Everlasting by L.K. Kuhl
Seventeen-year-old Sophia Bandell is scared of boys, and her biggest fear is dying. Boys make her uncomfortable and itchy and dying is …well …dying. She is ecstatic when her long lost friend calls her, inviting her to spend the summer with her on the beach at Charleston, South Carolina.
When a plastic saucer hits her in the head as she’s sunbathing, Sophia has no idea it will forever change the course of her life. It is there she comes face to face with the impressive Tate Forester.
She is scared and …itchy, but he’s gorgeous and she can’t shake him from her mind. They begin dating and Sophia soon knows he’s the one.
But things turn dark when she learns Tate isn’t the person she thinks he is, and the real reason her friend has brought her to the beach will teach her about life after death.
This everlasting summer on the beach gives Sophia a sweet taste of first love—the happiness as well as the heartbreak.
The hypnotizing screech of the wipers against the
windshield kept my mind heavily sedated and battened down the
churning of my stomach to a slow stir. Since the phone call last
week, even the slightest sound caused me to jump. Something
about it—the white noise, the crackle of electricity in my ear,
something—freaked me out from the first ring.
“Something’s happened.” A pop of electricity had me holding the
phone an inch or five from my head. “Can you come…? It’s been ages.”
The voice, strained and unrecognizable, struggled again through the white
noise of the phone.
My forehead furrowed, and my grip on the phone slipped. “Uh…I
don’t know who this is. I’m hanging up now.” I couldn’t stop the racing of
my heart. Loud. It was too loud. The pounding in my ears should have
warned me, but I clenched the phone closer.
“C’mon, it’ll be fun…. The entire summer.” I recognized that
voice, the little sing-song that bounced every word from octave to octave.
“Meet me at the Charleston airport…next Friday…I’ll pay for
I pushed my damp bangs from my forehead. “Mandy…is this
you?” My words quivered, but a rush of relief washed over me. We’d lost
touch with each other. Hadn’t talked in years, and it was good to hear
“Good grief, girl, who’d ya think it was…the Pope?”
I ignored the clamoring of my heart since I couldn’t reach in and
slow it down. “I…I don’t know…. You had me thinkin’ all kindsa weird
things. Didn’t sound the same.”
The phone clicked, the buzz of the dial tone tickling my ear.
So, today, cold water bottle in hand, taking long swigs to
chase away the dryness that etched my throat, I concentrated on
breathing in and out to quell the nerves battling it out in my
stomach—slowly inhaling and exhaling, my long, deep breaths
keeping time in my head.
Just yesterday, I bid my junior year at Cascade High
farewell. Not that being a senior would matter much to a
wallflower like me. I had virtually no friends, and my only
experience with boys came from a dance with Jimmy Yale that
resulted from his loss of a dare.
Boys were my kryptonite. I couldn’t look at them for fear I
would melt into the floor. Couldn’t talk to them without stuttering
and adding a few too many inappropriate giggles to the
conversation, so eventually, after fifth grade, I gave up. Except for
Jimmy Yale, and a date on a dare is never a real date, anyway.
I didn’t believe in love at first sight. In fact, girls saying that
they’d fallen in love this way was a huge pet peeve of mine. You
needed to know a person first, take it slow, and let love build on its
own—this was my mantra. Besides that, the best looking boys
always made me itch when they came too close, breaking my entire
body out into red, splotchy bumps. Maybe it was just a bad case of
the pulchritudinous nerves, I didn’t know, but in either case, I
didn’t like them.
Even though the cool day had me covered in goosebumps,
the sleeves on my white blouse clung to my skin, dampened from
sweat. My armpits, a cesspool of sticky wetness, had me wishing
I’d dabbed on one last swipe of deodorant before I left the house. I
was sure my aroma would leave people gasping for fresh air by the
time I’d arrive in South Carolina. It didn’t help having my blue
parka over the top of my blouse, but I’d lose that later.
The fresh smell of rain seeped through the air vents, and I
took one more breath, a much needed push toward Calmsville. I
glanced at my mom. She gripped the steering wheel with such
force, her knuckles turned white. Leaning forward, her green eyes
squinted through the pouring rain beating against our windshield.
Even though her sandy-blond hair was cut pixie-short, small
ringlets still curled around her ears. I looked more like my dad
with dark, fine hair and sky-blue eyes, only he had a few more
Mom peeled her eyes off the road for a minute, and gave me
a curious smile. “You have a ladybug crawling on your leg,
Sophia.” She pointed to the little red-and-black bug clinging to my
I put my finger in front of the harmless little creature,
prompting her to see how far she would climb. Maybe she had
packed her bags and told her family good-bye, as well, ready to be
whisked away to a place unknown. She crawled halfway up my
finger, then onto my leg again. Sweeping her off to the floor, I
continued my daydreaming.
