HAPPY RELEASE DAY, KATIE!
My name is Willow Erwin, and I hate summer. My mother always said hate is a strong word, but in this case, it’s the right one. I haven’t found one good thing about the season. Most people tell me since I’m a teacher that reason alone should make it my favorite season, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. For me, summer brings everything I abhor: bugs, heat, sweating, and painful memories of a woman I will never see again.
Then, in the wink of one very beautiful blue eye, all of that changed. This is the story of Summer and how she taught me to love her. It’s about her quiet, and sometimes fearful, way of teaching me to embrace the moment, and to live recklessly. It’s about how both of us learned to forgive, to hope, to pray, and to love, even after summer ends.
Summer turned and knelt on the sand, turning her head to look at me over her shoulder. “The next part of the walk is a little hard on the feet. Climb on my back and I’ll give you a ride.”
I stood uncomfortably staring at her back. “I’m supposed to let you give me a piggyback ride? I’m not four.”
She turned her whole body at once and dragged me towards her. Her lips came down on mine, and my arms went around her neck. She held my waist with her soft hands and I whimpered a little when she captured my tongue between her teeth, biting down to make me squirm. She ended the kiss, but rested her forehead against mine, so she could look right into my eyes.
“Believe me, every time I look at you, I know you’re not four. I know you’re one hundred percent woman and I can’t keep my hands, or my lips, off you. I only wanted to feel you against me and protect you at the same time.”
I nodded without saying a word and slipped my arm through the other strap on my backpack. She turned around again and I wrapped my arms around her neck, grasping her waist with my legs. She rested her hands on my bottom to hold me and I sighed, especially when she grasped the cheeks when she stood.
I tucked my chin against her neck and kissed her cheek, “This is nice.”
She turned her head and I snuck a kiss to her lips before she started walking. “There’s some jagged rock outcroppings you have to go around, but first you have to know where they are,” she explained. She walked easily as though my added weight was nothing.
“You’re so strong. I wish I was strong sometimes.”
She caressed my bottom and then patted it. “You’re strong in ways I’m not, Willow. I know I couldn’t deal with what you deal with on a daily basis. Besides, you can’t weigh more than fifty pounds. I barely notice you on my back.”
I laughed and kissed her neck again, loving her soft intake of breath every time I did it. “Try sixty-five, but thanks for the compliment. Are we almost there?”
She nodded. “Don’t like riding on my back?”
I tugged on her earlobe with my teeth. “No, I love riding on your back. I was hoping we had another few miles to go.”
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