Counting Daisies: Makayla and Austin
(Flowers and Hearts Book 1)
Counting Daisies, a clean romance full of heart and emotion by Whitney Cannavina is LIVE!
Counting Daisies (Flowers and Hearts Series) by Whitney Cannavina
Release Date: December 20th, 2017
Blog Tour: December 26th-Decemeber 30th
*Counting Daisies is a standalone in a series
*This is a clean teen romance
Signed Paperback Giveaway:
Add to your TBR: https://www.goodreads.com/bo…/show/36402431-counting-daisies
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With the loss of her mother, Makayla's life it turned upside down. Starting over in a new school,
meeting new friends, and getting to know the father she never met before, she has to learn to
navigate this new life that was thrust upon her. With new experiences, and new friends, she
finally begins to live the life she never thought she'd have all with a new and exciting romance
with the uber popular, Austin James.
Follow Makayla on a journey of self discovery, loss, love, and finding happiness in this clean
*This is a standalone in a series.
“What are you wearing on your date? What about your dress for the dance?” Bobby plops down on my bed with an eager stare after rapidly asking her questions.
“I don’t know about a dress for the dance. I didn’t buy one yet.”
“But he will be here in an hour?” Bobby cries.
“I know when he’ll be here. But I have been working almost every day after school except for Monday and Friday. I just haven’t had time to go shopping.” Am I freaking out about my predicament? You bet. But at this point I have no other options because I can’t go and buy a dress in an hour with as far as I have to drive and the time it will take to pick one and then arriving here in time to get ready for my date before the dance. Instead I am just going to grab my summer dress and hope he doesn’t notice it’s nothing fancy. Who am I kidding? Of course he’ll notice. It’s a dang summer dress!
“I’m just going to tell him I’m sick. I can’t go. He’ll believe it right?”
“Oh no you don’t. There is no way you are getting out of this date.” Bobby rummages through my limited amount of dresses hanging in my closet looking for something that could work but they are all out dated and simple dresses that don’t scream fancy, more like ‘I had nothing to wear so I threw this thing on’.
“Makayla?” There is a light knock followed by my step mom poking her head in with a sparkle in her eye as if she knows something I don’t.
“Come in, Sarah. We were just trying to figure out a good excuse to give Austin when I cancel my date.”
“Oh my, why would you go and do a thing like that?” Pulling a knee length, slender cream-colored dress from behind her causes Bobby and I to gasp in surprise.
“I didn’t have a dress so…” I stutter, staring in awe at the beautiful dress Sarah lays on my bed. “Is that for me?” Whispering in disbelief, I glance from the dress to Sarah and back again, excitement bubbling below the surface with hope that my night isn’t ruined.
“I knew you didn’t have time to search for a dress for tonight. It’s not much but I saw it and thought of you so I bought it for you to wear tonight.”
“Wow. I’m so…I’m speechless, Sarah. Thank you so much. It’s so beautiful and simple. It’s perfect and exactly what I would have chosen.”
“Oh good.” Sarah clasps her hands in front of her with nervous anticipation. “Well, try it on, Hun. I want to see how beautiful you’ll look in it.”
“Yes. Try it on.” Bobby chimes in.
“Ok.” Taking the dress with me, I head to the bathroom. Slipping out of my yoga pants and tank top before stepping into the dress. Once I have the one-inch straps in place and the zipper in the back pulled all the way up, I take a look in the full-length mirror hanging on the back of the bathroom door. The cream colored dress reminds me of the dress that Baby wears at the end of dirty dancing with the tight, low-cut bodice that flares out at my waste and ends just above my knees. A lace overlay covers the entire dress giving it more fancy feel making it perfect for the dance tonight. It looks amazing on me and I feel so grateful to Sarah for finding me the perfect dress to hopefully go with the perfect night.
Stepping back into my bedroom, Bobby and Sarah stop mid-sentence to turn towards me. In unison, they squeal in appreciation and I can’t help but follow suit.
“You look amazing in that dress. Austin won’t be able to keep his eyes off you.” Bobby gushes.
“Honey, you look beautiful. Do you like it?” Sarah questions.
“I love it. It’s perfect.” Spinning slowly so they can see the full effect, I stop short, remembering that I don’t have a pair of shoes to match. “Oh no. I need shoes.” Scrunching my nose, I make a dash for my closet in hopes that I have a pair of black or white heels that would match.
