RT Exclusive Excerpt: A Totally Awkward Love Story
We've all experienced it: A Totally Awkward Love Story, whether we've tried to block it out or not. Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison are embracing the awkward in their YA debut — after all, they're former high school sweethearts turned friends! So they know of what they speak, basically. Here's a peek at the title, out May 3.
Freddie. Of course there was a Freddie. There’s always a fucking Freddie.
In films and books you’re allowed to meet pretty girls in bathrooms without any Freddies popping up to ruin it, but in real life, you always get Freddied. Or, at least, I do.
She—the Grape Girl—just muttered something about having to go, and then walked straight out the door. I didn’t even get the chance to introduce myself—Samuel or otherwise.
I listened to her friend whisper excitedly to her as they disappeared down the hallway. I just stood there, staring at that stupid fucking stag painting on the wall, and wondering what had just happened.
Nothing had happened, really. Not in a tangible, something-I-could-brag-about-to-Robin-and-Chris kind of way. All their stories with girls involved actual physical activities—kisses, bra removals, hand jobs or threesomes that were technically not threesomes. They certainly didn’t involve high tens and discussions about hot spiced Welch’s.
All that had happened was that I’d had a conversation with a girl in a bathroom. Why did that feel like a big thing when, in Robin’s eyes, it wouldn’t even have warranted a text message?
Maybe because it was all so . . . easy. Talking to girls is usually a nightmare—trying to find the perfect balance between saying things they want to hear and saying things that don’t make you come across as an utter dumbass. There was none of that with the Grape Girl. It just . . . flowed.
But it was more than that. She was, undoubtedly, really pretty. That was what made the whole easy, funny,
flowing conversation thing so weird. She had blue—really blue—eyes and soft, straw-colored blond hair, strands of which she would occasionally absentmindedly unfurl from her ponytail and chew on. It sounds odd, but it was actually really sweet.
Her smile seemed to cover her whole face, and she smiled a lot. I only got a brief glance, but I was pretty sure she had a really good butt, too.
Basically, she was hot. And in my (admittedly limited) experience, hot girls do not do easy, funny, flowing conversation. They only do standing around sulkily, pouting, and waiting for someone like Toby McCourt to come and talk to them. Toby McCourt. He was a Freddie, too. He was probably a bigger Freddie than Freddie.
My not-particularly-productive train of thought was finally interrupted by the door being thumped open by a dude in a gray hoodie swaying drunkenly in the doorway.
“Oh, sorry, man,” he mumbled, looking slightly confused to find me standing in the middle of the bathroom and staring intently at the wall. “Are you finished in here? Because we’re not allowed to piss in the rosebushes anymore, apparently.”
I nodded, not entirely sure why he’d felt the need to impart the rosebushes information, and stepped out into the hallway. I slunk along it feeling glum. Somewhere downstairs Grape Girl was with Freddie. Probably, in the words of that Grace girl, getting “jiggy.”
It seemed like everybody in the whole world was getting “jiggy” except me.
Freddie looked exactly how he has always looked. Stella says he looks like he’s in a boy band, and I suppose he does a bit. Like he’s thought about what he’s going to wear for a long time and is really pleased with how it turned out. He’s quite small, with blond-brown hair and blue eyes.
“Sorry I’m late,” he smiled. “We went to a bar first and then we had to go to this random girl’s eighteenth because Amir’s trying to get with her.”
“That’s OK. Nothing’s really happened.” Actually, it felt like a lot had happened already.
“Do you want to go outside with me?” He smiled slightly as he said it. Like it was a euphemism. Up close, I could see the gel in his hair. He was wearing a vest.
“Yeah, all right. We can go on the trampoline.”
I walked outside ahead of him, climbed onto the trampoline and started bouncing. He clambered on after me but almost immediately shouted, “Stop” and lay down on his back.
“Are you OK?” I asked, and sat down and crossed my legs.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just a bit . . .” He suddenly sounded much drunker than he had before. “You look really hot, Hannah.”
I didn’t know what to say. “You do, too” would have sounded strange, and “Thanks” a bit cold. I stared up at the house and all the people in all the different rooms. The light was on in the bathroom and I wondered where Toilet Boy was now.
And then, from out of nowhere, Freddie sat up and said, “I’m really pleased you want to do it with me, Hannah.”
And with that, he lurched forward clumsily and kissed me. I was too busy trying to process what he’d just said to stop him. Stella must have told him. Why? Why did she have to control everything everybody did? She just has to get in there and be buds with everyone. It was OK for it to be my night, but only if she said so. What was the point of getting all dressed up to seduce Freddie when she had given me to him on a plate already?
I pushed him back gently. I’d kissed him loads of times before, but this time felt different. Wrong. His mouth was really wet, and he tasted like beer and cheese puffs.
He smiled, his eyes half shut, as he swayed backward. “We could do it here if you like,” he murmured.
As if. There was no way it was happening now. I looked around the garden at the clusters of people smoking weed, getting off with each other or looking ill. Yup, this was just how I’d pictured losing my virginity—being publicly deflowered on a piece of exercise equipment. I suppose the only advantage was that it didn’t have his name written across it in huge, sparkly letters.
“Erm, yeah, we could do it here,” I said. “That is an option. But there are about a hundred people out here and you aren’t coping very well with moving or staying conscious.”
Freddie’s eyes were now fully shut. He didn’t even look like he was interested in being awake, let alone with me. This wasn’t really how I had imagined it. A half-asleep Freddie Clemence, deigning to do me a favor by murdering my youth on a trampoline.
I couldn’t find Robin or Chris anywhere. I wandered through to the kitchen. Grape Girl wasn’t in there but her friend was, the one who’d summoned her down to meet Freddie. She and another girl were staring out of the French windows into the garden and giggling. I saw what they were staring and giggling at, and immediately I felt a bit sick, like I’d just done a shot of Jägermeister on a full stomach.
