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Torch Red: Color Me Torn

Torch Red: Color Me Torn

4.3 37
by Melody Carlson

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When jock Justin Clark asks Zoe out, she wonders if he could finally be The One. Nate, a diehard Christian and real friend, encourages Zoe to consider exactly what it all means before she makes a life-defining decision. But will Zoe learn before it’s too late? This third book in the TrueColors teen fiction series deals with sex, relationships, and identity.


When jock Justin Clark asks Zoe out, she wonders if he could finally be The One. Nate, a diehard Christian and real friend, encourages Zoe to consider exactly what it all means before she makes a life-defining decision. But will Zoe learn before it’s too late? This third book in the TrueColors teen fiction series deals with sex, relationships, and identity.

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TrueColors Series
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File size:
478 KB
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

torch red

color me torn
By melody carlson

TH1NK Books

Copyright © 2004 Carlson Management Co., Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-57683-531-6

Chapter One

My life is pathetic. Really. It's embarrassing, humiliating, totally Loserville. I mean I can't even admit this to anyone-outside of my family, that is-but I actually spent this New Year's Eve babysitting. Babysitting! Now how lame is that? I mean it was okay when I was thirteen or fourteen and needed to make a few extra bucks. But I am sixteen, for Pete's sake. Sixteen and three-quarters to be precise, and I didn't even have a date for New Year's Eve.

And as long as it's time for true confessions, the sorry truth is that I've never even had a real honest-to-goodness boyfriend. Oh, a couple of guys have asked me out in the past year, and I actually went out with Clark Harris for a while back in middle school, but then we never even kissed. Now here I am, a junior in high school, soon to be seventeen, and I don't even have a boyfriend. So I ask you, what is wrong with me?

Oh, yeah, I know I'm not drop-dead gorgeous like Andrea Boswell (she could be a professional model) or that airhead cheerleader Kirsti Quackenbush, but I'm not exactly chopped liver either. And com-pared to some girls who date regularly, I'm really not that bad-looking. Getting my braces off last fall helped, and I haven't even had that many zits this year. My friend Emily Schuler says I look like Winona Ryder, and I'm thinking she may be on to something since I've got those same kind of dark brown eyes and straight brunette hair-although I'm not into shoplifting.

And I have to admit, there are boys who do give me a second look and have even come on to me at times. But unfortunately they're usually the kinds of boys I wouldn't give a second glance anyway, guys like Spence Harding and Aaron Place. It's not that they're losers, exactly, but they don't really strike me as "boyfriend material." Not that I have a right to be too picky. But I really don't want to go out with a guy who is, shall we say, "second rate." I know that's totally shallow, considering I just spent New Year's Eve babysitting, but I suppose I have higher hopes.

What gives me the right to keep these hopes so high? Well, I suppose that's the problem with being "marginally popular." You see, I kind of hang with a pretty cool bunch of kids. This is mostly due to my best friend, Emily (who is a cheerleader, although I am not). And so I suppose I get this idea that if (and that's turning into a pretty big if these days) I ever date anyone, it should be someone from within that same circle of friends.

Now, I know this is pretty stupid (did I mention shallow?), but it's like I'm in this trap and I don't really see any way out of it. And you know what really makes it seem totally absurd and crazy, or like I'm on some sort of beat-myself-up trip? Well, there's this one particular guy that I've had this sort of secret crush on for years. His name is Nate Stein, but he's really an outsider. The problem has nothing to do with his looks. In fact, he could possibly pass for Orlando Bloom-not with the blond braids as Legolas in The Lord of the Rings, but the way he normally looks with his brown hair and sultry eyes. The problem is that he's really into religion, or so I hear. And for whatever reason, that's just not cool with my crowd.

As a result, girls like Kirsti, or even Andrea and Emily, who actually are pretty nice, would never in a million years give a guy like Nate the time of day. But ever since he and I were in band together back in middle school, I've always thought he was kind of cool (and that was before Orlando became hot). But would I go out with Nate now that I'm in high school? Probably not. Now really, how pathetic is that? I suppose I really am a shallow person. And I probably deserve exactly the kind of life I'm living.

