Sneak Peek 1

Our First Sneak Peek for you!

Here you go—chapters 4–5 or listen to the audiobook version.

4 Service

Dinner was as expected, though Chloe’s boyfriend was late. No tragedy. Lindy, however, kept everyone riveted to their seats—or maybe had just put them to sleep sitting up—by reenacting our adventure of the day.

“You should have seen it Missus T, the RV was just flat. Flattened. Pancaked.”

“I have the image,” Mom nodded.

“And there must have been, what, Rosie, seventy?”

“At least.” I tried to sound like I wasn’t paying attention.

“At least seventy fire trucks.”

“Hyperbolize much, Lin?”

“Shh. I’m on a roll.”

I shrugged and let her keep going. I had enough to do to keep eating while my head was killing me. Every so often I get these short-circuiting headaches. Mom’s taken me to the doctor, but they just say I need to relax. I’m guessing they’ve never been on a very competitive swim team heading into senior year of high school in a brand-spanking-new millennium, in an internship at the med school, and working for an athletic scholarship that might lead to a free ride into the same med school—and all that while dragging along a seriously lousy boyfriend. They gave me pills to help me relax, but I don’t take them. They make me feel foggy.

“Ari-the-Boyfriend’s here?” I said before I could stop.

Conversation at the table froze and when I looked up I noticed that everyone was staring at me.

“What?” I protested. “He is.”

Which is when the doorbell rang.

“Don’t call him that, Rose,” Chloe sighed at me.

“What? He’s Ari. He’s your boyfriend.”

Dad gave me a look as he went to the door. No one talked again until we heard Dad say, “Ari, we wondered if you were going to make it…”

“OhMahGaw, Missus T. Rosie’s on fire today.”

Mom hadn’t taken her eyes from me yet. “Really?” she asked Lindy as Dad walked Ari in. Chloe started a plate for him with the food closest to her.

“Oh yeah. She knew all about the power pole before we got there and then there was this motorcycle—”

“—Lindy, no one wants to hear about the motorcycle.”

“What about the motorcycle?” Chloe asked while mad-dogging me. I wanted to stick out my tongue back at her but I was supposed to be more mature now that I’m going to be a senior. Whatever.

“Well.” Lindy slapped the edge of the table lightly, launching into a new epic. “Ol’ Weej here—”

“—Weej?” This time mom’s eyes were on Lindy.

“Yeah, well, that’s what my boyfriend Drew—you know Drew—anyway, that’s what he calls Rosie when she’s like this. You know. Weej, like Ouija boards?” I watched mom process this. She and Chloe did not seem amused, though Ari the Boyfriend barked. Seriously. Even though she drives me nuts and I’d never say it to her face, Chloe could do better than Ari.

“Anyway, so there we were, on Oracle, going north up that hill, from River, you know? And we’re being, like, good responsible drivers and only laughing at the stupid people who tried to drive across the divider.”

“The one with all that cactus?” Chloe asked, a smile playing at the corner of her mouth.

Lindy pointed one finger at her nose and the other at Chloe then kept talking. “So it’s hot and the AC isn’t really up to speed, if you know what I mean—Missus T you might want to invest in a repair for Rosie—”

“—I’ll keep that in mind—” Mom was absolutely icicles.

“—So we’re rolling down the windows when this motorcycle comes whizzing by just seriously like millimeters from my arm. I could, you know, feel the wind from the bike.”

“Wow,” the boyfriend said.

“I know,” Lindy agreed. “It was really scary. But Rosie, you know, she was right there and she yelled after him.”

“Effective,” Chloe managed.

I wished I could throw cutlery without Mom seeing.

“No, it was great,” Lindy said, defending me. “She was all, ‘You Moron! You’re gonna die driving like that!’ and you know…” Lindy turned sober, very Screech-in-Principal-Belding’s office, while I grew more annoyed. Like, Russell Crowe wanting to go all Gladiator on her.  But Lindy kept on. “You know, he really was totally reckless, and we would never drive like that, and—”

“—Lindy, come on.” I nudged her.

“She’s blushing,” the Boyfriend said, pointing at me with his fork. Chloe was trying to snatch Mom’s attention from Lindy. Meanwhile, I felt the muscles in my neck and shoulders bunching up, my teeth grinding. The surge of pain that hit between my eyes was worse than I’d ever felt.

