The Summer I Turned Pretty Chapter 11 Read Online

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We were playing cards outside on the porch, and my mother and Susannah were drinking margaritas and playing their own card game. The sun was starting to go down, and soon the mothers would have to go inside and boil corn and hot dogs. But not yet. First, they played cards.

“Laurel, why do you call my mom Beck when everyone else calls her Susannah?” Jeremiah wanted to know. He and my brother, Steven, were a team, and they were losing. Card games bored Jeremiah, and he was always looking for something more interesting to do, to talk about.

“Because her maiden name is Beck,” my mother explained, grinding out a cigarette. They only smoked when they were together, so it was a special occasion. My mother said smoking with Susannah made her feel young again. I said it would shorten her life span by years but she waved off my worries and called me a doomsdayer.

“What’s a maiden name?” Jeremiah asked. My brother tapped Jeremiah’shand of cards to get him back into the game, but Jeremiah ignored him.

“It’s a lady’s name before she gets married, dipwad,” said Conrad.

“Don’t call him dipwad, Conrad,” Susannah said automatically, sorting through her hand.

“But why does she have to change her name at all?” Jeremiah wondered.

“She doesn’t. I didn’t. My name is Laurel Dunne, the same as the day I was born. Nice, huh?” My mother liked to feel superior to Susannah for not changing her name. “After all, why should a woman have to change her name for a man? She shouldn’t.”

“Laurel, please shut up,” said Susannah, throwing a few cards down on the table. “Gin.”

My mother sighed and threw her cards down too. “I don’t want to play gin anymore. Let’s play something else. Let’s play go fish with these guys.”

“Sore loser,” Susannah said.

“Mom, we’re not playing go fish. We’re playing hearts, and you can’t play because you always try to cheat,” I said. Conrad was my partner, and I was pretty sure we were going to win. I had picked him on purpose. Conrad was good at winning. He was the fastest swimmer, and the best boogie boarder, and he always, always won at cards.

Susannah clapped her hands together and laughed. “Laur, this girl is you all over again.”

My mother said, “No, Belly’s her father’s daughter,” and they exchanged this secret look that made me want to say, “What, what?” But I knew my mother would never say. She was a secret-keeper, always had been. And I guessed I did look like my father: I had his eyes that turned up at the corners, a little girl version of his nose, and his chin that jutted out. All I had of my mother was her hands.

Then the moment was over and Susannah smiled at me and said, “You’re absolutely right, Belly. Your mother does cheat. She’s always cheated at heart. Cheaters never prosper, children.”

Susannah was always calling us children, but the thing was, I didn’t even mind. Normally I would. But the way Susannah said it, it didn’t seem like a bad thing, not like we were small and babyish. Instead, it sounded like we had our whole lives in front of us.

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