Its Not Summer Without You Online Book Chapter 12 Free Read

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Its Not Summer Without You Chapter 12: From the start, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get Conrad to go. He wasn’t a prom kind of person. But the thing was, I didn’t care. I just really wanted him to go with me, to be my date. It had been seven months since the first time we’d kissed. Two months since the last time I’d seen him. One week since the last time he’d called.

Being a person’s prom date is definable; it’s a real thing. And I had this fantasy of prom in my head, what it would be like. How he would look at me, how when we slow danced, he’d rest his hand on the small of my back. How we’d eat cheese fries at the diner after, and watch the sunrise from the roof of his car. I had it all planned out, how it would go.

When I called him that night, he sounded busy. But I forged ahead anyway. I asked him, “What are you doing the first weekend of April?” My voice trembled when I said the word “April.” I was so nervous he’d say no. Deep down I kind of expected him to.

Warily, he asked, “Why?” “It’s my prom.”

He sighed. “Bel y, I hate dances.”

“I know that. But it’s my prom, and I really want to go, and I want you to come with me.” Why did he have to make everything so hard?

“I’m in college now,” he reminded me. “I didn’t even want to go to my own prom.”

Lightly, I said, “Well , see, that’s all the more reason for you to come to mine.”

“Can’t you just go with your friends?” I was silent.

“I’m sorry, I just really don’t feel like going. Finals are coming up, and it’ll be hard for me to drive all the way down for one night.”

So he couldn’t do this one thing for me, to make me happy. He didn’t feel like it. Fine. “That’s okay,” I told him. “There’s plenty of other guys I can go with. No problem.”

I could hear his mind working on the other end. “Never mind. I’ll take you,” he said at last.

“You know what? Don’t even worry about it,” I said. “Cory Wheeler already asked me. I can tell him I changed my mind.”

“Who the hel is Corky Wheeler?”

I smiled. I had him now. Or at least I thought I did. I said, “Cory Wheeler. He plays soccer with Steven. He’s a good dancer. He’s taller than you.”

But then Conrad said, “I guess you’ll be able to wear heels, then.” “I guess I will.”

I hung up. Was it so much to ask him to be my prom date for one freaking night? And I had lied about Cory Wheeler; he hadn’t asked me. But I knew he would if I let him think I wanted him to.

In bed, under my quilt, I cried a little. I had this perfect prom night in my mind, Conrad in a suit and me in the violet dress my mother bought me two summers ago, the one I had begged for. He had never seen me dressed up before, or wearing heels, for that matter. I really, really wanted him to.

Later he called and I let it go straight to voice mail. On the message, he said, “Hey.

I’m sorry about before. Don’t go with Cory Wheeler or any other guy. I’ll come.

You can still wear your heels.”

I must have played that message thirty times at least. Even so, I never really listened to what he was actually saying—he didn’t want me to go with some other guy, but he didn’t want to go with me either.

I wore a violet dress. My mother was pleased, I could tell . I also wore the pearl necklace Susannah gave me for my sixteenth birthday, and that pleased her too. Taylor and the other girls were al getting their hair done at a fancy salon. I chose to carry out my own. My mother assisted me with the back of my loose waves while I curled my hair. The last time mother did my hair, I believe, was when I was in the second grade and regularly wore braids. She was skilled with a curling iron, but she was skilled in most areas.

As soon as I heard his car pull into the driveway, I ran to the window. He looked beautiful in his suit. It was black; I’d never seen it before.

I launched myself down the stairs and flung the front door open before he could ring the bell . I couldn’t stop smiling and I was about to throw my arms around him when he said, “You look nice.”

“Thanks,” I said, and my arms fel back at my sides. “So do you.”

We must have taken a hundred pictures at the house. Susannah said she wanted photographic proof of Conrad in a suit and me in that dress. My mother kept her on the phone with us. She gave it to Conrad first, and whatever she said to him, he said, “I promise.” I wondered what he was promising.

I also wondered if one day, Taylor and I would be like that—on the phone while our kids got ready for the prom. My mother and Susannah’s friendship had spanned decades and children and husbands. I wondered if Taylor’s and my friendship was made of the same stuff as theirs. Durable, impenetrable stuff.

Somehow I doubted it. What they had, was once-in-a-lifetime.

To me, Susannah said, “Did you do your hair the way we talked about?” “Yes.”

“Did Conrad tell you how pretty you look?” “Yes,” I said, even though he hadn’t, not exactly. “Tonight will be perfect,” she promised me.

My mother positioned us on the front steps, on the staircase, standing next to the fireplace. Steven was there with his date, Claire Cho. They laughed the whole time, and when they took their pictures, Steven stood behind her with his arms around her waist and she leaned back into him. It was so easy. In our pictures, Conrad stood stiffly beside me, with one arm around my shoulders.

“Is everything okay?” I whispered.

“Yeah,” he said. He smiled at me, but I didn’t believe it. Something had changed. I just didn’t know what.

