Read The Secrets of Boys Online

Authors: Hailey Abbott

Tags: #Romance, #Young Adult, #Chick-Lit, #Contemporary

The Secrets of Boys

BOOK: The Secrets of Boys
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Chapter One

Cassidy Jones wished her best friend, Larissa King, were Amish at times like these. It would have made life a lot easier, especially when it came to going to parties. Instead of obsessing over which pair of jeans to wear (either the low-waisted, boot-cut Citizens of Humanity ones that make her appear to have a butt, or the stretch, dark True Religion ones that were perfectly broken in), Cassidy could spend her time burying her nose in her sketchbook and drawing while sitting on the beach in Malibu. But that was not her fate today. She was about an hour away from attending a Pepperdine University party with Larissa, and Cassidy knew all too well what that meant. Soon Larissa would be acting the
oppo-site
of Amish—smoking, drinking, dancing, and perhaps even sexing it up with some college hottie. As for Cassidy, she was preparing for another night spent in the corner like your typical pretty wallflower.

Then she told herself that she’d have her boyfriend, Eric, to talk to, but even that didn’t make her feel like going out tonight. Maybe her melancholy mood could be chalked up to a bad case of PMS, or maybe it was because she was a few days shy of getting her last report card for the year. That always made her nervous, even though she usually did just fine. Maybe it was because she worried her chronic shyness was going to get the better of her once again. Whatever the reason, she looked at Larissa as she got all dolled up and hoped her friend would break one of her well-manicured, Hard Candy–painted nails. Beauty crises had derailed their plans many,
many
times before, so why not now?

“If this shirt doesn’t get me groped at least once tonight, I’m suing the designer.” Larissa tugged at the straps of a rainbow-striped terry cloth tank so that it draped lower on her chest. She posed in front of the mirror hanging from the door of Cassidy’s walk-in closet, flinging her long, straight hair behind her shoulders.

She’d recently added bold red streaks, and they glinted in the late afternoon sunlight streaming through Cassidy’s picture window.

“Larissa,” Cassidy reminded her, “you
are
the designer.”

“Too true,” Larissa agreed. “What do you think? Will it be a hit on the runway?”

“You’ll have Dior begging for mercy.”

Cassidy rolled her eyes. Ever since Larissa had picked up an issue of
Nylon
magazine three months before, it was nearly impossible to tear her away from her sewing machine or get her to talk about anything besides cuts and fabrics. Larissa was convinced she was the next Coco Chanel, and Cassidy was waiting patiently for her to get over her fashion craze the way she’d gotten over rock climbing, karaoke, and synchronized swimming.

They’d spent four summers together, and Cassidy just loved how Larissa’s ever-so-fleeting passions always took them somewhere unexpected.

“Excellent. But if not,” Larissa decided, “I’ll give it to you.”

“Thanks a million,” she said acidly. “I’ll wear it every day.”

Cassidy knew that Larissa was well aware of the fact she wouldn’t go anywhere near rainbow-striped terry cloth. She preferred simple, elegant clothes that made her blend in, not stand out. With her porcelain-colored skin, huge blue eyes, and endless lashes, she got enough attention as it was—too much, considering she was usually too timid to talk to any guys besides Eric. Even so, she still got tongue-tied around him, and they had been dating for almost two years.

Wow, has it really been
that
long?
she thought.

“Look, a little color won’t kill you.” Larissa sighed, taking in Cassidy’s black crepe button-down shirt from Theory, plain white flip-flops, and short denim skirt.

“Come on, I’ve got this new eye shadow that would look amazing on you. It’s hardly a color at all. Actually, it’s more of a subtle shimmer… .”

Larissa began rummaging in the enormous straw tote she carried everywhere she went. Cassidy giggled to herself, picturing the mess of makeup, loose change, and empty Twizzler wrappers lurking in the bottom. She imagined the bag swallowing Larissa whole, so that only her newly painted lime green toenails stuck out from the top.

The image was too good to pass up. She grabbed her sketchbook off the nightstand and began covering a page in small, quick lines. As she drew with her favorite Hello Kitty number-two pencil, she felt the tiny knot she always carried around inside her begin to loosen.

