Allie Lasky loves writing happy endings… both the PG13 version and the more risqué version. Her stories frequently feature athletes and sports adjacent professionals. As someone who referred to all athletic activities as sportsball only a few years ago, she has developed into quite the sports fanatic and is a diehard fan of the Boston Bruins and University of Michigan. (No, she didn’t go there.) In her limited free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and the gremlins, the world’s cutest kids.
After years apart, Tucker’s high school sweetheart is back in his life and determined to win him back. Like brutally dumping him the night before he left for college wasn’t bad enough—now she has the audacity to pretend like everything is fine and they can go back to the way they were?
They’ve both grown and changed in their years apart, and Tucker isn’t sure he likes this new version Mason Prince. She looks like her, and sounds like her, but she doesn’t act like the woman he knew so intimately—the woman he’s loved since the moment they met in the second grade.
Mason is determined to get Tucker back. It will solve everything that’s gone wrong in her life in the time they’ve been apart. Now that she’s transferred to his school, she’s going to run her best track season yet, get into grad school, and start living the life she’s always wanted.
Forgiveness is brutal. It’s worse when the hurt hits you on your blind side. Tucker is the defensive tackle usually running the blitzes. But this one he won’t see coming.
Mason sets her hand on my thigh again. “You okay, baby? You’re quiet.”
I force a smile. “I’m good.”
“You want to get out of here?” Her voice softens. “Maybe save your sandwich for later?”
My jaw clenches. “I’m not a child, Mason. You don’t have to treat me like one.”
Her eyes flash. “That’s not what I’m doing.”
Yeah, it is. My frustration boils over. “I’m coping. I’m surviving. What do you want from me?”
“I want you to thrive. I want you to not need your coping mechanisms,” she says loudly. Too loudly. People at other tables look over at us, eager for drama. “I want you to tell me what’s bothering you.”
“Nothing. I’m fine.” I push back my chair. “I need some air.”
I grab my coat and my sandwich and get the fuck out of there. The cold January air seeps into my bones and chills me from the inside out. I take a bite of my sandwich. Everything sucks. Everything is awful.
He’s here. He’s here and he’s acting like absolutely nothing is wrong.
Mason and I can pick up where we left off, but he and I can’t. We’re not dating. We can’t kiss and make up. I take another bite. Peanut butter soothes my soul in a way that nothing else can. It makes everything better. Nothing is insurmountable with a peanut butter sandwich in my hand.
Am I using my peanut butter sandwich the same way other people use alcohol? I stare at the remains of the sandwich in my hand. It’s so good. It tastes delicious. It has never treated me poorly, always been there for me when I needed it most.
I’ve always been an emotional eater. I eat when I’m happy. I eat when I’m sad. I eat when I’m stressed. That’s nothing new. There are far more destructive vices I could have: alcohol, drugs, gambling, meaningless sex…
I want to be an addiction counselor so that nobody else has to struggle like my mom and my grandfathers had to. And I seem to have inadvertently developed an addiction of my own. My coping mechanism isn’t helping me anymore: now it’s having a detrimental impact on me. What am I going to do? Call up a clinic and say I have an addiction to peanut butter sandwiches? I can’t just stop eating altogether: I can’t go on a feeding tube and skip meals for the rest of my life. How do I cut food out of my diet? How do I walk the line between emotional eating and healthy, sustainable eating?
There are footsteps behind me. I cram the rest of my sandwich into my mouth. Farewell, dear friend. You have treated me well.
It’s Micah. I hunch my shoulders as I chew, intent on getting the fuck out of there. He can’t see me: I’m invisible. If I will it into being, it’ll happen, right?
“Tucker.” He’s jogging now, trying to keep pace with me. “Tucker Kingsley.”
“Come on, man.” A hand lands on my arm. I throw it off. The fucker does it again.
“I suggest you don’t touch me unless you want to lose that hand. I’m pretty sure you’re going to need it if you’re going to be drafted.”
“Tucker. Don’t be like this.”
“Like a dick,” he yells. “You’re being a dick.”
“Leave me the fuck alone.”
“You know I can’t do that.”
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but my first clear memory is around 2002 — I was waiting for Order of the Phoenix to come out, and I remember deciding that if JKR wasn’t going to write it fast enough, I would do it FOR HER.
I think I wrote about 500 words before I called it quits.
But it ignited the writing bug, and I’ve been playing with it ever since.
