1. Avoid her at school.
2. Keep his mouth shut about what they do together.
3. Never tease her about her friend (and unrequited crush) Ben.
Because with his integrity and values and golden boy looks, Ben can never find out about what she’s been doing behind closed doors with Tyler. Or that her mom’s too busy drinking and chasing losers to pay the bills. Or that Lexi’s dad hasn’t been a part of her life for the last thirteen years. But with Tyler suddenly breaking the rules, Ben asking her out, and her dad back in the picture, how long will she be able to go on faking perfect?
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.65(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Rebecca lives just outside the beautiful city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with her husband, two children, and one spoiled rotten cat. She absolutely loves living so close to the ocean. When she’s not tapping away on her laptop, she can be found vacuuming up cat hair, spending time with her family, watching reality TV, reading all different genres of books, or strolling around the bookstore with a vanilla latte in her hand. Visit Rebecca on her website www.rebeccawritesya.com and on Twitter @RebeccaWritesYA.
Read an Excerpt
By Rebecca Phillips
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Rebecca Phillips
All rights reserved.
When I seduced Tyler Flynn at the beginning of senior year, I never imagined he'd still be sneaking in and out of my bedroom window six months later. Then again, nothing about our relationship had ever been conventional.
"Shh" I said. "My mom's upstairs"
"She never hears anything" Tyler said with a frustrated grunt.
My window was stuck again. I lay on my stomach on the bed, my eyes on his slim silhouette as he banged his palm against the latch, trying to loosen it. A string of profanity followed each thump. Tyler had zero patience for things that didn't yield easily.
I rolled over and pulled the covers up to my chin. He was right—my mother never heard anything. Not even the strange noises coming from her daughter's basement bedroom in the middle of the night. Just like she never smelled my cigarette smoke or saw the roadmap of red lines that snaked through the whites of my eyes after a particularly wild party. She probably wasn't even aware that my bedroom window opened up to the side of the house where a person could slip in and out, undetected in the darkness.
After a few more minutes of abuse, the window finally creaked open. The faint, crisp scent of winter filtered through the stuffiness in the room. Tyler shoved his feet into his sneakers and turned to the window, bracing his arms on the sill and steeling his body in preparation to boost himself out. Then, changing his mind, he spun back around to face me.
"You really need a new window." He raised his voice as if he was trying to alert my mother to his presence. He loved to goad me, see how far he could push me before I got mad and started locking him out. "I can't risk getting stuck in here for the night."
My insides recoiled at the thought of spending the entire night with him. "I'll just grease the hinges again or something. Good night."
"Anxious to get rid of me, Lexi?"
"You're letting all the heat out," I replied.
He reached behind him to shut the window again and returned to the bed, where I was still snuggled up under the multicolored quilt my grandmother had made for me when I was a baby. I wondered what she'd think if she could see me now.
"What are you doing?" I asked when Tyler kicked off his shoes and crawled onto the bed.
He settled on his back on top of the quilt's patterned squares, eyes closed, arms crossed over his chest. "I'm not ready to go yet."
I squinted at his profile. Usually, he was out of here before his heart rate and breathing even had a chance to slow down. He never stayed with me, never lay next to me while my cheeks still burned from his prickly stubble and my own secret shame.
"We're going to get caught, Tyler."
"We're not going to get caught," he said with utmost confidence, like the petty criminal he was. "You said your mom never sets foot in your room."
This was true. She'd avoided my room for years, and not because she respected my privacy. Six years ago, when I brought Trevor home from the pet store, I quickly realized that owning a corn snake came with some unexpected perks. For one, people thought I was weird, which I didn't mind much back in sixth grade. And two, my mother's deathly fear of snakes afforded me hours of uninterrupted alone time in my room, which I didn't mind either.
I wasn't sure why she was so afraid. Trevor (named after a boy I had a crush on at the time) lived in a tank on my dresser and rarely escaped anymore. He spent most of his time either hiding or eating the dead mice I stored in boxes behind a stack of ice trays in the freezer. Mom avoided the freezer too.
"So," Tyler said, wrapping one of my strawberry-blond curls around his index finger. "You wanna do it again?"
"No." I reached down to retrieve my T-shirt and slipped it on under the blankets. Once was enough. Once was always enough to release the pent-up frustration inside me, if only for a little while. Twice wouldn't happen unless I initiated it. I needed to be the one in control, which was why I'd chosen Tyler, Oakfield High's resident badass/burnout/man-whore. His type dodged commitment and never fell in love. He didn't care about being used, and he knew how to be discreet. And even though he was failing most of his classes, he wasn't stupid. He'd never risk the good thing he had going with me. Also, the sneaking around turned him on.
Tyler gave up on trying to tempt me with an encore and lit up a cigarette. He wedged a couple pillows behind his head and took long, lazy puffs as if relaxing in the park.
Annoyed, I sat up and flicked on the lamp.
"Hey," he said, shutting his eyes against the light.
