What happens in Puerto Rico doesn't always stay there...
Mariana Ruiz thought she left her summer fling in Puerto Rico, that is until she finds Alex sitting across from her at the breakfast table. Living two doors down from her visiting old flame isn't easy, especially given the unresolved sparks still lingering for her locker buddy Bobbyand they don't exactly go unnoticed.
Her best friends are little help as Madison deals with her IM-only "boyfriend" and Emily sinks into secret mode after her parents' recent breakup. The only relationship that seems to be working is her estranged aunt Teresa who's tying the knot on New Years with Mariana and her cousin Lilly as bridesmaids. But the last wedding detail left unplanned is who will Mariana kiss at midnight?
Strained friendships, stolen kisses, and secret loves create plenty of surprises to unfold before the New Year's bells start ringing...
Born to a Puerto Rican father and a Polish mother, Diana Rodriguez Wallach has experienced the cultures her characters inhabit. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University, and has worked as a reporter and as an advocate for inner city public schools. She currently resides in Philadelphia with her husband. This is her second novel.
|Edition description:||THIS EDITION IS INTENDED FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 17 Years|
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Adiosto All the Drama
By DIANA RODRIGUEZ WALLACH
Copyright © 2009
Diana Rodriguez Wallach
All right reserved.
Chapter One He was arriving in less than a week. When I had left Alex standing on the side of the road in Utuado, waving at my car as it pulled away from my aunt Carmen and uncle Miguel's home, I had truly thought I would never see him again. Sure, we had made plans to keep in touch via e-mail, but there's a huge difference between a few electronic submissions and a half-semester face-to-face visit. Especially when his accommodations were two doors down on the left, next to the hall bath alongside Vince's room.
"So does this mean you're gonna start wearing makeup to breakfast?" Lilly asked as she helped me clear out the drawers in what would soon be Alex's room.
"I barely wear makeup to school. I doubt I'll start caking it on to eat Cheerios." I tossed a bunch of my mom's old sweaters into a plastic storage bin bound for the attic.
"But what if Alex is pouring the milk in your Cheerios?" Lilly raised an eyebrow.
"Well, I may have to brush my teeth ..."
I grabbed my mom's old cardigan and placed it neatly in another bin. Most of the extra closets in our house held my mom's "overflow" wardrobe. She didn't throw much away out of a belief that it would eventually come back into style-it was a holdover from her childhood growing up in the projects. When you go from Kmart to Chanel in less than thirty years, it's hard to part with those Chanels even when they're dated.
"I still can't believe he's up and moving here to be with you," Lilly stated plainly.
"This has nothing to do with me. He's visiting colleges."
"Yeah, if you believe that...."
"I do!" I insisted, though even I could hear the defensive edge in my voice.
"He's staying in a room down the hall from yours. Is that standard procedure for every kid who wants to tour universities in the greater Philadelphia area? Because if so, your parents need to up their rates...."
"I wouldn't talk, Miss Freeloader."
"Hey, my parents send money!" she tossed a lavender-scented sachet at me.
Lilly had moved here in September to seek a better education. Though her parents were justifiably nervous having their daughter live with distant relatives, Lilly had flawlessly adjusted almost immediately. She was one of the most popular freshmen in our school.
"I'm just saying if you didn't move here from Puerto Rico, maybe Alex wouldn't be so inspired to do the same. It could be you he misses." I narrowed my eyes.
"Nice try, but I don't think so."
Lilly carefully lifted one of my mom's formal handbags. Each elegant clutch, leather satchel, or logo-patterned purse was to be individually placed in the fabric dust bag it came in, then nestled into a cardboard box and labeled, then stacked into a plastic bin. Sometimes I thought my mom cared more about those purses than she did her own life.
"So are you guys just gonna pick up where you left off? Have a big smooch fest at the airport?" Lilly blew kisses at me.
"I don't know," I mumbled. "I don't want to act like I expect anything or like I think this trip has more to do with me than it does school."
"But it does."
"No, it doesn't," I said firmly as I locked the lid on the transparent bin.
