Wednesday, March 6, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein + GIVEAWAY!

Dear Cassie

Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: March 5th 2013 by Entangled Teen 
 What if the last place you should fall in love is the first place that you do?

You’d think getting sent to Turning Pines Wilderness Camp for a month-long rehabilitation “retreat” and being forced to re-live it in this journal would be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

You’d be wrong.

There’s the reason I was sent to Turning Pines in the first place: I got arrested. On prom night. With my two best friends, who I haven’t talked to since and probably never will again. And then there’s the real reason I was sent here. The thing I can’t talk about with the guy I can’t even think about.

What if the moment you’ve closed yourself off is the moment you start to break open?

But there’s this guy here. Ben. And the more I swear he won’t—he can’t—the deeper under my skin he’s getting. After the thing that happened, I promised I’d never fall for another boy’s lies.

And yet I can’t help but wonder…what if?--Goodreads
I jumped back, startled by the thwack, thwack, thawck of someone smacking a basketball against pavement. It echoed through the night, as constant and insistent as the thoughts in my head.

I turned toward the sound, expecting to see Leisner, desperate to expel whatever ’roids were left in his system by slamming a ball over and over again with the grace of a caveman. Instead, I found Ben shooting hoops, alone, lit only by the moon.

I guess I wouldn’t be forgetting that night.

I could have walked the other way and ignored him, but I did need a lighter. And while breaking into the dining hall might have been easier than talking to him, he was closer.

It was nothing but a rational decision, as you can see.

I put the unlit cigarette in my mouth and walked over. I stood at the edge of the court watching him. He probably saw me, considering the way he was dribbling, bouncing the ball back and forth through his legs before taking a shot, but he ignored me. Probably because he knew he had something I wanted.

“Where’d you get that ball?” I finally asked, my cigarette moving up and down like a heart monitor with every word.

“Is that what you really want to ask me?” Ben asked, sinking another shot.

I looked over at the equipment shed, the lock broken in half, hanging off the door like the Art and Crafts cabin’s had been. If it was so easy to break into all these places, what the hell was I doing wasting my time talking to him?

Maybe it was the way the moon lit up little hairs around his head, or the way he was sinking shot after shot without even trying.

Or, maybe it really was that no matter what I tried, I couldn’t stay away.

“Aren’t you scared of getting caught? You’re being really fucking loud,” I said, the cigarette still in my mouth. In the moonlight it looked as white as a fang.

“I’m not scared of anything,” he said.

“Me neither,” I retorted, touching my stomach.

“Liar,” he said, catching his own rebound and bouncing the ball at me. I put my hands up and caught it with faster reflexes than I might have bothered with if I weren’t desperate to smoke. The last thing I needed was for the ball to hit me in the face and break the cigarette in my mouth in half.

I dribbled, once, twice, the cigarette still dangling the whole time. “You got a light?”

He smiled. “You beat me in one on one,” he said, “I’ll give you a light.”

“Come on.” I bounced the ball back to him. “I’m not in the mood to play games.” I knew I was talking about more than just the basketball court.

“You want a light, you play me and win,” he said, dribbling the ball in front of me. “Or are you chicken?”

“I could probably find a lighter in that shed,” I said, stalling. I knew how to play basketball okay. I’d played with my brother and he was pretty good, but I’d never played against anyone else. Especially someone who so obviously wanted to kiss me and liked getting close enough to my face to remind me of it constantly.

“I think a game of ball would be faster, don’t you?” he asked.

“Against you?” I laughed, putting the cigarette behind my ear. “Definitely.”

“Let’s see what you can do, Wick,” he said, pretending to throw the ball in my face and then catching it, that annoying thing that boys do that reminds you they are stronger and faster than you are.

“I want more than a light if I win,” I said. “That’s not enough.”

“But that’s what you want right now, so . . .” He spun the ball on his finger.

 “I want four more cigarettes,” I said, holding my stance.

“Two,” he said.

“Three,” I responded.

“One.” He smirked.

“Two,” I said.

“Deal,” he said.

I took my position in front of him—my hips wide, my legs shoulder’s width apart. I rocked back and forth, ready to do whatever I had to with that ball to get my cigarette lit and get me two more.

