Flat-Out Love, стр. 1

 

Flat-Out Love

 

By Jessica Park

 

 

Copyright © 2011 by Jessica Park

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

License Notes:

This efiction is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This efiction may not be re-sold. If you would like to share, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this efiction and it was not purchased for your exclusive use, then you should purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of all authors, and helping the e-reading community to grow!

Cover art by Robyn Hyzy: www.robynhyzy.com

Visit Jessica at her sites: http://flatoutlove.blogspot.com http://yaauthorjessicapark.blogspot.com  and  http://whatthekidsays.blogspot.com

For Lori, who makes her own hinges.

 

Acknowledgments:

Tremendous thanks to my entire family for putting up with my obsessive demeanor (and occasional lack of showering) while writing this book. A special thanks to my dad, who put on his psychotherapist hat while reading my manuscript and took copious and helpful notes. I love you, Daddy.

A gazillion hugs to Jessica Whitney, who always calls me “sweet girl” when I need it the most. Everyone should have such a delightful co-conspirator.

Lori Gondelman has obtained goddess status. She proof-read chapters, offered endless encouragement, yelled at me to write faster, told me what should stay and what should go, and mailed me bags of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee so I that could throw myself into a caffeine high and write until midnight. I suspect that she would have held my hand as I wrote would it not have interfered with typing. No one could have done more, and I am impossibly grateful for her unfailing belief in this book and in me.

Christy Poser shared her skydiving experiences with me via telephone and even sent DVD copies of her jumps. Although she is obviously a freakish daredevil, Julie owes her one. As do I.

Authors Karen MacInerney and Heather Webber are simply brilliant. Both pointed me in the right direction and managed not to be obnoxious about how right they were. They are total smarties, talented writers, and fabulous friends.

Thank you to Meg Travis, Shelly Toler Franz, Caitlyn Henderson, Carrie Spellman, and Pixie Poe for reading various versions of the outline and manuscript and showering me with support. I’ve known Meg since junior high, and she is as unforgettable now as she was then. Shelly and Caitlyn are both an author’s dream and proof that Facebook friends are, in fact, real friends. Carrie is a trusted reader and reviewer, and her glowing words were the boost I needed to finish the book. Not only is Pixie a book fiend, but she has a cool name and owns a pink Christmas tree. What more can a girl ask for in a friend?

The obscenely brilliant Adam Conner-Sax deciphered MIT speak and put up with my babbling as I figured out my characters. As he has his entire life, he showed himself to be warm, adorable, and frighteningly well-rounded.

A captain’s nod to Jonathan Slavin, who enjoys every “Jaws” movie as much as I do.

The incomparable and devastatingly funny David Pacheco was generous enough to provide the large majority of the status updates for the book. (Dave, pay attention; this is where you are getting credit for your genius.) He patiently tolerated my many questions and answered them all with more attention and humor than they deserved. As a thank you, I will be sending him a zombie, a time travel machine, a ledger for the Procrastinator’s Club, and a spray-cheese sandwich. Follow him on Twitter @whatdoIknow if you think you can keep up. But don’t worry, most of us can’t.

Carmen Comeaux and Jim Thompson were both kind enough to do fantastic editing work on a very rough manuscript. Carmen bravely forged ahead, even when my grammatical errors caused her to write “Horrors!” in the margins. And Jim will hereby be known as “The Hyphen King.” You two are impeccable, tough, and outrageously skilled.

Brian Yagel did everything from give me real life technical support to spout off geeky terminology that I still don’t totally understand. But it made sense to him. And he managed to remain charming even when saying things like, “third party app” and “console logs.” Enjoy your two minutes for those FB updates, kiddo.

Flat-Out Love

 

It’s not what you know—or when you see—that matters. It’s about the journey.

PART ONE

Chapter 1

Julie Seagle stared straight ahead and promised herself one thing: She would never again rent an apartment via Craigslist. The strap of her overstuffed suitcase dug into her shoulder, and she let it drop onto the two suitcases that sat on the sidewalk. It wasn’t like she had anywhere to carry them now. Julie squinted in disbelief at the flashing neon sign that touted the best burritos in Boston.  Rereading the printout of the email again did nothing to change things. Yup, this was the correct address. While she did love a good burrito, and the small restaurant had a certain charm about it, it seemed pretty clear that the one-story building did not include a three-bedroom apartment that could house college students. She sighed and pulled her cell phone from her purse.

“Hi, Mom.”

“Honey! I gather you made it to Boston? Ohio is missing you already. I can’t believe you’re already off at college. How is the apartment? Have you met your roommates yet?”

Julie cleared her throat and looked at the flat roof of the restaurant. “The apartment is… airy. It has a very open floor plan.”

“How is your room? Is it tiny?” Her mother sounded concerned. “Well, even if it is, it’s probably better than some concrete dorm room, right?”

“My room? Oh, it’s, uh, rather sparse, I’d say.” Julie sat down on one of her bags. A city bus squealed to a halt just behind her, and she flinched at the high-pitched noise.

“What was that? Is your room right on the street? Oh God, are you on the first floor? That’s dangerous, Julie.  It’s much easier for some criminal to break in. Are there locks on the windows? Let me ask your uncle about that. Maybe there is something you could do to make it more secure.”

“I’m not seeing any windows at the moment, Mom.” Julie felt her eyes begin to tear up. This was a nightmare. She had been in Boston, or more specifically Jamaica Plain, for a mere hour, and already her hopes for a glamorous college life were beginning to smell a lot more like South American specialties than she’d envisioned.  “I don’t seem to actually have a room.”

Her mother paused. “What do you mean you don’t have a room? I sent first, last, and a security deposit just like the landlord asked. A cashier’s check, for God’s sake! He gave away your room?” The rising panic in her mother’s voice was not helping.

“I’m at the correct address. The taxi driver assured me I was in the right place. But my supposed apartment building is a burrito restaurant.”

“Burritos! Holy mother of God!”

“I know. Burritos are always alarming.” Julie looked around, totally unsure what she should do next. “Mom, what am I going to do?” Although she didn’t want to freak out her mother more than she had to, Julie couldn’t control the waver in her voice. She was alone in an unfamiliar city, knew no one here, and was sitting on a mountain of luggage.

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