Hello everybody. Four Days and Counting Down! I can’t believe it before “Other Side of the Line” will be released from Dreamspinner Press.
Caleb and Hal meet when they are eight years old and throughout their lives they faced many rough moments that they weathered through the strength of their friendship. But what happens when distance threatens that closeness? Hal’s dad has been transferred back to New York and Hal and Caleb are forced to say goodbye just as they’re discovering more about themselves and how they feel about each other. I hope you enjoy.
They lounged in silence, the stuffy heat in the fort worsening as the sun rose higher. As hot as it was, Caleb didn’t want to let go. If only they had more days together like this, more mornings when they could slip away to the fort to be alone. A thought flitted through his head. What would it be like to kiss Hal? His heart did a funny flip. He’d thought about kissing Theresa and never had that reaction, but then again, he hadn’t had that reaction with another guy either. Just Hal.
“You know how strange I was acting toward the end of the school year?” Hal asked, lifting his head. Caleb found himself staring into his gray-green eyes, and the sense that there was only the two of them in the world grew stronger.
“I think we were both acting strange.” Caleb remembered how he’d treated Hal with a wince of regret. They’d both been hot and cold, one minute pushing each other away, the next seeking each other out again. He wished now that he’d talked about it with Hal, even if he didn’t know how to phrase all the conflicting emotions.
“I was afraid you’d notice I wasn’t into girls, and I felt bad because I had a secret. I’d never had a secret from you before. I wanted to tell you, but….” Hal trailed off, and Caleb had a gut instinct there was more to it than Hal’s attraction to boys, something unsaid. Caleb had to look away because he became vividly aware of Hal’s body pressed against his own.
Caleb had never thought about it that way, but he supposed he had a secret too. Now with Hal getting ready to leave, Caleb wasn’t sure what to do about it either. With the way Hal’s dad screwed with his head and Hal’s uncertain temper, how could Caleb tell him as his parting words, “Hey, you made me uncomfortable, so I thought the only way to handle it was by keeping my distance”? Just the thought of talking about it made his palms sweat and his stomach churn.
“I don’t blame you for feeling like you couldn’t tell me, not with the way I was acting,” Caleb replied.
“I just wish….” Once again, Hal trailed off, but this time there was no doubt what he meant, because Caleb also felt it.
“I know; me too.” He wished they had more time. He wished he had the courage to say what was in his heart, to hear what Hal had to say. He wished they could be free to be themselves without the world trying to dictate who they should be friends with, who they should love.
“Hal? Hal! I know you’re up there.” Lily’s voice called from the clearing. “Dad’s pitching a fit. He wants to go.”
Caleb closed his eyes as his heart thumped painfully against his ribs. “I’ll write you.”
“I know,” Hal whispered, his voice lost.
It wouldn’t be the same. If Caleb had something he wanted to share with Hal, or if he’d had a bad day and needed to confide in him, it would be days before those letters would get to Hal and even more days before he got a response. Caleb wanted to comfort him with words, but his throat had tightened too much for speech. He hadn’t cried in years, but the aching in his chest and eyes warned him he was perilously close.
“Hal?” This time Lily’s voice floated up from the base of the tree. “Please don’t make me go to New York without you.”
Tears pooled behind Caleb’s eyelids. He kissed Hal’s cheek and let his arms fall away. Hal stared at him for a long moment and then his lips brushed near Caleb’s, like the breath of a ghost, leaving them tingling. Before Caleb could react, Hal swung down through the trapdoor.
I’m giving away a signed free copy on Goodreads. The contest ends the 18th.
Also, next month I’ll be running another contest and giving away a beautiful Charleston sweetgrass basket. Check back later for more details.