Authors: Barbara L. Clanton
Tags: #! Yes
“Tenth.” She pointed to herself. “So, you’re seventeen?” Sam nodded. “That explains why you have your license. I won’t get mine until next February.”
“I’ll have to chauffeur you around until then.” Sam reached over the console and put her hand on top of Lisa’s.
Lisa’s heart sped up. “It’s a long way to Clarksonville from East Valley.” Sam’s hand still rested on hers. Oh, God, this was a Tara moment. Lisa pulled her hand away pretending she needed to push a lock of hair behind her ear.
Sam pulled her hand back as if nothing had happened. “Hey, that gate is open. Let’s walk around the field.”
“Okay.” Lisa breathed a sigh of relief. Things were moving a little too fast. Lisa opened the car door and took a deep breath of the late afternoon air. The sun had begun to recede in the sky, and she shivered in the slight chill.
Sam opened the gate, and Lisa fell into step beside her as they headed toward home plate.
Sam took a practice swing in the batter’s box. “So, why did you tell me Marlee’s pitches last night?”
Lisa felt her cheeks get hot. She decided to tell the truth and see what happened. “I was flirting.”
They walked up the first base line in silence. When they stepped on first base, Lisa asked, “Why were you so friendly the first time we played you guys?” Lisa kept her eyes focused on the outfield fence, because she couldn’t look Sam in the eye.
“I was flirting.”
“Did you know?” Sam raised an eyebrow.
Lisa laughed. “No. I had, uh, other things on my mind.”
“Oh.” Sam’s voice held a hint of disappointment.
“I don’t have those other things on my mind anymore. Well, actually, it was one other thing, but not anymore.”
“Oh.” There was a happy lilt to Sam’s voice that time. They touched second base and headed toward third. A robin hunting for worms flew off to left field as they passed. “Can I interest you in a tour of the third base dugout?”
Lisa nodded, and when they reached the dugout, Sam held the gate open for her.
Lisa walked in and turned around. “So, how about you? Do you have other, uh, things on your mind?”
“Just one.” Sam stepped closer.
Lisa’s heart sped up again. “Oh, yeah?”
“Yeah.” Sam touched Lisa’s cheek gently. “You.”
Lisa inhaled sharply. “Me?”
Sam responded by putting both hands on each side of Lisa’s face and pulling her closer until their noses touched.
Lisa moved forward until their lips met. Sam’s lips were warm and, oh, so soft. Their kiss was soft at first, but heated up quickly. Sam moved a hand behind Lisa’s neck and pulled her closer. Lisa wrapped her arms around Sam’s waist.
After several minutes, Sam pulled away, but rested her forehead on Lisa’s. “Oh, my God.” She was out of breath.
“I know.” Lisa put a hand on Sam’s chest, just beneath her neck, and spread her fingers. “I wish—I wish…”
Lisa wanted to say she wished they could have taken things slower, but Sam had stirred her up so much, that she didn’t care. “I wish you would do that again.”
Sam reached down and lifted Lisa’s hand to her lips. She kissed each finger in turn and then tilted her head back in invitation. Lisa put her free hand around Sam’s waist and pulled her close until there wasn’t room for even a single molecule between them. She kissed her. After a few minutes, Lisa finally pulled away breathless. She placed her cheek against Sam’s. “You feel so good,” she murmured.
“So do you.” Sam nuzzled against Lisa’s neck sending shivers to her toes.
Lisa pulled away and held Sam at arm’s length. “Are we moving too fast?”
Sam held Lisa’s gaze. “Lisa, I’ve liked you since last year.”
“Last year? I didn’t even know—”
“I know. You didn’t even know I was alive. I never knew how to tell you. I mean, you’re so strong and confident. And so tall.” Sam laughed. “I was desperate to find a way to get to know you, and when Susie and Marlee started seeing each other—”
“I knew it.” Lisa smacked her thigh.
“You didn’t know about them?”
Lisa shook her head. “I didn’t know for sure. I’ve only come out to one other person. My ex.”
“You have an ex?”
Lisa looked down at her feet. “Yeah. She dumped me about a month ago.”
A car drove down the road by the field. Sam tapped Lisa on the arm. “C’mon, let’s go to the car.”
They headed out of the dugout toward Sam’s car.
Sam held open the gate for the field. “Is she on your team?”
Sam chuckled. “Your ex.”
“Geez, no. I met her at softball camp. She lives on Long Island.”
“That’s pretty far away.”
