My high school reunion story Ditched Again is now available in all ebook formats:
"I absolutely loved this story...Ms. Netzel’s characters showed deep emotions throughout this story and you just can’t help but become fully engrossed in the storyline. I loved how she wrote the story from both Summer and Josh’s point of view which made it fresh and unique. If you’re looking for a great read that has a wonderful storyline, than look no further." ~ Diana Coyle, NOR
You can click here for an excerpt in Summer's POV. Below is the beginning scene from Josh's POV.
I drove down the two lane state highway away from Silver Falls wishing I’d never replied to my ten year class reunion invitation. What the hell was I thinking?
It’d been a long, cold day at work unloading trucks, I was already running late, and now that the day was here, I really didn’t feel like sitting around with the people I went to school with reminiscing about the good ol’ days. My last two years of high school weren’t all that good and there was certainly nothing worth talking about. In fact, there were definitely a few subjects I much preferred to avoid.
And by subjects, I meant Summer Clark.
And her cousin, Jenna, who hated me as much as Summer had a right to.
My cell phone rang on the seat beside me and I debated answering. Huge, wet snowflakes slapped onto my truck’s windshield, cutting visibility to less than a quarter mile. I turned my wipers on high to keep up, and figured probably not a good idea to mess with the phone. Especially if it was my mom, who’d only aggravate me with questions like, “Are you dating anyone special?”, or “When are you going to meet a nice girl and give Zach a cousin to play with?”
With my sister Meg happily settled into marriage and parenthood, and since the last of my cousins got married before this past Christmas, mom had made it her mission to stick her nose into my love-life every chance she got.
Not that I had a love life. Hell, I didn’t even have a sex life, but no way in hell I was telling my mom that. And I avoided the subject of myself and kids whenever possible.
The incessant ring of the phone made me glance over and I caught Meg’s number. Meg I could deal with.
I tightened my grip on the wheel with my left hand and grabbed the phone with my right. “Hey, brat, what’s up?”
“Little brothers are brats, not older sisters,” she retorted.
I laughed. “I like the older part of that.”
“Oh, shut up.”
“Well, what do you want? I’m on Highway 32, and in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s snowing.”
“That’s why I called. I mopped today, and you have a mudroom for a reason. Use it.”
“It’s my house.”
“You have three options, brat. Clean it yourself. Pay more. Or take off your boots.”
“Mudroom it is.”
“That’s what I thought.”
I ignored her smug tone, especially when she added, “I left a couple servings of lasagna in your freezer, and Zach sent over some new pictures—they’re on your fridge.”
“Mmm, thanks. And tell Zach his favorite Uncle says hi.” I loved my little three-year-old nephew more than anything. In fact, I needed to head over to Meg’s soon so I could get my fix of the little tyke.
“I will,” Meg promised. “Bye.”
I set the phone down on the seat, only to have it ring about ten seconds later. Meg. “Now what?”
“Isn’t your class reunion tonight?”
She would remember that, wouldn’t she? “Yeah,” I confirmed cautiously.
“Any old flames going to be there?”
I immediately pictured the one person I didn’t want to think about, wearing an emerald green dress the night of the Snowball Winter Formal. Thanks, Meg. “I don’t know.”
“Ah-ha! So you do have someone from high school besides crazy Lyssa.”
“Everyone’s got old crushes from high school, Meg.”
“Check out their ring fingers, okay? I’d like to be an aunt before I hit thirty-five.”
“Oh, God, you’re as bad as Mom,” I grumbled.
“Well, you’re not getting any younger, and it wouldn’t kill you to actually try and go on a date every so often. Or for that matter, just have sex once in awhile.”
“God, Meg, shut up. My sex life is fine, thank you.”
“That’s not what Tony says.”
“Your husband doesn’t know shit,” I retorted.
She snorted. “Then how come you haven’t bought any new condoms in over a year?”
I nearly choked. “Wh--! How the hell do you know that? Quit snooping in my drawers!”
“Oh, relax, it was last spring. Tony stopped by for lunch when I was cleaning one day, and we didn’t want any ‘oops’ so close to Zach.”
