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Authors: C.J Duggan

The boys of summer

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The Boys of SummerC.J. Duggan

 

Copyright © 2012 by C.J Duggan

Smashwords Edition

The Boys of Summer

A Summer Series Novel, Book One

Published by C.J Duggan

Australia, NSW

www.cjdugganbooks.com

First Smashwords edition, published December 2012

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmittedin any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, includingrecording, scanning, photocopying or by any information storage andretrieval system, without the written consent of the author.

Disclaimer: The persons, places, things, andotherwise animate or inanimate objects mentioned in this novel arefigments of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to anythingor anyone living (or dead) is unintentional.

Edited bySarah Billington|Billington Media

Copyedited by Anita Saunders

Proofreading by Sascha Craig & Heather Akins

Cover Art byKeary Taylor Indie Designs

This ebook formatted byCyberWitch Press,LLC

Author Photograph © 2012 C.J Duggan

TheBoys of Summeris also available as a paperback atAmazon

Contact the author at[email protected]

The Boys of Summer

It seemed only natural to nickname them the‘Onslow Boys’. Every time they swaggered in the front door of theOnslow Hotel after a hard week’s work, their laughter was loud andgenuine as they settled onto their bar stools. I peeked through therestaurant partition, a flimsy divider between my world and theirs.I couldn’t help but smile whenever I saw them, saw him … TobyMorrison.

Quiet seventeen-year-old Tess doesn’t relishthe thought of a summertime job. She wants nothing more than toforget the past haunts of high school and have fun with her bestfriends before the dreaded Year Twelve begins.

To Tess, summer is when everything happens:riding bikes down to the lake, watching the fireworks at the OnslowShow and water bomb fights at the sweltering Sunday markets.

How did she let her friends talk her intoworking?

After first-shift disasters, rude, wealthytourists and a taunting ex-boyfriend, Tess is convinced nothinggood can come of working her summer away. However, Tess findsunlikely allies in a group of locals dubbed ‘The Onslow Boys’, whoare old enough to drive cars, drink beer and not worry aboutcurfews. Tess’s summer of working expands her world with a seriesof first times with new friends, forbidden love and heartbreakingchaos.

 

All with the one boy she has never been ableto forget.

 

It will be a summer she will alwaysremember.

 

Warning: sexual references, and occasionalcoarse language.

 

Dedication

Dedicated to my best friend, Sascha.

For the drama, humor, tears, support, loyalty andmost of all love!

Bringing sanity to me each and every day.

I love you more than is measurable.

 

 

 

“Love is not necessary to life, but it is whatmakes life worth living.”

— Anon

Chapter One

I shouldn’t have opened it.

But I did. I mean, it’s what you do when awad of paper hits you in the back of the head, right? You unfold itin the hopes that maybe, just maybe, it might be a note confessingundying love from a green-eyed, dreamy, Italian exchange student.If therewassuch an exchange student at Onslow High. A girlcould dream. There wasn’t a boy in sight that you could even hopeto admire, and there certainly wasn’t anyone else you would evenremotely want to attract.

My best friend, Ellie, plucked thescrunched-up wad of paper from where it had settled in my hoodie,which, to the boys behind me, served as a makeshift basketballring. She was fast, real fast –even more so with herlightning-speed dagger eyes that she cast to those snickering inthe back row.

“Just ignore them, Tess, they’re not worthit.”

I barely heard Ellie’s words as I took in thecrude drawing of me. I knew it was me, thanks mostly to the giantarrow that pointed to a box-shaped figure with the words ‘TESS’highlighted. A stick figure would probably be flattering for mosthigh school girls with image problems, but this wasn’t stick form;it wasn’t even a box. It was a drawing of an … ironing board? Wasthat what it was? A speech bubble protruded from the pencil-thinsmile. To their credit, the smile was drawn in red pen. My guess,it was to offer the ironing board more feminine authenticity.

