Sneak Peak: A Cali Christmas
Here's an inside look into my newest release, a classic cable-style holiday romance. To order your copy today, click here. Enjoy this little snippet into the lives of Loralee and Evan!
December 21, 1999
She stood there at the brink of where the ocean met the sand, longing to freeze time in that very moment; wishing she could freeze time in that very moment. She gazed upon the miles and miles of white-capped waves that dove and played, taunting a lone seal who kept losing at hide and seek as the ebbs revealed him.
How she wished she could be that seal. Then nobody would be able to tell her what to do or where to go; she would have the freedom to choose.
Crash went the waves. Screech went the annoying white beach vultures scavenging for crumbs. Louder came the faded giggles of nearby toddlers. Barely audible reggae music escaped a single teen’s headphones.
She held tightly on to those sounds, not knowing when she would ever hear that beautiful symphonic clash again. She held on to this little slice of heaven—something that no one could take away from her.
“Grrr, I’m going to get you for this!” she yelled, running as fast as her slender legs could take her toward the laughing scoundrel.
“Not if you can’t catch me,” he shouted back in glee, pounding his athletic feet into the coarse sand. Unluckily for him, he didn’t count on her agility in the sand to catch up, where normally he would have escaped on a flat surface.
Down to the ground they tumbled, twirling around and becoming completely engulfed in the sprinkles of sand that clung to their wet bodies like a poignant memory.
Consumed with laughter and revenge, the two duked it out until they finally called a truce and settled into solitude side by side.
The orange-tinted sun was setting way too fast as the shadowy swells furiously crashed upon the cooling beach terrain. The wind was picking up, its presence made known by the chill that followed. Loose tendrils of golden blonde curls danced around young Loralee Cox’s pensive baby face as she lay next to her best friend in the whole world, Evan Bosko.
The disappearing light meant that their time together was coming to an end. Tonight was their last night before the Cox family moved across the country to New York City to follow Joselyn Cox’s dream of becoming a Broadway star. Unfortunately for these 12-year-old besties, that meant Loralee, along with her little sister, Aimee, had to uproot everything they’d ever known because of their dreamy mother.
Goodbye beautiful Pacific shores of Laguna Beach, and hello cement fields of New York City.
“I wish I didn’t have to leave,” pouted Loralee, frustrated that her destiny was ruled by a whimsical
parent. Since her father had passed away in a car accident two years back, the two sisters were at the mercy of their mother’s impulses. Usually it wasn’t too bad; a boring party, a new boyfriend or a local theater show she starred in.
But this—leaving their home behind to pursue Joselyn’s pipe dreams in a city they’d never even visited
before—was more than the eldest daughter could take.
“I know, Ellie,” cooed Evan, matching her melancholy.
He was the only one who could call her that since her father died; the only one special enough in her eyes to not tarnish that sacred father-daughter nickname. Everyone else was forbidden to do so—especially her family. Evan took great care to only use it when they were alone and out of earshot.
Awkwardly tall and built for his age, the naturally tanned young boy with the long brown tangled surfer
hair and Atlantic blue eyes didn’t have the right words to offer as comfort. But he did know how to bring the radiant smile back to her sweetheart mouth.
“Come with me,” he gestured, taking Loralee by the hand and pulling her toward the end of the beach.
“We’ll be back,” he shouted over to Mrs. Cox and his mother. Anita Bosko turned her sunglass-covered eyes toward him with a nod of acknowledgment. She was more than happy to dismiss her mopey son so she could enjoy the rest of her time with her friend and their pair of margaritas in silence.
“Where are we going?” inquired the young beauty.
“You’ll see,” he said with that boyishly handsome grin that made her feel at home. They walked hand-in-hand down the quieting edge of the water, speaking not a single word. A few days before Christmas, beachgoers were already packing up to seek warm refuge in their homes, leaving the stretch of beach before them isolated and private. With their heads hung low, only the surprise of a cold wave hitting their bare feet would jolt them back into reality with a giggle.
Evan led them down to the end of the small family beach, a blockade of large black rocks marking its
boundary. Within the puddling waters among the coves were said to be glorious tide pools of marine life at low tide. At a rare moment of perfect timing, Loralee and Evan carefully climbed up and over the rock formations to gaze into the magic that awaited them below.
Colors swirled together as the ecosystem below revealed its secrets. Careful not to disturb the environment, they cautiously sat down upon a large rock to gaze and point at the wonders they saw: a red bat star (which is different from a starfish, Evan explained), a few secluded hermit crabs, several purple sea urchins and a whole bunch of mussels and barnacles. Loralee held her breath as she took it all in.
“I’m certainly not going to see anything like this in New York,” she muttered in frustration.
“No, but think of all the wonderful things you will be able to see.”
“Yeah, like what? Concrete and taxi cabs?”
Evan let out a good-natured laugh at his friend’s dramatic sarcasm. It was something he absolutely adored about her, while other girls her age were only interested in trying out their new pre-pubescent flirting techniques.
Loralee kept it real, and he liked that.
He hated to see her so down, but somehow, he always had a way of finding the bright side of life; as if he held a magical silver crayon that drew a line around any of Loralee’s clouds.
“No. Like the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. Or Times Square where the ball drops for New Year’s. Like South Street Seaport or Chelsea Piers or any of the other exciting landmarks in Manhattan.”
“You certainly seem to know a lot about New York City for a little surfer dude,” she teased.
“That’s because I’m planning on visiting you, and when I do, I want you to be able to take me to the best
spots,” he announced with confidence.
“Oh, really? Well, how would you ever survive without the ocean?” she jabbed, until she fell into a rare moment of vulnerability while in the comfort of her confidant. “It’s the question I keep asking myself,” she admitted in a soft voice as she looked out upon the endless miles of ocean once again. It always soothed her so.
“Ellie, there is so much more than just a city there. I heard my mom say that a train to Long Island will have you at a beach in less than 30 minutes. Sure, it may not be the Pacific, but there is still the sun, sand and waves for you to visit.”
“It’s not the same, Evan,” she lamented. “It won’t have you.”
It was then that she looked up at him with her beachy brown eyes that brimmed with salty tears. For a moment, the two young friends just stood there and looked at each other in the silhouette of the setting sun. Evan had no comeback or silver lining for this one.
But he did know what he needed to do next.
Jumping down off their viewing rock—careful not to rip open his toes on a sharp, protruding edge—Evan began drawing a huge circle in the sand, decorating the outside with seashells and tiny rocks in a holly-like shape.
“What are you doing now?” Loralee asked with a mix of curiosity and irritation. She could tell her mischievous buddy was up to something just by the intensity of his movements. But he refused to answer, lost in his work, while she crossed her arms over her chest and impatiently tapped her foot on the wave-smoothed ledge she still stood upon.
Finally finished with his sand art, he took her by the waist and lifted her down off the precarious boulder. He brought her into the circle with him, holding both of her hands in his and warmly looking right into her eyes.
“Ellie, I will never care about another girl the way I care about you. You are my best friend in the entire world, and I won’t say goodbye. I will only say, ‘Until later.’ We will see each other again. I know it. But whenever one of us misses the other, we can draw this mistletoe in the sand and remember this moment; remember us.”
Evan then closed his eyes and leaned in to gently give Loralee her first kiss—his first, too. Sweet, innocent and perfect, like childhood should be. She instinctively closed her eyes, a smile lingering after the tender moment passed. Yes, she would remember this moment forever; the best moment of her entire life.
They then walked back to their mothers, holding hands and uttering not a single sound until they were
forced to part ways.
With a warm hug and a final look into each other’s youthful eyes, they vowed in unison, “Until later.”
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