Authors: Aimee Friedman
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Juvenile Fiction, #Children: Young Adult (Gr. 10-12), #United States, #Friendship, #Love & Romance, #Social Issues, #Social Issues - Adolescence, #Adolescence, #Children's 12-Up - Fiction - General, #Teenage girls, #Family & Relationships, #Social Issues - Friendship, #Teenagers, #Travel, #Man-Woman Relationships, #Social Issues - Dating & Sex, #Interpersonal Relations, #Dating & Sex, #Dating (Social Customs), #South Atlantic, #Florida, #South, #Spring break, #South Beach (Miami Beach; Fla.)
For my sister, Natalie -- my favorite travel companion
And with thanks to Craig Walker and Maria Barbo, for their insight and encouragement.
Trademarks used herein are owned by their respective trademark owners and are used without permission.
If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as "unsold and destroyed" to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this "stripped book."
"Why is it snowing in
Alexandria St. Laurent gave a deep sigh as she turned away from her window. It was a bleak, sleet-soaked Thursday afternoon, and she was in a pouty mood. She kicked off her fuzzy, camel-colored boots and collapsed on the bed beside her boyfriend, Tyler Davis. Tyler took a sip of his Heineken and lazily ran his fingers through Alexa's silky, white-blonde hair, which rippled out behind her on the velvet pillows.
"Alexa, this is New Jersey," he pointed out. "It's always cold in the spring."
"Don't remind me," Alexa moaned. She was sick to death of Oakridge, New Jersey, the quiet, leafy suburb where she'd lived most of her life. She was sick of her split-level house, her humdrum high school, and
most of all, the dreary weather. She craved sunshine and shimmer, tropical breezes and exotic intrigue. Alexa closed her eyes and stretched her arms high over her head so that her flat stomach peeked out from beneath her white cashmere V-neck. She was starting to drift into a pleasant daydream about lounging poolside in a yellow string bikini when Tyler spoke into her ear.
"Baby?" he asked hesitantly. "You don't really hate snow, do you? I mean, we're going skiing in two days, remember?"
Alexa opened her eyes and looked up into Tyler's earnest, handsome face. Right. Skiing. Back in January, they'd made plans to go to Aspen, Colorado, for their weeklong spring break. The idea had seemed so romantic to Alexa then -- she and Tyler zooming down the ivory slopes every day, then fooling around in front of a roaring fire every night. Now, it just seemed silly. Who went someplace
for spring break?
Of course, back in January, she'd still been in love with Tyler.
Alexa watched as Tyler set his beer on the floor, then turned back to her, his lips curving up in a smile. "I can't wait," he said, leaning in and lightly kissing her neck. With one finger, he traced the thin gold chain around her throat. "It's gonna be so awesome."
Awesome. That was Tyler's favorite word. He used
it to describe everything from a good lacrosse game to a juicy hamburger to the way Alexa looked in her black Bebe halter dress. And every time Tyler said, "Awesome," Alexa felt like smacking him. But she always held back.
There really was nothing
with Tyler, Alexa mused as he stretched out beside her and began stroking her belly, his face buried in her neck. He was captain of the lacrosse team at Oakridge High, and had a body to go with that title -- lean, toned, and broad-shouldered. With his wavy; dark-blond hair, sculpted jaw, and snub nose, it was no surprise he'd been asked to do a photo shoot for American Eagle which he'd sweetly turned down because it conflicted with his history midterm. Everything about Tyler was sweet, from his toothy, aw-shucks smile to his impeccable manners. But that was also the problem, Alexa thought, as Tyler's lips slid down her neck to her collarbone. He was
sweet. Too perfect. Too predictable.
Now, for instance, as they lay entwined on her bed, she knew exactly how he was going to kiss her: tentatively, slowly, just this side of hesitant. As predicted, Tyler brushed his lips softly over hers, again and again, until Alexa finally took his face in her hands and pulled him in closer, deepening the kiss. He tasted of Heineken and cinnamon Altoids. Even
though Tyler didn't really do it for her anymore, Alexa still let herself savor the delicious moment the warmth of his breath against her skin, the feel of his body running the length of hers. She snaked her arms around him, pulling up his National Lacrosse Camp T-shirt. She slid her hands up and down his broad back. When she tried to tug the shirt off over his head, Tyler abruptly pulled back and sat up, his cheeks flushed.