Lindy was still at it, so I broke in as I reached for my water glass, “Lind, I really don’t think my Mom needs a public service—” when we all stopped dead, because my water glass on the table exploded.

“What the hell?” Lindy jumped backwards, nearly falling over her chair.

“Nice one, Rose,” Chloe glared at me.

“Chloe,” Mom said seriously, calmly. “Go get the bathroom trash can?” Chloe hesitated, but there is really no way to say “no” to Mom.

Mom next speared me with her eyes. “Are you bleeding?” she asked at pretty much the same time as Dad asked, “Are you okay?”

Everyone was looking at me and my hand, still frozen in the shape of my nonexistent glass. Crushed crystals lay in a perfect circle over the dark stain of water spreading out over the tablecloth.

“What?” I was too loud. “It was an accident!” The fog lifted and I was more in control of my voice. “But, yeah, I’m fine. I’ll … go get another glass.” As I got to the kitchen cabinets I could hear that Lindy had covered the silence by droning on.

“Sit down and put your head between your knees,” Chloe whispered as she passed with her tools.

I glared at her—while gripping the counter until the dizziness wore off.

I washed my hands carefully, letting the water trickle off my fingertips in case there were shards stuck to my hand. There weren’t. Teetering, I walked back in with a new water glass, the dustpan, and a rag. With the rag, I guided the glass shards into the trashcan that Chloe, who was now whispering to Mom, had put next to my chair.

I tuned in to Lindy’s monologue. ” … Well, but that isn’t the weird part, you know? The weird stuff is that when we finally got to the front of the traffic jam I saw the motorcycle guy.”

This surprised me. “You didn’t tell me that, Lin.”

“I started to,” she defended. “Well, I mean I saw his bike,” she said conspiratorially. “He was with an EMT I think … ” She faltered. “Actually all I could see was the EMT’s back.” Then she recovered. “But Rose was right; he totally wiped out! He was so lucky there was already an accident with an ambulance there.”

I sat silent, slowly rolling the remaining splinters of glass into different shapes with the rag before guiding them off the table’s edge and into the can. Tiny rainbows, each shard full of all the colors ever seen.

Mom cleared her throat. I glanced up to see her eyes on me for a second before she returned to Lindy, who had moved onto a story about Drew’s new summer job as a lifeguard at the Y. I couldn’t tell what Chloe was trying to say, whispering in Mom’s ear at the same time, but she seemed ticked.

I sighed and returned to the chicken. I assume it was chicken. It tasted like chicken, but I hear rattlesnake does too, so what do I know? All I was going to let myself think about now was the party tonight and the guy who might be there.

Not my Lousy Ex-Boyfriend.

And definitely not water glasses.

 

5 Prep

If Lindy brushed her hair any more, it was going to turn to spun gold. That’s all there was to it.

We were in my room getting dressed for the party that night. Lindy watched me in the mirror as I fiddled with buttons on a shirt I was going to wear over my tank.

“Really?” Lindy indicated the shirt.

“What?”

“That?”

“I like this shirt.”

Lindy had better fashion sense than I did, but she also had a Visa card her dad paid for. And yet she wanted to wear my shoes. She’s a mystery, and as she gave up on my wardrobe choices, she sighed, “So, you’re not going to backslide, right? L.B.T. is still Lousy-EX-boyfriend-Tim?”

“Yep. I’m done. It’s easier that he’s in Europe with his family.”

“He called yet?”

“Nope.”

“Not once?”

“Nope. He’s been there a month, Lin. As far as I’m concerned, he broke up with me.”

“Jerk.”

“Yep. He is, indeed.”

She turned, hairbrush in hand, contemplating, “Did he think he broke up with you before he left, or something?”

“Probably. He may have just forgotten to tell me.” I wasn’t going to go into why he might have wanted to break up.

“Sounds like him,” Lindy sighed. “Rose, why in the world did you ever go out with him? I mean, he’s okay-looking, but…” She put the brush down and turned to perfecting her lips in my mirror. “Why did you stay with him? No one likes him.”

“Inertia?” I started digging in my closet for my shoes.

“Ooh. You and your SAT study sessions.”

