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Just walk out the back door, slap on your skis, and slide downhill. We hit the powder at eight thirty sharp, and by eight thirty- one, it is apparent to all who witness the carnage that I suck entirely. Usually Im more athletic than either Kirsten or Paige, but apparently skiing is not my forte. Three hundred bucks down the drain. Kirstens parents, despite being high-functioning alcoholics, make decent bank. Paiges family is also fairly well off, so its not a big deal for them to spend three hundred dollars.
Kirsten and Paige push me to the bunny hill and work patiently alongside me for two hours, instructing me on various novice techniques that go by precious names like making pizza slices and cooking French fries. None of their hard work and patience is paying off. For the hundredth time, I unscrew my limbs, dust myself off, and look up at my friends faces. It was better, I swear, Kirsten says, helping me up. Face it, Im a ski bunny reject. A ski-ject. But you stayed up a whole six seconds that time!
Paige says, nodding her head up and down, beaming a little too enthusiastically. Theyre trying hard to be nice but I know it isnt fair. Theyd be doing some world-class skiing right now if it werent for me. Why dont you guys go on ahead? I offer. Ill be okay here on the bunny hill. No, its fine. Youre getting the hang of it! Kirsten says. I look at her flatly.
Uh, Kirsten, I dont know if youve noticed, but weve been here for two hours. For two solid hours, every trip down that tiny lump of hill has ended with me tumbling into a crumpled heap at the bottom.
You guys paid good money to be here and shouldnt be stuck babysitting the ski-impaired all day. Paiges smile disappears. But youll be all alone. There are other kids from school here, I say. I do have other friends besides you two.
I look around for a familiar face. Look, I say, pointing over toward the lift line at a group of snotty girls from school. My fellow cheerleaders are right over there, just waiting to welcome me into the fold.
Starsha Lexington, Amber Franks, and the rest of the squad are huddled together like a package of pink marshmallows. They see me pointing at them, scowl, and then turn into themselves to whisper. Theyre probably sending up prayers to the Barbie gods in hopes that I break my legs so Cameron Fitzpatrick can finally be restored to her rightful place on the squad the place that I callously snatched out from under her last year when I had the unmitigated gall to try out for cheerleading.
You get onto that ski lift with Starsha, Kirsten says, you better chain yourself to the seat, sister. Otherwise youre goin down. All the way down. We laugh, but I still feel like a ski bunny reject holding back her two best friends, whove been skiing since they were in diapers. Seriously, guys, I say, I need a break anyway. Ill go to the lodge and get a hot cocoa or something. Ill find someone to hang with. Ill text you later for lunch or something.
Are you sure? Now go! Have fun! I shoo them away from me and they slide effortlessly off toward the black-diamond runs. As I watch them disappear around a thicket of trees, I think about how excruciatingly long this weekend just became.
I dig my heels in, determined to get it done. Ive been called a lot of things in my lifefat, obnoxious, snarkybut never a quitter. I work hard at the bunny hill, and after about an hour, my body starts cooperating a bit.
I do finally start to get the hang of it. I think the pressure of being watched and critiqued was affecting my confidence. I head toward the intermediate runs, skipping the easy trails altogether. Unless I plan to spend the next two days alone, I need to step it up. Sweaty and nervous, I get into the lift line at Snowshoe Dip. I look around at people and notice a hot specimen in the crowd. Is he staring at me? Snowboarding tweens to the left. Geezers to the right.
Im pretty sure he is staring at me. I take off my gloves and casually run my hand over my face, sure that I have something disgusting smeared across it. The slopes are packed and the grouchy crone running the crowded lift shouts out for single skiers, pairing people up if theyre alone. Staring Hot Guy bustles through the crowd and plants himself next to me. Hey there, hows it going? I force an awkward smile before looking down at my skis. Our turn is up. We both stumble forward, shuffling like mad to beat the bench that is fast approaching our rear.
Staring Hot 11 Guy grabs my arm and nearly sends us both crashing to the ground but then right at the last second, the seat clips the backs of our knees and scoops us up in a tangle of skis and poles. He starts laughing, which makes me laugh, too. We are both laughing away, hanging on for dear life, up, up, and away we go, just the two of us, suspended in midair for the next ten minutes.
