“I won a trip to Disney World for this light-hearted humorous romance – it’s from a very youthful point of view that you will surely enjoy. Without further ado… here is my favorite little short story… Summer Girl!“
~ Jessica Leigh
My ears were burning, the tell-tale sign of my secret passion. They always burned that way when Michael was near.
I rolled down the minivan window a fraction of an inch and stole a sniff of salt-laden air. Heaven on a highway.
“The air-conditioning is on, Althaea.”
I bit my lip and closed the offensive gap, trying hard not to appear annoyed with the reprimand. There were narrowed eyes watching me from the rear-view mirror. Mrs. Gifford seemed to know me better than she did her own son.
From within the confines of his booster seat, Newton poked me in the side and giggled at my irritation. I chose to ignore him, and withdrew a compact mirror from my beach bag. It was not too early to begin the careful inspection of my pre-beach face.
As always, I viewed a splash of too many brownish freckles, a nose too pert and girly, and messy strands of red hair loosened from a once-neat ponytail. How did other girls get their how to stay so smooth and sleek? I frowned, but then focused determinedly on my mouth – my one, good feature. My lips were full and well-shaped, and what I hoped Michael would consider sexy.
“Ally’s lookin’ for boogers in her mirror,” Newton announced.
I gritted my teeth, but refused to give him the negative attention he craved. Newton was obnoxious and rather disgusting – and he loved to start up drama – but I had learned to deal with him to the best of my mature ability.
I didn’t have a choice really. I was his baby-sitter, and he was my ticket to the beach every summer. My ticket to Michael, the gorgeous hottie of a lifeguard who haunted my dreams like a viral internet clip that played over and over. Only he was real.
I carefully withdrew Secret Weapon #1 from a separate compartment in my bag. A newly purchased lipstick entitled Kandy Kane, it was a seductive shade of hot pink that would leave the savory taste of mint behind when I was kissed. A wintergreen Lifesaver, held on the tongue and swallowed deftly an instant before our lips met would leave the final blow of a one-two punch. I did not want Michael to think that I smelled like cheesesteaks or boardwalk fries, or sweaty Newton-hair. I wanted to smell like… Christmas in July.
With a small, private smile, I applied the Kandy Kane and smacked my lips with relish. Newton began to bounce erratically, sending shock-waves pulsing through the vinyl seat with every heave of his bony rump. “We’re there!” he crowed. “Seashore, Ally, Ally!”
Although he was six and – I suspected – fairly bright, Newton had a disturbing fondness for acting half of his age. His scrawny body and myopic eyes caged by coke-bottle glasses only added to the ruse. Thank God I would be old enough to drive by the time he reached the completely unmanageable age of nine.
As the minivan rolled to a torturously slow halt, I thrust carefully painted toes into my sandals and turned to Newton, who was flopping within the various straps of his seat like a fish in a net. He was likely big enough to ride without one but I vigorously reminded his mother of the severity of beach cops and their car-seat laws. They loved to ticket moms. It was their bread and butter.
“How could you forget my reclining beach chair? Really, Cliff…how?” Mrs. Gifford unusually high voice rang out.
When the metal clatter of beach chair legs hit the pavement along with more exclamations of dismay and confusion, I managed to free Newton’s legal ties. “Hurry,” he urged me, and we quickly sped toward the bright span of beach ahead of the now arguing Giffords.
When the hot sand curled over my flip flops and invaded the clefts between my toes, I yanked Newton to a crashing halt beside me. He growled low in his throat much like feral cat and gnashed his baby teeth. “Newton, we really should wait for your parents,” I told him in a no-nonsense tone that made his lips pooch out in a ridiculous way.
In truth, I didn’t want to wait either. I just wanted to savor this moment, the startling blue of the sea as it swelled up to meet me, the throaty sound of gulls on the wind, the endless stretch of warm sand the hue and texture of… well, cornmeal was the nearest thing I could think of.
Cornmeal, really? Anyway, I wanted to relish this unique and special piece of my youth, because by the end of the week, I would be forever changed. I was bound and determined that Michael would kiss me, and that this year, I would be his summer girl. After all, I had pushed passed the immature tween age, and I was a true teenager now. And, even more importantly, I was armed with Secret Weapon #2.
I glanced down at the hopeful pair of breasts that pressed against the satiny red fabric of my swimsuit, checking their placement and if they had perhaps grown any since this morning. The huff and clatter of chair-laden adults approached from behind, and I released Newton from my grip. He rushed to meet them, fluttering his arms as if it would speed their steps.
