by Kate Gavin
Cameron Leoni is about to start her senior year of high school. Between helping her mother take care of her two younger brothers and working at the library to save money for college, there’s just barely enough time for anything but soccer.
Riley Baker is the new girl in town. Though she’s been out to her parents and friends back home, she’s reluctant to share that information with her new classmates.
When Cam meets Riley on the first day of soccer tryouts, Cam is unsure why she feels so drawn to the other girl. They become fast friends and soon Cameron can’t help the butterflies she feels every time the two touch.
Riley wants to be honest and come out to Cam but she doesn’t want to lose her as a friend. She won’t allow herself to dream of the possibility of anything more between them.
Cam and Riley will have to navigate the emotional halls of high school, friends and family as they realize there might be more than just friendship growing between them.
FROM THE AUTHOR
"Like I say in my acknowledgments for Full of Promise, I never thought I would write a book. My high school English teacher used to tell my mom that I write like I talk. AKA, in as few words as possible. However, that all seemed to change when I took a queer studies class several years ago and the final project was to use different mediums to talk about a specific topic affecting the LGBTQ community. A short story about a high school senior coming to terms with her bisexuality was born. Then a funny thing happened, I wanted to write more words! Not long before writing this book, I started coming out to my family and friends as bisexual. Getting this story on paper was important for me personally in two ways. First, I think it helped me accept and love myself a little quicker. Second, I wanted to write a story for any kids, teens, and even adults that do identify as something other than gay/lesbian or straight. I wanted to show them that they are valid, and their stories are worth telling. And if I can help just one person out when they read my book, then I will be one happy writer."—Kate Gavin
R. Swier - Full of Promise was a very sweet young adult romance novel about discovering one’s sexuality and the emotional turmoil involved. Cam, a high school senior, was already dealing with the aftermath of her parents’ recent divorce. Since her mother took on another job, responsibility of taking care of her two younger brothers was thrust upon her. Between school, a part time job, soccer, and hanging out with her best friend Claire and boyfriend Danny, Cam was stretched to the limit. But she took everything in stride-held her emotions in check-until she couldn’t anymore, especially when a newly transferred classmate, Riley, entered her life. The attraction was undeniable for both girls, and Cam began to seriously question her sexuality and how her family would react to it.
The author effectively captured Cam’s heart wrenching emotional journey throughout the story. Her pain…and love…was evident with every interaction and setback she faced. You cannot help but become invested in her life changes and all those affected by it. Cam’s family and friends were also an integral part of her life and their reactions added to the realistic nature of this story.
This was a very well written captivating read. I believe young adults will definitely embraced Cam’s journey and hopefully realize that there are others like themselves who are also finding their way to their own true self.
Bethany K. - I have to say... I'm not normally a huge fan or reader of YA / NA novels, but this one really worked for me! Even better yet, it seems to be a debut novel for Gavin, so my hat's off to her!
This one was a very sweet YA read where our MCs Cam and Riley are both high school seniors. They meet when Riley moves to town and joins the soccer team that Cam and her best friend Claire are already a part of. Cam's struggling with home life, taking on extra responsibility of caring for her younger brothers while her mom works more hours after a divorce. Riley is new to town, and she's already an out lesbian, but she's struggling to make friends and be accepted. When Cam befriends Riley, she begins to question her feelings for the new girl and realizes that she might not be as straight as she thought she was.
The relationship between Riley and her mom was beautiful, everyone deserves a mom like this, especially questioning LGBT teens. It was refreshing to see this POV. Best friend Claire's reaction was a bit over the top, but provided a bit of needed angst to the novel.
All in all, I enjoyed this one and was never tempted to skim ahead, which is my norm in a YA novel. It's a well written, low angst read, and I appreciated that Gavin didn't make the younger characters quite so... young. They were intelligent and had level heads instead of being over the top dramatic.
I really enjoyed this one, and think that many others will also. Recommended! I'm looking forward to Gavin's next novel! Solid 4 stars.
Jules P. - We meet Cam at her summer job in the library, rolling her cart past the cute girl she’s been sneaking peeks at and who she’s been exchanging small smiles with. The hitch is that Cam has a boyfriend and is straight. Later, she meets this new girl, Riley, at school and gradually forms a friendship that has an underlying tension of something more, eventually building into an actual romance.
