The summer I turned pretty Chapter 21 Free Read Online

Full Read the Online Chapter 21 of The Summer I Turned Pretty Book by Jenny Han for free.

The Summer I Turned Pretty Chapter 21: The night Steven left, I headed down to the pool for one of my midnight swims, and Conrad and Jeremiah and this neighbor guy Clay Bertolet were sitting on the lounge chairs drinking beer. Clay lived way down the street, and he’d been coming to Cousins Beach for almost as long as we had. He was a year older than Conrad. No one had even liked him much. He was just a person to hang out with, I guess.

Right away I stiffened and held my beach towel closer to my chest. I wondered if I should turn back. Clay had always made me nervous. I didn’t have to swim that night. I could do it the next night. But no, I had as much right to be out there as they did. More, even.

I walked over to them, pretend-confident. “Hey, guys,” I said. I didn’t let go of my towel. It felt funny to be standing there in a towel and a bikini when they were all wearing clothes.

Clay looked up at me, his eyes narrow. “Hey, Belly. Long time no see.” He patted the lounge chair. “Sit down.”

I hated when people said “long time no see.” It was such a dumb way to say hello. But I sat down anyway.

He leaned in and gave me a hug. He smelled like beer and Polo Sport. “So how’ve you been?” he asked.

Before I could answer, Conrad said, “She’s fine, and now it’s time for bed. Good night, Belly.”

I tried not to sound like a five-year-old when I said, “I’m not going to sleep yet, I’m swimming.”

“You should head back up,” Jeremiah said, putting his beer down. “Your mom will kill you for drinking.”

“Hello. I’m not drinking,” I reminded him.

Clay offered me his Corona. “Here,” he said, winking. He seemed drunk.

I hesitated, and Conrad snapped irritably, “Don’t give her that. She’s a kid, for God’s sake.”

I glared at him. “Quit acting like Steven.” For a second or two I considered taking Clay’s beer. It would be my first. But then I’d only be doing it to spite Conrad, and I wasn’t going to let him control what I did.

“No, thanks,” I told him.

Conrad nodded imperceptibly. “Now go back to bed like a good girl.”

It felt just like when he and Steven and Jeremiah used to leave me out of things on purpose. I could feel my cheeks burning as I said, “I’m only two years younger than you.”

“Two and a quarter,” he corrected automatically.

Clay laughed, and I could smell his yeasty breath. “Shit, my girlfriend was fifteen.” Then he looked at me. “Ex-girlfriend.”

I smiled weakly. Inside, I was shrinking away from him and his breath.

But the way Conrad was watching us, well, I liked it. I liked taking his friend away from him, even if it was just for five minutes. “Isn’t that, like, illegal?” I asked Clay.

He laughed again. “You’re cute, Belly.”

I could feel myself blush. “So, um, why did you break up?” I asked, like I didn’t already know. They broke up because Clay’s a jerk, that was why.

Clay had always been a jerk. He used to try to feed the seagulls Alka- Seltzer because he heard it made their stomachs blow up.

Clay scratched the back of his neck. “I don’t know. She had to go to horse camp or something. Long distance relationships are BS.”

“But it would just be for the summer,” I protested. “It’s dumb to break up over a summer.” I’d nursed a crush on Conrad for whole school years. I could survive for months, years, on a crush. It was like food. It could sustain me. If Conrad was mine, there was no way I’d break up with him over a summer–or a school year, for that matter.

Clay looked at me with his heavy-lidded, sleepy eyes and said, “Do you have a boyfriend?”

“Yes,” I said, and I couldn’t help myself—I looked at Conrad when I said it. See, I was saying, I’m not a stupid twelve-year-old girl with a crush anymore. I’m a real person. With an actual boyfriend. Who cared if it wasn’t true? Conrad’s eyes flickered, but his face was the same, expressionless.

Jeremiah, though, he looked surprised.

“Belly, you have a boyfriend?” He frowned. “You never mentioned him.” “It’s not that serious.” I picked at an unraveling thread on the seat cushion. I was already regretting making it up. “In fact, we’re really, really casual.”

“See? Then what’s the point of a relationship during summer? What if you meet people?” Clay winked at me in a jokey way. “Like right now?”

