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It's Not Summer Without You (Summer #2)

By´╝ÜJenny Han

rang, and it was for me and not Steven, he'd been confused at first. "Why does Conrad keep calling you?" he'd demanded.

"Why do you think? He likes me. We like each other."

Steven had nearly gagged. "He's lost his mind," he said, shaking his head.

"Is it so impossible that Conrad Fisher would like me?" I asked him, crossing my arms defiantly.

He didn't even have to think about his answer. "Yes," he said. "It is so impossible."

And honestly, it was.

It was like a dream. Unreal. After all that pining and longing and wishing, years and years of it, whole summers' worth, he was calling me . He liked talking to me. I made him laugh even when he didn't want to. I understood what he was going through, because I was sort of going through it too. There were only a few people in the world who loved Susannah the way we did. I thought that would be enough.

We became something. Something that was never exactly defined, but it was something. It was really something.

A few times, he drove the three and a half hours from school to my house. Once, he spent the night because it got so late my mother didn't want him to drive back. Conrad stayed in the guest room, and I lay in my bed awake for hours, thinking about how he was asleep just a few feet away, in my house of all places.

If Steven hadn't hung around us like some kind of disease, I know Conrad would have at least tried to kiss me. But with my brother around it was pretty much impossible. Conrad and I would be watching TV, and Steven would plop right down between us. He'd talk to Conrad about stuff I didn't know or care about, like football. One time, after dinner, I asked Conrad if he wanted to go get frozen custard at Brusters, and Steven chimed right in and said, "Sounds good to me." I glared at him, but he just grinned back at me. And then Conrad took my hand, right in front of Steven, and he said, "Let's all go." So we all went, my mother too. I couldn't believe I was going on dates with my mother and my brother in the backseat.

But really, it all just made that one amazing night in December all the sweeter. Conrad and I went back to Cousins, just the two of us. Perfect nights come so rarely, but that one was. Perfect, I mean. It was the kind of night worth waiting for.

I'm glad we had that night.

Because by May, it was all over.

chapter three

I left Marcy's house early. I told Taylor it was so I could rest up for Justin's party that night. It was partly true. I did want to rest, but I didn't care about the party. As soon as I got home, I put on my big Cousins T-shirt, filled a water bottle with grape soda and crushed ice, and I watched TV until my head hurt.

It was peacefully, blissfully silent. Just the sounds of the TV and the air conditioning kicking off and on. I had the house to myself. Steven had a summer job at Best Buy. He was saving up for a fifty-inch flat screen he'd take to college with him in the fall. My mother was home, but she spent all day locked away in her office, catching up on work, she said.

I understood. If I were her, I'd want to be alone too.

Taylor came over around six, armed with her hot pink Victoria's Secret makeup bag. She walked into the living room and saw me lying on the couch in my Cousins T-shirt and frowned. "Belly, you haven't even showered yet?"

"I took a shower this morning," I said, not getting up.

"Yeah, and you laid out in the sun all day." She grabbed my arms and I let her lift me into a sitting position. "Hurry up and get into the shower."

I followed her upstairs and she went to my bedroom while I went to the hall bathroom. I took the fastest shower of my life. Left to her own devices, Taylor was a big snoop and would poke around my room like it was hers.

When I came out Taylor was sitting on my floor in front of my mirror. Briskly, she blended bronzer onto her cheeks. "Want me to do your makeup too?"

"No thanks," I told her. "Close your eyes while I put on my clothes, okay?"

She rolled her eyes and then closed them. "Belly, you're such a prude."

"I don't care if I am," I said, putting on my underwear and my bra. Then I put my Cousins T-shirt on again. "Okay, you can look."

Taylor opened her eyes up superwide and she applied her mascara. "I could do your nails," she offered. "I have three new colors."

"Nah, there's no point." I held up my hands. My nails were bitten down to the quick.

Taylor grimaced. "Well, what are you wearing?"

"This," I said, hiding my smile. I pointed down at my Cousins T-shirt. I'd worn it so many times it had tiny holes around the neck and it was soft as a blankie. I wished I could wear it to the party.

"Very funny," she said, shimmying over to my closet on her knees. She stood up and started rifling around, pushing hangers over to the side, like she didn't already know every article of clothing I owned by heart. Usually I didn't mind, but today I felt sort of itchy and bothered by everything.

I told her, "Don't worry about it. I'm just going to wear my cutoffs and a tank top."

"Belly, people get dressed up for Justin's parties. You've never been so you wouldn't know, but you can't just wear your old cutoffs." Taylor pulled out my white sundress. The last time I'd worn it had been last summer, at that party with Cam. Susannah had told me the dress set me off like a picture frame.

I got up and took the dress from Taylor and put it back into my closet. "That's stained," I said. "I'll find something else."

Taylor sat back down in front of the mirror and said, "Well, then wear that black dress with the little flowers. It makes your boobs look amazing."

"It's uncomfortable; it's too tight," I told her.

"Pretty please?"

Sighing, I took it off the hanger and put it on. Sometimes it was easier to just give in with Taylor. We'd been friends, best friends, since we were little kids. We'd been best friends so long it