Authors: Joanne Rock
Tags: #YA, #Young Adult, #romance
Table of Contents
By J.K. Rock
Copyright © 2016 by Joanne Rock and Karen Rock
Originally published 2013 by Spencer Hill Press
Sale of the paperback edition of this book without its cover is unauthorized.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
A big thank you to all of the wonderful camps and
their dedicated staff for enriching the lives of children
and teenagers across the country.
We wouldn’t be the people we are without you!
Welcome to Camp Juniper Point! When we began writing
, we had no idea how many stories would spring to life in our co-ed summer camp set in the mountains of North Carolina. But every camper who showed up with a sleeping bag and a backpack seemed to have a story to tell, and who were we to tell them no?
(the first full length book in the series) seemed like it should have a prequel so we could turn back time and find out what happened at Camp Juniper Point when some of the characters were younger. This led to
, the first novella and the prequel to
. Once we finished
, we couldn't stop thinking about the resident Mean Girl and just knew there was a story there. Her story is
, and trust us, she deserved her own page time even though she seems pretty awful in the stories that come before it!
we wrote the full length book
for Lauren's bestie, Alex. Alex is a Girl Power sort of girl, so even when she's running off headlong in the wrong direction, we forgive her because she means well. Each of our campers are trying to figure out their lives and you know how that goes-- it's a journey!
, check out the final novella in this collection,
, wherein an important character finally gets his story. That's all we're going to say about that. Following
, the final full length book in the series,
Camp Forget Me Not
, rounds out this generation of campers. You'll notice we've got some up and comers ready for future summers. They are already clamoring for books of their own, so maybe next year we'll see an all new group showing up in the future ...
We are excited to share the companion novellas for the
series with you. Have an awesome summer and don't forget to come back next year!
Joanne Rock & Karen Rock - writing together as J.K. Rock
Camp Juniper Point
“Truth or dare, Piper?”
I twisted my friendship bracelet and eyed my fidgeting bunkmate, relieved it wasn’t my turn in the hot seat. Yet. Would Piper shake up our seven-year first-day-of-camp tradition and surprise the cabin by taking the dare? Either way, I wanted this mega-humiliating game over before it began. I edged closer to our window fan, my mind whirling as fast as its blades, knees jittering.
“It’s hot. Let’s swim.” I twirled prescription goggles in the expectant silence. Anything to avoid a turn that could lead to me revealing my secret camp crush. I loved my Munchies’ Manor cabin mates, but they were bloodhounds in sniffing out drama. And liking a guy we’d been friends with forever, one who treated me like a little sister, was a camp soap opera I did
want to star in. What if I crashed and burned? I’d never liked a guy before. At least, not one I knew in real life. Not when it mattered.
“Later, Lauren.” My best friend, Alex, tacked up another picture of a Hollister model beside her bunk and turned. When she leaned in, her wide eyes pinned Piper like a bug from one of our nature projects. “First we need some dirt—starting with Piper.”
“Umm….” Piper plucked at an eco-friendly bandage wrapped around her pinky, dark-blonde strands of hair obscuring her face. Alex winked at me and my eyebrow rose above my square, tortoiseshell frames in return. We both knew where this stall was going. As in nowhere. If only I could be nowhere too—like in a black hole that would freeze time and reset my life to before I started
-liking my camp friend, Seth Reines.
I’d thought about him a lot since last summer. The reason I couldn’t wait to see him this year had nothing to do with our mutual love of science and everything to do with my new feelings for him.
Outside, a group of boys roughhoused on their way to the lakeside fire pit. Their laughter and shouted insults echoed in the old forest. One particular voice got my heart thumping. Seth. I shot to my feet and grabbed a beach bag. “Let’s head to the lake and give Piper a break. I can show you my new back flip. We have time before the bonfire.”
Alex swiped my towel and flicked it at me, her green eyes narrow. “What’s up with you, Carlson? The campfire’s in twenty minutes. You need to like arctic chill.”
“Nothing.” I wiped a speck of spit from my chin. It happened whenever I spoke too forcefully—one of the oh-so-lovely side effects of my new braces. “I just didn’t want to pressure Piper. It’s not nice.”
“Truth or Dare isn’t supposed to be nice. Duh.”
My five cabin mates murmured in agreement.
I sighed. Munchies’ Manor—One; Me—Zero.
“I don’t know,” Piper finally said. “Truth, I guess.”
I swallowed hard. Who could blame her for taking the safe road? Alex’s insane questions were hard enough. But her dares were kamikaze.
Sliding into a pair of worn flip-flops, I waited for Alex’s question to Piper. I’d always come to Juniper Point for the friends and fun. But this year, I mostly wanted to see Seth again. This was my chance to feel things out, to see if he might like me too. But in a no-drama way. I didn’t want the girls to know—especially Alex, who might carve “Seth & Lauren” into trees or ask his friends if he thought I was better-looking now that I’d turned fourteen.
Would he think I was pretty?
My tongue ran over the metallic edges of my new braces. After six months, I was finally getting used to the full, tight feeling and my silver flash of a smile in pictures. Would Seth be okay with it or totally repulsed?
“All right, Piper.” Alex snapped her gum hard and looked around the cluttered room, eating up the attention. “Who gave you your first kiss this year?” When her eyes landed on me, they lingered, her expression suddenly sharp and assessing.