“Mom, we gotta go! Why are you so slow?”
She sniffed. “It’s your father. You know he only has one gear and it simply can’t be shifted.”
It didn’t take long for me to realize that Mrs. Gifford was anxious to be rid of us. Her umbrella was already up, her chair in place, and her special “Mom Only” cooler was nestled against it. I even had to remind her that Newton needed his water shoes and his 90SPF lotion.
It took both of us to hold him down while Mr. Gifford applied it to his squirming and resistant arms and legs. Mr. Gifford look harried as he wiped off his hands, and the last piece of his remaining reddish hair stood up in the sea breeze like a rooster’s comb.
So, in mere seconds, I was weighed down with floaties, kickboards, towels, and sandcastle tools. I may have even been shoved in the back lightly, but I couldn’t tell for sure. Newton skipped away from me on quick, bare feet before I could distribute the heavy load. Grumbling, I trundled after him.
I turned, struggling to appear the patient and weary beast of burden, since I was being paid for my services. Yet my insides churned excitedly, and my heart sang- Michael, Michael, Michael! Was he here today? The life guard tower he always manned was not far up the beach, number 23, I would never forget that number! I could be there in but a matter of minutes if we hurried…
“Remember to be back by, oh, around eight-o’clock, that’s about dusk, wouldn’t you say Cliff? Cliff?”
Mr. Gifford was staring mutely after the tan limbs of a bleach-blonde undulating by. Sniffing, Mrs. Gifford flicked long fingers at me in a shooing manner as she reached into her cooler. “Eight-o’clock,” she repeated. “You can check the time at the life-guard tower if you don’t want sand ruining your cell phone.”
My plan exactly. That and much, much more. I had devised so many scenarios and plot twists over those long and torturous winter months that lay behind me. The experiences that I could – right now – obtain on this mile long stretch of sand, sea and boardwalk would have to sustain me for another entire year. I was going to make the most of it.
I turned and looked for the small, knobby form of Newton, who was following the rippling edge of the surf, head down and arms pumping, like a hungry hound on the scent of fox. “This way, Newton!” I pointed in command. Determinedly, I headed up the beach toward the lifeguard tower in line with my finger. I could just make out the familiar block lettering against the white paint. Yep, 23.
Newton’s round head lifted in my direction, and sniffing the air, he picked up an ungainly trot in order to keep up with my hurried stride.“Good dog,” I mumbled, mostly to myself. I then focused my gaze on the blonde-headed body perched atop that white, wooden tower that hulked in the distance. The body was definitely male…oh, yes… and the face was definitely Michael.
Broad shoulders, sleek muscles, fashionable board-short swim trunks… he was perfection. I even recognized the cute little cowlick in the midst of his shaggy mass of white-gold hair.
Oh my. Ears burning red like never before, I dropped our heavy pile of goods onto the sand and shook out a blanket to stake our claim in this carefully selected position. It would not do to park our stuff at the base of the tower… that would be way too obvious.
Chewing my lip, I handed Newton the kickboard when he approached, and thought on the best course of action. Any more delay was not an option, in my opinion. We only had four days. It would slip away like the wind over waves.“Gotta tie it on, Ally,” Newton reminded me sternly.
Aghast, I stared back at him. “You’re too big for that this year!”
His face screwed up horribly, and his hands formed small but deadly claws. He was going to cry out loud again, I could sense it.It was the one public weapon in his arsenal that still worked on me. At least it did this close to Michael. The horror of a public tantrum was not something that I was willing to deal with right now.
“Okay Newton,” I relented with a huff, stopping the dramatic fit before it could run its full course. Resolutely, I tied the humiliating length of rope about my midriff and followed him into the cool, gentle surf. Newton was deathly afraid of water above his knees… unless he was fettered to another live body. Then he became freaking AquaBoy. If he grew any bigger, he would soon be able to pull me under and drown me.
Gritting my teeth, I waded even deeper, tugging Newton in my wake until the crests curled over my waist and covered my embarrassing burden. He paddled happily around me in circles like a small Ninja-Turtle, with a neon-green floatie wrapped tightly around his waist.
