Title: Safe ©2012
Author: C. Kennedy
Available from: Harmony Ink Press
Release Date: October 24, 2013
en français: En Sécurité

Caleb had one mission in life.

To keep his boyfriend safe.

They met at ten, kissed at twelve, and were madly in love by eighteen. Caleb Deering is the captain of the swim team and the hottest senior in school. He comes from a loving home with a kind father and a caring, but strict, mother who is battling breast cancer. Nico Caro is small and beautiful, and has a father who rules with an iron fist—literally. One morning Caleb forgets himself, and he pecks Nico on the lips at school. A teacher sees them and tattles to the Headmaster. The accidental outing at school might be the least of their problems, because the ball set in motion by the school’s calls to their parents could get Nico killed. In the face of that very real danger, Caleb knows he has only one mission in life: to keep Nico safe

What people are saying about Safe...

          “…a sexy coming of age story about true love, and learning to accept the rough with the smooth. If you’re a romantic at heart, and reading about two young people who are so obviously made for each other gives you a warm glow, this book is sure to put a smile on your face.” —Boys on the Brink

          “5 out of 5 hearts...a wonderful coming of age, first love, high school sweetheart story that... has you smiling as tears blur your vision.” —MMGood Book Reviews

          “5 out of 5 stars...left me speechless...will make you cry but you will laugh through your tears...a book for young adults but I would recommend it to anyone who is in the mood for a wonderful story about two people in love.” —Ana's Goodreads Review

         “3 out of 5 stars...In this sweet and unexpectedly spicy novella by C. Kennedy, however, the heroes strike lucky ...and never look back ...upbeat and full of genuine affection ...from best friends to... lovers... this book is sure to put a smile on your face.”    —Rainbow Book Reviews

          “4 out of 5 stars....doubt, anxiety, and excitement that comes with growing up is offered up well and makes the story all that more believable. ...really enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing Nico and Caleb again... they are super sweet.” —Pants Off Book Reviews

Read Chapter One....


