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First pages

Chapter 1

A tear dripped down my dad’s face and hung onto the edge of his chin before breaking free and splattering onto the collar of his T-shirt. Another tear followed. And another. They weren’t violent, hurricane like my-girlfriend-just-cheated-on-me tears (which I knew something about), but silent, stoic, literary-novel kind of tears, which was somehow worse. The man had named me after Hunter S. Thompson for god’s sake. I shifted my weight from one foot to the other and looked at the ceiling.

“You’ll call us, right,” Mom said. “Or email? Write letters?” Her cheeks were a deep pink and streaked with tears too.

“I’ll call and email when I can,” I said. “Text.”

“Don’t worry, Mrs. L.,” Ronnie said.

They’d probably forgotten he was even there. Ronnie sat on his half-made bottom bunk with his legs kicked out into the middle of the room. He’d called dibs on the bottom bunk months ago before we’d even gotten our acceptance letters because it had “easy access for the honeys”. His parents had stayed at home, satisfied with saying a thirty-second goodbye to him in their driveway. They were pretty busy with his baby sister Ella, who was three or maybe four now, I wasn’t really sure. Keeping track of kids’ ages wasn’t high on my priority list. Suffice to say, they weren’t suffering from Unbearably Empty Nest Affliction.

“I’ll make sure T-dawg stays in touch,” Ronnie said. “Filipino’s honor.” He put his right hand over his heart.

“Is that even a thing?” I asked. Ronnie wasn’t even one-hundred percent Filipino; he was only half. His mom was Hawaiian.

“It is most definitely a thing,” he said.

I rolled my eyes.

Mom shoved her hands through her light brown hair and pulled at the roots. “I didn’t think it would be this hard,” she said.

I did, I thought. It came with the territory of being an only child. I’d fully expected my parents to have an emotional breakdown and it was happening right before my eyes.

“We’re only fifty miles away,” I said. “I can come visit sometimes. Not just on breaks.” I’d been lucky enough to get a parking pass on campus so I was able to bring my rusty, though always reliable, even when traveling through somewhat precarious terrain, white Corolla with me.

“Filipino’s honor,” Ronnie said.

“Yeah.” I put my hand over my heart, even though I was the furthest thing from Filipino. On a scale of one to Filipino, I was a negative three.

Mom crushed me in a hug one and Dad piled on top of her, nearly squeezing the last bits of oxygen out of me. “I’ll buh fuh-ine,” I mumbled, my words garbled because of the fabric of Mom’s shirt that was shoved against my tongue and teeth. Mom kissed me on the cheek and Dad kissed the top of my head. I couldn’t remember the last time he’d kissed me. It was probably when I was a baby.

“Love you so much,” Mom said.

“Love you, too.” I eyed the door to my new room, hoping they would get the message that it was okay, preferred in fact, to leave. Mom walked backwards, and watched me until the very last second. Dad dragged her out by her shoulders. I leaned into the hallway and saw them head for the exit.

“Jeez. Glad that’s over,” I said.

“What now?” Ronnie said, his brown eyes shining.

“Whatever we want, my friend.”

“Aww, yeah. T-dubs and Ron-Ron on the prowl. What, what!” He raised his hand for a high-five and I slapped it.

Our first day at Hawaii Western University had begun.

Chapter 2

The first thing I did was fire up my computer and get on Skype.

“T-dawg,” Ronnie said. He put a hand on my shoulder. “This is not how gangstas start their first day away from home. Forget about the computer.”

“It’s not about the computer,” I said. I looked for Greta’s name in my contacts, but it said she was unavailable. Her profile photo made me smile. In it she was wearing her Super Kmart vest, the one she’d tricked out with rainbow ribbons, cheesy flare, and glitter puffy-paint. I knew there was a panda patch on the back, among others she’d collected. Her dark hair was pulled back into a high ponytail held together by a red ribbon. She’d been my favorite coworker at Super Kmart, but now she was my girlfriend who was away at college in Italy. The other side of the world.

