We are so incredibly, uber excited to have an EXCLUSIVE teaser of the upcoming book, Wild Reckless, by Ginger Scott! Check out the prologue below, and preorder it on Amazon now!
The caramel aroma that scented the air was thick. The smells of the Annual
Wilson Orchard Apple Fest always began to permeate the streets the night
before. Thin lines of smoke trailed from windows and front porches down
residential streets of Woodstock, awakening the noses and stirring hungry
bellies one at a time until they found the Harper residence.
This was going to be Owen Harper’s first year at the festival. His dad
took off special from his job at the warehouse just so he could take his
middle son to the hometown tradition where the town’s best bakers lined up
their pies made of the fruits from Old Man Wilson’s trees.
Owen liked the pies. He always ate them when his parents or grandparents
brought them home. But what he really wanted to do was go on the Ferris
wheel. His older brother James had been to the festival twice. James was
ten, and he’d always been tall, so he could pass the height requirement
easily and ride alone. But Owen was not yet five, so he would need a
chaperone. His mother worked long hours at the hospital, and his father
rarely got a weekend off. But today…today was an exception. And today,
Owen Harper would ride the Ferris wheel and look out over the town until
he could see the roof of his house.
He promised to bring his younger brother Andrew to the festival one day
too. He’d be old enough to walk to the festival on his own then, and tall
enough to serve as his brother’s chaperone—and together they’d both feel
like they could fly.
Owen’s dad talked to himself a lot. It wasn’t anything unusual to Owen.
He’d often watched his father have arguments within his own mind, his lips
muttering fragments of words over his cereal. He learned to ignore the
nonsensical tirades his dad would have with someone who seemed to be
invisible while he drove his son to school. And the long hours on the
porch at night, when his dad would stare off at nothing for hours at a
time—those were routine, too. Owen loved those nights the best, because he
would get to lie in the hammock, and sometimes he’d wake there in the
Bill Harper was talking to himself a lot today. And everyone was staring.
But Owen didn’t understand why. Nothing was unusual.
His father paid their admission, and his son breathed in deeply, his lungs
so full of the caramel, cinnamon, and apple fragrances that he was sure he
could actually taste them.
His father’s hand was rough from working heavy machines for hours every
day, and when he pulled his son’s hand into his, his skin felt scratchy.
Owen didn’t care. His own fingernails were chewed away and his palms were
dirty from his morning hunt for worms in his mother’s garden. He squeezed
his father’s hand tightly and let his grin stretch the freckles on his
cheeks as he took in the sounds of popcorn popping, kids screaming on the
roller coaster and carnival workers yelling out from all directions to win
Everything about today was perfect—just as Owen had dreamt it would be.
Bill Harper pulled his son up to the ticket booth, and stood him next to a
hand-painted post. Owen stood tall, stretching out a little and lifting
his heels up just enough that the woman checking his height wouldn’t
notice he was cheating. He didn’t want anything to go wrong, and this
would be just a little bit of insurance. In the end, he didn’t have a
reason to worry. He was forty-four inches—two inches taller than the
requirement. Still too short to ride alone, but tall enough to ride. And
that was all that mattered.
As his dad handed the tickets to the man wearing overalls and working the
controls for the Ferris wheel, Owen noticed the people in line behind him
staring again. His dad was talking off to the side, arguing with himself
over something. But it was nothing unusual. His dad did this—often.
Sometimes Owen did it too, because he wanted to see what it felt like.
Their brows were all pinched, and when one woman pulled her two girls in
close to her body, away from him and his father, it made Owen angry. He
sneered and actually let out a faint growl, which only made the woman hold
on more tightly to her girls, who looked like they were about the same age
as Owen. Their blond hair was pulled up on either side in pigtails. They
wore matching dresses—pink—and they looked afraid. He had scared them, and
eventually they left the line.
Owen was pleased.
He forgot all about the angry and frightened faces as soon as his carriage
lifted from the platform and he and his father climbed higher in the air.
The wind was colder up there, and everything about the day smelled like
Halloween. It was morning, so the lights weren’t on for any of the
festival rides, but it didn’t matter to Owen. The earth looked magical
from up above.
While their cart was paused at the top, Owen twisted in his seat, counting
rows of trees and buildings until he was sure he had the right road in his
view. He counted chimneys to seven. And then he was sure he found it. He
turned back around when the wheels started to spin again, satisfied that
he could now check off the box in his mind—the one to see his house from
He wanted to show his father. But Bill Harper was talking to himself. His
son had learned it was better not to interrupt. He’d wait. His turn to
talk would come eventually.