“Oh. I knew I forgot something. Hang on. I have your shoes in my room.” Sarah hurries out as Bobby pulls me to sit down on my bed next to her.
“Your stepmom seems great.”
“She is. I’ve heard of evil stepmoms but she has been nothing but kind to me.”
“That’s good. My stepdad is a jerk. My dad hasn’t remarried but if he does, I hope she’s as nice as Sarah.” I nod, feeling bad for Bobby knowing she has been dealt a crappy stepparent. She’s told me a little about it but not much. I’m sure it’s hard for her so I don’t push. Sarah pops back in with a box and hands it to me to open.
“I hope you like them. I thought they would match the dress perfectly.” Lifting the lid on the box, a gorgeous pair of black sued ankle booties lay inside. They are the cutest pair of heels I have ever seen. They’re perfect for the dress, too.
“These are so cute!” I exclaim.
“Put them on. Put them on.” Bobby encourages. Pulling them out of the box carefully as if they may disappear, I slide them on my feet and stand up to take a look in the mirror that hangs on my door.
“Everything is perfect. Thank you Sarah.” Sarah and I embrace in a tight hug that I hope shows my appreciation for all that she’s done.
“You’re welcome, Kayla. Now finish getting ready because Austin will be here in a half an hour.” Sarah leaves Bobby and I to finish getting my make-up and hair done before Austin arrives. Bobby does a great job leaving my hair in a half up-do with waves cascading down my back and a light touch of makeup with only a slightly dark brown eye shadow on my eyes to give a slightly smoky look without being overly dramatic.
“There. Perfect. Austin’s jaw will drop once he sees you.”
“You think?” Bobby nods her head animatedly. “Should I dress casual first and change into my dress later, or should I wear my dress with some flats, and add the booties when we arrive to the dance? Or should I wear my dress and booties the whole time?” As I continue to ask questions, Bobby must hear the panic in my voice as I try to figure out what to wear.
“How about you just relax. I am pretty sure that Austin doesn’t expect you to get ready after your date so he is probably expecting you to be in your dress already. The shoes are up to you. We can gauge what you should wear when he arrives. I’ll see what he is wearing as he waits for you in the living room, and let you know.” Blowing out a breath of relief, I feel so grateful for Bobby’s help today.
“For helping me get ready. I’m sorry I bailed on you tonight.”
“No worries, Kayla. I totally get it. Besides, I roped Beau into being my date. After Austin picks you up I’ll be heading home to get ready for Beau to pick me up and take me to dinner.” Wiggling her eyebrows I can’t help but snort in laughter.
“Does that mean you guys are going to try and date?” Shrugging, Bobby replies.
“I don’t really know yet. I guess we will see after tonight.” As we double check and make sure everything is good to go, I slip the dress back on since I had changed back into my yoga pants and tank top earlier to avoid getting anything on my dress as I got ready. Just as I finish smoothing it down my waist, the doorbell rings alerting me to Austin’s presence. My heart races in nervous anticipation. I just hope my dad doesn’t give him too much of a hard time.
“He’s here.” Bobby claps and bounces excitedly and tells me to shush. “Stay here. I’m going to see how he’s dressed. Then I’ll let you know what shoes to wear.” Wringing my hands in nervous anticipation, Bobby sneaks out and tiptoes her way down the hall. Hearing her quick and light footsteps as she hurries back to my room, she bursts through my door huffing and puffing as if she just ran a marathon.
“You do realize you didn’t have to sneak out there and hurry back.”
“Shh, I’m doing recon work. Wear your heals. Austin is looking handsome in a black suit and his hair slick back.” My excitement grows as I slip one shoe then the other onto my dainty feet.
“How do I look?” Doing a quick twirl, Bobby gives me thumbs up and follows me out into the living room.
“…Buck last year hangin’ on our wall. It was my first kill.” Clearing my throat, Austin halts on whatever he was about to say next to turn towards my interruption. Seeing the look of awe and appreciation sends a fit of butterflies loose in my belly.
“Wow Kayla. You look gorgeous.” Austin strides purposely to me and lands a kiss to my cheek keeping it chaste in front of my parents.
“Thank you. You’re looking handsome yourself.” It takes all my will power to keep my jaw from dropping to the floor at the sight of my boyfriend in a suit. He looks like he just walked out of a GQ photo shoot.
