That’s ridiculous. Who writes “Dear Diary” in a diary? I mean, who writes in a diary at all? Shouldn’t I be blogging?
This is lame. July 5
Okay, so this isn’t going to be a diary. It’s a journal. I guess that’s the same thing, but “journal” sounds less like I’m riding a tricycle or something.
Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 16.
It’s so weird sharing a birthday with your country. Always fireworks: never for you. Mom always plans an actual birthday dinner—usually the Saturday night after July 4th so that I can have a day where we celebrate just for me. It’s fun, kinda like having two birthdays in the same week.
We’re not big July 4th celebrators … celebrators? Celebrants? People. Whatever—we’re not big on July 4th. Usually in the afternoon we have friends from school over and walk down to the beach to play volleyball. There are lots of nets at the beach just down the hill, then we haul ourselves back up the canyon to our house for a cookout in the evening. My brother, Cam, invites his friends from the varsity soccer team. Mom gets my favorite cake (the one with the berries in it). After we gorge on grilled meat and birthday cake, we all crowd onto the balcony outside my parents’ bedroom and watch the fireworks down the coast. You can see the display at the pier really well, and the ones in the cities just up the coast shoot off too. Last year Cam (nobody calls him Cameron except Mom) climbed onto the roof from the front porch so he could get a better view, but Mom freaked and said, CAMERON! Get. Down. This. Instant. Mom’s big on safety.
I got a lot of cool presents yesterday. Mom got me the swimsuit I tried on at the mall last week. It’s a really cute two-piece with boy shorts, and this fun, twisty top. Dad’s present to me was that he’s taking me to get my license this week. I’ve been practicing with him in the parking lot near his office at the college. He gave me a coupon for one “Full Day with Dad.” On the back it says, “Good for one driving test at the DMV, followed by a celebratory meal at the restaurant of holder’s choosing, and a $100 shopping spree/gift card to store of choice.”
He made it himself out of red construction paper and drew this funny little stick figure on the front. It’s supposed to be him. He draws curly hair on the sides of the round head so the little man is bald on top like he is. The coupon is sort of cheesy, but so is my dad. I think it’s funny. And cute.
Cam got me this journal. We’ve been going to this yoga class together, and the teacher is this woman named Marty with bright eyes who talks about her birds a lot. She told us to get a journal and spend a few minutes each day writing down our thoughts and feelings.
I just looked back at everything I’ve written, and it’s mainly thoughts. Not very many feelings. I’m not sure how I feel right now. I mean, I guess I feel fine? Happy?
No, just fine. I feel fine.
I also feel like people who have birds are sort of weird. July 6
It’s funny that Cam bought me this journal. It’s one of those things I would never have bought for myself but secretly wanted. I don’t know how he knows that stuff. I guess that’s what older brothers are supposed to do: read your mind. I mean, who actually goes out and tries the stuff that their yoga teacher says to do outside of class?
Cam got way into yoga last summer when he had a crush on this exchange student from England named Briony—like Brian with a y. (Really? Who names their kid that?) Anyway, she wouldn’t give Cam the time of day, so when he found out that she went to this yoga class, he started going to the same one. He bought a mat and this little bag to carry it in and just happened to show up in her class like, Oh my God! Wow! What a coincidence. Briony never went out with him. I didn’t even know she’d gone back to London until I was teasing him about how he should be glad Briony didn’t do something like synchronized swimming. He was like, Briony moved back to London right after school got out.
I asked him why he was still going to yoga, and he said he really liked it. And he said I should come.
I’m not sure why I did, really. I guess I was just bored last summer. But now we go to yoga together. It’s this really great studio a block off the Promenade, and they run it on donations. You just pay what you can or what you think the class is worth. I didn’t think I’d like it at first. It was hard, and I got sweaty and slipped on my mat and couldn’t do any of the poses. But I sorta like spending time with Cam.
Who am I writing that to? It’s not like anyone is reading this but me. This is exactly how it feels when Grams asks me to pray over dinner. I feel like I’m saying all this stuff that is bouncing back at me off the ceiling and landing in the spinach salad.
Cam probably didn’t have to read my mind about wanting a journal at all. He’s really smart. His early acceptance letter to this great college up north came last week. He’s going to be a biochem major, which just makes me want to lie down on the floor and curl up in a ball. He’s a brainiac. And on top of it he’s nice and enthusiastic—which has a tendency to be dangerous.
Last semester Mom was always telling me to ask Cam for help with my geometry homework. I did, but instead of telling me what to do, Cam always talks and talks and talks. It’s like he knows so much about stuff and likes math so much that he has to say it all instead of just the answer.
I stopped asking questions. It sort of annoyed me. Just did it myself, and didn’t really understand it. I got a C in geometry. You’d have thought I’d flown a plane into a building. (That’s bad to say, I guess. I mean, I know people died and everything, but it was a really long time ago.)
Dad came unglued. He’s the chairman of the music department at the college where he works. He made me sign up for tutoring this summer with a student that his friend in the math department recommended. Our session starts in a few minutes. I was relieved when Nathan showed up the first time. I was afraid I’d get stuck with some weird math girl.
Nathan is a freshman. He’s from Nebraska and has brown hair that’s cut short. He works out a lot, and he wears these polo shirts with sleeves that are tight right around his biceps. I just stare at his arms a lot instead of listening when he’s trying to help me find the answer.
I wish somebody would just tell me the answer.
Nathan’s here. Gotta go.
I TOTALLY JUST INVITED NATHAN TO MY BIRTHDAY DINNER.
OMG OMG OMG OMG
This is totally crazy. I can’t believe I actually said the words out loud. I didn’t mean to. We were just sitting at the dining room table and he was talking about the hypotenuse of a right angle, and while he was looking at the protractor he was using to draw lines, I was staring at the lines of his jaw and noticed that they were almost a right angle, and the hypotenuse of the right angle of his jaw was this line in his cheek with a dimple in the middle that he gets when he smiles, and then I heard myself saying, You should come to my birthday dinner on Saturday, and then I realized that Mom was looking RIGHT AT ME like my hair was on fire, and I realized that I’d just invited an 18-year-old over for dinner in FRONT OF MY MOTHER. OMG. I just wanted to CRAWL UNDER THE TABLE.
But he stopped with his pencil stuck into the protractor and looked up, and then glanced over at Mom like he was looking to see if she’d heard, and she smiled at him, sort of weakly. I guess he took that to mean that it was okay with her ’cause he looked me right in the eye and said, Sure. That’d be fun. Now look at this triangle.
