Fifteen years ago
The halls of Blue Moon High School were crowded with a sea of patchouli scented tie-dye. Long haired teens rocking Woodstock-reminiscent fashions meandered from class to class. The administration didn’t like to rush anyone and provided a full ten minutes for students to find their way to their next educational obligation.
Eden Moody stood out from the retro crowd with her purple highlighted pixie cut, vegan leather pants, and a flannel tied carefully around her waist. It had taken her four tries to get it just right. Her cousin Moon Beam yammered away in her ear about how by next year she’d have boobs and Beckett Pierce. Eden was newly seventeen and already had what boobs Mother Nature had been generous enough to bestow on her.
She popped her locker open and checked to make sure her eye liner wasn’t too smudged. Her eye makeup proudly skated the line between goth teen and grunge rock star. Her parents’ tolerance of it was annoying.
“So, it’s Beckett now?” Eden asked, only half-listening. Moon Beam Parker came from a long line of boy crazy women. Eden had a feeling her cousin would give Elizabeth Taylor a run for her money in the marriage department.
She traded her geometry book for a notebook and binder before slamming her locker door.
“He’s sooo sexy,” Moon Beam purred. At two days shy of sixteen and the freedom a learner’s permit would provide, Moon Beam was a danger to herself. Eden hoped that her cousin’s mother, Laura Beth, would make sure her daughter was immediately put on birth control.
Speaking of reasons for birth control, Eden’s focus narrowed to one figure strolling down the hall. He was tall and lean, with a shock of chestnut hair that always fell across his forehead. His eyes were the same warm brown as his hair. Davis Gates, in his vintage bell bottom jeans and handwoven hooded tunic, was walking in slow motion toward her.
It probably wasn’t actual slow motion, but that’s just how he moved, like he was the star of a coming of age movie. Girls swooned and guys followed in his wake eager to learn the secret to being cool. Davis Gates ruled Blue Moon High School. He was the nice guy, the good guy. His haikus made even their poetry teacher Mrs. Letchworth sigh. He was the guy who set school records for the 100-yard dash and gentle sheep shearing. And in art class? Gah. The man was a teenage DaVinci. While ninety percent of the class was smearing finger paints on canvas, Davis was creating masterpieces in non-GMO acrylics.
He was perfect in every way.
And Eden’s parents hated him.
“Hey there, Moody,” Davis said, lifting his dimpled chin in her direction. He had stubble, baby fine, patchy stubble on his sharp jaw. He was basically a man, Eden decided.
He stopped in front of her, those warm brown eyes studying her as if she were the only teenage girl in the hall. A thrill prickled the hair on her arms to standing.
“Gates,” she said, her tone blasé even though she could feel her heartbeat in her head.
He gave her that kinda shy, kinda sexy grin. “I saw that spin move you pulled on Birkbeck in gym this morning. Pretty awesome.”
Blue Moon High School spent nine weeks of the school year on ballroom and line dancing and two weeks on self-defense.
Eden felt a little thrill roll through her at the thought of Davis watching her during gym class. “He told me I hit like a girl.”
“So you kicked him in the chest.” Davis nodded his approval. “You’re pretty badass.”
Eden’s heart soared into the atmosphere. The cute guy she liked thought she was badass. This was better than getting her drivers license.
“Thanks,” her voice squeaked and she coughed to cover it up.
“I don’t want you to think that your bad-assedness wasn’t enough. But a couple of us wanted to make sure he learned his lesson. So we hid his clothes and replaced them with something a little more fitting.”
Just then Pond Birbeck, wearing a purple leotard with butterfly wings sewn to the back, stormed by. Apparently, the “something more fitting” was the school’s mascot costume.
“How’s it going, Birkbeck?” Davis asked slyly.
“Fuck you, Davis.” The Blue Moon Butterfly shot his middle finger into the air.
Eden and Moon Beam collapsed against her locker in a fit of laughter.
“Guess I better go apologize,” Davis said with a wink. “See you in class.”
“Cool.” Eden choked the word out on a laugh.
She and Moon Beam enjoyed the view as he walked away.
“Oh, my God,” Moon Beam purred. “He’s so into you! ‘See you in class,’” she said, mimicking Davis’s post-puberty baritone.
Eden tucked her hair behind her ear. “Do you think?” She needed a second opinion. All signs were pointing to Davis flirting with her. But there was always the possibility that her hormones were scrambling her brain. She’d had a front row seat to her sister’s high school hormonal parade.
“Totally.” Moon Beam’s sigh filled the emptying hallway with a cloud of longing. “I wish Beckett would look at me that way. So, when are you going to break the news to your parents that you are going to have ten thousand babies with Davis Gates, thereby destroying their souls?”
Eden had two excellent reasons for being attracted to Davis. The obvious: smart, sexy, funny, really, really, really good-looking.
But the bonus—the whipped cream, cherry, and sprinkles on top—was the fact that her parents enthusiastically detested his entire family. The Moodys and the Nuswings—now Gateses—had been feuding for approximately a million years over something stupid that none of them could remember correctly. Her parents took the feud so seriously, the only thing she’d ever been forbidden from doing was befriending Davis “Demon Spawn” Gates.
Her parents should have known better. Eden was a rebel starved for a cause. She now knew exactly how many seconds it would take her to climb from her bedroom window and shimmy down the birch tree to freedom despite the fact that she had no actual reasons for sneaking out… yet. But it couldn’t hurt to have a plan in place should an opportunity worth sneaking out ever present itself.
In Blue Moon, it was nearly impossible to rebel. Everyone was annoyingly accepting. Davis was the only forbidden fruit Eden had encountered. Her first recollection of him was their parents arguing over who got to the kindergarten registration table first. While her mother called his mother a sell-out yuppie and his father poked hers in the chest with an index finger, Eden had smiled shyly at Davis who, even at five, seemed immune to the drama.
“I have to get him to go out with me first. If I’m going to get in trouble, it’s going to be for something that I did, not just hoped to do,” Eden reminded Moon Beam.
“You’re so wise,” Moon Beam sighed.
“I’d better get to class.” Eden was in a hurry to slide into the seat next to Davis. When serendipity—and Ms. Charisma Champion—had assigned her to the stool at the beginning of the year, she knew it was a sign. Eden waved a cheerful good-bye to her cousin and clomped down the hallway, slipping through the classroom door a second before the chimes sounded.
Serendipity had not only put her on the stool next to Davis in Household Management and Partnerships it had magically paired them to be pretend life partners for a class project. Ms. Champion walked students through the boring everyday pieces and parts that made up an adult life in an attempt to teach teenagers how to navigate relationships. Unit chapters included: Developing a fifty-fifty division of household responsibilities, crafting budgets, strategizing conflict resolution scenarios, and creating “bucket filling” lists for both couples and the individual members of said couples.
It would have been a total snoozefest, except for the fact that she was in a fake domestic partnership with Davis Gates.
On paper, Eden and Davis were an unmarried—Eden approved the unconventional approach to a relationship—winemaker (Davis) and indie rock music marketing executive (Eden) who lived frugally, traveled extensively, and budgeted $65 a month for movie and concert dates. Eden liked that pretend grown-up partner Davis didn’t try to convince her to get a more realistic job or do the laundry. She felt it boded well for their future, real-life relationship.
Sure. Real life Eden would have preferred to find a smoky-eyed guitarist or a pierced-eyebrowed delinquent. But it was good-guy, do-right Davis who made her heart flip-flop in her chest.
Now, she just needed to convince him to ask her out.
We hope you are enjoying the book so far. To continue reading...