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Darla Decker Hates to Wait: Darla Decker Diaries, #1

Darla Decker Hates to Wait: Darla Decker Diaries, #1

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Darla Decker Hates to Wait: Darla Decker Diaries, #1

268 pages
3 hours
Sep 14, 2017


Patience is for people without worlds to conquer. I'm practically a teen, and I have ZERO patience.

"This novel has the potential to be to a modern audience what [Judy] Blume's works were to girls of the 70s and 80s, and its blunt honesty and relevant topics make it the preferable choice." ~ AvidEye

Surviving sixth grade is tough enough with an annoying older brother, a best friend acting distant, and schoolwork. After adding instructive kissing games and the torturous wait for a real date with her biggest crush, Darla is perpetually torn between behaving like an adult and throwing temper tantrums.

Games of flashlight tag, and the crazy cat lady roaming Shiloh Farms in a "demon bus," serve as distractions during her parents' quarrels and her anxiety about show choir auditions. Yet the more Darla waits for her adulthood to begin, the more she learns that summoning patience won't be the hardest part of being eleven.

EVOLVED PUBLISHING PRESENTS a frank and funny look at the path to adulthood, in the first book of the "Darla Decker Diaries" series, which takes us on a journey of love, loss, and the nitty-gritty of growing up as seen through Darla Decker's eyes. [DRM-Free]

"In Darla, McHugh has created a character that is dynamic and interesting and while I don't pretend in any way to really know the mindset of a young, pre-teen girl, I read the prose and I feel like I am hearing the voice of a child. Not the perfected cartoonized version of a child, not as simple fodder for the story, but as a genuine, three dimensional, real child. It brought me back to a lot of the young adult books I would read in grade school, living along with the day-to-day exploits of the protagonist as she deals with the dramas of her life and underneath everything, the ultimate and slow transition into adulthood." ~ C. Clark, Author


  • Book 1: "Darla Decker Hates to Wait"
  • Book 2: "Darla Decker Takes the Cake"
  • Book 3: "Darla Decker Shakes the State"
  • Book 4: "Darla Decker Plays It Straight"
  • Book 5: "Darla Decker Breaks the Case"


  • The "NorthWatch" Series by Cagey Magee
  • The "Chosen" Series by Jeff Altabef
  • The "Dirt and Stars" Series by Kevin Killiany
  • The "Stormbourne Chronicles" Series by Karissa Laurel
  • The "Essence of Ohr" Series by Parris Sheets


Sep 14, 2017

About the author

Jessica McHugh is an author of speculative fiction that spans genres, from horror and alternate history, to epic fantasy and young adult. A member of the Horror Writers Association and a 2013 Pulp Ark nominee, she has devoted herself to novels, short stories, poetry, and playwriting.

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Darla Decker Hates to Wait - Jessica McHugh



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Darla Decker Diaries – Book 1

Copyright © 2014 Jessica McHugh


ISBN (EPUB Version): 1622532503

ISBN-13 (EPUB Version): 978-1-62253-250-6


Senior Editor: Lane Diamond

Assistant Editor: Mishael Witty

Cover Artist: Kris Norris

Interior Designer: Lane Diamond



At the end of this novel of approximately 50,809 words, you will find two Special Sneak Previews: 1) DARLA DECKER TAKES THE CAKE by Jessica McHugh, the next installment (Book 2) in this Darla Decker Diaries series of YA Coming-of-Age tales, and; 2) CASS AND WAT by Cagey Magee, the award-winning first book in the NorthWatch series of YA Coming-of-Age Mystery/Thrillers. We think you’ll enjoy these books, too, and provide these previews as a FREE extra service, which you should in no way consider a part of the price you paid for this book. We hope you will both appreciate and enjoy the opportunity. Thank you.


eBook License Notes:

You may not use, reproduce or transmit in any manner, any part of this book without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations used in critical articles and reviews, or in accordance with federal Fair Use laws. All rights are reserved.

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only; it may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, please return to your eBook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.



This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or the author has used them fictitiously.

Books by Jessica McHugh



Book 1: Darla Decker Hates to Wait

Book 2: Darla Decker Takes the Cake

Book 3: Darla Decker Shakes the State

Book 4: Darla Decker Plays It Straight

Book 5: Darla Decker Breaks the Case


Other Titles

Danny Marble & the Application for Non-Scary Things

From the Herald’s Wearied Eye


Rabbits in the Garden

The Sky: The World

The Tales of Dominhydor


We’re pleased to offer you not one, but two Special Sneak Previews at the end of this book.


