Authors: Amy Sparling
From the bestselling author of Summer Unplugged, comes a new series set in the same world. Becca's senior year of high school is approaching and she's tired of being the dorky best friend. Determined to reinvent herself with help from Bayleigh, she plans to spend the summer breaking out of her shell. When Bayleigh gets grounded and sent away for three months, Becca's plans come crashing down before they've even started.
Now Becca is alone and can't even talk to Bayleigh on the phone. Not wanting to miss out on the summer before senior year, she takes a job at the local indoor BMX track. The job is fun, her boss is laid back, and the place is packed with hot guys. One of them just might have a crush on her. This may be a summer without her best friend, but it doesn't mean she'll have to spend the summer alone.
Part 1 of a 4 part novella series.
Part 1 of the Summer Series
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cover art from shutterstock.com
Cover design by Amy Sparling
First edition October 1, 2014
It’s the first day of summer and I’m sitting in my bedroom, still wearing pajamas. It’s pretty much where I can be found any time I’m not in school. If there’s one thing to know about me, it’s the one thing
knows about me: My name is Becca Sosa and I am a loser. Or in the words of Trey Sheppard at the senior’s party last week, I am a
I hate insults like that. The ones that are said behind your back, directed to other people as you walk by. The insults you weren’t prepared to hear because the people who say them—Trey Sheppard—are usually nice to your face. It’s one thing to call someone an asshole if they are being an asshole; that’s a trait you have control over, something you can choose to be or not to be. Like when my best friend Bayleigh accidently dropped a piece of popcorn and it fell on her little brother’s head and he got all confused about it. Then she kept tossing popcorn at him all night, just to mess with him. I told her she was a jerk for doing it. That’s an insult that was deserved, even though she thought it was hilarious.
But lame-o dork-o? I didn’t set out to become the lamest, dorkiest person in the city of Lawson. It’s not like I was intentional about it. Besides, I’m normal. I’m not dorky. I don’t wear thick-rimmed glasses with tape holding them together, or suspenders or orthodontic headgear or something like that. That’s why those are the worst insults. Being made fun of for something that’s just…just you.
The sad thing is that I didn’t realize there were people who thought of me that way. Sure, when your best friend is crazy beautiful and wild in the best way and makes friends everywhere, you kind of expect to be known as the less popular one out of the two of you. But I guess I hadn’t realized how low I actually was on the popularity totem pole.
Bayleigh has always been more popular and more outgoing than me. She’s had boyfriends since we were in sixth grade, back when
having a boyfriend
meant holding hands before and after school and telling everyone you had kissed when really you hadn’t.
But even with the drastic differences in our personalities and likeability factor at school, Bayleigh has always stuck by me. We met at a daycare when we were four years old, during a time when my stay at home mother had temporarily gotten a job to help pay for Grandma’s nursing home. Bayleigh and I were instant best friends, according to our mothers, and even though I only had to go to that daycare for four months, our moms exchanged phone numbers and we stayed best friends with play dates and sleepovers. I really owe a lot to Bayleigh. She’s the world’s greatest best friend.
Hell, if it wasn’t for Bayleigh extending her party invites to me, then I’d never go anywhere. I’d be stuck in my bedroom one hundred percent of the time instead of just…ninety-nine percent of the time. Not that my room is an awful place to be or anything. I love my bedroom. It’s small, but it’s me.
The wall behind my bed is painted hot pink, the kind of pink that says summer and girly painted toenails and little string bikinis. It’s rich and bold and I love it. The other three walls of my room are painted black, but they haven’t always been that way.
Last year, Mom had flown to Oregon to attend the funeral of her second cousin who none of us had met before, leaving Dad and me alone. Dad had dragged me to the hardware store with him while he stocked up on all the supplies needed to fix random things in the house. It was supposed to be a surprise for Mom, him fixing all of the stuff she’d been complaining about for months. This was one of the only times my dad, a police officer, was off work.
When I saw two gallons of black paint had been marked down to five bucks each, I instantly knew that my solid pink bedroom needed this black paint in its life. It needed the depth and dramatic color of darkness to make the pink really pop. I love my dad, so,
much. And I would never try to take advantage of him…but he makes it
easy. Since he works a ridiculous schedule, he inevitably buys stuff for Mom and me on his off days to try and make up for all the lost family time.
So when I stuck out my bottom lip and pointed to the clearance paint cans and said, “Please, Dad
pleaseeeee?” He caved. He bought the paint and the supplies we needed and he spent the entire weekend painting my room with me. In the end, we thought it looked amazing. Like something straight out of a fancy house decorating magazine.
