Enjoy This Free Excerpt From KND Romance of the Week from Jillian Dodd’s That Boy – 4.6 stars and over 80 Rave Reviews – Laugh, cry & fall in love with That Boy

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That Boy

by Jillian Dodd

4.6 stars – 91 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
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Here’s the set-up:

There’s Danny. Danny is a golden boy in every way. He has dreamy blue eyes and blonde hair that always looks perfect, even when it’s windblown or been stuck under a football helmet. He’s the boy every girl crushes on. The boy I get into trouble with, the boy I fight with, the hot quarterback no girl can resist, not even me. Being with Danny is like being on an adventure. He has a bright, contagious smile and abs to die for. He’s pretty much irresistible.

Equally crush worthy is Phillip. Adorable, sweet Phillip, who I have known since birth.  Phillip has dark hair, a perfect smile, brown eyes, and the sexiest voice I have ever heard. He’s the boy I talk to every night before I go to sleep. The boy who rescues me, the boy who can read my mind, the boy who is always there for me, the boy who tries to keep me out of trouble, the boy who irritatingly keeps getting hotter, and whose strong arms always seem to find their way around me.  And when he gives me that grin, I can never say no.

One boy will give me my very first kiss.
One boy will teach me to make out.
One boy will take me to prom.
And finally, one boy will ask me to marry him.
They will both be my best friends.
But only one of them will be the boy I fall in love with.
Only one of them is That Boy.

And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:

that boy

By Jillian Dodd

Copyright 2011 by Jillian Dodd

All rights reserved.

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Bandit Publishing

Flower Mound, Texas

Cover and Book Illustrations by Jillian Dodd

To my bandit, my angel, and my very own prince charming,

your support means the world to me.

“Do any human beings ever realize life, while they live it – every, every minute?”

Elizabeth, Our Town

“You arrogant son of a bitch,” I say.

Well, maybe I growl it. It’s hard to say for certain. But I can tell you this. I am fuming, smoke flying out of my ears, mad as I take the engagement ring off my finger, shove it into his hand and march toward the stage. The march to the stage feels like it takes forever, because there are a million thoughts running through my mind.

Did all these people come here because they really thought I’d say yes?

Or did they come for the fireworks of me saying no?

Do they wish us well?

Or hope to see us fail?

I reach the stage and tentatively walk out on it. One of the band members hands me a microphone, and I know I really need to say something to all these people.

I may die of embarrassment.

Actually, I wish it were possible to die of embarrassment, then I could drop dead right now, and I wouldn’t have to do what I am about to do.

Part of me wonders how in the world I got here to begin with.

We have been friends for a really long time and, all of a week ago, decided to have a real relationship.

And well, it has been really incredible.

I mean, he is incredible in ways I hadn’t even imagined!

Okay, so I might have imagined a little.

Anyway, as of about six minutes ago, we were out on a romantic first date.

Then he had to go and blow the whole thing all to hell by asking me tomarryhim.

Can you believe that?

Me neither.

And if it isn’t unbelievable enough that he asked me to marry himon our first date, he was so damned sureI’d say yes, he planned this huge, surprise engagement party.

Tonight. On our first date. Like, right now!

I shudder and mentally prepare myself for what I am about to do.

I have to tell everyone who came here tonight that there is NO WAY I’m going to marry that boy!

Before I say the words, I glance at him, and my mind is transported back to the memory of my first kiss.

It’s where this all began, really.

Phillip was the first boy to ever kiss me. We were swinging sideways on the swings out behind school, when out of the blue, he reached over, grabbed my swing, and kissed me right on the lips. Then he jumped off his swing and ran home. It was one of those perfect sunny afternoons, when school was almost out for the summer. I thought it was the best day of my life.

I was in love.

Phillip must have told someone what he did, because today at school everyone was singing.

Phillip and JJ sitting in a tree, K I S S I N G…

I can’t take it.

I’m being tortured.

Today is the worstest day of my life!

It is such a letdown because yesterday was a GREAT day. I got my first kiss from a boy!

I know it was just Phillip, but still, I was very surprised.

And I was so excited to come to school today, until I got here, and everyone started torturing me with those stupid, stupid songs. Even my friend, Lisa, is singing them.

That traitor.

And very quickly, I went from loving that boy to hating him.

At least that’s what I had to tell all my friends, so they would stop singing those ridiculous songs.

Phillip must have started a trend because later that day, Joey kissed Katie and everyone forgot about Phillip and me.

They had someone new to torture endlessly.

I noticed that Phillip didn’t tease Joey and Katie.

Neither did I.

Phillip Mackenzie lives across the street from me. We have been friends forever.

I mean it. Since birth.

Our dads are fraternity brothers and best friends. Phillip is five months older than me, and our parents think it is just hilarious to show embarrassing photos of us together as babies.

And we are NAKED!

It’s just so gross. I can’t even describe it! Phillip and I want to hide, and usually do, whenever they get out those stupid baby books.

Our parents hope that Phillip and I will get married when we grow up. I totally laugh at that. I have told them so many times that I can’t marry Phillip, because I’m marrying a prince.

I blame my obsession on wanting to marry a prince on Disney and Phillip’s sister, Ashley. Ever since I can remember, our parents have been getting together to play cards on Friday nights. We have pizza, which I love, and I get to play with Phillip. Unfortunately, that also means I have to play with Ashley. Ashley is four years older than Phillip and me and a pain in the rear. (I would say butt, except I’m not supposed to say that b word.)

Speaking of b words, Ashley is very bossy. And she’s always played the Queen. Which means she gave me the choice of being either her servant or her daughter, and who in their right mind would sign up to be her servant?

I told you how bossy she is. It would’ve been unbearable!

So I’ve always played the princess.

Important Things I have learned in my life so far:

  1. Always be the princess. Princesses have much more fun and not so much responsibility. Plus you get to marry the prince.

2. Never be the queen. Queens are old and bossy and sometimes even evil. (Remember Snow White?) Queens think they are in charge of everything. Queens are responsible.

3. Responsibility makes you crabby and no fun.

  1. When you have the choice, play with a boy. Boys are easy to get along with. They don’t care if your clothes match, or if your hair is a mess. Boys don’t talk behind your back or make up stories about you to try to hurt your feelings. They are too busy playing sports or video games.

  2. Always trust your Daddy. Daddies are incredibly smart and handsome, and they always smell very good.

  3. Never kiss and tell. You will get tortured by people who you thought were your friends.

7. Never, ever, ever trust Mary Beth Parker.Even if she says she is your best friend.

Last week, Mary Beth Parker told me I could be her best friend. She got me to play with her on the playground and Lisa, who is my best friend, got mad at me. The very next day, Mary Beth Parker told everyone not to play with me.

I didn’t do anything to her. That’s just how she is.

She is very mean.

Phillip was the only person who played with me. He didn’t care what that bossy girl said. He acted like a prince that day.

I told him so and ever since, when it’s just us, he calls me Princess.

And he’s the ONLY person I’d let get away with it!

TODAY IS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE.

Really it is!

A new family has moved into our neighborhood, across the empty lot from my house, and across the street from Phillip’s house.

This is most unfortunate.

The parents seem like nice, decent people, but unfortunately they had to bring their stupid, stinky son with them. Why couldn’t they have forgotten to bring him with, or left him on the side of the road somewhere in Missouri? Maybe someone would’ve taken him home, like a lost kitty.

That way, he could’ve ruined SOMEONE ELSE’S life.

Phillip and I have so much fun playing together. We play lots of sports, games, and fun stuff that I make up. Usually, we play some version of the handsome prince coming to rescue the beautiful, royal princess. But it’s not like it’s all girly. Phillip gets to do some really cool boy stuff, like fighting a dragon with a sword, dueling with an evil warlock, climbing the tower. We even play Olympics and have all sorts of sports competitions.