"You realize your family is single-handedly boosting the Latino population at your school district at an alarming rate," she joked.
"Not exactly. Vince is away at school."
"Ah, but holiday break is just around the corner. The numbers are swinging in our favor."
She was right. My parents' home was quickly becoming a halfway house for Puerto Rican teens looking to migrate from Utuado.
Alex was visiting as part of a mini-exchange program. Somehow his tiny mountaintop private school had arranged to send him to the States for two months to tour American universities. He would keep up with his classes in Utuado online, utilizing Spring Mills High School's computer labs, library, and all other facilities. He'd also be passing me in the halls, eating with me in the cafeteria, and bumming rides from my friends.
I glanced around the yellow-and-green guest room. My grandmother, my mom's mom, used to stay here when she visited. It was decorated specifically for her with the thick plush carpet she preferred, the colors she favored, and an ivy-stenciled border that mimicked her bedroom in Camden. She stayed in the room a lot after my grandfather died. Aside from our maid, hardly anyone had stepped foot in it since she passed away two years ago.
Now it would be Alex's room. Only I couldn't picture him in it. I couldn't picture him here.
Chapter Two My eyes darted around the cafeteria. Alex would soon be joining the packs of classmates I'd known since kindergarten-the jocks, cheerleaders, band members, mathletes, rockers, and artists. They were all familiar and boring, and now that comforting, predictable dynamic was about to change.
"So you're kinda moody," Emily noted as she swallowed a mouthful of yogurt. "I thought that was my job."
I smirked at her. "It's the whole Alex thing."
"Exactly how many Spanish runaways do your parents plan to take in?" Madison asked as she swished her glistening platinum hair over her bony shoulder. "'Cause ya know, for just the price of a cup of coffee they could support entire villages in Africa."
"Very funny," I chirped. "Alex is just visiting. He's not moving here."
"Like the last one," she huffed, examining her manicure. She was referring to Lilly.
Ever since the "Cornell incident" last month, when Emily confessed that her mother was having an affair with my locker buddy Bobby's dad and Madison revealed her secret communications with Evan, she and my cousin had been getting along. Sure, they weren't about to purchase interlocking best friend charms anytime soon, but they had stopped snarling at each other (most of the time). Emily reminded us that we could have bigger problems.
"Well, I'm excited to meet him. At least one of us has a boyfriend," Emily stated.
"I have a boyfriend!" Madison squeaked. "Sort of ..."
"I thought you and Evan were just talking," I pointed out.
"We are. I mean, we haven't labeled it, but he IMs me every night." She gazed across the cafeteria to where Evan was seated with his wrestling buds.
For the past four weeks, Evan had been secretly contacting my best friend via the Internet and text message. But he had yet to ask her on a date, offer any physical affection (they hadn't so much as held hands), or acknowledge their friendship publicly. At this point, I felt he was either embarrassed to be involved with her, or he was keeping his options open to be with other girls. Regardless, I hated him for it.
I watched as Madison stared longingly at the wrestling stud; he was utterly oblivious.
"You know, Mad, maybe you should have 'the talk' with Evan. Ask him what's going on," I suggested, casually dipping a Tater Tot in a mound of generic ketchup.
"No way. I don't want to look all needy and pathetic. Besides, he wouldn't call me if he didn't like me."
"He doesn't call you. He texts you," Emily pointed out before crunching into a carrot stick drenched in ranch dressing.
"It's the same thing," Madison muttered.
"Actually, it isn't," I said.
Madison snapped her icy blue eyes toward me. "At least I didn't have to import some guy from a third world country."
"Puerto Rico is not a third world country! It's part of the U.S. And I didn't ask him to come here," I defended.
"Whatever. Still, not all of us can have guys pining away for us from across an ocean." Madison shrugged and popped a green grape into her mouth. She was eating a Greek salad for lunch, part of her new vegetarian kick (though I secretly wondered if it was just an excuse to eat less calories unquestioned).
"Yeah, well don't get too jealous," Emily stated. "Relationships never last."