Mom rocked back and forth, shifting from foot to foot when
we stood in the airport terminal. She wrung her hands, and her
eyes stayed wide as though trying to memorize every part of me in
case she never saw me again.
With a grimace, she shook her head. “Are you sure you
should be doing this?” Her eyes brimmed with tears, almost ready
to take a spill.
She dropped her head and closed her eyes. I turned away.
“I’m seventeen years old, and it’s only for three months. Besides,
Mandy’s my best friend. I don’t wanna disappoint her.” Stupid
voice. Why did it have to shake so bad?
“Just be careful. You’ve never been out on your own before,
and there’s a lot of bad people out there.”
Mom’s reasons to be worried, in her mind, numbered in the
thousands. I’d never been anywhere on my own before. I wasn’t
eighteen yet. I was her baby. Blah. Blah. Blah. Unnecessary
worrying gave my mother a reason for living. Well, okay, I could
be what some would call scatterbrained at times. At times. But I’d
never broken a bone, wrecked a car, or so much as claimed the dog
ate my homework. This was about trust…and independence…and
a summer without chaos or my nagging mother to remind me to
get my feet off the sofa. My summer. She could worry from afar.
“I have to go now.” I gave her another kiss on the cheek and
wrapped my arms around her. “Mandy’s gonna be there waiting
I shook away and picked up my carry-on bag, glancing at
my watch, my top teeth sharply stabbing into my bottom lip.
“Call me when you arrive.” She pulled me in for one last
hug, the dam breaking on her repressed tears.
I waved good-bye when the call for section B of flight twoninety-
seven blasted over the intercom. My pulse quickened, and
my stomach swirled with excitement as I filed in line. The smell of
red licorice made my stomach growl. Wish I would have eaten
breakfast. Now I’m famished. After giving a few glances around, a boy
toward the end of the line had a mouth crammed full of the sticky
The heady, floral scent of roses delicately assaulted my nose
when I stepped through the door of the seven-forty-seven. I found
my seat, squeezing myself and my oversize purse in between a
heavyset man and a dainty older woman.
The stout man fluffed his pillow, his breathing already
labored and loud. I imagined it would probably sound like an
atomic bomb going off when he actually fell asleep.
The woman sitting by the window seat leafed through a
Harper’s Bazaar magazine, looking over the rim of her silver, hornrimmed
glasses, giving her fingers a lick with each turn of the page.
As we got settled and the plane’s engines roared to life,
taking me away from all things familiar, she pulled off her glasses,
trusting the delicate silver chains to catch them as they fell softly to
her chest. My gaze lurched to the black mole perched on the bridge
of her nose where the glasses had been riding, two hairs sprouting
out of the middle. I shook my head. Look away, now, just look away.
She closed her magazine, tucking it into her leather Prada
bag, her large, pink Victorian feather hat almost glancing me in the
forehead when she turned to face me. “Where are you off to, dear?”
“Charleston.” The edges of my mouth curled into a simple
smile as I eased back into my seat.
“That’s where I’m going. I just love the South. I’m going
there to visit my niece. She lost her son about eight months ago in a
tragic auto accident, and I need to see her. He was only eighteen,
just a senior in high school.” She shook her head and glanced out
“That’s so sad.” My shy voice squeaked apprehensively.
Was this airplane etiquette? Spill the family sorrows to unwitting
strangers and ruin their first flying experience with sadness?
“Yes, it is, dear. I didn’t know her son real well. I lost touch
with them and haven’t seen them in many years, but I do need to
give her my condolences in person.” Hesitating for a brief moment,
glancing at her hands, she continued on. “I also have plans to finish
something on my bucket list.” She grinned and winked, a touch of
orneriness twinkling in her eyes.
Bucket list? “What’s that?”
“Skydiving. Jump’s at seven tomorrow morning.”
The pilot’s voice jolted me awake. Time to buckle our
seatbelts to prepare for landing. My head jerked upright, and I
quickly wiped at the drool that had pooled on my cheek.
Coughing, I glanced around to see if anyone had seen. The old lady
looked at me and smiled.
My tongue washed over my dry lips. “Sorry, didn’t realize
I’d fallen asleep.”
My face flushed hot. I pulled down on my shirt and
smoothed my hand over my wrinkled pants before shoving my
hair back from my face. Wishing I could stretch, my arms reached
toward the seat in front of me, but I didn’t want to draw any more
attention to myself in case someone else noticed the drool spot on
my blouse, so I brought them back to my sides again.
The lady chuckled, patting my hand with her frail, bony one.
“You looked so peaceful, I didn’t want to disturb you.”
I yawned, smiled, and ran my fingers over my face, still
trying to wake up. “I slept way too hard.”
The plane jerked and bumped on its descent to the ground,
and I dug my nails into the armrests, whispering a silent prayer.
My biggest fear…dying. I didn’t even want to consider a bucket
list, as to me, it was just a plan to die.
When she smiled again, I loosened my hand. “Sorry, planes
kind of freak me out.”
