This year's NaNo is untitled, but it's about reunions (apparently I love that theme) and it's actually set in my hometown of Columbia, SC. I figure I've been avoiding it enough, so I might as well give it a shout out! I'm pulling on many things that have happened in the past few months--not to mention a certain election. An excerpt is below, and I hope you enjoy!
“Why are you nervous?” she asked, though the question sounded much sillier out in the universe than it ever had in her head. The question was painfully rhetorical—this was the first time they’d been alone alone. There weren’t any friends or books or teachers or dinners or adoring fangirls to distract them from the thing that had been building since he’d helped her carry her trunk of desk lamps, books, iron, pillows, and linens up to her room their first day here at SSGSC—Summer School for the Gifted of South Carolina.
It was Ebony’s turn to fidget, breaking eye contact with him and looking at her butter-pecan hands. They trembled, and she mimicked Liam’s nervous tick and clutched them tightly in her lap.
“Why are you?”
She wouldn’t tell him because she felt as buzzed as a lit-up neon sign by his presence, always had, but now was forced to confront it. Her dress was suddenly itchy, restricting, and she wanted to change, but she didn’t want him to leave.
She heard him approach and the bed dipped under his substantial mass. Ebony tensed at his nearness, especially when his breath brushed her bare shoulder seconds before his lips did. She sighed and closed her eyes, her head automatically tilting away from him to expose her neck to his traveling mouth. A hand slid to her stomach, and her fingers uncurled so she could touch his knuckles.
“You smell good,” Liam murmured against her flushed skin. She jumped when moisture touched her. “Taste good too.”
Ebony couldn’t believe what was happening. Of all the scenarios that had run through her mind, none of them included actually acting out on . . . whatever had been brewing between them. Even now she was thinking of ways to minimize the meaning of his mouth on her body, but when his lips drifted up her jaw to her cheek, her brain shorted.
Liam’s forehead rested against her temple, their fingers now intertwined against her stomach. Ebony couldn’t remember when that had happened, but his thumb caressing hers gave her just enough sanity so she could breathe.
“I wish you lived in Charleston.”
Ebony sighed and leaned her temple into Liam’s forehead even more. He moved and pressed his lips against her skin. “I wish you didn’t have to leave.”
She would, though. Her mother had said she’d be down bright and early tomorrow morning so they could get the van back to the church on time. In fact, her room now looked just as bare as it had when Liam had first helped her with her belongings, save for her linens still on her bed. Her mother had thought him a nice white boy at the time, though Ebony hadn’t understood then why her mother had even mentioned his color.
Now she thought she did.
“Who’s gonna keep me in line when you’re gone?”
Ebony laughed at that, that uncomfortable tension broken by their failsafe use of humor. She turned her forehead to his and they smiled at each other, his hand drifting atop her head to the bun at her nape. They stared into each other’s eyes, but then tears sprang into hers, so she closed them.
His lips were barely discernable as he kissed each slip of moisture from her cheek. Ebony was glad she sobbed with dignity, even if what she really wanted to do was howl into his chest and never let him go.
“We’ll write to each other, yeah?” Liam promised against her well-rounded cheeks. “E-mails and IMs . . . And we’ll call . . .”
His mouth was so close to hers that Ebony opened her eyes. She didn’t pull away, however. She smelled fruit punch and Chex Trail mix on his breath, but the combination didn’t bother her. In fact, her tongue tingled to taste it, but she didn’t have the guts to do so. She’d never kissed another soul in the romantic sense in her life, and there was something achingly sweet about the anticipation. Besides, for all her supposed sassiness and independence streak, at the heart of her she was a lady—a Southern one at that. She would never make the first move.
“You look like you want me to kiss you.”
Ebony stiffened and her eyes widened. Heat flooded her face, and the ever-present irritation of not inheriting her mother’s inky sable hue filled her since she knew Liam could see her cheeks redden. But he wouldn’t let her flee, his hand moving below her bun to cup the bare skin of the back of her neck.
Ebony glared at him. “You must be crazy if you think I’m gonna answer that!”
“I just need to make sure,” Liam said seriously, even though his brandy eyes sparkled and his full, pink lips lifted wryly.
Ebony huffed and would’ve put her hand on her hip if he weren’t so close to her, damn near surrounding her. “And why is that?”
The sparkle left his eyes and he licked his lips, his demeanor finally matching his tone. “So I know you won’t slap me when I do this . . .”
Her brain played catch up; and by the time it did, she registered Liam Malloy’s mouth gently pressed against hers. He puckered his lips to intensify the kiss briefly before pulling back. There was uncertainty in his gaze, and Ebony didn’t know how to decipher it.
“You’re frowning,” Liam noted, drifting his finger down the furrow between her brows. “Was that all right?”
“I don’t know,” she said honestly. “Is your heart supposed to beat this fast after a kiss?”