Full of Promise is a sweet story, smooth reading with all the heart tugs you’d expect from two young women falling in love. But rather than being a straight to gay tale, it was more about Cam recognizing and giving light to another part of herself. There were some emotional bumps but nothing harsh like other coming out books. Good, solid YA story.
This was a sweet young adult romance. This is a solid debut for Gavin with a very readable story. One of the mains is a lesbian where the other main is coming to terms with her bisexuality. This is a classic coming of age, coming out story, but with much more good feels than bad. I enjoyed the pace and feel of this book. Gavin’s writing felt easy and smooth and didn’t really have any of that choppiness that you sometimes find with new authors. If you are looking for a YA book that is a feel good romance, this would be a perfect pick.
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Rolling her book cart into the nonfiction section, Cameron Leoni nodded along to the beat of the song coming through her earbuds. Working at the library had its advantages. She spent most of her time reshelving books which meant very little interaction with other people. Plus, since starting her job at the beginning of the summer, she spent the hottest part of the year in an air-conditioned building.
Her parents had made it clear that she would need scholarships for college, and if she didn’t want to take out too many loans, she would need to earn that money herself. One day, she had taken her younger brothers, Josh and Ethan, to the library and saw they were hiring. By the end of that week, she was working her first shift.
Cameron stopped at the necessary aisle and grabbed three books from her cart. She looked up and saw a familiar face. She had seen this girl in the library three times so far, not that she was counting or anything. But every time, a weird feeling formed in the pit of her stomach. She was a couple inches taller than Cam, with dark blond hair and a nice athletic body. She sported her typical pensive reflection as she browsed several titles. They hadn’t said a word to each other yet, but every smile they exchanged made Cam’s heart beat a little faster.
When the other girl looked up and smiled, Cam clumsily dropped the book in her right hand, causing several folks to whisper, “shhh.” Heat rose in her cheeks, embarrassed that she looked like a klutz. She bent to pick up the book and held it with the others in front of her chest.
Pulling out her earbuds, she whispered, “Sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you.”
“It’s okay. You didn’t.”
Cam nodded and took a deep breath.
“Hi,” the other girl whispered.
“H-hi. Can I help—” An arm lightly wrapped around her waist from behind and a kiss was placed on her cheek.
“I found you,” Cam’s boyfriend, Danny, said happily.
Cam watched the other girl’s smile dim as she turned and walked away. Cam held back a sigh as she turned to Danny. He bent down and gave her a quick kiss.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m finally able to pick up my last summer reading book. Figured I’d find you and say hi.”
“Oh, okay. Can’t believe you’re on your last one already. We still have another month of break.”
“Well, I’m not a procrastinator like someone I know,” he replied with a wink.
She placed her hand on her chest, attempting an innocent and clueless look. “I have no idea who you’re talking about. While I enjoy reading for fun, reading from a book list means the summer is almost over.”
“Right.” He paused as he looked her up and down. “You look great today.”
Cam blushed as she looked down at her standard T-shirt and jeans combination. “Thanks. So do you.” His shaggy brown hair fell just right across his forehead and he was sporting a tan from his outdoor cross-country workouts. He was tall and a little skinny, but his good looks had captivated Cam ever since they were paired up on an English project last year.
“Thanks. I was thinking we could go out to eat at Bruno’s tonight. Does that sound good?”
“Awesome,” he replied with a wide smile. “I’ll pick you up at seven.”
“I’ll see you tonight.” She stood on her tiptoes for another kiss and then watched as he disappeared around the corner.
Looking down the aisle again, she felt a hint of disappointment that Danny had interrupted her conversation with the girl. Something about her intrigued Cam. She wasn’t sure if it was the way her eyebrows furrowed as she concentrated on her book search or the way one corner of her mouth quirked in a small smile each time she made eye contact with Cam. Those little habits stuck with Cam and made her feel slightly strange—like she wanted to get to know her or throw up, possibly all at the same time. The girl was pretty. That was obvious. But, so was her best friend, Claire, and she certainly didn’t make Cam’s heart beat faster.
Her physical reaction to this girl wasn’t a first. She thought back to a girl she saw across a store on a trip to the mall with Claire. She even blurted out to Claire that she thought she was pretty. And when Claire looked at her with confusion, she had to backtrack and say she thought the girl’s dress was pretty, making Claire even more confused since Cam hated dresses. Thankfully, Claire became distracted with shopping soon after the comment.
