Authors: Gabbie S. Duran
Gabbie S. Duran
* * *
2014 by Gabbie S. Duran
Editing by Edee M. Fallon, Mad Spark Editing
Cover art by Melissa Gill at MGBookcovers
Interior book design and formatting by JT Formatting
All rights reserved.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products, bands, and/or restaurants referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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Table of Contents
To everyone who serves, or who have served, and to the families that stay behind to wait;
thank you for your service.
“ARE YOU SURE your parents are okay with me being here?” Joseph asks for the second time, the hesitation clear in his voice.
“Of course,” I lie to him, giving him a reassuring smile.
Truthfully, my parents don’t know he’s here, but neither are they, which is the reason why he’s here now. Actually, it’s not the true reason. He’s here because I’m cooking dinner for him tonight. This is the last night before he leaves for boot camp. I’ve been planning it for a month now, since the day I discovered I wasn’t going to be able to go with my parents to their annual bible retreat.
They’ve gone every year since I was born, but it’s the first year I’m unable to go due to work. I couldn’t get the weekend off since a co-worker is on maternity leave, which for me was a sign from God. It gave me the opportunity to cook dinner for Joseph. I know I should feel guilty for not going, but I don’t. I’d much rather be here with him right now. Joseph looks nervous, but I can’t blame him. He knows I’m not allowed to have boys over without my parents present.
“Now, I’ll ask again. Do you want pop or water?” I ask him holding up one of each in my hands, trying to change the subject.
He looks over in my direction and smiles before saying, “Pop would be great, thank you. I really doubt I’m going to get to drink one for the next three months,” he answers, making me smile.
I head to the table, taking a seat as I place his soda in front of him. As I’m about to start saying grace he picks up his fork and starts digging into his meal. We always say grace in my house, but I assume by the way that he is looking up at me, confused, they don’t at his house.
I give him a forced smile and he goes back to eating. I bow my head and say a quick prayer, hoping he doesn’t take notice. When done, I grab my own fork and join Joseph in eating.
When dinner is done, with Joseph’s help, I wash up the dishes.
Joseph walks into the living room, forcing me to follow, and I’m already growing disappointed that he already wants to leave. He abruptly turns to face me, making me crash into his chest. He catches me as I sway, his eyes already bearing down at me. “Thanks for dinner, Kasey. It really means a lot to me.”
Not wanting him to leave so soon, I abruptly say, “You don’t have to leave yet. Do you want to stay a little longer and keep talking?” I wait, nervously biting my lip, hoping he’ll say yes.
My stomach is in knots as I wait the few seconds for his answer. He nervously looks around the room, as if he’s expecting my parents to randomly surprise us with their presence.
I release the breath I was holding and walk over to the couch, taking a seat. When he joins me, I begin to grow anxious. I don’t know how to act around him. Running my sweating palms on my jeans, I begin to bite on my lip, hoping that he doesn’t notice how nervous I really am at this moment.
“So what do you plan on doing this summer?” he asks, as he leans back on the couch, as I begin to relax.
With a shrug of my shoulders, I answer him. “Work, until I start college here in Savannah. I plan on cutting back my hours once I start school, though,” I reply, already feeling the blush on my cheeks as I catch myself rambling on.
I’ve always felt nervous around Joseph, no matter how comfortable he tries to make me feel. It’s the reaction I’ve had since the first day I laid eyes on him. I was only eleven and instantly became infatuated with the new boy next door. It was also the day he caught me spying on him. With a simple wave I was hooked. That day I became the shyest ninny in the world, even more so when he came over to say hi.
Being that my parents are extremely religious, I was never allowed to date. So as the days went by, my schoolgirl crush for Joseph only increased, never to become anything more. Knowing I never had a chance didn’t stop me from dreaming, but left me to watch as he dated every other girl that threw herself at him, and it hurt.
However, he never did ignore me. His excuse being: I was the girl next door, it was his obligation to look out for me. I didn’t know whether to take it as a compliment or as an insult. Either way, I accepted it.
Hating the awkward silence in the room, I begin to talk, “So, are you nervous about boot camp?”
He considers the question for a moment before answering, “A little. I hate not knowing what to expect. I mean, they’ve told me what to expect, but it’s not the same as experiencing it.”
“What time do you leave in the morning?” I quietly ask.
“Early. My recruiter said he’d pick me up around five a.m. I have to be on the plane by eight.”
Raising my eyebrows at him, I say, “Wow, that’s really early.”
He shrugs his shoulders. “I guess I better get used to it. I hear we have to wake up before the sun comes up and you don’t go to sleep until it’s down,” he says, chuckling at the same time.
I don’t know how he can find it so amusing. If it were I in his situation, I would be frightened, I think to myself.
“Well, I better go. It’s getting really late and I know I shouldn’t keep you up. You’ve done enough for me already,” he says as he stands up, forcing me to do the same.
I hate that he seems in such a hurry to leave, but it’s probably because he already has other plans. I feel disappointed he’s leaving. I almost want to blame myself for being so boring. It’s probably the reason why he wants to leave.
As I lead him to the door, distracted by my self-pity, I crash into his chest, causing me to look up at him. I’m so embarrassed by my awkwardness, that my body becomes paralyzed to the spot as our eyes meet. My stomach feels like it contains a hundred different butterflies flying around in it.
I’m trying to swallow the nervous lump now lodged in my throat as I anxiously hold my breath, waiting for something to happen. His eyes grow dark and he slowly lowers his head down towards mine; our lips gently meeting as he kisses me.
I am surprised by this kiss. I’ve never been kissed before, so I don’t know what to expect, or even know what to do. With my hands already on his chest, I wrap my fingers into his shirt, needing to hold onto something to prevent my body from falling to the ground. My legs are on the verge of collapsing from feeling weak.
The warmth of his lips leaves me both scared and apprehensive. What if I’m doing it wrong? I’ve seen plenty of people kiss before at school and it never looked like this.
His lips are gentle and soft against mine. I suddenly feel his tongue gently nudge against my lips, wanting entrance. Opening up for him, his tongue meets mine and with my hands still gripping at his shirt, I pull him closer.