I’ve always been a big one for second-chance romances. I read them, I write them, I believe in them. There was even an imprint in the 80s called Second Chance at Love that I read faithfully and still snatch up copies of when I find them. Even my own story is like that. I met my husband when I was dating his best friend. Duane didn’t like me at first, but that changed over those next few months in 1969 . We became friends, exchanging hundreds of letters during his 14 months in Vietnam. We were married in 1971.
So it’s not always about protagonists rediscovering their first loves—sometimes it’s just old friends coming together as…well, new friends. And more.
Just as the “and more” is at the center of my life, it’s also the story of ONE MORE SUMMER. Dillon stood Grace up for the prom when she was an awkward graduating senior and he was her brother’s best friend. In this summer of both sadness and joy 15 years later, Dillon does show up. And there is indeed more.
One More Summer
Copyright © 2012 by Liz Flaherty
“This is supposed to be a prom.” Dillon pushed aside his dessert plate. He gestured toward the backyard. “The dance floor waits.”
Grace got to her feet. “Remember how fragile these glass slippers are.”
He nudged one of her bare feet with the toe of his sandal. “Damn near invisible too. Isn’t technology something?”
Dillon and Steven had placed citronella torches in the yard, and the scent of the oil blended with that of the flowers. The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” filled the air and Dillon put his arms around Grace’s waist. Gently, not pulling her close. She rested her hands lightly on his shoulders, suddenly shy. Other than aerobics classes in the church basement that Promise had dragged her to, she hadn’t danced since high school.
As they moved across the lawn, however, his arms tightened and her hands crept up around his neck, the left one with its glaring white bandage held palm out. His muscled legs moved against hers, but the motions they made were liquid, graceful, and she wished whimsically for a waltz and a flowing dress.
The song changed, and he sang close to her ear. The grass dance floor was cool and damp beneath her feet, the star-filled sky a splendid ceiling, the flickering torches the most romantic of lights, the subtle scent of roses a seductive aroma. Almost against her will, Grace’s eyes drifted closed as his lips lowered to hers. The ambiance was lost on Grace as Dillon’s kiss took over her senses. All she felt were his hands splayed on her back, his body flush with hers. All she smelled was the pleasant mingling of charcoal smoke and Irish Spring soap that lingered on his shirt and his skin. She tasted only his mouth, flavored with wine and coffee, and she couldn’t get enough of it.
After the third kiss, when her insides were a roiling mass of sensation and emotion, she murmured, “Geezy Pete.”
He said, “You got that right,” and stroked a hand up her back. “What’s this? You didn’t wear a bra to the prom?”
She brought her injured hand into his line of vision and waggled it. “I couldn’t fasten it.”
His hand came around between them to cup one small, denim-covered breast. “What a shame.” He found her nipple and worked the bead of its tip between his fingers.
A low moan slipped uncaught from her throat. Clutching her composure like a lifeline before it disintegrated completely, she said, “The music’s stopped.”
“Do you really think so?” he whispered, and teased her lips with the tip of his tongue until they opened.
They had danced their way to where they stood among the trees. When she opened her eyes again, she caught sight of a torch to their left, anchored into the ground beside the single step that led inside the gazebo.
“No decent man in his right mind’s going to want you, girl.”
“No, Papa,” she whispered, caught in the horror, and moved restively in Dillon’s embrace.
“Gracie?” His voice was soft, gentling.
“I need to go in.” The words sounded much more urgent than the situation demanded, but she couldn’t unsay them.
“Okay.” He answered immediately, and turned her toward the house, but didn’t release her. “I’ll take you back.”
Steven and Promise weren’t on the back porch. The candles had been snuffed, but the dishes remained on the table. “Leave them,” Dillon said, leading her firmly past the mess and into the house. “Steven and I will take care of it. You go on up.”
She nodded and moved toward the stairs, but turned when she stood on the second one. “Dillon?”
“Yeah?” He smiled at her, the expression not erasing the frown of concern between his eyes.
“Thank you. The ‘prom’ was wonderful.” Without waiting for a reply, she ran the rest of the way up the stairs.
* * * *
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