“Oh yeah, because you never made it past third grade reading and math.”

“Fifth. I stopped at fifth grade math,” she said, defensively. “And I read. Some.”

“Whatever. Cosmo.”

“Seriously, Rosie.” She sat on the edge of my bed. “Drew’s all worried about your self-esteem and stuff, and I have a hard time defending you.”

“Then don’t. Not everyone treats Oprah like a religion the way Drew does.”

“No, I mean it, Rosie. What was going on in your head that told you to go out with him?”

I’d located my shoes but not Lindy’s flats. “He asked.”

She looked at me critically. “Beyond that?”

I thought for a minute. “I was bored? It meant I didn’t have to be a third wheel all the time?”

“Yeah, but no one liked him. You didn’t particularly like him.”

“He was okay. In the beginning.”

She shrugged and looked at her nails. “Delusional much?”

“Not much.”

She went back to looking at herself in the mirror. “Lousy-EX-Boyfriend-Tim,” she murmured. “He sounds like a car now. LexBT.”

I chuckled, emerging triumphant. “Found them!” I held up the shoes and Lindy took them from me, trying them on.

“Rob gonna be there?” she asked.

I paused—not for long, but for long enough. “I really haven’t given it any thought.”

“Liar.”

“I guess.” I leaned back on my closet door frame. “I mean, I’ve known him forever.”

“I know. Complete boy-next-door action.” She sat down on the floor across from me.

“Yeah, but he called last week when I was out.”

“You didn’t tell me that. Did you call him back?”

“No.”

“Why not?” She smacked my foot.

“I… this will sound so lame.”

“It won’t be a first,” Lindy said without mirth.

“Funny.” I got up and went over to the mirror, pulling my brown hair up off of my neck, wishing I’d been using Sun-In. “I guess I just wanted to figure out what to do about Tim.”

“Doesn’t Rob still think you’re going out with Tim?”

“We, um…we’d talked at a practice about how I’d been thinking about breaking up.”

“And were you ever going to tell me this?”

Seig heil.”

“Well, whether Rob knew it or not, leaving a breakup message on voice mail isn’t your best move ever. Even if it was for Tim.”

I let my hair down again and whined. “He hasn’t called. He hasn’t written.”

“You think he knows how to write?”

I stopped laughing when we heard the knock followed by Chloe’s voice, muffled through the door. “Can I come in?”

If she couldn’t hear how annoyed I was by her presence, then she needed surgery. “What?”

Chloe slipped in, closing the door behind her. “Sorry if I’m ruining your play time—”

“—What do you want, Clo?”

She didn’t dawdle. “You need to cut that stuff out, Rose.”

“What are you talking about, Chloe?”

“And Lindy,” she turned, “you’re no help with your story and all that Weej garbage.”

“Moi?” Lindy placed a hand on her throat. “Don’t bring me into your co-dependent-excuse-for-sibling-rivalry.”

Chloe ignored Lin, turning back to aim at me. “I mean, everyone’s used to you knowing things, Rose. Fine. Whatever. But that dinner stuff. Especially in front of Mom. It really upsets her.”

“What dinner stuff are you talking about, Chloe? Mom usually likes it when we eat.”

She glared. “Your glass?”

“Are you kidding me? Or what, like Perfect You hasn’t ever broken a glass?”

I could see the vein in her temple throb and felt rather than saw Lindy’s jaw gradually descend, “Rose. Please, don’t be an idiot—”

“—I don’t need a lecture—especially from you, Chloe.” I turned to my mirror, my back to her. “Can we drop this? I’d like to go have a nice time at the party tonight without having to obsess about you bossing me.”

For a second there, I thought she was really going to light into me in front of Lindy, whose head had been bobbing back and forth like she was watching the U.S. Open.

“Fine.” Chloe turned and left. “It’s your funeral,” I heard her mutter as she slammed my door behind her.

“Whatever,” I said, picking up a different pair of earrings. Lindy was looking at me like I’d just sprouted antlers.

“What?”

Lindy had to clear her throat twice. “What did she mean, Rosie?”

“Who listens? Hand me the hairbrush, wouldja?”

Lindy hesitated, then handed it to me while I attacked the knots in my hair, brushing away the feeling that I should pay more attention to my sister.

* * *

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