Authors: Haley Allison
He moves his hand down to the small of my back as he searches for the hem of my shirt. When his fingers graze the exposed skin of my back, his tongue reaches further into my mouth. I let him pull me in even closer, and he rubs his hand up and down my back, holding me tightly against him.
We kiss for a long time, but then his fingers inch down over the waist of my jeans and toward my back pocket, and fear settles in my stomach instead of excitement. He may not think he’s expecting anything, but it seems like he is. If he doesn’t expect it, he’s at least hoping for it. He needs to know. I guess I’m going to have to tell him about my rule.
I pull back. “Hey, um…I need to tell you something.”
“What’s up?” He reclines on his elbow, supporting his head with his hand. There’s a hint of disappointment on his face, but he smiles to cover it.
“Well…I kind of have this resolution about sex. I…I don’t want to have sex until I’m in love with someone.”
Both his eyebrows raise, and his lips make an
. “I see.”
“I know, that probably sounds backward and weird, but—”
“No, no, it’s fine. It’s just…”
He chuckles. “Well, aren’t you almost eighteen? I’d be getting really impatient by now if I were you.”
I shrug. “Honestly, I never had an opportunity, so I didn’t obsess over it too much.”
“So you’re not in love with me, huh?” He pokes out his lower lip and draws his eyebrows together in mock pain.
I laugh. “Not yet, anyway.”
He smirks, and then he leans in close to my ear. “You know, there are a lot of fun things we can do that don’t count as sex.”
My heart pounds, and I feel the electricity between us rising. “Yeah?”
He pulls back with a nod and a naughty smile. “I don’t have to show you today, but just know you don’t have to be chaste to be a virgin. I mean, it’s summer. You’re too sexy to be stuck in a bedroom by yourself playing games.”
I glance down at his body, feeling its pull on me like never before. “I will admit I’m curious.”
“Well then, I can show you a good time while you’re here. We don’t have to go all the way. If we fall in love, we fall in love. If not, you’ll have a summer to remember.”
I bring my fingers down to touch his chest through his thin white shirt. “Maybe…”
“Madness, look at me.” I tip my head up to meet his gaze, and I see sincerity in his eyes. “I’m not going to force you into anything. We can do nothing but kiss if you want. It’s all up to you.”
“Well…” My hand lingers on his chest, and I run it up to his neck. “Let’s kiss for now and see where it goes.”
Gio nods and waits a mere beat before leaning down and taking my lips again. This time, his hand stays firmly planted on the outside of my shirt, and part of me wishes he’d slip it back in.
June 11, 2015
Hot, Hot Summer
The last four days have been a whirlwind. I hate to admit it, but I’ve put a pause on my missions and the reasons I’m here in the first place. Giovanni Abate hijacked my vacation. He’s all I can think about now. We’ve spent hours in his room, in his hot tub, out on the patio…everywhere. All we’re doing is making out and touching each other’s bodies over the clothes, but it’s still pretty intense.
Being with Gio over the last week almost made me forget about the events of the weekend. Almost. Unfortunately, the rest of the world won’t let me forget.
Tomorrow I’m going to Santa Monica Beach with Gio to watch him surf with his friends, and I’m extremely nervous about seeing them again. I know they’ve read the articles about me and all the cruel comments I received. What are they going to think of me after reading all that? They probably do think I’m a whore. I bet they think Gio’s been absent lately because of a week of sordid sexual behavior instead of make-out sessions out by the pool.
You know, maybe I should let them think that. I don’t really want anyone knowing I’m making Giovanni Abate wait for sex.
Amidst all this hotness, I did find out something weird. Jacie Redinger is out of town for a film shoot until July First. It’s strange how everything about her adds up, yet there’s no way she could be my mother. I would look into it, but Gio’s texting me again, and…
I just got my first dirty text.
It’s not graphic or anything, but…I’m fanning myself…
Me: Giovanni Abate! You’re gonna get me in so much trouble!
Gio: You know you liked that, though ;)
Me: Of course, but Dad checks my phone sometimes. At least warn me!
Gio: Lmao. Will do.
I get another text from him, and my eyes bug out.
Me: Stop. It’s not fair.
Gio: You in love with me yet, bella? ;)
I laugh and roll my eyes. He is a never-ending tease.
Me: Working on it :P
Late Friday afternoon, Ana and I ride along with Gio to Santa Monica. This time, I’m wearing a swimsuit I’m sure is going to stay on, and I double-knotted it just for insurance. It’s an extremely hot day, so I also sprayed on some 100 SPF sunscreen before we left the house. I rubbed it in so well that Gio couldn’t even tell the difference.
