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Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen - page 9 / 18

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have a single one.

I looked at my brother again, backpack over his shoulder. Travel certainly did provide some kind of opportunity, as well as a change of scenery. Maybe I couldn’t take off to Greece or India. But I could still go somewhere.

I went over to my laptop, opening my e-mail account, then scrolled down to my dad’s message. Without letting myself think too much, I typed a quick reply, as well as a question. Within a half hour, he had written me back.

Absolutely you should come! Stay as long as you like. We’d love the company!

And just like that, my summer changed.

The next morning, I packed my car with a small duffel bag of clothes, my laptop, and a big suitcase of books. Earlier in the summer, I’d found the syllabi to a couple of the courses I was taking at Defriese in the fall, and I’d hunted down a few of the texts at the U bookstore, figuring it couldn’t hurt to acquaint myself with the material. Not exactly how Hollis would pack, but it wasn’t like there’d be much else to do there anyway, other than go to the beach and hang out with Heidi, neither of which was very appealing.

I’d said good-bye to my mom the night before, figuring she’d be asleep when I left. But as I came into the kitchen, I found her clearing the table of a bevy of wineglasses and crumpled napkins from another of her get-togethers, a tired look on her face.

“Late night?” I asked, although I knew from my own nocturnal habits that it had been. The last car had pulled out of the driveway around one thirty.

“Not really,” she said, running some water into the sink. She looked over her shoulder at my bags, piled by the garage door. “You’re getting an early start. Are you that eager to get away from me?”

“No,” I said. “Just want to beat traffic.” In truth, I hadn’t expected my mom to care whether I was around for the summer or not. And maybe she wouldn’t have, if I’d been going anywhere else. Factor my dad into the equation, though, and things changed. They always did.

“I can only imagine what kind of situation you’re about to walk into,” she said, smiling. “Your father with a newborn! At his age! It’s comic.”

“I’ll let you know,” I told her. “Oh, you must. I will require regular updates.” I watched as she stuck her hands into the water, soaping up a glass. “So,” I said, “what did you think of Hollis’s girlfriend?”

My mother sighed, wearily. “What was she doing here, again?” “Hollis sent her back with a gift for me.” “Really,” she said, depositing a couple of glasses into the dish rack. “What was

it?”

“A picture frame. From Greece. With a picture of Hollis in it.” “Ah.” She turned off the water, using the back of her wrist to brush her hair from her face. “Did you tell her she should have kept it for herself, since it’s probably the only way she’ll ever see him again?”

Even though I’d had this exact same thought, after hearing my mom say it aloud I felt sorry for Tara, with her open, friendly face, the confident way she’d headed into

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