Breathing underwater alex flinn pdf

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guide for Breathing Underwater written by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, visit her website: Identify the major characters in Breathing Underwater. What role do they. Don't miss this timely contemporary young adult novel from Alex Flinn, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beastly, about a teenage boy's struggl. Breathing Underwater Alex Flinn 1 JANUARY 5 JUSTICE BUILDING, MIAMI, FLORIDA I've never been in a courthouse before. But then, I've never been in such.

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Breathing Underwater. Alex Flinn. 1. JANUARY 5 JUSTICE BUILDING, MIAMI, FLORIDA. I've never been in a courthouse before. But then, I've never been in. This books (Breathing Underwater [PDF]) Made by Alex Flinn. Book details Author: Alex Flinn Pages: pages Publisher: HarperCollins Language: English ISBN ISBN If you want to download this book, click link in the last page. READING GROUP GUIDE FOR BREATHING UNDERWATER. BY ALEX FLINN. 1. The beginning of the book, Nick thinks of his abuse of Caitlin: It was a slap.

I won't even be here next week. Pennies saved one and two at a time by negotiating with the More information. My side of the story as if you care That's what I've written so far, and I've been sitting two hours. Danny asked. Not Enabled Lending: It was ninety - three degrees out, but she didn't wear shorts like everyone else. I know you're all tense, but that will be the last time we mention anyone's mother.

Out of his desperate need for her came all the mean words and the hitting. But now Caitlin's family has procured a restraining order to keep Nick away, and the judge has sentenced him to Mario Ortega's Family Violence class, to sit around every week with six other angry guys who hit their girlfriends.

And to write a journal explaining how he got into this mess. Ages 13 and older --Patty Campbell. In what PW called "a gripping tale," a year-old, who is considered perfect by his classmates, suffers a turbulent home life with an abusive father, and he himself follows the pattern of violence.

See all Editorial Reviews. Product details File Size: Not Enabled. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? Share your thoughts with other customers.

Write a customer review. Read reviews that mention breathing underwater alex flinn restraining order anger management high school main character year old nick andreas best friend keep a journal management classes point of view domestic violence girlfriend caitlin great book key biscayne young man journal entries family violence sixteen year.

Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Paperback Verified Purchase. Nick has been summoned to a courtroom Sure, he hit his girlfriend, but it was just one slap, one measly little slap and suddenly, his girlfriend, Caitlin, blows everything out of proportion by acquiring a restraining order against him. Why would she do that? After all, he said he was sorry.

So why couldn't she let it go and move on like all the other times he's won her back? The answer is quite simple. Nick is not telling the whole story. Sixteen year old Nick thinks that everyone is overreacting. They don't know the whole story between him and Caitlin. According to him, what went on between them wasn't anyone's business, including that counselor and the room of freaks he's been told to sit with everyday of the week. But it is through these counseling sessions where he tries to become invisible, and the journal in which he's required to write, that Nick finally reveals himself.

It's not often that an author tells a story like this from the male's perspective. I'm quite sure there are plenty of books like this, maybe even written better, however. This was my first and I could definitely relate to it. Not to say I felt sorry for the character; I just empathized with him. Everyone has their secrets and, sooner or later, the secrets you keep wound up exploding in your face. Teenage love is a strange thing but, when it's all you want, it can be very scary.

Nice, quick read; I did it in one sitting. If you're the squeamish type, or the type that gets mad when a book doesn't go the way you want it to, then this is not the book for you. If you're everyone else, give it a try. One person found this helpful. Alex Flinn takes you on a roller coaster in this coming of age tale of a boy with a lot of pent up frustration.

The story takes you all over the Keys, but it takes place prominently at Key Biscayne High School and the anger management class. The story starts off with Nick in court getting a restraining order put on him by his ex-girlfriend Caitlin. He is sentenced to take a class on anger management and write his version of the story in a journal every day.

Nick encounters many obstacles along the way. One of which is trying to get Caitlin back because he still loves her. Another is dealing with his best friend Tom deserting him. He also has to deal with the anger management classes including the teacher, his peers and himself. All of these things he must deal with while constantly living in fear and loathing of his abusive, uncaring, disapproving father. Along the way Nick's perspective is changed.

