This excerpt from If I Stay Right Here was published with permission from Jacana Media and is available from book stores nationwide.

Please note that this excerpt features sexual content.

About the book:

Shay, a seemingly shy and innocent journalism student, is sent to a female prison to cover a story on an inmate, but falls in love instead. Two months later, Sippy, Shay’s love interest, is out of prison and they move in together.

On the outside, Sippy is the haunted one in the relationship, but as their love story unfolds, it turns out that Shay has her own secrets. This immersive and interesting story – written with no small amount of flair and intensity – is sexually charged and filled with moments of lacerating violence, both emotional and physical.

At heart, it is the story of a woman’s inability to let go of that which both nourishes and destroys her.

Chapter 2: Something Short

We kept in contact for a month. I sent her letters, she preferred to call. She kept my notepad and I told myself that the only reason I kept in touch was because she still had it. I believed that. Who writes their number in a notepad anyway? The tendencies of a new SIM card owner.

It was probably the hundredth time I had lost my phone and had to buy a new one. I wanted to “lose” this phone too so that she wouldn’t be able to reach me but my parents had threatened that this was the last time they were buying me a phone.

Besides, the problem wasn’t the actual phone, it was the number. Who knew how much trouble ten digits could get you in?

She said she wanted to see me in something short so I wore a black mini skirt with a sheer, loose short sleeved blouse that showed my black bra underneath.

But it was trouble I wanted to be in.

There I was, waiting for her to come out. I fixed my hair three times in the rear-view mirror. It was tied up in a small bun, a style I figured would make me look exotic as it pulled my eyes outward, with the help of black eyeliner.

The gloss I was wearing gave my lips a light natural pink shine. I wanted to look like a cheeky wild cat. The light wind kept freeing my hair strands from the bondage of the bun, and yet I needed all my troops to pull off the look.

I had to be perfect for Sip.

I stood next to the driver’s seat at first, with the door opened. I then closed the door and stood straight like I was back in high school at assembly. I put my elbow on top of the car, kind of leaning, but it still wasn’t quite right.

She said she wanted to see me in something short so I wore a black mini skirt with a sheer, loose short sleeved blouse that showed my black bra underneath.

The blouse kept bulging in the midriff – the wind trying to mess up my look again. I kept smoothing it with my hand, my newly painted coral nails glistening in the sun. I chose to wear my gold earrings.

We tried phone sex once, like it would’ve ever worked in her situation.

A friend had forgotten them in my bag after a night out so they were mine now. They hung so low they were touching my shoulders – “club earrings” – the type that elongate your neck.

My toenails were also painted coral and strapped in black Sissy Boy sandals. It was odd to wear so much black in the middle of the day but surely this unspoken rule didn’t apply on a Friday.

I walked around to the front of the car and considered sitting on the bonnet. Women in adverts and music videos do that all the time.

Maybe Sip’s first day out, after three months, should be filled with a music video dream. I didn’t quite know what that meant or why I cared so much but I was starting to learn that standing in a sexy way was a difficult thing. I changed my mind a thousand times and wanted to start the car, drive off and pretend I was never there.

But we had spoken on the phone too many times for me not to come, or to come and then leave.

I got back into the car and sat waiting, sweating – the kind of sweat that wets your hands and makes you shiver. I hadn’t been that nervous since my driver’s licence test.

We had spoken about so much garbage on the phone that we forgot to tell each other not to be nervous – the important stuff. We tried phone sex once, like it would’ve ever worked in her situation.

It went like:

“What you wearing?”

“Are you being for real?”

“What you wearing?”

“This is silly, it won’t work.”

“Come on, babe.”

She had started calling me “babe”. It had been a while since someone called me that. She said it so naturally, like I was hers no matter what I said or thought. Once, I slipped up and called her “baby”. I couldn’t take it back after that. “Babe” and “baby” go well together.

“A lacy G-string,” I said, finally.

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