I tried to look at the triangle for the rest of the half hour, but I have no idea what he was saying. When he left, I walked him to the door, and Mom said, Nathan, come by around 7:30. He said, Sure thing, and you can call me Nate. He waved at me before he got in his pickup truck and said, See you this weekend. Then, he drove away. Just like that.
I went running back up to my bedroom and buried my head in my pillow and did one of those silent screams where you just breathe out really hard, but with no sound; it’s sort of a soft roar, but the excitement on the inside of me made it feel like my head would explode.
I could hear my heart pounding in my ears, and I took a couple of deep breaths and then I remembered what Marty said in yoga this morning about trying to meditate and how to focus on the breath, so I sat down on the floor and crossed my legs like Marty does in front of class, and I closed my eyes and took really deep breaths and tried not to think about Nate. I could do it for about 5 breaths at a time, but then I’d see that line with the dimple in it behind my eyelids, and then the rest of his right-angle jaw would appear and I’d see a triangle fill in the space on his face.
I mean, it’s really no big deal. My dad is two years older than my mom. Nate’s only 18, and I’m 16, and it’s not like he would be robbing the cradle or anything.
I think I really like him.
OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT NATE IS COMING TO DINNER ON SATURDAY. July 8
I was just standing in my mirror trying on a couple of different options for tonight. I passed my driver’s test and got my license yesterday (YAY! OMG. Finally!), then Dad and I went shopping on the Promenade. I’m a really good bargain shopper. Cam worked at the Gap last summer and taught me to never EVER pay full-price for anything ’cause they just mark it down every two weeks. Primary, secondary, clearance. Primary, secondary, clearance. Every week on Tuesday night the markdowns would come through from the home office, and we’d all run around with those price-tag guns the next morning, marking down tops that some poor dope had paid $20 more for 12 hours ago. So, anyway, I got a lot of great stuff. Even Dad was surprised with how many items I got for $100. Well, then I splurged a little and added $40 from my savings to get these supercute sandals that I’d been wanting.
Anyway, I have all this stuff to try on, and I felt myself doing that thing I do where I put on, like, 12 different outfits and stand there and pick every single one of them apart, and I end up standing in front of the mirror in my underwear with this pile of really cute clothes with the tags still on them lying on the floor. I had just put on the second skirt I bought and could tell I was about to find something wrong with it, and then I just stopped, looked at myself, and thought: Don’t be that girl.
I just don’t want to be that chick who is always staring at herself in the mirror whining about how she looks and having a meltdown in the fitting room. I mean, I’m not a model or anything, but I think I look okay. I have already showered and straightened my hair. It’s not frizzy or even curly really—just has some waves, and when you live this close to the waves it can get wavy. (God. Stupid joke.) Whatever, I stepped away from the mirror and saw my journal sitting on my desk, and I thought I’d write about it. I mean, this is a feeling. I’m not sure what kinds of feelings I’m supposed to be writing about in here, but maybe this is what crazy Marty the bird lady was talking about.
I’m SO EXCITED about Nate coming over and I want to look really hot, but the excitement also feels like nervousness, like I’m going to barf or something. Mom is downstairs putting a marinade on some shrimp that she’s going to have Dad grill, and the smell when I walked through the kitchen made me feel like I was going to hurl up my toenails—and I LOVE shrimp.
I know I look good in this skirt. Dad told me it looked “far out” when I came out of the dressing room to check it out in the mirror. He said this in his I’m-being-a-little-too-loud-so-the-other-people-present-will-hear-me-and-think-I’m-hilarious-when-really-I’m-just-torturing-my-daughter voice. I told him to please be quiet and offer his opinions only regarding possible escape routes in the case of a fire, or a random stampede of wild bison. In all other matters, I respectfully asked him to please refrain from speaking to me until we had reached the cash wrap.
I looked in the mirror again just now. This skirt totally works.
Weird how excited and scared feel like the same thing. July 8—11:30 p.m.
I shoulda known.
I shoulda known when he walked up the front steps with flowers and handed them to Mom.
But he brought me a card with a joke about having pi on my birthday instead of cake (guh-rooooan) and it had a $25 gift card for iTunes in it. Which was cool and so sweet of him, but he just signed his name. Shoulda known when he didn’t write anything personal. Just “Happy B-Day! Nate.”
But he was really funny and sweet at dinner. He sat across from me and told us all this hilarious story about when he was growing up in Nebraska and he and his brother raised sheep for the county fair. (Yes. Apparently people still raise animals and take them to fairs where they win ribbons and titles and scholarships. Thank you, CHARLOTTE’S WEB.)
One morning he and his brother went out to scoop food out of these big 25-pound sacks of feed for the sheep, and there was a mouse in one of the bags that ran up his little brother’s jacket sleeve. He was telling us about how he thought his brother had been possessed by a demon because he kept screaming and shaking his arms and beating at his chest and running around in a circle while the mouse wriggled around inside his shirt. We were all crying, we were laughing so hard, and Cam almost inhaled a bite of shrimp, which sent him on a coughing fit that made the rest of us laugh even harder.
He jumped up and helped me clear the table when Mom asked who wanted dessert. When Mom told him he didn’t need to do that, he smiled at me and said, Oh yes, ma’am, I do. My mama’d fly in from Grand Island and smack me if I didn’t.
When we were in the kitchen, I started rinsing plates and he loaded them into the dishwasher like he lived here. We were laughing and joking around and no one mentioned geometry. He was so easy to talk to, easy to be near. I didn’t feel nervous even once. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would feel like if we were married and this was our house and we were loading the dishwasher together. That’s probably stupid, but it made me feel hopeful inside, like maybe something like that was possible.
When Nate bent over to put the final plate in the dishwasher, a necklace fell out of his shirt. It had a tiny key on it, and I was about to ask him where he got it, but Mom came into the kitchen to get some coffee mugs and the French press. Nate tucked the necklace back into his polo before I could ask him about it, but I shoulda known.
There’s a long porch on the back of our house that looks over the bottom of the canyon out to the water. We ate dessert out there. Dad lit the candles in the big lanterns on the table outside. Cam sat next to Nate and they talked soccer. The flicker made their skin glow like they were on the beach at sunset. Nate looked all sun-kissed and happy. I felt a foot nudge mine just for a second under the table and my heart started racing. I was glad that it was just the candles outside in the dark ’cause I started to blush like crazy. I thought maybe Nate had touched my foot, and I kept sliding mine a little bit closer toward him under the table, but his foot never touched mine again.