Through the use of the journal to observe exactly how he is, and interacting and observing with his peers both from school and anger management classes, Nick is finally able to see where he has gone wrong and how he can make things right.

This book is truly one to remember and I would strongly recommend it to anyone, but I would especially suggest it to young guys who feel overwhelmed by their lives, anyone with anger issues, and those who struggle to cope with everyday life.

This book is not for the weak hearted as some very controversial subjects are addressed in the novel. I look forward to reading more books from this author and more books like "Breathing Underwater". This is the one book that both high school boys and girls will read. Have challenged reluctant readers to read 15 pages--and if they wanted to stop, I would give them credit for a book.

Her other books are more story-driven, but this one is both character and story driven. This was a summer reading book for my son. I read it first and I actually liked it. It can be a little slow but it isn't an adult book so I expected that. The story was well written and interesting. I like how the boy learned through his exploration into his feelings.

Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. I read this book because my team of English teachers are responsible for teaching a teen dating violence curriculum to our high school students. As part of a modified curriculum, we utilized a passage from this book to demonstrate the cycle of violence. I am one of those teachers who feels that I must read everything I present to my class prior to its presentation, and this was no diffierent.

I found that once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I was angry with Nick, but at the same time, I understood the things he went through. I was annoyed with Caitlin I applauded when she did, but at the same time, I felt Nick's pain. There are some graphic scenes in here told through Nick's journal of memories , but the book is well written.

I recommend it highly. There are lots of books written about dating violence but this book is very important and note worthy because it is from the point of view of the abusive boyfriend. This shows us the other side of the abuse and what was going through his mind. I have been in an abusive relationship before and this book was helpful.

I would also recommend all young women to read this book. I liked how this book took me in and played with my emotions. It was easy to put myself in a variety of roles. Plus, a good reminder and awareness message for all perspectives. Quick and easy read. Perfect for mandatory summer reading requirements. See all reviews. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers.

Learn more about Amazon Giveaway. This item: Breathing Underwater. Anyone looking would think he's patting my back, but his fingers claw my skin. Excuse me, Your Honor, but I'm bleeding. The lyrics run through my head with all the other suddenly meaningless information. Will this be over if I say it's all true? Deny it? Cat's mouth moves until I wonder if she's reciting the alphabet, the Lord's Prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance.

No way could she say that much bad stuff about me. But when I tune in a few seconds, I hear her, agreeing with everything Polyester says I did, not explaining, not giving any background, just agreeing. It was a slap, I want to tell them. One slap, when she pushed me way too far. I never beat her up, would never hurt her. I loved her, love her still. Doesn't she remember anything good about us?

Caitlin clutches the tissue like a white flag. She 6 doesn't use it again until Polyesters final question. Then, Madame Judge turns to me. You aren't required to testify. He telegraphs a message: You're in big trouble, kid. My father and I look alike. I don't remember my mother much--she left when I was five--but I'm sure I don't look like her.

My dark hair and dimples come from my father's gene pool sure as the baby lizards running across our garden path look like Papa Lizard humping on the hibiscus.

Still, I search the mirror for differences, anything to avoid seeing him in myself. His eyes are bad enough. Those green eyes can do more damage than his fist, and I see them in my own eyes every day. Yet, it's my father's eyes I notice now, my father I'm trying to please when I speak on the witness stand, lying despite the oath.

I wonder if God is listening, if God exists. Caitlin's making this up to get back at me for breaking up with her. She's nuts. The mask takes over. She's flattering herself if she thinks I'd waste my time. The judge's voice stops me. Where does she get off calling me Nick?

What if I called her Debbie, maybe even Debs? So, Debs, what's your take on separation of powers?

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It wouldn't matter. Judge Lehman is destined to hate me. Young, but not pretty, brown eyes swimming behind thick glasses. I see her as a schoolgirl, lenses covered in fingerprints, waiting for the day she can screw someone like me. Her next words prove my point. You may think I don't know you, but I do. But I don't let myself say it.

Control is. She's lying. Sweet little you could never do such a thing. Right, Nick?

