What If... excerpt
Katie sat on the dilapidated porch of a girl she barely knew, waiting for her dad to arrive. The area was lit by a single bulb with no fixture, eerily humming next to the front door. Katie’s house was homey and clean. This house was run down and depressing. Katie hadn’t been impressed, upon arrival, with the vitamin green house or its front yard of brown grass and dead foliage. Now, with pieces of the wooden deck digging into the back of her legs, she was even less so. She had only worn this skirt because it was a warm spring night and it felt good to finally feel a little warmth in the air. She hadn’t planned to need protection from splinters.
Luckily, she had at least thought to bring a light sweater for when the cool night air arrived. The garment was now doubling as Kleenex. It was all she had at her disposal and it was better than the alternative. Her mom would have been furious if she knew Katie was using her sleeve to wipe the snot from her upper lip, but there was no way in heck she was going back into that house with tears flowing down her face and a snot mustache. It was the best she could do as she sat and patiently waited.
The party she was attending had been her boyfriend Chris’ idea. He was rapidly becoming more popular now that he had gotten involved in sports and was excelling. Suddenly people, who had not noticed either of them, were paying close attention. Katie was honest enough with herself to admit that Chris’ popularity had surpassed her own and she was now his plus one, rather than he being hers.
She didn’t mind so much, she had seen the fickle side of popularity before and she could deal with being the supporting player as long as Chris didn’t treat her that way.
Now out of his shell, he was funny and much more charming by the day. He was the star and she was happy for him, mostly. They had gotten into a few fights recently about his new attitude, because to her it seemed he was letting the attention get the best of him. Katie didn’t like the big ego he was toting around town disguised as his head. She was the reason he had tried out for sports in the first place, she was the one who had helped him with his GPA to be eligible, so she had hoped he would be more appreciative, or at least treat her as well as he had before he got popular. Clearly, that was not going to happen, because here she was on this porch, weeping and oozing visible signs of sadness from her entire face.
Katie vaguely heard sirens off in the distance, but didn’t give them too much thought. She was busy trying to calm herself, trying to control her breathing with deep, long breaths of air. Unfortunately, every time she breathed in all she could smell was jasmine. She never understood why everyone loved jasmine so much. It made her nose burn, eyes water, and well, it stunk. So, at the very least she could tell people it was a bad reaction to jasmine that had her eyes swollen and leaking.
The sirens were closer; she could hear them even through her own sobs, snot, and sorrow. Her dad would be there any minute and he would make her feel better. He always did. Scraped knees, hurt feelings, bad grades, he had a way of making them all seem better. When Katie had called him to come and get her, she could tell that he was worried. He kept asking her what was wrong, but she couldn’t get the words out past the tears. She could barely get out the request for a ride home.
The emergency vehicles seemed ever louder or maybe there were just more of them, it was hard to tell. Katie was worried her dad might be delayed if traffic was blocked; for what sounded like a big accident. She thought she could pick out an ambulance siren now and maybe a fire truck, it was impossible to discern the different sounds as they mixed together in a sad melody. Behind her, the music was still loud and the voices of her peers laughing and gossiping about each other started to fade away. The pit of her stomach began to ache. Dad wasn’t here yet, it had been at least ten minutes, maybe more, and they didn’t live that far away. Katie heard the front door open and looked back to see Chris standing there with a concerned look on his face.
“Katie, what are you doing out here? I’ve been looking all over the house for you.” He had the nerve to sound perturbed. He stepped closer to where she was sitting and she put her hand up to tell him to stop, before she stood up to face him.
“Really? All over the house, huh? Too bad I wasn’t in that brunette’s mouth, ‘cause then you would have found me right away.” She snapped at him.
Immediate guilt washed over his far too handsome face. His eyes, the most amazing hazel, often said more than his words. When he was sad, they were glassy, as if he were stifling tears. When he was happy, they seemed to be smiling just as much as his mouth. And when he was being a joker or mischievous, which was ninety percent of the time, they sparkled like the night sky. He couldn’t hide much if you paid attention to his eyes.
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about walking into the basement looking for you, since I thought we were at this party together, and finding you with your tongue down some other girl’s throat! That’s what I am talking about, Chris, and if you try to deny it, I’ll just scream. I am so mad at you right now.”
One fateful night during high school Katie Wright loses everything: her father, the first man she ever loved, dies in a car accident and Chris Staller, the first boy she’s ever loved, breaks her heart. Fast-forward ten years and Katie is a beautiful, successful woman who has spent the past decade doing her best to make her life all about work, keeping everyone at arms length—friends and lovers alike. But she’s lonely and beginning to awaken to the fact that pretending to be happy and content doesn’t mean she actually is. Working through her emotional challenges while maintaining a stellar career reputation has been tricky, but she’s always determined to come out on top.
Paying a visit to her old high school, Katie runs into Chris, now a dedicated PE teacher who pines for the one he let get away: her. An upstanding member of the community and a much better man than he was a boy, Chris is determined to win Katie back at all cost. But Katie is less than receptive to the idea, and when he lays down a challenge, she is determined to come out on top again.
Kelly has generously offered an ebook copy of What If... to a lucky commenter!
All you have to do is leave a comment for Kelly or tell us what is your favourite part in a romance: the meeting, the getting to know each other, the falling in love, the after the happy ever after? Or some other moment? Share it with us!