The crowd at Matt’s is bigger than I expected. Today was the
last day of school before the holiday break, and it looks like
everyone is ready to celebrate. There must be a million lights
strung over his house and the bushes and trees. Really, there
are lights covering anything that stayed still too long.
Most people are in T-shirts and shorts, and even with all
of the decorations it’s hard to feel festive. Doesn’t really feel
like winter break when you’re swatting mosquitoes. Stupid
I park my car four houses down, the closest spot I can find.
Even from this far away, I can still hear the deep thump
of bass coming from Matt’s backyard. It wouldn’t surprise me
if the neighbors call the cops within the hour. Hopefully, we’ll
be gone by then; it would be hard to explain why I was here
instead of halfway to my grandparents’ house when one of the
deputies inevitably calls my dad.
When I get to Matt’s, I spot a guy and a girl sitting in the
grass near the driveway, and they seem to be arguing. The
drama doesn’t usually get started this early. They get quiet
when they notice me and I pick up the pace, trying to give
them their privacy. Following the music, I head to the back-
yard toward the pool house. Just as I’m about to round the
house, I feel a tug on my arm.
And then I’m swallowed in a breath-crushing hug.
“I thought you weren’t coming!” Addie squeals loud enough
that several people turn our direction.
“Can you believe I talked my parents into going with-
“I can’t! Are you staying at Nonna’s?” She sticks out her
bottom lip in a pout. “I’m still barely going to see you!”
I laugh. “Yes, you will. I have a plan. Nonna will be so busy
during the day, she won’t even miss me. I’ll head back here and
we can hang out.”
“Your parents will flip if they find out. We’ll have to hide
your car.” Addie jumps up and down. “Oh! And bring Olivia. I
haven’t seen her in forever.”
I nod, even though I doubt she’ll want to come back with
me. Olivia is one of my many cousins and the daughter of
Mom’s twin sister, Lisa. We’re only two months apart in age
and used to be super close when we were younger, but we’ve
seen less and less of each other over the last couple of years.
“Olivia is helping Nonna at the shop. I’m not sure she can get
Her eyes brighten, then she starts dragging me to the pool
house. “We’ll just have to find a way to break her out of there.”
“Have you seen Griffin?” I ask, changing the subject away
“Not yet, but Danny and I just got here. Maybe he’s inside.”
She nods toward the pool house. “Want a beer?”
“Nah, I have to drive to Nonna’s soon. I’ll find a bottle of
water somewhere,” I say as we part ways. Addie heads to the
keg hidden in the shrubbery and I push through the crowd.
The music is so loud once I get inside that the first few people
I talk to can’t hear me at all.
I finally make it through the room and find a few of
“Sophie! What’s up!” Chris yells then tries to hug me. He’s
already down to his white undershirt and boxer shorts. I hold
my arm out to keep him at a safe distance. Chris is the guy
that always manages to get one step from naked at parties. At
the school Halloween dance, he came dressed as a cowboy,
but by the end of the night all that was left of his costume was
the pair of chaps over his boxer briefs. He got a week’s worth
of detentions for indecent exposure.
“Not much. Where’s Griffin?” I ask then turn around to
scope out the room.
Chris waves his hand behind him. “Somewhere back
there. Went looking for a beer.”
I nod then scoot around him. It’s hard to make any prog-
ress through the crowd, but I finally spot Griffin just as he
turns into the small kitchen in the back of the pool house. It
takes me a few minutes to catch up since I stumbled into the
middle of a dance circle and Josh Peters won’t let me leave
without spinning me around a few times. As I’m just about to
round the corner into the kitchen, where the music is actually
somewhat muted, I hear Griffin say, “Sophie’s on her way.”
It’s not the words that make me stop. It’s the way he says
them. Full of disappointment.
Parker, one of Griffin’s best friends, is pulling two beers
out of the refrigerator. Neither one of them notice me just
outside the door.
“I thought she was going to her sister’s house or some-
thing?” Parker asks.
Griffin’s head hangs. “She was. But not anymore.”
He’s so bummed I’m staying, like I’ve ruined his break. I
can hear it in his voice, that horrible feeling—the one where
you were so looking forward to something, like you were about
to bust out of your skin because you were so happy, only to
have it snatched away. That’s how I felt when I thought I
wouldn’t be here for the break.
And that’s how he sounds after hearing I will be here.
What is happening?
Griffin starts to turn, and I duck around the corner.
Why am I hiding? I should be storming in there, demanding
answers. But I’m frozen. I count to five and then slowly look
back into the kitchen.
“She’ll be here any minute,” he says but stays rooted in
Parker pops open one of the beers then hands it to Griffin.
Griffin takes a long drink.
“So what’s the problem?” Parker asks. Obviously he can
hear the disappointment, too.
Griffin shrugs. “This is going to make me sound like an
asshole, but I was kind of glad she was going to be gone. You
know, like a trial run of what it would be like if we broke up.”
My heart is pounding.
“Do you want to break up with her?” Parker asks, then
takes another swig of his beer.
Griffin shrugs again. My desire to scream is almost
“I think so.”
I gasp. Parker and Griffin both turn toward the door.
Parker’s eyes get big, and he looks from me to Griffin and
back to me.
There’s a split second where Griffin tries to figure out if I
heard what was said. But the expression on my face makes it
obvious that I did.
I stumble back, hitting the wall before fleeing.
I have to get out of here. I can’t look at him. I can’t be here.
“Sophie!” Griffin follows behind me, but I duck and dodge
my way toward the door. I’m afraid I won’t make it outside
before the tears start to fall. Then Addie sees my face and
barrels through the people dancing, pulling me out of the pool
“What happened?” she asks once we’re on the other side
of the pool.