But since that nasty, smelly boy next door came here, Phillip acts like the only fun thing to do is to play with him. Phillip and I are both real good at sports. It’s not like I can’t keep up with him! Honestly, I’m bigger than he is and can actually beat him at almost everything. Except for a flat out running race, he is a bit faster than me.

I’m always the first girl picked when we split into teams at school, but somehow, this evil boy has convinced Phillip that he shouldn’t play with girls.

Today, Phillip and I are minding our own business, playing in the empty lot between Danny’s house and mine.

Did I mention his name?

Danny. Danny Diamond.

Devil Danny is more like it.

I wonder if his parents know how truly awful he is?

Poor people. They really should consider giving that boy up for adoption.

Oh, I hate that boy!

He makes me sooooo mad!!!!!

Anyway, Phillip and I are playing a nice game of Four Squares, which ALL the boys at school like to play, when HE comes walking over.

He thinks HE is SO COOL!

The first day he moved here, he told me how he’s a great quarterback.

I told him to stop bragging. It’s not nice.

But he went, I’m not bragging, I’m just confident in my skills.

Whatever.

I figured the kids at school would hate him, because no one likes a bragger, right? Right?

Wrong!

Because of his bragging, his so called skills, and the way he looks, all the girls at school are in love with him. I mean he does have nice blonde hair that always looks like he just combed it, even when he’s out in the wind. And all the girls have been going on and on about his dreamy blue eyes and his cool attitude.

Personally, I think they’re just bored with the boys we’ve grown up with and would like anyone new.

Although I have to admit, the first time I saw him, I thought he was really cute too.

But that was WAY before I knew him.

He interrupts our game by saying, “Four Squares is a dumb girl game. Wanna play football, Phil?”

It’s not PHIL, you idiot! It’s Phillip. No one calls him that. I’m sure that my Prince Phillip will not let him talk about our game, or me, like that. So I wait for his reply.

“Sounds fun,” Phillip says, “I’ll go grab a football.”

And off he runs.

No bye, Princess.

Nothing.

Has Devil Danny used some kind of evil brain washing on Phillip?

Can he control people’s minds?

Will he suck out Phillip’s soul?

I am so mad that I could scream! But instead, I try to get along and say, “That’s okay, football sounds fun too.”

Danny glares at me, like I’m a piece of poop that he just stepped in. “Girls can’t play football. Why don’t you go home and play with your dolls or something?”

Well that was about all I could take from that boy.

“Danny, you are a stupid, ugly, smelly boy.”

I am so mad at him, but then something terrible happens! As I’m yelling at him, tears start coming out of my eyes. Why is that? I’m not SAD. I’m boiling hot, furiously MAD!

MAD. MAD. MAD. MAD!!!

I continue to yell at him anyway. “And I wish you would just go back to Missouri and DIE!”

What I say doesn’t seem to upset him in any way. He just looks at me with disgust and says, “Girls are such crybabies.”

I turn and run home.

Fast.

I slam the back door, run up the stairs, and slam the door to my room. I throw myself across my bed and cry. Then I move to my window seat, so I can look out the window at those stupid boys playing football, while I cry.

Why do I cry when I get mad?

Maybe he’s right. Maybe I am just a crybaby.

Maybe I will just give up and let him steal my best friend from me.

NO WAY.

Never, I think and dry my eyes on my shirt.

Just then, Daddy walks in. I’m sure he heard the doors slamming and is coming to yell at me. He hates it when I slam doors.

I try to hide my crybaby eyes from him.

He looks at me, out the window at the boys, then sits down next to me, and wraps me in a great big hug.

How come a boy can be so stupid, but a Daddy, who actually used to be a BOY himself, can be so wonderful?

“Three’s a crowd, huh?” he asks, nodding out toward the boys.

And smart too!

“Yeah,” I sniffle, “Danny says girls can’t play football. He said I should go play with my dolls. I don’t even play with dolls anymore.”

At least not very often.

“I was so mad at him, Daddy. I tried to tell him how mean and stupid I think he is, but then I started crying, so he called me a crybaby. I swear, Dad, I wasn’t sad, I was MAD. I don’t know how he made me cry. It’s a big mystery to me! Plus, he’s trying to steal my bestest friend in the whole world.”

“Well,” Daddy says, rubbing the stubbly stuff on his chin and thinking.

I love it when he does that. He has the most brilliant ideas!

“I know,” I say, interrupting him, “how ‘bout you go over there and give him a good old fashioned ass whooping?”

Daddy laughs. He knows I have heard Grandpa say the same thing about me.

“Please don’t use bad words like that, okay?”

“Okay.” I reply sheepishly, “But I think it would be a very good idea.”

“I don’t think I could do that, Angel,” he smiles, pauses, and strokes the stubbles some more, “but that doesn’t mean you can’t.”

“You want me to go and beat up Danny?” I’m very surprised at that man.

“No, you silly goose,” he says, ruffling my hair, “but you are very good at sports, and you especially love football. Teach him a lesson. Show him that girls CAN play anything they want. Beat him at his own game. I think it would be good for Danny to lose to a girl.”

He gives me another big hug and walks toward my door.

Then he turns around, grabs my doorway, and says, “You know, it’s okay to have more than ONE best friend.”

Well his advice on boys might be good, but evidently he’s forgotten the Laws of Fifth Grade.

You CAN only have one best friend.

That’s okay though; his memory is probably going bad because he’s getting so old. He is thirty-eight after all.

I hug my knees and watch the boys for a few more minutes, while I get my courage up. I’m gonna show that boy that anything boys can do, girls can do better.

My friend Lisa likes to sing, Girls go to college, to get more knowledge. Boys go to Jupiter, to get more stupider.

I don’t know where she comes up with these funny things, but I love it that she does. Usually they are so good!

In this case though, Danny’s gonna get more knowledge. And I am about to school him. I get up and look in my mirror. Daddy always tells me I am beautiful, but I’m not sure I believe him. Isn’t it required that dads tell their daughters that? Anyway, all I see in the mirror staring back at me is a girl who is way too tall, way too skinny, has gross knobby knees, and some really stupid freckles on her nose.

I look some more.

Well, I suppose my blues eyes are okay, and I do actually like the color of my long blonde hair, but I just can’t see beautiful.

Oh well. I’m going to teach that boy a lesson, and I should definitely look as much like a girl as I can, when I do it. So I take out my ponytail and brush my hair until it shines. Then I put on some Lip Smackers lip-gloss. Lisa gave me this gloss.

She says glossing is as important as flossing. I think my dentist might disagree with that, but gloss does make your lips look kind of pretty.

I run outside and walk right up to those stupid boys. I ignore Danny and say to Phillip, “I want to play football with you guys, okay?”

Phillip shrugs his shoulders. “Sure, I’ll go out for a pass and you can guard me.”

Danny steps between us and says to Phillip, “No way. She’ll just end up getting hurt and go bawling home.” He glares at me. “Girls aren’t tough enough to play football.”

I look that Devil Boy in the eye.

Dad told me to teach him a lesson by playing football, but I can see now what I have to do. I cock my arm back and punch that boy right in the stomach. Then I move in closer and give him a jab to the face. He falls onto his butt in the grass.

What can I say? My Dad and I watch a lot of boxing.

The corner of his lip is bleeding a bit, and he is lying on the grass looking up at me with a shocked look on his face. I expect him to go home and cry to his mommy.

But he surprises me. He wipes his mouth on his shirt and looks at me with new respect.

He is nodding his head slowly up and down at me.

