Mia and Jake have known each other their whole lives. They’ve endured summer vacations, Sunday brunches, even dentist visits together. Their mothers, who are best friends, are convinced that Mia and Jake would be the perfect couple, even though they can’t stand to be in the same room together.
After Mia’s mom turns away yet another cute boy, Mia and Jake decide they’ve had enough. Together, they hatch a plan to get their moms off their backs. Permanently. All they have to do is pretend to date and then stage the worst breakup of all time—and then they’ll be free.
It’s the perfect plan - except that it turns out maybe Mia and Jake don’t hate each other as much as they once thought…
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|Publisher:||Feiwel & Friends|
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.10(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
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IF THERE'S ONE THING I'm grateful for in my life, it's that arranged marriages aren't common anymore. At least not in Hempstead, Texas.
I mean, yeah, I'm also glad that I'm alive and that my mom is happy and healthy and all that stuff. Oh, and my hair has finally stopped doing that frizzy thing in the morning that usually takes at least twenty minutes to straighten.
And for the absence of Meatloaf Mondays at school. Or rather Mystery Mondays because I'm not sure what they did to make the meat harden like a can of Play-Doh that had been left out in the sun for a week. One of life's biggest mysteries. Whatever it was, it finally got taken off the menu for good. Sometimes it sucks that I can't leave school grounds until I'm a senior next year.
But today, I was definitely most grateful about the whole arranged- marriage thing. Especially as my mom tugged on my shirt for the tenth time while I tried to usher her out the door.
"Seriously, Mom, if we don't leave right this second, I'm going to miss first period, which will result in me failing calculus. Then I'll have to drop out of school and end up living here with you forever." Clasping my fingers around her wrist, I dragged her across the porch. Well, attempted to. It was like trying to move a boulder. Or me out of bed on a Sunday morning. "Just you, me, and a dozen dogs I'm going to adopt. Big, drooling, fluffy ones."
My threats did nothing to faze her. "We have time. Why are you wearing this shirt again?" Her fingers rubbed on my left sleeve as though she were trying to make the violet color fade. "I swear, Mia, I always buy you such pretty outfits, and you never wear any of them."
"You mean you always buy me pretty blue outfits. You know I hate the color blue."
"Nonsense. No one could hate the color blue. It's the color of the sky. Do you hate the sky?"
Rolling my eyes, I let go of her and crossed my arms. "Yes, I hate the sky. It's on the list of top five things I hate along with ice cream, freshly cut grass, and puppies. Especially cute round corgis that like to roll around and frolic in grassy green meadows. So. Annoying."
Her left eyebrow rose. "You shouldn't be so sarcastic this early in the morning. It's bad for your indigestion."
"It's okay. Walmart has a two-for-one sale for Tums this week. I'll pick them up along with some Red Bull and batteries to give you some energy."
Instead of responding, she just let out a heavy sigh as if the weight of the world's problems was on her shoulders. Or maybe it was. It certainly wasn't easy having me for a daughter. Something she told me weekly.
Basking in my triumph of getting the last word in, I reached out and grabbed the keys from her hand. "If you're not in the car in two minutes, I'm leaving without you."
She gaped at me, both hands on her hips. "Excuse me, who exactly is the parent around here?"
"Something I wonder all the time," I muttered under my breath.
To be honest, I didn't hate the sky. Or ice cream and corgis. You'd have to be some sort of psycho to hate corgis. Although freshly cut grass did stir up my allergies like crazy, so I wasn't exactly fond of that. But I especially didn't hate the color blue. In fact, I loved it, but I could never wear it. The problem was the reason my mom insisted on me wearing blue all the time — from scrunchies and earrings to socks and underwear. And that was because blue was Jake's favorite color.
Damn Jake Adler. Number one on my hate list. He's the real reason I would rather wear a dress of fresh grass than wear blue. Ever.
Speaking of Mr. Number One ...