“Here. I brought you these.” Sliding a bouquet of yellow and white daisies into my shaking hands, the tears instantly well up behind my eyes threatening to spill over at his thoughtful gesture. Knowing he bought daisies for me in a way of including my mom on this night has me falling completely head over heels for this man.
“Daisies?” It’s a rhetorical question and Austin seems to understand.
“I wanted tonight to be perfect for you and I know you wish your mom could be here so this was my way of making sure she was included.”
“I can’t believe you remembered.” I whisper only loud enough for Austin to hear.
“I remember everything you say.” Tilting my chin up with his thumb and forefinger, Austin kisses me once again, giving more meaning behind it by pressing his lips firmly against mine before pulling away and wiping the few errant tears that escaped from my eyes.
“Thank you. This means everything to me. I’ll be right back. I’m going to put these in a vase.” Without glancing at the rest of the room, I make my way to the kitchen and open each cupboard searching for a vase to put the flowers in.
“That was so romantic.” Bobby gushes as her and Sarah follows behind me into the kitchen.
“Here, let me put those in a vase for you, honey.” I hand Sarah the flowers mechanically while my head spins at Austin’s thoughtfulness. “I think that boy truly cares about you. This was such a sweet gesture.” I nod as she arranges the flowers before filling the vase with water.
“I’m just so…so…oh my god. I don’t even know how to explain it.”
“In love.” Bobby exhales dreamily.
“Yes. No. I don’t know.” How do you know when you’re in love?
“It’s ok to feel overwhelmed, Kayla.” Sarah rubs my back in comfort. Knowing Austin did this to include my mom has the panic wanting to rise out of me but I do my best to push it down. Freaking out over my feelings for this man will not bode well for the night.
Breathing out a deep exhale, I feel as if I am ready to go back out there.
“I know.” Chewing my lip, it’s time to get back to Austin. “I think I’m ready now.” Walking back into the living room where Austin and my dad are still conversing, I make my way to Austin’s side and wrap my arm through his.
“Are you ok?” Austin asks quietly, concern evident in his tone.
“Yeah. I’m perfect.” And I meant it. Searching my face, Austin believes me and turns back to my dad.
“I promise to have Makayla back by curfew tonight.” Shaking my dads hand, I feel like maybe they came to a truce when it comes to me.
“Be good to my daughter. Have fun you two.” Stepping up to my dad, I kiss his cheek and step back under Austin’s arm as we head out. Bobby follows us as Austin makes his way to her car in the driveway and opens the driver’s side door.
“After you, malady.”
“Why thank you kind sir.” She jokes back as she slides in behind the wheel.
Leaning down to eye level, I remind Bobby about the dance. “Text me when you get to the dance so we can find you and meet up.”
“Have fun you two.” Wiggling her fingers in a tiny wave, she pulls away while Austin escorts me to his lifted truck. Austin easily lifts me by the waist placing me gently into the cab where I pull the seat belt over and buckle in.
“I feel like a little kid when you do that,” I laugh out.
“Sorry,” Austin chuckles. “You’re tiny so it’s just easier if I lift you up.” Lifting a shoulder as if it’s no big deal, I grin in amusement.
“Where are we going?” Austin hadn’t mentioned anything about where he planned to take me before the dance. Curiosity has gotten the better of me as I pestered him relentlessly throughout the week for just a hint but he didn’t budge. Austin winks at me without giving an answer as we drive along the open road. The drivers here are never in a hurry, cruising at the speed limit or just under like it’s a Sunday morning. As we drive moderately down the road, I feel completely at ease. Passing through town, I start to wonder where Austin could possibly be taking me. I doubt he would drive into the nearest city for our date seeing as we wouldn’t have much time to relax having to rush in order to make it back in time for the dance, but Austin surprises me at every turn.
Pulling onto a dirt road that is lined with trees, I become even more curious as to Austin’s plans.
“You’re taking me to the middle of nowhere to chop off my head and burry me like those old horror films aren’t you,” I jest in mock horror.
“No. I’d never do that. If anything, I’d keep you locked up in my basement so I’d never have to let you go and I could keep you all to my self.”
“That’s creepy. You’re crazy, you know that?” Shoving him lightly, I snicker good-naturedly.
“Crazy about you.” The serious tone in which Austin utters has me pausing my retort. Could he honestly feel that strongly for me already? I know I have fallen hard for him but Austin is so hard to read that I can’t tell what he’s thinking.
