Today's excerpt is from Strawberry Fields by Nemma Wollenfang, part of the Love Under the Harvest Moon anthology.
We hope you enjoy today's tease!
The sleek Ferrari convertible pulled into the parking lot in a streak of glistening red. Roof down, engine purring. Driver and passengers were perfect matches for such a sublime vehicle: all with stylish sunglasses and windblown hair. Those boys rocked the red and black school blazer.
“I envy you, Beth. I really do.” Kate sighed as they watched. “Seeing that lot, shirtless, harvesting the fields for you all day, phew.” She fanned herself. “You’re spoilt rotten, girl.”
“They don’t do it for me,” Beth objected. “They just like to help the community.”
Kate released a very unladylike snort. “P-lease. Dane does it for you, at the very least.”
Ignoring her, Beth watched as the car slotted into a space, stirring up a flutter of leaves.
First day back to school and already they were falling. The ground was decorated with a patchwork of red, bronze, yellow and gold. Autumn had set in, well and truly.
Which meant only one thing here in their small town – the final harvest was due in.
Usually the football team did it for her farm. And this year was no different. The team of harvesters were due to start this week, once the games were done (they never made it to the finals). And most often they went shirtless. Hence Kate’s pre-emptive drooling.
“They haven’t got their shirts off yet, Kate. So lift your jaw off the floor,” Beth muttered as the boys disembarked – hoping to avoid any more quips. As much as she cared for her friend, more often than not she could wither up from embarrassment around her.
The boys jogged past, with smiles and hands raised in greeting. Only the driver hung back to lock-up. Beth knew the instant he spotted her. A movie-star grin spread over his face, highlighting his dimples as he hefted his bag over one broad shoulder and headed their way.
“I’ll leave you and lover-boy alone,” Kate cooed, before slinking away.
Beth tried to quell the blazing of her cheeks.
Dane Spencer III. With brilliant blue eyes, curling blond hair and prince-charming good looks. He was the epitome of boyfriends, the kind all others should be modelled on. At least, according to Kate. And to top it all he had the sweetest nature. Despite being built like a bear, he was much closer to the teddy end of the spectrum than the grizzly.
“There’s my girl,” he whooped when he was close enough, and dropping his bag he swooped Beth up into a rib-crushing hug, spinning her around until she burst out laughing.
“Someone’s in a good mood today,” she said, a little breathless as he set her down.
“I got a good feeling about this year!”
That was the thing with Dane, he was a perpetual source of cheer. That’s why he was so easy to get along with. For a long time he’d teetered on the edge of being a sort-of boyfriend. Since childhood they’d been close and eventually people had just assumed. And after a time, well, they’d just fallen into the mold. At seventeen now they’d been ‘dating’ for three years.
Last month they’d been named ‘couple most likely to succeed’.
Kate translated that to: couple most likely to get hitched straight out of high school and pop out two-point-five kids while said husband struggled with the nine-till-five and the little wifey learned to bake. Beth had baulked at that idea, more than Kate had expected her to. She didn’t want to get tied down. She had plans for her future. Big, non-housewife related plans.
Economics and Management.
“Looking good,” Dane said, interrupting her reverie.
He was eyeing her head to toe, from her lightly curled honey-gold hair, half-held back by a burgundy ribbon, to her tight white shirt, red-black blazer, mid-thigh skirt and soft suede boots. Minimal jewelry. First-day-back outfits were essential amongst their crowd, and even if they could only work with the uniforms they had, they could work with them well.
“Thank you. You too.”
Her answer came too slow; he could tell her mind was elsewhere, she could see it in his eyes. Don’t ask what I’m thinking, don’t ask what I’m thinking… She hated to lie to him.