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I see inside you, and I don't like what I see. If you contact Caitlin McCourt, talk to her at school, if you so much as look at her funny in the hallway, you go to jail.

We understand each other? For what? But I say, "That shouldn't be a problem. To make sure it's not, I'm also ordering six months' counseling, classes on family violence and dealing with anger. Well, that's fair. Along with your counseling, you'll keep a journal, five hundred words per week. In it, you'll explain what happened 9 between you and Caitlin McCourt, from the first time you saw her until today.

You can write your version or the truth. I don't care. I like fairy tales. I won't even read it unless you want me to. But every week, you'll bring that journal to class and show your counselor you've written, that you're thinking about what you've done. If you're very lucky, maybe you'll learn something. It doesn't go through, and it doesn't even hurt, but the bailiff threatens to call security. McCourt smiles. Cat watches my father, and when I glance over, I see why. Still, I follow him out, my hand finally uncurled enough to ache.

We walk to the parking lot. The January air is barely cold, and my father's green Jag's parked between two spaces.

He unlocks it, and I get in. He slams his door and shoves the key into the ignition. When I look again, his manicured fingers rest, harmless, on the gearshift.

I say, "I'm sorry, Dad. This is why you always fail. But, for an instant, I remember Caitlin's face, and I know my father's right about me. He flips on the classical station.

Screeching violins fill the air, and the conversation's finished. Judge Debbie Lehman From: My side of the story as if you care That's what I've written so far, and I've been sitting two hours. I can't believe I have to write five hundred words a week. Five hundred words-- that's like major literature. Having screwed around the last hour trying to decide whether to write in the style of Isaac Asimov that version featured Caitlin as a Venusians chick with 11 one eye and three breasts or Dr.

Though it means remembering things I'd rather forget, I finally decide to write the truth. It doesn't matter anyway.

Breathing Underwater Alex Flinn

Tuesday morning, second week of sophomore year I approached key Biscayne High's Mercedes dealership of a parking lot driving a red Mustang convertible, my father's belated birthday gift. Tom rode shotgun. His long blond hair blew in the breeze, and he pretended not to flex his muscles to impress whatever girls might notice. In other words, nothing unusual was happening, nothing to hint at what was coming: Tom and I had been best friends since first grade.

That's when I'd figured. I didn't tell Tom that, of course. He'd never understand. It wasn't that I blamed Tom for getting everything he wanted. I couldn't do that because he was such a great guy.

But then, we'd all be great guys if we had his life. That day, he was trying to talk me into asking out Ashley Pettigrew. I told him she wasn't my type. Tom nodded and said, "That's what I like about you, Nick - no competition for girls. You're the only guy I know who actually aspires to die a virgin. She emerged from the mob of Jan Sport -toting zombies. I stared a second. Then, a second longer.

I knew her. The words dream girl, stupid and crazy as they were, popped into my head. This was her. The one. It was ninety - three degrees out, but she didn't wear shorts like everyone else. She actually wore a dress. Still, I noticed the online of her breasts, her legs brushing together.

Other girls wore silver earnings shaped like crosses or hoops.

Hers were pearls. She moved out of range, and I turned to Tom. Tom was back to looking at his biceps. You're so kidding me. That's Caitlin McCourt. Remember, from kindergarten? And every grade after that. Everyone's talking about it. She's in chorus, for God's sake. And she'll get fat again. I was picturing the way Caitlin McCourt moved, walking away. I wanted to touch, even smell her. How would her skin feel under my lips? Tom went back to talking about Ashley, and I'd get nowhere with him.

So I eased into a parking space. I figured if I ran, I could maybe track Caitlin down before class. Not that I knew what I'd say. Leaving the top down, I sprinted to the building while Tommy Boy was still examination his pecs. I put down my pen. Four hundred ninety-nine words is all I can manage. Picture this: The walls are covered with nightmares--wild modem art that looks like those old John Carpenter horror movies on late-night TV.

The population is scarier. There's everything from a guy with pierced cheeks to a scrawny accountant type who looks like he made a wrong turn on the way to a Rotary Club meeting. We do have two things in common: First, we're all pissed about being in Family Violence Class. Second I think I can go out on a limb , we're eyeing this guy across from me, who's staring at the floor and ceiling, eating his fingernails to the nub, and rocking back and forth.

