Heartbroken, grief-stricken, and wracked with guilt, seventeen-year-old Evan Taylor returned to the Union, leaving behind the boy she loved. Now, she and her friends must find a way to do the impossible – warn the citizens of the Union about an impending rebel attack without alerting the government and risking retaliation against her friends in the Ruins.
When every move Evan makes is thwarted, it soon becomes clear she’s being watched. Faced with a daily fight to stay one step ahead of her pursuers, she returns to the Ruins. But life in the Ruins has its own dangers, and soon she’s fighting a different battle – to stay alive long enough to discover the truth.
THE RUINS is the second book in THE UNION series, a young adult romantic adventure set in the near future.
Cover design by local San Diego graphic artist, Mark Sgarbossa. Go check him out!
Read the first three chapters for free on Wattpad.
Wiki Page created by my teen daughter.
Lisa opens the door still in her pajama pants and a tank top. Jack’s behind her in nothing but a pair of sweatpants. I raise an eyebrow in silent judgment. How could she have Jack spend the night with Colin here?
“Where’s Colin?” she asks, looking past me.
“What do you mean, where’s Colin? Isn’t he here?”
“No. He never came home last night. I thought he was with you.”
“You were with me.”
“No, I mean after we separated. I figured he showed up at your place.” Her cheeks turn bright red.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” My hands ball into fists of anger at my sides. “You can’t really be that…” I bite off the words. It’s not my place to share how Colin feels about her.
“He probably left with one of those girls we saw him with,” she says.
I push into her apartment and find Colin’s duffel bag on the floor where it’s been since he began camping out on her couch last week. “So, he just blew off his train?”
“Maybe,” she shrugs.
“Not likely,” I say, stalking back outside, unease gnawing through my stomach. If all this other shit wasn’t going on, I could chalk it up to Colin getting laid, but I can’t shake the feeling something isn’t right. I’m halfway to Bryce’s before I realize that’s where I’m headed. Hopefully he takes me seriously.
My fast walk turns into a jog as I cover the remaining three blocks and two flights of stairs down to the apartment he shares with Jack. I’ve only been here once before, but I think I remember which one it is. I lift my hand and knock on the pale blue door then pace the small empty concrete porch. Thirty seconds pass before I knock again, louder and longer this time. Still no answer. I’m beginning to think he’s not here when the lock clicks and the door cracks open.
Bryce swings the door wider, and my eyes zero in on a bare chest. My gaze drifts from his firm abs and pecs up to meet a pair of gray eyes, squinted against the morning light. Confusion fills his features as he stares at me.
“Colin didn’t come home last night,” I blurt out, my voice breaking.
His gaze rests on my face for a moment before circling the room, reminding me we’re being monitored. “I’m sure he’s fine, but let me get dressed, and we’ll look for him.”
Stepping inside, I close the door and bounce on the balls of my feet while I wait for him. The place is decorated in neo-classic guy. A fireplace and hearth runs the length of the front of the apartment, and opposite that is a solid glass wall overlooking a weedy, overgrown garden. The limited furniture is a jumble of chairs, a couch, and a couple of mismatched tables littered with empty beer bottles.
Bryce dresses in record time and takes my hand, pulling me outside. He leads the way to the depot to catch a train back to the nightclub. “I want to retrace his steps after we left,” he says. “He might’ve just found some company for the evening.”
“That’s what Lisa said, but I think there’s more to it.”
“It’s no secret how he feels about Lisa. He might’ve just wanted to get away for the night.”
“But his bag is still at her place. He would’ve had to come get it before catching his train.”
The nightclub is deserted with the exception of a handful of staff still cleaning up. Bryce walks up to a lanky guy pushing a broom. “Can I talk to the manager?”
A woman in her mid-thirties approaches us a few minutes later, wiping her hands on an apron. She sweeps a chunk of blond hair out of her face with the back of her wrist. “Can I help you?”
“Yeah, I’m Detective Cooper,” Bryce says, flashing his credentials. “We’re looking for a friend. He was here with us last night, but we’re not sure what happened to him.”
She glances between me and Bryce. “Did something happen to him?”
“That’s what we’re trying to find out. Can we take a look at the security feed from last night?”
“Sure,” she says, inclining her head. “Come on back.”
We follow her past the bar and into a small office beyond the kitchen. “Here,” she says, indicating a chair in front of a display screen.
Bryce sits and she shows him how to move through the video files. Bryce locates the one time-stamped from when we were here and forwards through frame-by-frame. I see us leaving for the night and Colin dancing with the girls, getting another drink, dancing some more, then about an hour later, Colin walks toward the exit alone. A guy in a sweatshirt, hood pulled up, hands shoved into his jeans pockets, approaches Colin. They appear to exchange words. Colin nods before following the guy out the front door.
“What the hell?” I ask. “Who was that guy?” Terror sweeps through me, turning my blood to ice. “And where the hell is Colin?”
“I don’t know,” Bryce says, reaching over to squeeze my hand. “But we’ll find him, I promise.”
In Defense of the Platonic Friendship
“…men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.” Harry Burns.
That’s the premise behind the movie, When Harry Met Sally that plays out with hilarious side-effects. Harry later goes on to clarify that it would work if both of them were in relationships with other people, but otherwise platonic friendships between men and women are not possible.
I call BS. There are some great platonic friendships in fiction. Harry and Hermione (even though JK Rowling now admits she should have had them end up together), Meredith Grey and Alex Karev from Grey’s Anatomy, Watson and Holmes from Elementary. Okay, so maybe there aren’t a lot of examples, but that’s too bad. There should be.
Movies and books are filled with examples of straight/gay opposite-sex platonic friendships, but that’s not what I’m talking about because in those cases, any sexual attraction will never be reciprocated. What’s so great about a platonic friendship with a member of the opposite sex is a perspective you’ll never get from your girlfriends (or guy friends if you’re a guy). And let’s face it, your boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife will never give it to you straight if s/he thinks your affection is on the line.
With The Union series, I created several close platonic friendships for my protagonist, Evan Taylor. These include Lisa and Colin from the Union and Sonia out in the Ruins. Evan is slow to trust, so I knew her circle of close friends would be small. In The Ruins, Evan’s friendship with Colin evolves and the two become closer, needing each other in order to survive.
It might seem implausible for two teens with raging hormones to keep their friendship purely platonic, but I believe it’s not only possible, but logical. And I think it’s an underserved demographic in young adult fiction. There are a lot of friends-to-lovers stories out there, but that’s not what Evan and Colin are about. Their love for each other isn’t muddied with sexual attraction and all the pitfalls that can introduce.
I met my best male friend thirty years ago this summer. Our friendship developed over years of spending time together in the same group of friends. We saw each other through dozens of new relationships and breakups, marriages, children, and even a couple of divorces. He was there for me when I needed a place to crash after one of those breakups, and I was his best man at one of those weddings.
We were often single at the same time, and I won’t say we were never tempted to see where things might go, but we never acted on it because the friendship was always more important. And although we’re both more settled now with our respective families and don’t see each other as much as we used to, when we do get together, it’s as if no time has passed. Because that’s how it is with best friends, male or female.