It’s like his brain is transparent, and I can literally see the light bulb going off inside it.

Boys are so clueless.

Finally he says, “You know what? You just might be tough enough to play football.”

I have to say that I think we both learned a lesson today.

He learned that all girls aren’t prissy wimps, and I learned that he just might not be the Devil after all.

The THREE of us have been best friends ever since.

Tonight is Lisa’s fourteenth Birthday Party.

We have been planning it for months, actually for years.

I think we started planning for her first boy/girl birthday party in fourth grade, but this is the first time her parents finally agreed to let her have one.

This is the third one that I’ve been to.

Boy/girl parties that is.

The first one was a little boring, everyone was too scared to do anything fun.

But at the last one, things got a little more interesting. We played Spin the Bottle and Seven Minutes in Heaven. I got stuck in the closet with Andrew Martin.

Gross.

I wouldn’t let him get near enough to breathe on me, let alone anything else!

I’m hoping at this party, I will end up in the closet with Billy Prescott. He is way cute.

Lisa assures me that she has the drawing, of one boy and one girl’s name out of a hat, all rigged in my favor.

She lies.

I end up in the closet with Neil.

Right before we have to go in the closet, Neil runs over and breaks up with Mary Beth Parker.

Tacky. Very tacky.

Phillip told me that Neil has a crush on me. I let him kiss me, mostly because I haven’t liked Mary Beth Parker since fourth grade, when she told everyone not to play with me.

When we came out, Neil had a huge grin on his face.

That’s when things got all dramatic.

Mary Beth was very mad at me.

She was all huffy and saying bad things about me.

Of course, she changed her tune as soon as she got sent into the closet with Phillip.

Then she thought she was my new best friend.

God, I hope he didn’t kiss her!

Later on, I had to play spin the bottle.

Yes, I had to.

Lisa made me.

She said I would ruin her party if I didn’t.

I didn’t need that hanging over my head, so I agreed to play.

See. Had to.

Plus, since there were only seven kids left at the party, one of them being Billy Prescott, I figured the odds were in my favor that I still might get to kiss him.

Lisa turns off the light and puts down a bottle. Everyone gets positioned on the floor in a circle.

Neil is trying to strategically place himself across from me.

We go through four spins of the bottle, without it landing on me.

Boohoo!

Then it’s Phillip’s turn. He spins, and the neck of the bottle points directly between Mary Beth Parker and Me!

I kid you not.

Mary Beth looks all excited.

I feel sorry for the poor guy. It’s like he has to choose between Heaven and Hell. And Hell (Mary Beth) will get really mad and make your life miserable if you don’t pick her.

Phillip looks at her and then at me. Then he takes the neck of the bottle and moves it, so it points straight at me.

Really!

Both Neil and Mary Beth are looking pissed at Phillip, but he doesn’t seem to care.

He grins, then crooks his index finger at me, motioning for me to come and get him.

I was going to shake my head no, but his grin gets me every time. I can’t resist him, plus I kinda want to kiss him. So I crawl across the center of the circle. It’s like his eyes are the light at the end of a tunnel, and all I can see is him.

I’m still not sure what happened, what Phillip did, or how he did it so fast. But next thing I know, I am lying on my back across the center of the circle, with Phillip lying on TOP of me, kissing me.

The boys are hooting and hollering, but it barely registers because Phillip keeps kissing me. I’m having a hard time processing anything other than, Phillip is a really good kisser, and he is LAYING on TOP of me.

Around us, everyone gasps and jumps up.

I think this is exactly what Phillip hoped would happen.

I am slightly dazed though, so I can’t be sure.

Once everyone scatters, he stops kissing me, pulls me up onto my feet, and flashes me that adorable grin.

And I can’t help but fall a little in love with him.

“So are you secretly in love with me, or were you just trying to break up the game so you wouldn’t have to kiss Mary Beth,” I whisper.

“Oh, I am definitely in love with you,” he replies, with a big smile on his face, as he sees Mary Beth storming out of the party.

“Liar,” I say.

Every summer, Phillip’s dad sets up a tent in their back yard. But it’s so hot already in May that the boys talked him into setting it up this weekend, so they can camp out. I’ve spent many a night in that tent with the boys, but my parents have decided this year that I’m too old to camp with them.

It’s stupid, really.

It’s not like I like them.

I mean we’re together a lot, and let’s face it, if I really wanted to do anything with them, I could just do it any old time.

But since we are only friends, nothing happens.

I tried explaining this to Mom and Dad, but they got all freaked out when I told them that if I wanted to do something with one of the boys, I could do it any old time, and I nearly got grounded.

Fortunately, I haven’t been banned from the tent entirely. I still get to go over there, but I have to come home to sleep. Which really makes no sense either, because a lot could happen before I come home, but whatever. I mean all we usually do is eat, play cards, and talk.

I know that I’m growing up, but I don’t really feel all that different. I’m a lot taller than I used to be. I’m 5’10”, which seems a bit excessive to me, and it really sucks because there are only two boys in my grade taller than me. So if I want to go out with a boy who is taller than me, my choices are very limited.

My mom is 5’9”, and she says she loves being tall and not to worry; the boys will catch up in a few years. She is also constantly telling me to stand up straight.

It drives me nuts.

The talks the boys and I have in the tent are much different from the ones I have with my friends, Lisa and Katie. I swear, growing up is all they have talked about for the last three years.

Who got their boobs first?

Not me.

Who got their period first?

Again, not me.

Who got kissed on the lips first?

Well that would have been me, but now that we are older, a silly playground kiss doesn’t count.

So that one, is also not me.

They are totally obsessed with boys and are so excited about going to high school next year because they think that place is just full of boys dying to date them.

Lisa has been counting down the days until we are fifteen and old enough to go out on real dates. (131 for Lisa, 215 for Katie, and 321 for me, at last count.) The countdown is kind of silly to me, I mean, do they think they will turn fifteen and all of a sudden boys will be standing in line to ask them out?

What if no one does?

I haven’t pointed that out to them and probably won’t.

They would get all huffy at me.

As if I don’t have enough to worry about, eighth grade graduation is coming up. It’s a big deal around here. We have a graduation ceremony and parties and everything. Normally, this is something I would be very excited about. I love parties, but my mom is trying to ruin my life.

I swear!

She said I have to wear a dress. I know I’m kind of a tomboy and love sports, but I don’t mind wearing dresses. It’s just I find they’re not usually very comfortable. Then there’s the whole worrying about your underwear showing issue. So anyway, the problem isn’t really that I have to wear a dress; it’s the type of dress she wanted me to wear. Everything she picked was soooo pink! And she kept dragging me to the store and making me try these things on.

I swear, I think Lisa and I were switched at birth. She may very well be my mother’s real daughter. They both love to shop and go, Ooh! Isn’t that just dar-ling, to anything with rhinestones, fringe, sequins, or leopard.

Last time we went shopping, they made me try on a dress that was a combination of hot pink and leopard.

I’m pretty positive I saw that once in the Fashion Don’ts that Katie is always reading.

I swear, they want me to look like a hooker.

I told Mom that.

And evidently, that’s when she decided that she is very frustrated with me.

Dad told me this, and when I was like, I know the feeling, even he got testy with me.

After our last shopping trip, she told him she has given up.

And that’s saying a lot, because this woman loves to shop.

Dad tried to intervene and asked me at dinner a couple nights ago, “JJ, have you seen any dresses you’ve liked, anywhere?”

“Not really.” I shrugged and took a bite of my chicken.

“Why don’t I take you shopping tomorrow night? And if we find a dress, I’ll take you to Johnny’s for pizza.”

I was really amazed by this development, because Dad has told me for years that he is allergic to shopping. Advil must help his shopping allergies because he took three before we left the house.