But that had just been a fleeting moment a couple years ago. It wasn’t something she thought of regularly, not like she did with this girl. From the first time she saw her, Cam wanted to see her again and know more about her. Maybe it was just some sort of admiration. Claire frequently noticed and admired female beauty, telling Cam she wish she had some actress’s eyes or legs. Maybe that’s all it is for me too.
With a quiet sigh and a shake of her head, Cam returned her thoughts to her job. This wasn’t the time or place to figure out what was going on. Right now, working seemed easier than decoding her feelings. After all, she had a date with her boyfriend later that night.
Cam and Danny had a fun dinner. He talked about how he was already a third of the way through the book he picked up earlier, while Cam tried to persuade him that waiting to read it like she did was really the best policy. For some strange reason, he didn’t agree.
Danny drove them back to Cam’s and when he pulled into the driveway, Cam turned to him and said, “Want to come in? My mom is supposed to be working late at the restaurant, and the boys are at sleepovers.”
About a month after the announcement of her parents’ divorce, Cam’s mom, an eighth-grade teacher, had obtained a second job as a waitress at a restaurant about twenty minutes outside of town. It was really a bar, a somewhat sketchy dive bar, but her mom liked to call it a restaurant to make it sound better. Her mom working late, especially throughout the summer, became the norm for Cam and her brothers.
Smiling, Danny followed her into the house. They turned on the television, but as soon as they sat on the couch, Danny turned to Cam and kissed her firmly. She responded by straddling his hips. Suddenly someone cleared their throat. They broke apart with identical “oh shit” looks. Her mom stood at the entrance to the living room, looking pissed off.
Cam quickly got off Danny and stood. “Um, hi, Mom. You’re home early.”
Her mom crossed her arms as her eyebrows rose. “Obviously,” she said in a clipped tone. “I think it’s time for you to go, Danny.”
Danny stood and uncomfortably mumbled, “Yes, ma’am.”
“I’ll, um, walk you out,” Cam said as she quickly made her way to the front door with Danny following behind her.
“I thought she was supposed to be working late,” Danny whispered frantically once he reached the door and opened it.
“I thought so too.”
“How pissed is she going to be?” he asked, his eyes wide with obvious fear.
“I don’t know. I’ll talk to you later.”
Both seemed too scared for even a brief kiss goodbye, so she just squeezed his hand and watched him walk to his car. She closed the door behind him, rested her forehead against it, and took a deep breath before letting it out slowly. She knew she would have to face her mom, but she was going to take her time, even if it was only a few extra seconds.
“Cameron, come in here now.”
“Shit,” she muttered to herself. “Sure, Mom.”
She stood with her arms folded a few feet away from where her mom now sat on the couch. She refused to make eye contact and chose to stare at the floor instead, her face burning hot with embarrassment.
“Look at me, please.”
She reluctantly met her mom’s gaze, but her face wasn’t filled with as much anger as she was expecting.
“What would have happened if I hadn’t come home?”
“Would you guys have had sex?”
“No, I knew you would be home eventually,” she explained, cringing as soon as the words left her mouth.
Her mom sighed heavily. “Wrong answer, don’t you think?”
Cam looked to the floor. “Yes,” she whispered.
“You’re still using protection, right?”
“Of course.” Cam nodded vigorously.
“Good. You and Danny are not allowed to be alone in this house. Do you understand?”
“If it happens again, you’ll be in big trouble.”
“I got it.” Cam took a deep breath. “So I’m not in trouble now?” she asked cautiously.
Her mom stared at her, as if she was still searching for her answer. “Not really. Why don’t you head on up to bed? I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Okay, thanks Mom.” She kissed her mom on the cheek. “Night.”
“I love you, sweetheart. Goodnight.”
She walked upstairs and closed her door as soon as she got into her room. She sat on her bed and immediately pulled out her phone to text Danny. She wasn’t surprised to see she already had one from him.
How much trouble did u get in??
None really. U aren’t allowed over unless she’s here.
Fine by me. I thought she was going to kill us.
Me too. Talk to u later.
Love u, Cam.
She quickly changed into her pajamas and lay on her bed. She knew she was lucky to have an understanding parent. Since the divorce, her mom had treated her as more of an adult than she ever had in the past. It probably helped that Cam never got into serious trouble. As she tried to sleep, her thoughts strayed to the library girl’s frown earlier and how she wished she could have turned it into a smile.