Everyone had told me I was an idiot for going to college with a girlfriend, but I didn’t listen.

“T-dubs,” Ronnie had said. “I mean. That shiznit is just not recommended, you know?”

Johnny had had some choice words for me as well. “Thompson,” he’d said. “You know I’ve been Team Greta since the beginning of time, but, kid, come on. You’ll regret this one day. Trust me. It’s just not a good idea. Go off to college, single, and if you have a chance to get together with her after, do it then.”

“Time waits for no man,” I’d told him.

Ronnie rolled my desk chair away from the computer with me in it. “Life is waiting, dude. Let’s go.”

“Just give me one second.” I peddled back to the desk and left Greta a quick note, saying I missed her before following Ronnie out the door.

We walked past the dorms to a large quad filled with tables, vinyl banners, and current students pitching their clubs like used car salesmen. We saw a table for the Filipino Club which Ronnie walked right by.

“I already know a million Filipinos,” he said. “I came to college to meet new people.”

There were tables for chess clubs, craft clubs, water sport enthusiast clubs. And then there was a table for intramural basketball club.

“We should do this,” Ronnie said.

“To finally fulfill your dream of being a baller?”

“Well, I already am one. But yes, this would give me some street cred.”

“You should do it,” I said. I grabbed a lime green sheet from the stack and thrust it at him. “Make your dreams come true.”

Ronnie stayed to chat with the tall guys manning the table while I continued on. I passed tables for swim club, surfing club, Spanish club, and glassblowing club. Then I happened onto the table for the school newspaper. The Western Star.

“Are you a journalism major?” the girl behind the table asked.

“Me?” I looked over my shoulder. “No. Undecided actually.” I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life beyond college. I wanted a good job so I could pay the bills. And I wanted a degree because I knew it was important to my parents and probably important to getting a decent job. But when I’d applied to school, I’d checked “undecided” or “liberal arts major” on my applications.

“Do you like to write?”

“Sort of,” I said. I’d worked a semester at my high school newspaper, the Kalani Gazette, but that was because I’d needed an elective. I’d written a few stories and learned some basic design skills. I picked up a copy of the paper from the table. The top story was about a zoology professor who was going to jail for having inappropriate relations with a student, who unbeknownst to him, was a minor. Whoops.

“Well, do you like to have adventures?” she asked.

“What?”

“Meet new people, go new places, try new things?”

“Yes,” I said. “Yes to that.”

She put her hands together. “Well, if you pass the reporter interview you can get paid to do all that. And more.” She handed me a bright pink flier. The pay for a junior reporter was $3.75 per column inch, whether the story ran in print or online. Unlimited article opportunities. My name in print.

“I’ll keep it in mind,” I said.

Ronnie walked up, holding two tote bags stuffed with water bottles, T-shirts, and towels. He had a blue and white Hawaii Western University baseball cap shoved on top of the red Fubu one he was already wearing. “I’ve been looking all over for you,” he said. He thrust a bag at me. “I got you some free swag.”

He flipped through a copy of the Western Star then eyed the girl working the table. “What have we got here?”

“The school newspaper,” the girl said.

“What’s the male to female ratio on the staff?”

She rolled her eyes. “We’re looking for serious reporters only.”

Ronnie straightened up to his full height, which was five-seven. “I can be serious. I’m Ronnie Medina.” He held out his hand. “My pleasure to meet you.”

The girl shook his hand. “Well, Mr. Medina. If you’re serious then come on out for an interview.”

“I will, mama.” He tipped his head and dragged me away from the table.

“You’re really going to apply?” I asked.

“Naw. Just spreading the R-dawg charm, you know?”

I tucked the flier into my pocket. Even though I’d just decided I wanted to pursue a job at the Western Star, I was glad Ronnie wouldn’t be. For some reason I wanted to keep it to myself.