I looked over at him, noticing that his perpetually tousled dark hair was even messier than usual, likely because I'd been running my fingers through it earlier. His shirt was inside out, his zipper half down, his neck mottled with what looked like a bite mark. Was this what he looked like afterward? I'd never actually looked closely at him after the fact. Usually, all I saw was his back and then his legs as he shimmied out my window.
"Why are you still here, Tyler?" I asked, waving away his smoke. "It's one o'clock in the morning. I want to go to sleep."
He smirked. "And have sweet dreams about Mr. Wonderful?"
"Don't push me," I warned.
"Oh right. Sorry, I forgot. It's a Lexi Rule."
I shot him a look. Okay, so I did have a few rules, but nothing unreasonable or difficult to follow. One, he had to avoid me at school. Two, he had to keep his mouth shut about what we did together. And three ... under no circumstances was he ever allowed to tease me about my friend Ben, who I'd had an unrequited crush on for two years. Ben, with his integrity and values and golden boy looks, did not belong in this room with us. He wasn't like us.
Tyler finished his cigarette and dropped the butt into the half-empty can of 7-Up on my nightstand. As he did this, I heard a cough coming from upstairs and then footsteps plodding across the floor. My mother was walking from her bedroom, where she stayed up late every night watching the Game Show Network, to the kitchen, which was right above my room. Next, she would pour herself a glass of iced tea or white wine if there was any left over from the weekend, and then trudge back to her bedroom and shut the door. Family Feud, Press Your Luck, Match Game, Password, The Price is Right ... she watched them all for hours on end, her expression never changing aside from a raised eyebrow now and again when a contestant was being particularly boneheaded. She gave me the same look sometimes.
"Okay, it's time to go now," I said, elbowing Tyler in the ribs. It freaked me out that he was beside me and not evacuating the house like it was on fire, which had been the case most other nights. Having him here while my mother was awake went way beyond my comfort zone. "I have a math test first period tomorrow. Come on." I poked him again, and he finally started to get up.
"Oh yeah, I guess I do, too." He looked down at me and smirked again. "Thanks for helping me study again. I never knew vectors and shit could be so interesting."
"You're welcome," I said, even though we hadn't studied at all. The last time we really studied together was back in late September, when I used our upcoming math quiz as an excuse to get him into my room for the first time. He needed a tutor, I needed an outlet. It was all very practical and casual. Clinical, almost. Devoid of emotion.
Lately, though, I could feel something changing, the way animals can sense when a storm is near. A subtle shift in the air between us. A possessive look burning into my back as I passed him in the hall at school. A touch so gentle it made my breath hitch. And now this, sticking around as long as he dared, not quite ready to leave.
This was bad. It seemed Tyler was on the verge of breaking the one rule I'd left unspoken. Do not get attached.
I needed to squash this problem immediately.
"Let's not do this anymore," I said to his bare back as he took off his shirt and turned it right side out. I kept my eyes on the tattoo on his left shoulder blade—the grim reaper in his black cloak, smiling and holding a scythe. The harvester of souls.
Tyler pulled on his shirt and glanced back at me with a flickering of a smile. I tried not to let it get to me. All my life, I'd suffered such a weakness for boys like him. In the first grade, I'd had a massive crush on Cody Hatcher, who pushed kids at recess and regularly spit on the teachers. By middle school, I felt myself drawn to the troubled boys with bad home lives who cut class and sneaked cigarettes behind the convenience store. Then, in the tenth grade, when I started cultivating my good girl image and making new friends, I gave up on the bad boys and set my sights on the nice, well-adjusted ones. Like Ben Dorsey, for instance, track star and honors student and way too good to be true. Too good for me, anyway, which was why I'd strayed back to the bad boys again.
But nobody could ever know about that.
"Do what?" Tyler said, even though he knew full well what I meant. He'd heard those words from me before.
"This." I gestured to the tangled sheets and my half-nude body and then to him, the ultimate bad boy with his tattoo and cigarettes and close, personal acquaintance with the entire Oakfield police department.
"This," he repeated, leaning over the bed toward me, his hands sinking into the mattress. I pulled away from him, but not before I caught the warm, smoky scent of his skin. He saw my reaction and laughed, which infuriated and excited me. "You really want to stop this. You want me to leave and never come back. Right?"
We stared each other down. From above, I could hear the faint applause of a live studio audience.
"Right," Tyler said, lowering his face to mine. He kissed me and I let him, even though once had been enough and he was the one in control and my mother was upstairs and awake.
I knew I was supposed to refuse him, to squash this problem once and for all and become the girl most people saw each day—the smiling, confident girl who'd secured a place at the top of the high school food chain. But I could never truly be her, at least not permanently. So I turned off the lamp, wrapped my arms around Tyler's neck, and pulled him closer. I shut my mind to everything else, including the intrusive thoughts of Ben. Ben, who I possibly could have loved if only I was brave enough to love someone like him.
I didn't love Tyler Flynn. I didn't even like him.CHAPTER 2
In the morning I took an extra-long shower, ridding my skin and hair of cigarette smoke and Tyler's scent. Then I got to work on my daily transformation routine.