"That's not true," I said softly.
The dark circles under Emily's eyes had deepened several shades over the past month. No amount of yellow under-eye concealer masked them, and there wasn't much she could do to prevent them given that she spent most of her nights listening to her mother sob into a pillow. Living with a woman who'd gone from confident college professor to self-destructive mistress had been justifiably wearing on her.
"Try telling that to my dad. Of course, you'd have to speak with the concierge at the Marriott because he never seems to answer his phone. I swear, the woman who cleans his hotel room spends more time with him than I do," Emily muttered.
Madison and I exchanged a look. There wasn't much we could say. We had spent the last four weeks dissecting the situation, listening to her, supporting her, and offering any advice we could find from Oprah to Cosmo. We were tapped out. The reality was that her father was now living in a Center City hotel and her parents were probably getting divorced. And as much as Madison and I wanted to take that pain away from her, it didn't look like we could.
"So when does Ricky Martin fly in again?" Madison asked.
"His name is Alex Montoya, and he just e-mailed me his itinerary. I think his flight comes in at 8:00 P.M. on Thursday," I reminded her. "You still driving?"
"Of course. I wouldn't miss the grand welcome of your Latin lover." She smirked.
"Will you please stop calling him that."
"Um, no." She laughed.
I shook my head, smiling.
It's not often that sixteen-year-olds get to play with fire in an academic facility. But today we were in the midst of a chemistry flame test. It was notoriously known as one of the most fun labs conducted all year, mostly because there was an urban legend that a teacher once accidentally singed a student's hair off. As a precaution we were all forced to wear goggles and gloves, and tie our hair back securely.
I fidgeted with my tight ballet bun. I had years of experience tying them, but I usually didn't have to fit the elastic strap of protective eyewear around it. The combination was digging uncomfortably into my skull.
"Okay, the first metal is lithium," Bobby said, reaching for the solid.
"No, wait!" I grabbed his arm.
The skin-to-skin contact made me immediately uncomfortable. I let go and quickly looked down at my notebook. The last thing I needed was a flashback of us getting caught kissing at Cornell-especially not with Alex about to arrive.
"We have to make sure the wire is clean or it won't work," I said.
I dipped our wire into hydrochloric acid and placed it in the flame of the Bunsen burner. The fire didn't change color.
"Okay, it's clean." I handed it back.
In the four weeks since the Cornell trip that wrecked his parents' marriage, Bobby and I hadn't spoken much beyond school-related topics. It was hard to weave, "Sorry your dad was getting down with my best friend's mom," into everyday conversation. This was the same reason we never mentioned the kiss between us-too awkward.
Bobby dipped the wire into the concentrated hydrochloric acid and placed it into the lithium solid. A small amount of the metal chloride formed. Then he held it to the flame. The blaze instantly burned bright red.
"Cool," he said, gazing into the fire.
I recorded the answer onto our worksheet.
"So there's something I've been meaning to talk to you about," he said.
My gut involuntarily sucked in. I said nothing.
"Are you still gonna help out with the film festival? 'Cause we only have two weeks left to plan ..."
My stomach unclenched.
"Oh," I said, a bit too loudly.
He cocked his head. "What'd you think I was gonna say?"
"I don't know. Nothing." I cleaned off the wire in acid. "Sure, I'll help you. What do you need? Posters? Flyers?"
"Yeah, and we need to recruit some people to showcase their work. So far, the photography club members only have a bunch of amateurish black-and-whites-girls standing in front of boys' urinals and whatnot."
"Seriously?" I asked, my eyebrows squished together.
I had never ventured into a restroom intended for the opposite sex. But I wasn't exactly much of a rule breaker. I'd wait in the women's bathroom line for an hour before ever hopping into an abandoned men's stall across the way.
"I can see if other kids have better pictures. Madison might have some digitals from her family's trip to Rome."
"Yeah, stuff like that would be good."
He dipped the wire coated with potassium into the flame. It immediately altered to a bright lilac hue perfect for a prom dress.
"Wow," I muttered.
