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Authors: Alissa Grosso

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Ferocity Summer

BOOK: Ferocity Summer
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Woodbury, Minnesota

For Ron, who like a Sussex County Barbie

is perfect in every way.

Copyright Information

Ferocity Summer
© 2012 by Alissa Grosso.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any matter whatsoever, including Internet usage, without written permission from Flux, except in the form of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

As the purchaser of this ebook, you are granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this ebook on screen. The text may not be otherwise reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, or recorded on any other storage device in any form or by any means.

Any unauthorized usage of the text without express written permission of the publisher is a violation of the author's copyright and is illegal and punishable by law.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cover models used for illustrative purposes only and may not endorse or represent the book's subject.

First e-book edition © 2012

E-book ISBN: 9780738731452

Book design by Bob Gaul

Cover design by Lisa Novak

Cover art: Motion image
©
iStockphoto.com/Marco Maccarini

Woman
©
Lynn Koenig/Flickr/Getty Images

Flux is an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

Flux does not participate in, endorse, or have any authority or responsibility concerning private business arrangements between our authors and the public.

Any Internet references contained in this work are current at publication time, but the publisher cannot guarantee that a specific reference will continue or be maintained. Please refer to the publisher's website for links to current author websites.

Flux

Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

2143 Wooddale Drive

Woodbury, MN 55125

www.fluxnow.com

Manufactured in the United States of America

Acknowledgments

This is probably the most difficult part of the book to write. I have so many people to thank. Thank you to all the family members and friends who have supported me on this writing journey. Thank you to my parents for their endless encouragement. Thank you to Ron for believing in me and always being there for me.

The entire team at Flux has been wonderful to work with. I am especially grateful to Brian Farrey-Latz and Sandy Sullivan for their editorial wizardry. Thank you to Steven Pomije and Marissa Pederson for all of their hard work. I am indebted to everyone at Flux who has helped to bring this book into the world.

Thank you to my agent, Jim McCarthy, for his guidance, support, and encouragement.

Writing may be a lonely occupation, but I am grateful to have a wonderful support network of writers who make this profession a lot less lonely. Some I've met only via Skype, email, or social media outlets, but all are true friends. In particular I am grateful to the friends I have made through the Class of 2K11 and the KidLit Authors Club.

Finally, I would like to thank all the librarians and booksellers who have helped me out along the way. I am grateful for all that you do.

Prologue

T
he South burned. Wildfires raged out of control up and down the length of I-95. It was as if Mother Nature herself wanted to remind me about my unwritten history paper. The overdue library book slid around the floor mat by my feet. I made no move to pick it up and read it.

The sweet aroma of woodsmoke seeped in through the Acura's air conditioning ducts and filled the automobile with the nostalgic scent of campfires and family vacations and roasting marshmallows. Willow and I tasted those memories so strongly it was as if we actually possessed them. We fell under the fire's spell. We believed in a past that never existed and a future that never could.

Willow drove the borrowed car, while I watched the endless highway nothingness fly by. On an overpass someone had painted the word
FEROCITY
in red spray paint. The shaky sprawl made the letters look fiery. The smoke hung thick in the sky. The flames remained out of sight. Davies Pauliny blared from the state-of-the-art sound system. The traffic moved fast, and Willow kept pace.

“You shouldn't go so fast,” I said. “You don't want to get pulled over.”

“Chill,” Willow said.

“I could drive if you want.”

“No. It's not your father's car.”

This was Willow's journey. I was only a passenger. I thought about this and wondered if it was true. A couple of months earlier I would have had no doubt, but things had changed so much since the start of the summer.

“Do you ever think about what you might do with your life?” I asked.

“Are you saying that just to be morbid?” Willow replied.

“I'm serious.”

“Okay, I don't.”

“Well, if you did, what would you want to do?”

“I've always dreamed of being a fashion designer.” Willow stared at the road with a far-off look in her eyes, like this fashion-designer future of hers was out there somewhere in the distance, just beyond that tanker truck maybe.

“You have? Since when? I didn't even think you really cared about clothes.”

“Oh, yeah. You're right, Scilla. Well, that was my dream when I was a kid.”

“But what about now?”

“I don't know.” Willow said nothing for a few seconds. “Do you believe in hell?”

May

I
climbed into the back seat beside a smelly old army blanket and half a bag of corn chips. Willow made a face at me in the rear-view mirror as Andrea sat down beside her in the passenger seat. I offered up a half-hearted shrug in response. Willow had invited me to go to the mall with her. She hadn't said I couldn't bring a friend.

Willow rooted around the floor of the car for a few seconds, came up with a CD, and stuck it in the stereo.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Davies Pauliny,” Willow answered. She tromped too hard on the gas, and the tires spun for a moment on the loose gravel of the street before catching.

“Never heard of them,” Andrea said. It came out sounding like a complaint.

“Boss awesome,” Willow said. “Trust me.”

We hadn't even reached the end of the street and Andrea had the visor down, examining her face in the mirror. She touched up her already well-coated lips with a tube from her purse. Andrea was socialite beautiful, all makeup and fluff. She had that phony cheerleader look going on. Not that she had ever come close to being a cheerleader—she was a sort of double poseur, an imitator of phonies. You couldn't get much more pathetic than that. There was something about her blondish-reddish hair and the foundation plastered on her round face that gave her a look that skated a thin line between high-school-beautiful and movie-monster-ugly. I was madly in lust with her.