“You know what I want to do,” Ronnie said.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Dodgeball. I signed us up. We start playing next Wednesday.”

“What if I don’t want to?”

“Come on, T-dubs. It’ll be fun. It’ll give us something to do.”

“You’re right.” How bad could it be, really? I had to do something to fill my time now that Greta and I were apart.

When I got back I saw I had a message from her. She said she missed me and that she was off to the Trevi Fountain to make a super top-secret wish that she would never dare tell me about for fear it wouldn’t come true.

I knew the Trevi Fountain was on her Italy bucket list. Her dad had studied abroad in Italy when he was in college and had taken her family on a trip there once. They’d gone to Venice and Florence, but never to Rome. Greta was completely enamored of Italy which was why she’d decided to go to college there. After I learned this I’d tried to convince my parents to let me follow her, but they wouldn’t have it.

“Thompson,” Mom had said. “There’s no way on God’s green earth or another universe that we’d be able to pay for that. The tuition is too much. I’m sorry, honey.”

“But it will break us up,” I’d said, even though I wasn’t totally sure I believed that. If anyone was going to make it, it was Greta and me. We were both romantics who believed in grand gestures. She was so much nicer and funnier and cooler than Caroline, the girlfriend I’d had before her. She was “freaking awesome” according to Ronnie. “A badass Hawaiian chick.” But she was on the other side of the planet. With easy access to ancient ruins, gelato, and men who wore suits every day, no matter what they had going on.

“Let’s go eat,” Ronnie said. “I’m fully prepared to gain the freshman fifteen. It’ll even me out.” He glanced down at his skinny legs. “They got a buffet tonight, T-money. Time’s a wasting.”

“Okay,” I said. I stared at the message Greta had sent me but didn’t delete it. I wanted to save it so I could read it again later.

We went downstairs and lined up in the dining hall. I handed a woman with a hairnet the W Card I’d gotten at orientation and she swiped it through a machine. I grabbed a plate and marveled at the display in front of me. The buffet was every bit as glorious as I’d imagined it to be. There was a metal bin full of fried chicken, a pile of buttery biscuits, and a giant tub of macaroni and cheese. There was also pasta with red sauce, meatballs the size of baseballs, anemic-looking broccoli, that looked like it had been steamed to death, and a hot fudge sundae station.

“I think I’ve died and gone to heaven,” I said.

“You and me both, T-dubs.”

I took two pieces of chicken, a huge dollop of macaroni and cheese, and two biscuits. I decided I’d come back for the ice cream later. I got some orange soda from the machine and found us a small round table.

“I can feel my arteries clogging already,” I said as we sat down.

Ronnie rolled his eyes. “You of all people should appreciate this. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

“I won’t.” I did appreciate it, really. I was used to eating healthy because Mom insisted on it. She even blogged about clean living in her spare time and posted new recipes to her website once a week. Now that I didn’t have her to police me I wasn’t sure how often I would eat right, or if I would eat right at all.

The fried chicken was really good—crispy and salty without being too greasy. The biscuit was kind of dry and the macaroni and cheese was just average, but hey, it was better than no macaroni and cheese.

“So I was thinking I’d join the school newspaper,” I said. “Assuming they’ll have me. I need something to keep me busy.”

“Yeah, so you don’t cheat on Greta,” Ronnie said.

“I would never cheat on her. Or anyone,” I said. “I haven’t forgotten about the CW.”

“I thought we agreed to never mention her again.”

“I know.” The CW was Ronnie’s code name for my ex-girlfriend Caroline Wells. He hadn’t given her the name because of her initials, but because of what she’d done to me. The C was shorthand for cheating. The W stood for a word that rhymed with “four”. The abbreviation was a lot nicer.

“I’m not going to do that,” I said now. “I know what it feels like.”

He glanced around the room and I followed his gaze. There were a lot of girls in the dining hall and the majority of them were attractive. They weren’t Greta, but they weren’t trolls either. “I’m just sayin’, T-money. It’s gonna be really hard for a taken dude out here. Real hard. If you know what I’m sayin’.”

