Friday, March 3, 2017

The Partnership - Charlotte Penn Clark

Hey readers - I know you're looking for a new read!  Time to check out The Partnership, by Charlotte Penn Clark.

Book & Author Details:

The Partnership
by Charlotte Penn Clark
(Extra Credit, #1)
Publication date: March 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

They’re just partners….
Kyle’s got a problem. He needs to pass college composition to graduate but he can’t get words on a page.  And it’s landed him in a pilot class called Extra Credit for students in trouble — when all he wants is to be left alone.
Lani’s got a problem too. She doesn’t like making waves and it gets her stuck in that Extra Credit class. When she ends up partnered with Kyle things start getting complicated. Kyle is angry, restless, impatient; Lani is calm, introverted, bookish. But when these opposites attract how will they manage to stay “just partners”?
Extra Credit is a New Adult series that takes place on a college campus and puts three unlikely couples together to see what happens. Each novella is in dual point-of-view with a happy ending that can be read as a standalone, though they’re better together…! The series includes sexy times that are only meant for readers over 18.

Charlotte Penn Clark is a lifelong reader of historical romances and a writer of contemporary and new adult romances. She puts smart women and sexy men in complicated situations while trying to keep them away from Awful Misunderstandings. Her Carmichael series interweaves the lives and loves of five privileged sisters in a political family. Her new series, Extra Credit, tells the stories of three unlikely couples thrown together on a college campus. She lives in New York City with her family.

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Author links:

 If you're looking for even more fun: Go enter this Giveaway for 2x $25 Barnes and Noble e-gift cards.

 As if that synopsis didn't want to make you want to read this book - now here's an excerpt that certainly will!
(about 46,000 words) Extra Credit series Book 1 by Charlotte Penn Clark All rights reserved.
Chapter 1: KYLE
I hate this bullshit. I look around the classroom. A small gray-haired woman writes some stuff on the blackboard. A few students are already slumped in chairs dragged into a half circle. Others are still straggling in. They look young--like I’m here with freshmen and sophomores, for fuck’s sake!—and they must be losers if they’re here, right? But then I’m the loser who failed freshman comp and put off re- taking it til spring of senior year.... And it’s 8 a-fucking-m! Maybe I can sleep through this crap. I tip my baseball cap down, lean backwards until my chair is half off the floor, and close my eyes.
A low level of murmuring voices from the room runs under the hot dream I’m having. A chick wears short shorts that cling to her ass and wraps her long legs around a stripper’s pole. Her long hair sweeps forward as she twists and turns, her tits swaying in a brief top that shows a strip of bare skin at her waist.
“KYLE MADISON!” The teacher’s voice sends my chair crashing back to the ground and I jerk awake. Christ, did I groan? I raise my eyes and everyone’s staring. The girl in the next chair over turns to face me and I get stuck on a pair of golden brown eyes. Yeah, golden. Like, not light brown or dark brown, but brown and yellow mixed together. Wide-set and slightly tilted, with long, dark lashes. And calm. Not angry, not sad, not mocking, not accusing, not disappointed, not angry.... I blink. How long was I dreaming if I didn’t notice her come in?
“Uhh—“ I tear my gaze away from those eyes to search for the voice. The teacher reads from a piece of paper at the front of the room. She’s waiting for me to say something.
I hear some snickering and the teacher sighs, dropping her paper to study me.
“Is that a question? You tell me. Are you Kyle Madison and are you here?” Her voice is patient, but there’s more snickering. I just nod.
She continues calling the roster so I go back to Golden Eyes, but her eyes don’t meet mine now and I miss that shot of calm. Still, it gives me a minute to check out the rest of her. Creamy golden skin, lush pink mouth, high cheekbones, long, long, hair—very dark and very straight. My eyes are drifting down, looking forward to the rest of her, when I freeze in horror. Is that...even a sweater? It looks more like a rug with sleeves. I can’t tell if there’s a body under there at all. And the rest is
worse—she could be wearing three skirts for all the ruffles she’s got. I can’t help shaking my head. The waste!
