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Authors: John Hall

Is He Or Isn't He?

BOOK: Is He Or Isn't He?
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Is He or Isn't He?
John Hall

This book is for my cousins:
Michael, Theresa and Gina; Nancy and Diane; John, Lisa (aka Mona) and Frank (aka Cheech); Maria (who used to live next door!) and especially Donna

Thanks for making growing up so much fun and thanks for so many great memories!


Chapter One

It had been the worst summer of her life.

Chapter Two

Anthony DeMarco loved throwing a party.

Chapter Three

“What a mess!” Paige exclaimed.

Chapter Four

“I can't believe I don't have any classes with Max!”

Chapter Five

“Only seventy-five more school days until Christmas vacation,” Bianca said,…

Chapter Six

Anthony couldn't wait until gym class was over.

Chapter Seven

“How bad should we be?” Paige asked Anthony.

Chapter Eight

“Tell me one more time what a good-bad movie is,”…

Chapter Nine

Was Max leaning more toward Straightsville? That was the question…

Chapter Ten

Paige was awakened by the sound of a ringing phone.

Chapter Eleven

The following morning Paige was at her locker when she…

Chapter Twelve

Anthony woke up to the sound of buzzing.

Chapter Thirteen

After getting off the phone with Paige, Anthony tried to…

Chapter Fourteen

It was showtime in the Hamptons.

Chapter Fifteen

“If I asked you to kiss me, would you?” Anthony…

Chapter Sixteen

Decisions, decisions. It was time for some dessert and Paige…

Chapter Seventeen

Anthony met Paige at the corner of Max's apartment building…

Chapter Eighteen

The moment Anthony had been waiting for had finally arrived.

Chapter Nineteen

Paige was dressed to kill.

Chapter Twenty

Anthony was in seventh heaven. Five guys had already been…

Chapter Twenty-One

Paige felt like a princess.

Chapter Twenty-Two

“Looks like you're stuck with me until your date arrives,”…

Chapter Twenty-Three

Paige breezed into the Frosted Cupcake, where she found Anthony…

t had been the worst summer of her life.

But her best friend didn't need to know that.

Of course, it was never easy keeping things from Anthony. He was always able to detect when something was wrong or when she was keeping a secret from him.

Seventeen-year-old Paige Crane took a deep breath and rang the doorbell of Anthony's penthouse apartment. A few seconds later she could hear the sound of approaching footsteps. She pasted a smile on her face as the door began to open.

“So what do you think?” she exclaimed, throwing her arms up in the air and twirling in front of Anthony. “Do I look like I just spent the summer in Los Angeles?”

Anthony blinked in disbelief, rubbing his eyes. “Who are you and what have you done with the real Paige Crane? The
Paige I know hates the sun.” Anthony gave Paige a huge hug and then inspected her from head to toe. “I almost didn't recognize you! Where did you get that great tan?!”

“It's a fake bake!” Paige exclaimed, walking into Anthony's apartment. The icy air-conditioning that greeted her felt great after the steamy humidity of Manhattan's city streets. “I went to this Brazilian spa on Madison and 81st. You strip down to your underwear and step into a chamber that's about the size of a locker. Then they spritz your body with this liquid that makes your skin golden brown.”

“The other girls are going to be
jealous.” Anthony gazed at himself in a hallway mirror. “What do you think of my tan? It's not fading, is it?”

“Please! If I know you, you spent the entire summer lying on the beach.” Paige followed Anthony into the kitchen and hopped up on a stool next to the breakfast bar as he began pulling carrots, celery and other veggies from the stainless steel fridge, placing them in front of her.

“So where's Ian?” she asked, reaching for a cutting board and knife. She began slicing a zucchini into thin strips. “I thought he'd be helping set up.”


“Ian. Tall, dark and handsome Ian. Remember him? Your boyfriend?”

“You mean


Anthony held up a hand, silencing Paige. “You don't want to hear the details. Trust me. Let's just say he's ancient history and leave it at that. Now, tell me all about your summer in La-La Land.”

Paige put down the knife she'd been using. “Oh no you don't, Mr. DeMarco. I want
and I want them
. We'll get to my summer later.”

Anthony opened a package of onion soup mix and added it into a bowl of sour cream. “I'm single again.”

“Obviously. What happened?”

Anthony sighed. “You're really going to torture me by making me relive the entire nightmare, aren't you?”

If there was one thing Paige knew Anthony loved, it was talking about himself. Especially when something dramatic had happened to him. Telling her about his break-up with Ian was
going to be torture.

“Yes, I am. Now spill!”

