My latest novel, FALLING GRACEFULLY, is available now on Amazon.
What do you do when your life is over before it even really began? For Melody Bledsoe, the answer is to go home and lick your wounds. For Jessie Cartwright, the answer is to survive.
Read the bonus scenes below.
Melody and Jessie smoke a joint
The only thing she could think of as she looked at it pinched between her thumb and forefinger was that this was so very unlike her.
“How long will it last?”
“About an hour,” Melody said. “It’s not very good weed.”
“Will Ellie notice?”
“Not unless you’re planning to smoke the whole thing,” Melody said with a smile.
She was amused at Jessie’s complete lack of experience as a drug user, and rather than finding it annoying, Jessie couldn’t help thinking it was a bit charming the way Melody’s dimples became more pronounced when she smirked at her.
Melody turned to face Jessie, her shoulder still leaning against the brick wall, and it seemed like the space between them was shrinking every minute. Their eyes met, and Jessie allowed herself to linger openly over Melody’s face for the first time. Her tongue flicked briefly over her lips, her teeth biting into her fleshy lower lip as a smile played over her face, and then she said, “You want to take a small hit just to see what it’s all about.”
Jessie followed along with Melody’s instructions.
“Suck the smoke into your mouth, and then inhale it into your lungs. You might cough,” she said, watching Jessie intently the whole time. The smoke was acrid but she managed not to choke on it like a complete idiot. Melody grinned and said, “But probably not because this is some pretty weak shit.
Okay, now exhale.”
Jessie tilted her head up the same way Melody had, blowing her first hit of weed skyward, then she handed the joint back to Melody, who was still looking at her expectantly.
They were silent for a moment, and then she said, “I don’t feel anything.”
Melody took a second hit, then brushed the burning tip of the joint against the brick until the cherry fell to the pavement. “Give it a minute.”
Jessie watched her pinch the tip of the joint, checking to make sure it had gone out, and then pull the plastic baggie back out of her pocket to carefully roll it up and put it away. Melody’s fingers were so slender and yet they moved so adeptly at her task. Jessie found herself blushing as she wondered what else those fingers could do, and then Melody was laughing.
“Don’t look now, but you’re stoned.”
“You were watching my hands as if I was performing brain surgery,” Melody said. “Yeah, I’m pretty confident. How does it feel?”
Jessie tore her eyes away from Melody’s fingers as she stuffed the joint back into her wallet. She looked around, at the motionless parking lot and the expanse of asphalt, and then at the way the sun glittered through the leaves of a nearby oak tree, and the feeling of the breeze on her skin. It was all exactly the same as it had been when she came out here, but slightly different in a way she couldn’t really put into words.
Steve tells Jessie to go for it with Melody
There was only one problem. Now that she was free to do anything, Jessie couldn’t chase away the lingering fear that Melody didn’t have the same kind of intentions. They’d spent a year exchanging micro-flirtations, glances here and there that clearly hinted at desire but maybe nothing more than that.
And when the dance school was on break for the summer, Jessie found her fears growing with each passing day.
What if it was nothing but a flirtation to Melody?
One muggy hot Saturday at the end of summer, Ellie was playing in the yard a few doors down with a new friend she’d made, and Jessie was sitting on the stoop in her blue smock after she got home from work. Ellie was old enough to play by herself without being watched now, but it was too humid to sit in the house, at least not until the sun started to go down and it cooled off a bit. Steve came outside after a little while and sat down next to Jessie.
“What are you doing?” He asked.
“Just watching our fearless daughter try to find garter snakes in the weeds over there,” she said with a laugh. “God, sometimes I’d think she’s not my kid if I wasn’t there for the birth.”
“You’d better encourage that behavior,” Steve said, jabbing Jessie playfully with his elbow. “You’re going to need her to take care of spiders at three a.m. now that I’m not around.”
“Oh, you think divorce gets you out of spider duty?” Jessie asked. “You, sir, are mistaken.”
Steve laughed, and then he said, “Seriously, though, what are you doing with regards to… life?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Jessie said.
“I’m talking about Melody,” he said. “We separated amicably, we both decided this was for the best, so what the hell are you waiting for? You gonna give it another five years?”
“No,” Jessie said defensively. “I don’t know. It didn’t seem fair to just go out and immediately start seeing someone else.”
“Jess, you know I’m okay with it,” Steve said. “Did it hurt like hell when I found out? Yeah. But once I was honest with myself about our relationship it just made sense. I have absolutely no reservations about the two of us moving on, and neither should you. Go get her!”
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