You never forget your first love (even though sometimes you may very well want to forget them). And you definitely never forget your first love if you’re the person who effed it all up. And 30-year-old Perspehone “Percy” Fraser royally effed it up. In Every Summer After, the debut novel from author and Refinery29 Canada’s former Executive Editor Carley Fortune, readers meet Percy 12 years after the Thanksgiving when her relationship with her childhood friend-turned-boyfriend Sam Florek imploded and they parted ways. When Sam’s brother calls to tell her about a family tragedy, she’s drawn back to the place where she and Sam fell for each other, a place she hasn’t been in years: the lake where she spent her summers. So Percy heads north to confront her past and the mistakes that still haunt her, and maybe take another chance on love.
Set in northern Ontario’s Barry’s Bay, Every Summer After will make you feel nostalgic for cottage summers and crushes. And it’s already getting amazing reviews on Goodreads. Ahead of the book’s May 10 release date, Refinery29 has an exclusive excerpt of Every Summer After and a first look at its steamy Canadian cover. Prepare to fall in love (and maybe call your summer camp crush).
The fourth cocktail had seemed like a good idea. So did the bangs, come to think of it. But now that I’m struggling to unlock my apartment door, I’m guessing I might regret that last spritz in the morning. Maybe the bangs, too. June told me breakup bangs were almost always a very bad choice when I sat in her chair for a cut today. But June wasn’t going to her friend’s engagement celebration, newly single, that night. Bangs were in order.
It’s not that I’m still in love with my ex; I’m not. I never was. Sebastian is kind of a snob. An up‐and‐coming corporate lawyer, he wouldn’t have lasted one hour at Chantal’s party without scoffing at her choice of signature drink and referencing some pretentious article he read in the New York Times that declared Aperol spritzes “over.” Instead, he would pretend to study the wine list, ask the bartender annoying questions about terroir and acidity and, regardless of the answers, go with a glass of the most expensive red. It’s not that he has exceptional taste or knows a lot about wine; he doesn’t. He just buys expensive stuff to give the impression of being discerning.
Sebastian and I were together for seven months, giving our relationship the distinction of being my longest‐lasting one yet. In the end, he said he didn’t really know who I was. And he had a point.
Before Sebastian, the guys I picked were up for a good time and didn’t seem to mind keeping things casual. By the time I met him, I figured being a serious adult meant I should find someone to get serious about. Sebastian fit the bill. He was attractive, well read, and successful, and despite being a bit pompous, he could talk to anyone about almost anything. But I still found it hard to share too many pieces of myself. I’d long ago learned to tamp down my tendency to let random thoughts spew unfiltered from my mouth. I thought I was doing a good job of giving the relationship a real chance, but in the end Sebastian recognized my indifference, and he was right. I didn’t care about him. I didn’t care about any of them.
There was only the one.
And that one is long gone.
So I enjoy spending time with men, and I appreciate how sex gives me an escape ladder out of my mind. I like making men laugh, I like having company, I like taking a break from my vibrator once in a while, but I don’t get attached, and I don’t go deep.
I’m still fumbling with my key — seriously, is something wrong with the lock? — when my phone buzzes in my purse. Which is weird. No one calls me this late. Actually, no one ever calls me, except for Chantal and my parents. But Chantal is still at her party and my parents are touring Prague and won’t be awake yet. The buzzing stops just as I get the door open and stumble into my small bachelor apartment. I check the mirror by the entrance to find my lipstick mostly smudged off but my bangs looking pretty phenomenal. Suck it, June.
I begin to unfasten the strappy gold sandals I’m wearing, a dark sheet of hair falling over my face, when my phone starts up again. I dig it out of my purse and, one shoe off, make my way toward the couch, frowning at the “unknown name” message on the screen. Probably a wrong number.
“Hello?” I ask, bending to take off the second sandal.
“Is this Percy?”
I stand upright so fast I have to hold on to the arm of the couch to steady myself. Percy. It’s a name nobody calls me anymore. These days I’m Persephone to almost everyone. Sometimes I’m P. But I’m never Percy. I haven’t been Percy for years.
“Hello . . . Percy?” The voice is deep and soft. It’s one I haven’t heard in more than a decade, but so familiar I’m suddenly thirteen years old and slathered in SPF 45, reading paperbacks on the dock. I’m sixteen and peeling off my clothes to jump into the lake, naked and sticky after a shift at the Tavern. I’m seventeen and lying on Sam’s bed in a damp bathing suit, watching his long fingers move across the anatomy textbook he’s studying by my feet. Blood rushes hot to my face with a whoosh, and the steady, thick pumping of my heart invades my eardrums. I take a shaky breath and sit, stomach muscles seizing.
From Every Summer After by Carley Fortune. Used with permission of the publisher, Penguin Canada. Copyright 2022 by Carley Fortune.