In the first preview, you’ll enjoy the First 2 Chapters of Jessica McHugh’s DARLA DECKER TAKES THE CAKE, the next installment (Book 2) in this Darla Decker Diaries series of YA Coming-of-Age tales.





DARLA DECKER DIARIES Series at Evolved Publishing

In the second preview, you’ll enjoy the First 2 Chapters of Cagey Magee’s CASS AND WAT, the award-winning first book in the NorthWatch series of YA Coming-of-Age Mystery/Thrillers.





The NorthWatch Series at Evolved Publishing

Table of Contents


Books by Jessica McHugh




Chapter 1 – Daycare

Chapter 2 – Magic Palm

Chapter 3 – Deep, Deep Trouble

Chapter 4 – The Plan

Chapter 5 – Kiss and Ditch

Chapter 6 – The Fall

Chapter 7 – The Demon Bus

Chapter 8 – Nosy Eyes

Chapter 9 – Mauled

Chapter 10 – Cornflake Christmas

Chapter 11 – The Song that Never Ends

Chapter 12 – Out of Tune

Chapter 13 – Best Friends For-Never

Chapter 14 – The List

Chapter 15 – Mash-Up

Chapter 16 – Flashlight Tag

Chapter 17 – The Show Must Go On

Chapter 18 – No More Waiting

Chapter 19 – Goodbyes

Special Sneak Preview: DARLA DECKER TAKES THE CAKE by Jessica McHugh


About the Author

More from Jessica McHugh

More from Evolved Publishing

Special Sneak Preview: CASS AND WAT by Cagey Magee


For kids of all ages pretending to be adults.

Chapter 1 – Daycare

What makes a kiss French?

The boys stuck out their tongues, waggling them at Darla.

She grumbled. I was just asking. You don’t have to be jerks about it.

The tongue makes it French, stupid, Nate Young said.

Heat rushed to her face as he and the Barnes brothers laughed.

You better shut up if you want me to play your game, Darla said, and their mouths promptly snapped shut. What are the rules, anyway?

Bradley Barnes bounced the foam basketball between his palms. The first guy to score ten baskets gets to kiss the girl for ten seconds. The first to score twenty baskets gets to go in the closet for a minute, and the first to get to thirty gets to take her to the cot in the other room.

She squinted at the jumping ball. What am I supposed to do?

You’re the girl. You’re the prize, Dustin answered, his tone matter-of-fact.

So I don’t get to play?

You get to reward the winner. That’s the best part of the game.

Darla shook her head. But that’s not fair. I want to play the basketball part.

My house, my rules, Bradley said.

"It’s your mom’s house, and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t want us playing this at all."

Bradley’s face crinkled. Look, if you want to go back to playing stupid baby games, that’s fine, but the three of us are playing this one.

She crossed her arms. And who’s going to be your prize if I don’t play? Actually, she said with a smirk, Nate seems to know all about French kissing, so I’m sure he’d be a good reward for the winner.

Nate snapped her tank top strap, and Dustin laughed.

Tell you what, Nate said. You can play a round after us. If you get a basket, you can kiss whoever you want for five minutes.

"What if I don’t want to kiss any of you?"

I wouldn’t be surprised. Everyone knows Darla Decker wants to kiss Jason Bollinger! Nate punctuated the thought with loud, sappy smooches.

Shut up!

But it’s true. You want to shove your tongue down his throat!

Ew, no I don’t!

On second thought, if that was part of French kissing, she supposed she did want to stick her tongue down Jason’s throat. It just sounded so brutal. Jason was sweet and smart, and didn’t deserve to choke on her tongue. She’d rather think of the other parts that came along with kissing him: the soft lips, his arms around her waist, the smell of his trademark Swiss Army cologne. She’d once asked Jason if the cologne came with a knife, but he’d just laughed.

Cue the red face again.

Jason was probably used to seeing her blush, but she still hid her face behind her hands almost every time it happened. She’d had a crush on him since third grade. Darla had hoped he’d look at her the way he looked at girls like Heather Monroe and Kayla Pitts, but how could she compare to girls who’d seen Les Miserables in New York City? She wondered if girls like that were good kissers, if their tongues choked throats the way boys wanted.