When we get to the beach, I give Gio a quick kiss before he runs out to the water with his surfboard to meet his friends. Ana and I lay out our towels next to Zuri and a couple of other girls who are lying in the sun listening to music. Since they’re zoned out and not paying attention to us at all, Ana and I talk amongst ourselves until Ana gets a call.
“Hello? Oh, h-hi, Jerica! No, I’m not busy, what’s up? Yeah…yeah, I-I’d love to. Sure. Okay, well just let me know. Thanks. Okay. You too. Bye.” Ana’s about to have a panic attack when she hangs up the phone.
“What’s going on?”
Ana turns to me with a deer-in-the-headlights expression, shaking like a leaf. “I’m…uh…I’m hanging out with Jerica Valrey tonight.”
“Hanging out? Can I come?”
“Well, she only invited me.”
I immediately feel a surge of heat, and it’s not from the scorching-hot sun. Of course she wouldn’t want to hang out with me after what just happened. I’m embarrassed I even asked. “I get it.”
“No, no, it’s not that,” Ana’s quick to explain. “She really likes you, don’t worry. It’s just…well, she wanted to hang out with me alone, that’s all.”
“Oh…okay.” I try to bite back my smile, but it won’t stop. I’m too thrilled for her. Ana has a date.
“Nothing weird is going on, I swear.”
“Of course not.” I look down at my phone in my lap and pretend to be extremely interested in Candy Crush.
Ana pauses for about three beats. “You know already, don’t you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You know what this really is.”
“Not if you don’t want me to.” I cringe.
I was really trying not to let on.
She’s silent for a few more seconds. “Well…it seems like you
already know, so…” Ana sighs as she twists her hands in her lap. “I think we need to go for a walk.”
“I’m serious. You don’t have to talk about it.”
“Come on.” Ana stands and yanks me up from the sand.
As we walk down the beach a ways from the others, I turn my head to study her face. She has this stubborn scowl she only wears when she’s trying to protect herself or someone else. Her cute nose wrinkles up, and her eyes look like an emerald blaze that will incinerate you in a hot second if you piss her off. I wish I knew why she thinks she has to hide this from me, but maybe it’s not me she’s hiding from. Maybe it’s herself, or someone else. After about five minutes, she finally speaks.
“It’s a date,” she blurts out, and I stop in my tracks. I wasn’t expecting her to crack so easily.
“Ana! That’s amazing!” A tear streams down her cheek. “Hey…what’s wrong? Aren’t you happy?”
Her voice is tight. “I’m scared. Jerica’s famous. What if my parents find out?”
Of course. Her conservative parents. They’re definitely not going to approve of Ana going out with a woman. “Well…I mean, they understood about Dad and Cass, right? Maybe they’ll understand about this.”
“They’re not going to understand.”
“How do you know that?”
“They’ll kick me out, Mads. That…that’s an understanding in our house. I know for a fact they’re going to disown me.” Her voice breaks, and she covers her mouth as the sobs begin.
“Oh, my God…” Tears burn my eyes as I take her in my arms and squeeze her tightly.
I suddenly remember things I’ve shut out of my mind for years. Nana used to drag me to church bright and early every Sunday morning when I was little, and there were times when Pastor Lincourt would go on and on about the fire and brimstone awaiting those who ‘chose’ homosexuality. I didn’t even understand what was going on at the time, so I tuned it out and forgot about it, but now I realize just how dark the last four years have been for my best friend. She was so afraid of getting the boot from her own parents that she couldn’t even tell
about her orientation.
“Listen, if they kick you out, that’s their loss. We would welcome you to live with us with open arms.”
“I don’t want to be kicked out, though,” she sobs. “I don’t want to be rejected by my own family.”
“You’re almost an adult now. Who knows? Maybe things will be different.”
“I really don’t think they’re going to be. Mom might understand, but…Dad
“Well…I really hope he changes his mind, but…no matter what, I will never breathe a word to them. Your secret is safe with me.”
She clings to me for a long time, and all the while my thoughts are racing in my worry. What’s going to happen to her now? If her parents somehow find out what she’s doing with Jerica, it could mean the worst for her. What if I screwed her over by bringing her here, giving her a taste of this amazing life only for it all to be ripped away at the end of the summer?