Golden Eyes gives a little wave. “Please call me Lani,” she says in a quiet, husky voice. So much sexy potential there, just thrown away! She must have seen my expression because her eyes are back on mine and this time there’s a hint of laughter in them. What’s she laughing about? I scowl at her, but she smiles shyly. And again there’s that calm.
The teacher interrupts again. “Welcome to a pilot program we’re calling Extra Credit. I’m Marjorie Jordan. You can call me Marjorie. We’ll start today with some talking and some writing and some....”
I raise my hand impatiently and she pauses, perching on the edge of her desk. “Are we being graded for this?”
“No. This isn’t a course. It’s a required program for students in borderline situations. If you participate in good faith you’ll receive extra credit in the course you’re struggling in....” Her look at me seems pointed, which is annoying as fuck.
“Or your disciplinary problem will be excused....” Wait, was she looking at Golden Eyes? Disciplinary problems!? That I need to hear about.
“It depends on your situation. There will be some homework assignments but think of them more as exercises in self-knowledge.” She scans the room and I’m curious what we’re all in for, but mostly I’m speculating about Golden Eyes’ misbehavior. Maybe it’s for crimes against fashion. I snicker.
“Wait, back up, please.” A pretty blond chick raises her hand and she seems familiar. I wonder if I ever made out with her. Mostly I keep to myself, but a guy’s got needs.
“What do you mean by ‘good faith’?” she asks in accented English, frowning.
“Good question, Annika.” The teacher seems pleased, and I want to roll my eyes. “Good faith means you fulfill the spirit of this work as well as the letter. You question your assumptions, reflect on your behavior, keep an open mind about our process....”
Process? WTF?
“To begin, then, I’d like you to take out a piece of paper and pen and write for a few minutes about why you’re here and what you hope to get out of this experience.”
I drop my hand against my desk and the sound is surprisingly loud. Everyone looks at me.
“Anyone have a pen I can borrow--?” I didn’t think we were going to have to do anything the first day.... Isn’t that like a tradition? Someone hands me a pen.
“And a piece of paper?” Most of the others are writing already and I feel frustration rising as usual. I clench and unclench my fists, stretch out my legs, glance around again. Marjorie is watching me. This sucks. Golden Eyes shoves a piece of paper torn from her notebook at me and I mumble some thanks.
“Can we write on our laptops instead?”
I shoot a glance over to see which geek brought a laptop to the first class. Yeah, that one. Wrinkled oxford shirt, glasses, stick up his butt.
“No,” Marjorie responds. Then she starts, looking at the wall clock. “So sorry, guys, but I forgot there’s something I have to tell my colleague before he leaves for the day. Keep writing. I’ll be back in ten.” The door bangs shut behind her.
We all look at each other in confusion. Then the room quiets so the only sounds are rustling papers. I’ve started after everyone else but I finish first. I glance around uncertainly. What are they writing? I got two good sentences.
“What’s your name? You live in Barnes, don’t you?” Conversations start up across the half circle and I recognize the guy on my other side. Everyone knows Matt—he’s president of his frat, captain of the soccer team... a real BMOC. I heard his dad is a judge and his mom is a senator--and that sounds about right.
“Hey, Matt” I say, putting out a fist. What is he doing here?He nods, bumping my fist with his.Blond Foreign Girl looks over at me and Matt from across the semicircle. “I’m
surprised to see you here, Matt.” Her eyes flicker over him.“Likewise,” he mumbles and his eyes flicker over her.Just then Marjorie bustles back into the room, her face expectant. “So,” she
says, hands on hips. “Now I’d like you to write down an account of what happened in here while I was out of the room. Did you notice any patterns?”
We freeze and all the whispering and joking stops.