“Okay, I'll tell you but we're not talking about it at the party,” Anthony said. “Deal?”


“He broke up with me in Provincetown after a week. He gave me the ‘It's not you, it's me' speech.”

“You didn't believe him?” Paige asked while slicing a green pepper and arranging it on a platter.

Anthony shook his head. “I didn't believe him. Ian got a look at all the guys in P-Town and suddenly decided he could do better than me. You should have seen it, Paige. Everywhere you looked there were hunks. On the beach. In the water. Riding the bike paths. We're talking
material. Ian's head was spinning around in so many different directions, he didn't know where to look first. He was like that possessed girl from
The Exorcist

Anthony began stirring the sour cream furiously. “One day we were at the beach and there were some guys tossing
around a Frisbee and they asked Ian if he wanted in on the game. Do you think he asked me if I minded if he went off to play with them? No! He ran off, leaving me alone on our blanket.”

“What did you do?” Paige asked, knowing there was more to the story. And if she knew Anthony, there was going to be plenty of drama.

“I left and went back to the beach house. Ian followed after me because he knew I was mad. Of course, I had also taken their Frisbee after it had landed on our blanket and they couldn't continue the game without it.”

“And then?”

“When we got back to the house, that's when Ian gave me his speech and asked if we could be friends.”

“What did you tell him?” Paige asked, even though she was sure she knew the answer.

“I told him no!”

Paige had been right.

“Who wants to be friends with their ex? Especially one who's a cheater.”

“You think he cheated on you?” Paige gasped.

“If he hadn't, he was going to. It was only a matter of time.”

“Where did he end up spending the rest of the summer, then? Wasn't he staying at the beach house with you?”

“That's right, he
. After dropping his little bombshell, he took back the Frisbee and went off to join his new friends. You'll be proud to know that I didn't lose my temper. After Ian left I put a note on his bedroom door telling him I wanted him out of the house by the end of the day.”

“That's it?” Paige asked skeptically. “That's all you did?”

Anthony stuck a finger in the bowl of onion dip he had finished making and took a taste. “Delish!” He held out the bowl to Paige. “Want a taste?”

Paige dipped in a carrot. “You didn't answer my question.”

Anthony gave Paige a wicked grin. “Did I forget to mention that I
left a bottle of cologne open in one of his drawers?”

Paige giggled. “You didn't.”

“I did.” Anthony put the bowl of dip into the fridge and began taking bags of potato chips and pretzels out of the grocery bags that lined the granite counter. “It was the latest fragrance from the L & F line. Expensive stuff.”

“Where did he stay after you kicked him out?”

“I don't know. He probably came back to the city. Or maybe he bunked with one of his new friends. I never saw him again after that day.”

“Really? P-Town's a pretty small place.”

“I didn't spend the rest of the summer in P-Town. I spent it on Martha's Vineyard by myself. Call me a coward, but I didn't want to run into Ian. It would have hurt too much. My folks have friends who own a house on the Vineyard and I knew they were in Europe so I asked if we could go out there. My dad wasn't too happy about losing the money we spent renting the house in P-Town, but my mom worked her magic. During the day I went to the beach with my folks, and at night I either read, listened to CDs or watched TV.”

“That's it?” Paige asked in disbelief. “You didn't try to meet someone else?”

Anthony shrugged. “I didn't want to.”

“Why didn't you call me?!”

“I didn't want you feeling sorry for me, okay? I know I could have called and believe me, I was tempted—I even picked up the phone a couple of times—but I was feeling sorry for myself. Enough for the both of us.”

Anthony sighed as he began opening bags of potato chips and pouring them into bowls. “I needed to be alone. Ian was my first real boyfriend. Okay, we only went out for like three months and yeah, he'll be at Boston University this year, but I thought it was the beginning of
, you know?”

The expression on Anthony's face was so sad that at that moment all Paige wanted to do was give him a hug and tell him everything was going to be alright. Anthony DeMarco had been her best friend since the seventh grade. She had been the new girl in school and notoriously shy. Her first week in class, she'd kept to herself. Then, during a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art the following week, she'd been paired with Anthony. Secretly, she'd been pleased. The dark-haired, blue-eyed boy with dimples had caught her attention the first day she arrived at Peppington Prep, a private school on the Upper East Side. He looked so adorable in his oversized navy blue blazer and loosened burgundy striped tie and it seemed like everyone in their class was his friend. Paige instantly knew she wanted to be friends with him, too.

During the field trip, they were supposed to be studying Modernist paintings. But after an hour, all the canvases started to blur together.