It always did.
After four more pauses, every carriage on the wheel was full, and the ride
began its first full circle, the speed faster than Owen had expected. It
was a little scary, and he wanted to hold his father’s hand, but Bill
Harper was still talking, his hands flying in front of him in various
directions while he argued with someone—the person Owen could never see.
The air was cold when the wheel hit its top speed, so the young boy pulled
the zipper up on his jacket with one hand, his other hand gripping the bar
in front of him tightly. As he leaned forward, he noticed the woman with
the two blond girls standing below, and he thought about spitting. He
didn’t, but he chuckled to himself when he pictured it.
His dad would think that was funny. He liked things like that. Bill Harper
was very much a boy—he liked dirt, and messes, and swear words and beer.
Owen wanted to grow up to be just like him.
By the third pass of the wheel, Owen was no longer nervous, and he
loosened his grip on the bar in front of him. He wasn’t brave enough yet
to stretch his arms out, but he could close his eyes. With his head tilted
toward the sky, he smiled big and shut his eyes tightly, letting the crisp
air sting his face. With each pass along the ground, he heard the laughing
and yelling of more people entering the festival, and the closer his cart
climbed to the sky, the fainter those sounds became, until they started up
This was going to be the best memory of his life. He knew it.
His car paused at the very top while the riders on the other end of the
wheel exited their carts. His ride was over. It was perfect.
When his father reached around and unclipped the latch, Owen didn’t
flinch. His dad worked with machines all day. He had worked with them for
years. He knew what he was doing. He didn’t make a sound when his father
stood up, reaching for the long support beam above them. He held on tight
when the cart swung forward. His father didn’t tell him to, he just knew
he was supposed to. He wouldn’t want Owen to fall out.
It wasn’t until his father took his first step out onto the beam below
that Owen knew something was wrong. And then he saw the face of the woman
below. He heard one of the little girls scream. Owen’s world shifted, and
everything began happening in slow motion. He slid his body to the place
where his father had just been sitting, he reached his tiny hand—the one
scuffed with dirt and scratched from trees—out to grip his father’s leg,
hoping he could just reach the denim of his jeans…reach anything. He
reached, and reached, and reached. But no matter what, Owen was too small,
his arm not yet long enough.
He tried to scream, but no sound would escape his mouth. His lungs felt
flat. His stomach felt sick. This was no longer going to be his favorite
His father’s boots gripped the beam, and his large hands held on to the
large steel bar above him. He was moving slowly down, closer to the center
of the Ferris wheel. He was moving down, and that was the only thing that
made Owen feel okay.
The words of the carnival worker were a blur. He heard the man who ran the
ride speaking over a loudspeaker, but he couldn’t quite make out what he
Owen turned behind him to see if someone was coming to help, but that cart
was empty. The one below him was full, and he could see a man with two
kids sitting still, watching Owen’s father climb out into the center of
the wheel, his hands letting go every so often to point while he yelled.
Bill Harper was yelling. He was yelling at someone who was invisible,
someone who couldn’t be heard yelling back. He was pointing at him,
shoving him, laughing wildly, and then crying.
Then he took a step, and Bill Harper fell to the earth.
In the end, all anyone could seem to talk about was how sad it was that
Carolyn Potter’s apple pie went to waste that year.
Owen never went to the festival again.
And he’d make damn sure his baby brother never went either.
Kensington Worth had a vision for her senior year. It involved her best friends, her posh private school in downtown Chicago and time alone with her piano until her audition was perfected, a guaranteed ticket into the best music programs in the world.
Instead, a nightmare took over.
It didn’t happen all at once, but her life unraveled quickly—a tiny thread that evil somehow kept pulling until everything precious was taken from her. She was suddenly living miles away from her old life, trapped in an existence she didn’t choose—one determined to destroy her from the inside, leaving only hate and anger behind. It didn’t help that her neighbor, the one whose eyes held danger, was enjoying every second of her fall.
Owen Harper was trouble, his heart wild and his past the kind that’s spoken about in whispers. And somehow, his path was always intertwined with Kensington’s, every interaction crushing her, ruining her hope for any future better than her now. Sometimes, though, what everyone warns is trouble, is exactly what the heart needs. Owen Harper was consumed with darkness, and it held onto his soul for years. When Kensington looked at him, she saw a boy who’d gotten good at taking others down when they threatened his carefully balanced life. But the more she looked, the more she saw other things too—good things…things to admire.
Things…to love. Things that made her want to be reckless.
And those things…they were the scariest of all.
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