The Summer I Turned Pretty Chapter 42 Free Read Online

Full Read the Online Chapter 42 of The Summer I Turned Pretty novel by Jenny Han for free.

The Summer I Turned Pretty Chapter 42:  He’d gone running on the beach, something he’d started doing recently—I knew because I’d watched him from my window two mornings in a row. He was wearing gym shorts and a T-shirt; sweat had formed in a circle in the middle of his back. He’d left about an hour before, I’d seen him take off, and he was running back to the house now.

I walked out there, to the porch, without a real plan in my mind. All I knew was that the summer was almost over. Soon it would be too late. We would drive away, and I would never have told him. Jeremiah had laid it all out on the line. Now it was my turn. I couldn’t go another whole year not having told him. I’d been so afraid of change, of anything tipping our little summer sailboat—but Jeremiah had already done that, and look, we were still alive.

We were still Belly and Jeremiah.

I had to, I had to do it, because to not do it would kill me. I couldn’t keep yearning for something, for someone who might or might not like me back. I had to know for sure. Now or never.

He didn’t hear me coming up behind him. He was bent down loosening the laces of his sneakers.

“Conrad,” I said. He didn’t hear me, so I said it again, louder. “Conrad.” He looked up, startled. Then he stood up straight. “Hey.”

Catching him off guard felt like a good sign. He had a million walls.

Maybe if I just started talking, he wouldn’t have time to build up a new one.

I sucked in my lips and began to speak. I said the first words I thought of, the ones that had been on my heart since the beginning. I said, “I’ve loved you since I was ten years old.”

He blinked.

“You’re the only boy I’ve ever thought about. My whole life, it’s always been you. You taught me how to dance, you came out and got me the time I swam out too far. Do you remember that? You stayed with me and you pushed me back to shore, and the whole time, you kept saying, ‘We’re almost there,’ and I believed it. I believed it because you were the one who was saying it, and I believed everything you ever said. Compared to you, everyone else is saltines, even Cam. And I hate saltines. You know that. You know everything about me, even this, which is that I really love you.”

I waited, standing in front of him. I was out of breath. I felt like my heart would explode, it was so full. I pulled my hair into a ponytail with my hand and held it like that, still waiting for him to say something, anything.

It felt like a thousand years before he spoke. “Well you shouldn’t. I’m not the one. Sorry.”

And that was all he said. I let out a big breath of air and stared at him. “I don’t believe you,” I said. “You like me too; I know it.” I’d seen the way he’d looked at me when I was with Cam, I’d seen it with my own two eyes.

“Not the way you want me to,” he said. He sighed, and in this sad way, like he felt sorry for me, he said, “You’re still such a kid, Belly.”

“I’m not a kid anymore! You just wish I was, so that way you wouldn’t have to deal with any of it. That’s why you’ve been mad at me this whole summer,” I said, my voice getting louder. “You do like me. Admit it.”

“You’re crazy,” he said, laughing a little as he walked away from me.

But not this time. I wasn’t going to let him off the hook that easily. I was sick and tired of his brooding James Dean routine. He had feelings for me. I knew it. I was going to make him say it.

I grabbed his shirt sleeve. “Admit it. You were mad when I started hanging out with Cam. You wanted me to still be your little admirer.”

“What?” He shook me off. “Get your head out of your ass, Belly. The world doesn’t revolve around you.”

My cheeks flamed bright red; I could feel the heat beneath my skin. It was like a sunburn times a million. “Yes, exactly, because the world revolves around you, right?”

“You have no idea what you’re talking about.” There was a warning in his voice, but I didn’t stop to listen. I was too mad. I was finally saying what I really thought, and there was no turning back now.

I kept getting in his face. I wasn’t going to let him walk away from me, not this time. “You just want to keep me on this hook, right? So I’ll keep chasing after you and you can feel good about yourself. As soon as I start to get over you, you just reel me back in. You’re so screwed up in the head. But I’m telling you, Conrad, this is it.”

He snapped, “What are you talking about?”