Surprisingly, Dad and I did find something for me to wear to graduation. First, we went to the juniors section at a department store Katie recommended. I tried on a bunch of dresses, but Dad vetoed them all as too sexy, so we continued our search. I kinda liked the black one he thought was wayyyy too sexy, but I was hungry, so I didn’t argue. Katie also told me to try the Gap, so we did, and I really need to thank that girl because that was very helpful advice. I found a pretty eyelet skirt and a really cute top. During our whole shopping trip, Dad only held his head in his hands and muttered things to himself twice, so it was a good experience for him too, I think.

And now, I am actually excited for graduation.

Right now I’m getting some snacks together to take out to the tent.

“Phillip, come help me!” I yell across the street, as I struggle to carry everything.

Phillip runs over and grabs two grocery sacks full of candy and snacks from my arms. I’m left with just the big bowl of warm, buttered popcorn. As I’m following Phillip across the street, Danny comes out of his garage carrying a cooler.

“Why do you look so sneaky?” I ask him, as we meet up in the street.

Danny looks just like he did the night we decorated the Mackenzies’ trees with Ashley’s underwear. At first, Ashley, who was sixteen at the time, laughed like she didn’t care, but that was before she realized Phillip had sent a heads up email to everyone in her address book. She was completely horrified when all her friends, boys included, started driving by her house and honking at her lacy bras and panties.

Danny’s got something up his sleeve, I can tell.

“I’ll tell you later; just act normal in case my parents are watching.”

Later, after we’d eaten most of the snacks and are playing cards, Danny opens the cooler and says, “How bout we have some fun tonight?” Then he pulls three cans of beer out from underneath the pop.

Phillip, who I figured would tell us exactly what a bad idea this is because he tends to be the most conservative of the three of us, says, to my surprise, “Hell, yeah.”

So of course, I say, “Sounds awesome.”

We open our beers and Danny cheers, “Here’s to the good life.”

I’m pretty sure he heard that on a commercial.

We drink up. A few hours and few beers later, we’re basically drunk. Good thing our parents are already in bed.

See. I told you things could happen out here before bedtime.

The boys and I talk about who likes who and who doesn’t like who, all the gossip. We don’t know the answers to these questions, but we talk and laugh anyway. Then we share the last beer.

Actually, I was smart and only pretended to drink from it.

We are laughing and laughing when the boys start telling me about how they wake up in the morning with hard, you know whats. So I say, well that’s nothing, and proceed to tell them in gory detail all about a period.

I ask them why they are so obsessed with girls who have big boobs, and they want to know why girls only like guys taller than them.

Later that night, Danny and Phillip puked their guts out.

I earned honors because I didn’t.

Of course, I felt terrible the next day, but I will never admit it.

Three days until my first real date. I am so excited!

I am also a paranoid, nervous wreck.

I like this boy so much! His name is Ryan. Ryan Marshall.

Ryan is so good looking, and he’s a SENIOR! He reminds Katie and me of Jake, from the movie, Sixteen Candles. I know, it’s an old movie and the clothes are weird, but it’s still funny and romantic and is worth watching just to lust after Jake. Lisa, Katie, and I all rank Jake in the Top 25 on our lists of All Time Movie Hotties.

So how does this sound?

JJ Marshall.

Jadyn Marshall.

Jadyn James Reynolds-Marshall.

Mrs. Ryan Marshall.

Doesn’t that just roll off your tongue?

Speaking of tongues, they are the main reason I’m a nervous wreck. Ryan is a senior, and well, sadly, I’m not all that experienced with boys. I mean, I’m a freshman and have been to dances with boys my age and even have gone out with boys, but I’ve never really kissed them. Not like I hope to kiss Ryan anyway.

Bobby Robinson did shove his tongue into my mouth one time, when we were kissing under the bleachers at a football game, but it didn’t feel so good. I’m pretty sure he didn’t have it exactly right.

So I talked to my friends, Katie and Lisa, about how to properly make out.

But, well, here is just a bit of their unhelpful advice.

Just let him take the lead, do whatever he does.

Um, couldn’t that get me into a lot of trouble?

Just sort of kiss his tongue, but try not to drool.

Don’t open your mouth too wide.

And then, Just open your mouth wide.

See?

Stupid, conflicting information.

And this from girls who supposedly know how to do this!

I feel like I’m an undercover CIA agent trying to wrestle vital information out of a ruthless double agent, and the fate of the free world depends upon it. All the while, the President is yelling at me in a panic, saying, Somebody! Anybody! Just get me the truth!

You know, this is really the kind of stuff that it would be helpful to learn in health class. Much more useful information than knowing how a fallopian tube works or what kinds of cancer I can fight by adding fiber to my diet.

I mean, this date is of EPIC proportions.

He’s a senior for God’s sake!

My high school reputation could be ruined or made in one single night.

I don’t want to be known as a terrible kisser!

Or worse! Totally inexperienced!

I’ve got to do something.

Get me somebody, anybody!

I need someone who has experience and, most importantly, who will help me.

I glance out my window and see Danny’s bedroom light is on.

Ch-Ching.

Danny has experience, and I’m too desperate to be embarrassed.

So I call him. “Danny, are your parents home?”

“No, they went to that parents’ meeting at school with yours.”

Yay!

“Good. I’m coming over. And you’re, like, totally alone? Phillip isn’t there, is he?”

“No, I’m totally alone. What’s up, Jay?”

“Um, I just really, really need your help with something. Be right there.”

I slam down the phone, run out of my house and over to his. I barge in the front door and take the stairs two at a time up to his bedroom. He’s sitting on his bed with a varsity football playbook spread out in front of him. I can tell by the intense look on his face, he has been studying hard. Danny’s goal is to be the best high school quarterback in the state and then play for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Let’s just say, he is well on his way to achieving his goals.

“Hey, Jay,” he says, straightening up, “what’s the top secret meeting all about?”

Maybe this was a bad idea.

No. You’ve got to find this stuff out.

It’s vital to our country’s well-being!

Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but it is vital to my well-being.

I pace the length of his room a couple of times, wringing my hands together, trying to get my nerve up.

“Okay, here it is. I need your help, and well, I’m kind of embarrassed to say it, but here goes. I have that date with Ryan on Saturday, and I’m afraid I won’t know what to do. I mean I’ve never done it before, and I’m not exactly sure how. I don’t even know if he’ll want to do it with me, but I’m hoping that he will and well, I want to, you know, be prepared. So I need you to help me, Danny. Will you show me what to do?”

Danny stares at me in disbelief.

“This is a joke, right?” He laughs, gets off the bed, and looks down the hall. “Where’s Phillip hiding?”

“No, Danny, I’m serious. I mean if you can’t show me, could you at least tell me if I know how to do it right?”

“Let me get this right, Jay. You want me to show you how to have sex?” He has a huge goofball grin on his face. “Wow. Well, I suppose that could be arrang….”

“WAIT! WHAT??!! Sex! Danny, what are you talking about?”

“What are you talking about, Jay? You’re the one who said you’ve never done it and that you want me to show you.”

“I never said that!” Well, wait a minute, maybe I sorta did. “I mean if I did say it, it’s not what I meant.”

Now he’s staring at me like I’m psycho.

Probably, I am.

“Shit, Danny, the truth is, I’ve never really made out.” There, I said it. “And I really, really, need to know how to do it right. I can’t seem to get reliable information from my friends, I can’t ask my parents, Ashley’s at college, so you’re my only hope,” I whine.

He continues the stone-faced look at me.

“I thought you made out with Bobby?”

“Yeah, I did, and it was awful. AND I DON’T WANNA BE AWFUL!!!!”

