From a bestselling author comes a fun, flirty look at first love!
High school senior Mary Jane Ettermeyer has been the good girl for a long time. To date, she's proud to say she's been able to keep her pledge of abstinence (not that anyone has challenged it). But when the cutest guy in school starts flirting with her, she suddenly finds herself crazy in love, even though her inner Plain Jane tells her he can't possibly think she's cute, while her inner Sexy M. J. is questioning her vow to keep herself pure until marriage. Not to mention that hot Jackson House shouldn't even be talking to her, because he already has a girlfriend! There are a ton of good reasons why she should never speak to Jackson again, except that every time she sees him, all of her resistance seems to melt away. . . .
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May 14, 2008
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Excerpt from Crazy in Love by Dandi Daley Mackall
Okay, so I do hear voices in my head, but they're all mine. And before you go dialing Psychiatrists-R-Us, consider the fact that I'm going to need all the help I can get just to have a fingers-crossed, fighting chance of getting through today.
My senior year was not supposed to start out like this. Not after the best summer ever, hanging with my gal pals and dreaming about being totally free next year when we'd all sail away to college but keep in touch with each other and still be us forever and always: The Girls.
I admit that I had my doubts about the greatness of the summer when Alicia, my all-time best friend, left early for college. But Cassie and Jessica and I visited nine college campuses, including fraternity rows and mixed dorms, even though Cassie and I had already settled on Illinois State University. We exhausted every possible joke connected with the fact that our university is located in Normal, Illinois, which means we'll be meeting Normal guys and dabbling in Normal nightlife, and having Normal love affairs.
On other long summer days Cassie and I met up with Jessica and Samantha to sun at Jessica's pool because, cancer or no cancer, tan fat looks better than white fat. On occasion, Nicole and Star and Company would meet us at the mall. We'd hook up with some of the guys and see a crummy summer movie half a dozen times just to make fun of it or drive up to Six Flags Great America and flirt shamelessly with Bugs and Daffy and try to get them to fight over us.
So how did I get from that all-American summer to this soap-opera-worthy mess?
"Mary Jane!" Mom yells up the stairs like a normal person would yell only in the event of a life-threatening fire. "Your fah-ther and I need to talk with you."
Mom only calls Dad my "fah-ther" when she wants to conjure up images of 1950s head-of-the-household, betterbe- real-scared-of-me men. Although she also calls my fahther "Tom," "Thomas," "your dad," and "Daddy," according the need of the moment, she has only one name for me, her younger daughter.
Mary Jane. Like the shoes, which I wouldn't wear if they were the last foot-covering on a desert island.
I told you the voices in my head are mine. But I blame my mother for encouraging Plain Jane to take up residence in my head. Like the shoes that bear my name, Plain Jane is not so much plain as timeless, classic, loved by mothers everywhere, a good investment, a good bet, a good buy . . . and so not fun.
I try very hard not to listen to her.
"Now, Mary Jane!" screams my mother.
"Coming, Mom!" I shout, reaching for my red lipstick. But then I hear Plain Jane in my head, reminding me that my mother hates red lipstick and says it makes me look like one of those street people, and she's not talking about mimes.
In spite of myself, I put down the Flame Red tube and apply wholesome lip gloss to my lips. I have nice lips, if I do say so myself. Very kissable, says M.J. (another voice in my crowded head, a voice that can only be described as sexy). Plain Jane, on the other hand, hates my lips. She says they do not go with my eyes, which are small and brown and ordinary, the eye color of three-quarters of the earth's inhabitants. Plain Jane never misses an opportunity to point out my plainness, and she adds that I should simply be thankful for the good vision provided by my plain eyes. M.J. counters that these eyes are intense, sexy even.
Before Mom can shout again, I dash from the bathroom back to my bedroom and grab my pack, in case I need to make a fast getaway.
I think about sliding down the banister, but Plain Jane's voice is shouting that normal people do not slide down banisters, and I go with her voice, since this battle is with the rents. They love Plain Jane.
