I AM SO EXCITED TO REVEAL THE COVER FOR MY SECOND BOOK- DEAR CASSIE! Cassie is Amy’s ass-kicking friend from PRETTY AMY and I am so excited she gets her own book!
What if the last place you should fall in love is the first place that you do?
You’d think getting sent to Turning Pines Wilderness Camp for a month-long rehabilitation “retreat” and being forced to re-live it in this journal would be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.
You’d be wrong.
There’s the reason I was sent to Turning Pines in the first place: I got arrested. On prom night. With my two best friends, who I haven’t talked to since and probably never will again. And then there’s the real reason I was sent here. The thing I can’t talk about with the guy I can’t even think about.
What if the moment you’ve closed yourself off is the moment you start to break open?
But there’s this guy here. Ben. And the more I swear he won’t—he can’t—the deeper under my skin he’s getting. After the thing that happened, I promised I’d never fall for another boy’s lies.
And yet I can’t help but wonder…what if?
I Don’t Even Want to Say How Many Days to Go
Are you there, Smokey Bear? It’s me, Cassie.
I’m in a shitty shack in the woods with nothing to start the fires you are so desperate to keep from igniting. I also have no cigarettes to light the stuff people start fires with. I’m seriously pretending to smoke this pencil. If I find some matches I may actually end up smoking it.
I’m at a sleep-away camp for criminals—a mosquito pit that’s supposed to pass as court-ordered rehab. I have no cell phone, none of my own clothes, and no jewelry. They took the dog-tags my brother gave me. They took the six silver hoops that I have worn in my ears since, like, forever. My holes will probably close up, but jewelry can be used as a weapon. The people forced to be here with me would actually consider using jewelry as a weapon.
I have been given a flashlight. Why that’s not considered a weapon I don’t know, but maybe it’s because it’s essential in a place where lights-out comes at lame-ass nine o’clock p.m. You wouldn’t want to hit someone on the head with it—even though you sort of want to—because then you would have to write the mandatory “Assessment Diary” in the dark.
If you didn’t see the skywriters, I was arrested with my best friends Lila and Amy on prom night with the shitload of pot we stole from the dickheads who stood us up for the dance. I was driving, Lila was being mirror-addict Lila, and Amy was in the backseat shitting bricks. That’s the short story.
I guess this will be the long one.
I’m supposed to write about why I’m here. I’m glad I have a legal reason to blame, because there is no way in hell I am going to write about why I really think I’m here.
No matter what, I can never write about that.
Like I said, it started on prom night.
I was wearing a tight red dress that Lila had picked out. Something I would never usually wear. It made me feel sexy—and normally I don’t do sexy—but hell, I was already going to the prom, and honestly, that wasn’t something I would normally do, either. Lila was all into it because she had a boyfriend and Amy was all into it because Lila’s boyfriend was getting her a date, and, well, I guess I was all into it because it was either that or stay home with my parents. Which I didn’t want to do for all sorts of reasons, reasons that will probably be another entry I will be forced to write, so I’ll save it.
The night actually started out kind of fun. The three of us dressed up: Lila in light purple, Amy in light blue, and me in red, fucking Lila. We were laughing and getting along, but then we got to Lila’s boyfriend Brian’s house and it all went to shit. He wasn’t there. None of our dates were.
I had to give Lila some credit. She was so pissed off about us being stood up by our dates that she actually broke into his house and swiped his marijuana stash.
That’s about all I’ll give Lila credit for that night.
I’m supposed to leave the arrest behind me, but that doesn’t mean I can stop thinking about that red dress hanging in my closet, like a dead body in a freezer, and wondering if my mother has hocked it yet for beer money. Oh, crap, see? Now I’m writing about my family. Moving on…
When I landed at the Arcata, California, airport this afternoon, after the four-hour flight from New York, the arrest wasn’t even on my mind. It was occupied instead by an asshole in a tight white T-shirt and dark jeans, sitting on a metal bench in baggage claim, who kept staring at me like my hair was made of boobs.
I didn’t know what else to do when I got there except sit on that bench—so cold from the air-conditioning that I could feel it through my cargo pants and on the backs of my arms. I held the strap of my duffel bag tight. It made an angry red mark on my hand.
“Waiting for someone?” he asked. He didn’t turn to look at me, just talked like we were two old men sitting next to each other in the park. He had wavy brown hair, desperately in need of a cut.
“Not for you,” I said. We were both sitting there looking around—both, obviously, waiting for someone. Why did he care who I was waiting for?
“Who, then?” he asked, not at all understanding that I didn’t want to talk to him. Maybe he was that stupid, or maybe he was that much of an asshole.
“Get lost,” I said. Even without the cigarette I was dying to smoke, I needed to play it cool, at least until I saw the people in uniforms. Would they be dressed in, like, medical whites, or would it be more like policemen?
