|Cover by Okay Creations|
a river bank, young, wild, and brave.
Sophie Kaden falls in love
with the smartmouthed boy she can’t seem to forget.
She’s looking to fit in for the summer; he’s just hopeless.
She’s afraid to let go; he won’t let her.
Release Date: August 2013
No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever. ~ Francois Muriac
The sun set. Just past the dock you could see the boats lining up and smoke billowing as the party started near the clearing. Country music drowned out the party not more than twenty feet from us, but it was him I saw. Only him.
I thought—hoped—that my feelings would have changed. But they haven’t, and in that moment I realized they probably never would.
I wasn’t sure I would ever see him again. And I’d certainly never wanted to after what I knew now. But part of me, the part that still held on to those eyes and that smart-mouthed southern drawl, was waiting for him to at least acknowledge me, tell me everything that happened wasn’t my imagination.
I’d gone over it in my head, what I’d say to him—the words, the expression, the tone. All of it. This, right now, wasn’t how I envisioned this would happen.
Barefoot, covered in thick Georgia mud, a beer in hand, and scars on my heart wasn’t how I planned it.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” I spat, regretting the words immediately.
After last night, I said I’d let this go. But … I couldn’t. The liquid courage in my hand made sure of that.
I expected him to say something—anything—but there was only silence, the awkward kind before his eyes deceived him and he looked at me, briefly.
That expression, that one right there, told me what I needed without any words being spoken. He remembered but wouldn’t admit it because who wanted to admit they purposely broke someone’s heart?
He crumbled me with that look—the only look I’d gotten since he’d been back.
Bensen, though a complete asshole at times, didn’t want to break my heart. “No,” he said, his eyes on the lake avoiding any reaction I might have. He took that old worn baseball cap from his head with his right hand and ran his fingers through his mop of dusty brown hair before replacing it, agitated and aware.
But the thing was, all these years, all those summers of writing in that damn journal had led me here, remembering and regretting the things I couldn’t let go of.
“Well,” I said, shifting my weight from one foot to the other—my journal, my life, my tears, and my dreams clenched in my sweaty palm. My eyes drifted to his; he stared at my feet, wishing they’d move, wishing all of me would move away from him, but I couldn’t.
Feeling the sudden panic rise, my hand and heart trembled as I decided what I would do next.
I’d had enough remembering, and certainly enough egretting, so I did what I never planned to do when I opened that leather bound notebook all those years ago. Inside that book was a love bound by blue gray and sealed by the thick Georgia mud around us. It was pages and pages of nights I didn’t regret; it was memories of legs on the dash while singing Marshall Tucker and his arm around my shoulder, swimming after the sun went down and anything else those summers brought with it. Everything was in that book. Unfortunately, my anger got the best of me. Searching for the moment, the lie I knew he’d been keeping, I wiped the tears from my heated cheeks, squaring my shoulders, before I threw the notebook at him. “Maybe this will help you remember.”
Not that I expected anything less, given his behavior the last week, but the notebook fell at his feet, his eyes never moving as I walked past him.
“Read that, and tell me you don’t remember.” I didn’t turn around, nor could I. I had just handed him my heart, as if he hadn’t already had it. Only now, nothing was hidden.
Suddenly, I’m thirteen again, living for the summer. The sun glowing, the days long and hot, sticky and heavy, everything his memory was.
Shey Stahl is the USA Today and Amazon Best Selling author of Delayed Penalty; the Racing on the Edge Series: Happy Hour, Black Flag, Trading Paint, The Champion and The Legend; Waiting for You; and Everything Changes. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and daughter.