I pondered how to attract Michael’s attention without looking like a complete idiot. Should I walk right up to the tower – all bold breasts and girly swagger? Nope, too forward, I decided. I just didn’t have the experience to pull that off. Splashing and yelling would be way too pre-teen. And, although I cherished the image of Michael cradling my limp, wet body in his 11strong arms, allowing Newton to drown me like I feared was probably a bit risky.
Knitting my brows, I thought back to the synchronized swimming lessons that my mom had forced me to take over the winter because I was on the computer too much. I hadn’t exactly excelled in the gracefulness department, but still… a few smooth, supple movements through the water might just be sexy enough to catch Michael’s eye.
Yes. I imagined the flash of a female thigh, an elegant arm, the tinkling of feminine laughter echoing through the sea spray to entice him much like a mermaid. Hmm. I thought that perhaps I could pull that particular scenario off. After all, I had lasted through two whole weeks of classes before faking a pulled hamstring. Changing in the shower room had been simply too traumatic of an ordeal and girls with bigger chests were just plain mean about it.
I drew a deep breath and dove gracefully into the surf. Although I cut the water smoothly, I was immediately pulled up short by Newton’s lagging weight and I surfaced with an ungainly lurch.
Slicking drowned hair strands out of my eyes, I pulled fiercely on the line to create more slack between us. Then, I casually backpedaled with long, splashing arm-strokes… kicking my knees into the air, turning, turning, dunking, and then pedaling again. The slack soon wrapped itself around my legs, bringing me nose to nose with a gleefully howling Newton. “It’s not funny,” I ground out.
“Dipstick!” he crowed. “Ally, you are!”
“Well, you are a cretin,” I returned snidely, plunging him into momentary confusion as he pondered the unfamiliar word. I bobbed with the slow waves, trying to disentangle myself. My ponytail was hanging sideways. This was not working at all.
“Althaea! Hey Red!”
A shiver worked its way through my body. ‘Red’ was Michael’s nickname for me. I thought it was very sexy- and I had long sinceblocked out the memory of the painful sunburn of my winter-pale skin that had been the true reason behind the term ‘red.’
I swung my gaze to the lifeguard tower, and Michael was waving at me. Holy crap, I had achieved victory! Was it really that easy?
I tugged Newton by the rope hurriedly toward the shore. “Come on.”“No!” he screeched.“We have to go see Michael.”
“The lifeguard. The nice one. Remember last year?” Michael had even bought the spoiled brat a funnel cake when he cut his big toe on a sharp shell. But the sullen look on Newton’s face told me that he didn’t remember Michael’s superior kindness at all. Well, that figured.
Michael’s family, the Giovanni’s, owned a restaurant right on the boardwalk and were somehow old friends with the Giffords. Lucky Michael got to live here for most of the year enjoying the teenage dream beach-life that I envied so terribly.
Sand and sun, a constant stream of boys and girls, crazy-good food, bonfires, and Ferris wheels… I couldn’t comprehend the magnitude of such a fairy tale life. I just knew that I wanted it, too. Michael had always been friendly to me, so cute and kind, even when I was a dorky twelve-year-old with no breasts at all. This year was different. I was different.
“Hi, Michael.” I was immediately embarrassed by the shy and breathy tone of my voice. I lifted my shoulders and arched my back. Would he notice?
“Hey there, Red. You guys on vacation again?” he questioned the obvious, looking down on us with his blond surfer’s smile that quirked up in the corner and exposed an irresistible little dimple.
He was so….golden. My stomach churned and flipped over with nervous joy.
After a moment, I nodded, frantically trying to think of something fascinating to say. “I’m a year older,” I eventually blurted when the silence lengthened.
Michael laughed and winked at me. “That’s a funny one, Red, so am I!”
I smiled back at him, turning sideways so that he might catch a profile of my womanly curves. I just had nothing else to go on. Just nothing. Where was the witty charm that I had practiced all winter? Should I talk about global warming? Italian recipes? Beach volleyball? Oh God, what??!!
It was then that Newton rapped on a leg of the tower, and Michael glanced away from my uncomfortable silence and down at his upturned face. Newton’s lower lip was pooching out and I knew that was a certain signal for impending trouble. Newton was a brat – flat out – and the Giffords had never reined him in. Halting the inevitable drama was all up to me.
“Hey, how old are you, Dipstick?” Newton demanded in a belligerent tone. My hand itched, aching to whack the back of his wet, brown head for such blatant disrespect. I settled for a stealthy but meaningful poke in the back. Shut up. Newton merely grunted and lashed out from behind with one bare foot without even relinquishing his grip on the tower leg.
