You all right?”
She wasn’t all right; she was anything but all right. Reece stared at her for a second, then stood up and pulled up his jeans. Too much for Payton to comprehend, she rolled over and threw up in the tent. –Copyright © 2017 Amanda M. Thrasher – All rights reserved. Published by Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, LLC.