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

By´╝ÜJenny Han

was more like a habit, the kind of thing you didn't really have a say in anymore.

"See, that looks hot." She came over and zipped me up. "Now, let's talk about our plan of action."

"What plan of action?"

"I think you and Cory Wheeler should make out at the party."

"Taylor-"

She lifted her hand. "Just hear me out. Cory's supernice and he's supercute. If he worked on his body and got a little definition, he could be, like, Abercrombie hot."

I snorted. "Please."

"Well, he's at least as cute as C-word." She never called him by his name anymore. Now he was just "you-know-who," or "C-word."

"Taylor, quit pushing me. I can't be over him just because you want me to."

"Can't you at least try?" she wheedled. "Cory could be your rebound. He wouldn't mind."

"If you bring up Cory one more time, I'm not going to the party," I told her, and I meant it. In fact, I kind of hoped she would bring him up again so I'd have an excuse not to go.

Her eyes widened. "Okay, okay. Sorry. My lips are sealed."




Then she grabbed her makeup bag and sat down on the edge of my bed, and I sat down at her feet. She pulled out a comb and sectioned off my hair. She braided quickly, with fast and sure fingers, and when she was done, she pinned the braid over the crown of my head, to the side. Neither of us spoke while she worked until she said, "I love your hair like this. You look sort of Native American, like a Cherokee princess or something."

I started to laugh, but then I stopped myself. Taylor caught my eye in the mirror and said, "It's okay to laugh, you know. It's okay for you to have fun."

"I know," I said, but I didn't.

Before we left I stopped by my mother's office. She was sitting at her desk with folders and stacks of papers. Susannah had made my mother executor of her will, and there was a lot of paperwork involved with that, I guessed. My mother was on the phone with Susannah's lawyer a lot, going over things. She wanted it to go perfect, Beck's last wishes.

Susannah had left both Steven and me some college money. She'd also left me jewelry. A sapphire tennis bracelet I couldn't picture myself ever wearing. A diamond necklace for my wedding day-she'd written that specifically. Opal earrings and an opal ring. Those were my favorite.

"Mom?"

She looked up at me. "Yes?"

"Have you had dinner?" I knew she hadn't. She hadn't left her office since I'd been home.

"I'm not hungry," she said. "If there isn't any food in the fridge, you can call for a pizza if you want."

"I can fix you a sandwich," I offered. I'd gone to the store earlier that week. Steven and I had been taking turns. I doubted she even knew it was Fourth of July weekend.

"No, that's all right. I'll come down and fix myself something later."

"Okay." I hesitated. "Taylor and I are going to a party. I won't be home too late."

Part of me hoped she'd tell me to stay home. Part of me wanted to offer to stay and keep her company, to see if she maybe wanted to see what was on Turner Classic Movies, pop some popcorn.

She'd already gone back to her paperwork. She was chewing on her ballpoint pen. "Sounds good," she said. "Be careful."

I closed the door behind me.

Taylor was waiting for me in the kitchen, texting on her phone. "Let's hurry up and go already."

"Hold on, I just have to do one last thing." I went over to the fridge and pulled out stuff for a turkey sandwich. Mustard, cheese, white bread.

"Belly, there's gonna be food at the party. Don't eat that now."

"It's for my mom," I said.

I made the sandwich, put it on a plate, covered it with plastic wrap, and left it on the counter where she'd see it.

Justin's party was everything Taylor said it would be. Half our class was there, and Justin's parents were nowhere in sight. Tiki lamps lined the yard, and his speakers were practically vibrating, the music was so loud. Girls were dancing already.

There was a big keg and a big red cooler. Justin was manning the grill, flipping steaks and bratwurst. He had a Kiss the Chef apron on.

"As if anybody would make out with him." Taylor sniffed. Taylor had made a play for Justin at the beginning of the year, before she'd settled on her boyfriend, Davis. She and Justin had gone out a few times before he'd blown her off for a senior.

I'd forgotten to put on bug spray, and the mosquitoes were eating me for dinner. I kept bending down to scratch my legs, and I was glad to do it. Glad to have something to do. I was afraid of accidentally making eye contact with Cory. He was hanging out by the pool.

People were drinking beer out of red plastic cups. Taylor got us both wine coolers. Mine was Fuzzy Navel. It was syrupy and it tasted like chemicals. I took two sips before I threw it away.

Then Taylor spotted Davis over by the beer pong table and she put her finger to her lips and grabbed my hand. We walked up behind him and Taylor slipped her arms around his back. "Gotcha!" she said.

He turned around and they kissed like they hadn't just seen each other a few hours ago. I stood there for a minute, awkwardly holding on to my purse, looking everywhere but at them. His name was actually Ben Davis, but everyone called him Davis. Davis was really cute; he had dimples and green eyes like sea glass. And he was short, which at first Taylor said was a dealbreaker but now claimed not to mind so much. I hated riding to school with them because they held hands the entire time while I sat in the back like the kid. They broke up at least once a month, and they'd only been dating since April. During one breakup, he'd called her, crying, trying to get back together, and Taylor had put him on speaker. I'd felt guilty for listening but at the same time envious and sort of awestruck that he cared that much, enough to cry.

"Pete's gonna go take a piss," Davis said, hooking his arm around Taylor's waist. "Will you stay and be my partner un

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