“As Life Goes: The End of the Innocence” is now off to the editor and I expect to have it available just before the Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales right after Thanksgiving. It is the second book in the “As Life Goes” series; As Life Goes: Elementary is already available.
Excerpts for the books in that series are available via:
As Life Goes: Elementary – Links to Excerpts
In the meantime I’d like to remind folks that As Life Goes: The End of the Innocence – Excerpt I is available and I would like to introduce the next free excerpt below:
As Life Goes: The End of the Innocence – Excerpt II
The August summer sun moved high into the sky and Michael, Tim, and Matthew moved from the water back over to the blankets where everyone was sitting and laying out.
Liz sat up next to Marie and Donna. “How was the water?” she asked pulling her red hair back tighter in the pony tail and glancing over at Matthew who was still making his way up.
“Not too bad really,” Tim answered taking a seat next to Patti. “It’s never super warm but it’s a good break from the ninety plus degrees… HEY SANDMAN!” Tim yelled over to Matthew who was still lagging behind.
Matthew looked up at him. “We should come again tomorrow with whoever is off,” Tim shouted. “It’s going to be hot again and the summer is nearly over.” Tim looked back over at everyone nearby. “Anyone in?”
Marie looked at Donna. Marie shrugged, “Wouldn’t kill me to come again. Liz, can you drive again?”
Liz paused for a moment. “I’m not sure, maybe.” She looked up at Matthew who finally came all the way over. “Matthew,” she began, leaning in a little further and allowing her suit top to hang, “I like the idea of all going in one car; is there enough room in the van?”
“Mike,” Matthew said looking over and stretching his arms up over his head. “You said you were out for tomorrow… you have to work?”
Michael looked on while Lesley chimed in. “Me too. Well, not work, but I have to help my mother with some stuff during the afternoon so I’m out as well. But I’m in the next time for sure.”
Matthew looked over at Donna whose attention he was hoping to get, “Can you come with us tomorrow? I could come by and pick you up?”
Donna was pleased that Matthew asked her directly, which drew Melissa’s attention.
“Um… I think so,” Donna responded, trying to sound reserved and holding back a grin. “I would have to double check with my mother but I can’t think of a reason why I can’t go.”
Matthew grabbed his wallet from inside his sneakers, which were next to his bag on the beach. He took a pen out of the bag, but then tossed it back, and pulled a business card from his wallet. “This is my number at home in my room. Give me a call when you get home tonight; I’ll take your number then and we can square up the details for tomorrow.”
“You have your own line in your bedroom?” Donna asked looking at the business card.
“Well, I pay for it with the money I earn mowing the lawns,” he said proudly. “Speaking of which,” he said turning to Tim, “we can bag the lawns tomorrow to come to the beach again but it’s supposed to rain over the weekend. I’m going to need your help on Friday to finish up all the work.”
Tim flashed a ‘thumbs up’ and leaned in and kissed Patti, playfully tipping her over. Melissa watched the two of them kiss.
Liz glanced over at Matthew’s business card in Donna’s hand. She slowly slid over to Matthew. “Can I have one? I didn’t know your father set you up with a business already.”
“Oh no,” Matthew defended, “It’s nothing that formal. I started cutting lawns and I bought a trailer to hook up to the van to haul the mowers around. I got cards made because people kept asking for my information and that was easier. I pay the insurance for liability and such, and then the insurance and fuel for the van; the rest is just for whatever.”
“He’s being modest,” Tim said pulling away from Patti.
Michael looked over and chimed in. “He is,” he said standing up and taking Lesley’s hand. “He’s made more since April with Tim helping him than some people make all year at a fast food place.” Lesley brushed the sand off the back of her thighs and wrapped her arm around Michael as he continued. “He could probably get a couple of leaf blowers for the fall and a plow and blower for the winter…”
Matthew waived his hand in the air a little, “no, no, no… for the extra money it’s great but I don’t think I want to do this the rest of my life.”
“What do you want to do?” Liz asked, holding out her hand casually for her card.
A quick look of contempt came over Donna’s face once Liz began to monopolize the conversation with Matthew.
Tim smiled at Liz’s question and walked away with Patti toward the water and away from the group.