I try not to gawk. You never know what sort of weapons a psycho like that could have. But it's like a car wreck or a girl with enormous breasts. You have to look. Now he's clenching his fists, shaking. Six-way tie. Our instructor, a fat, cherubic-looking guy named Mario Ortega, explains the rules.

Arguments to the contrary, you can take to the judge. Without that, there's nothing I can do. You know the type. Only an illegible tattoo keeps him from looking nine years old.

He runs a penknife under filthy nails. His face matches it. I'd bet there's a pickup truck with a gun rack out in the parking lot. You can't leave. I guess we'll have to open our minds, Mr Kelly, I believe. Kelly glares at all 16 of us, and I silently thank whatever deity was on duty the night my parents saw fit not to give me a girl's name.

The rest are pretty simple, and since you've got no choice, you'll follow them. Next one is, be on time. The guy who opens it looks in no particular hurry. Like most of the group, he's about my age, but he's normal compared to the rest of them. Better than normal, maybe. Tall and dark, with a take-no-shit walk, he apologizes, his cool voice conveying no actual contrition, and sits by Kelly. Rule five: It must hurt, but he doesn't even flinch.

Me, I have no intention of talking. I have enough problems without some Ph. That's an old story. Been there, done that, heard it on Oprah. I figure the time spent here will be an excellent period to devote to Serious Thought--say, memorizing the periodic table of elements. The mountain of a black guy beside me-- obviously a resultoriented individual--nails my feelings when he says, "We get a grade on this?

You don't participate, I cut you loose. For you court-ordered people, that means starting over again. Or face the consequences. The big house, the pokey. Got the message. I nudge the big guy. I turn away, sure for a second he sees everything I don't want him to. I'm not the court system or your girlfriends. So, I won't accept T was drunk' as an excuse. If everyone who got drunk beat up on someone else, we'd all have black eyes every day.

And being plain old pissed offs no defense either. If you think your girlfriend's the biggest slut in the world, leave her. Don't hit 18 her. You are responsible for your violence. You won't get better 'til you come to terms with that. My friends call me Tiny.

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His hair is shaved on the sides, and the sleeves of his Tasmanian Devil T-shirt are rolled back to expose his muscles. There are enough chains around his thick neck to drown someone smaller. What land of damage could a guy that size do to a girl? Women always do. I told her if she kept beating on me, I'd do her some damage. Finally, I had to bust her mouth just to show I meant business.

And they pressed charges even though Donyelle told them we're engaged. Caitlin never hit me, of course, but what about mental torture? What about getting a guy so crazy he has to use his fists-- hands--in self-defense?

The statement comes from the Psycho. While Tiny was talking, the Psycho's been doing some serious shaking. Now he looks up at us. I don't want to tell a lie, but I don't know. Mario comes between them, putting an arm around the Psycho's shaking shoulder. Mario whispers in his ear. I tune them out. Hearing them might make me be like them. Like you're trying to be a man when you're just a scared kid, trying to keep under control when you really want to scream, cry, maybe hit someone.

Ever feel like you're breathing underwater, and you have to stop because you're gulping in too much fluid? Mario gestures toward him. We all hit our girlfriends. Class dismissed. Spic women think it's their mission to get hit.

Kelly sits upright. I know you're all tense, but that will be the last time we mention anyone's mother. Let's cool it with the ethnic slurs too. Leo's up an instant later, one hand on Kelly's neck, holding him away from his body. He shoves Kelly into the wall. Chairs fly as we clear the way. Someone starts chanting, "Fight! Kelly's gasping for breath. A vein bulges in Leo's forehead, but otherwise he holds Kelly like he's nothing. Mario steps between them, putting a hand on each of their shoulders and shouting, "Calm down," his voice becoming softer as he eases them apart.

Sotolongo," Mario says when Leo finally sits. I also know your record and the charges against you. It takes several minutes for everyone to calm down, but, finally, Leo's in a chair by mine, and Mario's next to Kelly. Sotolongo," Mario says.

