#TBT: Oil & Water

Here’s a scene from a book I started back in 2008 or ’09. It was a YA about Christian, a black girl with a screwed up past and Abel, a white guy who doesn’t have much hope for the future. They meet, fall in love, and, well…you know. A novel happens.

 I only got halfway through about three different versions of it before I put the manuscript down and never picked it up again. I still like going back and skimming through it, though. Below is one of my favorite scenes. 

 

            “You did it,” I said. “I guess this calls for a celebration. What do you wanna do?”

            He shrugged. “I can think of a few things. You can meet me back down in my studio after school and we can finish what we started in there the other day,” he said, grinning mischievously. I tried not to shudder at the thought. Since that afternoon, I’d been avoiding his studio, and alone time with him all together. He questioned my aloofness, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell him I was afraid of what he’d think if he saw me naked.

            I wasn’t skinny. I wasn’t pale. My breasts weren’t small, my nipples weren’t pink. I had meaty thighs and a full behind and brown skin and thick hair. I didn’t look like her, I didn’t feel like her. I wasn’t Abel’s type, and he didn’t even know it yet. “We can have dinner,” I suggested.

            “We can have you for dinner.”

            “Or a movie.”

            “Maybe a late show? Starring you?”

            “Abel.”

            “What?”

            “Don’t you think about anything else?”

            He pretended to contemplate the question before shaking his head. “No, not much.”

            Rolling my eyes, I stood. “I’m gonna head to my next class early. I need to talk to my teacher—”

            “Christian, wait,” he said, finally getting serious. “What’s wrong with you?”

            “Nothing,” I said, peering across the cafeteria. I caught Morgan’s eyes and she shot me a questioning glance. Noah was looking at me, too. Gawking at me. His jaw tight, his eyes dark. I looked away from them and settled on my feet instead.

            “Sit down,” Abel instructed. I did. “Tell me what’s the matter with you.”

            “Nothing,” I repeated.

            “Bullshit. You haven’t looked me in the eyes since…” He paused. “Christian.” Finally, I gazed up at him. His green eyes were dark with concern. Still beautiful, though. How did I ever avoid them? “You haven’t looked me in the eye since the other day,” he continued, more calmly. He lowered his voice. “Did I do something wrong? Was I moving too fast? I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable, okay? I wasn’t trying to pressure you.”

            I frowned. “Oh, Abe, you didn’t make you feel uncomfortable. You didn’t do anything wrong. Actually, you did everything right. It’s just…” I bit down on my bottom lip, shifted uncomfortably in my seat. Was I being stupid? Presumptuous? Stereotypical? “What do you like about me, Abel?”

            His spine straightened, he blinked, perplexed. “What…?”

            I shrugged. “Why do you like me so much? Was is it about me?”

            “I don’t know, Christian. You’re intelligent. Artistic. Caring and thoughtful. Free-spirited and outgoing. So hardheaded I could shake you sometimes, but most of the time your strong will is admirable. And your cooking. That alone makes me want to fall in love with you over and over again—”

            “No, Abel,” I said, raising my hand to stop him. “I mean physically.”

            His eyes widened. “Are you kidding?”

            “Why would I be kidding?”

            He let out a humorless laugh. “Because,” he said. “If I sit here and run down the list of everything I like about you physically, we’ll be sitting here all fucking day.” He narrowed his eyes and leaned forward. “What? You think I’m not attracted to you or something?”

            “It’s not that,” I said. “I know you’re attracted to me. But I’m…different than what you’re used to.”

            “If I wanted what I was used to, I could have it, Christian. Maybe I want something new now.”

            “So am I, like…sort of an experiment? Is this you testing the waters?” I asked softly. It wasn’t an accusation. I just wanted to know.

            His worry lines were prominent, his frown deep. “Where are you getting this from?”

            “I’m just asking.”

            “Why? Why would you think that?”

            “Because!” I shrugged. “Because I just can’t see how someone who is attracted to her can be attracted to me, too. Have you ever been with…” I paused, lowered my eyes again. “A black girl before?”

            He slapped his hands over his face, shook his head. “Are you joking, Christian?” he moaned.

            “We’re different, Abel!”

            “I know that!”

            I shook my head. “Okay, let’s not talk about it anymore. Do you wanna go out to eat later?”

            “No, I want you to come to my house after school.”

            “Maybe we can go ice skating.”

            “I wanna be alone with you.”

            “Please, Abel. We can go bowling. I haven’t been bowling yet.”

            “You’re so beautiful, Christian. Everything about you. From your head to your toes and back up again. The answer to your question is everything. I like everything about you. Every single last thing. Even the things I haven’t seen yet.” I stared at him, unable to say a word. “If you’re not comfortable showing yourself to me, that’s fine. You don’t ever have to show yourself to me. But please don’t ever believe that I find you anything less than stunning.”   

            “Thank you,” I finally managed.

            He sat back a bit. “So the movies tonight?” he asked. “Anything special you wanna see?” I shook my head. “Bowling doesn’t sound so bad. If you wanna do that, we can.”

            “I don’t wanna go bowling, Abel.”

            “Dinner?”

            I nodded. “Yeah. At my house tonight,” I said. “Around midnight.”

            He rolled his eyes. “Yeah, right. Lyn’ll have me shot.”

            “She won’t know, stupid. She goes to sleep around nine every night.”

            “And Morgan?”

            “She going to her dad’s for the weekend. He’s picking her up right after school.”

            His eyes lit up, a smile spread across his lips. “So I’ll be there at ten,” he replied, and added, “And baby, I promise, I won’t peek.”

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