Bounce by Noelle Cat
This final chapter in the fun and steamy New Adult trilogy by Noelle August (authors Veronica Rossi and Lorin Oberweger) features two aspiring musicians who must choose between their careers…and their sizzling attraction for each other.
Playing the occasional club gig just isn’t cutting it for twenty-two-year-old cellist Skyler Canby, who’s trying to support herself and her mother back home in Kentucky. Persuaded by her best friend Beth to accompany her on an audition for the first feature film launched by Blackwood Entertainment, she figures why not? Beth’s a shoe-in for the lead, but maybe Skyler’s newly dyed pink hair will help her stand out enough to score a small speaking part.
Never in her wildest dreams does Skyler imagine she’ll land the lead role or that she’ll have her shoes knocked off her feet by the kiss her audition partner, Grey Blackwood, plants on her—a kiss that feels very real and not at all “acted. ”
After throwing a party that causes thousands of dollars of damage to his older brother’s home, reckless musician Grey Blackwood gets roped into working off his debt on the set of his CEO brother’s newest project. Grey spends his days fetching coffee and doing odd jobs around the studio, but he lives for nights when he performs with his band. He knows if he can stay focused, success as a singer is just around the corner. But that’s tough with a distracting pink-haired girl occupying his every waking thought.
Skyler and Grey have every reason to resist each other. But, like a song neither of them can get out of their minds, they have no choice but to go where the music takes them.
Skyler’s Point-of-View, Chapter 20
“Good lord in a basket, it’s him all right. Grey. Illuminated by the golden lights coming on along Venice Boulevard. With suds and water sluicing off his ridiculously ripped body, cascading from his massive tattooed biceps, running down his taut muscled abdomen. His swimsuit sags dangerously low, clinging to his sturdy thighs, making, um, everything, pretty evident.
And evidently pretty impressive.
Probably, this would be a good time to actually speak some words, but even in a town full of hot, hot people, this is kind of stratospheric.
“Yep, it’s me.” Grey reaches back to turn off the shower, which breaks the spell, so I can at least avert my gaze like a decent person. Then he rubs a towel vigorously over his gleaming body and tucks it around his waist.
He has a strange look on his face—peevish, embarrassed, and it feels suddenly like we’re intruding on something. Or maybe it’s just me. I think about that moment in my trailer. His fingers on my skin. My wanting and not knowing what to want.
“Uh, so, what are you up to?” I ask in an effort to win the prize for most obvious question ever. “I mean, I can see what you were up to.” Seriously, Sky? “But, uh, were you just in the water? What brings you out here?”
“I’m crashing nearby. At the garage where my band rehearses.”
“Really?” asks Mia. “Why?”
Grey looks from me to Mia and then back to me, weighing something. Maybe whether or not he can trust us. He’s got this hot, coiled energy all the time, like he’s always holding back. Like he’s an animal caged inside a human body.
“Just staying there for a few weeks.”
“Because of your mom?” I ask. It was obvious from their interaction on set that there’s some bad blood there, though compared to my mom, she seems kind and thoughtful, whip-smart and curious without being overbearing. Which makes sense, given her offspring.
Then I remember that Grey’s not really her offspring. He said “stepmother,” and the way he said it really answers my question.
Which is good, because he doesn’t actually answer it. Instead, he gathers up his stuff—surfboard, wetsuit—and gives us a grin. “I gotta head out,” he says, as though nothing’s hanging there between us. He looks away for a second, following the path of a guy in an Obama mask as he weaves his way up the boardwalk on a ribbon-festooned unicycle. “Told some friends I’d hook up with them tonight.”
“Wait,” says Mia. “So, you’re just sleeping in a garage? Like on an air-mattress or something?”
Grey shrugs. “A couch. It’s okay.”
“And taking freezing cold showers out on the beach? That doesn’t sound great, does it, Sky?”
“No, it doesn’t,” I say, but I’m afraid of where she’s going with this.
“Can’t you stay at a hotel or something?”
He shakes his head. “Money’s a little tight right now. I’m giving Adam almost every penny to pay him back for the house, and I don’t really have…” Again, he goes silent, and I can feel, literally, the tension of him wanting to talk, wanting to say more to someone. Needing it.
“Why don’t you come stay at our place?” Mia blurts. We have that in common. The blurting thing. “I mean, I’m just about all moved out, so there’s room.”
Ay, dios. No. No.
But I can’t say anything. I can’t tell my best friend, who knows I’m talking to Brooks, starting to maybe, sort of, think about where that could go, that having Grey in my apartment, so close all the time, is a very dangerous, very bad idea.
