Table of Contents
“Ben? Lissa, Ben and I broke up. Didn’t you know that?”
Something lifted inside of me. “You and Ben broke up? What happened?”
“He got drunk at Terri Anderson’s party. Started dancing around in this hideous robe he found in her mom’s closet. And then he ended up in a corner with Alice Spradling. End of story.”
“What—they were fooling around?”
I stared at my jeans. The lightness I’d felt was gone. “Funny how that happens, huh? Get drunk, fool around . . . end of story.”
“What are you talking about, Lissa?”
I gripped the phone. I couldn’t believe I’d said that, and now I didn’t know how to take it back. And part of me didn’t want to take it back, wanted Kate to hear it and respond and . . . and just
to me about it.
“I thought we decided not to fight anymore,” Kate said. Her voice was cool.
“I’m not fighting. I just . . . I think we need to talk.”
“About what? There’s nothing to talk about.”
“Kate, come on.” My heart pounded. “That night? At Rob’s house?”
There was a long silence.
“We were drunk,” Kate finally said.
“You were. I wasn’t.”
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First published in the United States of America by Dutton Books,
a member of Penguin Putnam Inc., 2003
Published by Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2004
This edition published by Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2007
Copyright © Lauren Myracle, 2003 All rights reserved
The excerpts and references on pages 25, 26, 45, 47, and 74 are from
Lucid Dreaming: The Power of Being Awake and Aware in Your Dreams
by Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D., published by Ballantine Books, New York.
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS HAS CATALOGED THE DUTTON EDITION AS FOLLOWS:
Myracle, Lauren, date.
Kissing Kate / by Lauren Myracle.
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Lissa’s relationship with her best friend changes
after they kiss at a party and Lissa does not know what to do,
until she gets help from an unexpected new friend.
eISBN : 978-1-101-17668-9
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any
responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
FOR JACK, WHO FLIES ME THROUGH KISSES
Thanks to the following, whose encouragement and response helped shape the book:
Brock Cole, Sharron Darrow, Karen Hollenbeck-Wuest, Shawna Jackson, Jill Greene,
Christine Kechter, Tom Kechter, Chuck Kechter, Jackie Owens, Julianne Sanders,
Maggie Adams, Virginia MacKinnon, and the faculty and students of Vermont
College’s graduate program in writing for children and young adults.
I especially thank my dear friend Laura Pritchett, who talks to me about writing and
children, children and writing. Her example gives me strength.
I am grateful to my family for their steady and loving support: my mother, Ruth
White, for never suggesting I choose a more practical career; my fathers, Tim White
and Don Myracle, for, respectively, helping me navigate the streets of Atlanta and
encouraging an early love of books; and my sister, Susan White, for inspiring me,
advising me, and making me laugh.
A thousand thanks to my editor, Susan Van Metre, who is amazing beyond words.
Thanks, too, to her assistants, Susan Finch and Caroline Beltz.
And finally I thank my husband, Jack Martin, who makes it all possible.
IT WAS TINY, NO MORE THAN A LINE
of blood bubbling up at the base of my finger, but the knife clattered to the counter and I sank to the floor, sucking my hand and crying as if I were six years old instead of sixteen. The linoleum was ugly, and I could see dust and crumbs scattered beneath the cabinets, and it occurred to me that if this was how I was going to feel for the rest of my life, if slicing a bagel could bring me to tears, then I’d have been better off not knowing Kate at all. And then my head grew light, because how could I even think such a thing?
I take it back,
I prayed. I squeezed my eyes shut and wished I could take it all back, everything that had happened, so that Kate and I could return to being friends like we used to be. I felt wrong inside without her, weepy and miserable and pathetic. And that was the part I didn’t get, because didn’t she feel that way, too?
We’d been best friends since we were twelve, long enough that our names were paired in everyone’s minds: Kate and Lissa. Always her name first, not that I cared. If anything, I still felt surprised we’d been linked at all, that she’d picked me when she could have chosen anyone. Although really, it was our seventh-grade gym teacher who did the choosing.
“What was that teacher’s name?” Kate asked just last month. “The one whose P.E. class we were in, the one who assigned us to be partners?”
Kate couldn’t call it up, but I remembered exactly. It was Mrs. Klause. I remembered everything about that day, even its lousy start. I was running late because I couldn’t find a permission slip I was supposed to turn in, and on top of that, my Uncle Jerry picked that morning to cough and tug on his ear before finally suggesting that perhaps I should wash my new bra since I’d worn it for a week straight and didn’t I think maybe . . . ? Only he didn’t call it a “bra,” he called it an “upper undergarment,” and he about died getting those words out. We both did. I’d bought the bra on my own, which meant that Jerry must have noticed the outline of the straps beneath my T-shirts or felt them on one of the rare occasions when he gave me a hug. For him to mention it at all was astounding.
I swear, I think back on Jerry during moments like that and I’m amazed he’s survived as well as he has. That we all have. Jerry moved in with us when I was eight, after my parents were killed in a plane crash, and he’s been taking care of me and my little sister, Beth, ever since. It hasn’t been easy.
Anyway, I’m sure he didn’t mean I should wash it right then. His worried eyes said as much when I dropped my books and fled back up to my room. But he was right about how long it had been, and my first class was P.E., which meant changing into my P.E. uniform. I’d avoided putting my bra in the laundry hamper out of normal, twelve-year-old embarrassment. (Jerry did the wash, and I didn’t want him running across it.) But the thought of the girls in the locker room smirking as I pulled off my shirt was a million times worse.
I washed my bra in the sink, then blew it dry with my hair dryer. By the time Jerry dropped me off at school, it was 8:15, and I had to go to the office for a late pass.
“Better hurry,” the secretary said. I grabbed the pass and ran to the gym. I had the locker room all to myself—wouldn’t you know it—and I changed in record time and dashed to the basketball court, where Mrs. Klause had already unrolled the cushiony, blue floor mat. The other girls sat in a circle at her feet, and their heads swiveled my way as I darted across the floor. Mrs. Klause gave me a disapproving stare, then continued with her instructions. “You’ll need to master the headstand, handstand, and arabesque for our unit on balance,” she said. “Today, we start with the headstand.”
She squatted, then placed her hands and head on the floor and tipped her lower body above her hips, first resting her knees on her elbows and then straightening her legs into the air. Her gym shorts bunched around her bottom, making some of the girls snicker. She lowered her legs and stood up.
“That is the correct position for a headstand: knees locked, toes pointed, no swaying back and forth. Any questions?” She scanned the circle, daring anyone else to laugh. “Good. Amy, why don’t you work with Elizabeth; Karena, work with Maggie; Jody, you work with Rebecca—”
I drew my knees to my chest and wrapped my arms around my shins. I hated it when she made us work with partners. I was neither cute nor outgoing, and most of the girls groaned when they were paired with me. During our unit on calisthenics, I’d been assigned to work with Callie Roberts, who begged me to go to Mrs. Klause and ask to be switched. I wouldn’t, and Callie marked me down as having done only ten jumping jacks when really I’d done twenty-five.
“And Kate, let’s see, why don’t you work with”—her eyes landed on me—“Lissa.”
I ducked my head, resting my chin on my kneecaps. Kate was small and blond and pretty, and she had a laugh like an open present. Compared to me, she was a goddess. Plus, she was a gymnast. I’d seen her practicing after school. She wouldn’t want to work with me. She’d think I was a big, dark clod.
Mrs. Klause clapped her hands. “All right, girls. Get to work!”
I stayed where I was. A pair of sneakers entered my line of vision, and I lifted my head to see Kate gazing down at me.