Read The Trouble With Destiny Online

Authors: Lauren Morrill

Tags: #Young Adult, #Contemporary, #Romance, #Music

The Trouble With Destiny

ALSO BY LAUREN MORRILL

Meant to Be

Being Sloane Jacobs

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Text copyright © 2015 by Paper Lantern Lit, LLC

Cover art copyright © 2015 by Erin Fitzsimmons

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

Delacorte Press is a registered trademark and the colophon is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

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Educators and librarians, for a variety of teaching tools, visit us at
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Morrill, Lauren.

The trouble with destiny / Lauren Morrill. — First edition.

pages cm.

Summary: A high school drum major must save her school band and navigate romantic disasters when their cruise ship gets stranded at sea.

ISBN 978-0-553-49797-7 (hc) — ISBN 978-0-553-49798-4 (glb) — ISBN 978-0-553-49799-1 (ebook)

[1. Drum majorettes—Fiction. 2. Marching bands—Fiction. 3. Cruise ships—Fiction. 4. Love—Fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7.M82718Tr 2015

[Fic]—dc23

2014025020

eBook ISBN 9780553497991

Random House Children's Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.

v4.1

ep

For my mom

Thanks for all the love and support

(and the grammar lessons)

Destiny,
it turns out, is not at all what I expected.

For starters, it has three pools, a bowling alley, and more buffets than I have fingers and toes. Its passengers are dragging rolling suitcases and hoisting cheap woven beach bags stuffed with shorts and tank tops and flip-flops and bathing suits in a rainbow of colors, and some of them already seem to be sunburned. And there are giant potted palm trees dotting the various levels and decks.
Palm trees.
Something about palm trees floating across the ocean blows my mind.

When I was eight, the same year my parents got divorced, my dad dragged me on a cruise of the great rivers of Europe. It was a trip my mom never would have agreed to. Given a choice, she preferred to drive up to the lake and spend a week in the sand reading a water-spotted paperback. She's always hated stuffy hotels and restaurants with unpronounceable menu items. And after that cruise, I was inclined to agree with her. All I remember was wearing a really stiff, way-too-frilly dress in a shade of pale pink I
never
would have chosen to dinner on the first night, where I promptly used the wrong fork to eat what turned out to be a very bad oyster, and spent the rest of the trip alternately sleeping or barfing in our luxury cabin.

After only five minutes in the boarding terminal for the Sail Away Cruise Line, I can tell this trip is going to be different. I quickly scoop my long, slightly tangled dark hair into a sensible bun as I look around at the soaring glass ceiling of the station, with its glossy white steel girders and shiny white linoleum tile. I breathe in the salty smell of pretzels and hot dogs and fries floating in a hot grease bath. To my left, a sugared-up toddler with a fistful of Cheetos turns over an entire forty-four-ounce soda right into the lap of his mother, who seems too exhausted and bogged down by luggage to notice. Off to my right, an elderly couple in matching black leather fanny packs paws through a rack of souvenir T-shirts. It feels like I'm about to board a cruise ship from the food court of the Town Center Mall.

Dad would absolutely hate it, so obviously I love it.

“Attention, student participants of the Ship of Dreams performing arts competition,” the terminal's intercom system squawks. “Please board the
Destiny
through gate D-one. Thank you.”

My heart does a funny little flutter, like a fish just pulled from the ocean. This is it: my final chance to turn things around.
Our
final chance.

Of course, I'm the only one who knows that.

I spin on my heel to face my classmates, who have just dragged themselves off a bus after an all-night ride from our high school parking lot in Holland, Tennessee. Andrew and Ryan are still bleary-eyed and yawning from the nine-hour drive, clearly wishing they could carry the pillows tucked under their arms into a quiet corner and take a nap. Nicole is starting to look twitchy, possibly on the verge of a full-on panic. She's working on getting her overnight bus hair into a ponytail but can't stop smoothing her hand over the bumps, her toe tapping furiously to whatever is pumping through her earbuds (hopefully the soothing sounds of the ocean or some meditative chanting). But other than that, most of them seem excited to finally be here, rejuvenated by all the noise and bustle of the cruise line's giant, if cheesy, terminal.