On the last day of July, an obnoxious alarm woke Cam out of a deep sleep. As she rolled over to shut off her phone, she ran her free hand across her face, trying to feel semi-human. First day of soccer tryouts, and since she was a senior, it would be her last chance to play on a team. Excitement, fear, and sadness were just a few of the emotions warring inside her brain.
After too many minutes of lying with her arm over her eyes, she rushed out of bed as soon as she got a text from Claire saying she was on her way. Cam changed into a T-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops before grabbing her bag of gear. Opening her bedroom door and running down the stairs, she called out, “See you later, Mom!”
“Wait! Where do you think you’re going? You have things to do around the house!”
“It’s the first day of soccer tryouts,” she replied, trying to keep her annoyance to a minimum, understanding that her mom probably forgot all about it.
Cam detected a hint of disappointment in her mom’s voice, but it was probably just her imagination. It wasn’t that her mom didn’t care about what was going on in her life; She just had been working so many hours lately. Cam wasn’t surprised her mom kept forgetting her schedule—she probably had trouble keeping track of her own. Cam tried to be understanding, but the added responsibilities of taking care of her brothers and doing more around the house had worn on her more than she was willing to admit. She knew it was affecting her relationship with her mom because she was starting to resent her for it, and they had become snarkier with each other over the summer.
“Come into the kitchen for a sec, Cam.”
With a quick roll of her eyes Cam said, “Yes, mother? Claire’s on her way.”
“How long will you be gone?” she asked with her arms folded as she leaned back against the counter. “Don’t forget, Josh and Ethan have to go shopping for school supplies.”
“What? Aren’t you taking them?”
“You know I can’t. I wanted to pick up more hours at the restaurant this last week before I finish prepping for the start of school.”
Knowing there was no point in arguing, Cam agreed but didn’t try to hide her annoyance. “Fine. Tryouts should be done by eleven. I’ll take them after Claire brings me back home. Just leave me a list and—”
She was interrupted by the doorbell. As soon as she opened the door, Claire wrapped her in a hug. Cam told her, “Let me just get my water bottle.”
“Hi, Ms. Leoni. How are you?”
“I’m doing fine, thanks. You ready for tryouts to start?”
“Definitely! I can’t believe it’s our senior year!”
“Do you think there will be competition for spots this year?”
“Mom, we lost six seniors last year. If we don’t get enough new people, we may barely have enough to scrape together a team and they’re not gonna put a senior on JV. I think we’ll be fine.” At least I hope so.
Cam knew she was an average soccer player. At their school she could easily make the team, but getting into the games was a completely different story, which was fine because she had no desire to be a star. She would rather play a supporting role on the team than feel the additional pressure of being a top performer. It was just another cause of conflict with her mother—the former star of her state championship soccer team.
Her mom said, “Well, you better not get lazy, and make sure to give it your all these next couple days. You know you need to work hard out there. I’d like to see you start this year.”
Holding her tongue, Cam said, “Well, we’re going to be late. See you tonight, Mom.” She held her bag in one hand and grabbed Claire’s hand with the other, pulling her out of the house.
“So, another great pep talk from your ma, huh?” Claire asked as she started the car.
“Oh yeah. Gotta love ’em. By the way, I need to get home as soon as tryouts are over. I need to take my brothers shopping for school supplies,” Cam explained, already sounding put out by the request.
“No problem. Maybe I’ll join you. I still need to get a few things. So, how was your date with Danny last night?”
“It was fine. We just went to see that new zombie movie,” she muttered.
“Well, don’t sound so enthusiastic. So, did you make out the entire time? Get a little handsy?” she asked with a wink.
“Ugh, no! Why would we waste money going to the movies to make out? We could just do that at his house for free,” she said. She tried to hide the discomfort she felt when Claire pestered her about anything Danny and she did or did not do on their dates. Even after all this time, Cam was still reserved when talking about sex. It didn’t help that when she thought about kissing someone, it wasn’t always Danny. The girl she used to see at the library had popped up in her dreams a couple times. That was new, but not completely unwelcome.
Laughing and holding up her hands in surrender, Claire said. “Okay, got it.” They pulled into a parking spot next to the soccer field and grabbed their bags before making their way toward the benches on the sideline. “Wanna warm up?”