“Stop.” I ate some macaroni while he continued to laugh at his own joke.

* * *

We walked the entire campus the next day, figuring out where the basketball courts were and the swimming pool. We walked past the football field and the main academic buildings. We also figured out where the dining hall that served salad was, in the event we wanted to eat healthy one night.

“I want to stop by the newspaper,” I said. “And fill out an application.”

“Alright,” Ronnie said. “That seems kind of archaic, though. An in-person job application?”

“I figure it’ll make me stand out.”

“Fair enough.”

We walked two blocks to a large brick building. Inside, there were a number of offices. The door at the end of the hall had Western Star stenciled on it in gold letters. There was a girl at the front desk when we walked in.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

“I want to apply to be a reporter,” I said.

She opened a drawer and pulled out a piece of paper. She placed it on a clipboard and handed it to me. She looked at Ronnie.

“Are you applying, too?”

“No,” Ronnie said. “Just here for moral support.”

We took a seat in the waiting area and I started filling out the form. I wrote Thompson Lake at the top and gave my college address. I wrote about my experience working at Super Kmart and embellished a bit, telling them I was a “customer service advocate” and that I “managed customer complaints effectively”. It was technically true, but also felt a little bit like lying.

The next question on the application was about my writing experience.

I wrote about my semester at the Kalani Gazette, even though I’d written only three stories. I mentioned my good grades in Advanced Placement English and History, where I’d had to write a few papers.

Anything else we should know about you? Other items to consider as we review your application?

I wrote that I was a hard worker who needed a job. I read over my application before handing it back to the receptionist.

“I’ll give this to our editor and he’ll be in touch shortly,” she said.

“Thanks.”

I decided to text my mother that night, lest she let her imagination wander and start thinking I was abducted or something. I wrote that I was doing well and that I’d applied for a job at the Western Star, the school newspaper.

She replied immediately.

So great! I’ll tell Dad!

Ronnie blared Jay-Z’s greatest hits while I sat at my computer waiting for Greta to get online. This was the longest we’d gone without speaking to each other since we’d started dating. It had been a full three days since I’d heard her voice. She’d probably met somebody new by now. Some Italian Stallion who looked more like a god and less like me. Just when I’d started to give up hope, halfway through 99 Problems, at around eight p.m., her name popped up in my contacts.

“Turn it down!” I shouted.

“Hey, be cool, T-money. I know you gotta talk to yo girl.” He turned down the music and I clicked on Greta’s name. A few seconds later I saw her big brown eyes. She was wearing her hair down instead of up in a ponytail like she usually did. She was still in her pajamas which had pink zebras on them.

“How you be?” she asked. She winked at me.

“Good. How’s Italy?” I tried to play it cool and not like I’d been waiting over seventy-two hours for her to call.

“Absolutely amazing. I feel like I’m home.” The conviction with which Greta said the word “home” bothered me. Home was Honolulu, this island, a city that was near the ocean. Hawaii was her motherland for God’s sake—she couldn’t just forget about it. Italy had a coast, sure, but it didn’t have the aloha spirit. More importantly, it didn’t have me.

“I miss you,” I said. “I miss Super Kmart. Is that weird?” It was a sentence I never thought I’d say. Super Kmart had some of the lousiest customers on earth—really, the store attracted the dearth of Hawaii—but we’d had some fun times there. It was where Greta and I had met. We’d bonded over crazy customers and making fun of our coworkers, like Trent who smoked an excessive amount of weed and Creepy Rob whose sole mission in life was to hit on Greta, even though he was over forty.

“I totally miss the Mart,” Greta said. “It’s charming in its own middle-America kind of way. Italy doesn’t have anything as near mundane as that place. It’s weird not having access to a store where you can buy a kayak and a gallon of milk at the same time.”