Secretly, she called it “social tension”—the feeling of always having to say something and never knowing what to say, so that she ended up just not talking and seeming stuck-up to everyone but her closest friends.

Drawing was always good for that. It let her enter a silent world where she could sit back and watch without having to say anything at all.

In fact, the walls of Cassidy’s room were covered in her sketches: Larissa morphing into Kelly Clarkson as she belted into the mike of a karaoke machine, Eric rid-ing a horse backward along Zuma Beach, and all three of them playing tug-of-war with a giant Twizzler.

Her favorite, which she’d tinted with colored pens and hung prominently over her bed, showed Larissa as Batman and her as Robin, both poised to leap off the roof of their high school and save the desperately bored students trapped inside. It seemed to sum up their friendship perfectly: the way outgoing, talkative Larissa always took the lead and quiet Cassidy was content to play sidekick. Some girls might not have been into playing Haley James to Larissa’s Peyton Sawyer, but Cassidy found it comforting. She didn’t want the limelight and liked that Larissa was always thinking of new fun things for them to do. As far as she was concerned, they com-plemented each other perfectly. Besides, she knew Larissa wouldn’t be so gutsy without Cassidy’s support—

and if it weren’t for Larissa, Cassidy would probably forget how to talk entirely.

“Are you cartooning me again?” Larissa asked, breaking Cassidy’s concentration so that her head jerked up, sending her hand skittering across the page.

Larissa leaned over to examine the new sketch. “My bag is eating me!” she exclaimed.

Cassidy nodded and grinned.

“When I’m a famous designer, I’ll have to get you to do my sketches,” Larissa said. “You’re the one with all the artistic talent. All I have is the vision. Don’t you think we’ll make a great team?”

“Haven’t we always?” Cassidy asked.

Larissa smiled conspiratorially. “It’s almost like we share a brain. Which is good because mine seems to be missing half the time anyway. So are you going to let me put this eye shadow on you or what?”

“Can you at least tell me what color it is?” Cassidy asked. “I don’t trust your definition of ‘light shimmer.’”

“I told you this will look amazing. Trust me.”

“I don’t know.” Cassidy hesitated. “Eric’s really not into heavy makeup.”

“No offense, but Eric’s not exactly the next Armani,”

Larissa said. “I think he’s worn the same pair of Diesel jeans every day since 2002. Come on, Cass. Live a little.”

Cassidy sighed and closed her eyes. When Larissa put her mind to something, it was hard to stop her. She felt something cool and sticky settling on her eyelids and breath tickling her forehead.

“Voilà!” Larissa shouted. Cassidy opened her eyes.

Her friend was smirking as if she’d just done something blue ribbon–worthy. “If I were a guy, I would totally do you.”

Cassidy got up to check herself out in the mirror. The girl staring back at her was definitely still Cassidy: a petite five-foot-five, with a thick cloud of deep brown hair curled gently around her high cheekbones and small, pointed chin. But then there were the green rings surrounding her light blue eyes. It was “shimmering,” all right. The metallic gleam practically made her look radioactive.

“Larissa!” Cassidy wailed. “I look like a Powerpuff Girl!”

“Oh, please,” grumbled Larissa. “You look fantastic.

We have to get you over your fear of color this summer if we’re both going to work at Seersucker.”

The week before, Larissa had dragged her into a new boutique in downtown Malibu to ask for summer jobs.

The owners, two recent fashion-school grads with blunt bangs and lots of earrings, had hired them on the spot.

Whether they’d been charmed by Larissa’s personality and Cassidy’s shy smile or just happy to get cheap high-school labor was anyone’s guess.

“Well, if it comes down to it, maybe I’ll wear some red lipstick or something,” Cassidy mused.

“I’ll believe it when I see it.” Larissa snorted.

Through her open window, Cassidy heard the familiar blare of 50 Cent with too much bass and gravel crunching in the driveway.

“Sounds like Eric’s here,” she said, an unstoppable grin spreading across her face.

“I’m surprised he can hear anything that registers under two thousand decibels,” Larissa joked.

Cassidy heard the front door slam shut in the big marble foyer and Eric’s footsteps bounding up the stairs. The door to Cassidy’s room swung open and her boyfriend stepped inside, all six feet of him.

