Sunday, December 28, 2008

Interview with author Bethany Griffin

I'm excited to say that I've had a chance to interview YA Author Bethany Griffin. Her debut novel, HANDCUFFS was just released and has terrific buzz! You should definitely check it out!

And, she's pretty great too! Here's my interview with her!

1.) Okay, okay, let’s get it out of the way. HANDCUFFS. Personally, I love the title, but I have to believe you’ve caught some grief over it. What are your feelings about it now?

Up until a week ago, I would’ve said, what grief? People have been amazingly cool about it. But yes, there are some romance readers who have been freaking out over it. I still think it’s the best title for the book.

2.) Did you have any alternative titles?

Nope. I had a working title until I got to the chapter with the handcuffs. After that it was always Handcuffs.

3.) Parker is an ice-princess. Did you have any trouble getting inside her head?

No- the whole little bit where she opens up and says it’s better for people to think you’re stuck up than to know you’re so shy you’re a stuttering freak? That was all me, and it felt incredibly revealing. Getting out of her head to write the next book with a different voice was the hard part. :)

4.) The obsessive first love is something nearly everyone can relate to. What sort of emotions do you touch on in HANDCUFFS?

Lots of jealousy. Insecurity, worry, anger…those are all things Parker has to deal with before the end of the book.

5.) Come on, give me a hint! What’s the first letter of her ex-boyfriend’s name?

I guess since several of the big reviews have mentioned now that I never used the ex-boyfriend’s name, I’ll admit that I didn’t have one for a long time. I only named him when I was writing a synopsis, cause it’s hard to do a synopsis without a name. The first letter is M. Flood my website with guesses, you won’t get it. Only one M guess per person, please, some people have been sending me a list of 50 names…. explanation- there’s a contest on the website where whoever guesses the name gets a signed copy of the book.

6.) Let’s talk blurbs. What would your perfect cover blurb be? And who would it be from?

Oh, I don’t know, The worlds most awesome book? Every Teen in America should have 3 copies of this? Or maybe, Hey, Barnes & Noble, get this book out of your warehouse and put it on the shelves! That last part would be a memo, not a blurb. My first choice would be Laurie Halse Anderson, because I teach Speak with my Sophomores. My second would be, maybe Chris Crutcher, because when I first started reading his books I was trying to write MG (what I was teaching) and was so not right for that. The Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books review recommends Handcuffs for fans of Sarah Dessen, “who like their main characters inwardly focused, their family relationships complicated, and their endings happy.” So, can I pick Sarah Dessen?

7.) I can’t wait for your next book. Will it be another love story? (hopes!)

Aren’t all stories really love stories? I can’t imagine writing anything without lots of relationship issues and details. Assuming Greedy is my next book, I think it could qualify as a crazy convoluted love story!

8.) Where can we find out more about you? You’re awesome!

Thank you! If I can be half as awesome as you, I’ll be pretty freaking awesome! My website has information about me! I’m making a scrapbook of the whole first book experience… if you have some night vision goggles you could watch me work on it…email me for my address. :) Or, yeah just check out the website, the blog (which I swear I will update more often, I promise I promise…I’m getting ready to post a story about getting my tattoo. There are pictures).

Visit her website at

So there you go, folks! Bethany rocks! And so does HANDCUFFS!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

GOING GREEN (the story blog)

As I walked off my porch, I looked over to see Conner standing on the sidewalk. He was a few houses down with his arms crossed over his chest. He looked furious. Idiot.

He was probably on his way over to try to sneak me out, and instead, I was sneaking out with Becker. Yeah, I felt really bad about that. Hah!

I tossed my hair over my shoulder and strutted to the car. I didn’t normally strut, especially at school where everyone hated me, but right now, it just felt good. As soon as I dropped in the seat, Becker cleared his throat.

I looked over at him, not sure what to expect. He was biting his lip, trying not to smile.

“Shut up,” I said, laughing.

“Two things. First, you look beautiful.”

I met his eyes and felt a rush of warmth slide over me. He’d said it sweetly, not like when Conner said it. Becker was just talking, not trying to talk me into anything.

“What’s the second thing?” I asked softly.

He looked out the window. “I’ll give you twenty bucks if you hit Conner with this when I drive past him.” He grabbed an air freshener off his rear view mirror.

“I think it’ll just flap in the wind.” But I was grinning from ear to ear. The thought of assault was oddly appealing.

“You can try to whip it like a ninja death star…” he said under his breath as he started his car. I laughed and took it from his hands shaking my head.

“Ninja death star?”

He shrugged.

The window was already down and as we drove down the street, Conner didn’t try to hide the fact that he was staring. In fact, he flipped me off.

I squinted my eyes, gripped the air freshener and flung it as hard as it could.

It made a satisfying ping as it bounced off his forehead. And as he yelled, I rolled up the window, leaned back in the seat, and held out my hand.

“You owe me twenty bucks.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Going Green (the story blog)


The minute I got home I tried on my green dress so that I could examine it, just in case the store had been using one of those skinny mirrors.

My phone rang. And it was the same stupid ring from earlier. But without the distraction of my father’s judgmental stare, I was weak enough to answer.

“What?” I said.

“What? Now is that polite, Stella?” Conner chuckled.

“Shut up. What do you want?” It wasn’t like Conner and I were fighting. It was more like when I didn’t talk to him, I realized I hated him.

“Nothing.” He sounded wounded. “I missed you.”

“Really? Because when you and Trish breezed by me at lunch you didn’t look all that sad. Oh, and when you had your tongue in her mouth after school, you sure didn’t look sad then either. Gross… maybe. But not sad. Not over me.” And there was a twinge. Even just thinking about him and Trish hurt. And no matter how times I snuck off with him, she’d still be the one he made out with in the front of the school.

“You’re mad at me.” He didn’t sound worried.

“No,” I said. “I’m just tired of you.” I flopped down on my bed and suddenly, my green dress wasn’t perfect. It was awful. Prom would be awful. My entire life was--

My other line beeped. I pulled the phone away from my ear and looked at the caller ID. Talk about timing.

“Gotta go,” I told Conner and clicked over before he could respond. “Becker?” I asked.

“Um, no. It’s still Conner.”

Oops. I clicked again. “Becker?”

“It’s still freaking me, Stella? What the hell?”

I laughed. “I’m sorry! I’m not doing it on purpose!” But the moment was sort of awesome. I tried one more time. “Hello?” I whispered.

“Hello?” Becker whispered back.

“Thank God it’s you.”

“Glad you’re happy to hear from me.”

He was so clueless. “I got a dress,” I said, smoothing the fabric over my thigh.

“Is it pretty?”

“My father thinks so.”

Becker paused. “Huh. Well, that just ruined whatever dirty thing I was going to say.”

I smiled. “You can probably still say it if you want.” I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. For the first time in a while, I looked sort of happy.

“Hey,” Becker said.


“Wanna come watch me play tonight?”

The last time I went to watch Becker’s band, I ran out in the middle of his serenade. “I don’t know…”

“Please?” He paused. “I wrote a new song.”

“What’s it called?”

“It’s called, I’m waiting outside for you to come down.”

“Really? Not very catchy.”

He laughed. “Maybe I’ll change it. But I am waiting outside for you to come down.”

I jumped up and crossed to my window. Sure enough, a super hot college guy was in his car at my curb.

“That’s sort of stalkerish,” I said. He ducked his head to look up at me and waved. I waved back. “I’ll be right down,” I said.

As I hung up, I noticed something else. Conner, sitting on his porch, watching the whole thing.

Going Green...(the story blog)

More to follow soon... you can start from the beginning with the Going Green labels at the side. :)


Well Brandi was right about one thing. Everyone at school pretty much hated me. And you know, I was fine with it. I wasn’t all that impressed with myself either.

The only bad part about not having friends was that when the time came to buy a prom dress, there was no one to ask for opinions. Or at least, if you were lucky there wasn’t.

“I don’t know, Stella,” my father said as he lounged in the store’s waiting room chair. “I liked the green one better.”

Yes. I brought my father to help me pick out my prom dress.

“Green in Oregon?” I asked. “Do you want me to blend in with the trees?” I personally liked this red one better.

“The red looks a bit… trashy.”

I laughed. “Did you just call your own daughter trashy?”

“I said looks. You just look trashy, honey.”

I exhaled, turning in the mirror to study my rear, and then agreeing that I indeed looked a bit less than wholesome.

“Fine,” I said, putting my hands on my hips. “I’ll get the green one.”

“Score one for the old dude.”

“Ew. Please don’t use the word dude.”

“Score one for the groovy guy.”

“Oh my God! Stop.” My cell phone rang from my purse on the dressing room floor. I knew that ring tone. It was Conner.

“You gonna get that?” my father asked, standing up and stretching.

I looked back for a second, but then shook my head. “Nope,” I said. “I think I’ll just let that one go to voice mail.”

My father nodded but I swear as he was walking away to wait for me at the counter, he mumbled, “Good girl.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


There were prom signs everywhere. It was like the pep committee was trying to ruin my day. The few people that did talk to me at school had only one topic in mind. Prom. Who they were going with, who I was going with and what everyone would wear. Try telling a cheerleader that you’re not going to prom. I swear, I think she puked in her mouth.

But Conner didn’t bring it up again. He didn’t say he was going and he didn’t tell me not to go. He didn’t need to. Trish had made a spectacle of her plans. Bringing in swatches of her dress. Pink. Figured.

