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Authors: Robin Mellom

Ditched

BOOK: Ditched
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Title:

Ditched: A Love Story

Author:

Robin Mellom

Imprint:

Hyperion

In-Store Date:

01/10/2012

ISBN:

978-1-4231-4338-3

Price:

$16.99 US / $18.50 CAN

Trim Size:

5 ½ x 8 ¼

Page Count:

288

Ages:

12 and up
Grades:
7 and up

ATTENTION, READER

This is an uncorrected galley proof. It is not a finished book and is not expected to look like one. Errors in spelling, page length, format, etc., will be corrected when the book is published several months from now. Direct quotes should be checked against the final printed book.

We are pleased to send this book for review.

Please send two copies of any review or mention to: Disney Book Group

Attn: Children’s Publicity Department

44 South Broadway, 10th Floor

White Plains, NY 10601

[email protected]

Not Sure

Butter

Chicken

Marsala

Ripped

Zipper

Soy Sauce

Curry

Robin Mellom

Hyperion

New York

Text copyright © 2012 by Robin Mellom

All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Hyperion, 114 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10011-5690.

Printed in the United States of America First Edition

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

V567-9638-5-11305

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data on file.

Reinforced binding

ISBN: 978-1-4231-4338-3

Visit www.hyperionteens.com

For Jayson and Luke

Food, a cell phone,

and my dignity . . . all things

I do not have

I DON’T KNOW how I ended up on the side of Hol ister Road, lying in this ditch.

This moment, last night, the details—al fuzzy. A reluctant glance down and I see I’m covered in scratches and bruises. The bruise on my shin appears to be in the shape of a french fry. French fries cause bruises? And I have at least seven stains on my royal blue iridescent dress—two black, one greenish-bluish, and the remaining are various shades of yel ow.
What are these? Mustard? Curry?

Wait. I don’t even want to know.

What I
do
want to know is why I just fel out of a moving Toyota Prius and was left here in this ditch with a french fry shin 1

bruise and unrecognizable stains. Especial y the yel ow ones.

Please, please be curry.

Looking down the road, I see two things: the sun coming up behind Hol ister Peak, and the car lights on Brian Sontag’s Prius getting smal er and smal er in the distance.

The jerk.

I start to think about last night, but the past twelve hours are a total blur. Like, for instance, how and
why
I got into Brian Sontag’s Toyota Prius.

The scumbag.

I touch my forehead, which is already swel ing from the fal , and I realize this must be why I can’t remember a thing from last night. I look down at myself again and wish I hadn’t. Gross. If Ian could see me now, he would ditch me for sure.

Except that he already has.

I even wore blue for him. Not al black, as usual. It was an actual
color
. Not that I wanted to wear it—but I guess even wearing something that went against my better fashion sense couldn’t change his mind.

You are now official y on my list, Ian Clark. Not the good one.

The conversation. I suddenly remember the conversation we had two weeks ago.

“It wil be amazing,” he said.

“I can’t wait to walk into that room with you,” he said.

“It wil be the best night of our lives,” he said, as if he were reading straight from a Hal mark card.

2

And like a doof, I told him I would go. I even told him if a Journey song came on, I would dance with him, and I imagined my arms draped around his neck, and his breath on my cheek, and my hip brushing up against his. I didn’t explain I had been imagining a lot of things about him lately.

He made fun of me for organizing al the special moments in my life like I was a professional wedding planner. “The toast wil happen here . . . the dance wil happen here . . . and voilà! Happiness!”

That’s when I punched him on the arm.

But he was right, actual y—I did have that special moment al planned out . . . the kiss, of course . . . that kiss.

Every detail. Even down to the direction he’d be facing and the type of lush foliage we’d be standing by. But so much for acts of extreme planning. Look at me now. There is nothing special about this moment. No foliage, nothing lush—just dried weeds and gravel burrowing into my ass.

The glamour of this moment is stunning. Thank God my lovely sense of sarcasm is stil in tact. It feels like the only thing that is.

There’s an aching pain on my right upper arm. It’s because of the tattoo. Wait, I have a tattoo? Who let me get a tattoo?! It’s a Tinker Bel . Which could be cute if it weren’t for the fact that she’s a
punk
Tinker Bel . She’s wearing combat boots, her wings are ripped, and her eyes are bloodshot. Great . . . Tinker Bel on a meth binge.

Please, please be temporary.

3

I wipe the dirt from my face and shake my head. I can remember every detail of that conversation two weeks ago, but I can’t remember a thing about the past twelve hours.

Seriously?