My hair, otherwise known as the bane of my existence, took the longest to perfect. When I was little it was yellowish-blond and curly, but over the years it had evolved into a pale copper shade and the curl had loosened somewhat. Still, it needed vast amounts of product to tame, especially on damp days.
Next, a layer of foundation to hide the spattering of freckles across the bridge of my nose, and then a few dramatic swipes of black liquid eyeliner that always felt like too much. But heavy eye makeup was the trend and fitting in was imperative.
Lastly, the outfit—jeans and shirt and coat and boots, all the right fit and the right colors and the right labels. Dangly earrings, a few bracelets, a knotted scarf around my neck ... check, check, and check. Costume complete, I was now fit for school.
Mom and I owned one car, a five-year-old Ford Focus that we shared. Maybe shared is the wrong word, since sharing generally means a fairly equal division. Mom took the car to work each day from Monday to Saturday, which meant I couldn't use it to drive to school. She was a massage therapist at a day spa and she usually worked well into the evening. By the time she got home, I was either too tired to go out or already gone. Maybe, if I was lucky and she happened to be too hungover from the night before to get out of bed, I got to use the car on Sunday, her day off.
No car on school days meant either walking in unpredictable weather or the bus. Or in my case, a friend with his own wheels.
Right on schedule, Ben's silver Acura TL pulled up in front of my house. The TL was his newest acquisition, a step up from his last car and utterly impractical for an eighteen-year-old boy, but you could get away with driving lavish cars when your father owned the dealership.
"Hey," Emily said when I slid into the backseat. She handed me a paper to-go cup and I breathed in the familiar scent of nutmeg. A large chai tea latte, my favorite.
"Hi." I leaned over to say good morning to Ben and Kyla, the girl he'd been seeing for the past month and a half. I'd made little headway bonding with her. She was much friendlier to Emily, but only because Emily was Ben's cousin and in no way a threat to her. I wasn't a threat to her, either. Ben treated me the same way he treated Emily—like a blood relative. When he was dating someone, which he almost always was, he didn't even look at other girls, let alone hook up with them. Kyla had nothing to worry about.
"Lexi," Emily said in a scolding tone as I settled back into my seat.
"What?" I knew exactly why she was frowning, but I was majorly talented at playing innocent and it never hurt to try. Suddenly, I was glad the thick stripes of eyeliner made my eyes seem wider and more naive. I blinked at her.
"You promised us you'd stop."
"I did!" For about a week ...
She leaned over to sniff my hair and then drew back, her narrowed eyes steady on my face. "You didn't. You smoked"
I looked away and took a sip of latte. Okay, so I'd smoked a cigarette this morning while reviewing my math. My first one in nine days. I knew how much my friends hated it, and I had promised to stop, but I'd woken up feeling so rattled over last night's first-ever double feature with Tyler that I'd just needed something to calm my nerves. I was sure I'd stood outside long enough to air myself out, but apparently not. I felt doubly guilty. "I'm sorry."
Ben sighed and ran a hand through his short, golden-blond hair. Everything about him was golden, from his hair to his status at school right down to the flecks in his warm hazel eyes. Even after knowing him for two years, his greatness still intimidated me at times. Emily was the same, wholesome and admired and untouchable. Maybe it ran in their family. It was hard work, being worthy of these two.
"Where's the pack?" Ben asked, turning around and giving me a deliberate look, like he already knew I had it on me—which I did.
I'd thought I might be able to sneak another one by the soccer field later.
I extracted the half-full pack of smokes from my bag and passed it up to him. Wordlessly, he stuffed it into his jacket pocket, keeping it safe until he could get to a garbage can. Ben and Emily liked the idea of saving me ... from cancer, from other people, from myself. And I let them, because frankly, I could use some saving.
"I'll quit for good this time," I told my friends, who were both wearing I'm-very-disappointed-in-you looks. Kyla stared straight ahead, sipping her coffee.
Emily opened her mouth to say something but was interrupted by a loud tapping noise. We all jumped and looked toward the driver's side window. My neighbor, Nolan Bruce, stood shivering beside the car, half-frozen water dripping off his jacket sleeves. He must have overslept and missed the bus again. Ben pressed the button to open the window.
"Can I get a ride?" Nolan asked, leaning over to see our faces. "I slept in and missed the bus again."
"Sure," Ben said, barely managing to sound civil. He wasn't done being miffed at me for my relapse. The annoyed set of his mouth grew even more pronounced when Nolan climbed in and tossed his soaking wet backpack against the back of Ben's seat.
I shot Nolan a look. He knew Ben was particular about his car, but that never stopped him from testing boundaries.
"Oops." Nolan made a big show of stowing his backpack on the floor and wiping at the wet leather with his equally wet sleeve. "There, good as new."
Excerpted from Faking Perfect by Rebecca Phillips. Copyright © 2015 Rebecca Phillips. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
Edgy and honest, Faking Perfect is the real thing. --Huntley Fitzpatrick
Poignant, edgy, and real, Faking Perfect is an honest look at the courage and strength it can often take simply to be yourself. --Julianna Scott, author of The Holders