“What do you mean by ‘patterns’?” someone asks. It’s a girl I haven’t noticed before. She’s sitting on the far side of the room in a sweatshirt with the hood up.
“Decide for yourselves,” Marjorie says. Holy crap, I hate it when teachers won’t answer a fucking question! Isn’t that what they’re paid for?
I let out a loud sigh and start writing on the flip side of my one piece of paper. I glance at the clock to see how much longer till I’m out of here. I’d like to go back to my room and catch a few zzzs before bio lab.
I check on Golden Eyes because sometimes I catch her looking at me and then I get to stare into those deep calm eyes again. This time she’s got her head down and she’s writing furiously. Her long silky hair slides forward and she tucks it behind one ear. I crane my neck to see what she’s writing, but it’s half hidden by her arm. She bites down on her plump lower lip like she’s totally focused on what she’s doing and I’m glad she can’t see my expression.
After a few minutes Marjorie makes us read what we’ve got. The girl in the hoodie reads one written like a screenplay that has us all cracking up.
“GIRL, actually writing something down. Who is she trying to impress?
BOY, sprawled in chair, leans over to look down girl’s shirt but loses balance and falls on face. What kind of dumbass doesn’t even bring a PEN to class?”
My eyes narrow and my head snaps up to glare at her.
“Really, Kyle?” Matt sounds fake-disappointed. And, shit, I wasn’t even looking down her shirt! And I didn’t fall on my goddamned face so that’s FICTION. I open my mouth to defend myself, then close it again. Marjorie has moved on.
Geeky Guy reads from his notebook. “When left to ourselves, the veneer of civilization drops away and we all talk at the same time, jostling for position on the social hierarchy....” He goes on and the room quiets. Man, that one’s deep. Next to me Golden Eyes is still scribbling.
When it’s my turn I read, “I’m here because of college composition. I hope to get out of this experience.” Matt snorts next to me and I continue. “Bullshit. We serve it up. Teacher feeds it back to us. That’s been education since the dawn of time. Those ten minutes were like a brief recess before we’re put back in our cages.” I can’t help ducking my head. That came out kinda harsh, didn’t it? Marjorie doesn’t respond.
Matt reads something long-winded about identifying a problem first so you can solve it. Diagnosis is the first step to treatment.... I got to hand it to him. It sounds good. I give him a thumbs up.
Then we’re on to Blond Foreign Girl. “Dear Marjorie, when you left the room Matt and Kyle started talking to each other and I could tell Matt was gossiping about me. I don’t think I should have to take a class with a stupid lying jerk who must have done something pretty dumb to get stuck here. Besides I didn’t do the thing I was accused of doing that got me sent here (I can talk to you about this after class if you have time).”
I shoot an incredulous look at Matt, who hasn’t taken his eyes off Annika.
“You’re a world-class bitch, you know that, Annika?” he says coolly. She smirks as if she has made her point and their stare-off continues. The rest of us wait on tenterhooks for Marjorie to respond. She tilts her head at Annika.
“What are you trying to say to Matt, Annika?”Annika jerks her attention off Matt. “Whaaat?” It’s a magical moment.“You want him to know that you really don’t like him? Is that it?”Annika flushes and Matt smiles broadly. “It’s okay. I get it, Annika,” he says
soothingly. I think I can hear Blond Foreign Girl grinding her teeth from over here. And now I’m certain I haven’t slept with her. And pretty certain Matt has. In fact, their whole story is coming back to me now.
I raise my eyebrows at Matt and he shrugs. “Been there. Done that.”
Whoa, that’s kind of low. The girls in the room suddenly look like warrior maidens. Backs go rigid like they’ve been stuck with cattle prods. Arms cross in front like actual breastplates. It’s kind of scary.
Matt leans back in his chair, doing a pretty good imitation of not giving a fuck about the attention he’s getting. Annika is still trying to carve him into pieces with her eyes. She looks like a supermodel so I can see why he tapped that, but her personality is really a problem.