“Hi, I’m Tic-Tac-Tess,” the speech bubblesaid. “I’m flatter than two Tic Tacs on an ironing bored.”Ironing board was spelled wrong, idiots!

I stared at the image for the longest time,muffled laughter and the unmistakable sound of high-fives beingslapped from behind me, but it was only the sound of an unexpectedvoice that finally broke my attention.

“Do you care to share, Miss McGee?”

Ellie’s elbow in my rib cage snapped me outof my trance to find Mr Burke overshadowing our desk. His thick,bushy eyebrows drew together into an impressive, yet frightening,frown.

Frozen, I made no effort to hide the notethat was all too quickly plucked from my hands. Mr Burkere-adjusted his glasses and cleared his throat as he slowlyexamined the crumpled paper that had held me so entranced.

I could feel it; all eyes were on me, and Itried not to cringe as heat rushed to my cheeks. My heart slammedagainst my rib cage; a new tension filled the air as the class fellsilent. We waited, bracing ourselves for the outburst that Mr Burkewas so famous for.

I flicked a miserable look to Ellie whooffered her best ‘don’t worry’ smile.

Along with the rest of the class, I held mybreath and silently counted down.In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… cue thescreaming.

“WHAT IS THIS?” Mr Burke bellowed. His redface surpassed my flushed cheeks, a vein pulsing in his neck.Before I could form a sentence, he did the worst thing possible,the very thing I feared the most: he read out the note.

“TIC-TAC-TESS?” He held the drawing out todisplay to the class.

Oh God!

“Flatter than an ironing board, hmm?”

Oh no-no-no-no-no.

I slid down in my seat.This couldn’t behappening.

I cursed the boys in the back row with theirstupid red pencil, crappy illustration and subpar spelling. (It wasDusty Anderson. Had to be. Or Peter Bricknell – no one else inschool spells as badly as him.) I fantasised about them beingdragged out by their ears to the principal’s office, systematicallygetting booted in the behind like in a bad slapstick movie. Therewas also lots of crying and apologising in my fantasy. I quiteenjoyed watching Peter cry. Instead I was to be punished, as wasthe rest of the class. Punished by a whole lot of shouting, I mean.Mr Burke’s irate, verbal onslaught ranted and raved about idiotictime wasting, short attention spans and even the evils of paperwastage. Never was bullying (or the fact they had spelled ironingboard wrong) mentioned. I mean, seriously, how does anyone get toYear Ten and not know how to spell board?

No, the bad guys wouldn’t be punished.Instead, what had begun as a private joke, generated from my evilex-boyfriend and his lackeys, was now shared with the entire class.It would soon spread to the rest of Year Ten and then, inevitably,the entire school. Brilliant job, Mr Burke.

That was how it began. Pretty much one yearago today, I had become stupid Tic-Tac-Tess. Even when the moresupportive teachers overheard the taunts and duly gave stern looksand warnings, it did little to appease the situation. Even thoughthe hype had moved on to some other unfortunate soul, the latestbeing Matthew Caine’s drunken, school social scandal that had himvomiting over Mr Hood’s Italian leather loafers. The effects ofthat infamous day in Mr Burke’s Biology class still haunted me.

There was no rhyme or reason to high school.What made you team captain one day could make you a social outcastthe next. I was neither popular nor a freak-a-zoid; I was no one, areal Jane Doe, and that’s the way I liked it. I avoided thespotlight, which ironically followed my best friend, Ellie,everywhere she went. Boys were like moths and Ellie was the flame,which in my eyes was not a great thing. I’m not a prude oranything, I’ve had boyfriends and done stuff with them, but she’smy best friend and I’m just worried about her. And I had reason toworry: I had overheard canteen-line mutterings of Ellie being a‘slut’, but I would never tell her that.