Then I change directions in my thinking, trying to figure out a way to get him to teach me. So I say with a challenge, “Hmm, well maybe you can’t do it. That’s okay, I’ll just go ask Phillip for help.”

“Hell, no,” he growls. “He has about as much experience in that department as you do. Fine. I’ll help you.” He puts his hand up to his chin, thinking. “Hmmm. Come sit down.”

I sit cross-legged on his bed, facing him.

“Here. Take this.” He throws his pillow at me.

Ooh. Yum. It smells just like him.

But, uh, excuse me. I’ve already tried practicing on my pillow, and it was NO help!

“No, that won’t work.” He quickly snatches the musky thing away from me. “Too big. I know, hold your hand up to your face,” he orders. “Kiss it.”

I look at him like he’s nuts, but he nods his head yes, so I hold my palm up in front of my face and push my lips into it.

“Turn sideways a bit, so I can see better,” he bosses, so I turn. “Okay, but your puckering is way too tight. You’re not kissing your grandma, Jay.”

“No, worse,” I gripe, “I’m kissing my hand.”

He glares at me. I think I had better just do as he says.

“Just loosen your lips. Try again.”

This time I pucker my lips, but then try to make them loose. I glance over at him, my eyebrows raised in hope.

“Alright, now slightly open your mouth.”

I try to slightly open my mouth. “This feels ridiculous.”

“Hmm, is this really that important to you?”

“Uh, ye-ah. He’s a senior! My entire reputation is at stake here.”

“Hmm, well okay then.” He jumps off his bed, shuts and locks his door, and turns off the light. There’s plenty of light coming through his window from the streetlight, so I can still see him. But I must appear slightly alarmed, because he says, “Look, I just don’t want anyone walking in on this.”

He looks at me like he’s a soldier being sent off to war, and I should be proud of his bravery and selflessness.

Actually, I am.

“Plus, you need to relax. Maybe in the dark you won’t feel so stupid.” He plops back down on his bed next to me and continues, “Tilt your head slightly to the left.”

I tilt my head.

“Lick your lips, so they’re not all dry.”

I lick.

“Stop smiling and close your eyes.”

I close them.

“Come on, Jay, I shouldn’t have to tell you everything! Pucker those lips.”

I pucker.

“No! Not so tight.”

Then he touches my bottom lip with his finger, and I nearly jump off the bed, my eyes flying wide open as he’s yelling at me, “LESSON NUMBER ONE! DON’T DO THAT! You scared the shit out of me. You have GOT to relax!”

Then he reaches out and puts his hands on both of my shoulders, feels that they are, in fact, extremely tense. “God, you’re way tense!”

Puleeze, how could I not be?

I mean doesn’t this whole effed up situation require some tension on my part?

“Sorry.” I breathe deep and shake my shoulders, but it doesn’t help. I am still WAY tense.

Danny’s hands are still on my shoulders, and he starts rubbing them.

I can’t help but melt….I mean, uh, relax.

“I know, let’s try some positive visualization. Close your eyes again.” Then he speaks slowly in a hypnotic tone. “Alright, picture yourself at the movies with Ryan. So it’s dark, the movie is playing…”

“Wait! What are we seeing?”

“Does it really matter?”

“Uh, yeah. If you want me to visualize, I need the whole picture.”

“Fine then, something scary, so you’ll want to hang onto him.”

“Okay.” I nod and smile. “That sounds good.”

“So at the scary movie, he puts his arm around your shoulder.” Danny moves to my side and puts his arm around my shoulder. “You turn your face toward him and look into his eyes.” I turn my face toward Danny. “He smiles and leans in to kiss you.” Danny pushes my hand up to my face, pressing my lips into my hand.

I like this visualization stuff. I pretend my hand is Ryan and start to give it a good kiss, but then I think about how ridiculous I must look and start laughing again.

Danny does a big huffy breath at me and shoves my hand away from my mouth. “Stop laughing.”

I keep my eyes shut tight and bite my lip while Danny continues in the hypnotic voice, “Okay, I’m going to touch your lip, and I want you to open your mouth a bit.”

I giggle again.

I can’t help it! I really can’t!

“Oh, screw it,” he says.

I open my eyes and watch him shake his head at me. “This is just too hard to explain.”

I am ready to scream, I’ll stop laughing, please, please, please don’t give up on me, when he pulls me toward him and covers my mouth with his.

Oh. My. Gosh.

He’s kissing me!

Danny is kissing me!!

And wow, practical knowledge. This is even better!

He kisses me with soft lips and a slightly opened mouth.

Oh.

He is a good kisser.

I kiss him back.

Then he taps my hand impatiently.

I take it I’m supposed to do something.

Why am I here again?

Oh yeah, the tongue thing.

I cautiously stick my tongue out, and somehow he grabs the bottom of it with his tongue and sort of sucks on it.

Oh, my, that’s nice.

He taps me again.

I stop for a second because I’m not real sure what to do. But then Danny puts his tongue into my mouth, so I try to mimic what he did to me…..and hey, it works!

I think I’m kind of getting the hang of this.

And, WOW! It feels really good.

Obviously this is the right way to do it. I knew Bobby Robinson didn’t have a clue.

Danny and I practiced for a little while.

I never knew learning could be so much fun!

All of a sudden, I hear something.

But it’s hard to be concerned about a stupid random noise when Danny is lying on top of me, kissing me, one hand tangled in my hair, the other hand up my shirt.

But then I hear something else, and my brain awakens.

I tear my lips away from Danny and turn my head. Danny kisses down the side of my neck, while I peek over at the clock next to his bed.

The clock says 9:30. 9:30?

Wait. What?

9:30?

9:30???!!!!

That can’t be right!

When I left home it was 7:30!

Could I have been making out with Danny for two whole hours?

Shit!!!!!!!!!

Are Danny’s parents home?

Danny and I both hear the next noise. Danny’s mom is calling out, “Danny!”

And I swear to God, she must have literally apparated from the garage, because in less than an instant, she is at his door trying to open it.

But it’s locked.

She tries the handle again and says, “Danny, may I come in?”

Danny says, “Sure, Mom, just a sec.”

He seems way too cool about this. He gives me his Devil Danny grin, along with a last deep kiss, and jumps off the bed.

Only problem is, my leg is still wrapped around his, and he sorta tumbles out of the bed instead.

And I don’t know why, maybe I am slightly high from kissing him, but I find this quite funny and can’t help but giggle.

Danny grins back at me, as he’s picking himself up off the floor.

Well, he’s grinning until his mom hears my giggling and says madly, “Danny Diamond, unlock the door this instant. Who is in there with you?” Because Danny is not supposed to have girls over when his parents aren’t home.

Shit. Shit.

Well, double shit.

We stare at each other for a second.

Crap. This is gonna look bad.

I’ve got to think of something quick.

Work, brain, work!

I see Danny’s binoculars on the floor, half hidden beneath a sock, and I grab them. Then I spy his little telescope on a shelf next to an old Punt, Pass, and Kick trophy. I jump up quick and sweep it onto his bed.

All this, while he walks over to the door and unlocks it.

I am amazing and brilliant, I think.

Especially considering the fact that for the last two hours, my brain has been nothing but mush.

Danny’s mom bursts into the room.

She sees me sitting on his bed and grimaces, like she’d walked in on us naked.

She seems kinda angry, as she turns to Danny and says, “What’s going on? Why are you and JJ in here with the door locked and the lights off?”

Although her voice is stern, there’s a slight panic in it. I can only imagine what she thinks we were doing.

I mean she could be partially right. But what was going on was, you know, only for academical (I’m not sure if that’s a real word or not) purposes.

REALLY!

However, I don’t think we could explain it that way.

