Eruption (Yellowblown™ Book 1) (6 page)

I didn’t know if
Boone would say goodbye at the gate or what, but he took my hand again when we reached street level. “Do you want to get some pizza?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said,
completely failing to find my “whatever” expression again. I smiled down at the sidewalk then blushed when he noticed and squeezed my hand.

“Let’s walk down to Eatsa Pizza. The place on Campus Ave
nue will be packed.”

We’d made it about half a block
when Twyla called, “Boonie!”

He sighed and turned.

“Hey, what post-party are you going to?” She’d pulled her hair up in a meticulously sloppy bunch on the back of her head. Her pack of she-wolves had been restored, and their cheeks all sported football players’ numbers, but hers were conspicuously bare.

“I’m not. I have to check on the guys on my floor. First game weekend and all.”

“I guess.” She shoved her hand out at me. “Hi, I’m Twyla.”

Violet.” I shook her hand then made a point of re-insinuating my fingers with Boone’s.

“Are you new
to Western Case?” she asked.

No. I met you last year, during rush.” A minute narrowing of her eyes confirmed she didn’t like my calling her on her bad. My nerves ratcheted up again. I despised conflict, especially with this kind of girl. Been there, done that.

recovered to saccharin astonishment. “I’m so sorry. I don’t remember you at all.”

“Not surprising
. The rush experience was entirely forgettable for me, too.”

Boone snorted
. Gagga Kappa sister-clones gasped from their backup singer half circle. “Sisterhood isn’t for everyone,” she said with a hint of Southern twang.

Can I get an amen?” I joked as a wiggle of my hand sent a signal to Boone.

eased down the sidewalk. “See you later.”

Twyla’s mouth opened
as I turned to walk with him.

“Boonie?” I said
when we’d gained some distance from her.

“We dated at the end of sophomore year
, a few weeks into junior.” After a full minute of silence, he pushed open the door of the busy restaurant. A flood of oven heat and the odors of food and college students assaulted us after hours in the fresh air. “Is that a deal-breaker or something?”

“No. I
just don’t know which question to ask first.”

We found a booth along the wall near the center, neither hiding in the back nor advertising ourselves at a table for two
in the window. Boone ordered water, I asked for an iced tea, and we quickly agreed on a large pizza with mushrooms and olives.

looked across the table at me while he unrolled his napkin and silverware. “You already know way more about me than I do about you. Before I tell the Twyla story, you’ve gotta tell me something.”

“Like what?” I
flattened the paper wrapper from my straw.

“Like who’s the last guy

“I guess I had that coming,”
I sighed, stalling. “Define dated.”

He grinned. “Went out with exclusively.”

I brushed some crumbs off the table into a napkin. “Nobody you’d know. I mean, nobody here.” I sighed again when he kept staring at me. “High school boyfriend. I broke up with him spring of senior year.”

“Name?” He laughed at my peeved expression. “C’mon, you know Twyla’s name.”

“Don’t I ever.”

His eyes sparkled.

“Oh, all right, his name was Parker.”

“Parker, like Spiderman? You dated Spiderman?” he
crowed. The three Head Cases at the next table turned to stare.

“Cut it out,” I said
. He laughed again as my face got hot. “Parker was his first name.”

“So, you kicked him to the curb and broke his heart?”

“Something like that.”
And then he rebounded

He stirred his ice cubes around with his straw. “I mean, what ended it?”

“I knew I was
going away to college, and I didn’t see him in the picture. He…he wasn’t part of my plan, not the way he wanted to be. Not even close.”

Boone nodded
, smile gone. “I wish I’d been smart about my high school girlfriend. I tried to hold on for a few months of freshman year, but I knew by Thanksgiving.”

“And then came Twyla?”

“Second part of sophomore year.”

I take it you broke up with her?”

He shifted in his seat.
“It was mutual.”

My eyebrows went up. “Well, Boonie, I think she’s changed her mind.”

He shrugged. “Only because she hasn’t scored this year’s jock.”

figure swooped over to our table, startling him. “Jocks? I adore jocks. You must be Boone,” Mia said, arm extended, limp at the wrist, as if she expected him to kiss it. He knuckle-bumped her instead.

Boone, meet my roommate, Mia. She’s very shy,” I said. I noticed the waitress trying to get past her. “Pizza’s here.”

“Ooo yay!” Mia said, sliding in with me.

Anyone else I would have shoved right back out of the booth, but Mia was no man-stealer. Plus, I knew she’d vacate the instant things got weird.

“No, this is all wrong,” Mia said, sliding back out of the seat. “You go over there, Violet, or all the homophobes will think we
” The neighboring table turned to look at us again. They all laughed when Mia winked at them.

Leave it to Mia to make sure Boone and I ate pizza
shoulder-to-shoulder. We laughed at her description of the opposing teams’ cheerleaders blowing up a stunt that ended with the top girl head down with her skirt around her neck. When my laughter made me lean against him, Boone leaned back into me, sturdy as one of the maple trees ringing the quad.

After one piece of pizza, Mia flitted away

“I didn’t even notice the cheerleaders at the game,” Boone said.

