Today's bit of fiction is a snippet of a scene that didn't make it into my current work in progress. SIGHTED (the title I FINALLY decided on) is a modern-day young adult retelling of the Cassandra myth. This scene takes place after Kassandra's 17th birthday party. The two characters are Julie (Kass's best friend) and Joel (best friend of Kass's twin brother, Nik).
By the time Joel got the moped out of the parking lot and onto the road, Julie was sure she was going to make it home alive. She continued the squeals, though, because she could feel the muscle in Joel’s belly tighten in laughter every time she did it.
She never would have guessed those muscles were even there. He was tall. And looked almost painfully thin. Baggy T-shirts over skinny jeans enhanced the bean pole image. What else was he hiding?
The motor of the scooter combined with the noise of moving air to keep them from talking. All Julie could do was feel him. His stomach with her hands. His sides with her arms. His legs with her own. The muscles there tensed and pulled to keep the moped in balance. Julie thought about leaning, throwing them off balance just to make those muscles dance.
The ride wasn’t long enough. Ten minutes of talking, muscle to muscle.
Joel guided the moped to a halt at the curb in front of Julie’s house and cut the engine.
Julie was slow to slide her hands from his waist and up to the helmet on her head. She pulled off the helmet, but didn’t get off the scooter. She wanted that contact to last.
This was Joel. The goofy, odd guy she had known since the dawn of forever ago. The best friend of the guy she had imagined herself in love with her whole life. Why did she want to touch him?
Joel pulled off his own helmet and turned his upper body to quirk an eyebrow at her.
Julie bit her lip and swung off the moped to stand beside him. She held out the helmet. “Thanks for the ride.” Her tone was all business. Where was the joking that always bounced between them?
He took the helmet and tucked it into one of the bags attached to the side of his scooter. “No problem.” He turned back to her and stared.
“What?” Julie asked and ran a hand self-consciously over her hair.
Joel tipped his head and looked at her as if he was piecing together the last bits of a puzzle. “What are you doing tomorrow?”
“I might go to Kass’s practice. I still need to write two papers that are due Monday.”
“Dinner?” he blurted.
Joel took a deep breath and shook the hair back from his face. “Do you want to go to dinner?” An awkward pause descended. “With me.”
“Like a date?” Julie felt her heart pick up in her chest. She was excited at the idea of a date with Joel. This was odd, unexpected. Nik. She was in love with Nik. Right?
“Like a date. You. Me. Dinner.” Joel’s eyes bounced between Julie’s face and the toes of her shoes.
Julie smiled. A light blush crept up over her deeply tan skin. “Yeah. I think that could be fun.”
Joel’s eyes finally settled on hers. “Yeah?”
“Yeah.” Julie bit her lip again. “I should get inside before my dad comes out to see what’s happening. He’s a little overprotective.”
Joel nodded and moved to start his scooter.
Julie leaned forward and kissed his cheek, barely missing his mouth, before he could get too far away. “Pick me up at six?”
Joel nodded, his mouth too dry for words. He slid his helmet back on and watched Julie walk up the sidewalk to her front door.
She turned with her hand on the doorknob and waved to him. He lifted his hand in return. “Sweet.” Joel nodded to himself.