The River

Forecast: Starry with a chance of skinny dipping!

There’s just something about those hot summer nights in Sapphire Falls! Join us at the river where you will be sure to find: 1. A bonfire 2. A jar (or six) of Booze 3. Country music 4. Tall tales. 5. A good time with friends (no one’s a stranger in Sapphire Falls for long). 

Read an excerpt | Party Playlist | Strawberry Booze Recipe | BUY a BOOZE travel cup


“Okay, so to fit in here you have to attend our social gatherings. Nadia loves hanging out with the gang. She goes on and on about how much fun we have with the simplest things. So I’m going to give you a crash course in hanging out in Sapphire Falls.”

She let the tailgate down and boosted herself up to sit on the back, dangling her feet.

Joe joined her, sitting close enough that his arm brushed hers and she could feel the warmth from his body.

“I’m ready.”

Looking to the other side of the creek, she thought about the get-togethers in Sapphire Falls with fondness. She knew that parties in Chicago had to be as different from what they did here as it got. “Every good social event in Sapphire Falls has four main ingredients—the great outdoors, booze, tall tales and music.”

“The great outdoors?” He looked around. “Like this?”

She could hear the amusement in his voice. “Yep, like this.”

“What about when it’s a hundred and five degrees out?”

“We dress skimpy, take lots of trips into the water and drink really cold beer.”

He turned to look at her. Their eyes had adjusted and the moon was bright enough that she could see his expression. His gaze traveled over her. “I can’t really find anything wrong with that.”

She smiled. Damn. Joe Spencer was not her type, but there was something about knowing he was picturing her in skimpy clothes and wet from the creek that made her squirmy.

“And of course, there’s always skinny dipping.”

“I was hoping you’d say that.”

“You skinny dip in Chicago?”

“Nope. I always thought that was another of those just-in-stories things. But I’m very happy to hear I was wrong.”

Phoebe chuckled and reached for the bottle she’d brought from Mary’s. “Stick around. You’re gonna learn all kinds of new things.”

“Not sure if I should be happy or worried about that.”

She twisted the top of the bottle off and tipped it back for a drink. Then she handed it to Joe. “Booze.”

He took the bottle and examined the label. Not that it would tell him much. It simply said “Strawberry.” Mary made the labels on her home computer. The people who bought the bottles only needed to know if they were picking out strawberry, peach or grape, so the labels did what they were supposed to do. No one was too concerned about what was in it other than that.

“Okay, I’m officially worried.” But he tipped the bottle back anyway.

Phoebe watched the swallow, the widening of eyes, the blown-out breath at the end and finally the cringe.

That was exactly what all newcomers did when they first tasted Mary’s stuff.

“Booze,” she said again. “You gotta get over the wincing thing. We consider that an insult around here.”

“Got it.” His voice was a little tight. He coughed and looked at the bottle again. “Do I want to know how she makes it?”

“Probably not.”


Phoebe was strangely pleased that he took that in stride.

“That’s a party staple,” she said, pointing at the bottle. “There’s beer and stuff too, but there’s always a couple of bottles of this. Tradition is that it comes out later in the night and we pass the bottle, everyone drinking from it. We consider that a true taste of home. It’s not sold anywhere else and it’s made right here from fruit grown here, so you have to be willing and able to drink it without insulting our hometown and our ways with grimacing, coughing or flat-out refusing.”

From Getting Worked Up, book two

Read an excerpt | Party Playlist | Strawberry Booze Recipe | BUY a BOOZE travel cup

Party playlist:

Famous In A Smalltown, Miranda Lambert

Middle of America, Will Hoge

Somethin’ ‘Bout A Truck, Kip Moore

Better In Boots, Tyler Farr

Everybody We Know Does, Chase Rice

Cruise, Florida Georgia Line

Things You Can’t Do In A Car, Due West

Only A Country Girl, Chase Rice

Read an excerpt | Party Playlist | Strawberry Booze Recipe | BUY a BOOZE travel cup

Strawberry Booze Recipe (can be adjusted to any flavor– grape, peach, green apple, lemon-lime)

Nothing is more Sapphire Falls than the legendary, homemade, (previously) secret-recipe BOOZE.  Here’s how to make your own!

Take a clean mason jar.

Fill it half way with strawberry jelly beans (we like Jelly Bellys) and the rest of the way with fresh cut strawberries.

Fill the jar with vodka.

Screw the lid on tight, shake, let it sit overnight– shaking a few times here and there.

Drain the liquid through a strainer into another jar.

Add 1 part vodka to 1 part mixed strawberry Kool-aid.

Add more Kool-aid for less kick.

For more kick, mix 1 part vodka, 1 part Kool-aid, 1 part Everclear.

Read an excerpt | Party Playlist | Strawberry Booze Recipe | BUY a BOOZE travel cup

BUY a There’s a Very good chance this is BOOZE travel cup

Click here to buy the travel cup!