I put another stick of cinnamon gum in my mouth, but I didn’t offer him any. My brother, Tim, had bought me one of those Plen-T-packs. He gave it to me that morning when he dropped me off at the airport in my Civic, which he was going to take care of while I was gone. At least my car wasn’t being punished like I was for being there on prom night.
Tim had never been to rehab, but he’d been to war just like my dad, and he knew gum could be my new addiction, could be one small thing that might keep me sane. He was right. I needed all the gum I could get.
I swallowed a mouthful of cinnamon spit.
“Your mom,” the asshole sitting next to me said.
“What?” I turned to him. He had that perfect skin some guys have that looks like it belongs on a girl—dewy and glow-ey and rosy and not all that masculine.
“You waiting for your mom?” he asked.
Did I look that young? That lame? Sure, I was still seventeen. My lawyer had said that was what saved me—made it so I could be sent to rehab. I guess it was good my parents didn’t hold me back in kindergarten like my teacher had suggested. Of course, if they had, I wouldn’t have been going to the prom that night anyway.
I wouldn’t have even known Amy and Lila.
“No,” I growled. “Screw my mom,” I added, though I’m not sure why. I didn’t mean that, not really. I didn’t give two shits about my mom. I had enough to deal with without thinking about her. Screw him for bringing her up.
“Poor you,” he said.
Right, poor me; maybe it was true. I was here. Amy wasn’t—she got probation for ratting me out. And Lila wasn’t—she took off to God knows where. So that left me, Cassie, to deal with this bullshit all alone. Fuck them all anyway.
“What do you want?” I asked.
He shrugged, one of those infuriating shrugs that said he knew exactly what he wanted but wasn’t about to tell me. He started smacking the tops of his thighs in that way guys who play drums do.
Guys who want you to know they play drums.
I watched his hands, slapping like his legs were bongos. He was wearing a thumb ring. Um, yeah.
“Had to leave my set at home,” he said.
I rolled my eyes and sighed heavily, something I usually reserved for people I knew much better and had more time to hate. “I’m not interested,” I said. I looked at the automatic doors. How much longer could I sit here without pulverizing this kid into soup?
“In what?” he asked, still slapping his knees like there was a crowd watching, cheering him on.
I continued to stare at the automatic doors and try to ignore him. Would the people in uniforms be holding a sign with my name, or would I hear it over the loudspeaker? Would there be more handcuffs? I touched my wrists.
“I’m Ben,” he said, stopping his concert to turn to me. His eyes were wide, like sunny-side-up eggs with brown yolks.
“Good for you,” I said, stuffing another piece of gum in my mouth.
He laughed and touched the back of his neck. “Not really.”
“Am I supposed to tell you my name now? Is that how it works? You tell me your name and I tell you mine and then we slobber all over each other?” I spoke fast, faster than I meant to. Mostly because he made me think about Aaron, because I was always thinking about Aaron, how I wished I had told him to fuck off the first day I met him, instead of slobbering all over him and having everything lead where it led.
Having me wish I could take it all back. Hit rewind and erase.
“What are you talking about?” Ben asked, starting to laugh. A laugh I think was supposed to let me know he would never consider slobbering all over me.
I felt my face tighten, felt my hands go into fists. I squeezed them hard, so hard that I could feel my nails stabbing into my palms, forming red, angry crescent-moon welts.
“Calm down, Hulk,” Ben said, laughing harder, his mouth like a back-up singer going o-o-o. My breath went heavy, hot. I was going to destroy him.
I had lied to Amy. I had lied to everyone. I guess I could have told her that I had actually shared that Pepsi with Aaron when he came to see me at work at Pudgie’s Pizzeria instead of throwing it in his face for being one of the guys to stand us up on prom night—that I had shared other things, too. That he bit my neck with his crooked front tooth and licked the inside of my ear and made me whimper; that I had actually fallen for him.
That he had fooled me.
I looked at Ben; he was still laughing. I was ready to hit him, but instead I touched my stomach just below my belly button and put another piece of gum in my mouth.
“Too much cinnamon can kill you,” Ben said.
“Good,” I gurgled, practically choking on the wad. It was getting too big to chew, but there was no way I was spitting my gum out because of this guy. I pictured it growing over my tongue, my teeth, red, globular like a reptile heart.
The automatic doors swished open and a guy walked in wearing a brown uniform the color of a paper bag. He had one of those square heads and a brown buzz-cut so short it looked like pieces of tobacco on his scalp. I recognized the cut, Army issue.
Damn, I need a cigarette.
He was holding a sign—two signs. One read CASSIE WICK; the other read BEN CLAIRE.
“Looks like we were waiting for the same person.” Ben snickered, heaving his duffel bag over his shoulder and walking toward the door.
DEAR CASSIE pre-buy links:
The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Dear-Cassie-Lisa-Burstein/9781620612545
PRETTY AMY Links:
The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Pretty-Amy-Lisa-Burstein/9781620611197
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pretty-amy-lisa-burstein/1108930786