I’m wrapping up the first draft of my debut fiction novel, and to keep myself on the path toward publishing I’ll post my excerpts here.
Seaside Island is a quiet and safe town where up until now, very little has ever happened. When a wild predator let’s loose on the quaint and peaceful island, 17-year-old foster kid Ash Mason is driven into the wilderness to track and kill the predator and avenge the innocent. In this coming-of-age journey set in 1970s California, Ash discovers grief, isolation, off-the-grid hippies, wise gypsies, free love, and the looming threats of the island’s dust-bowl interior. Ash’ greatest endeavor, however, is coming to terms with the forbidden desires of his wild and conflicted heart.
Shortly after Tommy left, the bleeding stopped, but Ash kept his hand on Becca’s wrist. They sat quietly, leaning on one another against the island in the kitchen.
Conflicting thoughts battled in Ash’ mind. He wondered if she needed him there, to stay and be strong for her, or should he pursue into the interior to hunt Isaac’s killer? His heart told him to stay, let her fall into his arms and comfort her, let the world and Tommy and everything else blither away, get lost in each other. Use their fragile emotions to build a new life, together. Yet, the mountain called to him, beckoned him to be a man. The killer was out there, hungry, ready to kill again without resistance. His mind told him to endeavor into the wilderness, to retribute the evil that tore apart their hearts. Like so many times before, indecision chastised him.
“Ash, we can’t–” Becca’s voice cut through his thoughts.
“Do you?” She looked up at him. Even in the midst of her despair, he yearned for her unbearably, heightened by the fact that he now knew how she felt for him, a mystery solved only to be archived. He could carry the weight of his own feelings, but to know she reciprocated made keeping the secret impossible.
“Becca. You know how I feel, and there’s some peace for me there, you lifted the weight that I’ve carried for so long—” his mind interjected, fearful that perhaps she hadn’t felt for him as deeply as he did for her. She grieved, and maybe the admission of her feelings was a mere growth from the nucleus of heartbreak. “I shouldn’t have put this on you, it’s unfair to you. I know that you love Tommy.”
“I do, or I did. But, it’s not the same, Ash. Now, with you–it’s different. I can’t explain it. It’s like you’ve been here all along, but I’m only now just seeing you for the first time. Seeing the man you’ve become–”
In his reality, a life of constant disregard to his worth, of being ostracized as a boy, a foster kid, a bastard, the words were welcomed hot iron against his chest. His cheek pressed against hers as he inhaled deeply, lavender and honey swirling into him. Even though his love for her ramshackled him, if this was all he ever got, the closest to her he’d ever be, he’d endure hell a thousand times just to smell that scent. He’d savor it, the warmth of her cheek against his, the motion of her lip quivering, the salt of her tears soaking into his skin, her bloody wrist enclosed in his hand. The velocity of his affection was a wild bull wrangled into a fleeting moment in time.
“But we can’t. It’s not right, Ash. I’m a wife. The only person I trust right now is you, and that scares the hell out of me. Because Tommy, he’s my husband, and I’ve betrayed him with these feelings. I don’t know what’s come over me. Maybe it’s always been there for me, too. But–” her voice shook, she pulled her hand away from his and resumed resolutely. “It’s not real, Ash. Don’t you see, it could never be that way for us. We’ve got to find our way back to how it was before. This was just a foolish innocent crush, you have to forget those feelings for me, forever. I have a duty as a woman, and my boy, my baby, he’s gone. Tommy is all I have left, I have to remain loyal to that.”
“I understand. I should go.”
“I’m sorry, Ash, I shouldn’t have given you hope.”
“Don’t be sorry, I couldn’t bear it. That hope has helped me through this. But you— you should be with Tommy right now, and I’m getting in the way of that.” He stood up to leave, but hesitated on his thoughts. “Becca, if I’m going to lock these feelings away forever, know this. It’s not an innocent crush for me. I want you, to the core of my being. I would do anything for you, die for you. I see what everyone else sees… your armor, your beauty, but I also see your soul.”
She looked up at him again, saw the golden speckles of his dark eyes illuminated. The rhythm of her heart beated to irrational drums. She desperately tried to fight it, but those brown eyes, so distant and cold to everyone else, reflected her wild emotions. She tried to deny it, but she also saw into his soul– reckless, chaotic and dangerous, but pure.
“God dammit Ash,” she stood up to face him. “Don’t go.”
He stood there, startled at her response. She inched toward him, he tried to turn away from her, but she grabbed his arm, turned his body to face hers.
“Becca— you’re not thinking clearly right now.” It was everything he’d ever wanted to hear from her. But she was grieving, unstable, he wouldn’t abuse her weakness.
“Sure about that? I could say the same to you. So you’re scared. Well, I am too, dammit. But I know what I feel.” He tried to look away from her, but she touched his cheek, turned it back toward her. “Tell me you don’t want me, and I’ll never mention it again.” He fought desperately to say no, to save her from the consequences that would handily destroy them.
“I don’t want you, Becca. You’re Tommy’s.”
“Liar. You liar. How long have you been in love with me? I finally figured it out and now… now you deny it?”
“I’m not, Becca.” He looked her in the eyes. “I’m not in love with you.”
She reached her trembling wrist up and cradled his head, the bloody towel fell to the floor. With her raw, evocative emotions flaring, she pressed her lips into his. He lost himself, fell into her being, bathed in her soul. Both bodiless, floating, circling around a dangerous embrace that neither could refuse. He now knew the heaven Isaac asked him about. It wasn’t a place, a stagnant location, or even a feeling or vision. It wasn’t void of pain, or perfect. It was an excruciating, torturous, unbearable rapture, where pain couldn’t penetrate the protection of love. A space in time where obstacles crumbled beneath a union all encompassing, an enraptured wholeness, where man alone is worthless. She was heaven. But she was wrong, he didn’t just want her, he needed her. Her warm breath carried the innocence deprived of him, the tangy taste of resilience gave him hope, maybe they could carve a place in this world, together. His hand caressed the small of her back, atop the fuzzy velvet fibers of her tank top, he needed to feel her skin. He slipped his hand underneath, felt the warm electric tingles of fine hairs on his fingertips. The gentle, soft shape of her chest pulsated her heart against his, one beat bouncing off the other, finding an unexpected rhythm inside the pain.
“Ash,” she broke from his lips, stayed close enough to feel his breath, “I need you.”
Yes, this was heaven.
The screen door swung open and Tommy’s boots thudded onto the laminate flooring. A bouquet of roses fell to the ground, petals scattered toward Ash and Becca, who hastily withdrew their embrace.
“You’re dead, kid!” He swung a blistering right hook into Ash’ skull. Heaven darkened as abruptly it first appeared.
I hope you enjoyed this book excerpt from my debut fiction novel, Seaside Island, which will be published in 2019! Stay tuned for more. If you liked it, feel free to share it. 🙂 Want to swap fiction stories, get in touch so we can nerd out.
Christina Lyon is a coffee-sipping, word-obsessed business blogger, content writer, and blog consultant. She’s on fire for helping creative entrepreneurs and small biz owners build thriving blogs that enhance online visibility and convert to sales. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves to play music and explore the beaches and wild trails along the California coast with her husband Steve and rescue pup, Clio.
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