Authors: Todd Strasser
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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.
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This Simon Pulse paperback edition April 2011
Shirt and Shoes Not Required
copyright Â© 2007 by Todd Strasser
LB (Laguna Beach)
copyright Â© 2005 by Nola Thacker
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Designed by Cara Petrus and Karina Granda
The text of this book was set in Caslon.
Manufactured in the United States of America
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Library of Congress Control Number 2010929850
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Shirt and Shoes Not Requied
To Sy and Sue, a great Jersey shore couple
“School's out for . . . ever!”
Okay, so maybe it was one of the lamest songs ever to come out of the 1980s, but Avery James had to admit that thumping out of the radio in her pickup, it sounded dead-on. Driving with the windows down and the warm June breeze whipping her light brown hair, she turned the music up a little louder.
Summer, there was nothing like it. And this year, she was going to make the most of it. It was June 23, and the rest of her life stretched before her, beginning with two months of sun, sand, all-night partiesâand no one checking IDs too closeâto celebrate her release from the minimum-security prison known as high school.
Cruising down the road toward Wildwood, New Jersey, the salty smell of the ocean filled her nostrils and a thrill ran up her spine.
This is it!
Ever since she was a kid she had heard about the beachside community that was the summer hangout
for thousands of high school and college students. Now she was finally going to see for herself.
She drove over the causewayâthe breeze adding a ripple to the green water belowâand into town, passing the blocks of rental houses and condos, motels, gas stations, and liquor stores that serviced vacationers. Her first impression was that every other car was a brand-new convertible or a tricked-out import complete with spoiler and rims. Compared with them, her rusty, dented red truck was almost an eyesore. But that was okay; she liked being different. A girl driving an old pickup stood out in the crowd. It didn't matter that the real reason she drove the pickup was that it was free. The truck was a hand-me-down from her uncle.
The sky was blue and cloudless, the sun big and yellow. Its rays warmed her arm in the open window. Avery tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and double-checked the addresses for the house she would be sharing. She was looking for number 15. As she drove toward the beach the numbers got lower. 93 . . . 87 . . . 81. The houses were mostly two stories and larger than she had expected. Some were freshly painted with neatly trimmed green lawns. Others were victims of the salt air and harsh winter weatherâpaint flaking, battered shutters hanging askew. Houses like that anywhere else might have been considered dilapidated, but here they seemed charming and rustic.
She passed number 19 and slowed the pickup, but her heart
sped up in anticipation. Seven people would be sharing the house, including her boyfriend, Curt. No parents, no rules, nothing to hold them back from having a great time. Daytime, nighttime, all the time. That was,
they could stand one another. She wondered what her housemates would be like. Maybe it wouldn't be important. Her cousin had once shared a house at Wildwood with three other girls and swore she never saw two of them more than five times the entire summer.
A brisk ocean breeze swept in the open window, and Avery tasted the salt in the air. She couldn't wait to get into her bathing suit. The scent of suntan lotion and ocean water mixed with the aroma of funnel cake and popcorn.
Her thoughts turned to Curt. He should have arrived two days ago with his band. Almost instantly the muscles in the back of her neck began to tighten with nervous tension. They'd had a fight the last time they'd seen each other because she didn't want to live in the house the other band members had rented for the summer. Curt hadn't called her cell to let her know he'd arrived, so she was pretty sure he was still annoyed. But she knew she'd made the right decision. He was so involved with that band, it was hard to get him alone. She wanted time with him this summer. It wasn't that she didn't enjoy hanging out with the other musicians; she just wanted something different, something special. As she pulled up to number 15, her new summer home, she hoped that she had found it.
Avery parked the pickup on the street outside the house.
Like most of the other houses on the street, it was two stories tall. The dull gray paint and black trim were weather-beaten but not yet flaking. What lawn there was had been recently cut, but already a few gnarly looking weeds poked up through the grass.
She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket, pressed the 2 on the speed dial, and got Curt's voice mail. His clipped message, “You know what to do,” was followed by the requisite beep. “I'm here and it looks great,” Avery said. She hung up and breathed in the warm air for a moment, had another thought, and hit redial. “I can't wait for you to see our place if you haven't already. . . .” She paused and found herself unwilling to hang up. The memory of their argument was fresh in her thoughts, and she didn't want their summer together to begin on a bad note. “I really think you're going to love it. We'll get to have time together and it'll be fun. I can't wait.”
She got out of the truck and looked around. The street ended two houses down, and beyond that was the beach and then the vast blue green ocean stretching out to the horizon. White-tipped waves crashed on the velvety golden sand, and sprays of water looked like millions of diamonds glittering in the sunlight.
“What a dump,” someone behind her muttered. Startled, Avery turned to see a girl with expertly highlighted honey blond hair, tan skin, and stormy blue eyes climbing out of a cab. She was wearing a tight pink baby doll tee with a light blue terry
cloth miniskirt. While neither was see-through, they might just as well have been, given what they revealed about her drop-dead figure. She was carrying a brown Louis Vuitton overnight bag. The cabdriver opened the trunk and placed two large matching suitcases on the curb.
“Ahem.” He cleared his throat and held out his hand.
The blonde gave him a perplexed look.
“I don't drive for free, sweetcakes,” said the cabbie.
Where Avery would have apologized like mad for the oversight, the blonde merely looked annoyed as she opened her bag and paid him.
“Ahem.” The driver cleared his throat again.
The blonde gave him an exasperated “Now what?” look.
“You ever heard of a tip?” he asked.
Rolling her eyes dramatically and acting as if he'd just asked her for one of her kidneys, she opened her purse and pulled out a hundred-dollar bill. “Got change?”
The driver frowned. “That's all you got?”
“Sorry.” The blonde stuck the bill back in her purse.
Muttering to himself, the cabbie got into the cab. Avery couldn't help but feel a bit shocked that the blonde had stiffed the guy. From the looks of things, she could have easily afforded the tip.
“Excuse me.” Leaving the matching luggage on the sidewalk, the blonde pushed past Avery.
Pretentious blue blood,
The kind who spends a thousand dollars on designer clothes
tailor-made to give the wearer a casual, just-thrown-together look. What is she doing renting a room in this place? Mommy and Daddy can probably afford to buy her a beach house of her own.
The blonde rang the doorbell. Almost instantly it was opened by a guy who looked about twenty years old. It seemed to Avery that he must have been waiting for the knock. His straight brown hair fell down his forehead, almost into his eyes, and he was wearing a white T-shirt, and green plaid shorts that revealed pale, bony arms and legs. The black socks and shoes did little to enhance the look. Behind his thick, black-rimmed glasses his eyes sparkled with excitement.