Authors: Amy Sparling
Book 1 in the Summer Unplugged Series
Copyright 2013 by Amy Sparling
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Cover image from
First Edition Sept, 2013
The Summer Unplugged Series:
Also by Amy Sparling:
Meeting Mary Jane Part 1
The Best Kind of Thief Part 1
I kissed a boy on the cheek and it got me grounded for the whole summer. A measly, meaningless cheek kiss. Mom freaked. Ian bolted without saying bye. Mom yelled for an eternity and then stormed back inside leaving me fully clothed, bra unhooked, feet dangling in the pool. It sucks that she came home from work an hour earlier than usual, but at least she wasn't two hours earlier when Ian and me were in the pool, doing way more than cheek-kissing.
I know he's the one for me. But she doesn't see it that way.
She freaks about the stupidest things sometimes. But she always says I've lost her trust so, my bad. It wasn't the kiss that pissed her off. It's probably the fact that she banned Ian from our house two months ago when he was thrown into juvi for selling weed.
I never smoked it with him so it's not really a big deal. And then last week she banned me from seeing him when she caught us skipping school together. In my bed. Anyhow the details don't matter anymore because she finally had enough of my being a normal teenager and she's decided to take away my life. I mean my cell phone. Same thing.
At least it
's Friday. My flat iron hisses as I rake it through my hair until I hear mom's bedroom TV turn off around 10:30 as it always does. I finish my hair, throw on some makeup with extra sparkly eyeliner and call Becca. She isn't my first friend of choice but, she has a car and is a total pushover.
"I need a ride to the senior's party," I say.
"And I'm thinking you could totally use a passenger."
"Bayleigh," she groans. It's obvious she's annoyed with me, but she'll get over it because without me, she wouldn't be invited to a party this big. "Your house is twenty minutes out of the way, if I take you home too I'll have to leave forty minutes before my curfew."
"Just get me. Please?" My knuckles are white on the clear plastic corded phone. I haven't used this thing in forever. No one uses house phones anymore. Silence on the other end. "I'm sorry," I say with sincerity. "Just please come get me. I'll find another ride home."
"Fine," she says
, ending the call.
An unearthly wave of heat rests over the town as I wait on the front porch for her to arrive. The humidity will ruin my hair if she makes me wait another five minutes. Two minutes later she pulls into the driveway, headlights on. What. An. Idiot.
I run to her car and swing open the passenger door. "Turn off the lights," I hiss. She fumbles on the dashboard, feeling for the switch. She's only been driving two months and she's not nearly as skilled as I am in the art of being stealthy and sneaking out. Becca's just not the kind of person who sneaks out. She's not like me. I should forgive her slipups and not scream since she did go out of her way to give me a ride.
But then the front door swings open with a violent swoosh and now I know I won't ever forgive her. Because I've just been caught.
Ninety days of no cell phone. Ninety days of no Ian. Ninety days of grounded.
I am not going to stand for this. I live one block away from the high school. It's Monday morning, the second to last day of school before summer break. Ian hasn't heard from me all day and he's probably going crazy, thinking I'm lying dead in a ditch somewhere.
No one does work in History class because we took finals two days ago and there's nothing left to do.
I ask to go to the nurse. Mr. Garcia shoos me out of the door the second I say the word
and then I walk home instead of to the nurse's office.
Mom's dresser drawers come up empty. So does her nightstand, closet
and under her bed. Under her mattress. Behind all her jars of anti-wrinkle cream and under the stack of bills she hasn't paid yet. I can't think of any other places to look for my cell phone. I try calling it but it goes straight to voicemail which makes sense because my battery has a sucky lifespan.
Defeated, I go to my room hoping t
hat bag of peanut M&Ms is still on my nightstand. My phone is on the middle of my bed, a note on top of it.
Please be good. Love, Mom
Oh hell yes. Mom will get an amazing Mother's Day gift this year. I try calling Ian but he doesn't answer which is odd because he goes to work at the movie theater at three, so he should be awake by now. I try leaving him a cute, sexy voicemail but it probably comes out kind of lame. Oh well, that's how I am and he likes it.
I walk back to school because ditching the rest of the day would surely get my phone taken away again.
I sleep through the next three classes until sixth period. Sign language. My five-year-old cousin Sarra is deaf. Besides her parents, I am the only one who can talk to her because I've put forth an effort to learn the language. Plus my teacher is hands down, the best teacher in this entire school.
Becca and Matt perform a sign language version of the Metallica song Ride the Lightning. Even in sign language it's obvious that Becca is in love with Matt. I feel bad for making out with him
freshman year. She says she didn't like him back then, but the wistful look on her face when she sees him tells me that her crush didn't develop overnight.
My phone vibrates. It's a text from Ian – finally.