It the week before the dreaded dance when my phone rang. I knew it wasn’t Conner. He was more of a knock on my window type.

“Hello?” I asked, looking around the room. My father had been MIA lately. I was beginning to suspect he had a girlfriend.

“Hey, Stella.”

My stomach turned. It was Becker. Oh my God. I nearly hung up. Not because I didn’t want to talk to him, but because I didn’t know HOW to talk to him. I treated him like dirt. Like dirt I’d spit on.

“!” Yeah. Nothing came out on my end.

“So…” he paused. “Look, I was wondering if you needed a date for prom.”

“What?” First of all, me being a bitch aside, Becker didn’t go to my school. He wasn’t even IN high school.

“I know it’s weird,” he said. “But my sister said everyone at school hates you. And I know about you and Conner.”

“There is no me and Conner.”

Becker laughed. But not in a ha-ha funny way. In a shut-up way. “Look, I’m not stupid. And I also know that Conner isn’t stupid. He’s still with that red-head, right?”

I swallowed hard. “Don’t know.”

“Okay, keeping playing dumb, Stella. All I’m saying is I still like you. And I know your little boyfriend is making a joke out of you. You may not see it now, but I can. And if you miss your prom because of an idiot like him, it’ll make you sick.”

“I don’t care about prom.” But I knew it wasn’t true. Sure, I wasn’t one of the girls that had dreamed about it for years and had the perfect dress, but the fact that I didn’t feel welcomed burned me up. I had a right to go.

“Stella, will you go with me to prom?” Becker asked in a too-cute voice. “If it makes you feel better, you can even pay.”

I laughed. “You know what? I know I will regret this, but I’ll go.” I waited. “And everyone will be staring at us.”

“Oh. I count on that.”

Friday, November 7, 2008

GOING GREEN (the saga continues)

GOING GREEN (continued)

So I was doing this. With Conner. While he had Trish and I had Becker. Okay, I didn’t have Becker. But I could have had him. But instead I was sneaking out nearly every night and hooking up with my neighbor. It could have been a trashy reality T.V. show. But it was my life.

Brandi stopped talking to me altogether. I didn’t blame her. I stood her brother up. And even though no one said anything, I think they all knew about me and Conner. In fact, Trish made it a point to shoulder bump me into the locker every chance she got. But I didn’t say anything. Not just because I didn’t want her to kick my ass in front of the school again, but because I knew I was wrong. But I couldn’t stop.

I loved him.

“Are you going to prom?” Conner asked as we lay in the grass in my backyard. My father wouldn’t be home from work for a couple of hours, but the minute Conner would hear his car, he’d hop the back fence.

“Doubt it.” Oh my God. Was he going to ask me to prom? My heart began to race.

“That’s probably good.”

I turned to him. “Good?” I felt it. That sickness that sometimes washed over me when I was with him.

“Yeah,” he said, continuing to watch the clouds. “Because I’ll be there with Trish. I wouldn’t want you to feel weird.”

“I see Trish everyday.” My breathing was speeding up.

“True,” he said, like he was thinking it over. “But I wouldn’t want you to get jealous or anything. Say something stupid.”

I might puke.

He looked at me. “Hey,” he put his finger on my cheek. “I just don’t want you to get hurt.”

Too late.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Conner managed to get out of my driveway before Becker’s car pulled up. I ducked, but I doubt he missed it. I doubt he didn’t just see me stand him up with another guy. THE guy.

“Why do I keep doing this?” I asked.

“Because you like me.” Conner laughed and then reached over to put his hand on my knee. Not in a creepy, date-rape way, but in a comfortable this-is-okay way. I exhaled.

“How’s Trish?” I asked. I was bitter. She’d ripped out a handful of my hair with her redheaded, Tasmanian devil fighting style. I was lucky I still had both of my eyes.

“She’s good,” Conner said quietly.

My stomach turned. I’d wanted to hear, “She’s bad.” Or, “She was disfigured in a motorcycling accident.” Or best yet, “We broke up.” But he didn’t say that. He just said she was good.

“How’s Becker?” he asked.

I looked over at him, his hand still on my knee, a smirk on his lips. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand why I kept coming back to Conner. Sure, he was hot. And yes, when we weren’t hiding or being physically assaulted, we got along great. Since that first day when he pinged me in the head with a Frisbee.

“Are we in love or something?” I asked, my voice cracking. What? What the hell did I just ask?

Conner squeezed my knee. “Or something,” he answered and turned down the dirt road.

(And by the way, my nose ring is healing nicely. In case you were worried. )

Monday, September 15, 2008

GOING GREEN (more story blog)

After five rides home from school, twelve phone calls and one rose left on my doorstep, I finally agreed to go on a date with Becker. I would have never pegged him as the romantic type, mostly because I had pegged him as the hot-misunderstood-college-guy. So it was a nice surprise.

And since I was still wishing Conner’s lying, cheating face would fall off, I thought Becker was exactly what I needed. Plus I’d gotten over being mad at him. Sure, he’d outed me to the entire school, got me beat up, humiliated me. But the boy did it for love. There was something almost romantic in that.

Plus Brandi was talking to me again and I was no longer a social leper. That helped dissolve the anger. Besides, Conner was the one with a girlfriend. I was just an innocent bystander. Oh, and a complete idiot for believing anything that came out of his stupid mouth. In fact--

“Stella,” my father called from downstairs. “A car just pulled in the driveway.”

I smiled and checked the mirror one last time. At least my father was finally happy. I was pretty sure he hated Conner more than I did. And I’d made a voodoo doll!

The doorbell rang and I slicked on a coat of lip-gloss and headed for the stairs.

“Don’t wait up,” I yelled toward my father.


“Kidding, Dad. I’ll see you in a few hours.”

He mumbled something similar to “Damn straight you will.”

I gave him a wave and then pulled open the door. “Oh my God.”

“Hi.” It was Conner. Looking all blond and sad. Looking… like he wasn’t Becker!

I pushed him back with a cautious glance toward my father, then stepped out on the porch and closed the door.

“Are you a psycho? What are you doing here?” I snapped.

He sighed and I swear, he had the saddest freaking eyes I’d ever seen. “Stella,” he whined. “I don’t want you going on a date with another guy.”
I gasped and stared at him. “You are unhinged. And YOU have a girlfriend.”

Car lights appeared at the end of the road and I knew it was Becker.

“Come on,” Conner said, grabbing my hand and pulling me toward his Jeep.

“Ew, no!”

He turned to me, the headlights illuminating him from behind. He grinned. “Come sneak away with me,” he whispered.

Man. Would I ever learn?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


During lunch I went to Math tutoring. No way was I going in the cafeteria to let Trish give me dagger stares. I was done with all of it. I was done with Conner.

The final bell rang and I rushed toward the front doors. Spending a day in social isolation was enough to make me cry. Of course I would never do that. Not in front of people.

“Stella,” someone called as I hit the pavement to run toward my house. I spun around.

“Becker?” What the hell was he doing here?

He grinned and leaned against his car. His cheeks were a little pink and that made me feel a better. I hoped he was embarrassed. He should be! He got me beat up.

“Do…” He paused and pushed his hands in the front pockets of his jeans. “Do you want a ride home?”
Oh. Didn’t he know I was pissed at him? I thought I’d been pretty clear.

“I can’t,” I said. I could, but he didn’t deserve my butt in his passenger seat. Not after what he did.

I turned and started walking.

“Please?” And he said it so sweetly. Not desperate, just… really cute.

I looked over my shoulder at him.

He tilted his head. “I’ll buy you an ice cream.”

I laughed. “An ice cream?”

“Or a Frosty.”

“Hm. I do like Frostys.”

“Yeah? You should definitely come with me then,” he said, opening the car door and motioning for me to get in.

I stood a moment, thinking. Hell. Why start now?

“Fine,” I said. “But you might just have to buy me a cheeseburger, too.”

“If you’re nice.”

I paused in front of him before getting in and sighed. My life just got even more complicated.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

GOING GREEN... (The continuing blog story)

Okay, so I was grounded for about two weeks. My dad’s willpower broke around then. And even though I wasn’t suspended from school anymore, I sort of wished I were. I was like a social leper. Completely ostracized. All because Becker thought it was his business to tell everyone about Conner and me. Jerk.


I looked up from my lab table to see Conner leaning toward me, a smirk on stupid, hot face.

“Don’t talk to me,” I whispered and glanced toward my teacher. He was standing at the podium, flipping through a Science Digest.

“Stella,” Conner chuckled. “You might as well talk to me. It’s not like you have anyone else.”

Low blow. “I hate you.”

“No you don’t.”



Well this was fun. Finally I turned to him. “What do you want, Conner?”

“Let’s go out tonight,” he said. I stared at him.

Then, “Are you mental? Did you forget how your girlfriend attacked me?”

He laughed. “No. I didn’t forget. It was kinda funny.”

Ass. “No,” I said and shook my head. “Leave me alone. I don’t want to talk to you.”


“Fine.” I glanced back down at my lab paper. My cell phone vibrated in my pocket and I slid it out to take a peek at my text.

lets go out 2night

I looked over at Conner and he smiled, his phone in his hand. Well, at least he wasn’t talking.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I nearly dropped the phone. Did he just say…

“Stella, did you hear me? I’m sorry. It was me.”

I swallowed hard. “You know I got in a fight today, right?” I asked. “Because of your big, stupid mouth.”

