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Leap Before You Look

It’s the summer high school and everyone is getting ready to leave for college. But not Kari Montgomery—she’s stuck in Eugene, Oregon, because culinary schools are expensive. Then her forever crush, Holt Bennett, suddenly asks her to make a big, life-altering decision—a decision that could make or break her future. Will Kari seize her chance to grow up, too?

Age Rating: 18+

 

Leap Before You Look by Dellywrites is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.

 


 

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1

Summary

It’s the summer after high school and everyone is getting ready to leave for college. But not Kari Montgomery—she’s stuck in Eugene, Oregon, because culinary schools are expensive. Then her forever crush, Holt Bennett, suddenly asks her to make a big, life-altering decision—a decision that could make or break her future. Will Kari seize her chance to grow up, too?

Age Rating: 18+

Original Author: Dellywrites

I leaned back in my lawn chair, inhaling the sweet smell of nutty pine and sage that enveloped the lake.

Rustic log cabins stood against a backdrop of tall pine trees and snow-capped mountains. The late afternoon sun reflected off the water as a Great Blue Heron soared overhead.

My family had been camping at Whispering Pines Park since I was twelve.

Every Friday night from Memorial Day until Labor Day, we drove from our home in Eugene, Oregon to our cabin at Foster Lake.

When I acquired my driver’s license, my friends and I hung out there during the week. It provided a great place to get away from our parents and have some fun.

A gentle breeze blew across my face. The dog day cicadas launched a raspy buzzing tune as the beautiful August day slipped away.

Summers tend to be hot and dry in Oregon, despite the general misconception that it rains all the time in the Pacific Northwest.

I studied my posse of girlfriends. With the end of summer quickly approaching, I found myself drifting into frequent episodes of melancholy reflection.

Would this be one of our last days together at the cabin? High school was behind us, and we were about to embark on the next chapter of our lives.

Gwen had a full pre-med scholarship to Stanford. She graduated at the top of our class. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed Barbie look-alike could have almost any guy she wanted.

She lived a charmed life, resulting in some envy and jealousy on my part.

Jessica planned to attend community college in Eugene. She came out as a lesbian during senior year. It wasn’t a big surprise to any of us. Jessica never showed any interest in boys.

Bobbi was moving to Portland to attend hairdressing school. We had been inseparable since the first day of kindergarten.

She had a troubled childhood, growing up in a home with poverty and substance abuse. Bobbi took shelter in our home on many occasions over the years, becoming the sister I never had.

My dream of going to culinary school was on hold for at least a year. The tuition was thirty thousand dollars.

I made decent money working as a line cook at Earl’s Roadhouse, but it would be a challenge to save up that kind of dough.

Jessica’s sing-song voice interrupted my reverie. “It’s almost five, Kari!”

Gwen rolled her eyes. “When are you going to give it up, Kari? He’s never going to ask you out.”

“I know that, Gwen. You remind me every chance you get.”

“So why waste time watching him?”

“Cause he’s a hot piece of meat,” Bobbi said, running her tongue across her upper lip.

Holt Bennett worked at Whispering Pines.

The first time I saw him, I was on my way to the lake to go swimming. My family went ahead without me because I forgot my goggles and had to go back for them.

I sprinted across the grass in my pink pinstripe bikini, my Hannah Montana towel slung over my shoulders. My budding breasts filled the bikini top, but I was still a carefree, twelve-year-old girl.

I was in such a hurry to get to the lake that I didn’t see or hear the lawn mower until it nearly ran me over.

When I looked up, the most amazing eyes stared back at me. They were like dark chocolate melting over a double broiler.

“I could have hit you! Pay attention next time, kid.”

“I-I’m sorry. I didn’t see you.”

He was shirtless, his muscular chest looking like it belonged to a grown man. My interest in the opposite sex awoke that day. I developed a serious crush on Holt.

I didn’t see him from September to May, but I thought about him all year. As I grew up, my feelings for him only intensified.

Gwen had a point. It was ridiculous to spend so much time obsessing about a guy I barely knew. I dated a couple boys in high school, but I couldn’t get Holt out of my head.

Gwen wanted me to forget about him and find a boyfriend. Her motivation extended beyond genuine concern for a friend. She wanted to pursue Holt for herself.

