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There's nothing like the feeling of waking up next to the guy who got first dibs on your heart. Even if, as you open your eyes you realize your hair is wet with the dew from sleeping outside on someone's lawn and your whole body aches with the remnants of last night's festivities.
Wait. Back up. I open my eyes to the first rays of morning light that hover and wave above the horizon line at Crescent Beach. The Crescent Beach — the site of many a hook up and heartbreak, many a heave and a ho (bag), the place all Hadley students go to celebrate the trek through yet another academic year's ending.
After a last minute decision (which in itself is a break in character for me, I mean I'm not the most spontaneous person in the world) not to head right to Martha's Vineyard where my summer java job and best friend, Arabella, are waiting for me, I rerouted and revamped and re-everythinged to get here. Here being the grassy patch of hill that overlooks the sandy beach that is strewn with bits of revelry: beer cans and sweatshirts, discarded boxes of graham crackers and blobs of half-eaten marshmallows left over from the three am attempt at making s'mores. All along the beach and grass are sleeping bag covered bodies, couples (old, new, and YECs — year-end couples that start at the prom and last through the end of the year parties to assure that you'll have someone to smooch by the bonfires), and — amidst all this debris — me.
I'm lying on my back looking at the wide, misty sky. It's the kind of morning that starts off chilly and misty and then — suddenly — breaks into a hot, sunny day. But right now, I'm tucked into my red sleeping bag. It's lined with plaid flannel and since I'm sock and shoeless, I can feel the worn material on my toes and I close my eyes again. Moments later, when I turn my head to the right and open them, I am looking at Jacob.
Jacob with whom I already have a rather long history of liking, losing, and — most recently — being "friends in quotes" with (the kind of person you're friends with but that requires an explanation every time you think about them or bring them up in conversation).
So Jacob is on his back and I'm on mine and we both have our heads turned in, so we're facing each other. It's like nothing else exists except us and the soft sound of waves on the shore.
"Hey," Jacob whispers to me, his green eyes still half-sleep closed, his face just a bit stubbly, his dark curls slightly ruffled.
"Hey back," I say since it feels appropriate to sound familiar since we're both on our backs next to each other.
"Last night was ..." he starts and then stops, looking u at the empty sky above us.
"Insert adjective here — a) fun b) clichéd c) a combination of the two."
"I'll take C for five hundred," he says.
"You're totally mixing game shows here," I say and he rolls his head back so we're looking at each other again. In some ways, it's like I'm back a whole year to the same Crescent Beach party where Jacob and I broke up, even though then we were sophomores and now we've just finished junior year and senior year looms three months away.
"Give me a break, it's not even six in the morning," he says with a grin. Then he switches gears, "Hey, do you remember trying to eat a s'more with no hands last night?"
I nod. "Didn't you get marshmallow in your hair?"
"Yeah — some girl cut off a piece — it was so tangled," he says.
"Probably that girl will try and sell it on ebay or something — you being such a campus rock star and all," I say, giving him a hard time for no reason at all except that we're alone and I've been trying to deal with the fact that while I was away in London last term, he was morphing from unnoticed campus quiet boy into Hadley hunk (even though I despise that word — it's so retro I can't even think about bringing it back — and yet ...).
"It's not that bad, Love," Jacob says and keeps looking me. "Is it?"
I twist my mouth up and raise my eyebrows. "I don't know. It depends on who you want to be on campus I guess."
"I just want to be myself," he says and then sticks his tongue out. "Could I sound more pathetic?"
"It was kind like a bad rock anthem — I wanna be myself by JC," I say in a DJ voice. For a millisecond I let myself fantasize about my potential voice-over gig in LA this summer (courtesy of Martin Gregory Eisenstein, the Indie film producer who just happened to invite me to his annual posh gala on July 3rd — he gave me the code word to gain entrance — Mercury — but how I'd get out there is a mystery...like many things in my life — including my mother, whose name I know but whose presence in my life up till now has been nil. But now I'm officially digressing to the point of an outer-body experience.) I look at Jacob and am sucked back into the here and now. The here and now-kiss-me-please-please-please.
But we're just quiet and looking at each other while still lying flat on our backs. I can't see what's to his right and to my left are just sandy dunes and sea grass. Near perfection. Well, except for the fact that I don't know what all this means. Last night is really a blur of beer and music, tearful girls getting overemotional when certain songs came over the outdoor speakers, guys I've never noticed before suddenly being super-friendly thanks to a couple of shots.
"It is my weird imagination or did people skinny dip while singing "It's a Small World"?" Jacob asks. "The details of last night are — um — a little fuzzy."
I laugh quietly and nod. "It's one of those party scenes that makes total sense at the time but when you remember it later it's like, why were we singing that? And what was so appealing about getting naked in the frigid Atlantic?"
"I don't seem to recall any nakedness on your part," Jacob says. I can hear rustling. In the distance a car engine starts — probably someone making a run to Dunkin' Donuts to buy coffee and munchkins for the masses. Whoever that is, I bless them.