The way Greta’s eyes lit up when she talked about Italy told me there was nothing small-town or unglamorous about where she was at. I could tell the country reeked of culture and fashion, even though I’d never visited myself. I wondered how a nerdy former employee of Super Kmart could compete with all that.

“I transferred my Kmart flare to my backpack,” she said. “I’m sure it makes me look like a stupid American tourist, but hey at least I stand out. And the panda patch is always a good conversation starter.”

“That it is.”

“I gotta go,” she said. “I’m going with some people to the Spanish Steps this morning and I need to get ready.”

“Friends from school?” I asked. I hoped “people” didn’t include hot Italian guys.

“Yeah, just some classmates.”

“I love you,” I said. Even though we’d been saying the words to each other for a while, they still sounded weird coming out of my mouth. Whenever I said them I was always afraid she wouldn’t say them back. What if she’d decided she didn’t love me anymore? What then? I wondered when that feeling of uneasiness would go away, when I could start to relax about our relationship. If I’d ever be able to relax.

“Love you, too.” She blew me a kiss and in an instant, she was gone.

“You off the phone, T-dubs?” Ronnie asked.

I’d forgotten he was there.

“Yeah, I’m off.”

“Cool. I read in your little newspaper here that it’s welcome back week on Greek row.”

“And?”

“You are going to your first frat party, my friend. This is a chance to reinvent ourselves. We’re gonna party with the cool kids.”

“Alright,” I said. “When in college.”

At the moment I wished I was in Rome.

Chapter 3

A naked girl answered the door to the frat house. On second glance, she wasn’t naked, but she wore a skimpy white bikini top that barely covered her breasts and a frayed jean skirt that barely covered her private parts.

“Welcome,” she said. It was hard to take my eyes off her, but I looked past her and noticed other girls dressed similarly in bathing suit tops and short-shorts or tiny skirts. About half the guys were shirtless.

“Is there a theme?” I asked. I looked down at my T-shirt and khaki shorts.

“It’s a beach theme,” she said. She squeezed my arm and pulled me inside. “Just take your shirt off. You’ll fit right in.”

“But, uh…” I looked at Ronnie.

“You don’t have to,” the girl said. She kissed me on the cheek. “You’re so cute.”

She walked away and Ronnie walked up behind me.

“So freakin’ unfair,” he said. “The dude with the girlfriend gets all the honey love.”

“I didn’t. She wasn’t…”

“Do you feel right telling G-dawg about what just happened?” he asked.

My face grew hot. “Well, no, but—”

“Then it was definitely inappropriate. Which means I would’ve definitely appreciated it.”

“Don’t tell her, okay?”

“When would I have occasion to talk to your GF without you?”

“You’re right.”

We approached a makeshift bar, which was really a long card table with layers of straw draped over it. Plastic orchids had been tacked onto it as well as a string of green Christmas lights. It reminded me of the Tiki House back home.

“What can I get you?” The shirtless guy behind the bar asked. “We have beer. Vodka. Cocktails. And jungle juice.”

“What’s that?” Ronnie asked.

The guy laughed. “You’ve gotta try it if you haven’t had it.”

Ronnie looked at me.

“When in college…”

“I like how you think, T-dawg.” He told the guy two jungle juices, please. The bartender handed us two cups filled with a reddish-brown substance.

“This smells like nail polish remover,” I said.

Ronnie held up his plastic cup. “To our first college party.”

“Cheers.” I clinked cups with him.

The jungle juice tasted like what I imagined bathroom scum would taste like if you liquefied it. I almost spat it out, but chugged some more in the hopes it would get better. After talking to another girl in a blue bikini top, we learned that jungle juice was pineapple juice and fruit punch combined with any number of liquors: vodka, brandy, rum, beer, wine, whiskey. Whatever the place had on hand.

“It’s like the best drink ever!” She squeezed Ronnie’s arm and slapped his butt as she walked away.

“Have I mentioned I love college?” he said.

“You just love the girls,” I said.

