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       Sierra Jensen Collection, Vol 2, p.1

           Robin Jones Gunn
 
Sierra Jensen Collection, Vol 2


  TEEN NOVELS BY ROBIN JONES GUNN

  THE SIERRA JENSEN SERIES

  Volume I

  Book 1: Only You, Sierra

  Book 2: In Your Dreams

  Book 3: Don’t You Wish

  Volume 2

  Book 4: Close Your Eyes

  Book 5: Without a Doubt

  Book 6: With This Ring

  Volume 3

  Book 7: Open Your Heart

  Book 8: Time Will Tell

  Book 9: Now Picture This

  Volume 4

  Book 10: Hold On Tight

  Book 11: Closer Than Ever

  Book 12: Take My Hand

  THE CHRISTY MILLER SERIES

  Volume 1

  Book 1: Summer Promise

  Book 2: A Whisper and a Wish

  Book 3: Yours Forever

  Volume 2

  Book 4: Surprise Endings

  Book 5: Island Dreamer

  Book 6: A Heart Full of Hope

  Volume 3

  Book 7: True Friends

  Book 8: Starry Night

  Book 9: Seventeen Wishes

  Volume 4

  Book 10: A Time to Cherish

  Book 11: Sweet Dreams

  Book 12: A Promise Is Forever

  “HOW COME THIS STUFF makes sense to you?” Randy Jenkins asked, tossing his wadded-up gum wrapper into the fireplace. A high school physics book lay propped like a tent on the floor in front of him, and a half dozen papers surrounded him.

  Sierra pushed the painted enamel bracelet up her arm and cast her buddy an encouraging smile. “You almost have it,” she said. “Give it one more try.”

  While Randy fussed over his homework, Sierra stretched out her legs and fondly gazed around the warm family room. The grand Victorian house, which had been in her family for more than fifty years, offered plenty of space.

  Sierra tilted her head and tried to catch Randy’s gaze with her gray-blue eyes. “You want to take a break and eat something?”

  Before Randy could answer, Sierra’s older sister, Tawni, burst into the room clutching the phone in her drooping hand. “Where’s Mom?”

  “She took the boys to get haircuts.” Sierra noticed tears glistening in Tawni’s eyes. If Sierra guessed right, Tawni had been talking to her new boyfriend, Jeremy Mackenzie, as she usually did this time of day, every day. Conversations with Jeremy were prone to cause smiles and whispers, not tears.

  “Are you okay?” Sierra asked cautiously. She and her sister had never been exceptionally close and such a question could embarrass Tawni, especially since Randy was there.

  “Sure. Fine. I’m going to make cookies,” Tawni announced and marched through the family room into the kitchen.

  “Now I know she’s upset,” Sierra said in a low voice to Randy.

  He was scratching a list of figures on a piece of notebook paper and didn’t look up.

  “Something happened between her and Jeremy. I bet he’s not coming.”

  “What?” Randy said, looking up. His straight, dark blond hair, which was cut in what Sierra’s Granna Mae called a “Dutch boy,” fell into his eyes. “Were you talking to me?”

  “Never mind,” Sierra said. Gathering her long gauze skirt in her hand, she stood up and headed for the kitchen. “I’ll be right back.”

  “Whatever,” Randy muttered.

  The counter was already covered with all the dry-goods canisters from the pantry, including one filled with pasta. Two eggs sat precariously close to the edge of the counter, and a large bottle of vanilla extract stood with its lid off, spreading its pleasant fragrance like a blessing over the baking event. Tawni was smearing butter on two cookie sheets as Sierra entered. Her sister didn’t look up but dumped the rest of the butter stick into a mixing bowl and furiously began to chop at it with a wooden spoon.

  “Are you all right?” Sierra asked again.

  “Of course I am! Just because Jeremy isn’t coming to see me this weekend after all our planning doesn’t mean my life should come to a standstill. I have lots to do. Lots and lots!”

  “Why isn’t he coming?”

  “Money, school, finals. Take your pick.”