When we settle into the seat, he pulls down the safety bar, leans in, and flashes his Colgate smile. I dont usually maul unsuspecting females in public. Im new to this skiing bit. Dont worry, I say. I stink, too. Dax Windsor. Id shake your hand but Im afraid Ill lose a glove or a pole. He looks below us at the snowy ground, which is getting farther and farther away. Cassidy Murphy. Nice to meet you, Cassidy Murphy.
I say his name in my head. It is beyond a doubt the coolest name Ive ever heard in real life. He proceeds to talk my ear off the whole way up. Not that I mind this, of course, because, well, did I mention that hes hot? So, where you from, Sid? No, wait, let me guess. I can already tell youre a Midwesterner, but if you answer three questions then Ill tell you within one hundred miles where youre from.
Oh, like whats the capital of your state or whos your con- 12 gressman? I say with friendly sarcasm. Not that I would know the answer to that second question if he did ask it. No, not ones that are dead giveaways. General questions about what you call things and how you say things. Im taking a course on shedding accents and perfecting the non-regional American dialect.
Im studying broadcasting at Central U. I can pinpoint accents and vernacular down to under a hundred miles. Then, slow and deliberate, he asks, What do you call a carbonated beverage that comes in a can? But which one? Thats a lot of territory youre covering there. Oh, you dont think I can do it?
No, its not that, Im just saying that you The more I talk, the more I am giving him information, so I cut myself off, zip my mouth shut, and pretend to throw the key over the side of the bench. Oh, a wiseass. All right. Number two: Is it a drinking fountain, water fountain, or bubbler? What the hell is a bubbler? And my confused expression gives me away. Cross out Wisconsin, he says smugly.
So which is it? Water fountain or drinking fountain? Okay, I already know the answer from the way you said water, but Ill go ahead with the last question. Shits and giggles. Well, if you already know the answer, then tell me where Im from, smart guy. But then the fun is over, and I want to hear you say it.
Say what? The answer to the last question. I mull this over for a second. Okay, I know, I say. Write it down ahead of time, and when I answer the question, well see if youre right. I hand him my poles, reach into my pocket, and pull out a tiny pencil that I accidentally filched when I was filling out my ski rental forms. Then I fish around for some paper until I find a piece in my snow pants. Okay, here. Write it on the back of this receipt, I instruct, handing him the pencil and paper.
I hold his poles while he writes his guess down. So what if I guess correctly after only two questions? Do I win something? You win the satisfaction of knowing you are Master of the Universal Accent or whatever you called it. Anchor of the Year! Nah, thats not good enough. I want you to promise to come to a party.
My heart jumps. A party? At my roommates uncles condo tomorrow night. We 14 have this dinner thing tonight, but Tonys uncles leaving in the morning. My roommates and I are planning the mother of all blowouts.
What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton
Bring your friends, roomies, sisters, whatever. So long as its female and at least half as gorgeous as you. Then he bumps his knee against mine, grins, and says, Just kidding. You can bring your ugly friends, too. Ha, ha, I say dryly, but on the inside Im jumping up and down, screaming, Hooray!
No, for real, if I guess right, you have to come. He looks at me and he is not joking. Its a real invite. I start to get panicky as my mind races in circles. I just met this guy.
Hes in college. He looks like hes in his twenties. He said roomies, so he thinks Im in college, too. Holy crap!
Somebody pinch me. What do I do? Do I tell him how old I am? That Im a sixteen-year- old junior who rode in on a big yellow bus with the rest of the ski club from Lakewood High? That I have a curfew and if Im caught breaking it, it means deep shit trouble and a guaranteed suspension? How do I politely decline without looking like a toddler freak? Did I mention that he is hot? Okay, deal. And I say it, not having the slightest clue how I will go about honoring said deal if I lose the bet.
I guess Im hoping deep down that hell guess Pittsburgh or Detroit and Ill be off the hook. All right, here we go. And no cheating by throwing in a fake British accent or something. Candy, I say, biting down on that first syllable to where it sounds like Kyandy. I am trying to fool him into guessing Chicago. He flips over the receipt. It says, Cleveland Rocks!!! Youre good, I say, looking at him wide-eyed.