It was almost 10 when he pulled out his phone and checked it, then said, Whoa. I gotta go.
I felt really bummed all of a sudden, and then silly. What was I hoping? That he’d stay and walk me down to the beach? He stood up and shook my dad’s hand, then gave Cam one of those weird hugs that guys give each other where they grab hands like they’re gonna shake and then lean in and hug with their arms caught in between them. He kissed my mom on the cheek and told her what a good cook she was.
Then he looked right at me and said, Will you walk me to my truck?
I got so many butterflies in my stomach, I thought they might start flying out of my ears. I said SURE, and realized that nobody had really heard him ask that because Mom was pouring more wine and Dad was pouring more coffee and Cam was texting somebody. So I slipped into the house and out the front door.
He’d parked on the street, and when he got to the door of his pickup, he leaned against it and looked up at the sky and said, Huh.
I said, What?
He told me that in Nebraska at this time of night you could see lots of stars. I followed his gaze up to the sky, but I knew there wouldn’t be any stars. Out here, the sky just glows this weird purply color even on the darkest night here. It’s the light pollution bouncing off of the marine layer, I said. It’s what happens at night when 8 million people get jammed up against the ocean. I turned around and stood next to him with my back up against the truck.
He said it was funny how you always hear about all the stars in Los Angeles, but at night in Nebraska, it’s like the sky is covered with diamonds. Then he looked over at me, and I don’t know what happened, but I just knew that I had to feel his lips on mine. So I leaned in and kissed him.
Nate jumped like I’d shot him with a taser. He said, WHOA, what are you doing? OMG! I was SO EMBARRASSED I couldn’t even LOOK at him. It was like we were having this PERFECT night, and then BLAM-O: I broke the spell. I was blushing and stammering and then I felt the tears come to my eyes, and I didn’t wait. I just sprinted back across the street toward the house. I was not going to let him see me cry.
As my foot hit the curb on the other side of the street, he said WAIT!
There was something in the way he said it that made me turn around. And then he shook his head and smacked his forehead, and he walked over to me, and just looked at me. He pushed my hair over my shoulder and said, No. I’m sorry.
He told me that I had come along two years too late. And that I was beautiful. And that he has a girlfriend.
I shoulda thought about that. I shoulda never invited him to dinner tonight.
I shoulda known. July 10
Thank GOD I don’t have a session with Nate this week ’cause of the midterm. I would never date a guy who drives a stupid pickup truck.
ALSO? He’s a total liar. I am plenty of things, but I am not beautiful. July 13
Took the geometry midterm in summer school today. I think I did okay. We don’t have class again until Monday. Only 4 more weeks to go, then I finally get a stupid month off.
[Sad trombone … ] July 14
Cam and I got to go to the 1 p.m. yoga class today because I didn’t have geometry. Usually I am in class until noon, and it’s too rushed to go to Marty’s 1 p.m. class, so we go to the 3 p.m. class. Of course, Cam always gets up early to run so that he stays in shape for soccer. Practices start way before school does and he always says that the only thing that sucks worse than two-a-days in July is two-a-days in July when you didn’t run in June.
There’s a whole different crowd at Marty’s 1 p.m. class. I was not expecting that. It totally changes the feeling in the room. This class had more guys in it and a crazy lady who musta been like 45 years old who was wearing only her bra and some bicycle shorts—and not like a sports bra. She was wearing just a regular old ivory-colored bra. Lace on the cups. Underwire. In yoga. Like it was no big deal. I wanted to pull her aside and be like, um, okay. I know you probably don’t understand that there’s a difference between a regular bra and a sports bra because they cover about the same amount of skin and all that BUT. THERE. IS.
Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh. July 15
I almost didn’t go back to the 1 p.m. class with Cam today.
I’m really glad I did, though. And I know how this is going to sound before I even write it down, but fine: YES. It’s because of a boy. There. I said it. I’m becoming one of those starry-eyed, dewey-cheeked bimbos. I can’t help it.
I was staring at Crazy Bra Lady (today’s bra was black) while we were doing side planks and I noticed this guy watching me watch her in the mirror. He was about my age and had longish brown hair that was kinda shaggy, but cool shaggy not gross shaggy, and he was really tan. When I saw him looking at me, he got this little smile, like he knew a secret about me.
After class, Cam went into the bathroom to change shorts and I was waiting outside on the sidewalk, watching Crazy Bra Lady unlock her bike. She’d put on a big T-shirt that had the neck cut out of it so it hung off one shoulder. As I watched her pedal away, I heard this voice behind me say, She is totally wackadoodle.
When I turned around, it was shaggy brown hair guy who flipped his bangs out of his eyes and said, Hey, I’m Ross.
I told him my name, and he got that little smile again. I said, What? Do you know something I don’t know? And he was like, Maybe.
I said, You gonna keep it a secret?
He grinned at me and said he was just hoping I’d be back. He said, I saw you yesterday but you and your boyfriend left before I could say hi.
I frowned at him and said, My boyfriend? right as Cam walked out the front door with his yoga mat slung over his shoulder and said, You have a boyfriend?
Ross frowned and said, Oh. Then … who are you?
Cam frowned and said, Who are YOU?
Finally I pointed at Cam and said BROTHER, then pointed at Ross and said ROSS.
Boys are so weird.
Cam and Ross shook hands and then we went to get smoothies and Cam gave Ross the third degree during which we learned:
1. Cam should play a detective on CSI.
2. Ross is 16 years old like me.
3. Ross just moved here from Florida.
4. Ross’s mom got a job as an associate events manager at this big resort hotel on the beach.
5. Ross can go hang out at the pool at the hotel when his mom is working.
6. Ross has A-MA-ZING blue eyes.
Cam probably learned more, but when I noticed the eyes, I sorta stopped listening. As we walked back to our cars, Ross invited us to come to the hotel for a swim later, but Cam was headed to the beach, and I promised Mom that I’d vacuum and dust today ’cause I didn’t do it on Saturday because it was my birthday (observed), and then I was sorta glum on Sunday. I think she knew it was something about Nate even though I didn’t tell her about it.
Ross stopped in front of a pickup truck and I thought Holy. Hell. What is it with guys and pickup trucks??? But I just said, You drive a pickup? And he said, How else am I gonna haul my surfboard around? and all of a sudden, Ross was 27-times cuter than I already thought he was.
Then he said, I’m gonna paddle out tomorrow morning sorta early. Wanna come? We can hang out on the beach after I catch a couple waves.
