Lucie Jeanne finished the final lap and met her friends by the sidelines of the
marked practice area resembling a football field. Panting, she stretched her
aching muscles as she tried to remember why she tortured herself like this
every summer. Sweat dripped down her back. Band camp was killing her.
She shielded her eyes from the blazing sun as she scanned the band members. Everyone seemed to be done with practice, chatter growing louder by the minute. Not a
single breeze in the thick humid air to give anyone relief.
Then, Lucie spotted Jonathan, a few feet away, talking with his buddies. His animated
face showed the story must’ve been funny. He looked her way and she spun around
to act like she was talking to her friend, Tammy. Not before she took in his
warm smile covered in braces. His eyeglasses couldn’t hide his cerulean blue eyes—bluer than anything she’d ever seen, even the ocean.
She lifted her trumpet off the grass and headed down the path to their cabin with Becky and Tammy. Thoughts of taking a cold shower would keep her from dropping dead right there in the gravel. Maybe it’d keep her from thinking about Jonathan, too.
Tammy and Becky stopped outside the cabin to chat with another group of friends.
“I’ll catch you all later,” I said. “I’m going to go get cleaned up.”
“Let me go with you.” Tammy touched my arm. “We have to keep to our buddy system.”
“I’ll be fine. I’ll be quick. K?” Before Tammy could argue, Lucie hurried inside
the cabin, grabbed her shower necessities and rushed down the path toward the
only bathroom with shower stalls.
The thick woods surrounded her as she made her way down the hill. She passed no one. The sounds of birds and crickets filled the air. An occasional bee buzzed by her head.
Once in the cool shower, she allowed the water to splice over her beaten, withered
body. Two and a half hours of practice, marching and playing the same song over
and over again in the beat-dead heat took a lot out of her. She sighed. A hum
formed on her lips, one of her favorite songs, Blessed Be The Name. A song she’d learned at a revival last summer.
After a few notes, she sang the words, letting them ease the tension in her
shoulders and neck. Ah, the power of God.
Washed, dried, and dressed, she headed back outside. The heat clung to her immediately. Sweat beading on her lip and forehead, she wiped beneathe her eyeglasses, groaned, and started toward her cabin. Even the air felt sticky.
Her heart stopped. She spun around. “Jonathan. I didn’t see you.”
“Feel better?” He motioned toward the towel still wrapped around her hair.
She yanked it off and blond curls fell around her face. She hoped to hide the warm
blush working its way up her neck. “Uh, yeah.”
He walked over to her and pushed the strands behind her ears. “That’s
The heat traveled from her face to the rest of her body. Jonathan was so close his
breath caressed her cheek. She stared at him, willing her eyes not to blink. If
they did, she might miss the moment.
“Can I kiss you?” he whispered.
She shook her head, unable to speak. Was her first kiss going to be with Jonathan,
here at band camp?
His hands seemed clumsy as he slipped them around Lucie’s back. He stumbled and almost knocked them both down. He chortled. “S-s-sorry.”
As his puckered lips drew near, his warm breath brushed her mouth. The urge to hurry him pressed her. But a deep, steady growl came from behind Jonathan. They spun to meet its eyes, glowing through the bushes, staring at them.
“Wh-what is that?” Lucie trembled, clutching onto Jonathan’ arm.
“I have no idea.” He pushed her behind him. “Sounds like something
ferocious. But we live in Ohio. There’s nothing like that around here.”
“No! We can’t run. If we do, it’ll chase us.”
The growl deepened, menacing—reminding Lucie of a motor. Her heart hammered in her ears. Her lungs refused the air. Slow, deep breaths.
Jonathan grabbed a limb off the ground. “I’m gonna move the bush and hopefully
scare it off. If it comes at us, climb that tree.” He motioned to a huge
tree where the lowest branch was at least eight feet off the ground.
“Right,” she whispered. “How am I gonna do that?”
“I don’t know.” He kept his voice down, but his frustration rang clear.
As he moved the limb closer to the beast, Lucie did what she always did
when she was afraid. She prayed. Lord, please get us out of here. Keep us safe.
The bush moved and the animal held its ground. The growl grew louder.
“Oh, there you are!” The band instructor, Miss Stacy, rushed past Lucie and Jonathan
and reached inside the bush.
Lucie gasped. “Miss Stacy, don’t—”
“Little Katie, I’ve been looking all over for you.”
Miss Stacy pulled out the smallest dog Lucie had ever seen. The mousy-looking thing
was no bigger than their instructor’s hand.
“You’re s-s-serious?” Jonathan’ eyes were wide as he stared at Miss Stacy kissing
the dog. His face turned red from an obvious chuckle ready to burst at any moment.
When his gaze met Lucie’s he let it go. They both laughed. After a few seconds, they
were bent over, gasping for air.
Lucie clapped her hands. “That little thing … that’s what the growl … was coming
More laughter burst from Lucie and Jonathan.
Miss Stacy gave them a peculiar look then marched off with the little dog under her
arm. Lucie couldn’t stop laughing. Neither could Jonathan. Every time they
looked at each other, they burst into more giggles. Tears streamed down Lucie’s
cheeks. If her first kiss had to be interrupted, she was glad it was only