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You know, being friends with two cute boys does have its benefits.
There's Danny. Danny is a golden boy in every way. He has dreamy blue eyes and blonde hair that always looks perfect, even when it's windblown or been stuck under a football helmet. He's the boy every girl crushes on. The boy I get into trouble with, the boy I fight with, the hot quarterback no girl can resist. Being with Danny is like being on an adventure. He has a bright, contagious smile and abs to die for.
Equally crush-worthy is Phillip. Adorable, sweet Phillip, who I have known since birth. Phillip has dark hair, a perfect smile, brown eyes, and the sexiest voice I have ever heard. He's the boy I talk to every night before I go to sleep. The boy who rescues me, the boy who can read my mind, the boy who is always there for me, the boy who tries to keep me out of trouble, the boy who irritatingly keeps getting hotter, and whose strong arms always seem to find their way around me. And when he gives me that grin, I can never say no.
One boy will give me my very first kiss.
One boy will teach me to make out.
One boy will take me to prom.
And finally, one boy will ask me to marry him.
They will both be my best friends.
But only one of them will be the boy I fall in love with.
Only one of them is That Boy.
Read an Excerpt
“You arrogant son of a bitch,” I say. Well, maybe I growl it. It’s hard to say for certain.
But I can tell you this. I am fuming, smoke-flying-out-of-my-ears mad as I take the engagement ring off my finger, shove it into his hand, and march toward the stage. The march to the stage feels like it takes forever because there are a million thoughts running through my mind.
Did all these people come here because they really thought I’d say yes?
Or did they come for the fireworks of me saying no?
Do they wish us well?
Or hope to see us fail?
I reach the stage and tentatively walk out on it. One of the band members hands me a microphone, and I know I really need to say something to all these people.
I might die of embarrassment.
Actually, I wish it were possible to die of embarrassment. Then, I could drop dead right now, and I wouldn’t have to do what I am about to do.
Part of me wonders how in the world I got here to begin with.
We have been friends for a really long time and only decided to have a real relationship all of a week ago.
And, well, it has been really incredible.
I mean, he is incredible in ways I didn’t even imagine!
Okay, so I might have imagined a little.
Anyway, as of about six minutes ago, we were out on a romantic first date.
Then, he had to go and blow the whole thing all to hell by asking me to marry him.
Can you believe that?
And, as if it wasn’t unbelievable enough that he asked me to marry him on our first date, he was so damn sure I’d say yes that he planned this huge surprise engagement party.
Tonight. On our first date. Like, right now!
I shudder and mentally prepare myself.
I have to tell everyone who came here tonight that there is no way I’m going to marry that boy!
Before I say the words, I glance at him, and my mind is transported back to the memory of my first kiss.
It’s where this all began really.
Boys are dumb.
Phillip was the first boy to ever kiss me. We were swinging sideways on the swings out behind school, when out of the blue, he reached over, grabbed my swing, and kissed me right on the lips. Then, he jumped off his swing and ran home. It was one of those perfect sunny afternoons when school was almost out for the summer. I thought it was the best day of my life.
I was in love.
Phillip must have told someone what he did because, today, at school, everyone was singing.
“Phillip and JJ sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G …”
I couldn’t take it.
I was being tortured.
It was the worstest day of my life!
It was such a letdown because the day before had been a GREAT day. I had gotten my first kiss from a boy!
I know it was just Phillip, but still, I was very surprised.
And I had been so excited to come to school—until I had gotten there, and everyone started torturing me with those stupid, stupid songs. Even my friend Lisa was singing them.
And, very quickly, I went from loving that boy to hating him.
At least, that was what I had to tell all my friends, so they would stop singing those ridiculous songs.
Phillip must have started a trend because, later that day, Joey kissed Katie, and everyone forgot about Phillip and me.
They had someone new to torture endlessly.
I noticed that Phillip didn’t tease Joey and Katie.
Neither did I.
Phillip Mackenzie lives across the street from me. We have been friends forever.
I mean it. Since birth.
Our dads are fraternity brothers and best friends. Phillip is five months older than me, and our parents think it is just hilarious to show embarrassing photos of us together as babies.
And we are naked!
It’s just so gross. I can’t even describe it! Phillip and I want to hide—and we usually do—whenever they get out those stupid baby books.
