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Authors: Sarah Mlynowski

A Nice Fling is Hard to Find

BOOK: A Nice Fling is Hard to Find
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A Nice Fling is Hard to Find

Sarah Mlynowski

This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places, and incidents either are a product of the author's imagination or are
used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or
locales is entirely coincidental.

“A Nice Fling is Hard to Find” Copyright © 2007 by Sarah
Mlynowski

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a
retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of
the publisher.

Tuesday, July 10, 7:22 P.M.

Dear TJ (aka Travel Journal),

I’m here! I’m on the plane! I did it!

I can’t believe I’m actually going to FRANCE. I am so sophisticated.

Okay, fine, in my ratty sweatpants, T-shirt, and ponytail, I
am not looking so sophisticated, but that’s hardly the point. I AM GOING TO
FRANCE. As soon as the plane takes off. In eight—wait, make that
seven!—minutes.

I almost missed the plane due to my parents’ fanatical
hugging. My mom was full-on whimpering, and even my Dad’s eyes were glistening
(although he tried to pretend he got dirt stuck in his contacts). I reminded
them that I would only be gone for eleven days (one night on the plane, four
nights in Paris, one night on a train, two nights in the Alps, and three nights
in Nice—pronounced
Niece
—which is on the Riviera), but my mom would not
calm down.

“Are you sure you want to go?” she asked, her voice shaking.

I nodded.

“But what if you break something?”

“Then I’ll go to the hospital,” I said, attempting to sound
calm.

“But you don’t speak French!”

“Mom, there’s a translator with the tour.”

“Well, then stay with the tour at all times,” she ordered.

“Of course.” Maybe.

“And don’t talk to strangers, Lindsay,” she warned.

“Sure.” Please. The entire point of this trip is TO talk to
strangers. Because in France, I will be wild. I will be wild and have a mad
fling with a gorgeous Frenchman named Jacques or Jean-Claude who will look deep
into my eyes and feed me Brie on bite-sized baguettes.

“Better safe than sorry,” my mom said, and I rolled my eyes.

See, so far everything about my life has been careful. I’ve
never been out of the US before. I’ve barely been out of New York State (one
trip to Florida does not a world traveler make). I have a younger brother named
Jack, a dog named Ralph, I live in a nice house in Long Island, I have a 3.8
GPA, my parents are happily married . . . and I’ve probably put you, dear TJ,
to sleep. Because there is nothing remotely interesting, remotely scandalous,
about my existence thus far. I never skip school. I never yell at my parents.
I’ve never run for student council. Not that I’m dying to be class president or
anything, but my point is that I never take any risks. My mom has always been
ridiculously overprotective, especially since I’m a tad bit accident-prone. I
wasn’t allowed to do anything growing up—no gymnastics, no skating, no skiing.
No fun. This trip is my chance to escape from my mother’s overprotectiveness
and live a little.

My chance to finally have a fling—with a hot foreign boy.

The snarky French flight attendant in her cleavage-revealing
uniform is ordering me to put up my tray-table for take off. We haven’t even
left yet and I’m already causing trouble! Go me!
J

No-Clue-What-Time-It-Is-Since-We-Keep-Crossing-Time-Zones p.m.

Dear TJ,

We’re in the air! Wahoo! I think we’re somewhere over the
Atlantic. Perhaps over the Bahamas? Not that I can see the Bahamas. Looking out
the window is like staring into a pool of black ink.

Becca is sitting next to me in the middle seat, paging
through a
Seventeen
. Tommy, her twin brother, is on her other side,
reading
Let’s Go France
. About fifteen others from our teen tour are on
this flight. Mike, one of our tour guides, who is sitting diagonally from us,
is already balding, even though he can’t be older than thirty. Joanna, the
second tour guide, is sitting next to him. She’s wearing tight jeans and a
Teens
Tour France!
T-shirt. I’d peg her as around twenty-three, at least eight
years older than we are. Her teeth are blindingly white and she keeps turning
back to us and smiling as though she’s in school and this is her class photo.
She has outrageously long fingernails painted bright pink. If she keeps those
florescent fingers away from my foreign fling we’ll get along just fine.

