Authors: Kirsten DeMuzio
Just One Reason
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No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval systems, without prior written permission of the author except where permitted by law.
Columbus, Ohio 43240
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Cover design by Kirsten
The doorbell rang and I stuck my head out the door and yelled downstairs, “Lana? Can you let him in? I’ll be down in five minutes.” I was never on time, and tonight was no exception. It was a testament to how special tonight was that I was running only five minutes late.
I skipped over to t
he closet and pulled a pale blue sundress off its hanger. There was a quiet knock on my door, and I pulled the dress on and smoothed it down over my slim hips to hide my carefully chosen pink lace bra and panties before calling, “Come in.”
My aunt, Lana, came in and
stood just inside the doorway, watching as I fluffed my long light blonde hair and applied a second coat of shimmery lip gloss. Lana was younger than my mom and only twenty years older than me. We could have easily passed for mother and daughter, or maybe even sisters, with how much we looked alike.
“I know this is your last night with Grady before yo
u leave tomorrow,” Lana began.
I glanced up at the ceiling
for a moment, willing myself not to cry. I would never get through the next twelve hours if I let myself think about leaving him. Even though I was young, I knew without a doubt that leaving him would be one of the hardest things I would ever have to do.
What had started out as merely a way to escape spending the summer trapped in the city with just my parents had quickly become the best three months of my life.
My cousin and best friend, Taryn, was travelling through Europe with her parents for the summer. I couldn’t bear the thought of summer in the city without her, so I had asked to visit Lana.
My mom and Lana are sisters and grew up here in Penn
Yann, New York. We never come back to visit and Lana has only come to the city once or twice. Needless to say, they are not close. When I first asked my parents, my mom sort of freaked out, but my dad thought it was a good idea to get to know the other side of my family.
Lana was more than welcoming
, and we’d grown close over the summer. I learned it was my mom who put the distance between them. Apparently small town living was beneath her now. Just one more reason I was dreading returning home to the city tomorrow.
Lana patted my arm, knowing a hug would have sent me over the edge. “Just be home before breakfast.” She winked at me before leaving my room. For about the millionth time since the summer began, I thanked God that I had decided to spend my summer break here. Not only had I gotten to know my aunt better, but I had met the love of my life.
Remembering the mischievous twinkle in his eye the first time we met, it was hard to believe how far we had come. My first impression was that he was a player, and a skilled one at that. In fact, he probably had been. But that all changed when we fell in love.
I took one last look at my appearance in the mirror and followed Lana downstairs. Grady Hawke stood at the bottom of the stairs looking up at me as I came down. Just the sight of him always made my heart beat faster. Like me he had blonde hair, though his was darker than mine, and blue eyes, though his were lighter than mine - almost an icy bluish gray. I often thought we would make beautiful babies someday.
full skirt of my dress swirled around my legs as I ran down the stairs and jumped from the second step into his arms. Grady caught me around the waist and swung me around with his nose buried in my hair.
Mmmm, you smell so good,” he murmured, holding me tightly. I knew he was feeling the same bone deep sadness that I was at our impending separation. In the weeks leading up to my return to the city, he had grown more serious, making sure I knew how much he cared about me.
took my hand and led me out the front door as I called, “Bye, Lana!” His motorcycle was parked out front, and he secured a hot pink helmet on my head before I climbed on behind him. The helmet had been a gift to get me to ride with him. It worked. I wrapped my arms tightly around his waist, enjoying the feel of his defined abs under my fingertips.
“Hold on, Bambi!” He yelled over the sound of the engine.
Grady had nicknamed me Bambi because of my big blue eyes. He said I reminded him of a baby deer caught in headlights when he first saw me. I always thought they were too big for my face and made me look like I was constantly surprised.
We raced through the streets of Penn Yan, New York and down the
winding road that lined Keuka Lake. I knew we were headed to our spot, the place we had spent almost every evening for the last three months.
Grady’s grandfather owned a lakefront plot of land that had never been built on, and we had spent
countless hours lying in the grass under the stars just talking and listening to the waves.
Tonight was our last night together before I went back to New York City for the start of my junior year of high school. Lana didn’t expect me home and I had no intention of sleeping tonight. I didn’t want to miss one second of my last night with Grady.
The sun was just setting over the hill across the lake when Grady parked his bike in the trees lining the property. He helped me off and set our helmets on the back.
“I’ve got a surprise for you,” he said
, smiling at me and taking my hand.
e walked through the trees to the large clearing that looked out over the calm blue water. Normally there was only grass and a few patches of wildflowers, but tonight there were stakes in the ground with twine wrapped around them forming a large outline on the grass. My eyebrows pulled together in confusion, and Grady laughed at my expression.
“Come on,” he said tugging on my hand
. “I want to show you around our house.” My eyes widened at his words, and I started to see that the twine formed an outline of what could be a house covering a large area of the clearing.
“What do yo
u mean ‘our’ house?” I asked.
He grinned at me, “Lindsay, my grandfather is giving me this land. My dad doesn’t care about building a house here, but I do. I want to build a big beautiful house here.
On the lake. And I want you here with me forever. I love you, Lindsay.” I threw myself at him, wrapping my arms around his neck and my legs around his waist.
“I love you too! This is perfect.” He laughed at my enthusiasm and twirled me around twice before setting me back on my feet. We walked all around the “house”, and Grady showed me where all the rooms would be. As he talked I could imagine us living there together, married
, with kids running through the grass and swimming in the lake.
