Romeo & The Scarlett Letter: Excerpt

posted in: Writing | 1

Guys. I did it. I finished my fifth book.


Despite what an incredible feeling that is, I should let you know that when I say “finished”, I only mean that it’s written. I’ve made one pass through on revisions and completely rewrote the ending, but I still have a long ways to go in order to get it where I want it to be.

But to celebrate the fact that I’ve completed 47 chapters (holy crap–that’s a lot of chapters!), I would like to share one of my favorite scenes from a story that has become very near and dear to my heart: ROMEO AND THE SCARLETT LETTER (temporary title). I hope you enjoy it!

“So,” I say, breaking the stretch of silence between us. “What should we do now?”

She peers into the candy box, maybe wishing there was something still left inside. Then she looks up at me, a half-crazed smile pulling at her lips. “Ever been to the edge?”

I raise an eyebrow. “The edge of what?”

She shrugs. “We just call it The Edge. Come on, I’ll tell you how to get there.”

I don’t question her. I just pull my seatbelt back on, check the rearview mirror, and shift the car into reverse. Fifteen minutes later, we’re parked in a gravel lot on the outskirts of town, my headlights cutting two swaths of light into the forest before us. 

“Is this it?” I ask, trying to hide my disappointment. I’d envisioned something a little more exciting. Like maybe a dance club or some really cool hangout. 

Scarlett nods toward the forest. “It’s in there.” 

We have to go in there? She opens her door and steps out. With reluctance, I shut off the engine and climb out of the car, too. Except for a half moon and the stars shining above us, it’s pitch black. I shove my hands in my pockets. “Wait up.”

The dim moonlight reflects off her pony tail as Scarlett leads the way along a narrow path between the trees. It’s eerie as all get out in here. Pine needles and branches scratch at my arms and an owl hoots in the distance. “How much further is this thing?”

“Right up here.” 

The trees give way, and the night sky reappears. But it’s almost like the earth has dropped from beneath our feet. Sky is all there is. “Whoa,” I say, stopping in my tracks. 

Scarlett reaches for my hand, and I’m not prepared for the way her skin touching mine makes me feel. All warm and electric and giddy at the same time. My fanfic story going viral is miles away now. She leads me forward a few paces, and I discover exactly what the edge is. A fifty foot—or quite possibly bigger—drop-off. She lets go of my hand, and we ease onto the side of the cliff, our legs dangling into the void. Miles of pastureland dotted by a few small farms with their yellow-white lights lay in the distance below.

I push out a breath—half nerves, half amazement. “Holy crap. This is incredible.”

“I know,” she whispers. “I love it here.”

We admire the view without talking for several minutes, my hand still tingling from where hers had been. I rub my palms against my jeans as the sky demands my attention once again. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so clear. 

Words form in my brain and spill from my mouth without a second thought. “When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.”

Scarlett turns to stare at me. “What the heck was that?”

I laugh. “Romeo and Juliet. You know, my namesake.”

“You memorized the whole play?”

“Nah. I just remember a few parts.” 

She’s still staring. “I’m impressed. Can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone recite Romeo and Juliet—not outside of school, anyway.”

“Yeah, well, that’s me.” The real me. “I’m weird like that.”

“So you were named after that Romeo, huh?”

“No, not really. It’s actually a family name. My dad’s Hispanic. But my Mom wanted to name me Fabio.”

“Fabio? Really?”

I’m grinning now. “I’m just kidding with you. But that’s a pretty cool name, huh?”

She nudges her shoulder into mine, and that same electric sensation returns. “I like Romeo better.”

I hope she likes the person behind the name, too. “So what about you?” I ask. “Tell me something I don’t know. Which could be anything because there’s a lot I don’t know about you.”

She heaves a deep sigh as if answering this question will require great effort. “Well . . . hmm.” She tosses something into the void—a rock, I assume–though I never hear it hit bottom. “I have an older brother who’s married. I like alternative music . . . and I love to dance. But you already know that. That’s all I can really think of.”

“What’s your favorite food? That can say a lot about a person.”

She answers this question without hesitation. “Chicken fried steak.”

“You see? Now that’s interesting. I would have pegged you for a taco kind of girl.”

“I like tacos, too. They’re probably one of my top five favorite foods.”

“Really? So now you have to tell me your top five.”

“Oh, do I now?” She laughs, and I love the sound of it so much, my mind scrambles to think of more things I can say just so I can hear it again.

“Yes,” I say firmly.

“Okay then. Chicken fried steak. Lasagna. Grilled Cheese. Junior Mints. And then tacos.” She counts them off with her fingers.

I nod. “Those are all top-five-worthy foods.”

“What about you? What are your top five?”

“First you have to guess my number one favorite.”

“I don’t know. . . Tacos?”

“You’re just saying that because I’m Mexican.”

“What? No!” She laughs and does that shoulder nudge thing again. It takes everything I’ve got not to wrap an arm around her and pull her close.

“Empanadas are my favorite. Then cheeseburgers, from In and Out, specifically. Pizza. Sushi. Then tacos.”

“Okay. Don’t hate me, but what are empanadas?”

“What?” I pretend to be insulted. “How can you not know what empanadas are? They’re like the best Mexican food ever.”

“I’ve never had them.”

“I’ll have to make them for you some time. They’re not the easiest thing in the world to make, but they’re totally worth it.”

She doesn’t respond right away, and I’m thinking maybe I went too far. I mean, we still barely know each other, and here I am offering to make her dinner.

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