So I chose the comfort of remaining in myfriend’s shadow; beautiful, bubbly Ellie with her perky,honey-blonde ponytail, a light dusting of freckles on her perfectski-jump-curved nose. Ellie always looked like she had stepped outof a ‘Sportsgirl’ catalogue. And there was Adam, our other bestie,who’s full of charisma and charm, and he’s really funny, too.Everyone loved Adam, particularly the teachers. He was late foreverything, but when hedidarrive, it was always withlesson-disrupting flair. With his bed-tousled hair and his beamingsmile, he could charm the knickers off a nun. His words – not mine.Ew!

The three of us made unlikely allies, butwe’d been friends all our lives. Sure, Adam would disappear atrecess over the years for some male bonding, from the sandpit inprimary school to the footy field at Onslow High. He would alwaysreturn and plonk himself next to Ellie and me, leaning over tosteal a chip from one of our packets, earning him a well-deservedpunch in the arm that had him screaming in dramatic agony.

He was such a drama queen. Ellie and I alwayspredicted he’d be an actor one day. “Destined to be a thespian,” wetold him.

Adam would do a double take, his eyebrowsrising.

“A lesbian?”

Ellie and I would groan in unison. “No idiot,a thespian!”

“Oh, riiiiight.” He would nod, a wry smilefighting to break out. He’d known exactly what we’d said. Yeah,that was Adam.

The two shining lights of my two bestfriends’ personalities seemed to be a good buffer for me. Elliesaid I was really intelligent and had the biggest brain out ofanyone at school, but I didn’t know about that. We all balancedeach other out in some way and watched out for one another, and itwas never more evident than in times of peril.

As Ellie and I turned into our Year Elevenlocker room to gather our books for English, our smiles faded and Ifroze. Dread seeped into me just like it had in Biology twelvemonths earlier. Except this time, it was a thousand timesworse.

I will not cry. I will not cry!Irepeated to myself over and over again as my nails dug into mypalms with such ferocity that they threatened to break the skin.Laughter, loud and low, surrounded me from all angles in the room.A mixture of faces represented shock, horror and disgust, but thegeneral mood was hilarity. And relief that it was happening tosomeone else. My gaze shifted directly to where I assumed Scottwould be, laughing the loudest, but he was noticeably absent. Onlya few of his friends loitered, their beady eyes trying not to flickfrom me to each other. It wasn’t working. They were obviouslywaiting for a reaction, one I would never give them. I neverdid.

I just stood silently looking at my locker.The door had been smeared with something brown and sticky. Mybreath hitched in a tight vice of absolute fear and loathing. Inoticed what I suspected was a string of caramel drool thatdribbled diagonally to a mashed, chewed, chocolatey nugget thatappeared to have been regurgitated onto my lock. It was a bizarremoment of bittersweet relief. It was only chocolate … and spit.Yeah, my relief was short lived.

“Looks like someone had a nasty reaction to aTwirly Whirl.”

Dusty Anderson deliberately bumped myshoulder as he walked by me. Laughter following him out.

“More like a Twirly Hurl,” added PeterBricknell. More laughter erupted, but strangely no high fives. Iwould have thought this was definitely a high-five occasion.

“Oh, fuck off!” Ellie yelled after them.

I think her outburst shocked me more than mydefecated locker did. If steam could physically pour from someone’sears like in the cartoons, it would have been pouring out of Ellieright then. Instead, a death-like stare and flared nostrils had todo.

“Ellie, don’t,” I implored. “It’ll just makeit worse.”

“Worse? Worse than this?” She pointed.

The few loiterers that had remained in thelocker room slowly exited as Ellie continued her tirade.

“You know who’s behind this, don’t you? Thatlow-life ex of yours, that’s who.”

I didn’t need to agree; I knew it was Scott.It always was. Not to mention I was well aware of his particularfondness for Twirly Whirls. First there was the note in Biologythat had sealed my fate as “that flat-chested girl” and the rumourshe spread shortly after that claimed I was frigid.

Butthiswas by far the worst thing hehad ever done. Before this, it was the odd, empty Tic Tac packet infront of my locker. That hadn’t happened in months, though. He hadlulled me into a false sense of security. I was such an idiot.