I gathered up my parka and the ladybug was there, crawling
on the blue nylon sleeve. My eyebrows arched, and I lifted her up
on my finger. Somehow, she’d managed to stowaway on my jacket.
Guess she wanted to see Charleston, too.
The plane skittered across the runway and came to a stop at
the terminal. I stood. “I loved meeting you…uh…oh, gosh, I didn’t
even ask your name.” My cheeks warmed again at my
She held out her pale hand. I shook it, its frail coldness
startling me. “Lidia…Lidia Forester.”
We made our way out of the plane, and the sweet smell of
roses, once again, tickled my nose.
I dug in my purse—two missed calls from Mom. Her nerves
had probably caught fire since she hadn’t heard from me yet.
Needing to find a quiet place to call her and tell her I was okay, I
dashed into the restroom.
“Hi, Mom. Made it. Just touched down here in Charleston.”
“Oh, thank heavens, I’m so relieved. I couldn’t stop
worrying until I heard from you. Is Mandy there?”
“I don’t know. Haven’t seen her yet, but I’m sure she’s here
“Do you have her number?” Panic sharpened her tone.
I’d already worried her, so I steadied my voice, reassuring.
“Uh…yeah…yeah I do. It’s right here on my phone. I’ll call her real
fast, and call ya back.”
I hung up, scanning to check my contacts and calls from the
last week, but I couldn’t find it. My throat tightened fast—like a
boa constrictor winding its way around it. Swallowing hard, I
flipped through my phone again. Still nothing. There was no way
to get ahold of Mandy.
I stumbled out of the bathroom, and in my peripheral view
caught sight of a young woman standing with her back turned
against the walking traffic of people. She stood ramrod straight,
hands fisted at her sides, but her hair…mesmerizing.
I turned toward her, unable to pull my gaze away. The rich,
brilliant strands glowed, like they had been spun from silken
gold—reaching all the way past her waist. She wore a sheer white
rippling gown that swept across her legs, and, turning toward me,
she stared, her eyes flashing. Then a sly smirk curved across her
“Sophia…you made it.”
She advanced toward me, and my heart jumped like a
nervous runner at the starting line. Odd…what was so different about
her? I jerked my head back, barking out a shaky, high-pitched
laugh. “Mandy…is it really you…? You look great.” My eyes
blinked once, then went wide. Her flawless skin exuberated an
almost sallow appearance.
Something was off. She looked through me as though
searching for someone or something else.
Finally, she snorted. “Ha, better than you. Joking…joking.”
Then she slapped at me and grabbed me by the shoulders, pulling
me against her chest for a long embrace.
“How’d you know what time I was landing?” I grabbed my
suitcases from the baggage claim carousel, and we made our way
toward the exit doors. “We hadn’t made any plans for you to pick
me up, and…I couldn’t believe I forgot. Then I couldn’t find your
phone number, and…”
She smirked, and another snort escaped her lips. “I wouldn’t
do that…we’re besties. Have I ever let you down?” Her eyes
flashed red, again, then settled into their natural deep, dark brown.
There was some weird lighting in this place.
“I know this’ll go straight to your head, but you can’t believe
how relieved I was to see you waiting for me. The phone
conversation was so broken that night, my mom thought for sure it
was some serial killer. Cell service here must suck.” I laughed,
putting an isn’t-that-ridiculous sneer into it.
She rolled her eyes. “Serial killer? Your mom is nuts.”
I shrugged off her question, preferring not to dwell on my
overprotective mother. “That reminds me, before I forget, I need to
call her and tell her you’re not really a serial killer, just a deranged
psychopath.” Pushing her shoulder playfully, I looked her up and
down. “You’re not, are you?”
I sagged against the airport wall, my arms like soggy
noodles when I held the phone to my ear and made the call to my
mom. My knees buckled, shaking like it was negative ten degrees
when I heard her voice. Thankful that I’d finally made it.
You can purchase Everlasting at:
Right now it is only available in EBook form, but the print book will be out by mid-fall.
About the Author:
L.K. Kuhl lives in Nebraska with her husband Gene of twenty-nine years, young son, Nathan, and Greg, their Black Lab dog. She has two older daughters, Morgan and Brittani and son-in-law, Trevor. L.K. has been writing for over twenty years. She first began writing children’s books and poetry, moved on to writing music, and is now writing Young Adult and Adult novels. She loves spending time with her family, vacationing, writing, reading, and taking long walks. It’s the characters who write their own stories in her novels, and she is just their messenger, sharing it with the world.
The idea for Everlasting came from her brother-in-law who had recently passed away. He came to her in a dream and she was able to ask him questions about what life after death was like. His answers seemed so real and clear, L.K. knew she had to incorporate them into a book…to get this dream out there. Thus, Everlasting was born. She hopes you find it as intriguing as she did writing it.
You can learn more about L.K. online at:
Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/kuhlreads
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01BXDJGIY