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Authors: Michelle Dalton

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BOOK: Swept Away
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“You have been found guilty and your sentence should be that you
have
to talk to him. No backing out. No freezing. And it has to be a real conversation. It can't be about band or Latin Club.”

“What if he wants to talk about band or Latin Club? What if he brings it up? Am I just supposed to ignore him?”

“It's summer vacation and we live at the beach,” Sophie says. “If he wants to talk about band or Latin, then I think it's time you found a new crush.”

Nicole nods her acceptance, and I make it official. “Nicole Walker, you are hereby sentenced to have an actual conversation with Cody Bell sometime within the next . . . two weeks.”

“Two weeks?” she protests. “I need at least a month so I can plan what I'm going to say and organize my—”

“Two weeks,” I say, cutting her off.

She's about to make one more plea for leniency when the door flies open and a boy rushes in from the rain. He's tall, over six feet, has short-cropped hair, and judging by the embarrassed look on his face, made a much louder entrance than he intended.

“Sorry,” he says to the three of us. There's an awkward pause for a moment before he asks, “Can I speak to whoever's in charge?”

Without missing a beat, Nicole and Sophie both point at me. I'm not really in charge, but they love putting me on the spot, and since it would be pointless to explain that they're insane, I just go with it.

“How can I help you?”

As he walks to the register I do a quick glance-over. The fact that he's our age and I've never seen him before makes me think he's from out of town. So does the way he's dressed. His tucked-in shirt, coach's shorts, and white socks pulled all the way up complete a look that is totally lacking in beach vibe. (It will also generate a truly brutal farmer's tan once the rain stops.) But he's wearing a polo with a Pearl Beach Parks and Recreation logo on it, which suggests he's local.

I'm trying to reconcile this, and maybe I'm also trying to figure out exactly how tall he is, when I notice that he's looking at me with an expectant expression. It takes me a moment to realize that my glance-over might have slightly crossed the border into a stare-at, during which I was so distracted that I apparently missed the part when he asked me a question. This would be an appropriate time to add that despite the dorkiness factor in the above description, there's more than a little bit of dreamy about him.

“Well . . . ?” he asks expectantly.

I smile at him. He smiles at me. The air is ripe with awkwardness. This is when a girl hopes her BFFs might jump to her rescue and keep her from completely embarrassing herself. Unfortunately, one of mine just came back from college looking to tease her little high school friends, and the other thinks I was too tough on her during the sentencing phase of our just completed mock trial. I quickly realize that I am on my own.

“I'm sorry, could you repeat that?”

“Which part?” he asks, with a crooked smile that is also alarmingly distracting.

When it becomes apparent that I don't have an answer, Sophie finally chimes in. “I think you should just call it a do-over and repeat the whole thing.”

She stifles a laugh at my expense, but I ignore her so that I can focus on actually hearing him this go-round. I'm counting on the second time being the charm.

“Sure,” he says. “I'm Ben with Parks and Recreation, and I'm going to businesses all over town to see if they'll put up this poster highlighting some of the events we have planned for summer.”

He unzips his backpack and pulls out a poster that has a picture of the boardwalk above a calendar of events. “We've got a parade, fireworks for the Fourth of July, all kinds of cool stuff, and we want to get the word out.”

This is the part when a noncrazy person would just take the poster, smile, and be done with it. But, apparently, I'm not a noncrazy person. So I look at him (again), wonder exactly how tall he is (again), and try to figure out who he is (again).

“I'm sorry,
who
are you?”

“Ben,” he says slowly, and more than a little confused. “I've said that like three times now.”

“No, I don't mean ‘What's your name?' I mean ‘Who are you?' Pearl Beach is not that big and I've lived here my whole life. How is it possible that you work at Parks and Rec and we've never met before?”

“Oh, that's easy,” he says. “Today's my first day on the job. I'm visiting for the summer and staying with my uncle. I live in Madison, Wisconsin.”

“Well,” I hear Sophie whisper to Nicole, “that explains the socks.”

Finally, I snap back to normalcy and smile. “It's nice to meet you, Ben from Wisconsin. My name's Izzy. Welcome to Pearl Beach.”

Over the next few minutes, Ben and I make small talk while we hang the poster in the front window. I know hanging a poster might not seem like a two-person job, but this way one of us (Ben) can tape the poster up while the other (me) makes sure it's straight.

Unfortunately when I go outside to look in the window to check the poster, I see my own reflection and I'm mortified. The rain has caused my hair to frizz in directions I did not think were possible, and I have what appears to be a heart-shaped guacamole stain on my shirt. (Beware the dangers of eating takeout from Mama Tacos in a cramped storeroom.) I try to nonchalantly cover the stain, but when I do it just seems like I'm saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

“How's that look?” he asks when I go back in.

I'm still thinking about my shirt, so I start to say “awful,” but then realize he's talking about the poster he just hung, so I try to turn it into “awesome.” It comes out somewhere in the middle, as “Awfslome.”

“What?”

“Awesome,” I say. “The poster looks awesome.”

“Perfect. By the way, I'm about to get some lunch and I was wondering . . .”

Some psychotic part of me actually thinks he's just going to ask me out to lunch. Like that's something that happens. To me. It isn't.

“. . . where'd you get the Mexican food?”

“The what?”

That's when he points at the stain on my shirt. “The guacamole got me thinking that Mexican would be
muy bueno
for lunch.”

For a moment I consider balling up in the fetal position, but I manage to respond. “Mama Tacos, two blocks down the beach.”

“Gracias!”
he says with a wink. He slings the backpack over his shoulder, waves good-bye to the girls, and disappears back into the rain. Meanwhile, I take the long, sad walk back toward the register wondering how much Nicole and Sophie overheard.

“I noticed that stain earlier and meant to point it out,” Nicole says.

“Thanks,” I respond. “That might have been helpful.”

“Well, I don't know about you guys,” Sophie says. “But I think Ben is ‘awfslome'!”

So apparently they heard every word.

Also by Michelle Dalton

Fifteenth Summer

Sixteenth Summer

A SIXTEENTH SUMMER NOVEL:

Pulled Under

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real places are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and events are products of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

SIMON PULSE

An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division

1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

www.simonandschuster.com

This Simon Pulse edition May 2015

Text copyright © 2015 by Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Cover photograph copyright © 2015 by by Goto-Foto.com

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

SIMON PULSE and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

For information about special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-866-506-1949 or
[email protected]
.

The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event. For more information or to book an event contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at
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.

Cover designed by Jessica Handelman

The text of this book was set in Berling.

The Library of Congress has cataloged the paperback edition as follows:

Dalton, Michelle.

Swept away : a Sixteenth summer novel / by Michelle Dalton. — Simon Pulse paperback edition.

p. cm.

Summary: While volunteering for the summer at the local lighthouse in her hometown of Rocky Point, sixteen-year-old Mandy Sullivan falls for the grandson of a local artist, and as the two explore all the lovely adventures the seaside town has to offer, Mandy wonders if their relationship is more than a summer fling.

[1. Love—Fiction. 2. Summer—Fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7.D16942Sw 2015 [Fic]—dc23 2014044752

ISBN 978-1-4814-3609-0 (hc)

ISBN 978-1-4814-3608-3 (pbk)

ISBN 978-1-4814-3610-6 (eBook)

BOOK: Swept Away
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