Across the street, Mrs. Adler dragged him toward us with a determined look on her face. Suddenly Mom's reluctance to leave made sense. I quickened my pace.
The pain of having to go to school was only shadowed when our moms made us go together. Always together. No matter what. Family vacations, Sunday brunches, heck, even dentist appointments with Jake weren't enough. No, they schemed for us to go to school together every chance they got.
Last week, we avoided this by waking up at different times, but Jake's mom and my mom caught on pretty quickly. Now they were our own personal alarm clocks. And sometimes Mom's way of waking me up included cold water that she flicked on my face until I woke up. Harsh but effective. I'm glad she didn't just dump it on me. Probably didn't want the extra laundry.
Jake's feet shuffled against the asphalt so hard that I expected the rubber to be scraped off his navy sneakers by the time he reached our house.
As soon as Mom spotted them, she let out a little squeal that she immediately tried to cover up with a cough. "Oh my God, I completely forgot that I had plans with Jake's mom today. I don't think I could drive you to school after all."
I gave her a blank stare and leaned against the hood of my car. "Gee, isn't that funny how things worked out? And on the day that your car is in the shop."
"It's not my fault that my car needed to have the brakes replaced." Her hand fluttered dramatically against her chest as she gasped. "You think I wanted my brakes to be faulty and be recalled at the factory? We're just lucky we didn't get into an accident beforehand. You could be at my funeral right now."
It's easy to see where I got my flair for theatrics. And I wasn't buying any of it. Still, I surrendered my car keys to her. "Yeah ... and when did you say you were going to get your car back again?"
She brushed a strand of hair off of her face. Slowly. Delicately. "Oh, it may take all day. They're probably going to check the car for other stuff. Just in case. It's better to be thorough."
"If you need a ride, Mia, Jake would be happy to drive you," Mrs. Adler announced as she strolled up our sidewalk with Jake in tow. Both his hands were shoved into his jeans pockets. His dark hair was still damp and curled slightly around the nape of his neck and forehead. She must have dragged him out of the shower or something to get over here so quickly. "And he could drive you home, too."
Jake sighed. "Happy isn't exactly the word I would choose."
"Plus, if that was the case, I'd rather walk," I muttered under my breath.
But Mom's superhuman ears heard me. "If that's what you want. You could use the exercise after lying around the house all weekend."
Ouch. That was low. Especially because I'm pretty sure my extra baby fat and slightly round cheeks came from her side of the family. Everyone always said we were spitting images of each other. Something that delighted her to no end.
"By the way, Mia, you look soo pretty today." Mrs. Adler elbowed Jake's side. Her other hand played with the strap of the large tan tote bag slung over her shoulder. The metal tassels of the SeaWorld key chain from our Orlando trip four years ago swung back and forth. "Doesn't she look pretty?"
He shrugged, and she elbowed him even harder until he grimaced. "She looks the same as usual."
Mom clasped her hands together. "That's soo sweet of you." She stressed the soo the same way Mrs. Adler did, like it was a two-syllable word. "Wasn't that a nice compliment, Mia?"
"I don't know if that counts as a com — ouch!" Now it was Mom's turn to shove her elbow into my side. "I mean, yeah, thanks."
I met Jake's gaze, and we both rolled our eyes in unison. Could they be more obvious?
I'm not sure when or who came up with the crazy idea that Jake and I were destined to be together in the first place. Although I'll bet my savings that it was Mom's idea. Ever since she became a wedding planner, she had romance etched in her brain.
Whoever it was, this was something that Mom and Mrs. Adler had pursued with a passion since we were two. Scorching, melt-your-ice-cream-in-two-seconds type of passion. Despite the fact that Jake and I could barely stand being in the same room together now. But our disdain for each other was just a minor blip in their dreams of being future in-laws. After all, according to Mom, someone had to take one for the team.
Still rubbing my aching waist, I straightened up. "Let's just go. I still have to meet with my chem group before homeroom."
