“I gotta hang up,” I whispered.
Suddenly I got the intense desire to see him. To wrap him in my arms and smell his hair and the cologne he splashed on his neck. I wanted to feel his fingers play with the ends of my hair while he rubbed my back. I wanted to flop down on my bed with him and make-out for hours and then fall asleep so close that nothing could tear us apart.
“Wish I could see you.” My voice was shaky, the emotion having its way with me.
He heard it. “I can ditch the guys and be over there in ten. You just say the word.”
I paused, almost ready to take his offer. The giddiness of being with my friends had already faded within the minutes I’d been on the phone.
I heard giggling outside the door and hushed whispers. I needed my friends tonight just as much as they needed me. They were just as much a part of my high school life as Seth.
“I can’t. But I’ll call if I get a chance to sneak away.”
“My phone is on and in my pocket. Love you, babe.”
“Love you, too.”
I pressed End and shoved the phone in my back pocket. I stood in front of the mirror. This one had a tiny crack in the top right corner and the tiniest of slivers that stopped right in the center. Any day, any second, it could shatter into pieces on the floor. Scattered shards. Impossible to put back together. But it had been that way for years and probably would be for another twenty.
My greenish-brown eyes stared back at me, questioning. I’d promised to spend the rest of the night in full-out party mode.
This night was for me.
He grabbed my fingers and held them loosely in his. “You ready for tonight?”
“Sure.” I noticed that even though he was looking at me, he didn’t really see me. Not the way he was usually tuned in. “Are you?”
“What?” Then he coughed. “Um, yeah, ready.”
After years together, instinct told me something was wrong. I rubbed the light scruff on his cheeks and kissed him. I giggled. “You need to shave.”
My touch seemed to pull him out of whatever funk he was in and he grabbed hold of me. “Really? I need to shave? Are you sure?” He rubbed his cheek against mine.
I held back a giggling fit and squirmed away but he clamped down on my waist and tucked me into his arms.
“Haley!” the girls yelled.
“Seth!” the guys yelled.
Just to spite them, I reached up and pulled Seth toward me. We engaged in a long, slow kiss. The heat spread throughout my body and sizzled in my stomach. I clung to him, to this moment. My hands slid up and my towel dropped. This time, I lightly traced his cheek. “I like your scruff.”
He pulled away and for one intense moment his blue eyes pierced mine. No word was spoken, but he felt it too. He had to. I didn’t break our gaze, and he reached out and pulled his thumb across my lips. Then he leaned forward and kissed my cheek.
Moments like those made me fantasize about spending the night with Seth. Him and me. Naked. What it would feel like to be next to him, skin on skin, touching, kissing. But then that made me think about our future and commitment. Ugh. I wondered if Seth had talked about the fall and his plans with Carter. Did he fear the changes coming after tomorrow? Hopefully, I’d find a chance to talk to him tonight. Poke around in his head to see if he saw me in his future. I wasn’t necessarily thinking forever, but at least into next year.
Every Little Piece by Kate Ashton
Publication date: May, 2013
Genre: Mature YA Contemporary
Secrets never stay in the past.
The night before high school graduation changes everything. Lies are told. Mistakes are made. Secrets tucked away. Lives are changed in the span of a few hours.
A year later, Haley is still reeling, numb with the constant ache of guilt. She's in a place she never expected to be: lost without her friends and Seth. Until he enters her life again, dredging up everything she's trying to forget. Everything about that night.
Seth returns to his hometown determined to share his truth, his side of the story. He desperately needs to make things right with Haley, even if it means losing her forever. Because the truth will ruin any chance of her ever loving him again.
Except neither of them are prepared for the shock of what really happened the night before graduation.
The door opens and a draft of cooler air rushes through as another flood of customers enter. I sigh, grab some menus and greet them with a smile.
Then I see him. My hearts hammers and I force air in and out of my chest. Time stops, like we said our goodbyes just a few days ago when really it’s been almost a year. He looks the same but different. Shadows haunt his face and the bright part of his blue eyes that used to light up my heart seem faded, like they need a good polish.
He steps closer. My heart hurts and a lump forms in my throat. Emotions I’ve locked away push at the edges.
