The Light Between Us

Poppy Parkes


“Fine,” she said to the computer screen. “Fine. You win. I hope you enjoy all those words of mine you just devoured.”

Ruth glared at the laptop, wanting to growl at the infuriating thing. She’d just spent her scant thirty minute lunch break typing through fear and resistance to add to her growing romance novel — only to have the computer eat all her progress.

She glanced at the clock on the corner of the screen and sighed. Just a few more minutes and then the bell would ring and a tumble of first graders fresh from recess would stream into the classroom, tracking mud and flinging sweaty jackets every which way no matter how often she asked them to put their things in their cubbyholes, please.

Ruth stood to gather up the leavings of her lunch, closing the computer document containing her novel. She loved her students, and loved getting to see them grow and change over the course of the school year. But she wasn’t so sure she loved the teaching itself. She’d only gotten into education because she hadn’t known what to do after she’d graduated from college, and the elementary ed program at Boston College was the only grad school degree program she could find that was still taking applications. And going back to live in her parents’ home and once again be the whipping post for the pain of their soured marriage? Not an option.

And she’d actually thought that she’d love teaching. But while she didn’t hate it . . . it wasn’t her. It wasn’t what lit her heart on fire. Writing did that.

But, as her father loved to point out, writing stories wasn’t practical. It didn’t pay the bills, didn’t pay for hardly anything, really, except for the very talented or very lucky. “And you are neither,” he’d said the day she’d announced that she had decided to earn a bachelor’s degree in creative writing.

Ruth’s stomach clenched at the memory of those words she’d never been quite able to shake, even after two more years of undergrad, a whirlwind single year of graduate school, and then three years teaching at this elementary school in Cambridge, one of her favorite parts of Boston. She still didn’t know how she’d managed to snag this job; the competition had been impressive and copious.

But somehow she’d found herself here, and three years in she was realizing that as practical as “here” might be, it was slowly but surely draining her away. And there was no way out in sight. No wonder so many of the older teachers she’d met were so bitter; they’d been sucked dry, perhaps, just like she was.

Ruth tossed her lunch’s remains into the trash, took a gulp from her water bottle, and stood for a moment in the silence of the classroom. She massaged her fingers against the base of her skull, closing her eyes, wishing for the umpteenth time for a man that could do that for her every once in a while. Maybe that was why she was writing a romance novel, a genre that she’d always scoffed at as an undergrad. A guy to toy with her wild brunette curls, to rub her feet at the end of a long day, and to fondle her —

No. She snapped her eyes open. No need to fantasize about something that seemed likely to never happen, according to her completely awful dating batting average. Although that was hardly an appropriate analogy, Ruth thought as she flipped open her lesson planner to remind herself what was on tap for the afternoon. You couldn’t have a batting average if you’d hardly been up at bat. There just weren’t any guys that made the risk seem worth it.

Ruth gazed around the room at the rather tired looking paper hearts and colorful paper chains that were leftover from the previous week’s welcome-back-to-school class party. All the children had exchanged little notes of friendship with each other, which they’d opened with such delight. They made her think of the Valentine’s Day parties she’d celebrated with her own classmates as a child. It had seemed so simple a thing, then, so easy to believe that love was in her future, that loneliness was no one’s destiny. And yet here she was, a woman in the prime of her life who’d barely been touched in any sort of a romantic way, stuck in a job that she tried desperately to love and couldn’t.

The bell that summoned the students in from recess shattered the silence of the room. Ruth sighed, then rolled her eyes. It seemed like all she did was sigh these days. With one last glare at the computer that had stolen the fruit of the little passionate labor she was allowed, she went to usher her first graders back to the classroom.

The Light Between Us Description:

For twenty-something Boston school teacher Ruth, she’s gotten by just fine on playing it safe, thank you very much. But now her risk-free life and nice-girl demeanor are leaving her increasingly heartsick. So when she meets bad boy Derek, she’s willing to overlook her “no romance” rule and give him a chance to prove her fears wrong. Because he, also, is plagued by a sense of ennui and pointlessness, wanting to change his fast-and-loose living but not knowing how.

Neither can deny the inexplicable, illogical attraction drawing them together, and they are hard-pressed to resist it. But what will their unlikely relationship cost, and who will be caught in the crossfire?

The Light Between Us is a sassy and sensual romp from Poppy Parkes. Part love story, part comedy of errors, and part coming of age tale, The Light Between Us is a delicious read for fans of the romance and new adult genres alike.

“The Light Between Us, a raw and powerful love story about forgiveness and learning to trust our instincts. Sexy and Intense, I couldn’t put this novel down and wished, at the last chapter, for more.”

– Heather Mattern, author of Saving Katie Baker and The Grey Muse

“The Light Between Us is the kind of book that reaches into you and settles in. The implication of this genre is to find a light summer beach-bound read. That is the not the case here. The characters are fulfilling, the plot more than a little unexpected, and just sensual enough to keep you blushing without dropping the book. Riveting.”

– R. L. Haas, author of Portals of Water and Wine

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