Our parents hope that Phillip and I will get married when we grow up. I totally laugh at that. I have told them so many times that I can’t marry Phillip because I’m going to marry a prince. I blame my obsession with wanting to marry a prince on Disney and Phillip’s sister, Ashley.
Ever since I can remember, our parents have been getting together to play cards on Friday nights. We have pizza, which I love, and I get to play with Phillip. Unfortunately, that also means I have to play with Ashley. Ashley is four years older than Phillip and me and a pain in the rear. (I would say butt, except I’m not supposed to say that B-word.)
Speaking of B-words, Ashley is very bossy. And she always plays the queen. That means, she gives me the choice of being either her servant or her daughter. And who in their right mind would sign up to be her servant?
I told you how bossy she is. It would be unbearable!
So, I always play the princess.
Important Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far:
1. Always be the princess. Princesses have much more fun and not so much responsibility. Plus, you get to marry the prince.
2. Never be the queen. Queens are old and bossy and sometimes even evil. (Remember Snow White?) Queens think they are in charge of everything. Queens are responsible.
3. Responsibility makes you crabby and no fun.
4. When you have the choice, play with a boy. Boys are easy to get along with. They don’t care if your clothes match or if your hair is a mess. Boys don’t talk behind your back or make up stories about you to try to hurt your feelings. They are too busy playing sports or video games.
5. Always trust your daddy. Daddies are incredibly smart and handsome, and they always smell very good.
6. Never kiss and tell. You will get tortured by people who you thought were your friends.
7. Never, ever, ever trust Mary Beth Parker. Even if she says she is your best friend.
Last week, Mary Beth Parker told me I could be her best friend. She got me to play with her on the playground, and Lisa, who is my best friend, got mad at me. The very next day, Mary Beth Parker told everyone not to play with me.
I didn’t do anything to her. That’s just how she is.
She is very mean.
Phillip was the only person who played with me. He didn’t care what that bossy girl said. He acted like a prince that day.
I told him so, and ever since, when it’s just us, he calls me Princess.
And he’s the only person I’d let get away with it!
The worst day of my life.
Today is the worst day of my life.
Really, it is!
A new family has moved into our neighborhood—across the empty lot from my house and across the street from Phillip’s house.
This is most unfortunate.
The parents seem like nice, decent people, but unfortunately, they had to bring their stupid, stinky son with them. Why couldn’t they have forgotten to bring him or left him on the side of the road somewhere in Missouri? Maybe someone would’ve taken him home, like a lost kitty.
That way, he could’ve ruined someone else’s life.
Phillip and I have so much fun playing together. We play lots of sports, games, and fun stuff that I make up. Usually, we play some version of the handsome prince coming to rescue the beautiful royal princess. But it’s not like it’s all girlie. Phillip gets to do some really cool boy stuff, like fight a dragon with a sword, duel with an evil warlock, and climb the tower. We even play Olympics and have all sorts of sports competitions.
But, since that nasty, smelly boy next door came here, Phillip has been acting like the only fun thing to do is play with him.
Phillip and I are both real good at sports. It’s not like I can’t keep up with him! Honestly, I’m bigger than he is, and I can actually beat him at almost everything, except for a flat-out running race; he is a bit faster than me.
I’m always the first girl picked when we split into teams at school, but somehow, this evil boy has convinced Phillip that he shouldn’t play with girls.
Today, Phillip and I are minding our own business, playing in the empty lot between Danny’s house and mine.
Did I mention his name?
Danny. Danny Diamond.
Devil Danny is more like it.
I wonder if his parents know how truly awful he is.
Poor people. They really should consider giving that boy up for adoption.
Oh, I hate that boy!
He makes me so mad!
Anyway, Phillip and I are playing a nice game of Four Squares, which all the boys at school like to play, when he comes walking over.
He thinks he is so cool!
The first day he moved here, he told me how he’s a great quarterback.
I told him to stop bragging. It’s not nice.
But he went, “I’m not bragging. I’m just confident in my skills.”
I figured the kids at school would hate him because no one likes a bragger, right? Right?
Because of his bragging, his so-called skills, and the way he looks, all the girls at school are in love with him. I mean, he does have nice blond hair that always looks like he just combed it, even when he’s out in the wind. And all the girls have been going on and on about his dreamy blue eyes and his cool attitude.
Personally, I think they’re just bored with the boys we’ve grown up with, and they would like anyone new.
