Cover reveal! Zyla & Kai is an epic star-crossed love story about first love and not just the will they, won’t they— but why can’t they?
While on a school trip to the Poconos Mountains (in the middle of a storm) high school seniors, Zyla Matthews and Kai Johnson, run away together leaving their friends and family confused. As far as everyone knows, Zyla and Kai have been broken up for months. And honestly? Their break up hadn’t surprised anyone. Zyla and Kai met while working together at an amusement park the previous summer, and they couldn’t have been more different.
Zyla was a cynic about love. She’d witnessed the dissolution of her parents’ marriage early in life, and it left an indelible impression. Her only aim was graduating and going to fashion school abroad. Until she met Kai.
Kai was a serial monogamist and a hopeless romantic. He’d put a temporary pause on his dating life before senior year to focus on school and getting into his dream HBCU. Until he met Zyla.
Alternating between the past and present, we see the love story unfold from Zyla and Kai’s perspectives: how they first became the unlikeliest of friends over the summer, how they fell in love during the school year, and why they ultimately broke up… Or did they?
Romantic, heart-stirring and a little mysterious, Zyla & Kai will keep readers guessing until the last chapter.
Scroll down to see the cover and read a sneak peek!
Artist: Adriana Bellet
Cover/jacket designer: Kaitlin Yang
If you would have told Zyla this morning that not only would she have a full-blown conversation with Kai Johnson, but that he’d flirt with her and ask her out within a sixty-minute time span, she would have told you to lay off the bath salts.
But he did flirt with her, at least that was what it seemed like with the way he’d stared so deeply into her eyes, like he’d been trying to solve the puzzle that was her mind. And he’d definitely been gearing up to ask her out before she’d cut him off.
She watched as his Jeep pulled out of the parking lot, and she held her backpack to her chest, mystified. Like . . . it was Kai Johnson. He’d dated at least a quarter of the girls in her year at St. Catherine’s, and on Cedar High’s game days, girls showed up with his number painted on their cheeks even though he didn’t even go to their school! Okay, so a quarter of the girls was a bit of an exaggeration. But nevertheless, it was absolutely bonkers, and Zyla had thought her classmates were delusional. But she had to be honest, she understood it now. Kai Johnson was disarming. It wasn’t just that he was handsome with his smooth brown skin and bright white teeth (what, was he like a model or something in a former life?) but from the way Kai strutted around Sailor Joe’s all summer, and from the stories she’d heard from her classmates and coworkers, Zyla had expected him to be a bit of a jerk or stuck up. The kind of boy who commanded attention and was annoyed when he didn’t receive it. But he seemed . . . normal? Whatever that meant. He was chill. More than that, he was kind of funny. And flirtatious, but that wasn’t surprising.
She’d completely embarrassed herself, blabbering on about how Aunt Ida paid for her to go to St. Catherine’s. She didn’t want Kai thinking she was a spoiled and rich private-school girl like so many of her classmates. She’d felt a buzz in her gut when he’d looked at her so closely and asked for her last name. There’d been some kind of gravitational pull that had made her move closer to him, but thankfully Jamal had appeared and broken the spell. Zyla meant what she said. Nothing was going to happen between her and Kai. It wasn’t because he’d recently been dumped by Camille Vaughn—the most popular, most beautiful, and meanest girl at Sailor Joe’s—and it was kind of sketchy that he was moving on so quickly. It wasn’t that he and Camille had a big blow-up scene that eventually landed him in Games (yeah, she’d heard about that incident even though she’d pretended otherwise). And it wasn’t that Kai had dated way too many of her mutuals or was a known player. Zyla just didn’t date, period.
Now she and Kai would be working together, and they’d agreed to be friends. Go figure. At least it would make the rest of her summer more interesting. She couldn’t wait to call her best friend, Beatrice, and tell her about this later. She would have preferred to tell her in person, but Beatrice was spending the summer in Paris with her dad.
The whole Kai Johnson thing had Zyla in a daze for a good fifteen minutes before a school bus pulled up directly in front of her and she was almost trampled by a summer camp stampede. She darted aside, almost tripping over a kid in the process, and pulled out her phone. No response from her mom, who should have been here to pick her up by now. Typical.
Antonio wasn’t surprised to see Zyla when she walked into his office unannounced. He was sitting at his desk, working on a Sudoku puzzle, an unlit cigarette hanging out the side of his mouth. He glanced up at Zyla and raised an eyebrow.
“She’s late,” Zyla explained, pulling out the chair across from him and plopping down.
“Ah.” He held up his puzzle book. “You finished yesterday’s in almost ten minutes. Want to try a harder one?”
“No thanks.” Instead, she retrieved her magazine and flipped through the pages she’d marked today, the editorials that she’d return to for inspiration when necessary. She was itching to get home and work on her portfolio. Or maybe finish the black denim jumper she’d started two weeks ago. Her free time was already limited as it was, between her job, and looking after Jade, and taking care of Aunt Ida, and doing things most seventeen-year-olds didn’t have to be bothered with. She wished for a few spare minutes to look over her designs before she had to help with dinner. Why couldn’t her mom just be on time for once?
It wouldn’t be like this forever, though. By this time next year, she’d be gone. Gone, gone. Like in a different country, on a different continent, completely separate from everyone in her life, and able to live on her own terms. It was the only thing she wanted.