V.K. Torston’s debut novel, Defiant Attraction is finally available on Amazon for
In celebration of the release, SROKK is reviewing an exclusive excerpt.
About the Book
Dan might be the enemy of my enemy, but I’m not sure that makes him my friend. He’s definitely not my ‘step brother’, no matter what everyone at school says. Honestly, I don’t know what he’s supposed to be to me. Or what he’s becoming…
Fact: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
In the yearbook, I’ll be Sophia Ramos: Valedictorian. Years of honor roll certificates, AP classes, and lugging around an obnoxiously large cello case are about to finally pay off. If everything goes according to plan, I’ll escape these decaying suburbs for a top university across the country.
The problem? A few years ago, my mom met someone just as broke, just as drunk, and just as impulsive as she is. Approximately five seconds into their relationship, they decided it would be an excellent idea for him—and his son, Dan—to move in with us. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t).
Now I share a house with none other than Daniel Cole. Even though Dan dropped out two years ago, he’s still the tattooed, bad boy, heartthrob, legend of St. Anthony’s Academy. He and I aren’t supposed to have anything in common.
Living together means war. First, Dan and I were at war with each other. Now, our rivalry is giving way to an unlikely alliance—two opposing sides teaming up against a common enemy: our respective parents.
Which is to say, we’ve been hanging out.
Question: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?
Here’s the thing: My brain is a complex organ. One hundred billion neurons, each with an average of seven thousand synaptic connections to other neurons. My brain is my ticket out of here.
My heart, by contrast, is a pump. It moves blood around.
I know Dan is off-limits. I know I shouldn’t do something I’ll regret. And I know how much is at stake (my family, my future).
So why can’t I stop thinking about him? Those inscrutable jade eyes. The smile that can say a thousand different things at once. That tattoo curving across his abs…
Even though I know better, I feel that pounding in my chest. And it’s getting harder to ignore.
But if I follow my heart, I can never go back.
Answer: There is no such thing as an immovable object.
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A gentle knock taps against my door just as I tug on a t-shirt.
“You left your phone in my room.” Dan’s voice comes muffled.
“One sec,” I call back. Force of habit means my door is locked. When I pull it open, I’m surprised to see he’s beaming.
“Also.” He produces a thick, eight-and-a-half-by-eleven envelope. “I think you just got into Stanford.”
“What?” I seize the package and turn it over. “It’s not opened. Did you read it?”
“It’s huge.” He shrugs, perching on the end of my bed. “I don’t think they’d send that much paper just to say you didn’t make it.”
I bounce down onto the comforter and grin. While I don’t want to jinx it, I can’t help but think he’s right. Information booklets and follow-up forms have no company with rejection notices. It’s not like they’d send me hundreds of pages of material just to explain how, exactly, I’d come up short. I tear open the flap. Dan looks almost as excited as I am. A one-page letter waits atop glossy catalogues and folders. My hand shakes as I slip out the sheet.
“‘Dear Sophie,’” I read aloud. “‘Congratulations! It is with great pleasure that I offer you admission’—oh my god this is really happening!” I hug the letter to my chest before rapidly mumbling through the rest. “Once again, I extend my congratulations on your admission to Stanford and welcome you to the Stanford Family.”
“What’s that at the bottom?” Dan taps his finger toward a hand-scrawled note beside the signature.
I squint to make out the untidy cursive. “‘The Stanford University Symphony has their eyes on you!’”
“Holy shit!” He shakes my shoulder.
“I’m going to Stanford!” I throw my arms into the air.
“You’re going to fucking Stanford!” He ruffles my hair.
When it feels like the moment when his hand should withdraw, it doesn’t. Instead, it slides down my cheek. I hold his gaze. I watch its twinkle harden. Thoughts flicker behind sea green, fast as a beating heart. I don’t know what they are but I think I know their shape.
My hand lands on his, an automatic gesture. I’m not holding it in place as much as checking that it’s really there. His other palm slips behind my neck, so gentle it makes my skin shiver. I don’t think I’m breathing.
Think, Sophia. Don’t do something stupid, Sophia. You’re smarter than this; use your head.
I don’t. It doesn’t matter anymore what I should or shouldn’t do. I’m propelled by a force as irresistible as gravity, as unstoppable as time. The space between us disappears. I part his lips with mine.
My heart leaps like I missed a stair in the dark. At first, the kiss is soft. With my eyes closed, I feel like I’m spinning. Then he pulls me closer, breathes me in, and the air vanishes from my lungs. Fingers tangle in my hair. His arms tighten around my back, behind my neck. Each muscle is iron. My chest pounds against his firm embrace. His kiss becomes more desperate.
Nothing about my room feels familiar anymore, as if it’s changed by his presence. While I’ve watched his lips for years, now I feel them. New territories reveal themselves to me as my curious hands rise along the length of his back. I feel him press closer, kiss me harder, and I’m dizzied by how quickly we race across lines. This is Dan, in my room, under my fingers. There’s no coming back from this.
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About the Author
V.K. Torston is a millennial and ‘cool aunt’ to a brood of nieces and nephews. She was born and raised in San Francisco, attended university in New York City, and aspires to one day live in London. A veteran of the independent music scene, she began writing nonfiction in her late teens. Then she realized that making up stories was way more fun than coming up with endless synonyms for ‘frenetic’ and ‘danceable.’ Her hobbies include drinking too much coffee, making up stupid songs, and ranting about current events. Defiant Attraction is her first novel.