Hello Bookworms, and welcome to another post from The Paperback Princess! I hope you all had a fabulous week! As promised, here is a short little story that I wrote a couple of months ago. I am actually thinking of revising it and making it into a full size novel. I haven’t decided yet. Without further ado, here is ‘The Dare’! Enjoy!!!
Daisy did not know it yet, but her life was about to change in a way that she never thought possible. Living in the quiet beach town of Sunshine Shores, nothing ever seemed to change. At just 30 years old, Daisy had lived there her entire life and had been working at The Book Loft –the small town’s one and only bookstore — since she was 15 years old. She also lived in the same house, the small beach house she grew up in with her parents. They had left it to her when they passed 5 years earlier.
Now she was sitting in a comfortable chair at The Book Loft, a thermos of hot chocolate at her side. She did not care how hot it got, she would always prefer hot chocolate over coffee or tea any day. Today she was working a double. She didn’t mind it though. She never thought of her job at the bookstore as an actual job. Sure, she got paid, but she loved books, the bookstore, and the customers so much that it never seemed like work to her.
“I dare you to kiss the next guy that walks through the door.”
Daisy looked up from the book she was reading over at her coworker Annabelle. “Say what? Why would I do that? I KNOW every guy in this town. No thank you!” she responded with a laugh.
Annabelle let out a small giggle. “Well maybe you will get lucky, and it will be Noah. Then you can FINALLY show him just how you feel.” Annabelle checks over her shoulder to look at the register. It is still early morning, so there is no one there yet.
Daisy shakes her head and laughs. “It may be that easy at 17 years old, but when you are in your 30’s and the man you have loved for 20 years is taken, it is a lot more complicated than just kissing him. There are consequences.” She takes a sip of her hot chocolate and stands up. “Anyways, knowing my luck it will end up being Elijah from The Beach Bar. And I just could not handle that. Talk about kissing your grandfather.”
Annabelle laughs and stands up as well. “That definitely would be gross. But it is still a dare. And you’ve always told me that you never back down from a dare.” She winks at Daisy and walks up to the register.
Daisy groans. “Yeah yeah, but if it ends up being Elijah, I will suffer the consequences of not doing the dare. If it is anyone else, I will bite the bullet and do it. Deal?” She started straightening up their “Beach Reads” section. It was the most popular for obvious reasons. When you find yourself at the beach and want to read, you want a beach read. Customers had always raved over the section and the books that were always selected to be there.
Nodding, Annabelle opens the front door of the bookstore and lets in the warm summer air and the smell of the ocean. It was Daisy’s favorite smell in the universe.
The Book Loft sat right on the beach, just off the boardwalk. She had thought many times of buying the bookstore herself, but she never got up the courage to do so. What does she know about running a business anyway?
At noon, Daisy was ready for some lunch. She had not eaten breakfast that morning, just had her daily dose of hot chocolate. Now her stomach growled so loud she was sure everyone in the store could hear it. She started up to the register to ask Annabelle what she wanted for lunch.
Just as she reaches it, someone walks through the bookstore door. Annabelle squeals, getting Daisy’s attention. She turns to look at the door and her heart stops. Noah. Of course it would be him. Any other day he does not step a damn foot in the store. But today of all days is a different story apparently. She almost wished it had been Elijah instead.
She gives Annabelle a look, shaking her head. Annabelle returns the look with a huge smile. “You SAID.” Annabelle whispers under her breath. “Don’t even say anything. Just go right up and kiss him.” Daisy can see Annabelle is shaking with excitement. She wished she felt that way.
Daisy had met Noah when she was 10 years old. He and his parents had moved to the small town of Sunshine Shores 20 years prior. They were next door neighbors; his parents bought the beach house right next to theirs. Instantly they become best friends. They went everywhere together. They had slumber parties on the beach. Once they were out of their teenage years, they both decided not to go to college. Daisy had already been at The Book Loft for the past 3 years and she loved it. She didn’t want to go to college and have to leave her job since there were no colleges in their town. The closest was a state away, and Daisy could not stand to leave the beach she had known her whole life for a big city. So she stayed, as did Noah. He got a job as a construction worker, mostly building huge tourist hotels and villas. He made good money, that much Daisy knew. He had sold the beach house next to hers and moved into a fancy tourist villa with his girlfriend Marilyn, whom he met when she was temping as a secretary for his job. They had been together for about 3 years.
She didn’t mind Marilyn; she was sweet and treated Noah well from what she had seen. It was just that fact that she was WITH Noah that bothered her. Daisy had fallen in love with Noah a long time ago. The minute she met him. He had those gorgeous blue eyes that looked clearer than the ocean outside, sun-kissed tan skin, and ash blond hair. Daisy knew she was a goner from the first minute, but she didn’t care. And as her and Noah got closer over the years, she never told him in fear of messing up their solid tight friendship.
Now here she was, 30 years old and about to walk up to her best friend and kiss him. She wanted to throw up.
Taking a huge deep breath and shooting Annabelle a distressed look, she hurried to the front of the store. “Hey, I just stopped over to tell you some big news.” Noah said with a smile as she approached him. “No talk, just kiss” she repeated to herself over and over. Just do it. Steeling herself, Daisy gently grabbed Noah by the shirt and pulled him to her. Then she kissed his lips.
Fireworks seemed to dance around in her head and her heart. She knew this was such a terrible idea. Someone was going to get hurt. There would be consequences. But as Noah’s tongue gently flicks at her own, Daisy loses all sense of thought.