“We’ve already met, Clay. Like, ten years ago.” Not that he’d ever actually paid me any attention.

He nudged me with his knee. “Nice to meet you. I’m Clay.”

I laughed, even though it wasn’t funny. It just felt like the right thing to do. “Hi, I’m Belly.”

“So, Belly, are you gonna come to my bonfire tomorrow night?” he asked me.

“Um, sure,” I said, trying not to sound too excited.

Conrad and Steven and Jeremiah went to the big Fourth of July bonfire every year. Clay had it at his house because there were a ton of fireworks on that end of the beach. His mom always put out stuff for s’mores. I once made Jeremiah bring one back for me, and he did. It was rubbery and burnt, but I still ate it, and I was still grateful to Jeremiah for it. It was like a little piece of the party. They never let me go with them, and I never tried to make them. I watched the show from our back porch, in my pajamas, with Susannah and my mother. They drank champagne and I drank Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider.

“I thought you came down here to swim,” Conrad said abruptly.

“Geez, give her a break, Con,” Jeremiah said. “If she wants to swim, she’ll swim.”

We exchanged a look, our look that meant, Why is Conrad such a freaking dad? Conrad flicked his cigarette into his half-empty can. “Do what you want,” he said.

“I will,” I said, sticking my tongue out at Conrad and standing up. I threw off my towel and dove into the water, a perfect swan dive. I stayed underwater for a minute. Then I started doing the backstroke so I could eavesdrop on their conversation.

In a low voice I heard Clay say, “Man, Cousins is starting to get old. I want to hurry up and get back.”

“Yeah, me too,” Conrad said.

So Conrad was ready to leave. Even though a little part of me knew that already, it still hurt. I wanted to say, Then leave already. If you don’t want to be here, don’t be here. Just leave. But I wasn’t going to let Conrad bother me, not when things were finally looking up.

At last I was invited to Clay Bertolet’s Fourth of July bonfire. I was one of the big kids now. Life was good. Or it was getting there, anyway.

I thought about what I was going to wear all day. Since I’d never been, I had no idea what to wear. Probably it would get cold, but who wanted to bundle up at a bonfire? Not for my first one. I also didn’t want Conrad and Jeremiah to give me a hard time if I was too dressed up. I figured shorts, a tank top, and no shoes were the safe way to go.

When we got there, I saw that I had chosen wrong. The other girls were wearing sundresses and little skirts and Uggs. If I’d had girl friends at Cousins, I might have known that. “You didn’t tell me that girls got dressed up,” I hissed at Jeremiah.

“You look fine. Don’t be dumb,” he said, walking straight over to the keg.

There was a keg. There were no graham crackers or marshmallows anywhere I could see.

I’d actually never seen a keg before in real life. Just in movies. I started to follow him, but Conrad grabbed my arm. “Don’t drink tonight,” he warned.

“My mom will kill me if I let you drink.”

I shook him off. “You’re not ‘letting’ me do anything.” “Come on. Please?”

“We’ll see,” I said, walking away from him and toward the fire. I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to drink. Even though I’d seen Clay drinking the night before, I’d still been expecting s’mores.

Going to the bonfire was nice in theory, but actually being there was something else. Jeremiah was chatting up some girl in a red, white, and blue bikini top and a jean skirt, and Conrad was talking to Clay and some other guys I didn’t recognize. I thought after the way Clay had been flirty last night, he might at least come over to say hi. But he didn’t. He had his hand on some girl’s back.

I stood by the fire alone and pretended to warm my hands even though they weren’t cold. That’s when I saw him. He was standing alone too, drinking a bottle of water. It didn’t seem like he knew anybody either, since he was standing all by himself. He looked like he was my age. But there was something about him that seemed safe and comfortable, like he was younger than me even though he wasn’t. It took me a few glances to figure out what it was. When I finally figured it out, it was like, Aha!

It was his eyelashes. They were so long they practically hit his

cheekbones. Granted, his cheekbones were high, but still. Also, he had a slight underbite, and his skin was clear and smooth, the color of toasted coconut flakes, the kind you put on ice cream. I touched my cheek and Felt

relieved that the sun had dried out the pimple from two days before. His skin was perfect. To my eyes, everything about him was pretty perfect.

