Authors: Heather Buchine
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary
By: Heather Buchine
Inspire Copyright © 2013 by Heather Buchine
Cover art © by Stephanie Mooney. All rights reserved
All Rights Reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously.
Editor: Stephanie T. Lott a.k.a. Bibliophile
Formatting: Jason G. Anderson
Published by Heather Buchine
I have to first thank my husband for supporting me through all of my creative endeavors. If it weren’t for him constantly cheering me on, then I would never go after my dreams. Thanks for taking care of the kiddos when I had a great thought and just needed to get it down, and thanks for putting up with the quiet nights while I locked myself away to work. He was also my first reader and helped me see that when it comes to fiction, anything goes.
To my beautiful babies: thanks for keeping life real. You bring magic to my world and inspire me every day!
Stephanie T. Lott, my editor, thanks for working out all the kinks and for the awesome feedback you gave. You not only cracked me up, but helped me see things from a different light.
I was just returning home from my farewell lunch with friends when I found my soon to be summer prison practically taking up our entire driveway. It was so out of place to see any form of a mobile home in the Hamptons, and here I was, staring at a giant RV that my parents decided to buy on a whim. My mom had just broken the news to me a few days ago that we would be spending the entire summer at some campground up in the mountains of Vermont. Without really having any time to process it, I was now staring at what was literally going to be my reality.
“OMG!! Get a load of that thing!” Tracey shrieked as she jumped out from the driver’s side and immediately ran over to my parents, who were busy loading it up.
I stayed in the car marveling at the absurdity of the entire situation. It was obvious that my parents were having a hard time dealing with the fact that I was going to be heading off to college in a couple months, but this was a little overboard. I tried to tell my mom that they didn’t have to go to such extreme measures to spend time with me, but she insisted that this would give us the quality time together that we needed. My dad had even arranged a two-month sabbatical from the hospital, which he has never done in my entire eighteen years of life. So like it or not, tomorrow morning I was going to be driving off in that mobile home leaving all of my friends behind while they spent their last summer “together” before going off to college.
“Paige, sweetie,” my mom called as I reluctantly got out of the jeep. “Come over and see our summer home!” she cheered delightedly.
It was surprising to see how excited she was by the idea of living in that thing. My mom, who has a personal chef prepare our daily meals, and a housekeeper who does everything including the laundry is going to be living in a three hundred square foot box, doing all of the cooking herself in a tiny little kitchen, and washing clothes in a coin operated facility. Yep, I think she has officially gone off her rocker. “This must be part of their mid-life crisis,” I whispered under my breath. But since my parents already own the mansion and the sports cars, their midlife crisis is getting in touch with their rugged roots. “Lucky me!”
I slammed the car door, and put on a fake smile as I made my way over to where Tracey and my parents were standing.
“Paige, you’ve got to go inside and check out your new bedroom.” Tracey giggled. “It’s awesome!”
Being my best friend since kindergarten and practically my parents’ second child, I knew exactly what her tone meant and that my new living quarters were not going to be quite as luxurious as I’m used to. Although I’m not as pretentious or snooty like the rest of the people in this town, I still wasn’t crazy about the idea of having to be piled in a box to stare at my parents for the next two months. They haven’t even been getting along for the last year, so I don’t know why they would want us cramped in a small space forced to be with each other day in and day out.
My parents were heading inside to finish the packing, and my mom reminded me that I needed to do the same. “We are going to have it all loaded up tonight sweetie, since we are trying to get an early start in the morning, so you need to go in and get yourself packed up. Oh, and remember, just one suitcase and a small bag, okay, and your purse, of course. We don’t have that much space.”
I felt like I was going through the security checkpoint at the airport and getting my list of instructions for what not to bring, so I teased my mom with my flight attendant impersonation. “There are two exits in the front, two in the middle of the main cabin and one in the rear of the plane. In the event of an emergency…” I stopped my hand gestures and my soft melodic voice. “Or in the event that your parents decide to hold you captive for the summer, push everyone out of your way and run like hell to the nearest exit,” I teasingly shouted. Tracey and I burst out laughing and my mom giggled as well even though her eyes rolled at my joke.
“Ha, ha sweetie! Just wait. It’s going to be great. We will be together, there will be a whole group of kids your age to hang out with and there is a ton to do: marshmallow roasts, campfire story nights, they have a playground, pool, basketball court and game room, along with all kinds of social events planned for the summer. Lucille has assured me that it will be great.” My mom’s eyes were lit with excitement and I was shaking my head in disbelief.
“Who is Lucille?” I asked, wondering who this person was that had brainwashed my mom into believing that I would love this idea.
“Lucille Medler and her husband Barney own the place. They actually have a son your age who is going to be heading off to college in the fall as well. Coincidentally, Barney and your dad are both in the same medical field. Anyway, she and I have spoken a few times on the phone. They are very excited that we will be joining them this summer and she is positive that you will have a great time.”
“Great!” I responded, trying desperately to hide my lack of enthusiasm for our trip.
My mom turned to go inside the house, and Tracey and I stepped up into the RV.
“What’s the frown for? You heard your mom; YOU are going to have a fabulous time. Playing on the playground and listening to ghost stories around the campfire, hanging out with all of the other ‘camp kids’!” she teased.