Cam tied her cleats and grabbed a ball from the team bag as other girls trickled onto the field. “Sure. Let’s go.” They jogged a lap in relative silence and then passed the ball back and forth at midfield. With a quick look around, Cam noticed most of the girls had shown up and were warming up as well, and Coach Hawkins was holding a clipboard and chatting with her assistant coach and the junior varsity coach.
With a few minutes left before tryouts began, they started a quick game of keep-away. As Cam made a breakaway toward the sideline, she glanced up to spot her position on the field, and saw a new girl. The girl from the library! Wearing green shorts and a gray T-shirt, she jogged in place before heading over to where Coach and several other girls had started to gather.
Cam abruptly stopped, and Claire easily took possession of the ball and continued sprinting toward the sideline. Cam’s breath caught in her throat, her stomach muscles tightened, and her mouth went dry. She wanted to attribute the reaction to the heat of the summer morning or being winded from the warmup, but she knew differently. The source of so many confusing thoughts for the past month was standing twenty feet away. How was this possible?
Her thoughts were interrupted by Claire yelling as she ran back to where Cam had stopped. “Sucker! Better not be lazy like that later. You heard your mom earlier. How’d you let me take that from you?”
Cam’s eyes traveled up and down the girl once more until she turned to focus on Claire and said with as much bravado as she could, “Oh bullshit, I let you do that. Come on, you know I gotta try and make you look good in front of Coach.”
“Yeah, right.” Claire gave her a little shove. Coach blew her whistle twice, signaling for everyone to gather around her. “Let’s go.”
Coach Hawkins quickly gave a rundown of tryouts and went on a rambling speech about how this year was going to be the year they made it to the championship game. Cam struggled to keep a neutral expression and not look annoyed because in the past five years, the team hadn’t even made it to the playoffs.
As Coach droned on, Cam’s eyes wandered around the rest of the team. It was a small group this year and everyone there was either on the JV or varsity team last year, except for several freshmen and the new girl. Her gaze switched between the new girl and Coach. At one point, the new girl looked up and gave Cam a lopsided grin and Cam knew she had been caught. She looked at the ground.
Concentrating on Coach’s words was no longer possible. She rubbed the back of her neck hoping the newly acquired redness of embarrassment went away. Finally, Coach broke their huddle and tryouts started. The next two hours were tough and Cam mentally kicked herself for not working out harder during the summer. But with helping her mom with the boys and her job at the library, it had been hard to find time. At the end of tryouts, Coach called everyone together, reminded them to eat right, get some sleep, and to see the athletic trainer if they were hurt, as tomorrow morning would be yet another hard tryout.
Once dismissed, Claire stopped to chat with a few of the juniors on the team while Cam headed toward the sideline to pack up and go home. As she gathered her things, a shadow blocked out the sun. She looked up and saw the new girl. Cam slowly stood and noticed the girl had eyes that almost matched her dark green shorts. She grinned again and raised her eyebrows.
Cam realized she probably looked like a moron just standing there staring at her. She couldn’t believe it was the library girl standing in front of her. The girl who had been invading her thoughts for most of the summer. She shook her head, trying to find her voice. “So I guess you’re new here, huh?” Cam asked. Obviously, Cam. She tried not to roll her eyes at herself and rubbed the back of her neck instead.
“Yeah, my family just moved here from Illinois at the end of June. I’m Riley Baker,” she said as she extended her hand with an almost shy smile.
Cam shook her hand, feeling an unusual warmth move up her arm. “I’m Cameron Leoni. I usually go by Cam.” Before she could embarrass herself by holding on to Riley’s hand for too long, Claire came up behind her and put an arm around Cam’s shoulder.
“Hey there, I’m Claire. Welcome to Indiana. Ready to go, Cam?”
“Oh, yeah. Nice meeting you, Riley. See you around.”
She smiled and said, “Hope so.”
Claire and Cam headed to the parking lot. Cam snuck a quick glance back only to see Riley watching them walk off.
“Man, she’s pretty. I bet all the guys will be hitting on her once school starts. Hope she’s not too much competition,” Claire said with mock seriousness.
“S-sure, I guess she’s pretty.” Cam hoped her voice didn’t betray her actual thoughts. Her brain processed a constant loop of Riley’s smile and the weird reaction it was stirring inside her stomach. “Let’s go. I want to get this trip to the store over with.” They got in the car and drove home. As Claire turned on the radio, Cam stared out the passenger window and couldn’t help but picture Riley and her grin. What is wrong with me?