Yep, all that from the way you said one little word. My favorite flavor peeks out the unwrapped end. Lime green. He takes the next one, cherry red, and pops it into his mouth.
Two-twelve Snowbird Trail. Be there by nine, little girl. My stomach leaps when he calls me little girl. My heart hammers away inside my chest as I look out at the snowy mountain passing below us.
I say nothing for the next few seconds as I ponder my unanticipated situation.
This is the best-looking guy I have ever seen up close and he is interested in megoofy, loudmouthed Sid Murphy, with my crazy red hair, bubble butt, and obnoxious laugh. The busty cheerleader who was put on the squad solely to hold up bony-ass princesses like Starsha Lexington and Amber Franks. Always stuck at the bottom of the pyramid while the real cheerleaders dive gracefully from the top like size-zero Christmas stars, right into the arms of good old dependable Sid.
I mean, Im not the girl who reels in the big fish. Im the funny sidekick who gets the leftovers. Ill be there, I say. Dax leans in, smiles mysteriously, and raises one eyebrow. Youd better come. Remember, I know where you live. Its during the lean-in that I smell itliquor mixed with cherry Life Saver.
Oh, my god! Have you been drinking? I ask, laughing. He scrunches up one eye, makes a pinchy little bit motion with his fingers, and then puts a forefinger to his lips. Dont tell the snow patrol. I look behind me at the mountain below. We arent on the wussy hills anymore.
Its a long, long, steep way down. I turn back to him. Are you crazy? Certifiable, he says, then pulls out a flask from his coat pocket, twists off the cap, and takes a long pull of what I can only assume to be hard liquor.
Youre gonna kill yourself.
Liquid courage, baby, he says, wincing as he swallows another mouthful. Thats the stuff. He holds the flask out to me. Wanna lil nip?
I cant be skiing drunk!
Id be maimed! I say playfully, turning my blushing face away from him to hide my shock. I look over at the top of the forest passing next to me. Some free spirit had removed her bra and tossed it up into the top branches of a giant pine tree.
Seventy feet in the air, it clings there, frozen stiff, for the world to see. Come on. Itll relax you, improve your game. Well be doing double diamonds by noon.
I eye him suspiciously, then look down at his flask, then back up at his face. God, that face. I cave, take the flask and rock back a tiny sip, and start coughing as the fiery liquid lights up my pipes.
What is that? I sputter, handing the flask back. I beg your pardon, he says, slapping me on the back a few times, and then takes another long drink before putting it away. Neither of us has realized that the end of the line is fast approaching until the guy running the top of the lift leans out of his control booth and screams, Lift up your bar already! As Dax lifts the safety bar and readies his poles, he says, Thats High Glen single malt scotch youre drinking, aged fifteen years, little missy.
Stomach leap. And with that, he jumps off the lift and slides effortlessly down and around the operators booth. I stumble off and come to a ragged stop at the top of the mountain. Otherwise known as liquid courage! We spend the whole day together skiing and falling and laughing our asses off.
I text the girls and tell them to have lunch without me, that Ive met someone. They text back: Where r u? We want 2 meet him! If they come, theyll ruin things by mentioning high school and asking him his age. I know I should ask him myself, but the stupid, selfish part of me doesnt want to know. The stupid, selfish part of me doesnt care how old Dax Windsor is because, well, Im having fun with a hot guy for once in my life and screw it, I dont wanna know. I mean. He downloads me a Coke and a burger and we split a tray of chilicheese fries at this ski-in cafeteria place.
We talk about his classes and his dickhead roommates and my friends and books weve read, shows we like. I keep my end of it all very vague and noncommittal so he cant pin me down to anything age-related. Around five, it starts getting darker, and I can no longer avoid the fact that I am, indeed, not on a dream vacation with Dax Windsor, Sexiest Man Alive, but on a ski trip with my stupid high school.
I need to check in or theyll send the fun-sucking PTA mom-patrol out hunting for me. Dax makes me promise again to come to his party the next night. He gives me a sweet little peck on the cheekquick, like hes almost embarrassedand then he skis away, saying, Nine oclock. Remember, I know where you live! I text the girls and head back to the condo. I tried to enjoy the day skiing with them, suffered through black-diamond runs, and nearly broke every bone in my body to get on their good sides.