Danny stands there. I know he is thinking, BUSTED! I can tell he hasn’t come up with a plausible excuse, and I certainly can’t let him get into trouble.

He was only helping out his friend.

And he was really, really, really helpful.

So I lie easily. “We were just spying on Phillip, Mrs. D.” I hold up the binoculars innocently and point across the street toward Phillip’s window. Thank God, Phillip is sitting at his desk doing something on his computer.

She walks to the window and looks over at Phillip.

I give Danny a hopeful glance.

He winks back at me.

“Okay, so why was the door locked?”

“Um, well,” I lie some more, “so no one came in and blew our cover. You can see how the hall light just lit this room up.” I sweep my arms out into a circle. I’m kind of getting into this.

Danny and I even duck when Phillip glances, seemingly on cue, our way. I knew Phillip could read my mind because I have been sending him telepathic messages to do just that!

Only I hope he wasn’t reading my mind earlier. I’m not sure I would want him to know the things I might have been thinking about Danny.

Uh, yeah.

“He keeps looking over here. He might know it’s us.” Danny whispers, like he’s afraid Phillip can hear us. “We’ve been sending him secret admirer Instant Messages.”

I go further with Danny’s lie, laugh and say, “It’s been pretty hilarious, because he’s been trying to juggle between our messages and his girlfriend’s.”

But then I glance at Danny’s computer and suddenly realize it is not even turned on.

Shit!

I need to come up with something good to get her out of here fast!

Oh. I’ve got it. “We also caught him perusing some fairlyentertainingwebsites.”

I don’t say, As, in porn, but the way I have my eyebrows raised and a big grin on my face, I’m pretty sure she gets my drift, because all of a sudden her face goes white and she looks embarrassed.

Apparently this was way too much information.

“Fine,” she says. “I’ll leave the lights off, but the door stays open.” Thankfully, she goes back downstairs. Probably straight to the phone to call Mrs. Mac and get Phillip in trouble.

“Thanks,” Danny says, blowing out a big breath of air. “I couldn’t come up with a good excuse. My mind was just blank.”

“Well, you caught up quick. The ducking was brilliant.”

“What can I say?” Danny high fives me. “We’re a good team.”

A good kissing team is what I’m thinking, but I doubt that’s what he’s referring to.

“Um, I suppose I better get home. I uh, didn’t leave a note or anything. I mean, I, uh, didn’t expect this to take so long.”

Funny, I didn’t feel at all embarrassed when we were making out, but I feel a little awkward now. Part of me wants to run and hide, the other part of me wants to lock the world away, so I can kiss him some more.

You know, for practice’s sake only!

“Come on, I’ll walk you home,” Danny says, not the least bit awkwardly.

I follow him down the stairs and out the door.

“Uh, thanks for that and everything. I, um,” I stutter and wring my hands. “Danny, do you think I did okay? I mean, will I do alright on my date?”

“You know, I don’t think so, Jay.” He shakes his head and hangs it in apparent sorrow.

I look shocked at that boy.

Then he continues with a sly grin, “It may take many more long, grueling hours of practice for you to get it right. But,” he raises his hand to his heart, “I can tell you’re committed to learning, so I’ll just have to take one for the team and give you some more private lessons.”

I stare at that goofy boy.

“You know what they say, practice makes perfect. Let’s see, how about every day after school?”

“Um, you have football practice,” I reply with a DUH in my voice.

“Damn,” he says, moving his arm in an ‘aw shucks’ fashion and snapping his fingers. “But hey, you know, anything for a friend.”

“Danny, you are so noble, but I think you’d better go to practice. You can’t play for the Huskers someday if you don’t.”

I look him in those beautiful blue eyes. It’s almost too bad I kept my eyes closed while I was kissing him. “Seriously though, thank you. I was so freaked out when I got to your house, and now I’m like totally relaxed.”

“Ah, yeah,” Danny laughs, “two straight hours of kissing will do that.”

“It didn’t seem like that long,” I say, shaking my head in disbelief.

“Never does. Um, let’s not, you know, mention this to anyone.”

“DUH.”

“I doubt Brittany would approve of my tutoring you in this particular subject,” he laughs, referring to his sorta girlfriend.

“I think you’re probably right. And you should know that I appreciate your selflessness in my time of need.”

“You’ll do fine on your date.” He kisses me on the cheek, throws his arm around my shoulder, and says in a practiced Southern drawl, “JayJay dar-lin’, when you’re ready ta move on past kissin’ and want ta do some more practicin’, you just come and see ol’ Uncle Danny. Any time. Keep it in the family, Luv.”

Oh jeez, now he’s British.

I just shake my head at him. He really cracks me up.

“You’re sick. You know that?”

“Yeah, well, that’s why you love me,” is his smart-ass reply.

We are at my front porch now. I just smile, shake my head at that boy, and walk in my front door.

Up in my room, I lie on my bed and close my eyes. My lips feel all tingly. In fact, I feel like we’re still kissing. I think it’s kind of like when you’ve been on a boat all day and even though you’re off it, you still can feel it rocking.

I’m really looking forward to my date now.

When Phillip calls me at ten o’clock for our nightly phone call, I tell him I have a headache and am going to sleep. I don’t want to ruin the way I feel with mindless conversation.

Danny, Phillip, and I are sitting on the hood of Phillip’s car in the parking lot of the baseball field, drinking and eating sunflower seeds. The salt’s burning my lips, but it doesn’t stop me from sucking it off the seeds. I had an early softball game, and then stayed to watch the boys’ baseball game against Park City, a neighboring small town. Everyone else has left, so the lot is dark and deserted.

We haven’t left because we are still trying to figure out what we’re going to do tonight.

We live in Westown, Nebraska. It’s a small town, not far from Omaha. My parents say we are really lucky because we get the best of both worlds, small town life with big city amenities. Westown has an old downtown and a newer part up by the highway that goes through town. This little strip consists of your basic small town stuff: bank, bowling alley, ice cream store, and gas station. This is the area we cruise when there is nothing better to do.

Which is a lot.

Down the highway a little further are Johnny’s Pizza, the high school, and the viaduct that takes you out of town.

Tonight there is a party at Billy Prescott’s house, and a bunch of the guys on the baseball team are going up to Johnny’s for pizza first.

It’s a small town, and if we feel like going out, those are our only real options.

Actually, that is not a true statement.

I mean there are an infinite number of places we could go and things we could do. We just say that because we like to complain that there is nothing cool to do around here. I am assuming that other teenagers say the same thing, even if they live somewhere amazing, like Paris or New York.

The problem tonight is the boys aren’t motivated to go home and change.

And personally, I have no desire to go anywhere. I love hanging out with them.

Our backs are against the windshield, and we are staring at the brilliant stars. It’s a clear, warm summer night, and you can see millions of them.

Oh. In case there are any men out there freaking out about Phillip’s paint, please note that we are sitting on a blanket to protect it.

Phillip loves his car.

It’s a very nice car; although, I forget what kind it is. But since it’s blue, I really don’t care. I mean if you are going to go to the trouble of having a car, shouldn’t it be red?

Red cars are so sexy. I am so hoping for a red one soon. I really want a red Mustang convertible, but I’m sure I will get something boring and reliable, like a four door something another.

I keep hinting to my parents about a car. I turned sixteen three whole months ago.

But they say they have taken it under advisement.

I’m pretty sure that means no.

We are just sitting here, spitting seeds and chatting occasionally.

That’s one of the things I love about hanging out with boys.

They don’t feel the need to fill every second with words and talk.

Like my girlfriends.

Sometimes they talk so much it makes my head hurt.

Speaking of girlfriends, it’s Friday night.

Girls’ night.