Becca and I have already outlined our rules. We are very
good about making rules. In third grade we had club rules, in the fifth we had
Barbie rules, and in the sixth we introduced boy rules. Since we both had a
crush on a scrawny boy named Chet, we decided we’d each have to choose someone
else to like. No hurt feelings allowed. We never liked the same guy again. And
I’d know, ’cause we tell each other everything. I’m the person she called when
her parents separated. She fed me banana sorbet after I got my wisdom teeth
pulled. She’s going to be my BFF until we’re eighty and living on a beach in
Florida, complaining about how our grandkids never call us and that we can’t
hear the TV.

“Here’s my rule—I’m calling dibs on the Texan,” she
whispered soon after takeoff, motioning with her head to a guy in a
Teens
Tour France!
T-shirt sitting four rows back, near the bathrooms.

“Oh sure, take the only cute guy on the trip,” I said,
poking her in the side.

“Uh, hello? Remember me? ” Tommy asked, waving. “I’m right
here.”

Whoops. “Sorry Tommy,” I said, laughing. “One of
two
cute guys on the trip.” I felt kind of bad about that one. Of course Tommy’s
cute. Not in a hello-I-need-to-make-out-with-you kind of way, but in a
isn’t-he-sweet, brotherly kind of way. What can he expect? He looks too much
like my almost-a-sister best friend for me to think of him any other way.
They’re not identical, but they both have dark brown hair and the same
foreheads. Of course, he’s almost six feet, and she’s barely five foot four.
And he has his dad’s dark brown eyes, and she has her mother’s hazel ones. And
her lips are pencil-thin and his are full. When his are outlined in lip liner,
they’re especially humongous.
Why
would Tommy use lip liner? Part of one
of our many “boomerang dares,” which involved all of us having to do things we
didn’t want to do in the name of absurdity. In this case, we got to put makeup
on him, but we had to drink Tommy’s Tornado, which was string cheese, raisins,
Tabasco sauce, and seltzer, in the blender. Yum. Not.

There’s no mistaking me and Becca for twins. I have green
eyes and light brown hair—stick-straight brown hair. Boring, boring, boring.
Maybe I should get highlights to liven up my look? Or not. Becca tried
highlights last year, and they were tough to keep up. She also tried lowlights
and pink-lights and cropping it and extensions . . . Becca likes to try a lot
of things. I, on the other hand, have never tried anything different or exciting.

Until now.

I returned my focus to Becca. “You know what? You can have
everyone on the tour,” I said with determination. “I’m only considering men
with accents.”

“Go, you!” Becca exclaimed, putting her arm around me. “I
raised you well, little one.”

Becca likes to call me “little one” because at five foot
one, I am the only person she knows who is shorter than she is.

“Long Islanders have an accent,” Tommy piped up with a grin.


Foreign
accents,” I clarified. “Italians, Russians,
Spaniards . . . but most especially, Frenchmen.”

Tommy kicked off his Adidas sneakers and pushed them under
the seat in front of him. “What about Brits? Or Australians? Who gets them?”

“Good question,” Becca said. “I
do
like Brits. And
Australian guys are super sexy. They’re all tanned, muscled, and blond.”

“You can have anyone who speaks English,” I told her. “The
only language I’m speaking is the language of love.”

That’s when Tommy groaned and said, “You’re such a
cheeseball, Lindster.” He reclined his seat, pulled out his iPod, and put in
his earbuds.

Becca is poking my side now. She wants to play the travel
Battleship she brought. Gotta run. Not that I’m GOING anywhere . . . except
France . . . oh, whatever. Can you tell this is the first time I’ve ever kept a
diary?

Wednesday, July 11 6:00 a.m. France Time!

Bonjour TJ
! We are here.
Nous sommes ici
.
And by
ici
, I mean sitting on the cold floor of the baggage-claim area
in Charles de Gaulle International Airport, waiting for our backpacks to be
spit out. Not that anything can get me down. Because I am in Paris—the land of
romance.