I glanced at Cam, who punched Ross in the shoulder and said, Dude. You can’t ask my sister out with me standing right here.
And I was like OMG CAM! SHUT UP.
And Ross got his little secret smile again, and Cam cracked up while Ross tapped my number into his phone.
He’s coming by to pick me up at 7 a.m. tomorrow.
I have to go dust and vacuum now.
I AM SO EXCITED. HE’S SO CUTE.
I told Mom and Dad about Ross over dinner. They were all, We’ve never met this young man. We don’t want you running around with kids we haven’t met.
ARRRRRRRRGH. They’re soooooooooooo uptight sometimes.
But Cam came to the rescue and vouched for Ross, and they finally agreed to let me go on the condition that they get to meet him first.
I texted Ross after dinner: My parents want to meet you in the AM b4 we go.
He wrote back right away: KEWL. C U AT 7 =)
Now if I can just keep the chitchat to a minimum tomorrow morning we’ll be set.
Maybe I was wrong about guys with pickup trucks. Guess it depends on the guy. July 16
I am writing this on the beach. I packed my journal and a pen in the bag with my towel and a couple of magazines, a bottle of water, and some sunscreen. I set my alarm for 6 a.m. so that I would be up early enough to take a shower and put on some waterproof mascara. I didn’t want to look like I’d just crawled out from under a rock when Ross got here.
He rolled up right at 7 a.m. on the dot, amazingly punctual for a surfer. He was wearing a hoodie and a cap, and I could see the surfboard sticking out of his pickup truck in the driveway. I don’t know if it was the fact that it was so early in the morning or what, but Mom and Dad were both really well-behaved. Mom smiled and was friendly; Dad didn’t make any jokes that only he thinks are funny.
As we climbed into the truck, I was nervous that my brain wouldn’t really work right as far as coming up with things to say. Ross was sort of quiet at first, and I felt that nervous feeling in my stomach like somebody was tap dancing in my rib cage. As we drove up the highway along the coast, Ross kept eyeing the water, like he had forgotten I was there. I felt my face get flushed, and I felt out of place, and then I felt embarrassed, and then I felt … ANGRY.
I did NOT shave my legs and put on waterproof mascara before dawn to be IGNORED.
Almost, as if he could read my thoughts, Ross flipped his bangs out of his eyes and said, This part always makes me nervous.
I laughed, and said, ME TOO! I said it a little too loudly and with a little too much enthusiasm, but he smiled over at me and said, Yeah! I know, right? It’s always like will there be good waves or not??? And I realized that we were talking about two completely different things. He wasn’t talking about being alone in the truck with me for the first time and figuring out what to say. He was checking the coastline for waves.
I thought briefly about just opening the door and throwing myself out of the truck, but just as I was trying to gauge how soft the tall grass along the shoulder might be and whether I would clear the concrete and gravel part, Ross must’ve found what he was looking for and pulled off the road. I recognized this part of the coast. It’s the place where the beach line dips in toward the highway and creates a little bay with a natural surf break. Ross eased his truck off the road and parallel parked between two other cars on the side of the highway.
He was all business, and I could tell he wanted to be in the water ASAP. He jumped out of the truck, pointed at the water, and whooped something that sounded like “hella goody nugs.” Then he raced around to the back of his truck and pulled off his cap and hoodie and T-shirt all in one swift movement.
And I forgot that I was mad.
And I forgot that he hadn’t looked at me twice.
And I forgot that he hadn’t probably given a second thought to how smooth my legs were.
All I could see were his p-e-r-f-e-c-t chest and his ABS. OMG.
He wrapped a towel around his waist and traded his board shorts for a wet suit that was in the bed of his truck under his board. I’d always seen surfers with their wet suits peeled down on the one hundred zillion other times I’ve driven by this surf break. (Hey! Look! I sound like I know what I’m talking about!) I always just thought that they unzipped the back and pulled down the top part because they were hot. I didn’t know that they were in the process of GETTING NAKED IN BROAD DAYLIGHT under a TOWEL!
I’m not even sure how he did it so fast, but about 30 seconds after we parked, we were picking our way down the path toward the beach. Well, Ross was like scampering down, balancing a board and pulling up his wet suit and using words I didn’t really completely understand to describe the waves.
He’s surfing right now. I can sometimes make out which one is him. There are about 10 people out there trying to catch a wave. One of them is a girl with blond braids. Sometimes I think it would be fun to surf, but the water is so cold that it makes me shiver just to think about it. The sun is already trying to break through the marine layer, and I hope that it will so I can take off my hoodie and T-shirt and get some sun. I have a really cute swimsuit on underneath my shorts.
I wonder if Ross will think I look sexy?
I’ve never really done anything with a boy except kiss.
OMG! Ross just caught a huge wave and rode it all the way in! July 16, 2 p.m.
I just got back from the beach with Ross, and I can’t believe what happened. He offered me drugs. I’m not even sure I should write those words down. I mean, what if my MOM FINDS THIS??? It’s so weird. I had such a good time sitting on the beach watching Ross surf, and after a couple of hours he came and sat with me. He unzipped his wet suit and pulled it down halfway. He has those little V lines that plunged into his wet suit from his abs, and I had to concentrate so that I didn’t just stare at them the whole time.
We talked for a while. Or, well, I talked. A lot. More than I usually do. Ross just kept asking me about my family, and growing up here and what it was like. He kept telling me that I have a really pretty smile. Like a movie star, he said. He laughed and called me Hollywood. It’s funny. Now that I think about it, I didn’t really ask him any questions at all. I felt so excited the whole time that he seemed to want to know all about me, and he just kept asking me questions.
We headed back up to his truck, and after he slid his surfboard into the back, he shimmied out of his wetsuit using that little towel trick again. Some girls drove by in a silver BMW while he was pulling his suit out from under the towel and honked and screamed out the window. At first it made me blush, but then I thought how cool it was that I was the girl with the guy that other girls were honking at.
When we got into his truck, Ross popped open the console on the armrest between us and pulled out a little glass pipe and a lighter. He brought the pipe to his lips, sparked the lighter over the bowl, then sucked air in, causing the flame to dip into the bowl. A little cloud of white smoke floated up from the glowing embers in the pipe, and Ross held the smoke in his lungs for a second before rolling down his window a couple inches and exhaling out the crack at the top.
This weird, sweet, stinky smell filled the cab of the truck, and I knew that it was weed, but I have never smelled it that strong before. I was afraid my hair would smell like it.