After the tour was over, we settled
on a large blanket in the space that would be the master bedroom and looked up at the stars. We both knew we only had a few hours left together, but neither of us wanted to talk about it just yet. There really wasn’t much left to talk about anyway. We had worked out the details of our long distance relationship over the last few weeks.
I still had two years of high school left, so I planned to spend next summer here again and then move here permanently after graduation.
There was a college on the other side of the lake that I could attend if I decided that’s what I wanted to do. Lana had given me an open door invitation to visit or stay with her whenever and for as long as I wanted.
My parents would not approve. I knew this without a doubt, but I didn’t care. I loved Grady and he loved me. That was all that mattered.
Once I was eighteen they had no say in my choices.
Grady leaned up on his elbow to gaze into my eyes for a moment before kissing me. This was what we did every evening - we kissed and held each other, but he had never once pressured me to go any further. Tonight was our last night together until next summer, and I wanted it to be special. So when we got to the point where he always pulled back, I pulled him closer.
“Lindsay,” he whispered against my mouth. I pushed up to kneel beside him and pulled my dress off over my head, tossing it into the grass beside us. His eyes swept over my body, lingering on my lacy bra and underwear that left little to the imagination.
He sat up and took my hands, “Lindsay, we don’t have to do this. I will love you forever no matter what happens tonight.”
I believed he meant that, but I also saw the way his eyes darkened with desire as they raked over my body.
I pressed a finger to his lips to silence him
. “I know, Grady. But I want this. I want you. I need this memory to get me through until we are together again.”
I didn’t need to say anymore, because he threaded his fingers in my hair and pressed his lips
hungrily to mine. As we lowered ourselves back down to the blanket, our tongues tangled in a passionate dance. His fingers trailed fire over my body, over places no one had ever touched before. If I had known it would be like this, I wouldn’t have waited three months.
Grady was so careful with me, even though I could tell from the tension in his body tha
t it was hard to go slow. When he settled between my thighs, resting his forearms on either side of my head, he leaned down to kiss me slowly, lovingly, and asked quietly, “Are you sure?”
I nodded once and replied, “I’ve never been more certain about anything, Grady. I love you. I w
ant to be yours in every way.”
Later we lay entwined together waiting for our breathing to even out. Grady kissed the top of my head and smo
othed my hair. “Are you okay?”
I rose up on one elbow and my hair fell over my shoulder and across his chest. I grinned and replied, “I’m more than okay. That was amazing. Why didn’t you tell me it would be like that? I would have given in much sooner.”
He laughed and shook his head. Then I suddenly thought that maybe it wasn’t that great for him, you know, because I didn’t really know what I was doing. I bit my lip and mumbled, “I mean, it was great for me, but I know I didn’t really know what I was doing…” I trailed off when he cupped my face in his hands and made me look at him.
“Lindsay. Don’t ever doubt my feelings for you. Yeah, I’ve been with other girls, but nothing, absolutely nothing, compares with what we just had. I love you
. Don’t ever forget that.” I relaxed back into his arms, and against everything I had planned, I fell asleep.
The sun was just rising over the hills surrounding the lake when Grady woke me up. “Lindsay? It’s time to go,” he said quietly in my ear. I shook my head and burrowed
under the blanket and closer into his chest. If I focused hard enough on this one moment, maybe I could stop time from passing. He chuckled and sat up, pulling me with him.
Every emotion from last night came rushing back to me and I couldn’t stop the tears from falling as we
silently packed up our stuff and rode back to Lana’s house. Grady had breakfast with us and sat in my room while I showered and dressed and finished packing my things. We didn’t speak much, mostly because I was crying too hard to get any words out. After the car was packed, Lana got in the driver’s seat so we could say our goodbyes alone on the porch. I threw my arms around Grady’s neck and wept on his shoulder as he held me tightly.
Ssshh, Lindsay. It’s going to be okay. We will make it through this. We can make it through anything,” he said gruffly. I pulled back to look up into his light blue eyes, that were shimmering with unshed tears.
Grady. Promise me,” I begged.
He pressed his lips gently to mine and murmured, “I promise you, Lindsay Ross. I will love you until the day I die.”
“Lindsay, you know what you need to do. Now do it,” my mother scolded me from the doorway of my bedroom. I heard her sigh before pulling my door shut, and I could imagine her rolling her cold blue eyes at me, but I didn’t look at her. I couldn’t.
A week ago I disliked my mother for all the typical teenage reasons along with the
general faults in her character like caring more about money and image than anything else, including me. Now I despised her with everything in my being. She had become the enemy - the reason that I hated my life.
I sat on my bed cross legged with my laptop open in front of me, just
as I had been for the last two hours. Instead of sending the e-mail on the screen like I knew I should, I stared out the window at the people running and walking through Central Park and the dense traffic moving down the street. The leaves were starting to turn various shades of red and gold, and I thought about how beautiful fall would be in Penn Yan. I would never know.
Tears had been steadily dripping down my cheeks
for what I had already lost and what I was about to lose, but I didn’t have the strength to wipe them away.
There was no other way. I had been racking my brain for days, but I had come up with nothing.
So, the only thing I could do was to send the e-mail. I read it one last time through my cloudy haze of tears.
We are over. Please stop calling me.