Ten seconds. Bradley threw the foam ball at Darla’s head.

She shook off her daydream. Huh?

Nate was the first to ten points. Give him his prize.

Fine, she groaned.

Nate’s lips shined with fresh saliva.

He was cute enough, and they spent so much time together at school and running around the neighborhood, she didn’t feel weird about kissing him. But she was so nervous she wouldn’t get the French part right, her palms got wet and her tongue went dry.

Ready? Nate asked.

Not really. This isn’t how I imagined my first real kiss.

Hey, you’re not my first choice either, he said.

I’m the only choice, unless you want to make out with Dustin or Bradley. Darla pointed at the pair, now absorbed in a quick game of Bloody Knuckles.

He chuckled. No thanks. I guess we’re stuck with each other.

Just for ten seconds, that’s all.

Until I get twenty points, he added.

Darla exhaled, swished her tongue around, and leaned in. Their lips touched, but their bodies didn’t. She felt miles away from Nate, even as his tongue poked at her lips and teeth.

He leaned back. You have to open your mouth, dummy.

Hold your horses. I’m getting there.

I only have ten seconds. I want to make them count. He moved his face close to hers again. Start the clock over, Bradley.

Okay, ten seconds from... now!

This time, Nate didn’t bother with the formalities. He dove, tongue-first, into Darla’s mouth, his slimy lips clamped outside the borders of her own.

She curled her tongue against his, trying to make some sense of its dance, but it was awkward and sloppy. When the last three seconds hit, Nate grabbed her face and plunged himself even deeper. She squeaked in shock as he finished his final flicks, releasing her face with a wet pop. She wiped the drool from her chin and stared at him as he panted in beaming success.

How was it? Dustin asked.

Darla was in a daze, disgusted and disturbed by the kiss, but also intrigued. She cleared her throat. Next is first to twenty, right?

She was disappointed when Bradley hit twenty first. Not only did she not find him attractive, she dreaded testing her kissing ability against someone with two more years of experience. Plus, she’d hoped a second kiss with Nate would help her get a handle on his style. Now she had to dive into the closet with someone new.

As it turned out, the change was a good thing. Bradley had more control over his kiss, moving his tongue slowly and more deliberately. Where Nate had been tense and distant, Bradley remained relaxed and held her close. After her anxiety subsided, Darla started to feel proud. After all, she was an eleven-year-old woman in the arms of an older man. His mature kiss made her feel mature too—for about half a minute.

Before their time was up, he broke their embrace, pressed his cheek to hers, and whispered, Darla, have you ever heard of ‘humping’?

Oh, yeah, I think. She kept her voice as steady as possible, glad the lights were out because she hadn’t perfected her fibbing face. Yeah, I know what that is. No big deal.

Bradley pushed her against the coats with another kiss. She nearly toppled backwards, but he caught her and pulled her body flush to his.

She was surprised by how easily he roped her in, but she didn’t know real surprise until Bradley’s hips smacked against hers. "What are you doing?

I thought you said you knew what humping was.

Oh, I do. I just—I’ve seen it done differently.


Nate’s muffled voice called through the closet door. Time’s up!

You heard him. She fumbled for the knob and pushed through.

I can’t wait till I win five minutes on the cot, Bradley declared as he marched out.

"If you win," Dustin corrected.

No one’s winning anything else from me today. It’s almost five o’clock. Darla tried not to sigh in relief.

Oh well, there’s always Monday, Bradley said.

I hope Mandy is over the flu by then, so I don’t have to be the only girl.

You’ll still be the only girl. Mandy Ryestock’s a dog! Dustin howled.

Dustin Barnes, that’s a terrible thing to say! a voice screeched from the doorway.

They turned to see Mrs. Barnes looming over them like a monument to matriarchal displeasure.

Thick with flesh and denim, Bradley and Dustin’s mother scowled. What are you kids doing?

Playing basketball. Bradley innocently tossed the foam ball through the plastic hoop.

I’m going home, actually. I’ll see ya Monday, Mrs. Barnes. Darla popped on her shoes.

I’ll walk with you. Nate snatched her backpack and tossed it over, hitting her in the face.

Lucky me, she mumbled as Nate towed her out of the basement by her book bag.

Are you going to Lisa’s birthday party tomorrow? he asked as they penetrated the woods behind the Barnes’s house.

