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Bridget Duke is the uncontested ruler of her school. The meanest girl with the biggest secret insecurities. And when new girl Anna Judge arrives, things start to fall apart for Bridget: friends don't worship as attentively, teachers don't fall for her wide-eyed "who me?" look, expulsion looms ahead and the one boy she's always loved—Liam Ward—can barely even look at her anymore.
When a desperate Bridget drives too fast and crashes her car, she ends up in limbo, facing everyone she's wronged and walking a few uncomfortable miles in their shoes. Now she has only one chance to make a last impression. Though she might end up dead, she has one last shot at redemption and the chance to right the wrongs she's inflicted on the people who mean the most to her.
And Bridget's about to learn that, sometimes, saying you're sorry just isn't enough....
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Paige Harbison is twenty years old, and a sophomore in college majoring in Studio Art. She lives with her golden retriever Rigby, and is the daughter of New York Times Bestselling Author Beth Harbison.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Nothing interesting ever happens or begins on a Thursday.
Friday and Saturday are the weekend. Sunday is the end of the weekend, the last day of rest. Monday is the beginning of another week. Tuesday's a cool name. Wednesday is "hump day," an expression I loathe.
But Thursday is nothing. Everything that's going to happen during the week is over, and the weekend is coming but it's not there yet. Even that old rhyme about the day you were born just says Thursday's child has far to go.
What does that even mean?
When I woke up that day, I had no idea the day that lay before me was the beginning of the end. There was no strange weather event, the neighborhood dogs weren't howling, no meteors struck Earth.
Maybe if I could have read the shreds of cereal at the bottom of my bowl like tea leaves, I would have gone back to bed. Or just transferred to the local public school right then. Instead, I ate the stupid cereal, drank the crappy coffee my stepmother made (fair trade=bitter and thin in my book) and idly checked to make sure my phone was charged.
Same as every day.
Then, just like every day, I left the bowl by the sink and glanced at the clock on the stove. It read 7:05 a.m. I still had ten minutes before I had to leave for school. Just enough time to double-check my makeup and outfit. I'd started toward the stairs to my room when I heard my stepmother's high heels clopping into the kitchen.
I sighed audibly.
"What?" I had like a million things I'd rather do with my ten minutes than stand here waiting for her to stumble her way through yet another awkward conversation.
"Well..." She came into view at the bottom of the stairs. "I was just thinking that maybe...if you're not doing anything tonight, then maybe we could go see that new movie. The one you couldn't see with your friends because of your father's banquet the other night? Carriage?"
She shrugged her thin shoulders under the silk Michael Kors top I would have killed for. Sometimes I looked at her and thought she might be prettier than I was.
I hated that.
"I just figured with your father being out of town until next weekend, maybe we could have sort of a girls' night out." She gave me a tentative smile and waited for a response, and then after not getting one in reasonable time, kept talking. "I looked it up and it sounds pretty good, actually..."
"I have no idea what you're talking about, but I'm busy tonight."
I started up the stairs. I knew exactly which movie she was talking about, and I had been dying to see it. But going to the movies with your stepmother—how pathetic is that? She might as well have asked me to go to a midnight opening of Blue's Clues 3-D in full furry costume regalia.
"Oh, but you were so disappointed when you couldn't go the other night."
I stopped when she said that and bent toward her, talking to her as if she were the child and I was the evil stepmother. "That's because I didn't want to go to Dad's stupid dinner thing, that's all."
"Oh." She looked down at a piece of paper in her hand, which looked like it had the movie summary on it. I felt a small stab of guilt when I saw it.
She folded it in half and followed me as I walked up the stairs. I could feel her eyes on my back. "Well, maybe there's another movie you'd like to see, or we could do something else—"
I stopped and turned again, feeling disproportionately averse to the idea. "Okay, Meredith? I don't know how to make this obvious to you if you really don't get it yet. I don't want to do anything with you tonight. Mmkay?"
Her eyes widened and she looked like she was about to have another one of her crying fits. For God's sake, what was wrong with her? She cried all the time lately. She was, like, forty. Was that too young to go into menopause?
