Jenny meets Chance for the very first time when she is assigned as his partner in their Junior Oral Communications class. But after they rescue a doomed assignment with one clever lie, the whole school is suddenly convinced that Little-Miss-Really-Likes-Having-A’s and the most scandalous heartbreaker in school have been best friends forever. It’s amazing how quickly a lie can growespecially when you really, really want it to be the truth.
With Jenny, Chance can live the normal life he’s always kind of wanted. And with Chance, Jenny can have the exciting teen experiences that TV shows and movies have always promised. Through it all, they hold on to the fact that they are “just friends.” But that might be the biggest lie of all.
Debut author Tiffany Pitcock delivers a spot-on depiction of first love and the high school rumor mill in Just Friends, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads.
Praise for Just Friends:
"Hits the right notes. . . . a solid, mostly lighthearted offering for fans of the genre." School Library Journal
"The dialogue was snappy, witty, and most importantly, believable." C. Thomas, reader on SwoonReads.com
"This book had me feeling every single emotion and I just could not get it enough of it! I wanted more, and more, AND MORE!!" Twila James, reader on SwoonReads.com
|Publisher:||Feiwel & Friends|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The classroom door swung open.
Every head in the class turned to see a boy with messy blond hair walk in. He gave a nod to his classmates before handing Mrs. Tanner, the slender Oral Communications teacher, a slip of paper.
"Late on the first day, Mister" — she looked closer at the slip in her hand — "Masters?"
"Car trouble, ma'am," he assured her.
She shook her head disapprovingly. "Don't make a habit of this."
"Wouldn't dream of it." He winked before heading to the only open seat in the room.
He collapsed into the seat next to Jenny Wessler. Jenny glanced at him out of the corner of her eye as she chewed the end of her pen. She knew who the boy was, of course. He was the one and only Chance Masters. He'd spent his high school career carving out the most scandalous reputation he could.
"Anyway," Mrs. Tanner called the class to order. "As I was about to say, for your first assignment you will each interview the person next to you, and then perform a dialogue together about your summer vacations for the class. Any questions?"
"Um, yeah." Kelsey Molar, a perky blond, raised her hand. "Can we switch partners?" She looked at her partner, Danny Jennings, with disdain while Danny just continued to slumber in his seat.
"No, sorry, Kelsey, but I pick partners in my class. It's the first day of your junior year. It's one of your last chances to meet new classmates," Mrs. Tanner explained. "Could you wake Danny, please?"
Kelsey prodded Danny awake with her pencil, then glanced over at Jenny.
Jenny met her eyes, shrugged, and mouthed, "I wanted to be your partner."
Jenny watched as Kelsey gave a weak smile and turned to start the project. I better start, too, she thought as she looked to Chance. He sat slouched in his desk, his blond hair tousled just so and his brown eyes shining wickedly. He flashed what could only be called a smirk and said, "Ready to go, partner?" in a voice that could convince even the most grounded girl to run away with him.
Luckily, Jenny had no time for him. "Look," she began in her no-nonsense voice, "I really, really like having all A's, so no playing around. You have to take this seriously. I want to start the semester off right."
"Well, you're no fun. I bet you're the type who excitedly packs her backpack the night before the first day because you just can't wait for school to start." He sat up and produced a notebook. "Let's get this over with, then, Little Miss Really-Likes-Having-A's."
"I am not ..." she hedged, blushing slightly. The truth was, of course, that she was exactly that type of person. She tried to hide her blush by looking over at Margaret Lester, who — with every perfect hair in place — was interviewing the brainless Max Gregs.
"Ah." Chance followed her line of sight. "Margaret Lester. She's not quite the perfect angel everyone seems to think," he said matter-of-factly.
"How would you know?" Jenny turned back to him. "She only moved here at the end of last year."
"Because we went out," he said with a shrug. "We met at a party, and one thing led to another...." He trailed off. "You might want to write this down, since the interview is over something we did during the summer."