I didn't hit anyone. My girlfriend's parents hate me. Trouble is, she didn't want to stay pure. I must've threatened her. Raped her. She sold me out, lied so she wouldn't get in trouble. But I'll get Neysa to drop the charges. At least, I want to be someplace else, not laying my life open to these assorted losers. But 23 that isn't happening, so I stand. It was damn near perfect. When I shrug, he says, "What does the court say you did? Start with your name. I lost it once and slapped my girlfriend.

That's it. One lousy slap. Mario stops me. A slap, like I said. Open hand. Her face didn't turn red or anything. I slapped her in the face. Look--" I pace a few steps before I catch myself. I know that. But she pissed me off this one time. Doesn't sound stupid to me. She hates me. None of 24 my friends are talking to me, including a guy I've known since kindergarten, because of one crummy slap. Mario still dogs me.

I hear blood pounding through my ears and I do feel like I'm breathing underwater. I touch the amethyst ring in my pocket, the one I bought Caitlin. I try not to look because looking makes me hear my father's voice--the voice that's always, always telling me how bad I screwed up, what a loser I am. I can't deal with his voice. And when I look past the pain in my head, there's Caitlin after it happened.

The trust and everything she said she felt for me, gone. I have to have Caitlin back. She's the only one who can silence the voice in my head. After all, Caitlin's all I think about anyway.

She chose a chair two rows ahead and one seat to the left of mine, the prefect angle for me to see her rest her hand against her cheek, or watch as the tip of her pen entered her mouth. God, I wished I was that pen. I wished, also, to be one - tenth as cool as people thought I was - cool enough to talk to her. A few minutes into reviewing irregular verbs which I already knew, thanks to our parade of Spanish - speaking housekeepers , I felt a nudge.

Tom pushed his notebook toward me. He'd written: Stop staring. You look like a serial killer. Bite me. I wrote back. His notebook was under my nose again: Are you going to ask her out? I looked away. I'd been considering the question, but there were others. What would I say? What if she wasn't interested? Or had a boyfriend? What if I puked my guts up, and she couldn't hear me through the gurgling? What if she laughed?

After class, I shoved my book into my backpack and bolted. Tom followed, trying to convince me to 26 talk to her. I told him I'd decided he was right. I'd pass on Caitlin. But Tom said like hell I would, after slobbering the whole hour. He blocked the door, saying, "Go for it, Nick. You're not that ugly, man. Tom said he'd take her, if I wouldn't. He ran a quick hand down the length of his hair and walked to Caitlin's desk. I ducked into the hall to watch the sea of humanity roll by.

There were no windows there, so although it was bright outside, my mind was gray. I couldn't believe Tom would hit on a girl I liked. He'd get her too. Like I said, Tom got everything he wanted. When we were kids, Tom and I used to tell people we were twins. I wished it was true. My father would go on the warpath, and I'd head for Tom's.

I tried not to care. When we got older, I realized no one could ever mistake us for brother. Sure, we'd started out the same size, but Tom kept growing. Now, girls regularly embarrassed themselves over him - hanging at his locker or giggling when he passed them in the hall. I figured he kept me around to pour Gatorade at his victory parties. Mostly, through, Tom's face filled two dozen picture frames at the Carters house. And perfect Tom was talking to Caitlin.

I wouldn't stand a chance. I pushed the door open. She was laughing - big trouble for me. Tom stood. He wants to have your baby.

I started to walk away, but Caitlin caught me eye and held it. There was a long silence before words sort of tumbled out.

Cool car. Did you and your dad fix it up or something? I decided it didn't matter. Tom suggested we discuss it on the way home. She said it to Tom but kept looking at me. Her eyes were blue. The room had cleared, and even the hallway was quiet. It dawned on me Tom hadn't asked her out, he'd been holding my place while I found my nerve. Caitlin was into me, not him. The planets where orbiting in a different order. I stopped myself from grinning. Cool Nick took over.

I said, "Sure if you want. She chattered on about her defective tongue which, she swore, made it impossible to roll her r's. Her tongue looked prefect to me. Finally, Tom changed the subject. He's giving a party Saturday, back - to - school. I'm taking Liana Castro.

