Title: The Rules of Regret
Author: Megan Squires
Date of Publication: October 1, 2013
“Life doesn’t come with a blueprint, which makes it hard to have any plans.”Nineteen-year-old Darby Duncan is finally on her own. Her boyfriend of six years just left for a high-powered summer internship, though in reality he’s been absent for much longer than that. This newfound freedom wasn’t a part of Darby’s plans, but as she’s come to discover, plans only exist on paper, not in reality.And guys like Torin Westbrook aren’t supposed to exist in reality, either. But he does, with his disheveled curly hair, irresistible dimples, and endearingly quirky habit of reciting quotes from classic movies and ancient thinkers. When Darby meets Torin as a fellow counselor at the survival camp she impulsively applies to, she’s certain his main goal is to turn her world upside-down.But Darby’s not sure she can adapt to Torin’s ways of viewing his past and the tragedies he's faced. Because she’s had her own share of heartache, too, and as much as she wants to believe that it’s all been for a purpose, her grief hasn’t allowed her to get to that point. Yet the more Darby is around Torin, the more she craves the freedom to break out of her carefully constructed routine and mindset and fall into something new.She’s just not sure that she should be falling for Torin along the way.(The Rules of Regret is a non-explicit, new adult romance.)
“Put this on.”
“Where?” I squeaked, reluctantly taking the red and white polkadot two-piece from his hold. Our fingers brushed and hiseyes caught mine in an unsure glance.
“I don’t know, behind a tree or something.” He continued digging through my backpack, pulling out all of my clothes and the blanket crammed inside. He took them to a nearby rock and spread them out onto its surface like he was a maid with a clothesline and a load of laundry to finish. I really wished I hadn't fallen in that creek. Everything was soaked.
“I’m not changing out here.” I wrapped my arms across my chest, humiliation spreading throughout my body. Usually people’s cheeks turned red when they were embarrassed. I was fairly certain every inch of my skin was blushing brightpink, rivaling the reddened hue of Porky the Pig.
Torin cocked his head and thumbed his chin—something I was beginning to notice he did a lot of—and his dimples eased onto his cheeks. “You do realize this is a survival overnighter, don’t you? There are some things you need to let go of for survival’s sake. Modesty is one of those things.”
“If I remember correctly, yesterday you pretty much promised me that you’d keep me alive. And I’d like to keep my modesty. I really don’t want to change into this, Torin.”
He drug his hands through his hair and sighed my direction, sensing the sincerity in my plea. “Darby, it may currently be blazing hot out, but tonight it will get down into the 40’s. And as of right now, you have no dry clothes to sleep in and your overnight blanket is full of about ten pounds of water. You’ve run out of options.”
I pinched my lips together. What I wouldn’t give to be lounging on the couch back at the rental with Sonja, getting fatwith our beer and our Cheetos. Even the hope of visiting Lance didn’t make any of this worthwhile. I sort of wished Torin would have just let me float out there in the river a bit longer. Maybe I would have passed out and drowned. That would be slightly less humiliating than what I feared was in store for me at this summer camp.
“At least turn around.”
Torin looked up at me from the granite slab where he’d arranged my clothes. “What?”
“Please turn around. No peeking.”
He shook his head and returned his focus to his work. “I’m not gonna peek. Off limits.”
“I'm off limits?”
He stepped back and surveyed the spread of fabric, then moved a pair of my socks so they didn’t overlap with the t-shirt underneath. “Off limits. Taken.” His pale eyes pulled up to mine. “And even if you weren’t, you’re not really my type, Darby.”
Insult sucker-punched me in the gut. “Geez,” I murmured, feeling the hurtful sting of his comment. “Then by all means, please stare away. Take pictures if you like.”
“That’s not what I meant.” Torin stepped back from the rock and fiddled with his belt. Before I could register what he was doing, he’d unzipped his fly and was down to his boxers, pulling one leg, then the other from his cargo shorts. My throat went dry and I tried hard to swallow, but it was all sandpaper and it scratched my tongue. Where did his pants go? And why was I staring at his underwear that was covered in hundreds of yellow smiley faces, repeated over and over in adizzying, disorienting pattern? Seriously, why were his boxers smiling at me?
About Megan Squires
Megan Squires lives with her husband and two children just outside of Sacramento, California. A graduate from the University of California, Davis, Megan is now a full-time mother, wife, and dreamer—though her characters don’t often give her much opportunity to sleep.
Visit www.theoutlierchronicles.com to learn more about her latest young adult series.