I gave him an orchid boutonniere. He forgot to bring my corsage. He’d left it in his little refrigerator back at school, he said. I wasn’t sad or mad. I was embarrassed. At this time, I’d made such a big deal about me and Conrad,

how we were some kind of couple. But I’d had to beg him to go to the prom with me, and he hadn’t even remembered to bring me flowers.

I could tell he felt awful when he realized, right at the moment Steven went to the fridge and came back with a wrist corsage, tiny pink roses to match Claire’s dress. He gave her a big bouquet, too.

Claire pulled one of the roses out of her bouquet and handed it to me. “Here,”

she said, “we’ll make you a corsage.”

I smiled at her to show I was grateful. “That’s okay. I don’t want to poke a hole in my dress,” I told her. What a crock. She didn’t believe me, but she pretended to.

She said, “How about we put it in your hair, then? I think it would look really pretty in your hair.”

“Sure,” I said. Claire Cho was nice. I hoped she and Steven never broke up. I hoped they stayed together forever.

After the thing with the corsage, Conrad tightened up even more. On the way to the car, he grabbed my wrist and said, in a quiet voice, “I’m sorry I forgot your corsage. I should have remembered.”

I swallowed hard and smiled without really opening my mouth. “What kind was it?”

“A white orchid,” he said. “My mom picked it out.”

“Well, for my senior prom, you’ll just have to get me two corsages to make up for it,” I said. “I’ll wear one on each wrist.”

I watched him as I said it. We’d still be together in a year, wouldn’t we? That was what I was asking.

His face didn’t change. He took my arm and said, “Whatever you want, Bel y.”

In the car, Steven looked at us in the rearview mirror. “Dude, I can’t believe I’m going on a double date with you and my little sister.” He shook his head and laughed.

Conrad didn’t say anything.

I could already feel the night slipping away from me.

The prom was a joint senior and junior prom. That was the way our school did it.

In a way, it was nice, because you got to go to prom twice. The seniors got to vote on the theme, and this year, the theme was Old Hollywood. It was at the Water Club, and there was a red carpet and “paparazzi.”

The prom committee had ordered one of those kits, those prom packages. It cost a ton of money; they’d fund-raised all spring. There were all of these old movie posters on the walls and a big blinking Hollywood sign. The dance floor was supposed to look like a movie set, with lights and a fake camera on a tripod.

There was even a director’s chair off to the side.

We sat at a table with Taylor and Davis. With her four-and-a-half-inch stilettos, they were the same height.

Conrad hugged Taylor, hello, but he didn’t make much of an effort to talk to her or Davis. He was uncomfortable in his suit, just sitting there. When Davis opened up his jacket and showed off his silver flask to Conrad, I cringed. Maybe Conrad was too old for all this.

Then I saw Cory Wheeler out on the dance floor, in the center of a circle of people, including my brother and Claire. He was break dancing.

I leaned in close to Conrad and whispered, “That’s Cory.” “Who’s Cory?” he said.

He didn’t recall, which shocked me. It was so unbelievable to me. I briefly searched his face as I regarded him before stepping back. “Nobody,” I said. After we’d been sitting there a few minutes, Taylor grabbed my hand and announced we were going to the bathroom. I was actually relieved.

In the bathroom, she reapplied her lip gloss and whispered to me, “Davis and I are going to his brother’s dorm room after the after-prom.”

“For what?” I said, rummaging around my little purse for my own lip gloss.

She handed me hers. “For, you know. To be alone.” Taylor widened her eyes for emphasis.

“Really? Wow,” I said slowly. “I didn’t know you liked him that much.”

“Well , you’ve been really busy with al your Conrad drama. Which, by the way, he looks hot, but why is he being so lame? Did you guys have a fight?”

“No …” I couldn’t look her in the eyes, so I just kept applying lip gloss.

“Bel y, don’t take his shit. This is your prom night. I mean, he’s your boyfriend, right?” She fluffed out her hair, posing in the mirror and pouting her lips. “At least make him dance with you.”

When we got back to the table, Conrad and Davis were talking about the NCAA tournament, and I relaxed a little. Davis was a UConn fan, and Conrad liked UNC. Mr. Fisher’s best friend had been a walk-on for the team, and Conrad and Jeremiah were both huge fans. Conrad could talk about Carolina basketball forever.

A slow song came on then, and Taylor took Davis by the hand and they headed out to the dance floor. I watched them dance, her head on his shoulder, his hands on her hips. Pretty soon, Taylor wouldn’t be a virgin anymore. She always said she’d be first.

“Are you thirsty?” Conrad asked me. “No,” I said. “Do you want to dance?” He hesitated. “Do we have to?”

I tried to smile. “Come on, you’re the one who supposedly taught me how to slow dance.”

Conrad stood up and offered me his hand. “So let’s dance.”

I gave him my hand and followed him to the middle of the dance floor. We slow danced, and I was glad the music was loud so he couldn’t hear my heart beating.

“I’m glad you came,” I said, looking up at him. “What?” he asked.

Louder, I said, “I said, I’m glad you came.”

“Me too.” His voice sounded odd; I remember that, the way his voice caught.

Even though he was standing right in front of me, his hands around my waist, mine around his neck, he had never felt so far away.

