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Summer Nights

By:J.M. Sevilla

Summer Nights
Author: J.M. Sevilla





Prologue

"Who wants ice cream?" My dad asks cheerfully as he comes into the kitchen, where my sister and I are finishing up the dinner dishes.

My soapy hand is up high in the air before he even finishes the question, "I do!"

Anything to get out of this house, even if it's only for thirty minutes or so.

It's Friday night and I haven't been able to leave since Tuesday, when I took Mrs. Fraser her dinners, and that was only for about two hours. Two hours out of the house in one week.

I'm thirteen and suffocating.

My dad smiles wider, crinkling the crows feet around the edges of his eyes, "Finish up and we'll go."

"Should Hannah really be having sugar so late?" My sister, Lauren, protests. "It's her bedtime in an hour." She's five years older than me, though she acts like she's decades more.

I stifle a scowl while furiously scrubbing the pan in front of me to keep from snapping back at her and risk getting the belt from our dad.

Why does she always have to get involved? She's not my mom, so I never understand why she tries to act like she is. My oldest sister, Chelsea, says it's because she was born needing someone to boss around, and I'm her someone. That makes me feel great. Not. At least she'll be getting married in a couple months and out of my hair.

"Pssh!" My dad dismisses, "She's thirteen, let's get out on a Friday night!"

Lauren's not too happy that she lost, but she keeps her mouth shut for the same reason I did.

I so badly want to stick my tongue out at her back right now. If Dad wasn't in the room I probably would.

We load into the Van, my mom riding shotgun. Lauren climbs into the middle row. The seat next to her is kept empty, having belonged to Chelsea. I follow behind her and get in the back. I don't mind though, I like not having anyone sitting next to me.

I have always found it weird that we get in the car by birth order, but then again most of the things my family does I question. Silently, of course. I learned my lesson early on not to question things aloud, but not understanding has only made me feel like an outsider to my family. Actually, I feel like that everywhere.

I enjoy the scenery as we drive, soaking up the outside world while I can.

When we arrive, I'm relieved that no one else is here. I hate the way people stare at us. We're different from them and they know it, judging us for it.

All the females in my family have their hair in a long braid going down their backs. The clothes we wear are always either a dress or a blouse and skirt, tailored to prevent "too much" skin from showing, even in the heat of summer. My mom believes most girls outside of our family and church "wear too little, where is their modesty?" That's part of the reason we're homeschooled: they don't want the world to influence their kids and disturb our conservative Christian faith.

My dad orders for us. I find that unfair, mostly because I have always wanted to try the rainbow sherbet. I'm not even sure I'd like it, it just catches my eye every time. The colors are so pretty to me.

I get mint chocolate chip. Again. Big surprise. That's what my dad likes, so that's what we all get. Even my mom.

We scoot two of their tiny tables together so we can all sit together. I lean back against the wall, slowly licking my cone, hoping to prolong our stay.

We're silent. We have to be in public; my dad doesn't believe in causing noise. You must be respectful and not be a disturbance.

I hear them coming before I see them. Loud footsteps, even louder laughter.

A group of teenagers come into view of the window. One of them opens the door, and the loudness of their voices are quite the contrast to the quiet of the store. It's a jolt to my senses.

My father frowns in disapproval. My mom places a hand over his, rubbing it with her thumb, trying to soothe his agitation.

My eyes first catch hold of the girl, the only one in the group. She's laughing as one of the boys, who's double her size, puts her in a headlock and messes with her hair. Laughing harder, she pushes him away.

I'm not quite sure but I think she's close to my age, yet oh-so-different. She has long hair just like I do, but where mine's a sandy dull color, hers is a shiny rich brown and dangling all over the place. She keeps having to wipe it away from her mouth. My eyes are a boring hazel color, while hers are a beautiful pale blue. She has on short shorts and a shirt she's knotted off in the back, making it reveal some of her stomach.

I blush and look over at my father. He's too busy scowling at them to notice me staring, so I go back to looking and licking my cone.

My fascination increases when I take in the identical twin boys. I have never seen twins before – at least not identical ones. They have light blond hair and are wearing identical clothes; dirty and wrinkled, but matching. They also have dimples. I like their dimples. It makes them seem friendly. And cute. Very cute.

I blush again and look over at my father, worried he may be able to read my less than pure thoughts. I'm in the clear. I hold in a sigh of relief, then I check to see if Lauren noticed. I don't want her telling on me.

Her eyes are transfixed and I follow her gaze. There are four other boys all goofing around, jumping up in excitement while scouring their flavor choices, pushing each other around, calling one another names. Amidst the craziness my eyes land on Lauren's sole focus. He's leaning with a forearm on top of the high counter, peering down at the ice cream. The arm has defined muscles and his shirt has risen from his stance, revealing his abs. I have never seen anyone with muscles or abs before, at least not like that.

I'm frozen, ice cream cone suspended in place.

He puts the rest of the boys to shame with his looks. His dark hair contrasts with his pale eyes. His face is hard,

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