I keep getting emails requesting more the sequel to THE BOOK OF LUKE, especially something with Luke in it. Well, here you go. The beginning of Chapter 3, which brings us back to graduation day. And Luke.
“So now what?” Luke was waiting for me under the apple tree, just as he’d promised.
“I think my retinas are permanently scarred from repeated flash exposure,” I told him and then leaned in close to Luke so he could get a good look. “Can you tell I’m still seeing stars?”
Luke bent down a few inches so we were eye to eye and we stayed like that for a long minute, our noses practically touching as we gazed silently at one another as if it was just the two of us in the courtyard and not our entire graduating class of 54 and at least a hundred of their closest friends and family.
The sound of our headmaster calling us over for a class picture broke the spell.
I reluctantly pulled away. “This is ridiculous. Enough with the pictures already.”
“Come on, one day when we’re too old to remember this we’ll look back and be thankful we have a picture of all the people whose names we can’t remember.”
Luke managed to make me laugh. He always did. “I think I’m all smiled out.”
“One more won’t kill you,” Luke insisted, and I knew he was right, although I suddenly had a new appreciation for those beauty pageant contestants who slicked Vaseline across their teeth to make constant smiling-on-demand more effortless. It was disgusting, granted, but effective. And effective was what I could have used right then.
My dad had already insisted on capturing this proud moment in a series of photographs that required my mom, TJ and I stand in twelve different positions while he learned how to use the new digital camera purchased specifically for this special occasion. My high school graduation. I thought digital cameras were supposed to be easy, but apparently the hyped-up model my dad selected had so many buttons and dials he practically had the camera in one hand and the instruction manual in the other at all times.
“I’m fine with one more picture. Not hundreds,” I replied, and then added. “Besides, there are some parts of this year I’d rather forget.”
Luke shook his head and let a slow smile slide across his lips. “Not me. All I remember is good stuff.”
I rolled my eyes and pretended to think he was crazy. But even though I shot him a look that said whatever I couldn’t help smiling back. He still did that to me, even after months of denying I was falling in love with him, and, now, months after being a real couple, the guy still managed to give me little waves in my belly with a simple smile.
“Come on, we better go over there before we’re stuck in the back behind Max.” Max Braxton was six foot six with another four inches added from an afro he decided to grow for good luck during basketball season. When the varsity team had an undefeated season he decided to keep it until he heard whether or not he was accepted at Georgetown. When he got the okay there, he decided not to break his lucky streak. So now it looked like Max’s hairstyle choice was going to make it through the summer, which made me want to scratch my own sweaty head just thinking about it.
“Emily!” Josie was waving me over toward her. She pointed to the small open space to her left, where Lucy was doing her best to keep anyone else from slipping in between them and into the slot they were reserving for me.
Luke reached for my hand and started to lead me toward the row where the rest of the seniors from the lacrosse team was standing.
This was always the problem. Choosing. Constantly.
Luke must have felt me hesitate because he stopped walking. “What’s wrong?”
I looked over at my friends.
“Really? You’re going to spend the entire summer with them, can’t they spare you for a picture?”
It wasn’t like Luke to get testy, but whenever the subject of this summer came up I knew to tread lightly. We’d been going back and forth about our plans for weeks now trying to figure out how we were going to spend time together and still do everything else that was pulling us in a million different directions – Cape Cod with Josie and Lucy, Luke’s lacrosse camp, my job, his job, not to mention family vacations.
Shitty girlfriend or shitty friend? Lately those seemed like my only choices.
“Come stand with us.” I tugged Luke along behind me and led him through the crowd of parents and relatives, not once looking back at him for fear I’d see that, once again, I was letting someone down.