  Sierra lowered herself onto a kitchen stool and felt her heart sinking. During the weeks Tawni and Jeremy had been planning his visit from San Diego, Sierra had been busy secretly making her own wishes. Jeremy had a brother, Paul, whom Sierra happened to meet at the airport in London five months ago. Since then she had seen him around town twice and received two letters from him. Their brief conversations and correspondence had left Sierra with a treasure chest full of “what if’s” buried deep inside her heart.

  When she had found out Paul and Jeremy were brothers, it seemed inevitable her path would cross with Paul’s. Then when Jeremy decided to come to Portland to see Tawni, Sierra had known her treasure chest was about to be opened. But now all those possibilities were crushed.

  “So, is he going to come later? After school is out?”

  “He’s going to try.” Tawni opened the cupboard door and began to move the spices around. “Where does Mom hide the chocolate chips?”

  “In the pantry,” Sierra said. “On the top shelf behind the paper towels.”

  Tawni went to the pantry and continued her search as Sierra tried to rearrange the dreams in her treasure chest.

  “That’s not so bad,” she told Tawni (and herself). “Only a few more weeks. Besides, in June, Jeremy should be able to stay longer. This weekend would have been here and gone like that.” Sierra snapped her fingers for emphasis. “Don’t you think it will be much better if he comes for a whole week?”

  “I guess. That is, of course, if he can pull together the money by then. His car needs new brakes, and his bank account is shot.”

  “Probably from paying his phone bill,” Sierra muttered.

  “What is that supposed to mean?” Tawni spun around with a roll of paper towels in her hand.

  Sierra should have known better than to challenge Tawni when she was in such a mood—especially because, at eighteen, Tawni didn’t put much value in Sierra’s sixteen-year-old logic. But she spoke up anyway.

  “You guys talk constantly on the phone. I’m sure it adds up. Neither of you has that much money. It doesn’t make sense to me. Why don’t you save some money by not calling each other all the time?”

  “Sierra,” Tawni said, shelving the paper towels, “you don’t know the first thing about love!”

  “You’re right. I don’t.”

  Surprised by Sierra’s admission, Tawni didn’t respond but continued her search for the chocolate chips.

  “I guess love makes you do crazy thing,” Sierra said. “Like spending all your money on a phone bill instead of a plane ticket.”

  Tawni pursed her lips together as if she were holding back a flood of words.

  “It was only a suggestion,” Sierra mumbled, holding up her arms in surrender.

  You’re not the only one affected by this, Tawni, she thought. All my dreams of seeing Paul are dissolved now, too, you know. Of course, Sierra would never admit that to her sister.

  A stiff silence crowded the large kitchen as Tawni reached her arm into the dark recesses of the cupboard above the refrigerator. “Aha! Perfect!” She extracted a large, crumpled bag of M&M’s.

  “Those look like they’ve been there for a decade,” Sierra said.

  “So? The bag is still closed. Don’t they put enough preservatives in these to keep them fresh into the next century?” Tawni pulled open the bag with a snap and poured the candy onto the counter. “Go ahead. Try one,” she challenged.

  “I’m not going to try one,” Sierra said. “You try one.”

  It occurred to Sierra that
she and her sister had somehow changed roles. All their lives, Sierra had been the daring, rambunctious one even though she was younger. When they were little, Tawni was the dainty, prissy one who insisted on using a straw to drink her milk lest she fall prey to the dreaded milk mustache.

  Now Tawni was acting like Sierra by turning the kitchen into a war zone in her attempt to make cookies, and Sierra had turned into Miss Finicky. Funny how she would go against her true nature just to oppose her sister.

  “Oh, this is crazy,” Sierra spouted, grabbing a handful of M&M’s. “Look, I’m eating them.” She tossed them into her mouth just as Randy entered the kitchen.

  “What’s happening?” he asked.

  “I’m making cookies,” Tawni said. “And Sierra is acting like her stubborn self.”

  “I am not,” Sierra said, her words coming out garbled through the M&M’s.

  It wasn’t unusual for Randy to hear this kind of banter, which frequently flew between Sierra and Tawni. About three weeks ago, he had started to stop by Sierra’s house regularly. At first it was on Friday nights, and any other night he wasn’t working at his lawn-care business. He even came by one night and had dinner with Sierra’s family when Sierra was at her friend Amy Degrassi’s house. Sierra’s parents encouraged “drop-by” friendships, so Randy had quickly become part of the family.

