My name is Evangeline Bianca Logan, and I am a serial kisser.
I haven’t always been a serial kisser. There was a time not that long ago when I had next to no kissing experience. It’s interesting how things can change so fast—how you can go from being sixteen with very few lip-locking credentials to being barely seventeen and a certified serial kisser.
It all started one day with dirty laundry.
At least that’s what I trace it back to.
My mother had said, “Evangeline, please. I could really use some help around the house.” She’d looked so tired, and what with homework and the amount of time I’d been wasting at Groove Records looking through old LPs and CDs, I had been slacking. Especially compared to the hours she’d been working.
So after school the next day I kicked into gear. I had the condo to myself because Mom was working her usual eleven a.m. to eight p.m. shift, and since my taste in music is old blues and classic rock (probably thanks to being bombarded with it since my early days in the womb), I selected an Aerosmith greatest hits CD and cranked it up.
I made the kitchen spotless during “Mama Kin,” “Dream On,” “Same Old Song and Dance,” and “Seasons of Wither,” sang along with “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion” while I cleaned the bathroom, then tidied the bedrooms through “Last Child” and “Back in the Saddle.”
It was during the pulsing beat of “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” that I began my fateful search for wayward laundry.
Laundry at the Logan girls’ residence isn’t found in hampers. It’s found on the floor, draped over chairs, putrefying in boxes and baskets . . . it’s anywhere my mom and I want to dump it. And in my rocked-out state I was checking for laundry in places I’d never looked before. Like on her closet floor, behind and between the big packing boxes that still serve as my mother’s dresser, and then under my mother’s bed. It was there that I discovered one dusty sock and a whole library of books.
Not just random books, either.
At first all I could do was gawk at the covers. I’d seen these kinds of books at the grocery store, but they were so obviously stupid and trashy that I wouldn’t be caught dead actually looking at one.
But now here I was with a whole library of trash in front of me and no worries that someone might spot me.
So as strains of “Angel” began playing, I looked!
I checked out all the covers, then started reading the blurbs on the backs. Aerosmith eventually quit playing, but I didn’t even notice. I was skimming pages, laughing at the ridiculous, flowery prose, my jaw literally dropping as I read (in great detail) how one book’s chisel-chested man and his luscious lady “joined souls in sublime adoration.”
I couldn’t believe what I’d found. Couldn’t believe my mother! While I was slogging through The Last of the Mohicans and The Red Badge of Courage for my insane literature teacher, Miss Ryder, my mother was reading books with bare-chested men and swooning women? Miss Ryder would have an English-lit fit over these books, and for once I’d agree with her!
But for each book I put down, I picked up another. And another. And another. Why, I don’t know. Was I looking for more soul joining? I don’t think so. Something to hold over my mother’s head? She didn’t need any more ravaging. I think it was more that I was still in shock over my mom being a closet romance freak.
But after ten pages out of the middle of a book called A Crimson Kiss, something weird happened: I actually kind of cared about Delilah, the woman that the story was about.
I read some more out of the middle, but since I didn’t get why Delilah was in her predicament, I went back to the beginning to figure it out.
I have no idea where the time went. I was carried away by the story, swept into the swirl of romance, racing hearts, anticipation, and love. They were things that were missing in my real life. After six months of watching my parents’ marriage implode, I found it hard to believe in true love.
But inside the pages of this book my parents’ problems vanished. It was just Delilah and her hero, Grayson—a man whose kiss would save her from her heartache and make her feel alive.
Love felt possible.
One kiss—the right kiss—could conquer all!
So I read on, devouring the book until I was jolted back to reality by my mother jangling through the front door.
In my panic, it didn’t even occur to me that she was really the one busted. I just shoved her books back under her bed and escaped to my room with A Crimson Kiss.
Copyright © 2008 by Wendelin Van Draanen. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.