Stories from Lightport, Massachusetts
More stories from your favorite characters in The Front Row Series
Stories from Lightport, Massachusetts
More stories from your favorite characters in The Front Row Series
The September night air blew across Hannah’s bare shoulders, and she shivered. She had lost her sweater somewhere, sometime. The fight with her parents over her dress seemed ages ago now.
She had been afraid at first that they wouldn’t let her go. Her skirt was too short, they said, and it was strapless to boot. Her mother was livid that she had changed the catalog order after her mother had recorded her measurements. Instead of getting the long, spaghetti strap sheath dress in navy blue, like her mother thought, Hannah had ordered a tiny dress of powder blue with an extremely short gauzy skirt and beaded strapless bodice.
Hannah hugged herself against the chill night air and folded her legs carefully beneath her. She didn’t want to get splinters from the wet wooden boards of the dock. Lights illuminated the slips where boats were docked, the moon reflected off the water, and the town’s famous white and blue lighthouse shone from the promontory a short distance away. She rubbed her bare legs as a shaky sigh escaped her. She’d shed her pantyhose on the walk over from the school gym. They were filled with holes anyway.
This was not the way she’d envisioned this night going. It was supposed to be the stuff of dreams. Isaac, her longtime crush, had finally asked her out. She thought he’d never even notice her existence, yet a few weeks ago he had casually asked if she’d go to the homecoming dance with him. Micah and Rachel were going, of course, so they might as well pair up. Maybe not the most romantic of invitations, but she took it eagerly.
Rachel had helped her deceive her mother to get the dress of her dreams, and when Hannah had slipped it on, her friend declared her “sexy as hell.”
So maybe Hannah could see how her parents thought Rachel was a bad influence.
The wind blew Hannah’s hair in her face and she shoved it back in frustration. All that time spent first flat-ironing her hair then setting it in hot rollers for nothing.
“Hey,” a low voice spoke carefully behind her.
She turned and saw Beau Rockport standing there, his hands shoved in the pockets of his khaki pants. The gold tie he wore over his pale blue shirt was crooked, which Hannah suddenly found endearing. She patted the dock beside her.
“I can’t believe you followed me,” she told him as he settled down next to her. “I mean, not like I think you’re stalking me. I was upset, and I left the dance, so it’s understandable you came after me. It being so dark and all. Oh God, I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings just leaving you there! Cause you were so nice to stand up to Isaac like that. I can’t believe you did that. Like, wow, you did that, you hit him.”
Beau chuckled, whether because of her rambling or the idea of hitting Isaac, she wasn’t sure. He settled himself next to her, then shrugged off his sport jacket and draped it over her shoulders. It swamped her small frame, and she clutched it close to her.
“Thank you,” she told him.
“You must be freezing.”
When she tried to answer, her teeth chattered, and they both laughed. Beau put his arm around her and pulled her closer against him. He was so warm it made Hannah sigh, but there was something else too. Her heart swooped just a tiny bit when she got a whiff of his soap and shaving cream. He rubbed her arm methodically to warm her, leaving tingles in his wake. She gazed at his profile, wondering why she felt nervous butterflies in her stomach. She had known Beau her entire life.
He’d never looked quite so handsome, though . . .
“I couldn’t let him talk to you that way. Or grab you like that.”
Beau looked down at her then, a gentle smile upon his face, and her heart pounded when she realized how close his face was to hers. She found herself staring at his lips and had the craziest thought. I wonder what it would be like to kiss him?
She gave her head a small shake, and stared down at her hands that gripped his jacket. She was just emotional right now. She was wearing a sexy dress and had come to the dance with romantic expectations worthy of a teen rom-com. When all that blew up in her face, she simply latched those emotions onto the nearest guy. That guy just happened to be Beau. Her physical response to him now meant nothing.
“Isaac doesn’t normally act like that,” she whispered, her normal loquaciousness failing her.
“Micah doesn’t normally act like that either,” said Beau, “but they were all drinking.”
Though she had in the past. Her friends all said it was no big deal, so she’d had a few beers at the Halloween bonfire. Those hadn’t really tasted that great, so Micah had introduced her to rum and Coke at Rachel’s where her mother gave them free access to the liquor cabinet. She liked those much better. The hangover afterward, not so much.
She hadn’t gotten drunk again after that. If someone gave her a hard time or called her a goody-goody, she simply grabbed a beer and just sipped it. For some reason, though, she didn’t want Beau to know how far she had fallen from their days in the junior high youth group. She didn’t want him to know that while he, her sister, and Micah’s older brother had stayed on the straight and narrow, she had followed the pastor’s wild younger son into all kinds of stupidity.
