Confessions of a serial.., p.1
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       Confessions of a Serial Kisser, p.1

           Wendelin Van Draanen
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Confessions of a Serial Kisser


  Contents

  Title Page

  Dedication

  1 Dirty Laundry

  2 Shifting Paradigms

  3 Adrienne Willow

  4 Robbie Marshall

  5 New Attitude

  6 Ch-ch-ch-changes

  7 Emergence

  8 Conquest

  9 Aftermath

  10 Sunshine on My Shoulder

  11 Willow Talk

  12 The Kissing Corridor

  13 Groovy, Baby

  14 Chicken Soup for the Shattered Soul

  15 Coffee, Tea, or Me

  16 Bulldozer

  17 Cheap Trick

  18 Ravishing Red

  19 Visitors

  20 Biology Experiment

  21 Rendezvous

  22 Morning Madness

  23 Hippity-Hop!

  24 Shack Attack

  25 Faulty Analysis

  26 Plenty of Mouth to Go Around

  27 Surrealistic Pillow

  28 Reflections

  29 Chemistry Lesson

  30 The Psychology of It All

  31 Driven

  32 Cool Compression

  33 More Notes

  34 Counseling

  35 The Tune of a Hickory Stick

  36 News Flash

  37 Counteracting the Mope Gene

  38 Memories

  39 The Spit Bath

  40 Interception

  41 Wasted Breath

  42 Flashbacks

  43 Disconnection

  44 Waving a Plastic Spade

  45 Ghosts

  46 Heavy-Metal Kissing

  47 Studly

  48 Quarterback Sneak

  49 Tongue-Twisted

  50 Intersection

  51 Bumping into Tatiana

  52 An Unexpected Kindness

  53 Avoiding Sweets

  54 The Pitfalls of Avoidance

  55 Page 143

  56 Tutoring

  57 Cataclysmic Kissing

  58 Vow of Silence

  59 Give Me a Little Less Conversation

  60 Risky Business

  61 "Edelweiss" at Ozzfest

  62 Accounting

  63 Barking Up Trees

  64 Hitchin' a Ride

  65 Clam Chowder

  66 Mysterious Phone Call

  67 The Halls of Hell

  68 Call Me Stupid

  69 Attempting to Re-establish Sanity

  70 Outsider

  71 Swinging

  72 Ditch Day

  73 Escape

  74 Rock School

  75 Roadblocked

  76 The Clash

  77 Puffy Eyes

  78 Jagged Halves

  79 Revelation

  80 Ice Cream Therapy

  81 Resident Shrink

  82 In Search of Lips

  83 Continued Quest for Ill-Begotten Lips

  84 Crossing a Threshold

  85 Behind the Bleachers

  86 Curbed

  87 Shut Out

  88 Salting the Soup

  89 Considering a Dismount

  90 Treasures and Trash

  91 Opening the Sack

  92 Crossroads

  93 The Key

  94 Under the Bed

  95 Give 'n' Take

  96 Room 212

  97 Good Lighting

  98 Shelved

  99 Yodeling the Night Away

  100 Witness

  101 In the Powder Room

  102 Investments

  Also by Wendelin Van Draanen

  Copyright

  For fans of Flipped,

  especially the ones who wrote me letters.

  1

  Dirty Laundry

  MY NAME IS EVANGELINE BIANCA LOGAN, and I am a serial kisser.

  I haven't always been a serial kisser. There was a time not that long ago when I had next to no kissing experience. It's interesting how things can change so fast--how you can go from being sixteen with very few lip-locking credentials to being barely seventeen and a certified serial kisser.

  It all started one day with dirty laundry.

  At least that's what I trace it back to.

  My mother had said, "Evangeline, please. I could really use some help around the house." She'd looked so tired, and what with homework and the amount of time I'd been wasting at Groove Records looking through old LPs and CDs, I had been slacking. Especially compared to the hours she'd been working.

