The summer of her dreams is
about to get a reality check.
They said it couldn’t be done, but geeky sophomore Lauren Carlson
transformed herself into a popular girl after moving to a new school halfway
across the country. Amazing what losing her braces and going out for
cheerleading will do. Only trouble is, the popular crowd is wearing on Lauren’s
nerves and she can’t wait to return to summer camp where she’s valued for her
brain instead of her handsprings. She misses her old friends and most of all,
her long time camp-only boyfriend, Seth. This year she intends to upgrade their
relationship to year-round status once she’s broken up with her new, jock
boyfriend, Matt. He doesn’t even begin to know the real her, a girl fascinated
by the night sky who dreams of discovering new planets and galaxies.
But Matt isn’t giving her up without a fight. As he makes his case to stay
together, Lauren begins to realize his feelings run deeper than she ever would
have guessed. What if the guy she thought she was meant to be with forever
isn’t really The One? Returning to Camp Juniper Point was supposed to ground
her uprooted life, but she’s more adrift than ever. Everything feels different
and soon Lauren’s friends are turning on her and both guys question what she
really wants. As summer tensions escalate, Lauren wonders if she’s changed more
than she thought. Will her first big discovery be herself?
I ask you a question?” I’d been dying to ask him this for years, but the old me
had been too afraid.
“Shoot.” He wrapped his arms around
his knees and locked a hand around his other wrist.
I gathered my courage. “Why did you
want to break up every year after camp?”
In the quiet that followed, I traced
the white stitching on the embroidery that outlined Madison’s initial.
When Seth finally answered, his
voice was low.
“It’s easier to end things on good
terms than risk something going wrong during the school year.”
“Why assume the worst?” I’d never
given him reason to doubt me.
“I saw what my dad went through
after my mom left us.” He reached for a stick to shove the logs around in the
dusty fireplace as I marveled that he’d finally admitted what I’d
suspected. When Seth’s mom abandoned
him, she’d left a huge hole. No wonder he had trust issues. Still, we could
have worked through that if he’d given me a chance. Opened up to me like this
always figured I’d wait to get serious with anyone until I was… really sure,”
“And you were never sure of me?”
His crooked grin made a surprise
appearance, but his tone was dry. “I was hoping this would be the year we’d be
ready to take that step.”
Something inside me collapsed. My
chest felt so tight that for a minute I couldn’t breathe. We’d been so close to
developing something amazing.
“Instead, I showed up with someone
Outside, the wind rubbed tree limbs
against the cabin, making a squeaking scrape.
wasn’t just that.” He put the stick down and looked at me. Really looked me.
“You showed up as someone else.
Someone I didn’t recognize with a new look, clothes, interests.”
opened my mouth to protest but stayed silent when I followed his gaze to my
didn’t know who you were anymore,” Seth went on. “Since when did you prefer dancing
to stargazing, tanning to pursuing your Aerospace Scholar dreams? That wasn’t
the Lauren I knew. Loved.”
I flinched. Who knew a verb tense could cut as
deep as a knife? Seth no longer loved me because I’d changed.
ironic that I’d come back to camp to get back to the things I’d loved,
especially Seth. But Matt had stopped that chance and, suddenly, I was glad he
had. What was so wrong with liking dance and
astronomy? Cheering and the science club? The popular and the outsider cliques?
The problem was, I hadn’t realized I could do both, be both. If I’d gone back to Seth, I would never have learned that.
looked over at my drying wedge sandals by the fireplace. They were awesome,
even if they had slowed us down. And yeah, I was the girl who worried about
weather-induced hair frizz.
maybe I had changed. And Seth had a point about letting my dreams lapse. But
why couldn’t he see through the make-up and clothes to the person who still
thrilled at the site of a meteor shower and drew constellations on her notebook
laid back, tired of justifying myself. “That girl’s gone, Seth. I’m different
stretched beside me. His amber eyes searched mine in the shadows between us, a
wistful smile lifting the corners of his mouth.
“It’s not a bad thing,” he agreed,
his fingers toying with my curls. “I just miss the old you sometimes.”
I closed my eyes and enjoyed his
touch, knowing it wasn’t going any further. After all, he cared about someone
else, someone I’d never be again.
I edged a little closer to ease the empty ache inside. “…so do I.”
J. K. Rock is the writing partnership of sisters-in-law Joanne
& Karen Rock. Separately, they write adult romance. Together, they dream up
Young Adult books like CAMP BOYFRIEND, the first in a three-book series.
The summer camp stories continue with CAMP PAYBACK (4/14)
and CAMP FORGET-ME-NOT (8/14), plus bonus free novellas in between
stories. Visit http://campboyfriend.net to learn more about the series and the free prequel
novella, CAMP KISS, which you can download here.
Grand prize – Signed copies
Amanda Ink’s SUN, Jennifer Armentrout writing as J. Lynn’s FRIGID and JK Rock’s
CAMP BOYFRIEND. Also included, advance sneak peek copy Laurie Halse
Anderson’s THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY and Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian’s
FIRE WITH FIRE, plus an “I <3 my Camp Boyfriend” tee
shirt, friendship bracelets, ‘I <3 Camp’ temporary
tattoos, and a bookmark with the download code for CAMP KISS. Three other winners will
receive $10 Amazon gift cards!