[Author’s Note: Every week of The Middle of Nowhere presale, I’ll be posting a new excerpt from the book on Sunday. This excerpt features is the very first time we meet Jason Thieson, a central character of #MoN]
What’s In Your Heart
We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow, Soko
LIKE THE WAY it feels when the hot sun hits your bare stomach.
That’s how I would describe it, what it felt like to sit across from Shane in that red vinyl restaurant booth. The knot of anticipation growing inside my stomach crowded out any room for food as we sat and made small talk for the better part of the hour. Now there was less to talk about, and I could feel it coming. Waited for it.
“So I have something I need to tell you,” Shane finally announced. Pausing, he quickly brushed his hair back from his forehead with his hand.
You’re nervous, I found myself thinking. You always do that thing with your hair when you’re nervous.
Oh god. That small mess of hope and fear churned deeper inside my stomach. Was this actually happening right now? I wanted it to, had been hoping for it…but this could really actually be happening, and right now…
“Aden, you know you’re one of my best friends. And like I’ve said before, once you’re in, you’re in.” Shane grinned. “And you’re in deep.”
I smiled back at him. It was an inside joke of ours: When Shane decided to bring you into his inner circle, there was no getting out, he told me once. “Not even if you want to. You try to leave my friendship, AC, and I’ll be showing up to all your stuff, yelling out, “AC! Friends are FOREVER, AC!”
“So I need to tell you this.” He paused again, and his green eyes locked into mine. He took a deep breath and sat back into the booth. “Over the summer, I’ve developed some pretty deep feelings. And I didn’t want to; I was kicking and screaming about it the whole time, testing it at every turn, because it was important to me to make sure those feelings were real, that they weren’t just…passing lust, superficial. But the thing is,” he said, his gaze growing more intense as he leaned in closer to me, “they’re real. So I can’t pretend to not have these feelings anymore, and I don’t want to hide them from you.”
Dropping my eyes down to my plate, I found myself carefully aligning my fork with my knife, moving the cutlery delicately with the tips of my fingers. I could feel the shine in my eyes, so I didn’t want to meet his, not just yet. I needed a second to bring back the composure, to ensure that I didn’t give away any hint with my expression. Because when I finally looked up at him again, when I signaled that I was ready for him to continue, I wanted to be able to simply sit there and calmly stare back at him, wait for the words to tumble from his lips. And when they did, then I could finally let my face break and let everything I’d ever felt for him, this string of words that had been inflating and curling around inside me for an entire year, come tumbling out of my own.
I took a deep breath in, lifted my eyes up to meet Shane’s, and waited for my life to change, for it to finally begin.