Authors: Hailey Abbott
I declare this a ten-boy summer!”
Cassie was happy and relaxed that Saturday as she rode…
A week later, Cassie managed to snag a gift from…
The first party of the summer was thrown by a…
The guy looking down at Cassie made her mouth go…
The morning after the party Cassie’s alarm went off way…
With the Fourth of July behind them, the three girls…
I don’t know why today is so slow,” Billy said,…
The party was insane. It was a Friday night in…
Tell me why we’re doing this again?” Keagan asked, her…
I’m going to lunch!” Cassie called to Billy, locking her…
Cassie couldn’t believe she was actually doing this. She squinted…
Cassie felt like doing cartwheels the next morning. She was…
Somehow, Cassie wasn’t surprised to see Trey the next morning…
Cassie was out the door and down the front steps…
I can’t believe I’m about to say this,” Greta said…
When I die, I’d like to think heaven looks a…
The third time her phone buzzed in her pocket, Cassie…
The next night, Cassie was having trouble keeping her feet…
Cassie took a deep breath, blew it out, and then…
When Cassie woke up the next morning, the first thing…
At work the next week, Cassie couldn’t shake her feeling…
I can’t believe it,” Greta said at dinner a week…
They were all laughing so hard when Greta pulled into…
declare this a ten-boy summer!”
Greta Crocker’s voice rang through the bedroom, distracting Cassie Morgan from the late afternoon view of the Hollywood Hills, complete with Hollywood sign. The vista over her parents’ backyard and across her posh Hancock Park neighborhood reminded her that she was finally back where she belonged. Home—where Siskiyou Academy gossip, especially the Cassie-specific item involving Daniel Fletcher and her broken heart, couldn’t touch her. Or shouldn’t, anyway.
Enough about Daniel.
Cassie fiercely tried to shake off thoughts of him as he’d shaken her off because he “needed his space.” Not that she was still bitter about it.
It’s summer. No ex-boyfriends or boarding school drama
She’d left all that back in her Northern California dorm on the last day of finals.
She turned her back on the view—and on her downer thoughts—to face her best friends, Greta and Keagan.
“What do ten boys have to do with our reunion summer?” Cassie made a face at her oldest friend. The Crockers had moved in next door when the girls were both four. Greta was stretched out across Cassie’s four-poster bed as if it were her own—as if it had been moments rather than months since she and Cassie had laid eyes on each other. She was dressed to lounge in low-slung blue L.A.M.B. sweatpants and a clingy green Amy Tangerine T-shirt, which made her pale skin glow. Greta’s strawberry-blond curls fanned out behind her as she sat up, narrowing her hazel eyes at Cassie.
“It’s time to take our game to the next level before senior year starts,” Greta said firmly. “Hence, ten boys.”
Cassie had forgotten about Greta’s bossy streak. The girls’ families usually traveled during school breaks, so they hadn’t actually hung out beyond very occasional coffee dates in years. E-mails and random phone calls just weren’t the same as face time. But even after three years apart, they were slipping easily back into old middle school patterns.
“I was thinking more like the no-boys level,” Cassie suggested, leaning back against the windowsill and smil
ing. “I’m ready to declare myself a boy-free zone after this last year. At least for a little while.”
“Agreed.” Keagan Ellison wrinkled her perfect little nose and looked up from the thick blue carpet. Cassie’s second-oldest friend, whose family had moved onto the block when the girls were all six years old, had been checking out the iTunes library on Cassie’s silver MacBook. She lay on her stomach, kicking her long, tanned legs up behind her. Cassie’s father would have a heart attack if she tried to wear anything as short as Keagan’s tiny white jean cutoffs. She loved that Keagan dared.
“I’m still recovering from the Zachary Malone disaster,” Keagan said, absently pulling one of the strings on her black Ed Hardy hoodie. She shuddered dramatically, making her high, pale blond ponytail bounce. “Ugh.”
Cassie had forgotten the full impact of Keagan’s natural, blue-eyed prettiness, which screamed
She ran a hand through her own darker, sandier blond mess, which she wore in a long, shaggy pixie cut. Never in a million years could she have managed to get her hair looking as smooth as Keagan’s. She thought about the hated freckles that spread across her cheeks and defeated any makeup she slathered over them. She accepted with a sigh that Greta was the fashionista and Keagan the SoCal dream girl. Cassie would always look more athletic and tomboyish than her friends. Luckily,
up at Siskiyou, most of the students dressed more Cassie than Keagan.
“Zachary Malone is a loser, not a disaster,” Greta said, rolling her eyes. “He had asshat written all over him from day one.” She looked at Cassie. “I met him once at a party. It was enough. He was vile.”