Mom absolutely hated it. She said dark walls were for people with dark hearts and too many tattoos and why on earth would her precious daughter want to ruin her bedroom like that? It was such a mom reaction. I’m pretty sure I won’t be tempted to ink my body after painting my room. I’m the girl who cried when I got my ears pierced. My mom is great, but she’s kind of a complete worry wart. She doesn’t let me go anywhere without calling to check in once an hour, sometimes half an hour, and she frets about every single thing I do. She hated my room colors because she had thought I was turning into some weirdo who would start vandalizing cars and selling drugs after school or something.
Now I’m starting to hate my room as well. Not the colors, or the various crafting projects I’ve made to decorate my room—I’m kind of a Pinterest addict—but the
in the room. I am seventeen years old and next year I will be a senior at Lawson High School. I think it’s well past the time for me to break out of my shell, get out of my room and find out who I am supposed to be under the thick layer of awkward and lame that’s filled my personality all these years.
I can be cool. And fun. Well, I could
to be those things.
My shoulders straighten as I sit on the edge of my bed on top of the zebra print comforter, looking across the room into the massive mirror that hangs on the wall, surrounded in photos of Bayleigh and me at various times in our lives. She looks so happy and ecstatic about life in those photos and I look so…awkward. Maybe I’m just being too harsh on myself.
I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, feeling my subconscious make this solemn promise to myself as the air rushes out of my lungs. I stare at my reflection in the mirror and try to smile at it. Try to reassure myself that I am worthy of being just as fun and awesome as my best friend. This is the summer before senior year, arguably the best year of high school. I will no longer be known as Bayleigh’s best friend, the goody two shoes of our duo. What does that even mean? That I have two shoes and they’re good? Shaking my head, I focus back on myself in the mirror, taking in my plain brown hair and face devoid of any makeup.
This summer will be my reinvention. My awakening. I won’t be the same girl stepping into Lawson High on the first day of senior year. I will smile more, laugh more, and say yes to new opportunities. I won’t roll my eyes and complain when Bayleigh wants to do something crazy and exciting. From now on, I’ll grab my car keys and say, “Let’s go.”
Now I’m grinning like a dork in the mirror. But I feel amazing. Adrenaline courses through my veins and I step off my bed and dig around my purse, looking for my cell phone. It’s nearly noon, so there’s a fifty-fifty chance that my best friend will be awake by now. It really all depends on how late she stayed up talking with Ian last night. Even if my call does wake her up, any annoyance she’ll have over it will vanish the moment I tell her my plan. I want to become a new person and I want to do it today. I’ll probably even let her Aunt Truly put highlights in my hair like she’s been begging me to do for months.
, I think as I press the call button and put the phone to my ear. This is going to be awesome.
The phone doesn’t even ring on the other line. It just goes straight to Bayleigh’s voicemail. My lips squish to the side of my mouth and I try making the call again but get the same result. When my mom’s cell phone goes straight to voicemail it means she’s forgotten to charge it again and the battery is dead. But there’s no way Bayleigh would let that happen to her phone. Her phone is practically an extension of her body. I’m not even sure she could function as a human anymore if she didn’t have it.
Maybe she dropped it and it broke and now she and her mom are going to buy a new phone right now. That’s probably it. That, or a small airplane crashed into their house and now they’re all dead. I shake my head. No, I won’t think like that. I can’t let my crazy imagination ruin the start of my summer. I call her number again and leave a voicemail telling her to call me back immediately because I have awesome news for her. Now all there is to do is wait.
She’ll call me back. She always calls me back.
My ponytail sloshes around as I dance to the beat of the pop music pumping out of my phone’s tiny speaker. I’m in an awesome mood even though I haven’t heard from my best friend in a couple of days. She probably did break her phone. Her mom’s finances are stretched pretty thin as it is, so I guess that’s why she doesn’t have a new one yet. It doesn’t exactly explain why she hasn’t posted on Facebook though.
Promising myself to drop by her house later, I continue my morning’s work: cleaning out my closet of every possible ensemble that doesn’t fit with my new reinvented personality. Button up shirts? Toss. Collared polo shirts? Toss. And oh, my gosh is this embarrassing…an old pair of denim overalls? Super toss. I can’t believe I let my mom talk me into getting them for my freshman year. Ugh, so cringe worthy.
Sliding over a dozen school spirit t-shirts, I reach in the back of my closet and find a pencil skirt with little penguins printed on it. The fabric is soft and comfortable but it is so not something the new Becca should wear. So off the hanger it goes. I fling it over my shoulder toward the ever-growing pile of rejected clothing.