“Why is it so important to embarrass Annika?” Marjorie asks Matt. He straightens.
“She started it—“
Marjorie sighs and moves on to Golden Eyes. I sit up, interested now. In that low soothing voice Golden Eyes reads what she wrote. And it’s a list. Of patterns, for fuck all.
“Defensive: no one actually fesses up to what they are here for. Sarcastic: no one states seriously what they want from the class.” This is what she was writing all that time. We were all snarking at each other and she was making her list of patterns. “Noah’s was the longest. Kyle’s was the shortest. His complained about writing, but one of his sentences was punny.”
I want to raise my arms—touchdown! Wait, who’s Noah? I look around suspiciously as Golden Eyes continues.
“Matt’s was all pseudo-smart bullshit. Annika’s was bitterness embodied. Holly’s was the funniest. And as for the time we spent alone? The conversations I heard were works in progress, overlapping, interrupted, fragmentary, unfinished. Some are beginnings and some have history. I wonder how we’ll look back on this first class when we get to the last one.”
Marjorie beams. I stare at Golden Eyes, who looks a little tense--but so she should. It’s hard to take a prompt seriously and not sound like a complete idiot or a suck up. I know that for a fact because I can’t do it. But Golden Eyes did it in ten minutes.
The prof dismisses us and tells us to bring a notebook to the next class because we’re going to have to keep a journal for the rest of the semester. I’d groan except I’m too busy trying to figure out this girl with the mesmerizing eyes and mad writing skills. She’s packing up her bag and as she stands I can tell that she’s taller than average, slender, and graceful. I hear a little tinkling sound like bracelets in motion, but I can’t tell where it comes from. I wish like hell she wasn’t surrounded by that force field of fabric.
She sweeps her dark hair behind one shoulder as she picks up her backpack, then meets my eyes again. I shouldn’t keep staring at her. I’m almost outta here. All I have to do now is keep my head down and pass composition....
“Bye Kyle,” she says softly.“Bye Lani,” I say. That’s all I’ve got.
Chapter 2: LANI
Focus on breathing. In...I breathe deeply through my nose. Out...I exhale hard through my mouth. I close my eyes and picture the ocean. Waves come in and retreat. Push forward and move back. Over and over. Without cease. The air in my lungs, the blood in my veins slows and calms.
But when I open my eyes I’m still on stage and there are still strangers in the room, watching. My pulse speeds up again and I feel my limbs tensing, flailing around when a moment ago they moved to the music. It’s just a rehearsal. Those scary people are just observing. You’re only one of many dancers on stage.... But it feels as if there’s a big red arrow pointing down at me wherever I move in the crowd. If only I could fade into the group, become invisible.
By the time we’re done I’m panting with exertion, sweaty, and frustrated with myself. Why did I ever think I could do this? I’ve gotten as far as this as a dancer because I work hard and I love it more than anything. I’ve moved across a continent so I could dance here, but I’m starting to realize it won’t be enough. To take it to the next level means performing in front of real crowds. It means auditioning in front of strangers. It means actually wanting those solos.... And I can’t. Or don’t. Or won’t. Or something.
As I stretch out my calves, bending to the ground and shifting into a downward-facing dog pose I overhear the guests murmuring something about inviting Jenny and Ting to a summer intensive with a prestigious modern dance company. And that’s why I’ll never make it as a professional dancer. Because I don’t get those offers. I’m just another girl in the corps.
“Lani, a word?”
My teacher steps away from the other murmuring voices as I finish my stretching. Wiping my face with a hand towel I nod and approach her.
“Do you have summer plans?”
For a moment my hopes teeter on the edge of a knife: I want to dance; I don’t want to perform. I want to be noticed; I want to disappear. What do I really want?
“Yes, but I could...”
Ms. Biwani-Jones interrupts me. “Oh good! That takes care of you then. I was worried about finding you a placement.”
