The summer I turned pretty Chapter 24 Free Read Online

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The Summer I Turned Pretty Chapter 24: The next day, nothing. It wasn’t that he ignored me because that would have been something. Some kind of proof that it had happened, that something had changed. But no, he treated me the same. Like I was still little Belly, the girl with the messy flyaway ponytail and the bony knees, running after them on the beach. I should have known better.

The thing was, whether he was pushing me away or pulling me toward him, I was still going in the same direction. Toward Conrad.

Cam didn’t call me for a few days. Not that I blamed him. I didn’t call him either–although I thought about it. I just didn’t know what to say.

When he finally called, he didn’t bring up the party. He asked me to go to the drive-in. I said yes. Right away I worried, though–did going to the drive-in mean we were going to have to make out? Like, crazy make out, steamed windows and seats all the way back?

Because that was what people did at the drive-in. There were the families, and then there were the hot and heavy couples toward the back of the lot. I’d never been part of a couple before. I’d gone as a family, with Susannah and

my mother and everyone, and I’d gone with the boys, but never as a couple, like on a date.

Once, Jeremiah and Steven and I went and spied on Conrad on one of his dates. Susannah let Jeremiah drive us, even though he only had a permit. The drive-in was three miles away, and at Cousins, everyone drove, even kids on their parents’ laps. Conrad had been furious when he’d caught us spying on him. He’d been on his way to the concession stand when he saw us. It had been pretty funny–his hair was all messed up as he yelled at us, and his Hps were rosy and they had a glossy sheen. Jeremiah cracked up the whole time.

I wished Steven and Jeremiah were out there in the dark somewhere, spying on us and cracking up. It would make me feel comforted somehow.


I was wearing Cam’s hoodie, and I kept it zipped all the way to my neck. I sat with my arms crossed, like I was shivering. Even though I liked Cam, even though I wanted to be there, I had the sudden urge to jump out of the car and walk home. I’d only ever kissed one boy, and that hadn’t been for real.

Taylor called me the nun. Maybe I was one, at heart. Maybe I should have joined a convent. I didn’t even know if this was an actual date. Maybe he’d been so turned off by me the other night that all he wanted was to be my friend.

Cam tuned the radio until he found the right station. Drumming his hands on the steering wheel, he said, “Do you want any popcorn or anything?”

I kind of did, but I didn’t want it to get stuck in my teeth, so I said no, thanks.

He was pretty into the movie, the way he leaned up close to the windshield to get a closer look sometimes. It was an old horror movie, one that Cam told me was really famous, but I’d never heard of it. I was barely paying attention anyway–I felt like I was watching him way more than I was

As I watched the movie, I couldn’t help but notice how he licked his lips frequently. Unlike Jeremiah, who would laugh with me during the funny parts, he remained stoic. Seated on his side of the car, he leaned against the door, maintaining as much distance as possible between us.

When the movie was over, he started the car up. “Ready?” he said.

I felt a wave of disappointment. He was taking me home already. He wasn’t going to take me to Scoops for an ice cream cone, or a hot fudge sundae to share. The date, if you could even call it that, had been a failure. He didn’t try to make out with me once. Not that I knew if I’d even have let him, but still. He could’ve at least tried.

“Um-hmm,” I said. I felt like I might cry, and I wasn’t quite sure why, when I hadn’t even been sure if I wanted to kiss him in the first place.

We drove home in silence. He parked the car in front of the house–I held my breath a little, my hand on the door handle, waiting to see if he’d turn off the ignition or if I should hop out. But he turned it off and leaned his head back against the headrest a second.

“Do you know why I remembered you?” he asked me suddenly.

It was a question so out of nowhere that it took me a little while to figure out what he was talking about. “You mean from Latin Convention?” “Yeah.”

“Was it my Coliseum model?” I was only half-joking. Steven had helped me build it; it had been pretty impressive.

“No.” Cam ran his hand through his hair. He wouldn’t look at me. “It’s because I thought you were really pretty. Like, maybe the prettiest girl I’d ever seen.”

I laughed. In the car, it sounded really loud. “Yeah, right. Nice try, Sextus.” “I mean it,” he insisted, his voice rising.

“You’re making that up.” I didn’t believe it could be true. I didn’t want to let myself believe it. With the boys any compliment like this would always be

the first part of a joke.

He shook his head, lips tight. He was offended that I didn’t believe him. I hadn’t meant to hurt his feelings. I just didn’t see how it could be true. It was almost mean of him to lie about it. I knew what I looked like back then, and I wasn’t the prettiest girl anybody had ever seen, not with my thick glasses and chubby cheeks and little-girl body.

Cam looked me in the eyes then. “The first day, you wore a blue dress. It was, like, corduroy or something. It made your eyes look really blue.”

“My eyes are gray,” I said.

“Yes, but that dress made them look blue.”

Which was why I wore it. It was my favorite. I wondered where it was now. Probably packed up in the attic back home, with all my winter clothes.

It was too small now anyway.

He looked so sweet, the way he watched me, waiting for my reaction. His cheeks were flushed peach. I swallowed hard and said, “Why didn’t you come up to me?”

He shrugged. “You were always with your friends. I watched you that whole week, trying to get up the nerve. I couldn’t believe it when I saw you at the bonfire that night. Pretty bizarre, huh?” Cam laughed, but he sounded embarrassed.

“Pretty bizarre,” I echoed. I couldn’t believe he’d noticed me. With Taylor by my side, who would have even bothered to look at me?

“I almost messed up my Catullus speech on purpose, so you’d win,” he said, remembering. He inched a little closer to me.

“I’m glad you didn’t,” I said. I reached out and touched his arm. My hand shook. “I wish you had come up to me.”

That’s when he dipped his head low and kissed me. I didn’t let go of the door handle. All I could think was, J wish this had been my first kiss.

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