"Duh. She is my best friend. She hopped over bicycle handlebars half-buried in the soil. You?"

It’s either that or Bible study.

That’s a tough decision, she scoffed.

But I’ll probably have to study double on Sunday if I go to the party on Saturday.

She picked at a piece of fuzz on her backpack strap. Why don’t you just tell your dad you’re not into the Bible stuff?

Nate shook his head. Like you would ever tell your parents something like that.

My parents don’t make Brian or me go to church anymore. I think they got the hint when we fought it every Sunday.

My family isn’t like yours. My dad says we’re conservative.

She laughed. You mean old-fashioned.


She prodded him with her finger. Uptight.



I’d rather have a boring family than one that screams all the time.

Darla stopped in her tracks.

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. My parents yell all the time too.

Forget it. Do you want to walk through, or take Old Mapleline?

They continued walking, and reached the tree on the hill above the creek. Only a slight decline separated the tree from the creek below, but it provided the perfect place for a zip line. The stream wasn’t deep—most of the older kids could cross it in one bound—but the zip line made for a nice change from creek leaps. On the way over to the hill, it was common courtesy to grab the rope hanging from the handlebars and tow it back to Old Mapleline. For the most part, every kid in Shiloh Farms followed the rule, but sometimes they forgot. Somehow, Darla’s brother Brian always had a way of knowing when she’d forgotten, and never neglected to punish her with a pelting of BBs, paintballs, or even stinkbugs.

Look! Nate pointed at a rotted-out log. Curled up in the mushy bark, a calico cat with a red collar stared back at them.

Darla made a kissing noise.

The cat’s ears flicked and its mouth stretched in a massive yawn.

Nate read its nametag. ‘Number thirty-two: Pablo.’ It must be one of Marchio’s cats. What should we do with it?

Do I look like an expert on crazy cat ladies?

He snorted. No, you look like a crazy cat lady in training.

Keep it up. See if I play Kissing Ball with you again.

He cackled. Kissing Ball? He stuck out his tongue and grabbed his crotch. Hey, I’m all for raising the stakes if you are.

Darla pushed him away. You’re disgusting.

You love it. So, should we take the cat back to Marchio’s house?

Are you kidding? The last kid who went there got run over by her demon bus.


She gasped theatrically. I’m going to tell Reverend Young you said that.

You better not, he said, shaking a cocked fist.

Oh please, she snickered. I’m way stronger than you.

I used to play football.

"For a week! And it was just peewee touch football. And you were only a kicker!"

Nate lowered his fist, but the moment Darla laughed, his leg swung forward and chopped at her shin.


"Whoops, I didn’t think someone who was only a kicker could hurt someone as muscly as you. Nate smirked. I guess you probably shouldn’t tell my dad."

She rubbed her shin. I wasn’t going to, dummy. I’d probably get in a lot of trouble if my parents found out about Kissing Ball.

I won’t be able to resist teasing you if you keep calling it that.

When they both cracked up laughing, the cat sprang out of the log and darted down the hill.

Come on! He climbed Old Mapleline, howling as he jumped from the tree and sailed over the stream.

Darla groaned when she looked down the hill, but as she slid down the slope on her heels, she hooted with glee. The zip line was more fun, but the hill had its own charms. She knew just which stone to hit to launch her over the creek, and though she didn’t quite clear the stream, pieces of the bank had become flat enough to catch her.

She bounced to Nate, and they took off running after the calico. It ran through the woods with short, rapid steps while they trailed it to the tree line. Pablo scuttled up Chesterfield Road, jumped the fence into Mrs. Marchio’s yard, passed the faded orange school bus parked in front, and disappeared under the porch.

At one time, there had been several buses parked in Marchio’s ample driveway. Rumor had it that she used to run a school bus rental company, but it went belly-up. This lone bus sat like a sleeping beast they dreaded to wake. Although it had been decommissioned for years, it appeared in fairly good shape, at least from a distance—which was the only way Darla had ever seen it. Plenty of rumors circled around the demon bus’s interior, but she didn’t put much stock in them, especially her brother’s nonsensical claim that the vehicle had no seats.

She turned toward her house, but Nate stayed on Chesterfield, staring at Marchio’s hulking rancher.

Tugging on his shirt, she said, Come on, you know you’re not sneaking up there alone.

You could come with me.

"I’ve survived this long without getting closer than the mailbox, and I’m not about to change that now. I have

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