Author: Laury A. Egan
Publisher: Spectrum Books
Cover Artist: Design by Laury A. Egan with assistance by Andrew May and Vicki DeVico
Release Date: August 12, 2023
Genres: F/F Romance and portrait of a teenager, age 14, through adulthood, age 40.
Tropes: teenage lovers separated
Themes: Solitariness of a creative girl/woman, sexual orientation confusion in the 60s, pressure to conform to social expectations
Heat rating: 3 flames
Length: 74 000 words/ 304 pages
It is a standalone book and does not end on a cliffhanger.
1964: A dark summer night on a still black lake. A lantern is lit at the end of a dock. A blond girl in white appears and begins to dance, her body illuminated like the fireflies surrounding her. A second girl emerges from a house and is beckoned forward. The two meet, swim, and then kiss. Thus begins an ethereal romance and a young woman’s journey into adulthood.
Robin Bennet, age fourteen, has been accidentally abandoned at a lakeside rental house in the Pocono Mountains. Her parents were arguing, and each believed the other had remained with Robin. Alone, Robin discovers that someone has been sleeping in the house and is now stealing vodka and snacks. A fifteen-year-old boy, Kieran, the intruder, appears and invites himself to dinner. Robin is charmed by him, especially when she learns he is the brother of the beautiful girl who magically appeared on the dock the night before. After Kieran leaves, the “Firefly” returns, lights the lantern, and circles around it until Robin joins her. The two swim and make love on the beach. When Robin awakens, the Firefly—Stella—has disappeared, and Robin’s mother arrives, announcing they will return to New Jersey immediately because she is divorcing Robin’s father. Frantic, Robin tries to find Stella, a search that continues while Robin builds a career as an architect in Manhattan, fails in marriage, and struggles with her sexual identity.
[Robin’s parents have left her alone in a rented lake house, each thinking the other would remain. The year is 1964, Robin is 14, and has just drunk some wine.] “Robin shuddered awake. She shook her head, which felt on the verge of aching, and lifted her gaze toward the lake. To her amazement, the lantern was lit on the dock. Standing by it was the Firefly, dressed in white, her blond hair bright against the darkness of the water and the forested hill beyond.
Robin rubbed her eyes. She must be having drunken hallucinations, but when she looked again, the beautiful vision remained. Excitement shot through her, and she lurched to her feet, descended the stairs with the bottle of wine, and walked down the grassy hill to the path, afraid to blink and lose sight of the enchanting image that lay before her. As she stepped onto the dock, the Firefly circled the lantern and offered her hands in invitation, her long fingers sweeping through the air with elegant fluidity. It appeared the girl was smiling, but perhaps this was what Robin hoped.
She made her way carefully. Some of the boards were uneven, and she didn’t trust her steadiness after drinking so much. Her ears also seemed filled with a pulsing sound, or was that the loud beating of her heart? Nearing the girl, Robin knew the figure was Stella because of the strong resemblance to Kieran—the same yellow hair, slender build, neat features, and gracefulness. But Stella was more magnetic, more enchanting. Instantly, the dinner with Kieran was forgotten. This moment was all present, all now.
Dazed, Robin stopped and stared at this beautiful apparition, one she struggled to believe was real. Almost afraid of breaking the silence with words, she whispered, “Hello.”
“Hello,” the girl replied.
The water lapped against the dock pilings, and a bird called from a distant tree. Above, the dark sky shrouded them in an illuminated enclosure.
They smiled at each other.
Robin inched closer, reveling in the sensuous figure before her. Stella had blue eyes. Perhaps a paler shade than Kieran’s or maybe the lantern’s glittering reflections were creating the appearance of translucence. Her skin was unblemished, smooth, and creamy. The fragrance of Jean Naté floated in the air.
“I hoped you’d return,” Robin said.
“I’m glad. I waited until Kieran left.” Her expression was amused, flirtatious.
Robin sighed. “I don’t think the dinner went well. I mean, the meal was fine, but Kieran is hard to understand.”
Stella laughed. “He’s perfected the fine art of being secretive.”
“And you? Are you the same?”
“Yes, I suppose so. You’ll have to find out.”
This sounded like a teasing challenge. “I will,” she answered in kind. “Would you like some wine?”
Stella accepted the bottle, drank, and wiped her mouth. Her lips were perfectly cut, pink, and alluring.
“Thank you.” She handed the wine back to Robin, who took a swallow. “Good. Now, it’s a warm night, Robin. We should swim, don’t you think?”
Without waiting for a response, Stella began undressing. Underneath her blouse, against her tanned skin, a lacy white bra was revealed. Robin noticed that Stella’s breasts appeared to be larger than hers, but Stella was two years older.
When Stella leaned down to unbuckle her sandals, Robin unbuttoned her own shirt, overcome with shyness. Although she showered with girls after gym class, Robin had never exposed herself like this. She fixed her eyes on Stella, who had dropped her pants and stepped clear. The girl was slightly taller than Robin, with legs and arms that were lean and strong. Clad only in cotton underpants and a bra, Stella gave her a captivating smile, turned, and dove neatly off the dock. For what seemed like a minute, she stayed underwater until she resurfaced about fifteen feet away. Stella brushed back her short hair and watched as Robin took off her slacks and sandals and executed a clean entrance into the black water. Rising near Stella, the two swam closer to each other and kept upright by paddling their arms.
Robin felt a wave of dizziness pass over her. Because of the wine or because of the nearness to this radiant being? She waited for the girl to speak, to act. Instead, Stella laughed, the sound reminding Robin of wind chimes blowing in a light breeze.”
About the Author. . .
Laury A. Egan is the author of eleven novels: The Firefly; Once, Upon an Island; Doublecrossed; The Swimmer; Fabulous! An Opera Buffa; The Outcast Oracle; Turnabout; Wave in D Minor; The Ungodly Hour; A Bittersweet Tale; The Outcast Oracle; and Jenny Kidd as well as a collection, Fog and Other Stories. Four limited-edition poetry volumes have been published: Snow, Shadows, a Stranger; Beneath the Lion’s Paw; The Sea & Beyond; and Presence & Absence. Eighty-five of her stories and poems have appeared in literary journals. She lives on the northern coast of New Jersey.