Babe its hard hanging out with you when your mom's a psycho.
I write back, phone hidden in the sleeve of my hoody. Ian and I have a flip-flop relationship. It's not even a real relationship since he refuses to call me his girlfriend. Sometimes he claims to love me more than life itself. Other times he flips and wants nothing to do with me. I guess this is another flip. I'm sad but, not really. He'll come back to me.
You coming to my party tomorrow?
I stare at the screen, forced to think about what I haven't wanted to think about. Ian's huge end-of-school bash. Just about everyone is invited and it is vital that I be there. But Mom didn't let me go to a much smaller party last weekend and she wasn't too thrilled when she caught me sneaking out. I write back
, despite knowing there's a better chance of me being valedictorian than going that party.
Tuesday night I go to bed defeated, Mom having turned down every bit of begging I did. Bargaining, groveling, crying, guilt-tripping. Nothing worked.
Ian didn't reply to any of my texts last night. And so far, he hasn't replied to any of my morning texts either. If we were officially dating, I'd threaten to break up with him.
My phone is set on super loud and vibrate mode but I check it again, just in case. Nothing. I shove it back on the nightstand, grinding my teeth. Then I wriggle back under the covers. It's a beautiful Saturday morning, the first day of summer break and I have nothing do but lay in bed all day because I am grounded. And they say we have it better than our grandparents did. Right. I groan, pull the pillow over my head, think seriously about suffocating myself but I know that would never work.
I wish there was some kind of over
-the counter-coma pill. A pretty blue pill that would knock me into a three-month coma, ending on the first day of my sophomore year. School sucks, but at least I'd get to see Ian because he promised me he would come back to school for his senior year.
Mom calls for my little brother and me to come to breakfast. Bentley's socked feet run and slide down the hallway. Hard wood floors are fun like that. Run, slide, run, slide. Ugh. Ten year olds have life way better than
I crawl out of bed, grab my phone and trudge to the kitchen. My hands feel sweaty. The morning after fighting with Mom is always awkward. Chances are, she won't mention it anyway. She always yells at me and then on the next day she pretends that nothing happened. Maybe that is some kind of psychological parenting ploy. Or maybe it
's all she knows how to do – mothers are the nurturing type. I don't have a father to inflict punishments, so nothing happens when I get in trouble. I smile. I love being the bastard child of a single mom. No punishments – just yelling.
And then she starts yelling at me from the kitchen and I change my mind.
"Bayleigh!" Her voice carries down the hallway. I cringe, but at least she didn't use the middle name too.
"Yeah? I mean, Ma'am?" I say. Bentley's sitting at the bar playing his
Nintendo 3DS with the volume way too loud.
"You left the TV and the hall light on all night." Mom
rips into me almost like it was rehearsed. "Unless you want to start paying the light bill, you better turn everything off, dammit."
"Okay," I say. She flips a pancake with unnecessary spatula force. "And you haven't fed Patch all week and you know that's your job."
I sigh. "Yes ma'am."
She sets a plate of food in front of Bentley and he digs in, somehow still managing to play his video game. She's not going to make a plate for me so I get up and get my own. Between layering pancakes and syrup, my phone vibrates from the counter. I leap around Mom, slamming into her shoulder as I lurch for my phone. It's a text from Ian.
"Jesus, Bayleigh." Mom's coffee splashes out of her cup. "You almost knocked me over trying to read a text message? Seriously?" Mom is moody today. I open the message.
"It's important," I say, looking at my phone.
My heart warms. It
's only one word, but it's a word from Ian. I type a reply, read over it, decide it sucks and type a new message. I press send. When I come back to reality, Mom is still gripping her coffee. Her lips are pursed into a frown. She's been watching me.
"What?" I ask.
She reaches out to me with the hand that isn't dripping with coffee. "Give me your phone."
"What? No." I pull the
handset to my chest, press the lock key just in case she forces it out of my grasp. She can't read my messages without the password.
"You're grounded. That means no parties, no boys, and now it means no cell phone.
I tried to give it back to you, but this just won't work." Her hand, palm up waits for me to surrender my phone. It seems hopeless to try now, but I do what I do best. I cry.
"Please, Mom. Please
don't take my phone." I grab her, hold her tight. She hugs me back, showing the weakness in her parental armor. "I'll be good, I promise." She sighs. Pulls me back. Her face is more wrinkly this close. My hand vibrates and I want to read Ian's reply so bad, but I know now is not the time.
The last tear rolls down my cheek. The lines in her forehead soften. "Fine," she says, retracting her hand. I almost start jumping up and down. "Thanks
, Mom." I hug her again. She freaks because the bacon is burning and rushes over to it.
"You're still grounded," she says
as she rescues the bacon, her back facing me.
"Okay." I smile. It's not like
I can't find a way to see Ian when she's at work.