Crap. As my closest friend, she always knew what I was thinking. And right now it was,
Please don’t let me get that same question
“Piper, you don’t have to answer that,” I cut in, knowing, just knowing, that if she did, I would too. Alex suspected something. And how could I confess that A) I’d never been kissed, B) There was only one guy I’ve ever wanted to kiss, and C) The thought of kissing him with my hard-wired mouth freaked me out? I felt like the Edward Scissorhands of kissing.
“Hello?” Alex flicked her dark hair back. “She just chose Truth. So she has to answer that, head case.”
“Takes one to know one.” I unrolled my light-blue sleeping bag and tossed it on my upper bunk.
Alex laughed and looked down her slightly prominent nose at me. “That was so two-thousand-and-lame.” She whirled back to Piper. “Time’s up, Green Girl.”
“How do you even know I
my first kiss?” Piper smoothed the last wrinkle on her recycled-fiber quilt and looked up, her eyebrow piercing twitching. “If your parents knew their ‘Wholesome Home’ kid talked about this….”
“Puh-lease. Just because my parents blog about that stuff doesn’t mean I live it.” Alex waved off Piper’s concern like she was swatting a fly. In fact, given the amount of bugs we’d let in while lugging in our gear, she might have. “Besides, you turned fourteen this winter. There’s no way you came back to camp a KV.”
“KV?” Piper’s confusion echoed mine.
“Kiss-virgin.” Siobhan peered up from a science textbook, her light-hazel eyes contrasting with the dark-bronze of her skin, the unusual combination inherited from her Irish and Cherokee ancestry.
I pushed up my glasses and blinked at her in surprise. How did she know what KV meant and I didn’t? Not that I had anything to brag about in the cool kid department. But still, our inexperience was the glue that held our tight group together. Now, suddenly, Siobhan—the girl whose parents controlled her life to the point of making her do summer homework—seemed more knowledgeable than me… maybe even more experienced?
“I never heard of KV until….” Siobhan’s thick glasses magnified her widened eyes as she realized what she’d let slip.
We all leaned forward. As the youngest in our group—and the most dismissive of boys—thirteen-year-old Siobhan didn’t seem like the kind to kiss and tell.
“You’ve stepped in it now,” Alex squealed, pointing a finger at her. “Spill it!”
Pulse speeding, I sprang to her defense. Hopefully someone would have my back when the time came. “It’s not her turn.”
Piper, having escaped the spotlight for a few minutes, joined the chorus of protest. “She kissed so now she’s got to tell.”
I plunked down on Alex’s bottom bunk to stop my nervous pacing.
“Hey, watch out for Dalton,” she warned when my hip crinkled the edge of a boy band poster. “He’s my future husband.”
“In your dreams.” Jackie chucked a Nerf football at Alex from her Steelers-decorated lower bunk, her arm muscular and graceful.
“Come on.” Alex ducked then strolled to our small mirror and sprayed her straight locks into submission, defying the humid air. I coughed at the overpowering scent of flowers and rubbing alcohol. At least some things hadn’t changed since last year.
“Tell us how you learned about KVs.”
I cringed at the term. Why couldn’t they just let this go, and where was our counselor, Susannah? I peered behind me to check out the window. A breeze hissed through the tall pines flanking our porch, a sepia kaleidoscope of bright and dark dots spinning on the dirt path.
“A boy in chess club asked me if I was a KV, then he kissed me.” Siobhan snapped her book shut. “He’d just lost his first match and he admitted—in front of the whole group—that he’d only joined to… meet me.”
“Ohmigod, that’s so sweet.” Trinity scooted over to sit on Siobhan’s bunk. She hadn’t changed at all since last year. Her shirt was purple, a color she wore most of the time to help “keep her third eye open.”
“So not sweet. He kissed me in front of everyone. After that, whenever a player captured another person’s queen, they yelled, ‘Got your Siobhan.’ Total humiliation.”
“Maybe he didn’t realize—”
“Sometimes guys don’t understand—”
“Boys are clueless.” Piper summed up the round of replies. “And because I want to get this over with—I’ll admit it … Alex is right.” She paused for a deep breath. “I kissed a guy I met at a highway clean-up event. But I’ll probably never see him again.”
The chatter increased, and I might have joined in if I hadn’t been so nervous. Things were moving so fast. Why did Piper rush through her turn when we’d been talking about Siobhan? And where was Susannah? I glanced out the window again, only to see the girls from the Divas’ Den cabin standing in the middle of the circle on the girls’ side of camp, oohing and aahing over each other’s outfits, tans, hair extensions, and jewelry.
Their ringleader, Hannah Trudeau, showed off her cropped tank and an expensive miniskirt I’d seen on a magazine cover, her red hair flying as she twirled. I wondered how much a designer outfit like that would cost. Was it worth it? I spent my allowance in the science stores, dazzled by geodes or fossils instead of fashion. But as I watched, boys checked her out on their way to the bonfire. Attention like that would be great, but there was only one guy that I cared about
I plucked at my “Jedi In-Training” T-shirt and hoped Seth, a
fan too, would like it. Not that I thought much about what I wore. But lately I’d been caring more than ever. Especially when a certain blond-haired, amber-eyed camp guy-friend came to mind.