Stepping Out : Young Adult Romance Books (A New Adult Romance Story "Swanson Sisters Series" : Book 2)

BOOK: Stepping Out : Young Adult Romance Books (A New Adult Romance Story "Swanson Sisters Series" : Book 2)
5.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



Stepping Out

Swanson Sisters Series: Book 2

A new
Adult College Romance
Amelia Jones

Chapter 1

Alicia Brown loved the feeling of swimming. Face in water, smooth stroke, face out of water; another smooth stroke. It was a soothing and peaceful series of motions that carried her from one end of the pool to another, with the sleek turns at each end. Her hand touched the end of the pool, her body turned, her foot danced on the pool edge and she was off to the other end of the pool.

There was no time for thought or worry or tension when she swam. There was no need to talk or compare swimming sessions. She looked at
Sophie bobbing swiftly beside her, trying another stroke. Alicia preferred her tried and true basic swimming stroke that carried her powerfully from one end of the pool to the other and back again. Sophie had a variety of strokes she used.

was aware that Sophie was coming to the end of her swim. She could see her slowing as she reached the end of a lap. Alicia didn’t want to stop. Not yet, anyway. For one thing, once she was out of the water, the same long list of tasks awaited her. She could feel the tension in her shoulders at the mere thought of having her water therapy end. That’s what she called her swimming – water therapy.

The other reason
Alicia didn’t want to stop was she knew that she didn’t want this time with Sophie to end. It was wonderful that her sister had a reason to come to visit. Sophie avoided coming back home with such vigor that Alicia could hardly believe she was actually here. She’d come back with her boyfriend, Jack.

Because Alicia lived in residence,
Sophie was staying with one of her old friends and Jack was in a hotel where the seminar he was attending was taking place. Having this time alone with Sophie was special. One more lap, Alicia told herself. One more lap and then she would grow up and get out of the pool.

grinned when she pulled herself out of the pool. Just as she expected, Sophie was standing there, hands on her hips, something that she did without realizing it, to add emphasis to her words. “Let’s go and get prettied up for the party.” The hands on her hips indicated to Alicia that her older sister was expecting resistance.

Alicia had not asked yet if Sophie planned to visit Mom and Dad and it would only ruin
the magic moment they’d been having, to bring up the topic.

The party was at Jack’s friend’s place and it was important to Sophie, so it seemed, that Alicia be part of the
event. Besides what was waiting for Alicia other than an evening of writing a report?

knew what was waiting for her. A party full of people she wouldn’t know. But she sighed and reluctantly agreed to go to the party. The sisters walked to the nursing student residence where Alicia lived so that Alicia could get ready for the evening.

Alicia knew that she needed to shed this feeling of pressure to be someplace else doing something else, the party was not nearly as annoying as she thought it would be. The patio on the modernistic flat-roofed house was huge. It wrapped around three sides of the house and in the back there were low wide steps leading to a well lit backyard.

did not recognize one face at the party other than Sophie’s. And Jack’s, but she did not really know Jack other than he was the man who seemed to bring happiness into Sophie’s life. In a way this made it a much more enjoyable party for her because she did not feel obliged to talk to anyone. She was free to observe, listen to the music and organize her thoughts.

One of the things that
Alicia had discovered was that a great deal of report writing could be done in her head while she was forced to do other things such as sit through a really boring seminar or go grocery shopping. Standing quietly away from the chattering groups of people, she was concentrating on the report she had to write. She was sure that by the time she got home, even if it was the middle of the night, she would be able to rattle off the report immediately.

She was lost in her thoughts of
causes of kidney failure, when someone bumped into her. Alicia had been standing on the patio near the corner of the house and the intruder into her thoughts had been walking close to the wall from the side deck to the back deck and clearly not watching where he was going.

“Wow,” the man said. He was tall, blonde, broad shouldered and white toothed. When
Alicia looked at him, all she really saw were his big white teeth smiling at her. “I’m really sorry,” he said. “Did I make you spill your drink?”

looked at the glass in her hand. It had been empty for at least half an hour and she had been holding it simply to make herself look busy. She knew all the tricks of avoiding conversation in crowded situations. Holding an empty glass and make herself look as if she was waiting for someone to return was one of them.