Ow! What was that for?”
Startled, I spin around and find Mom standing in my doorway, one hand on her head and the other holding a mug of coffee. “Sorry,” I say, giving her a guilty look.
She rolls her eyes and takes a sip of the caffeine she loves so much. “It’s a good thing I put a lid on here.” Her brows squish together as she eyes the pile of clothes on my normally spotless floor. “What’s going on here?”
I take out a pink and green tie-dyed tank top and toss it onto the pile. “I’m getting rid of clothes I don’t want to wear anymore. I’ll drop them off at the Goodwill later today, so if you have anything to donate, I can take it for you.”
Mom puts a hand on her hip. “I spent a lot of money on some of this stuff,” she says, nudging through the pile with her foot. She’s about to say something else, but then her eyes drift over toward my quote board and her mouth closes, her lips making a tight line. “You changed your quote,” she says slowly as she squints to make out the words.
My quote board was the product of a compromise a few years ago. I really love motivational and inspirational quotes. The more emotion a quote can wrench from your heart, the better. I collect them in notebooks, on scraps of paper, as images saved to my cell phone’s home screen. A while back I had wanted to use a thin paint brush and some silver paint to write the quotes all over my walls. Mom, of course, did not like that idea. She kind of thinks my quotes are whacky and pointless. She says you should live for the
moment and not for some magical inspirational land of awesomeness that those quotes imply. I say, screw that, I love my quotes.
So instead of painting them on the wall, I found this massive picture frame at a thrift store for four dollars. It has an ornate silver frame and two thick black ribbons attached to the topmost corners that knot in the center and hang from a hook in the wall. I took out the mat and the backing of the frame and left just the glass. Now it’s my own personal dry erase board that I can fill with quotes and decorate with dry erase markers.
For the last several weeks the quote board said one of my favorite quotes:
Enjoy the little things.
Today it says:
It’s not who you are that holds you back. It’s who you think you’re not.
I’m not sure who said it so I can’t write their name under it, but I am in love with that quote. It took me an entire box of cheese crackers and about four hours of searching online to find something that fully encompassed how I feel about my summer transformation, but I finally found it.
Smiling at my mother, I nod. “I think it was time for a change. That other quote had been there too long.”
“Who do you think you’re not?” Mom asks. She walks over to me and runs a hand through my hair. “Because I think you are perfect the way you are.”
I roll my eyes. “You’re my mom. You have to say that.”
“And I mean every word of it.” Her hand slides down to my shoulder, giving it a squeeze.
“I think I’d just like to…I don’t know,” I say, realizing that this will be the first time I’ve said my mission aloud since Bayleigh hasn’t called me back. I shrug and act like it’s not a big deal. “I’d just like to break out of my shell a little. You know, be more outgoing and fun.”
“Ah,” she says, giving me this smile that’s part condescending and part unbelieving. “
Well have fun breaking out of your shell. But no tattoos. Or piercings.”
My mouth falls open in fake surprise. “You mean I can’t get a grim reaper tattooed across my entire back?” I toss my hands up in the air. “How else am I supposed to break out of my shell?”
Mom laughs. “I’m sure you’ll find a way.”
She turns to leave but I stop her. “Speaking of body modifications, would you be okay if I got Bayleigh’s aunt to put highlights in my hair?”
Mom thinks for a moment, sipping her coffee just to keep me in suspense. “Sure, but I’m not paying for it.” She points a finger at me while she stands in my doorway. “And no extreme colors. Just blonde or something.”
I thank her over the big stupid grin on my face. Highlights. That’s totally something new and fun and outgoing. That’s step one.
Mom orders a pizza for lunch and I offer to go pick it up so I can swing by Bayleigh’s house on the way back. Ms. Maize’s car isn’t in the driveway when I stop by after picking up the pizza. I don’t want our lunch to get cold, but I have to know if Bayleigh’s phone is broken or something, so I leave my car running and go knock on her front door. No one answers, even after I knock as loud as I can with my fist.
And not that I’m a creepy stalker or anything, but when I peek through the narrow window to the left of the door, I see an empty living room and a television that’s turned off. Bayleigh’s little brother Bentley is pretty much always playing video games, so if he’s not parked in front of the television, game controller in his hand, I think it’s safe to say they aren’t home.
Feeling a little abandoned, I turn around and head back to my car. Something must have come up with her because I know she wouldn’t just stop being my friend. A nagging feeling pulls at my heartstrings. It’s an ironic twist of fate that the day I decide to change my life is the day I can’t seem to find my best friend. I really hope this isn’t some sign from the universe that I’m simply not meant to be cool and that I should just quit trying.