There was a shift behind me and I knew that my dad had come to listen to my conversation. Normally that would annoy me, but at the moment, I was too concerned with telling Becker to--

“It wasn’t all me,” he interrupted. “It’s not like you’re blame free, Stella. You knew he had a girlfriend.”

Ew. Was he playing the morality card? “How is it any of your business?” I snapped. “We aren’t dating. I hardly even know you!”

“Everything okay?” my dad asked from behind me. I lifted my hand, waving him away.

“You’re right,” Becker said. “It wasn’t my business. But I thought he was making a fool of you, and honestly, you were making a fool of yourself. I was trying to help.”

“Help?” Yeah right.

“Okay. Maybe not help, but resolve. Resolving is good.”

“Resolving sucks,” I mumbled.

Becker chuckled. “I see you’re taking the high road.”

I couldn’t help it. I smiled. “Well, Snitch,” I said. “Was there anything else you wanted to confess or can I go back to my grounding?”

There was a pause. Then, “One more thing,” Becker said quietly. “When you get off grounding, I’d love to take you out.”

Oh my God. Becker just got me beat up, called to apologize, and then asked me OUT? What was going on with the guys in my life?

“I’ll call you,” I said and hung up. Man. I needed therapy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I was sprawled across my bed, waiting. Sweating.


Dad was home. “I’m upstairs,” I called.

“Fantastic. I suggest you get DOWNSTAIRS. NOW!”

I swallowed hard and climbed to my knees. Getting in a fight was bad enough. But ditching my ride(my father) to ride home with the reason for my fight was pretty stupid.

I took the walk of shame down the wooden staircase. My dad looked furious.

“So nice of you to make an appearance, beautiful daughter.” His sarcasm wasn’t lost on me.

“Dad, I…”

“Stop,” he said, holding up his hand. “I’m tired. I had to leave work early. Just answer me this.” He took a deep breath. “Did you win the fight?”

“No. She sort of kicked my ass.”

He shook his head. “Then I’ve taught you nothing.” My father slapped his hand on my shoulder. “Here’s the deal, Stella. No phone. No television. And absolutely, positively, NO BOYS.”

“Agreed,” I said. Well, at least the no boys part. The phone loss was going a bit overboard.

“Good. Now to start this punishment off, how about you fix dinner?”

“You are a tyrant,” I said and led us toward the kitchen. But just as we got in there, the phone began to ring. I looked at my dad.

“Get it.” He held up his finger in warning. “But only to tell them that they aren’t allowed to call the house for at least a week.”

“A week!”


“Whatever,” I mumbled, crossing to the phone. “Hello.”


I paused. It was a guy. And not Conner. “Who is this?”

“Sorry,” he said. “It’s Becker. Do… do you hate me?”

My stomach flipped. Hot college guy calling me on the phone to ask me if I hated him? Yeah. This happened every day.

“Of course I don't hate you,” I said. “Why would I?”

I swear I heard him gulp. “Because I’m the one that told everyone about you and Conner.”

Friday, July 11, 2008


I looked across the Jeep at Conner. I knew leaving with him was stupid. Mostly because a.) I was supposed to get signed out by a parent, b.) My father was on his way and would FREAK when he found out I was gone, and of course c.) Conner was a complete and utter tool.

“What are you thinking about, Stella?” he asked, still watching the road.

“Wondering why I’m here.”

“Because you like me.” He smirked.

“You got me beat up today,” I said. “That alone is a pretty good reason to hate you.”

“And yet you still left with me.” Conner turned and when I looked in his eyes, I hate-loved him. He could be so right sometimes. Not this time. But he had been before.

“I’m going to be grounded,” I mumbled as we pulled onto our street.

“Good thing I’m just next door,” he said. “I can sneak in your window.”

Damn. Why was he being so charming? Why was he still perusing me? He had a girlfriend. Sure. She was a total wench, but still. They were going out.

Conner parked at my curb. I stared into my lap. I was so pissed at him, but when I was with him… I was helpless. A helpless fool.

“I can’t do this anymore,” I whispered.

Conner pressed his lips in a smile and then shrugged. “You say that every time, Stella.”

I sighed. He was right.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Going Green...

So… the fight went on for about three and half more seconds. That was when Principal Pelli grabbed me by the elbow and yanked me back. I’d say it was abusive, but at the time my fist was cocked back, aimed directly at Trish’s bloody nose.

Suspension. I figured as much. Trish was suspended too, but I highly doubted we’d be chatting during school hours.

After a call to my dad, I sat in the office, waiting for him to pick me up. Trish’s ride had already showed. But I think my father was trying to humiliate me more by taking his time.

“Hey.” There was a knock at the open office door and when I looked, my heart sped up. Conner.

“Don’t speak to me.”

He chuckled. “Aw, come on, Stella. You can’t be mad at me. I didn’t tell her.”

But I was thinking about how he told her I was ugly. Even if he was just saying that to make her feel better, it still hurt. Sort of like the bald spot on the back of my head.

“I came to check on you,” he said like it made him the sweetest guy on the planet.

“And now you can go.”

“I’ll take you home.”

I exhaled. “You’re ruining my life. Just leave me alone.”

Conner tilted his adorably blond head. “Do you really want me to?”

And I didn’t answer. Instead, I got up and left with him.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Going Green...

My scalp stung as I felt a chunk of hair get ripped from it. OW!

I used my elbow to push Trish back by the jaw, but her poorly manicured nails were firmly tangled in my ringlets. She was pissing me off!

“Get her,” someone yelled from behind me. I wasn’t sure which of us he was talking to, but I decided to believe it was on my behalf.

I kicked Trish in the shin as hard as I could. I swear, it actually vibrated up my leg when it connected with her bone. She screamed and moved back.

The temporary distraction gave me time to consider. I could a.) Sucker punch her, or b.) Run.

I chose c.).

“Your boyfriend kissed me,” I said, gasping for breath.

She stopped the ‘I think my leg is broken dance’ and stared at me. “You liar!”

I shook my head. “Conner stuck his tongue in my mouth on at least four different occasions. And… he said he liked the taste of my lip gloss.” Yeah. I had to throw that in.

Trish’s cheeks began to match her hair as her nostrils flared. “He…” She looked shocked. I ALMOST felt bad for her. “He told me he never touched you. He said he thought you were ugly.”

Ow. That stung. “Hm,” I said, pretending to pick at my nails. Humiliated that he said that about me. Horrified that the cafeteria was listening. “See,” I began. “He didn’t mention that when he was sliding his hand up my shirt saying what a bitch you are.”

Snap. Not bad, Stella.

“You are dead,” Trish hissed. I smiled.

Taz may have caught me off guard once, but I was pretty sure that now... now I was ready to kick her ass.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Going Green

It wasn’t like I’d never been in a fight before. Why was I so nervous?

I pushed my way through the crowded hallway, aware that people were whispering, a few snickering. Wow. Word sure traveled fast. I gulped.

The cafeteria was loud. I scanned it quickly, looking for Conner. Or Trish. Or Brandi. I only found Brandi sitting with her friends. Something told me that I wasn’t welcome at their table anymore.

Before I could turn around and spend my lunch hour hiding in the girl’s bathroom, something hard hit my shoulder. I stumbled a step before looking up to see the back of Trish’s red head walking past me.

Did she just… shoulder bump me?

“Excuse you,” I said. She stopped. Damn. I was about to get in a fight. My adrenaline kicked in, making my fingers tremble.

Trish swirled around in her hideous shoes and glared at me. She looked pretty pissed.

“Excuse me, skank,” she said.

Please. I could have thought of something wittier than that on my worst day.

“Classy. Although not nearly as classy as that outfit you’re wearing. Really? Pink and red don’t go together.” It’s true! Red heads shouldn’t wear pink.

She clenched her jaw. “At least I’m not a slut chasing after some guy that doesn’t want me.” She announced it, but then stepped toward me and leaned her head down as if whispering a secret. “Conner told me how you throw yourself at him. It’s really pathetic, Stella.”

Now, was it her fault that she was misinformed? Probably not. But when I cocked back my fist and punched her in the mouth, I felt an odd satisfaction. Her and stupid boyfriend were perfect for each other.

Trish screamed, covering her lips with her palm. And then something strange happened. The little red head with the terrible fashion sense turned into the freaking Tasmanian devil. I swear, she spun around in circles and attacked me before I even had a chance to tell her how ridiculous she looked. I just felt a barrage of punches, kicks, hair pulls.

She was kicking my ass. And the cafeteria was cheering!

Monday, June 23, 2008


I shifted in my seat. Class started ten minutes ago and Brandi had yet to look at me. Pretty sure it had something to do with the fact that I dissed her brother to hang out with the idiot on the other side of me.

Conner coughed.

I glanced sideways at Brandi. She snapped her gum. UGH! I couldn’t take it.

“Are you pissed?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said without looking over. “You’re messing with my brother, Stella. You’re messing with him for THAT.” She jabbed her thumb in Conner’s direction. My face warmed with embarrassment. Humiliation.

“I didn’t mean to,” I whispered. I looked up to see Mr. Powell glare in our direction. Brandi and I both looked down at the lab table, pretending to be following along with the class.

“Becker liked you,” she hissed. “I thought you were cool, Stella. Conner has a girlfriend. And you ain’t her.”

Hm. That stung. “I’m aware of that,” I said as calmly as possible. “And I’m not going to see him anymore. I didn’t mean--”

“To get caught?” she finished for me.

