Twice in a Blue Moon

Page 21

“By the time I was twelve,” he said, “I was out in the barns at dawn, and then earning money mowing lawns, pitching hay, you name it. Luther and Roberta rarely had any idea where I was when I wasn’t at school or the dinner table with them. I think that kind of supervision would’ve driven me crazy.”

“Probably. It drives me crazy, and I’m used to it.”

“Could I come see you in Sonoma?”

My legs stiffened so suddenly that we tilted left. Sam’s hand came over mine on the steering lever, gently guiding us away from an oncoming boat. Once we paddled ourselves clear, he let go and looked over at me, amused. “Did I freak you out?”

I shook my head, but couldn’t manage to spit out a simple no. I mean, obviously I’d been wondering the same thing—hoping that I could see him again after we left London—but those kinds of fantasies are always so much less overwhelming as just that: fantasies. Now, not only was I imagining a dorm, a roommate, classes, and fifty miles separating me from Mom and Nana, I was imagining Sam there, too. It seemed like an infinite abyss of unknowns.

“I just had a moment where it really hit me that I’m leaving home,” I admitted, “and I’m going to be on my own. I can’t even fathom living in a new place, let alone having you come see me outside of this London bubble.”

“You’re so brave, Tate.” He took a few quiet moments before speaking again. “But am I wrong to think there’s something happening here?”

I looked at him and waited for the right words to come. I’d had exactly one boyfriend. Jesse kissed me sophomore year at homecoming, and that was that. No discussion of do-you-want-this or should-we-try-that. In fact, we were never great when it came to discussing anything—we’d known each other since fourth grade, so romantic arbitration still eluded me. But I did know what Sam meant. It was why, even though I was on a trip with my grandmother, I’d been more careful with my makeup. It’s why I agonized a little every morning about what I was going to wear. It’s why my favorite part of the day was when I saw him.

“Tate?” he prompted when I remain silent.

“No, you’re not wrong,” I said.

“You feel it too?”

I wondered if he could hear my heartbeat. “Yeah. Sorry. I’m not very good at . . .”

He slowed his pedaling. “Is it too early to be talking about this?”

“I mean, I don’t know how college students-slash-writers-slash-farmers do things in Vermont, but it’s not too soon for me. Just new.”

But Sam didn’t laugh. He leaned over and pressed the slightest kiss to my neck, just beneath my jaw.

From my chest to between my legs, everything went tight. I could smell strawberries on his breath.

“You smell like strawberries.”

A rumbling laugh escaped, and he leaned back a little. “I had a crepe while I was waiting for you. Want to get off this lake and go get one?”

My legs were weak from the effort it took to paddle the boat against the wind back to the dock, but I was well aware Sam did most of the work. As he collected his deposit at the kiosk, he wasn’t even winded—he probably could have taken off and run twenty miles if I asked him to.

We bought two more crepes and found a spot on the grass, in dappled shade beneath a maple tree. I had the strange sense of being precariously suspended above a canyon, almost like the way I feel in a dream when I’m floating and look down and realize that I’m actually falling. This felt like the start of something new, something scary but glorious. It felt like I was deciding more than just whether or not I would kiss this man, but whether or not I would chase every other dirty thought I had, too.

He let out a satisfied moan when he finished the last bite of his food and fell back on the lawn with a grin aimed at the sky. “Damn, I could fall asleep right here.”

Out of instinct, I pulled my phone from my bag and sent Nana a quick text to let her know I was okay. She brought Mom’s BlackBerry; she despised all manner of mobile phone, but Mom insisted.

Nana replied shortly with, {tm}I’m at Libby’s for the next few hours. Meet me in the lobby at five, please.

I stared at my phone and felt something weightless inside me expand. It was only eleven in the morning, and I had an entire day of freedom.

I turned to find Sam already watching me. “What?”

He smiled and rolled onto his side, propping his head on his elbow. “We seem to spend most of our time together on lawns.”

The words burst free: “And horizontal.”

“And horizontal,” he agreed through a grin.

“At least it’s daylight.” And looking at him in the light—in a way I hadn’t been able to when we were out together during the day with Luther and Nana—was like chugging down a glass of cold water. His skin was smooth and clear, eyes like glass surrounded by generous lashes. He couldn’t have inherited anything from Luther genetically, but he sure did have the same wide smile.

He seemed to be taking me in just as carefully. His eyes swept over the long waves of my hair, across my cheeks, to my mouth—where they lingered. And then he met my gaze and grinned, pulling a small dimple into his left cheek. “You have amazing eyes.”

With a tremble in my stomach, I rolled to my side too, stacking our empty paper plates and moving them out of the way. “What do you feel like doing today?”

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