I kept looking for Dax on the slopes, thinking that maybe if the girls actually met him, he could charm them into coming. But its a big resort, and if you dont know where to look, its impossible to find someone. Its dinnertime and I have severe butterflies. I can barely eat. This is a shame, because the buffet in the main lodge looks and smells like some kind of cinematic food mirage: a sprawling wonderland of animal-shaped breads; a three-tiered fountain of rippling chocolate; a team of smiling, puffy-hatted chef-people carving up juicy slabs of roast beef; and smack dab in the middle of everything is a revolving ice sculpture of a giant Yeti on skis.
Its a culinary opus, indeed. Yet none of it appeals to me. I load up my plate and pick, pick, pick, pretending to be interested in Kirsten and Paiges conversation about some boys we go to school with who are staying in another condo, but all I can think about is Dax and the party. I push the food around on my plate and think about how blue his eyes are. After a while, a roll of bread shaped like a headless bear comes waddling onto my plate. Hello there, Sid. Have you seen my head?
It was just here a minute ago. Kirsten is trying to make me laugh. I force a smile. All right, seriously, she says, irritated, tossing the headless bear onto her plate. You said he goes to college in New York. So lets just forget for a moment that Mr. Perfect lives two states away. I mean, you dont even know the guy. Plus, hes old. Hes probably married with, like, fifty kids. Hes not old-old, I say. And please, like you should talk. Patrick Callahan?
I hooked up with Pat when hed just graduated and I was a sophomore. Hes two years older and Ive known him since elementary school. Your college man is a total stranger. I mean, you look older than sixteen, Ill give you that, but youre still just sixteen. Your moms cool, but shes not that cool. Paige comes walking back from one of her numerous trips up to the five-star feeding trough.
She has a tapeworm, I swear. Also, she doesnt like a messy plate, so she only picks out about two or 21 three items at a time. All her food is sectioned off into neat symmetrical piles on her plate.
As she sits down, she catches only the last bit of conversation but instantly knows what were talking about.
We arrive at the resort around eight a.m. Our condo
She shakes out her napkin and lays it gently on her lap. Shes right, Sid. A college guy? Katherine would freak. Uh, yah. And I mean completely out, Kirsten adds, piercing a grape tomato with her fork and sliding it into her mouth. I hate to admit it, but theyre right.
My mom might let me date a college freshman, but Dax looks older than that.
Twenty at least. But I dont care. Maybe hes like me. Maybe he just looks older than he really is. Kirsten spreads some butter onto her headless bear and keeps on talking.
There are a ton of guys here from school. Go for Rafe Summers or Joey Thacker. Both are single and conveniently still in high school. I glare at her. Oh, yes, thats it, Rafe Summers and Joey Thacker. Ill just call them right up. I reach dramatically into the coat hanging on the back of my chair and pull out my cell. I start banging away at random numbers, concentrating extra hard. Whats old Rafeys number again? Oh, hello there! Is this Rafe Summers?
The guy who pushed me off the slide in fourth grade? Split both my knees open? I punch in some more numbers. You know, Sid. The girl you called the site Leprechaun every day of middle school? Along with every awful name he and his friends could think up that contained the word tit. I slam the phone down on the table. Yes, let me just give them a shout. Paige starts choking on her applesauce, trying not to laugh.
Oh, please, that was ages ago, Kirsten argues, also trying not to laugh. And they gave you shit back then because none of them had ever seen an actual live girl-boob yet. And everyone knows redheads are sitting ducks when theyre young. But when guys grow up, they think redheads are hot. Especially ones with big racks.
Thank you, Miss Beauty , I say, settling back into my chair and folding my arms over my ample chest. Then I gesture toward her with my hand. Oh, please. Do go on. Im learning so many new and insightful things about myself. Sorry, but shes got a point, Paige says. You know we love your crazy red hair, but a redheaded middle schooler with big boobs?
Might as well have a target tattooed on your forehead. And since your hair is curly, you were triple-screwed. Then she shrugs. But guys grow out of that stuff. Eventually, they learn to appreciate the rarer breedsgirls who look different from everyone else. Im seriously going to knock their heads together.