Okay. She was actually starting to piss me off a little.

“Just so you know,” she said, snapping her gum. “Trish has probably heard by now. Everybody knows.”

My heart stopped. “What?”

Brandi turned to me. I expected to see a scowl, but she almost looked sorry. “Everybody knows,” she repeated. “You might want to watch your back.”

I gasped and spun to face Conner. The fool was sitting there, drawing musical notes on his desk. My stomach turned.

How did I know that lunch was going to SUCK!?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Going Green

The movie sucked. No surprise there. Becker didn’t come back in the theater and I found myself looking over the faces trying to figure out who he’d been here with. Other than a few couples gratuitously making out in the back, there was one rocker- looking dude by himself. Maybe a band mate.

“You okay?” Conner whispered in my ear, his hand sliding over mine.

I swallowed hard. I just wanted to go home. I was… ashamed. I was so freaking embarrassed for myself. But I waited until the end of the movie, ignoring all of Conner’s attempts to make out with me. I was done. I NEEDED to be done.

Conner drove fast. And when he slammed on the breaks in front of my house, I almost hit my head on his dashboard.

“Goodnight, Stella,” he said without looking at me.

I narrowed my eyes. “What is your problem?” I asked. He had no right to be pissy. He was the one with the girlfriend.

“Nothing,” he said and looked at me. “Absolutely nothing. And that’s the problem. If you’re going to be a freaking bitch, Stella. I’m not gonna keep taking you out.”

My face stung. “So… me being fun. You mean hooking up?” Don’t cry, Stella. Hold it together.

He scoffed. “Well, yeah. What did you think?”

I stared at him for a second, knowing what he was saying. Knowing that I knew it all along.

Slowly, I pulled the handle and pushed open the door. I got out, my hands shaking, but I turned back to him one last time.

“You know,” I shook my head. “My dad was right. You are a tool.”

I slammed the door and went inside.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I darted out of the house before my father could see Conner’s Jeep. He thought I was going out with Becker. I SHOULD HAVE BEEN. But I was being stupid. Absolutely foolish.

“Hey,” Conner called as I climbed in his car. I looked at him, temporarily melted by his gorgeous grin.

“Just drive,” I said and turned to look out the window. Yes, I was guilty. Yes, I knew this was a mistake. And yet… I was still sitting in his passenger seat. Ugh.

Conner didn’t take me to the main movie theatre, a fact that reinforced our top-secret status. A fact that reinforced that I wasn’t good enough to be his “real” girlfriend. We went to the crappy dollar theater that played movies that were already available to rent.

We stood in line and for a minute, things were normal. Conner reached out and put his arm over my shoulder, pulling me into him. “What do you want to see, beautiful?”

“Something with a lot of blood,” I said. Something that could make me come to my senses. But instead, I looped my arm around his waist. He smelled good.

Conner leaned over, bringing his face close to mine. “Give me a kiss,” he whispered. Man. This boy knew how to make me tingle.

Softly, I pressed my lips to his. Sweetly. We stayed like that for a second until he pulled back, smiling. “Let’s go,” he said, sliding his hand into mine.

And for now, it felt right. Like somehow, the rest of it didn’t matter. His girlfriend. Becker. MY DAD!

Conner bought our tickets and we made our way through the concessions. With a bucket of popcorn in one hand, Conner still managed to keep his arm around me. We were being cute. Not fighting. Not suffering from Temporary Make-Out Insanity. We were… like boyfriend and girlfriend.

Theater five was on our right and just as we paused at the door, it pushed open.

My. Jaw. Dropped.

“Stella?” Becker asked, looking between Conner and I. His expression…. Yeah. Not good.

I stood facing him, another guy’s arm over my shoulder. The Sour Patch Kids in my hand feeling like they were a million pounds. I’d said no when Becker asked me to the movies. And now, here I was. With someone else.

The three of us stood, staring, no one moving. Until finally, Becker clenched his jaw, shot a dirty look at Conner and then bumped his shoulder as he walked past us. Without another word.

“Hm…” Conner said.

“Shut up.”

“I hope he doesn’t tell Trish.”

My stomach dropped. He mentioned his girlfriend. He was out with me and he was still worried about his girlfriend. I blinked back the tears and stepped out his arm to open the movie theater door. I didn’t wait for him and instead walked to the seats, dropped down, and put my face in my hands.

This was what I deserved.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The phone seemed to ring for a ridiculously long time. I almost hung up.

“Hello,” Becker said. I gulped.

“It’s Stella,” I blurted out. “My dad told me to call you.” Wait. I didn’t mean to say it like that. That sounded… positively lame. But he laughed.

“I knew I liked your father.”

I smiled and cradled the phone closer to my ear. I looked from my spot on the stair I was sitting on into the living room. My father was staring at me. Not trying to be slick, not trying to spy. Just out and out listening. He even waved.

“My father’s sort of on this kick where he likes guys that look him in the eye,” I said. “He’s SO ANNOYING.” I said loudly toward my dad. He gave me the thumbs up.

“Yeah,” Becker said, the phone rustling on his end. “He told me that.”


Uh, YEAH! Uncomfortable silence. I didn’t want to be rude and ask, Hey, Becker. Why did you want me to call you? I thought he’d volunteer the information on his own. But we were both silent. It was almost too late to talk. As if not acknowledging the silence would somehow make it more awkward. I considered hanging up and pretending my line went dead five minutes ago.

“Stella?” he asked, sounding confused.


“Do you want to see a movie?” His voice was quiet. Almost like he expected me to say no.

“No.” Damn. I just said no.

“Oh. Okay.”

What was wrong with me? I was such a spaz!

“Well,” Becker said, sounding embarrassed. “I’ll… I’ll see you around then.”

“….” But before I could say anything, he hung up. My stomach turned. It was a movie. Why did I say no? I didn’t have anything else to do. The phone rang in my hand.

“I’m sorry,” I said instead of hello.

“Stella?” It was Conner. I darted my eyes nervously toward my father.

“Yeah?” I asked into the phone. My heart was racing.

“Hey, baby,” he said. As if in some alternate universe I was, in fact, his baby.

I stayed quiet. Daddy Dearest was leaning forward, resting his elbows on his knees, listening intently.

“I’m free tonight,” Conner said. “Wanna catch a movie or something?”

Definitely not. “Sure.” Holy shit. Did I just say sure?

“That’s my girl,” Conner said. Condescending jerk.

“Wait…” I started to say.

“I’ll come get you in ten minutes.” And he hung up.

I swallowed hard and looked at my father. He straightened, smiling. “What did Becker want?” he asked.

“Uh… he wanted me to go to a movie.”

“You’re going, right?”
Well, I was going to a movie. “Yes.”

“I’m glad.” My father stood and began walking to the kitchen. “Anything to keep you away from that tool Conner,” he announced over his shoulder.

“Yeah. Thank God for Becker,” I said as he disappeared around the corner.

Man. I was so dumb.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I burst in the door of my house, tears stinging my eyes.

“Stella,” my father asked. I jumped and then turned to see him sitting on couch, his hand still holding back the curtain.

“Were you spying on me?” I sniffled.

“Was that the neighbor boy? The one that came over to fix our power that time?”

“Yeah.” He was also the one that had been screwing with my head since that very same day. Rock climbing jerk.

“He seems like a tool,” my dad said, letting the fabric fall back into place. I stared at him for a second and then laughed.

“Fathers can’t say words like ‘tool’,” I said.

“How ‘bout asshole? Does that work?” My father grinned.

“Much better.” The sickness that Conner left me with began to fade as I stood, listening to my father insult him. Sometimes making fun of someone helped. Sometimes it made things hurt a little less.

“By the way,” my dad said, picking at his fingernails. “A boy stopped by earlier.”

“A boy boy, or a guy?” I think he liked to use boy to pretend we were all still in grade school.

He rolled his eyes. “A guy. Becker. He seemed nice. At least that one could look me in the eyes. Definitely not a tool.”

I stared at the wood floor, feeling both guilty and happy that Becker had come by. Stupid Stella needed to get over herself and the blond boy next door.

“You…should maybe call him,” my dad said. “He mentioned something about taking you to a concert.” He chuckled. “Asked my permission even.”

I looked up at my father and he was beaming. A real bona fide boyfriend for me that wasn’t a jerk off? Unheard of.

“I’ll call,” I said. And I would. Conner was over. I needed to move on.

But without thinking, I peeked out the window and saw Conner’s Jeep in his driveway. And I sighed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


It wasn’t until the drive home that the guilt began to creep in. Not over Conner’s girlfriend. Hell no. Trish was a bitch. But over Becker. I’d blown him off to come and make out with this idiot. I looked at Conner.

“Whatcha thinking about?” he asked, grinning slyly.

I was thinking I was a fool. “That you’re a fool.”

He laughed. “Stella, I know you like me because if you didn’t, you wouldn’t talk so sweetly to me.”

I looked in my lap, the wind from the window blowing my hair around. “So what now?” I asked. “Trish still your girlfriend?”

Conner was silent and that was all I needed for an answer. We didn’t speak the rest of the way and as he stopped in front of my house, I swallowed hard. What was I doing here?

“Wanna hang out tomorrow?” he asked.

I got out of the Jeep and turned back to look at him. Admiring his blond curls. His handsome face. But there was a sickening twist in my stomach. He’d done it again. He made me his “other” woman again. I should be on a freaking soap opera.

