The Summer I Turned Pretty Chapter 28 Free Read Online

Full Read the Online Chapter 28 of The Summer I Turned Pretty Book 1 by Jenny Han for free.

The Summer I Turned Pretty Chapter 28:  “Truth or dare?” Taylor asked Conrad. “I’m not playing,” he said.

Taylor pouted. “Don’t be so gay,” she said. Jeremiah said, “You shouldn’t use the word ‘gay’ like Taylor opened her mouth and closed it. Then she said, “I didn’t mean anything by it, Jeremy. I just meant he’s being lame.”

“Well, ‘gay’ doesn’t mean ‘lame,’ Taylor, now does it?” Jeremiah said. He spoke in a sarcastic tone, but even mean attention was better than no attention. Probably he was just mad about all the attention she’d been giving Conrad that day.

Taylor heaved a great big sigh and turned to Conrad. “Conrad, you’re being very lame. Play truth or dare with us.

He ignored her and turned the volume on the TV up louder. Then he pretended to mute her with the remote, which made me laugh out loud.

“Fine, he’s out. Steven, truth or dare.” Steven rolled his eyes. “Truth.”

Taylor’s eyes lit up. “Okay. How far did you go with Claire Cho?” I knew she’d been saving that one up for a long time, waiting for the exact moment she could ask. Claire Cho was a girl that Steven had dated for most of freshman year. Taylor swore Claire had cankles, but I thought Claire’s ankles were perfectly slim. I thought Claire Cho was kind of perfect.

Steven actually blushed. “I’m not answering that.”

“You have to. It’s truth or dare. You can’t sit here and listen to other people tell secrets if you’re not going to,” I said. I had been wondering about him and Claire too.

“Nobody’s even told any secrets yet!” he protested.

“We’re about to, Steven,” Taylor said. “Now man up and tell us.” “Yeah, Steven, man up,” Jeremiah chimed in.

We all started to chant, “Man up! Man up!” Even Conrad turned the TV on mute to hear the answer.

“Fine,” Steven said. “If you shut up, I’ll tell you.” We shut right up and waited. “Well?” I said. “Third,” he said at last.

I relaxed back into the couch. Third base. Wow. Interesting. My brother had been to third base. Weird. Gross.

Taylor looked pink with satisfaction. “Well done, Stevie.”

He shook his head at her and said, “Now it’s my turn.” He looked around the room, and I sank deep into the couch cushions. I really, really hoped he wasn’t going to pick me and make me say it out loud–how I hadn’t even so much as kissed a boy yet. Knowing Steven, he would.

He surprised me when he said, “Taylor. Truth or dare?” He was actually playing along.

Automatically she said, “You can’t pick me because I just asked you. You have to pick someone else.” Which was true, that was the rule.

“Are you scared, Tay-Tay? Why don’t you man up?” Taylor hesitated. “Fine. Truth.”

Steven grinned evilly. “Who would you kiss in this room?”

Taylor considered it for a few seconds, and then she got that cat-that-ate- the-canary look on her face. It was the same look she’d had on her face

when she’d dyed her little sister’s hair blue when we were eight. She waited until she had everyone’s attention, and then she said, triumphantly, “Belly.”

There was a stunned kind of silence for a minute, and then everyone started to laugh, Conrad loudest. I threw a pillow at Taylor, hard.

“That’s not fair. You didn’t answer for real,” Jeremiah said, shaking his finger at her.

“Yes, I did,” Taylor said smugly. “I pick Belly. Take a closer look at everybody’s favorite little sister, Jeremy. She’s turning hot before your very eyes.”

I hid my face behind a pillow. I knew I was blushing even harder than Steven had. Mostly because it wasn’t true, I wasn’t turning hot before anyone’s eyes, and we all knew it. “Taylor, shut up. Please shut up.”

“Yes, please shut up, Tay- Tay,” Steven said. He looked kind of red too. “If you’re so serious, then kiss her,” said Conrad, his eyes still on the TV.

“Hey,” I said, glaring at him. “I’m a person. You can’t just kiss me without my permission.”

He looked at me and said, “I’m not the one who wants to kiss you.”

