“When we got back to the room, Skye was asleep. I read the last seventy pages of The Bridges of Madison County in one hungry gulp. It’s a love story between two middle-aged people that doesn’t sound high on the sexy scale. But believe me, it was. Especially this one line that the guy, Robert, says to the woman, Francesca. It’s the last night they’re spending together and they’ve pretty much realized they’re going to have to go their separate ways after this. They’re laying in bed and he whispers, ‘In a universe of ambiguity, this kind of certainty comes only once, and never again, no matter how many lifetimes you live.’ I wrote that in my everything book, and then cried into my pillow for five minutes straight.
Around eleven thirty, I crawled out of bed. Other nights here, when I couldn’t sleep, I walked around the resort or chatted online with Ellie and Leora. Tonight, though, I wasn’t in a wandering mood. All I could think about was Robert and Francesca and whether that certainty will ever come my way (and, if so, please give me the time, date, and location). I needed something to calm me down. Maybe a soak in the hot tub. It was late, after all. No one around to see me in my poop-tankini glory.
I tiptoed to the bathroom and changed into my bathing suit. I wrapped a white towel around myself, and crept out the door and down the stairs.
The hot tub was steaming and there was only the dimmest light from the pool area. I tossed my towel on a chair, hit the button for the bubbles, and lowered myself in. As the warmth washed over my body, I stirred my legs around in the water. Maybe I could be like Francesca, full of untapped lust, waiting for the man of my dreams to pull into my driveway in his old pickup truck.
I’d just closed my eyes when a voice said, ‘How’s the temp?’
I looked up and my heart plummeted, I swear, into my colon. Because there, standing above me and ripping off his shirt was the guy. The guy from the diving board. The guy with the muscular calves and, oh god, the swimsuit riding low enough for me to conjure up some serious imagery.
‘It’s fine,’ I muttered. Then I sank even deeper into the water.
This was not how it was supposed to happen. I was supposed to bump into him when I was clothed, my hair blown out, makeup on. I know some girls, like Skye, can pull off the au naturelthing. But I need all the intervention the cosmetic world has to offer.
As he climbed into the tub, I had a sudden panic that I was going to fart and even though the light was faint he’d detect telltale bubbles. I quickly reassured myself that the jets were on (good move, Jena), so I was covered on one front. But that still left me in a hot tub, barely clothed, with the hottest guy on the planet.
It doesn’t get more awful than this.
I planted my ankles firmly on the ground so I wouldn’t knock into him and he wouldn’t think I was flirting and run screaming across Paradise, laughing at the notion that someone like me would think I had a shot with someone like him.
But I could still gawk, right?
And so, with my face angled toward the gurgling water, I watched this guy settle his body in the water (oh), groan slightly (my), fold his arms behind his head (freaking), and close his eyes (god!).
Since his eyes were shut, I took this opportunity to slide as far as possible to the other side of the hot tub. Once there, I stretched my arms behind myself in an attempt to appear relaxed.
And that’s when I felt it.
My fingers had landed on a folded-up piece of paper sitting on the edge of the hot tub. I stared at it for a moment, debating between two competing impulses.
Impulse #1: My self-preserving instinct to remain as motionless as possible.
Impulse #2: My obsessive need to read the contents of any discarded note.
Obsession beat out self-preservation. I opened the paper, careful not to ruin the ink with my damp fingers. There was just enough light for me to squint at the small, loopy letters. But once I began reading, a horrible, sick feeling washed over me.
Oh my god, I thought.”
Excerpted from TANGLED © Copyright 2011 by Carolyn Mackler. Reprinted with permission by HarperTeen. All rights reserved.