Grey shakes his head. “Nah, I appreciate it, but I’m cool here. I promise. Thanks, though.” He takes a few steps toward a squat gray building with weather-beaten shutters and a tiny, shed-like garage in the back. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
“Hang on,” says Mia, pulling me along. She gives me a look, tipping her head in his direction, like she’s tapping me in for the debate. “You’re cool with it, right, Sky?”
“Of course.” Not. In no way. “But it seems like he’s got it under control here. So, if—”
My words disappear, though, because Grey’s pulled up the garage door, the muscles of his broad back and shoulders shifting smoothly as he thrusts the door up along its rusting track.
“See?” he says, pointing to a lumpy white couch sporting what looks like a half-century’s worth of mystery stains—a perfect complement to the funk of beer and weed and sweat potent enough to make my eyes water. “Perfectly fine, right?”
But, like me, he’s lousy at hiding his feelings. Even turned away to shove some empty beer cans into a garbage bag, his body language tells me everything.
He doesn’t want to be here in this musty space, crowded with furniture and audio equipment, the only natural light coming in from the tiny half-moon windows set into the garage door, which faces a dim alleyway.
“You should come stay with us,” I say, surprising the hell out of us both. “I mean, this is…”
“It’s fine,” Grey insists. “I don’t need much, and I’m hardly ever here.”
I think how different he is from Brooks, who says what he means, tells you—without hesitation—what he wants.
“Come on,” says Mia.
“Seriously,” he tells us. “It’s really nice of you to ask, but I’m fine. I can’t afford—”
“I paid up on the place through the end of the lease,” Mia says. “You can just chip in on food and utilities. I’m sure you can manage that, right? It’s only for a few weeks. And you’d be rooming with two awesome, super hot girls. How can you say no to that?”
He looks at me, and I can see he’s worried about the same things I am. Rooming together. Being too close, constantly one second away from making a really dumb choice. He’s young and too reckless for me. And a musician, on top of it all. He’s everything I don’t need sharing my space.
But something tugs at me, makes me put all of those concerns aside. I see it in his smoke-gray eyes, which are so alive, so deep and full of thoughts. Some pain or fear lives there. Something that makes it so hard for him to accept. To take a simple kindness. It’s not just about me but about trusting. Anything.
Seeing that, I can’t let him spend another night in this crappy place. Just…alone.
“You should come home with us,” I say. ‘It will be…a lot better than this, I promise.'”– Noelle August, Bounce
NOELLE AUGUST INTERVIEW
- This is the third and FINAL novel! Any insight you can provide our aspiring writers on how to approach a final novel in a trilogy?
Lorin: I think Veronica’s the perfect person to comment on this because she’s worked on both a trilogy with a complete arc spread over three novels AND a series with three companion novels.
From my perspective, though, I wanted to make sure readers had some sense of where the protagonists from the other stories (Mia, Ethan, Alison, and Adam) ended up, as well as to show some progression in the world of Boomerang, which focused first on the website and eventually on the expansion into movies.
Veronica: Approach the final novel in a trilogy with plenty of wine and a good sense of humor! Kidding aside, it’s been the most enjoyable book for me to write, twice now. Middle books, however…Not fun.
- How does Skyler and Grey’s relationship differ from any of those we have seen in the series thus far?
Lorin: For me, one of the ways their relationship differs is that they’re both a bit more raw, a bit less self-assured than Mia, Ethan, Adam, and Alison (though of course, those characters have their vulnerabilities, as well).
Beyond that, they’re also separated more for psychological/emotional reasons than for logistical reasons (e.g., Ethan and Mia were forbidden to date due to company policy). They’re both passionate about the same thing—music—and both figuring out how to juggle life and love and family commitments. I feel like they’re both rougher in some ways than our other characters and also more tender, which makes putting them together really exciting!
Veronica: As the youngest hero we’ve had in the books, Grey brings a visceral quality. It’s just part of his nature. He’s unstudied. Rough, as Lorin says. He says what’s on his mind and feels what he feels, and everybody just needs to deal with it. I loved seeing how that worked with Skyler, who’s this dynamic, sweet, wise girl. I won’t say much more about how they interact, so as to not spoil the fun, but they had mad chemistry. So great together.
- What does the New Adult genre mean to you? Any favorite authors/books that you’ve been reading?
Lorin: For me, it’s about capturing that really exciting, tumultuous, fraught, complex time when people are making their first real steps into adulthood, into the world of meaningful work, meaningful love and/or sex, adult dynamics with family, etc.
Favorite authors in NA: Too many! Sophie Jordan, Megan Erickson, Colleen Hoover, Abbi Glines. I don’t know if she’s really characterized this way, but I’m going to add Rainbow Rowell to the NA pantheon as well. Always great.