Whatever. I wasn't going to take responsibility for upsetting her. I'd walked away from arguments like this feeling guilty before. Walked away feeling like I must have really pushed the limit to make her cry. But then, later in the week, I'd see her sobbing over Sesame Street and realize it was not about me.
Though I did wonder why on earth she was alone in the living room watching Sesame Street.
I drove to my boring, stuffy, private high school, Winchester Preparatory, in my 2007 Toyota Corolla (my father gave me his old car instead of buying me a new one in one of his few-and-far-between fits of parenting) and parked in my usual spot. I was late, also as usual, though this time it was because of the conversation with Meredith. So it wasn't actually my fault. It never is.
Still, I guess I wasn't exactly running down the hall. And I did stop at the vending machines to get a Vitaminwater. After a moment or two of deliberation between flavors, I headed to class. To Tech Ed, where my teacher was as useless as the subject.
His name was Mr. Ezhno, and he was just simply not cut out for teaching. He was weak and spineless, and on top of that, entirely boring. He blathered on, teaching us things everyone in our day and age already knows. How to turn on a computer. How to open a blank document.
When we weren't doing that, we were doing things like building light switches. Which was stupid, in my opinion. Why should we have to figure it out when it's already been figured out? I seriously doubted that I'd ever be in a situation where someone was saying, "Quick, it's an emergency, put down those matches and build a light switch!"
It would have been almost impossible to pay attention to him even if anyone had tried.
Which, naturally, we didn't.
On days when we were behind the computers, we were either working on essays with useless topics or ignoring him to play games or browse the internet, while the more studious students did work for other (real) classes. Either way, none of us were doing what we were supposed to.
About halfway through the semester, he noticed that no one was paying attention to him, so he started making us turn off the computer screens when we weren't supposed to be doing something with them. All this did, however, was bore us into terrorizing him. We would raise our hands and ask deliberately stupid questions, and he would have to answer them, just in case one of them was for real.
Except, there was one day when Matt Churchill had asked, with a completely straight face, if there was really such thing as a "chick magnet." Mr. Ezhno had refused to answer, calling it a "ridiculous question."
But I'd seen the doubt flicker through his eyes as he wondered if Matt was serious.
As if the curriculum wasn't irritating enough, the class was first thing in the morning, making it positively impossible for me to ever get there on time. And once I did get there, I admittedly gave him kind of a hard time.
Every once in a while, a twinge of pity for the man stopped me in my tracks. Him, with his button-down shirts and pleated khakis, his office supplies, weekly boxes of new chalk and the stickers he put on papers with good grades (which, incidentally, I knew existed only from spotting them on other people's papers). He was the classic nerdy teacher. Seriously, if the makers of that movie Office Space had seen this guy, they would have given Milton and his stapler the boot and asked Mr. Ezhno to step in.
Often, however, I didn't stop. It usually started with me saying something double-sided that Mr. Ezhno couldn't respond to appropriately. He'd then send me to the main office, I'd get in-school suspension, my behavior wouldn't improve and then he'd have several parent-teacher meetings with Meredith.
I hated that.
She was not my parent, and my father never got involved in this stuff. Thank God.
Still, they would meet, get along and, as I imagined it, plot ways to make my life more frustrating. Luckily, the meetings had stopped somewhere along the way. At this point it was like he'd given up. Which worked for me. Honestly, I'd been about to ease up on him—I could tell I was pushing him too far, and the last thing I needed was to get in trouble. But that didn't seem to be an issue anymore.
So it was 7:40 on that Thursday morning when I waltzed into the classroom and crossed right in front of Mr. Ezhno, my shoulder grazing his grade book. I headed toward my seat next to Jillian Orman. I heard the boys in the back row talking about me, saying something sexist but still flattering.
But this time, as opposed to every other time, Mr. Ezhno stopped talking to the class.
His eyes fastened on me.
"Go on." I raised my eyebrows at him, like I was giving him permission, and then twisted open my Vitaminwater.
"Miss Duke, can you please go wait out in the hall for me?" He sounded tired.
"Already?" Snickers from the class, who appreciated my anticipation of getting in trouble—just not yet. "But Mr. Ezhno, I bought the flavor that's supposed to help me focus. I bought it just for your class, Mr. Ezhno." I raised my drink, tapping lightly on the label where it said Focus.