I sighed and straightened myself to fakeindifference.

“Well, I better get it off,” I said as Iwalked over to the wheelie bin, dragging it over from the corner ofthe room to my locker and assessing the damage.

Ellie calmed down a bit as she came closer. Icould feel her body tense, and she quickly looked away. “I’ll, um,go and find something to wipe it off with.” She started to backaway.

“OK, but don’t go and tell anyone –promise?”

Ellie sighed and looked at me, sympathypouring past the anger. “I won’t promise forever, Tess. If he pullsany more crap like this, not just this, but anything, I will not besilent.” She left, to hopefully find some hospital-gradedisinfectant and a blowtorch to open up my combination lock.

Ellie returned with some paper towels, andSpray and Wipe detergent she procured from the school cleaner underthe strict promise it was not to be used as an ingredient foranything explosive and returned ASAP. I made some leeway by findinga stick and slowly peeled off the regurgitated, slimy mucus blobthat sat directly on my combination lock. It was then I heard Elliedry retching into her hand, turning away. Such help. I chucked thechocolatey stick in the bin and went to console Ellie, her colourdrained from her face.

“You alright?” I couldn’t help but laugh as Ipatted her on the back. She couldn’t form words as the chunksthreatened to rise.

Animated whistling closed in at a brisk pace(a sound I would recognise anywhere) and Adam waltzed in. Hisrelaxed, calm demeanour didn’t say, “I’m hightailing it to classbecause I am fifteen minutes late”; instead, his surpriseregistered as he rounded the corner of the locker room to see meand Ellie kneeling on the linoleum by my locker, Ellie’s facehovering over the wheelie bin.

His eyes narrowed from Ellie’s sweat-beadedface to mine. “What’s wrong?”

Before I could answer, Adam’s gaze movedbeyond us and paused on the splatterfest that was my locker. Thesteely look of fury that had surfaced in Ellie earlier nowtravelled through Adam. He looked back at me and with a deep, calmbreath he came to stand beside us to survey the damage.

“One guess,” he bit out.

“Yep!” I turned to re-evaluate the situation.The sight hadn’t improved much, even with the gooey blob on thelock gone.

Without another word, Adam dropped hisbackpack to the floor, wrenched the zip open and delved into thecontents.

“You don’t happen to have a pressure washeron you, by any chance?” I mused.

He ignored me; Adam was on a mission. I couldtell by the crinkle in his brow that all too quickly vanished as hefound what he was looking for.

He pulled out …

“A banana? Seriously?” He was an odd boy.

“Urgh. Adam, how can you eat at a time likethis?” Ellie cringed.

Adam peeled back the yellow folds, biting abig chunk out, and chewed vigorously, raising his brows in a‘hubba-hubba’ motion. He then walked over towards … oh no.

“Adam?”

He fell short just before Scott’s locker andoffered us his best winning smile as he swallowed his mouthful. Heheld the banana in the air like it was some talisman, some holygrail.

“Ladies, I give you the banana.” With that,Adam smashed it against Scott’s locker, smearing it in a vastsweeping motion. The mushy, granulated chunks were thoroughlymashed into the crevices of his combination lock. And Adam did thisall while humming a joyous tune. He then hooked the banana peelthrough the lock loop; it dangled like a motley alien form.

Ellie laughed, sat back on her heels awayfrom the bin and clapped her hands, colour finally returning to herface just as it drained from mine.

“Adam, what are you doing?” I was parthorrified, and part in awe of his heroic gesture.

Adam stood back, hand on chin in deep thoughtas he admired his handiwork. “It will have to do! I’m reallyregretting not grabbing that chocolate Yo-Go this morning. Thatwould have gone on real nice.”

“Please, no more chocolate,” Elliebegged.

Adam dusted off his hands, “Well, best getcrack-a-lackin. Wouldn’t want anyone to think this was some sort ofact of revenge or anything.”

“You know who they are going to blame,right?” I pointed to myself with double fingers. “Ah, hello.”