When Riley walked through the door after practice, she smelled chocolate chip cookies—her favorite. She toed off her shoes and dropped her bag just inside the door before following her nose into the kitchen. Her mom was just taking the last batch out of the oven and she placed the cookies on a cooling rack. Riley quietly snuck up behind her, reaching around to grab one of the fresh cookies.
“Hey, missy!” Her mom swatted Riley’s hand away.
She passed one back and forth between her hands, until she sat down at the kitchen table and put it on a napkin.
Her mom chuckled and poured them both a small glass of milk. Taking a cookie for herself, she turned to her and asked, “How was soccer? Will you make the team?”
“I think so. There wasn’t a huge turnout.”
“What do you think of the coaches?”
“Coach Hawkins is definitely tough, and she didn’t show any mercy for those who slacked off in training over the summer, but she seems fair.”
“What about the girls on the team?”
She sipped her milk because she could already feel the heat rising up her neck and face. “They seem nice. I only talked to a few people. We’ll see how the season goes.”
“Nice, huh? Think any of them could become good friends?”
“I hope so.” She cleared her throat. “I only introduced myself to Cam and Claire, but they seemed pretty close already, so maybe they won’t feel the need to make more friends.”
“Well, I doubt that, sweetie.” Her mom finished her cookie. “So, Cam or Claire?”
Riley choked on the piece of cookie still in her mouth. She coughed several times, took a drink of milk, and asked in a cracked voice, “What are you talking about?”
“Oh, please. You should see your face right now. I’m your mother and I can read you like a book. That little smirk tells me you’re interested in one of them—so, which is it?”
She felt her cheeks burn even more. Quietly, she replied, “Cam.”
Her mom smiled as she playfully tapped Riley’s hand. “And, what was it about her?”
She let out a deep breath, and said, “I don’t know, Mom. I just felt drawn to her, I guess. Every once in a while I would catch her looking at me, and she would immediately look at the ground. Her eyes are so pretty and she’s really, really cute. She’s actually the girl I told you about seeing at the library.” Riley immediately looked away from her mom, embarrassed by how much she was gushing about Cam.
“Ohh, so she’s that one. Just be careful, sweetie. Don’t want you to end up heartbroken.”
“I know. There’s probably zero chance that she’s gay, especially since I saw her with that guy the one time, but it’d still be nice if we could be friends.”
“Just be your charming self and everyone will want to be friends with you.”
Riley stood and kissed her mom on the cheek. “Thanks. Delicious cookies as always, but I need to go shower.”
“Yeah, you do. I didn’t want to say anything, but damn,” she said as she scrunched her nose.
Laughing, Riley playfully stuck her tongue out before heading upstairs. She thought about what her mom had said and she was right. She knew the pitfalls of falling for a straight girl. It seemed to happen to every queer girl at least once in their life.
She couldn’t pinpoint an exact thing that intrigued her about Cam—it was just her. She knew the only option she had was to see how things played out for now. She should admit to herself that just being friends was the probable outcome since Cam had looked pretty cozy with the guy at the library. But, if by some miracle, it turned out Cam was gay, then Riley hoped she was Cam’s type.
Luckily for Cam, the shopping trip with Josh, Ethan, and Claire was uneventful—no arguments, no whining. She could tell they were a little upset that she was the one taking them shopping instead of their mom, but Josh hid it well. He was about to start eighth grade and he was at that age where hanging out with your older sister (and your sister’s best friend who he obviously had a crush on) was slightly more acceptable than being seen in public with a parent. On the other hand, Cam could tell Ethan was sad that their mom was working again and missing out on yet another chance to spend time together.
After Claire dropped them at home, Cam recruited her brothers for help with dinner, threatening them with other chores. While they set the table and dished out potato chips, she tried not to burn their burgers, a task which proved to be difficult since she couldn’t stop thinking about Riley.
“Cam, when will Mom be home?” Ethan asked.
“She’ll be back later tonight.”
“Before I go to bed?” he asked with a glimmer of hope in his eyes.
“Probably not, bud. But how about we play some video games after dinner?” she asked, hoping that would cheer him up and offer a good distraction.
“Yeah, sure,” he said unenthusiastically.
“She’s never home,” Josh muttered as he left the room.
“Josh, come on.” She sighed. “Okay, Ethan, these are ready,” she said as she placed their burgers on the table. “You can start. I’m gonna go talk to Josh.”