“Have I also mentioned that you need to dump Greta now, so we can get our freak on?”

“There’s more to life than getting your freak on,” I said. “Like love.”

Ronnie put his hand over his heart. “Here we go. The part where he tells us Greta is his soul mate.”

“You don’t have to be a dick about it.” I’d never said in so many words that I believed Greta to be my soul mate, but it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. She was the nicest, funniest, coolest girl I’d ever met.

“I just want to remind you, you also thought the CW was your soul mate at one time. Not saying G-dawg isn’t cool as hell, just saying I see a pattern here.”

“And what pattern is that?” I asked.

“You love falling in love,” he said. “Hard. Ain’t no shame in it. Just, sometimes I think it’d do you some good just to have some fun with a girl without it having all this meaning. Just sayin’.”

“That’s why I’m friends with you,” I said. “So I can live vicariously through you without making the same mistakes.”

“You know I’m happy to make mistakes. I see one over there now.” I watched him run after an Asian girl wearing a red bikini top. I took another sip of my jungle juice, even though it was disgusting. I surveyed the crowd in the room around me. There were guys and girls of all shapes and sizes in beach wear holding drinks in their hands. I wondered if college parties in Italy involved bathing suits. Somehow I doubted it. I could picture kids getting buzzed off glasses of wine—actual glasses and not plastic cups. I could see them getting toasted near the Colosseum or in a cobblestone alleyway, but not in a frat house that reeked of booze and sex.

Someone next to me tapped my shoulder. “What year are you?” she asked. Unlike the majority of the crowd, she wore a black one-piece instead of a bikini. She had long brown hair and a butterfly tattoo on her right shoulder. The butterfly had yellow wings and a blue body.

“I’m a freshman,” I said.

She slapped my forearm lightly. “That is so cute. I remember when I was a freshman. That seems so long ago. Can I give you some advice?”

“Sure.” The beat of a pop song pulsated through the floorboards; I could feel the bass line in my shoes.

“Live a lot and love a lot.”

I wasn’t sure if she meant “love” so much as “have sex” but I clinked cups with her and took a drink.

* * *

I didn’t feel so good when I woke up the next morning. My head pounded and my body ached like I had the flu. I looked at the clock and saw that it was past eleven.

“Damn.” I climbed out of bed, my head throbbing with every step downward. I poked Ronnie. “Wakey, wakey.”

“Uhhh,” he groaned.

“At least I know you’re alive.” We were scheduled to do a practice run of our class schedules that afternoon to make sure we knew where all the buildings were. I checked my phone. I had two missed calls from Mom, a message from Greta, and a voicemail from a number I didn’t recognize.

Thompson, this is Kenny Peterson from the Western Star. I’m the editor here. I’d like to have you come in for an interview. I’m in the office all day today and periodically this week. Please give me a call back and let me know what time works for you. Thanks.

“The paper called me.” At this, Ronnie sat up.

“Well, it looks like you’ve found yourself a hobby, my friend.”

I called Kenny back and told him I would meet him at the newspaper office at two. I wore my navy-blue suit, because I wasn’t sure how dressed up I had to be and figured it was better to be more polished than less. I didn’t wear a tie and unbuttoned the first button of my white shirt. The last time I’d worn the suit was to high school graduation, which seemed like a lifetime ago. When I got to the office the receptionist wasn’t working. I walked past the front desk into a room filled with computers and people typing away at them. A few people were on the phone. Some wore headphones or had earbuds in.

“I’m here to see Kenny,” I said. One girl turned away from her monitor and stood up. She was white, had long brown hair, and wore purple glasses that screamed modern librarian. She was on the tall side for a girl, maybe five-eight or five-nine.

“He’s back here,” she said. She waved her hand for me to follow. “Kenny, your interview is here.”

“Thompson,” he said. “What a great name. Sounds like a reporter.”