Although, I have to admit, the first time I saw him, I thought he was really cute, too.
But that was way before I knew him.
He interrupts our game by saying, “Four Squares is a dumb girl game. Wanna play football, Phil?”
It’s not Phil, you idiot! No one calls him that. It’s Phillip.
I’m sure that my Prince Phillip will not let him talk about our game—or me—like that. So, I wait for his reply.
“Sounds fun,” Phillip says. “I’ll go grab a football.”
And off he runs.
No, Bye, Princess.
Has Devil Danny used some kind of evil brainwashing on Phillip?
Can he control people’s minds?
Will he suck out Phillip’s soul?
I am so mad that I could scream!
But, instead, I try to get along, so I say, “That’s okay. Football sounds fun, too.”
Danny glares at me, like I’m a piece of poop that he just stepped in. “Girls can’t play football. Why don’t you go home and play with your dolls or something?”
Well, that’s about all I can take from that boy.
“Danny, you are a stupid, ugly, smelly boy.”
I am so mad at him! But then something terrible happens. As I’m yelling at him, tears start coming out of my eyes. Why is that? I’m not sad. I’m boiling hot, furiously mad!
MAD. MAD. MAD. MAD!
I continue to yell at him anyway, “And I wish you would just go back to Missouri and die!”
What I say doesn’t seem to upset him in any way.
He just looks at me with disgust and says, “Girls are such crybabies.”
I turn and run home.
I slam the back door, run up the stairs, and slam the door to my room. I throw myself across my bed and cry. I move to my window seat, so I can look out the window at those stupid boys playing football while I cry.
Why do I cry when I get mad?
Maybe he’s right. Maybe I am just a crybaby.
Maybe I will just give up and let him steal my best friend from me.
Never, I think and dry my eyes on my shirt.
Just then, Daddy walks in. I’m sure he heard the doors slamming and is coming to yell at me. He hates it when I slam doors.
I try to hide my crybaby eyes from him.
He looks at me and out the window at the boys. Then he sits down next to me and wraps me in a great big hug.
How come a boy can be so stupid, but a daddy, who actually used to be a boy himself, can be so wonderful?
“Three’s a crowd, huh?” he asks, nodding out toward the boys.
And smart, too!
“Yeah”—I sniffle—“Danny says girls can’t play football. He said I should go play with my dolls. I don’t even play with dolls anymore.”
At least, not very often.
“I was so mad at him, Daddy. I tried to tell him how mean and stupid I think he is, but then I started crying, so he called me a crybaby. I swear, Dad, I wasn’t sad; I was mad. I don’t know how he made me cry. It’s a big mystery to me! Plus, he’s trying to steal my bestest friend in the whole world.”
“Well,” Daddy says, rubbing the stubbly stuff on his chin and thinking.
I love it when he does that. He has the most brilliant ideas!
“I know,” I say, interrupting him. “How ’bout you go over there and give him a good, old-fashioned ass-whooping?”
Daddy laughs. He knows I have heard Grandpa say the same thing about me.
“Please don’t use bad words like that, okay?”
“Okay,” I reply sheepishly. “But I think it would be a very good idea.”
“I don’t think I could do that, Angel.” He smiles, pauses, and strokes the stubble some more. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t.”
“You want me to go and beat up Danny?” I’m very surprised at that man.
“No, you silly goose,” he says, ruffling my hair. “But you are very good at sports, and you especially love football. Teach him a lesson. Show him that girls can play anything they want. Beat him at his own game. I think it would be good for Danny to lose to a girl.”
He gives me another big hug and walks toward my door.
He turns around, grabs my doorway, and says, “You know, it’s okay to have more than one best friend.”
Well, his advice on boys might be good, but evidently, he’s forgotten the laws of fifth grade.
You can have only one best friend.
That’s okay though; his memory is probably going bad because he’s getting so old. He is thirty-eight after all.
I hug my knees and watch the boys for a few more minutes while I get my courage up. I’m gonna show that boy that anything boys can do, girls can do better.
My friend Lisa likes to sing, “Girls go to college to get more knowledge. Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider.”
I don’t know where she comes up with these funny things, but I love that she does. Usually, they are so good!
In this case though, Danny’s gonna get more knowledge. And I am about to school him.