“Yeah.” Lisa laughed. “I guess that’s why it didn’t work out. She’s a senior.”
“A senior? Phew, now I don’t feel so bad robbing the cradle.”
Lisa grinned. “Is that what you’re doing?”
Sam opened the passenger door for Lisa. “Yep.”
Lisa got in, reached over, and unlocked Sam’s door.
“So what about all of your exes, eh?” Lisa raised her eyebrows. “I bet you’ve got them lining up out the door.”
Sam started the engine and faked a frown. “What makes you think I have any?”
Liza grinned and pulled Sam to her. She put both hands on Sam’s face and kissed her. “That’s how.”
“Oh, uh, well, yeah. I guess I do have an ex. Just the one.” Sam didn’t elaborate and pulled out of the parking spot. She turned on her headlights in the deepening twilight.
“Well? Who is she?”
Sam didn’t answer right away. She seemed to be concentrating on pulling out onto the main road. She took a deep breath. “You don’t know her.”
“Try me,” Lisa insisted.
“Oh, she’s just a girl I played with on my summer travel team.”
“Oh, uh, the Northwood shortstop.”
“Geez, you mean when you guys played Northwood a couple of weeks ago, your ex was on the field?”
“Was that hard for you? Playing against your ex?”
“Kind of, but we went our separate ways in September when school started. We’ve both officially moved on I think.”
Lisa wouldn’t ever let on that the tiniest of flames still burned in her heart for Tara, the hoodlum from Long Island. She smiled shyly at Sam. “I think my second is turning out much better than my first.”
“Me, too. Second is way better. Times a thousand.” She sent Lisa a look that melted Lisa’s toes.
Lisa cleared her throat and reached for Sam’s hand. “I’m so glad you drove back to Clarksonville, today.”
“Me, too.” Sam swerved the car into an abandoned gas station and slammed the car into park. “Kiss me and show me how glad you are.”
LISA CUT BRIDGET’S hot dog into small chunks. Bridget stabbed a piece with her fork and dipped it into her mashed potatoes.
Sam grimaced. “I’ve never seen that, uh, particular food combination before.”
Lisa’s mother laughed. “You’ll never know if you like it unless you try it.” She held out the bowl of mashed potatoes toward Sam.
Sam shrugged. “Why not? A Memorial Day barbeque just isn’t the same without mashed potatoes, right?” She plopped a small scoop on her paper plate.
“That’s the spirit,” Lisa’s father said. “Sweetpea, pass Samantha the plate of hot dogs.”
Bridget sat between Sam and Lisa at the picnic table under the maple tree in the Brown’s small back yard. The tree produced enough shade to keep the bright sunlight out of their eyes. Lisa helped her little sister lift up the plate.
“Here Samtha,” Bridget said.
Sam stabbed for a hot dog with her plastic fork. “Thanks.” She put the hot dog on her plate, cut off a slice with her knife, and stabbed it with her fork. She held the hotdog slice poised over the mound of mashed potatoes. “Like this?”
“Okay.” Sam blew out a sigh as if steeling herself to eat octopus. She dipped the hot dog into the creamy white potatoes and took a bite. “This is surprisingly good.” She took another bite.
Lisa laughed. “Hey, looks like you’re one of the family now.”
“Cool.” Sam smiled. “Thanks for inviting me over Mr. and Mrs. Brown. My family doesn’t do anything special on Memorial Day.” Sam took a third bite of the hotdog-potato combination.
“That’s too bad,” Lisa’s father said. “Sometimes we go up to Lake Birch, but I couldn’t borrow my buddy’s canoe this year.”
“Maybe next year, honey.” Lisa’s mother patted his hand.
“I hope so,” he said, “because pretty soon our oldest will be all grown up, off to college, and won’t have time for the rest of us. Right, Lisa Bear?”
“Lisa Bear?” Sam laughed.
Lisa reached around Bridget to smack Sam playfully on the arm. “Papa, come on. In front of company?”
“What?” Her father asked innocently. “Oh, hey,” the tone of his voice indicated that he was changing the subject. “How’s Marlee doing? She pitched a little this week, right?”
“Yeah. She’s all set to pitch against East Valley tomorrow.”
Her father nodded. “Big playoff game against your biggest enemy, eh?” He looked at Sam and winked.
Sam smiled back at him.
Lisa narrowed her eyes and looked at Sam over Bridget’s head. “Why yes. Yes it is. Mom, why did you invite the enemy into our home?”
