This year, I thought I'd post one of the versions of a scene from Summer Story (aka Evenfall, aka the WIP that scares me and that I occasionally write when I need to torture myself)--the other one just has a little hand-holding compared to this one's almost-kissing, but both have the same start and result. Summer Story is about a lot more than just a relationship, but I do think this passage kind-of captures Teri and Justin's relationship (and he's such a cutie. Picture Nicholas Hoult from X-Men: First Class, glasses and all.)
I think I'm starting to get a little less scared of kissy scenes. Maybe. Now Summer Story? Still scares the heck out of me.
Justin took my hand and pulled me away from Hailey and the rest of her friends just as the fireworks started lighting up the sky.
I’d gone mute, too weak to pull away and insist that we stay where we were. Safe from anything he could say or I could do. But the feeling of his fingers curled in mine was like witchcraft, turning me into a shadow and I couldn’t help but follow.
He settled us right on the edge of the water, propped on a large rock jutting downwards at a sharp angle that made climbing down to it a little scary. But once we were there, it was like we were removed from the crowds on the lakeside, cocooned in our own rock sofa. Fireworks burst above. Their shapes reflected in the lake and, for that moment, it was like we were surrounded by light.
This place was dangerous in more ways than one.
I finally found my voice as the cold and damp of the rock seeped through my jeans and into my legs and I untangled my fingers from Justin’s. “Maybe we should go back to Hailey and Ava.”
He ran an agitated hand through his hair. “I need a break from Ava. Velcro doesn’t have anything on that girl.”
I couldn’t help the little smile that tickled the edge of my lips. “I think it’s because she really likes you.”
“Yeah, but I’m not into her.”
I let my toes dangle over the water, my flip-flop dangerously close to falling off and floating away. I kept my eyes trained on the edge of my shoes. “Poor Ava.”
“Poor me. She’s nice, but…” He trailed off, then waited for the whistle and boom of a few rockets exploding overhead to die off before saying, “Anyway, you never told me why wanting to make jewelry was a deep, dark secret. Did you make knuckle rings for a gang or something? Spy earrings with listening devices?”
“Not really.” I couldn’t help but snort at his guesses. “I don’t know.” My fingers scrambled in the dark for a rock to toss into the water as I forced myself to look nonchalant. I was keeping a big, huge chunk of who I now was a secret and maybe that was written all over my face. “Some people think it’s weird, I guess, to make a job out of something like that. Everyone else wants to be engineers or doctors or social workers. But, anyway,” I finally found the rock and tossed it so the water reflected wavy circles of fireworks, “I’m not doing that anymore.”
“No, I know what you mean. I really want to spend the rest of my life working as a wood-carver, like Mark Lindquist. His sculptures are incredible. Or even just making furniture. Not just chairs and stuff, but the kind of things you see in museums or as art pieces.” His face lit up brighter than the fireworks and he gestured widely with his hands. It was impossible not to smile at his enthusiasm. “It’s an amazing feeling, just looking at a piece of wood and seeing the possibilities in the grain. And then, when I get to peel away all the layers to shape it into something, it’s like like alchemy. Taking a shapeless thing and turning it into something golden.” He looked over at me, his smile turning sheepish. “I know that probably sounds weird.”
“It doesn't.” I shook my head and allowed my smile to grow wider. “I get the same feeling when I’m working with wire. Or on a lost wax casting. It really is magic.” I whispered the last sentence.
Nodding, Justin tilted back again to watch as sparkles of blue and gold fell, rain-like, above us. He spoke to the fireworks, but his next words were aimed at me. “You know, you’re the first person I’ve really felt comfortable around right from the start.”
My heart clenched and, for a second, fear chilled my entire being. My heart and lungs felt just like they did when the first symptoms of the disease took over, slowly choking me. I forced a breath and it was like breathing dust through cheesecloth. “If you call insulting me ‘getting along.’”
“I didn’t insult you.” The agitation soaked from his fingers to his voice. “I’m trying to say I like you, Teri.”
There it was. The one thing I was trying to avoid and Justin put it out there, anyway. I tried to crush the wonder-filled hope that wrapped around me like an electric coil. I froze, an After-me statue tilting on a dangerous ledge. The day washed over me, the easy laughter and firework moments when our fingers would brush each other’s and, just for a second, I indulged in a daydream I couldn’t afford. There was a potential and chemistry between us like I’d never felt in my life that Before-Me would have jumped to explore. Justin pressed his hand on top of mine, fingers curling between my fingers and leaned in close enough that I could make out how the faint tortoiseshell pattern on his glasses frame matched the dark rim around his eyes. “Really like you.” His gaze held mine, serious and nervous and adorable all at once.
Justin’s breath, minty from his gum, played over my lips. I closed my eyes, imagining what it would be like if I just listened to Before-Me and closed the distance between us. His other hand smoothed back my hair and I lost myself for a second in the energy that trailed his feather-light touch as he traced my cheek and neck. I inched the tiniest bit closer, almost brushing his lips before a memory washed over me, the voice as clear as if the speaker was standing right behind me. A tight, baby-powder scented hug and someone saying, “You’ve had such a blessing. You can’t throw your life away on a mundane little life, Kateri, You’re meant for greater things. Remember that.”
The memory shook me out of my downward spiral. Before he could get any closer or the hormonal part of me could change my mind, I slid my hand away and dropped my chin, trying to make my voice steady. “And I really like you, too. As a friend.” Booms from the fireworks tore my soul to shreds and, without his warmth, my skin felt colder than the top of the CN tower in February.
“Oh.” Justin sat back and a personal space forcefield wrapped around him, closing him off the tiniest bit. “You have a boyfriend.”
“No.” I played with the edge of my shirt. “It’s just not a good time for relationships right now.”
“I thought...” He trailed off, cleared his throat, and tried again. “I just want to let you know I’m not like those guys who just gets together with girls for the summer because they’ll be going away in September.” There was a lull in the fireworks, but it wasn’t so dark I couldn’t see an odd sort of embarrassed sincerity on his features.
Now I was making him feel bad. The same embarrassment crawled into my Oz-sized tornado of emotions. “I didn’t mean that,” I said and wished real quicksand would come and swallow me. “I just…” I flailed, ignoring the final salvo of fireworks. “I just need friends this summer.” Before he could start feeling any worse, I tapped his foot with mine, not meeting his eyes. “Can you help with that?”
“Yeah.” He paused, then took a deep breath and said in a stronger voice. “Sure. I hope it doesn’t make things weird between us.” He leaned forward and twisted until his face was in my vision. “I wasn’t kidding about how much I like hanging out with you. Even if you are woefully misguided about decent hockey teams.”
The incredibly sad rush of a what-if passed over me and I forced a laugh, reaching out to shove him, but not hard enough to knock him off the rock. “C’mon. Let’s get back to Hailey and Ava before we fuel the town rumor mill.”************