My jaw tightened, along with my fingers on both the steering wheel and my phone. Two years between kids was not that close, but I focused on the other issue at hand. “You better have used the guest bed.”
“Who said we used a bed?” my sister said in a low voice she should only ever use with her husband.
“Gross. I’m hanging up.”
“What?” I growled.
“You shouldn’t talk on your phone while you’re driving.”
I hung up on her chuckle and shook my head as I slid the phone in the chest pocket of my flannel jacket. Should’ve let the damn thing go to voicemail. Bad enough our mom hounded me, now my sister knew I had no sex life, and I wouldn’t be able to walk through my house without wondering where she and her husband had done the nasty.
My truck wheel got caught in a rut and I hauled the wheel to the right. Maybe with this weather I could just avoid the whole reunion. Thinking of Summer put a rock in my stomach heavy enough that I’d rather deal with sister issues at home.
Besides, the weather man had said six to ten inches and at five-thirty there was already at least three on the ground, maybe four. Just a couple more miles to my house and then I could take a hot shower before watching the action movie I bought last week. A couple beers and Meg’s lasagna might relax me enough to forget about the x-rated things other people were doing in my house that I wasn’t.
I gripped the steering wheel in protest, powering my truck through the slushy mess obscuring the road to the point where I couldn’t even see the center line. I didn’t know if Summer would even be at the reunion, so I was not chickening out. A major winter storm on the fifth of May was more than reason enough to stay home.
Besides, last time I saw Jenna she’d taken extreme pleasure rubbing in the fact that Summer had moved on. Summer now lived in Florida and was engaged to be married. She was happy and completely over my asshole mistake the night of the Snowball dance.
I’d always liked Summer in school, and though we were friends, she intimidated the hell out of me. Pretty, smart, funny…and just shy enough to be mysterious. On the other hand, my girlfriend at the time was anything but mysterious. Not to mention, Lyssa knew exactly how to play a typical teenage guy who was easily led around by the fly of his pants. Every time we broke up and I considered asking Summer out, Lyssa would unzip me back in.
The Snowball dance couldn’t have been timed more perfectly. Lyssa and I had been broken up for almost a month and I was voted the Junior representative for the court. I had to choose a girl from my class to stand up with me, so I took the opportunity to ask Summer. She said yes, and then spent the next couple weeks blushing every time I said “hi” in the hall.
The night of the dance, I waited on her porch with my stomach flipping like crazy, fingering the petals of a pink corsage. Summer opened the door and nearly took my breath away. Her green dress brought out the color in her hazel eyes, and she’d curled her dark hair. I couldn’t tell you what else she’d done, but pretty was out the window and beautiful had taken its place.
“Wow,” I managed. “You look great, Summer.”
“Thanks.” She smiled and blushed before dropping her gaze. “So do you.”
I relaxed with the realization she was as nervous as me. After sliding the corsage onto her wrist, I held out my arm so she wouldn’t slip on the snow covered walkway. The night flew by, and before I knew it the Grand March was over. I was off to the side with a couple friends discussing where to go after the dance when Lyssa walked into the gym wearing a barely-there dress and fuck-me heels. I recognized them because she’d worn them before and told me exactly what they were for.
From all the way across the gym I saw Summer’s smile disappear. Shit. I was going to need some help getting through this one. I headed straight to the punch bowl and downed two full glasses, thankful a couple of seniors had spiked it earlier. Then I found Lyssa and dragged her out into the hall before she could ruin the rest of my night.
She dropped a bomb and ruined it anyway.
Just thinking about that night and what followed pissed me off and shamed me at the same time. I usually dealt with the memories by blocking them out and continuing my life as if it’d never happened.
And I would do that again by skipping the reunion. I wasn’t a coward; I just didn’t need another in-my-face round of reminders.
My front tires hit a dip in the road and threw slush in all directions just as a low pair of headlights cut through the falling snow. I realized the car was half in my lane only seconds before the other vehicle jerked to the right and avoided a head-on collision.
Talk about a reality check. Attention on the road, man.Heart thumping, I applied the brakes, because no way that vehicle had avoided the ditch.
Thanks for reading!
Stacey Joy Netzel