I’ve seen people smoke pot in movies and on TV, but I’ve NEVER seen anybody do it in real life. I mean, I think Cam smokes pot. I’ve heard him and his friends joke around about it, but he’s not like a stoner or anything. I felt my heart sort of speed up while I watched Ross smoke, then he turned to me and held the pipe toward me.
He asked me if I wanted a hit.
I said it fast like I was scared someone might be listening. I was just A. MAZED. that he even thought I looked like a girl who smoked pot. Then I was really worried that he would be mad at me that I didn’t want any. I felt like I had answered too fast. I didn’t want him to think that I didn’t like him just because he smoked pot. What if he didn’t like me now?
I shouldn’t have worried. He just laughed and said he figured I was a straight edge but that you couldn’t blame a boy for trying.
My cheeks are red again now just writing this down. I have to make sure Mom doesn’t find this journal and think it’s my schoolwork. Not that she’d actually read my journal on purpose; at least I don’t think she would. Anyway, I’m going to hide it under some other stuff on my desk, just in case.
I like Ross. I don’t want Mom not to let me hang out with him just ’cause he smokes pot.
Ross invited me to come over to the hotel where his mom works tomorrow after yoga and lie out at the pool with him.
Oh yeah, and when we were lying on the beach talking, he told me my suit was “cute.” I think he really likes me. July 17
CAM IS TAKING ME TO MY FIRST BIG PARTY!!!!!!!!!!
IT’S ON SATURDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I CAN’T WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I can’t believe he said yes. I heard him talking to his friend Jason about it, and he was like, If Elizabeth Archer’s sister is going to be there, I’m THERE.
Elizabeth Archer is this blond cheerleader in my class at school, and she’s really pretty, and really nice, but is dumb as a stump. Her older sister is a freshman in college this year, and is just as pretty, only she has red hair and was valedictorian last year. She speaks French and Spanish fluently and is on track to finish her undergrad degree in 3 years. Cam has followed her around like a drooling puppy since he was in 9th grade and she was a sophomore.
I heard him hang up with Jason and go YES! really loudly, and that’s when I wandered into his room and said, If Elizabeth Archer is going, can I go?
He opened his mouth to say NO like he always does, but then he looked up at me and really saw me. He sat and sort of looked at me for a minute, like he was taking me in, and then he smiled, and said, Why not?
I jumped up and down and screamed like a moron on a game show, and he laughed and said, But only if you stop screaming right now and promise never to do that again.
I immediately shut up and said, I promise I won’t get in your way.
And then Cam said the nicest thing to me. He said, You’re not in the way, sis. I like hanging with you.
Which is weird ’cause usually brothers and sisters our age don’t always get along, but I realized that Cam is maybe the best brother in the whole galaxy. July 19
Last night was the party and it was really awful and really great all at the same time. God, sometimes I write stuff down in this journal that just doesn’t make any sense at all. If anyone ever finds this, they’ll have me committed for being a crazy person.
I’m not sure how I feel about last night. I still can’t believe how it all went down. The only two things I know for sure are:
1. Pot is GREAT.
2. Ross is AMAZING.
Cam drove us to Jason’s place with strict instructions from Mom and Dad to keep an eye on me. Jason’s house was already pretty crowded when we got there and Cam steered us through the living room to the kitchen where he gave Jason a high five and I saw Elizabeth Archer talking to this guy with shaggy brown hair who looked a lot like … ROSS!
It was totally him, and I felt my stomach drop like I was on a roller coaster. I couldn’t believe he was here too. Elizabeth saw me and waved, and Ross turned around and got this big goofy smile on his face like he was really happy to see me. He came over to say hi to me and Cam and grabbed a couple of beers out of a cooler on his way around the island in Jason’s giant kitchen. He handed one to Cam and then held one out to me.
I felt my cheeks go hot, and I glanced up at Cam like, Should I do this? Is this okay?
He laughed and said, You won’t like it, sis.
Well, I wasn’t about to let Cam tell me what to do for the whole night, so I grabbed the beer and took a big swig. It was cold and bubbly like soda, but as I swallowed it, the taste turned sour and sweet in a really weird way that made me start to gag a little, and I made a face that must’ve been really funny and a noise that felt like I was trying not to throw up, sort of an URGGGH sound, and Cam and Jason laughed as I handed the beer back to Ross.
Cam was right again. He’s right about everything. Beer tastes pretty gross.
Ross got a phone call and held up a finger as he answered and disappeared around a corner toward the front door. Cam saw Megan Archer out by the pool and grabbed Jason and pushed him toward the glass doors that led out back. My face was still pretty red from the beer and the embarrassment. I was really worried that Ross thought I was a moron now. Elizabeth patted my back and smiled her big loopy smile. She said, I hate beer too. Let’s get some wine coolers.
I told her I was okay and just wanted to go get some fresh air. She thought this was a good idea and grabbed a bright red bottle of something out of one of the coolers, then took my hand and dragged me out toward the pool and over to the fire pit.
Jason and Cam were over at the hot tub talking to Megan, and Elizabeth and I sat down by this girl I’d never seen before. She was sipping a wine cooler too, and she smiled at us as we sat down.
Elizabeth introduced herself, and the girl told us her name was Astrid. Elizabeth asked her what school she went to, and she told us she was transferring to our school for her senior year. Apparently, she was sick of the Catholic school she’d been attending and convinced her dad to let her go to public school for her last year. She’d come to the party with her boyfriend, who knew Megan and was getting a drink.
I sat there feeling sort of invisible. I wasn’t nearly as pretty as Elizabeth or Astrid or Megan, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that everybody at this party was older and cooler than I was. I mean, I know that Elizabeth is my age and not very smart where school is concerned, but she’s so pretty, I sort of felt like I could have disappeared and no one would have noticed. I felt like a dweeb who couldn’t even keep down a swallow of beer.
I wanted to go find Ross and hang out with him, but I was still feeling like I’d disappointed him somehow by not liking the beer he brought me. Maybe he was hanging out with other girls. Girls who drink beer. I was thinking about all of the ways that Ross probably thought I was lame when Astrid noticed I wasn’t drinking anything and offered me her wine cooler.
She smiled and asked if I wanted to try some. She said, You look like you’re not having a very good time. This will help.
And right at that moment, I DID want to try some. I DID want to have a good time. I just didn’t want to be that quiet girl in the corner not talking to anybody at the party.
So I said YES.
The wine cooler was cold and not as bubbly as the beer. It was really really really SWEET. Like, too sweet. It felt like I was drinking snow-cone syrup straight from the bottle. But it was better than beer. At least this was fruity. I couldn’t tell if it was strawberry or watermelon or cherry. It just tasted … red.
