Author: Patricia B. Tighe
Genre: YA Romance
Pretend to be from Spain? Act like she can barely speak English? Sure, why not? It wouldn’t be the first time Gabby Vega had agreed to a challenge from her best friend, Kenzie. Besides, it’s only for a week of vacation with Kenzie’s cousins. Gabby will prove to Kenzie she can keep up the fake identity for the whole trip—that she’s not a quitter.
There’s just one major surprise. Noah Jernigan is also staying with Kenzie’s cousins. Noah, the boy she fell in love with at drama camp last summer and the boy she had to dump when it was over. The boy who knows who she really is.
Noah can’t believe it when Gabby appears at the Bryson’s vacation home in the New Mexico mountains. He hasn’t seen her in a year. It practically took that long just to get over her. And now she’s Gabriela from Spain? All he wants is to get as far away as he can. Or maybe the exact opposite. Stick as close to her as possible and find out what the heck happened last summer. And definitely get some payback.
Now Gabby has to keep Noah at arm’s length as she pretends to be Gabriela. She doesn’t want to answer his questions or rehash last summer. Because one thing is clear—the more time she spends with Noah, the more she’s in danger of falling for him all over again.
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The mother of two grown sons, Patricia B. Tighe lives in West Texas with her husband and dog. She eats way too much pizza, drinks way too much coffee, and watches way too much NFL football. On the bright side, she also reads and writes teen fiction. She promises to include as much romance, angst, and adventure as possible in her books.
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Excerpt from About Last Summer
We entered a bright corner room with windows on two sides and twin beds. It was pretty, but I couldn’t really take it all in.
“Sit down,” Kenzie said, taking the backpack from my shoulder. “What’s the matter? You look like you’ve lost your best friend, and I’m still right here, so talk.”
I sat on one of the beds and slid my hands under my thighs. “Remember last fall when I was getting over the guy from drama camp?”
“That’s him. Noah Jernigan.”
Kenzie’s mouth fell open. “No way.”
“But, how could—? I mean, I thought he lived far away from Austin, like San Diego or something.”
“No, San Antonio.”
Kenzie was shaking her head. “And he goes to Geoff’s school. What are the odds?”
“I don’t know. But I can’t stay here. This is a nightmare.”
“No, you have to stay. That would be quitting. You wanted a challenge, didn’t you?”
“This is more than a challenge. I have no idea what he’s going to do. He knows me, Kenz. He can tell everyone who I am.”
She plopped onto the opposite bed. “But you don’t know that for sure. I mean, he went along with it outside, didn’t he?”
“Yeah, but it was so sudden. After he thinks about it, he’ll probably want to stand on the table and announce it to everybody.”
Kenzie laughed. “Still. He didn’t give you away, and he could’ve.” She got up and walked to the window. After staring out for a second, she turned back. “I say wait it out. See what he’s going to do. He might be really cool about it.”
I rubbed my forehead. “Would you? If someone dumped you and a year later you saw them pretending to be somebody else … would you be nice about it?”
I took a swig of Coke and chanced another look at Gabby. She was staring at Kenzie who was describing the nearby town and things to do. Gabby’s dark brown hair hung around her shoulders in loose curls. I could still remember how it felt to wrap one of those silky curls around my finger, and then let it slide free.
The conversation went on, but I wasn’t listening anymore. What would it be like to run my hands through Gabby’s hair again, to have her look only at me? And, as if she heard my thoughts, she made eye contact. Her smile fell away. There was a weird look in her dark brown eyes. One I’d never seen before. And then it sank in. Fear.
Gabby was afraid of me.
I turned back to my plate, but it was empty. I couldn’t remember finishing the sandwich. A pasty taste filled my mouth, so I chugged the rest of my soda. What did she have to be afraid of? I almost laughed out loud. Stupid question. I knew who she was. I could ruin her little game. The Spanish girl. Anger surged back through me.
The girl from Spain, who was really the girl from Austin, who was the girl who’d dumped me, who was the girl I’d been in love with. It had hurt. It was embarrassing how much it had hurt. Had she cared at all? I doubted it.
But she was afraid. The opportunity for revenge appeared as easily as if I’d asked someone at the table to pass it to me.
Hey, Geoff, pass the revenge.
Sure. Mind if I take some first?
Not at all. Help yourself.
Everything inside me settled into determination. No way was I going home early. Not when I could spend a week getting back at Gabby Vega. I smiled. She was scared of what I might do? Good. Because I was just getting started.
With a sigh, I fell back against the soft sheets and stared at the flawless white ceiling. No cracks to stare at to pass the time. I knew I couldn’t focus on a book. Not when I kept reliving that warm look in Noah’s eyes after I’d done the chicken impression. It was almost like he wasn’t mad anymore. Like he was enjoying everything. Even being around me.
