Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.
But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.
“Breathe, Annie, Breathe is an emotional, heartfelt, and beautiful story about finding yourself after loss and learning to love. It gave me so many feels. Her best book yet.” — Jennifer Armentrout, New York Times bestselling author of Wait for You
Six Months Until the Music City Marathon
As a kid, I had the worst mile time ever.
Our gym teacher made us run the mile a few times a year for something called the Presidential Fitness Test. I’d huff and puff and wonder why the hell President Bush cared how fast I could run laps around the playground. I always came in dead last.
Most of the boys could run a mile in eight or nine minutes. The girls usually came in around ten. And there I was, scooting in at over thirteen minutes. Truth be told, running bored the hell out of me. I’d rather have been doing word problems.
Today I’m running five miles along the Little Duck River. If I finish, this will be the farthest I’ve ever run. I know I’ll finish—there’s no way I can give up.
Because I’m doing this for him.
At mile 3.5, my running coach rides up next to me on his bike. Matt Brown is twenty-four and owns a program that trains people to run marathons. Some people on my team are running because it’s a life-long dream, some want to lose weight, and the others, like me, haven’t told anyone why they’re doing this.
“How’s it goin’, Annie?” Matt asks.
“Oo-kkay.” Great. The lack of air is making me stutter. I can’t breathe.
“You’re Jordan’s friend, right?”
If you consider the school’s new football coach my friend. “She s-signed me up for your program, y-yeah.”
He hops off his bike and pushes it along beside me. I can’t believe he walks as fast as I run. “You need anything? Water? Tylenol? Vaseline?”
He shrugs. “Yeah, for chafing. Are you having any issues?”
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a man would ask if I’m chafing. “No, thanks.”
I shuffle, one foot after the other, trying to run like Matt taught me at the beginning of today’s session. Keep my toes facing forward. Move my arms back and forth. Breathe in through my nose, out through my mouth. Pain pierces my side.
“What’s your pace so far today?”
I glance at my new watch, tempted to lie and say I’m doing nine-minute miles. “About twelve-minutes a m-mile.”
“Not bad. When you’re doing these long runs on the weekend, make sure you run your miles a minute slower than you usually do on your short runs.”
I can’t imagine going any more slowly than this, but I nod as Matt climbs back aboard his bike. “See you at the finish line.”
I must’ve accidentally inhaled glue or something when I signed up for the Music City Marathon.
I’m at 4.5 miles.
In through my nose, out through my mouth.
In through my nose, out through my mouth.
Point my toes.
Check my watch. I’ve slowed to a 14-minute mile. I’m going about as fast as that cloud, lazily inching across the blue sky. Half a mile to go.
A gorgeous woman with olive-toned skin and bouncy brown curls jogs up next to me, wearing a pink ID bracelet. Matt makes everybody on our team wear them so he can identify us and get in touch with our emergency contacts, just in case.
“Damn. Our coach is fine.”
“Maybe that’s the point,” I reply, sucking in a breath. “He trains us by making us chase after him.”
The lady chuckles. “You’re probably right.” She speeds up and within the minute, I can’t see her anymore. Not a surprise. Every time I start running, I get a great lead, but then it’s like a parachute opens behind me.
Swaying willow trees and trickling water lead me along the dirt path back toward my car, which is parked at the mouth of the Little Duck. Today’s run is peaceful, but not boring. Considering how much stuff I have to think about, like drinking the right amount of water, looking for mile markers and studying my watch, there’s not much time left to obsess about graduation, or college, or him.
Instead I can focus on this new CamelBak water-hydration device I’m wearing like a backpack. It kind of looks like a bong. I slip the plastic tube in my mouth and sip some water, pretending I’m taking a hit. Kyle would laugh at how ridiculous I’m being.
Stop thinking about him. Stop already.
Breathe in, breathe out.
I bet that when I start the longer distances this summer, running upwards of fifteen to twenty miles on a Saturday morning, I’ll have even more stuff to obsess over to distract me. Like chafing and Vaseline and continent-sized blisters.
One foot after the other. In through the nose, out through the mouth. I inhale the springy smell of dandelions. They dot the grass like gold coins.
