For a refresher, here's an excerpt from Chapter 1.
More Than a Summer Love (c) 2009, 2008 by Savannah J. Frierson
Charleston, SC—Summer 2000
The bass from the music and the laughter of the partying crowd was muted as the sounds trickled outside to the silent quad where two teenagers, a boy and a girl, sat on the high, oversized bench in their dance attire. They didn’t look at each other, but at the silver light of the lamp in the distance mixing with the strobe lights dotting the path and grass from the revelry inside. The girl sat with her knees to her chest, the skirt of her burgundy dress long enough to allow the position while he sat hunched over his knees, his tie undone and hanging limply around his broad neck. A slight breeze fell upon them, and it made her shudder. Sensing her brief discomfort, the boy sat up and finally glanced in her direction. She kept her eyes forward, though both knew she was aware of his gaze; and when he draped his high-school letterman jacket around her shoulders, both knew she blushed even though the light was dim and she’d ducked her head.
He hadn’t removed his arm from around her after giving her his jacket. Instead, he’d sidled up to her, making sure she’d be good and warm by sharing his body heat with her. She still didn’t look at him, but both gave internal, relieved sighs when she snuggled into his body. This was the first time all summer they didn’t care what other people thought of them being together like this, showing more affection than mere friends ever should. Maybe because tomorrow everyone would go home.
She hid her face into his shoulder and let out a shaky breath. His other hand came up to smooth down her soft, thick hair.
“Ebony,” he whispered, his lips against her temple.
She closed her eyes and clutched his white dress shirt, feeling his chest muscles bunch underneath her hand. He’d never said her name with such reverence . . . such wistfulness. The lump in her throat made it impossible to say his name in return.
“Ebony,” he said again, this time pulling back so his index finger could tuck underneath her chin and raise her head so their eyes would meet for the first time since escaping the dance. Ebony wished there were more light so she could fully see his brandy eyes and the freckles that lightly dotted the bridge of his pale nose.
“Come with me.”
She knew it was a question even though he’d said it as a statement. The lump grew larger in her throat, so she could only nod her assent.
The majority of the people were downstairs at the dance, and the counselor who was manning the residential halls was snoring up a storm at his reception desk. They stopped on her floor, the fourth floor; the boys’ floor was a level below. Ebony pulled the key out the clutch of the purse dangling on her wrist, and soon they were in her room. The way the dorm was set up was there was a common area with a single on either side. Ebony was staying with a girl from Florence—she’d been really nice—and she’d also had many male visitors after hours. This was the first time Ebony would have one, but she doubted it’d be the same type of host her roommate had been.
Liam pulled off the jacket, leaving her arms and shoulders exposed once more. She saw him drape it on the back of her chair from the corner of her eye, and Ebony slipped out of her shoes as she made her way to sit on the bed. Liam didn’t come any closer to her, just stood by her chair, his large, brawny body taking up so much space and making the tiny room feel even smaller. His hands were in the pockets of his khakis. She knew he was clenching them because the muscles of his forearms tensed and relaxed.
“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.