“No,” I said and straightened up. “That was the last time.”

He smiled. “I think we both know it won’t be.”

I slammed his door as hard as I could and spun around. I stalked up my stairs, needing to lock myself in my room and cry. But instead I heard, “Hey, Stella. I really like the taste of that lip gloss.”


Sunday, June 8, 2008


Conner took me to the river. We climbed out of his Jeep and he threw a backpack over his shoulder as I followed behind him. There was a picnic table next to the water. Seriously. You wouldn’t have found anything like this in Arizona. No, Oregon was way more into… being outside.

In the backpack was a bunch of food. Bananas, cookies, warm soda. At least he'd tried. We sat at first, next to each other, not saying anything. It was nice being here with him. It was quiet except for the sounds of nature.

“So…” he began. “Are you dating Becker?”

“So… Are you jealous?” Because my answer depended on his. Not that Conner had any rights to me. He had a girlfriend.

“I am,” he said. “I’m pretty jealous.” He laughed and peeled a banana, taking a bite and then offering it to me. Right. Like I was going to act out some fantasy of his.

“No, thanks.” I pushed his hand away. A moment passed and I had to know. “You and Trish broke up?”

He seemed to gag on his fruit. “Um…” He coughed.

My mouth fell open. “You have got to be kidding me.” I raised my voice. “You.. you’re still dating Trish? Liar!” I pushed his shoulder. I looked around the table, realizing that I was nowhere near my house.

“I don’t want to be with her,” he whined, trying to take my hand. “I want you, Stella. I told you that.”

I slapped his hand and pulled mine out. “What is your deal? Stop messing with me. Just leave me alone.”

“I can’t.”

My heart was racing and Conner’s face was so close. So beautiful. Damn. I was going to hate myself in the morning.

I leaned forward and kissed him. But I was still pissed.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I looked at Conner as he drove. Man. He was ridiculously hot. If only he could break-out or lose a tooth or something. Something to make me LESS attracted to him.

“Where are you taking me?” I asked him. He grinned and looked over. “Listen,” I laughed. “I’m not scaling a cliff this time.”

“No,” he said, turning back to watch the road. “I think you deserve something a little more romantic.”

Wait. What? What was going on? Conner had been a jerk, a user, a LIAR. He couldn’t…start being romantic. I shouldn’t even be in his Jeep!

“Stella,” he sang my name. “What are you thinking about over there?”

I was thinking I was an idiot. “I was thinking you’re an idiot.”

“Me? Why?” He turned onto the freeway, pretending to be offended.

He needed to hear it. “You have a girlfriend. And she’s a bitch, but your girlfriend nonetheless. What do you plan to do about that?”

Conner pulled his eyebrows together. “What do you mean?”

My mouth fell open. “I mean are you going to break up with her?” My chest began to ache with what I knew was coming. I just knew what he was going to say.

“Yes. I already did.”

But that wasn’t the answer I’d expected. “You…did?”

Conner reached over and intertwined his fingers with mine. “I told you, Stella. I want you.”

I looked down at his hand. And smiled.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


There’s something about getting off grounding. The freedom of it all. It makes you do…really stupid things.

I had barely gotten in the door from school when the phone rang. The bus had just dropped me off, but Brandi was obviously excited about going out tonight. I was too. Her brother and me had some things to talk about. Hopefully with our tongues.

“Hello?” I put the phone to my ear and dropped my backpack on the wood floor of the hallway.

“Hi Stella.”

Shit. Conner. “Why are you calling me? Can’t you stalk from a distance like a normal psycho?” But my heart was beating kind of fast. I didn’t know he knew my phone number.

“I heard you’re going out with that college guy tonight.”

Oh, snap. Was he jealous? “I am.” I smiled. Conner deserved to be jealous. He kissed me and then went back to his girlfriend. The girlfriend he said that he didn’t have.

“That guy’s a tool.” There was a rustling on Conner’s end of the line. It sounded like he was outside. No way.

“What do you want?” I asked, walking slowly to my front door. I swung it open… and there he was, in all of his blond-headed glory. He grinned.

“I want you,” he said into the phone as I stood two feet in front of him.

Okay, my entire body tingled. I was pissed at him, but something about a guy, showing up, looking hot. Ugh. I couldn’t do this.

“Go away,” I said into the receiver and clicked it off dramatically. Conner stood there and slowly brought his phone down. He looked at it, pressed a button and brought it back to his ear. My phone rang in my hand.

I laughed. He was too much. Too much freaking trouble! But I still answered it.

“What are you doing? You are seriously a freak.” I was smiling at him. He’d gotten to me. Again.

“Come out with me, Stella,” he whispered. I shivered. “Come out with ME tonight. Pretty please?”

Not the puppy dog eyes. Damn. I’d just gotten off grounding. I had a date with cute, SINGLE guy. I knew the right thing to do.

“Okay,” I said despite myself. “But this is the last time.”

He grinned.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I was almost certain it was illegal to ground a seventeen-year-old. But my father did it anyway. Two weeks. No phone. No human contact outside of school. A bit of an overkill. Especially since I’d answered the phone when he’d called. That deserved a pardon on its own.

My punishment was spent ignoring Conner’s “pssts” in class and his girlfriend’s dirty looks in the cafeteria. If Trish thought her squinty green eyes intimidated me, she was sorely mistaken. She was lucky I hadn’t mentioned the fact that her boyfriend was STALKING ME!

Brandi was fascinated by my grounding. She’d even told me that she didn’t know that people “did that” anymore. Yeah. They did.

“So today’s your last day of confinement, right?” she asked, biting into her corndog. The cafeteria was nearly empty as it got close to the end of the period.

“Finally, yes. Do you want to hang out tonight?”

She giggled.

“What?” I pushed my tray away. Hot dogs on a stick repulsed me. I should have picked the mystery meat under the foil.

“Oh, nothing,” she smirked. “Becker and I will come by around eight.”

“Becker?” My voice squeaked. I hadn’t seen Brandi’s brother since that night at the club. The night that he said he liked me. Or sang to me. I couldn’t really remember. The punishment had messed with my memory.

“Yep.” Brandi was grinning and soon, my stomach was knotting up. Becker… was so super hot. Different hot than Conner, who by the way, was still eying me from across the room.

“Sounds fun.” It was all I could think of to say!

“Gross,” Brandi said, tossing down her stick. “Trish is coming this way.”

I looked up to see Conner’s girlfriend walking toward our table, a self-righteous smirk on her face. Ugh. She was such a bitch.

“Let’s go,” I said. I didn’t want to talk to her. But as I got up and began walking, there was a bump in my shoulder. No. She. Didn’t.

I spun around coming face-to-scowl with Trish.

“Oh, excuse me,” she said. Then she leaned in to whisper in my ear. “You keep looking at my boyfriend and I will drop you.”

I laughed and pulled back. She’d obviously forgotten that I wasn’t from Oregon. “Try and touch me,” I said, smiling. “And I will rip every orange ringlet from your oversized head.” Okay, so her head wasn’t all that big, but I knew if I said it, she’d have a complex about it. Mean, yes. But she bumped me!

Her mouth dropped open as she touched protectively at her hair. Then I turned around and walked out of the cafeteria.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Brandi pulled up to my curb and I took a deep breath. Okay. Porch light was on. But my father wasn’t on the porch waiting. It was entirely possible that he went to bed.

No. He was waiting. I could feel his anger from here.

“Well, good luck,” Brandi said. It sounded like I was heading off to a firing squad. I nodded and climbed out. “By the way,” she called after me. “Becker is totally into you.”

My stomach fluttered. “I know. Too bad I’ll probably be grounded until I’m thirty five.”

Brandi laughed. “That would suck.”


We waited a moment and then she rolled up the window and pulled away. Slowly, I ascended my porch stairs. I tried to relax myself, not look so guilty. I mean, sure. I lied. I stole a little. But things could be so much worse. I could be--


I jumped and spun around. Conner was on my bottom stair looking up at me. My heart began to race.

“What are you--”

“Are you dating him?” he interrupted.

“Who? Wait. Becker? No. I’m not dating anyone.” It sort of bothered me to say that because it was only last weekend that I thought Conner was my date. But he hadn’t been. He’d been my lip-locking mistake.

He exhaled and smiled, making his way up toward me. I backed away, almost to my door. He looked hot. Too hot to be alone with me on my porch. My willpower wasn’t THAT good.

“I’m glad,” he whispered, reaching out to slide his arms around my waist. I widened my eyes, surprised, confused, freaking turned on. And I didn’t pull away. Shit. I totally should.


“Because I don’t want you to date other guys,” he said, leaning his mouth close to mine.

Seriously, Stella. Pull the hell away!

“I want you to date me,” he breathed as his mouth pressed against mine. I didn’t react at first, then I felt his tongue and I just about fainted. Why was I so weak? Why was--

“What the hell?” my father’s voice boomed. Conner and I jumped apart.

Then before I could even utter, ‘This was a huge mistake, Conner,’ my father took me by the elbow and yanked me into the house, slamming the door behind me. I stared up at him as his slippered foot tapped on the wood floor.

“Well?” he demanded.

“Uh….” This should be good.

Monday, April 28, 2008


A recap of where GOING GREEN left off:

Becker laughed. “This is probably going to sound really lame, but I’m trying to impress a girl.” The entire bar awwwwwed. “But I can’t find her.”

My face caught on fire. Was he…no. He couldn’t be.