Cam walked upstairs to his room and knocked on the door. Hearing no answer, she opened it and found him lying on his bed, listening to his iPod. She patted him on the knee and made a motion to take out his earbuds.
“What’s wrong, Joshie?”
“I know that’s not true. Look, I know Mom works a lot, but it won’t be like that forever. I hate it too, but she’s trying.”
“I guess. It’s just annoying that she isn’t the one taking us places, and she isn’t here when we get home. It’s bad enough that we only see Dad a couple times a month.”
“Yeah, it sucks. But with school and football starting, you’ll be too busy to really think about it.”
“Yeah, I know…but…”
“What else is wrong?”
He hesitated and eventually continued. “You graduate this year. What’s going to happen after that?” he asked as he looked down at his hands.
Hearing fear and sadness in his question just about broke her heart, but she tried not to let it show. “That’s almost an entire year away. Plus, I’m sure by that time you’ll be happy to get rid of me,” she said lightly. “Let’s not worry about that right now. If Mom continues to work this much, I’ll help you talk with her about it before I leave. How about that?”
“Okay, now get your butt downstairs and eat dinner. Letting it get cold isn’t going to improve the taste,” she joked.
“Yeah, no shit.”
“Watch it, young man,” she replied with as much seriousness as she could while playfully pushing him out of his room.
Later that night, after she made sure the boys were in bed, she headed upstairs to her room to call Claire.
“Hey there! How was the rest of your night?” Claire asked.
“Oh, no big deal. Made Josh and Ethan dinner and then we played some video games. Turns out Josh is more upset about my mom working all the time than I thought. He seems to be freaking out about me graduating. I don’t know what to do about it.”
“That sucks, dude. I’m sorry. Does your mom know?”
“No, but I told him we should talk to her if she keeps working all the time. How was your night?”
“Okay. I didn’t do much. Had dinner with my parents. And I just got done talking with Luke actually,” she said quietly. Luke was also a senior who ran on the cross-country team with Danny, and they were pretty good friends. He and Claire had been exchanging texts after talking at a party a few weeks before.
“Oh yeah? How’d that go? You guys gonna go out sometime?”
“I hope so. I know we’ve all hung out before, but I think we might go to the party this weekend together. That okay? You and Danny gonna come with us?”
“Probably. We haven’t really talked about it. I think we’re supposed to go out Friday night. I’ll talk to him about it then. So, how do you think the team will be this year?”
“I don’t know. You know we usually suck so I’m just expecting that to continue. The only girl we haven’t seen play is the new girl. Riley, right?”
“Um, yeah, that’s it. She seemed pretty fast so maybe she’ll be able to create some scoring opportunities.”
“Yeah, hopefully. Jesus, it’d be nice to win more than half our games for our senior year. Ah shit, it’s late and practice is going to come early. I’m going to miss my routine of waking up at ten.”
“Well, it’s just gonna get worse once school starts.”
After saying goodbye, Cam decided to get ready for bed and not wait up for her mom to get home, because she didn’t want her to ask about how the night was or the boys. She was not ready to have that conversation just yet. Avoidance seemed like an easier option for the time being.
She went through her usual nighttime routine and then lay on her bed and reached for the current book she was reading. After glancing at her clock, she realized ten minutes had passed and she hadn’t even turned a page. She thought about Josh and then surprisingly her thoughts turned to Riley and that grin of hers.
Why does she keep popping up in my brain? Her mind raced with thoughts and confusion. She thought Riley was pretty and she wouldn’t be opposed to seeing that smile of hers again, but she knew she needed to stop thinking this way. Riley wouldn’t be the first girl she’d had a crush on. She tried to tell herself it was more about wanting to be them than be with them, but in the back of her mind she knew it was more than that.
But now she didn’t know why she couldn’t ignore her feelings like she had always done before. It wasn’t like she was going to do anything about it and she was not going to tell anyone. She was with Danny and everyone around them thought they were a great couple. She loved him, even though she was questioning if that really meant anything anymore.
“Ugh, I cannot think about that right now,” she muttered as she shut off the light and got under the covers. But she knew sleep would probably be elusive.