"Alexa," he whispered, looking alarmed. "Isn't your dad downstairs?"
Alexa shrugged, rolling her eyes. Typical Tyler. He'd been just as stressed about pilfering the Heineken from the kitchen earlier, even though her dad had been safely sequestered in his sleek home office -- and wouldn't have minded about the beer, anyway. Tyler simply didn't seem to get that Alexa's dad was possibly the chillest parent in the world.
Alexa was an only child, and her mom and dad were divorced. They'd split up when Alexa was seven, right after the family had moved from Paris to Oakridge for her father's architecture job. Alexa's dad was French, and his parenting style was totally laissez-faire: He basically let Alexa do her own thing, all the time. Alexa's mom was American, and she lived in New York City with her much younger boyfriend. She was a buyer for Henri Bendel on Fifth Avenue, and best
showed her motherly affection by sending Alexa wrap dresses and slouchy boots on her birthday. Sometimes, Alexa craved a little more parental doting in her life. But other times -- when there was a late-night party to go to, or a boy in her bedroom she was grateful that her mother wasn't around, and that her father was so lax.
"My dad doesn't care what we do in here." Alexa said, reaching down to undo the top button of Tyler's baggy jeans. He was wearing his Tommy Hilfiger boxers, her favorite.
Tyler gently pushed her hand away, shaking his head. "It's just wrong," he said. "We can't have sex with your father in the house."
And it was at that very moment, as Tyler sat on her bed, his hair rumpled and his face bright red, that Alexa decided to dump him. Just end it, right then and there. Why should she waste any more energy secretly resenting him? Now was as good a time as any to make a clean break.
They'd been together since the beginning of their junior year, when Alexa had dared him to kiss her during the homecoming dance. At first, Alexa had found Tyler's naïveté and nice-boy vibe endearing. He'd been a virgin when they met a status Alexa had happily relieved him of on New Year's Eve -- and had never even flown in an airplane. Now, seven months
later, she found those same qualities annoying. Alexa needed someone more interesting, more edgy, more ... dangerous. Tyler was fun to cuddle with, but he didn't make her shiver with desire. She was ready to move on to new experiences and new adventures. And he was holding her back.
Her mind made up, Alexa inched away from Tyler and sat up against the pillows. She ran her pinkie over her bottom lip, fixing her smudged Bobbi Brown lip gloss. She felt a little nervous and fluttery, but once Alexa St. Laurent came to a decision, there was no reversing it.
"Listen," she began, looking directly at Tyler. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, facing her. "I've been thinking...."
"What's up?" Tyler asked, reaching for his beer again.
"I was thinking we should ..." Alexa paused for a moment, her heart pounding. "Take a break."
"Like ... spring break?" Tyler grinned, tilting his head to one side.
"No," Alexa said. "A break from ... this." She gestured to where they sat on her bed. "From us being together." Tyler was staring at her, seemingly dumbfounded, so she added, "As in, break up." It was a little
harsh, but at least she was getting to the point, Alexa told herself.
Tyler's jaw dropped. "You mean ... you don't want to date me?" he sputtered, his forehead creasing in confusion. Tyler wasn't exactly arrogant, but he knew he was Oakridge High's best catch.
At the sight of his baffled expression, Alexa felt a lump rise up in her throat. She didn't want to
Tyler. She really was doing this for his good as well as her own. Alexa bit her lower lip as she reached for Tyler's hand.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
Tyler jerked his hand out of hers, and narrowed his eyes. He moved even farther away from her, so that he was almost off the bed. "There's someone else, isn't there?" he asked.
Tyler's reaction made sense, Alexa reflected. He couldn't have failed to notice the way guys gawked at her, whether in the Oakridge Galleria or in the halls of their school. And she knew for a fact that at least seven boys in the junior class and two seniors ---had crushes on her. Although Alexa soaked up the attention and, sometimes, flirted back -- she'd been perfectly faithful to Tyler. No, there wasn't someone else. Not yet, anyway.
"Of course not," Alexa said. "It's just that my feelings
have ... changed." She swallowed hard, composing herself. "I did love you once, Tyler. But I feel like there's no spark between us anymore."
"But you tried to jump me, like, two seconds ago!" Tyler said, standing up and backing away from the bed. "I don't understand you, Alexa." He took a long drink of his Heineken, then set the bottle down on her desk.