I smiled at Astrid and said thanks. She laughed and said no problem. Elizabeth jumped up and went into the kitchen to get more wine coolers and brought them back. I couldn’t really tell any difference in how I felt. I’ve never been drunk, but I sort of felt … lighter somehow. I think it was probably because I didn’t feel so lame. These girls were cool and pretty and they were sitting here talking to me like I was one of them, like I belonged there.
I took a drink of the new wine cooler that Elizabeth handed me, and then we were talking about the boys we thought were cute. Elizabeth asked me how I knew Ross, and I told her and Astrid all about meeting Ross at yoga and how we’d gone to the beach together. All of a sudden, as I was talking, I let out a little burp from the wine cooler and my eyes got wide and I slapped a hand over my mouth and started giggling.
Astrid and Elizabeth laughed really hard too, and it felt so good to share a funny moment with these girls who I barely knew. I felt my stomach turn a little bit, and I realized I hadn’t eaten much dinner because I was nervous about going to the party. These wine coolers had a lot of sugar in them and maybe it was that or the alcohol that was making my stomach hurt. I told Astrid my stomach felt kind of weird, and she smiled and rubbed her hand on my back. She told me not to worry. You’ll get the hang of it, she said, and nodded at the wine cooler. Maybe have a glass of water after that one before you have more. You know, pace yourself.
Then Astrid looked up as she saw a guy walk through the glass doors and come out onto the pool deck. She jumped up and said, Oh, there’s my boyfriend. I’m gonna go say hi. See you two later. I watched as she picked her way through the crowd around the pool toward the stairs at the door. She walked up behind this muscular guy on the stairs and put her arms around his waist.
When he turned around, I gasped really loudly and Elizabeth looked at me and said, What?
It was Nathan.
Astrid was Nathan’s girlfriend.
Now I really felt sick to my stomach and a little dizzy. I stood up quickly, and all of a sudden I felt the wine cooler hit me, and I sat back down really fast ’cause I thought I might fall down. I closed my eyes and turned away from Nate and Astrid. I didn’t want him to see me. I didn’t want him to know I was here. I leaned back into the shadows from the hedge at the back of the concrete bench that was carved around the fire pit.
Elizabeth was like, Do you know him?
I nodded. I told her he was my geometry tutor, but even as I said it, I wished I’d kept that to myself.
Elizabeth turned back to watch as Nate and Astrid walked over to join Megan, Cam, and Jason in the hot tub. I put down my wine cooler and stepped over Elizabeth Archer and all of her questions and ran into the house.
I had to find Ross.
When I didn’t see him in the kitchen, I headed into the living room and almost ran into him head-on. He started to say that he’d been looking for me, but I guess the look on my face made him stop short. He asked me if I was okay, and suddenly my eyes filled up with tears and I felt even more like a COMPLETE IDIOT. Oh. My. GOD. I was about to start crying in the middle of my first party, and Ross was completely cool. He looked over both shoulders, then grabbed my elbow and steered me across the living room and up the stairs in the entryway so fast it made me a little dizzy.
I followed Ross into the master bedroom, and he pushed out two French doors onto a balcony that overlooked the backyard. I could see the hot tub and fire pit on opposite sides of the pool. I stood at the rail and looked out at the shadows silhouetted by the flames of the fire pit and the lights under the water in the hot tub. I couldn’t make out his face, but I knew Nate was out there. With Astrid.
Ross joined me at the rail and said, So. How’s my straight edge?
I felt his arm against mine. It was warm, and he followed my gaze down toward the hot tub. I told him I wasn’t such a straight edge tonight.
He laughed and said, Nah, you’re just ON edge.
He nodded toward the hot tub and asked who I was looking at. It came pouring out. We plopped down on the patio furniture and I told him all about Nate and the night I tried to kiss him, and about Astrid and the wine coolers. As he listened, Ross pulled a joint out of his pocket and lit it. He took several drags and then held it out to me. I couldn’t believe it, but I just took it from him.
I told myself it was because I’d already drunk a wine cooler, but really it was because I just didn’t want to feel like a loser. Ross is so cool and handsome. I want to feel like a really hot girl. I want Ross to want me the way Cam wants Megan Archer.
I put the joint to my lips, and Ross told me to suck slowly on the end and take a deep breath. I could taste the smoke as it rolled into my mouth over my tongue, then I sort of squinted and inhaled it in a quick deep breath. It tickled the back of my throat so bad that I started coughing really hard. I must’ve dragged in more smoke than I thought because I could see it puff out around me, even in the dark.
Ross tossed his bangs out of his eyes while he took another long, deep drag off of the joint. I watched the way he held the smoke in for a long time before he blew it out. He cut his eyes my direction with a little smirk and asked, Wanna try again?
I smiled back at him and took the joint. This time I was more prepared. I sucked in very slowly, and the tickle at the back of my throat wasn’t quite as bad. Then I held the smoke in my lungs for as long as I could, and when I blew it out, I only coughed once.
Ross whistled and laughed. Dang, girl, he said. That’s a big hit. You’re gonna feel fine in about 5 minutes.
We settled back on the little patio love seat and kicked our feet up on the bench in front of us. He laid his head on my shoulder, and we looked up at the moon over the palm trees. For a second we were real quiet, and then he put his hand on my leg and said, Sorry about the thing with Nate. I shrugged, and my heart was beating really fast, and after a couple more minutes I started singing along with this song that was blasting out of the speakers by the pool. Then I started laughing, and Ross started laughing too. Uh-oh, he said. And I was like What? And he said, Somebody is stoned!
And then I realized that I felt good! Really good! Deep down to my feet good! I didn’t even care about stupid Nate and Astrid anymore. I could sort of feel a weird floating feeling in my brain, like it was all calm and cool in there, and my toes were a little buzzy somehow, and all of a sudden I wanted a drink, something cool and bubbly and NOT a wine cooler.
Ross musta had the same thought ’cause right at that second he said, Let’s get outta here, and I said, I want french fries, and he laughed like that was the funniest thing he’d ever heard.
He grabbed me and said, Of course you do. Damn. You’re hilarious.
I followed Ross downstairs and waited in the kitchen while he ran out to the hot tub to tell Cam he was going to take me to get some food and then home. Then we jumped into his truck and headed over to Swingers, where I had the biggest plate of french fries I’ve ever seen and I didn’t give a crap about the calories because they tasted so good. We went through three sides of ranch and half a bottle of ketchup and we sat on the same side of the booth with our feet up on the other side.
