Check out the cover for Lauren Runow's GRAVITY!
Don't miss the excerpt below!
Don't miss the excerpt below!
Title: Gravity by Lauren Runow
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Designer: Wicked By Design Covers
Release Date: January 24, 2017
At eight years old, the boy next door changed my life. He was the force pulling me toward him despite our differences. It was like magic.
We understood each other, supported each other and in the process became everything to each other.
But in chasing Trevin’s dream, I lost myself along the way.
Through tremendous heartache, she was there. Through fame and fortune, she was there. Loving Lily was the one thing I got right.
Eclipsing her in my shadow, I took from her until she was empty. Now I must do anything to prove I can be the man she wants, no, the man she deserves.
Lily – Age 12
He knew we’d gone too far back in these hills on our bikes, and no matter how much I told him we needed to turn around, he wouldn’t listen. Now we’re still at least a mile from home and losing sunlight by the second.
“I’m going as fast as I can, but it’s kind of hard to push this thing with a popped tire,” he nags back at me.
“Well, whose fault is that? I told you not to do that jump,” I yell, looking over my shoulder.
The boy is crazy. Anything he can fly his bike off of, he will. I went around a steep rock, but not him; he went right over it and bent the rim, shredding the tire in the process.
Grunts of frustration come from behind me as I stop and turn in his direction. His irritation level is evident as he reaches down to pick his bike up from a different angle, hoping it would be easier to carry. The sight of him struggling has me off my bike, walking it back to where he’s standing.
“Here.” I push the handlebars toward him. “You peddle and I’ll ride in between your legs. We’ll just leave yours here and come get it tomorrow. No one’s going to mess with it all the way out here.”
Without a second thought, he drops his bike, grabbing mine with a huge smile. “Good idea. Hop on.”
I straddle the metal bar, looping my fingers around his forearms and resting my butt and legs up high on the middle bar. The position is extremely awkward, and I’m already regretting my suggestion. We met when we were eight years old and he taught me how to ride a bike. Those memories fly through my head as we take off down the street together.
“Hi, I’m Trevin. What’s your name?” A boy sneaks around the fence to where I was hiding from him.
“Lily,” I shyly state, not daring to meet his gaze.
“Lily—like the pad?”
“Excuse me?” My head shoots up.
“You know, lily pad, like what frogs jump on in a pond.”
My glare in his direction makes him laugh before he continues. “So, Lily Pad, did you just move in?”
“My name is not Lily Pad, just Lily…and yes, we moved yesterday.”
“Okay, well, can I call you another name then? Maybe Turtle? You looked like one the way you were peeking your head out behind the fence.”
“No, you can call me Lily.”
“Okay, Lillllyyyy…” he drawls my name out, making a point. “Come on, grab your bike. Let’s go ride.”
“I don't have a bike…” My voice is low, embarrassed by not having one, but even if I did, I don’t know how to ride one.
“You don’t have a bike?” He seems shocked by my revelation.
“I lived in San Francisco. You don’t really ride your bike in the street there.”
“That’s crazy! Well, come here then…you can ride mine, or I have a scooter if you want.”
“Um, I…um,” I stutter, not sure what to say.
“It’s cool if you don't know how. I’ll teach you.”
“Uh, okay, I guess so.”
Perched on the bike, he holds the seat and runs down the street next to me while I try my best not to fall. The wheels wobble and I almost lose control a few times, but he catches me before I hit the ground. My heart pounds with adrenaline pumping through me, the joy of riding overruling the fear of falling.
“Come on, Lily Pad, try to stay upright.”
I glare at him over my shoulder, and he laughs in response as he pushes me forward again, telling me to pedal faster. Following his instructions, my little feet push as hard and quickly as they can to pick up speed.
I’m so focused on trying to maintain my balance and breathe at the same time, I don’t realize I’m doing it all by myself. It’s not until I hear him screaming from behind me, celebrating my success, that it dawns on me he’s no longer by my side.
My attention is thrown off when I see him so far away and fear instantly sets in. The bike starts to sway from side to side and panic takes over. I remove my feet from the pedals, slowing my speed down by running them along the ground yet still straddling the bike. My eyes finally gaze up, only to see a huge wall of bushes, and in the blink of an eye, I slam right into them, scraping every inch of my body as the branches bring me to an automatic stop.
“Lily!” I hear Trevin scream as he runs down the street after me.
I’m trying my hardest to fight back the tears threatening to fall, not wanting him to see me cry.