"Nope, not so much into the bare ass buck naked ocean thing," I say and then wonder if it sounds like I'm a prude or judgmental so I add, "I mean, I'd get into it with the right person but ..."
There's a distinct possibility I realize suddenly that Jacob a) could be that person and b) could kiss me — morning breath, matted hair, and all — right now. He moves his head a little closer to me and whispers. "Listen, as long as we're on the subject of nakedness and such ..."
I love that he can pull off using awkward expressions like and such. I love that he looks so cute even after only few hours of sleep I love how he looks at me so long it seems like he's studying me, trying to get to memorize all of me before we part ways for the summer. I love how I'm just so so fickle and even though I semi-recently got dumped on my ass by Arabella's hot Brit boy brother, Asher, I can easily be distracted by another pretty face. Except that Jacob Coleman is much more than a pretty face. He's got a pretty bod, too. No — he's got enough brains and quirks to balance out his physical presence.
"Yeah?" I ask and prepare for my kiss by making sure my lips aren't flaky but aren't too moist either (note to self: moist is a gross word).
"So you know how I went to Logan Airport to ..."
"I remember — didn't you go get your mom?" I ask and angle my head so it will be easy for Jacob to lean in, to do that thing where the guy props his forearm and palm on the ground and leans down to —
"It wasn't my mother," Jacob says and nudges me. I assume he means for me to snuggle into him, so wriggle a little way out of the warm cocoon of my sleeping bag and nearer to his chest. Yum. Jacob raises his eyebrows in surprise but doesn't mind. In fact, he reaches over and brushes my red hair so it's out of my face and then nudges me again. "It wasn't my mother," he repeats and when he nudges me a third time, I sit up for the first time since I woke up. There, lying on his right, this whole time, is ...
I make a face — I can't help it. I try to just remain blank but the person next to Jacob, still slumbering soundly, is everything I'm not, at least physically. I study her for a second — tree-limed and perfectly pale with that hint of blush on her cheeks, Sleeping Beauty's hair is cascading down around her shoulders, elegantly messy — and her stunning jaw line and flawless face are visible from underneath said hair spillage (sandy blonde, not roots, no visible highlights). I lie back and feel like I got kicked in the stomach with a riding boot. Not that I personally know how that would feel but Arabella — who actually owns her own horse — has relayed the info to me and it sounds gut-wrenching. Like now. Asher cheated on me with some up cutting edge artist named Valentine (could he not segue into a normal name after mine? The similarity is revolting even to me) and now Jacob — wait. No. He didn't cheat on me. We weren't together, not at all. And yet it sort of feels the same way. I guess if you have feelings (hidden or exposed) for someone and they don't return the sentiments but then hitch onto someone else, you can still feel betrayed.
Suddenly, the morning seems different. I went to a lame party last night, didn't partake in the skinny-dipping, didn't get kissed, missed my ferry for Martha's Vineyard, and my dear Aunt Mable — who passed away only recently — is exactly who I want to tell all of this to, but I can't.
"Sorry," Jacob says, his voice just slightly above a whisper. Sleeping Beauty stirs next to him.
I get pre-bitchy. "For what? You have nothing to be sorry about," I say even though I don't believe it.
"Her name is Juliette," he says.
"Of course it is," I say and sigh.
"We met when I was studying in Switzerland and we'd planned this visit and ..." Jacob tries to rake his hands through his hair, sitting up and looking at both of us — me and Juliette (which he pronounces in the French way, Juuoolietah. Bite me.) "And I kind of got the feeling that you thought I was getting my mom at Logan and ..."
I sit up and slide out of my sleeping bag. My feet are wet on the green dewy grass and I am seriously in need of coffee and comfort food. Can you say omelet? Or, in French, omelette? I begin to roll up my sleeping bag and say, trying to keep my voice down so as not to wake Harriet Walters who is curled up with her jocky boy of late Welsh, whose snores are louder than the waves. "Why didn't you want to correct me, then, if you knew I thought you were getting your mom and not Juliette?" I ask and even do him the courtesy of pronouncing it his way even though I want to do it the regular way.
Jacob shakes his head and closes his mouth, looking away from me and focusing instead on the ocean. "I'm not sure. That's something I'm still trying to work out ..."
I stand up with my rolled up sleeping bag tucked under one arm and my pride tucked away so as not be wounded further. It's not that I thought Jacob wanted me — okay, maybe a little —it's more that last night, when I just followed a whim and drove up here, that I felt carefree, something I haven't felt I a long time. And being around Jacob highlighted that — like he brings out parts of me that are otherwise shier. But now that I see the foreign girlfriend, I remember she was around last night — only I chose not to notice her, figuring that she was someone's friend from another prep school. There are always cool girls and random guys that show up with names like Shelby or Jamie, and they always have great hair. But I digress. And I guess I was wrong about thinking Juliette was one of the Shelbys. And I guess even though it's easy to imagine me and Jacob sliding from "friends with quotes" to couple, it's just not going to happen. And the friendship part is murky at best.
"I should go," I say and stand there waiting for Jacob to do something.
He looks at the ground and then puts his warm hand on my bare foot, leaving it there while he says, "Are you mad?"
