Page 13 of After the Rain

“I think I would classify it as staring,” he answers stepping, away from the truck.

“And what are you staring at exactly?”

His hands grip my hips, and he pulls me to his body. “The most beautiful girl in the world.”

My face burns red; it’s amazing this guy can still do that to me. “What are you going to do when I’m old, wrinkled, and gain thirty pounds?”

He smiles down at me, leaning his head a little closer to mine. “I’m going to love you.”

“How do you always know the right things to say?” I ask, watching him move even a little closer. As my eyes focus in on his lips, warmth builds in my stomach. I wonder if he’ll always have this effect on me.

When he stops, his lips are only a few inches from mine. It would be so easy to get up on my tiptoes and kiss him, but I like the tension. I like waiting for him to come to me … the anticipation of it.

“It’s not about what’s right. It’s about what I feel,” he says, brushing his lips against mine. I wrap my arms around his neck, afraid that if I don’t, he’ll back away. He started this, and I want to finish it. His hands slide to my lower back then up to my shoulder blades and back down again while I bring his lower lip between mine. I kiss and tease until he groans and splays his hands on the middle of my back to make sure there’s nothing left between us.

“We better stop,” I say, trying to catch my breath.

Beau places a quick kiss on my neck, never loosening his grip on me. “You started it.”

“I remember it a little differently, but it really doesn’t matter. I’m going to be the one to finish it.”

He lets me go after kissing my forehead. “I better get things unpacked. I’ll see you later?”

“Yeah, I guess we’re all having a barbeque,” I reply, walking backward in the direction of my house.

“I’ll see you later then. Wear something sexy!” he yells as I walk away.

I’m hoping this summer will be like the school year … full of memories I’ll never forget.

Chapter 9

Two Months Later – July 2013

IT’S NO SECRET THAT KATE AND I both love the lake. Since we’ve been home, we’ve spent almost every afternoon swimming, fishing, or just sitting on the edge of the dock enjoying the serenity of the Iowa countryside. I’ve been busy planning something a little different for this weekend, though.

Walking into the diner, I’m hoping to grab some breakfast before the big weekend. The diner is packed, but that’s no surprise. All the kids are out of school now, and the farmers have their fields planted. I walk up to the counter to get something to go when Ms. Carter calls my name.

“Beau! How are you, young man? Why don’t you come join me? I don’t need this whole table to myself.” She smiles as I walk toward her.

“I don’t want to interrupt,” I say glancing down at her fresh cinnamon roll. I’d do anything to have some of that warm cinnamon bread in my mouth right now.

“I insist,” she says, pointing to the empty booth across from her.

Who am I to argue with Ms. Carter? “How are the cinnamon rolls today?” I ask, taking a seat across from her

“Same as always. Warm, soft, and delicious. How is your summer going?”

Searching the packed room for Kate, I see her taking an order a few tables away. “It’s going good so far. How’s yours?”

“Same old,” she replies, sipping her coffee. She stares at me for a long time before speaking again. “I’m glad you were able to put a smile back on Kate’s face. I always thought there was something between the two of you.”

My eyes must have doubled in size as I looked at her. Her stone-faced expression makes me feel the same as I did when I walked through my first haunted house at the age of ten: terrified.

It was not my best night.

Suddenly, she starts to laugh. “You kids reminded me a lot of Mr. Carter and me.”

“Is there anything you don’t notice?

She laughs out loud. “Not really. When you’re my age, you don’t have much to do besides watch people. I mean, you’d think I’d seen it all, but every day if I keep my eyes open, I see something new.”

Right as I’m about to ask her more about her observations, Kate appears beside the table in her cute little apron, small notebook in hand. “Can I get you something to eat?” she asks. I can tell she’s trying to hold back a smile.

“I’ll take two cinnamon rolls, an order of sausage links, an orange juice, and milk,” I reply, letting my eyes roam the length of her body. Even in that ridiculous fifties uniform, I think she’s the best-looking girl in the whole world.

“Okay, I’ll have that right out.” She winks at me over the top of her notebook. “How are you, Ms. Carter? Can I get you anything else?”

“No, thank you. I have everything I need right here,” she says, glancing in my direction. Smiling, I shake my head.

