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Excerpt: ‘Never Always Occasionally’ By Adi Alsaid

HEA Stocks an excerpt from the new YA Never Always Sometimes.

Concerning the book (courtesy of Harlequin Teen):

Never date your friend

Always be original

Sometimes Principles are meant to be broken

Greatest buddies Dave and Julia were determined not to be cliché high school children–the ones who sit in the exact same lunch table daily, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their efforts to get prom king and queen. They wrote their particular Never List of what they vowed they’d never do in high school.

A few of the rules are easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a colour of the rainbow, or7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It is either that or break rule #10, never date your very best friend. Dave has loved Julia for so long as he could recall.

Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she indicates they do each on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He dyes his hair a unfortunate shade of green. It begins as a joke, but a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And perhaps even on adore.

EXCERPT

“You’re being strangely helpful,” Julia said, putting on her gloves and eyeing Brett. “I did not know you might be…”

“A great person?” Brett said. “I’m a little hurt.”

“I wasn’t trying to insinuate anything, I was really struggling for a way to finish the idea. But, yeah, nice person works. I thought you just went to be critical of the plan. Like with the explosions.”

“Truth be told, I’ve been waiting for years for you guys to come out of your shells. I needed to be around to watch it happen.”

“Shells? What cubes? I’m not shy.”

“It has nothing to do with shyness. The tiny tortoise shell the two of you reside in without allowing the rest of the planet in,” Brett said, turning to the generator, the whirring cutting Julia’s chance to retort. She looked. There was some truth in.

It did not seem like they had been accomplishing . Dave and Julia piled piles of wood around the shrub. Brett would hand Dave a few pencil-marked planks and tell him where to hammer nails, which Dave would perform slowly, careful not to miss the awesome little exes. Music playing from Brett’s truck filled the night, although it was frequently drowned out by sawing, drilling, and Julia making fun of Brett’s taste in music.

Then, all of a sudden, there were stairs leading up the tree to where the first of those branches spread out to cast a shade which the Seniors claimed as their own. The skeleton of a treehouse had appeared almost like through magic. It was nothing which Dave would dare to get into yet, but he would see it coming like a connect-the-dots drawing that was a missing a few lines, when he squinted at it.

With each branch and the way sawed apart, a sense of accomplishment built in the atmosphere, or perhaps that was just occurring in Dave’s head. Every now and then Julia’s arm would brush against his, bare regardless of the cold night–they had all started sweating early and long-sleeves were quickly rolled up, sweaters discarded into a little heap in the bed of their pickup truck, which early in the night held tons of gear and was mainly bare. It would be a lie to say he felt nothing at the touch of her skin–skin doesn’t forget so quickly–nor will it be honest to say it didn’t make him happy–hearts are much worse at learning new habits–but it did not feel nostalgic anymore. In reality, the shiver down his back would rapidly lead to thoughts of Gretchen, and it was with her face in mind he put the treehouse together.

When the sun began to bruise the skies with its approach, the three of them put down their tools and looked out in the tree. Dave was sweating, and he could hear Brett and Julia breathing heavily beside him. While Brett made a rush to a local deli to get a huge thermos of coffee and a box of bagels, Julia and Dave added the finishing touches; employing a coating of varnish on the outside, sanding away the rough edges on the counter which confronted out in the entire school, arranging an armory of pillows purchased at a Goodwill store and sprayed with disinfectant before being spread around the treehouse floor, ready for Seniors in their last two languid months of school before liberty.

They broke it together, talking despite the exhaustion and spilling grains of sugar and also drops. Dave and Julia were from having to sit through class, but there was a feeling that they’d done something.

“Hold this pencil with me,” Julia said, yanking the Nevers list from her pocket.

“Have you been carrying that with you every day?”

“Shut up and maintain this pen,” she explained. He wrapped his hands around the pen and then Julia’s hands covered his very own. She transferred the pencil . “There. We’ve got a lunch place now.”

Brett swallowed a bite of bagel, “S***, I wish I would have gotten this on tape. That might have been ideal.” He wiped some cream cheese in the corner of his mouth and proceeded to find the camera. “Say it again.”

Julia laughed and shook her head, folding the list away as though it had been a treasure map. “Too late, man. It is done.”