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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

Shelter in Place

Nora Roberts

St. Martin's Press

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CHAPTER ONE

On Friday, July 22, 2005, Simone Knox ordered a large Fanta—orange—to go with her popcorn and Swedish Fish. The choice, her standard night-at-the-movies fare, changed her life, and very likely saved it. Still, she’d never drink Fanta again.

But at that moment she only wanted to settle down in the theater with her two best friends forEVER and lose herself in the dark.

Because her life—currently and absolutely for the rest of the summer, and maybe for all time—sucked beyond infinity.

The boy she loved, the boy she’d dated exclusively for seven months, two weeks, and four days, the boy she’d imagined cruising through her upcoming senior year with—hand in hand, heart to heart—had dumped her.

In a text.

done wasting time cuz i got 2 b with somebody ready to b all the way with me and thats not u so we r done c u

Certain he couldn’t have meant it, she’d tried to call him—but he didn’t answer. She’d texted three times, humiliating herself.

Then she’d gone to his MySpace page. Humiliation was too weak a word for what she suffered.

Traded in the old DEFECTIVE model for a hot new one.

Simone out!

Tiffany in!

Shook off a LOSER and I’ll be rolling through the summer and into senior year with the hottest girl in the class of 2006.

His post—with pictures—had already generated comments. She might’ve been smart enough to know he’d ordered his friends to say mean, ugly things about her, but that didn’t lessen the sting or the embarrassment.

She grieved for days. She wallowed in the comfort and righteous anger of her two closest friends. She raged at her younger sister’s taunts, dragged herself to her summer job and the weekly tennis lessons at the club that her mother insisted on.

A text from her grandmother made her sniffle. CiCi might be meditating with the Dalai Lama in Tibet, rocking it out with the Stones in London, or painting in her studio on Tranquility Island, but she had a way of finding out anything and everything.

It hurts now, and the pain’s real, so hugs, my treasure. But give it a few weeks, and you’ll realize he’s just another asshole. Kick butt and namaste.

Simone didn’t think Trent was an asshole (though both Tish and Mi agreed with CiCi). Maybe he’d tossed her aside—and in a really mean way—just because she wouldn’t do it with him. She just wasn’t ready to do it. Besides, Tish had done it with her ex-boyfriend after the junior prom—and twice more—and he’d dumped her anyway.

The worst was, she still loved Trent and, in her desperate sixteen-year-old heart, knew she’d never love anyone else, ever again. Even though she’d torn out the pages of her journal where she’d written her future names—Mrs. Trent Woolworth, Simone Knox-Woolworth, S. K. Woolworth—ripped them to shreds, then burned them, along with every photo she had of him, in the patio firepit during a girl-power ceremony with her friends, she still loved him.

But, as Mi pointed out, she had to live, even though part of her just wanted to die, so she let her friends drag her to the movies.

Anyway, she was tired of sulking in her room, and she really didn’t want to slump around the mall with her mother and little sister, so the movies won. Mi won, too, as it was her turn to pick, so Simone was stuck with some science-fiction deal called The Island Mi was crazy to see.

Tish didn’t mind the pick. As a future actress, she felt that experiencing movies and plays was both a duty and pre-career training. Plus Ewan McGregor ranked in Tish’s top five movie boyfriends.

“Let’s get seats. I want good ones.” Mi, small, compact, with dark, dramatic eyes and a thick wedge of black hair, gathered her popcorn—no fake butter—her drink, and the peanut M&M’s she favored.

Mi had turned seventeen in May, dated sporadically, as she currently preferred science to boys, and skimmed just above the nerd line only because of her prowess as a gymnast and solid slot on the cheerleading squad.

A squad unfortunately captained by one Tiffany Bryce, boyfriend stealer and slut.

“I need the ladies’.” Tish—double-fake-butter popcorn, a Coke, and Junior Mints—pushed her snacks at her friends. “I’ll find you.”

“Don’t fool around with your face and hair,” Mi warned her. “Nobody can see them anyway, once the movie starts.”

And she was already perfect, Simone thought as she juggled Tish’s popcorn on the way to one of the three theaters in the DownEast Mall Cineplex.

Tish had long, smooth, silky chestnut-brown hair—with professional golden highlights because her mother wasn’t stuck in nineteen-fifty-whatever. Her face—Simone loved studying faces—a classic oval, added flirty charm with dimples; and the dimples flirted often, as Tish always found something to smile about. Simone figured she’d smile a lot, too, if she’d turned out tall and curvy, with bright blue eyes and dimples.

On top of everything, Tish’s parents totally supported her ambition to pursue acting. She’d hit the jackpot in Simone’s mind. Looks, personality, brains, and parents who actually had a clue.

But Simone loved Tish anyway.

The three of them already had plans—secret ones for now because Simone’s parents completely did not have a clue—to spend the summer after graduation in New York.

Maybe they’d even move there—it had to be more exciting than Rockpoint, Maine.


Copyright © 2018 by Nora Roberts

Excerpt from Under Currents copyright © 2019 by Nora Roberts