“Don’t let them hear you say that,” I advised right before taking another bite.

He shook the ice in his cup. “You helped me l
ast year, you know,” he said quietly.

With a mouth full of stringy
cheese, I could only chew in helpless ignorance. I finally made a rolling motion with my hand. Keep talking, boy.

It sounds vain, but meeting someone who didn’t know I played football, had no interest in the game…probably the best thing that could’ve happened.”

I swallowed hard.
The lump of cheese slid like a golf ball down my esophagus.

day, everyone pitied me. ‘Poor Boone. Poor Boone.’” He tossed a bit of burned crust back onto the pie pan. “I’ll admit it. I moped like Cramer. Then you came along. ‘I don’t know who you are. I don’t know anything about your knee, and I bet you can’t pedal your butt up this hill fast as me.’”

“I never said that

“You didn’t have to
. Keep up or shut up.”

“I took it easy on you, too
, you ingrate.”

“I know.”

I turned sideways on the bench seat to speak to the little bowl at the base of his neck revealed where the stretched-out neckline of his shirt skimmed below the points of his collarbone. “You said before you weren’t sure this was a good day for us to do this. You know, for me to be with your friends and stuff. But, I’m having a good time. And I thought it was really nice you helped Cramer though I busted you about it. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I did know who were last year, when we met on the ride. I knew your name, I mean, not the other parts.”

I screwed up my courage to check his reaction
. He smiled, not in a ha-ha funny way, but in a thoughtful, I-think-I-might-like-you way. How I knew that, I’m not sure, since not many guys had exactly gone gooey for me over the years. Or, to be accurate,
guy had ever gone gooey over me.

e reached out to cradle my hand in my lap, under the table, then he leaned in for a kiss. I may have blacked out for a minute ’cuz the noise of the pizza place disappeared, and the next thing I remember is me with my eyes closed, his breath soft on my lips, “I’m having a good time, too, Violet.”

I was a goner.


A week later, Mia and I spent our Saturday studying on the quad. Big difference between high school and college—no weeks of review at the beginning of a course. Professors came in hard and fast with tests and papers. I’d already lost my grip on calculus and had two chapters to read in geology. Mia drowned in Homer’s
. She swore she’d meant to read it over the summer but the lure of the aristocrats with their own version of hard and fast had led her false.

“It’s so depressing,” Mia moaned after Odysseus’s shipwreck.
“All this struggle, and if he ever makes it back to his wife he’ll be a shriveled old man and she’ll be a bitter woman.”

the real Pennsylvania world, the afternoon sun baked my tank-top bared shoulders. Mia wore a candy-striped halter top with a pair of denim short-shorts. Guys stopped by her side of the blanket like ants at a saucer of sugar water. Those who dragged themselves away must have gone back to the nest to tell the other worker ants because new ones kept coming. “Do you think any man in modern times would love his home and family enough to continue an epic journey?” she wondered.

“I think he’d find somebody with a cell phone and send a text
.” I studied a graphic of the geologic time scale, another epic story. 4.54 billion years. Humans—anything anatomically the same as us—came into existence, at the earliest, 200,000 years ago. Math might not be my strongest subject, but even I knew 200,000 had a lot less zeros than 4.54 billion. Through all those billions of years, the tectonic plates and the atmosphere were forming and changing, then we arrived, thinking it was put here for our convenience when we showed up at 11:37PM on December 31 of the earth’s year of existence. If the earth were a sentient being, would it consider us twenty-three momentous minutes of its history, like when you conceived your first child, or the twenty-three minutes you snoozed away in the parking lot while your mom got groceries? For all we knew, to the planet Earth, humans carried the import of a sitcom rerun on a TV turned on non-stop for a solid twelve months.

Thoughts like this rolled around in my mind while I
studied, fascinated by the different theories and the current understanding of the planet. What if scientists were still wrong, I wondered. It seemed like this geology differed from what my mom and high school science teachers had told me, so who was to say the textbooks wouldn’t change again? And again?

I closed the book with my thumb marking the page.
My fascination with science pissed me off. I feared turning into my mother with an unused geology degree. Yet, I needed to pick a major next semester, and I had no idea what I wanted to do, either in college or after it.

I sometimes wondered if I should have come to college at all.
If it would pay off.

I loved my life here. That’s why I had been so anxious for summer break to end. And I
didn’t goof around. I worked hard and learned a lot. All this knowledge had to lead somewhere, didn’t it, though Lord knew a degree was no guarantee of a career anymore.

For dinner,
Mia and I wandered down to Snokes to use our meal credits at the food court. Most students hadn’t gone to the away football game, so the dinner crowd packed the high-ceilinged rectangle. Male voices booed at the TV when a news brief came on during a commercial break in a game between schools much bigger than ours.

Produce prices are expected to spike this fall
, following the hurricane devastation in the southeast. The storm wiped out the citrus crop in Florida, and farm fields as far north as Virginia have been destroyed by winds and flooding. Power crews are still arriving from as far west as Kansas to help restore electricity. The President announced —

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