Read Falling for Romeo Online

Authors: Jennifer Laurens

Tags: #Man-Woman Relationships, #Schools, #School & Education, #Juvenile Fiction, #Social Issues, #Love & Romance, #Friendship, #High Schools, #Love Stories, #High School Students, #Theater, #Performing Arts, #Plays, #College and School Drama

Falling for Romeo

Falling

for

Romeo

By

J E N N I F E R ll A U R E N S
Grove Creek Publishing

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments or locales is purely coincidental.

A Grove Creek Publishing Book/published by arrangement with the author.

FALLING FOR ROMEO

Second Edition / 2009

All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2009 by Katherine Mardesich This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission. For further information: Grove Creek Publishing, LLC, 1404 West State Street, Suite 202

Pleasant Grove, UT 84062

Cover artwork: Sapphire Designs Book design: Julia Lloyd, Nature Walk Design ISBN:1933963948

Printed in the United States of America
f o r J e n n i f e r

Falling

for

Romeo

Falling for Romeo k J E N N I F E R ll A U R E N S

One

She looked into his eyes, nearly tasted his breath he was so close. Jennifer’s gaze dropped to John’s lips, full and glistening. He was utterly focused on her, as if nobody else mattered, as if they were alone. As if this moment wasn’t real, but a dream. But it was real.

And real was being watched by a bunch of panting, hormonal teenagers and one very demanding director.

John’s hands, poised at her waist, sent an unexpected tingle through Jennifer’s body when his fingers shifted. His breath smelled of spearmint. She heard a cough somewhere out in the auditorium but didn’t dare break character just to try and see through the spotlight. The rest of the cast was out there watching—a sea of black.

Part of her wanted what was about to happen. She couldn’t deny the warm jittering in her blood that had little to do with playing Juliet. She’d never been able to hide how she really felt about John. Now they stood as Romeo and Juliet, ready to kiss. Her heart thumped wildly, her hands were cold and stiff.

John is going to kiss me.

John looked into her eyes with the pained, obsessive love that Romeo carried for Juliet. She was supposed to return the needy look with one of her own, and she had been—until she thought about the absurdity of it. Her and John? She broke out in a nervous laugh.

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“All right, everybody take seven,” Chip called from the control booth in the back of the auditorium.

The house lights went up. John dropped his hands from her waist and took a step back, scowling at her.

It didn’t stop her laughing. She didn’t care that she’d irritated him. In fact, it pleased her. She loved digging under his skin. What she did care about was holding up the rehearsal and angering Chip.

She held up a hand. “Sorry.” She took in a deep breath to gain her composure. John waited, arms crossed, head cocked. “Oh, get over it,” she snapped.

“You’re being unprofessional.”

She taunted, “This from somebody who’s making his big debut?”

John rolled his eyes.

The stage came alive with crew adjusting the sets and Jennifer took in a sigh of relief. Any time she could buy from the awkward intimacy she had to create on stage with John, she would take.

She waited for Chip to hop onto the stage. The director’s normally round green eyes were slit underneath one tightly knit brow. She’d learned that when he twisted his mouth he wasn’t happy.

Putting a hand on each of their shoulders, Chip brought the two of them in close for one of his director chats. Jennifer frowned as her eyes met John’s, and he frowned right back.

“Sorry, Chip,” she said again.

“You’re ready to do this, guys.” Jennifer made herself nod, though it wasn’t true. No one had to know she was petrified. She was an actress.

She would have to act like the very thought of kissing k

Falling for Romeo k J E N N I F E R ll A U R E N S

John Michaels was not going to expose the fact that she had never been kissed. And she would try to ignore the thrill building in her veins.

“Let’s try it again, with the kiss this time,” Chip said.

Everyone both onstage and off took their places.

Jennifer stood as if sentenced to the guillotine.

It was John who took the first steps back to his mark, challenge electrifying his blue-green eyes for Jennifer to do the same. Mirroring his look, she took her mark.

“Whenever you’re ready guys,” Chip called.

Jennifer had never kissed anybody before. And she hated that John would probably know that and make fun of her.

She swallowed.
Oh no, I can’t.
Her mind flashed with memories of him—the boy who lived next door.

