It had been the worst summer of her life.
But her best friend didn't need to know that.
Of course, it was never easy keeping things from Anthony. He was always able to detect when something was wrong or when she was keeping a secret from him.
Seventeen-year-old Paige Crane took a deep breath and rang the doorbell of Anthony's penthouse apartment. A few seconds later she could hear the sound of approaching footsteps. She pasted a smile on her face as the door began to open.
"So what do you think?" she exclaimed, throwing her arms up in the air and twirling in front of Anthony. "Do I look like I just spent the summer in Los Angeles?"
Anthony blinked in disbelief, rubbing his eyes. "Who are you and what have you done with the real Paige Crane? The Paige I know hates the sun." Anthony gave Paige a huge hug and then inspected her from head to toe. "I almost didn't recognize you! Where did you get that great tan?!"
"It's a fake bake!" Paige exclaimed, walking into Anthony's apartment. The icy air-conditioning that greeted her felt great after the steamy humidity of Manhattan's city streets. "I went to this Brazilian spa on Madison and 81st. You strip down to your underwear and step into a chamber that's about the size of a locker. Then they spritz your body with this liquid that makes your skin golden brown."
"The other girls are going to be so jealous." Anthony gazed at himself in a hallway mirror. "What do you think of my tan? It's not fading, is it?"
"Please! If I know you, you spent the entire summer lying on the beach." Paige followed Anthony into the kitchen and hopped up on a stool next to the breakfast bar as he began pulling carrots, celery and other veggies from the stainless steel fridge, placing them in front of her.
"So where's Ian?" she asked, reaching for a cutting board and knife. She began slicing a zucchini into thin strips. "I thought he'd be helping set up."
"Ian. Tall, dark and handsome Ian. Remember him? Your boyfriend?"
"You mean ex-boyfriend."
Anthony held up a hand, silencing Paige. "You don't want to hear the details. Trust me. Let's just say he's ancient history and leave it at that. Now, tell me all about your summer in La-La Land."
Paige put down the knife she'd been using. "Oh no you don't, Mr. DeMarco. I want details and I want them now. We'll get to my summer later."
Anthony opened a package of onion soup mix and added it into a bowl of sour cream. "I'm single again."
"Obviously. What happened?"
Anthony sighed. "You're really going to torture me by making me relive the entire nightmare, aren't you?"
If there was one thing Paige knew Anthony loved, it was talking about himself. Especially when something dramatic had happened to him. Telling her about his break-up with Ian was not going to be torture.
"Yes, I am. Now spill!"
"Okay, I'll tell you but we're not talking about it at the party," Anthony said. "Deal?"
"He broke up with me in Provincetown after a week. He gave me the It's not you, it's me' speech."
"You didn't believe him?" Paige asked while slicing a green pepper and arranging it on a platter.
Anthony shook his head. "I didn't believe him. Ian got a look at all the guys in P-Town and suddenly decided he could do better than me. You should have seen it, Paige. Everywhere you looked there were hunks. On the beach. In the water. Riding the bike paths. We're talking GQ material. Ian's head was spinning around in so many different directions, he didn't know where to look first. He was like that possessed girl from The Exorcist."
Anthony began stirring the sour cream furiously. "One day we were at the beach and there were some guys tossing around a Frisbee and they asked Ian if he wanted in on the game. Do you think he asked me if I minded if he went off to play with them? No! He ran off, leaving me alone on our blanket."
"What did you do?" Paige asked, knowing there was more to the story. And if she knew Anthony, there was going to be plenty of drama.
"I left and went back to the beach house. Ian followed after me because he knew I was mad. Of course, I had also taken their Frisbee after it had landed on our blanket and they couldn't continue the game without it."
"When we got back to the house, that's when Ian gave me his speech and asked if we could be friends."
"What did you tell him?" Paige asked, even though she was sure she knew the answer.
"I told him no!"
Paige had been right.
"Who wants to be friends with their ex? Especially one who's a cheater."
"You think he cheated on you?" Paige gasped.
"If he hadn't, he was going to. It was only a matter of time."
"Where did he end up spending the rest of the summer, then? Wasn't he staying at the beach house with you?"
"That's right, he was. After dropping his little bombshell, he took back the Frisbee and went off to join his new friends. You'll be proud to know that I didn't lose my temper. After Ian left I put a note on his bedroom door telling him I wanted him out of the house by the end of the day."
"That's it?" Paige asked skeptically. "That's all you did?"
Anthony stuck a finger in the bowl of onion dip he had finished making and took a taste. "Delish!" He held out the bowl to Paige. "Want a taste?"
Paige dipped in a carrot. "You didn't answer my question."
Anthony gave Paige a wicked grin. "Did I forget to mention that I accidentally left a bottle of cologne open in one of his drawers?"Is He Or Isn't He?. Copyright © by John Hall. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Excerpted from Is He or Isn't He? by John Hall
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