She—Grape Girl—was sitting on the trampoline, kissing a guy I can only assume was Freddie. Freddie had apparently come straight to the party from a Jonas Brothers tribute band rehearsal. He had one of those Mr. Men T-shirts on (he’d gone for Mr. Messy) and a blond quiff that laughed in the face of gravity.
Most appallingly, though, he was wearing a vest. A fucking vest. Unless you’re a pool player or a magician, wearing a vest outside your own house is surely not an acceptable thing to do. If you’re the sort of person who can get up in the morning, put on a vest and walk out of the front door, what other atrocities might you be capable of? It doesn’t bear thinking about.
I suppose it was strange to feel jealous over someone I’d just met, but I did. Or, I don’t know, maybe not jealous, exactly. It’s not like we had some major moment or anything, but we got along well and what are the odds of getting along with someone you bump into outside a bathroom? What are the odds of getting along well with anyone? Especially when most of your conversation revolves around spiced grape juice.
I couldn’t watch anymore. I turned around and pushed my way out of the kitchen. I was about to head into the living room to try to find Robin and Chris when I heard what was unmistakably Robin’s high-pitched cackle coming from inside the cupboard under the staircase.
I opened the door, and a cloud of weed smoke hit me full in the face. I peered through it to see Robin and Ben crouched inside, smoking a spliff the size of an ice cream cone. This probably makes the spliff sound impressive. It wasn’t. It had major structural design flaws.
Robin threw his arms up in greeting. “Yes, Sam! We’re hotboxing Harry Potter’s bedroom.” He laughed, clearly not realizing that any credibility he hoped to gain from talking about hotboxing was immediately wiped out by his encyclopedic knowledge of the Harry Potter franchise.
“Come on in!” said Ben, a Cheshire cat grin splitting his face in two. He was very, very stoned.
I shuffled inside and shut the door behind me.
Freddie was out for the count. I think I even heard him snore. I sat next to him thinking about Stella and what the fuck she was playing at, and wondered whether other people had this much trouble losing their virginity. I suppose Bella Swan did have the whole potentially-being-killed-accidentally-in-the-moment thing. But at least they were on that tropical island, not a goddamned trampoline. And I bet Edward didn’t taste like Cheetos.
That was it: Freddie and me were dead in the water for tonight. I decided to just leave him to sleep it off and stood up, but the movement woke him. He opened his eyes.
“Freddie, do you want a drink of water?”
“OK, let’s go inside,” Freddie said, sitting up. He had drool coming out of the corner of his mouth. “We can find somewhere quiet.”
I wondered whether he actually still thought we were about to have sex. Really? I linked arms with him as he clearly needed support and we went into the kitchen. All of a sudden he seemed to get this fresh wind of energy and he went to kiss me again. I pushed him back firmly.
“Freddie, why don’t you have a glass of water and a nice sit-down?” I sounded like my mum.
I wasn’t sure if he heard me; if he had, he didn’t care. His eyes stayed closed.
“I think I’m going to puke,” he said.
“Oh my god, can you get to the toilet?”
But he was already heaving and I knew the answer. I looked wildly around the kitchen, snatched the kettle and took the lid off. But it was too late. Freddie grabbed my waist in an effort to stabilize himself. And then he vomited. All over Stella’s blue dress, down my legs and onto my shoes.
I heard a group of boys laugh and some girls “oh my god”-ing. Freddie lurched out toward the bathroom. Grace and Tilly, who’d been watching the whole thing, ran over to me in a fluster. Grace had a kitchen towel in her hand and started to hurriedly wipe me down.
“Do you want me to find you something else to wear?” she asked.
“I’ll go and get a mop,” Tilly said, and darted off into the corridor.
“I just want to go home,” I said to Grace. “Right now. Let’s just go.”
She nodded. “Why don’t you stay at Tilly’s? You can just walk there. It’s really late and people will start leaving soon anyway.”
“Will you get my bag from Stella’s room?”
Grace nodded. “Yeah, of course. Do you think Stella will mind us leaving?”
“I don’t really care,” I shot back. “She’s acted like a complete bitch tonight.”
“What? OK, tell me about that in a second. I’ll just go and let her know we’re leaving.”
Tilly rushed back in, mop in hand, and started trying to wash down my lower legs.
After we had finished rinsing out my shoes and I had decided to walk home barefoot, Grace returned with Ollie in tow. “Stella’s upstairs in her room with Charlie.”
Great. Stella was going to go ahead and lose her virginity the night I was supposed to. Grace was clearly thinking the same thing.
“They weren’t doing anything. They were just sitting on her bed, talking, so I left them to it.”
I don’t really know what I had thought would happen that night, but I know it didn’t include a bald, puckered cha-cha and carrot-speckled vomit running down my legs.
As we walked up Stella’s street, Grace stopped suddenly in the middle of the road and held out her arms like a crossing guard so none of us could take another step.
“Hang on a minute! Hannah, who was that BOY you were locked in the bathroom with?” She looked at Ollie as if she was apologizing for what she was about to say. “That HOT boy you were locked in the bathroom with?”
Tilly whistled. “Barf-legs-red-muff has still got it!”
“Maybe that should be your Native American name,” said Grace.
“First of all,” I said, “That’s racist. And I told you that no one is allowed to mention Native Americans or anything from my History exam ever again. And secondly, who cares about Freddie Clemence or any of these other hopefully transient issues? Because I have officially found my lobster.”
A Totally Awkward Love Story will be available in stores and online May 3, and you can grab your copy here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | All Romance | IndieBound. For more young adult awesomeness, be sure to visit our Everything YA page!