“Yeah, but he’s also hot.” Keagan shrugged, as if she couldn’t help herself. “Like, Wentworth Miller hot.”
“Wentworth Miller hot is not the kind of hot you just
, Greta,” Cassie offered in Keagan’s defense. “That’s the kind of hot that requires a recovery program. Maybe even an intervention.”
“I beg you,” Greta said with a groan. “Don’t encourage her!”
“What about you, Cassie?” Keagan asked, after sticking her tongue out at Greta. “How did your heart get broken? Vicious other woman?”
Cassie bit her tongue, feeling oddly hesitant. The three of them had been best friends before Cassie had gone off to boarding school, but their busy lives had intervened since then. Greta had had theater camps and drama club trips, and though she left long, rambling voice mails at random times, she never actually answered her phone. Keagan had joined the swim team at her school and was always traveling for meets—and even if she’d been around, she was terrible at keeping in touch. This was Cassie’s first summer in Los Angeles
since she’d left for Siskiyou Academy right before the ninth grade.
Cassie knew that Greta and Keagan saw
more of each other, since they still lived so close, but they went to high schools across the city from each other. They all e-mailed regularly, of course, and kept up on Facebook and stuff, but that was mostly commenting on pictures or status updates.
So how could she explain the agony and ecstasy that was Daniel Fletcher? He wasn’t Wentworth Miller hot. He was…Daniel. He was kind of the guy equivalent of Mount Shasta, the snowcapped mountain that dominated the horizon at Siskiyou. Cassie hadn’t e-mailed much about him because she didn’t how to explain him. It was easier to talk to her school friends, who understood the Daniel phenomenon. He just loomed over all the other guys at Siskiyou, and Cassie had been in love with him since freshman orientation. All that wild, curly dark hair and eyes to rival the dark green woods that surrounded the school. That swagger and easy intelligence. His lazy, devastating smile.
Cassie thought of the clean, crisp air and the Cascade Mountains rising on all sides, the snowy winter mornings when her boots crunched across the quad, and Daniel’s warm hands against her cold cheeks on gray afternoons. After years yearning for him, she remembered what it had felt like last September when he’d
smiled back at her in morning assembly. She wanted to tell her oldest friends every detail about the guy of her dreams, about curling up against him, silently breathing in the pine-scented outdoors on countless fall afternoons, about slogging through the snow to study together all winter, about getting trapped in the rain on a hike and deciding not to bother running for cover.
But it was too complicated to talk about without all of the details that made it so important, and recalling those details would lead to wallowing. Cassie didn’t want to wallow. She’d been thrilled to see Greta and Keagan waiting for her when she got home the night before. And they’d seemed so excited to come over for an inaugural summer sleepover. That was what Cassie wanted to concentrate on. Her friends, not Daniel. Because, really, hadn’t he caused enough pain already?
“Earth to Cassie!” Greta’s voice jolted Cassie back to the present. “Where’d you go?”
“Uh-oh,” Keagan replied. “Broken heart
a vicious other woman?”
“Daniel needed space,” Cassie said with a sigh. She sank down onto the plush carpet and flexed her toes so she could see the bright pink pedicure she’d given herself peeking out from the ragged hem of her much-abused Lucky jeans. She tried to keep her voice light as if talking about it didn’t still sting, and picked at a hole in the denim. “We were together all year. Then right
before he left for his summer trip to Europe—with about seventeen girls, by the way—he suddenly needed space.”
“Jerk!” Keagan said with feeling. She raised her brows at Greta.
“Complete jerk,” Greta agreed with a frown. “Which I thought went without saying.”
“Sometimes you need to say it anyway,” Keagan told her, grinning. “Sometimes you even need to shout it.”
“I think you guys need to seriously consider my plan,” Greta pressed.
“Oh no, she has a plan!” Keagan cried with a cackle. “When has that ever ended well, Cassie?”
“Pretty much never,” Cassie replied, snickering.
“I’m not talking about finding true love or any of that nonsense,” Greta said impatiently. “I’m talking about
I’m talking about good old-fashioned
” She eyed the other two girls. “Which it seems like both of you are in dire need of, by the way.”
“What? I’m having a great summer and it’s still only June,” Keagan said defensively.
Greta pointed at Keagan. “There is nothing fun about sitting around, obsessing over that guy and his Heidi Montag-wannabe new chick. You know I’m right.”
“Oh, please. I don’t have time to obsess,” Keagan argued. “I’m waiting tables at Belisimo, remember?” She made a face at Cassie. “It’s this brand-new, not-at-all-Italian-even-with-that-name, way-too-snotty restaurant in
West Hollywood. But I’m hoping the tips will be worth dealing with the attitude.”
“You’re obsessing,” Greta retorted. Keagan stuck her tongue out.