  “I have only one question,” Randy said, sitting next to Sierra and nudging the two eggs away from the edge of the counter. “When will they be ready?”

  “Soon,” Tawni said, measuring the sugar and double-checking to make sure it was exactly right.

  “Let us know when you’re ready for taste testers,” Randy said, heading back to the family room. “I have to finish this homework tonight.”

  “Me too,” Sierra said. She gave Tawni a pleasant look and added, “Just keep telling yourself it will only be a few more weeks before he comes.”

  Tawni looked surprised and tossed back an amiable, “Yeah, well, thanks for caring.”

  Oh, I do! Sierra thought. More than you know, dear sis. More than you know!

  “I THINK I CLOBBERED the last two problems. Only one more to go,” Randy said. “I sure will be glad when school’s out.”

  “Me, too,” Sierra said, hiding a smile that was tied to her dreams of seeing Paul once school ended.

  The phone rang, and a moment later Tawni called from the kitchen, “Sierra, it’s Amy.”

  “I’ll take it in the study,” Sierra told Randy. “Gall me if you get stuck.”

  She hopped up and hurried into the library, her favorite room in the rambling old house. Curling up in the chair by the French doors that led to the backyard, Sierra reached for the phone and punched the On button.

  “Hi, Aimers!” Sierra heard the click as her sister hung up the kitchen extension.

  “Is Randy over there?” Amy asked.

  “Yes, he’s in the family room finishing up the physics problems. Have you done yours yet?”

  “Are you kidding? It’s not due until Friday. And why do you always change the subject when I mention Randy?”

  “I did not change the subject. However, I do have news for you.”

  “What?”

  “Guess.”

  “I give up.”

  “You give up too easily, Amy.”

  “I know I do. Is that why you called? To harass me about being an underachiever?”

  “I didn’t call. You called me.”

  “Oh, that’s right. Tell me your news quick, and then I’ll tell you mine.”

  “Jeremy’s not coming.”

  “And that means you won’t get to see Paul, right?”

  “Right.”

  “Bummer,” Amy said.

  “I know.” Sierra let out a sigh. “I shouldn’t be so obsessed with the thought of seeing this guy, but…”

  “But you can’t keep yourself from demonstrating a common characteristic of the obsessive-compulsive person. You won’t be happy until you get what you want, and then when you get it, you won’t be happy because the fantasy will be over.”

  “Oh please, Dr. Degrassi, stop with the psychoanalyzing. I am not an obsessive-compulsive person, and you know it.”

  “Okay, then you’re lost in a fantasy.”

  “It’s not that either.”

  “Then, what is it?” Amy challenged.

  “I don’t know. It’s just that Paul is…”

  “Unattainable?”

  “Not necessarily.”

  “Can I tell you what I think?” Amy asked. Sierra could picture her dark-eyed friend sprawled on her patchwork bedspread, flipping her long, curly black hair as she prepared to dispense pearls of wisdom.

  “From what you’ve told me about Paul, I’d say drop the dream right now and pay attention to Randy. You know he likes you. Paul is nothing more than a phantom, a mysterious stranger whose life momentarily intersected with yours. That’s all. You both now spin in separate orbits, and it’s not meant for you to share each other’s paths at this time.”

  Sierra burst out laughing. “Where do you come up with this sci-fi psychiatry? I don’t like it when you talk creepy like that.”

  “That’s not creepy. That’s poetic,” Amy said.

  “It sounds as if you’re giving coordinates for the space shuttle, not talking about real people. Paul is a real person. He’s not a phantom.”

  “All I’m saying, Sierra, is there’s no point in wishing for something that’s not going to happen when something great is waiting around the corner for you.”

  Sierra didn’t answer.

  “Okay, to be more accurate—when something great is waiting for you in the family room.”

  “Randy and I are buddies,” Sierra said. “You know that. Why are you suddenly interested in directing my social life?”