If she asked him out, he would likely say yes. But she wasn’t allowed to, because we had rules. One of those rules prohibited us from asking a guy out if another friend had a crush on him first.

Holt emerged from the camp store a few minutes after five o’clock. He stayed in a cabin in the park during the summer. Instead of walking past and waving like he normally would, he headed towards my cabin.

The girly chatter skidded to an abrupt halt. What did he want? He never came around unless he was collecting trash or cutting the grass.

I chewed on my thumbnail as my stomach jumped with nervous tingles. Gwen plastered a flirty smile on her face. What if he asked her out?

Holt had dark brown hair, trimmed to an ideal length for sliding fingers through. My fingers, while he kissed me passionately. How many times had I entertained that fantasy?

His chiseled face was golden brown from working outdoors. He wore a light grey t-shirt that accentuated his muscular torso and large biceps. Black cargo shorts hugged his well toned legs.

“Good evening, ladies,” he said.

“Hi, Holt,” Jessica and Bobbi chimed in unison. They were not shy around Holt, especially when they’d been drinking hard lemonade all afternoon.

Gwen stood up and twirled a piece of hair in her hand. “What can we do for you, Holt?”

“I need to talk to Kari.”

She frowned and folded her arms.

“I was wondering if we could go somewhere and talk. Maybe get a cup of coffee in town.”

Was I dreaming? Holt would never ask me out. If he liked me, he would have acted on it a long time ago.

I closed my eyes and opened them again, expecting to find myself in my bed. But I wasn’t. I was sitting in my lawn chair with Holt staring at me. He raised his eyebrows as a small smile played on his lips.

“Okay,” I said in a squeaky voice.

“Let’s go then.” He gestured towards his truck, which was parked outside the store.

Oh! He wasn’t kidding. He wanted me to go with him right then. I had no time to prepare.

I looked down at my old jean cutoffs, faded pink t-shirt and purple flip flops. Not my first choice of clothing for a coffee date with Holt.

I ran my hands through my hair, a rat’s nest that hadn’t been brushed well after swimming. I probably looked like I just rolled out of bed.

I followed him to his black Dodge Ram. When we got to the truck, he didn’t open the door for me. And why would he? It was the year 2018, and guys didn’t do that kind of thing anymore.

And this wasn’t a date. Or was it? I had no idea what to expect as I climbed in beside him and put on my seatbelt.

Sweat formed on the back of my neck while I fidgeted in my seat. The truck was spotless, smelling of cologne and leather.

I stared at my hands, twisting my high school ring around my finger. If I didn’t find a way to relax, I would make a fool of myself.

As we headed down the highway, I waited for him to say something. He cleared his throat and glanced over at me.

“I don’t bite you know.”

I swallowed and chewed on my upper lip while I tried to figure out what to say. When I peeked over at him, he was staring straight ahead. He rubbed the back of his neck and sighed.

What was he nervous about? Why did he ask me out for coffee and then barely speak during the ten-minute drive to town?

By the time we parked in front of Froggy’s Diner, I was dying of curiosity. I should have come right out and asked him what he wanted to talk about, but I couldn’t muster up the courage.

I followed him into the diner, where he led the way to a table in the back corner.

Froggy’s was alive with the sounds of country music, dishes banging and people talking. The smell of coffee and fried food filled the air. I had eaten there many times over the years.

My friends and I went there for breakfast quite often, when we didn’t feel like cooking. Most of the waitresses were middle-aged women with attitudes.

“Well, hello sweetheart. I’m not used to seeing you here this time of day.” Fran smiled and winked at me. She was one of the nicer waitresses. “What can I get you two?”

“I’ll just have a coffee, please,” I said.

“Same for me,” Holt said.

After Fran brought the coffee, Holt cleared his throat and took a deep breath. “So, I heard that you aren’t going to college this year.”

“No. I want to go to culinary school, but it’s expensive. So I’m taking a year off to work and save money.”

“There’s nothing wrong with that. It makes a lot more sense than racking up a pile of student loans that will take years to pay off.”

I took a sip of my coffee. Holt hadn’t touched his. When I looked up, he was staring at me. I swallowed hard as his dark eyes bored into mine with unnerving intensity.