Carrie nudged Melissa, who then sat up and switched over to a kneeling position closer to where Patti was standing prior, taking up her space.
“Honestly?” Matthew said while handing the card to her and then closing up his bag. “I really wanted to be an on-air DJ on the radio. I even looked into the broadcasting school up in Bloomfield. It’s not terribly expensive and after the courses are done they offer job placement services.” He stood up and Liz followed his frame as he took a step away. “But I also looked into the future track of that career in the overall job market with Michael, sharp as shit he is with stuff like that, and what we figured out is that the career is in a decline. So… I guess I’ll have to look into something else.” Matthew took a few steps backward toward the water and looked over at Donna. “Of course I have all of senior year to think about it. Right now?” he said smiling at her. “I’m just looking forward to tomorrow, the warm weather, the beach, and the company.”
Lesley tugged at Michael and the two of them walked away and towards the parking area in the direction of the ice cream trucks.
Donna watched Matthew as he turned and headed over to the water. She watched him casually jog away, hoping he’d turn around to look at her one more time. He slowed a little and turned his head partly but never fully turned around. That was good enough for Donna as she noticed it.
Melissa watched Matthew head away as well. She let her thoughts drift only for a minute before Donna spoke up.
“What the hell, Liz,” Donna said moving closer to her.
“What?” Liz asked looking as innocently as she could come off.
Carrie and Alecia stopped what they were doing to pay attention, since it was now just the five girls on the blankets.
“Robert and Stan aren’t enough? Matthew shows some interest in me and you have to twat block me?” Donna exclaimed.
“Wow,” Melissa whispered to Carrie and Alecia, leaning in quickly. “A second ago I was pissed at Donna for getting Matthew’s attention and now I’m on her side.” Melissa leaned back and watched Matthew enter the water at the shoreline as light waves from the Atlantic Ocean crashed in.
“You know what Donna,” Liz said standing up quickly, “if he had a solid interest in you, I wouldn’t be able to pull his attention. Clearly it’s equal or at least divided,” she said tugging down on her own top. “The question you need to ask yourself is ‘how far am I able to go to get and keep his attention’?”
Donna couldn’t respond more than just opening her mouth. Liz smirked, turned, and followed Matthew’s path to the water.
Marie touched Donna’s shoulder while Carrie moved over to close up a tighter circle.
“You know what Donna?” Marie said quickly. “If Matthew is that easily swayed by her, you don’t want to waste your time with him.”
“Oh!” Donna exclaimed. “Yes I do. He’s a nice guy… mostly. He’s like everyone else when it comes to Liz. She’s like this siren that none of them can resist.”
“That’s because she’s a huge slut whore,” Alecia responded adjusting her sunglasses.
“She’s going to go out there now and just pull him into her web, you watch,” Donna said somewhat upset. “By the time she’s done with him, he’ll take her to the beach tomorrow and he won’t even remember to call me back,” she said looking at his business card.
“Look,” Melissa said, mustering all the confidence she could considering the emotional conflict she was having. “Matthew tends to “walk the walk’ as they say. He showed an interest in you; he’s going to follow up. Liz is going to be a challenge for him; he’s been infatuated with her since the first day he ever laid eyes on her, but that infatuation is the only power she has on him. He’s otherwise level headed.”
“Ah…” Carrie said, flipping her short brown hair. “But which head is more level!”
The girls were quiet for a second and then they all screamed and giggled at the comment.
Matthew swam out deeper into the ocean to a point where he was upper chest deep in the water when standing. He turned to look back to the shore when he saw Liz coming out toward him.
He stared at her wet, slicked back, red hair and was mesmerized looking into her eyes. She stopped a little further back from where he was so she could stand in the shallower water.
“Are you going to come back in a little?” she asked playfully with her back to the shore.
“I guess I could,” Matthew said innocently and looking around. “Other than the jet skiers way out there,” he said pointing across the way, “and the ones on the boogie boards, we’re the farthest out.”
Liz was pleased when he came in somewhat. She took two steps out toward him.
Matthew looked back over to where the girls were sitting. They were huddled up and talking. Liz glanced back at them. “They are talking amongst themselves.” She reached under the water and touched Matthew on both hips. “I’m right here and you have my full attention.”