I call writing “playing with Barbies”—as in, I want to make my Barbies kiss! I have lots of ideas and very little follow through. Most of the time, I get an idea, start thinking it over, obsess over every way it can go wrong, and then forget about it altogether. This usually happens in the span of about 20-30 minutes.
Spend time with my doggy and my gremlins.
Eat some ice cream! Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food, specifically. Then immediately start working on the next one, because I don’t know how to spell R E L A X without W O R K.
I go out for pancakes! In one of my writing groups, we call publishing “flipping pancakes” and so I’ve taken myself out for pancakes when each of my books has been released. Also, I typically see my gremlins, and they’ve brought me flowers! They’re so sweet.
In fall 2020, I was watching college football because there was nothing else going on, and I was intrigued by the defensive line of Michigan’s stellar football team. It got me thinking… why aren’t there books about the big guys? These dudes deserve love just as much as the hotshot quarterback and tight ends.
My Nano 2020 book was already planned. I decided on 10/25/2020 to write 10,000 words of this new idea, and if I hit that mark, I’d write it for Nano in addition to my already planned book. I didn’t write 10,000 words, but I wrote 9,500, and I decided that was enough to make it work. And then it spawned five more books!
Shhhhh I’ll never tell!
Mental health is always a challenge to mine, and my mental health dipped while I was writing and researching. Like Tucker, I leaned on my friends and family, and then I sought professional help, and it’s made a world of difference.
This book changed significantly from its first draft to the final product. Seeing Mason grow and develop as a character brings me a lot of joy. She was incredibly difficult to write because her ay of thinking is just polar opposite from mine. I’m much more like Tucker, in many ways.
Emma Black, Liz Hambleton, Elliot Blake, Robin Tenhaeff, Beth Hudson, Alicia Alonso — would not have been able to do it without them!
This was a mistake. I shouldn’t be here.
“I need to go.” I shoulder my bag and head for the stairs.
“Hey!” Barrett falls into step beside me. “Want to tell me what this is about?”
“Not really, no.”
I force a laugh. “That’s not new.”
“I thought we were here for the chick.”
“Could have fooled me.”
“I wanted to go to the track meet.”
“And that’s why we’re leaving half an hour in?”
“I’ve got shit to do today.”
He laughs, but he’s not mocking me. “Yeah, okay.”
I don’t have the energy to make it all the way across campus to the dining hall, but there’s a grab and go food station at the track team’s practice facility. I badge in with my student athlete ID and grab some snacks. The selection is lacking. Chalky protein bars, popcorn, electrolyte tablets. In the warmer, I spy one lone breakfast burrito. I get to it before Barrett can.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go back to the meet?” He looks at me with concern in his eyes. I don’t like it.
I unwrap the burrito and take a big bite. It’s lukewarm. It’s not a peanut butter sandwich. I don’t care.
We stand there in silence as I devour the burrito. It isn’t even good. My stomach rumbles unpleasantly, protesting my less than stellar decision making. I eat the last bite and lick my fingers.
“You feeling better?” Barrett asks. There’s a furrow between his brows.
“I’m fine,” I tell him, which is a flat out lie. He doesn’t call me on it.
“Do you want to go back to the track meet?”
Not really. I don’t want to see Mason. I want absolutely nothing to do with her.
But for some reason, what comes out of my mouth is: “Sure.”
He claps me on the shoulder. “It’ll be good for you. Put some hair on your chest.”
“Fucker.” I don’t have a problem with that. If anything, I have too much hair; I have to shave it off every week, and still it keeps growing right back in. Whoever my biological father was, he must have been a beast.
Barrett grins. “So we’re going back?”
“I hate you.”
“You love me, asshole,” he says. He turns and heads back towards the indoor track arena.
We’re able to retake our previous seats. There is still barely anyone around. Mostly parents, it looks like. Very few students.
On the field, Blondie nudges Mason, pointing up at us. I look away, focusing on the long jump for several minutes. When Barrett coughs, I turn back to the field. Mason is still looking at me.
It’s like the entire world stands still. I lose track of time. I’m lost in her eyes. Even from a distance, I know their rich chocolate brown color like the back of my hand. Her full lips curve into a smile. My traitorous heart skips a beat, and my stomach lurches. It isn’t solely because of the questionable burrito.
I love her. I don’t want to, but I still love her.
Tucker – I want to tell him it will all be okay. Mason – I want to tell her to get her act together.