They’d played house, spent hours pretending to be pirates, cowboys and Indians. Even joined blood in a childish ceremony meant to bind them forever. He was the boy she’d loved to hate because he was always first, always smarter. Always better. Her heart fought her own feelings for him.

She stepped closer, until she felt his chest against hers.
I can do this. I’ll show him.
He put his hands on her waist and she smelled his skin, his sweat, the mint on his breath.

“Your line just before the kiss, John,” Chip directed.

As Romeo, John’s look was desperate, desirous.

Everyone in the cavernous room waited. But instead of speaking, he lowered his head, looking at the floor.

He’d forgotten his line.

Of course it was on the tip of her tongue, but something inside of her enjoyed his discomfort and she

k

Falling for Romeo k J E N N I F E R ll A U R E N S

kept her mouth zipped.

He looked at her with a flash of pleading, as if asking her to save him. Only the slightest crease in her lips gave away that she never would.

Then his face relaxed.
“Oh blessed, blessed night!

I am afeared, being in night, all this is but a dream, too
flattering sweet to be substantial.
” His eyes danced because he’d remembered. His hands tightened at her waist and then he drew her against him and her body sparked inside. As his head dipped to hers, her last thought was to stop him.

The thought dissolved when he covered her mouth with his. A hot tingling went to her bones. His mouth was warm. She’d not known what it would be like—kissing—

but she hadn’t expected anything like this, soft and sweet. As his lips pressed hers, they moved, as if exploring, urging her to kiss him back. Instinctively she lifted her arms around his neck. Every part of her focused on the gentle suppleness of his mouth.

Her knees melted.

Then the loud speaker crackled. “Jenn? John?” Air cooled her lips. Feeling like she’d just been torn from the coziest dream, she blinked hard. Still in John’s embrace, she tipped her head back to look out into the blinding lights.

“That was great, guys,” came Chip’s voice. “We might have to shorten it up a little, though.” John’s arms loosened and he took a step back. She couldn’t stop looking at him. He’d kissed her. She’d kissed him. His eyes were sharp—a mix of daring and wonder.

And she wasn’t sure if the expression was Romeo’s or John’s.

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• • •

Jennifer drifted in a fog, unable to snap into the clarity needed to finish the rehearsal. She couldn’t take her eyes off of John. She waited offstage and watched him run his scenes with Fletcher Rigby, who was playing Benvolio. Still feeling the kiss on her mouth, she stood with her fingers pressed against her lips.

And there was John – reciting his lines as if nothing had happened.

Of course, he’d been acting when he’d kissed her.

It was nothing more than that.

When the scene ended, she was embarrassed that her eyes followed him. As always, he was immediately surrounded by other cast and crew members, like groupies at the feet of a rock star. It didn’t matter if the spotlight was on him—he was on stage even when he wasn’t on stage.

Fletcher Rigby bounded over and took her in his arms. The strong musky scent of body odor filled her head. Dropping her into a dramatic backbend, he leaned close, smiling. “Hello my love, you did mahvelously.”

Jennifer batted her lashes. “Why thank you, kind sir.” She played along as they all waited for Chip to come backstage for what he called his ‘roundup’.

Fletcher pulled her up and twirled her out in a spin.

Part of the cast and crew now circled them. They wanted to know what that kiss was like, but only a few would be bold enough to actually ask.

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Falling for Romeo k J E N N I F E R ll A U R E N S

“Oh, my gosh.” Taunia Lakendale—the wardrobe mistress—too plump to have won a role onstage, she hung out backstage taking notes as the production neared performance time. “What was it like? It was so freaking
long!

The girls in the cast surrounded Jennifer with eager ears and anxious smiles. This was her chance to let loose a hive of vengeful bees. She’d never been much of a beekeeper. “Marginal, actually.” The admittance stunned the girls.

“Nuh-huh.”

“No way.”

“Seriously?”

Jennifer nodded, reaching into her purse. She pulled out her makeup bag for powder. It was a lie, but no one needed to know that. What was important was that she maintain her pride, that her next-door-neighbor turned man-of-the-hour think she was completely unfazed by the kiss. There was still that part of her that wanted to correct everyone’s rosy-eyed vision of John.