“I’m sixteen,” Michael returned, maturely ignoring the minor fracas occurring between us. “That’s pretty old, don’t you think?”
Newton cocked his head and pondered the age difference and its impact on the potential success of a tantrum. Finally, he caught his pooching lower lip between his small but crooked teeth. I knew this to be a possible sign of surrender and released my pent up breath.
“Yeah,” he finally mumbled, “I guess so,” and then dropped the wet, sandy kickboard on my feet and headed for the blanket. I watched him go with a strange mixture of both relief and utter terror. His departure meant that Michael and I were now alone.
“Hey, I get break in about ten minutes, Red. I gotta get back in the chair. You know, my brother’s around here somewhere. You should find him.”
“Oh,” I said dejectedly, feeling my lungs deflate at the obvious dismissal. “I’ll be over there.” I pointed to our blanket but he was already climbing up the ladder.
I stood there for a moment, unwilling to leave at first. Michael blew his whistle and screamed something unintelligible at a wayward family drifting too far out to sea. Finally, I wandered toward our blanket. Surely, Michael would visit me on his break.
I hoped that his little brother wouldn’t show up to bother us. I clearly remembered a gawky, skinny kid named Danny with a mouthful of silver braces and greasy-looking dark hair. His voice cracked when he talked, and he blurted out even dumber things than I did. I remember thinking that Danny must have been adopted or switched at birth in the hospital. He couldn’t be Michael’s flesh and blood. No possible way.
I plopped down on the blanket and miserably watched Newton imitate a crab by rubbing his butt into the wet sand at the edge of the ocean while scrabbling around on his palms. The sea behind him was unusually quiet, the vast stretch of sapphire broken only by a single boat in the distance. Last year, I sat on this very beach and prayed that Michael would eventually notice me. He would see that I was a diamond in the rough and that I adored him like no other. I could be everything to him, because my love was that great.
But, being only twelve at the time, I was also filled with dreams of swimming out into the ocean with Michael until we reached our own private liner, and then climbing aboard and sailing away into a blood-red sunset. With flutes of sparkling grape juice, we would venture toward a destination unknown… or perhaps Bermuda…or even Venice to hob-nob with the old Italian families Michael’s father was distantly related to.
Those dreams were silly and childish, I had come to realize over a long, bleak winter. Now, I coveted the much more mature fantasy of sneaking into the shadows beneath the boardwalk, of stolen kisses and warm, mint-flavored lips. Hmm, was I obsessing on the mint thing too much?
I withdrew a Lifesaver and sucked on it hopefully. Probably, but what did it matter? There was nothing wrong with good breath. I was just sooo ready for my first kiss.
Ten agonizingly slow minutes ticked by, and I grew restless and itchy. I began to worry about sand fleas and impetigo. Newton returned for a shovel then immediately charged a hapless little girl, wielding the plastic instrument like a sword.
There was an awful tangle of arms and legs and I closed my eyes to block it out, and waited for the wailing to begin. When there was none, I opened one eye to see the poor girl pinned to the sand. Newton was quite obviously peering down her bathing suit top.
“Newton!” I screamed in the fiercest of baby-sitter voices. Hopefully, he parents were not watching this crime unfold.
“Hey, Red. Got your hands full again, I see?”
I struggled to compose myself before turning to send a dazzling and recently applied Kandy Kane smile to Michael. It died instantly on my lips. There was a girl on his arm.
“This is my girlfriend, Shelly.” Michael smiled down at the top of her frizzy blond head and gave her shoulder a little bump. She giggled.
I managed to mumble a half-hearted ‘hi.’ Shelly. What a stupid, generic name, I thought spitefully. But she had breasts, big ones, and lots of other curves, everywhere, even in the back.
The word that came to mind was ba-donk-a-donk, and I really hated that word. I immediately felt skinny and awkward, as if I was twelve again. I wrapped my arms around my knees self-consciously.
“So…. is this your first day here, Red? With the Giffords again?” Michael questioned.
I merely nodded, not trusting my voice. I felt mean things bubbling up inside my body, awful things I wanted to say to Shelly.
Shelly giggled again, and it was a simpering, grating sound to my disapproving ears. “Is that your little brother?” She was pointing at Newton with a slight curl to her lip like he was some disgusting bug.