Kate mouths, “Be careful with that one.” She points at Ms. Carter before she walks away. I swear when I get her alone later, I’m going to take all my frustrations out on those pretty little lips of hers. She knew I was coming here for breakfast; I wouldn’t be surprised if she paid Ms. Carter to give me a hard time.

A couple minutes later, Kate sets my juice and milk in front of me. It couldn’t be better timing because the questions I’ve been asked since Kate walked away are making me sweat. I’ve been asked about Christmas. When I told her I got Kate a signed Joshua Radin CD and tickets to a concert in Chicago this winter, she just looked at me and nodded before moving on to Valentine’s Day. I had just finished telling her about the special dinner I made when Kate put the drinks on the table. It couldn’t have been better timing because there was no way I was going to tell her what came after dinner.

As Kate walks away again, Ms. Carter picks up right where she left off as I take a drink of my juice. “Are you going to ask her to marry you soon?”

I think it’s scattered all over the table now. “Umm … I don’t know, maybe eventually,” I reply, wiping the juice from my chin. “I mean, we’re still in college, and there’s no reason to rush things. I know she’s the girl.”

Why am I telling her this stuff? This woman has something about her that makes it easy for people to open up. That much is obvious.

“Here you go,” Kate says, setting two plates in front of me. The look on my face must say everything because she raises her eyebrows as soon as she gets a glimpse of me.

I clear my throat. “I’m really sorry, but I need to get going. There are a couple things I need to get done at home. Can you come over when you get off?” Smiling, I add, “Wear something that will be comfortable outside. It’s supposed to be warm later.”

“Okay,” she replies, biting down on her lower lip. As she walks away, I can’t help but watch her ass in those jeans. But it doesn’t take me long to remember who I’m sitting with.

“Well, Ms. Carter, I have to get going,” I announce as I stand up. Kate walks past, handing me a to go container for my breakfast. I package everything up while Ms. Carter watches me.

“Beau,” she says when I’m finished, “when you know something is right in your heart, you shouldn’t wait to make it happen. Life is full of uncertainties.”

I’m not quite sure how to reply to that. I know what I have with Kate because I thought I had it before and then I lost it. It’s the worst f**king pain I’ve ever felt, and I’ll do absolutely everything to make sure I never have to go through it again. She’s stuck with me this time.

“I’ll always remember that,” I say, waving at her before walking out the door.

On my short drive home, I pay extra attention to the houses I pass. I love a lot of things about this town, and I often wonder if it’s a place Kate wants to come back to after we graduate. There’s something about being able to name everyone you walk past on the street or being able to drive two minutes and get anywhere you want. It’s simple, and it suits me.

As soon as I get home, I pack the truck with all the things I need for Kate’s surprise. I want to get everything set up before she gets off work, and I only have a few hours.

By the time Kate pulls in her driveway, I have everything ready to go. I planned this all week, even getting my mom and her mom in on it. It wasn’t easy, but I think it’s going to be perfect.

My original plan to wait in my house until she had time to shower falls by the wayside as soon as I see her step out of her car. She’s like a magnet, always drawing me near.

I open my front door, and the smile she flashes me when she turns around lights my heart on fire.

“Hey, do you want some company while you get ready?” I ask. The warm summer breeze blows her hair back as I walk toward her. It’s one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen.

“Do I have a choice?”

Cocking my head to the side, I smile. “Not really. You already made me spend the morning without you. It wouldn’t be all that nice to make me wait much longer.”

She closes the gap between our bodies, wrapping her arms around my neck. “Maybe if you tell me what this surprise is all about, I’ll let you come in.”

Leaning forward, I whisper, “You win. I’m going to tell you my secret.” I stop, trying hard to keep the big grin off of my face. Moving my mouth even closer to her ear, I say, “I’m stronger than you so it’s probably not in your best interest to blackmail me.”

In order to show her there’s truth behind my secret, I bend down and lift her by placing one arm under her knees and another against her back. When she squeals, the grin I’ve been trying to suppress refuses to stay hidden any longer.

“Let’s get you in the shower, shall we?” I say, walking up to her front door.

“Isn’t it a little soon to start carrying me over the threshold?”

Tags: Lisa De Jong Rain Young Adult