Today is my stop on the blog tour for I Hold Your Heart and I am here today to with an extract from the book!
Title: I Hold Your Heart Author: Karen Gregory Publisher: Bloomsbury Published: 11th July 2019 Format: Paperback Source:: N/A Add It:Amazon UKGoodreads. Summary:‘You make me feel like there’s something good in the world I can hold on to,’ Aaron says. He kisses me again, draws me so close it’s almost hard to breathe. ‘I love you, Gem. And I promise I’ll hold your heart forever.’
When Gemma meets Aaron, she feels truly seen for the first time. Their love story is the intense kind. The written-in-the-stars, excluding-all-others kind. The kind you write songs about.
But little by little their relationship takes over Gemma’s life. What happens when being seen becomes being watched, and care becomes control?
Told in both Gemma’s and Aaron’s words, this is a raw, moving exploration of gaslighting in teenage relationships that skewers our ideas of what love looks like.
‘We’re going to miss it.’
Dad’s hopping next to me on the touchline, face contorted in agonised suspense.
Mum’s not doing much better, but she attempts a weak,
‘It’ll be fine.’
‘He’s not focusing, he’s—’
Mum gives him a worried ‘shhh’ face; ‘words’ have been had with him before about shouting out during matches. I can sense rather than see Dad grappling with the stream of advice he wants to yell at Michael, swallowing it back down. I know how he feels. My brother looks suddenly small, positioned a few paces back and to the side of the ball, facing off the goalie a few feet away. The goalie is about six foot, even though he can’t be older than fifteen. He’s staring right at Michael, his gigantic gloved hands resting on his thighs, knees bent.
Don’t let him psych you out, I think. It’s not long since the summer league cup, and we all want that particular weekend wiped out. Like Dad said again on the drive here, this season’s make or break for Michael’s chances at the Academy. He needs to score a goal – preferably in the opposing team’s net this time.
I take a long breath in and let it out gently, trying to send positive vibes over on the breeze. It’s seriously warm for September and I can feel the sun on the backs of my shoulders, smell cut grass and suncream and sweat, courtesy of Dad, who’s been leaping about as ever through the whole match. Michael got some good touches in, a few shots on goal, but the match has gone on, vital minutes to impress tick- tocking themselves away. And now we’re nearly at time and he’s got a free kick just outside the penalty area. This is his chance.
The whistle goes. Michael flicks a look up at the goalie, assessing. Then he puffs out his cheeks, makes a sharp shrugging movement and starts his run- up. I sense Mum and Dad tense beside me as the solid thwack of Michael’s foot connecting with the ball echoes around the pitch. I feel my fists clench too, willing it on.
The ball rises, and the lads forming a wall leap high in the air. Sunny Patel is running down the left wing. I hear Dad sucking air in through his teeth in a sharp hiss.
Go in, go in, go in.
It’s going too high, too fast.
Come on …
And now at the last second, the ball’s curling round, drop ping like a bird of prey. The keeper dives, but even I can see he’s way too late. A split second later the ball smashes into the back of the net.
I let out a massive whoop, Dad’s roar practically deafening me.
‘Get in! Superb,’ Dad’s shouting. He turns and envelops Mum in a massive bear hug, swinging her off her feet, all of us laughing.
A moment later, the whistle blows for time. We’ve won, one-nil.
I stop cheering and watch my brother, who’s still zipping around the pitch on a victory lap. Short he may be, but he’s super- fast: even Sunny can’t catch him until he stops and then all his team- mates pile on top of him. I spot Jim, the coach, pumping his fist in victory. Another parent claps Dad on the back.
I’ve still got a massive grin on my face as Michael looks over and gives us a thumbs-up, then the team start jogging off the pitch.
At that moment I get the sudden sense I’m being watched. I shift my gaze and see a tall boy, maybe a couple of years older than me, a golden Labrador at his calf. Technically, he’s not supposed to be here, but there’s a public foot path running across the next field and sometimes dog walkers stray over. He’s only about three metres away, and as my eyes meet his, I get this weird sense I know him. Or that he knows me. An odd feeling flutters in my stomach, halfway between nervousness and interest. I wonder how long he’s been there. He’s about the best-looking boy I’ve ever seen – I suspect he knows it too. This is confirmed by the smile he flashes me: all over confident, slightly teasing. I’m suddenly uncomfortably aware that I’m probably bright red with the heat and the cheering, and my fringe is sticking to my forehead.
The boy holds my gaze for a beat longer than generally considered socially acceptable, then his smile widens. Something about it makes me smile back too. The next moment, Dad’s saying, ‘Come on then, Gemma,’ and the boy twitches the dog’s lead and begins to walk on.
I hesitate for a second, feeling oddly disappointed, then follow my parents out to the car, listening to them going over the goal for what I know will be the first of many times. Just as we get to the edge of the field, I can’t help turning my head to check if he’s still there.
He totally is.
I’m about to turn away, embarrassed, when he lifts one hand, as if in greeting and I swear I can feel his smile even from this distance.
I grin and give a small wave back, then jog over to the car.
About the Author
Karen Gregory has been a confirmed bookworm since early childhood. She wrote her first story about Bantra the mouse aged twelve, then put away the word processor until her first child was born, when she was overtaken by the urge to write. Her first novel, Countless, published in 2017, was shortlisted for the Leeds Book Award and longlisted for the Branford Boase. Her second novel, Skylarks, was published in 2018. Karen lives in Wiltshire with her family.