A couple of deep breaths and I accept that I am now keenly aware of only three things:

1. It is 6:15 in the morning and I am a heap of a mess sitting in a ditch on the side of Hol ister Road. I know this because my watch—the one that matches my dress and purse and shoes (thank you, Mom)—is stil ticking despite the impact.

Ouch . . . my head hurts.
And I know it’s Hol ister Road because this is the back road that Ian always uses on the way to school when there’s construction.

I’d recognize that bil board anywhere. The one that says “Peg Griffith—Philanthropist of the Year!” and Peg is holding a metal statue in the shape of a heart. And Ian always asks, “Doesn’t your mom get queasy around al that blood?” And I always answer, “She’s a philanthropist, not a phlebotomist.” And he lets out that sweet, goofy laugh that gives me butterflies. I hate this stupid road.

2. I still don’t remember anything that happened last night.

3. I am starving.

4

My forehead is pounding, and I grab it, but it’s not the pain I’m trying to stop; it’s the memories that suddenly come rushing in.

Oh, no.

No, no, no.

The dinner. The dance. Al yson Moore. Jimmy Choo heels. That broken safety pin. In-N-Out Burger. Tinker Bel . The Hampton Inn. The three-legged Chihuahua.

Brian Sontag. Toyota Prius. Ian Clark.

Ian, who brought me a blue corsage, dyed to match my dress (and shoes and purse and watch).

Ian, who bought me a Mrs. Fields peanut butter cookie and stashed it in his glove compartment because he knew I would need a snack at some point in the night, given my low blood sugar problem. And my love of peanut butter cookies.

Ian, who promised we would dance to our song. Who promised prom night would be the best night of my life—his Hal mark promises.

And I believed him.

You must be a scumbag too, Ian. You took me to prom and I
ended up in a ditch!

I glance around, looking for cars. But it’s a Sunday. No traffic. No one to take pity on me and drive me home. Or at least loan me their cel phone so I can cal my mom.

Mom!

She’s going to kil me. I was supposed to be home by two a.m.! She must be panicked. But then again, she’s probably 5

asleep. It’s going to be okay. Mom is a deep sleeper. People who do good deeds sleep very wel .

And, oh man, she trusted him. “I wouldn’t feel good about Justina going to prom with anyone but you,” Mom had said. She even dusted off his tuxedo sleeve when she said it. And he gave that laugh.

I hate stupid tuxedo sleeves.

I have to get out of here. Find a phone. Something,
someone
to help me. I push myself up off the ground, but the sudden movement causes my head to swirl and I feel light-headed. Low blood sugar—it always makes me dizzy. And grumpy. And yes, even irrational. But right now, I’m entitled.

I take a slow breath, and the balance comes back. I put one foot in front of the other and manage to hobble down the road. But my feet are heavy, clunky, like submarines in a sea of taffy.

I need help. Where the hel is Anderson Cooper when I need him?

Of course I know Ian would laugh at that if he could hear me. And yeah, maybe I should be obsessed with a hot rock star or a movie star. But crushing on a CNN news reporter just makes more sense.

I’m into reliability, Ian.

Plus, Anderson Cooper’s total y cute. I don’t mind the ears.

But even
he’s
not here. No one is. The road is deserted.

I’m going to have to figure out a way to get out of this myself.

I’m going to pray for a miracle.

6

Please, please be erased. Make Worst Night Ever slip away
from my brain.

But luckily, before I get too far in my pleading and have to start kneeling and ruining this dress any further . . . I see them. In the distance are familiar glistening fluorescent lights. I smile because I know those lights mean I have found the answer to al my problems.

A pay phone and a candy bar at the 7-Eleven.

7

1

Finally, a Snickers

I SUPPOSE IF I have to get ditched somewhere, I’m glad it’s at
this
7-Eleven, not the sucky 7-Eleven near downtown.

This is the awesome one—the one on 4th and Hill with the nacho cheese bar and the endless row of magazines.

Ian and I would stop by here on Fridays to celebrate. “No homework. No track practice. Time for jalapeño nachos!” he would always say. And I’d say, “Just a Snickers.” It’s not that I don’t love nachos . . . what’s not to love?

But I never got them on our Friday 7-Eleven stops because that was the day my weekly thimble-sized allowance was hovering in the cents column, and a candy bar was all I could afford. Ian would’ve bought nachos for me—he’s a 8

carefree buyer with an unlimited allowance, along with most of the student body at Huntington High School, but I didn’t want him to worry that it symbolized more. The last thing I wanted was to weird out our friendship because of a plate of convenient-store nachos.

As I cross through the familiar gas station parking lot, my chest discovers gravity, and my organs and bones weigh me down with sadness, my feet barely moving forward.

Of al the 7-Elevens,
this
one.

BOOK: Ditched
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