Of Evening Promise and Summer Love

March 2, 2012
“There he is, he is so hot!”

“Ha ha. Hot, I think not.”

“He is so hot.”

“No he isn’t, look he’s wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.”

“That’s not what I meant, Kate.”

“You honestly think I didn’t know that? Ugh, they’re coming over here, let’s scram.”

“No, wait!” But Kate was already walking. The so called (and for most, so thought) “hot” guy was Steve Stevens. His family was said to be the richest in the Midwest. He was rather good looking and the title “youngest billionaire” didn’t hurt his looks either, but Kate just was not interested.

“Kate, he’s the richest guy in school and everyone says he likes you.”

“Stop talking, Tracy, you sound like a high school student.”

“You are changing the subject, Kate. We were talking about Steve not the immatureness of my conversation style.”

“Mmm. I don’t want to talk about Mr. Stevens.” Eyebrows raised they continued on their way, Tracy still unsatisfied. Nonchalant chatting over school work and professors always followed a “Steve” fight, or at least that’s what Tracy called them. Kate was satisfied to label them simply “Those unpleasant conversations.” And not fights.

Avid in their nonchalance the girls neglected their senses and did not notice that Steve Stevens had slowly moved closer and closer to them.

“Kate, how’s the ankle.”

Stunned into a frustrated silence, she slowly turned to face him. “How many years has it been?”

“Only a few, Zizalia.”

“You made that flower up.”

“But I gave you one.”

“That was a white evening primrose and I told you this at least twice.”

“I told you I thought the evening promise was the Zizalia flower.”

“Fluttery never worked with me, Mr. Stevens.”

“Why are you always so formal? Oh and by the way. Can’t wait for next week, summer, you know. Welcome old times and new memories. And try not to brake your ankle this time, will you?” And with that he started to go.

“Hold up,” Kate almost squeeked. “You are coming to Horn Lake this summer?”

“Yah,” he said smooth as glass, “and I’m looking forward to spending time with your brothers and parents, it’s been a while.”

“How dare you!” Kate barely breathed.

“Katie,” he whispered seeping closer, “I haven’t changed as much as you think. I promise.” And he pressed and oversized envelope into her hand.

*

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*






Kate had promptly shoved the envelope into her bag with the full intention of burning it or something. But now at home and calmer she let herself slip into the past. The summer after
her junior year was the last summer Steve had spent with her family at the lake house on Horn Lake. She had known Steve since before she could remember and every summer he stayed with them at the lake. That summer had been special though. First boyfriend. First kiss. First love. That’s what Steve had been. She had liked him since third grade, but that summer he had liked her back. What would be in the envelope? A letter apologizing, begging for forgiveness for what he had done to her? The pictures he had kept from that last summer? Or a bribe to keep her quite about their trip that summer at school, or maybe their relationship, maybe he had sunk so low to go as far as bribing her to keep unpleasant truths out of her brothers’ heads? She would open it, then she would burn it. Angrily she tore it open and it exploded in her face. Paper and photos flying everywhere. The one right in front of her was dated just months after the break up. It had tear stains on it and was more than four pages long. His beautiful handwriting scrawled franticly across the page.
Kate please I’m sorry. It didn’t mean anything.
Kate please. I love you. Forgive me. Please…
The desperate pleading words seemed somehow empty to her. How could he?! She collected the photos. Each holding a memory that was full of joy, full of love. Steve was kissing her in most of them. More letters, all unfinished, were dated in a sprinkling though the years between then and now. Then she found a letter dated yesterday. Like the others it was tear-stained. As she read it, it seemed Steve had been on an emotional roller coaster when he had written it. From pleading to angry, to hopeless and depressed to… This was not the Steve she knew at school; cool and smooth as glass. This was, although it surprised her the moment she thought it, this was her Steve, summer Steve, warm, sensitive, caring and still completely in love with her. The last photo was, as she had deemed that summer, her favorite. She and Steve were at the gazebo at the end of the hiking trail. He was lying on top of her, kissing her. Her brother, with a brand new telescopic leans , had gotten a juicy close-up. The inscription on the photo was in Steve’s hand.
HE never told.

The word “he” was in all caps and seemed to be stressed more than the rest of the sentence. Implying…? Implying her brother never told, but maybe Steve had?
*

*

*


The road was smooth, the car silent. They were to meet the Stevens at the lake so her parents could take “custody” of Steve for the summer. Each mile was harder, with more and more dread.

“Ha ha,” her mom exclaimed “there they are!” excited to see her old friend and Steve’s mom. “Peggy!” she shouted running to meet her. They had been friends in high school and college.

“Hi, Jen. Oh Kate, Steve’s waiting for you out by the lake, dear.” Mrs. Stevens said bubbly and excited.

“And Kate,” her dad added, “try not to make the wedding plans too expensive.” Everyone laughed, it was an old joke from that summer and she had reveled in it then. Steve had always blushed and kissed her on the cheek. But now it cut through her like a sword and she half ran to the lake.

When she got there, there was the picnic table with a big bouquet of yellow roses and white evening primroses. On the edge of the table there was a small box. A little ways up the shore Steve came out of the water dripping wet, shirtless, and very ripped. Kate’s head screamed; You fool, this is a ploy, he knows you are weak for those abs. Those strong, tender, hot abs. He saw her and smiled a smile that melted her heart. Then he ran. All at once she was twirling around in the air, then he was kissing her. A kiss that was a dream, perfect in every way, a summer kiss from when they had been in love. How could this be so wonderful? She gleamed. He stepped away and pressed his forehead against hers. “Please don’t hate me,” he whispered pleadingly. “Please say you love me again.”

“You’re getting me wet.” she said annoyed and only a little soft.

“That’s a start, you’re complaining and not slapping me,” he chuckled, hoping, with those blue eyes boring into hers.

“There is one thing I am still mad about.”

“And what would that be?”

“You definitely used the ‘I was swimming so I had to be shirtless’ ploy against me.”

“Did it work?”

“Yes.”

The second kiss was better than the first, if that was possible. “Katie?” he started.

“Yes,” she replied not even annoyed he had called her that.

“Remember when we used to practice our wedding, and I gave you a yellow rose and a flower we couldn’t agree on the name of, and promised to marry you.”

“I remember,” she replied.
He reached around her to the table and took the box. “I wanted to do it the right way.” he kneeled on one knee. “I know I did some really stupid stuff, but I love you with all my heart. Please, marry me?” and slipped a ring on her finger. Speechless and mad at herself all she could do was nod. Getting up he kissed her, the best one yet. In the background there were cheers and blushing they turned to see their families clapping and whistling from the hill the lake house was on.



*

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*
The wedding was just weeks later, they couldn’t have waited longer. It was small and by the lake and costed nowhere as much as Steve’s parents had budgeted but it was still perfect. It was draped in yellow roses and white evening primroses (though Steve still called them evening promise or Zizalias).

So what drove them apart in the first place? You’ll have to ask Kate. They still live by Horn Lake and if you’re lucky and ask politely, and bring her favorite flowers, she may tell you the story. Of evening promise and summer love.





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