We are thrilled to be sharing an exclusive excerpt from THE BEAUTIFUL NOW, the upcoming release from M. Leighton.
Dane James worked my stepfather’s fields. He was the boy next door.
From the moment we met, we were star-crossed lovers—always wanting, never having. We loved each other for most of our lives, but right from the beginning destiny had other plans. She knew we would fall in love. She knew we would fall apart. Over and over again, like the curse of a recurring nightmare. Or the hope of a familiar dream.
Our past was tumultuous. Our future was bleak. But the one thing we always had was the beautiful now.
Until that was taken from us, too.
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(12 YEARS OLD)
We fell silent as he stepped into the field. He tugged me along behind him and I gladly followed him through the waist-high ocean of feathery crop. It swayed in the moonlight, silvery waves tossed gently back and forth by the warm night breeze. I held out the hand that wasn’t curled in Dane’s and let the thin stalks trail between my fingers. Their fluffy caps tickled one palm as Dane’s calloused skin warmed the other. I drew in a gulp of air and held it in my lungs. Something about the night felt perfect and…valuable, like it was special in a way I wouldn’t see much of in my life. I sure hadn’t up to that point. I didn’t want to let it go, so I held it inside me, trapped with the sweetly-scented air, for as long as I could hang on. Until I had to let it go.
In the moment I exhaled, I knew being with Dane James was right. Even though I’d get in trouble if I were discovered, I didn’t care. I couldn’t. Somehow with this boy I didn’t know, who had the prettiest eyes I’d ever seen, getting in trouble seemed small. And he seemed big. Bigger than life. He was worth the risk. I didn’t really understand it, but I knew it intuitively. My weakness for one boy, for the one wrong boy, was already taking hold. He needed me as much as I needed him and the rest didn’t really matter.
Dane led me deep into the field, so deep I was beginning to worry that we were going to get lost. We’d come so far I couldn’t even see the light from my window anymore. The farther we walked from the house, the darker the night appeared to grow. The faint glow of the moon overhead was our only light and Dane James was my only measure of security. He was all I had to hold onto.
He was my anchor.
He was my compass.
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