“No,” she said. “Luckily it was empty.” She spoke in a friendly tone that was
supposed to have a dismissal note to it. After all, she was trying to project the semblance of waiting for someone to return.

He reached for the glass, “Well we can’t have that. Let me get you a refill.”

“I’m okay.” She held onto a glass tightly which was a good thing because he had already grasped it and was trying to pull it out of her hand. He seemed surprised that she wasn’t ready to relinquish the glass but he was undeterred by her resistance.

They locked eyes, each of them with a hand on the empty glass and neither of them willing to let it go.
It could’ve been embarrassing, Alicia thought, but there was an obstinate streak in her and she was not willing to let go of the glass. Yet, she didn’t want to become childishly aggressive about it.

She chose to keep a tight grip on the glass and politely ask, “Are you
a friend of Jack’s?”

He gave her an even bigger smile,
a dimple appearing on his right cheek. A lock of his straight blonde hair had fallen loose over his forehead. She realized that he was strikingly handsome and immediately realized that it was unusual for her to even notice such things.

“No. Are you?”
he replied.

“No,” she said.
Just as she would not give up her grasp on the glass, she was not about to volunteer any information.

“I’m Howard.”

“Are you a friend of Sophie’s?” Alicia asked.

“No. At least I don’t think so. I do know
a couple of Sophies but I hadn’t seen either of them here this evening. Unless you mean you know one of them?”

What a silly remark,
Alicia thought. She knew other Sophies as well but what did he expect her to do? Start playing the “do you know Sophie Smith?” game. She was trying to think of a snappy comeback remark but he got there first.

“Unless your name is
Sophie? I don’t know you – yet.”

“No I’m not

“Are you Brenda?”





She lo
oked at him and shook her head lightly, not in response, but in that tired kind of resignation someone gives when they are simply annoyed. “Are you going to guess all the women’s names that you know?”

I’m going to have to,” he said. Then he snapped his fingers as if he had just made a discovery. “Unless, of course, you tell me what your name is. That would really speed up the process.”

“What process?”

“The process of getting to know you.”

“Well if
it’s going to be such a chore, why bother?”

He smiled at her and tilted his head in an engaging manner. “Oh I don’t think it’s going to be a chore at all. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun – getting to know you.”

Howard’s flirtatious manner relaxed
Alicia. She knew that she could never take such a person seriously and because she couldn’t take him seriously there was no need to be on guard.

“Well then let’s have a crash course in getting to know each other so we can get over and done with. I’m
Alicia. I’m in the nursing program. That’s about it.” She hesitated and realized that she hadn’t asked about him. It would only be polite to ask.

She continued, “
So Howard, who are you?”

“I’m just Howard.”

Chapter 2

It was at that moment that
Sophie showed up. Alicia saw her coming towards them and she saw Sophie hesitate. She could read Sophie’s mind right now. Sophie was debating whether or not to interrupt.

took the decision out of her hands. She waved and called, “Have you come to get me? Is it time to go home?”

resumed walking towards them. She held out her hand to Howard in introduction and he took her hand and gave it a shake, “I’m Sophie.”

“And I’m Howard Wentworth.”

Sophie turned to Alicia and said, “Yes I think it is time to go.”

Howard interrupted. “I can take you home.” Then he added, “I can drive both of you home if you like.”

Sophie said, “Thank you. That’s very kind of you but my boyfriend’s driving us.”

and Howard were both still clutching the glass. Howard smiled at her, a mischievous little grin. “But what about the glass? One of us is going to have to let it go.”

smiled back. “You first.”

He shook his head slowly back and forth. “Only if you give me permission to call you.”

“Call me what?” Alicia joked back. Then she let go of the glass. As soon as she did she regretted it. She saw the surprised look on his face and she felt a spark like something magic had just appeared in the air between them.

Howard must’ve been startled as well because he let go of the glass
a split second after she did and it fell to the patio floor and shattered. “Aw Ohhh” They both spoke at once.