I shake my head. It's impossible to angry with him because he didn't do anything. I didn't do anything. And maybe that's part of the problem — we're so busy NOT doing anything that nothing's happening. "Not mad, just ready for summer," I say.
Jacob keeps his hand on my foot until Juliette sits up suddenly, rubs her eyes like a heroine in a Disney movie, and says, Bon matin in a way that's seductive enough that even the beach wants to do her. Jacob removes his hand from my foot and I remove myself from the post-party scene.
"Bye, Jacob," I say. "Or, um, au revoir." It's French and means, literally, see you again, which of course I will in the fall, three months from now when the summer is all in memory form but which right now is waiting for me to discover. Jacob starts to say something to me but is distracted by his visiting vixen so I just shove my sleeping bag in to my already-filled car. Rather than risk loosing my keys (good thing I didn't lose anything else as many a Hadley girl has at these post-graduation frolics) I left them in the glove compartment of my car so I pinch the little lock open and find them. Also in the compartment is a pamphlet from Mrs. Dandy-Patinko, my college counselor (just the thought of TCP — the college process — is enough to dampen even the sunniest of mornings, which this isn't yet).
Standing on the gravel drive with the little pebbles digging into my winterized feet (they haven't yet built up that thick summer skin — and neither, I guess, has my heart. Is that poignant or just a bad rock lyric?) I hold the flier — it details Mrs. Dandy-Patinko's brother's pottery place, some Vineyard establishment I hope to visit. All of this makes me so tempted to tear into the package Aunt Mable left for me, but I know I can't. She worked hard to leave behind articles and words in which I could find solace after her death and I have to admit that knowing there's a package with a mysterious treasure in it does help. Her ex-fiancé, Miles, helped to get all of the contents of said package ready and his specific instructions from Mable were "to let my summer unfold". I assume (then again, I have a habit of putting the ass back in assume) she meant that it's best to just let things happens, not to try to control or determine. But she also knows I'm not the most laissez-faire person in the world and that leaving things to chance gives me emotional hives.
So. My summer should unfold. I'm holding the pottery pamphlet while I'm thinking this and suddenly it dawns on me that since Mrs. Dandy-Patinko gave me this bit of potentially touristy trash, I've yet to open it. I perch on the passenger seat next to Jim. Jim being my giant overstuffed hiking pack — I named him since he is my traveling companion and actually a fairly decent boyfriend so far — no musical tastes on which to disagree, no stinky feet nor bad breath, no wandering eye — the fact that he's Gortex is only a slight problem. But I digress.
Looking at the brochure, it seems obvious that I should have at least done Mrs. Dandy-Patinko the courtesy of scanning the info — after all, she's guiding me toward the next four years of my life and all she wanted me to do was look up her aging, throwback-to-another-era (her words, not mine) brother. The front depicts a bearded man in clay-splattered overalls working seriously at a pottery wheel. Nothing super exciting there. But then, when I open it — or, um, unfold the pamphlet — Aunt Mable's familiar print-script is there.
Took you long enough! For someone who's so into other people's stories, I knew you'd wait to unfold this. Now that you've taken the first step, the next is to visit Tink (not the fairy in Peter Pan). If you relax and let summer come to you instead of running after it, you'll enjoy it more. Let your cup runneth over, as they say (who the hell they are, I don't know — but it sounds validating, doesn't it?).
The tears never leave my eyes — yes, my eyes well up, but they don't spill over. It's like Mable knows — knew — me so well she knew what my reaction would be and I'm appreciative of her insights. But Tink? I'm confused for all of three seconds until I flip to the other side of the page and find Watson Pantinko's address c/o Menemsha Potters. Patinko=Tink. Got it. I am my own detective! Mable and I once joked about becoming private eyes — not in the gruesome televised way but in the film noire, black stockings, tweed suits, dramatic music way. Now, I'm kind of getting to do that. Except barefooted.
I stand up, strap Jim in (fake boyfriend or not, I'll keep him safe on the road), and feel totally ready to leave behind Crescent Beach, Hadley Hall people, and another night's assumptions. I rummage around for my flip-flops.
Excerpted from Summer of Love by Emily Franklin. Copyright © 2007 Emily Franklin. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted November 17, 2008
SUMMER OF LOVE occurs right after Love's aunt Mable dies, leaving a huge hole in Love's life. She decides to attend the last big hurrah of the year with Jacob. She arrives late at the Vineyard and needs Arabella to cover for her at the cafe. <BR/><BR/>The summer, once so full of promise, has a very rocky start. <BR/><BR/>Love discovers that Mable left her clues around the island, a mini treasure hunt of life that has Love thinking about second chances. With so many ideas and choices floating around in Love's mind, it's a wonder that she gets anything accomplished. What will she do with her life now that college applications are looming before her? Should she track down her mother? <BR/><BR/>SUMMER OF LOVE continues Love's adventures, leaving the book open-ended for the next chapter in Love's life. Love is a wonderful character that readers will immediately find a connection with. Emily Franklin poses great questions that leave the reader thinking long after finishing the book.
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