If I want to disappear, it’s working.
I murmur something and move away to pull on leg warmers over my tights, then cover both with the heaviest skirt I have, even though I’ll still freeze my butt off out there.
I wasn’t sure about going to college in New York. My first winter was a literal shock to the system. I still feel like five months a year it’s hard to get warm enough. Since coming to Carlyle College two and a half years ago I’ve perfected the art of winter layering. It’s a survival tactic. And I guess, to be honest, it’s camouflage. It helps me look like everyone else. I’ve spent three years here without attracting much attention.
For some reason that thought reminds me of the guy in that Extra Credit class yesterday. Kyle. Guys usually don’t pay much attention to me at all, but every time I looked up there he was, taking up way too much room and watching me. Stretched out at full length, he was too long, too broad for the chair he had tipped against the wall. For a moment I saw him as if in a yoga balance pose, and his muscular body seemed suddenly light. For the whole first class I struggled with this strange magnetic pull my eyes had toward him. Why him? There were other attractive guys in the room. Matt had that preppy frat boy thing going and Noah was adorably mussed and lanky. It couldn’t be his personality either because Kyle seemed like a pain in the ass. He fidgeted and snorted and rolled his eyes in an exaggerated performance of impatience and annoyance. Still, I liked the snarky sentences he wrote. I find it hard to believe he’s failing college comp, but I guess I find it hard to believe I’m there either.
On Wednesday I’m the first to class at 7:45, leaving me enough time to sip my chai tea while I review what I wrote in my notebook. Marjorie had given us homework: think about how and why we got in trouble and what might help. We were told not to obsess about the writing. It could be notes to ourselves, lists, even doodles. But the writing was the fun part.
Pushover. That’s my problem. It’s not even that I can’t make waves, but I won’t. So here I go rolling downhill instead of standing my ground. Wait, there’s some metaphor going here: nature, motion, levels. Brains are amazing!Why not stand up for myself? What could happen? Friends would get in trouble—I won’t like myself. I wouldn’t BE myself.
I described a dream I had about diving into the ocean at Hanalei and getting tumbled in a rough wave. I hit the sandy floor hard and ended up gasping for air.
What To Do? 1. Decide whether it’s worth changing or not. Change is hard. 2. Evaluate how I choose my friends and why. 3. Work harder to make up for missteps. 4. Raise my head, my hand.... Wow, metaphors are everywhere!
“You’ll need a partner to work with. I want you to choose your own.”
Marjorie’s voice startles me. I look up and the room has filled, with Kyle reclaiming the seat next to me. Our eyes meet, his blue blue blue like that ocean. His presence hits me like the wave in my dream. He’s crazy hot—with sharp features set off by those intensely blue eyes and an expressive mouth that seems to default to sulking or scowling. His hair could be dark blond, but it’s so short it’s hard to tell. And his expression is hard to read – it’s like wariness and confusion and tension and uncertainty and interest and anger all mixed up.
“You,” he says, pointing at me. I blink and nod slowly. I can handle this. There’s a pause and then he adds, “I need to work with a writer.” Whether he’s explaining this to himself, to me, or to Marjorie I don’t know, but I just nod again as conversations ebb and flow around me.
“I want you to swap notebooks with your partner and annotate the pages— underline things you think are important, add notes or questions. You want to focus on reflecting back to your partner what patterns you see in what may be otherwise disconnected writing. Think of yourselves as doctors diagnosing a patient. What can you make of the symptoms in front of you?”
“Again with the fucking patterns!” Kyle grumbles, handing me a piece of paper covered in an oversized scrawl. I suppress a smile and hand over my notebook.
I hate writing.I hate writing because.I don’t like writing things down. It’s frustrating. Goddammit, what am I supposed to say? How long is this supposed to be? Is this enough yet?The assignment: 5-7 pp on an ethical controversy in the news. With 3 sources. To Do: choose a stupid controversy (google controversies), find 3 sources (google sources), write 5 fucking pages (13 pt font, 1.5” margins!), hand it in, graduate and get the hell out of dodge (and into the army).