  So after school the next day I kicked into gear. I had the condo to myself because Mom was working her usual eleven A.M. to eight P.M. shift, and since my taste in music is old blues and classic rock (probably thanks to being bombarded with it since my early days in the womb), I selected an Aerosmith greatest hits CD and cranked it up.

  I made the kitchen spotless during "Mama Kin," "Dream On," "Same Old Song and Dance," and "Seasons of Wither," sang along with "Walk This Way" and "Sweet Emotion" while I cleaned the bathroom, then tidied the bedrooms through "Last Child" and "Back in the Saddle."

  It was during the pulsing beat of "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" that I began my fateful search for wayward laundry.

  Laundry at the Logan girls' residence isn't found in hampers. It's found on the floor, draped over chairs, putrefying in boxes and baskets...it's anywhere my mom and I want to dump it. And in my rocked-out state I was checking for laundry in places I'd never looked before. Like on her closet floor, behind and between the big packing boxes that still serve as my mother's dresser, and then under my mother's bed. It was there that I discovered one dusty sock and a whole library of books.

  Not just random books, either.

  Romance books.

  At first all I could do was gawk at the covers. I'd seen these kinds of books at the grocery store, but they were so obviously stupid and trashy that I wouldn't be caught dead actually looking at one.

  But now here I was with a whole library of trash in front of me and no worries that someone might spot me.

  So as strains of "Angel" began playing, I looked!

  I checked out all the covers, then started reading the blurbs on the backs. Aerosmith eventually quit playing, but I didn't even notice. I was skimming pages, laughing at the ridiculous, flowery prose, my jaw literally dropping as I read (in great detail) how one book's chisel-chested man and his luscious lady "joined souls in sublime adoration."

  I couldn't believe what I'd found. Couldn't believe my mother! While I was slogging through The Last of the Mohicans and The Red Badge of Courage for my insane literature teacher, Miss Ryder, my mother was reading books with bare-chested men and swooning women? Miss Ryder would have an English-lit fit over these books, and for once I'd agree with her!

  But for each book I put down, I picked up another. And another. And another. Why, I don't know. Was I looking for more soul joining? I don't think so. Something to hold over my mother's head? She didn't need any more ravaging. I think it was more that I was still in shock over my mom being a closet romance freak.

  But after ten pages out of the middle of a book called A Crimson Kiss, something weird happened: I actually kind of cared about Delilah, the woman that the story was about.

  I read some more out of the middle, but since I didn't get why Delilah was in her predicament, I went back to the beginning to figure it out.

  I have no idea where the time went. I was carried away by the story, swept into the swirl of romance, racing hearts, anticipation, and love. They were things that were missing in my real life. After six months of watching my parents' marriage implode, I found it hard to believe in true love.

  But inside the pages of this book my parents' problems vanished. It was just Delilah and her hero, Grayson--a man whose kiss would s
ave her from her heartache and make her feel alive.

  Love felt possible.

  One kiss--the right kiss--could conquer all!

  So I read on, devouring the book until I was jolted back to reality by my mother jangling through the front door.

  Busted!

  In my panic, it didn't even occur to me that she was really the one busted. I just shoved her books back under her bed and escaped to my room with A Crimson Kiss.

  2

  Shifting Paradigms

  OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS I read every book in my mother's sub-mattress library, including a self-help book on finding your inner power and another one titled A Call to Action on how to take charge of your life. (Books she'd gotten, no doubt, to help her get over my two-timing dad.)

  But it was A Crimson Kiss that I kept going back to. It was A Crimson Kiss that I read and reread. The other romance novels didn't have any layers to them; no real guts. It was like pop versus rock. Some people like the pure tones of pop, but to me it's just gloss. There's nothing behind it. Give me the heart-wrenching gritty guts of blues or rock any day.

  Not that A Crimson Kiss was written in a gritty way, but it sure was heart-wrenching. And the kissing was incredibly passionate! I dreamed scenes from it at night, waking some mornings still feeling the breathless transcendence of a perfectly delivered kiss.

  Once I was fully awake, though, reality would strike.

  It was just a dream.

  Just a romantic fantasy.