It's just that I've had this brief reprieve during winter break. My dad decided to take our family on a ski trip to Colorado during Christmas, and it was so amazing to be away from all the crud and pressure at school. But now it's time to go back, and the prospect seriously has me down. I get so bummed when I think about the disgusting things that are said in the girls' locker room every single day of the school year. And, as if that's not bad enough, I feel ashamed about how I've turned into such a big fat liar this year.

Now, you must understand that my lies were simply a means of survival, and they were of the variety that should just blow over in time. Instead, they've turned into this thing I just can't seem to shake. I mean it all started out innocently enough. It was early September. We were in the locker room getting dressed after fourth-period PE, and it seemed like every girl had to show off her new Victoria's Secret underwear, or Gap or whatever (although some girls actually clip off the labels, like if their moms bought their "unmentionables" at JCPenney or Wal-Mart). And, as usual, this underwear talk quickly led to other kinds of talk. Okay, sex talk, to be precise.

Now when it comes to sex talk, some girls are subtle and rely more on innuendo (meaning they act like they're saying something big, but you could never really prosecute them based on their actual words). Andrea is an expert at this, as is Emily. But that is only since late last summer, when she actually lost her virginity to her current boyfriend, Todd Barker. Before that, she didn't get involved in this kind of talk at all.

But then there are girls like Kirsti and her best friend, Thea Weller, who don't mind telling all (and I mean every skanky detail) to anyone who will listen. And let me tell you, it can get pretty disgusting.

"I just don't see what the big deal is," said Kirsti, who in my opinion has been a tramp since middle school. "It's just like kissing," then she giggled, "only using different body parts."

"Eww!" said Emily as she threw her wet towel at Kirsti. "Too much information!" I tossed Emily an appreciative glance meant to convey, "Thanks for voicing my opinion exactly," as I shimmied into my jeans and quickly buttoned them before anyone noticed that I wasn't wearing a thong. (I happen to think they're uncomfortable.)

"Don't be such a prude," said Kirsti as she threw the towel back at Emily. "Everyone does it."

"Everyone does not," said Andrea as she adjusted what had to be the coolest bra in the locker room that day. Obviously Victoria's Secret and, I suspect, slightly padded, maybe with gel or water or whatever it is they put in those things. I'm glad to say I don't need that kind of help.

Thea rolled her eyes at Andrea. "Well, everyone knows you're too much of a goody-goody to have any real fun when it comes to guys. Lucky for you that Jamie doesn't seem to mind."

"Yeah," said Kirsti, "but you'd better watch out, Andrea, or some other babe might come along and give your boy toy a run for his money." Then she made a loud slurping noise and laughed.

"You're disgusting," said Emily as she pulled on her T-shirt.

Kirsti laughed. "Poor Emily," she said with mocking sarcasm. "We shouldn't be so shocking when there are virgins around."

Well, all eyes were on Emily just then. Okay, maybe some were on me too. But then I realized that Emily was no longer a virgin-which meant I would be the only virgin left in this big-mouthed circle of so-called friends. And I think I actually began to sweat. Fortunately, my deodorant was nearby and I pretended to be completely absorbed in applying layer upon layer to my damp armpits. I did this with such focused perfection that I might've won an audition for a Secret antiperspirant ad.

"You don't know everything about me, Kirsti," said Emily. "Unlike some people, I don't go around blabbering about the private details of my sex life to the entire student body."

"Yeah. And we all know why you don't."

I glanced over my shoulder at Emily, hoping and maybe even praying that she wouldn't spill the beans. But it was too late.

"Fine," said Emily. "If you must know, I'm not a virgin anymore. There." She glanced around. "Are you happy now?"

Thea put her arm around Emily's shoulders and smiled, and I could tell by her expression that she already knew about Emily's little secret. Still, it was weird the way Thea looked sort of like this proud mother, like Emily had just learned to ride a bike. Or maybe it was like they were in some special club together, with a secret handshake and everything. And then there was Emily, just smiling like she'd received a national honor or college scholarship or maybe even the Nobel Peace Prize. I just stared at them in amazement.

"Emily has officially joined the ranks of womanhood," Thea announced to everyone within earshot in the locker room. Several girls clapped and cheered.