“On your left!”
A boy streaks by me, running backwards. He settles directly in front of me and goes even faster. Wow, he has such vivid light blue eyes—I nearly lose my footing at the sight of them.
“Are you freaking kidding me?” I gasp.
He grins and slows to a jog. “What?”
I look for his pink bracelet, and finding none, I blurt, “You’re running faster than me and I’m going forwards!”
“So speed up then!”
What an ass.
“C’mon.” He tosses his head from side to side, acting like one of those macho guys on a cheesy exercise show. “Let’s go. Faster now. Work it out, girl! Let’s go.”
I flip him the bird. He throws his head back and laughs.
“Stop that!” I say.
“Stop what? Laughing at you?”
“Running backwards. It’s unsafe.”
“No it’s not. Besides, I have to. I’m training for the RC Cola Moon Pie ten-miler. I’m running it backwards this year.”
My mouth falls open. It shocks me that 1) he’s running a race backwards, 2) it’s named after RC Cola and Moon Pies, and 3) he’s running a ten-mile race more than one time.
The guy has messy light brown hair, seriously muscular arms and legs, and an outline of his abs peeks through his thin white Delta Tau Kappa tee. Is he in a frat?
Even though I usually can’t hear Southern accents, I notice his. One time when I was little, my mom, brother and I took a road trip to Chicago. Everywhere we stopped to eat, waitresses kept telling me I had the most darling accent. That’s how I know people in Tennessee have an accent even if I can’t hear it; it’s weird I can pick up on the twangy countryness in his voice.
He keeps shuffling backwards. Our eyes meet, then he checks me out. It’s been a while since a boy has straight up stared at me. His gaze trails over my long strawberry blond hair tied up in a ponytail, to my legs, and then settles on my pink bracelet. He smiles at it.
“See ya.” He increases his cadence, continuing in reverse. I glance down at my watch. I bet he’s running eight-minute miles. And he’s doing it fucking backwards.
Being pissed at Running Backwards Boy carries me for another couple minutes.
But soon I’m alone again. Just me and the sky. Kyle’s grin flashes in my mind.
A quarter mile more.
One foot after the other.
Breathe, Annie, breathe.
103 thoughts on “Excerpt from BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE”
I am seriously a huge fan, i started off with Catching Jordan and i was hooked! iv read all your books each in a day and read them all twice. i enjoy writing myself but i don’t know how to keep them going so they are not boring. please keep writing you are one of my favorite authors and your books inspire me to write and read more:)
I’m so excited to read this! Are any of the characters from past books (besides Matt) going to make an appearance?
@Meagan Yes, you’ll definitely get to see several past characters in this book.
I absolutely love your books! I cannot put them down! You are one of my favorite authors! I can’t say which one is my favorite, but I do hope to hear more from savannah and jack. Looking forward to more to come! 🙂
And by the way…PLEASE come close to Bakersfield, California on your next tour because I’d love to meet you and get a book signed!
I love your books so much I. The new book are we gonna learn more about Matt and Kate? I think you should write a book about lacrosse!!
I love love love love your books! I really want to know what happens with jack and Savannah. Also is there going to be more about Sam and jordan? What about Matt and Kate? I think your sixth book should be about hockey, because its such an interesting sport. Also when you are done writing the whole hundred oak series you should do a after book telling us about who’s with who and what’s happening in their lives.
@alana You’ll see more of everybody you mentioned in this book.
@Ashley I don’t know anything about lacrosse. 🙂 I’ll think about it for the future though. You’ll get to see more of Kate and Matt in this book. Matt is a major character.
@Delani Thank you! 🙂
Also will we learn more about Emily?
I am in love with your books!!! Can’t put them down
I love how all your books are connected somehow!!! I just finished reading Racing Savannah(Actually,Im supposed to be doing a book report on it right now,haha),I LOVED it and after reading the excerpt and the comments on Goodreads…I absolutely can’t wait to read Breathe,Annie,Breathe!! 🙂 especially since Im a runner…sorry for the long comment
I love your books so much. Wow, I really can’t wait to read this! I hope to find more scenes here with the other characters in the last few books. I just finished all the four books in three days coz I really can’t stop. I’m really excited to see this!
