I wanted to share an excerpt from Boomerang Boyfriend, a YA Romantic Comedy which comes out in September. This scene takes place at Edison’s, an arcade where Jack and his friend Trevor hang out.
I ended up being a few minutes late meeting Trevor at Edison’s. He was riding a motorcycle attached to a machine. I slid my card through the scanner and climbed onto the motorcycle game next to his.
“You’re late,” he said. “Was there a burger emergency?”
I turned the handle, revving the engine. “That joke was old a year ago.”
“If it’s funny once, it’s funny forever,” he said.
“No. It’s not.” I wasn’t one of those guys that quoted movie lines all the time, and I didn’t like idiots who did. Just because someone wrote a funny line didn’t mean it was funny if someone randomly repeated it. Not that Trevor agreed with me.
He leaned into a turn and his bike tilted sideways. “If there wasn’t a burger emergency, did anything interesting happen?”
I gunned the engine and took off. “I think Aiden might have friend-zoned Delia.”
“Does that mean you’re interested?” Trevor asked.
“No.” I leaned left as I raced around the track. “It means nothing more interesting than that happened. People ate food, paid me, and I gave them change.”
“As my dad likes to say, ‘If it was fun, they wouldn’t have to pay you to do it.’ Speaking of jobs, are you going to the career fair after Thanksgiving?”
Just because it was my senior year didn’t mean I had a clear cut plan about what I wanted to do with my life. “I think I want to check out the engineering programs.”
“That is their mission in life, to keep an eye on me.” Trevor bounced up and down as his virtual bike zoomed up and over a set of small hills. “I get it. They had no idea what Graham was doing. Hell, I didn’t even know he was doing heroin. And if I’d ever been stupid enough to take one of those pills before Graham died, I certainly wouldn’t be stupid enough now.”
We’d all heard that you could buy pills cheaper than beer. Something that could kill you the first time you tried it should be more expensive to warn people off. So much of my life had been out of my control, I wasn’t interested in taking anything that could take control of me. Graham had been a normal guy. One day Trevor walked in and found his brother taking money from their mom’s purse. Money was never in short supply at their house. If Trevor asked for forty bucks, his dad handed it over, so Graham sneaking money had been strange. A month later Trevor found Graham dead in his car. The autopsy said the pill he took had something besides heroin in it, which made him stop breathing. Why in the hell would anyone want to take something that could make him stop breathing? I didn’t get it.
A loud explosion came from his machine. “Well I just crashed and burned.” He climbed off his bike.
Ten seconds later, I crashed into wall and the game was over. “Is there any way to end this game where you don’t slam into a wall?”
“Nope,” Trevor said, “I think it’s inevitable because it’s designed that way.”
“Kind of like life.” I laughed.
“That’s one of the things, I like about you. You’re so optimistic,” Trevor said. “What do you want to do next?”
“Air hockey.” I pointed at the machine across the room.
“So now that Delia’s free, maybe you should ask her out,” Trevor said as we headed for the air hockey table.
“Nah. She’s sister-zoned.” And I just needed to remind myself of that the next time I sat across from her and her sparkly lip gloss in art class.
“Really? Because she’s rocking that waitress uniform,” Trevor said.
“What are you talking about?” And then I saw her. Delia had walked into Edison’s and headed for the whack-a-mole game. She picked up the mallet and started whacking the crap out of the moles that popped up.
“I could be wrong,” Trevor said, “but I think she’s using that game as anger management.”
“That’s what it looks like.”
“You should go talk to her. I’ll go to order a pizza and drinks in case she wants to join us.”
“What am I supposed to say to her?” I asked.
“I’m taking care of the food,” Trevor replied. “The rest is up to you.”
Great. I headed over to Delia, watching as she waged war on the defenseless motorized stuffed animals. When I was within ten feet of her, she set the mallet down and turned around.
Her eyes widened and her cheeks colored. “Hello, Jack.”
“Hey. Are you okay?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
I pointed at the game. “You just whaled on the moles.”
“Isn’t that the point of the game?” she asked.
I stared at her for a minute.
“What?” she snapped.
“I’m trying to decide if I should offer you chocolate or duck and cover.”
She leaned back against the game and crossed her arms over her chest. “I’ve had a strange night.”
“I could take your mind off your troubles by beating you at air hockey.”
“I don’t like air hockey,” she glanced around. “I bet I could beat you at foosball.”
“Foosball is like playing with dolls on sticks.”
“If you’re afraid I’ll beat you…”
Now she was smiling. “Let’s make this interesting. If I win, you change your hair back to its normal color.”
“Are you crazy? Do you know how hard it is to get this color of platinum blond?”
I rolled my eyes. “Fine then you change your pink to a normal hair color, like brown.”
“I could do that,” she said, “and if I win you let me highlight your hair, or maybe give you blond tips.”
“What does that mean?”
She pulled out her cell and then found a picture. “It’s kind of a retro punk look. Like this.”
The drummer in the photo had spiked hair and the last half inch was blond. It was sort of cool, but I couldn’t let her know I thought that. “That’s ridiculous. Not that it matters, because I’m going to win.”
We headed over the foosball table. She dropped the ball into play and we both spun our men trying to get a piece of the ball. She shot it toward my goal, and I wasn’t fast enough to block.
“One to nothing.” She did a little dance as she announced the score, which was sort of distracting. I needed to get my head back in the game.
I managed to score two goals in a row. “Two to one,” I said.
“I can count.” She hit the ball. I smacked it back toward her goal. She managed to whack it so that it ricocheted into my goal. “Look at that…two to two.”
We went back and forth scoring point for point until we were four for four. “This point decides whose getting a new hair color.” I dropped the ball in and Delia kicked it toward my goal. I blocked but couldn’t get it clear of her first row of men. She whacked it back. I blocked again and shot it toward the side. She kicked the ball and it slid right past my goalie.
Delia laughed and did a victory dance. “You are going to look so cool with highlights.”
I dropped my head in mock defeat and then smiled back at her. “Fine. I’ll let you mess with my hair, but that doesn’t mean I won’t wear a hat until it grows out.”
“Boo,” she said.
I spotted Trevor waving at me and then pointing down at the table which must mean the food had arrived. “Trevor ordered pizza, if you want to join us.”
“Thanks, but I better go. We’ll talk later about when I’m going to change up your hair.”
I faked confusion. “My hair? Why would we do anything to my hair?”
She snorted. “Nice try.” And then she walked off.
I watched the sway of her hips until she exited the building. Was I really going to let her mess with my hair? How would that work? I imagined her running her fingers through my hair. That wouldn’t be a bad thing.