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As the oldest kid in the Camden clan and a college freshman, handsome eighteen-year-old Matt often bears the burden of playing referee between his siblings and his parents. Sometimes it's tough to balance family loyalty against a fierce desire for independence, but Matt has earned his reputation as the "responsible one." Well, most of the time, anyway...
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"I can't believe you dragged me out to that stupid movie!" Matt Camden's date cried. "And tonight, of all nights!"
Shana's voice was so filled with anger that it froze Matt in his tracks.
"I don't think so," Matt protested. "It was your idea to go out."
"Why would I want to go to a movie?" Shana replied. "I'm the one with the psychology test--"
"Which you said you'd studied for," Matt interrupted.
"I should never have listened to you," Shana said. "I should have stayed home and studied, like I'd planned to do all along."
"Whatever happened to, 'Oh, Matt, I feel so trapped in this teeny, tiny apartment. Can't we go out for just a little while?"
Shana's eyes narrowed. "You've got a lot of nerve, Camden," she said.
"What have I said that wasn't true?" Matt demanded.
"All right! I do admit that I said I felt cooped up," Shana relented. "But that's only because we're always using my apartment as a study hall."
"You have a great apartment," Matt said.
"Yeah." Shana nodded. "Great for you! When you come over, you're a visitor."
"Well," Matt said, "we could go to my house. And while we're there, we could listen to my twin baby brothers crying constantly as we try to discuss Freud over all the noise!"
Shana sighed. "You always have a defense, don't you?"
"Defense?" Matt said. "But I didn't do anything wrong."
"Then it's my fault?" Shana retorted.
"Nothing's anybody's fault," Matt insisted. "Why do you want to fight?"
"Because I'm tired of it all, Matt," Shana replied.
"All what?" he said. "Are you tired of me?"
"I'm certainly tired of your selfish behavior," Shana shot back.
"Selfish?" Matt cried. "I can't believe I'm hearing this. I was just trying to make you happy.
"Are you saying you were handling me?" Shana demanded.
Matt paused before answering. "Yeah," he said finally. "Only I should have handled you better."
Shana's face was livid with rage. She took two steps away from Matt.
"I'm an adult!" she shouted. "I don't need you to make me study. You're not my big brother."
"Sometimes you do need handling," Matt said simply.
"Why, you--you--you...!" Shana stammered, searching for just the right insult.
"Adult?" Matt offered, raising one eyebrow.
"No," Shana said. "Definitely not an adult."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"An adult doesn't live with his parents," Shana said. "An adult doesn't live with all his little brothers and sisters. An adult has his own apartment, like I do."
"And an adult finds her own apartment," Matt countered. "She doesn't have her boyfriend's father find it for her."
"Your father helped me find my place when things were bad with my family," Shana argued. "But I pay the rent. All of it!"
"Look, Shana, it's still early," Matt said reasonably. "Why don't we go back to your place and do some studying? I'm sure hitting the books will convince you that you're ready for your test."
"Oh, I'm ready, all right," Shana said, crossing her arms. "Ready to get on with my life! Without you!"
"Come on, Shana," Matt urged, moving toward her. "Take it easy."
He tried to gather her into his arms, but she pushed him away.
"I'm ready to date an adult," she said. "Someone with an actual plan for the future!"
"Shana--" Matt's tone was pleading, but Shana was already heading across Crawford College's green at a rapid pace.
"Call me when you've grown up," she called over her shoulder.
"Shana, come back," Matt pleaded. "At least let me drive you home."
"I can walk," Shana said without turning.
"I'll call you tomorrow," Matt said.
But Shana walked on as if she hadn't heard him.
Almost immediately, Matt's anger turned into regret. He wanted to run after her, but his pride got in the way.
"Have it your way!" Matt yelled. "There are plenty of other women who would love to date a warm, considerate guy like me."
With a toss of his long brown hair, Matt turned--and froze.
Two female graduate students had come out of Wylie Hall just in time to witness the argument with Shana.
The young woman giggled.
"Anybody want a date with a warm, considerate guy?" Matt quipped to cover his embarrassment.
"Sorry, kid," one of the students replied with a sly smile. "I like men, not boys...and I hear you don't even have your own apartment."
Matt winced. He didn't hear the flirting tone of the young woman's voice--only her insulting words.
"Better run home to your mommy," the other student chimed in. "I'm sure she turned down the sheets for you."
The two young women exploded in gales of laughter and walked away. But their laughter burned Matt's ears long after they were gone.
Ruthie was still awake when Matt got home. She greeted him at the door.
"Hey, Ruthie," Matt said, stepping past his little sister and giving her head a rub.
Ruthie trailed him as he crossed the kitchen. She cocked her head when he lifted the phone.
"Who are you calling?" she asked. "It's late."
Matt heard Lucy's voice on the receiver. She was talking to Jordan on the other extension. Matt quickly hung up.
"I guess I'm not calling anybody," he replied. "The line is busy. As usual."
He looked down at Ruthie. "Did anybody call tonight?"
"Jordan called Lucy," Ruthie said.
"I mean, did anybody call me?"
"Try to remember, Ruthie," Matt pleaded. "It's really important."
"I don't know if anybody called you," Ruthie said after careful consideration. "But I'll definitely keep an ear open."
"Thanks." Matt patted her shoulder.
As he tried to raid the refrigerator, Ruthie thrust a book under his nose.
"Read me a story," she demanded.
Matt carried a carton of milk to the table and poured out two glasses. He handed one to Ruthie and took a sip from the other. Then he sat down, and Ruthie hopped onto his lap.
The book was a thick volume filled with all the storybook classics.
"Which one do you want to hear?" he asked.
Ruthie pointed to her favorite. Matt sighed. He'd read this story so many times he knew it by heart.
"Once upon a time..." Matt began.
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Random House Books for Young Readers. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0375803335 Random House youth paperback; 7th Heaven; s. Seller Inventory # SKU1072004
Book Description Random House Books for Young Readers. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0375803335 New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW7.0118067
Book Description Random House Books for Young Readers, 1999. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0375803335
Book Description Random House Books for Young Readers, 1999. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0375803335
Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # STR-0375803335