GENRE: Young Adult/Mystery
From the first moment I saw him, I wanted Denny Beech. Tall and lean, his wheat-colored hair curled over the collar of his blue shirt, while a spiral of smoke drifted from the side of his mouth. I pictured those lips pressed against mine and shivered, despite the heat.
Not quite 9 p.m., the patio thermostat read 78 degrees. At least the Santa Ana winds had softened. A film of ash from the brush fire east of town coated the walkway and the air smelled of wood smoke. Andie and I paused to inspect our reflections in the sliding glass door. I centered my necklace between my breasts and Andie fluffed her hair. Kim Bellman's parents traveled a lot and she hosted most of the parties. We all wished the Bellmans would adopt us.
A quick crowd scan told me I knew everybody in the backyard -- except for one. Most of us had grown up together. A few people joined our bunch when we entered high school, but by junior year our set didn't welcome many new faces. This face demanded welcome. Not a pretty boy, age had already burned away the puppy fat to show off high cheekbones and a strong jaw.
I pulled a cigarette from my purse and nodded toward the newcomer. "Who's that?"
"Nice to know someone can still catch your eye." Andie flicked her lighter.
Having singed my hair on more than one occasion, I pulled back my waist-length mane before bending to the flame.