The first standalone in Ginger Scott’s all-new mature Young Adult romance series, Varsity, is out this week, and I have a sneak peek for you.
For a while, I haven’t come out here at night. Living next door to Lucas means our old shared hiding places are off limits. But eventually, I realize he doesn’t care about the abandoned treehouse falling apart near the back of my yard, or the rusted-out shell of the Forty-eight Buick that my dad left behind for my mom to deal with when he decided he didn’t love her anymore. I don’t come out here often because I can still see Lucas’s window, the view into his room all too clear when his light is on. He paces a lot when he’s on the phone. He also likes to leave the lights on when he brings girls upstairs late at night. I’ve seen too much from this front seat of the tireless car that will never run. But the burn on my cheeks from the very public words said by his on-again, off-again girlfriend in front of virtually everyone in our senior class is too hot for me to care about any of that. I need a place to hide where even Abby can’t find me for a while—a place to cry it out.
Goddamn him for deciding now, of all the nows, is the one he chooses to finally show up again in the dark corner where our yards meet. It’s well after midnight, and I’d planned on staying here until sunrise, away from my phone that I’m sure Abby is blowing up, and away from my house where maybe my new friends might come knocking, worried. At least my mom isn’t home; I’m not sure I could hide my state from her.
I close my eyes and sniffle hard while he’s still a good four or five strides away from the passenger door. It creaks open, popping when the hinge catches, and I jerk my head to the right and open my eyes. He slides in next to me and yanks the door closed behind him. It’s filthy in here, and his weight on the ripped fabric sends a poof of dust into the closed cabin.
“You didn’t have to come check on me. I’ll survive.” I cough through my last few words and inwardly chide myself for liking that he showed up. He quickly dashes the fantasy that he came here because he cared.
He starts with a heavy sigh, his hands cupping his jean-covered knees and irritably scratching at them.
“I’m not here for you, June. I’m here to tell you—no, to beg you—to please keep your nosey ass out of my life.”
My mouth falls open, and my chest is hammered with a mix of hurt and anger. Before I can react with words, Lucas shifts in his seat, bringing his right knee up to lean to the side and palm the rotted out dashboard. His large hand pats down, leaving a dustless print in its wake. I suddenly feel small.
His head shakes, and his face wears a soured expression.
“You judge—” he begins.
“No, I don’t.” I interrupt in protest, but his hand pats down again with his forced laugh.
“You do, and it’s so . . . hypocritical. What I do with Ava, whether she’s my girlfriend, whether we break up, whomever I decide to be with and however far that goes? None. Of. Your. Business.” He leans back against the door and gives me the full heat of his stare. My pulse races to keep up with the arguments forming in my mind—all the things I know—that could devastate him. I was only defending myself. None of this was about him, not completely. And how can I be a hypocrite when I’m still a virgin?
“You missed most of everything I said, Lucas. I wasn’t talking about you. That rant—it was about me.” His face is stone cold and still. I don’t know why I expect my childhood friend to break through this hard exterior that’s swallowed him whole.
“I heard you. And you’re right, every person you fuck becomes a part of your story.”
I swallow at how bluntly he sums up my point.
“But people write themselves into our stories lots of ways, June.” He shakes his head and lowers his gaze to his lap as his hand slides down the dash with a heavy exhale. The last evidence of his boyish youth is dusted along his cheeks and eyelashes in golden freckles and highlights picked up by the moonlight. Even those are seemingly disappearing before my eyes.
The crack of the door opening behind him breaks my hard stare, and in one smooth movement he steps from the passenger side and bends down to level me with his hazel eyes. I wrote to Crayola once when we were younger because I wanted them to make a crayon I could use to do his eyes justice. What a foolish crush I’ve had.
“We’ve never fucked, but you sure are part of my story.” I wince because that’s not a compliment. “I can’t delete you, but I sure don’t need you taking up any more chapters. Stay the fuck out of my business, and go find yourself a boyfriend who can be all of these things you think are real.”
He pauses for a brief moment, long enough to smirk with half his mouth and puff out the smallest laugh at my expense. He slams the door as he backs away, and I don’t bother to shift my position to watch where he goes. Like he said, he’s none of my business.
Except as far as stories go, he’s always been a major plot line in mine. Not sure life gets a rewrite the way fiction does. At the very least, I don’t think I’ll be hiding my feelings in the Buick again for a while.