Authors: Liz Botts,Elaina Lee
Tags: #young adult, #love, #sweet romance, #Fiction, #summer romance, #clean romance, #young adult romance, #romance, #roses, #sweet publisher, #christian publisher, #inspirational romance, #sweet house, #astraea press, #rock star, #ya, #young love, #undying love, #sexy, #contemporary romance, #love triangle, #new life, #clean fiction, #rock and roll, #long lost love, #popular
In the Spotlight
By Liz Botts
Published by Astraea Press
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Copyright © 2011 LIZ BOTTS
Cover Art Designed By Elaina Lee
Edited By J.D. Jordan and Audrey Jamison
To Bob, Owen, Elijah, and Adelaide. You are my inspiration.
I was drawn out of my Kyle and Claudia contemplation just in time to see a basketball hurtling toward my head. Well, a basketball and Josh Larson. Josh knocked the ball away just as it was about to make contact and landed hard on the bleacher in front of me, wincing in pain.
“Oh my gosh!” Claudia jumped to her feet. “Josh! Are you okay? That was so brave.”
I stared at him mutely as he glanced up at me. There wasn’t a chance to say anything anyway because his coach rushed over and helped him up and down to the court as a smattering of applause began to trickle through the crowd.
“That was so amazing,” Claudia said, eyes wide. “Can you believe that Josh Larson totally just saved you from a grotesque injury that totally would have prevented you from trying out for the play? I mean, it’s totally like he’s your knight in shining armor.”
Nothing seemed to be penetrating my skull at that moment.
I gazed from Josh to Claudia and could only wonder why Claudia was still talking. I mouthed “thank you” to the back of Josh’s head.
I hoped he heard my thoughts through telepathy or something.
My train of thought had effectively derailed. I sat mutely staring at the action on the court, nodding at whatever Claudia blathered about, and tried to remember why I had wanted to come to the game in the first place. When the half time buzzer finally sounded, I almost groaned with a mixture of relief and annoyance.
I still had half a game to get through, and I wasn’t sure I could handle more of Claudia chattering in my ear.
“Hey, Claud, listen, I’m going to, um, run to the bathroom real quick,” I said, interrupting her stream of conscious rambling. “I want to be back to watch my sister perform.”
Claudia nodded. “You’re so lucky to have a sister with so much talent and school spirit. You must be so proud of her.”
The hallway outside the gym was a little quieter than the deafening roar inside, but with all the people milling about it was incredibly hot and sticky. I decided to head down to the music hallway for a little peace and quiet. I’d run into Maggie down there anyway. Half the band had run back toward the band room as soon as the buzzer sounded to do who knows what. They had to be back by the time the cheerleaders performed. They were the accompaniment after all.
Ever since my drama teacher, Ms. Bard, had announced that the object of my affection, Kyle, had written this year’s spring musical, my heart had been in overdrive. Finally, I saw a way to get Kyle to notice me beyond just as a drama club friend.
I was almost to the band room door when I heard someone call my name. I was pleased to see Kyle jogging toward me, a gorgeous half smile on his face.
“I’ve been looking all over for you,” he said.
“You have?” I replied, my heart doing a strange fluttering thing in my chest.
Kyle nodded, getting quite serious. “I have,” he repeated. “I didn’t want to say anything in front of Claudia, but I really think you should audition for Kelly’s little sister. It would be great training for you to have the lead next year.”
My heart stopped fluttering and plunged straight into my stomach. “Oh?” I said, hoping that my voice was steady. “Actually I was thinking about auditioning for Kelly myself.”
I was? Where had that come from? The words had popped out unbidden, but now that they were out, I didn’t want to take them back because they were true.
Kyle reached out and began twirling a strand of my hair around his thumb. “Oh, come on, Hanns, you know a junior will never get the lead.”
“I know that,” I said, my voice a whisper, “but it can’t hurt to try. Besides I think that would be good practice for next year.”
Kyle rolled the strand all the way up to my scalp and tugged me closer to him. I think he meant it to be sexy, but it sort of hurt. I couldn’t help but flinch. “Hannah, Hannah, Hannah. It’s great that you’re that committed and all, but don’t you think it’ll just be a big waste of time? And a big disappointment?”
I forced myself to focus on the fact that Kyle was putting me down and not on the fact that we were standing six inches apart and he smelled completely amazing, but it wasn’t easy as Kyle’s fingers worked their way onto my scalp. He sort of had hold of my head now, it wasn’t entirely unwelcome either. He shook me gently as if to get me to reply.
“I guess you’re right. I don’t really want to waste everyone’s time or anything. Would you…um…would you help me get ready for the audition?” I swallowed the lump in my throat.
“If you want,” Kyle grinned, releasing my hair. “You’ll make an awesome supporting role for Kelly.”
I actually had to lean against the wall as I watched him walk away. What had just happened here? My brain clicked slowly through the conversation trying to pinpoint what I had agreed to, and more importantly, what I had actually decided. I refused to be the girl who gave in to some guy’s pressure no matter how small the demand. Just because I said I would do anything to get Kyle to notice me/like me/want me/take me/date me, that didn’t mean I intended to give up on myself the second he showed interest in me.
And yet, that’s exactly what I’d just done. Kyle touched me and I gave in to what he wanted within thirty seconds. That didn’t bode well for me if we ever were to date. As band kids flooded the hallway, my senses kicked back in, as did my resolve. I was going to audition for Kelly. Once Kyle saw how awesome I was at the audition, he’d forgive me for my little deception.
Maggie caught up with me and started chattering about the newest band geek love triangle as we headed back to the gym.