“Don’t worry about Snotty,” Adamreassured.

“Besides, we can be your bodyguards,” Ellieadded.

“Well, either I’m going to need to sleep withone eye open, or you two will have to take shifts in watching overme so that I’m not murdered in my bed.”

“Not a problem. I already climb into yourroom every night and watch you sleep, anyway,” Adam winked.

“Pfft, dream on!”

Adam’s wicked smile broadened. “Oh, but Ido.”

“Urrgh. If I wasn’t going to spew before, Iam now.” Ellie rubbed her stomach.

I playfully sprayed Ellie with disinfectant,causing her to scream and leap to her feet, dodging behind Adam.She grabbed his shoulders and held him for ransom. He faked fear.“No, please, anything but that!”

I did a fake-out squeeze and they bothwinced, which had me giggling with evil pleasure. This went on fora few more minutes, dodging and screaming until Adam spotted thechocolate-covered stick protruding from the wheelie bin. I couldsee the cogs turning in his mind and they weren’t just any cogs;they were evil cogs.

“Don’t you dare!”

His smile was wicked; he deliberately watchedmy reaction as he picked it up.

“Adam!”

“Bwahahahaha!” He chased me around the lockerroom with the vile mucus-choco stick. It was a good thing that thelocker room was set far away from the main school building; therewas no fear our shouts would unveil our lateness to class. Therewas no controlling the fact that we were laughing so hard we couldbarely breathe.

Adam and I spent the next ten minutesspraying and scrubbing my locker while Ellie watched with ahorrified expression from across the room. Adam worked on my lockas I wiped down my door.

“What’s your combo, McGee?”

I raised my eyebrows. “As if I would tellyou.”

He sighed. “Relax, I’m not going to send youlove poetry, I’m just going to see if it works.”

I finished the last wipe and gave him apointed look. “You are totally going to send me love poetry.”

“Pfft, dream on!”

I slapped his shoulder and clenched my chestin mockery. “Oh, but I do.”

Chapter Two

Third period and I was a prisoner in doubleEnglish.

I prayed that Scott didn’t need to go to hislocker between classes. My heart pounded against my rib cage, andmy hands were clammy as I watched the agonisingly slow tick of theclock above Mrs Romano’s desk. Would Adam’s actions start anall-out war? I already thanked the timetable Gods that Scott wasnot in my English class.

My plan was simple: hightail it to the lockerroom, grab my stuff and be gone before Scott even noticed hisredecorated locker. Then I would just avoid him for the rest of theyear. Which sounds totally hard, but wouldn’t be considering therewere only three days left of school. By then we would all becheering ‘School’s out for Summer’, Alice Cooper style.

Three days; three … more … days.

A wad of paper landed next to my hand, and Iflinched, for more than one reason. Luckily, English was prettysafe, no horsemen of the apocalypse in this class, which made it awelcome refuge. I secretly unfolded the crinkled paper under mydesk.

You smell like Spray and Wipe.

My mouth twitched as I glanced sideways towhere Adam sat, two people across. I met his devilish eyes, and hegrimaced dramatically.

I discreetly eyed Mrs Romano, sitting on herdesk at the front of the class, eyes downcast, animatedly readingaloud from her text. I scribbled my reply and did the tap down theline to pass it along. Like a lady would. I focused intently on thebook I was meant to be following along with, knowing that Iwouldn’t be able to contain myself as I envisioned the raise ofAdam’s brows as he read my reply.

What’s that, banana man?

It went back and forth for the remainder ofthe class, which I was grateful for as it made the time fly. Oncethe bell rang, I was jolted into the cold, harsh reality thatawaited me.

Lunchtime.

