Blog Tour for Burning Bright by Sophie McKenzie


Today, we are taking part in the Burning Bright blog tour. As part of the tour, we have an extract from Burning Bright…

Chapter 2

I stretched out my arms, ready to push Alex away from Flynn, but, just as I reached them, Flynn
reared up, out of the water. With a bloodcurdling yell he sprang out of Alex’s grip, then launched
himself forward. Both hands outstretched, Flynn pushed Alex so hard that he flew in an arc over the
water, splashing down heavily several metres away.
Alex surfaced, spluttering and swearing his headoff . He glared at Flynn, his eyes full of hate, but he
stayed where he was.
The shouts and the laughter around us died. The only noise was the sound of Flynn’s jagged breathing,
and the soft slap of the waves against the pool lining.
Flynn blinked the water out of his eyes. He stared at Alex, then turned to me.
‘Are you all right?’ he said.

I nodded, still confused. Clearly Alex had splashed me, and Flynn had rushed to my defence,
but why had Alex deliberately provoked him likethat?
Clenching his fists, Flynn took a step towards Alex through the water. I tensed. So did everyone
else around the pool.
Flynn took another step. My chest tightened. He was going to hit Alex again – only much harder this
time. An expression of fear shot through Alex’s eyes, then a mask of contempt. He drew himself up and
pointed at Flynn’s clenched fist.
‘You sure you want to do that?’ he snarled.
‘Remember what happened yesterday . . . you know,at school, during the snowstorm?’
Flynn hesitated. His eyes flickered over to me. I frowned. What was Alex talking about? ‘What
happened yesterday?’
‘Oh, doesn’t River know?’ Alex said, his voice all mock concern.
‘Shut up,’ Flynn snapped. He turned to me. ‘Don’t listen to him.’
‘Oh, what’s the matter? Lost your nerve?’ Alex said. He folded his arms. ‘You were happy to lash
out before. You have a serious problem.’
This was so unfair, I couldn’t keep quiet. ‘Stop it,’I said, my voice shaking with anger. ‘Flynn didn’t do anything to provoke you. We were together and you just came over and—’
‘Flynn doesn’t need a reason to lose it,’ Alex said nastily. ‘Like I said, he’s got a serious problem – and
it’s not just the violence.’
I stared at him. What was Alex talking about? I was beside Flynn now. Flynn was glaring at Alex,
his whole body tensed with rage. Any second now he was going to lose his temper properly. I’d seen
him hit people before and I knew that shove he’d given Alex before was nothing compared to what he
was capable of.
‘It’s time to get out now anyway,’ Emmi said, materialising at the poolside just above Alex’s head.
‘Come on, babe.’
Alex glanced up at her and Flynn turned away.
‘We’ll get out when we’re ready,’ Flynn spat.
Alex gave a disgusted snort. ‘You know you’re only here because of her.’ He pointed to me. ‘If she
wasn’t Emmi’s best friend . . .’ With a shake of his head, Alex hauled himself out of the pool. As he
stalked off towards the changing rooms I caught Emmi’s eye. She looked relieved – but also embarrassed.
The people watching the scene were drifting away – the boys who’d been laughing before, started
splashing at each other. Noise rose up, echoing off the swimming bath walls. It was over.

‘Come on, River,’ Flynn said. He splashed noisily across the pool. I hesitated. It wasn’t nice to hear Flynn was only
at the party because Alex felt he had to invite him, though I wasn’t surprised. But what really bothered
me was Alex’s reference to Flynn’s ‘problem’. What exactly was he talking about? I had the strong sense
that Emmi knew, just like Flynn did, but that neither of them wanted me to fi nd out. Emmi turned to
follow Alex.
‘Wait, Emmi,’ I said, pulling myself half out of the water.
She stopped. Turned back to face me. Her expression was guarded.
‘What did Alex mean when he said Flynn’s problem “wasn’t just the violence”?’ I asked. ‘What did
Flynn do yesterday that made Alex attack him just now?’
Emmi shrugged. ‘No idea.’ She walked away into the changing rooms. A shiver ran down my spine.
She was lying, I was sure. But why?
All over the pool, people were emerging, dripping, from the water. I slid back in and swam over to
Flynn. By the time I reached him, we were the only two people left. A few minutes ago that would have
seemed romantic but the magic of the moment when Flynn found me had gone and I was only aware of
how cold the water was, full of stinky chlorine, making my skin pucker. Flynn was treading water
in the deep end, his face still thunderous. I took a deep breath. I knew from experience, asking Flynn
diffi cult questions at the wrong moment was likely to make him explode.
‘About what happened yesterday . . .’ I began.
‘It was just Alex trying to wind me up, okay?’ hesnapped. ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’
‘Right.’ I was sure there was more to what had happened than that, but equally aware there was no
point pushing Flynn right now. ‘Shall we get out?’
Flynn’s face relaxed. ‘In a second.’ He put hishands back on my face. ‘You look so beautiful.’
His eyes were sparkling, so intently focused on me that I felt my neck and face above the water burning.
Flynn thought I was gorgeous. Which meant that, surely, I must at least look better than I’d thought.
The water was bringing out the emerald in his greengold eyes. He ducked lower in the water, so it lapped
against his chin, then he pulled me right up against him. I forgot where I was as he kissed me. His kisses
were perfect – hard but soft, pushing, yet pulling –always listening to the way I kissed him back.
I ran my hands up his wet, smooth back. My fi ngers reached his shoulders and I felt the jagged
line of the scar where his da had glassed him. He told everyone else it was a scar from a fight. I was
the only person who knew the truth – that his family have no money and his dad’s a violent drunk who’s
not supposed to come near Flynn or his mum or sisters.
‘We should go,’ I said.
‘I’ll just swim a couple of lengths first,’ Flynn said.
‘See you outside?’
I nodded and Flynn splashed away. I watched as he got into his stride, hurtling furiously down the
pool. Despite our kiss, it was obvious he was still angry – you could see it in every pull of his arms,
every kick of his legs. All my previous anxieties surged back. What was Flynn so mad about? What
‘serious problem’ had Alex been talking about before? And what had happened yesterday?
I got out and trudged, alone, to the changing rooms.

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