“Thanks.” Kenny was black and wore rimless glasses, which I’d always found a little unnerving. He wore a light blue button down shirt and jeans. Above his desk was a poster of a bald eagle sitting in front of a snow-covered mountain with the word LEADERSHIP printed across the top. It wasn’t unlike the cheesy inspirational posters that had lined the walls of my high school. I followed him into a conference room and sat down. He leaned back in his chair and put his hands together.

“So tell me, Thompson. What made you apply for a job here?”

“Well, I need to earn some money and the girl at your tent at orientation told me there would be an adventure every day,” I said. “That’s what got me.”

“How would you feel about talking to a politician? Or seeing a dead body?”

I wondered if he always started off interviews with those questions, as a test. “Well, I would ask the politician whatever needed to be asked. I’d take notes beforehand and practice if need be.”

“And the dead body?”

“Well, I haven’t actually seen one, so I’m not sure how I would react.” I’d been to one funeral in my life, Johnny’s nonna’s, but it was a closed casket so thankfully I didn’t have to see her like that. “I might throw up in the corner, but I think I could handle it.”

“What about someone who won’t return your calls or emails? How would you handle that?”

“I’d show up at their office, maybe. If I had to.”

He asked me to tell him about my writing experience, so I told him about the stories I’d written for the high school paper, what I could remember about them anyway, and talked up my good grades in Advanced Placement English.

“Writing for newspapers is very different, you know?” Kenny said. “It has to be clear, concise. Organized. Easy to read.”

“I can learn.”

“I like a guy who can find solutions,” he said. “We publish three days a week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and every day online.”

“That sounds good.”

Kenny leaned forward. “What’s your story, Thompson? What makes you tick?”

I wanted to tell him about Honolulu. About being friends with Ronnie, and dating Greta even though she was halfway across the world. I wanted to tell him about Samuel, my brother, and how I’d never gotten to know him. But that seemed a little too personal for this conversation.

“I’m just a regular guy trying to live an extraordinary life.”

Kenny slapped the table top. “You got the job, kid. Come in next Monday afternoon for the first staff meeting of the year.”

 

August 20

Dear Thompson,

The view from my room is amazing. I can see the edge of the top of the right side of the Colosseum. It’s basically a little gray corner of rock, but still. I wish you were here to see it with me. I wish you were in Italy, period. You would love it here—the food, the feeling you get when walking through a piazza. There’s nothing else like it.

I bet you didn’t think I would actually write to you. It takes so epically long to get mail, especially here, but it’s worth it. Letters are the kinds of things you hold on to, the kinds of things that people find in the attic one day when they’re eighty and smile and think, oh that guy Thompson…I remember him. Or that was when Thompson and I were just dating and we had no idea what would happen next…anyway, I hope you find this letter in your attic one day and think of me. Fondly, not angrily.

I miss my family a lot. Especially Dad. What about you? You miss Mr. and Mrs. Lake? Remember that time we were making out in your room and your dad came in? I thought I was going to die. In fact, I wanted to die. I wanted the floor to swallow me up and take me into Neverland. Or the ether. Or anywhere but your room lol.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know I’m thinking of you.

Love,

Greta


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

DEANNA CABINIAN is a marketing director who lives in the Midwest, but dreams of living by the ocean. When she isn't working or writing she enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband and their Havanese dog, Cuba. Visit her online at www.deannacabinian.com.

Q. Where can readers find out more about you?
A.
Readers can learn more about me at my web site, www.deannacabinian.com. I am also active on Twitter - @deannacabinian
Q. This book is part of a series, tell us about your series.
A.
The first book in the series, One Night, is about Thompson getting over a bad breakup. One Love is about his struggle to maintain a long-distance relationship during his freshman year of college. I set the series in Hawaii because it's my favorite place on earth.
Q. What books have influenced your life the most?
A.
John Green and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor are my favorite authors. Their work has definitely influenced me and my writing! Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's ALICE series was my favorite growing up. John Green is my recent favorite.

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