I have enjoyed all the boys in the Hundred Oaks series. You write interesting characters that escape many of the stereotypes of teenage girls. Things I Can’t Forget may be my favorite so far. Any plans to include background characters Emily and Jacob in future books? I am curious to see any development in their story since Emily had to make such a difficult life choice and changed her relationship with Jacob. Thanks.
@Danielle and Alana – Thanks for your kind words. I don’t plan on writing any more about Emily and Jacob, as their story was wrapped up at the end of Things I Can’t Forget. While I don’t say so implicitly in the book, I believe that they were able to work things out after Emily told him the truth of what she did.
I am really excited for this book! I actually just finished Things I Can’t Forget today! I really enjoyed that book and I couldn’t put it down! It is my favorite book of your series, but all your books are amazing! I am very excited to read Racing Savannah! Is, “Breathe, Annie, Breathe,” a Hundred Oaks book? Also, will Matt and Kate be in this book, along with Parker and Will? Is that football coach Jordan Woods from, “Catching Jordan?” Also in Things I Can’t Forget does Emily and Jacob have a relationship again? I really enjoy all your books. Things I can’t forget was very enjoyable I loved it! Can’t wait to read Racing Savannah and Breathe, Annie, Breathe. Is Breathe, Annie, Breathe considered your 5th book? If so I really hope you keep writing Hundred Oaks books! Because they are my all time favorites! Are you writing a sixth book or even in the process of your seventh book? You are an inspiration. When I get older I really want to become an author like you. It’s been my dream for a while! <3
Sorry, I think I’m misunderstanding! Is Matt Brown in this excerpt the Matt from, “Things I Can’t Forget?” And I understand that Annie just met Matt’s little brother Jeremiah. I remember him from, “Things I Can’t Forget.” It makes sense because he likes running and wants to run that long race backwards. And Matt from, “Things I Can’t Forget,” ran the marathon without shoes. Sorry for my misunderstanding.
I have recently read Catching Jordon in less than 7 hours and I loved it! Are you going to be doing book signings anytime soon? Atlanta maybe?
Will jordan and sam get married you should make another catching jordan book I would love to see what happens to them
@Emma I’ll be at the Romantic Times convention in New Orleans from May 13-18 and at Book Expo in New York on May 30, but unfortunately I don’t have any plans for Atlanta. soon, i hope!
@Tanya You’ll definitely learn more about Sam and Jordan and their futures in Breathe, Annie, Breathe, but more so in my 6th book coming out in 2015.
@Karalee – Thanks for your kind words. Breathe, Annie, Breathe is a Hundred Oaks novel. And yes, Matt in Breathe, Annie, Breathe is the same Matt from Things I Can’t Forget. He’s the brother of Annie’s love interest, Jeremiah. I am working on a 6th book now.
Wow, this blew my mind! In my childhood I was the fastest girl in class but I think Annie’s story has to be told. I am hooked! And tingling with excitement to what she will discover about herself and the things in between 🙂
Sounds like a great book!! Keep writing and inspiring us!! Hope more of your books are on the way!!
why havent they made these books movies yet????? SO good!!! by far my favorite writer
I love your books!! I love running too (actually I’m kind of obsessed to be honest) and i can’t wait for this book to come out !!! 🙂 Thank you for being such an inspiring writer !!
Yay I’m so excited for this! I’ve been following you for a long time and got Racing Savannah the day it came out! Please keep writing, and I’ll keep reading (: And now I’ll have to reread Things I Can’t Foret because that’s the first one of yours that I read! Super excited, thanks for everything
You are my favorite author, I have all your books and I’ve read each one at least 3-5 times! I swear I had a mini heart attack when I read this little piece of your new book because Matt and Jere are in it. I have a couple questions for you. Is the girl that runs up to Annie with the bouncy curls Sarah? And are Jack and Savannah and Kate going to be in this book!? And last of all, I am a huge hockey fan so I was wondering if you would consider writing a book about hockey where either the guy plays or the girl does?
I was just wondering when the paperback is coming out for Breathe, Annie, Breathe. My parents will only let me buy books that are in paperback now. Thank you! And I LOVE your books!!!