“Are you okay?” he asks, moving branches away and pulling on my arm to help me up.
“Y–yeah,” I stutter.
“Good because that was awesome!” He celebrates, throwing both hands in the air and jumping up and down. “Man, I wish I had my parents’ camera. You should’ve seen yourself going into those bushes!”
Remembering his excitement from my crash years ago, and knowing how reckless he is on his own bike, I can’t stop worrying about riding with him now. Fear of falling and breaking something takes a hold of my chest. That cannot happen. I have a dance recital coming up and I can’t miss it.
“Here, just sit on my lap. That way, I can see over you and you’ll be more comfortable than you would be sitting on that bar.”
“But I’ll crush you,” I whine, not looking at him.
“Really? You’re the tiniest thing alive. Have you looked at me recently? I’m the biggest guy in our class. There’s no way you could crush me.”
I turn to see his face painted with pride. Even though he says it’s not a big deal, deep down he loves the fact he’s the “cool kid” in class. His hair is always in the latest style, spiked up in front and cut close in the back—the same cut other boys want but their mom’s wont let them have. He’s the only boy I know who cares about his clothes. Trevin only wears plaid button-ups or skater-looking shirts with jeans and his Chucks. He’s also the only kid in the class who can ride a skateboard and can even do tricks on it. The other guys try, but for him, it just comes naturally.
Most of the girls in our class are jealous we’re so close, but I don’t get all girly and giggly like they do when he’s around. They talk about the butterflies in their tummies and their flush faces when they see him. He’s not just Trev, no, he’s Trevvvviiin, all long, drawn out, and dreamy-like when they say it.
Sitting back on his lap, I lean against his chest and adjust my legs so they’re in a more secure position. “Is this okay?” I ask.
He laughs. “Yeah, now hold on.”
I turn and our eyes meet for a brief second as a small smile tilts the corner of his lips up. They’re so close to my face I can feel the warmth of his breath on my skin, and instantly, my chest tightens.
Looking forward, I maintain a death grip on his arms, unsure of what’s wrong with my chest. I take a deep breath to try to calm the fear seizing my ribs. I mean, it must be fear I’m feeling. I’ve seen this boy jump off the craziest cliffs, and here I am, trusting him to ride my bike to safety—with me on it.
Yes, that must be it. Fear.
Surprisingly, he maintains a normal pace, and after a few yards, the ache in my chest subsides, replaced with a feeling I can’t explain. The cool breeze floating through the summer night relaxes me while his warmth wraps around my body. Without realizing it, I drop my head to the left, sinking into him, and making this ride even more comfortable.
His steady breathing picks up, and I can hear the sudden shakiness in my ear and feel his heart starting to race as the steady beat taps my back. He isn’t pedaling fast, but I guess having to exert enough energy to propel both of us must be tiring. The further we go, the rougher and deeper it gets.
We make it back to the house just as darkness completely takes over the night, and I lift off his shoulder when he stops in front of my driveway. Once he stops, I climb off the bike and turn to face him. The streetlight above cast shadows over his face, but I catch a glimpse of his eyes when he tilts his hat up, and then…I feel it.
The butterflies other girls talked about.
My eyes meet the street when fear of the unknown takes over my body.
The silence in the air starts to sting and the hum from the lamplight above us begins to mock me. Awkwardly, I wait for him to move, to say something, but neither of us does anything. Stunned, in this frozen state, I desperately want to curl into a ball and hide. This is not us—we don’t sit quietly or not interact, especially Trevin. He always has some silly remark or an ease about him that has amazed me since we first met.
The sound of my parents running out from our house breaks my thoughts. “Lily, you’re in big trouble, young lady. Do you see how dark it is?” My dad sternly makes his point.
I glance at Trevin, our eyes meeting for a brief second before I turn around, apologizing to save my life. “I’m sor—”
Trev cuts me off. “Mr. Pace, I’m so sorry. This was my fault. My tire broke on my bike, and we finally had to leave it back in the hills or we would have been home much later. That’s why I’m riding Lily’s.” He jumps off the bike, walking it up to my garage where my parents are walking toward us.
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When Lauren Runow isn't writing, you'll find her listening to music that speaks to her, at her local CrossFit, reading, or at the baseball field with her boys. Her only vice is coffee, and she swears it makes her a better mom!
Lauren is a graduate from the Academy of Art in San Francisco and is the founder and co-owner of the community magazine she and her husband publish. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons.