The Twelve Dates of Christmas

BOOK: The Twelve Dates of Christmas
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The Twelve Dates of Christmas

How NOT to Spend
Your Senior Year
BY JENNIFER ECHOLS

Royally Jacked
BY NIKI BURNHAM

Ripped at the Seams
BY NANCY KRULIK

Spin Control
BY NIKI BURNHAM

Cupidity
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

Animal Attraction
BY JAMIE PONTI

A Novel Idea
BY AIMEE FRIEDMAN

Scary Beautiful
BY NIKI BURNHAM

Getting to Third Date
BY KELLY MCCLYMER

Dancing Queen
BY ERIN DOWNING

Major Crush
BY CAMERON DOKEY

Do-Over
BY NIKI BURNHAM

Love Undercover
BY JO EDWARDS

Prom Crashers
BY ERIN DOWNING

Gettin' Lucky
BY MICOL OSTOW

The Boys Next Door
BY JENNIFER ECHOLS

In the Stars
BY STACIA DEUTSCH AND
RHODY COHON

Crush du Jour
BY MICOL OSTOW

The Secret Life
of a Teenage Siren
BY WENDY TOLIVER

Love, Hollywood Style
BY P.J. RUDITIS

Something Borrowed
BY CATHERINE HAPKA

Party Games
BY WHITNEY LYLES

Puppy Love
BY NANCY KRULIK

Available from Simon Pulse

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.

SIMON PULSE

An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com
Copyright © 2008 by Catherine Hapka
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 October 2008
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Control Number 2008924797
ISBN-13: 978-1-4169-6412-4
ISBN-10: 1-4169-6412-6
eISBN-13: 978-1-4424-4112-5

Content

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

About the Author

The Twelve Dates of Christmas

It had seemed like the perfect plan—get my boyfriend to fall for another girl, and I'd be free. No muss, no fuss, no guilt or bad feelings.

I'd approached it logically, like the scientific person I am. I'd identified the problem. I'd come up with a hypothesis. I'd set up an experiment.

And now the results were sitting across the warm, garlic-scented, holiday-bedecked room from me. Or, rather, getting up and walking out of said room, namely Manfredi's, my hometown's fanciest restaurant.

Cam glanced over toward me as he was helping his new girlfriend, Jaylene, with her coat. He smiled and waved. I returned
the smile weakly and wriggled my fingers in return.

“What are you looking at, Lexi?” My date, Andrew Cole, stopped talking about himself just long enough to notice I wasn't hanging on his every word. He looked over at the door just in time to see the happy couple depart. “Oh.” He shrugged, then shoveled in a mouthful of lasagna before returning to his favorite topic. “So anyway, like I was saying, the admissions guy from Northwestern told me that if I applied, he was positive I'd get in, and . . .”

I picked up my fork and poked at my pasta. But my stomach recoiled at the thought of actually eating it. I'd lost my appetite the second I'd walked into the restaurant and spotted Cam and Jaylene together.

Andrew had, in his efficient, over-achiever way, procured us a great table by the front window. It was tinted with fake frost and draped with garlands of holly and ivy, but that wasn't enough to block my view of Cam and Jaylene as they emerged onto the sidewalk outside. I watched them out of the corner of my eye, not wanting to see any more but unable to resist. Call it scientific curiosity.

It was early December and the temperature out there was normal for late evening in our part of Wisconsin—in other words, frigid. A few snowflakes drifted lazily down, lending the perfect touch to the scene. Seeing that we were in Claus Lake, that scene could be summed up in one word: Christmassy. The whole town was crazy for Christmas. Red and green lights twinkled up and down the poles of the streetlights, across the facades of all the shops on Elf Street, and even on the parking meters and stop signs. Holly and mistletoe were everywhere.

Jaylene huddled in her baby blue, fake-fur-trimmed, not-really-warm-enough-for-Wisconsin jacket, laughing at something Cam had just said. Then she let out an elaborate shiver and cocked her little blond hatless head up to say something to Cam, who was almost a foot taller than her. I couldn't hear them through the window, but I imagined her saying something like,
We-all don' have this heah wh-aht stuff fallin' outta the skah awl the tah-yam back home in Jaw-ja.

Okay, so maybe her Southern accent isn't quite
that
bad. But it's close.

Anyway, whatever she said made Cam laugh. Now, a lot of people can laugh wickedly or sarcastically or wearily or even just politely. But not Cam. His whole face always lit up with pure joy whenever he smiled or laughed, like a little boy's on—well, okay, Christmas.

So he laughed, and then he put his arm around her. She snuggled up against him with another shiver, wrapping both her white-mittened hands around his waist.

She smiled up at him. He smiled down at her. A second later she was standing on tiptoes, and he was bending down toward her.

Their kiss sent an electric shock through me. A spontaneous kiss on a snowy evening, not knowing or caring who might see—since when had Cam become such a romantic?

And more important, since when did I
care
? After all, this was all totally my idea, my plan, my fault.

But maybe I need to backtrack a little. Begin at the beginning. See, it all really started a few months ago at the big last-day-of-freedom party at the lake the night before my first day of senior year. . . .

“Hold still.”

I froze on command. A second later my best friend, Allie Lin, smacked me soundly on the forehead. “Ow!” I yelped.

“Mosquito,” she explained succinctly.

I rubbed the spot. “Oh. Thanks.”

She slapped herself on the arm, then shifted positions on the big old scratchy pine log where we were sitting. Her gaze drifted to a group of beefy-looking guys in Bermuda shorts over near the bonfire. They were pounding beers and talking football. Their loud, excited voices blended with the hip-hop music pouring out of the speakers of the battered old Chevy sedan parked on the rocky lakeside beach. The dark, still
water of Lake Claus lapped gently against the car's front tires.

“I can't believe school starts tomorrow and I still don't have a boyfriend.” Allie glanced from the football guys over to a couple making out furiously on the next log. “If I don't have a guy of my own before the Ball, I swear I'm going to give it up and become a nun.”

In Claus Lake, there was only one thing people meant when they said “the Ball.” That was the town's big Christmas Eve Costume Ball, held every year at the fireman's hall. It was a fund-raiser for some local charities, but more important, it was the social event of the season. The Christmas season, that is. And in Claus Lake, the Christmas season was the only season that counted. It lasted for a good four months, and people talked about it all year long.

BOOK: The Twelve Dates of Christmas
13.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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