Read an Excerpt
YOU CALL THIS A WELCOME?
I’D BEEN BACK ON THE CANTERWOOD CREST Academy campus for an hour and I already felt trapped. Not a feeling I’d imagined experiencing on my first day of eighth grade.
But it was true. If I left my dorm, I could get caught between Jacob—my ex–almost-boyfriend who suddenly wanted me back—and Eric—my amazing boyfriend who still didn’t know that Jacob had confessed his feelings to me the day before summer break.
I sat at the edge of my still-unmade bed and took a deep breath, wanting to stay in the safety of my room. I wished my BFF and roommate, Paige Parker, would hurry through her parental good-byes. I needed girl advice stat!
I considered the possibilities:
Out There—I might run into Jacob. That was not good. But I also wanted to see Eric, and with the “no boys allowed in Winchester Hall—ever!” rule, running into him here was highly unlikely. Unless he wanted to risk death by Livvie, my dorm monitor.
Plus, even though I didn’t want to leave, I kind of had to. My riding coach, Mr. Conner, was holding a team meeting at the stable in half an hour. I couldn’t risk being late—it was the first meeting for the Youth Equestrian National Team. After spending most of my summer riding at YENT camp, there was no way I could be late to the first meeting.
I stepped around my matching pink suitcases and checked my reflection in the full-length mirror, wanting to look pretty but casual when I saw Eric for the first time since before summer vacay. I ran my fingers through my light brown hair and flicked a stray eyelash off my cheek. A coat of Cherry Blossom gloss was all I needed—it was so hot outside that any more makeup would run.
I peeled off the wrinkled shirt I’d worn on the two-hour drive from home and pulled a new one from my open suitcase. The cotton-candy pink “I New York” baby tee looked cute with my jean skirt. I’d gotten the T-shirt when I spent a couple of weeks this summer in NYC with Paige.
I smiled as I looked around our room—glad that we’d gotten approval to be roommates again in our familiar seventh-grade dorm room. Despite my worry about running into Jacob, I was beginning to feel better about being here.
Going 2 the stbl 4 mtg. U? I texted Eric.
I pulled on my paddock boots and glanced at my laptop. Just one quick check for any school announcements, I told myself.
Zero new messages.
The mouse hovered over my “save these!!” folder. After a moment’s hesitation, I clicked on the message I’d been staring at all summer long. From: Jacob Schwartz. Subject: Sasha, please read. 6/27. 7:46 p.m.
There was no reason to open that e-mail. None. I should have deleted it the second I’d gotten it this summer. After all, I had a boyfriend. Only horrible girlfriends saved e-mails from other guys—especially other guys currently dating their BFFs. What was wrong with me? But instead of erasing the message, I opened it and read it for the thousandth time.
I had to try again to tell you how sorry I am for the way I acted at the Sweetheart SoirÉe. I know you’re with Eric and I’m dating Callie, but I can’t give up. Not when I still like you so much. You know I don’t want to hurt Callie and I’m sure you feel the same about Eric, but you can’t ignore the truth—there’s something between us. I hope you e-mail or text me back or something. If not, I’ll see you at school. Have a great time at YENT camp.
Not that I’d needed to read the e-mail again to know what it said. I’d had it for three months and now every single word had become stuck in my brain. Just like the look on his face when he’d found me in the courtyard minutes before I’d left to go home last year—the first time he’d told me he wanted me back. I’d run from him then, not answering, and hadn’t replied to any of his messages all summer.
My phone buzzed and I jumped. With shaky fingers, I grabbed my phone.
BRT! Can’t wait 2 c u.
Eric. He was the guy I wanted, not Jacob. Just thinking about seeing Eric after a summer apart made me grin. I couldn’t wait to see his creamy coffee-brown skin and his thick, dark hair that sometimes fell in front of his eyes.
Jacob would have to figure out how to deal.
I shut down the computer and left the dorm, hurrying down the glossy wooden floors of the hallway and stepping around luggage that was stacked outside dorm room doors. Eric was waiting for me. What happened with Jacob—his confession, the e-mail—none of it mattered. Eric and I were happy together. Jacob was too late.
© 2009 Jessica Burkhart