TITLE: PUNISHMENT SUMMER
GENRE: YA Mystery/Adventure
When we reached the hill's crest, I rested my hands on my hips and stared. Green treetops stretched to the horizon.
Todd pointed at the land below. "See that brown squiggle weaving through the woods?"
I followed where his finger pointed, only half-listening as his arm brushed against my shoulder. "Yeah."
"That's the road to the highway."
"Looks so small from here."
Todd took my left hand and held it. "That's why I like coming here. Being up above everything, it kind of puts things in perspective." He squeezed my hand and led me to a downed tree.
Queenie looked at me. "It's OK, girl." The dog bolted into the bushes, scattering several small birds. I sat beside Todd, my hearbeat speeding up again. He leaned down toward me. The heat of his lips surprised me. After a few minutes we broke apart, my heart drumming like a woodpecker on pine. I stared at his now-flushed face and smiled. "I'm liking my summer in Punishment more and more each day." When he raised my hand to his lips and kissed my palm, a shiver ran through me.
"Me, too," he said. "But, I keep thinking about what you told me the other day. About your friends. Thinking how lucky I am you're here. How happy I am that your friends are bad news." He ran his hand along the side of my face. "Your gramps warned you off me, so I gotta ask -- is that why you're hanging out with me? You always drawn to the bad crowd?"