The lunch bell rings, and Caleb bolts from his seat. Once in the hall, he pulls his cell phone from his pocket and rereads the text message from his dad. Man, I’m in so much shit. He speeds his steps to his locker and prays Nico is there waiting for him. He rounds the corner and searches through the bustling, milling students. Nico isn’t there. Crap. He needs to find him, and quick. He jogs to his locker, spins the combination lock, and curses under his breath when it won’t open. He stresses and has to do it three times before he gets the damn locker open. Be easy, Caleb. It isn’t the end of the world. Who is he kidding? This is a freakin’ disaster.
The students who pass give him looks. By now, they know. Shit, where in hell is Nico?
“Hey,” Liam says casually as he finds Caleb at his locker.
Caleb returns a soft “Hey.”
“What’s going on, man?” he whispers.
Caleb doesn’t know what to say as he slams the locker door and turns to him. “What’d you hear?”
“They’re saying you kissed Nico.”
Caleb meets Liam’s questioning gaze. Short of Nico, Liam is his BFF. There’s no sense in lying to him. Thanks to Mr. Higgins, the word is already out. He nods once.
“Yeah? It’s true? You’re gay?”
Caleb takes a deep breath and releases a shuddering sigh. “Yeah.”
Caleb runs a nervous hand through his blond curls. “Yeah.”
Liam claps him on the back. “No shit. You could have told me, man.”
Caleb sighs again, a tremble in the air. “Sorry, man. I’ve never known how to tell anyone."
Liam gives him a warm smile. “Yeah, you gotta feel totally awkward, bro. You gonna make practice today?”
This surprises Caleb. “You’re okay with it?”
“Fine, bro. To each his own, you know. And Nico’s a great guy.”
Caleb breathes a giant sigh of relief. “Thanks, man.”
“No problem. You gonna make practice today?” Liam asks again.
“Doubt it. The school called my dad. He’s picking me up after school.”
“That going to be a hassle? We got state finals on Saturday, and you’re our captain. We depend on you, bro.”
Caleb smiles a smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. It’s going to be a serious hassle. “I’ll be okay for Saturday. Can you lead practice for me today?”
“No problem. Text me tonight when the sentencing is over. See you at our table at lunch?”
“Doubt it. I gotta find Nico.”
“Yeah, okay. Keep me posted.”
“Yeah, okay. Liam?”
Liam waves him off as he walks away.
That definitely went better than expected. Liam is always cool, though, and a good friend. The rest of the world? They usually suck.
Caleb worries about Nico. Nico isn’t good with confrontation. Nico is afraid most of the time. Nico is only safe when he’s with Caleb. He has to find Nico. Now. He jogs down the hall, making his way through the throng of students. A girl giggles and puts a hand over her mouth, then points at him. The girl next to her bursts out laughing. They know. This is a freakin’ disaster.
Caleb rounds another corner and doesn’t see Nico at his locker. Shit. Nico has phys ed right before lunch. He exits the building and makes his way to the gym. He checks down each row of lockers in the locker room and doesn’t see Nico. Damn it, where in hell is he!
“Nico, you in here?” he calls as he heads to the bathroom and shoves through the door.
There, squatted with his face buried in his arms, is Nico, in tears.
“Ah, shit,” Caleb says under his breath as he pulls Nico into his arms.
A strangled sob escapes Nico as he wraps his arms tightly around Caleb’s waist. “The school called my dad. He’s coming to get me after school.”
“I know. They called mine too.”
“My dad’s going to kill me, Caleb.”
Caleb winces at Nico’s words as he pets the curls he loves so much. Nico’s dad is dangerous. Nico’s dad is someone to be terrified of. “My dad will talk to him.”
“What’s going to happen to us?”
“The worst the school can do is suspend us.”
“No, I mean, what about us?”
Caleb lifts Nico’s chin with gentle fingertips. “What do you mean, what about us? We’re fine. Nothing’s going to happen to you and me.”
“You’re not going to break up with me?”
Pain sears Caleb’s heart. How could Nico even think such a thing? “Nicolò, baby, don’t even go there. I love you. Always have, always will. In a few months we’ll be off to college, and this will all be behind us.” He places a chaste kiss on Nico’s lips.
“’Kay.” Nico releases a long, shuddering sigh and squeezes Caleb’s waist before he pulls away. He rubs the tears from his eyes with the heels of his hands, then goes to a sink and rinses his face with cool water. “I’d die if I lost you, Caleb.”
Caleb cards his fingers through Nico’s curls. “Hush, nothing like that is ever going to happen. Everything will be okay.”
Nico turns the water off and reaches for a paper towel. “What’s your dad going to say?”
“He’ll think it’s bad news, but he’s easier than Mom is. Let’s get to lunch. You need something to eat.”
“’Kay. People are already talking.”
“I know. Mr. Higgins obviously couldn’t keep his big mouth shut. Liam asked me about it, and I told him the truth. He’s okay with it.”
Nico looks up at Caleb as Caleb leads him by the elbow from the bathroom. “He is?”
“Yeah, he’s fine with it.”

Caleb reads his dad’s text message one last time before the bell rings, ending his last period class. THE SCHOOL CALLED. BE ON THE FRONT STEPS AT 3. He doesn’t know what the school told his dad, and he doesn’t want to be the one to tell him. God, how could he be so stupid as to kiss Nico at school?
It just happened. They’re always so careful at school, but he’d been kissing Nico for almost six years and wasn’t thinking. It just seems natural to kiss him when they part to go their separate ways to class. Of all people, Mr. Higgins, the peevish algebra teacher, had to be the one to see them. All they did was peck lips. It wasn’t even a full-on snog. Mr. Higgins acted as if they were caught in flagrante delicto. He scolded them heartily, then rushed off to the headmaster’s office. Caleb isn’t sure whom he’s angrier with, himself or Mr. Higgins. Shit, what a freakin’ disaster.
This is the first time in his near-eighteen-year existence he’s ever been in trouble. He suddenly has a horrible thought. A suspension would get him kicked off the swim team. He’s worked hard to become captain of the team, swimming every afternoon after school for three hours. Three hours every day that he could have spent with Nico. Three more hours each day that Nico could have been safe. Fear and anxiety claw at his heart, and his mind reels with rising fear. This is a freakin’ disaster.
         The bell rings, and he flies from his seat.

©2012-2016 C. Kennedy. All Rights Reserved.