My hair whipped around my face as I spun around to walk backward, facing him. “This is it. You don’t get to have me anymore. Not as your friend or your admirer or anything. I’m through.”

His mouth twisted. “What do you want from me? You have your little boyfriend to play with now, remember?”

I shook my head and backed away from him. “It’s not like that,” I said.

He’d gotten it all wrong. That wasn’t what I was trying to do. He’d been the one stringing mealong, like, my whole life. He knew how I felt, and he let me love him. He wanted me to.

He stepped closer to me. “One minute you like me. Then Cam …” Conrad paused. “And then Jeremiah. Isn’t that right? You want to have your cake and eat it too, but you also want your cookies, and your ice cream …”

“Shut up!” I yelled.

“You’re the one who’s been playing games, Belly.” He was trying to sound casual, offhand, but his body was tense, like every muscle was as tight as his stupid guitar strings.

“You’ve been an ass all summer. All you think about is yourself. So your parents are getting divorced! So what? People’s parents get divorced. It’s not an excuse to treat people like crap!”

He snapped his head away from me. “Shut your mouth,” he said, and his jaw twitched. I had finally done it. I was getting to him.

“Susannah was crying the other day because of you—she could barely get out of bed! Do you even care? Do you even know how selfish you are?”

Conrad stepped up close to me, so close our faces were nearly touching, like he might either hit me or kiss me. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears. I was so mad I almost wished he’d hit me. I knew he’d never do it, not in a million years. He grabbed my arms and shook me, and then he let go just as suddenly. I could feel tears building up, because for a second there, I thought he might.

Kiss me.

I was crying when Jeremiah walked up. He’d been at work lifeguarding; his hair was still wet. I didn’t even hear his car pull up. He took one look at the two of us, and he knew something bad was happening. He almost looked scared. And then he just looked furious. He said, “What the hell is going on? Conrad, what’s your problem?”

Conrad glared at him. “Just keep her away from me. I’m not in the mood to deal with any of this.”

I flinched. It was like he really had hit me. It was worse than that.

He started to walk away, and Jeremiah grabbed his arm. “You need to start

dealing with this, man. You’re acting like a jerk. Quit taking your anger out on everybody else. Leave Belly alone.”

I shivered. Was this because of me? All summer, Conrad’s moodiness, locking himself up in his room—had it really been because of me? Was it more than just his parents divorcing? Had he been that upset over seeing me with someone else?

Conrad tried to shrug him off. “Why don’t youleave mealone? How about we try that instead?”

But Jeremiah wouldn’t let go. He said, “We’ve been leaving you alone. We’ve left you alone this whole summer, getting drunk and sulking like a little kid. You’re supposed to be the older one, right? The big brother? Act like it, dumbass. Freaking man up and handle your business.”

“Get out of my face,” Conrad growled.

“No.” Jeremiah stepped closer, until their faces were inches apart, just like ours had been not fifteen minutes before.

In a dangerous voice Conrad said, “I’m warning you, Jeremiah.”

The two of them were like two angry dogs, growling and spitting and circling each other. They’d forgotten I was there. I felt like I was watching something I shouldn’t, like I was spying. I wanted to put my hands over my ears. They’d never been like this with each other in all the time I’d known them. They might have argued, but it had never been like this, not once. I knew I should leave, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I just stood there on the periphery, holding my arms close to my chest.

“You’re just like Dad, you know that?” Jeremiah shouted.

That’s when I knew it had nothing to do with me. This was bigger than anything I could be a part of. This was something I knew nothing about.

Conrad pushed Jeremiah away roughly, and Jeremiah pushed him back.

Conrad stumbled and nearly fell, and when he rose up, he punched Jeremiah right in the face. I think I screamed. Then they were wrestling around, grabbing at each other, hitting and cursing and breathing heavy. They knocked over Susannah’s big glass jar of sun tea, and it cracked open. Tea spilled out all over the porch. There was blood on the sand. I didn’t know whose it was.