  Then one morning, I found a book on the kitchen table beside an empty bowl. (A bowl with telltale signs of midnight bingeing on chocolate ice cream.) The book was splayed open, spine up, and the title was Welcome to a Better Life.

  I looked it over as I ate my usual before-school bowl of cereal (in this case, Cheerios). The section titles were things like: "Re-envision Your Life!" "The Time Is NOW!" "The Change Is Yours to Make!" "Living Your Best Life!" "See It, Be It!" "What Are You Waiting For?" "Shift Your Paradigm!" and "Four Steps to Living Your Fantasy!"

  Four steps to living my fantasy?

  This I had to see.

  Too many anecdotes and testimonials later, the author finally put forth step number one:

  Define Your Fantasy.

  Okaaaaay.

  I poured myself a second bowl of Cheerios and defined my fantasy:

  I wanted love. A love like Grayson and Delilah's.

  But something about that felt wrong. It was too heavy. Too serious.

  I took a bite of Cheerios, and as I munched, the image of Grayson kissing Delilah drifted through my mind.

  That was it.

  The kiss.

  I wanted my own "crimson kiss."

  I went back to the book and discovered that step number two was easy:

  Speak Your Fantasy.

  "I want a crimson kiss," I whispered into the quiet of the kitchen, feeling more than a little silly.

  Step three: See Your Fantasy.

  I closed my eyes and pictured myself as Delilah, pictured Grayson sweeping me into his arms, looking lovingly into my eyes, his mouth descending toward mine, his lips brushing against mine, warm and tender, full of smoldering passion....

  Oh, yeah. I could definitely see it.

  I shook off the shivers, then turned the page and discovered that step number four was: Live Your Fantasy.

  Live my fantasy?

  How was I supposed to do that?

  All the book really offered by way of explanation was, "See it, believe it, live it."

  I snorted and slapped the book shut. What a rip-off!

  Then I noticed the kitchen clock.

  7:30?

  Already?

  I flew around the condo getting ready for school, and despite some unintentional banging and clanging, I managed to slip out the door without waking my mother.

  I hurried toward school, and as I walked, my flip-flops seemed to slap to the rhythm of the steps outlined in Welcome to a Better Life.

  Speak Your Fantasy.

  See Your Fantasy.

  Live Your Fantasy.

  The cadence of it was catchy. Like the chorus of a song.

  Speak Your Fantasy.

  See Your Fantasy.

  Live Your Fantasy.

  And as it repeated in my head, I suddenly realized how much my life had been dominated by my parents' breakup. When was the last time I'd even thought about my own love life?

  Speak Your Fantasy.

  See Your Fantasy.

  Live Your Fantasy.

  Maybe it could be that easy. I could just live my own life! Get out from under their dark cloud! Have some fun.

  Speak Your Fantasy.

  "I want a crimson kiss!" I shouted into the sky.

  See Your Fantasy.

  I spun in a fantasy dance across an intersection, adored in my mind's eye by my own dashing Grayson.

  Live Your Fantasy.

  I hurried onto the Larkmont High School campus. My life was going to change!

  3

  Adrienne Willow

  I MADE A BEELINE ACROSS THE QUAD--hurrying past the outdoor stage, zigzagging between cement lunch tables and across patchy grass--to reach my best friend, Adrienne Willow, who was perched on "our" brick planter, organizing her binder.

  I hopped up beside her. "I had an epiphany this morning."

  "Really?" she asked, snapping the rings of her binder closed. "What's that?"

  "I'm done being dragged through the knothole of my parents' life. I'm going to start living my own."

  She looked up, blinked, then whooped and jumped off the planter. "It's about time!"

  "Do you know how much I've missed this year? I didn't go out for volleyball, I didn't join link crew or help with the warmth drive...all I've done is live under their dark cloud and study."

  Adrienne had been bouncing with excitement, but she suddenly stopped, so I followed her line of sight across the quad.

  It was Tatiana Phillips.

  "It wasn't her fault," I said quietly. "It was her mom's. And my dad's. I shouldn't have let it stop me."