He was taller than Steven, Jeremiah, and perhaps even Conrad. He appeared to be either partially white, partially Japanese, or possibly Korean. I didn’t even know how to draw, but I thought I could draw his face because he was so attractive.

He caught me looking at him, and I looked away. Then I looked back over and he caught me again. He raised his hand and waved it, just slightly.

I could feel my cheeks flaming. There was nothing for me to say but, “Hi.”

I walked over, stuck out my hand, and immediately regretted it. Who shook hands anymore?

He shook my hand after taking it. At first, he remained silent. He simply gazed at me, as if he were trying to make sense of something. “You look familiar,”

he said at last.

I tried not to smile. Wasn’t that what boys said to girls when they came on to them at bars? I wondered if he’d seen me on the beach in my new polka- dot bikini. I’d only had the nerve to wear it the one time, but maybe that was what had gotten me noticed by this guy. “Maybe you’ve seen me on the beach?”

He shook his head. “No. That’s not it.”

So it hadn’t been the bikini, then. I tried again. “Maybe over at Scoops, the ice cream place?”

“No, that’s not it either,” he said. Then it was like the little light went on in his head, because he grinned suddenly. “Did you take Latin?”

What in the world? “Urn yes.”

“Did you ever go to Latin Convention in Washington, DC?” he asked. “Yes,” I said. Who was this boy anyway?

He nodded, satisfied. “So did I. In eighth grade, right?”

“Yeah . . .” In eighth grade I had a retainer and I still wore glasses. I hated, hated that he knew me from back then. Why couldn’t he know me from now, in my polka-dot bikini?

“That’s how I know you. I’ve been standing here trying to figure it out.” He grinned. “I’m Cam, but my Latin name was Sextus. Salve.”

Suddenly giggles rose up in my chest like soda bubbles. It was kind of funny. “Salve. I’m Flavia. I mean, Belly. I mean, my name is Isabel, but everyone calls me Belly.”

“Why?” He looked at me like he really wondered why.

“It’s my dad’s nickname for me from when I was little. He thought Isabel was too long a name,” I explained. “Everyone just still calls me that. It’s dumb.”

He ignored the last part and said, “Why not Izzy, then? Or Belle?”

“I don’t know. It’s partly because Jelly Belfys are my favorite, and my dad and I used to play this game. He’d ask me what kind of mood I was in, but I would answer him in Jelly Belly flavors. Like plum if I was in a good mood

…” My voice trailed off. I babbled when I was nervous, and I was definitely nervous. I’d always hated the name Belly–partly because it wasn’t even a real name. It was a child’s nickname, not a real name at all. Isabel, on the other hand, was the name of an exotic kind of girl, the kind of girl who went to places like Morocco and Mozambique, who wore red nail polish year round and had dark bangs. Belly was the kind of name that conjured up images of plump children or men in wifebeaters. “Anyway, I hate the name Izzy, but I do wish people called me Belle. It’s prettier.”

He nodded. “That’s what it means too. Beautiful.” “I know,” I said. “I’m in AP French.”

Cam said something in French, so fast I couldn’t understand him.

“What?” I said. I felt stupid. It’s embarrassing to speak French when it’s not in a classroom. It’s like, conjugating verbs is one thing, but actually speaking it, to an actual French person, is a whole different thing.

“My grandmother’s French,” he said. “I grew up speaking it.” “Oh.” Now I felt stupid for bragging about being in AP French. “You know, the v is supposed to be pronounced w “What?”

“In Flavia. It’s supposed to be pronounced Fla-wia.”

“Of course I know that,” I snapped. “I took second prize in oration. But Flawia sounds dumb.”

“I took first prize,” he said, trying not to sound smug. I had a sudden memory of a boy in a black T-shirt and a striped tie, blowing everyone away with his Catullus speech, taking first place. It was him. “Why did you pick it if you thought it sounded dumb?”

I sighed. “Because Cornelia was taken. Everyone wanted to be Cornelia.” “Yeah, everyone wanted to be Sextus too.”

“Why?” I said. Immediately I regretted it. “Oh. Never mind.” Cam laughed. “Eighth-grade boy humor isn’t very developed.”