“What, no knock?” Larissa scolded. “We could have been indecent, you know.”

“You’re always indecent, Larissa,” Eric joked, sweep-ing Cassidy into his arms so that her feet came off the floor.

He had been surfing again at Point Dume. She could smell the salt on his neck and the scent of his Banana Boat SPF 4 sunblock. His curly black hair was slightly damp too. He spun her around and gave her a noisy smack on the lips before gently putting her down again.

Cassidy gazed at Eric’s deep Dominican tan and the way the skin around his eyes crinkled from sun and laughter. She loved Eric: everyone did. Even her parents were charmed by him and they were picky about
everything
.

Eric was squinting down at her. “Sweetie, what’s up with your eyes?” he asked. “You look like a Powerpuff Girl.”

Larissa laughed heartily. “Jeez, Cass. I thought I was the only one you shared your brain with.”

Cassidy began to blush as she fumbled on her vanity table for a cleansing pad. “I forgot I even had it on.”

Eric chuckled. “You’re so beautiful, you don’t need that stuff.”

“Dude!” Larissa cried. “I walk around with half of Sephora’s inventory on my face. Does that mean I’m busted or something?”

Eric quickly changed the subject. “Where’s the party tonight?”

“Near Pepperdine,” Larissa answered. “Sig Ep is having an end-of-the-year bash. I heard they always burn the furniture that nobody’s taking home, so it should get pretty wild.”

“I’m always down for a good fire.” He put his arm around Cassidy, and she snuggled into his chest. “Are you up for it, hon?”

Cassidy loved how he was always looking out for her.

She kissed his lips gingerly in thanks. “Now I am.”

“Um,
puke
,” Larissa said. “Shouldn’t you two get a room or something?”

“This
is
my room,” Cassidy reminded her.

“Oh yeah.” Larissa shrugged. “So, like, is your mom home or what?”

“No, she’s at Lea Eigard learning some facial exer-cises or something,” Cassidy said. “You can go try on her shoes. I won’t tell.”

“Score!” Larissa said, winking at Eric before leaving the room, pointedly closing the door behind her.

As soon as she was gone, Eric picked Cassidy up and carried her to the bed, setting her down gently on top of the covers. “I’m glad we’re getting a couple of minutes alone,” he said.

Then Eric lay next to her, stretching his arm out so she could rest her head in the hollow between his chest and shoulder. Snuggling into him and smelling the faint trace of sweat under the sheen of saltwater coating his skin, Cassidy sighed with contentment.

Nobody made her feel quite as comfortable or secure as Eric: Ever since he’d asked to borrow the bottle of soy sauce on her table at Nobu two summers ago, she’d been hooked on his loose laugh and sexy brown eyes.

Eric craned his head to kiss her lightly on the mouth. His was warm and as sweet as buttered popcorn. Cassidy let the kiss go on, closing her eyes as Eric’s body rubbed against hers and thinking how lucky she was to have such a fine boyfriend. Under her hand, which had crept beneath his shirt, the skin on his chest was smooth and taut. She heard a breath catch in his throat as his hand engulfed hers, gently guiding it toward his stomach and then lower.

Even more gently, Cassidy pulled her hand away.

“Larissa’s waiting for us,” she reminded him.

“Larissa’s looking at shoes,” Eric said, eyes half-closed. A smile twitched at the corners of his mouth.

“Time ceases to exist when girls are around shoes.”

Cassidy laughed and planted a light kiss on his lips.

He grabbed her, massaging her shoulders with deep, strong strokes as his tongue found its way inside her mouth again. She felt her body arching against his in spite of herself. But once again, she made herself stop before things got too heavy.

“You don’t want to get to the party after the keg runs out, do you?” she teased, sitting up and smoothing her hair. She could feel her cheeks burning where Eric’s stubble had rubbed against them.

“It wouldn’t be the end of the world,” Eric said.

Cassidy squeezed his hand. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to go all the way with Eric. Who wouldn’t? He was practically the finest-looking guy at Malibu High, and she was lucky to have him. But there was something that hadn’t been established, and Cassidy could only hand over her virginity with a clear conscience.

BOOK: The Secrets of Boys
3.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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