“Well, look at you, Cassie Wick,” Ben said, sort of sighing, sort of whistling; definitely surprised that I even knew enough to stand that way.

“I’m going to kick your ass.” I smirked.

“I doubt it,” he said, dribbling the ball between us. Each hit on the pavement felt like he was moving closer to me, felt like my heart was bouncing up into my throat.

“My brother’s team at the Y went to the state champion­ship,” I said, my face contracting.

“But did he win?” Ben asked, pushing past me with a spin move. He faked me out and took a shot. It sank with a swish.

“Hey, cheater,” I yelled to the back of his head. “We didn’t even start yet.”

“I say when we start,” he said, his teeth white in the moonlight.

“Fine,” I said. “One-zero. What are we playing to anyway?”

“Three,” he said.

“That must mean you’re scared,” I said, dribbling the ball. “You might as well surrender.”

“You haven’t even done anything yet for me to surrender to,” he said, his voice thick with the words. I could see his eyes. They went right to my lips.

I needed to move. I faked him out with a bounce pass to myself, left him flailing for the ball behind me. My shot hit the rim but went in.

“We’re tied now, asshole,” I said.

“Impressive,” he said, catching the rebound. “That won’t work again.” He moved closer to me so I could guard him. His face so near mine as he dribbled that there was no air between us. I could see sweat reflecting the moonlight on his forehead.

“Are we playing, or are you staring?” I said, the breath from his nose hot and sweet on my face.

He bounced the ball through my legs, caught it on the other side and launched it in before I could even turn around. “Two-one,” he said. “One more and you’re screwed.”

“How proud you’ll be when you’ve beaten a girl,” I said, going under the basket to grab the rebound. I dribbled, slowly, like that part in the movie where the hero is going to make the winning shot.

“How proud I’ll be when I beat you,” he said, matching me step for step. He tried to slap the ball out of my hands.

I switched the ball into my other hand, spun around and sank another shot. “Now that’s all talent,” I said. I felt myself smile, relax, that buzzing feeling you get when you do any­thing correctly with a ball—hit it, sink it in a hole, launch it in a basket.

“Look at you,” Ben said, dribbling, and he was. Up and down, his eyes moving from the tops of my boots to the tip of my head. It was like he could see inside me. I could feel him melting through the skin on my chest, through my muscle, my ribcage, until he could see my heart jumping like it was on a trampoline.

“Maybe we should call it a tie,” I said, suddenly desperate to get my cigarette lit and get the hell out of there.

“Scared?” he asked, one eyebrow up.

I faked him out and grabbed the ball. Fine, he didn’t want a tie, but I wanted to end this game, needed to end this game. I ran past him and sank a lay-up.

“I win,” I said, but I honestly didn’t care about that. I just wanted the time I had to spend face to face with him to be over.

“You tricked me,” he said.

“Never let your guard down,” I said, as much to him as a reminder to me. I stuck my cigarette in my mouth, waiting for him to light it, but he didn’t at first. He watched me, my lips and then my eyes.

“Ben, we’re going to be sent home soon,” I joked, anything to make him stop looking at me.

“Fine,” he said, “I’m not a scammer.” He flicked the lighter and brought it to my mouth. My hands were tight behind my back. No way was I risking possibly touching his skin again.

He walked over to the grass next to the court, lay down, and lit his own. “You going to stand there like a weirdo, or smoke with me like a civilized person?” he asked, his cigarette protruding out of his mouth like the turret of a castle.

“I’m fine over here,” I said.

“You want those two cigarettes,” he said, “you’ll come and join me.”

I walked over and sat next to him. I did want those two cigarettes.

 “I love the way grass feels at night,” Ben said. He was still lying down. He pulled up his pant legs and pushed up his shirtsleeves.

“So can I get those now?” I asked, inhaling and exhaling quickly, my legs wrapped up like a pretzel.

“Patience,” he said. “What’s the rush?”

“I want to make sure you don’t fuck me over,” I said.

“Then you don’t know me at all,” he said, reaching into his pack and giving them to me.

“Thanks,” I said, swallowing something else I was going to say.