I laughed too. Then I said, “So do you stay in a house around here?” “We’re renting the house two blocks down. My mom sort of made me come,” Cam said, rubbing the top of his head self-consciously.

“Oh.” I wished I would stop saying “oh,” but I couldn’t think of anything else.

“What about you? Why’d you come, Isabel?”

I was startled when he used my real name. It just rolled right off his tongue. It felt like the first day of school. But I liked it. “I don’t know,” I said.

“I guess because Clay invited me.”

Everything that came out of my mouth sounded so generic. For some

reason I wanted to impress this boy. I wanted him to like me. I could feel him judging me, judging the dumb things I said. I’m smart too, I wanted to tell him. I told myself it was fine, it didn’t matter if he thought I was smart or not.

But it did.

“I think I’m going to leave soon,” he said, finishing his water. He didn’t look at me when he said, “Do you need a ride?”

“No,” I said. I tried to swallow my disappointment that he was leaving already. “I came with those guys over there.” I pointed at Conrad and Jeremiah.

He nodded. “I figured, the way your brother kept looking over here.”

I almost choked. “My brother? Who? Him?” I pointed at Conrad. He

wasn’t looking at us. He was looking at a blond girl in a Red Sox cap, and she was looking right back. He was laughing, and he never laughed.


“He’s not my brother. He tries to act like he is, but he’s not,” I said. “He thinks he’s everybody’s big brother. It’s so patronizing. Why are you

leaving already anyway? You’re gonna miss the fireworks.”

He cleared his throat like he was embarrassed. “Um, I was actually gonna go home and study.”

“Latin?” I covered my mouth with my hand to keep from giggling.

“No. I’m studying whales. I want to intern on a whale watching boat, and I have to take this whaling exam next month,” he said, rubbing the top of his head again.

“Oh. That’s cool,” I said. I wished he wasn’t leaving already. I didn’t want him to go. He was nice. Standing next to him, I felt like Thumbelina, little and precious. He was that tall. If he left, I’d be all alone. “You know what, maybe I will get a ride. Wait here. I’ll be right back.”

I hurried over to Conrad, walking so fast I kicked up sand behind me. “Hey, I’m gonna get a ride,” I said breathlessly.

The blond Red Sox girl looked me up and down. “Hello,” she said. Conrad said, “With who?” I pointed at Cam. “Him.”

“You’re not riding with someone you don’t even know,” he said flatly. “I do so know him. He’s Sextus.”

He narrowed his eyes. “Sex what?”

“Never mind. His name is Cam, he’s studying whales, and you don’t get to decide who I ride home with. I was just letting you know, as a courtesy. I wasn’t asking for your permission.” I started to walk away, but he grabbed my elbow.

“I don’t care what he’s studying. It’s not gonna happen,” he said casually, but his grip was tight. “If you want to go, I’ll take you.”

I took a deep breath. I had to keep cool. I wasn’t going to let him goad me into being a baby, not in front of all these people. “No, thanks,” I said, trying to walk away again. But he didn’t let go.

“I thought you already had a boyfriend?” His tone was mocking, and I knew he’d seen through my lie the night before.

I wanted so badly to throw a handful of sand in his face. I tried to twist out of his grip. “Let go of me! That hurts!”

He let go immediately, his face red. It didn’t really hurt, but I wanted to embarrass him the way he was embarrassing me. I said loudly, “I’d rather ride with a stranger than with someone who’s been drinking!”

“I’ve had one beer,” he snapped. “I weigh a hundred and seventy-five pounds. Wait half an hour and I’ll take you. Stop being such a brat.”

I could feel tears starting to spark my eyelids. I looked over my shoulder to see if Cam was watching. He was. “You’re an asshole,” I said.

He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “And you’re a four-year-old.” As I walked away, I heard the girl ask, “Is she your girlfriend?”

I whirled around, and we both said “No!” at the same time.

Confused, she said, “Well, is she your little sister?” like I wasn’t standing right there. Her perfume was heavy.

It felt like it filled all the air around us, like we were breathing her in. “No, I’m not his little sister.” I hated this girl for being a witness to all this.

