It seemed only natural to nickname them the ‘Onslow Boys’. Every time they swaggered in the front door of the Onslow Hotel after a hard week’s work, their laughter was loud and genuine as they settled onto their bar stools. I peeked through the restaurant partition, a flimsy divider between my world and theirs. I couldn’t help but smile whenever I saw them, saw him … Toby Morrison.Quiet seventeen-year-old Tess doesn’t relish the thought of a summertime job. She wants nothing more than to forget the past haunts of high school and have fun with her best friends before the dreaded Year Twelve begins.
To Tess, summer is when everything happens: riding bikes down to the lake, watching the fireworks at the Onslow Show and water bomb fights at the sweltering Sunday markets.How did she let her friends talk her into working?
After first-shift disasters, rude, wealthy tourists and a taunting ex-boyfriend, Tess is convinced nothing good can come of working her summer away. However, Tess finds unlikely allies in a group of locals dubbed ‘The Onslow Boys’, who are old enough to drive cars, drink beer and not worry about curfews. Tess’s summer of working expands her world with a series of first times with new friends, forbidden love and heartbreaking chaos.
All with the one boy she has never been able to forget.
It will be a summer she will always remember.
Warning: sexual references, and occasional course language.
C.J Duggan is an Australian author who lives with her husband in a rural border town of New South Wales, Australia.
The Boys of Summer is Book One in her Mature Young Adult Romance Series.
For more on C.J and ‘The Summer Series’, visit www.cjdugganbooks.com
“Don’t you dare.” I grabbed his arm, pulling him backwards. His eyes darted to where my hand rested on him. I didn’t move my hand, I couldn’t physically bring myself to break the contact; all of a sudden there were no smiles, no jokes, just him and me and our space on the couch. I could only hear the music and be aware of the heat of his skin and the rapid rise and fall of my chest in this moment.
The only thing that snapped me out of my daze was Toby’s words which seemed low and raspy.
“Is Adam your boyfriend?” His gaze flicked over my face as he waited for my answer. My mouth gaped open; I couldn’t hide the fact I was dumbfounded by the question.
I blinked quickly and took my hand from his arm. I struggled to construct a legible sentence.
“Oh – um, no, we’re just friends, it’s not like that.”
His stony expression didn’t falter, didn’t reveal any kind of emotion. He was so hard to read, and I wanted to read him so badly. He gave a small nod and handed me the CD cover.
“Better go and make sure these guys aren’t cheating.” And without another word, he got up and headed towards the pool table.
Moon rays filtered through the windshield, giving the cabin an otherworldly glow.
Toby’s perfect teeth were illuminated when he smiled. “You know, you are the worst winner!” He shook his head. “Ever since you won the bet, you’ve been apologising. Just go with it, enjoy it, because I assure you, next time …” – he leaned closer – “… you will not be the winner.” He pulled back, smug.
I curved a brow. “Next time?”
He nodded. “I fully intend to redeem myself.”
“Want a chance to rebuild your shattered ego, do you? I bet you’re itching to fix my bike so you can be rid of me once and for all.” I shouldered him gently, teasing him as I would Adam. And then I realised what I had done; I had treated him like my friends. He looked down at his shoulder, then up at me. His eyes shadowed with untold meanings that I couldn’t read.
“What if I didn’t want to fix your bike?” he said in all seriousness.
“Why, is my company so stimulating that you can’t bear the thought of being without me?” I teased nervously.
I was aiming for light and airy, but something must have gone wrong with my delivery because Toby’s face went blank. He looked out into the lights of Onslow, ran his tongue over his bottom lip and sighed.
As the engine churned dark water into white froth behind us, I thought about what we were about to do. I was about to embark on a day on the lake with Toby Morrison. If anyone had told me last week this was how I’d be spending my summer, I would have never believed them.
“Where to?” called Toby over the hum of the motor.
“McLean’s?” posed Sean.
“Too busy,” Ellie yelled.
“How about over Horseshoe Bend? Pretty secluded there,” I suggested.
Sean smiled wickedly as he moved to sit beside Toby. “You want somewhere private, do you, Tess? What do YOU have planned for the day?”
I blushed, horrified at what he thought I was suggesting.
“I just meant …”
“You heard the lady, Tobias, drive her around the bend.”