"I can't get up there and tell the class how you hooked up with Margaret."
"Seriously?" She looked skeptical. He was a gross pig, just like everyone said.
"Okay, I see your point." He scratched his chin. "Well, I also broke into an abandoned gas station with my cousins, and then we went skinny-dipping with some girls they knew, but I'm betting you won't say that, either."
"No." Jenny set down her pen. "Did you do anything school appropriate?"
"Um, let's see." He pretended to look thoughtful for a moment.
"Of course not." Jenny was feeling a little uncomfortable with him. She'd heard that he got around, but she didn't expect it to be true. She also couldn't help but think of her own pathetic summer; she'd locked herself in her room and read the entire time.
"Let me guess: You did nothing fun?" He raised one eyebrow.
"I've always wanted to do that," she blurted out.
"What?" He looked taken aback by her bluntness. "Have fun?"
"No, raise one eyebrow," she explained, feeling lame.
He just nodded and went to sketching on a blank page in his notebook. Jenny bit her bottom lip and looked around the room; everyone else was well under way with their interviews. Mrs. Tanner sat at her computer, playing solitaire. Jenny glanced back to Chance as he absentmindedly doodled. "Chance?" she asked.
"Yeah?" He looked up, his eyes surprisingly sweet.
"How many girls have you slept with?" The question sprang from her lips before she could contain it. She quickly looked away from him and blushed. How could I be so stupid? she thought. You can't go around asking people those things!
He let out an amused chuckle and said, "That's none of your business, Little Miss Really-Likes-Having-As."
"Sorry." She fidgeted with her pen.
"Do you always wear your hair in a ponytail?" he asked. He gestured to the tangled mess of brown hair she had shoved back in an elastic band.
"Yeah, it's a bitch to straighten," she admitted.
His eyes lit up. "Aha, so you're not perfect. Now we're getting somewhere."
"I never said that I was perfect," she mumbled, feeling insecure. "I just try to be."
"Yeah, you do seem like the type who is desperate for approval." He returned to his doodle.
Anger flared as Jenny snapped: "Hey, you don't know anything about me. Don't pretend to."
A lazy smile formed at Chance's lips as he looked up at her through his blond bangs. "Relax, Little Miss Really-Likes-Having-As. I know nothing of your life and I'm okay with that." He flipped to a clean page in his notebook and started writing frantically. "You did give me an idea, though, so maybe you're good for something."
Jenny stared at him in confusion. "What idea? What are you writing? We don't have time —"
"Relax," he said again. "I've got this covered, seriously. When she calls on us, just work off of me and we're golden."
Jenny glanced around the room at all the other partners huddled close together, writing out scripts for their dialogues — and then back to Chance. Was Chance Masters really asking her to trust him? Doubt clouded her mind as she tried to sneak a peek at his chicken scratch.
"You look like you're having an episode," Chance informed her. He reached out and pushed at the corners of her mouth, forcing them up. "At least look like you enjoy my company. I kind of have a reputation to uphold. Girls love me."
"Oh, trust me, I'm aware." She jerked away, trying not to let it show how much his touch affected her. Her heart pounded in her throat as she watched Mrs. Tanner work her way back to the front of the classroom. "Chance, she's going to call time, and we're not ready."
"Yes, we are," he informed her, closing his notebook. "We're ready and we're going to have the best dialogue."
"We don't have a script," she reminded him in a frantic whisper.
"Yes, we do." He smirked.
A nervous sweat began to form on her neck and back. "Then would you kindly fill me in?"
"It'll work better this way," he assured her as Mrs. Tanner called the class to order. "Besides, it was your idea."
"What was?" Jenny asked again, frantic.
"Pretending to know you," he whispered back.
Before Jenny could reply, Mrs. Tanner called up the first group: Kelsey and Danny. They had a snooze-worthy discussion about Kelsey's trip to Colorado and Danny's quest to sleep for seventy-five hours straight. All through it, Jenny kept throwing worried glances at Chance, but he seemed as calm and collected as ever. Finally, after five more groups, Mrs. Tanner called on them.