“I have a little sister. She’s twelve and has recently been diagnosed with leukemia.”

I blinked, taking a minute to adjust to the sudden change in topic. “That’s terrible, Holt. Is she going to be ok?”

“Hopefully. She’s about to start six to eight months of chemotherapy and radiation. Unfortunately, it will destroy her bone marrow, and she will eventually need a bone marrow transplant.”

“Oh.” Oh? I had to do better than oh. What should I say? I’m not a heartless bitch, but I didn’t understand why he took me out for coffee to tell me about his sister’s illness.

It wasn’t like we were friends. Casual acquaintances, sure. But not friends.

“There is no guarantee they will find a match. Sometimes, it’s difficult to find a donor. I’m a perfect match, but I can’t donate.

“I’ve had too many concussions over the years from playing sports. The doctor says that I can’t have a bone marrow aspiration. I told them I didn’t care if it was risky for me, but they won’t do it.”

I stared at the huge frog on the wall. His bulging, red eyes stood out against the green decor of the diner. A feeling of uneasiness formed in the pit of my stomach.

“The next best option for my sister is something called a stem cell transplant. It’s actually better, because stem cells don’t have to match as closely as a bone marrow donation.”

“That’s good. Where do they get the stem cells from?” I had limited understanding of what he was talking about. I wasn’t into science and biology, unless it had to do with food.

“Stem cells are collected from the umbilical cord of a newborn baby. If I had a baby, there is a good chance that it would have enough markers to be a donor.”

I looked down at the table and fiddled with a sugar packet. A prickle of fear crept up my spine.

“I want you to have my baby.”

 

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2

Holt smiled warmly and took my hands in his.

My head was spinning like an out of control top. I was out with Holt Bennett. We were holding hands.

Oh, wait. Too bad. It’s not a date.

He wasn’t interested in me that way. He wanted to borrow my uterus!

Peals of uncontrollable laughter erupted from deep inside of me. Holt grinned before bursting out in a loud roar. The people at the nearby tables stared at us.

Eventually, we stopped, descending into silence.

My mind raced as I tried to comprehend his proposal. How was he planning to conceive this baby? Why had he chosen me? It didn’t make sense. He didn’t even know me.

“I need to get some air,” I said as I slid out of the green plastic booth.

“Are you okay? You look a little pale.”

“Yeah. I just need to get out of here.” I bolted for the door.

Holt paid the bill and joined me outside. The temperature had dropped significantly since we arrived. I wrapped my arms around my body as we walked side by side back to Holt’s truck.

He opened the door and handed me a grey hoodie from behind the seat. The sweater was too large for my tiny frame, but there was something exciting about wearing clothing that belonged to the guy you liked.

When Holt climbed in the driver’s seat, he didn’t put the keys in the ignition. He turned and looked at me with those delicious brown eyes. Serious eyes that belonged to a man on a mission.

“You would be well compensated.”

“What does that mean?” Did he think I was actually considering this?

“My family is wealthy. You would be paid a large sum of money for having this baby. One million dollars to be exact. All of your medical bills would be paid. And the child would have a trust fund.”

I stared at him, my mouth hanging open.

The guy who had been cutting grass, collecting trash, emptying septic tanks, and other crappy jobs at a cottage park since he was fifteen years old, just confessed that he was rich.

What the hell?

“So, you expect me to believe you’re a millionaire who works as a maintenance boy?”

“I didn’t say that I was rich. I said my parents are rich. And more like billionaires.”

He stared out the windshield, running his fingers through his hair.

“My dad is strict. His father built the family business from the ground up. He wanted to instill the value of hard work into his son. My dad did the same thing to me.

“I had to pay my own way through school. They allowed me to live at home for free, but I have to pay for my tuition and my truck, and anything else that I want.”

“That’s pretty impressive. What kind of business does your family own?”

“Have you ever heard of the Bennett Group?”

I shook my head.

“It’s a large company that owns a lot of smaller companies in different industries. We own a coffee shop chain, fitness clubs, some manufacturing businesses, shipping companies…”

His voice trailed off in a bored tone.

“Why don’t you work for your father then?”

“I will after I graduate next year. I’m majoring in business and finance, so that I can take over the company someday. It’s a family business, and it is an expectation that my sister and I will work there.

