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Eighteen-year-old Indigo Skye feels like she has it all — a waitress job she loves, an adorable refrigerator-delivery-guy boyfriend, and a home life that’s slightly crazed but rich in love. Until a mysterious man at the restaurant leaves her a 2.5-million-dollar tip, and her life as she knows it is transformed. At first it’s amazing: a hot new car, an enormous flat-screen TV, and presents for everyone she cares about. Indigo laughs off the warnings that money changes people, because she knows it won’t happen to her. Until the day she looks around and realizes everything important is slipping away, and no amount of money can buy it all back. . . .
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Deb Caletti’s first novel for teens was The Queen of Everything, was nominated for YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults, and was chosen for PSLA's Top Forty of 2003 and the International Reading Association's Young Adult Choices for 2004. Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, a National Book Award finalist, was Deb's second book for teens. Deb lives with her family part-time on acreage in Issaquah, a Seattle suburb, and part-time in the city on a houseboat. She steals her best lines from her mother, her kids, and the dog, who doesn't seem to mind. You can visit her at www.debcaletti.com.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
You can tell a lot about people from what they order for breakfast. Take Nick Harrison, for example. People talk about him killing his wife after she fell down a flight of stairs two years ago, but I know it's not true. Someone who killed his wife would order fried eggs, bacon, sausage -- something strong and meaty. I've never served anyone who's killed his wife for sure, so I don't know this for a fact, but I can tell you they wouldn't order oatmeal with raisins like Nick Harrison does. No way. I once heard someone say you can destroy a man with a suspicious glance, and I'm sure they're right. Nick Harrison was cleared of any charges, and still he's destroyed. Oatmeal with raisins every day means you've lost hope.
And Leroy Richie. Just because he has so many tattoos, you can't think you know everything about him. Up his T-shirt sleeve snakes a dragon tail, and around his neck is a woman with her tongue that reaches out toward one of his ears. But he orders Grape-Nuts and wheat toast. He's not just about tattoos when he cares so much about fiber in his diet.
We've got two regulars at Carrera's who do the full breakfast -- eggs, side meat, three dollar-size pancakes. That's Joe Awful Coffee and Funny Coyote, and it's just a coincidence that they both have strange names. Joe's name, I guess, was given to him years ago -- he can't remember why, because he says his coffee was just fine. A big breakfast makes sense for him -- he was a boxer about a thousand years ago, and he still feeds himself as if he's preparing to get in the ring wearing one of those silky superhero capes (why they make tough guys wear silky Halloween costumes is another question altogether). And Funny Coyote. Can you imagine going through life with a name that sounds like you're being chased by Bugs Bunny? She's American Indian, about twenty-eight, twenty-nine, with short black spiky hair you get the urge to pat, same as a kid with a crew cut or those hedges in the shapes of animals. She eats everything on her plate, sweeps it clean of egg yolk with a swipe of pancake. Then again, she goes a thousand miles an hour when she's manic, so she probably needs the calories. She calls what she has a "chemical imbalance" because it sounds more accidental and scientific than a "mental illness." A "chemical imbalance" is no one's fault. She comes in to write poetry, pages and pages of it, not that it's ever quiet in Carrera's.
Trina, she gets pie and coffee, which fits her, because she's as rich as custard and chocolate cream and warm apples with a scoop of vanilla. She's about Funny's age, but she's all long, blond hair, lace-up boots, fur down to her knees. She leaves lipstick marks on the rim of her cup, the kind of marks that make a life seem full of secrets. She has this white and red classic Thunderbird. Nick Harrison says it's a '55, but she says it's a '53. You don't care what year it is when you see it parked by the curb. Jane, who is my boss and the owner of Carrera's, says it attracts customers, so she likes it when Trina comes in.
I know about breakfast, mostly, because breakfast was always my regular shift. Usually, I worked several mornings before school, and then the early weekend hours, meaning that my own breakfast was reckless -- anything I happened to grab on the way out. A handful of Cocoa Puffs, a granola bar, my brother's beef jerky. I'd have been at the café all day, but right then, where this story starts (where I'm choosing to start -- most everything before was nothing in comparison), I was at the end of my senior year. I still had to clock in what was left of my school hours, and Carrera's isn't open for dinner. After I graduated, though, I wanted to work full-time there while I decided "what to do with my life." See, I loved being a waitress more than anything, but apparently, it's okay to work as a waitress but not to be a waitress. To most people, saying you want to be a waitress is like saying your dream is to be a Walgreens clerk, ringing up spearmint gum and Halloween candy and condoms, which just proves that most people miss the point about most things most of the time. Waitressing is a talent -- it's about giving nourishment, creating relationships, not just about bringing the ketchup.
Anyway, before the Vespa guy, I could tell you very little about who wanted tuna salad and who wanted turkey on white and who wanted minestrone, but I could tell you about what people craved when they first woke up, what they lingered over before they got serious about making the day into something.