No one knew better than her that he was far from perfect.

“But he has such succulent lips,” Lacey Naeverson looked over at him.

“Maybe he doesn’t know how to use them,” piped Trish Bigler. The girls didn’t laugh or woo. Most were too shocked by the news and stared at John. He stood in the center circle of the boys, and casually glanced over.

“He’s listening,” Taunia warned.

Jennifer hadn’t expected him to look over, let alone listen. He’d stopped paying attention to her since his name soared to celebrity status three years ago. That was k

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when their past as neighbors and friends had changed forever. It still stung when she thought about it. She’d spent plenty of time trying to understand why childhood friends change course when they all seemed to travel the same road.

Though John was surrounded he kept that piercing gaze of his on her. She felt another rush, almost as hot as the one she’d felt when he’d kissed her.

“What was wrong with it?” Taunia asked. “I mean, did he use tongue or bite or something?”

“Yeah, was his breath rank?”

The pleasant memory of his mouth on hers, the sweet taste of spearmint, coupled with the fact that she hated that she liked the kiss, had Jennifer looking with distaste at her reflection in the compact. “The kiss was flat.” She snapped the compact shut. “No juice in it at all.”

“Course you know how this will sound,” Trish inferred.

“Like truth.”

“Like you’re jealous.”

Jennifer reached into her makeup bag for blush, even though her cheeks heated. She couldn’t look the girls in the eye. She’d been called one of the best actresses that Pleasant View High School had ever seen, but she’d always had a hard time being a convincing liar.

“Only because everybody thinks he’s perfect.”

“He is.”

Jennifer rolled her eyes. “He’s not.”

“You’d tell? About the kiss?”

“If I’m asked.”

The girls looked at her with a mix of admiration and disbelief. None of them dared dispute her claim.

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Falling for Romeo k J E N N I F E R ll A U R E N S

It was her mouth John had kissed and that gave her momentary power. But in her stomach churned the discomfort of a lie that might spin out of control.

Focus quickly shifted from fascination of the kiss to Chip’s entrance. He waved his notes overhead, half jogging in. “Okay, let’s meet.” Quickly, the cast crowded around the tiny wooden desk Chip perched himself on. Jennifer made her way to the front and the cast parted until she rubbed shoulders with John. She looked up at him.

Something flashed in his eyes. Was it disappointment?

From the onset of production Jennifer had told herself she would be mature about everything—their lost past as well as their estranged present. Knowing they would have to work closely, she’d worked hard at treating him just like any other guy friend.

“Things went ten minutes over,” Chip said.

“That kiss was ten minutes,” somebody muttered and the group laughed. Jennifer tried to laugh along, saw that John’s lips curved into a smile but no laughter left him.

Chip raised his hands to quiet everyone. “All right, all right. It’s hard enough to remember all of the lines. Let’s not put added pressure on our principals. We’re here to support them.”

“Hey, Jenn. I’ll support you.” Drake Alread leaned toward her with his lips pursed before the boys playfully shoved him back.

“Guys, guys.” Chip stood on the desk as if being taller would give him more command. “I need a megaphone,” he mumbled. “Reread the entire play k

Falling for Romeo k J E N N I F E R ll A U R E N S

tonight. I know most of you can recite it in your sleep, but reading it from beginning to end will give everybody a sense of timing that will be instinctual in performance.

Deal?”

Everyone groaned out, “Yes.” Chip then pointed out a couple of other details before excusing the cast for the night.

“So.” Lacey Naeverson, cast as John’s mother, Lady Montague, hung close to Jennifer as she gathered her backpack. “Count yourself lucky, Jenn. I know a hundred girls who would give it up to be in your place.” Deliberately she flipped back a chunk of her dark hair exposing bare, gleaming shoulders in her turquoise tube top. The very idea that so many girls were willing to give themselves to John bugged Jennifer. She looked at him. He was still surrounded, though the crowd had thinned some and gone home. As he slipped on his royal blue student council jacket she felt the familiar surge of resentment. He got whatever he wanted, whatever was out there, whether he wanted it, or not.

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