I get up and look in my mirror. Daddy always tells me I am beautiful, but I’m not sure I believe him. Isn’t it required that dads tell their daughters that? Anyway, all I see in the mirror staring back at me is a girl who is way too tall and way too skinny and who has gross, knobby knees and some really stupid freckles on her nose.
I look some more.
Well, I suppose my blue eyes are okay, and I do actually like the color of my long blonde hair, but I just can’t see beautiful.
Oh well. I’m going to teach that boy a lesson, and I should definitely look as much like a girl as I can when I do it. So, I take my hair out of its ponytail and brush it until it shines, and then I put on some Lip Smacker lip gloss. Lisa gave me this gloss.
She says, “Glossing is as important as flossing.”
I think my dentist might disagree with that, but gloss does make your lips look kind of pretty.
I run outside and walk right up to those stupid boys. I ignore Danny and say to Phillip, “I want to play football with you guys, okay?”
Phillip shrugs his shoulders. “Sure. I’ll go out for a pass, and you can guard me.”
Danny steps between us and says to Phillip, “No way. She’ll just end up getting hurt and go bawling home.” He glares at me. “Girls aren’t tough enough to play football.”
I look that devil boy in the eye.
Dad told me to teach him a lesson by playing football, but I can see now what I have to do. I cock my arm back and punch that boy right in the stomach. Then, I move in closer and give him a jab to the face. He falls onto his butt in the grass.
What can I say? Dad and I watch a lot of boxing.
The corner of his lip is bleeding a bit, and he is lying on the grass, looking up at me with a shocked expression. I expect him to go home and cry to his mommy.
But he surprises me. He wipes his mouth on his shirt and looks at me with new respect.
He slowly nods his head up and down at me.
It’s like his brain is transparent, and I can see the lightbulb going off inside it.
Boys are so clueless.
Finally, he says, “You know what? You just might be tough enough to play football.”
I have to say that I think we both learned a lesson today.
He learned that all girls aren’t prissy wimps, and I learned that he just might not be the devil after all.
The three of us have been best friends ever since.
Happy Birthday, Lisa!
Tonight is Lisa’s fourteenth birthday party.
We have been planning it for months—actually, for years.
I think we started planning for her first boy-girl birthday party in fourth grade, but this is the first time her parents have finally agreed to let her have one.
This is the third one that I’ve been to.
Boy-girl party, that is.
The first one was a little boring; everyone was too scared to do anything fun.
But, at the last one, things got a little more interesting. We played Spin the Bottle and Seven Minutes in Heaven. I got stuck in the closet with Andrew Martin.
I wouldn’t let him get near enough to breathe on me, let alone do anything else!
I’m hoping that, at this party, I will end up in the closet with Billy Prescott. He is way cute.
Lisa assures me that she has the drawing of one boy’s and one girl’s name rigged in my favor.
I end up in the closet with Neil.
Right before we have to go in the closet, Neil runs over and breaks up with Mary Beth Parker.
Tacky. Very tacky.
Phillip told me that Neil has a crush on me. I let him kiss me, mostly because I haven’t liked Mary Beth Parker since fourth grade when she told everyone not to play with me.
When we come out, Neil has a huge grin on his face.
That’s when things get all dramatic.
Mary Beth is very mad at me.
She is all huffy and says bad things about me.
Of course, she changes her tune as soon as she gets sent into the closet with Phillip.
Then, she thinks she’s my new best friend.
God, I hope he didn’t kiss her!
Later on, I have to play Spin the Bottle.
Yes, I have to.
Lisa is making me.
She says I’ll ruin her party if I don’t.
I don’t need that hanging over my head, so I agree to play.
See? Have to.
Plus, since there are only seven kids left at the party, one of them being Billy Prescott, I figure the odds are in my favor that I still might get to kiss him.
Lisa turns off the light and puts down a bottle. Everyone gets positioned on the floor in a circle.
Neil is strategically trying to place himself across from me.
We go through four spins of the bottle without it landing on me.
Then, it’s Phillip’s turn. He spins, and the neck of the bottle points directly between Mary Beth Parker and me!
I kid you not.
Mary Beth looks all excited.
I feel sorry for the poor guy. It’s like he has to choose between heaven and hell. And hell—Mary Beth—will get really mad and make his life miserable if he doesn’t pick her.