“Stella!” he screamed like he was Marlon Brando. Something every adult thought was hilarious. Only this time, it was freaking awesome.

I turned to Conner, his mouth hanging open, his eyes staring toward the stage. Nice. “See you around,” I said. Then I jogged forward into the crowd and toward Becker.


I paused in front of the stage, the room hushing. Becker looked down at me, all rock star like.

“Um…hi,” I said. Oh my God. Hi? I couldn’t be more seductive?

“Hi,” he said, only his came out the right way. I melted a little. Becker put his mouth on the microphone. “I didn’t write this for you,” he murmured. “But I think I could have.”

Wow. Suddenly I could feel the weight of a million stares. Really, it was probably more like twenty-five. But it felt like a million.

The guitarist began strumming and my heart began racing. I braced myself for the most romantic moment of my life. But… my phone vibrated in my pocket. I furrowed my brow. Only one person would call me now. And he just so happened to have legal custody of me.

I wiggled out my cell, trying to be discreet. After all, I was being serenaded. Shit. It totally was my father. If I didn’t answer, he’d freak. Ground me. Take away my phone. I looked up apologetically at Becker. I put the phone to my ear.

“Stella Francis,” (my middle name. Don’t ask) “You have exactly nine minutes and fifty eight seconds to get in this house.”


He hung up. Becker was staring, confused maybe. Confused at how he could go to all this trouble only to watch me answer my phone just before he started singing. I bit on my lip.

“Sorry,” I mouthed.

You see, my father can be a total hard ass when necessary. And the fact that I told him I was going to the library (yes, I know. Totally lame) and he probably realized that the library was not open at midnight, let me know that I was busted. It didn’t help that I stole twenty bucks out of his wallet either. Damn. I had nine minutes and thirty three seconds left.

I turned and ran, catching a bewildered Brandi by the arm as she came out of the bathroom.

“Wait,” she yelled, looking back at the stage. “We haven’t even--”

But we were already dashing past a chuckling Conner as I faintly heard Becker’s voice sing into the microphone. His first line was, “You’re always running away from me.”

How appropriate.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Just before I walked into the bathroom to adjust my lip-gloss, I heard someone call my name. Okay, not just someone. Conner.

I met his eyes as he approached and they twinkled. Yeah. Like seriously twinkled blue even under the dull light of the bar. Brandi giggled next to me.

“Meet you in there,” she said, pushing past me.

I actually admired her self-control. If someone I knew was about to make another complete fool of herself by talking to the guy that totally played her, I’d have watched her crash and burn. But not Brandi. She was so much sweeter than me.

“What do you want?” I asked Conner as he came to stand in front of me.

“You mean besides you?” He was grinning, not acting creepy. Just being adorable.

“Whatever, man.” I shook my head. “You lied to me about Trish,” I said finally. “And you ignored me at school. I climbed a damn rock for you!” It had to be said.

Conner exhaled and leaned his shoulder against the wall, bending down to get a little closer to my face. “I knew if I told you about Trish, you’d never go out with me and I really like you.”

“So you ignore me?”

“I didn’t want her to find out.”

“It’d be hard for her to notice anything with your tongue rammed down her throat.” And how I wished it were my throat being assaulted.

“Stella,” he said with a smile. “This doesn’t have to be hard. We can still see each other.” He paused and looked me over. “On the side.”

No. He. Didn’t.

“All right, everyone,” a voice called through the speakers. I looked toward the stage and saw Brandi’s brother trying to block out the light as he looked into the crowd. My heart sped up a little.

Becker laughed. “This is probably going to sound really lame, but I’m trying to impress a girl.” The entire bar awwwwwed. “But I can’t find her.”

My face caught on fire. Was he…no. He couldn’t be.

“Stella!” he screamed like he was Marlon Brando. Something every adult thought was hilarious. Only this time, it was freaking awesome.

I turned to Conner, his mouth hanging open, his eyes staring toward the stage. Nice.

“See you around,” I said. Then I jogged forward into the crowd and toward Becker.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Day 14

So Becker dropped my arm the minute we were inside and I felt a twinge of regret. Using him like that. But it was only a twinge because he leaned over and kissed my cheek.

“I got to go play,” he said. “Hang out later?”

“Uh…sure.” Wow. My wittiness never ceased to amaze me.

He smiled and I loved how wide and open it was. So innocent and yet, there was a gleam in his eye that told me hanging out with him later would end with his tongue in my mouth. I wasn’t opposed to the idea.

As Becker walked away, I felt a tug on my sleeve. “Gross,” Brandi said. “You’ve totally got the hots for my brother.”

I turned to her and her eyebrow was up, a small grin on her mouth. “You’re right,” I said. “I totally do.”

“Ew…” But she started laughing and pulled my arm toward the bathrooms. “And what do you think Stalker Conner will say?”

My heart rate sped up. “You think he stalks me?” I sort of wanted him to.

“Uh, hell yeah. Waiting on your porch. Showing up here.” She raised her hands and motioned around the club. “He is so whipped, girl.”

Okay. That sounded good. Because even though I despised Conner and his stupid mouth….I still wanted it on mine.

DAMN IT! I seriously needed to get a life.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Day 14

“A bar?” I asked. Brandi was grinning ear to ear, fluffing her black curls.


“We can’t get in.” Last time I’d checked, I was seventeen. And my boobs were not nearly big enough to get the “sneak me in” attention I needed from the bouncer.

Brandi pulled out her cell phone and snapped her gum as she dialed. “Becker,” she said. “We’re out front.”

My heart sped up a little. I knew we were going to see her brother, but I was a little nervous about talking to him. Last time I did, I suffered from a severe case of foot-in-mouth disease.

“Yes,” Brandi said slowly into the phone, looking at me with a devious grin. “Stella’s with me.”

Had he asked about me? Did I want him to? Shit. I was so lame. Why couldn’t I be smooth like Conner was with me?

I clenched my jaw. Conner. Humph. He was the real reason I was here. A little jealousy went a long way. We’ll see how he liked it.

So I straightened my posture, pushed my hair over my shoulder and put on my best, “I swear I’m cool” smile.

Brandi hung up and looked me over. “He’ll be out in a second,” she said. She opened her mouth to say something else, but stopped. Instead she chewed on her gum and looked toward the doors of the bar.

And when they opened, I glanced over with all the sexiness I could manage. Becker was there, looking ridiculously older-guy-hot. His hair messed up in that perfect way, his mouth pulled into a smile. He didn’t even look at his sister.

“Hey,” he said to me as he walked over.

“Uh.…” Okay. So I could have just said “hey”. Or “hi”. But I wanted to be clever. Witty. Irresistible. “I like your hair.”

What. Is. Wrong. With. Me?

“Thanks?” he answered furrowing his brow. “Yours…is nice too.”

My eyelids fluttered and Brandi giggled and the moment drew on about twenty seconds too long. And just when I was about to try another attempt at speech, I felt a warm touch on my elbow.

“Hey, Stella.”

I turned and nearly coughed up the Altoid I’d just swallowed. Conner. He had no business being here, looking cute, looking at me.

I swung back around and for a second, I thought Becker’s eyes narrowed. Then, suddenly regaining my ability to talk, I reached out and slid my arm into Becker’s. Mostly startling him.
But he touched at my hand and smiled.

“Want to watch me play?” he asked.

“Yep. Let’s go.” And with that, we walked inside.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Day 10

“He kissed you?” Brandi yelled, darting her eyes around the empty classroom. Good thing I’d told her before class started. I didn’t really need the whole, “the new girl is a slut” reputation. Not when said kiss came from a guy with a GIRLFRIEND!

“Sh…” I took her arm and walked to our lab table. My heart was racing. I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t stupid. I wasn’t the type to subscribe to the Player of the Month club, but…I still sort of liked Conner.

“Shit,” Brandi said, sinking into her seat. “You like him, huh?”

“No.” Yes I did.

“Well, I suppose it could work out,” she said, sounding doubtful. “Maybe he’ll break up with Trish.”

But even as she said it, I had the feeling that Conner had no intention of breaking up with his girlfriend. I think he just wanted his cake and to eat me too. Metaphorically of course.

“I don’t care what he does,” I said, looking up as other students began to file in the classroom. “I just need to stay away from him.”

“Sort of hard when he’s your neighbor,” she mumbled. She had a point. I sure hoped my power didn’t go off anytime soon.

“Oh,” she squealed, tugging on my sleeve. “My brother invited us to go watch his band tonight. Wanna?”

I gulped. Hot college brother was in a band too? Wasn’t that sort of hotness illegal? “Um… I don’t know, Brandi. I--”

“You’ll go,” she interrupted. “Besides,” she flipped her hair over her shoulder. “Becker thinks you’re hot.” She giggled but I didn’t say a word. I was sweating a little. Because not only did Becker think I was hot, stupid Conner walked in eying me deviously.

Hm. Wonder what Conner would think if I got a boyfriend of my own. I smiled and looked away. Now that had possibilities.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008



I enjoyed myself for exactly 3…2…1. “Get off me.” I pushed Conner back and he tripped up the steps but caught himself on the railing. He laughed as he sat down in front of me.

“I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it,” he said.

“You couldn’t help assaulting me?” Dramatic, I know. But still. He had a girlfriend, a bitch one at that, and he’d ignored me! How desperate did he think I was?

