An all-new coming-of-age romance inspired by Great Expectations is out now from author Ginger Scott, and I have an excerpt for you.
The room lights up with a bolt just as he stops at the door, and the rain picks up outside, plastering the window until even the campus lights outside can’t shine through. It’s still inside this room—still in time.
“Henry…” I croak out through my parting fingers.
His shoulders sag, but he doesn’t move from his place by the door.
“I feel nothing, Lily.” He shakes his head and holds out open palms to either side of his body, pressing his back into the door to push it open. “Just like Elena always wanted. I love nothing but myself.”
He backs through the door to the roaring sound of thunder, water pounding his body like bullets. It doesn’t slow him down. Nothing does. The door latches shut behind him and a second later I can see his form passing along the sidewalk outside.
I struggle to slow my breath. My fingers buzzing with energy, and unable to work properly. I follow his path until he turns around a corner, and then I hurry to gather my own trash and my book bag. My entire body is teeming with fear, and I can’t tell if it’s telling me to stay or go. Once I’m on my feet, though, giving into the chase is inevitable. It always has been—that part he was right about, sort of. I do things for Henry. But Henry also makes me do things for me.
Shoving my arms through the straps of my backpack, I rush by the trash and discard my wrappers, then bust through the door, feeling the weight of it fight my push, the wind and rain barreling into it from the other side. My face stings from the rain slapping into my skin, and I shield my eyes as I begin to run down the same path Henry took.
I see him the moment I round the corner, his legs taking long strides, his T-shirt plastered to his skin and pants weighed down, drenched with rain.
“Henry!” My voice crackles out his name. I run faster, slipping and catching myself on my knee, ripping a hole in my jeans. I rub the raw spot and keep going, limping a little with my run.
“Henry!” I shout his name again.
This time he stops, and for whatever reason, so do I.
His hands come up to his head, threading through his wet hair and pushing it back out of his face as he turns to me, body nearly drowned, just like mine. My hair is sticking to my face, and my sweater is heavy on my arms and back, the weight of the water pulling everything down.
“What do you want, Lily?” Henry points to his chin, quirking his head a little as if he’s giving me a clear shot. He takes a few steps back in my direction. “You want to tell me to fuck off again, then slap me?”
I shake my head.
“No,” I say, not loud enough for him to hear. He cups his ear and takes another long stride, anger radiating off him. He’s a beast right now, wild in the elements and recovering from his honesty. He’s raw—I see it now. The dark eyes and stiff jaw are his way of shutting down, just like running is.
“Go on, Lily, hit me,” he says, patting his hand along the side of his face. Water flings from his fingertips and chin, and he spits to clear his lips as he talks. The rain is so heavy it threatens to drown us where we stand, and the lightning is getting closer, his form glowing with a strike and the boom only a fraction of a second after the flash.
“Henry,” I shudder, squeezing at the wet sweater smothering my chest.
Henry closes the distance between us completely, hands outstretched again as he looks down on me, rain pulling his hair down to his face. He pushes it away as he bites the tip of his tongue then grits his teeth, practically daring me.
“What do you want, Lily?”
His chest rises and falls at an almost inhumane pace, rabid with emotion and his desperate need to run. There’s no abandoned house to go to now, though, and his rooftop is probably streaming with runoff water.
“You…asshole!” I slam my fists against his soaking, wet chest and stare into his shocked face. His eyes move from my right to my left, a constant battle of his focus. His breath comes in hard and suddenly stops. I slam my fists into him again, this time leaving them there and opening my palms to grip at the wet threads of his shirt.
“I want you! And I don’t believe anything you say. You aren’t those things, Henry. You just aren’t.” I step into him and let my head fall against his chest, a mix of cold and warm simmering right there on the surface. I turn my head so my cheek is flush with his body and I open my mouth just enough to let my lips drag open as I tilt my head to look up at him.
“I want you…” I say when our eyes meet again—this time, his undeniably broken. The red is more defined, and his lids are heavy. His mouth pulls down at the corners, but his lips part in a desperate breath, the first sound of my name escaping in a whisper, “Li…”