Authors: Deb Caletti
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Social Issues, #General, #Adolescence, #Suicide, #Dating & Sex
O K A W A
R D F I N A
s obsession . . .
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Also by Deb Caletti
Queen of Everything
Honey, Baby, Sweetheart
The Nature of Jade
Fortunes of Indigo Skye
The Secret Life of Prince Charming
The Six Rules of Maybe
by DEB CALETTI
NEW YORK LONDON TORONTO SYDNEY
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people,
or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are
the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events
or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
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First Simon Pulse hardcover edition April 2011
Copyright © 2011 by Deb Caletti
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Designed by Mike Rosamilia
The text of this book was set in Scala
Manufactured in the United States of America
2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
ISBN 978-1-4424-0375-8 (eBook)
First off, I’ve never told this story to anyone. Not the
entire thing anyway, and not entirely truthfully. I’m only telling
it now for one reason, and that’s because an untold story has a
weight that can submerge you, sure as a sunken ship at the bot-
tom of the ocean. I learned that. This kind of story, those kind of
things kept secret—they have the power to keep you hidden for-
ever, and most of all from yourself. The ghosts from that drowned
ship, they keep haunting.
So here is the story. Sit back and make yourself comfortable
and all that.
I met him at a basketball game.
Wait. You should also know that another friend of mine,
Annie Willows, had asked me to go with her and her friends
to El Corazon that night to hear some band and that I didn’t
go. If I had gone, all this might never have happened. The way
two people can end up in the same place, find each other in a
crowd, and change their lives and the lives of the people around
them forever . . . It makes you believe in fate. And fate gives
love some extra authority. Like it’s been stamped with approval
from above, if you believe in above. A godly green light. Some
My school was playing his, and I was there with my friend
Shakti, who was watching her boyfriend Luke, number sixteen,
who was at that moment sitting on the bench and drumming
his fingers on his knee like he did when he was nervous. Inside
the gym there was that fast, high energy crackle of competition
and screaming fans and the squeak of tennis shoes stopping
and starting on shiny floors.
He was with another girl; that was one thing. I was aware of
her only vaguely as she moved away from him. She maneuvered
sideways through the crowd, purse over her shoulder, heading
to the bathroom, maybe. His eyes followed her and then landed
on me, and by the time she came back, it was over for her,
though she didn’t know it. That sounds terrible, and I still feel
bad about it. But something had already been set in motion, and
I wonder and wonder how things would have been if I’d have
just let that moment pass, the one where our eyes met. If I had
just taken Shakti’s arm and moved off, letting the electrical jolt
that passed between us fade off, letting the girl return to his
side, letting fate head off in another direction entirely, where he
would have kept his eyes fixed on the girl with the purse or on
another girl entirely.
* 2 *
My father, Bobby Oates1*, said that love at first sight should
send you running, if you know what’s good for you. It’s your dark
pieces having instant recognition with their dark pieces, he says.
You’re an idiot if you think it means you’ve met your soul mate. So
I was an idiot. He looked so
nice. After Dylan Ricks,
I was looking for nice. Dylan Ricks once held my arm behind my
back and then twisted so hard that I heard something pop.
“Thirsty!” I yelled to Shakti, and she nodded. I moved away
from her, followed the line of his eyes until I was standing next
to him. I wish you knew me, because you’d appreciate what this
meant. I would never just go walking up to some guy. I would
never ignore the fact that his girlfriend was right then in the bath-
room putting on new lip gloss. Never. I was nice and my friends
were nice, which meant we lacked the selfish, sadistic overconfi-
dence of popularity. But I didn’t care about that girl right then. It’s
awful, and I’m sorry, but it was true. I kind of even hated me for
it, but it was like I
to do what I was going to do. I can’t explain
it. I wish I could. He was very tall and broad shouldered, white-
blond hair swooped over his forehead, good-looking, oh, yeah, with
those impossible, perfectly designed Scandinavian features. Still,
it wasn’t just his looks. It was some
. The ball hit hard against
the backboard, which shuddered and clattered. The ref’s whistle
shrieked and the crowd yelled its cheers and protests.
I held my hands up near my ears. “Loud,” I said to him.
He leaned in close. His voice surprised me. He had this
1 It sounds familiar because you have heard of him. Crime writer, or, as the critics say,
“contemporary noir.” Her Emerald Eyes, among others. Yeah, you saw the movie, too.
* 3 *
accent. It was lush and curled, with the kind of lilt and rich-
ness that made you instantly think of distant cities and faraway
lands—the kind of city you’d see in a foreign film, with a snow-
banked river winding through its center, stone bridges crossing
to an ornate church. Ice castles and a royal family and coats
lined with fur. The other guys in that gym—they watched ESPN
and slunked in suburban living rooms and slammed the doors
of their mothers’ minivans. See—I had already made him into
someone he would never be, and I didn’t know it then, but he was
already doing the same with me, too.
“I don’t even know what I’m doing here,” he said. “I actually
I laughed. “How many people here are secretly wishing they
were somewhere else?”
He looked around. Shook his head. “Just us.”
I was wishing that, all right. I was wishing we were
somewhere else. A somewhere together. A warm heat was start-
ing at my knees, working its way up. “I’ve got to . . .” I gestured
“Right,” he said.
I made my way back to Shakti, who was standing on her toes
at the sidelines, trying to see Luke, who had been called in to the
game and who was now dribbling the ball down the court in his
shiny gold shorts. “He’s in,” she said. “Oh, please, God, let him
not do what he did last time.”
But I was too distracted to actually watch and see if Luke
would accidentally pass the ball to an opposing teammate as
he had during the last game. My focus had shifted, my whole
* 4 *
focus—one moment he wasn’t there and then he was, and
my mind and body were buzzing with awareness and hope
and uncertainty. You have ordinary moments and ordinary
moments and more ordinary moments, and then, suddenly,
there is something monumental right there. You have past and
future colliding in the present, your own personal Big Bang, and
nothing will ever be the same.
That was the point, there, then, when I should have shaken
it off and gone on. I see it like an actual road in my mind, fork-
ing off. I should have kept my eyes on Luke with his sky-length
legs and skinny chest; I should have cheered when he passed
that ball just as he should have, to number twenty-four, who
shot a clean basket, I should have stayed in that moment and