Title: The Summer I Loved You
Author: Nicole Bea
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 08/16/2021
Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, romance, contemporary, new adult, family-drama, demisexual, Florida, musician, songwriter, band, breakup, best friends, mother/daughter relationship
Shy pianist Shae is looking forward to a summer of fun in her small hometown before she leaves to study music at the University of Tampa, Florida. After saying goodbye to her mother–who is leaving to visit her Canadian rodeo-clown boyfriend for six weeks–Shae meets up with her boyfriend Evan and her best friend Livi to organize plans but is thrown for a loop when they announce they have been cheating together.
As Shae’s perfect summer turns into a perfect disaster, she has a run-in with traveling guitarist Asher Lohan who is in town for a single week. Unable to resist their sudden attraction, opposite personalities, and reeling with residual pain from their pasts, Shae and Asher soon find themselves falling into a summer that is punctuated with broken friendships, self-discovery, and learning to trust again.
The Summer I Loved You
Nicole Bea © 2021
All Rights Reserved
Most things in my life can be compared to music. There seems to be a piece for everything I’ve ever experienced, a symphony or sonata that perfectly captures my emotional state at any given moment in time. Like when Luke Bartholemew suddenly decided to kiss me at recess in front of the whole seventh grade class. I was just standing there watching Jake Turner pound Liz Whalen with a dodgeball and then, smack! There were Luke’s lips. I got the same feeling once when I was listening to the second movement of Haydn’s Surprise symphony with headphones on and the volume was way too loud. It was jarring and uncomfortable and about as fun as being hit with a dodgeball.
Or like when my mom and dad finalized their divorce. I was going through an Elgar phase at the time, and somehow, I found myself comforted by the grandness and melancholy of the “Nimrod” theme in his Enigma Variations. My own feelings were kind of an enigma to me, a mixture of sadness and growing awareness that my parents were as fallible as anyone else, and it was freeing to feel those same emotions reverberating through an orchestral string section.
But my real passion has always been for classical piano. I think it’s the way the keys respond to even the lightest touch. The emotions are mine to interpret, mine to make echo through the house or hall and touch someone else’s soul, recalling memories of their own. Even when I’m terrified onstage, the moment my fingers find the keys, it’s like the rest of the world disappears.
Today I’m practicing Debussy, his Reflets dans l’eau that I’ve been trying to memorize for the better part of three weeks. The window of the living room is open to let in the morning breeze and sound of waves crashing along the beach, a perfect counterpoint to the flowing lines that make Debussy so popular.
I can already tell the day is going to be gorgeous. Maybe it’s the music, or the smell of salt air wafting through the aged glass panes, but my mind isn’t really on the fingering I’m trying to perfect. It’s wandering over the sand, feeling ripples of water lap against my bare toes, enjoying the bright sunshine of a perfect summer day in Florida. In my mind, there’s even a crab scuttling along the sand nearby, droplets of ocean water dazzling on its back. Just as I’m about to move my hand so I don’t get pinched, my finger slips from B flat to B natural by mistake. I wince and stop playing.
“Sounds pretty.” Mom clasps on an earring as she rushes around the open concept living and dining area, her two suitcases in the entryway of our old house. By the way she’s running about, she’s already late for her flight, but she keeps distracting herself with popping in on me.
Mom’s obviously nervous about leaving me here in Emerald Beach by myself for six weeks, as nervous as she is about seeing her long-distance boyfriend Will for the first time in half a year. He’s a Floridian but lives in Canada now, somewhere in the western part where he works as a rodeo clown. I wish I were making that up, but I’m not. Mom’s dating life is basically a theme and variations in the worst possible way. Every six months or so, she finds herself a new version of the same insecure guy, and each one is quirkier or weirder or more dramatic than the next.
“It sounds like garbage,” I sigh under my breath, but Mom doesn’t hear me because she’s run back to the hall to shove something else in her suitcase. I toss a strand of my long, dark hair behind my shoulder, my skin already feeling sticky as the temperature creeps up with the sun, and stare out of the window at one of the palms that hangs over the sidewalk. The Debussy is on the list of pieces I’m supposed to be preparing for my new studio teacher when fall semester starts. It’s only the University of Tampa, but their music performance program is still competitive, and I know I need to show up ready to prove I belong.
You can have a Frozen Rocket if you can play the quasi cadenza passage twenty times with no mistakes. It’s an old trick, promising myself rewards for practicing. Hopefully, it will help me work through my distraction so I can move on to the rest of my pieces. Maybe by the time I’m done practicing, Evan will be able to slip away from his family’s ice cream shop and grab an early lunch.
I set my fingers on the keys and two things happen at once: Mom comes back into the room, stomping into her espadrilles and carrying a sweater she definitely won’t need until she gets to Canada, and my phone dings with a text.
Mom speaks before I can read what the message says. “You sure you’re going to be okay here by yourself for most of the summer? I mean, this is a big responsibility, Shaeline. I’m trusting you with a lot.”
She only calls me by my full name when something serious is happening. “Everything will be fine. I’ll be working and going to the beach with Evan and Livi. Plus, I need to practice.” I gesture toward the piano. “There’s something about this piece I can’t get right.”
Mom nods the way she does when she’s trying to reassure herself and pulls her phone absently from her pocket, looking down at the screen. “I’ve got to go, the taxi’s here.” She lifts her head to fix me with her most mom-like stare. “Listen, no parties, okay? You have the car if you need it but remember to keep it full of gas, and don’t leave the city. Be responsible, please.”
I make an X over my heart as my phone dings again, reminding me of my own unread message. “I promise. Besides, I’m almost nineteen, Mom. I can take care of myself for a few weeks. Go have a nice time.”
She looks at me wistfully for a moment before kicking herself into high gear, kissing the top of my head and grabbing her suitcases.
“Okay. I’ve got my passport, my wallet, my phone, my charger…” Mom starts ticking things off out loud as the taxi horn beeps to remind her that it’s still there waiting. “Oop! All right, Shae. Be good. I’ll call you when I arrive at Will’s. His address and phone number are on the fridge.”
“Bye, Mom. Have a good summer.”
“You too!” she calls to me as the screen door slams shut.
Meet the Author
NICOLE BEA is a technical writer and author who focuses on deep stories to dive into: books that include romance, honesty, hope, and self-discovery. An avid storyteller since childhood, she has honed her skills through a variety of educational programs including management, sociology, legal studies, and cultural diversity in the workplace, most recently engaging in coursework about communication for technologists. She loves books of all shapes and sizes, but has a soft spot for short reads, protagonists with pets, and anything featuring ghosts or cats.
When Nicole isn’t busy updating her manuscript portfolio or catching up on her To Be Read pile, she can usually be found gardening, horseback riding, or perusing the shelves of a used bookstore. She and her husband share their home in Eastern Canada with a collection of multi-colored cats and a lifetime’s worth of books.