“Lucky me! I not only get to be the outcast rich kid from the Hamptons with my prissy parents who don’t know the first thing about camping, but I will also be the only new kid around while the rest of them reunite for their final annual summer camp fest. Yay!” I said sarcastically, fisting my arms in the air in a cheering motion.
“Yikes! Good luck with that,” Tracey said, shaking her head with an exaggerated look of dread on her face, which happened to match what I was feeling on the inside exactly: DREAD.
“Well, look on the bright side, your dad, Mr. Neurosurgeon who never takes a day off work, will be with you and your mom for the whole summer. And your mom, well, she might learn how to boil water.” I couldn’t help but join in Tracey’s laughter because it was so true. My parents lacked any true survival skills and yet, here we were about to head out into the woods, away from civilization and try to… survive. Luckily, I had done the whole sleep away camp thing when I was a kid, and had learned enough about camping to get us through.
“Yeah, right. We both know how this is going to go down. After day one, my dad will be tied to his computer or phone non-stop, while my mom finds a group of women to play cards with, or reads romance novels in the lounge chair all day long. Meanwhile, I will be bored out of my mind and busying myself with the cleaning and the cooking,” I huffed as I flopped down onto the couch, which was actually going to be doubling as my bed.
“Oh, and don’t forget about the dance. You will also be making up the dance for the Labor Day festival,” Tracey added, unable to stop giggling at my predicament.
“Right, at least I’ll have that to keep me busy.”
Tracey and I were cofounders of the Pri*Tee Pixies Giving organization which raised money for needy and starving families. I was in charge of the choreography, so at least I would have the dance for our next charity fundraising event to keep me occupied. Thank goodness!
“Paige! What am I going to do without you all summer?” Tracey pouted as she plopped down next to me.
“Well, I’m guessing since Tom has now asked you on your first official date that you will be making out with him all summer long. I doubt that you will come up for air long enough to even miss me,” I teased, nudging her arm.
“Yeah,” she giggled but then her facial expression fell. “Too bad he’s off to UNC Chapel Hill in the fall which is sooo far away. Guys don’t like doing the long distance thing, so I’m going to be left with a broken heart.”
I didn’t want her to worry about the future and sabotage the budding romance that she had been fantasizing about for the last six months, so I tried to think of how to cheer her up. “Well, first of all, he is going to realize over the next couple of months how amazing you are and that there is no way he will ever find another girl like you. Second of all, it’s like an hour flight so you can see him any weekend you want. I’ll even go with you if it makes you feel better, and maybe we could even get Jared to come with us. I bet he’ll want to see his best friend.”
I instantly liked the idea, and couldn’t help the grin that appeared on my face. I had been pining over Jared for the last two years, and apparently wasn’t ready to let go of my crush. The fact that he was going to be attending Columbia with Tracey and I in the fall was making me think that I still might have a chance.
“And so it will continue, I’m so lucky that I will get to spend the next four years listening to you lust over Jared Thompson every day. It’s not like I’ve had my fill of it over the last two years,” she said, rolling her eyes.
I knew Tracey was purely kidding, but I felt bad that she had had to listen to me dwell over my crush for so long. “Sorry,” I said apologizing for the constant love sick swooning that I subjected her to every time I saw him. From Tracey’s perspective she probably felt like she was watching a die hard Justin Bieber fan crying at the very sight of him. I really couldn’t help myself. Jared was gorgeous and every time he would cross the gym during our dance practice to head into the locker room after football practice, I practically did cry, at least my insides cried out for him.
Jared had a routine where he would pull off his jersey just as he would enter the gymnasium doors, then he would run his hands through his shaggy blond hair as he made his way into the locker room. Between his perfectly sculpted, glistening six pack that was begging to be touched, strong arms that looked like they would have no problem pinning me up against the lockers while he thrust me all the way to home field, and his perfectly curved rear that made me want to spank him every time he walked by, I couldn’t help myself.
“I’m just hoping he wakes up and realizes what an incredible girl you are and finally asks you out. Then…,” Tracey paused and a giant grin lit her face. “Then we can marry best friends, have kids together and live happily ever after!” she exclaimed, clapping her hands like a giddy schoolgirl.
“Marry me? I can’t even get him to ask me out,” I said in frustration.
“Seriously, I’m beginning to think he might be brain dead Paige, and that I don’t want you to date him after all. You are the hottest girl in town, along with being the sweetest and the funniest. You can have any guy you want; all you have to do is bat those brown eyes and boys fall to your feet. You are also the most incredible dancer I know, which should clue him into the fact that your body moves in ways that will make fantasies come true in the bedroom. So, I’m seriously questioning his IQ level,” she said and her words made me smile.
“You are so right. He is an idiot. A really hot, tall, blond, sexy idiot, but an idiot nonetheless,” I quipped, brushing off my overwhelming feeling of rejection.
“Exactly!” she stated. “Besides, who knows, you may go off into the woods and fall in love with a mountain man.” We both laughed in unison at the ridiculousness of her remark, and then she stood up. “Well Paige, I need to leave you. Are you sure you don’t want to come to the movies with us?” she asked, trying to convince me with her best puppy dog face.
Over lunch, all of our friends had planned to meet up to see the latest
Fast and Furious
movie. I had declined the invitation because it was hard enough saying goodbye to everyone earlier and I didn’t want to have to go through it a second time.