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Starstruck

Written by Cyn BalogAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Cyn Balog


· Ember
· Trade Paperback · Ages 12 and up
· October 9, 2012 · $8.99 · 978-0-385-73851-4 (0-385-73851-X)

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Starstruck
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EXCERPT

1

For the first time in four years, I've lost my appetite.

I mean, how can I think of eating when I can't even breathe?

"Look at her," my little sister, Evie, sings. "She's lost in love."

Evie has obviously been listening to my mother's eighties tapes too much. Love is the last thing on my mind. The first thing is sheer terror. Second is hopelessness. Third is a desire to run away, far away, into the night, screaming like a banshee.

I stare at the screen of my computer. My hands shake on the keyboard. I can just make out a bit of my reflection: my cheeks look like two fat red balloons, glistening in the sunlight slashing through my bedroom window. Evie and my mom hover above me, peering over my shoulders at another daily email from Wish. Normally I'd never let them within a five-mile radius of one of our top secret lovefests, but the five-alarm wail that escaped from my mouth must have made them think I'd just read that the island of Cellar Bay was sinking into the ocean.

At this point, that would be happy news.

MOM got a condo in Cellarton! Guess she couldn't STAND to be on the same island as MY DAD, ha ha! It's right by the bridge to Cellar Bay, though.

"Why didn't you tell us Wish is coming back here?" my mom asks, kneading my shoulder like I'm one of her famous breads.

If I had known, she would have, too. It would have been obvious. I would have sworn off white cream donuts and Tae-Boed myself into a stupor. Squirreled away some of my earnings from the bakery to buy a hot new wardrobe, and invested the rest in that miracle acne cure celebrities are always peddling on infomercials. Now there's no time. I'd need a year to get back to my twelve-year-old self. And a fairy godmother. Instead, my long-distance boyfriend, Philip P. Wishman III, will be on a collision course with planet Gwendolyn, all 234 pounds of her, in, oh, t minus seventy-six hours.

My mom studies the email. "Does it say why he's coming back?"

I shrug, numb. Because he wants to prove to me that just when you think your life is at its absolute suckiest, it can always get worse?

"We'll have him over for dinner," she says, completely oblivious to my meltdown.

"Ma, you want to welcome him, not kill him," Evie points out.

Though my mom knows everything about baking, that's where her knowledge of food ends. My mom's fanciest dinners are really prepared by Mrs. Paul or the Gorton's fisherman. But her culinary skills, or lack thereof, are the least of my concerns. I read the last line again:

I can't wait to see you IN PERSON finally and KISS my BEAUTIFUL GIRLFRIEND. It's been like a DREAM for me for SO LONG!!!

Wish has a knack for unnecessarily capitalizing everything and overusing exclamation points, like a ten-year-old girl, which is something I never realized until we started emailing back and forth each day. At first, I didn't mind it, but now it annoys me. Of course, maybe I wouldn't be annoyed if I wasn't so sure his enthusiasm was going to totally deflate within seconds of seeing me. He doesn't know I'm not worthy of three exclamation points. I'm probably not even worthy of a measly comma. The only recent pictures I've sent him were from the neck up, or so fuzzed out that I looked like the Blob in drag. But none of this is my fault. It's his fault for deciding to let his mother take him across the country to L.A. to live with his wacko grandmother when his parents split up. It's his fault for leaving me so heartbroken and alone that the first thing I did after watching his mother's BMW pull away was sit in the back room of the bakery and eat an entire tray of cannoli. His fault for sending me a daily email for the past four years, making me salivate so much for a kiss from him that all I could do to tell my mouth to behave was fill it with jelly donuts. His fault.

"He can't come back here," I say, digging my fingernails into the skin of my fleshy thighs, which somehow seem even bigger than they did when I woke up this morning. "Our relationship is perfect the way it is."

Evie snorts. "You're so weird, Dough."

I bury my face in my hands. That's another thing. I have no social life. No friends. Nothing normal, non-weird people have. Nothing, except him.

And twenty bucks says soon I won't even have that.



2

First let me explain something about the kissing, or lack thereof. Wish and I have been best friends ever since first grade, when we fought over Curious George at Cellar Bay Elementary School, this little brick building on Main where we were two of a handful of students. But a love for that cheeky monkey wasn't the only thing we had in common, we realized. Soon we were the complete-each-other's-sentences kind of friends. We were always together, like peanut butter and jelly.

We stayed best friends until right before junior high, when he moved away. That was when his parents split up and his mom took him to live with her mother, Grandma Bertha, this real nutcase of a woman who always used to talk about auras and astrology and that kind of crap. The one time she visited Jersey, she told me that my aura was black and dead and that I was invading her peace, which was just fine with me, because she was obviously insane. I felt bad that a normal guy like Wish had to live with such a creepy old lady.

So anyway, our relationship didn't develop into a boyfriend-girlfriend thing until he'd been in California for a while. After we'd emailed back and forth for two months, he asked me out. In real life, Wish is a total wuss when it comes to his feelings, like most guys, but he turned out to be a lot more confident in email. I could tell he was lonely at his new swanky private school in L.A., because he kept saying how much he missed me and how he would never find another girl like me.
 


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpted from Starstruck by Cyn Balog Copyright © 2011 by Cyn Balog. Excerpted by permission of Ember, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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