In Between is Almost Here!
It’s been a hot second since I made a post so I figured an excerpt was a good idea to share!
MARY I’m messing around on my phone while the boys go in. I’ve never seen the appeal of haunted houses. You want to be scared? Why is that fun? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a killjoy.
“Pretty Girl?” a familiar voice has me lifting my head to see the newest kid to join our school, Charlie, standing closer than I expected.
“Oh, sorry, I thought you were talking to me,” I say the words faster than normal. What the hell is wrong with me? I guess I’m a little on edge being out here alone.
“I did, Pretty Girl. I said, hi.” He sits down next to me with his back against the wall. Close enough to have a conversation without yelling but not invading my personal space. Does he actually have some respect for girls? That would be a nice change.
“Mary,” I tell him my name since I can’t remember if I told him last night after the game. “Pretty Girl works just fine for me.” His smile is flirty, but I don’t think he means any harm. He has one of those faces that doesn’t set off warning bells in my head. He’s friendly and nice. “Whatcha doin’ out here alone?” He looks around like he’s looking for something.
“The boys are inside, but it’s not really my thing.” Shit. Should I have said that? Now he knows I’m alone.
I’m looking around too, seeing if there are people around or a quick exit that I can get to. I hate that this kind of anxiety is my default, but Jared is making me paranoid when I’m alone. Even being out of town, I’m still jumpy, and I hate it.
“Boys?” He cocks his head.
“Julian and Dylan.”
He nods, the big friendly smile back on his face. “The ‘don’t fuck with my girl’ guy and the cornerback.”
I have to admit, I was holding my breath, getting ready to be very angry on Julian’s behalf, but I let out the air when he says something normal. It’s nice to have a normal conversation with someone.
Now I’m smiling back at him. I think I can be friends with this one. “Yeah. Them.” I look around to see if anyone is waiting on him but don’t see anything. “You come with someone?”
“No, I saw the sign and decided to check it out.” He shrugs. “I don’t have many people to hang out with. I figured the guys on the team wouldn’t mind me joining them, but I’m not sure I want to be friends with most of them.”
“Where are you from, by the way?” I haven’t talked to him much, so this is the most I’ve heard him speak. His accent is different than most of the ones I hear around here.
“’Bama.” He shoves his fist in the air and shouts, “Roll tide!”
“What the fuck?” Dylan’s pissed-off voice has me turning to watch him stalk toward us. Uh-oh. He does not look happy. “First of all, cats, cats, cats.”
“That was fast,” I comment. Julian looks amused as he follows Dylan. What the hell happened in there? Why is Dylan angry? Charlie is just talking to me.
“Second, what the fuck are you doing?” Dylan pulls me off the ground and shoves me behind him, squaring off with Charlie for zero reason. What the actual crap? He’s being way more aggressive than he needs to be.
“Someone’s jealous,” Julian murmurs.
“Just keeping Pretty Girl company while she was waitin’ for ya.” Charlie’s easygoing vibe doesn’t change at all, despite Dylan wanting to kill him. He’s either familiar with what is happening or clueless. I’m not sure which.
“She doesn’t need you looking out for her. Fuck off,” Dylan snaps, fury radiating from him in waves.
“Hey.” I place my hand carefully on his ribs and slide around to his chest. He’s breathing harder, his lungs preparing his body to move quickly and attack if needed. “He’s not a threat.” A light bulb goes off in Charlie’s head. “I’m just a good ole country boy looking out for the lady. That’s how I was raised. Take care of the women.” He raises his hands, palms out, to show Dylan he doesn’t mean any harm.
“Well, the good ole country boys around here keep trying to rape my girl and like to hang black guys from trees. Excuse the fuck out of me for not trusting the newest country bumpkin.”
The switch from laid back to angry is so fast it actually scares me a bit. Charlie is hot, his fists clenching at his sides, and he bounces on the balls of his cowboy boots. “That shit ain’t happenin’ on my watch.”
“How about gays? You got a problem with them?” I ask over Dylan’s shoulder.
“Nope.” The answer is quick with no hesitation.
I smile at him. “I think I have a new best friend.”
“The fuck you do,” Julian and Dylan say at the same time, making me smile wider.
Charlie relaxes a little, he and Dylan still eyeing each other. I step away from Dylan and reach my hand out to shake Charlie’s. “Welcome to the island of misfit toys.”
He smiles at me and shakes my hand. While his big mitt is around my tiny hand, he winks at me. Julian laughs, and Dylan barks, “Watch it.” Before I’ve pulled my hand back, Dylan wraps an arm around my waist and pulls me into him.
“Hands off, bumpkin.” Uh-oh. Charlie has a nickname.
“Aw, you like him,” I tease Dylan. Julian snickers and moves to stand next to us.
“No, I don’t. Shut up,” he grumbles.
Julian slaps Charlie’s shoulder. “Come on, man, you can hang with us.” They walk toward the other building with games and food inside.
Dylan stiffens behind me, mumbling under his breath, “You watch it too.”
I'm the preacher's daughter. Dylan is the punk son of the bigoted sheriff. Julian the new kid in town everyone talks about in whispers and avoids like the plague. Dylan and Julian shouldn't want each other. It's dangerous. This town won't accept them and yet I run towards the fire because love deserves a chance. It's not just them that's in danger this time. They both want me too. I crave them and all they can offer me. But I can't have them. It's wrong. Perverted. Immoral. And I'm a good church girl. At least, that's what everyone thinks… Can we hide who we are from a town who’s against us or will we be burned by their hatred? *This is Mary’s story and can be read as a stand alone but will be best enjoyed after reading Bully King. This is an interracial MMF story and will have triggering language and situations due to racism and homophobia. For a more complete list of triggers, please check my website andijaxon.com/trigger-warnings