After eating dinner and watching a movie with her parents, Riley went upstairs to her bedroom for a video chat with her ex-girlfriend, Abby. They had only broken up a couple months before Riley left Illinois. For the first month after the move, they sporadically communicated with each other, which consisted of a few random texts every week or so. It felt as if they had had an unspoken agreement to take a little time away from each other in hopes that it would make the breakup easier. They could individually focus on how their days would go without seeing each other all the time. The second month brought more communication through phone calls and more texts. So, when Abby texted earlier that day asking to chat, Riley said yes immediately because she truly missed seeing her friend.
Within seconds of logging on, Abby’s video call alert popped up. “Well, a little antsy, aren’t we?” she said with a smile.
“Come on. I know you are too. I haven’t seen your face in two months!” Abby replied with a matching smile.
“Okay, okay. You got me. It’s really good to see you, Abby.”
“You too.” They spent a moment just looking at each other before Abby spoke again. “So, tell me what’s been going on? How’s Indy? How are your folks? Meet any new people yet? Have you started soccer?”
“Well, hell, just bombard me with questions, why don’t ya?” she asked playfully and Abby offered a not-so-innocent shrug in response. Riley summarized her day in the same rapid-fire fashion. “Phew, did I answer them all?” she asked as she pretended to wipe the sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand.
Laughing, Abby replied, “You did. You were a little short on details, though. How does the team look?”
“It’s still early. And I don’t think they’ve had the best history in terms of winning, but there seem to be some pretty good athletes on the team. Only time will tell, but it should be interesting. I’m just excited to play again. I’ve been going a little stir-crazy sitting inside most of the summer.”
“But, I’m sure you’ve been getting your runs in. You could never give those up.”
Riley was never able to sit still for too long, especially if she didn’t get a run in for the day. Running and soccer were outlets for stress, but running also helped her organize her thoughts. If something was weighing heavily on her mind or if she had a big test coming up, she would go out for a run. Most of the time she came home with a clear head and a precise plan for tackling whatever problems she faced. It was rare for her to come home with her brain more jumbled than when she left.
“So, what are the girls like? Are they nice?”
She couldn’t stop the heat rising to her cheeks. “Yeah, they seem pretty nice so far. I only introduced myself to a couple people.”
“Riley Baker! Are you blushing? Who is she?”
Her hands immediately went to her face. “I am not!”
“Oh, you totally are!”
“It’s no one, Abby. She’s probably straight, but she seemed nice. Maybe she’ll be a friend.”
“Mmm. What’s her name?”
“Cameron, oh, Cam.”
“Is she pretty?”
She bit her lower lip and said, “Yeah, she is. She’s a little shorter than me, has brown hair and these big brown eyes. I felt like I was going to embarrass myself every time I thought she caught me looking at her.”
“Damn, you’ve got it bad, Riley.”
“Stop, it’s nothing. So, what about you? Have you met any new ladies?”
Abby let out a dramatic sigh and replied, “No. But I don’t know how any could compare to you.”
“Well, obviously. I am pretty great.”
“I’ve actually been pretty busy this summer,” Abby said. “I told you my uncle got me a job at his law firm. I just file papers and get coffee, but I’m really hoping to learn a lot as I get to know the attorneys and feel more comfortable asking questions. We start practice for the debate team the second week of school. So my goal is to learn some tips from some of the lawyers. I think we could win state this year.”
“That’s great, Abby. If anyone can do it, you can. Think you’ll be captain this year?”
“I think I have a really good chance. There’s only two other seniors, but they don’t have as much experience as I do. We’ll have a week of practice, and then those that want to be captain will have a debate. The rest of the team votes after that.”
“Well, you’re going to kick ass like usual. I’m sorry I won’t be there to cheer you on this year.”
“No worries. But I should get going, early day again. Don’t swoon over Cam the entire time,” Abby said before making a bunch of kissing noises.
“Shut up. I’ll talk to you later.”
Riley shut her laptop. She was happy Abby hadn’t been weirded out when she talked about Cam. It was the first time either of them had mentioned even the possibility of someone else, and Abby just rolled with the punches and teased her about it, which was the best thing she could have done. But that teasing brought Cam to the forefront of Riley’s mind.
As she brushed her teeth, she replayed officially meeting Cam. Her eyes, her shyness, the way she would rub the back of her neck with her hand. Riley knew she wanted to find out what brought about that nervous tic. Was it her? Or would it have happened with any new person Cam met? She found Cam intriguing and she was looking forward to learning more about her. As she tried to sleep, she thought of Cam because she figured her dreams would be the only place where she and Cam would be together.
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