"No way," said Kirsti.

"Way." Emily firmly nodded.

Kirsti frowned at Thea now. "How come you never told me?"

Thea put a finger to her lips then winked at Emily. "Sworn to silence."

"I still don't believe it." Kirsti's eyes narrowed as she turned back to Emily.

"Whatever." Emily just shrugged.

"You and Todd really did it?" asked Andrea.

"Well, it wasn't me and Zoë!" Emily laughed and nodded in my direction. Thanks a lot, I was thinking. I mean not only did that stupid comment make me look totally lame, it was a reminder to the other girls that I was still there and, worse than that, still a virgin. Worst of all, I was now the only virgin in our group-perhaps the only virgin in our entire school, maybe even the planet. As I tugged on my sock, I vaguely wondered if there might be some tribe out on a deserted island somewhere that might pay good money for a real honest-to-goodness virgin. Perhaps I could be used as a sacrifice somewhere to appease a volcano god or something.

"So it's just Zoë now," said Thea in what actually sounded like a sympathetic voice. "The only one left." She patted me on my head as I tied my shoe. "Our little girl."

Well, that just got me. So right then and there I decided that the only way out of this thing was to lie-simply and believably. And so I did.

I looked right up at Thea and, using my best poker face, told a whopper. "What makes you think that?"

"Huh?" Now Andrea turned around and looked at me with wide eyes. "Really? You too?"

Our area of the locker room got a lot quieter and I felt my friends all staring at me now. Without even blinking, I returned their looks, avoiding Emily's eyes completely. I mean if anyone could blow my cover, it would be my best friend. Just the same, I decided to risk it. I nodded at Andrea and then shrugged as if it were nothing. "Yeah, it's no big deal."

"No way," said Kirsti as she sat down on the bench beside me. "You're making this up, Zoë."

I rolled my eyes at her. "Yeah, like I would make this up."

"When?" demanded Thea. "With who?"

"Last summer," I lied like an expert. "Remember when I went to California to visit my grandma?"

"No way," said Kirsti again. "You met a guy in California?"

I smiled and nodded. "Yeah. A surfer."

"No way!" shrieked Kirsti. "You did it with a surfer dude?"

"I don't believe you," said Thea. "What's his name?"

"Daniel Englewood," I said without even blinking an eyelash. It was actually the name of a little neighbor boy that I'd babysat a couple of times while staying at my grandma's house, which, by the way, wasn't even close to a beach. "He was tan and blond and really buff." Then I actually sighed as if the memory was making me light-headed. "Daniel was so incredibly cool. I really miss him."

"Way to go," said Kirsti, patting me on the back.

"Yeah," agreed Thea, apparently convinced. "Was he good? Did you do it on the beach?"

"Oh, yeah." I stood and looked at Thea. Emily would see right through me. "But it was more than just the sex, you know. He was really nice too. We were together the whole time I was in California. We promised to write."

"Do you love him?" asked Andrea.

I pretended to consider this. "I'm not sure. But he was a cool guy-a great first, you know."

It wasn't until Emily gave me a ride home later that she questioned my little story. "You never told me about this Daniel guy, Zoë," she said as she drove away from school.

I just shrugged and looked out the window. "Everyone has some secrets."

"But I'm your best friend. I told you all about Todd, practically the next day."

"Well, that was different. You and Todd had been going together a long time. I guess I was a little embarrassed about my fling with Daniel, since I'd just met him, you know, and he lives so far away."

Emily didn't say much after that, but I sensed that I'd hurt her feelings. I even considered telling her the truth, but somehow I couldn't make myself do it. And so for the next few months, I engaged in the locker-room talk a bit more, just so I could be believable. Oh, I never actually said anything too specific when it came to sex. I followed Andrea and Emily's leads by remaining slightly elusive and aloof. But I'd sometimes laugh at Kirsti's off-color jokes and then I'd just roll my eyes at Thea's sleazy descriptions of her latest sexual exploits. But all the time I just kept thinking that I didn't fit in, that I would never fit in.