After, we sat back down at our table. He said, “Do you want to go somewhere?”

“Well , the after-prom doesn’t start till midnight,” I said, fiddling with my pearl necklace. I wound it around my fingers. I couldn’t look at him.

Conrad said, “No, I mean just you and me. Somewhere we can talk.”

All of a sudden, I felt dizzy. If Conrad wanted to go somewhere where we could be alone, where we could talk, it meant he wanted to break up with me. I knew it.

“Let’s not go anywhere, let’s just stay here for a while,” I said, and I tried hard not to sound desperate.

“All right,” he said.

So we sat there, watching everyone around us dance, their faces shiny, makeup running. I pulled the flower out of my hair and put it in my purse.

When we had been quiet a while, I said, “Did your mom make you come?” It broke my heart to ask, but I had to know.

“No,” he said, but he waited too late to answer.

In the parking lot, it had started to drizzle. My hair, my hair that I had spent the whole afternoon curling, was already falling flat. We were walking to the car when Conrad said, “My head is killing me.”

I stopped walking. “Do you want me to go back inside and see if anybody has an aspirin?”

“No, that’s okay. You know what, I might head back to school. I have that exam on Monday and everything. Would it be all right if I didn’t go to the after-prom? I could still drop you off.” He didn’t meet my eyes when he spoke.

“I thought you were spending the night.”

Conrad fumbled with his car keys and mumbled, “I know, but I’m thinking now that I should get back….” His voice trailed off.

“But I don’t want you to leave,” I said, and I hated the way I sounded like I was begging.

He jammed his hands inside his pants pockets. “I’m sorry,” he said.

We stood there in the parking a lot, and I thought, If we get inside his car, it’s all over. He’ll drop me off and then he’ll drive back to school and he’ll never come back.

And that’ll be it.

“What happened?” I asked him, and I could feel the panic rising up in my chest. “Did I do something wrong?”

He looked away. “No. It’s not you. It has nothing to do with you.”

I grabbed his arm, and he flinched. “Wil you please just talk to me? Will you tell me what’s going on?”

Conrad didn’t say anything. He was wishing he was already in his car, driving away. From me. I wanted to hit him.

I said, “Okay, fine, then. If you won’t say it, I will .” “If I won’t say what?”

“That we’re over. That, whatever this is, it’s over. I mean, it is, right?” I was crying, and my nose was running, and it was al mixed up in the rain. I wiped my face with the back of my arm.

He hesitated. I saw him hesitate, weigh his words. “Bel y—”

“Don’t,” I said, backing away from him. “Just don’t. Don’t say anything to me. ”Just wait a minute,” he said. “Don’t leave it like this.”

“You’re the one leaving it like this,” I said. I started to walk away, as fast as my feet could go in those stupid heels.

“Wait!” he yelled.

I didn’t turn around, I walked faster. Then I heard him slam his fist on the hood of his car. I almost stopped.

Maybe I would have if he’d followed me. But he didn’t. He got in his car and he left, just like he said he would.

The next morning, Steven came to my room and sat at my desk. He’d just gotten home. He was still wearing his tux. “I’m asleep,” I told him, roling over.

“No, you’re not.” He paused. “Conrad’s not worth it, okay?”

I knew what it cost him to say that to me, and I loved him for it. Steven was Conrad’s number one fan; he always had been. When Steven got up and left, I repeated it to myself. He’s not worth it.

When I came downstairs the next day around lunchtime, my mother said, “Are you all right?”

I sat down at the kitchen table and put my head down. The wood felt cool and smooth against my cheek. I looked up at her and said, “So I guess Steven blabbed.”

Carefully, she said, “Not exactly. I did ask him why Conrad didn’t stay the night like we planned.”

“We broke up,” I said. In a way, it was exciting to hear it said out loud because if we were broken up, that meant that at one point, we had been together. We were real.

My mother sat down across from me. She sighed. “I was afraid this was going to happen.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, it’s more complicated than just you and Conrad. There are more people involved than just the two of you.”

I wanted to scream at her, to tell her how insensitive, how cruel she was, and couldn’t she see my heart was breaking? But when I looked up at her face, I bit back the words and swallowed them down. She was right.

There was more to worry about than just my stupid heart. There was Susannah to think of. She was going to be so disappointed. I hated to disappoint her.

“Don’t worry about Beck,” my mother told me, her voice gentle. “I’ll tell her. You want me to fix you something to eat?”

I said yes.

Later, in my room, alone again, I told myself it was better this way. That he’d been wanting to end things all along, so it was better that I said it first. I didn’t believe a word of it. If he’d called and asked for me back, if he’d showed up at the house with flowers or a stereo on his shoulders playing our song—did we even have a song? I didn’t know, but if he’d made even the tiniest gesture, I’d have taken him back, gladly. But Conrad didn’t call.

When I found out Susannah was worse, that she wasn’t going to get any better, I called, once. He didn’t pick up, and I didn’t leave a message. If he had picked up, if he’d called me back, I don’t know what I would have said.

And that was it. We were over.

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