Phillip looks at her and then at me. He takes the neck of the bottle and moves it, so it points straight at me.
Both Neil and Mary Beth are looking pissed at Phillip, but he doesn’t seem to care.
He grins and then crooks his index finger at me, motioning for me to come and get him.
I am going to shake my head, but his grin gets me every time. I can’t resist him; plus, I kinda want to kiss him. So, I crawl through the center of the circle. It’s like his eyes are the light at the end of a tunnel, and all I can see is him.
I’m still not sure what happened, what Phillip did, or how he did it so fast. But, next thing I know, I am lying on my back across the center of the circle with Phillip lying on top of me, kissing me.
The boys are hooting and hollering, but it barely registers because Phillip keeps kissing me. I’m having a hard time processing anything other than the fact that Phillip is a really good kisser and that he is lying on top of me.
Around us, everyone gasps and jumps up.
I think this is exactly what Phillip hoped would happen.
I am slightly dazed though, so I can’t be sure.
Once everyone scatters, he stops kissing me, pulls me up onto my feet, and flashes me that adorable grin.
And I can’t help but fall a little in love with him.
“So, are you secretly in love with me, or were you just trying to break up the game, so you wouldn’t have to kiss Mary Beth?” I whisper.
“Oh, I am definitely in love with you,” he replies with a big smile on his face as he sees Mary Beth storming out of the party.
“Liar,” I say.
It’s stupid, really.
Every summer, Phillip’s dad sets up a tent in their backyard. But it’s so hot already in May that the boys talked him into setting it up this weekend, so they can camp out. I’ve spent many a night in that tent with the boys, but my parents have decided that, this year, I’m too old to camp with them.
It’s stupid really.
It’s not like I like them.
I mean, we’re together a lot, and let’s face it; if I really wanted to do anything with them, I could just do it any old time.
But, since we are only friends, nothing happens.
I have tried explaining this to Mom and Dad, but they got all freaked out when I told them that, if I wanted to do something with one of the boys, I could do it any old time, and I nearly got grounded.
Fortunately, I haven’t been banned from the tent entirely. I still get to go over there, but I have to come home to sleep, which really makes no sense either because a lot can happen before I come home. But whatever. I mean, all we usually do is eat, play cards, and talk.
I know that I’m growing up, but I don’t really feel all that different. I’m a lot taller than I used to be. I’m five-ten, which seems a bit excessive to me, and it really sucks because there are only two boys in my grade taller than me. So, if I want to go out with a boy who is taller than me, my choices are very limited.
My mom is five-nine, and she says she loves being tall and not to worry; the boys will catch up in a few years. She is also constantly telling me to stand up straight.
It drives me nuts.
The talks the boys and I have in the tent are much different from the ones I have with my friends Lisa and Katie. I swear, growing up is all they have talked about for the last three years.
Who got their boobs first?
Who got their period first?
Again, not me.
Who got kissed on the lips first?
Well, that would have been me, but now that we are older, a silly playground kiss doesn’t count.
So, that one is also not me.
They are totally obsessed with boys and are so excited about going to high school next year because they think the place is just full of boys dying to date them.
Lisa has been counting down the days until we are fifteen and old enough to go out on real dates—131 days for Lisa, 215 for Katie, and 321 for me, at last count. The countdown is kind of silly to me. I mean, do they think they will turn fifteen, and all of a sudden, boys will be standing in line to ask them out?
What if no one does?
I haven’t pointed that out to them and probably won’t.
They would get all huffy at me.
As if I don’t have enough to worry about, eighth-grade graduation is coming up. It’s a big deal around here. We have a graduation ceremony and parties and everything. Normally, this is something I would be very excited about—I love parties—but my mom has been trying to ruin my life.
She said I have to wear a dress. I know I’m kind of a tomboy, and I love sports, but I don’t mind wearing dresses. It’s just that I find they’re not usually very comfortable. Then, there’s the whole worrying about your underwear showing issue. So, anyway, the problem isn’t really that I have to wear a dress; it’s the type of dress she wants me to wear. Everything she picks is so pink! And she keeps dragging me to the store and making me try these things on.
I think Lisa and I were switched at birth. She might very well be my mother’s real daughter. They both love to shop and to go, “Ooh! Isn’t that just dar-ling?” to anything with rhinestones, fringe, sequins, or leopard print.
