The Storm Before the Calm

The Storm Before the Calm by Cate Ashwood

Book: The Storm Before the Calm by Cate Ashwood Read Free Book Online
Authors: Cate Ashwood
reality show following makeup artists.
    “How did it go today?” Ginny asked.
    “It was good. We got a lot done. I think the piece is going to be great. Max is a genius when it comes to choreography, and he listened to my ideas too. It was kinda fun, actually, to be on the other side of things.” I didn’t add I’d also had my first real kiss and I thought I could very well fall in love with another guy.
    “What’s the piece for?”
    “A festival of some sort at the end of the summer. I don’t have all the details yet.”
    I felt awful lying to her, especially when she was being so nice to me, opening her home so I could stay for the summer, but I didn’t want her getting suspicious. I had an inkling she might have guessed something was up already, just from the looks she’d given me. I didn’t want to give her any more reason to suspect. At least not until I had figured things out in my head. Everything was still a jumbled mass of feelings and hormones and fear and uncertainty.
    “Well, keep me updated. I’d love to come see you dance. It’s been an age since I last saw you.”
    “I will for sure,” I promised.
    The food arrived shortly after, and Ginny set the containers out on the coffee table in the living room while I fetched the plates and cutlery from the kitchen. We’d decided on laptop dining and a movie—a new comedy on Netflix.
    I didn’t see much of the movie. That is, I watched it, but none of it registered. I tried to laugh when Ginny laughed, but I’m sure I missed at least a joke or two. My mind was elsewhere, and no amount of effort could keep it from wandering back to the same place. As the sun dipped down below the Hudson and the lights of the city popped on, memories of the afternoon I’d spent with Max became more and more vivid.
    How was I ever supposed to be just friends with him? My head and my heart agreed on one thing, and that was how much I wanted to be with him. The niggling in the back of my brain was still there, but it was eclipsed by the growing feelings I had for him.
    By the time the credits rolled, my mind was made up. I was going to do this. I had no idea what I was getting myself into or what the outcome would be. Hell, I didn’t even know how to be with a guy. But one thing was certain, and that was that I was going to try.
    My mom called me that night, and guilt racked me as I pressed the ignore button on my cell phone. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk to her. I did. But she knew me better than anyone, and she would know something was wrong. It was one thing to fool Aunt Ginny, but my mom? She had a nose for trouble like a drug-sniffing dog at the border. I couldn’t risk it. I told myself I would call her back the next day, once I had everything put together more clearly in my head. I felt like I had made this monumental life choice, and even though the choice had been clear, the reasons and implications were a mass of brambles in my mind.
    I MET Max at the studio the next morning, the same time as the day before. He was there again, coffees in hand for the both of us. We climbed the stairs to the second floor, and Max set the drinks down on the floor next to the stereo.
    “Max?” I said, my voice cracking as my nerves took hold of me.
    “Yeah?” he asked, turning toward me, his handsome face questioning and kind.
    “I thought about it… about what we talked about yesterday, I mean.”
    I stepped closer to him, the movement unconscious. He raised his eyebrows but didn’t speak, waiting for me to get out what I had to say.
    “I think, if you still want to, that I’d like to try….”
    “Oh, thank fuck,” he said, and before I realized what was happening, I was swept into his arms and his mouth was crashing down on mine. I hesitated a moment and then gave myself over to him, wrapping my arms around him and holding him to me as he kissed me stupid in the middle of the studio floor.
    I was out of breath by the time we were finished. He

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