After a while, she wants to return to the others on the beach, and I keep my arm around her as we walk back. When her tears have completely subsided, I ask, “Ana-love, are you sure you want to do this?”
Ana sighs. “I know it’s risky, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me. I can’t imagine saying no to Jerica Valrey.”
I nod. I get that. I couldn’t imagine saying no to Gio, either.
“I’ll explain my situation fully tonight and ask her to keep this private. Hopefully she’ll understand.”
I nod again, and Ana squeezes me around the shoulders. “Thank you so much for telling me,” I say.
“Thank you for understanding. You’re the best, girl. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“You have to swear you won’t tell,” she teases me as a throwback to our conversation in Kentucky.
“I’ll take this secret to my grave if you ask me to.”
A couple days later, Gio brings Dalton over to take a look at my new old guitar. He has it in his hands, and he’s gazing at it with the same awed reverence that I felt when I first held it. “Ohhh my God…can I play it?”
“Sure.” I plug it into my amp for him. We’re down in the sunroom, which is now the permanent music room in this house, and Gio is watching us from the sofa. I adjust the amp settings, and Dalton wastes no time plunging into a flawless version of an advanced Black Angel guitar solo. The muscles in his forearms bulge as his fingers fly over the strings and neck. He doesn’t miss a single note, and it’s possible he might be better at this solo than Cass.
After the last chord, he grabs his head with both hands and laughs—a deep, musical sound. “I can’t handle this! It’s too epic!”
,” I tell him with admiration.
Gio sighs from the couch, fixated on his phone. “Dammit…Steph needs me to send him something from his computer at home. I’ll be right back.” He gets up and leaves out the back door, leaving Dalton and me alone. Judging from his nonchalant attitude, I’m guessing Dalton makes him listen to guitar solos all the time.
“Can I hear you play something?” Dalton asks. He takes off the guitar and hands it to me. “I’m curious how Grim’s daughter sounds on this baby.”
“Yeah, sure.” I adjust the settings and start playing the intro to “Riot” by Three Days Grace. “Sing along if you want.”
“Okay.” He clears his throat, and then when his voice leaves his body, I almost stop playing in shock. I laugh breathlessly, and he stops, fearing the worst. “What, is it bad?”
, no, definitely not. Keep going.” We resume the song, and I can’t get over the flawless blend of his voice with my guitar. He sounds almost like a younger version of Dad, except his voice has more grit to it. After he sings through the first chorus, I can’t hold the question back anymore. “What have you been smoking to get gravel like that?”
“That’s just my voice,” Dalton says, chuckling. “I don’t know why it’s like that.”
“You’re starting a band, right?”
“Yeah, and I would kill to have you in it,” he says with a grin.
, I wish I knew for sure I was sticking around. We’ll be here for the summer, but after that it’s up in the air.”
“Well, hey, if you do stick around, hit me up. You would make a phenomenal lead guitar. Can you sing backup, by any chance?”
“Hell yeah! And I write music too.”
“Really? Would you mind showing me something you wrote?”
“Sure…it’s not finished, but here’s the first part.” I start into the same song I showed Gio.
When I reach the end of what I’ve got so far, Dalton immediately falls to his knees on the floor and folds his hands to beg. “Please please please please
stick around? Please?”
I’m dying laughing as Gio comes back inside and walks onto this scene. “What’s going on?” Gio asks.
“I just played my song for him, and he’s begging me to be in his band.” I take my guitar off and lay it to the side.
“I told you he’d love you,” Gio says with a wink. “You guys wanna go outside for a little bit?”
Both of us nod, and we all walk out the open door to the patio. We sit down at one of the tables while Ana swims a little ways out from us in the pool.
“Hey, is she going out with anyone?” Dalton asks, pointing to Ana with his thumb.
“Yeah, um…she went out with someone a couple nights ago.”
“Ah…well, damn. It seems like all the pretty visitors are snapped up in a hot second as soon as they get to L.A.”
“You’re going to have to step up your game if you’re going to compete with me,” Gio says with a proud smile directed at me. I reach over and take his hand, and we link fingers like we always do.
“Come on, man, you know I don’t do relationships,” Dalton says.
“Aww, why not?” I ask him.
Dalton waves it off. “I don’t want to get into it right now. It’s complicated.”
“Well, all right. Does it have anything to do with your music dreams?”
“Yeah…how did you know?”
“I’ve thought about the same thing. Relationships are hard to keep up once you get hardcore into touring, I’ve heard.”