Most of the people in the class sniggered quietly, waiting for him to come up with something to say.
Instead he just pointed toward the door.
When I looked at him like I didn't know what he was talking about, he repeated, "Please go wait for me in the hall."
I sighed theatrically and walked out, making a face at his back as soon as I was past him. A ripple of muffled laughs ran through the class.
As I waited for him in the hall, I watched people passing by. Some were on the way to the bathroom, some were late for class and a few probably had first period as an office assistant. I didn't know all of their names, but they always seemed to know me. One girl quickened her pace as she drew closer to me, keeping her eyes directed at her feet. She glanced up, and the second our eyes locked, she looked away.
A moment later another girl walked by wearing a T-shirt from last year's student government election, the faded letters reading Duke for SGA President! The election from which I, sensing more support for my fellow candidates, had withdrawn my name, claiming that it was because I had too many other things to worry about.
The girl (Suzanne?) waved, indicated her T-shirt, pointed at me and smiled. I smiled superficially back and watched her go. My own face smiled at me from the back of the shirt.
Kinda weird to wear that sort of thing post-election.
Others who walked by either waved enthusiastically or did the same as the first girl and tried hard not to look at me. That was how it usually was in my life: People were either overly friendly (possibly obsessive) or painfully shy.
Here's why. My father was once a promising young superstar in the NFL until one fateful game where he blew out his knee. Being a good-looking favorite, he then rose to fame as a sportscaster. Every man knew him, every boy wanted to be him, every woman and girl stopped crossing the living room when he was on TV just to watch him finish his segment. Including me. Sometimes I saw him more often on my TV than sitting in front of it.
Anyway, his fame made me cool by association. I didn't need to be head cheerleader (which is good because I never could be), or SGA president (which is what I told myself when I dropped out of the race).
I was a local princess.
I had just looked down the hall to notice one of the few people who had never been fazed by my reputation talking animatedly to a girl I didn't recognize at all when Mr. Ezhno strode out of the classroom.
"Miss Duke." He closed the door behind him. "I know we've had this conversation many times before, but you still don't come in on time and honestly I don't know what more I can do."
I stopped listening. He was right; we had had this conversation so many times. He would prattle on about how it was not only disrespectful to him but also to my classmates, and so on, and then try to relate to me by telling me a story from his youth.
I shifted my focus back to the pair I'd been watching before Mr. Ezhno had come out. They were still there in front of the office, Liam talking enthusiastically to the girl I didn't recognize. She said something that was apparently just hilarious, and he laughed appreciatively.
My chest tightened, the way it always did when I saw Liam. It had been such a long time since he'd ended things, and yet it still broke my heart a little to see him talking to another girl. I strained to hear them, knowing that a hundred yards was definitely out of my earshot. And then I caught the tail end of something Mr. Ezhno was saying.
I must have misheard. "Excuse me?"
He closed his eyes for a few seconds before responding.
"I said that your repeated insubordination and frequent tardiness haven't stopped, despite all of our discussions on the matter. I'm going to have to send you to the office, and frankly, after being late so many times—" he raised his hands for a second, in a movement I knew to mean What else can I do? "—the usual punishment is expulsion."
My dad would kill me. Kill me. This was the kind of thing that had led to him giving me an old car instead of a new one and suspending my credit cards. Every now and then he'd say something embarrassing on the air about how he thought the Giants were a shoo-in, back to you Rob, and he had to get home to his insubordinate daughter.
"Well, frankly, Mr. Ezhno..." I said his name like it was absurd, like he'd asked us to call him "Mr. Snugglekins" or something "...I think that the time we waste having our 'discussions on the matter—"' I put his words in sarcastic finger quotes "—is a lot more distracting to the class than when I'm late by, like, thirty seconds. I mean, what, do you think that they're studying in there?" I pointed a finger toward the classroom.
When he kept looking at me, I pursed my lips and nodded, like I was trying to convince him to buy something that looked great on him.
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Book Description Harlequin Teen. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0373210280 New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW33.2081217
Book Description Harlequin Teen, 2011. Paperback. Condition: New. Original. Seller Inventory # DADAX0373210280
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