Gracie has just finished her freshman year of college in Memphis when she takes a job at a local pizza joint in her home town of McKenzie, Tennessee. She is the epitome of innocence when she meets Noah. Noah is unabashedly handsome, intriguingly reckless and just cocky enough to be sexy. Gracie’s instincts tell her to stay far away from him and based on the stories she hears from her co-workers he leaves broken hearts in his wake. But still, she can’t explain her fascination with him.
Noah puts aside his bad boy ways when what he thought was a summer crush has him unexpectedly falling in love. But soon after Gracie transfers to UT Knoxville to be with Noah, their unexpected love becomes riddled with anger, deceit and humiliation.
Jake, Noah’s former roommate and Gracie’s best friend, can no longer be a bystander. Gracie’s world falls out from beneath her and when she breaks she turns to Jake for strength. As Jake talks her through a decision she’s not yet strong enough to make, together they uncover a truth so ugly neither of them is prepared for its fallout. Will Jake pull her to the surface or is Gracie Jordan finally In Too Deep?
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The strong force of the wave pulled me under. I gasped for air just before my face disappeared below the surface. My body rolled over and over, my arms flailed, and my head pounded into the sea bed which felt like a concrete floor. The salty water stung my eyes. I forced myself to keep them open, fearing I would slip into unconsciousness from the blow I took to the head. I knew I had to hold it together long enough for the swell to pull me back up when the wave rolled. But something was pulling me deeper. I fought with all my might, kicking against the thick water swallowing me whole. I used my arms like underwater oars and sliced through the depths trying to reach what I needed most, but I was in too deep.
“Get out!” I could barely get the words out before I had to run to the bathroom and void my gut of its contents. Noah didn’t move.
I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand and screamed, “I said, Get! Out!” I stumbled back into the room, grabbed the box of mementos I’d collected from the last year of our relationship, and dumped everything into the trashcan in the corner. Like a communal grave, there lay movie tickets, dried rose petals, a strip of photos from the boardwalk, all the beautiful letters he wrote last fall semester, an empty beer bottle, and all the rest of what was now just a reminder of the guy I thought I knew.
“Gracie, don’t…” His face fell, but he didn’t move from the edge of my bed.
“Don’t? Don’t what, Noah? Don’t break up with you? Are you kidding?” My ears burned from his admission of guilt. It hit me broadside. I wasn’t prepared for the words he had spoken just moments before.
The rush of water covering me grew cold. Icy. My body quaked. My lungs burned and begged for air. I could see light above. It glimmered and danced on the small waves my panic created. I reached for the surface. Even if I couldn’t pull myself up, maybe just feeling the sun’s warmth would stop the shivering that threatened to unravel me.
My legs gave out beneath me and I crumbled into a heap on my apartment floor. I sobbed so uncontrollably I gasped for air. I was livid. Repulsed. Crushed and torn. Noah was the love of my life, and things were just getting back to the way I longed for them to be. Back to what used to be our “normal.” Before he pledged Sigma Chi. Our relationship hadn’t been easy since I transferred to Knoxville. But our story wasn’t ready to end.
It went something like this:
Bad boy meets good girl.
Bad boy turns sensitive.
Good girl gives sensitive boy all of her.
Flowers. Love letters.
Long, sweet phone calls.
Good girl transfers to sensitive boy’s school.
Sensitive boy becomes fraternity boy.
Drunken social events.
Fraternity boy pulls good girl under.
Good girl finds herself in too deep.
Michelle Kemper Brownlow has been a storyteller her entire life. Her debut was on the high school cheerleading bus granting requests to re-tell her most embarrassing moments for a gaggle of hysterical squadmates.
Earning her Bachelor’s degree from Penn State University in Art Education and then marrying her very own “Jake,” she moved to Binghamton, NY where she taught high school. After having two children she quit work and finished her Master’s degree in Elementary Education at Binghamton University.
The Brownlow family of four moved to Michelle’s hometown of Morgantown, PA while the children were still quite young. A few years after moving, her family grew by one when they welcomed a baby into their home through the gift of adoption. The family still resides in PA, just miles from where that high school cheer bus was parked.
Michelle has been an artist for as long as she can remember, always choosing pencils and crayons over toys and puzzles. As a freelance illustrator, her simple characters play the starring roles in numerous emergent reader books published by Reading Reading Books.
“Writing is my way of making sense of the world. When I give my characters life on the pages I write, it frees up space in my mind to welcome in new stories that are begging to be told,” says Brownlow.
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