Last time we went shopping, they made me try on a dress that was a combination of hot pink and leopard.
I’m pretty positive I saw that once in the Fashion Don’ts that Katie is always reading.
I swear, they want me to look like a hooker.
I told Mom that.
And, evidently, that’s when she decided that she is very frustrated with me.
Dad told me this, and when I was like, “I know the feeling,” even he got testy with me.
After our last shopping trip, she told him she has given up. And that’s saying a lot because this woman loves to shop.
Dad tried to intervene and asked me at dinner a couple of nights ago, “JJ, have you seen any dresses you’ve liked anywhere?”
“Not really.” I shrugged and took a bite of my chicken.
“Why don’t I take you shopping tomorrow night? And, if we find a dress, I’ll take you to Johnny’s for pizza.”
I was really amazed by this development because Dad has told me for years that he is allergic to shopping. Advil must help his shopping allergies because he took three before we left the house.
Surprisingly, Dad and I did find something for me to wear to graduation. First, we went to the juniors section at a department store Katie recommended. I tried on a bunch of dresses, but Dad vetoed them all as too sexy, so we continued our search. I kinda liked the black one he thought was way too sexy, but I was hungry, so I didn’t argue. Katie also told me to try the Gap, so we did, and I really need to thank that girl because that was very helpful advice. I found a pretty eyelet skirt and a really cute top.
During our whole shopping trip, Dad only held his head in his hands and muttered things to himself twice, so it was a good experience for him, too, I think.
And, now, I am actually excited for graduation.
Right now, I’m getting some snacks together to take out to the tent.
“Phillip, come help me!” I yell across the street as I struggle to carry everything.
Phillip runs over and grabs two grocery sacks full of candy and snacks from my arms. I’m left with just the big bowl of warm, buttered popcorn. As I’m following Phillip across the street, Danny comes out of his garage, carrying a cooler.
“Why do you look so sneaky?” I ask him as we meet in the street.
Danny looks just like he did the night we decorated the Mackenzies’ trees with Ashley’s underwear. At first, Ashley, who was sixteen at the time, laughed like she didn’t care, but that was before she realized Phillip had sent a heads-up email to everyone in her address book. She was completely horrified when all her friends, boys included, started driving by her house and honking at her lacy bras and panties.
Danny’s got something up his sleeve, I can tell.
“I’ll tell you later. Just act normal in case my parents are watching.”
Later, after we’ve eaten most of the snacks and we are playing cards, Danny opens the cooler and says, “How ’bout we have some fun tonight?” He pulls three cans of beer out from underneath the pop.
Phillip, who I figure will tell us exactly what a bad idea this is because he tends to be the most conservative of the three of us, says, to my surprise, “Heck yeah.”
So, of course, I say, “Sounds awesome.”
We open our beers, and Danny cheers, “Here’s to the good life.”
I’m pretty sure he heard that on a commercial.
We drink up. A few hours and few beers later, we’re basically drunk. Good thing our parents are already in bed.
See? I told you things could happen out here before bedtime.
The boys and I talk about who likes who and who doesn’t like who—all the gossip. We don’t know the answers to these questions, but we talk and laugh anyway. We share the last beer.
Actually, I am smart and only pretend to drink from it.
We are laughing and laughing when the boys start telling me about how they wake up in the morning with hard you-know-whats.
So, I say, “Well, that’s nothing,” and proceed to tell them in gory detail all about a period.
I ask them why they are so obsessed with girls who have big boobs, and they want to know why girls only like guys taller than them.
Later that night, Danny and Phillip puke their guts out.
I earn honors because I don’t.
Of course, I feel terrible the next day, but I will never admit it.
Mrs. Ryan Marshall?
Three days until my first real date.
I am so excited!
I am also a paranoid, nervous wreck.
I like this boy so much! His name is Ryan. Ryan Marshall.
Ryan is so good-looking, and he’s a senior! He reminds Katie and me of Jake from the movie Sixteen Candles. I know it’s an old movie, and the clothes are weird, but it’s still funny and romantic, and it is worth watching just to lust after Jake. Lisa, Katie, and I all rank Jake in the Top 25 on our lists of All-Time Movie Hotties.
So, how does this sound?
Jadyn James Reynolds-Marshall.
Mrs. Ryan Marshall.
Doesn’t that just roll off your tongue?