“I just wanted to fit in,” Hannah finally said out loud. “Rachel seems so . . . free. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. I wanted to be cool and confident like her.”
“So you want to be like Rachel?”
Hannah squirmed. “Well, I guess not really.”
Rachel also had a mother who didn’t care where she was or who she was with; a mother who brought men home who too often noticed Rachel and her curvy figure. As much as Rachel complained about Hannah’s strict parents, she nevertheless preferred to sleep over at the Anderson’s. Then there were the occasional cuts on Rachel’s arms that she never wanted to talk about.
So no, if she was honest, she didn’t want to be like her friend.
“Well good, because I like you just the way you are. Always have.”
He squeezed her tightly, and Hannah shyly ducked her head. Why was she suddenly feeling so self-conscious around Beau? It made everything feel so . . . unsteady. So to cover it up, she started talking. That was always her go-to whenever she felt out of her element. Sometimes she could scarcely control the flow of words as they tumbled out of her.
Beau didn’t seem to mind, however. He listened as she talked about the fight that evening with her parents over the dress, about how she felt farther away from her sister than she ever had and how much she didn’t like the feeling, how she loved church but recently felt guilty every time she was there. Beau spoke brief sentences here and there, yet she still felt he understood her. When she talked about feeling left out at school, even when she was with a group of friends, he confessed to feeling the same. Then she shocked herself when she started talking about her guy problems.
“I’m horrible at flirting,” she told him with a laugh. “I talk too much.”
“I like listening to you.”
“Well, you’re the only one. Do you know what Mrs. Leeds at church teased me about on my last birthday?”
“Sweet sixteen and never been kissed. It was so embarrassing!”
“Why? It’s just some old saying.”
“It’s embarrassing because it’s true!”
Oh God, had she really just admitted that? What girl got to be as old as her without being kissed? She wanted the water below them to swallow her up.
“I’ve never kissed a girl,” Beau admitted quietly.
She gasped, then gazed up into his eyes. His darted away from her, and she could tell he was embarrassed too.
“I think that’s wonderful.”
It sounded so stupid, but he smiled down at her again, and that unsteady feeling swept over her once more. He reached over with his free hand to brush a strand of hair from her face. As he tucked it behind her ear, he traced her jaw lightly with his fingertips. Suddenly, she didn’t feel the cold at all.
The loud shout sent them jumping apart so fast, Hannah almost knocked one of her high heels into the water. She knew that voice - it was her father’s. What was he doing out here?
Beau rushed to his feet and hurriedly helped her up. She grabbed her heels and quickly put them on. Her father wouldn’t think that they . . . that she and Beau . . . God, she hoped her dad didn’t think that! It would be so humiliating. Teenage Girl Who’s Never Been Kissed Grounded for the Make Out Session that Never Was. Beau shuffled his feet back and forth as if he wanted to disappear as Karl Anderson rushed towards them.
“Thank God,” her father cried out as he grabbed Hannah and pulled her into a tight hug. “We were so scared.”
“Why?” Hannah muttered against her father’s shirt front. A t-shirt. Her father never wore t-shirts. Not in public anyway. She looked down and saw that he was wearing sweatpants and a pair of Birkenstocks. He’d hated those Birkenstocks when she and Kate got them for father’s day two years ago. He never wore them. It all added up to one thing: something was very, very wrong.
Her father pulled away, but he couldn’t seem to stop touching her. He rubbed her arms still wrapped in Beau’s jacket, he brushed her hair with his fingers and cupped her cheek.
“There’s been an accident,” he told her softly.
“Oh my God, not Kate!” she cried.
“No, no, your sister’s fine.”
Hannah felt relief sweep over her. But if not her sister, then . . .
“Your friends, Hannah. Micah, Rachel, and Isaac. That’s why we were so terrified. You were supposed to be with them, but you weren’t in Micah’s car.”
Hannah pressed a hand to her mouth as fear washed over her. Her terrified eyes swept over to Beau.
“They were drinking. I didn’t like it, so Beau . . .” Hannah couldn’t continue.
She started to tremble all over, and her father drew her into another hug. He looked over at Beau, and when he spoke, his voice was laced with relief.
“Thank you for taking care of my little girl.”
“It was my honor,” Beau replied with utter sincerity.
Hannah was grateful for them both as they guided her to her father’s car. She felt numb as she shivered in the back seat. Beau kept his distance, probably because her dad was nearby. Terror and fear overwhelmed her, yet she didn’t cry.
They’ll be okay. They have to be okay.
But it wasn’t okay, and nothing would ever be the same.
I am a former English teacher turned homeschool mom of three who writes Christian romance novels on the side. You know, in my huge amount of spare time.