"Heart-pounding, romantic and suspenseful. I loved it!"
— NYT bestselling author Simone Elkeles
A USA TODAY recommended read.
“The well–drawn characters and setting make the novel stand out. The romance is equal parts sweet and hot and leads to a satisfying conclusion. Ideal for readers who prefer a high romance–to–thrills ratio.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“The menace of this dark world is a nice foil to the unexpectedly sweet development of young love, and adds a desperation and sense of urgency to their romance…the struggle of the characters to do right at all costs will resonate with teen readers.”
— School Library Journal
“This young adult novel has an exciting yet believable plot and is filled with memorable characters whose main motive is to not just follow their dreams but follow their conscience as well. Van Diepen has given readers a novel which is approachable and interesting for readers at any level. Highly recommended.”
— Canadian Materials
“How are we celebrating tonight?” My best friend, Isadora, grabbed me in a bear hug from behind.
I laughed, then pried her off me. “I’m sure you can come up with something. I work till nine.”
It was so unreal. I’d been hoping to get into Florida State for as long as I could remember. But the scholarship was a surprise. My tuition was covered for four whole years. Sure, I’d still have to work my butt off for living expenses and books, but I had no complaints.
Hasta luego, Miami. Sorry, I won’t miss you.
I couldn’t wait to tell Mom. She’d already left for work when the admissions package arrived, and I’d been dying to text her with the news. But then I wouldn’t get to see the look on her face when I told her. And I couldn’t miss that.
“Come to my place after work. We’ll party with the girls. I’m so proud of you!” Iz kissed my cheek, which would now be smeared with her trademark bright red lipstick.
“It’s so last minute, Iz. Abby and Carmen might already have plans.”
“They’re in. I texted them this morning. I’m gonna make a special drink for tonight. I’m calling it the Maddie Diaz Margarita.”
I grinned. “What’s gonna be in it?”
“A ton of tequila.”
Her phone rang. She wrenched it out of the pocket of her tight designer jeans. “Rob, I told you not to call me at school.” She groaned. “I said I had to cancel tonight. I don’t care how much you paid for the seats. My girl got a scholarship!”
I cringed. Iz was an awesome best friend but a terrible girlfriend. Every guy she dated thought he’d struck gold at first, since she looked like a young Eva Longoria. Fast forward a few weeks, and they’d escape with whatever self-respect they had left. Her latest guy, Rob, had hung on for five months—a record for Iz.
She shoved the phone into her pocket. “What an ass. I wonder why I bother, you know? Now, about tonight, we’ll see you at nine-fifteen?”
“Ten. I wanna go home and shower first so I don’t reek of French fries.”
“Good point. Make sure you look extra yummy, okay? I’m inviting some guys to chill with us later on.”
Iz’s goal in life was to get me a boyfriend. She always complained that I was too closed off to guys, too aloof, but I knew that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that none of the guys she tried to hook me up with did anything for me. They were too boring, too blah. They all talked the same shit, smoked the same shit, and rooted for the same sports teams. I wanted a guy who was more…something, I just didn’t know what.
Maybe I’d find him at Florida State.
As we left the school, we snapped on our knock-off sunglasses. It was only March, but the heat was hot. When the city bus pulled up, we packed on with a boatload of other students. I didn’t know which was worse: bumping up against sticky skin, or trying not to breathe the stale, sweaty air. I could feel my straightened hair curling up.
“Have you decided about next year?” I asked Iz mid-bus ride. So far, today had been all about me and my news, and I didn’t want her to think that her plans were less important. Iz had a gift for the artes decorativas. She could look at any room and see a million possibilities for awesomeness. If I looked at the same space, I would see, well, a room.
“I’m thinking interior design at Miami-Dade. My first job will be to decorate your dorm room.” She fanned herself with her long red fingernails. “You’ll come back and see us, right?”
“Of course I’ll be back.” But the truth was, I couldn’t wait to put some distance between me and Miami.