Ramona fell for Sam the moment she met him. It was like she had known him forever. He's one of the few constants in her life, and their friendship is just too important to risk for a kiss. Though she really wants to kiss him...
Sam loves Ramona, but he would never expect her to feel the same way-she's too quirky and cool for someone like him. Still, they complement each other perfectly, both as best friends and as a band.
Then they meet Tom. Tom makes music too, and he's the band's missing piece. The three quickly become inseparable. Except Ramona's falling in love with Tom. But she hasn't fallen out of love with Sam either. How can she be true to her feelings without breaking up the band?
"Educators and librarians looking for fast-moving, interesting plots, in-depth characters, and meaningful themes need to add this one to their shelves."-VOYA praise for If He Had Been with Me
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Have you ever met someone and you could feel that they were going to be important to you? It's like you never knew it, but you've been waiting your whole life to meet this person, and you recognize him with the same ease that you recognize your reflection.
That happened to me once.
• • •
When Sam told me his name, I laughed. It was like I should have already known. It was like he was already my Sam.
"Sorry," I said. "I'm not laughing at you."
"What are you laughing at?" he asked. We were standing on the stairwell outside the music department. Some guy knocked into his shoulder, but Sam didn't react. When Sam is interested in something, it's like the whole rest of the world has ceased to exist.
"It's just, I feel like I should have already known that. You look like a Sam. Does that make sense?" I asked.
"No," Sam said, and he gave me my first crooked smile. We were both freshmen, and it was the first day of school.
"I'm Ramona," I said.
"That makes sense," he said.
• • •
"I said that?" Sam asks. He frowns at his guitar. He's replacing the B string, so I only have about one-eighth of his attention right now.
"Yeah, it was like we already knew each other's names or something." And then quieter, 'cause I'm not sure if I want him to hear or not, "Or felt each other's names."
Sam continues to frown at his guitar. I drum an impatient six-eighths beat on the garage floor. "Hurry up," I say. "Nanami is waiting for us."
Nanami is our band's biggest and only fan. Whenever we post a new video on our web page, she comments immediately the next day. Someday when April and the Rain is super famous, we're going to go to Japan on tour and meet her in person-and she will be thrilled.
I move my drumming off the floor and onto Sam's sneaker. He doesn't react.
"So, are we skipping band practice tomorrow?" I ask.
"Why would we?" He finally looks up at me, and when I see his eyes, I feel the familiar flutter in my chest. Sam has brown, sleepy eyes fringed with long, black lashes.
"'Cause we're going to Artibus tomorrow! Did you forget?"
"No," Sam says. "But I don't see why we should skip practice. If anything, it should make us want to practice more."
For years Sam and I have dreamed of escaping Saint Joseph's Prep for the campus of Artibus College of Music and Arts. In case you don't know, high school sucks. Our high school especially, because it's full of rich kids-and the only thing worse than a poseur is a poseur with money. Sam and I don't hang out much with anybody else.
We're finally about to start our senior year. Summer is almost over, but first we have the admission evaluation tomorrow. School will start, and before we know it, we'll be applying for admission over winter break. The end is in sight.
"Almost done," he says.
I speed up my drumming on his foot.
"Ow! Okay, I'm done! Jeez, woman."
"You know you love me," I say.
"Yeah, yeah," he says, but he gives me that crooked smile, and I know it's true. I just wish it were a different sort of love.
• • •
It only took two days of being friends with Sam for us to start our band. In a month, he was the best friend I'd ever had. After a month and a half, I knew I was crushing on him hard, but I figured I'd get over it. I wasn't going to put the band at risk just because I was having girlie feelings.
By the time April and the Rain was a year old, I had to admit that I was in love with Sam. We were sophomores, we'd put up our website, and we'd told our asinine classmates a hundred times that no, we weren't dating.
Up in Sam's room, we post this week's video. Yesterday Sam came up with a killer riff, and today we played it in a bunch of different tempos, so I got to do some pretty cool tricks on my kit. Nanami is gonna love it.
"We need to keep practicing this one," Sam says. "I wish we had just one more person to fill it out, maybe do a little vocal work." Sam is always saying this, but I don't think that lightning will strike us again. We were lucky enough to find each other.