Well, he was, but he was my disgusting bug. I ground my teeth and lifted my chin.
“Newton is my charge,” I explained haughtily. “I’m his… governess.”
Shelly looked at Michael dubiously. “Oh, really?”
“Althaea has a lot of responsibilities,” Michael replied seriously. “She’s very mature for her age.” Michael flashed a wink at me. “She’s got brains.”
“Oh.” Shelly began an examination of her long, perfect nails.
My heart surged. Michael had defended me! He thought I was smart. He-
“Well, Shelly and me gotta get going,” Michael announced suddenly. “I only have ten minutes of break left. I’m hungry.” He took Shelly by the voluptuous elbow and led her away.
“I think my brother is bringing free fries over for you and Newton,” Michael called back to me over one beautifully muscled shoulder. “I told him to anyway. He’d better or I’ll kick his ass.” Again, Shelly had the nerve to giggle.
I was dumfounded by this new development, wounded to the quick, my life blood running into the hot cornmeal sand. I fell back against the blanket in a swoon. Closing my eyes against the stinging sun lest my pupils burned be away, a low, agonized moan escaped me. All my plans were ruined. Miss All-That Plus Some Extra Junk-in-the-Trunk had seen to it in a giggly little snap.
How was Michael supposed to resist that kind of allure? She had smelled like watermelon and…bubbles. Not a bit of mint for Shelly.
A shadow crossed my eyelids. “Hey, are you O.K.?”
I opened one eye to locate the unknown voice. The shadow was actually the shape of some strange boy standing over me. I sighed deeply. “No,” I muttered, closing the eye again. “I’m not. I think I’m nearly dead.”
He sat down on the blanket next to me. “Need CPR?” When my eyes remained tightly closed and unresponsive, he added, “How about some fries, then?”
I smelled them suddenly, the thick, rich aroma of the boardwalk. I slitted my eyes open cautiously. “Hey,” I said. “Who are you, anyway?”
The boy looked wounded. “I’m Dan. Michael’s brother. You don’t remember me?”
I sat up and stared at him. “You look really different.”
Dan looked away and shook his head. “Well, I hope that’s a good thing.”
At my silence, he swung his head back. “Is it?”
I swallowed. “Ah, sure.” He looked almost…cute actually, though I’d never dare say it.
The braces were gone, replaced by even, white teeth. His hair was dark and rumpled in a beach-fashionable way, and his body was no longer skinny, just lean and covered with a smattering of man-like muscles. How could this even be little Danny Giovanni?
Sighing, Dan held the fries out to me. I took one and nibbled on it daintily. With raised eyebrows, he grabbed a handful and just shoved them in his mouth the way I truthfully longed to do.
One long and beautifully golden fry fell onto the sand and I had to fight my initial impulse to retrieve it. Did Italians have the 5-second rule? Did it even count on sand?
“Feel any better now? It’s easy to get sunstroke on your first day.”
“Yeah, I do,” I replied, feeling a lot better, actually. I breathed deeply, and ate another fry. They had never tasted so good to me.
“I have some jawbreakers with me, too,” he announced with a nod. “If your sugar’s low, it will help. I heard that can happen if you get dehydrated.”
“Cool. I like jawbreakers,” I admitted. Hey, I liked my food, no sense in lying about it. I glanced over Dan’s shoulder to see Newton barreling down on us at a run. My heart lurched in horror.
“I’m a shaaarrrrkkkk!” he screeched, then plowed into me at full speed. My head hit the sand with a thunk and I saw stars for a full five seconds. The thud of Newton’s pounding, evil feet faded away, after kicking sand on me in their wake. I felt a wet plug of it lodge in my ear.
I opened my eyes to find Dan peering down at me. His face was close, and I tried hard to focus on the blue of his eyes. I was amazed when I did… they were really blue, bluer than Michael’s even. They were like a mix of the sea and the sky.
“Red?” he questioned worriedly.
My head pounded in response. “I think I might need CPR now,” I heard myself croak. Did I actually say that??
“Awesome.” Dan grinned and lowered his lips to mine before I could say anything else.
His mouth was warm and firm, tasting mildly of sea spray. I didn’t even mind the aftertaste of boardwalk fries. I mean, I had eaten them too, so we canceled each other out.
He lifted his head after a moment, still grinning, and then slyly popped a jawbreaker in his mouth.
I was in shock. I had been kissed. Not by Michael, but by his brother. Who was, in truth, a whole lot nicer and almost cuter than his older sibling. Almost.