Matthew flinched at her touch. Despite the fact that they had been familiar and friendly with one another, innocently, over the years, each time Liz touched him, it was like a static shock and he never could prepare himself for it.
“I’ve always meant to tell you,” she said with a slight tone of mischief in her voice, “that I am always turned on by your response to my touch.”
“I’m not sure I understand,” Matthew responded genuinely.
“All of you boys… well… I guess you’re all men now that you’re over eighteen… you all collapse when I touch you. You come at me and take me. You think I am all yours but you’re all really mine.” She smiled at him. “Not you though. Oh you want to give in,” she said lowering her hand across the outside front of his bathing suit under the water and tightly feeling exactly how excited he was. “But you resist… why.”
“I’m not like all the others,” Matthew said as best he could to maintain his composure. “I won’t be put into a box with everyone else.”
“No you’re not like everyone else,” Liz said in her playfully evil tone. “Still,” she said, loosening his drawstring and slipping her hand inside his suit, “you’re only so far removed.”
Liz tightly wrapped her right hand and played. She used her left hand to part her two-piece top and expose herself.
Matthew grunted. He partly took a step backward but Liz matched with a forward step.
“It’s pretty clear you’re excited,” she said. “You’re underwater. To the whole beach it looks like we are two people out here talking.”
Liz sped up her movements as Matthew’s resistance completely failed and he was captivated by what she was doing to him. Matthew tried to look back at Donna but Liz simply moved herself back into his view.
“You want her?” she said playfully. “She wants you; you can have her tomorrow. Right this moment, you’re all mine. I will have you.”
Matthew couldn’t look away anymore. His attraction to Liz was always very strong and with her right in front of him, doing what she was doing, he couldn’t break away. He also realized that even if he could, he really didn’t want to. What she was doing felt so wonderful and it was more than he ever imagined he’d have with her.
He swallowed hard and his breathing became short and shallow. Liz curled up her lips more at his response. She stepped forward and kissed him, still moving her right hand rapidly. With her pulling her top left and away with her free hand, and then touching her chest to his, it was more than Matthew could stand. He lost control and let go. Liz stopped kissing him and touched her forehead to his; she looked down into the water and squeezed her right hand in response and rhythm to him. She listened to him huff a couple of times and groan. He reached out with his hands and pulled her in from her hips.
“You can go now,” she whispered quietly. “All I wanted was your response… today. I have it. You can go back to Donna now.”
Matthew drew back as Liz let go of him.
“I love and hate the way you make me feel… you know that right?” Matthew said sounding irritated.
“I know,” she said. “And right back at you.”
Matthew slowly backed away and looked at her. “I don’t do what you do… the taunting and teasing. You do that intentionally.”
Liz said nothing and only smiled a little. She drew her right hand up, out of the ocean, and over her tight belly.
Matthew stopped walking away. “That’s it, isn’t it?”
Liz stopped and lowered her hand into the water and stared at him blankly.
“What you do to me intentionally… you do that ‘back’ to me. There’s something I do, or it’s just me in general, that invokes an emotional response from you.” Matthew stepped forward half a step. “Look, I didn’t mean to… I mean… we’ve known each other forever. Some feelings are tough to get away from. However, I never abuse it… I know what we mean to one another; friendship wise and then some.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about Matthew,” she said quickly becoming irritated. “I enjoy exciting you and getting a response from you… and other men. Beyond that, it’s mainly meaningless.”
Matthew quickly studied her. He decided on what his thoughts were on the matter and knew she’d never confess or own up to anything more. “Of course,” he said with a smile. “And my response was…”
“A handful,” she said, with some of her prior emotional response returning. “Luckily,” she said, tracing both of her hands across the ocean surface, “I didn’t have to go far to wash my handful off.”
Matthew smiled at her and she returned it.
“Shall we meet out here again tomorrow?” she said playfully.
Matthew dropped his playful look. “As much as I enjoyed your attention, if I am formally here with Donna tomorrow, no.”
“You can say no to me?” she said playfully.
“Honestly?” Matthew asked, watching Liz. “Probably not. Given that, I’ll have no choice but to keep my distance.”
Liz initially didn’t know how to take his comments or how to respond but a slow and sly smile crept across her face.
Matthew smiled, turned away, and headed back to shore.