Two simple words and I almost come undone. I seem to have lost my ability to speak and move as I stand there taking him in. His black hair hangs a little over his ears and his eyes draw me in just like before. But there are little changes too. His face is pale. Tattoos swirl around the top of his arm. Truth invades and real life comes crashing in. My knees shake, and I sway a bit.
“Are you okay?” He holds out a hand to steady me.
I jerk away like I touched a live socket. I can’t go back. The memories are too strong. Sometimes no matter how much you love someone, the past is stronger, and mistakes make love impossible.
A girl with blonde hair flounces in with a bright sparkle to her eyes. She hooks her arm through Seth’s and gives me a suspicious look. “Who’s this?” she asks.
“An old friend,” Seth says without taking his eyes off me. I see forever in his eyes and it squeezes my chest.
I tear my gaze away from him and study her. Adoration simmers off of her. She loves him or is close to it. Jealousy floods my heart. The happy times they probably spent together in the past year, the smiles, the touches, the laughter. The kisses, gentle and sweet, that used to be mine. I want to grab a butter knife and cut the smile off her face.
Is love forever?
Teenage relationships can be tense. After days or weeks of hallway glances and flirting in the lunchroom, a boy and a girl finally give in and admit they like each other. They start dating. For some teens, their high school sweethearts end up being just that, a short-term whirlwind romance. But sometimes, it’s meant to be forever.
If they give it a shot. If they can grow up together, especially after graduation and that first year of college. If they can be honest. Maybe a relationship can last.
I’ve seen high school relationships end badly after that first year out. I’ve seen some last forever. It’s a crucial moment in their lives as they break off from their families and decide who they want to be and what they want to do.
But is true love forever? I think it can be. It takes a lot of hard work, grace, and forgiveness. That’s what Seth and Haley have to figure out in Every Little Piece.
Barnes & Noble:
A story from the heart.
Sometimes the longest lasting stories, the most meaningful stories, are the ones that come from the heart. In the fall of 2012, I’d finished up a project, and my heart cried out to tell the story that became Every Little Piece. I didn’t really know what was going to happen. And that scared me. I knew the major details but I left a lot of flexibility.
So I sat down and started writing. I realized that a lot of it could get cut or completely rewritten. And, yes, some chapters I loved, I ended up cutting for the sake of the story. And some definitely got reshaped and revised. But for the most part, the storyline stayed the same.
I didn’t realize it until later, but two events shaped the emotion and the theme behind Seth and Haley’s love story. The first is perception. Some hurtful things were going on in my family, things that I realized would never be resolved without complete forgiveness. One event happened and different people saw what happened in completely different ways, ones that I knew would not be reconciled. That completely floored me. How could that happen? That definitely found its way into Every Little Piece.
The second is grief. A dear friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer and given 3-6 months to live. He passed away early in 2013 with an attendance of over 500 people crammed into a small church. And that wasn’t including the live video feed to the hundreds who couldn’t make it. My heart couldn’t accept this and was in denial all through the fall of 2012, while I was writing this story. It wasn’t until after his death that I saw the connection, between his life and passing and what I was writing, especially since Seth and Haley’s story has nothing to do with cancer or terminal illness.
So between the lines of Every Little Piece are a lot of little pieces of Kate Ashton.
Kate Ashton is the author of the contemporary YA, Every Little Piece. She writes about relationships and love, heartache and healing. And everything in between.
Moments to remember.
No, Kate Ashton, the author, the person, is no longer in high school. But I remember. I absolutely loved my friends and we did everything together. We laughed. We cried. We partied. We made mistakes. We forgave. We didn’t forgive. We did crazy, stupid things.
We had a blast.
All those memories, the laughter, the tears, are woven into my memories. Certain songs connect me to a memory and I’ll smile. It’s those memories, not the same exact ones, but the emotion behind them that sneak into my writing.
Every Little Piece is a story with many different layers. It’s about friendship, love and the complications that come with that. I walked away from writing this story realizing something new about myself. That I need to hold onto those moments happening in my life right now. That someday down the road, I’ll look back on 2013, my friends, my family--and realize I was having a blast.
Make sure to hold onto your moments, the good and the bad, because we can’t have one without the other.