"I figure as Thanksgiving gets closer things are gonna get crazy," Bobby said.
"Oh, shoot. I forgot ..." My brown eyes pulled wide.
"The date? 'Cause you kinda were there when the dean set it."
He dipped the wire back into the acid for cleaning.
"No, it's just ..." I timidly stared down at our worksheet and carefully recorded our answer. "I mean, I'm kinda getting a new house guest in a few days."
"So, is that a problem?" Bobby's blond curls flopped on his forehead.
"Well, it's just that my guest is gonna be coming to school with me, us. Not to our classes, but I'll need to show him around...."
"He?" Bobby stared intently at the wire he was cleaning.
"Yeah. He's a friend of Lilly's ... and mine ... from Puerto Rico. He's gonna be checking out some colleges in the area."
"So he's our age?" Bobby interrupted, not making eye contact.
"He's a senior."
My eyes locked on the lab equipment. I didn't know why I felt so uncomfortable telling him about Alex. Bobby wasn't my boyfriend, but for some reason I felt like I was confessing that I had cheated with another guy, and worse, that the other guy had won.
"If you're too busy, that's cool," he grumbled, shrugging his lanky arms.
"No, it'll be fine. I'll work it out. I'm a multitasker." I smiled, hoping to ease the thick tension floating between us. "I can plan festivals, accommodate guests, leap tall buildings ..."
"In your case, wouldn't that be pirouette over tall buildings?"
"No, probably split leap tall buildings."
"Ah, even better."
He dipped the wire into the next metal and continued the lab work. The calcium turned brick red.
Chapter Three Madison's Audi wove through the narrow city streets. If she moved even an inch to the right, her car would swipe the side-view mirrors of every parked vehicle on the block.
"This can't possibly be a two-lane street," I said from my seat in shotgun.
With all of Emily's family woes, she didn't have much energy to extend to keeping her permanent spot in Madison's passenger seat. We now rotated the position on a regular basis.
"My dad said that all the streets in Philly have two lanes."
Madison's eyes were intently focused on keeping the car straight. She rolled to a stop at a red light, and sure enough, a white cab pulled up to our left, squeezing just a few inches shy of her door. We were so close that, had we wanted, we could have held a conversation with the passenger in the backseat.
"I told you," Madison mocked.
"Hey, this is normal to me," Lilly added. She was seated beside Emily. "Mariana, you've seen how people drive in Puerto Rico."
"Ugh, don't remind me." I flinched, my nose scrunched. "When our cousin Alonzo picked us up at the airport, he sped up this dirt road so fast through the mountains that our tires scraped the cliff. I thought I was gonna die."
"Yeah, well, if I don't pay attention, we're gonna die."
Alex was arriving tomorrow, and as a welcome gift, my friends and I were putting together a basket of Philadelphia staples. We were collecting a miniature Liberty Bell, a replica of the Declaration of Independence, postcards from the Constitution Center, a flag from the Betsy Ross House, soft pretzels from sidewalk vendors, water ice from South Philly, and rival cheesesteaks from both Pat's and Geno's famous establishments. My parents swore they'd keep everything preserved until tomorrow night.
"Why don't you guys just run in?" Madison asked as she rolled to a stop.
Lilly and I yanked our door handles and piled out in front of the modern white museum. We darted toward the glass doors of the Constitution Center. An exhibit on the history of baseball was showing inside.
"What do sports have to do with the Constitution?" Lilly asked, staring at a cutout of Babe Ruth.
"I can guarantee you that many Americans know the history of the Yankees and the Red Sox better than they do the Redcoats and the Colonies."
We rushed toward the gift shop. I immediately began swiveling a metal stand of postcards while Lilly swiveled another.
"You know, I could be mildly offended that Alex is getting this big welcome extravaganza when I got nada," Lilly huffed as she plucked a photo of Boathouse Row and showed it to me.
Excerpted from Adiosto All the Drama by DIANA RODRIGUEZ WALLACH Copyright © 2009 by Diana Rodriguez Wallach. Excerpted by permission.
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