Excerpt – Promise in a Kiss

 

At the age of ten, Darren promised he would love his friend Adam forever and that they would someday marry. He sealed that promise with a kiss. One month later, his friend was gone, and their promise lost to the passage of time.

Years later, Darren cannot forget that long ago promise, and at the urging of a friend, decides to take a chance and track down the boy he once loved …

Excerpt: Promise in a Kiss

Lightning flashed white in the sky overhead, a skeletal hand clawing futilely at the darkness. As the light faded, an echoing thunderclap boomed through the air, and below, the small figure of Darren McGraw jumped, a startled yelp escaping his lips. Eyes narrowed, he attempted to see through the heavy onslaught of rainfall, searching for his playmate and constant companion, who had vanished somewhere amidst the thick tree trunks ahead. “Adam, where are you? Wait for me!”

Suddenly, tanned fingers curled around his slender wrist and his gaze snapped up a few inches to peer at the dark-haired boy who’d materialized beside him. “Dare, you’re too slow.”

Darren glared. “I am not!”

Adam smirked, reaching out to muss Darren’s sopping blond hair. “Come on. Let’s go home before the storm gets worse.”

Another rumble of thunder jarred the ground beneath their feet. Darren clutched at Adam’s hand, pulling him to a stop beside a towering tree. “Let’s wait a couple minutes.”

“What’s wrong?” Adam asked with a grin. “Are you scared?”

Darren wanted to deny it, but another boom of thunder nearly sent him out of his skin. He trembled, clinging to Adam’s hand like a lifeline.

“Don’t worry.” Adam was abruptly serious, the teasing gone from his voice. “I’ll protect you.”

Darren smiled shakily and released Adam’s hand so he could wind his small arms around his waist instead. He buried his face against the damp material of Adam’s shirt. “Do you promise?

Adam’s arms snaked around him, tugging Darren tighter against his chest. “Of course.”

“Adam?”

“Yeah?”

“Will … Will you marry me?” Darren asked, keeping his eyes downcast as warmth bloomed in his cheeks. Adam’s snort and sudden burst of laughter made his head jerk up, timidity forgotten as irritation sprung up to take its place. “What’s so funny?”

“Marry you?” Adam repeated, laughing again. “We’re too young to get married.”

Darren dropped his arms from around Adam’s waist and stepped back, eyebrows drawn together in a scowl. “Well, I didn’t mean right now. I meant later, you know, once we’re grown up.”

Adam shook his head in amusement and reached out to pat Darren fondly on the head. “It doesn’t matter how old we are anyway. Boys can’t marry each other.”

“Who says?”

“God, duh.”

“But my Uncle Steve married his boyfriend. We went to the ceremony and everything.”

Adam looked dubious. “But in church—”

“It wasn’t in church. It was on a beach.”

“Well, but … Pastor Tim said—”

“My mom says Pastor Tim’s a bigot.”

“Bigot?” Adam frowned. “What’s that?”

Darren shrugged. “I dunno. I heard her talkin’ to Uncle Steve about it.”

“Well, even if we could get married, why would you want to marry me instead of a girl anyway?”

“‘Cuz I love you,” Darren said simply. “And so I can kiss you all the time, like Uncle Steve and Uncle Terry.”

Adam blinked, looking surprised. “You love me?”

“‘Course I do. Don’t you love me too?”

“I … yeah. Yeah, Dare. You’re my best friend.”

“Well, then, we should get married. We could live in the same house and stay up as late as we want every night. Don’t you think it’d be cool?”

Adam smiled. “Yeah, I guess it would be. But how do you know you won’t change your mind?”

“Don’t be dumb. We’ll always be friends. I’m gonna love you forever!”

“Promise?”

Instead of answering, Darren balanced his weight on the tips of his toes and leaned forward, giving Adam a quick peck on the lips. “I promise. You’ll see. One day I’m gonna marry you.”

“Marry who?”

Darren jerked awake with a start at the sound of his roommate’s voice. Blinking groggily, he sat up in his chair. The sun, which had been high overhead when he settled at his desk to work on his most recent article, was sinking slowly beneath the horizon, the sky awash in vibrant shades or orange, red, and violet.

“What time is it?” he asked sleepily, smoothing flat the pile of papers he’d been using as a makeshift pillow.

“Six-thirty,” Kim replied, setting a cup of steaming tea on the desk in front of him. “And don’t think you can avoid answering the question. I heard you talking in your sleep.”

Darren groaned and reached up to massage the sore spot at his nape. “I wasn’t trying to avoid it.”

“Then who is it? You couldn’t possibly be seeing someone without telling me, could you?”

“Of course not.” Darren settled back into his seat with a sigh. “You know I haven’t been on a date in months.”

“And whose fault is that?” Kim asked, tossing her ponytail over one shoulder. “I’ve tried to hook you up countless times.”

Darren cringed. “Yeah, and Lord save me from your matchmaking attempts. I remember that blind date you sent me on when we were twenty.”

Kim had the grace to look chagrined. “You’re never gonna let me live that down.”

“Not on your life.”

“Forget about it already. Spilled milk, crumbled cookies, etcetera, etcetera.” Kim dropped into the chair in front of his desk. “I want to know about your upcoming nuptials. Give me all of the seedy details. Seriously, spare nothing.”

“There’s not much to tell,” Darren murmured, lifting the cup of tea to his lips as he waved vaguely with his other hand. “It’s ancient history.”

 

Release Date: March 6, 2012
Word count: 6,000 (approx) / Page count: 20

 

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