Chance sauntered to the front of the classroom, causing all the girls to pay attention. Jenny meekly followed him, cold sweat drenching her hands. She glanced from Chance to Mrs. Tanner and back again, waiting for this whole thing to blow up in his face. Chance shot her a wicked grin, cleared his throat, and began.
"Well, it was actually pretty fortunate that Jenny was picked as my partner," he told the class. "We spent most of summer break together, since our families are pretty close."
Jenny tried to control her expression, but she was sure the confusion in her eyes gave them away. She didn't know where he was going with this. Mrs. Tanner was nodding approvingly, while the rest of the class looked between Chance and Jenny, trying to figure out how such a friendship was possible.
"You see, Jenny came over the second day of vacation and helped my brother and me decorate for our annual summer cookout, like she does every year." The class nodded, as if this was old information. They were actually buying it.
"Yeah," Jenny jumped in, trying to go with the flow. "I got there at, like, eight in the morning and no one was up. I had to bang on the door for at least ten minutes."
"Well, we like to sleep." Chance grinned, happy that she was playing along.
"You told me to get there at eight," Jenny tossed back, surprised at how easy it was.
"By 'eight' I mean, like, 'twelve.' You should know this already." He turned back to face the class. "Anyway, after barging into our home at an ungodly time, Jenny and I spent the next few hours attempting to put up those tiki-torch lantern things."
"Which is not the easiest task when Chance's brother keeps blowing them out." Jenny sighed, enjoying herself. "We eventually gave up and just went with tiny American flags. It's more traditional anyway."
"After that, we fought over who would light the grill. It's usually me —"
"Actually, we're supposed to take turns," she reminded him.
"I did it the last two years in a row." He crossed his arms, a playful spark in his brown eyes. "Obviously you just don't remember it right."
"Oh please." She tilted her head and smirked. "I got sick two years ago, remember? Your mother accidentally put expired eggs in the cookies and I spent the whole day throwing up. You stole the grill from me my year."
"Whatever, it's my house and my grill." He turned back to the class. "We were fighting over who got to do it, and suddenly —"
"The lighter broke when Chance tried to tug it out of my hands," Jenny finished. "He tends to break a lot of things."
"I broke your Barbie sunglasses when we were seven. Get over it, Wessler."
"You ran them over with your bike, Masters."
"Well, you shouldn't have left them in my driveway," he said, as if that solved everything.
"Anyway, back to the story," Jenny continued, loving the way the class seemed intrigued. She couldn't believe they were actually buying it. "We ended up getting banned from the house while decorating continued."
"We went to Jenny's house instead." Chance took it from her. "We ended up just spending most of our time there, honestly."
"Well, I was kind of trying to cook things for the party." Jenny sighed again. "You just came with me to annoy me and eat my food."
"Not to annoy," Chance corrected. "To relieve you from boredom."
"Either way you word it, a distraction is still a distraction."
Before Jenny could pick the story back up, Mrs. Tanner called time. The class clapped as they had to after every dialogue, and the two made it back to their desks. The rest of the partners went up and spoke, but Jenny didn't pay them any mind. Her thoughts were all on Chance and how easy it was to get up there and play make-believe with him. Hell, she half believed their lie herself.
She looked over to find Chance looking back at her. He smiled his boyish grin and gave a thumbs-up. She returned the gesture and the grin before giving her attention back to the speakers. After everyone was done and Mrs. Tanner congratulated the class for their hard work, the bell rang, signaling lunch.
Kelsey came up as Jenny was shoving her books into her backpack. With a cautious look at Chance, Kelsey whispered, "I didn't know you and Chance knew each other."
"Oh, yeah." Jenny smiled, keeping up the charade. "We used to live next to each other when we were little."
"Now that you mention it, I think I used to see him around once or twice." Kelsey nodded eagerly, her blond curls bouncing around her face. "You must've mentioned him at some point."
