Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend

Paperback | June 25, 2013

byLouise Rozett

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Rose Zarelli 2.0 here—2.0, as in, innovativesuperiorimproved.

Improved how? Glad you asked. This year, I will not:

1. Do things just because other people want me to.

2. Randomly shoot off my mouth.

3. Worry about whether I'm someone's girlfriend—or not.

So, what will I do this year?

1. Find my thing and be who I want to be.

2. Learn when to speak up—and when to shut up.

3. Tell off Jamie Forta and move on.

I'm older and smarter now—I can totally pull this off. How hard can it be?

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From the Publisher

Rose Zarelli 2.0 here—2.0, as in, innovativesuperiorimproved.Improved how? Glad you asked. This year, I will not:1. Do things just because other people want me to.2. Randomly shoot off my mouth.3. Worry about whether I'm someone's girlfriend—or not.So, what will I do this year?1. Find my thing and be who I want to be.2. Learn when to s...

Louise Rozett made her debut as a YA author with Confessions of an Angry Girl, published by HarlequinTEEN. The sequel, Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend, is due out in July 2013. She lives with her awesome, 120-pound Bernese mountain dog Lester—named after Lester Freamon from The Wire—in one of the world’s greatest literary meccas, B...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8.25 × 5.37 × 0.77 inPublished:June 25, 2013Publisher:HarlequinLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0373210655

