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My name’s Teagan. I know, I know … the name. Twenty-two years ago, my mother thought a Welsh name for her only child would be beautiful. Teagan means pretty, so it should have fit perfectly. Who has an ugly baby, right? I guess I did okay in the looks department. I’m not too short, not too tall. Eating chips and gummy bears every day has no effect on my somewhat athletic frame, and I’ve been told my green eyes compliment my pale complexion. The problem with the name Teagan is my mom never considered the creative names kids would morph it into.
“Yo, Teabag, what’s up?”
I flip Perry Spitler off, but he just laughs as he passes on by.
He and I have an understanding; when we see each other on campus, he insults me, I flip him off, and we never actually talk. It suits us both just fine. Making out with him and then ralphing on his shoes in freshman year was one of the best moves I’ve ever made in my climb up the social ladder at UCLA.
“Why do you even talk to that douche canoe?” asks my friend Quin as she brushes out her long, black hair. Quinlan is her real name, but she refuses to answer to it. We both have a thing with names, which is only one of the many reasons we get along so well. “I hear he puts toy cars in dark places on weekends.” She puts away her brush and takes a bite of an energy bar, chewing it like a cow and waiting for my reaction.
I’m both intrigued and disgusted. “And by toy cars and dark places we mean…” I twist my longish, wavy brown hair up into a bun and stick a pencil in it to keep it from falling to my shoulders again. It’s frigging hot out here in the student union today. Dry heat, my butt.
“Literally. Like that movie Jackass. He put a toy car in his asshole at a party the other night.”
I snort in disbelief and disgust. “He did not.”
Quin puts up her hand like a girl scout. “Swear. Guy’s an asscar driver.”
I’m really happy I barfed on him now. Really, really happy. The kiss we shared? Well, we’ll just tally that up to a serious lapse in judgment on my part. In my defense, there were copious amounts of beer involved.
I can’t help but stare at his butt as he goes by. “Remind me not to accept any rides from him in the future.”
We collapse in immature giggles that have Perry turning around and frowning. Watching his face and imagining that I can see he’s walking with a slight limp only makes it worse. By the time I can see clearly again, he’s gone.
“Man, I totally needed that.” I can feel the good mood drugs floating around in my brain. Now the upcoming Summer of Doom doesn’t seem quite so bleak.
“You ready for summer break?” Quin asks, crumpling up the wrapper to her energy bar and throwing it on the ground.
I lean down and pick it up, sighing as I stick it in my bag. This is her thing. This is my thing. This is how we roll, with her being a pain in the ass and me picking up after her. “No. I’m not ready. I want to stay here and hang out with you and all the cool people.”
“No, you don’t. Do you know how hot it gets here in the summer? Ugh.” She brushes crumbs off her lap. “I am going to literally cook in my own skin, like a poached egg.”
“You forget, I’ve lived here for almost four years now, and No Cal isn’t that different.”
“But you always leave in the summer, and No Cal is different, so that doesn’t count. By the time you get back this September for your very last semester – by the way, you completely suck for graduating before me – all the poaching will be done.”
“You should come with me. Silicon Valley’s got a drier heat than LA.” I’m lying, but she’ll never know.
She faces me, not smiling. That’s a rare expression for her, as Quin-grins come frequently and often without provocation. We’re not much alike in that way; my smiles are rationed for only truly happy moments.
“You should invite me, and maybe I would,” she says.
“I always invite you.”
“No, you don’t. You just say, ‘You should come.’ That’s not the same thing.”
“What do you want, an engraved invitation?” A tiny spark of hope glimmers in my chest. Summer would only suck half as much if Quin were with me back at my father’s place.
“Yes. That would work.” She sniffs and looks off into the distance.
“I’ll seriously do it, if that’s what it would take to finally get you up there.”
“No, don’t bother. I can’t go.”
“Why? Because LA’s social scene would never survive without you?”
“No.” She stands, brushing off her legs. “Come on, we’re going to be late.”
“Late for what? My classes were all done as of twenty minutes ago.”
“I have an appointment with a milkshake over at McDonald’s House of Horrors. Come on. Your treat.”
We begin the long walk across campus. “I’ll pay for your ticket,” I say, testing the waters. I don’t know why I bother, though.
“Nope. I pay my own way.”
“Do you have the money?”
“No. You know I’m broke.” Quin is always broke. She lives off the kindness of others and a scholarship. I’m not even sure what the scholarship is for. Do they give scholarships for being a smartass? Because if they do, she qualifies for a full ride.
“Then let me pay,” I say.
“You can pay me back.”
I try a different tack. “It’s because you don’t like me, I know. Admit it.”
“No, that’s not it, and if you try and guilt me into doing it, we won’t be friends anymore.”
“That’s a lie.”
“Yes, it is, but still … I won’t let you pay.”
I give her my puppy dog eyes. “I’m going to be desperately lonely.”
“No, you won’t be. You’ll have a bodyguard babysitter.”
I sigh. “They always suck.”
“That last one didn’t.”
“The last one was like forty years old!”
“So? What do you want to do? Fuck them or just have them take a bullet for you?”
“Can’t I do both?”
We laugh, knowing I’m full of crap. I actually liked the last guy assigned to babysit me, the guy being paid to assuage my father’s paranoia. He actually believes there are people in silicon valley trolling the neighborhoods for executives’ kids, since according to him they’d make really excellent kidnapping targets.
Jim was the name of my last babysitter. Maybe I’ll get him again and we can play chess all summer like we did last year. I’ve never slept with one of my dad’s employees. They’re always married, ugly, old, or a trifecta of all three. Besides, my dad would kill us both if I did something that stupid. We don’t fraternize with the help.
That’s what my uber arrogant step-mother says, anyway, although I’m not so sure she hasn’t put that rule to the side from time to time with the pool boy. Seriously … I’m not kidding. The pool boy.
“What are you thinking about right now?” Quin asks me. “I.O.U. for your thoughts.”
“I’m thinking how much I hate The Heinous One for being such a bag of dicks.”
Quin smiles. “I’m really looking forward to meeting your step-mother at graduation, you know that? I’m totally going to call her that to her face.”
I smile back. “Me too. Some day.” When I find a way to support myself and don’t have to worry about my father cutting me off.