Happy Valentine's Day!
*update made on 2/13/21: This excerpt is from my novel All the Love You Write, A Hauntingly Sweet Romance. This young adult sweet paranormal romance was published by Fire and Ice YA Books in late 2019 and is still available in print and ebook.
Whether or not you have someone special in your life, I hope you'll enjoy the day with some sweets and something sweet to read. My next YA novel, All the Love You Write is scheduled to be released by Fire and Ice YA Books in late summer this year. It's still got to go through editing and proofreading rounds, and it hasn't got a cover yet. Still, I thought it would be fun to share a little sneak peek at it today. This is a scene that takes place on Valentine's Day between my main characters Mark and Bethany.
First, a little set-up (as this is pretty far into the book). Mark and Bethany, both seniors in high school start dating after Winter Break. They have a rocky start, but thanks to a meddling ghost who help Mark write a beautiful love letter, they are finally on track.
The big problem now is that Bethany knows that once high school is over, she will head off to college, and Mark is leaving to join the military. She is having a hard time investing herself in a relationship that is doomed to end. And it really doesn't help that a different ghost is meddling with her, too. Only, this ghost is not like the ghost who helped Mark. This ghost wants Bethany to leave Mark before she breaks his heart.
To top it off, Bethany's divorced mother is making her spend Valentine's evening with her at a play instead of letting her go on a date with Mark.
Joe and Eileen didn’t get to spend Valentine’s Day together because he was in Vietnam. I supposed they had spent Valentine’s Day together the year before while they were still in school, but never again.
Next year on Valentine’s Day, Mark would be deployed. He might be in the Middle East somewhere. We would definitely not be able to spend Valentine’s Day together. And if he died there, we’d never spend it together. Never.
I ran down the hall and stood at the top of the stairs. “Mom! I won’t go to the play with you tomorrow night. I have to spend Valentine’s Day with Mark.”
Mom twisted around on the couch and looked up at me. “You’re going with me, and that’s final. Mark will survive.”
But that’s the whole point. What if he didn’t? What if he didn’t survive for another Valentine’s Day?
“Mom. Please. This is important to me.”
“I tell you what,” she said. “I’ll give you money to pay for the dinner when you two do go out together to celebrate. My gift to you two. Okay? Fair deal?”
“End of discussion.”
I suppose the play was good. I have no idea. I don’t remember watching it.
Mark and I did have lunch at school together that day, but it was it was hardly private. We decided to picnic in the gym hallway as a sad farewell to our secret love letter nook. He brought some sparkling apple cider and plastic champagne glasses. I made us both some ham sandwiches and cookies. He took off the worn out watch he owned and put on the watch I gave him. His excitement about it seemed genuine. In turn, he clasped the locket he gave me around my neck. It was oval shaped, about an inch tall. The gold had lost its shine, but the etched flowers were still visible. He said it was his Aunt Nettie’s and that she wanted me to have it. I was grateful that it hadn’t been Eileen’s. I was afraid it might burn me or choke me during the night.
“I didn’t put pictures in it yet,” he told me. “I’d mess them up. I figured you’d do a better job at cutting them the right size and stuff.”
I took a selfie of us holding our champagne glasses. It came out really cute, and I told him that was the picture I’d use in the locket until we got a better one at his J.R.O.T.C. ball or prom.
He gave me a sweet kiss while people around us oohed and clapped.
It was something but not enough. A true Valentine’s celebration shouldn’t be cut short by a school bell sending you to fifth period.
I hated being at the play knowing he was roller skating burgers and fries out to people’s cars in the cold February weather. My stomach churned with the guilt of it, and I went to the bathroom twice thinking I was about to throw up. Mom asked if I thought I had the flu. When Riff and Bernardo died, I cried. When Tony died, I sobbed some more. I didn’t care that they died, but the tears had been waiting for the opportunity and took it with abandon. I blubbered halfway home. Mom stopped going on about the show after a while when she finally clued it that my tears had nothing to do with West Side Story.
When we pulled into our garage, Mom put her hand on my arm before I got out of the car. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I know I upset your plans with Mark, but…” She squeezed my arm too tightly. “I just didn’t want to spend Valentine’s Day alone again. It’s hard, you know?”
My mom’s eyes were soft, her eyeliner smeared with some tears she’d been quietly crying on her own. Tears that weren’t for Riff, Bernardo, or Tony either. I reached across the seats with my free arm and hugged her.
“It’s okay,” I whispered.
Now my guilt was two-fold. I’d let Mark down, but I’d also spoiled my mother’s night. She wanted a night out with me to not think about this romantic holiday that she no longer shared with a husband. I was a jerk. I was a terrible person. Although, in my defense, if she’d said something about her real feelings earlier, I could have done better. I think.
“Mom, you know you can talk to me about things, right? About Dad, if you want to.”
She let go of me and turned off the car. “It’s not about your dad. It’s about this dumb holiday. When you don’t have anyone, it makes the loneliness so much more vivid.”
“I guess it does,” I agreed.
We went in the house, and when I was sure she was all right and getting ready for bed, I went to my room. I talked to Mark on the phone, but it was a short call. I lay there in the dark, unable to sleep as Valentine’s Day shifted to February 15th.
“It’s just a dumb holiday,” I said, repeating my mom’s words. “Just a holiday to make people spend money on gifts and cards. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean anything.”
I hope you enjoyed that little glimpse of All the Love You Write. It is a sweet teen romance with some paranormal activity. Learn more about the book and read another excerpt here. It's available in print and ebook and is FREE for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.
I also have a Valentine's Day scene in my novel Echo of the Cliffs, book 3 of the Juniper Sawfeather Trilogy. If you'd like to read that cute, romantic excerpt between Juniper and her boyfriend Carter, click on over this old blog post.
Want to read the whole series? You're in luck. The ebook box set is only $6.99 or free at Kindle Unlimited. That's less than half what it would cost to purchase them separately.
I'd love to hear from you. So, please feel free to leave a comment.
D. G. Driver
Award-winning author of books for teen and tween readers. Learn more about her and her writing at www.dgdriver.com
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Write and Rewrite Blog
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A blog mostly about the process of revision with occasional guest posts, book reviews, and posts related to my books.