It was humiliating. And she was pretty, in the same kind of way Taylor was pretty, which somehow made things worse.

Conrad said, “Her mom is best friends with my mom.” So that was all I was to him? His mom’s friend’s daughter?

I took a deep breath, and without even thinking, I said to the girl, “I’ve known Conrad my whole life. So let me be the one to tell you you’re barking up the wrong tree. Conrad will never love anyone as much as he loves himself, if you know what I mean–” I lifted up my hand and wiggled my fingers.

“Shut up, Belly,” Conrad warned. The tops of his ears were turning bright red. It was a low blow, but I didn’t care. He deserved it.

Red Sox girl frowned. “What is she talking about, Conrad?”

To her I blurted out, “Oh, I’m sorry, do you not know what the idiom ‘barking up the wrong tree’ means?”

Her pretty face twisted. “You little skank,” she hissed.

I could feel myself shrinking. I wished I could take it back. I’d never gotten into a fight with a girl before, or with anyone for that matter.

Thankfully, Conrad broke in then and pointed to the bonfire. “Belly, go back over there, and wait for me to come get you,” he said harshly.

That’s when Jeremiah ambled over. “Hey, hey, what’s going on?” he asked, smiling in his easy, goofy way.

“Your brother is a jerk,” I said. “That’s what’s going on.

Jeremiah put his arm around me. He smelled like beer. “You guys play nice, you hear?”

I shrugged out of his hold and said, “I am playing nice. Tell your brother to play nice.”

“Wait, are you guys brother and sister too?” the girl asked. Conrad said, “Don’t even think about leaving with that guy.” “Con, chill out,” Jeremiah said. “She’s not leaving. Right, Belly?”

He looked at me, and I pursed my lips and nodded. Then I gave Conrad the dirtiest look I could muster, and I shot one at the girl, too, when I was far enough away that she wouldn’t be able to reach out and grab me by the hair. I walked back to the bonfire, trying to keep my shoulders straight and high,

when inside I felt like a kid who’d gotten yelled at at her own birthday party.

It wasn’t fair, to be treated like I was a kid when I wasn’t. I bet me and that girl were the same age.

Cam said, “What was that all about?”

I was choking back tears as I said, “Let’s just go.”

He hesitated, glancing back over at Conrad. “I don’t think that’s such a good idea, Flavia. But I’ll stay here with you and hang out for a while. The whales can wait.”

I wanted to kiss him then. I wanted to forget I ever knew Conrad and just be there, existing in the bubble of that moment. The first firework went off, somewhere high above us. It sounded like a teakettle whistling loud and proud. It was gold, and it exploded into millions of gold flecks, like confetti over our heads.

We sat by the fire and he told me about whales and I told him about stupid things, like being secretary of French Club, and how my favorite food was pulled pork sandwiches. He said he was a vegetarian. We must have sat there for an hour. I could feel Conrad watching us the whole time, and I was so tempted to give him the finger–I hated it when he won.

When it started to get cold, I rubbed my arms, and Cam took off his hoodie and gave it to me. Which, was sort of my dream come true–getting cold and having a guy actually give you his hoodie instead of gloating over how smart he’d been to bring one.

Underneath, his T-shirt said STRAIGHT EDGE , with a picture of a razor blade, the kind a guy shaves with. “What does that mean?” I asked, zipping up his hoodie. It was warm and it smelled like boy, but in a good way.

“I’m straight edge,” he said. “I don’t drink or do drugs. I used to be hardcore, where you don’t take over-the-counter medicine or drink caffeine, but I quit that.”


“Why was I hardcore straight edge or why did I quit?” “Both.”

“I don’t believe in polluting your body with unnatural stuff,” he said. “I quit because it was making my mom crazy. And I also just really missed Dr Pepper.”

Even I enjoyed Dr. Pepper. I was relieved to not have consumed alcohol. Not wanting him to have a negative opinion of me. In order for him to think I was cool, I wanted to come off as the kind of girl who didn’t give a damn what other people thought and who, of course, he was. I wished I could call him a buddy. My desire was to kiss him as well.

Cam left when we left. He got up as soon as he saw Jeremiah coming over to get me. “So long, Flavia,” he said.