Its like theyve ripped a page from my mothers Puberty Pep Talk Manual and are reading it word for word. Katherine would be so proud. I sigh and look down at my food while they continue to 23 diagnose my sickly excuse of a love life. The puddle of gravy in my volcano of mashed potatoes is starting to form a skin. Also, Paige says, I think it was because you were taller than every boy in the state of Ohio.
It made them feel like you could beat them up or something. That means I know what it means! Anyway, theyve caught up with you now. Then she pauses, scrunches her nose a little. Well, Rafe has, anyway. Thats it, Ive heard enough. I stab my fork into a piece of prime rib, pick up my knife, and start sawing at it like its a fallen tree branch.
Kirsten gives me a teasing shove to the head. Come on, lighten up already. I shove the beef into my mouth and carry on talking with my mouth full. I dont care if its piggish. No boys here like me anyway. Height, boobs, hair? Those are the least of my worries, I say, pointing my fork toward my backside.
Presently, its the ass thats the problem. No teenage boy wants to date a girl with a fatter ass than his. Hold on, girlie. You are not fat, Paige says. Youre voluptuous. I mean, if youre fat, then Scarlett Johanssons a beast. Yeah, youre built big, but in a good way. Like a fifties pinup girl or that plus-size girl who placed third in Americas Next Top Model. Or that chick with the blue hair on Dark Realms.
Shes totally hot. I look at her like shes crazy. Velandra, I think her name is? Or Selandra. You have her eyes, come to think of it. Big, green, witchy Medusa eyes.
Only her eyes have the power to bewilder. And Colleen Clayton. Write more books. I hope you're happy because I don't even know what to do with myself. This book tore me apart but managed to put me back together again.
Maybe a little like Sid, the "Irish Princess. Great voice can't make up for lackluster plot and character executionBy Pink AmySemipopular cheerleader Cassidy is drugged and date raped when she sneaks out to a party while on a school ski trip.
She tells no one. After isolating herself, she emerges from the safety of her bedroom to discover here two best friends aren't speaking to her, since they got in trouble for covering for her. In order to avoid her friends she signs up for AV audio visual , which just happens to be run by gorgeous juvenile detention graduate Corey. But, is she damaged goods after losing her virginity to rape?
I appreciate realistic YA fiction as an avenue to introduce teens to difficult subjects. This novel fell far below my expectations. I can usually tell if I'm going to love a book in the first two or three pages, sometimes in the first paragraph.
I knew I was going to be disappointed after the first chapter, but had some hope for improvement. Cassidy's first person narration went from taking a drink to waking up the next morning not remembering what happened.
I should have felt something, empathy for Cassidy, anger at the guy. I felt nothing. I never connected with Cassidy. I am a rape survivor and I've counseled a number of survivors. I felt an inauthenticity in Cassidy's reactions and response to her attack. What I read seemed more like writer Colleen Clayton did some research about the aftermath of date rape rather than talking to actual survivors.
I didn't feel any heart, as if she had checked off some effects of rape and plucked them into the book. Everything was neatly packaged, predictable, too easy and too convenient. Clayton did a great job giving Cassidy a unique and interesting voice. The POV was the strongest component of the book. I might try another novel by Clayton, but I'd download a sample first. If a reader is looking for a book on the subject of date rape, I'd put this near the bottom of the list. Even when I was a teenager in the mids with flip phones people didn't text like this: And now, with autocorrect it would take more time to text that out than to just write brat.
Colleen Clayton does this various times in the texting conversations, but then when a word that someone may actually abbreviate comes up, she spells the whole thing out: Also, she doesn't use the incredibly well-known abbreviation for homework of HW and instead says h-work?
I honestly thought that was someone bleeping out the word "hell" and thought to myself "what's hell work? It may seem petty, but since there are quite a lot of text and chatting conversations it really started to build up and make me annoyed at this book. How can you talk about something that you can't remember? From BooklistIt all starts innocently enough:She leans toward Kirsten.
Some senior boys are shooting pool and playing foosball in the lower rec room while a gaggle of junior girls, Kirsten and Paige included, buzz around them like bees at a honey pot. Tresemer with Rakuten Kobo. Clayton Author And thats the suck-ass truth of it.
Are you an escaped convict? I say nothing for the next few seconds as I ponder my unanticipated situation. Otherwise youre goin down.
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