After breakfast, Mom and Bentley go shopping for new baseball gear for his summer league. I retreat to my room and play on Facebook. Ian's profile has been tagged with fifty-six new photos from last night's party. I have been tagged in exactly zero photos. Because I didn't get to go.
boils the moment I click on the first photo. Forty of the photos were added by some girl named Stacia who looks like she could very well be a Victoria's Secret model. She definitely doesn't go to our school. One thing is for sure – I've never seen her before. What the hell kind of name is that anyway? I click on her profile. It's private. Fuck.
I go back to his photos and sink into a depression hole that gets deeper with every click. Stacia's captions bother me
: TWO HOTTIES. It's a self-taken close-up of her and Ian. I scrutinize every detail, every pixel. At least her hand is around him, not the other way around.
The next several photos chronicle their game of beer pong. The last one has Ian looking tipsy yet adorable. I save it to my desktop. He's holding a Styrofoam cup in one hand, two ping pong balls in the other. I LOVE HIS BALLS! XOXO is the caption. That's it. I text Becca.
Who the fuck is this Stacia girl?
My phone rings
, Becca's smiling face showing up on the screen. "Who is she?" I say instead of hello.
"I dunno, I didn't even know her name till I saw the photos online."
"Was she flirting with him all night?"
"Umm," she thinks for a moment. She's stalling to save my feelings.
"I knew it," I say. "What a bitch."
"She was all over every guy last night, Bayleigh. I don't think you should worry."
I go back to Stacia's page and stare at the Facebook warning telling me I have to be her friend to view her full profile. "Are you online right now?" I ask her.
"You know I am."
"Add her as a friend, and then let me know if Ian's posted any comments on her page." She whines. It takes a few more minutes to coerce her into doing it, and I even have to pull the "You know I would do the same for you" card, but she finally agrees.
Now I have two things on the agenda for today: wait for Ian's next text message and wait for Becca to call me back with details on Stacia's page. I watch an episode of
Supernatural, paint my nails, brush my teeth and stare at the ceiling for a million hours until he finally writes me back. His texts are so sporadic, but getting them totally makes my day.
I want to see you.
I write back,
I wish. Mom will be home soon.
I refresh my homepage. No new comments. My phone vibrates.
Send me a pic.
That's not the same as seeing me…
I know it's totally against the rules to double text a guy you're crushing on, but I do it anyway.
Speaking of photos, I just saw a ton of you and some girl??? on your profile…
Fifteen minutes later, no reply. Shit, that was a mistake.
I bite my lip and do something terrible. I triple text.
Where'd ya go?
He replies immediately.
Waiting on your pic.
Ugh. I send him a photo from my phone's storage of images. It's of me and a kitten. He replies,
sexy… any more?
Who was that girl?
My thumbs ache from pressing the screen so hard.
No one, pic please? I miss you.
I don't know why he needs so many photos of me when there are hundreds online. I turn my phone's camera on myself, stick out my tongue and cross my eyes and snap a photo. I send it to him.
Come on, you can do sexier than that.
What does that mean? I'm not Sports Illustrated model.
My heart races.
No. Freaking. Way.
Twenty-five persuasive texts later and I'm standing in the bathroom in my bra, phone camera ready. I so can not do this. The neighbor's dog starts barking and soon
our dog Patch joins him. I know all guys care about sex but why does he want this photo so badly?
I bet Stacia would send him a photo. I wonder if she already has.
I shift my leg, tilt my hips and shoulder like a model. Purse my lips. I look silly. I switch out my bra for a padded one. Better. I still don't want to do this.
I don't feel sexy at all
. I feel stupid. But maybe this will get him to stop saying he doesn't want a relationship. I hold out my phone, using the mirror to check my pose. The dogs are still barking. The back door slams shut. Shit, Mom's home.
She calls for me to come help them carry in groceries. "I'm in the bathroom, just a minute," I say
through the door. Knowing it's now or never, I snap the photo, send it to Ian and throw my shirt back on. I open the door. Mom is standing there. "Why did your camera sound just go off?" It doesn't sound like a question.
jaw is set and she appears to already know the answer.
"Umm," I stammer a lie about dropping my phone and the accidental camera clickage that resulted. I muster a weak laugh. My phone beeps and Mom snatches it from my hand.
Damn girl, you're sexy.
My face flushes so fast that I get dizzy. Breakfast threatens to resurface. I stare at the floor, waiting for an earful. But she doesn't yell. She starts to cry. This is worse than yelling. I would rather her punch me in the face with spikey, flaming brass knuckles covered in flesh
She removes the battery and puts it and the phone into her pocket. I can't speak or
else I would try to apologize. "I just don't know what to do with you, Bayleigh," she says as she walks away and I am left feeling like the worst daughter in the world.