I crumple to the ground and tell her everything.
“That asshole,” she says. Addie turns, like she’s going to
hunt him down.
“Please help me get out of here,” I plead.
She moves back toward me. “Of course. Let’s go.”
Addie helps me off the ground and we pick our way
through the landscaping. Tears are streaming down my face
now, and I don’t even try to stop them.
My heart is crushed.
More than crushed.
He wants to break up with me.
“I can’t believe him,” Addie mutters under her breath. “He’s
going to break up with you? Whatever. He’s lucky to have you!”
I don’t have the words to answer her. Not sure if I ever
Just as we make it to the driveway, we see Griffin. He’s
running down the driveway, scanning the street.
“I can’t talk to him right now,” I croak out. Addie nods
and moves me into the shadows before marching out to con-
“No. Just no,” Addie says. “She doesn’t want to talk to you.”
Griffin’s face is illuminated by one of the lights anchored
to the eave of the house. He looks awful.
Guilty, yes, but there’s also sadness swimming in those
“Please, Addie. I need to talk to her.” He squints toward
the darkness where I’m hiding. “Please, Sophie. Talk to me.
Let me explain. I didn’t mean it like that.”
I take a step back; not wanting to be near him . . . not
wanting to hear his excuses. Running behind a row of Azalea
bushes to the front yard, I trip every other step, trying to put
some distance between us.
I hope Griffin doesn’t follow me. There is a small part of
me that wants to take what I heard, twist it around until it’s
something that doesn’t crush me. But I can’t quit hearing the
disappointment in his voice. No matter what he says, he didn’t
want to see me. He didn’t want to be here with me.
By the time I make it to my car, I’m shattered. Footsteps
pound on the pavement behind me, and I brace myself.
“Sophie, please talk to me?” Griffin begs.
I’m facing the car. He’s right behind me, and I know Addie
is somewhere behind him.
My mouth tightens. “I was so excited my parents let me
stay home because all I could think was how fun it would be
to hang out with you. Just the two of us. That’s what I was
looking forward to. But you want a break. From me. Right?
Isn’t that what you were looking forward to?”
His hand lands softly on my shoulder and he says, “Turn
around and talk to me.”
I shrug him off. “Is that what you want?”
I can feel him struggling to find the words. “I don’t know
what I want, Soph. Everything is so confusing right now.
Things got so serious between us. It’s our senior year. We’re
supposed to be having fun!”
I spin around. “Well, let me make it easy for you. You want
a break? You got it. We’re done.”
He reaches for me but I dodge his grasp. He seems fran-
tic, but I can’t help but think it’s because of how this is going
down. He didn’t get his trial run first.
“Wait, Sophie. Can we talk about this? I love you. I
His words are like a blow. I’ve waited and wanted him to
say this to me for months.
I can’t do this.
I can’t stay here.
“Please stay and talk to me,” Griffin begs. I turn and get
into my car.
Griffin finally retreats to the sidewalk as I start the engine,
and Addie runs to the window. “Let me drive you.”
I give her a weak smile. “I’m fine. I’ll call you later, okay?
I love you.”
She reaches in the window and gives me a quick hug. “I
love you, too.”
Thankfully, Griffin keeps his distance.
Within minutes, I’m on I-20 headed to Shreveport.
10 BLIND DATES Tour Assets
About the Book
Title: 10 BLIND DATES
Author: Ashley Elston
Pub. Date: October 1, 2019
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD
Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship.
Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents’ house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That’s when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.
When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she’s started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.
This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever . . . or is it?
“This piece-by-piece romance doesn’t need its Christmas theme to sell, but it makes it glitter all the more.”—Booklist
“In a funny holiday romance that has Sophie dog-sitting in a hockey rink, watching porn at a drive-in theater, and playing the Virgin Mary in a middle school Nativity, Elston cleverly reflects the family members’ personalities through their choices of dates for Sophie.”—Publishers Weekly
Ashley Elston is the author of several novels, including THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING (a finalist in the Best Young Adult Novel category of the International Thriller Awards) and THIS IS OUR STORY. She graduated with a Liberal Arts degree from Louisiana State University in Shreveport. Ashley worked for many years as a wedding photographer before turning her hand to writing. Ashley lives in Louisiana with her husband and three sons.
Ashley is represented by Sarah Davies at The Greenhouse Literary Agency.
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads
3 winners will receive a finished copy of 10 BLIND DATES, US Only.
<a class=”rcptr” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba2987/” rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”e2389ba2987″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_o4l0bpll”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>
10/1/2019- BookHounds YA– Excerpt
10/2/2019- Odd and Bookish– Review
10/3/2019- Fictitiouswonderland– Review
10/4/2019- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review
10/7/2019- PopTheButterfly Reads– Excerpt
10/8/2019- Read. Eat. Love.– Review
10/9/2019- Paper Reader– Review
10/10/2019- A Bookish Dream– Review
10/11/2019- Savings in Seconds– Review
10/14/2019- book briefs– Review
10/15/2019- Shelf-Rated– Review
10/16/2019- Smada’s Book Smack– Review
10/17/2019- Do You Dog-ear?– Review
10/18/2019- Wishful Endings– Review
10/21/2019- Southern Girl Bookaholic– Review
10/22/2019- Eli to the nth– Review
10/23/2019- fictitious.fox– Review
10/24/2019- Fire and Ice– Review
10/25/2019- Two points of interest– Review
10/28/2019- Riddle’s Reviews– Review
10/29/2019- Jena Brown Writes– Review
10/30/2019- Moonlight Rendezvous– Review
10/31/2019- Novel Novice– Review