Time Between Us (Extracts)

Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet. Anna's a sixteen-year-old in 1995, and Bennett's a seventeen-year-old in 2012. But suddenly, Bennett finds himself seventeen years away - in Anna's world, and they can't help falling for one another. Can it last?

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1. Extract One

October 2011

San Francisco, California

Even from this distance I can see how young he looks. Younger than the first time I saw him.

He and his friends have been skating around Lafayette Park for the last couple of hours, and now they’re sprawled across the grass, downing Gatorades and passing around a bag of Doritos.

“Excuse me.”

Eight sixteen-year-old heads spin in my direction, looking confused, then curious.

“Are you Bennett?” I ask and wait for him to nod, even though I’m sure it’s him. I’d know him anywhere. “Can I speak with you for a moment? In private?”

He knits his eyebrows together, but then he stands up and flips his skateboard over to keep it from rolling down the hill. I catch him looking back at his friends and shrugging as he follows me to the closest bench. He sits at the opposite end, as far away from me as possible.

Everything about him is so similar, so familiar, that I almost scoot over to close the distance, like I would have done so naturally when I was younger. But sixteen years have come between us, and that’s enough to keep me on my side of the bench.

“Hi.” My voice shakes, and I twist a curly strand of hair around my finger before catching myself and returning my hand to my sides, pressing both palms into the wooden slats.

“Ummm . . . Hi?” he says. He studies me through the uncomfortable silence. “I’m sorry, am I supposed to know you or something?”

My instinct is to say yes, but I stop myself, press my lips together, and shake my head instead. He doesn’t know me. Not yet. “I’m Anna. Here.” I reach into my bag, pull out the sealed white envelope, and smile as I hold it out to him.

He takes the letter and turns it over a few times.

“I thought it would be safer to explain in writing.” My next words are the most important. After all my practice, I should have this part perfected, but I think through each word in my head again, just to be sure. “It’s too easy for me to say the wrong thing today, and if I do, we may never meet at all.”

His head springs up, and he stares at me, wide-eyed. No one’s ever said anything like that to him before, and with that one statement, he knows that I’m in on his secret.

“I’d better go.” I stand up. “Read that when you’re alone, okay?” I leave him on the bench and walk back down the hill. I keep my eyes glued to a single sailboat skimming across the San Francisco Bay so I won’t turn around. After years of agonizing over this moment, I expect to feel relieved, but I don’t—I just miss him all over again.

What I just did could change everything, or it could change nothing. But I have to try. I’ve got nothing to lose. If my plan doesn’t work, my life will remain the same: Safe. Comfortable. Perfectly average.

But that wasn’t the life I originally chose.

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