I can’t help but feel for him as I make some notes. We swap and I see he’s written in all caps in the margins on mine: DREAMS ABOUT WATER REFLECT YOUR
page7image26208.png ¬
ATTITUDE TOWARD SEX. If he thinks to make me blush, he can hold his breath. One good thing about my dark coloring and perma-tan is that I don’t redden.
“Says who? Freud?” I’m sarcastic.
He shrugs and grins, leaning back in his chair to study me. He stretches his arms out so he takes up the whole space. Kyle’s not huge like football players, who always look a little grotesque to me—like cartoon figures. He’s just...solid.
“You’re from Hawai’i?”
“Yes. Please spell it correctly even in your head. There’s an apostrophe between the i’s.”
“That’s hot.”“Tropical.”He glances over me. “You always wear fifty layers of clothing?”“I’m cold! Were you born and bred in the freezer section?”“Yep. Southern Illinois. Could be worse. Could be twenty below. Could be gale
winds. Could be ice storms....”I give an exaggerated shiver and raise a palm to stop him. For some reason,
his attention is giving me confidence. He eyes me steadily for another over-long moment.
“You dance.” This is a statement, not a question.“Yes,” I frown, looking back at what I’ve written. “How did you know?”He waves a hand over my words. “All that motion? And the hair.” He waves a
hand around my face now and I remember that today I’ve scraped my long hair into a tight bun for class later. He’s looking at my neck and it feels naked.
“Oh.” I shift uncomfortably. “I dance hip hop and ballet. I also take yoga classes and teach basics on Saturdays at the rec center. I’m thinking about training to become a certified yoga teacher.”
Kyle frowns. “What about dancing?”I shake my head. “I can’t dance professionally.”“Why not?”I avoid his eyes. “I don’t really like performing,” I admit reluctantly. That’s not
the half of it but it’s all I need to tell him.“Why not?” He’s like a bulldog. I make a face at him but he ignores it, waiting. I sigh. “I have pretty bad stage fright. I love dancing, but it’s hard to perform.”
I need a redirect. “You’re obsessed with numbers,” I blurt out.Now he frowns, looking at his page.“5,7,3,3,5,13,1.5” I read. “Why so worried about quantity?”“Easy for you to say when you can just write.” He sounds glum. “I’m going to
fail freshman comp--again--if I can’t hand in those five fucking pages. And I need it to graduate.”
That sucks, and I think it may have been hard for him to admit. “You curse a lot.” I point to more words on his page.
“You offended?” His eyebrows rise. I realize I enjoy watching him fidget and shift. He’s big but graceful in his constant motion. Something occurs to me.
“Do you have dyslexia or ADD or something? Maybe Tourette’s?” I tilt my head, assessing him.
He laughs and his eyes crinkle at the corners. “Now I’m offended!”
“Hmm. So it’s not that you can’t write, but that you don’t want to,” I muse, thinking.
“Like you—“ he says, eyeing me. “You said it’s not that you can’t make waves, but you won’t. How’s that working out for you?”
I sigh, slumping into my chair. “Not so well. What about you? Don’t you want to graduate?”
He barks out another laugh. “Well, duh! Of course I want to be done with school already. Just a few more months—“
I’m watching him closely. “Then what? The army, right?” That last parenthetical comment he wrote just hung there.
He shrugs again. I have to say I’ve got a soft spot for people who communicate through their bodies—though somehow that thought feels wrong.
“If you don’t pass comp, though, you’ll fail and you won’t graduate—“
“I won’t fail,” he says confidently. The big grin is back and I’m glad that flash of uncertainty I glimpsed is gone.
“How do you know?”
“Because you’re going to help me.” ##

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