Perfectly Criminal is book 1 in a new YA crime series, The Devereaux Case Files, by Elaine White. The series follows Abhayah Davenport, the daughter of well to-do parents who want nothing to do with her. But they soon discover that sending her to the post, all girls’ boarding school in a sleepy English village, was a mistake. Because, the minute she meets new English teacher, Reed Anderson, her life is set on a fast-paced adventure that will have consequences for years…
At eighteen, Abhayah Davenport shouldn’t still be attending school. But being free would give her parents a headache; how could they travel the world, without her hampering their style?
Having never attended school until recently, the all girls boarding school, in a sleepy little English town, is foreign territory to free spirit Abhayah. She’s all too aware that she’s being punished for falling in love with a boy at her last school and the actions of one crazed man, who her sister was stupid enough to marry.
Now, her only friend is the new English teacher, Reed Anderson, another fish out of water. But even he isn’t all that he seems…
*This extract is unedited and subject to change, before publication*
Reed couldn’t believe the words that had come out of Ayah’s mouth. Her voice had been calmer than he had anticipated as she blatantly told him he was the most important thing she could imagine in her life, more over, the most important thing to her future. It was more than he could ever have imagined, never mind anticipated and all he could do was get to his feet in confusion and panic that things were going too far too fast, without his permission.
He was the boss, he was in charge, things were meant to go his way. But he had known the minute he set eyes on Ayah that he wanted her and maybe that was his punishment, maybe now he was getting something his way, just at a time when it was the last thing he needed. There was a huge different between want and need and he had always managed to put one before the other. If he needed something, he needed it there was no questioning it, it was something that had to be done…but want? Wanting something was a dream, it was nice while it lasted but something would always come along to either threaten it or ruin it and he would never want it again. So why was he suddenly getting everything he wanted and nothing he needed?
“I’m sorry Ayah but I don’t want to be with you. You’re nothing to me,” Reed sighed in reluctant dismissal of her feelings. There was nothing for him to do now but try get his plans back on track and make things work out his way and the only way to do that was to make her as mad and as upset as he possibly could. Without making her scream the place down and put him in a difficult position. He made it as far as the door before Ayah called him back, with just the word of his name.
“Reed,” he couldn’t help but stop and turn to face her with a sigh, surprised by the smile she had as she got up from the end of the bed and crossed over to him, looking guiltier than he had expected to see her. He felt guilty himself when he heard her next few words. “I’m sorry. Could you just hold me for a minute?” she asked softly, her voice barely more than a whisper and looking vulnerable enough that he couldn’t bear to reject her again. He couldn’t do anything other than sigh as she stepped up close to him until he wrapped his arms around her and held her as tight as he could, hating what he was doing to her. Especially when she wrapped her arms around his neck and snuggled in as if she would never get the chance again; he half expected her to burst into tears at any moment.
“I’m sorry Ayah, but this is how it has to be,” he apologized, finding the whole thing unbearable and he knew that if it wasn’t for the heist, he wouldn’t stick around any longer. He would just take a quick step back from her, ignoring her as best he could and run into his room to pack before leaving that night. He knew he couldn’t even risk sticking around until morning or the end of the day because she was such a temptation. And when Ayah suddenly made a move, slowly lifting her head from being buried deep within his chest, to look up at him, he felt a strange and unwelcome knowledge pouring through him that he would never find another temptation quite like her.
Nothing was making it through to his brain at that moment, not the rain on the windows, not the noise of giggling and screaming girls running in out of that rain, just the deep jade green of her eyes and the undeniable and unignorable fact that she was so close to him and yet he knew he couldn’t have her. Or at least, he thought he couldn’t have her. But after just a moment of looking up at him, Ayah took the biggest leap of her life and gently nudged her head up towards his, into a tender and unsure kiss that caught Reed entirely by surprise.
For a split second, he had no idea what to do. He had never been kissed that way before, even his first ever kiss had been with an older girl who certainly knew what she had been doing. Now he was beginning to see what he had been missing out on. He had been moments away from making his plan a reality. He didn’t know why Ayah had kissed him but he knew it was the perfect time to say no and send her off but for the life of him, all he could do was respond to her kiss. It was the most unexpected and unpredictable moment of his life, and yet within a single second of his response to her kiss, he found himself drawn into the temptation and knowing for certain that he didn’t ever want to find a way out of it.