“Well, I’m always down for fun,” Cassie jumped in. “It’s the ten boys part that I’m not sure about. My
new job starts on Saturday, anyway. What could beat leading bike tours on Catalina?”
“Riding a bike around Catalina Island all day?” Keagan asked, her eyes wide. “Every day? And I was whining about waitressing being exhausting!”
“Your sportiness fascinates me,” Greta said, momentarily diverted from her ten-boys thing. “Didn’t you, like, swim up and down the Mississippi River last summer or something?”
“I went on a canoe trip in the Northwest Territories in Canada.” Cassie laughed. She stretched her legs out in front of her, pointing her toes until her calves complained. “On the Nahanni River, not the Mississippi. We camped in Glacier National Park. My school sponsored the trip. It was pretty amazing.”
“Sporty,” Greta said again, shaking her head with a smile. She rolled over on the bed and waved a hand at her willowy frame. “My idea of exercise is walking downstairs to get ice cream.”
“Speaking of ice cream…” Cassie wiggled her eyebrows. “I believe the freezer is stocked and ready.”
Laughing and whooping like they were ten years old instead of seventeen, all three girls tumbled out of Cassie’s room and into the hallway, then down the polished hardwood stairs.
Jostling her way into the kitchen, with its gleaming granite counters and the huge window overlooking the spill of hot pink and cream bougainvillea in the backyard, Cassie felt the tightness that had held her hostage since Daniel started acting weird start to ease.
It had something to do with being home, to be sure. Cassie had grown to appreciate the stark shift of the seasons up near the Oregon border, but she was a Southern Cali girl at heart. She loved Los Angeles in the summer—dry and hot all day, then cool at night. She loved watching the red-and-orange sunsets over Malibu, and counting stars from the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains on Mulholland Drive. It was good to be back.
And being with Greta and Keagan again made it even better. These were the friends who’d seen her through the gawky grade-school years and would always, always be there for her—no matter how embarrassingly she’d been dumped by the most popular guy in school. Even before Daniel started to pull away, she hadn’t felt this comfortable and unselfconscious in a long time.
“Tell me you have hot fudge, if you ever loved me at all!” Greta demanded as Cassie cracked open the Sub-Zero refrigerator that dominated the kitchen.
“Would I let you down?” Cassie asked, pretending to be offended, and waved the jar of hot fudge sauce in Greta’s direction. Greta’s joyful scream made Cassie laugh, but it also made her happy that her parents were out at some charity function.
Greta snatched the jar away from Cassie and held it against her heart, then did an exaggerated dance, as if she were auditioning for
So You Think You Can Dance with a Condiment
“She’s nuts,” Keagan said, shaking her head as she helped Cassie unload several different pints of Ben & Jerry’s from the freezer. “Always has been, always will be.”
“You’re just jealous of me and my lover,” Greta replied, still swirling and dipping around the kitchen. “My hot fudge lover.”
Cassie felt a glow of happiness spread through her as the three girls arranged themselves around the center island and created an ice-cream sundae assembly line. Giggling, Cassie pulled three bowls from the cabinet and arranged them on the counter. Keagan doled out a scoop from each pint: New York Super Fudge Chunk, Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, Half-Baked, and Cassie’s personal favorite, Phish Food. When the jar could be pried from Greta’s hands, Cassie ladled out huge helpings of hot fudge. She and Keagan added nuts to their bowls, and all three girls threw on rainbow sprinkles. Finally, Greta squirted a giant tower of whipped cream on top of each bowl.
“Bliss,” Keagan murmured, taking a big bite.
The girls padded out to the distressed-brick patio and lounged in the well-padded chairs as the sky darkened above them. The ice cream was so cold it threatened to give Cassie a sugary-sweet headache. Next to her, Greta let out a long sigh, half contented and half gluttonous. On the end, Keagan drummed her bare feet against the chair beneath her, as if keeping time with her spoon. For a while, there was only ice-cream sundae goodness, the sound of traffic far off on Melrose, and various neighborhood noises—dogs barking and the odd car stereo.
“I’m serious about this ten-boy summer,” Greta said when the bowls were empty and the three of them collapsed into a lazy sprawl in the grass, holding their bellies.
“You’re always serious about your schemes,” Cassie replied, and smiled when Greta made a face at her. “That’s why we love you.”
“Listen, you two,” Greta said, sitting up and crossing her legs. Her sweats dipped below her hip bones, showing a wide swath of skin underneath her green T-shirt. “You both spend way too much time stressing about unworthy guys. I say it’s time to stop
about guys and start
Cassie was intrigued. Keagan pulled her elastic out of her ponytail as she flipped over to her side and ran her fingers through the pale blond strands of hair that looked silvery in the dark.