An unforgettable new tale of young love and second chances is coming next week from Christina Lauren, and I have a sneak peek for you.
“The best view is down here.”
I jumped, ducking like there’d been gunfire, and looked toward the voice. Sam was there, stretched across the manicured lawn with his hands tucked behind his head and his feet crossed at the ankle.
His green shoes were back on. For the first time, I noticed a tiny rip in the knee of his jeans with just a patch of skin peeking through. A slip of his stomach was visible where his shirt rode up.
I placed a hand over my chest; the organ beneath seemed to be thrashing to get out. “What are you doing on the ground?”
His voice was low and slow, like warm syrup. “Relaxing.”
“Isn’t that what your bed is for?”
His mouth turned up at the corners. “There aren’t any stars in my room,” he explained, and nodded toward the sky. He blinked over to me then, amused smile melting into a full-on grin. “Besides, it’s barely nine and Luther is already snoring.”
This made me laugh. “So is my grandma.”
Sam patted the grass at his hip, and then pointed up. “Come over here. Have you ever seen the stars?”
“We do have stars in California, you know.”
He laughed playfully, and it set my nervous system on high alert. “But have you ever seen them from this exact spot on earth?”
He had me there. “No.”
“Then come here,” he repeated quietly, more urgently.
I knew every teenager was supposed to have fallen in love at first sight at least ten times by the time they hit eighteen, but I’d never really been the swooning type before. I didn’t believe in that kind of chemistry. But near Sam, I guess I started to—at least lust at first sight. Let’s not get crazy. I’d only seen him three times, but each time those tiny, immeasurable reactions—the collision of atoms that happen invisibly between two bodies—got more intense. The sensation of holding my breath grew; the air started to feel deliciously high and tight in my throat.
But Nana’s directives—spoken and unspoken—echoed in my ears. Don’t leave the hotel. Be careful. Don’t talk to anybody.
I glanced around us at the looming, immaculate trees. “Is this garden really for lying on our backs and stargazing? It feels a little”—I gestured around at the perfectly sculpted boxwoods and precise edges where lawn met stone—“prim.”
Sam looked at me. “What’s the worst that could happen? Someone tells us to get off the grass?”
Vibrating from the inside, I walked over, lowering myself beside him. The ground was damp and cold against my back; the chill seeped in through the tiny holes in my sweater. I pulled my sleeves over my hands and pressed them, shaking, to my stomach.
“That’s good. Now look up.”