I’m truly breaking a cardinal rule by not being out with them. I’m pretty sure it’s written in our town’s laws that Friday night is girlfriend night, and Saturday night is date night. Kind of like in the movie, Footloose, where there is a stupid town law against dancing. You know what my favorite part of that movie is?

Well, duh, it’s definitely not the dancing. I love her red cowboy boots. I mean, I know I sort of live in the country, but I don’t own even one pair of cowboy boots. Someday, I’m going to buy myself a pair of red ones, just like the ones in the movie.

Hey, they could match my red car!

Sorry. Where was I?

Oh yeah.

I sort of had to lie to Katie and Lisa about what I was doing tonight. I couldn’t really tell them I was just hanging out with the boys. They would’ve given me a hard time. Besides, they were going to a party some Park boys invited them to, and I thought that could only lead to trouble. And since I’m lobbying so hard for a car, I have to be responsible. I have been very responsible lately and have not gotten grounded in four months.

Which is like a record for me.

And I’m really quite proud of this accomplishment.

Besides, even though it’s supposed to be girlfriend night, all they want to do is go out and look for boys. Or talk about them. Why can’t it be friend night, and why do girls think they can only be friends with other girls?

The only time my friends have any interest in being a boy’s friend is when they have their sights set on him as a boyfriend. First, they pretend to want to be his friend, so he will notice them. And sometimes they even do become friends, but once they accomplish that, they will try to make him their boyfriend.

I don’t get it.

Danny finally breaks the silence. “So you’re missing girls’ night out, huh, Jay?”

“What exactly do you guys do anyway?” Phillip asks.

“Usually drive around town and look for cute boys,” I reply.

Danny wonders, “Then how come when we drive around looking for you, a lot of times we can’t find you? It’s like you’re nowhere to be found.”

“Well, sometimes we go to other towns and shop for imports.” I grin.

“Imports?” Phillip questions, as he spits a seed.

“Yeah, that’s what Lisa and Katie are doing tonight. Going to the party in Park. They’re not happy with the current supply of boys here, so they’re shopping for imports. Get it?”

“You know, I’ve heard them say that before, but I always thought you guys were looking at like BMWs,” Phillip says, shaking his head.

“You would,” I say, rolling my eyes.

“Girls are goofy,” Danny states. “And I thought Katie was dating Neil.”

I shrug. I have no answer for that. Cuz she is. But she was seriously crushing on the cute third baseman from Park City, so she was hoping sparks might fly at the party tonight. And then, Neil will probably be history. Which is too bad. Neil is a sweetheart.

“So let me get this straight,” Phillip says wisely. “On Saturday night you go out with your boyfriend, and on Friday night you go out and look for your new boyfriend.”

“That pretty much sums it up,” I say. “Or try to see what your current boyfriend is up to. You never know. He could be out with another girl. Speaking of that, Danny, did you tell Tiffany you would be hanging with me tonight?”

He shakes his head no.

“I didn’t think so. But I understand because that’s the thing with girls, you could tell them you’re gonna hang out with me, and it would turn into one big jealous mess. Phillip, your girlfriends always get mad at you about that. It’s just easier not to tell them. They tend to be so dramatic. I mean either they are crazy in love, or terribly jealous, or got dumped, or can’t get the guy they like to notice them. And God forbid, if he finally does notice her and they get together and have a one night stand, and then he doesn’t call and they feel even worse.”

I don’t say it because this is top secret girl knowledge, but this happened to Lisa recently. This older guy, she had been crushing on forever, talked and flirted and kissed her at a party, then offered to take her home. I tried to tell her not to go with him, but she didn’t listen. And of course, they went parking, and she was a little drunk, and, uh, well, things happened. One night stand kinds of things. Losing her virginity kind of things. Then he never called. She has been beating herself up about it for weeks. So I’m hoping she will meet a nice, cute boy in Park City to restore her faith in men.

“Whoa,” Phillip says, suddenly very interested in what I’m saying, “go back to the one night stand part.”

“Yeah,” says Danny. “Who’s having one night stands, and why aren’t they having them with Mac and me?”

I can’t help but laugh at Danny on that one, because he, well, I guess he’s not a one night stand kind of guy. He’s more the guy that you date for a week, fall in love with, have sex with, and three weeks later, it’s probably over. And somehow, it’s okay with you, because you had three glorious weeks with him. And you would do it all over again.

Typically, girls hate guys like this. They feel used or taken advantage of. But not Danny’s girls. They all love him, even after he leaves them. Which leaves most of us wondering, how does he do it? I’m sure if we did an in depth investigation into this phenomenon, we would find out it’s some kind of magic combination.

Killer Abs + Devil grin + Easy going, aw shucks attitude + Sparkle + Great arms + Amazing kisser + Star Quarterback + Dreamy blue eyes = Irresistible.

He is so cute.

“Jayyyyy,” Danny says, interrupting my thoughts. “Hello?? Pay attention. We are talking about one night stands.”

Shit. I can’t tell them about Lisa. So I, uh, make up something.

“Oh, uh, well, maybe not one night stands, actually. I mean sometimes there is sex involved, but usually it’s just that maybe there is an older guy they crush on, and he pays attention to her at a party and offers to take her home, but of course they end up parking, and she just does more with him than she planned, and then he never calls. Or even worse, he’s a total gentleman, and they just talk and kiss, and she thinks he’s the ONE, and then he never calls. All I am trying to say is that when I go out with them, we can’t just sit peacefully on the hood of a car, stare at the sky, and enjoy life. They are always stressing and obsessing about something. They dissect every conversation, every stare, every word.”

“You’re a girl, and you’re not like that,” Phillip tells me. “Maybe you need some new friends.”

“No,” I say, shaking my head. “I think that they’re probably normal, and that I’m just weird.”

“Yeah, well we know that,” Danny teases and then pelts me in the face with a wet, just from his mouth, sunflower seed, “but we love ya anyway, Jay.”

Go Westown Warriors!!

What a game!

What a close, exciting, exhilarating game!

Danny was amazing!

We were behind by a touchdown at half time, but ended up winning by 6! And Danny won the game practically single handedly! There were only two minutes left in the game when Coach called a quarterback sneak. Danny ran through the line, broke the huge linebacker’s tackle, and went running forty yards down the field. He was dodging tackles, dragging guys behind him, and twisting out of their arms. It was an amazing run, and we all thought he was going to score, until we saw the safety, barreling sideways across the field and ready to hit him at the five-yard line. Danny was not to be stopped though. He put his left arm out and his shoulder down and ran right over the guy and into the end zone.

Touchdown!

It was brilliant, really, and pure Danny. Sometimes I wonder if he’s not challenged enough, because when he really wants something, it’s like this light clicks on, and Wonder Boy comes out, and he goes into Can’t Be Stopped mode. In this mode, I have seen him make amazing plays. He’s a very talented quarterback and that would be a great play to put on his scout tape. Every college in the country would want him.

Okay, so I might be a bit biased, but a lot of colleges already do. Notre Dame, Nebraska, USC, Ohio State, and Oklahoma.

He verbally committed to play at Nebraska, but still has a couple more recruiting visits to make. I don’t think he’ll change his mind though. He’s wanted to be a Husker since he was a little boy.

After the game, Danny, Phillip, and I come home early, as in way before curfew, to sit in the hot tub at my house. The boys stopped off at their houses to throw on their swimsuits. As I’m walking over to my house from Phillip’s, I realize there is noise coming from my back yard.

It’s music. 80’s hair band ballads, I think.

Tragic.

Then I hear a man and a woman’s laughter.

I stop.

Oh.