They kept fighting, fighting over the broken glass, even though Jeremiah was about to lose his flip-flops. A few times I said, “Stop!” but they couldn’t hear me. They looked alike. I’d never noticed how alike they looked. But right then they looked like brothers. They kept struggling until suddenly, in the midst of it all, my mother was there. I guessed she’d come through the

other screen door. I don’t know—she was just there. She broke the two of them apart with this incredible kind of brute strength, the kind only mothers have.

She held them apart with a hand on each of their chests. “You two need to stop,” she said, and instead of sounding mad, she sounded so sad. She sounded like she might cry, and my mother never cried.

They were breathing hard, not looking at each other, but they were connected, the three of them. They understood something I didn’t. I was just standing there on the periphery, bearing witness to it all. It was like the time I went to church with Taylor, and everyone else knew all the words to the songs, but I didn’t. They lifted their arms in the air and swayed and knew every word by heart, and I felt like an intruder.

“You know, don’t you?” my mother said, her hands crumpling away from them.

Jeremiah sucked in his breath, and I knew he was holding it in, trying not to cry. His face was already starting to bruise. Conrad, though, his face was indifferent, detached. Like he wasn’t there.

Until his face sort of opened up, and suddenly he looked about eight years old. I looked behind me, and there was Susannah standing in the doorway.

She was wearing her white cotton housedress, and she looked so frail standing there. “I’m sorry,” she said, lifting her hands up helplessly.

She stepped toward the boys, hesitant, and my mother backed away.

Susannah held out her arms and Jeremiah fell right in, and even though he was so much bigger than she was, he looked small. Blood from his face smeared over the front of her dress, but they didn’t pull away. He cried like I hadn’t heard him cry since Conrad had accidentally closed the car door on his hand years and years ago. Conrad had cried just as hard as Jeremiah had that day, but this day he didn’t. He let Susannah touch his hair, but he didn’t cry.

“Belly, let’s go,” my mother said, taking my hand. She hadn’t done that in a very long time. Like a little kid, I followed her inside. We went upstairs, to her room. She closed the door and sat down on the bed. I sat down next to her.

“What’s happening?” I asked her, faltering, searching her face for some kind of answer.

She seized my hands and slid them into hers. She gripped them tightly, as if she were the one holding on to me rather than the other way around. “Belly, Susannah’s sick again.” she said.

I closed my eyes. I could hear the ocean roaring all around me; it was like

holding a conch shell up to my ear really close. It wasn’t true. It wasn’t true. I was anywhere but there, in that moment. I was swimming under a canopy of stars; I was at school, sitting in math class; on my bike, on the trail behind our house. I wasn’t there. This wasn’t happening.

“Oh, bean,” my mother sighed. “I need you to open your eyes. I need you to hear me.”

I wouldn’t open them; I wouldn’t listen. I wasn’t even there.

“She’s sick. She has been for a long time. The cancer came back. And it’s

—it’s aggressive. It’s spread to her liver.”

I opened my eyes and snatched my hands away from her. “Stop talking.

She’s not sick. She’s fine. She’s still Susannah.” My face was wet and I didn’t even know when I had started to cry.

My mother nodded, wet her lips. “You’re right. She’s still Susannah. She does things her way. She didn’t want you kids to know. She wanted this summer to be—perfect.” Her voice caught on the word “perfect.” Like a run in a stocking, it caught, and she had tears in her eyes too.

She pulled me to her, held me against her chest and rocked me. And I let her.

“But they did know,” I whimpered. “Everybody knew but me. I’m the only one who didn’t know, and I love Susannah more than anybody.”

Which wasn’t true, I knew that. Jeremiah and Conrad, they loved her best of all. But it felt true. I wanted to tell my mother that it didn’t matter anyway, Susannah had had cancer last time and she’d been fine. She’d be fine again. But if I said it out loud, it would be like admitting that she really did have cancer, that this really was happening. And I couldn’t.

That night I lay in bed and cried. My whole body ached. I opened all the windows in my room and lay in the dark, just listening to the ocean. I wished the tide would carry me out and never bring me back. I wondered if that was how Conrad felt, how Jeremiah felt. How my mother felt.

It felt like the world was ending and nothing would ever be the same again.

It was, and it wouldn’t.

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