Looks weren't her only asset. She was a slut of the highest order. I had heard all sorts of rumors, most of them about popular guys who had managed to have Andrea in the back seat of their cars or in the girls' room during lunch period or out in the woods behind the tennis courts. There were enough of these stories floating around that I had to believe at least half of them had some basis in truth, and Andrea never bothered to deny any of them. Then there was that way she walked, throwing her ass around like so many bags of unbleached flour. Yum. I couldn't help but stare.

I wasn't really a lesbian. I just wished I was, or maybe I was a lesbian stuck in a heterosexual girl's body. To tell you the truth, I didn't know what the hell I was. I envied Andrea, who was so well defined that there never could be room for doubt. Andrea knew what she wanted, and she got it rather frequently if the rumors could be believed.

Diluted sunlight poured down through the atrium skylights as Willow and I leaned against the cool marble, waiting for Andrea. She'd gone into Abercrombie & Fitch five minutes ago on the alleged errand of saying hi to some guy she knew. Willow had groaned and refused to go into the store.

“What the hell did you bring her along for?” she asked. She raked her fingers through her hair. It was a streaky sort of dirty-blonde that looked completely natural but was actually the work of her mother's overpriced hairdresser. That tousled, messy look, the casual style of her clothes—it took Willow just as long to make herself look natural as it took Andrea to make herself look like a second-rate prostitute.

“I didn't ask her to come. She sort of invited herself,” I said defensively. It didn't matter. Willow could read me like a book.

“Forget it, Scill, she's completely guy-centric. I don't know what the hell you see in her anyway.” Willow lit a cigarette, blatantly disregarding the little red no-smoking signs that were all over the place, strange reminders of how utopian America was supposed to be.

“Randy's home from school. He was asking about you,” she added.

“Oh.”

Randy is Willow's older brother. I'd made the mistake of getting involved with him the summer before. Awkward is spelled with a capital A when one is involved in a sexual relationship with one's best friend's older brother.

Secretly, I'd fantasized about having an older brother and having wild, sordid, forbidden sex with him. Of course, this could be nothing more than an impossible fantasy. Randy had sort of been like a stand-in for this fantasized brother, but the reality was that our relationship was nothing more than a clumsy teenage romance. Willow had coped with it all remarkably well, with the understood assumption that there would never be any girlish gossip upon the subject. Randy's name hung in the space between us, like a piece of dirty toilet paper that had missed the pot. Neither of us wanted to claim responsibility for it. Neither of us wanted to touch it, but at the same time, it was just a little too much to ignore.

“Did he say anything about … ?” I asked.

“No.” Willow answered, too quickly. “Midge has got me going through college shit this weekend. Can you picture me at Vassar?” She laughed, one of those deep throaty Willow laughs. “Maybe I'll bob my hair and take up field hockey.”

I'd read some book about girls who had gone to Vassar, or maybe it was Smith; one of those schools. I remembered it because there were a few interesting sex parts, things that seemed out of place in a novel written in the 1920s or 1940s or whenever the hell it'd been written. I remembered a scene where one of the characters hid a diaphragm under a bench in Washington Square Park, and I was going to say something about this to Willow when Joe Bullock—high school football star/saint/all-around asshole—walked past and both of us quickly looked at the ground. He walked like he had a load in his pants, the jock swagger. He didn't say anything until he was a few feet past us. Coward. And then all he could think of to say was, “Nice face.”

“I hate that prick,” Willow said when he was out of earshot. She ripped her unfinished cigarette from her mouth and crushed it beneath her foot.

Willow could have been popular in school. She had grace and affability and all that, but she lacked the patience to deal with the brain-dead morons who passed for royalty in the halls of Lenape Valley Regional High School. I always felt honored, blessed even, that Willow preferred to hang out with a social misfit like me.

I looked over the railing at the first floor of the mall and watched the tops of people's heads as they walked past. A bald head walked beneath me and it was all I could do not to hit the target with a glob of spit. So I tried to think about something else, and suddenly I was thinking about Randy.

“So, um, Tigue must be getting home from school soon too,” I said.

“Probably. I don't really know.”

“Has Randy talked to him?” I asked, but Willow never had the chance to answer. Andrea emerged from the store all bubbly and red-faced, and I'm sure I wasn't alone in wondering if there had been some extracurricular activity going on in one of the fitting booths.

“You missed it,” Willow said. “Joe Bullock just walked by.”

Then some interesting things happened with Andrea's face. Her eyebrows jumped up to the top of her forehead and her eyes widened to the size of silver-dollar pancakes. Then her mouth involuntarily opened and shut, real quick. After this, her whole face pinched together tight and returned to normal.

“Who cares about Joe Bullock anyway?” she said with forced nonchalance. Nice try.

I glared at Willow, but my heart wasn't in it. I was thinking about Randy. I was thinking about Tigue. I was thinking about that weird clammy feeling that seemed to spring up between me and Willow whenever we got anywhere near that subject. I tried not to think about August, and most of all, I tried not to think about last summer.

BOOK: Ferocity Summer
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ads

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