“All right, listen up,” I say, affecting the stern drill-sergeant voice I use on the field during marching practice. But with all the commotion, including the other groups of high school students who are also chattering and laughing and shouting to one another, no one pays any attention.

I stick my thumb and forefinger between my lips and give the high-pitched country whistle my mom taught me when I was five. Whenever we'd get separated at the park or in the grocery store, she'd whistle and I'd whistle back, a little family homing beacon that allowed us to find each other, never mind that Dad got me a phone in the fourth grade for this exact purpose. Immediately, all sixty pairs of eyes are on me. I clear my throat and give a little nod.
Game time.

“Okay, guys, passports and tickets out, like we talked about. Section leaders, gather your crew and line up at gate D-one.” I turn and wave like a crossing guard, my arm pivoting in the direction of the gate at the farthest end of the terminal. Already, crowds of other competitors are flowing in that direction. A perky-looking employee of the Sail Away Cruise Line is standing at the front of the gate, her jaunty white sailor hat falling off the back of her head as she checks tickets and passports. “And don't forget to double-check your schedules.”

Immediately, the whole group begins moving en masse in the direction I've indicated, and I give in to a quick surge of optimism. After band camp and a semester's worth of practices and halftime shows, the group is more than used to following my directions—but that's when I'm on the football field back home, under bright lights, with white gloves and a very large, very fuzzy hat. That they're paying attention now, in the middle of this crowded terminal, gives me hope that maybe tonight I can actually get some sleep instead of lying awake in bed like I have recently, worrying about what's going to happen after this week.

Molly O'Dwyer leads the charge with her clarinet section, counting them off as they line up behind a group of twenty or so students from another school who are all wearing matching red T-shirts with tragedy masks screen-printed on the back. They're passing the time by playing some kind of improv game that involves them making rubbery faces and exaggerated hand gestures.
Great.
The Mechanicals. Despite all my prayers that they'd be stricken with some kind of temporary tropical disease that would make them unable to come on the cruise, it looks like they made it. And with energy to spare.

The Mechanicals are a group of drama kids from Centreville, our rival high school. They compete in improv competitions and stage one-act plays, but they'll basically participate in anything that will draw attention. They're forever staging flash mobs at the mall that sits right on the town line.

“Ugh, drama nerds,” a voice says behind me.

I swivel around. Huck flicks me on the nose and I flinch. “Hector Martinez, how many times have I told you to stop flicking me on the nose!”

“Eight thousand seven hundred and forty?” He grins, stuffing his hands guiltily into his plaid bermuda shorts. His black hair is tufting out from beneath a black-banded straw fedora, and a pair of neon-orange sunglasses hangs around his neck on a bright blue neoprene band. Come to think of it, he looks a lot like a hipster version of the many Hawaiian-shirted, fanny-packed, gray-haired retirees boarding a few gates over. One glance in that direction tells me that someone at the cruise company has scheduled not only a couple of hundred high school students for this voyage, but also some kind of grandparents' tour group. “And if you call me Hector one more time, I'm calling you Grandma, because she's the only one who can get away with that.”

Just as I'm about to tell him to make that eight thousand seven hundred and forty-one, the entire group of improv kids lets out a moan that's a cross between those of a dying cow and a wailing widow.

I shudder. “Have they no shame?”

“Someone replaced their shame gauge with an overdose of confidence and a full tank of ego,” Huck replies with an eye roll.

One of the drama girls spins around and shoots us a dirty look before turning back to her friends. I don't know what her problem is; we're not the ones passing the time pretending to be wailing farm animals.