“Wait…whoa, what is going on?” Noah pulled away from Daisy, looking at her with confusion and something else. He stepped back from her, putting more space in between them.
Daisy blinked, her cheeks burning with embarrassment. “Uh…sorry. Annabelle dared me to kiss the next guy that came through the door. Which was you…weirdly. You never come in here. You said you have big news?” She stepped even farther back so she could breathe. She was such an idiot. And she knew she was going to get an earful from Marilyn later once Noah told her. She wanted to cry. Why couldn’t it have just been old man Elijah??
“I..” Noah cleared his throat. “Well. Uh, I came here to tell you that I plan to propose to Marilyn. Tonight.” He rubs the back of his neck and avoids Daisy’s eye.
Daisy nods, her heart finally breaking into a million little pieces. She can fake this. She has done it for 20 years. Just take a deep breath and you will be fine. Play the part again. “That’s amazing! I’m so happy for you Noah” she forces a tight smile. “Where ya going to do it? The beach I hope.” she asks. She just wants to run away. She doesn’t want to have to deal with this right now. It is too fresh, too new.
“Actually, Marilyn wants to have the wedding out of town. She wants to do it over in Sandy Bay.” He shrugs his shoulders and gives a small smile. “You know I can’t say no to her.”
Swallowing hard, Daisy nods and heads over to the section of the bookstore where all the chairs are. She sits down in one of the oversized chairs and regards Noah. He was getting married. To Marilyn. If she ever thought she had a chance to be with him before, she sure didn’t have a chance now. How did things get so messed up? Why hadn’t she just gotten up the courage years ago and just told him? Risk it all? Now it was all over.
She had to get a hold of herself. She could mope once he left. “Oh well that’s nice. I have only been over to Sandy Bay a couple of times, but it seems..nice, I guess. Definitely bigger than our little beach town.”
Sandy Bay was two towns over. With a population of more than half a million people, it was immensely bigger than Sunshine Shores, and a definite tourist trap. Daisy could not even imagine Noah getting married there. He was like her; he loved the small-town beach life. He wasn’t a fan of tourists or big city life.
“You always said you were going to get married over on Canyon Cove, like we did when we were kids. You remember that? We got married there to each other with our little paperclip and seaweed rings?” She smiled fondly at the memory and looked at Noah as he eased himself down into the chair across from hers.
“We promised we would never marry anyone else.” He looks at Daisy and bites his bottom lip nervously. “Sorry I broke our promise.”
Daisy leans over and puts her arms on her knees. She regards Noah seriously. “Why do you want to marry her, Noah? I know that you guys have been together for a few years, but can you honestly say that Marilyn is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with?” She watches him regard her question in his mind.
Noah looks into her eyes. “I…” He shakes his head. “Marilyn is solid. She is stable. She is a good woman. She’s got a respectable job. What’s not to want?”
Daisy laughs, although she is not feeling very humorous. “Noah, listen to yourself. You sound so….boring. The Noah that I know would NEVER get married in Sandy Bay to a ‘stable’ woman with a respectable job. You sound like the blowhards we make fun of all the time. I mean, I love you and I want to see you happy, but this is just…not you.”
“You love me?” Noah asked her, raising his eyebrows a bit.
“I mean…fuck…duh. You know I love you. You are my best friend. I just want to see you with someone who actually…deserves you.”
“Wait, what? Deserves me? You don’t think Marilyn deserves me?”
Daisy groans and covers her face with her hands. “Noah, can we please not do this right now?” She looks up at him and notices him giving her a weird look. “What?” she asks him, her heart rate speeding up. She could get lost in those ocean blue eyes.
“Why did you really kiss me Nugget?” he asked her softly.
Nugget was the nickname Noah had called her since they were small. She used to only want to eat chicken nuggets and nothing else for about 5 years, so the nickname stuck.
“Noah, I can’t…” Daisy pleads.
He stands up and pulls her up to her feet as well. He gently takes her hand and leads her into the backroom of the bookstore. There is no one around.
“Please Nugget. We have been best friends for 20 years. You know you don’t have to be scared to tell me something”
Daisy looks up into Noah’s eyes. It is time. She knows it is finally time to tell him. If she doesn’t, she risks losing him forever. She takes a deep breath and tries to find the best words.
“Noah…I am in lo-” Before she can finish, Annabelle comes into the backroom. “Oh fuck, sorry. I thought you guys had gone for a walk!” She rushes out quickly.
“What were you saying?” he asks Daisy quietly.
She bites her lip hard and tries again. “I’m in love with you Noah.” she whispers and looks down at her feet.
He nods and lifts her chin. “How long?”
Daisy laughs dryly and wipes a few tears that fall down her cheek. “20 years?”
Noah shakes his head. “Wait. What? Why didn’t you ever tell me? That’s literally the whole time we’ve been friends.”
She nods. “I was scared to risk our friendship. The only reason I kissed you today was because Annabelle dared me to, and you know I never back down from a dare. I didn’t mean to make things more complicated for you and Marilyn. I l know you love her and-”
Cutting her off mid-sentence, Noah looks into her eyes. “Shut up, Nugget” he whispers and pulls her to him, kissing her softly.
And that’s it! I really hope you all enjoyed reading my short story. I know it’s not perfect and probably needs a lot of revision and work, but I’m really proud of this piece of writing! Also please don’t steal my story or ideas. That’s honestly one of my biggest fears. Thanks!! See you all next week for some more fun!
-The Paperback Princess 👑