Speaking of tongues, they are the main reason I’m a nervous wreck. Ryan is a senior, and, well, sadly, I’m not all that experienced with boys. I mean, I’m a freshman, and I have been to dances with boys my age and have even gone out with boys, but I’ve never really kissed them. Not like I hope to kiss Ryan anyway.
Bobby Robinson did shove his tongue into my mouth one time when we were kissing under the bleachers at a football game, but it didn’t feel so good. I’m pretty sure he didn’t have it exactly right.
So, I talked to my friends Katie and Lisa about how to properly make out.
But … well, here is just a bit of their unhelpful advice.
“Just let him take the lead and do whatever he does.”
Um, couldn’t that get me into a lot of trouble?
“Just sort of kiss his tongue but try not to drool.”
“Don’t open your mouth too wide.”
And then, “Just open your mouth wide.”
Stupid, conflicting information.
And this from girls who supposedly know how to do this!
I feel like I’m an undercover CIA agent trying to wrestle vital information out of a ruthless double agent when the fate of the free world depends upon it. All the while, the president is yelling at me in a panic, saying, Somebody! Anybody! Just get me the truth!
You know, this is really the kind of stuff that would be helpful to learn in health class. Much more useful information than knowing how a fallopian tube works or what kinds of cancer I can fight by adding fiber to my diet.
I mean, this is a date of epic proportions.
He’s a senior, for God’s sake!
My high school reputation could be ruined or made in one single night.
I don’t want to be known as a terrible kisser!
Or, worse, as totally inexperienced!
I’ve got to do something.
Get me somebody, anybody!
I need someone who has experience and, most importantly, who will help me.
I glance out my window and see Danny’s bedroom light is on.
Danny has experience, and I’m too desperate to be embarrassed.
So, I call him. “Danny, are your parents home?”
“No, they went to that parents’ meeting at school with yours.”
“Good. I’m coming over. And you’re, like, totally alone? Phillip isn’t there, is he?”
“No, I’m totally alone. What’s up, Jay?”
“Um, I just really, really need your help with something. Be right there.”
I slam down the phone and run out of my house and over to his. I barge in the front door and take the stairs two at a time up to his bedroom. He’s sitting on his bed with a varsity football playbook spread out in front of him. I can tell by the intense look on his face, he has been studying hard. Danny’s goal is to be the best high school quarterback in the state and then play for Nebraska. Let’s just say, he is well on his way to achieving his goals.
“Hey, Jay,” he says, straightening up. “What’s the top-secret meeting all about?”
Maybe this is a bad idea.
No. You’ve got to find this stuff out.
It’s vital to our country’s well-being!
Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but it is vital to my well-being.
I pace the length of his room a couple of times, wringing my hands together, trying to get up the nerve.
“Okay, here it is. I need your help, and, well, I’m kind of embarrassed to say it, but here goes. I have that date with Ryan on Saturday, and I’m afraid I won’t know what to do. I mean, I’ve never done it before, and I’m not exactly sure how. I don’t even know if he’ll want to do it with me, but I’m hoping that he will, and, well, I want to, you know, be prepared. So, I need you to help me, Danny. Will you show me what to do?”
Danny stares at me in disbelief.
“This is a joke, right?” He laughs, gets off the bed, and looks down the hall. “Where’s Phillip hiding?”
“No, Danny, I’m serious. I mean, if you can’t show me, could you at least tell me if I know how to do it right?”
“Let me get this right, Jay. You want me to show you how to have sex?” He has a huge goofball grin on his face. “Wow. Well, I suppose that could be arrange—”
“Wait! What? Sex? Danny, what are you talking about?”
“What are you talking about, Jay? You’re the one who said you’ve never done it and that you want me to show you.”
“I never said that!” Well, wait a minute. Maybe I sorta did. “I mean, if I did say it, it’s not what I meant.”
Now, he’s staring at me like I’m psycho.
I probably am.
“The truth is, Danny, I’ve never really made out.” There, I said it. “And I really, really need to know how to do it right. I can’t seem to get reliable information from my friends, I can’t ask my parents, and Ashley’s at college, so you’re my only hope.”
He continues the stone-faced look at me. “I thought you made out with Bobby?”
“Yeah, I did, and it was awful. And I don’t wanna be awful,” I whine desperately.