With a bright smile, Mrs. Adler wrapped an arm around Mom's shoulders. "Of course. You don't want to be late. Jake, honey, you should carry Mia's bag out to the car for her."
"She has arms. Why should I — ouch! Mom!" With one hand rubbing his knee, Jake half walked, half wobbled away from her outstretched leg. The toe of her left black pump was still pointed at him. "I'll hold that for you."
I kept a tight grip on the strap and yanked back. "No, I'm fine."
"Just hand it over, will you?" he muttered under his breath. "Before I have to waste my health insurance on a broken leg."
Reluctantly, I surrendered my bag and walked toward his car across the street. "Fine. Whatever."
Jake and I didn't say anything else to each other until we were safely in his car and out of earshot of our moms. He turned on the ignition and grasped the side of my headrest as he slowly pulled out of the driveway. "Is it just me, or are they soo annoying?"
Snorting, I slouched down in the seat and pulled my knees up to prop them against the leather dashboard. No need to adjust the seat because it was already set perfectly to my almost five-foot, three-inch height. I've been in this seat more than I've been in my own car. The cushions were probably molded to my butt by now, flat as it was. "Well, subtlety was never their strong point. That's probably why they're such good friends."
"Right. That and their love for green tea lattes." Jake turned on the radio, and our moment of peaceful truce ended.
Seriously, sometimes I think Mom needed a new hobby. Knitting. Gardening. Collecting rare minted coins. Anything was better than throwing her only daughter into an arranged relationship with an annoying Know-It-All Ass.
He glanced over at me like he knew I was thinking about him. "By the way, you have purple jam on your left cheek."
It was probably raspberry jam left over from breakfast. I had toast and peanut butter with jam. Peach jam would have been better, but we were out.
"I'm leaving it to snack on during second period," I said blankly without moving.
Grimacing, he turned away. His hand rubbed the back of his neck until it turned pink.
It took everything I had not to laugh — although my lips couldn't help quirking up into a grin. I had to turn my face toward the window so he wouldn't notice and realize I was screwing with him on purpose.
His crazy obsession with being neat was something I had loved to mess with him about since we were eight. I couldn't help it. Jake was such a weird kid. He'd line up all his toy trucks according to size and color and not let anyone touch them. So, of course, I deliberately mixed them up, annoying the hell out of him. Finally, he ended up hiding all his cars in his room and locking his door.
That was also the year that our nicknames for each other — Ass and Brat — were born. Although my name for him always got me grounded whenever anyone heard me.
Such an unjust world we live in.
Jake rolled down the window an inch or two, and the wind ruffled his dark hair. The curls were cut close to the top of his ears. His fingertips drummed an erratic beat on the peeling steering wheel. "What time will you be done later?"
I crossed my arms. "You seriously don't need to pick me up. I'll just catch a ride home with someone else."
"It's fine. I need to watch the store for a few hours while Mr. MacArthur goes to his dentist appointment anyway, so I can stop by afterward. Besides I can't go home without you. Not in one piece anyway."
"Fine, do whatever you want."
He snorted. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure what I want doesn't matter. It never does." Before I could respond, he pulled into our school's parking lot. "So, what? Six? Seven?"
Snatching my bag from the back seat, I jumped out of the car. "Make it seven thirty."
"Damn, that's late." Letting out a long-suffering sigh, Jake climbed out of the car and came over to my side. Without saying anything else, he leaned over until he was right in my face.
Surprised, I backed up a bit, but he just took another step forward until he reached out ... to brush against the corner of my mouth. Before I could say or do anything, he wiped the little smear of jam onto my sleeve.
"God, that had been annoying me the whole car ride," he said, shaking his head.
The hell ...?
I jerked away from him. "You're crazy, you know that?"
"Yeah, well, what do you expect when I'm forced to put up with you my entire life? I'm lucky you didn't put me in an insane asylum by now." He waved at Aly, who was waiting on our bench by the parking lot, before walking away. "See you at seven thirty."
I was still sputtering when Aly came up to me. "What was that about?"