So, what did coffee say? Just coffee? Coffee served to you, a bill slipped under your saucer when you were finished? When anyone could whip into any Starbucks on any corner and get coffee in under five minutes, what did it mean when you decided to wait for a waitress to come to your table, to refill your cup, to ask if everything was all right?
That's what I wondered the day I first saw him. Because, here comes this guy, right? He pulls up to the curb one day on his orange Vespa. He's no one we've ever seen before, and not the type we usually get in Carrera's. He's wearing a soft, navy blue jacket, and underneath, a creamy white shirt open easily at the collar, nicely displaying his Adam's apple. And jeans. But not jeans-jeans; these are not wear-around-the-house jeans, or go-to-the-store jeans or even work-at-Microsoft jeans. There's something creative-but-wealthy about them, about him in general with his longish, tousled hair, and dark, soft leather shoes that are too elegantly simple to be inexpensive. All in all, sort of hot for an old guy in his thirties, which sounds freakishly Lolita, but still true. His face is narrow and clean-shaven. He smiles at me, lips closed, and says, "Just coffee." He smells so good -- showery. A musky cologne, or maybe one of those hunky bars of soap that are supposedly made out of oatmeal but probably aren't made out of oatmeal.
Jane looks at me with raised eyebrows, and I raise one of my own, a trick I can do that neither my twin brother can, nor my little sister, ha. I'm the only one in my family, far as I know. It makes me look slightly evil, which I love. Jane's eyebrows are asking, What's the story? Mine are answering, Hmm, mystery and intrigue. We've never seen this guy before, and just so you know, when you go into a small café that mostly fills with regulars and you're not one, you'll likely get talked about after you leave. It's part of what I really like about my job. Juicy gossip and lurid conjecture. Love it. Joe Awful Coffee raises his old eyebrows too, but Nick's too busy sprinkling sugar onto his oatmeal to even notice the new arrival.
I bring the man his coffee. The glass cup clatters slightly against the saucer. "Thank you," he says. Murmurs -- it's one of those soft, polite, well-dressed thank-you's that legitimately qualify as a murmur. Who murmurs anymore? And then he just looks out the window. Stirs his coffee with a spoon. Tink, tink, tink against the edge of the cup. Smiles up at me when I pour a refill.
Just coffee. My guess is that he has things to think about. Things that are too deep for a double-tall-foam-no-foam-lite-mocha-hazelnut-vanilla-skinny-tripleshot-decaf-iced-extra-hot-Americano-espresso type place, where every person can demand and immediately get their combination of perfect in a cardboard cup. Where everyone only pretends to think deep thoughts and discuss important subjects but it's all a piece of performance art. Maybe he needs to get past all that distraction of wants and desires and greedy-spoiled-American-hurried-up-insta-gratification and just sip coffee.
I don't know. But he stays for a while. Almost to the end of my shift. I smile, he smiles. My tip is more than the coffee itself.
"Did you see his shoes?" Jane says. "Italian." I'm pretty sure she knows nothing about this. Jane is a regular jeans and friends don't let friends vote republican T-shirt wearer. Running shoes. I know she went to Italy a long time ago, and that's how she got the idea for Carrera's, but I hardly think it qualifies her as an expert on men's shoes.
"Fast track," Nick Harrison says. He'd been paying attention after all. He gets up, wipes his mouth with his napkin. Fast track -- this is something Nick knows about. He used to be a big shot in some architectural engineering firm before his wife died and he used up all his money on lawyers. Now he works at True Value down the street, mixing paint and helping people pick out linoleum. When he reaches for change in his pants pocket, he always has one of those metal tools they give out free to pry up the paint lids. Now he wears nice-guy plaid. According-to-the-law plaid.
"Fucking beautiful Vespa," Leroy Richie says. He's sitting at a table by the window, the newspaper spread in front of him. He scratches a heart wrapped in vines, which is inked onto the underside of his wrist. "Anyone know what a 'lowboy driver' is?"
"If you don't know what it is, I'm guessing you can't do it," Jane says. She frees a stack of one-dollar bills bound together with a rubber band.
"How about a 'resolute trainer'?"
"Someone serious about training?" I take a guess.
"Hey!" Leroy says. "Pilates instructor! I could do that. I've got balls."
Leroy works for the Darigold plant in town, which is why he's up so early, but he's always looking for a second job to make more money. For retirement, Leroy says, though he's maybe only thirty. People aren't too quick to hire him because of the tattoos. They think tattoos equal drug addict, he says. Like all needles are the same. Like even art has to have its designated places. Darigold hired him years ago, when all he had was a falcon on one shoulder. Now, he told us, the only place he didn't have artwork was on his bald head, which is a picture you didn't especially want to imagine, thank you.
"He's getting on the Vespa," Nick Harrison reports. "Starting it up. There he goes."
I look out the window to watch too. I watch the back of his suit jacket disappear down the street, the flaps whipping softly against hi...
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Book Description Brilliance Audio, 2010. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1423396618