Laine Hunt barely survived her first semester and everyone knows it. Now she's determined to prove she's a fighter, to secure her place at the front of the class. But what she's fighting the hardest are her own demons and her feelings for a certain lacrosse player. . . .
Parker Cole, the lanky hipster in a purple velvet coat, is fighting demons of her own. She can't forgive Chase Dobbs, the Southern golden boy, for breaking her heart. But when she meets a stranger with a dangerous solution to her problems, will she let Chase get close enough to save her?
The year tests everyone—but the lesson they've all learned is that not everyone will make it to the upper class.
Read an Excerpt
An Upper Class Novel
By Hobson Brown
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
New Year's Day. Room 414. Miami. Pizza box on the black marble bathroom sink counter, e-z wider rolling papers on the floor. The orange dust of Adderalls crushed and snorted off the white bedside table. The stink of toxic boys sleeping late.
"Shit, let's hit it, guys," Chase says, bloodshot eyes taking in the huge wet stain in the closet where he pissed by accident last night, sleepwalking and drunk. "Um, we need to jet before someone sees this."
Greg, Gabriel, and Chase stagger with luggage into the elevator, where a woman in Burberry shorts murmurs to her rhinestone-collared Chihuahua. In the lobby Greg sinks into a white leather club chair, knees spread wide, talking—as usual—to Delia on his cell.
Gabriel and Chase lean against the counter, desperate to check out. They keep looking behind them.
"Should we really head to the camp? I don't know if Noah wants us to come," Gabriel says.
"Oh, please," drawls Chase. "Why wouldn't he?"
Gabriel has on his serious face. "I'm just saying."
The clerk gives back Gabriel's Black AmEx. "Thank you, Mr. Velez. Do come again."
"We're going," Chase says to Gabriel. "He's our boy."
They half run through the hot parking lot. Once they get intothe car, they can breathe. They know they're in the clear. Gabriel tears out. Chase lies in the back of the 6-Series BMW convertible, its mica charcoal paint sizzling in the sun of the open road. The sky is reflected in faux aviators he bought at a gas station.
Chase is happy to be with his boys, after all the girl drama last semester. He looks at the pair. Gabriel, in tortoiseshell glasses and a Lacoste shirt, a Rolex Daytona on his thick, hairy wrist. Driving this fast car and blasting Rihanna. If Gabriel was only a dilettante from Colombia and not a
too-serious-son-of-a-public-figure-who-gets-death-threats kid, everyone might be jealous. As it is, Gabriel is growing up too fast and stepping into big political shoes too soon.
Greg is priceless. With nubby hair grown out from the shave of football season to protect his dome from New England winter, girlish lashes, coffee-bean pupils, and a temper. He's not as fit as he was at the season's end, because he's been eating candy bars like they were going to stop making them. But he's still massive, still muscle. Around his neck hangs a gold chain and a charm in the shape of Cat Island in the West Indies, his mom's hometown. Greg's white wifebeater is bleached against his black skin.
"Home free, suckers!" Chase calls out to the roaring wind, and Greg yodels back.
The exhaust of I-95 further clogs Chase's sinuses. Some girl with pink hair and pearls made him do lines on a balcony last night; Happy New Year, baby. He didn't know her name. They looked at the skyline and cracked jokes about turning into pumpkins as the sun rose, and he lost her, or she lost him, and it didn't matter. It was that kind of party. Nameless and beautiful.
A week's worth of images click: The Setai, Gabe's cousin Dominique with scarlet lips, raw sea urchin at Nobu, Lil Jon at the pool, Jessica Alba escorted from a black Tahoe SUV into a private villa. This trio is dead set on starting the year with a bang. So far, so good.
"Hey, douche bag." Greg turns to Chase. "You got a smoke?"
Chase puts his hands on Gabe's shoulders. "That, my friend, was a sick time."
Greg laughs. "Sure was."
Chase pulls out his Parliaments. "Dominique. She's got by far the prettiest Catholic ass south of the border."
"You better watch it, kid, that's family," Gabriel says, eyeing Chase in the rearview.
They whip past the Palm Beach exit, where Wellington students congregate over Christmas break to sip Belvedere Greyhounds in Lilly Pulitzer and banana-yellow slacks. To the Wellington crowd, the Breakers might as well be Bethlehem. Chase smiles slyly: The Red Cross Ball? Please, we had a suite in Miami across from four Brazilian models. I pissed at a urinal next to Nas. I watched Fergie get into a helicopter.
When he arrived at Wellington a year and a half ago, he was blown away. His brother, Reed, had been a prep-school star, helping to convince Chase that life is all about Brooks Brothers and hedge funds. But somehow Chase grew disenchanted with silver spoons. So far, his boarding school stint has only been trouble. Every day he becomes more of an outsider. He's not meant to be so straight and narrow, to live so buttoned up. Give me some raw life, some new territory.
And Chase fell in awe with the streets of Miami. Drag queens strutting past Dumpsters. Cuban guys playing dominos. Black girls in satin and lace, their gold platforms shining in the streetlights, cell phones strapped to their ankles like guns. He stared at the glittering, derelict crowd pushing up to the McDonald's counter around five a.m. The women leisurely looked Greg and Gabriel up and down, and playfully scoffed at pale, lanky Chase. Which only made him want them more.
Chase spent the previous lonely semester holed up in his room, gloomily reading about free will. He'd decided that what had been missing from his life, what might have kept him out of so much trouble, was a guiding principle of his own. So he checked out library books by Sartre and Hobbes. Studied Hindu philosophy. And Hunter S. Thompson.
Now, Chase is all about carpe diem. He's devoted to pursuing what he believes, and what he believes happens to be that he has a right to pursue what he believes.
This is heaven, in between the road and the sky, in between one Florida town and the next. Chase's hair is honey-streaked and too long, as it was before the symbolic crew cut last spring, so he shakes it out of his eyes. He's a Prep-School Cowboy. His work is done in Miami. On to Rexford Collegiate Lacrosse Camp, in Cocoa Beach.
Excerpted from Crash Test by Hobson Brown
Copyright © 2008 by Hobson Brown. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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