You two should go. We could double. She was one of the few girls not openly drooling over Tom. Tom and Caitlin looked at me until I said, "You want to go? With me, I mean? I'd like that. I wanted to put her smile in my pocket to look at over and over. I'm late. I dress and run down the marble stairs, my hand brushing the butt of the ridiculous naked womanshaped pillar on the landing.

When I pull the front door open, rain slaps me in the face. Where the hell is my car? Then, I run into the downpour, searching, like maybe the car's playing hide-and-seek with me. But it would be hard to miss a car that red. It's gone. I stand there, getting wet.

Finally, I sprint back upstairs to my father's bedroom, planning to--i don't know--tell him? That would mean waking him. Instead, I dial the police, still clutching my journal for class. His familiar Greek accent is like nails on a blackboard. Where is it? My father's maybe an inch taller than me, which is short. Still, his voice fills the room, and he looks pretty happy for this early Saturday morning.

That kind of happiness is a bad sign. My throat tenses, but I'm not surprised. The hallway clock chimes eight-thirty. But I don't say it. Instead, I say, "I have class in half an hour. For court. The train station is five minutes away, on the mainland. But half an hour later, I'm still waiting on its raised platform.

The place is deserted, and the rain shows no signs of stopping. Gusts of water soak my face, rattle the tracks.

I lean forward to search for the train's white light against gray sky. Not there. I'll probably have to take the class over, and its my father's fault. The hollow in my stomach grows, and somehow, even my hunger becomes his fault. If he'd sold the car because of what happened 31 with Caitlin, I'd understand. He didn't, though. He sold it because he could. The train finally lumbers in, and I get on. The sagging seat hits my butt, and I stare through a dirty window.

I don't know when I first knew my family was different, that I could never tell anyone about the silences and the rages in my father's Architectural Digest house. I knew for sure when I was eleven, the year my father bought the Mustang. I came home one day to find my father smiling. He was like a kid with a new toy, and for once, for once, he wanted me to play with him. I followed him to the garage, and there,. I nodded, though part of me--the smart part-- knew it wouldn't happen.

Like I said, I was eleven. I knew stuff. It was a good day. There were some good days then. But the smart part of me knew. Working on that car was something other fathers and sons did, something Tom and his dad did, not us. Not me. I was right. A week later, he hired some grease monkey to replace the engine and just about everything else until finally, the car was perfect.

My father liked perfect. Then, he hardly drove it. Father's Day, I got the brainy idea of detailing it for him. I hitched a ride to the mainland for supplies then 32 begged off the beach with my friends and spent the hotter part of a Saturday spreading Turtle Wax, rubbing it down with an old, soft shirt that still smelled of my fathers cologne.

I remembered him smiling the day he got the car. When he came home, I showed him what I'd done. In the garage's fluorescent light, my father inspected my handiwork.

Planets hesitated. He ran an index finger across the hood, opened doors, examined Armor All-coated rubber. Then, he circled the car to the other side, his entire body registering begrudging approval. On the passenger side, he stopped. He leaned over, eyes riveted to the door panel.

He jabbed his finger closer to the nothing. To call it a nick would grossly exaggerate its size. More like a paper cut, and one that must have been there to begin with. I'd been too careful. But my father wasn't rounding up suspects, and my butt was there to lack. He never drove the car again. It went into hiding, and so did I. From then on, I avoided him, made good grades, and kept my room clean enough to perform surgery.

It worked except when it didn't. Birthdays are hit-and-miss with my father, but this year, he remembered only a week late. Possibly, he'd been waiting for the occasion to remind me of my screwup. I came to. It took me ten minutes to find the scratch before I drove to school, his words ringing in my ears.

You break it, you own it. Apparently not. The train pulls into the Coconut Grove station. It's raining too hard for an umbrella to help, and I'm walking too far. The wind pushes at me like a defensive lineman and, finally, I ditch the umbrella and run to class.

I get there at nine thirty-five. Leo's standing, yelling at Mario. I won't even be here next week. I can't deal with this. Better yet, throw me in jail. Who cares? We'll discuss your future here later. I glare back. Who does he think he is? I'm not towel-drying myself in front of this group, and I'm not explaining why I'm late, so I take a seat, feeling the blast of air-conditioning on my wet T-shirt.