Hotly, I said, “Either way, permission not granted. To either of you.” I wished I could stick my tongue out at him without being accused of being a big baby.

Taylor broke in quickly. She said, “I picked truth, not dare. That’s why we’re not kissing right now.”

“We’re not kissing right now because I don’t want to kiss you,” I told her. I felt flushed, partly because I was mad, and partly because I was flattered.

“Now let’s stop talking about it. It’s your turn to ask.” “Fine. Jeremiah. Truth or dare.”

“Dare,” he said, leaning against the couch lazily.

“Okay. Kiss somebody in this room, right now .”Taylor looked at him confidently and waited.

It felt like the whole room was sitting on the edge of its seat while we waited for Jeremiah to say something. Would he actually do it? He was not the kind of guy to pass up a dare. I, for one, was curious about what kind of kisser he’d be, if he’d go for a French or if he’d give her a quick peck. Perhaps it was their first kiss, or perhaps they had shared one earlier in the week—perhaps in the arcade while I wasn’t looking—I couldn’t help but wonder. I thought for sure that they had.

Jeremiah sat up straight. “Easy,” he said, rubbing his hands together with a smile. Taylor smiled back and tilted her head to the side so her hair fell in her eyes just a little bit.

Then he leaned over to me and said, “Ready?” and before I could answer, he kissed me right on the lips. His mouth was a little bit open, but it wasn’t a French kiss or anything. I tried to push him off, but he kept on kissing me, for a few more seconds.

I pushed him off again, and he leaned back into the couch, as casual as can be. Everyone else was sitting there with their mouths hanging open, except for Conrad, who didn’t even look surprised. But then, he never looked surprised. I, on the other hand, was finding it kind of hard to breathe. I had just had my first kiss. In front of people. In front of my brother.

I couldn’t believe that Jeremiah had stolen my first kiss like that. I had been waiting, wanting it to be special, and it had happened during a game of truth or dare. How unspecial could you get? And to top it all off, he had only done it to make Taylor jealous, not because he liked me.

It had worked. Her eyes were narrowed, and she was staring at Jeremiah like he had thrown down some kind of gauntlet. Which, I guess he kind of had.

“Gross,” Steven said. “This game is gross. I’m outta here.” Then he looked at all of us disgustedly and left.

I got up too, and so did Conrad. “See ya,” I said. “And, Jeremiah, I’m getting you back for that.”

He winked and said, “A back rub should make us about even,” and I threw a pillow directly at his head and slammed the door behind me. The fact that he was being fake-flirty was the worst part. It was so patronizing, so demeaning.

It took me about three seconds before I realized that Taylor wasn’t coming after me. She was inside, laughing at Jeremiah’s dumb jokes.

In the hallway, Conrad gave me his trademark-knowing look and said, “You know you loved it.”

I glared at him. “How would you know? You’re too obsessed with yourself to notice anybody else.”

He walked away from me and said over his shoulder, “Oh, I notice everything, Belly. Even poor little you.”

“Screw you!” I said, because that was all I could think of. I could hear him chuckling as he shut his bedroom door.

Returning to my room, I crawled beneath the covers. I closed my eyes and kept playing back what had just occurred. Jeremiah’s lips had touched my lips. My lips were no longer my own. They had been touched. By Jeremiah. I had finally been kissed, and it was my friend Jeremiah who’d been the one to do it. My friend Jeremiah who had been ignoring me that whole week.

I wanted to speak with Taylor. Though she was currently downstairs kissing the same boy who had just kissed me, we were unable to discuss my first kiss. I knew it for a fact.

When she came back upstairs an hour later, I pretended I was sleeping.

“Belly?” she whispered across the room.

I didn’t say anything, but I stirred a little, for effect.

“I know you’re still awake, Belly,” she said. “And I forgive you.”

I wanted to sit right up and say, “You forgive me? Well, I don’t forgive you, for coming here and ruining my whole summer.” But I didn’t say any of it. I just kept fake-sleeping.

The next morning I woke up early, just after seven, and Taylor was already gone. I knew where she was. She’d gone to watch the sunrise with Jeremiah.