Back at home, I grab a few slices of pizza and rush back to my bedroom. It’s time for my millionth Facebook check of the day. Even if Bayleigh’s phone is broken, she’d still have access to Facebook through her computer, and that girl loves social media. Me, not so much. My profile is basically a vast wasteland of nothingness with a few tagged photos of Bayleigh tossed in. I don’t update my page much. I never do anything worth updating.
Pulling my laptop onto my bed, I sit cross-legged and open the browser. I take a bite of cheese pizza and almost choke on it when the website loads. Chills rush up my arms and a massive lump forms in my throat. Now I know why Bayleigh hasn’t called me.
The first thing at the top of my news feed is from her boyfriend Ian. Only, he must not be her boyfriend anymore, because the status update from him says that he is in a relationship, but not with Bayleigh. It’s with some girl name Stacia. In place of a last name,
Stacia’s profile has a bunch of stupid heart symbols. I don’t know who this bitch is, but she’s older than us and super beautiful. Not that I’d ever tell Bayleigh that. From now until the rest of eternity, that girl is the ugliest skank on earth.
Ugh, poor Bayleigh. Ian probably broke up with her a couple of days ago and that’s why she’s been MIA. I wouldn’t want to face the world either if that had happened to me. Not that I ever have a boyfriend because I’m too—ugh, okay, this isn’t about me. This is about my friend and this sucks so much. I need to be there for her.
Scarfing down the rest of my pizza, I change into some comfortable pajamas and dig through the pink mason jar on my desk for some cash. It’s time for some serious best friend broken heart mending, and I’ll start with getting a gallon of ice cream on my way to her house. Hopefully she’s home by now.
I’m stepping into my flip flops when my cell phone rings. It’s a number I’ve never seen before, from an area code that’s not anywhere close to here. It’s probably a wrong number, or some kind of telemarketer, but curiosity gets the better of me and I answer it.
“Hey, it’s me.”
“Bayleigh?” I drop back to my bed, a surge of relief falling over me now that I know she’s not dead. I didn’t really think she was dead, but you never know. “Where are you? Did you lose your phone again?”
“No. You’re never going to believe this shit.” Bayleigh’s voice is rushed. “Mom took away my phone.”
I curse. “That’s weak.”
Bayleigh sighs. “It gets worse. She sent me to my grandparent’s house for the whole damn summer.”
My mouth falls open and I stare at the crumpled bills in my hand. Guess there won’t be any ice cream tonight. Or for the rest of the summer. In the back of my mind I’m thinking about this pretty much ruins my Summer of Reinvention, but I’m not about to bring that up now. I’m sure she feels super heart-broken as it is. No need to rub salt in her wounds. “I’m sorry,” I tell her. “I thought you were pissed about Ian and just ignoring the world.”
“Nah, I’m grounded. Wait—what do you mean about Ian?”
That pain in my stomach from when I saw Ian’s status update gets about a thousand times worse. “You don’t know yet…” I begin, unable to finish my thoughts. This is bad. This is so bad.
“I don’t know what?” She’s practically yelling through the phone now. “What don’t I know?”
I swallow. It’s better than she hears it from me than someone else. “Stacia...you know that girl from the party?”
“Yes I fucking know her. Now tell me!” Ugh, she’s mad now. Real mad.
My teeth dig into my bottom lip and my chest hurts almost as badly as if I were the one who had betrayed her instead of Ian. “She updated her Facebook status to being in a relationship…”
“And?” she says, her voice just a whisper now.
I sigh. “With Ian.”
She sighs and I can feel the weight of her pain through the phone. Things with her and Ian have been rocky for a while now, but I know it still hurts. “I’m sorry, Bay. I really am.”
“It’s okay,” she says with a sigh. “Thanks for telling me. I don’t know if I can borrow another phone to call you, but I’ll try.”
When we hang up, I stare at my quote board and try to push away all the second thoughts I’m having about my summer plan. Maybe I don’t want to be more like Bayleigh. Bayleigh takes risks and puts herself out there. She knows what she wants and she goes for it. We both knew Ian was kind of too old for her, but she liked him so much she was determined to make him hers. And she succeeded, at least for a little bit. But those same headstrong qualities that I’ve admired in her are also the traits that just got her heart broken. If you play it safe, you can’t get hurt. Maybe I should keep my life on the sidelines like it always has been. Maybe I’m a lame-o dork-o for a reason.
Bayleigh might be strong enough to survive a broken heart.
But I don’t know if I am.