So now that it's time to go back to school again, it seems more painfully obvious than ever that (1) I don't even have a boyfriend, (2) I am living a complete lie, and (3) I am the last remaining virgin on the planet.


Excerpted from torch red by melody carlson Copyright © 2004 by Carlson Management Co., Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Melody Carlson is the best-selling author of more than one hundred books, including Dark Blue and Deep Green—the first two books in the TrueColors Series. She has two grown sons and enjoys an active lifestyle of hiking, skiing, and biking. She lives in the beautiful Oregon Cascade Mountains with her husband and Labrador retriever.

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Torch Red: Color Me Torn 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! I can relate to this book so much and it helped me get through a situation that i was personaly going through. Its about a girl named zoe and how she feels like she is the only virgin on earth. I can definately relate to zoe. This book is a must read for all girls whi struggle with sexuality and peer pressure to have sex. Thank you melody carlson for this book! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book so I could get some perspective for a project and I came out of it with so much more. I have strengthened my resolve to wait, and Ihave seen the real emotional impact of sex on teens. I would highlybrecomedn this book to anyone steuggling with the choice to have sex or not. It also made me stop and thank God page after page that my situation is diffrent and my boyfriend is a lot more like Nate than the othwr guy. This book is definatly good although there is some mature content to be aware of although there are no gorry deatails.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!!! I felt like it really spoke to me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book i love the color me series, could read it all the time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An OUTSTANDING read. Wonderful for aany mature teen or older. This book is a treasure. Extrodinary!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good a must read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good book to share with a mature teen who may need an example of what happens when they allow people to take advantage of their bodies and/or if they allow desire to control their actions. Although this topic must be covered for all ages I think a naiive or immature teen would be very overwhelmed by this book. Parents, you know your teen best.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was expecting a little more action, I was EXTREMELY dissapointed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I adore the series though! A really great read teenagers(and tweens) everywhere!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please help us spread the word of God to all nook users!!! If ur interested please go to "revival for god" first result. Jesus loves u!!! †††
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This book was so good and helpful
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Kelsea Martin More than 1 year ago
I think this was a very good book. :)
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about a young girl. She is a junior in high school. Within her group of friends she seems to be the only one to still be a virgin. She has never really had a steady boyfriend; she's never really had much of a boyfriend to begin with. This year, she starts dating this boy Justin; everything is "perfect" with their relationship, until truths start to reveal themselves. Her "perfect" boy has turned out to be nothing but trouble. She goes through a lot of problems and drama with her best friend, the one person she can truly count on to listen and not judge her is Nate. While Justin and Zoe are dating, Zoe and Nate's friendship start to grow. This book is full of drama, but it is quite fun. "..sunny smile" is an example of alliteration in this book. When she says this she is talking about her grandmother giving her a sweater, and of course when your grandparents give you something, you smile. So we all put on a sunny smile! (page 63) "..plastic face" is an example of a hyperbole in this book. When someone says plastic face, it doesn't mean their face is actually plastic, it just means that it's not what your face really looks like. You're putting up a fake front to fool people. No one really has a plastic face. (page 63) "People rats" is an example of personification in this book. The author gave, in my opinion, human characteristics to these rats. Of course to discover these human characteristics you have to read the book, but I will spare you the details while you are reading this review. (page 48) The best part of this book is when Zoë realizes that she doesn't have to be like all the other people in her school. She goes through so much drama throughout the year, but with the right friends she realizes that she doesn't need to change her ways to "fit in". She used to think that she was alone in a big world.. But she now realizes that she has more in common with everyone else than she thinks. The worst part of this book is, in my opinion, the way the book portrays Christians. In this book it kind of gives the impression that we think we know it all, and that we are waaay better than everyone else. Every time Casey Renwick, the biggest Christian in this book, talks she sounds very condescending. She always tries to push her beliefs down everyone throats and tells them that her way is the right way, the only way that there should ever be. Now I realize that some people do convey their faith like this, but not quite. This is an interesting book. I don't 100% know if I would recommend this book. I mean I thought it was good, but nothing in it really stuck with me, or jumped out at me. But if you like this author, Melody Carson, I would recommend this book. And if you're big into reading, read the book. But if need an exciting book, this isn't the book for you.
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