The thing that makes Ross so different from other boys is that he listens. He just listened to me talk blah blah blah blah blah for like hours about Nate. And he just kept eating french fries. And ordering chocolate malts. And dipping french fries into the chocolate malts.
And then I felt all weird and spacey in my head, like maybe I’d been talking for at least 23 years without shutting up, and I was really thirsty, and I got worried. I was worried that Ross was bored and that he wasn’t having a good time and that I was being one of those whiny girls who complains about everything all the time to everyone and turns everyone off. So I took a really long drink of my Diet Coke through a straw, and just as I was about to turn to Ross and ask if he was totally bored, I felt him lean over and kiss me on the cheek.
Then he laid his head on my shoulder and said, I get it.
We just sat there in the booth for a long time, and I felt his head on my shoulder and I stopped being worried. I got this really happy feeling, like this floaty place in my chest because I knew that Ross did get it. He didn’t have to say another word.
We’re going to the beach tomorrow.
I can’t wait. July 20
I just got back from the beach with Ross. We smoked another joint before we got out of his truck. It was so much fun! I feel like smoking pot used to be this thing that I was like TOTALLY AGAINST because of all the stuff that everybody tells you and because of the people who you see at school who do it. They’re all like fuzz heads who need to clean their fingernails. But Ross is different. And now I’m different. Probably because I’m making the decision to do what I want. I never realized how much I let everyone else decide what I’m going to do. I mean, we started having policemen come to school in what—like 3rd grade?—to tell us that pot is so eeeeeeeeeeevil and WRONG. But, actually, I’ve smoked two joints now and I’m still going to my geometry class in summer school. No big deal.
Anyway, the beach was good. It was nice to lie in the sun while Ross surfed, and then he sat on the beach with me and we talked. Or, actually, I talked. I’m always the one talking. It was weird at the end. I asked him some questions about Florida and the move out here and the school he went to and his friends there. He didn’t really talk about it. Just said that his dad was an asshole and that he was glad his mom got this job. And then he checked his phone and was like, We have to go, and he seemed to be in a really big hurry.
It kind of pissed me off. Totally ruined that floaty feeling I was having from the joint. I feel like he wanted to go hang out with someone else and he didn’t want me there. I wish I had my own joint right this very second. July 22
Tried texting Ross after summer school today, but I never heard back. It’s weird. When we’re together, he feels like my best friend, and then he just disappears. I wonder what it’d be like to hold his hand? I want to try to when we go to the beach the next time. Maybe when we’re walking up to his truck. But he’s always holding that damn surfboard. I really want him to text me back. Dad and Mom were all over me tonight about how geometry is going and I know they really care, it’s just that I don’t know how it’s going. I mean, I guess fine. I passed the midterm. Got a B. No big whoop.
ROSS, TEXT ME BACK. July 25
Oh. My. Gosh.
Just got back from hanging out with Ross and Cam at the hotel where Ross’s mom works. This morning Ross F-I-N-A-L-L-Y texted me back. He told me that Cam and I should bring our swimsuits and meet him at this new yoga class this afternoon. It’s at the place where we usually go, but earlier. Luckily Cam had the day off from cleaning pools, so he came and got me at school and we went to meet Ross.
When I asked him if he got my texts yesterday, all he said was, Yeah. Sorry. I was busy.
I was like WHAT. EVER. But it was still really good to see him. Ugh! Sometimes I’m so like one of those dippy girls I just HATE who are like all gross over some guy who treats them like crap. I mean, not that Ross is treating me like crap. Maybe he WAS busy. Maybe it’s something weird with his dad or something. I don’t know. ARGH. SEE? THIS is why I need to smoke a joint sometime! My head just goes on this giant Tilt-A-Whirl and I can’t make it stop.
We got to this new class and there was this teacher named Ian who Ross knows. Ian is a sophomore at the college where my Dad works, and he apparently teaches yoga on the side. Ross met him at a party at the beach on Saturday. He’s got blond spiky hair and a friendly smile. He’s a little too tan if you ask me, but I guess he and Ross are surfing buddies or something. There was a lot of “whassup” and “dude” and “bro,” only it sounds like they’re saying “bra” and general weird boy talk. Cam even got into it.
I wish I had a friend who is a girl to talk to like that. I mean, not LIKE that, but someone who I felt like I was close to. It was sort of instant with these guys.
Anyway, after class we were all talking while we headed over to the hotel, and Ross told us that Ian has a friend named Blake who has a beach house up the coast. Then he said that Blake was having a party this weekend, and almost before he finished the sentence, I was like YES I WANT TO GO TO THE PARTY! That made Ross and Cam crack up, and I thought about how perfect this summer was turning out to be because I had met Ross and Cam was treating me like an adult.
When we got to the hotel Ross’s mom was in meetings or something, but the concierge told us “hi” and joked around with Ross and then let us go lie out by the pool. We went and changed clothes in the locker rooms by the pool where they had towels and everything. It was SO NICE.
But then Ross and Cam went into the bathroom together and I think they totally smoked pot because when they came out, they were sort of giggling. Ross started talking on and on about how cool Ian was and how much fun they had the other night at the party, and I realized THAT was the night I was texting him, so he wasn’t busy with anything like his dad, just at a big party.
I got really quiet because I was feeling left out. I mean, it wasn’t fair that Cam and Ross got to get stoned and I didn’t, and it REALLY wasn’t cool of Ross to not return my text messages when he was just at a party. I mean HOW HARD IS IT TO TEXT AT A PARTY??? GRRRR.
Then the boys got hungry and Ross ordered food that they brought out for us right there at the pool, and we didn’t even have to pay for it. He said his mom got an expense account at the hotel every month for clients and it was okay with her if he got lunch for himself and friends as long as he didn’t spend too much.
The food helped, because I realized I was really hungry from yoga, but then Ross noticed I was being superquiet and asked what was up.
I just said, Nothing, but he wouldn’t let it go, so I told him. Well, I whispered it. I said:
I want a hit.
And Cam heard me and said, You won’t really like it.
And I shot him a look and said, I already really like it. You don’t know everything about me.
Cam frowned for a second, and then Ross busted out laughing like it was the funniest thing ever. When Cam heard that, he started laughing too. I said, See? You’re both high as kites so everything is funny. NOT. FAIR.
Ross promised me that he would smoke me out at the party on Saturday.
