Ringing in the New Year

It’s almost 2014, which means we have about two weeks until the release of Vice, Virtue, & Video: Revealed! If you haven’t already added it to your to-read list on Goodreads, you can do that here. You can also enter to win a free copy right here. In the meantime, I wanted to thank all of you who have been with me since First Dance, so I have a brand new deleted scene to ring in the new year. Journey back to 2003 for a very James and Lola New Year’s Eve…

Keegan’s having a New Year’s Eve party and there are shitloads of people here, both from our school and the rival school across town. The parents are upstairs and we’ve all taken over the huge basement area. We’ve been sneaking down alcohol all night, and it’s become increasingly easier now that everyone’s parents are decently liquored up.

The only person not drinking is Lola, and that’s basically because I’ve been her “totally fucking overbearing” chaperone tonight—her words. I’ve stayed within a two foot radius of her for the entire evening, and she’s a little annoyed.

“Maybe your New Year’s resolution should be to lighten up and let me get a boyfriend!” she says, rolling her eyes at me when I block two dudes from staring at her.

“Not a chance,” I joke. “Besides, what do you need a boyfriend for anyway?”

“So I can have someone to kiss at midnight,” she replies innocently.

I look at her for a second before I respond. “Kissing at midnight is overrated anyway.”

“I’ve never been kissed at midnight, James,” she pouts. “I should get a midnight kiss from a cute guy at some point in my life.”

“Midnight kisses are lame, Lo. I’m tellin’ you. It’s like kissing under the mistletoe. It’s that kind of dumb, traditional shit that people do, but it doesn’t mean anything.”

“I’ve never been kissed under mistletoe either,” she mutters.

“Believe me, kid, mistletoe kisses are nothing special either. You want a kiss, you get one from a guy who loves you, like a serious boyfriend—and when I say that, I’m talking about, like, ten years from now.”

“Ten years?” She turns to me and crosses her arms.

“You can kiss somebody on New Year’s Eve 2013, but for now I’m fully in cock-block mode,” I reply, putting my arm around her.

She whines, but she leans into me, and I rest my chin on top of her head.

We’ve got about a minute to go until the countdown and I’m noticing a demographic shift in the crowd around us. What began as a mixed group of guys and girls is becoming more female-heavy as time ticks by. Right now, there are six girls standing near me, all of them occasionally checking me out and inching closer. This is what’s so funny about New Year’s Eve parties. Shy girls who are too afraid to make their move on a regular night start sidling up to me in hopes of being right next to me when the clock strikes twelve. Little do they know, if they want to make out with me that bad, it’s not that hard to do. Lola calls me a manwhore all the time, but I just like to think of myself as an equal opportunity make-out partner.

I glance over to the other side of the room and see Keegan slowly approaching. He’s doing that thing where he’s stopping to talk to people every few feet like he’s not trying to make a beeline for Lola, but it’s totally obvious that he wants to hook up a midnight kiss with her. I already talked to him and explained that Lola was still off-limits, but I think he’s hoping I get distracted with some chick so he can swoop in.

He looks over at us and gives us a nod, tipping his beer to Lola. She smiles at him and gives him a wave. When he looks up at me, I raise my eyebrow and very subtly shake my head. Back it up, buddy. It’s not gonna happen. He seems a little discouraged, but he still comes closer to us, just a lot slower this time. I hate to shoot down his Lola crush, but his little plan will not lead to any sexy stuff tonight.

“Jesus, why don’t they just form a queue,” Lola murmurs to me after taking a glance at the surrounding girls. There are now eight of them eyeing me.

I laugh and grin down at her. “You think I should pick one, or should I just go down the line and make out with all of them?”

“You’re the sluttiest boy I know,” she teases, smacking my shoulder. “And you are a total hypocrite if you try to shelter me from getting kissed, but you make out with any of that stable of girls who are eye-fucking you right now.”

“Hey, I’m in-demand, that’s all.” I shrug, but my grin is wide and cocky, just to get a rise out of her.

She scoffs, but she’s got an amused smile as she dramatically rolls her eyes. I love when she gets like this because I think sassy Lola is adorable.

“You guys, it’s almost time!” Keegan shouts over the noise of the crowd.

The circle around us gets a little tighter as the countdown begins from twenty.

“Twenty…nineteen…eighteen…seventeen…”

I put my arm around Lola’s waist and tug her close to me until she’s up against my side with her arm around my stomach.

“Twelve…eleven…ten…”

She looks up at me with this warm smile that says there’s no one she’d rather be with right now than me. I feel the same way, and I think she can tell from the way I look back at her.

“Five…four…three…two…one! Happy New Year!”

Our eyes lock and I find myself turning to face her. My hand moves onto she small of her back, and my other one slides up her shoulder and onto her neck. She tilts her head back just a little, and I start leaning forward. It’s going to happen. I’m going to kiss her. But it’s cool because it’s a New Year’s Eve kiss, and those don’t count. It’s not like I’d try to kiss her for real.

I’m maybe three inches away from her when someone grabs my shoulder and pulls me back. I see a blur of auburn hair, and then a girl’s lips land on mine. I don’t know her, but I think she goes to our rival school. Her kiss is aggressive with way too much tongue. After a few seconds, I manage to back away a little. Once I get the chance to look at her face, I see that she’s pretty cute: brown eyes, nice body, a little too much eyeshadow, but otherwise kind of pretty.

“Happy New Year!” She drunkenly giggles and then moves away into the crowd.

A bunch of other girls are eyeing me and I’m worried that I really will end up going down the line by the end of the night.

“Jeez!” I hear Lola say from my side.

I turn to her, but she won’t look up at me. Instead, she’s acting like everything else in the room is totally fascinating to her and the last thing she cares about is whatever I’m doing. I think she’s kind of bummed that we didn’t get the chance to kiss, but I could be wrong.

“Hey,” I say, tugging at her hand.

“What?” she asks, her eyes darting around.

“Happy New Year, kid.” I pull her in and wrap my arms around her, swallowing her up in a big hug.

She doesn’t seem super into it at first, but soon she relaxes and squeezes me tighter. I feel her sigh and I don’t know if it’s from disappointment or contentment. Even if she’s bummed, I’m not going to stop hugging her.

She leans back a little and looks up at me. “Happy New Year, James,” she says, her smile turning warm again.

I give her a little pat on the butt, and she giggles. Hey, there’s always New Year’s Eve 2004 to look forward to.


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