I didn’t even think to wait for Adam orEllie; I was too focused on running to the locker room and prayingthat the combination of detergent and boy cooties hadn’t jammed upmy lock. Adam had tested and opened it easily enough; surely itwould be okay? I dodged and weaved through the thickening flow ofbodies down the hall, cursing the distance between my locker andthe English room as I got stuck behind a group of giggling YearSeven girls. I burst through the doors and quickstepped down thestairs. I heard the distant yell of “No running!” from Mr Hood, butI had to risk it. Detention would seem like a holiday camp comparedto facing off with my ex.

After tripping over my foot and dropping atextbook, I inelegantly made an entrance into the locker room.There were not many people in there, but the few who were therewere laughing, crowded around Scott’s locker which had beenmarinating in banana for the past sixty minutes.

I ignored them and made a beeline for mylocker with enough time to unload my books, grab my bag, and hidein a bush for the rest of the day. I froze, my sparkling padlock inmy hand. What the hell was my combination? My mind had gonecompletely blank. Panic set in as more students flooded the roomand saw Scott’s locker. I bit my lip. No, no, no … I looked up,finding the eyes of Kim Munzel, the resident grunge girl of ouryear, on me. Her green, scary eyes were caked with heavy make-upthat was partly covered by a gel-sleeked jagged fringe – thelongest part of her crudely short haircut. She seldom spoke andwhen she did, it was with a bad attitude. So why was she smiling atme?

She grabbed her bag and walked up to me, herdog chain clinking on her low-rise baggy jeans. I turned myattention back to my lock, pretending that it was the mostinteresting thing in the world. At that point in time it reallywas.

What was the bloody number?

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Kimhad stopped next to me.

“Hey.”

I glanced around. Was she talking to me? OhGod. Yes, she was looking right at me.

“Hey,” I said in a small voice.

“Did you do that?” Her head nodded towardsScott’s locker, which was now semi-circled by a crowd.

Before I could get my thoughts togetherenough to form a coherent sentence, her smile tilted to form anevil grin.

“Nice job.” Her scary eyes looked me over asif giving me a seal of approval, and then she left. So. Weird. Thecrowd peeled back to allow her through. She had that kind ofeffect. The locker room was now full of students; a mad hub ofactivity for the lunchtime rush.

Oh God!I fumbled madly with my lock,guessing combinations in a frenzied effort. Scott would be here anymoment. I turned the dial and tugged in desperation as if I wasMacGyver and this was the last chance to crack the code before thebomb went off. Some people asked themselves: ‘What would Jesusdo?’, but I always asked myself: ‘What would MacGyver do?’ MacGyverwould probably be able to pick the lock with a crusty,chocolate-covered stick. I’m sure he could.

TUG! TUG! TUG!

I thudded my head against the locker; itsmelt like disinfectant and was probably cleaner now than it hadbeen in the past decade of use by past students.

I felt hot breath blow into my ear as a voicewhispered, “4-3-2-5-9-6.” I jumped, spinning around to see alaughing Adam.

“Geez, McGee, jumpy much?”

“432596! My combination! Oh, praise sweetbaby Jesus.” I turned the dial and heard the magical click offreedom; it was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. Whichwas ironic considering it was counterbalanced with the mosthorrible sound I could have heard right then: Scott’s angry voice.Oh crap!

“What the …?” his voice trailed off as heclosed the distance towards his locker. The crowd parted eagerly.They’d been waiting for this moment; their eyes darted from him tome and back again. Just as I feared, you wouldn’t have to be arocket scientist to figure out they would assume it was me. Iswallowed hard, fighting the urge to throw up.

Adam stood stock-still beside me, silentlytaking in the scene. I felt the press of someone on my left. Elliehad appeared from thin air and was at my side. If it weren’t for mybookend buddies, I feared my legs would give out. I slowly turnedto my open locker; best not to stare. While I pretendedindifference, I heard him yell out to me.

“Oh yeah. Nice one, Tess,” he sneered.

I did my best ‘I’m bored’ look from mylocker. Scott stood next to his. Wow, if looks could kill. He wasflanked by nervous-looking buddies, who were slowly opening theirown lockers. Some friends they were, none of them even offering toget him a paper towel.

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