Age Group: NA/Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 9/22/14
How far would you go for a second chance?
Eleven years after flunking out of college, Kate has finally hit rock-bottom. Losing her job and boyfriend in one drunken night, she’s determined to fix her life by going back to the moment when she let partying and sex take over and do things right. At twenty-nine, she heads back to freshman year of college, with a catch.
Pretending she's nineteen with a new roommate and full class schedule is easy. When she meets her shy, sexy and seven-years-younger RA Carter, following her self-imposed sobriety and celibacy rules is proving to be anything but.
A senior enduring years of regret, Carter is more than ready to graduate. He’s anxious to move on from the party his freshman year where he witnessed his frat brothers about to commit a sexual assault. Instead of doing the right thing and stepping in, he looked the other way and left. His guilt has made for a lonely four years.
When he meets the new freshman on his floor, spunky and confident Kate, he wonders if his time as an outcast has finally come to an end.
Kate and Carter’s growing friendship and undeniable attraction make it harder to hide the demons from their respective pasts. But when their secrets are finally revealed, will their chance at starting over together still be there?
College-take-two started with me hiding in the dorm lobby men’s bathroom. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice the urinals until after I ran inside.
I stood with my back tight against the door gulping air like it was Riesling and I was at an all you can drink happy hour.
How the hell did I think I’d ever pull this off? Pretend to be a nineteen-year-old freshman at twenty-nine years old?
Going back to college might not have been one of my best ideas—but it was the only one that might finally change my life. I wanted to change my life. I needed to. It was just hard to convince myself of that once I was actually on campus with tons of real freshman all around me.
I guess it’s a lot easier to fantasize about living your life over again than to actually go through with it.
“Are you lost?”
I turned and found a built, blond-haired hottie washing his hands. He dried them quickly, crossed his arms over his broad chest, and leaned against the sink.
That was the moment I realized I was in the men’s bathroom. The moment my breathing went from gulping Riesling at an all you can drink happy hour to puking it up into the disgusting toilet at the back of the bar when drinks went back to full price.
My knees went wobbly. My mouth was dry; my head seemingly floating on top of my neck. I couldn’t tell if I was suddenly unbalanced because of how handsome he was, or the realization that I clearly was lost.
Minus a penis lost.
“Shit,” I reached for the door handle with sweaty palms. At least I was making the kind of stupid mistake a real freshman would.
My wide, wild eyes probably made me look as confused by my surroundings as any other student arriving, but honestly, I was terrified and not because I’d almost caught this guy with his pants down, but because this whole idea was insane.
“It’s okay,” he said, walking toward me, waving his large hands to calm me. “This is definitely not the worst thing I’ve seen someone do the first day back.” He smiled, showing teeth that reminded me of toothpaste commercials. It brought out the sweetest dimple the size of an M&M on his chin.
Fuck me. I smiled back.
He paused, eyeing me up and down, perhaps noticing the tight body I was showing off in a desperate attempt to appear nineteen.
“What makes you an expert?” I asked, hoping to change his focus. Maybe he wasn’t regarding me for the reason I thought; tight body or not, I wasn’t nineteen. I was twenty-nine. Why the hell would anyone believe any different?
He pointed to his red polo shirt.
Turns out he was doing his job.
The area above his right pectoral muscle read Resident Advisor, Hudson University. There was something I couldn’t identify in his sea-glass blue eyes—almost like he was holding back, putting up a good front.
I knew his look well. It was one I’d mastered. When it got too hard to wear my own everything-is-fine mask I doused it in alcohol and sex and bad choices, but that wasn’t a solution anymore.
And clearly, everything wasn’t fine.
“I need to get out of here.” I grasped for the door latch again, trying to put out the fire blazing in my neck and face.
He reached from behind me and also went for the latch. His hand brushed against mine, blistering enough to brand my skin.
My pulse popped like the last minute of popcorn in a microwave. I needed to get away from him. I would have usually chastised myself for even glancing in his direction. Not that I had much choice considering I’d been the one who put us in such close and uncomfortable quarters.
Twenty-nine-year-olds didn’t spontaneously combust from a college kid’s accidental touch. But damn, this guy was fine. My RA back in college-take-one was nothing like this. If he had been I might have made it past the first semester.
I might have passed my actual college-take-one classes.
Of course, I also might have spent it studying what was under his khakis.
“Let me help you,” he said, pushing on the latch as I continued to pull. His voice was a deep vibrato, as deep as his blue eyes seemed.
“I can open a door,” I said, pulling as hard as I could. Nothing happened.
Apparently I couldn’t.
He lifted his arms I-surrender-style and stood back, stifling a laugh. “It’s a push.”
“I knew that,” I looked down as I finally pushed the door open and we exited the bathroom. Not because I was embarrassed, though who was I kidding?
I kept my eyes down. I didn’t want to show him my face. Have him laugh and say, what the hell are you doing here, old lady? Or even worse, are you here helping your daughter or son move in?
It was one thing to be told you had a baby face your entire life. It was another to put it to the test next to actual babies!
That was why I’d run into the bathroom. Too bad my early-onset cataracts had obscured the mammoth M and stick figure dude.
We stood in front of the door, the dorm lobby brimming with students and their parents. I should have just walked away, but I liked the way he was checking me out, his gaze sliding from my just purchased Uggs to my just purchased white winter hat with cat ears smashed over my recently highlighted blond hair. I had been doing my best to look student-like.
But I was pretty sure I looked like Hannah Montana.
It had been easy to photoshop my high school transcript so it seemed like I graduated a year ago. Simple to change my one semester of F’s to A’s, to take the SATs again, to get a fake ID, to dress like any other nineteen-year-old. It took an hour to sublet my rent-controlled New York City apartment.
Being here and acting like a college freshman would clearly be a lot harder.
Lisa Burstein is the author of the Young Adult Novels: Pretty Amy and Dear Cassie, and the New Adult Novels & Novellas: Sneaking Candy, The Next Forever & The Possibility of Us. She is also a contributor to the essay collection, Break These Rules: 35 Young Adult Authors On Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats. Again is her self-publishing debut.