I see that it’s dark in the back yard, and I know my parents probably aren’t expecting me home this early. I mean, it is a full hour and thirty-eight minutes before my curfew, and I am NEVER early. I probably shouldn’t just barge in on them. I wouldn’t want them to barge in on me, but of course they would. And I am adult enough to understand that parents, you know, but it is just something I refuse to think about.

I mean, yuck.

Gross.

I reconsider going back there. I certainly don’t want to barge in on them and see something that could very well scar me for life. As I get a little closer, I realize that there are numerous voices laughing.

Whew, they’re not alone. I’ll just kick them all out of the back yard, so we can use the hot tub.

It’s late, they’re old, and it’s like so way past their bedtime.

Okay, so it’s not that late, and they’re not that old.

I decide it’s safe to go through the gate and am just opening it, when I catch a whiff of something. At first, I wonder if they have a fire going, but then I notice it has a sweet smell to it, like burning hay.

NO WAY!

What I see when I bound through the gate is almost too freakish to describe. Our parents are all in our hot tub.

Naked.

There are empty Corona bottles scattered all over the edge of the hot tub.

Glass bottles, I might add.

GLASS!!

How many millions of times have I been told to never have glass by the hot tub because if a glass broke in the tub, you could never get it all out, and the whole thing would be ruined!

Obviously, these rules don’t apply to our parents.

Then I notice that Phillip’s Dad, Mr. Mac, is taking a hit off a joint.

Ah. There it is.

They are all laughing at something and are apparently already half-baked. I’m practically standing in the water with them, and they still have not acknowledged my presence.

Hello?

Naked parents.

Pot.

Alcohol.

I may very well be traumatized by all of this.

Somebody wanna call a shrink?

Just as I am about to say something, Mr. Diamond stands up to grab another beer.

Yikes.

I close my eyes real quick. There’s no way I need to see this man naked. I don’t want to see him naked. But I peek anyway, cuz come on, he looks like Danny – All Grown Up. I open my eyes and see him standing there in all his glory.

In a swimsuit.

DANG!

I look a little closer and realize they are not naked after all. I can see some stringy things tied around Mom’s neck.

But still. Pot. They are so busted.

I jump onto the hot tub stairs and say, “So kids, this is what goes on when I’m not here. You are all so grounded.”

Mom chokes on her Corona. Phillip’s dad nearly swallows the joint. Everyone else, my father included, is giggling. My father laughs often, yes, but NEVER giggles. They seem to think this is hysterical.

Okay, so I have to tell you, this is not exactly the picture I had in my mind of what my parents do to while away the time until I get home. I mean, sometimes I picture them sitting in matching rocking chairs, rocking and pacing, checking their watches with worry, counting down the seconds until I’m home safely.

Lately though, I picture them as wild referees with stopwatches and big whistles.

Last Saturday, I was coming in the door very quietly, not sneaking in, mind you, but just trying to be polite and not disturb them, when it’s like this huge prison spotlight comes glaring on me, and Dad jumps out of nowhere. He blows a referee’s whistle at me and a scoreboard buzzer goes off as he says, “Jadyn, you are twelve and half minutes late.”

“According to whom?” I ask politely. “My watch,” which I may have set back ten minutes or so, “says I’m right on time.”

“According to NASA, that’s who,” Dad says, pointing to the GPS, satellite-tracking watch thingy he has.

Anyway, it’s just that I don’t really picture them having a life without me. I mean, I know they get together with friends to watch movies or play cards. I can picture them chatting or killing time watching Storm Stories.

But certainly not smoking and boozing it up in my hot tub.

Okay, so it’s not really mine. I just like to think that it is.

Dad laughs and asks why I am home so early. “Fight with Brian?”

“No, Dad. It’s Friday night. Friend night, remember?”

“Oh, I do!” says Phillip’s mom, Julie. “I used to love girlfriend night. We would always go out and look for cute boys.”

I shake my head and figure I better say something quick, or we’ll all be launched on a full-scale trip down memory lane.

So I change the subject by saying, “I hope someone is going to tell me that you’re all suffering from glaucoma.”

The parents chuckle at this and apparently are not the least bit embarrassed about being caught by me with a joint. I can tell you that if the tables were turned, I’d be in big trouble.

And excuse me, but isn’t this illegal?

“The boys and I came home early, so we could sit in the hot tub.” I turn to look at Danny’s parents and say, “You know, your son took quite a beating out there tonight and is really sore.” I’m trying to make them feel guilty. “But I guess since it’s obviously occupied, we’ll just hang over at Danny’s.”

“What are you guys gonna do?” Dad asks me, more politely than normal.

I pause and think, what the hell, and then grab three Coronas and a lime from the cooler. Bold, I know, but what are they gonna do, stop me?

“Well, Dad, we’ll probably start with these beers, have a few shots, do a little x, have some wild sex. You know, the usual.” I give him my eat-shit grin.

“Fine,” Dad says, rolling his eyes at me.

Everyone laughs. Um, well actually, everyone giggles.

What? You think I’m joking?

Sadly, I am. I am also a little irritated by this whole scene. I mean don’t you ever grow up? Shouldn’t I be the one out getting stoned and drunk with my friends?

Sadly, my parents’ social party life far surpasses mine.

That thought is very pathetic and totally tragic.

I start to head to Danny’s, but turn back around and say, “And tomorrow, when you’re all sober,” I wave one of my fingers back and forth at them, while trying not to drop the beers, “I think we need to revisit the whole Just Say No concept.”

I run over to Danny’s house and bang on the back door with my elbow.

Phillip lets me in. Phillip and Danny are both standing there in just their swim trunks.

Damn.

It’s like walking into an Abercrombie ad. Did I mention I love my life right now?

“We’re just grabbing some towels,” Phillip tells me.

I set the Coronas and lime on the kitchen island.

“Sweet,” says Phillip. “My parents left me a note that said they were over at your house. What’s going on over there?”

“Oh nothing much. They’re all in the hot tub. Naked, drunk, and baked,” I reply flatly.

“No way!” says Phillip, his eyes big.

“Okay, so they’re not naked, but at first I thought they were.” I smile, but the boys don’t seem as appalled by our parents’ behavior as I am, so I open the beers and grab a knife out of the drawer. I slice lime wedges, put one in each beer, and hand them to the boys.

“So, no hot tub?” Danny asks crabbily, as he takes a swig of beer. “Figures.”

“Let’s watch a movie then,” Phillip suggests, as he pulls a sweatshirt over his head. He turns to me with a sweet grin. “And you can make us some popcorn and nachos.”

Like I can’t turn him down when he grins at me.

Well actually, I can’t.

“Let me guess, American Pie for the hundred-millionth time?” I ask, knowing full well what the answer will be.

I make snacks, and we head toward the family room. I notice that Danny is moving very slowly. He’s obviously sore, and he seems to be irritable. Unusual for him after a big game, especially a game he won practically single handily with his sheer will. I’d expect him to be flying high.

“What’s wrong with you?” I ask him. “You had such an incredible game. Why are you being such a crab?”

“It was a rough game,” he snarls at me, and then softer, “I’m just kind of sore, I guess.”

I plop down on the couch between the boys.

“Do you want me to rub your back?” I ask Danny nicely.

Lots of times after a game, we’ll watch movies, and I’ll rub Danny or Phillip’s shoulders. I doubt Phillip is at all sore. He’s Danny’s number one receiver, but he got double-teamed all night and only got open in the flats. (Close in to the line of scrimmage, not way down field like usual.) That’s why it was such a tough game. Most teams can’t shut down the Danny and Phillip combination, but tonight they did. Because they have played together so much, it’s like Danny always knows where Phillip is going to be, even before he gets there. They make some amazing plays together and have a lot of confidence in each other. It’s really pretty cool to watch.

Continued….

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