Authors: Micol Ostow
How NOT to Spend Your Senior Year
BY CAMERON DOKEY
BY NIKI BURNHAM
Ripped at the Seams
BY NANCY KRULIK
BY NIKI BURNHAM
BY CAROLINE GOODE
South Beach Sizzle
BY SUZANNE WEYN AND DIANA GONZALEZ
She’s Got the Beat
BY NANCY KRULIK
30 Guys in 30 Days
BY MICOL OSTOW
BY JAMIE PONTI
A Novel Idea
BY AIMEE FRIEDMAN
BY NIKI BURNHAM
Getting to Third Date
BY KELLY McCLYMER
BY ERIN DOWNING
BY JENNIFER ECHOLS
BY NIKI BURNHAM
BY JO EDWARDS
BY ERIN DOWNING
If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
Copyright © 2007 Micol Ostow
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
SIMON PULSE and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Designed by Ann Zeak
The text of this book was set in Garamond 3.
Manufactured in the United States of America
First Simon Pulse edition April 2007
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Control Number 2006928446
For Noah, my technical consultant and personal lucky charm
Big, huge, supergigantic thanks to Michelle Nagler, Sangeeta Mehta, Michael del Rosario, and Bethany Buck for keeping me in the S&S catalog; to Jodi Reamer for what will hopefully be the first of many successful collaborations (and for being only slightly more mature than I am); to everyone who read
30 Guys in 30 Days
and wrote to tell me that they liked it; to Lisa Clancy for always having her finger on the pulse (pun intended); to my friends, whose romantic adventures continue to amuse and inspire me; to the Harlans for the leg up on my field research and the myriad intercontinental writing studios; and, as always, to my family.
TOP FIVE EXOTIC, COOL LOCATIONS TO SPEND NEW YEAR’S EVE
*(in no particular order)
1. A private capsule on the London Eye.
2. The top of the Eiffel Tower (clichéd, especially ever since a
movie star went and ruined it for the rest of us, but still).
3. Backstage at a Killers show with the cast of
4. A chalet tucked into the highest corners of the Swiss Alps.
5. Zip-lining along the Costa Rican jungle canopy.
(For all of the above scenarios, one should assume a romantic interest in tow.)
Note that nowhere on this list is Spring Brook, New Jersey. This is because Spring Brook, New Jersey, is not an especially cool place to spend New Year’s Eve. Particularly if it is the home of one’s grandparents, median age seventy-two. Double-particularly if one’s boyfriend is spending the holiday in Aspen, with his hotshot ski-patrolling friends.
Not that I’m bitter or anything.
See, Dad’s always felt guilty about dragging me across the country and away from his parents, who seem to be under the belief that the sun rises and sets with yours truly (which, under normal, non-kiss-centric holidays, is just fine by me). After Mom left, he needed a change of pace, and since he’s a restaurant manager, Vegas seemed like a safe bet (ho ho, no pun intended). But he tries to get back to see his folks whenever he can. There was no way that he was getting out of work over Christmas and New Year’s, which are big-money holidays at any restaurant, and of course, especially in Vegas. The solution? Easy—he sent me.
Normally I wouldn’t mind. My grandparents
are totally sweet, and I actually really like spending time with them. But it’s definitely an unwritten rule in the teenage handbook that not getting kissed at midnight on New Year’s Eve is like a karmic slap in the face. Or, if it’s not, it should be. It’s in
handbook, anyway. I mean, the midnight kiss is the launchpad of a happy and prosperous twelve months, and smooching my grandfather on the cheek rather than my superhot boyfriend on the smacker just seemed like I was
for trouble, karmically speaking.
But I digress. I made the best of it, laughing along gamely to Ryan Seacrest and sipping at sparkling apple cider. Jesse texted me at exactly midnight, which I thought was extremely romantic, even if it wasn’t quite the same thing as real-time kissage. We did the best we could.
Now, though, I could hardly wait to see him. So much so that I’d traded in my direct flight from Newark International for a rockin’ three-hour layover in Houston, Texas, just so I could make it home a full twenty-four hours earlier than expected.
It was all part of my grand plan.
Jesse had been home, back in Vegas, for
a full two days while I withered away in Central Jersey on a steady diet of PBS, classical music, and Kashi, the three absolutes of my grandparents’ household. Jesse expected me to get in tomorrow, the day before school started.
But I was coming in
I was coming in today, and I was going to see Jesse. I’d worked it all out with my father, who was cool with me switching flights as long as I covered the change fee with my allowance (he is incredibly hardcore about “financial responsibility”). Never mind that I’d spent a glassy-eyed three hours wandering the Houston duty-free and robotically stuffing my face with sour gummy bears. Never mind that my face had a fine sheen of airplane scum settling across its surface. Never mind that my hair—washed and styled so impeccably first thing this morning, back in Spring Brook—had wilted worse than the cheeseburgers that I found at the airport food court. In my mind’s eye, I somehow still managed to look like a supermodel. (My mind’s eye is really forgiving.) And I was so going to surprise Jesse.
Thankfully, all of my flights were on
time and I made my connection and didn’t lose my luggage or any of those annoying things that can happen when you travel. The oily skin and weird, limp hair was sort of the worst of it. My father was waiting at the airport when I got off the plane—he’d made up a sign for me in bright green Sharpie with my name on it,
CASSANDRA ELISE PARKER,
playing at being a fancy driver or something—and was in on all of my machinations.