“Please don’t move. Stay right here.” Howard said and he turned toward the patio doors. He stopped and looked back, “
Please don’t move.”

was about to move. Sophie put her hand on Alicia’s arm. At that moment, Jack appeared. “Hey Alicia, are you having fun yet?”

“I think she is.” Sophia said. “Did you see that gorgeous

Jack laughed, “Yes but I don’t know about him being gorgeous. I don’t usually check out those things.

Sophie turned to Alicia, “Did he say his name was Howard Wentworth?”

looked at her sister and nodded. Alicia braced herself to hear a negative stream of context about Howard and something dreadful he had done to one of his friends or colleagues or some such story. “Do you know something about him?” Alicia asked.

Sophie was like that. It was fine for her to move 300 miles away and breeze home and still be the big bossy sister who knew everyone.
Alicia grinned. It was hard to think of little blonde Sophie as big and bossy but that was the family role that she assumed and when Alicia was four and Sophie was nine, Sophie was big and bossy.

Sophie frowned at her. “Well I know he’s a Wentworth
.” She turned to Jack and said, “One of the area’s richest families, full of philanthropic deeds.”

Howard returned with a little whisk broom and a small dustpan. He knelt and swept up the broken glass and then swish
ed the little handheld whisk over Alicia’s sandaled feet. “I want to make sure you don’t have any broken glass on your feet.” He grinned up at her.

meanwhile had written her cell number on a piece of paper and she gave it to Howard. Alicia protested, “You can’t do that Sophie. You can’t be going around giving out my number to people.”

“I didn’t.” To Howard,
Sophie said, “That’s my cell number just in case she doesn’t give you her number. I can take a message and pass it on.” Then Sophie turned and guided Alicia along with her. It was just past eleven o’clock and a beautiful night.

Jack said, “Well ladies, I guess we have to leave now – Howard will wonder why you brushed him off and then hung around.”

Sophie teased him about placing the blame on them when he was the one who wanted to leave. He didn’t want to stay out late because the seminar that had brought him to this town started early in the morning.

had been watching the byplay between Howard and Alicia and she knew that there was a glimmer of communication between the two of them. She saw a spontaneity that Alicia hardly ever displayed. Sophie also knew Alicia well enough know that some spoiled rich kid would be a complete turnoff to her.

knew that before they got back to the nurses’ residence, Alicia would bring up the topic of Howard. It wasn’t like her to keep her feelings in, especially when it came to her big sister. She was right. They had barely gone three blocks when Alicia said, “Why did you give the man your phone number?”

“Because I knew you wouldn’t give him yours.”

“I know you mean well, Sophie. But you really have to get it through your head, and I mean it, I don’t have time to be partying and dating and I sure don’t have time to be some rich boy’s plaything.” Sophie could hear the anger in her sister’s voice.

“Well la di da. Haven’t you become quite the snob, a reverse snob
at that.” Sophie lashed back, “You’re going to turn into Mom.” It was a mean thing to say. Their mother was a whiner and a complainer. The theme was poor me, I could have been a contender. Everyone else had glamour and excitement and money but she had nothing.

“It’s a good thing I love you,
Sophie, because sometimes you are just annoying.”

felt her stomach churn. She’d thought when she left home, she would not have to deal with this any more…this family slashing and hurting dynamic.

felt that she had grown up in a hospital because she had spent so much time there when she was a child battling her recurring asthma. She felt that the silver lining in that particular cloud was that it got her away from the family.

She couldn’t resist it any longer. “Are you going to visit Mom and Dad?”

“No,” Sophie said. It was not a word with emotion clinging to it. It was a bold flat no. Then she changed the subject. They were approaching the residence, Sophie said,” you don’t need to take him seriously at all. I don’t see how he could possibly interrupt your studying because after a date or two, you’ll be so bored with his jock talk about rugby and fast cars that you can end it without giving him a second thought.”

BOOK: Stepping Out : Young Adult Romance Books (A New Adult Romance Story "Swanson Sisters Series" : Book 2)
5.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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