“This is soooo boring,” Anthony whispered to Paige, his first words to her that afternoon, looking up from his notebook where he'd been taking notes. He took off the headphones he'd been wearing during the museum lecture and pushed his straight black hair off his forehead. A second later it flopped back down on his forehead. Paige had to resist the urge to push it away. She'd seen some of the other girls in her class do it on various occasions, but she hardly knew Anthony. “We can buy one of these tapes on the way out and learn everything we're supposed to. Why don't we cut out?”

“But we're supposed to stay here,” Paige whispered back, afraid one of her classmates would overhear their plans and possibly snitch on them. But Anthony was asking
to do something with him! And wasn't that what she wanted? “We could get in trouble.”

Anthony rolled his eyes. “It's the last class of the day. Nobody will miss us.”

“But what will we do if we leave?”

“The Museum of Television and Radio is showing the first five seasons of
The Simpsons
. That's way more fun than this. And we can stop at Serendipity for a frozen hot chocolate on our way down. My treat.”

Paige's eyes lit up. “
The Simpsons
? A frozen hot chocolate? D'oh! Those are two of my favorite things!”

Anthony smiled and put his notebook in his backpack. “Then I guess you're coming with me.”

After that, Paige and Anthony were joined at the hip. From the second they left the museum, they started talking and never stopped. They had lunch together every day at school, hung out at each other's homes after classes ended
and spent as much of their free time together as they could. Sometimes there were fights—Anthony was always more adventurous than Paige, wanting to take risks and try things that were different, and she was more of a scaredy cat, always afraid of what could go wrong—but they never stayed mad for long and always made up. Why wouldn't they? They were best friends, and that's what best friends did.

In the early days of their friendship, Paige never once considered Anthony boyfriend material. When she thought of Anthony, she thought of him as a friend—someone to hang out with, have fun with and confide in. And she'd never gotten any sort of vibe from Anthony that he was interested in dating her (of course, there had been a reason for that, but at the time, she didn't know it). She didn't think of him as a possible boyfriend because if she wanted a boyfriend, she could have one. Easily. Like most of the girls in their class, she had started dating and there was always a guy calling to invite her to a movie or school dance. Usually the dates were a disaster—seventh grade boys didn't have a clue about what to do on a first date, although they all seemed to think the date was supposed to end with an open-mouthed kiss. Not!—and the best part was when she got home and called Anthony to give him a recap.

Paige nibbled on a potato chip while Anthony began cutting up blocks of cheese and arranging them on platters with crackers and grapes.

“You do that so well,” Paige pointed out. “I can't even make a decent-looking peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

“It's a skill I'm going to need if I don't make it as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Professional cater-waiter. At least the
one perk of the job will be meeting cute guys. All cater-waiters are either aspiring actors or writers. And let's not forget the most important thing. Many of them are gay!”

It never failed to amaze Paige how at ease Anthony was with being gay. It was no big deal. Just part of who he was. She could still remember when he had told her he was gay three years ago. It had been a snowy afternoon and they'd been at her apartment, flipping through issues of
Teen People
. Anthony had held up a page featuring Leonardo DiCaprio.

“Leo's so cute.”

Paige glanced at the photo with mild interest. Unlike her other female classmates, Leo didn't do much for her and she hadn't seen
ten times. “I can see that.”

Anthony flipped to another page in the magazine. “God. So is Christian Bale.”

is definitely true,” Paige agreed.

“Oooh! Now here's a real hunk.” Anthony held up a page with Brad Pitt wearing a pair of faded jeans. “I wonder what it would be like to kiss him.”

“Excuse me?” Paige wasn't sure if she'd heard Anthony correctly. Then the light bulb went on over her head. “Are you trying to tell me something?”

Anthony went back to his magazine. “I just did.”

And just like that, Anthony had told her he was gay. It was no big deal. For a while, Paige had suspected that something was up. When they were shopping at department stores, Anthony always made a point to linger in the men's fragrance department, talking to the cute older guys holding cologne bottles and gathering free samples.

“What's going on in here?” a deep voice asked.

Paige turned around on her stool to see Anthony's older brother, Paolo, walk into the kitchen. Paolo was two years older than Anthony and starting his sophomore year at NYU. While Anthony wore his dark hair long and had blue eyes, Paolo had lighter hair that he wore in a buzz cut and his eyes were more of a blue-green. He was wearing shorts and a T-shirt with cut-off sleeves. Unlike Anthony, Paolo was a major sports buff. Cradling a basketball under one arm, he wiped a sheen of sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand while sticking his head in the refrigerator. Seconds later he emerged with a bottle of Gatorade that he began drinking directly from the bottle.

BOOK: Is He Or Isn't He?
9.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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