I scanned the bleachers for Claudia when we got back in the gym. Not because I wanted to sit with her, but because I didn’t want to sit by myself. When I finally located her, I wished I hadn’t because she was standing entirely too close to Kyle, giggling at something.
Instead of subjecting myself to another disgusting and humiliating witness of Claudia’s flirtatiousness, I settled myself near Maggie’s section of the band. The musicians started to queue up for the cheerleaders’ entrance, and I felt a strange tickle of satisfaction knowing that Kyle had to get back to his section, leaving Claudia all by her lonesome.
The music began as the cheerleaders exploded onto the court. I tried to concentrate so that I could congratulate Hayley on a job well done later, but cheerleading isn’t my thing, so my attention wandered. As I looked across the crowd, I wasn’t surprised to see most eyes trained on the girls on the floor, but when my gaze ran straight into another pair of eyes, I think I almost gasped out loud. I hadn’t been expecting anyone else to be looking back at me, and even more shocking was that it was Josh Larson.
And even if he did have some seriously pretty eyes, I thought Hayley said he was dating, or at least hooking up with, one or two of the girls on the cheerleading squad. I mean, shouldn’t he have been paying more attention to them or something. Instead of looking around the gym and making girls like me squirm. I finally had to look away. Forcing my attention back to the gym floor, I decided to set about planning how to get Kyle to approve of my Kelly audition without telling him what I was planning.
The rest of the game passed in a blur as I tried to sort through various scenarios in which Kyle was so impressed with my audition that he asked me to prom on the spot. Not that getting asked to prom was that big a deal to me or anything, but I couldn’t imagine anything more amazing than getting asked to prom in front of the whole drama club. By Kyle nonetheless. In my fantasy, Kyle jumped up on stage after my audition and declared it the best thing he’d ever seen. Then with amazement still shining in his eyes, Kyle dropped down on one knee and asked me to be his date at prom. Every girl in the auditorium would be green with envy, and I would swoon and say yes, of course.
Granted my fantasy was a slight blur of a marriage proposal, but being asked to prom was the next best thing in our school.
People put so much emphasis on prom and asking/being asked in the most creative way possible that you’d think we were straight from some cheesy teen movie where all the students know the exact same dance at the party. And they all look really amazing even when they’re supposed to be geeky and ugly.
“Earth to zombie girl.” Hayley was calling to me by the time I emerged from my daze. She looked supremely annoyed, what with the crossed arms and perpetual scowl. It was hard to believe she was pretty under all that grouchiness.
We trudged to the car in silence, shivering against the biting January wind. My car took its own sluggish time turning on, and no matter how high we turned the heat up, only cold air blew at us through the vents.
“This car is a piece of crap,” Hayley said, adding a few choice words as a shudder rolled through the car.
“Hayley!” I snapped. “Language.”
“Oh whatever,” Hayley rolled her eyes. “Like you never swear. Whatever.”
Lapsing back into silence, I wracked my brain for something to say, figuring conversation would take our minds off the cold.
“Hey, you were really good tonight,” I said. “It seemed like everyone was really in to it. The crowd, I mean. You guys are always really in to it.”
Gosh, I was saying really a lot.
Hayley crossed her arms, whether out of annoyance or cold I couldn’t be sure. Glancing at me she said, “Thanks. It turned out okay I guess. Becky can never remember her moves. She just ticks me off so much.”
“That’s too bad,” I replied, hoping I sounded somewhat sympathetic. In all honesty, I couldn’t remember who Becky was, nor had I noticed anyone forgetting their moves.
Hayley shrugged. “Whatever. She just sucks, that’s all. I think Mike is going to ask me to prom.”
I nearly hit the car in front of me. “Are you kidding?”
“No,” Hayley said, drawing patterns in the frost on the window. “Why would I be kidding?”
“Um, no offense but why would Mike ask you to prom?” I said, easing off the brake. “You’re only a freshman.”
“Duh, I’m aware of that fact,” Hayley said. “But there’s no rule that says a freshman can’t go if an upperclassman asks her.”
A thick moment of silence dropped between us. “Did, um, Mike tell you he was going to ask you?”
I peeked at Hayley just in time to see her shake her head in disgust. “We’ve only been dating for like the past two months.
Where have you been? Why wouldn’t he ask me?”
She had a point, of course. She and Mike were practically attached at the hip. But come on, the guy was a senior. It was his last chance to have a really great prom, and there was no way Hayley would be a fun prom date. She’d no doubt make him wear a pink cummerbund or something equally outrageous. Ugh, what if she made him wear a pink shirt? I just couldn’t see Mike, who hung out with all the theater kids because he was a major tech geek who loved building scenery and such, enjoying that type of thing. I’d never quite understood what he saw in my baby sister, and I just didn’t see how he’d follow through asking her to prom.
“Do you think he’ll do something big?” I asked because I couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“He better,” Hayley said. “Everyone knows the bigger the better. I’m hoping he does something at a game.”
Hayley ended the conversation at that point by flipping on the car radio. She cruised through a bunch of stations before deciding on one that was playing a drippy love song. Settling back in her seat, she gazed out into the frosty night and sighed contentedly. I tried not to focus on the little nips of jealousy crossing my path.
The next day in drama class, Ms. Bard had us arrange our desks in a circle so we could discuss our reactions to the script.
These were our premiere reactions, and they would guide our feelings about the show. Ms. Bard’s words, of course. We did this every year, and it had yet to guide my feelings about a show. Then again the love of my life had never written our show either.
“So what did you think of Kyle’s script?” Ms. Bard asked.
“How did you feel about the soundtrack once you had a chance to listen to it?”
No one said anything. I caught Kaylee’s eye and we squirmed. It was only a matter of time before Ms. Bard called on someone. The problem was no one wanted to say anything in front of Kyle.