Cam was laughing too, but he kept looking over at me and then looking away on the drive home. I hope he isn’t getting all Big Brotherly on me. July 26
I just got back from Cam’s bedroom and I’m SHAKING. I can barely hold the pen to write this in the journal. Oh my God. My handwriting looks like crap.
I can’t BELIEVE what just happened.
Cam has to work really early on Saturday morning cleaning a pool for these people who have this big party planned for their kids. He told me that he couldn’t go to the party because he has to get in bed really early.
I told him that Ross could take me to the party, and he said, I don’t feel comfortable with that.
I told him that I didn’t care what he felt comfortable with, I was going to this party with Ross and Ian no matter what.
He just stared at me. I was standing in the doorway of his room, and he got up and pulled me in and closed the door. He was like, Do you want me to tell Mom and Dad that you’ve been running around smoking weed with Ross?
I just stared at him. I said, Are you serious? Because I’ll march right in there this second and tell them that you’ve been smoking pot with Ross in PUBLIC. At the HOTEL. And who knows where else? And I’ll also tell them that you were standing right there when I had my first beer.
I sort of wished I hadn’t said that because he looked hurt, but I mean, come on! You’re going to THREATEN me? He rolled his eyes and said, I can’t believe you’ve been smoking pot.
I said, Look. I’ve had two puffs off of two different joints. It’s not like I’m some crazy stoner chick. I just liked it. It’s no big deal.
Finally I got him to agree that I could go and he wouldn’t tell Mom and Dad anything.
I just got a text back from Ross. He and Ian are going to swing by and pick me up in 2 hours.
WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR???
Cam came into the bathroom while I was putting on my makeup and just leaned against the door. He was watching me in the mirror while I put on mascara, and he asked how I could do that without poking my eye out. I told him I am talented. He cracked a smile for the first time all day. Finally.
Then he came over and hugged me and told me that I was pretty.
I laughed and told him to stop being a weirdo.
But really, it made me feel so good on the inside, like he finally accepts that I can make my own decisions, like he doesn’t just see me as his stupid kid sister anymore.
Oh! He just called for me. Ian and Ross must be here. He’s insisting on walking me out so that he can be all big brother and tell them to take good care of me. July 27
Holy crap. HOLY CRAP!
I don’t even know where to begin. My head is in 100 thousand different places. AND POUNDING LIKE A JACKHAMMER. This is the first time I’ve been able to sit up all morning, but I had to write all of this down so I don’t forget!
First things first: So, Ross and Ian came in to meet Mom and Dad, because of course when they found out that Cam wasn’t going to the party, Mom almost had a heart attack and wasn’t going to let me go. Luckily Dad was cleaning up the flower bed out front when Ross and Ian pulled up, and he recognized Ian. Apparently Ian was in a section of music theory last fall that Dad teaches. He and Dad were laughing and talking when Mom stormed out to say that I couldn’t go to the party, and Dad introduced her to Ian, and Ian was really charming and promised that they’d have me back home by midnight and that nothing bad would happen.
I HATE hearing people say that they’ll “keep an eye on me.” As if I’m some crazy person who might just EXPLODE at any moment. Whatever. Ian told Mom that he really loved her impatiens in the flower bed that Dad was weeding and how he used to work in a nursery. Then they talked for like 29 years about soil types, and Ross and Cam and I were almost comatose from boredom by the time Mom finally glanced over at me and said that it was okay if I went to the party.
So FINALLY we got in the car, and I was so happy to finally get out of there that I didn’t even mind that Ross sat up front with Ian. I mean, I guess it would have been weird for him to sit in the back with me, but I thought that maybe he’d at least offer me the front seat. Whatever.
So we drive up the coast and get to this amazing house that’s all glass and chrome and is perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean and there’s this pool that looks like it flows off of the cliff—an infinity pool. It looks like it just goes on and on forever. Ian’s friend Blake answered the door barefoot in designer jeans and a bright green Lacoste polo that was tight around his biceps. He was handsome and had brown hair that was short on the sides and messy on top. Ian introduced him to Ross and then me.
When I walked in, Blake smiled at me almost like he was shy. Then he took my hand and said that Ian was the best friend in the world for bringing the prettiest girl to his party.
I was like WHAT? I looked over at Ross, who winked at me and laughed. Blake slid my hand around his arm like he was walking me down the aisle at a wedding and gave us the full tour. It was really crowded already. People were everywhere, and it seemed as if Blake knew every single one of them.
Upstairs in the master suite, Blake slid open the big glass wall and led me out onto the balcony, and Ian and Ross followed us. The view was so amazing that it took my breath away. I asked Blake what it was like to wake up in that bed and see this view every morning, and he turned and looked right at me and said, Why don’t you stay tonight and find out?
I blushed really hard. I jerked my arm away from him and put my hands up to my cheeks. I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t help it! I felt so strange inside. Ian laughed and Ross whistled, and I just didn’t understand what was happening. I mean, Blake is very, very handsome, and he’s not that much older than I am. He just turned 20, so he’s like 31/2 years older than me, but I really like Ross, and I couldn’t understand why he was whistling and hooting, and it sort of made me mad at him because I realized that he wasn’t acting like he liked me back very much.
When we got back downstairs, new people had arrived with bottles of white wine and vodka. Blake led the way into the kitchen, which was as nice as the master bedroom. It was like something out of a magazine. I looked around at all of the people who were there, and I pulled Ross aside while Ian was making us drinks and whispered, WOW we’re like the youngest people here.
He smiled at me and said, I know! Isn’t it better than those dumb high school parties?
I stepped out the big glass doors off the kitchen toward the pool to get a closer look. There were already a lot of people outside, and I walked down to the end where the pool seemed to flow over the edge of the cliff and looked past the clear glass partition at the edge of the pool area. The water flowed over a false edge into a trough below where it was sucked back into the pool filtration system. It created a pretty little waterfall.
When I turned around, there were two girls standing behind me, admiring the view. I say girls, but one was older than the other. She must’ve been in her 30s but she was dressed much younger. Her hair was red, but I don’t think it was her natural color. She was standing next to a tall blond girl who looked like she was about my age, only she had really long legs and wore a short black dress. She was holding a beer, and she looked like a high schooler on a TV show—you know, one of those shows where high school girls are really pretty and have million-dollar wardrobes and no zits, and they’re constantly getting their moms out of trouble instead of getting into trouble themselves? Anyway, she looked like that, and when I turned around, I realized that she was closer to my age than anyone else at the party besides Ross.
Both girls smiled and said hi. The blond girl told me her name was Lauren. I introduced myself and then turned back to follow he