"Maybe you never did," Alexa said softly.
That's why this is for the best,
she realized. Tyler Davis was simply not her destiny.
"But... but..." Tyler threw up his hands in frustration. "Why are you doing this
What about our trip? What about Aspen? The plane tickets are booked, the ski lodge confirmed our reservation ..."
Alexa twirled a strand of blonde hair around one finger. Breaking up with Tyler might have been painful, but the thought of not having to spend a snowbound week in Aspen was making her feel a whole lot better.
"We can cancel all that," she said. "I'll pay you back for my half."
"It's not about the money...." Tyler shook his head, his light-brown eyes wide with disbelief.
"Or you could go with Jeff or Marc or someone," Alexa suggested. She did feel guilty that she was depriving Tyler of his first-ever chance to fly.
"My buddies already have their own plans, Alexa," Tyler said. He stared at her pink shag rug, defeated. "I can't believe you would do this to me right before spring break." He grabbed his North Face jacket off Alexa's desk chair and made his way toward the door, still shaking his head numbly. "I never even saw it coming...."
Alexa sighed and eased off her bed. It wasn't the first time she'd broken a boy's heart, and they'd pretty much all reacted the same way. Alexa wasn't too big on warning signs.
She opened the door to her bedroom, and Tyler walked out into the hall. Before he could turn to go downstairs, she took his elbow and quickly kissed him on the cheek.
"Good luck, Tyler," she said. "You'll find the right girl. Someone who's a better match for you. I know you will." Tyler
be okay Maybe she'd even done him a favor, in a way.
With that, Alexa closed the door on Tyler Davis and their seven-month-long relationship.
She leaned back against the door and surveyed her empty room. Alexa was a little shaky, but mostly she felt relieved. She'd done what she'd wanted. Tyler was gone, and it was time for a totally fresh start. In a matter of minutes, Alexa realized, she had completely turned her life around. And now that the difficult stuff
was out of the way, she had to admit it felt pretty damn ... awesome.
Alexa walked over to the bulletin board above her desk, where she'd tacked up her favorite photographs. In the center was the black-and-white shot she'd taken of the Eiffel Tower on a rainy day. Alexa was born in Paris, and often visited the city to see her various cousins.
Alexa studied the other photos she'd snapped over the course of her many travels: a high-cheekboned couple at a sidewalk café in Rome, two men smoking cigars on the hood of a car in Cuba, a gaggle of schoolchildren running down a bustling Tokyo street. Alexa's dad often went abroad for business or research, and Alexa liked to accompany him. If her father wasn't going anywhere during a school break, she vacationed with friends. Alexa adored traveling. She wanted to see the whole world before she was eighteen and that was only a year away.
Alexa felt a pinprick of anticipation. Spring break would officially begin on Friday afternoon. Now that Tyler and Aspen were out of the picture, she was free to take off for the sun-drenched destination she'd been craving. It was too perfect. She knelt and rifled through her fringed hobo bag for her plush Poire phone pouch. Her best friends, Portia, Maeve, and Sabina, were flying to Cozumel tomorrow night, and Alexa
knew they'd be thrilled that she could now join them. Alexa supposed that her friends
have fun on their own, but she was the true heartbeat of every party -- the one who could transform an ordinary night into something unforgettable.
Sinking into her Pucci-patterned beanbag chair, Alexa flipped open her shiny silver Nokia and pressed "1" for Portia. Her friend answered on the third ring.
'"Sup, sexy?" Portia inquired.
Alexa could picture Portia so clearly -- sprawled across her canopy bed in Juicy velour sweats, casually reaching for the remote to lower the volume on her Gwen Stefani CD. A heap of Miss Sixty jeans, patterned tights, and Lacoste polo shirts probably lay on the floor, waiting to be picked up by the housekeeper. Alexa had always thought of herself as fairly well off until she'd met Portia in ninth grade: Portia inhabited a whole other universe of wealthy.
"Get this," Alexa said, crossing her long legs. "I just broke up with Tyler. I'm single!" She giggled. Saying the words out loud to Portia made her moment with Tyler feel real -- official. Only Portia knew how frustrated Alexa had been with Tyler these past couple of months.
"Wow," Portia said. "You did it. Congrats. Maybe now we can actually
Alexa fought down a sudden pang of guilt. True,