Then, I change directions in my thinking, trying to figure out a way to get him to teach me. So, I say with a challenge, “Hmm, well, maybe you can’t do it. That’s okay. I’ll just go ask Phillip for help.”
“Heck no,” he growls. “He has about as much experience in that department as you do. Fine. I’ll help you.” He puts his hand up to his chin, thinking. “Hmm. Come sit down.”
I sit cross-legged on his bed, facing him.
“Here. Take this.” He throws his pillow at me.
Ooh. Yum. It smells just like him.
But, uh, excuse me. I’ve already tried practicing on my pillow, and it was no help!
“No, that won’t work.” He quickly snatches the musky thing away from me. “Too big. I know. Hold your hand up to your face,” he orders. “Kiss it.”
I look at him like he’s nuts, but he nods his head, so I hold my palm up in front of my face and push my lips into it.
“Turn sideways a bit, so I can see better,” he bosses, so I turn. “Okay, but your puckering is way too tight. You’re not kissing your grandma, Jay.”
“No, worse,” I gripe, “I’m kissing my hand.”
He glares at me. I think I had better just do as he said.
“Just loosen your lips. Try again.”
This time, I pucker my lips but then try to make them loose. I glance over at him, my eyebrows raised in hope.
“All right, now, slightly open your mouth.”
I try to slightly open my mouth. “This feels ridiculous.”
“Hmm, is this really that important to you?”
“Uh, ye-ah. He’s a senior! My entire reputation is at stake here.”
“Well, okay then.” He jumps off his bed, shuts and locks his door, and turns off the light. There’s plenty of light coming through his window from the streetlight, so I can still see him. But I must appear alarmed because he says, “Look, I just don’t want anyone walking in on this.”
He looks at me like he’s a soldier being sent off to war, and I should be proud of his bravery and selflessness.
Actually, I am.
“Plus, you need to relax. Maybe, in the dark, you won’t feel so stupid.” He plops back down on his bed next to me and continues, “Tilt your head a little to the left.”
I tilt my head.
“Lick your lips, so they’re not all dry.”
“Stop smiling and close your eyes.”
I close them.
“Come on, Jay, I shouldn’t have to tell you everything! Pucker those lips.”
“No! Not so tight.”
When he touches my bottom lip with his finger, I nearly jump off the bed, my eyes flying wide open as he yells at me, “Lesson number one? Don’t do that! You scared the crap out of me. You have got to relax!”
He reaches out and puts his hands on both of my shoulders, feeling that they are in fact extremely tense. “God, you’re way tense!”
Puh-leeze, how could I not be?
I mean, doesn’t this whole effed up situation require some tension on my part?
“Sorry.” I breathe deep and shake my shoulders, but it doesn’t help. I am still tense.
Danny’s hands are still on my shoulders, and he starts rubbing them.
I can’t help but melt—I mean, uh … relax.
“I know. Let’s try some positive visualization. Close your eyes again.” He speaks slowly in a hypnotic tone, “All right, picture yourself at the movies with Ryan. So, it’s dark, and the movie is playing—”
“Wait! What are we seeing?”
“Does it really matter?”
“Uh, yeah. If you want me to visualize, I need the whole picture.”
“Fine then. Something scary, so you’ll want to hang on to him.”
“Okay.” I nod and smile. “That sounds good.”
“So, at the scary movie, he puts his arm around your shoulders.” Danny moves to my side and puts his arm around my shoulders. “You turn your face toward him and look into his eyes.”
I turn my face toward Danny.
“He smiles and leans in to kiss you.” Danny pushes my hand up to my face, pressing my lips into my hand.
I like this visualization stuff. I pretend my hand is Ryan and start to give it a good kiss, but then I think about how ridiculous I must look and start laughing again.
Danny does a big, huffy breath at me and shoves my hand away from my mouth. “Stop laughing.”
I keep my eyes shut tight and bite my lip while Danny continues in the hypnotic voice, “Okay, I’m going to touch your lip, and I want you to open your mouth a bit.”
I giggle again.
I can’t help it! I really can’t!
“Oh, screw it,” he says.
I open my eyes and watch him shake his head at me.
“This is just too hard to explain.”
I am ready to scream, I’ll stop laughing. Please, please, please don’t give up on me, when he pulls me toward him and covers my mouth with his.
Oh. My. Gosh.
He’s kissing me!
Danny is kissing me!