“My passion is physical fitness, so I will probably look after the health clubs. My dad wants us to enjoy working there.”

“So, um.” I paused as I worked up the nerve to ask the burning question on the tip of my tongue.

Holt raised his eyebrows. A grin spread slowly across his face. He knew what I was about to ask him!

“Um, how were you planning to conceive this baby?” I could feel the heat coming off of my cheeks.

Holt chuckled. “Artificial insemination. Did you think that you would have to do it the old-fashioned way?”

“I have no idea what you are thinking. This whole thing sounds crazy. I understand that you would do anything to save your sister, but having a baby is kind of extreme.”

“If I don’t do it, my sister could die. I could never live with myself if that happened and I could have prevented it.”

“Was this your parent’s idea?”

“Yeah. They are desperate.”

“Why would you choose me to do this? You don’t even know me. Surely, you have an ex-girlfriend floating around out there somewhere that would be more than willing to have your baby.”

I picked an imaginary piece of lint off of my shorts to avoid looking at those brown eyes. I was afraid of those eyes. They might just convince me to consider this crazy request.

Holt looked out the driver’s window and rubbed his jaw. He cleared his throat and turned to face me again.

“There are a few reasons I chose you, Kari. The fact that you’re available is a big consideration. You’re taking a year off school to make money. My sister’s doctor said this needs to happen as soon as possible.

“Obviously, it takes nine months to have a baby, and Chelsea will need the transplant about a month after her treatments are finished. So it would be beneficial if the first insemination was successful.”

“Holy. That’s a lot of pressure.”

“If you did agree to do this, they would check your blood to see if you had enough matching markers. The more you have, the better the chance that our baby could be a donor.”

“So your dad is going to pay someone one million dollars to have your baby, but there is no guarantee that the baby will even be a match?”

“There is no guarantee. They would do something called an amniocentesis that would tell them for sure.”

“I’ve heard of that. It’s when they stick a big needle in the stomach. What if the baby isn’t a match? Would they expect me to have an abortion?”

“No. My family are extremely pro-life.”

“How do you feel about that? You’re the one who ends up with a kid whether it’s a match or not.”

“It’s a chance I’m willing to take.” He paused and cleared his throat.

“We need a young, healthy girl who is not sexually active or on any kind of birth control. They want to ensure that there is nothing that will delay conception.”

“How do you know I’m a suitable candidate? You don’t know anything about me. I could be a prostitute, for all you know!” How dare he make assumptions about my sex life?

He grinned, his eyes twinkling with amusement.

“I’m pretty sure you aren’t a prostitute. I know that you’re a virgin, and I know you don’t have a boyfriend. So I’m assuming you aren’t on the pill, are you? Cause that could be a problem.”

“Where are you getting your information from?”

“Eddie told me. Don’t be mad at him, though. He didn’t tell me anything until I told him why I wanted to know.”

“You told Eddie that you were going to ask me to have a baby for you? I didn’t even think you guys were friends.”

Eddie also worked at Whispering Pines. Gwen dated him for almost a year. They broke up earlier that summer because Gwen didn’t want to have a long distance relationship when she went to Stanford.

I had gotten to know Eddie pretty well over the past year. He was a decent guy, and we had become friends.

He knew I had a crush on Holt, but I never thought he would tell him. I had definitely not discussed my sex life with him.

Gwen must have told him. I was a little annoyed with her for sharing personal information about me with her boyfriend.

“We started hanging out this summer and talking. He was upset about his breakup with Gwen and I was worried about my sister.

“We went out for beers the other night, and I ended up telling him the whole story. When I told him that I was thinking about asking you, he was pretty surprised. He seems quite fond of you, Kari.”

“Yeah. We kind of became friends while he was going out with Gwen. What else did he tell you about me?”

“Nothing much.” The way he smiled, I had my doubts that he was telling the truth. It didn’t matter anyway. I’m sure he knew I had a crush on him.

“So, you never answered me about the birth control pills.”

I sighed. “I’m not on any form of birth control.” The conversation was getting way too personal. How did I end up in Holt Bennett’s truck discussing babies, virginity, and birth control pills?

“Please take a couple days and think it over. Discuss it with your parents or whoever. But please don’t take too long to decide.”

 

Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

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