Teaser Thursday- Cluing In

This is from one of my older published books, which is now out of print. I’ve trunked it, meaning I have no intention of republishing it, but I felt like sharing an excerpt anyway.

Tina and I hung back until everyone else had bolted, then she clutched my hand as we navigated through the hall. She smiled brightly at all the other girls who looked at us. I was supposed to think that the hand-holding and smile meant she was happy to be with me. I knew better. They were warnings to the other girls. He’s mine. Back off.

Most of the time, I didn’t really mind Tina acting that way. Belonging with someone, especially someone like Tina, felt pretty good. She’d been one of the most popular girls in our grade, from kindergarten on up. Cute, with wavy blonde hair, blue eyes, and a body that people couldn’t help noticing. She was kind of short but made up for it by usually wearing three-inch heels. She was smarter than she liked to act, and had a great sense of humor. When she’d picked me as a date for a girl-ask-guy dance the winter before, I’d been astonished.

We’d been together ever since, and I knew how lucky I was. Except for the constant argument she’d started about two months after we started going out. And the fact that sometimes the line between belonging with her and belonging to her became a little blurry.

She guided me down the hall to her locker. To anyone else it would have looked like I did the guiding. “You don’t play football,” she said again.

“I think you’ve mentioned that.” I leaned against the locker beside hers. “I told you, I promised Isaac and the guys I’d go watch.”

“You’re blowing me off for your friends?” She narrowed her eyes. “I don’t think so, Jamey. Honestly, if I didn’t know better I’d think you didn’t want to spend time with me. You’re my boyfriend, aren’t you?”

“Obviously.”

“And we’ve had plans for you to come over this afternoon, haven’t we?” She opened her locker and shoved her English book inside. “Like, for a week now, we’ve had plans? You don’t just bail on your girlfriend to watch a bunch of guys get muddy and sweaty, Jamey. Not if you really like girls.”

“Don’t start.” Implying I was gay had been one of her first jabs when she realized I didn’t plan to sleep with her. I didn’t really care what she implied, but I also didn’t have to listen to her say it. “Fine, I’ll come over.” Bad idea. Really bad idea.

“Good.” She dimpled. “I knew you’d make the right decision. So, um, just to let you know, I have things ready at home.”

“You mean cookies and milk? We’re just going to spend time together, Tina. There’s nothing to be ready for.”

The dimples vanished. “You know, Jamey, it’s really rare for everyone else in my family to be gone at the same time. I have this afternoon all planned for us.” She lowered her voice. “We’ve been together eight months. Is there something wrong with me? Most guys wouldn’t turn this down.” Her tone hardened. “Or maybe everyone’s right about you and Jebbi.”

“Jebbi has nothing to do with this.” I groaned to myself. Jebbi and I had been best friends since kindergarten, and this wasn’t the first time I’d heard rumors about us. By eleventh grade, people should have clued in that she and I were just friends. Of course, some people weren’t happy unless they caused problems for other people.

I banged my head against the locker, hoping it would jolt my brain into thinking of something useful. No matter how I tried to explain it to her, Tina refused to grasp the idea that I just plain didn’t want to have sex yet. I was only sixteen. I wouldn’t explode or anything if I waited longer. Besides, my parents had only been eighteen when I was born, and Dad hadn’t been around much until I was five. I remembered hearing Mom cry when I was little because of how hard it was for her to take care of me. No way did I want to end up in a situation like that or put a girl I cared about in that position. I wanted to finish high school, maybe even college, before I took any chances.