<— Bred IS LIVE & Ginger Scott is today’s newsletter sponsor!!! She’s celebrating her latest release with an excerpt for us to indulge in!! P.S. This one’s free to read in KU!!!
Excerpt from Bred by Ginger Scott
A coming-of-age love story inspired by Great Expectations
He holds his palm open to unveil a key, and I flash my eyes wide.
“We’re not supposed to be up here?” My pulse jets. All of my firsts with Henry seem to be about breaking rules!
“If that door wasn’t locked, everyone would be up here. Nah…this place is private.” His mouth forms a crooked smile as he pushes the key deep in his pocket and holds out both hands toward me with his palms up.
“Private, huh?” Nervously, I reach for him. He is going to feel my fear the moment our hands touch.
“I mean…I guess I could let you borrow the key anytime you want,” he winks, immediately chuckling when my hands nervously cover his.
“You are still a bad hand-holder, Lily Ames!” His voice echoes off the retaining walls that we could easily climb over on a dare if we wanted to. That thought continuously runs through my mind because daring things seem to be Henry’s muse.
“Shut up, jerk! I’m nervous because I didn’t know I was going to break the law on my first day of school!” I grab his hands firmly, maybe a little anger in my hold. Henry just throws his head back and laughs at the sky.
“There’s no law about being on a roof, Lily Ames…” His chin falls and his eyes settle on mine with all of the warmth of the sun. His teeth barely part, hiding his tongue behind the devious smile that lives on those lips.
“Quit saying my entire name!” I shake his hands once in mine as I shout nonsense at him. He’s trying to goad me. He does this sometimes. I’d rather not be goaded on a rooftop though.
“Lily Ames.” The words spill out in a breath, all gravely and deep in a voice that switched from young to mature over the course of our relationship. I narrow my eyes on his in a challenge, defiant only because I don’t want to give in. I’m stubborn. Always stubborn rather than giving over and letting Henry bring out my joy.
He works for it, just as he does every time. Like an older brother poking at his baby sister’s weak spots, he sings my name out loud, so loud I’m sure it’s carried over the roof and into the corridor below.
“Shhhhh!” I say, stepping closer to him and flattening one of my palms over his mouth. I can feel his breath as he laughs, and damn him the entire thing forces my mouth to curl into a relenting smile.
“Lily! Ames! Rooftop dancer!” He howls after he declares my latest dare for the entire world—at least this small corner of Chicago.
“Henry!” I giggle out his name, my hand still struggling to cover his mouth, doing a poor job of it. Tangled arms and hands wrestle, while our feet jockey for dominant positions. I’m destined to lose—I always am with him—both because of his six-inch advantage and because my heart gives in too quickly.
My grip weakens just as his slows and grows more tender, his hands both cuffing my wrists loosely, one in the space between us and one against his cheek, a light brush of his jawline runs against my skin as he shifts my hand just enough for his lips to dust against my veins.
My constant state of vibration is making the earth move in my vision. This is the first time I’ve held his hand minus playful slaps since the cab ride, which was so very special. This moment right here has left that memory completely in the dust.
Henry presses a soft—no…a precious—kiss against my wrist before holding it firmly against his cheek. At some point we began to rock our steps, and as Henry’s eyes reflect against the setting sun, the brown and green mix in a hypnotic gaze that stops my heart ever so briefly. It skips. I die, just for a breath. I die—and I come back.
“Dance with me,” he says, lips falling into the casual smile a boyfriend would wear. Perhaps it’s just the smile of a truly best friend. A best friend whose lips have the power to cripple me with smiles and slight touches.
“Okay,” I say, voice crackling through the word. Henry’s chest quakes with quiet laughter at my expense.
“Always so nervous,” he says, drawing me to his chest, pressing my right hand to his chest as he abandons it. His other hand follows the curve of my side and the lower part of my back. I fit with him, my head falling under the weight of his chin while we draw tiny circles with our feet under a beam of rays that poke holes through Midwestern clouds. The air is getting crisp, and I tuck my face against his warmth, thankful for the excuse. I smell him—his shirt like warm, pressed cotton, his cologne a wooden honey and spice. I listen to his heartbeat through his chest, through bones and skin, his body against mine.
I have no idea what we are, or why I’m the one he brought up here. I fight off those thoughts that tear me down, screaming that it will be another girl tomorrow. It doesn’t matter, because today…it’s me. I’m the girl in Henry Alderman’s arms dancing as the sun sets, welcoming four years of a future I’ve dreamed of in a place I somehow was lucky enough to come.
This place is for secrets. And this shall be mine.