We have a brand new saga of forbidden love from Jessica Hawkins, and today, I have an excerpt from the first book in the series for you!
Manning had parked his truck one house over, by the construction site, to pick up Tiffany and me for the fair. In the dark, he leaned against the driver’s side, large and shadowed, all black hair, dark eyes.
I smelled smoke before I saw the cigarette. “Manning?”
He turned his head but didn’t speak.
I pushed some hair off my face. I should’ve brushed it one last time. Because it was long, it got tangled easily. “Tiffany will be ready soon.”
He took a long drag of his cigarette. The little orange tip flared before he dropped the butt on the street and stamped it out. “Come over here.”
I went to stand next to him. The glare of my parents’ TV flashed in the window. I was worried they’d look out and see me standing with Manning, but not so much that I wasn’t going to do it. Already, my sister was breaking the rules by telling Dad we were getting a ride to the fair with her friend Sarah, not Manning. I didn’t like lying, but it was the only way to spend time with Manning. “Is this your car?” I asked.
“Yeah.” He put his hands in his pockets. “Sorry about the smoke.”
I shrugged. “I don’t care.”
“You should. It’s bad for you. Anyone offers you one, say no. All it takes is that first time, and you’re hooked. For life. Got it?”
I nodded as if I hadn’t been told so a thousand times by teachers, parents, PSAs on TV. I didn’t have the guts to try it, but that didn’t stop me from being curious. “I’ll say no,” I promised.
“Good. Did you finish your book?”
“I had to if I wanted to come tonight.”
“Yeah? How was it?”
“Depressing. I probably should’ve watched the movie.”
“But you pushed through? Just to go ride a Ferris wheel?”
To spend an evening with you, I wanted to say. I didn’t have the guts. “No. I don’t go on the Ferris wheel.”
Something like that, you could fall off at any moment, I was sure. It probably happened all the time. I didn’t want to admit I was scared, though. “I get sick.”
“You throw up?” he asked.
I nudged the curb with the toe of my sneaker. The ashes of his cigarette were like silver confetti on the concrete. Big, dark Manning would’ve blended right in with the night if not for his bleach-white t-shirt.
“If you’re scared, it’s okay to admit it.”
“I don’t think scared is the right word . . . I just don’t trust it.”
He checked his watch. “What’s your curfew?”
“How do you know I have one?”
He raised his eyes to mine. “You don’t?”
I wished I didn’t. Not that I planned to stay out all night with my sister and him, but it bothered me that Manning might think I was childish. “Ten,” I said.
“Your parents know I’m taking you guys?”
With a grunt, he tilted his head toward the sky, but quickly looked back at the house. Sawdust and cigarette smoke lingered in the air, but standing close to him, I mostly smelled men’s deodorant and soap.
“How about the bumper cars?” he asked.
“Are you afraid of a little turbulence?”
I smiled. “No.”
Tiffany came outside. In the porch light, my sister’s blonde hair yellowed. Her denim shorts were a few inches shorter than mine, her ponytail and hoop earrings swinging. For all the time and effort it took her to get ready, she looked breezy. Confident. As if she knew something I didn’t—and she definitely did, she knew lots that I didn’t. She had way more experience than me when it came to anything boy-related.
The way she smiled at Manning as she came toward us, I couldn’t shake the feeling that even though I’d met him first, for some reason, Tiffany thought he belonged to her.