ISBN - 13:9780373210657

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"Jump, faggot! Jump!"And just like that, summer is over. Symbolically, anyway.I've been at this party for sixty seconds and already the tyranny of the swim thugs is so suffocating, it's like I never even had summer break to detox from freshman year.Not that summer can really be considered a break when you spend the whole thing either folding clothes at the Gap or in therapy. With your mother. Talking about how you had every right to go behind her back and build a memorial website for your dad.Who's dead.Obviously. Hence, memorial. "Come on, homo! Let's go!"Mike Darren's backyard is packed with students from every level of Union High's caste system, but it's obvious that this is a swim-team-initiation party. As Mike struts around checking the beer level of the bottomless red plastic cups that were given only to the prettiest freshman girls when they skittered through the tiki-torch gauntlet, Matt Hallis and the rest of the swim thugs are lined up on the edge of the pool like a firing squad. A freshman swimmer dressed in a red polo shirt, rolled-up white jeans and loafers with no socks stands on the diving board, backing away from them, inching closer and closer to the end while looking down at the water every other second. Matt ceremoniously raises his arm in the air and then shows off those leadership qualities that got him elected swim captain even though he's just a sophomore: he fires the first shot, hurling his cup of beer at the freshman.Thanks to the fact that Matt is an annoyingly talented athlete whose parents paid for him to spend the whole summer in a weight room, it's a perfect throw with a ridiculous amount of force behind it. The beer splatters on the freshman's blond head, the impact nearly knocking him backward as liquid pours down his cheeks, nose and neck, drenching his perfectly pressed shirt. His legs shake a little with the force of the blow and he jostles the diving board. For a second I think he's going to fall—loafers and all—into the kidney-shaped pool with blue floodlights shimmering just beneath the waterline. He throws his arms out to the sides and steadies himself, and I can tell by the relieved expression on his face that he thinks he survived, that the hazing wasn't so bad after all.He slowly lowers his arms and takes a defiant step toward the firing squad. The relief on his face disappears as Matt's underlings lift their cups in the air to follow their leader's example."Jump or die, fag!" yells Matt, his drunken slurring making his speech sound even less intelligent than usual, which is hard to do. The cups nail the freshman like a spray of bullets, and he staggers backward, arms pinwheeling as he tries to cope with the beer in his eyes and mouth. He missteps and falls into the water on his back. The thugs cheer as loafers pop up and float on the pool's surface.Ironically, "Take it Off" by Ke$ha starts playing."What are we doing here?" Tracy asks next to me as she watches her ex-boyfriend parade around collecting high fives. It occurs to me that this is exactly the kind of party that Matt spent time at last summer, before freshman year, which is probably what turned him from the nice guy he was in eighth grade to the total jerk he is now.I look at my best friend. A year ago, all she could talk about was how she couldn't wait to be at parties like this in her cheer-leading uniform with her swimmer boyfriend. Now, she's dressed like a normal person—well, a very fashionable normal person—and she can't remember why she wanted to be here in the first place.I'm so proud of her."'We are putting in an appearance at the biggest party of the summer so we can start sophomore year on Tuesday with our heads held high,'" I say, quoting her."What a dumb idea," she replies.The freshman hauls himself out of the pool with no help from anyone. He is shivering a little in his soaked clothes, probably trying to figure out whether he should fight back, leave or grab some beer and pretend everything is cool. There's a radius around him of about 10 feet, as if being the swim thugs' target of choice is a communicable disease. He takes a towel off a wicker stand and tries to dry his shirt."He picked the wrong team—in more ways than one," Tracy says. "Not that being gay is a choice," she quickly adds, repeating what our health teacher from last year, Ms. Maso, drilled into us, even though she probably could have gotten fired for stating as fact what some people think is just a belief about homosexuality. As far as we can tell, Ms. Maso's the only teacher at Union High who is actually interested in giving kids useful—aka truthful—information.Matt stumbles over to kiss Lena, the new captain of the cheer-leading team who he had sex with a lot last year while claiming he was a virgin in order to get Tracy—his girlfriend at the time—to sleep with him.Which, eventually, she did.I glance at Tracy to see if she cares that Matt and Lena are making out in front of half of Union, but she's not looking at them. She's watching the freshman as he leans over the water with one of those long-handled nets for cleaning the pool. He nabs his shoes and lifts them, dripping, out of the water. "The chlorine is going to totally trash that leather. God, those look like Gucci, don't they?"I'm about to remind my fashionista friend that I wouldn't know a Gucci loafer from a loaf of bread when suddenly Kristin is standing right in front of us. In her uniform. With her pom-poms."Tracy! You can't quit! We can't do it without you!" she shrieks. Or actually, screeches. Kristin, the only freshman to make "The Squad" last year besides Tracy, has a voice straight out of a nightmare. In fact, at Tracy's big Halloween cheer party, she dressed up as some sort of weird demon fairy, with creepy little wings sprouting from her back. It really suited her."Now that Regina's off the squad for good" Kristin trails off, her eyes finding their way to me as if it's my fault that Regina De-laddo made my life a living hell last year and then got kicked off the squad, even though she was supposed to be the new captain.I wonder if being captain was going to be the pinnacle of Re-gina Deladdo's high school career. Or maybe her whole life. I try to muster up sympathy for her but I can't. It's hard to feel anything other than deep dislike for someone who spent half the year writing 911 Bitch on all my desks and lockers after I sort of blew the whistle on a homecoming after-party.Regina should have written Boyfriend Stealer instead, since that's what she was really mad at me for. Not that I stole her boyfriend. All I did was like him. And it sort of seemed, for a minute there, that he liked me, too.But that was just me, being an idiot. Because Jamie Forta does not like me.How do I know? Two ways. 1: I haven't seen or spoken to him all summer—not since Regina got him arrested right before he was supposed to pick me up for his junior prom. The last I heard from Jamie Forta was a note, delivered by his best friend Angelo, that said, Rose. Like I said. I am not right for you. I'm different. Believe me. Be good.Whatever that means.2: Jamie only became my friend because my brother Peter asked him to. Peter was worried about me when he left for