Marty Smith was born in Accident, Maryland, and his whole life reflected it: he missed the game-winning free-throw junior year, got chicken pox twice in grade school, even lost his mother to cancer. To break this supposed curse, he fled Accident as soon as he graduated high school.
Now, ten years later, Marty must face his past when he's forced to care for his suddenly-immobile father. Marty knows his close-minded hometown hasn't changed, but seeing an old classmate named Colten Williams makes him wish things were different. The more time he spends with Colten, the more he wants to stay. Accident isn’t so bad when viewed through Colten’s eyes.
Or is it just the curse lulling him into a false sense of security before it pounces again?
After dinner, Dad washed the dishes while Colten and I finished our beers. We’d stayed to neutral topics for the rest of dinner, Colten filling me in on what most of our classmates were up to. A surprisingly large amount of them were still here. I couldn't believe they all didn’t run like I had.
“Well, I better get going,” Colten said finally, and reluctantly.
“I’ll walk you out.”
Colten shook Dad’s hand, then we headed to the back door. The air was cold now. Back in Arizona, it’d still be ninety degrees this late at night. I shivered, wishing I had on a jacket.
We stopped at Colten’s truck, and Colten leaned against the door.
“Thanks again, Marty. It was nice to catch up.”
“No, thank you. I really appreciate your help the other day.”
“It was no problem, honest. There’s not enough of folks helping each other out nowadays.”
“That’s true.” I thought to my life in Phoenix. You hardly ever glanced at anyone else, there. I knew my neighbor’s faces, but not their names. I never socialized with anyone outside my circle of friends. I had no desire to. And that was sad, when you thought about it.
“So, you’re just hanging around the house all day?”
“Yeah, not much else to do.”
“If you feel like it, you can swing by the farm. I’d love to show you around.”
I cocked my head to the side, but smiled. “I’d like that. This Lola Belle sounds intriguing. I can’t wait to check out her topline.”
“You know,” I said, suddenly having a thought. “I probably should rent a car while I’m here. With Dad being so unpredictable, it’s no good to be stranded.”
“I wish you wouldn’t.”
Though the porch gave off streams of light, it was hard to read his face though the darkness. “Why not?”
“Cause then I don’t get to be the valiant hero who comes to the rescue.”
“Hero?” I asked.
He took a step away from his truck, coming closer to me. “I gave you my number in hopes that you’d ask me out on a date.”
My face must have shown my shock, because Colten chuckled.
Then, he was leaning forward and pressing his lips to mine. I stood frozen before his warm lips thawed me.
I kissed back.
It was light, playful almost. Then he pulled away.
I looked quickly over my shoulder to make sure Dad wasn't looking out the window.
“Tomorrow?” Colten asked, drawing my attention once more.
I nodded, not trusting my words.
“Perfect. I’ll see you then.”
He moved away from me and I shivered again, but not from the cold. He got into the truck and waved once more before backing out of the steep driveway.
I stared after him a moment, trying to get my head around what had just happened.
He did like me, it seemed. I tried to recall memories from high school, forcing my mind to relive those times in math class. How had he been, then? Was it possible he’d been gay too? Staring at his bedroom ceiling, wondering why he didn’t fit in? I’d always thought I was the only one. Especially since he chose to stay here. How did he get along with everyone? Was he an outcast?
I went back inside, wondering if I liked him. The country bumkin hadn’t been my ideal while growing up. Even if I could have found a boyfriend here, I would have stayed away from the farm boys. But why? Colten had shown me nothing but kindness since we ran into each other at the fruit market. He spoke with such passion, it was easy to get caught up in his love for his animals. Those weren’t bad things at all.