They're in the kitchen, sitting together at the table. If my parents belonged to someone else, I'd probably think they were nice-looking, for middle-aged rents. Dad has all of his hair, which is brown and matches his eyes. And mine. And three-quarters of the known world's. The fact that he isn't balding is a point of pride for him, since his younger brother, my Uncle Jim, has just about lost all his hair. Dad's in pretty good shape for a lawyer. And he doesn't have the stereotypical lawyer personality. He doesn't even hate lawyer jokes, although I'm not always sure he gets them.
Mom is small, five feet two, to Dad's six-two, with me taking the middle at five-eight. She's blonde, blue-eyed, and bubbly, in a sincere way. If they have ugly secret lives, I don't know about them yet. But I'm only seventeen.
"Have a seat, Mary Jane," Dad says. Even now, when I know he's been up all night obsessing about me, his voice is warm, like a radio announcer's before the game.
I sit. As always, Mom has set the table for breakfast, even though I skip it half the time because I'm running late. I pour Grape-Nuts into my bowl, hoping to ease the tension with the appearance of normality and healthy bits of grain.
Mom obviously can't take the waiting anymore. "Mary Jane," she begins, and her disappointment is so thick in only those two words that, in spite of myself, I feel guilty. I know this disappointment. It's like a second skin to me, a fur coat in the dead of summer.
Throughout my colorful past, the Plain Jane in my head has arranged my rents' disappointment into words of various patterns: "After all they've done for you, how can you do this to them?" "Why can't you think of someone besides yourself?" "You owe them everything, and all they ask is that you live by their rules. What is wrong with you?"
Mom glances at Dad to get the okay. Gets it. Goes on. "Honey, we heard you come in last night."
"Sorry," I say, before thinking enough. "I tried to be quiet. I didn't mean to wake you." This is what the M.J. in my head was saying, and I knew better than to listen to her.
"You know good and well that's not the point," Dad says, his voice firmer now. He and M.J. are seldom on the same side. They know how to push each other's buttons. "Let's not play games, okay? I thought we'd gotten over this phase."
"Sorry," I say, pouring the milk and trying hard to tune out the smart aleck in my head. "I know. It was late."
"One a.m.," Mom helpfully supplies.
"School-night curfew is still ten unless you check with us first," Dad reminds me. "Your mother and I were very worried about you."
"I called," I offer. "Did you get the message?"
"We called, too," Mom says. "Your cell was off."
M.J. is whispering a dozen excuses to me, just like that. She's so good. You called my cell? Really? I have to remember to plug in that phone every night. Or, Are you sure you called the right number? I didn't get a message. Or, One of the kids I was with needed to call her parents, and they talked forever.
I'm smart enough to pass on the M.J. excuses just now. "That was stupid of me," I admit. "I should have known you'd try to call back. I turned off my cell because we were trying to watch the end of the movie. I'm sorry. I just didn't think."
"That's the problem, Mary Jane. You haven't been thinking," Dad agrees. "One o'clock on a school night? You've been working hard all these years to get into a good school like ISU. Don't lose it your senior year. College isn't--"
"I thought you were studying at Cassandra's house,"Mom interrupts. "That's what you told me."
"I was!" I protest."We're having a quiz in English on Julius Caesar today. We were watching the Shakespeare production. That's what we were doing. It's a really long movie.We just didn't get it started in time."
All truth. Nothing but the truth.
Not the whole truth.
The movie was running, but we didn't do much watching. Unless you count watching each other. I spent most of the time watching Jackson House. Six-foot senior, long brown hair, killer smile. Star Simons's boyfriend. The M.J. in my head firmly believes that anyone named Star Simons doesn't deserve a boyfriend like Jackson House. And it's not just the name. Star would be the first one to tell you Jackson belongs to her. But that doesn't stop her from sneaking in dates with other guys. I have this on reliable authority.