“I saw that on a Baywatch rerun,” he said proudly. “I think CPR looks just like kissing. Feels like it too.”
I couldn’t yet speak. My tongue wouldn’t even move.
“Hey, there’s fireworks tonight, Red, so you think the Gifford’s will let you come?”
“Maybe,” I finally managed to whisper. “Probably,” I continued, my voice gaining strength. I suddenly realized that Dan had called me Red, just like Michael always did.
“I think you should call me Althaea,” I said after a moment of thought. “I like that better.”
Dan unwrapped another jawbreaker. “Okay, no problem.” He handed it to me. “Althaea.” He smiled at me then. “I like that better too. But then you have to call me Dan, okay?”
I nodded and sucked hard on the cherry jawbreaker, thinking that it tasted much better than the wintergreen Lifesavers anyway. I slanted a sideways glance at Dan, who was laughing and pointing at a surfer in the throes of a wipeout. I decided that I like the shape of his nose. And his jaw.
His elbow bumped against mine, and I looked down at his arm with interest. I was amazed that there were golden hairs along the length of it. He had muscles – shoulder muscles, biceps, triceps, forearms…where had they come from?
Dan had changed so much in the space of a single year. But so had I, I reminded myself. Last year I was Red, a gawky pre-teen filled with fantasy and delusion. This year-
Sneakily, Dan chose to let his hand stray over mine. With a start, I realized that he might actually be making a move on me. That little incident was not necessarily an attempt at CPR. It was a real, first kiss. Warm lips, meeting together, holding, exchanging little breaths.
I shivered in memory and reddened a bit – okay a lot – but I took a breath and spread my fingers so that they slid neatly through his. I felt a warm feeling inside my stomach at the contact, along with a fluttering in my belly, and my ears were burning like fire. A good sign, I thought giddily.
“There’s a bonfire tonight,” Dan offered, covering the silence and soothing my nerves over the fact that we were holding hands in broad daylight, with the whole wide world watching. Well, maybe just the fat lady wallowing under the umbrella next to us.
“I’m sure that the Giffords will let me come,” I assured. “I’m old enough.”
Dan nodded. “I’ll talk to my Dad. It’s just my family and a few extra friends. They won’t have to worry.”
A nighttime bonfire on the beach was the stuff of my girlhood fantasies. Boys, laughter, the pop of driftwood, the enticing scent of roasting food, the warm, night sea breezes. The presence of an interested boy next to me. The crash of surf and the white glow of the moon over the surging waters.
Such moments were life-changing, and ingrained forever. I tried not to tremble at the thought. This day was turning into more than I had ever imagined. And not because of Michael… but because of Dan.
I cleared my throat. “Good. I’d love to be there.”
Newton and the little girl that he had surely traumatized ran passed us, and there was a moment where I thought she was fleeing in fear. But no, they were actually hand in hand and giggling fervently. They dropped to the sand together and began an intensive effort to build a castle.
“Hey, look. Newton found a Summer Girl,” I said, astonished at the mere idea. Newton made a friend? Especially a female one? Perhaps he wasn’t a total cretin.
Dan laughed at my disbelief. “You know, Ally, miracles happen every day. Especially at this beach. You never know what’s going to happen next. Seriously.”
I glanced at him once again, looking over the contours of his face in quiet amazement. The sea-blue color of his eyes crinkled at me and it felt like I was gazing into a sun-drenched sky, both warmed and blinded by the light .
All in all, he was pretty darned close to sexy. As close as I needed to get, anyway.
The pound of the surf and the cry of gulls wheeling overhead lent a magic to the moment, just as I had always hoped.
“Yeah,” I managed to reply with a smile of my own. “They do.”
Feel free to leave some comments below, or check out my latest novel Savage Journey!
About the Author:
Jessica Leigh is an emerging author in the romance field, and still holds her “day job” as a free-lance writer/PR specialist for a social media marketing firm. She is also an Environmental Scientist and researcher with a degree from Penn State University. Her first historical romance release, Savage Forest, delves deep into the Native American cultural heritage of the eastern seaboard, and chronicles the life and death struggle of a feisty young Swedish immigrant thrust into a native way of life unknown to her. The sequel, Savage Journey, was newly released in June of 2014. Jessica’s 2014 contemporary romantic suspense release, Waiting for Eden, is also available on Kindle.
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