We’d been planning to go watch the sunrise on the beach one morning before she left, but we always overslept. It was her second to last morning, and she’d chosen Jeremiah. Figured.

I changed into my bathing suit and headed for the pool. In the mornings it was always a little cold outside, just a little bit of bite to the air, but I didn’t mind. Swimming in the mornings made me feel like I was swimming in the ocean even when I wasn’t. In theory swimming in the ocean sounds great and all, but the salt water burned my eyes too much to do it every day. Plus, the pool was more private, more my own. Even though everyone else swam in it too, in the mornings and at night I had it pretty much to myself, besides Susannah.

When I opened the gate to the pool, I saw my mother sitting in one of the lounge chairs reading a book. Except she wasn’t really reading it. She was more just holding it and staring off into space.

“Hi, Mom,” I said, more to break her out of her spell than anything else. She looked up, startled. “Good morning,” she said, clearing her throat. “Did you sleep well?”

I shrugged and dropped my towel onto the chair next to hers. “I guess,” I said.

My mother shaded her eyes with her hand and looked up at me. “Are you and Taylor having fun?”

“Tons,” I said. “Buckets full.” “Where is Taylor?”

“Who knows?” I said. “Who cares?” “Are you two fighting?” my mother asked casually. “No. I’m just starting to wish I hadn’t brung her, is all.”

“Best friends are important. They’re the closest thing to a sister you’ll ever have,” she told me. “Don’t squander it.”

Irritably I said, “I haven’t squandered anything. Why do you always have to put the blame on me for everything?”

“I’m not blaming you. Why must you always make things about you, dear?” My mother smiled at me in her infuriatingly calm way.

I rolled my eyes and jumped backward into the pool. It was freezing cold. When I came up to the surface, I yelled, “I don’t!”

Then I started my laps, and whenever I thought about Taylor and

Jeremiah, I got madder and pushed harder. By the time I was done, my shoulders burned.

My mother had left, but Taylor and Jeremiah and Steven were just coming in.

“Belly, if you swim too much, you’ll get those broad swimmer’s shoulders,” Taylor warned, dipping her foot in the water.

I ignored her. What did Taylor know about exercise? She thought walking around the mall in high heels was exercise. “Where were you guys?” I asked, floating on my back.

“Just hanging out,” Jeremiah said vaguely.

Judas, I thought. A bunch of Benedict Arnolds. “Where’s Conrad?”

“Who knows? He’s too cool to hang out,” Jeremiah said, falling onto a lounge chair.

Steven responded defensively, “He ran away.” For football season, he needs to get in shape. Remember that he has to depart for practice the following week?

I remembered. That year Conrad had to leave early so he could get back in time for tryouts. He’d never seemed like the football type to me, but there he was, trying out for the team. I guessed Mr. Fisher had a lot to do with it; he was exactly the type. So was Jeremiah. Although he’d never take it seriously.

He never took anything seriously.

“I’ll probably play for the team next year too,” Jeremiah said casually. He sneaked a peek at Taylor to see if she looked impressed. She didn’t. She wasn’t even looking at him.

His shoulders sagged a little, and I felt sorry for him despite myself. I said, “Jere, race me, okay?”

He shrugged and stood up, taking off his shirt. Then he walked over to the deep end and dove in. “You want a handicap?” he asked when he emerged up top.

“No. I think I can beat you without one,” I said, paddling over. “Whoo-hoo! Let’s see.”

We raced across the length of the pool, freestyle, and he beat me the first time, and then the second. But I wore him down by the third and fourth and beat him too. Taylor cheered me on, which only annoyed me more.

The next morning she was gone again. This time, though, I was gonna join them. It wasn’t like she and Jeremiah owned the beach. They and I both have the same legal right to enjoy the morning. I got out of bed, dressed, and went outdoors.

I didn’t see them at first. They were farther down than usual, and they had their backs to me. He had his arms around her, and they were kissing. They weren’t even watching the sunrise. And … it wasn’t Jeremiah, either. It was Steven. My brother.