  "From playing volleyball?" Adrienne asked, giving me her trademark squint. "No one could have played under those circumstances!" She snorted. "Her mother and your dad sitting together at games? Please."

  I looked down. Adrienne has an uncannyway of putting her finger on the heart of the hurt.

  The warning bell clanged. "The point is," I said firmly, "I'm through letting it ruin my life. I need to have some fun. I need to shift paradigms."

  "You need to what?"

  I laughed, then spread out my arms and looked down at my baggy John Lennon "Imagine" T-shirt and frayed jeans. "I need a makeover!" I caught her eye. "And I need you to help me."

  She collected her things. "Anything," she said. "You know that. Anything."

  Then she gave me a tight hug, and we hurried off to our first-period classes.

  4

  Robbie Marshall

  FOR THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS I've made a habit of ignoring Robbie Marshall. He's gorgeous, but that's exactly why I ignore him.

  Like he needs one more girl fawning over him?

  We used to be friendly, but that was back in middle school. Back when he wasn't afraid to be smart. Back before he grew into Robbie Marshall, gorgeous jock.

  So in first period all the other girls in class paid attention to Robbie Marshall's biceps, and I paid attention to Mrs. Fieldman's math lesson. Mrs. Fieldman is a real pro. She's clear and concise, and there's no falling asleep in her class--she covers more material in a day than some teachers do in a week, and if you don't pay attention, you can kiss a good grade goodbye.

  After math I continued through my morning classes, slipping into the typical rhythm of a school day. But somewhere in the middle of third period I realized that I was doing what I'd been doing all year: focusing, taking notes, getting a jump on the homework. Fun was no part of the equation. I was certainly not living my fantasy!

  So as third period wound down, I did so
mething I never do--I packed up early, and when the bell rang, I bolted out of the classroom.

  Apparently I'm a complete klutz at bolting from classrooms, because not only did I hurt my wrist, I managed to slam the door into someone walking by.

  Someone who turned out to be...Robbie Marshall.

  "Sorry!" I said, turning beet red.

  "No problem," he replied.

  And then he smiled at me.

  Diamonds seemed to dance between his lips as he gazed at me. His eyes twinkled smoky gray. His hair looked like it had been combed through with sunshine.

  Then he was gone.

  But just like that, my fantasy found a direction.

  A destination.

  I staggered to my fourth-period class, out of breath and (granted) out of my mind. Suddenly all I could see was Robbie Marshall's face.

  All through Miss Ryder's American-lit lecture I fantasized about Robbie Marshall.

  His eyes.

  His smile.

  His lips.

  I didn't concentrate on my classwork, didn't scrutinize the red comments on the essay Miss Ryder passed back. By the end of class my chance collision with the school's most gorgeous jock was completely entwined with my newfound desire to live my fantasy.

  It had all become perfectly clear.

  I needed to kiss Robbie Marshall.

  5

  New Attitude

  AT LUNCH WHEN I TOLD ADRIENNE WHAT I WANTED TO DO, she gave me her trademark squint and said, "Robbie Marshall? How in the world do you expect to kiss Robbie Marshall?"

  "Shhh!" I yanked her off to our corner of the quad, checking around for gossipmongers. "Look. I've got assets--"

  "Of course you do! But he just barely broke up with Sunshine, and in case you haven't noticed, she is not over him!" Adrienne whispered. "Plus Jasmine Hernandez wants him bad, and Nicole Bruma wants him back."

  "So?"

  "So? So? Helloooo, Evangeline...you know I love you--you're witty and thoughtful and loyal and smart...and very pretty"--she leaned in--"but since when can you compete with Sunshine, Jasmine, or Nicole?"

  I scowled at her. "Thanks for the vote of confidence."

  "Evangeline, get real!" She squinted at me harder. "And why him?"

  I shrugged. "He's gorgeous. And, well, experienced." I arched an eyebrow in her direction. "A crimson kiss does not reside on the lips of inexperience."

  "A crimson kiss? What...from that book? You're still obsessed with that?"

 
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