It was Sam’s turn to reach around Bridget to smack Lisa. “Hey, was this food poisoned? That hot dog and mashed potato thing, that wasn’t an evil plot, was it?” Sam put both hands to her throat. “Arghh,” she groaned as if poisoned.
Bridget and Lawrence Jr. giggled and grabbed their own throats. “Arghh,” they groaned with Sam. Lynnie smiled, but didn’t join in. Lisa looked at her parents and said with a laugh, “I think you have five children now.”
Lisa’s mother and father laughed, and her mother said, “Yeah, I’d say Samantha fits right in. We’ll have to call her Samantha Brown from now on.”
Sam beamed, and Lisa’s heart leaped at the sight.
“Okay, Brown children,” Lisa’s mother playfully including Sam in the command, “let’s clean up the table and then we can play lawn darts.”
“Lawn darts,” Lawrence Jr. shrieked. “Hurry up, you guys.” He scrambled off the bench of the picnic table and threw his paper plate in the metal trash can. He stood with his hands on his hips.
Lisa grimaced at Sam. “Are you ready for lawn darts with two kids under the age of seven?”
Sam’s eyes grew wide. “Where’s your catcher’s gear? We might need it.”
“Really.” Lisa laughed.
“Hey, you guys,” Sam said to Lisa’s sisters and brother. “I brought you all something.”
“You did?” Lynnie stood up quickly and threw her plate in the trash can.
“Yeah.” Sam smiled. “Let me go get the stuff from the car.” She stood up and pulled her car keys out of her pocket.
Lisa looked at Sam with one eyebrow raised. “Do you need help?”
“Nah, I’ll be right back.”
Sam headed around the side of the house. Lisa looked at her sisters and brother and shrugged. “Make sure you all say thank you, okay?”
They nodded, and Lisa busied herself cleaning up the table.
Sam came back around the house with a box, set it on the table, and the entire Brown clan, including Lisa’s parents, gathered around.
Sam pulled out a brand new Candy Land board game and handed it to Bridget. “This is for you. Maybe we can play this later. After lawn darts.”
“’Kay,” Bridget said running her hand over the colorful box.
“Say thank you,” Lisa’s mother admonished.
“You’re welcome, Bridget.”
Bridget took the game box to the other end of the picnic table and asked her father to help her open it.
Sam reached back in the box and pulled out a brand new Transformer action figure in a sealed box. Lawrence Jr.’s eyes lit up, but Sam held the toy out toward Lynnie. “Lynnie this is for you.”
Lawrence Jr.’s face fell which caused the entire family, including Sam, to laugh. “I’m just kidding.” She handed the toy to Lawrence Jr. “Of course this is for you.” She winked at Lynnie who smiled back.
“Thanks, Sam.” He grabbed the toy from her hands and tore open the packaging.
Sam cleared her throat and faced Lynnie. “I have something for you, too. I noticed you liked books about wizards, and I wasn’t sure if you’d read these yet.” She pulled out a hardcover edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Lynnie reached for the book and ran her hand across the colorful cover.
“Have you read this one?”
Lynnie shook her head.
Lisa’s heart swelled. Sam had found a way to bond with Lynnie right off the bat.
Lynnie clutched the book tightly to her chest and then gave Sam a hug. “Thank you.”
“Oh, you’re welcome.” She pulled another book from the box. “I brought you the entire series, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll have this book finished like that.” She snapped her fingers. “And then you’ll want to read the next one right away.”
“Oh, Samantha,” Lisa’s mother said. “That was very generous. She just recently discovered books about magic, wizards, and witches. Right Lynnie?”
Lynnie nodded, but didn’t look up. She had already started reading the first page.
Sam smiled. “Well, I’m glad I could feed her need to read. Oh, and she can keep the books, by the way. I have another set at home.”
“Really?” Lisa said.
“Thank you so much.”
Sam blushed. “No problem.”
Lisa’s mother went into the house with the leftover hot dogs. Her father busied himself setting up the lawn darts with help from Lawrence Jr. and Bridget. They were all out of earshot, except for Lynnie who sat at the table, but she was so absorbed with her new book, that she didn’t seem to be aware of anything else.
“You just wait until I get you alone later,” Lisa whispered.
Lisa waggled her eyebrows. “It’s our two week, two day anniversary.”
“I know. How soon until we can get out of here?” Sam whispered back.
“After the annual lawn dart competition, you can take me anywhere that’s dark and secluded.”