I started to unzip his hoodie, and he said, “That’s all right. You can give it to me later.”

“Here, I’ll give you my number,” I said, holding my hand out for his phone. I’d never given a boy my phone number before. As I punched in my number, I felt really proud of myself for offering it to him.

Backing away, he put the phone into his pocket and said, “I would have found a way to get it back without your number. I’m smart, remember? First prize in oration.”

I tried not to smile as he walked away. “You’re not that smart,” I called out. It felt like fate that we’d met. It felt like the most romantic thing that had ever happened to me, and it was.

I watched Conrad say good-bye to Red Sox girl. She gave him a hug, and he hugged her back, but not really. I was glad I had ruined his night, if only a little bit.

On the way to the car a girl stopped me. She wore her blondish-brown hair in two pigtails, and she had on a pink low-cut shirt. “Do you like Cam?” the

girl asked me casually. I wondered how she knew him–I thought he’d been a nobody just like me.

“I barely even know him,” I told her, and her face relaxed. She was relieved. I recognized that look in her eyes–dreamy and hopeful. It must have been the way I looked when I used to talk about Conrad, used to try to think of ways to insert his name into conversation. It made me sad for her, for me.

“I saw the way Nicole talked to you,” she said abruptly. “Don’t worry about her. She sucks as a person.”

“Red Sox girl? Yeah, she kind of does suck at being a person,” I agreed.

Then I waved good-bye to her as Jeremiah and Conrad and I made our way to the car.

Conrad drove. He was completely sober, and I knew he had been all along.

He checked out Cam’s hoodie but he didn’t say anything. We didn’t speak to each other once. Jeremiah and I both sat in the backseat, and he tried to joke around, but nobody laughed. I was too busy thinking, remembering

everything that had happened that night. I thought to myself, That might have been the best night of my life.

In my yearbook the year before, Sean Kirkpatrick wrote that I had “eyes so clear” he could “see right into my soul.” Sean was a drama geek, but so what.

It still made me feel good. Taylor snickered when I showed it to her. She said only Sean Kirkpatrick would notice the color of my eyes when the rest of the guys were too busy looking at my chest. But this wasn’t Sean Kirkpatrick.

This was Cam, a real guy who had noticed me even before I was pretty.

I was brushing my teeth in the upstairs bathroom when Jeremiah came in, shutting the door behind him. Reaching for his toothbrush, he said, “What’s

going on with you and Con? Why are you guys so mad at each other?” He hopped up onto the sink.

Jeremiah hated it when people fought. It was part of why he always played the clown. He took it upon himself to bring levity to any situation. It was sweet but also kind of annoying.

Through a mouthful of toothpaste I said, “Um, because he’s a self- righteous neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie?”

We both laughed at that. It was one of our little inside jokes, a line from The Breakfast Club that we spent repeating to each other the summer I was eight and he was nine.

He cleared his throat. “Seriously, though, don’t be so hard on him. He’s going through some stuff.”

This was news to me. “What? What stuff?” I demanded. Jeremiah hesitated. “It’s not up to me to tell you.”

“Come on. We tell each other everything, Jere. No secrets, remember?” He smiled. “I remember. But I still can’t tell you. It’s not my secret.” Frowning, I turned the faucet on and said, “You always take his side.” “I’m not taking his side. I’m just telling his side.”

“Same thing.”

He reached out and turned the corners of my mouth up. It was one of his oldest tricks; no matter what, it made me smile. “No pouting, Bells, remember?”

No Pouting was a rule Conrad and Steven had made up one summer. I

think I was eight or nine. The thing was, it only applied to me. They even put a sign up on my bedroom door. I tore it down, of course, and I ran and told Susannah and my mother. That night I got seconds on dessert, I remember.

Anytime I acted the slightest bit sad or unhappy, one of the boys would start yelling, “No pouting. No pouting.” And, okay, maybe I did pout a lot, but it was the only way I could ever get my way. In some ways it was even harder being the only girl back then. In some ways not.

Read The Summer I Turned Pretty Novel All Chapters PDF Free Online

Jenny Han The Summer I Turned Pretty Books in order PDF All chapters:

Share Post To:

Leave a Comment