I shiver, and there's Leothe-cool smirking in his chair. Suddenly, I hate him, hate him because he's got a girlfriend who'll drop the charges. Mine won't speak to me on a bet. Hate him because if we'd met in school, maybe we'd have been friends. I sit, shivering through the rest of his lecture.

After class, I wait by Mario's desk until everyone else leaves. Leo gives one final smirk. I manage a sneer back. I examine Mario's photographs. There's a smiling woman, a little boy. Mario s family. What could he possibly know about my life? I'm about to ask him, but he speaks first. I'm sure you had a good reason. Need to see it? It's eleven o'clock, but outside is night, with rain pounding worse than before.

Still, I say, "Someone's picking me up. It's trashed--wavy and bumpy and smudged, like it's been through a shipwreck. Yet, I've dried it off with a hair dryer so I can write in it. Thinking of the car makes me think about Tom.

Tom even helped. Buffing worked his triceps or something, and we were getting tan, too. He'd given up on Ashley and me, possibly realizing, before I did, that I was in love with Caitlin. Sometimes, Tom knew me better than I knew myself. And sometimes, he didn't. He was always saying stuff like that, and I never corrected him. I just sprayed Armor All and shrugged. Tom went on about what a prefect make- out machine it was.

I hoped so. I'd sort of been obsessing about kissing Caitlin that night. Don't get me wrong. I was hardly sweet sixteen and never been kissed. I'd probably swapped spit with a dozen girls if you counted spin the Bottle and a botched attempt to cop a feel off of Peyton Berounsky playing seven minutes in Heaven in eighth grade, everyone was pairing off, at least for the evening, and I'd spent many sticky nights playing tonsil hockey on someone's parents unsupervised sofa.

So I'd touched,. I had a feeling Caitlin's would be 37 the kiss that mattered. That night, we had dinner in the Carters dining room. Tom's family always ate there on weekends. I'd been joining them since grade school. The first time, I'd stood, gaping at the China, silver, and flowers, and his brother, wet -combed and shining.

It was the kind of spread my father had for clients, not for me. They even dressed for dinner, although Tom and I just wore khakis. Conversation was quiet, smooth as peanut better. Like every time, Tom's old cocker spaniel, Wimpy, played around my feet. Feeding him table scraps was firmly against the rules, but for some reason, it was important to me to be Wimpy's favorite. I used to pretend he was my dog too. I listened to Mrs. I got nailed. Carter said.

I knew she was thinking about Labor Day, when Wimpy had put his whole face in the potato salad. That always bugged Tom. I apologized, but when they glanced away, I accidentally dropped another piece. Tom rolled his eyes. We went through this every month, Mr.

Carter trying to encourage Tom's interest in the family firm, and Tom avoiding the subject. Finally, Tom's mother rescued him, saying she was sure Tom had the rest of his life to work at a law office.

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Tom pretended not to hear. Tom was on a carbohydrate kick that week, although the week before it had been proteins. Carter turned to me, glad to change the subject.

Of course there were more pictures, so I told her we'd clear the table while she went and got them I 39 rose and picked up my plate. Tom followed me into the kitchen. When we were out of earshot, I asked why he hadn't told his parents about. Mom would hear a Cuban name and freak. They wouldn't want me dating anyone whose people floated in on less exclusive boats. Like in the newspaper - boleros, who swam from Cuba with nothing but the clothes on their backs and rafts made of driftwood and garbage.

But what did that have to do with tall, beautiful Liana and her Tommy Hilfiger wardrobe? She doesn't even have an accent. She grew up here.

It won't matter. Either her family's in the country club, or they're not. And if they aren't, they're not good enough for a Carter. Now, I'm supposed to do the same thing, cut my hair, and conform. Forget what I 40 want. I was sure of that. Only I knew that Tom secretly dreamed of becoming an artist, something else he'd never shared with his parents. His father dreamed of a law firm called Carter, Carter, and Carter, Tom never told him otherwise.

I said. They're not your parents. They weren't, unfortunately. I shrugged, guessing I didn't know much about family relations.