college—or actually, maybe it was my mother he was worried about. Anyway, Peter wanted someone to "keep an eye" on me. Which Jamie did.And thenthere was some kissing.But he's not my boyfriend. I think his note made that pretty clear.So, what is a guy who broke up with somebody else and asked you to the prom? Who spent a whole year looking out for you? Who gave you the best first kiss in the history of kissing?I can see every second of that kiss like I'm watching a movie. It happened in the parking lot during homecoming. He was at the dance with Regina. I was there with Robert. But still, somehow, Jamie and I ended up sitting in a car together. And then he kissed me. This junior I've had a crush on since the first time I saw him play hockey when I was in seventh grade.It was surreal.It was also the only good thing that had happened to me since my dad died right before I started at Union High.I miss Jamie. I missed him all summer, even though I tried not to. What's the point in missing someone who tells you flat out that he's not right for you?"This year?" Kristin is saying to Tracy, looking a little manic, like if she doesn't lock Tracy down, the world as she knows it is going to implode. "We want you to be our choreographer! Wouldn't that be perfect? I mean, look, last year was kind of lame. But we're actually going to dance this year, with totally hot moves."Kristin says this as if choreography is a novel concept for a cheerleading team."You don't need me," Tracy says. "It's not like we're a competition team. Even with a choreographer, we'll still just be bouncing around in bad polyester blend."Kristin scowls, looking seriously offended by the idea that her cheers are just bouncing around."What's the problem, Trace? Is it that Lena's with Matt? Because they're just hooking up. It's not like she's his 'girlfriend with a capital G'" Kristin uses her pom-poms to make little air quotes as she says this, and I consider grabbing them and throwing them in the pool.I wonder if I actually made a move to do it because Tracy shoots me a look. Tracy has had a lot of talks with me about my anti-cheerleader stance, reminding me that not all cheerleaders are like Regina, citing herself and a bunch of other nice, smart girls on last year's team as examples. While I see her point, I still haven't managed to let go of the idea that, in general, cheerleaders suck.I recognize that this viewpoint may be indicative of a character flaw on my part, and I'm okay with that.In a fake, buttery voice, Kristin says, "Trace, let's go talk in private for a sec, 'kay? Official business," she barks at me as she threads her arm through Tracy's. Tracy looks at me and rolls her eyes as Kristin yanks her toward the patio, her thick blond ponytail swaying with determination. My hand automatically goes to my hair, which is doing what it always does—hanging limply around my shoulders, straight and thin and mousy brown.I take out the hand-me-down iPhone that Peter gave me before he went back to Tufts, even though I know I have no messages because the only person who has ever called or texted me since I've had it is Tracy. And my mother, of course. But if there's one thing I've learned about these phones, it's that they can make you look busy when you have absolutely nothing to do.Normally, when I'm trying to look busy, I click on my vocab app and study for the PSAT, which is six weeks away. This year is just a practice run, but I need to totally rock it so I can show my mother that I'll be able to get scholarships and go to college even if she never sees the insurance money my dad's company promised and somehow hasn't managed to deliver yet. But the idea of getting busted studying for the PSATs at a party is kind of horrifying, so I click on "Photos" instead and continue my project—deleting all the pictures Peter left on the phone when he gave it to me.At first I was annoyed that my mother insisted Peter give me his old iPhone—which looked like it had been drop-kicked multiple times—rather than letting me get a new one with my own money. But when I synced the phone to my laptop for the first time and the computer asked if I wanted to erase everything on it, I realized that Peter's phone contained all sorts of information about his life that he had stopped sharing with me the minute he set foot on a college campus and got a girlfriend.There are over 800 photos on his phone, and my plan is to look at every single one before I make room for mine. I'm hoping it'll give me an idea of just how bad things are with him. So far, I've learned that he smokes and drinks a lot, and takes pictures of his friends smoking and drinking a lot. No surprises there, I guess.I get through ten pictures of Peter's friends having a much better time at a party than I currently am. Then I look up, see people talking to other human beings, feel like a dumbass and decide to go find something to drink.I push past the freshman girls huddled together for safety as the swim thugs circle like sharks, and find my way to a cooler that's filled with all sorts of things we're not allowed to drink yet, and soda. It takes me a full minute to find a Diet Coke buried under all the ice. I can barely feel my hand when I pull it back out."Wouldn't you rather have some Red Bull and vodka, Rose?"It takes me a second to recognize Robert, probably because he looks happier than I have ever seen him look in four years. It could also be because he let his hair grow long and he seems somehowcooler. Or maybe it's just because he has his arm around one of the prettiest girls I've ever seen, and she's smiling. At him. Like he's a god."Holly, this is Rose Zarelli. Rose, meet Holly Taylor. She just moved here from L.A." I postpone studying the beautiful new girl by noticing two more things about Robert: he is calling me Rose instead of Rosie—which he's been calling me since the day we first met in sixth grade—and he is sipping his drink in a way that suggests he's at a cocktail party at a swanky country club, not a kegger in a backyard.When I can no longer put it off, I turn my attention to Holly. You'd think I'd know better than to shake hands with someone at a high school party, but because I'm a little intimidated by the amount of beauty in front of me, I stick my hand out like a giant dork. Holly graciously does the same, and she doesn't even wince when my hand—frozen and wet from my arctic Diet Coke expedition—touches hers.Not only is she pretty, she's classy. No wonder Robert has that idiotic grin on his face."Hi!" she says. Her teeth are shockingly, blindingly white, and they immediately make me sure that I've got spinach stuck in mine. "I'm new at Union. My dad's teaching drama at Yale."The reply that immediately comes to mind is: I'm not new at Union. My dad was blown to pieces in Iraq. It's accompanied by some horror-movie images that I can't seem to keep out of my head these days."Hi," I say too cheerfully, trying to drive away the carnage in my brain. I know that I should offer Holly some interesting piece of information about myself but I'm unsure of what, exactly, that would be.

Editorial Reviews

"The familiar story of smart girl meets bad boy is enhanced by Rose's intelligent and authentic voice." --Kirkus Reviews on CONFESSIONS OF AN ANGRY GIRL