When the plane finally landed, we followed Joanna through
customs. Joanna began singing, “
Sur le pont d'Avignon, on y danse, on y
danse
!” at the top of her lungs. No idea what she was saying, but I’m assuming
it was in French. Everything was in French. The signs, the people, the
restaurants, the bookstores. Then we went through customs, where the man said,

Bonjour
,” to me.
Bonjour!
How cute is that? I got an adorable
stamp on my spanking-new passport, and then I snuck into
les toilettes
and now we’re here in
le baggage
claim. Waiting. Oh there’s mine, gotta
go! Hmm, it looks insanely heavy. I think twenty T-shirts, fifteen pairs of
shorts, and eight pairs of shoes may have been overkill.

Tommy is waving at me, trying to get my attention, possibly
trying to let me know that my bag is coming around the bend.

Perhaps if I pretend to not see it he will pick it up for
me?

He’s doing it! He’s doing it! Tee hee. What’s French for
gullible dork?

A few hours later

Even the trip from the airport to the hostel was
exciting.

“Can you smell it?” I asked Becca as we stepped out of the
airport doors.

“Smell what?” she asked, sliding on her oversized
sunglasses.

“The fresh pastries! The hot coffee! The Chanel perfume!”

“I smell the diesel fuel,” she said with a shrug.

Mike led us to our air-conditioned bus, and Becca and I
moved to the back row and sat with our feet up. We cheered as we spotted the
Eiffel Tower through the window. The driver sped along the highway like he had
never heard the expression “speed limit,” and I squeezed Becca’s hand.

Now we are at the hostel, Les Quatre Saisons.

Which is ironic, considering this place looks
nothing
like
the Four Seasons. Not that I’ve ever stayed at a Four Seasons, but I went to a wedding
at one, and it looked nothing like this. And I bet the rooms were not dusty and
packed with metal bunk beds.

Not that I’m complaining. I am not. I am very lucky to be in
France. I had to beg, Beg, BEG my parents to let me come on this trip and do filing
work at my mom’s office for four months to help pay for it. The trip was
Becca’s idea to begin with. She wanted to just backpack across France, but my
mother would have never gone for that. I’ll admit it even freaked me out. So
this was the best compromise. And since it wouldn’t have been fair if Becca got
to go to Europe without Tommy, here we
all
are. In Les Quatre Saisons.
Stop number one.

There are six bunk beds in our room, which works out because
there are eleven of us: ten girls and one leader, Joanna. The guys are in a
room down the hall. For the first time ever I am sleeping on the top bunk.
(Sure, I can hear my mother’s voice warning me that I might roll off and end up
in a body cast, but I am ignoring her, thank you very much. Becca is beneath
me. Next to us is Penny and Penni (I am not making that up) best friends from a
neighboring Long Island ’burb. This is how Penny introduced herself: “I’m Penny
with a Y! This is my B-F-F Penni with an I!”

I’d mock her for using BFF in a sentence, but I think I just
used it a few pages ago.

But it’s not like I said it out loud.

Anyway, Penni with an I has blond hair and Penny with a Y is
a brunette. They are wearing matching velour sweatsuits, rhinestoned
flip-flops, and pigtails.

“I hate them,” Becca whispered as she unrolled her sleeping
bag.

Becca never shies away from making snap judgments. She never
shies away—or is shy—about anything. Compared to her, Tommy is so quiet.

The other six girls on our trip are Britney, Rori-Ann, and
Carrie from Jersey, who  seem to be quite cliquey— (they have not spoken a word
to anyone but one another and have already taped photos of their boyfriends on
the walls behind their pillows); Max and Kristin from Toronto (they have about
five cameras between the two of them and have already snapped about seven
hundred pictures); and Abby from Miami (who has the most ginormous breasts I
have ever seen. She must be a thirty-six triple D). Abby has to share a bunk
with Joanna. Our fearless leader seems to have recently ingested at least six
cups of café, ’cause she is bouncing off the bunk beds. She has already
unpacked her sleeping bag, changed into shorts and a tank top, unpacked all her
clothes into neat piles on her shelf, and lined up her shoes.

BOOK: A Nice Fling is Hard to Find
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