From the corner of her eye, Jenny saw Chance looking at them. She smiled and continued packing. "Totally."
"Well, I'm going," Kelsey said, sensing that Jenny didn't want her there. As soon as the bubbly blond left, Jenny turned to look at Chance. A smirk formed at her lips.
"Well, I apologize for freaking out," she said. The boy leaned against the edge of his desk and smiled, encouraging her to continue. "Obviously, you were able to handle things. I should've just relaxed."
He shook some hair out of his face and laughed. "Thanks, Little Miss Really-Likes-Having-As. Coming from a model student like you, that means something."
"Don't push it, Masters," she threatened, pointing a finger.
He reached out, grabbed her accusing hand, and shook it, smiling what she was beginning to think was his signature smile. "Jenny Wessler, this is clearly the start to a beautiful friendship."
"And that is an overused line." But she smiled back anyway.
Chance slung his backpack over his shoulder before offering her his arm. "Wessler?"
Is this still part of the game? she wondered. After a moment's hesitation, she laced her elbow through his arm, blushing slightly. "I'm going to regret this one day, aren't I?"
"Fat chance," he scoffed. "Apparently, you've had years to get away from me."
A knot twisted in the pit of her stomach, excitement welling up in her. "I guess I haven't learned my lesson yet."
THE WALK TO lunch was awkward. Jenny very seldom walked down the hallway with anybody, let alone arm-in-arm with Chance-freaking-Masters. People, it serves to say, were taking notice. Jenny could feel the eyes on her and Chance and hear the whispers. "So ..." she began. "This is new."
"You're terrible at conversation," Chance said as they turned into the cafeteria. It was a big room, with rows and rows of round gray tables and gray folding chairs around them. Two long lines wrapped around the walls, people in line for either choice A or B for their lunch. Chance and Jenny sidestepped through the throngs of people, seeking out a table. Jenny typically preferred to sit in the back, by the stage area. It was quieter there and people generally left her alone. She knew from observation, however, that Chance liked to be in the middle of things. He usually sat in the center of the caf, at the same table as all the other outgoing kids. Sure enough, he was leading her there now. Jenny could already make out Leslie Vandercamp, a petite redhead who could barely sit straight under the weight of the twenty or so statement necklaces she had piled on. Leslie was sitting by her best friend, Emelia Vargas, a nice and stunningly beautiful blond. They were both talking vehemently to Drake Sellers.
"You don't mind, do you?" Chance asked, gesturing to his table. He must've sensed her unease.
Jenny thought about it for a moment. How many chances did a girl get to sit at the so-called popular table, escorted arm-in-arm by a hot guy? Not many. At least, not as many times as teen movies had led her to believe. If life were a teen movie, then this would've been just another Tuesday.
Jenny often ran into these moments in her life. She called them Robert Frost moments. Two choices were presented to her: one that would change everything and one that would keep everything the same. Obviously, her gut instinct was to keep everything the same — to never step outside her comfort zone. As soon as she figured out which choice that was, she knew she had to take the other one. Always take the road less traveled.
Chance was the road less traveled.
So she put on a smile, tightened her grip, and said "Not at all," before dragging Chance to his own table.
Lunch had just begun, so the table wasn't full yet. There were still a few scattered empty seats, and Jenny chose the only two that were side by side. She plopped herself down, unafraid, pulling Chance down next to her.
A sharp voice brought her back to her senses. "Is this your new girlfriend, Chance?"
She whipped her head around, realizing it was Leslie who had asked the question. "Oh, it's not like that."
Everyone at the table burst out laughing, causing Jenny to bristle. "It's not," she asserted. She turned to the blond boy next to her, looking for affirmation. "Right, Chance?"
Chance, looking annoyed at the laughter, nodded vigorously. "That's right. Jenny here is my oldest friend, not my girlfriend. I'm sure I've mentioned it."
Excerpted from "Just Friends"
Copyright © 2017 Tiffany Pitcock.
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.
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