The perfect guy, the perfect location. What could go wrong?
Hadley Daniels’s life seems perfect. Before the beginning of sophomore year of high school, Hadley and her family move to a beautiful beach town, where she makes amazing new friends and lands the boyfriend of her dreams. She and Nick form a deep bond, but insecurity sets in when Hadley discovers her boyfriend once had a huge crush on her friend—who just happens to be the beautiful teen TV star, Simone Hendrickson. Nick claims to be over Simone, but then Hadley is blindsided with the news that Nick and Simone kissed after school. Now Hadley must determine who is telling the truth.
Love, betrayal, friendship…who needs TV drama when you’re busy competing with a star?
In this scene, Hadley and Nick go on a group date and she’s still getting used to the idea of having a boyfriend and hanging out with his much cooler crowd. She second guesses herself and feels insecure as she tries to navigate the dating games of the popular crowd.
We got to the theater and Nick was already there outside waiting for us with his friends, Lucas and Connor. Connor and Simone used to date. Actually, Connor also dated Morgan and Pilar, but for some reason none of the girls ever got mad at him for that, but they sure did get mad at each other for it. As I got out of the car, I wondered how to approach Nick. I mean, we were official, and we had kissed, but did we hug when we saw each other? Would it look desperate if I ran up to him? Why wasn’t there an instructional booklet for this kind of thing? My mom bought a toaster and it came with a huge manual on how to work it, but when it came to the workings of the heart— nothing? That made no sense.
I took my time getting out of Mr. Milanowski’s car to buy myself some time. When I slammed the door, I looked up and Nick was right in front of me.
“Hi, Hadley, you look great,” he said.
I found it difficult to swallow as I looked into his light brown eyes.
“Yeah, you too,” I said, and then wanted to kick myself.
Who said that to a guy? I mean, to his face anyway? Why couldn’t I ever be cool?
We waited for Charlotte and Asia to buy their tickets. Simone and Pilar were off to the side with Reagan and Morgan, drinking sodas and staring at us. I waved to them, but Simone just nodded.
“Guys, let’s go sit up in the balcony,” Reagan said, clutching Lucas’ arm.
Were they a thing now? That would be a load off my mind if Nick’s ex had a new guy. We followed them up the steps and they walked to the first row of the balcony that overlooked the theater. I felt like throwing up the second I looked over the balcony edge.
“You okay?” Charlotte asked.
“No, I hate heights,” I whispered.
“Tell Nick you want to move back a row.”
“I’ll look like a kid.”
“Hadley? Are you all right?” Nick asked.
“You sure? Because you’re hanging onto the seat like a life preserver. Are you afraid of heights?”
“Seriously? You’re afraid of heights?” Morgan said.
“I’m fine,” I said.
“I hate heights. This whole ledge thing is making me dizzy, maybe I should move back,” Charlotte said.
“Do you want us to move back a row with you?” I asked, relieved she’d pretend for me.
“I don’t want to ruin anyone’s night, but yes,” she said.
Nick smiled. “How noble of you to change your seat for your friend. I better move too.”
The three of us moved behind them, but then it was like stadium seating and I felt like if I got up for anything I could trip and fly over the railing to my death.
“Char, if I fell from here, would I die or just get really hurt?” I asked, leaning over.
“Really hurt,” she said. “You might wish you were dead though.”
“You hate this more, don’t you?” Nick said, leaning over.
“How did you know?”
“I can tell from your face. You’re biting the side of your mouth. You always do that when you’re upset,” he said. “It’s no big deal. We can move downstairs. I prefer sitting down
“You don’t mind sitting away from them?”
“Not a problem.” He got up. “You guys, we’re going to move downstairs. I’m not feeling this stadium seating thing up here.”
I saw Reagan and Morgan exchange a look with their eyebrows raised and Reagan smirked. What was that about?
“Whatever. See you after the movie,” Pilar said.
The three of us walked down the steps and found seats toward the back. Char said she was going to make a snack run.
“Want anything?” she asked.
I reached in my purse for some cash. “Gummi bears and a Coke. Do I want popcorn?”
Nick reached past me and handed Char some money. “She wants popcorn. Butter?”
I smiled. “Butter.”
“Okay, so are you two sharing the popcorn or what?” Charlotte asked.
“If that’s okay,” Nick said, raising his eyebrows.
I nodded. He was willing to risk sharing germs with me. That meant he must like me…or he had no respect for his immune system. One of the two. But now with Char gone, what would we talk about? I racked my brain for something to say when all of a sudden, the whole crew was around us. Reagan and Lucas sat directly in front of us and Morgan was next to Nick.
“I thought you guys were happy up there,” Nick said.
Reagan turned around to smile at Morgan. “The show is better up close,” Morgan said.
Charlotte returned with the snacks just as the previews started. I was opening up my gummi bears and then it hit me—were these a kid snack? Did I look like an immature child in
front of him with my tiny bears?
“Hey, can I have a bear?” Nick asked. “Red, not the clear ones. I can only eat clear gummi if it’s part of a gummi cola bottle.”
The movie started and I was beginning to relax when Lucas’ arm went up in front of me and around Reagan’s shoulders. I didn’t think anything of it, even though her head
was kind of blocking my view when she moved it to lean on his shoulder. But then she turned her head and she and Lucas began making out—right in front of me and right in front of
Nick. So awkward on so many levels. I mean, yay for her dating a guy other than Nick to show he was out of her system, but it was also super cringe- worthy because it made me wonder if that was the kind of thing all of them did on group dates to the movies. Did Nick expect me to do that?
Thank you, Krysten Lindsay Hager and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the Author
Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. Her work includes YA contemporary, middle grade fiction, and adult and young adult rom-coms. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star, Dating the It Guy, Can Dreams Come True, and In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Anxiety.
Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on the talk show Living Dayton. She received her BA in English and master’s degree in liberal studies from the University of Michigan-Flint.