Veronica: All of the above for me, too. And Jennifer Armentrout (J. Lynn) is a favorite, Cora Carmack…the list really does go on. I’m also a huge fan of Sarah Maas, and I think you can make an argument that A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES is NA paranormal fantasy. Also fabulous.
- Music and film play a big part in this one. What are some of your favorite artists and movies you’d love to share?
Lorin: Music: Right now, I’m listening to X Ambassadors, Jamie XX, Arcade Fire, Grouplove, Blur, Ed Sheeran, Elle King… I’ll stop myself here!
Movies: Oh, the agony of picking! Shawshank Redemption; Defending Your Life; Broadcast News; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; and, like Beth and Titus in the book, pretty much anything by Richard Linklater or Wes Anderson. Plus Pixar. Inside Out made me cry approximately 2,153 times.
Veronica: I struggle with this question too, because so many of my favorites are going to sound outdated, BUT: GLADIATOR, the BOURNE IDENTITY trilogy, SHINE, THE PRINCESS BRIDE. See? Not a lot of recent films here. I’m more a fan of television series these days. Can’t get enough of OUTLANDER or VIKINGS. I also just binge-watched PARKS AND RECREATION this month. Love that series. And I live with three males so if the television is on, it’s usually on a baseball or football game, which is great with me. Confession: I love sports. And I love books. Gasp! Shocking, right?
- Choosing between personal career success and love is a major challenge people struggle with every day, millennials especially because of the pressure of success these days. What are some of the issues Skyler and Grey (and even some of the other Boomerang characters!) go through that can help some of the readers realize what’s truly important?
Lorin: What stands out for me is that all the characters are working out how to balance their careers with not only their romantic lives but where they fit into their families, how their families add to, or detract from, their professional and creative desires, and what it means for them to go their own ways, in work and in love. There’s a point in which almost all of them have to get clear of family expectations or legacies and decide who they are and what they love, independent of all that.
Veronica: I think the answer is right there in your question. Each of our characters are trying to figure out what’s important. They’re asking themselves: What matters to me most? How do I want to spend my time? How do I want to start—and shape—my life?
- In my opinion, BOUNCE reads more of a standalone than the first two in the series! Any intention, or was that the way the book flowed?
Lorin: Just the way the book flowed, though I think we hope they all stand alone pretty well!
Veronica: Perhaps this one feels more standalone because the setting moved away from the BOOMERANG offices a bit more than in the last two novels. We’re mostly on a movie set in this one. And, yeah. It wasn’t planned; it just happened!
- Did the long distance writing get any easier as each book went on? The writing is so seamless, it boggles my mind there were two brains at the helm of the manuscript!
Lorin: Aw, thanks! And yes, book three was a really fun and seamless experience. As seems to always be the case, book two is always the bear, and I think we’d both say that was the case. But I feel lucky to work with someone as dedicated and brilliant as Veronica. DEFINITELY makes it easy AND inspiring!
Veronica: Thanks, Lorin! And likewise! I felt like we found our groove early with this one. It was a blast to write. And, yes. All Book Twos involve some agony. It’s one of Nature’s Laws.
- We are tearfully saying goodbye to the Boomerang clan. What will you miss most about these characters, and series?
Lorin: Honestly, I think I’m in denial about this actually BEING the last book. Veronica and I have talked about other characters’ stories, so they’re living on in our imaginations and, who knows, may end up with works of their own someday! I would LOVE to know what kind of dude could make an honest woman of Cookie! 😉
Veronica: Ha-ha. Cookie does deserve her own book, doesn’t she? I know I’ll miss all the main characters, and so many of the secondary characters, too. I love that we write about genuinely good people—who make mistakes, sure—but who are generally trying to do the right thing. No knock against the darker heroes and heroines out there, of course, but these stories have been a welcome source of cheer for me. I believe this world can always use more laughter, heart, and positivity.
- Dare we ask – any favorites?
Lorin: Cookie! She just cracks me up, and she’s so loyal to Adam. Also love Paolo and the gang from the Boomerang offices, plus Grey, Grey, Grey. Sigh…
Veronica: Grey. Mia. Cookie. Rhett… Geez. Is it fair to say I think I love them all?
About the Authors:
Question: What do you get when friends pen a story with heart, plenty of laughs, and toe-curling kissing scenes? Answer: Noelle August, the pseudonym for renowned editor and award-winning writer Lorin Oberweger and New York Times bestselling YA author Veronica Rossi, the masterminds behind the Boomerang series.
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