“I’m a jerk,” he said, tilting his adorably blond head. He reached out and took my leg, pulling me a little closer to him. “I know I hurt your feelings, but I knew if I told you about me and Trish, you wouldn’t go out with me.”

Hm. Actually, I went out with him knowing about Trish. He was giving me far too much credit.

“And I really like you,” he said. “You’re not like the other girls around here.”

“Exactly.” I shook my leg from his grasp and stomped past him to my front door. “Pretty-boy-players just ain’t my thing, Conner. So piss off.” I pushed open my door and slammed it behind me. Only, once I was in, I leaned against it, my body tingling with adrenaline.

Shit. He’d tasted good.

Friday, March 28, 2008



I wasn’t exactly shy. But when a college age, hot and dangerously sexy guy asks your name, it’s hard to remember to talk. So…I didn’t. I think I may have grunted.

Brandi giggled. I tore my eyes away from Becker and looked at her. I could see the resemblance. They both had those soft dark curls, kind brown eyes. Of, course Becker’s face wasn’t smiley and open like Brandi’s. No. He had that moody rocker sort of vibe.

I gulped. I was more a blue-eyed, blond-haired type of girl. But, damn. Becker’s dark, tanned skin just about had me panting.

Hm. I may have needed a break from dating. Hadn’t I just gotten totally played a few days ago? Was I really so quick to try it again?

“Stella, huh?” Becker said. “That’s an unusual name.” I caught his eyes in the mirror.

“Yeah. They were going to call me Becker, but they thought it was too common.”

He laughed. I squirmed.

“You’re not from around here, are you?” he asked, alternating his gaze between the street and my mouth.

“Nope. Arizona.”



“No. I mean Arizona’s hot.” He chuckled.

“Oh, right.” Okay. This was fun. “My house is right up there,” I said, motioning to the two-story Craftsman. Then I gasped.

“That your boyfriend?” Becker asked, sounding a little disappointed.

On my porch, sitting on my stairs with his elbows resting on his knees, was Conner. Looking miserable. Adorable.

Brandi turned around to look at me wide-eyed. “Maybe he broke up with Trish.”

I stared out at Conner and he stood up as we pulled to the curb. That hot little bastard had no right being on my porch.

“Maybe I’ll see you around,” Becker said. I nodded absently and pushed open the door.

“Give him hell,” Brandi called after me.

I walked up the porch steps, hearing the car pull away behind me. Conner dropped down slowly, one step at a time until he was directly in front of me.

Then he reached out, grabbed my face, and kissed me.

Thursday, March 27, 2008



The rest of the day was like death. I pretended to be invisible in lunch, even though Brandi continued to try to “cheer me up” by letting me know that I wasn’t the first person Conner had cheated on his girlfriend with. It didn’t help.

Trish eyed me a couple of times from across the room, but I could tell she didn’t know. If she did, I was pretty sure she wouldn’t be grinning at me like she’d won the “hot guy” lottery. After all, her boyfriend’s tongue had been in MY mouth this weekend.

As the last bell of the day rang, I dragged my loser ass out of my Math seat and headed toward the buses. I stopped. Conner and Trish were making out in front of the school like it was their job. I thought I might throw up.

“Stella!” Brandi yelled.

I looked to my side to see her sitting on the half wall, waving to me. It would be a long walk home, but I would have rather stuck toothpicks in my eyes than walk by Conner and Trish. I walked to Brandi instead.

“You okay?” she asked, crinkling her nose. The air was crisp and I wrapped my arms around myself.

“I’ve been better.”

“Did you want a ride home? My brother’s picking me up.”

I looked back toward the buses but then just nodded. “Yeah. If you don’t think he’d mind. I really don’t have the energy to walk. And I certainly don’t have the energy to look at that asshole anymore.”

Brandi giggled. “Yeah.” She sighed. “I’ve said that once myself.”

My mouth opened in surprise. “You?” She waved her hand dismissively.

“Years ago,” she said. “No big.”

There was a horn beep and Brandi and I looked up at the same time. “There he is,” she said, grabbing my arm. We walked toward the black Honda Accord and I felt a little better. It was like I had a friend. I smiled.

“Becker,” she said to the guy in the driver’s seat. “This is Stella. We’re bringing her home.”

Heat warmed my cheeks and then he turned around. And I just about set on fire.

Shit. My only friend had a super hot older brother. This was bad. Very bad.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

GOING GREEN-The aftermath


Blame it on New Girl Stupidity. Friday night, I made out with Conner. First on top of a cliff, then later in his Jeep and for a brief second on my porch before my father opened the door, grabbed me by the sleeve, and yanked me inside.

Stupidity? No. The stupidity was when Saturday came; I waited on my porch. No Conner. Then Sunday. Hm. Still no Conner. The boy lived next door. Was it really possible for me to miss him? Did he have a secret tunnel or something?

Monday morning. Physics class. This should be interesting. Only it WASN’T interesting. It was awful. Conner, sweet, adorable-boy-next-door Conner, didn’t look at me. Like even once. In fact, the son of bitch put his palm on his face to block my view. I was humiliated.

Brandi nudged my shoulder. “You okay, Stella?” she asked. “You look positively nauseous.”

“Yeah,” I said, glaring in Conner’s direction. “I do feel like PUKING.” Conner straightened up, but didn’t look over. Bastard.

Brandi eyed me for a minute and then looked in his direction. “Oh,” she said, puckering her lips. “I see Conner has struck again.”

I turned sharply to her. “What?” My stomach was so knotted up, I felt like I’d just gotten done doing like a million crunches.

“He’s sort of…” Brandi bit on her lip, rolling her eyes to the ceiling. “He’s got somewhat of a reputation. There’s a pretty good reason why Trish is such a bitch.”

And then I knew. “She’s totally his girlfriend, isn’t she?” My face stung.

“Yep.” Brandi put her arm on mine. “For like two years.”

Shit. Oregon sucked.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

GOING GREEN-On the rocks


“I’m going to die. I’m going to die,” I mumbled as I clung for life on the side of the cliff.

“You okay?” Conner asked from below me. I was told not to look down, but I had to.

“Um…no.” I spotted him, grinning up at me. I was stuck. Too scared to go up or down. Man. Why couldn’t he have taken me out for ice cream or something?

“Hang tight,” he called. “I’m coming up.”

Well he’d better, otherwise I’d end up as the lead story on the eleven o’clock news. I heard the murmurs of several people below me, mostly laughing as I pressed my entire body to the rock wall. There were metallic clinks as Conner made his way up.

Finally he was next to me, breathing heavily. “Hi,” he said.

My heart was racing from the danger, but with staring at me like that, my stomach decided to flutter a little, too. “Do you always try to get girls killed on the first date?” I asked.

He smiled. “Only the ones I like.”

So, yeah. We were twenty feet in the air, totally flirting. “You do remember that you have a girlfriend, right?” I had to point it out. Not that I cared at this point.

“She’s not really my girlfriend,” he whispered. “We’ve known each other since kindergarten. She just likes for the other girls to think I’m off limits. Ego thing. I play along. I haven’t really been interested in anyone there anyway.”

Interesting. “And she’d be totally fine with you being here with me right now?”

“Hell, no,” he said, reaching over to clip something onto my harness. “She’s going to have a complete bitch fit.” He paused and looked me over. “That okay with you?”

Damn. He was beyond hot. “I told you,” I said. “I’m not a big fan of red heads.”

Next thing I knew, Conner was climbing above me, his ropes tied into mine as he helped me up the mountain. I’d love to say that it was fun. But it wasn’t. It was freaking scary.

But when I got to the top, I didn’t mind so much. Especially not when he leaned over, and kissed me.

Friday, March 21, 2008

GOING GREEN-Friday Night


About twenty seconds later, a red Jeep pulled up to my porch steps. Figured. Hot guys drove hot cars. He rolled down the passenger window and grinned.

“Well? Are you getting in or not?”

Tingles spread all over me and I looked back into the house. “Dad?” I asked. “You sure it’s okay if I go out for a while?” I sort of wanted him to say no. Something told me that this might be a really bad idea.

“Go,” my father said, waving his hand dismissively from the couch. “Even the maid gets a night off every once in a while.”

I smiled, thanked him and grabbed my coat before walking out the door. Man. This would end badly. And by badly, I mean awesomely but with bad aftershocks. Red headed ones.

As I got in, Conner turned to me. “You ever been rock climbing?”

I curled my lip. “Uh, hell no. Are you being serious?” He’d better be joking.

But instead he chuckled, shifted into gear, and drove toward town.


We were standing at the base of a rock wall on a hill just above the city lights. It was dark out, but there were groups of people, wearing helmets and shit, setting up lights and ropes.

“I’m not doing this,” I whispered as I stood next to Conner, watching the scene unfold. My pulse was racing with fear. I wasn’t really down for heights.

“Come on,” he said, pushing my shoulder. “It’ll be fun.” He batted his eyelashes playfully. “I brought an extra harness…” he sang.

Damn. He was adorable. But, it had to be said. “And where’s your girlfriend tonight?” Ew. I sounded bitchy.

He shrugged. “Don’t know.” He looked at me. “Why? Would you rather be on a date with her?”

Oh. My. God. This was a date? “Not really,” I said, trying to not to show him that I was nervous as hell. “I’m not really into red heads.”

He laughed, taking me by the arm and leading me toward the group suiting up. “Hey,” he called to them. “We’ve got a virgin here.”

I swung to face him but he was picking up a harness, stepping into it, looking like he’d done it a million times before. Two guys came over, wrapping stuff around me, talking to me about safety procedures.