  “Because,” Amy began, “I have a great idea. That’s why I called. Why don’t we fix dinner for a couple of the guys as an end-of-school party? My mom said we could do it over here. We could get a couple of lobsters from my uncle’s restaurant and make it really fancy.”

  “Sounds fun,” Sierra said. “When do you want to do it?”

  “I don’t know. Maybe next Friday.”

  “And who are you going to invite?” Sierra asked. “Drake?”

  “Yes, that is, if he happens to acknowledge my existence this week. You’ll invite Randy, of course.”

  Sierra didn’t answer right away. She twisted her finger around her long blond curls and noticed that she needed to wash her hair. Too much de-frizzer this morning had made it feel sticky.

  “Sierra,” Amy repeated, “you will invite Randy, won’t you?”

  “Maybe.”

  “Oh, no! You’re not off with that phantom in your head again, are you?”

  “Maybe,” Sierra answered, with a lilt in her voice. The really fun thing about Paul was that the more she had thought about him in the last few months, the more she had convinced herself she had a crush on him. No, more than that: She and Paul were brought together by God, and she just knew that something had to happen between them—hopefully, very soon.

  “Okay, Sierra,” Amy said, “try to let that brainy little head of yours grasp the full meaning of this poetic statement: ‘A Randy in the hand is with worth two Pauls in the bush.’”

  “If you say so, Amy.” Sierra knew the best route to take was to give in. She could be agreeable on the outside, but nobody could unlock that treasure chest of dreams she had hidden inside her heart.

  “THESE AREN’T BAD,” Sierra said, biting into one of Tawni’s cookies the next day at lunch. “You want one? My sister made them yesterday.”

  Amy pushed aside her cafeteria tray with her cold fries and half-eaten hamburger sprawled across the plate, revealing its layers: bun, meat, bun. Amy was a finicky eater—when she ate.

  Amy nibbled at the cookie Sierra handed her and was about to give an opinion when Drake appeared behind her and said, “It’s not going to bite you back, Miss Amy!” He sandwiched hi
mself between Amy and Sierra and made himself at home.

  Drake’s whole name was Anton Francisco Drake. Everyone knew that. And everyone simply called him “Drake”—even teachers. He wore his dark hair combed straight back and stuck out his jaw whenever he tried to emphatically make a point about something. At six foot two and as one of the school’s star athletes, Drake had little difficulty making whatever point he wanted to. Right now, he was eyeing Sierra’s cookies.

  “You want one?” Sierra offered.

  “Sure.” Drake inhaled it in one bite. “You make them?”

  “No, my sister did. She was in a strange mood yesterday afternoon and baked herself silly.”

  “You guys want to go to the Blazer’s game this Friday? A bunch of us are. You can still get tickets if you want to go with us,” Drake said.

  “I’d love to,” Amy said. “Basketball is one of my favorite sports.”

  Randy tapped Sierra’s arm and said, “Are you going?”

  “I don’t think so. I’m trying to save up some money.”

  “You want to go, Randy?” Drake asked.

  “Maybe. I’ll let you know.”

  Drake picked at the uneaten fries on Amy’s tray and said, “Let me know if you want a ride.”

  “I do,” Amy said quickly.

  It seemed to Sierra that, for the first time, Drake was catching on. He seemed to realize that Amy was interested in him. His expression lightened a bit as he grabbed a few more of her cold fries. “Better draw me a map,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been to your house.”

  “No, you haven’t,” Amy answered sweetly. She glanced at Sierra and winked—her way of secretly signaling victory. “I’ll draw a map for you today,” Amy said to Drake. “What time do you want me to be ready?”

  Drake gave his broad shoulders a casual shrug. “Around six-thirty, I guess.”

  “Sounds great,” Amy said.

  The bell rang, and the six people sitting at their table all rose and cleared their trays. The others went on ahead as Amy hung back, clasping Sierra’s arm.

  “Can you believe it?” she whispered to Sierra, her dark eyes aglow. “Drake finally asked me out!”

  “Yeah, with a little help from you,” Sierra teased.

  “This is so perfect! We can start planning our nice dinner for the following Friday! I’m so excited!”

 
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