But then the look had slid off his face as if he were thinking about the worst memory of his life. Was that me? Was I his worst memory? I had no idea. But it was probably the reason he was going to so much trouble to make me look stupid.
He was punishing me. Guilt and frustration warred in my chest. Never in a million years had I thought I’d hurt him so badly. I’d figured he’d be over me in a couple of weeks and get on with his life. That I was the only one hurting. Guess I was wrong. How long had it taken him to get past it all? If he was like me, way too long.
I stood and went to the window facing the back of the house. A wooden deck partially blocked the view of Kenzie and the guys shooting baskets. Laughter sounded, clear even through the closed window. Kenzie jumped up and launched the ball through the air.
“You suck!” Geoff’s voice rang out.
I smiled. Kenzie’s shot must have gone in.
Noah came into view, shooting what looked like the same shot, his body long and graceful in the air. I leaned my cheek against the cool glass of the window. He was so beautiful to watch. But the bang of his shot hitting the rim jerked me out of my semi-swoon. I gave my head a quick shake. I had to stop this. If I didn’t, I’d repeat my mistake from last summer and fall in love with him.
Only this time there was no chance he’d make the same mistake. He hated me.
“Gamma?” Geoff asked, without looking away from the cards in his hand. “Did I hear you say ‘Noah’?”
“Have you seen him?” he asked.
“Yes, a while ago, though. He went out the back door, carrying his guitar.”
Geoff grunted. “He probably won’t be back for a while then.”
True. When he played guitar, Noah traveled to another world. I couldn’t stop myself. I pushed away from the window. “Excuse me,” I said to no one in particular and left the room. I eased out the front door and dropped into one of the huge wooden rocking chairs that lined the porch. The sounds of a faraway guitar floated through the air like a feather that refused to land.
I exhaled, relaxing into the sound, wishing I was sitting across a campfire from him, watching his fingers dance across the strings. A sudden pain left me pressing a hand to my chest.
The realization of how much I’d missed his music, missed him, left me almost gasping for air. Why here? Why now? I massaged my breastbone with the heel of my hand, trying to rub the ache into nonexistence. Nothing could change between us. I’d made my decision last summer. It wouldn’t be fair to act like we could start over.
I set the rocking chair into motion. Forget all of that. Just listen to the music. I let the strumming sound wash over me for several minutes until my pulse returned to normal. Then the sound dipped too low for me to hear. I leaned forward, straining with everything I had, but it was no good. A few notes rose up to tease me, then dropped away again.
I was being stupid. It was just Noah playing guitar. And I wanted to hear it better. There was no special meaning behind it. None. I rose, jogged down the steps, and headed around the side of the house.
I was three measures into a different Celtic song when a sound broke my concentration. A footstep? Probably not. I frowned and kept playing. But somehow, the shades of darkness shifted. I squinted. Someone stood on the blacktop where we shot baskets, half hidden by the side of the deck.
My heart rate picked up. There was only one person it could be. The others were inside, and Amanda didn’t go anywhere without Haley. I kept playing, just more quietly. “You can come out,” I said. “I know you’re there.”
Gabby’s voice came from the blackness. “How?”
I waited until she reached the bottom of the steps. “A shadow moved or something.”
“Oh.” She stepped up and sat on the stair just below the deck’s floor. “That sounds familiar.”
Crap. I’d been playing her song again. I purposely plucked the wrong string, the flat note twanging out like a slap. “Haven’t played it in awhile.” Idiot, idiot. You played it a few minutes ago. If she was outside, she heard it.
She leaned back on her elbows and faced the backyard. “It’s still good.”
I could’ve switched songs. I so wanted to. But a perverse need to show her just how great the song could be filled me with determination. So I let myself fall completely into the music, each note ringing out with precision and aching sweetness.
Finally, when my chest was so tight I could barely breathe, I stopped. My body still rocked uncontrollably forward and back, the last notes reverberating into the night.
She said nothing. Just sat there as if she deserved the whole performance.
And I was caught. I wanted to jump up and go inside. But I also wanted to lean toward her. Remember how much you liked that last summer? Do you still? I had to be the biggest fool between here and whatever the hell river ran through Texas.
She sighed, and it broke through the Gabby-cloud in my mind. “What’re you doing out here, Gabby?”
She looked over her shoulder at me, but I couldn’t see her face in the darkness. Just her soft voice floated out. “Why didn’t you play games with everybody?”
I picked idly at the guitar strings. “I’m tired of games. Especially ones I can’t win.”