“Whatever,” I mutter to Huck. “We can take them, no problem. What are they going to do, mime us out of the competition?” I keep my voice light, hoping that if I fake confidence, I'll make confidence, like my mom always tells me to.

A warm blast of air cuts through the arctic air conditioning as the glass doors of the terminal slide open with a quiet
whoosh.

Russ Jennings ambles in, a blue Holland High School football team duffel slung over his broad shoulder. His blond hair is sticking up in a persistent cowlick on the back of his head, and faint red marks streak his face, probably from sleeping propped up on his arm. He blinks hard a few times while he scans the crowd, and when he spots our herd, he drops his sunglasses down on his face, yawns like a lion, and joins the back of the line.

“Could you keep an eye on
that,
please?” I say to Huck as Russ settles into some kind of sleeping-standing-up situation while he waits to board. He's nearly a head taller than everyone else, and I can't help but hum the tune to “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other” in my head. Russ definitely does
not
belong among the adorkable riffraff otherwise known as the Holland High marching band. And if it were up to me, I would have left him back in the school parking lot, sleeping in his Jeep.

I can't
believe
Principal DeLozier thought sending him with us to serve as band errand-boy was an appropriate punishment for throwing a football into Hillary's tuba during practice. What happened to the old standbys, like detention or, I don't know, paddling? When I complained to my mother, an elementary school teacher, about this pseudo-punishment, she launched into a twenty-minute ed-psych lecture on alternative discipline and blah blah blah. I love her passion, but I had to stop listening. Having Russ come along is more like punishment for
us.
That the captain of the football team, the team that sucks up all our funding and treats us like lepers, gets to crash
our
spring break is a sign that there is
seriously
no justice in the world. What, if I skip fourth-period calculus, will I get a new car?

Huck nods at me, his face faux-serious. “I hope you know that if anyone else asked me to tail the captain of a team who thinks nominating me for homecoming king is some kind of
joke,
I'd reply with some very offensive hand gestures and a whole lotta
no.

I roll my eyes. “First of all, that was Greg Milbanks, not Russ. And second, the joke was on them, because you rocked that powder-blue tux
and
the crown.”

“Won't Demi have him pretty well distracted?”

I sigh. “They broke up, remember? Besides, I don't want Demi anywhere near us this weekend. She and the Athenas are our
real
competition. We have no choice here. I am not letting Russ or anyone else mess up our chances, okay? So please?”

Huck shrugs. “You got it, El Capitán.” He gives me an exaggerated salute, then turns and pushes through the crowd to join the oboes in the line with the rest of the woodwinds.

“Oh, and Huck?” I call to him. He pivots gracefully to face me again. “Remember.
Best behavior.

He raises one eyebrow, the opposite corner of his mouth turning up in half of a devious
who, me?
grin that doesn't inspire any confidence at all. “Always!” he shouts, then blows me a kiss and continues on to join the rest of the oboes and bassoons.

At the edge of the crowd, six porters in starched white shorts and polo shirts are struggling with carts overloaded with towers of black instrument cases. I hurry toward them, reaching into my messenger bag and extracting a manila envelope containing the instrument inventory I created last week.

“Hiya, fellas,” I say, pressing a list and a crisp twenty-dollar bill into each of their hands. “I would
super
appreciate it if you'd triple-check that everything on this list is here when you get on board.” I make a show of fumbling with another wad of twenties as I stuff everything back into my bag, all while saying a silent thank-you to my father. Our preboarding packet from the cruise company detailed the ins and outs of tipping (the one thing
not
included in this all-inclusive week, during which our shipboard ID cards will function as debit cards), but I need no instruction when it comes to pressing bills into someone's hand. Even though I see my dad only a few times a year, he frequently sends cash to make up for the fact that he joined a law firm on the other side of the country. Occasionally, it really pays to have a guilt-ridden absentee parent, especially one who believes that bribery and flattery will pretty much get you everywhere.

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