I just wanted to say I loved your books so much. My friend let me borrow Catching Jordan and from there on i still cant put your books down i just keep rereading them. Your books have been a huge inspiration to me and helped me realize that being who you really are can bring new things into your life and put you on new adventures! Cant wait for Breathe Annie, Breathe!!!
I can’t wait to read Breathe Annie, Breathe. I love the Hundred Oaks series! I like how the characters in Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker, Things I Can’t Forget, and Racing Savanna have all the same characters. And how it shows the older characters continuing their lives after high school. You are an awesome writer. I can’t wait to read the rest of your books.
I am in love with all of your books and have read all of them several times! They are so good they never get old! After finishing RACING SAVANNAH for the second time, I was wondering if Jack and Savannah will be in BREATHE ANNIE, BREATHE like the other characters have shown up in the newer books if they both go off to college or do whatever they continue to do. Keep up the great writing! I love your books! 🙂
omg!! cant wait Matt is back!! maybe even Jordan!! hopefully Kate to. omg cant wait!!
I really love your books! I’m always looking for book that are just like them but they never are the same! I can’t wait for Breathe, Annie, Breathe! The suspense is KILLING ME! The characters in your books all of such great chemistry and the way you unfold the stories is just phenomenal! You’re a natural story teller and i hope you have a very long and fortunate writing career!
-With love, Kateri
I really love the hundred oaks books. I’m a huge fan of soccer and the hundred oak books. Is there any chance you will be writing another hundred oaks book with a soccer theme. Btw I love all your books and can’t wait for your new one.
I read Breathe, Annie, Breathe before I realized it was part of a series. Now I want to go back and read the others. I will be posting my review on July 14th. Meeting you at BEA was such a pleasure!
You are absolutely my most favorite author in the world! I love your books! They completely transport me into an entirely different world! I love how you created a huge web of characters and then you connect them between the books in the series! I loved all the books in the Hundred Oaks series, especially “Things I Can’t Forget”! In all the books, the relationships are just so perfect and I always end up wishing that some guy like Matt or Will would sweep me off my feet like that, haha. Please keep going with the series!
Also, do you think there might be a new cover design for this book? One that is kind of the same theme as the other 4? Don’t get me wrong, I love this cover, but since I kind of have OCD, I’d really like it if they were all kind of the same, instead of having one randomly stick out, haha.
Hi guys. I’m reviewing this fabulous book for my university project and I’m looking for a volunteer who also loved the book to help me out!
Basically, for my Magazine Journalism Masters final project, me and my group are creating an inspiring magazine for girls. I’m reviewing Breathe Annie Breathe for the mag, and I just need a quick comment from a fan about their thoughts on the book, along with a headshot to include.
If you’re interested or have any questions, you can find me on Twitter at @catcoyne, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/catbot, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nice to see a great new release from such a prolific author who inspires young people to keep reading!
Outstanding book. I could not put it down. It is exciting, heart-warming, just every emotion put into one book. Amazing. I’m looking forward to your next book. Thank you 🙂
If this is book 5, can somebody please tell me which books are 1,2,3 and 4, please? Very much appreciated 🙂
Just finished reading Breathe, Annie, Breathe- I read it in one sitting and loved it! Annie and Jere were so adorable together. One thing about the book “bothered” me though- when are Jordan and Henry going to finally get engaged?! They are my favorite couple!
Book 1: Catching Jordan, Book 2: Stealing Parker, Book 3: Things I Can’t Forget, and Book 4: Racing Savannah
How could Breathe Annie, Breathe end like that ! I wish there was a sequel to see what happens with the race and the rest of Annies first year of college
I loved this! I read it all in one sitting. When is your next one coming out!?!?!
@Abby Thanks! My next book is scheduled to come out in July 2015.
Is there a second book?
@Bailey There is not a 2nd book to Breathe Annie Breathe but there are other books that take place at the same school.
will there be a book about soccer for the hundred oaks series
@Lauren I’m thinking about it!
Love your books! How much of Kate will we be seeing since Matt is in the book and will there relationship advance along within the book. And for the other characters as well.