“You should try it,” he said, patting the ground next to him.

“What?” I asked quickly. Was he saying I fucked people over? Then he didn’t know me at all.

“The sky looks pretty awesome from down here,” he said.

“Listen, if you’re trying to get me to lie down next to you, you can forget it.” I took another long drag, blew the smoke out. It was the same color at the clouds above us.

“Cassie,” he said, his cigarette a perfect straight line. “It’s not always about you.”

“Whatever,” I said, pretending I didn’t feel him saying that in my stomach. I had been so stuck in my head lately that it really had been all about me: what I was going through, what I felt. Maybe he was right. Maybe it didn’t have to be.

I lay down on the grass, making sure to leave an arm’s length between us. I rolled my sleeves up, the grass tickling my elbows. I rolled up my pants, the moonlight turning my legs ghostly white.

I could feel every blade of grass on my cold skin—thousands of them, millions like each bright green piece was having sex and making tons and tons of baby grass.

I punched my stomach. How could I turn even a thought about baby grass into sex?

Would I ever think about anything else?

“How did you even get cigarettes in here?” I asked, des­perate to say something. To close up the silence that was actu­ally starting to feel comfortable between us.

“I’ve got more skills than you give me credit for,” he said.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“It means I’ve been threatened with being sent to a place like this before,” he said. “It means I know how to get away with things because of it.”

“Why the hell would you do something again if you knew you were getting sent to a place like this?” I asked. I really wondered.

I’m still not sure what Turning Pines is doing for me, but I do know I will do whatever it takes not to come back.

“I guess I’m fucked up,” he laughed. “Considering the way you keep shutting me down and I keep coming back for more,” he said, “I obviously don’t learn my lesson.”

I felt the skin on my face prickle with heat. I looked at his profile, his cigarette sticking out of his mouth like one of the trees in the woods that surrounded us. Maybe he was fucked up. Maybe he was even more fucked up than me. I wondered what he could have done.

I wondered if he would do it again.

“Why?” I asked. “Why do you keep coming back for more?”

 “I think I can make you happy,” he said, his eyes on the sky. “I also think you’re funny as hell.”

“Thanks,” I said, “but I’m pretty sure I’ve never been happy.”

“Exactly,” he said, putting one arm behind his head.

We lay there and smoked another cigarette, not talking, lis­tening to the nighttime sounds and watching the clouds move over the moon like facial hair.

“Is tonight the night you’re going to let me kiss you?” he asked, turning to look at me, moving his whole body closer.

“Who said I would ever let you kiss me?” I asked.

“Ever is a very long time,” he said.

“You can hold my hand again if you want,” I said, feeling so stupid as I did. There was no way I was pure enough to pull it off.

Since when was holding hands enough for me—or too much for me? The pregnancy had taken me too far. The only safe place to go was back to zero.

“I should probably hold out for a hug,” he said, “but I’ll take what I can get.” His hand was warm, fit in mine like the last piece of a puzzle.

“Sorry,” I said. I wished I could give him a hug and at the same time I wanted to kick him in the nuts, because I knew if I gave him a hug I was done for.

I was kind of already done for.

“Wow, almost a full minute and you’re still holding on,” he said.

“Don’t push it,” I said. The sound of crickets all around us was like a room of cats purring at once.

He turned to me. “I’m not going to be the one to give up, Cassie.”

It was too much. All of this was too much. I had to get out of there.

“I should head back,” I said, letting go of his hand.

“So, no hug,” he said, not moving.

I stood. I guess I thought he might say something else so I waited a moment, then another. Maybe I wanted to say some­thing else, or maybe I did want to be near him. Be close to someone who might possibly understand me just because he was as messed up and broken as I was.

I started back toward my cabin.

“Hey, Cassie,” he called.

I turned to look at him, his skin white on the grass.

“You want a rematch, you know where to find me,” he said.

I put my hands on my stomach. I knew our next rematch wouldn’t be at basketball. I knew if we had a rematch, I might not be strong enough to win.


1 comment:

  1. Are you paying over $5 / pack of cigarettes? I buy my cigarettes at Duty Free Depot and this saves me over 70% from cigs.