“We’re here.” Austin turns the truck so the passenger side faces the picturesque scene. Seeing the beautiful view before me, I am in awe. Before us lays a field of knee high brown and green grass with a single trail that cuts through it leading to a small lake surrounded by large oak trees. Throughout the grass are white and yellow flowers whom most would consider weeds that sway in the slight breeze. The trees that line the edge of the lake are filled with orange, yellow, and red leaves that hang precariously on the thick, long branches where some have already started to fall onto the ground as the season changes from summer to fall. The water is still except for the occasional ripple from the breeze and fish that pop up trying to catch the bugs that skim on the water. Leaves of varying colors float atop the glassy surface adding color to go along with the reflection of the darkening sky that’s awash in orange, pink, and blue as the sun begins to set.
“This is so…stunning.” Austin hops out of the truck before ambling over to my side and helping me down. The crunch of the dried leaves beneath my shoes reminds me of my favorite time of year, autumn when the world is painted with warm tones and the fragrance of cinnamon and spice permeates the air. I wait for Austin to grab what he needs out of the back seat before following him to the truck bed.
The sun is just barely setting as Austin lays the blanket down and turns on the propane lamp for more light. Helping me once again into the back of the truck, Austin follows after me with ease before we each take a seat on the soft, cushiony blue blanket.
“This is the most romantic date I have ever been on.” Looking around me at the open field, every once in a while I can spot flickers of light from the lightning bugs as dusk sets in turning the day into night. I’ve only seen them from afar and not so many in a single area, but as I glance around me, lightning bugs are lighting up everywhere, making the grass look like it’s lit up with Christmas lights. It’s a sight to behold. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to spend our date.
“This is my favorite place to visit when I need to think. It’s quiet and peaceful here with no interruptions.”
“This place does have a serene quality about it. Thank you for bringing me here tonight.”
“I wanted to share it with you. You’re the only girl I’ve brought here.” Seeing the vulnerability on his face has my heart skipping a bit. Knowing that this is Austin’s sanctuary and I’m here sharing this moment with him feels like he’s showing me a side of him nobody else has seen before.
“I-I don’t know what to say.” Austin says nothing but smiles brightly at me as he divvies up the food. Handing me a plate loaded with a salad, chicken with some sort of herb scattered on it, and a roll. We both dig in eating quietly, enjoying the sounds of nature surrounding us. The crickets chirp, birds sing, and an owl hoots in the distance waiting for the last ray of light to disappear so it can hunt for food.
Austin moves to lean against the cab of the truck where I slide in between his legs and watch as the starry night blinks above us while the moon shines brightly making it feel as if a spotlight has been put on us. If I were to sit in the back of a truck and look at the night sky in California, there could be no way I would be able to see every star twinkling as brightly as I do right now.
“You know, my dad told me a story when we first met about a time he spent just like this one with my mom. Sitting here with you just like this, reminds me of her. I feel like maybe she’s watching over us right now.”
“She’ll always be with you. We can come out here as often as you’d like. Or you can come here whenever if you need time to yourself.”
My heart settles, and in this moment I know I’ll never feel for another as I do for Austin. Such a simple gesture has pushed my already fallen heart completely over the edge and into oblivion. I am innately in love with Austin James.
Other Books by Whitney-
Fate (Short Story)
The Romance Series
I am an author, blogger, and mom to the best kid ever. On the days that are not hectic (which is hardly ever) I spend my time writing what I can. I write mostly contemporary adult romance but I think I will venture out just a little and write a few for teens to broaden my reader spectrum. I have always been imaginative making up stories and friends when I was younger, and once I had a teacher tell me how horrible a story I wrote was, that I didn't write until just a few years ago. I realized I don't care what her or anyone else thinks, as long as I love what I write then I am happy. That doesn't mean I don't want readers to love my books, I am just understanding that not everyone will love what they read and I am ok with that.
I also run a blog with two other awesome ladies called Country Gals BOOK Blog and I hope that you would take a look and see what we have going on. I was just kind of thrust into it but I love exploring new genres, finding new authors, and reading a range of books I might not have heard of before then. It also helps I love to tell other readers about some great authors.
I grew up in Southern California, and on top of being and author, blogger and mom, I also love to watch movies, read excessively, go to hockey and baseball games, and relax with just my friends and family.
I hope you take the chance to check out my books and hopefully enjoy them.