He hugged me and grabbed my suitcase away from me, saying, “You look thin, Cass. Did you eat in New Jersey?”
Do you see why I adore my father?
I nodded. “I did, actually. A lot.” Kind of too much, actually. Pigging out on Kashi is not recommended.
He smiled. “Grandma and Grandpa are pretty serious about their three squares,” he agreed.
“Right?” I said, laughing.
He led me out to the parking lot, where we spent about twenty minutes trying to figure out where he had parked. One thing about my father: When he’s at the restaurant, working, he is very much in the zone and focused. He takes his job seriously,
which is probably why he’s very good at it. The owner of the restaurant keeps asking Dad to take over a few other places that he owns, but Dad’s not interested, even though I think it would mean a lot more money. He’d rather save up until he can buy his own place, free and clear. Like I said, he is very big into fiscal responsibility. Probably because the first year that we lived in Vegas, he wasn’t so, um … fiscally responsible. Mind you, it’s all been worked out by now—it’s been three years—but he definitely learned his lesson the hard way. And is determined not to let me make the same mistakes that he made.
But, anyway. What I’m saying is, at the restaurant, he’s on. He’s a stickler for details. But in the rest of his life? Not so much. Like, I’ll tell him what to pick up at the grocery store, and he’ll forget. So I’ll write a list. But then he’ll leave the list at home. Frankly, I’m lucky that he remembered his car keys. I’m lucky he remembered my
Yes, I’m exaggerating. But no, not by that much.
Well, after wandering in circles for a while, I started asking him pointed questions
about details, and other cars, and signs, and whatnot, and eventually we had made our way to his car. It’s a Prius, a hybrid, which I support. Which is good, because I don’t think I’ll be getting my own car until I can afford to buy it myself. But Dad, who, as I’ve said before, is incredibly cool, is very generous about letting me borrow his when possible.
So on the drive back home he wanted to know about Grandma and Grandpa. Really, there wasn’t that much to tell. They’re kind of old, but are very smart and very feisty, and we spent most evenings eating reduced-sodium dinners and watching documentaries.
“It was fun,” I said, mostly meaning it. You know, not “Aspen-with-your-boyfriend” fun, but fun.
“But you can’t wait to see Jesse,” Dad said, filling in the blanks.
I nodded. “That’s why I’m here,” I said, even though he already knew that.
“Well”—he checked his watch—“we should be home in fifteen minutes. If you can get to Jesse by four, do you think you can be done surprising him, and back home, by six? I know it doesn’t give you a lot of
time, but I have to be at the restaurant for the dinner rush.”
How could I say no? Dad wasn’t even implying anything gross by his use of the word “surprising.” At least, I hope he wasn’t. And, anyway, we could always use Jesse’s car if we wanted to go out later on.
“Of course,” I said, sighing with satisfaction. I leaned back in my seat and went into a slow, trancelike state of Zen. I watched the scenery change through the blur of my window, from airport-related industrial waste to rocky, red-tinged mountains. Soon the glitter of the Strip would be upon us, and I would be home. My dog, a mangy and borderline insane Boston terrier named Maxine, would be waiting for me.
And so would Jesse.
Jesse only lives about five minutes from me, mainly because all of us who don’t live in the city proper (which is most of us) live in the same three-mile radius of surrounding suburbs. And, while living just outside of Vegas, aka Sin City, might seem really edgy and exotic, it sort of only affects us in really peripheral ways. Sure, there are the occasional out-there dates where we go off to
pose with Indiana Jones and Britney Spears at the wax museum, or gondola rides at the Venetian. And yes, if we go out to celebrate at a fancy dinner, there is an 80 percent chance that we’ll catch a glimpse of a certain blond celebutante with a reputation for dancing on tables. Kids here learn to play online poker long before they’ve even been given their first PlayStation (you don’t even have to bet money, thank goodness). But really, it’s not so scandalous. Mostly we all live very regular lives.
Jesse’s house, for instance, is a completely normal, completely modest splitlevel, trimmed in aluminum siding and boasting an ironically misleading
BEWARE OF DOG
sign on the front square of lawn. Jesse’s mother has a froufy little white dog that would inspire terror in no one. But I suppose the sign is just for effect. Not that Maxine is all that hardcore, but I really can’t get down with dogs small enough to fit in a pocketbook. Don’t tell Jesse’s mom, though. For now, at least, she likes me.
I pulled up smoothly, humming to the radio, parked, and killed the ignition. Jesse’s car, a Civic adorned with stickers
from all of his various athletic affiliations, sat in the driveway, so at least I knew he was home. This was good. My surprise really would have had much less of an impact if he’d been out, obviously.
I tapped my lucky rabbit foot that Dad had kindly allowed me to hang from the rearview mirror and briefly crossed my fingers. Even though Jesse and I had been together for about a year now, I still got a little bit fluttery when I hadn’t seen him in a while. And I think the element of surprise was upping my nerves, too. I jumped out of the car and made my way up the front walk, taking a moment to smooth my hair down. It was looking slightly perkier now that I was back in the desert climes of Vegas. New Jersey humidity and I do