I stared up the side of the rock. If I broke my neck tonight, I would be so pissed.

Thursday, March 20, 2008



It was Friday night and I was sitting with my dad watching Wheel of Fortune. Worst part? Him yelling out the wrong answers every five flipping seconds. It used to irritate my mother, too. But that wasn’t the reason she left.

The doorbell rang. My dad and I exchanged a glance and then he nodded for me to answer it. I curled my lip.

“Do I look like the maid?”

“Maid’s clean,” my father said, taking a handful of popcorn. “So…no.”

I laughed and got up, shaking my head as I walked to the entryway. When I opened the door, my eyes widened.

“Hi, Stella,” Conner said, leaning on my doorframe, looking effortlessly sexy.

“H…hi.” Shit. Did I just stutter?

“Our power just went out. Can I get in your basement for a minute?”

“Why? My power’s on.” Although na outage during the bonus round would be super helpful right now.

“Yeah,” he chuckled. “These old houses,” he motioned behind him at the neighborhood. “Our electricity sort of gets tied in and stuff. Anyway, the guy that lived here before you tapped into our electricity. We fixed it, but sometimes our power still goes out. So I need to flip one of your switches.”

Flip my switch? I liked the sound of it. “Oh, okay.” I backed away from the door and as he walked past me, I sniffed him. He smelled GOOD.

“Hey, Sir,” Conner said, raising a hand to my father. My dad looked him over for a moment, maybe trying to figure out if he was my date. Then he said hi.

“He needs to get in the basement,” I said, stopping next to my hot neighbor. I looked down at his feet. They were in worn sandals and his jeans were shredded on the bottom from where they’d dragged on the ground.

“Oh,” my dad said, popcorn visible in between chews. “Your mom told me about that.”

Hm. Glad someone informed me.
I waited at the top of the stairs as Conner messed around with the contents of a hanging metal box. When he came up, I walked him to the door.

I paused there, standing in the doorway, pretending like it didn’t make me crazy to be this close to him.

He tilted his head. “Are you doing anything right now?”

My stomach flipped. “Not really.”

Conner grinned. “Grab your jacket. I’ll get my car.” Then, without another word, he spun around and jogged toward his house.

Stunned. Absolutely stunned. Did…did he just ask me out?

Working title: GOING GREEN


I was pretty convinced that the school lunchroom was a social experiment set up by the district. There was no other explanation for the cruelty involved in picking a table. I scanned the room, my tray heavy as it pointed out how lame it was to eat hot sliced turkey and gravy at the age of seventeen.

“Stella!” Brandi yelled, waving wildly from across the room. I sighed. Thank God. I thought I was going to have to eat by myself in the bathroom or something.

I walked slowly toward her table, glancing from face to face, recognizing only the blonde from Physics. The minute I sat down, everyone turned to stare at me.

“I’m Katrina,” the blonde said. “Where’d you transfer from?”

“Wow,” Brandi said, sliding a can of soda toward me. “I bet that was awesome, all the sunshine and shit.”

“Yeah. It was nice.” There was a tug in my chest as I remembered my friends, my little stucco house…. my mom.

“Great,” Katrina mumbled, looking down. “Here comes the douche.”

My eyes snapped up to a petite, ridiculously pretty redhead walking toward us. Damn. She was pulling on the arm of Conner, dragging him behind her. The girlfriend.

“Hi, girls,” she said, looking between Brandi and Katrina. She was obviously ignoring me, but her grip on Conner’s arm was turning his skin white.

“Wow,” Brandi said, sounding completely fake. “I love your sweater, Trish.”

Trish’s sweater, although tight as hell, was a hideous color of green. I smiled.

“Thanks, Bran,” she answered, tossing her red curls over her shoulder and dropping Conner’s arm. Her dark brown eyes flicked to mine. “Who’s she?”

Okay. I had this thing. I got really pissed when people talked about me while I was right there. I wanted to answer, “I’m your worst nightmare, Bitch,” but I rolled my eyes instead.

“That’s my new neighbor,” Conner said, grinning adorably. My cheeks warmed.

Trish spun around to face him and then looked back at me. “You?” she asked sneering. “Live next door to my boyfriend?”

I laughed. Her fake tan just faded by three shades.

“What’s your name?” she asked me, adjusting into what could only be described as a battle stance.

“Stella,” I answered, locking her in my stare.

“Stella?” She laughed. “You sound like somebody’s grandma.”

“Uh, yeah. Well, I’m named after my grandmother.” I clenched my fist under the table.

“Obviously,” she said, smiling to herself. She looked around at the rest of the table and when no one said anything, she sucked at her teeth. “Whatever,” she said. “We’re sitting with Paul and them today anyway.” Her eyes narrowed on mine. “See you around, Stella.”

I stared at her as she stomped away. Conner stood for a minute at the end of our table, scratching at his blond curls. “Sorry,” he said. “She’s really not that bad.”

“If you say so.” Damn. He was seriously cute.

Conner nodded and then walked away, leaving me a little breathless, disappointed.

“So cool,” Brandi said, shaking her head.

“What?” I turned to her and saw her grinning from ear to ear.

“He likes you.”

“Who?” As if there hadn’t been an insanely hot guy talking to me thirty seconds before.

“Conner. Oh, man.” She giggled. “Trish is going to be so pissed.”
I twitched my nose, not answering, and instead poked the turkey on my tray with a spork. Let the bitchfest begin.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008



“You totally think Conner is cute, right?” Brandi asked. Right. She didn’t whisper it, even though he was only a lab table away. She was loud.


Conner chuckled. The girl in front of me turned around to wait for my answer. My cheeks were on fire with embarrassment. Them actually setting on fire would’ve been better because then I’d have a legitimate excuse to go running from the room.

“It’s okay,” the blonde in front of us said, sounding bored. “Everyone wants to do Conner.” She glanced at him. “Even some of the guys.”

I loved how this conversation was allowed to happen out loud. No educational interference. I glared toward the front, hoping for anything, even a detention, to deflect the question of whether I not I wanted to hump my neighbor.

Brandi leaned into me, twirling a long, dark curl around her finger. “He has a girlfriend, though,” she said in sad, wispy voice.


“And she’s a total bitch.”

“Yeah she is,” the blonde echoed.

I twitched my nose, less embarrassed, more disappointed. Covertly, with all the slyness of a kindergartener with a crush, I looked sideways at Conner. He was resting his face in his palm, leaning on the table and staring at me. When I met his eyes, he straightened up and grinned.
Girlfriend. So not good.

Still Untitled Story Blog


Conner (AKA Hottie-Next-Door) had managed to keep a low profile over the next few days. He also managed to not clock me with a flying disc. My father was at the height of annoying as he tried to convince me that recycling was an important issue, especially here in Oregon, and that I needed to go more “green.” The only green I was, was with envy for my friends back in Arizona. At least their parent’s divorce didn’t result in a moving-west mentality.

Before I’d had the chance to properly adapt to the cool, cloudy weather, it was a school day. Luckily, it was only October so I hadn’t missed much. At least, I didn’t think I had until I walked into Physics class.

Awesome. One of those super awkward, stand-in-front-of-the-class-while-the-teacher-decides-the-best-person-to-stick-you-next-to moments. Against my better judgment, I looked up and glanced across the room. Conner waved.

I couldn’t help but smile as I dropped my eyes. Damn. He was adorable.

“Okay, Ms. Alvarado,” Mr. Powell said. “You’re partners with Brandi Templeton.” At the announcement there was a squeal and a clap. I jetted my eyes up, alarmed at the girl smiling and beckoning me over. She was pretty and everything, but news flash. Transfer students were notoriously EMO. So pairing me up with the captain of the pep squad was a bad deal.

Especially when she was sitting one table over from Conner.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I write a lot. It's sort of out of control sometimes, so I decided, rather than post random passages from my WIPs, I should just have a story for my blog. So I'm starting this. Just for here. Haven't thought of a title yet, so if you think of one, PLEASE let me know. :D I hope you like it:

Dad’s Honda broke down three times in three states. It was fun. Not. When we finally arrived in this godforsaken place, I believe the locals call it…Oregon, I almost didn’t get out of the car. I didn’t mind trees, but this was like the woods or something. At least the moving truck was already waiting at the curb. Yes. My magazines.

I’d hoped to find attractive moving guys, hauling heavy pieces of furniture as they flexed, but no such luck. It looked more like my Uncle Stanley and his poker buddies. I sighed. Then a Frisbee pegged me in the forehead.

“What the hell?” I reached up, rubbing at my skin, staring down at the bright blue weapon at my feet. There was laughing and by the time I looked up, there was a boy in front of me. A blond one with no shirt. Hm. This day just got interesting.

“Holy shit. I’m sorry,” he said, trying to purse his lips, keeping his smile hidden. I glared at him, not really annoyed but a little sore. I was sure there was a red line across my forehead because he kept glancing above my eyes.

“What’s your name?” he asked.


“Conner,” he said, stretching out his hand. I took it and it was sweaty and hot. And by hot I mean sexy.

Conner ran his hands through his hair and then laughed. “Wow,” he said. “This is so cliché.”

“Uh, what is?” I hadn’t heard anyone other than my English teacher use the word cliché in a sentence. These Oregon kids must be smart.

“You know,” he said, leaning in like he was telling me a secret. “The cute girl next door.”


And this was only my first day.