My fingers rubbed at the corner of my mouth, and I scowled. "Nothing. Just Jake being an ass as usual."CHAPTER 2
MY EYES GAZED LONGINGLY at the stage. Lyndon Whitmore, the lead actress, sang about her family's journey across the river as she danced across the stage, light as a gazelle. Her voice rang out loud and clear across the partially empty auditorium. I made a note of her posture and how she lifted her head. I even attempted to purse my lips the same way she did, but I knew I could never sound the same. Not unless I could steal her voice like in The Little Mermaid.
Talented people sure are easy to hate sometimes.
I mean, I wasn't horrible — despite the fact that Jake said roosters crowing sounded better than my singing.
When I was seven, I took voice lessons that cost Mom way too much money, but all they did was make me enunciate my words more. Something I probably could have learned from Sesame Street.
But, how did Lyndon do that? It seemed so effortless for her. Like drinking water. Or riding a bike. Although that was a pretty bad example because I never actually learned how to ride a bike. Apparently, I had no sense of balance along with being tone-deaf. Jake tried to teach me when we were ten, but he got so frustrated that he ended up just paying me to give up.
Easiest fifty bucks I ever made.
Someone tapped the back of my head, knocking me out of my daydream. Aly plopped down on the seat beside me. "Your eyes are going to fall out if you keep glaring at Lyndon like that."
"I wasn't glaring. I was ... examining her technique."
"Uh-huh. And does your examination include scowling, too?" Without waiting for my answer, she handed over her cup of coffee — extra cream and two sugars.
Holding the cup up to my nose, I breathed in the lovely aroma a few times before letting out a happy sigh. I didn't actually like the taste of coffee, but the smell was enough to perk me up. "Thanks, I needed that. It's been a really long day. But any day I'm forced to see Jake is a long day."
Aly snorted. "That's every day then. Maybe we should all carpool sometime. Save gas and the environment and all that. Or you could take my car, and I'll carpool with him."
"Urgh, why would you do that?"
She swept her honey-brown locks into a low ponytail. "Uh, 'cause he's cute?"
Wait, what? My left eyebrow rose, and I reached out to touch her forehead. Cool as a cucumber. So, she's not delirious from being sick. "Are you crazy?"
She batted my hand away. "Are you blind? He's adorable. Like, hot boy next door who doesn't even realize that he's hot. Which makes him even hotter. And he's so nice, too. Well, maybe not to you, but he's nice to me. And to everyone else. He's Mr. Good Guy."
Gagging, I handed back her cup of coffee. "Take this before I puke in it and make you waste three bucks."
"Four. I added an extra shot of espresso and soy milk. And come on. I know you hate the guy, but even you have to admit that he's pretty easy on the eyes."
Easy on the eyes?
I scratched my head, but I just couldn't see what she was talking about. I mean, yeah, I guess his hazel eyes were nice. Especially since he finally got rid of those Coke-bottle glasses and wore contacts. Without them, he was practically blind. When we were kids, all I had to do to win at hide-and-seek with him was steal his glasses. Sixty-seven wins. Once just by sitting on the couch with a matching blanket.
And he was ... tall?
"Hot and adorable aren't exactly words I'd ever use to describe Jake. Those words are reserved for someone like ... like ..."
"Ben Grayson?" Even though Aly meant to whisper, her naturally loud voice echoed across the auditorium. And just our luck, this was also when everyone onstage was taking a break so it was deadly silent.
Ben was sitting at the corner of the stage talking to Daniel, the theater director, but he jumped to his feet when he heard his name. I had to wave both hands away 'cause God knows I didn't know what I would say to him if he did come over.
Confused, he sat back down, but not before giving me an endearing half smile that made my knees weak like they were made of floppy lime Jell-O. Good thing I was sitting on a chair or I'm pretty sure I would have face-planted right on the floor.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Fake It Till You Break It"
Copyright © 2019 Jenn P. Nguyen.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
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.
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