It was just like in those movies with the surprise ending, where everything falls into place and clicks. Suddenly my life had become The Usual Suspects , and Taylor, Taylor was Keyser Soze. The scenes ran through the mind–

Taylor and Steven bickering, the way he had come to the boardwalk that night, Taylor claiming that Claire Cho had cankles, all the afternoons she’d spent at my house.

They didn’t hear me walk up. But then I said, loudly, “Wow, so first Conrad, then Jeremiah, and now my brother.”

She turned around, surprised, and Steven looked surprised too. “Belly–,” she started.

“Shut up.” I looked at my brother then, and he squirmed. “You’re a hypocrite. You don’t even like her! You said she bleached out all her brain cells with her Sun-In!”

He cleared his throat. “I never said that,” he said, glancing back and forth between Taylor and me. Her eyes had welled up, and she was wiping her left eye with the back of her sweatshirt sleeve. Steven’s sweatshirt sleeve. I was too angry to cry.

“I’m telling Jeremiah.”

“Belly, just freakin’ calm down. You’re too old for your temper tantrums,”

Steven said, shaking his head in his brotherly way.

The words came out of me, hot and fast and sure. “Go to hell.” I had never talked like that to my brother before. I don’t think I’d ever talked like that to anyone before. Steven blinked.

That’s when I started to walk away, and Taylor chased after me. She had to run to catch up, that’s how fast I was walking. I guess anger gives you speed.

“Belly, I’m so sorry,” she began. “I was going to tell you. Things just happened really fast.”

I stopped walking and spun around. “When? When did they happen?

Because from what I saw, things were happening so fast with Jeremy, not with my older brother.”

She shrugged helplessly, which only made me madder. Poor helpless little Taylor. “I’ve always had a crush on Steven. You know that, Belly.”

“Actually, I didn’t. Thanks for telling me.”

“When he liked me back, it was like, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think.”

“That’s the thing. He doesn’t like you. He’s just using you because you’re around,” I said. I knew it was cruel, but I also knew it was true. Then I walked into the house and left her standing outside.

She chased after me and grabbed my arm, but I shrugged her off.

“Please don’t be mad, Belly. I want things to stay the same with us forever,” Taylor said, brown eyes brimming with tears. What she really meant was, I want you to stay the same forever while I grow bigger breasts and quit violin and kiss your brother.

“Things can’t stay the same forever,” I said. I was saying it to hurt her because I knew it would.

“Don’t be mad at me, okay, Belly?” she pleaded. Taylor hated it when people were mad at her.

“I’m not mad at you,” I said. “I just don’t think we really know each other anymore.”

“Don’t say that, Belly.”

“I’m only saying it because it’s true.” She said, “I’m sorry, okay?”

I looked away for a second. “You promised you’d be nice to him.”

“Who? Steven?” Taylor looked genuinely confused. “No. Jeremiah. You said you’d be nice.”

She waved her hand in the air. “Oh, he doesn’t care.”

“Yeah, he does. It’s just that you don’t know him.” Like I do, I wanted to add. “I didn’t think you’d ever act so–so …” I searched for the perfect word, to cut her the way she’d cut me. “Slutty.”

“I’m not a slut,” she said in a tiny voice.

So this was my power over her, my supposed innocence over her supposed sluttiness. It was all such BS. I would’ve traded my spot for hers in a second.

Later, Jeremiah asked me if I wanted to play spit. We hadn’t played once all summer. It used to be our thing, our tradition. I was grateful to have it back. Even if it was a consolation prize.

He dealt me my hand, and we began to play, but both of us were just going through the motions. We had other things on our minds. I thought that we had this unspoken agreement not to talk about her, that maybe he didn’t even know what had happened, but then he said, “I wish you never brought her.”

“Me too.”

“It’s better when it’s just us,” he said, shuffling his stack. “Yeah,” I agreed.

After she left, after that summer, things were the same and they weren’t.

She and I were still friends, but not best friends, not like we used to be. But we were still friends.

She’d known me my whole life. It’s hard to throw away history. It was like you were throwing away a part of yourself.

Steven went right back to ignoring Taylor and obsessing over Claire Cho. We just pretended like none of it had ever happened. But it did.

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