Title: Claire Gets Caught
Front Blurb: First Zoey fooled around with Lucas and Jake found out. Then Claire wanted Jake, so she broke up with Ben but ended up alone. Now Claire has a scheme to get Jake back. It’s foolproof—unless… Claire Gets Caught.
Back Blurb: They’ve all grown up together on a tiny island. They think they know everything about one another… but they’re only just beginning to find out the truth.
Claire gets caught meddling in people’s love lives. She’s trying to help her friends fix their frazzled relationships, but she succeeds in messing up all of them except one—her own.
I love this book. It’s not so much that it’s a book about Claire being awesome and manipulative (in an incredibly non-meddling way) – although that’s great too – but I love books where the characters go away from their normal lives, and I ADORE Grapplegate’s fun ways of speeding up time, so this has everything. Also, it’s light-hearted (comparatively, anyway) after the emotionally draining Nina Won’t Tell, and I find Ben’s in Love to be a bit dull. This one kicks up the energy again.
It’s just a win all round.
That said, I am not having much fun recapping the books. I love reading them, I love talking about them, I love reading Rosey and Wing’s recaps of them, but actually doing the recap myself? Not so much, and I’m not sure why. Probably because I love them so much as they are that having to sit down and think about them is a hard for me.
[Wing: I think it’s harder to recap things we love, and, for me, it takes at least twice as long and often more to write them, which is exhausting.]
We open with the scene where Claire claims to have given up on Jake from the previous book. But with a bit extra – this wasn’t Claire calling it quits by any stretch of the imagination. This was Claire deliberately ending the relationship in a room full of romantic couples, stating that she’s giving him up for his own good and letting him have what he thinks he wants, so that he’ll come running back to her. Claire is complicated. I love her.
Then we move on to the notes from everyone. This one is a quiz that Zoey found in a magazine. The first question is:
1. On the issue of sex, your boyfriend will say he is willing to:
(A) Put it off until you are married;
(B) Wait until you feel the time is right and not pressure you till then;
(C) Pressure you to do it because once you try it you’ll like it;
(D) Leave you and go out with someone else if you keep saying no;
(E) Not applicable, we’re already having sex.
Zoey says that Lucas is between a B and a C, but will answer B to appease her.
Lucas says that D is not completely impossible if he hears no for the next ten years, but really he feels more like C. However, he’s not an idiot, so will answer B.
Nina skips that question and moves on to the next one.
2. Your boyfriend’s idea of a perfect date would be:
(A) Going out for burgers and a movie;
(B) Having a picnic on the beach and watching the sun go down;
(C) Attending a rock concert or
(D) Hanging out with a big group of your mutual friends.
Nina knows that Benjamin would like C best, but would answer B because a blind guy watching a sunset is funny. And she’s right, B is the answer he gives.
Aisha says C and B for Christopher, and then moves on to the next question.
3. Will your boyfriend say that:
(A) You are both free to see other people;
(B) He can see other girls but he expects you to be faithful;
(C) He’ll be faithful to you but he understands if you want to go out with other guys;
(D) Let’s just see how it all works out.
She says he’d answer A but mean B.
Christopher points out that only a complete scumbag would answer B – despite that being the answer he wants to give – after Aisha’s family have taken care of him after his run-in with the skinheads, so goes with D. [Wing: Christopher! I do not remember you being this gross the first time around.] [Rosey: I’m really growing to dislike Christopher tbh.]
Lucas is out surfing because there are actual surfable waves for once, which is down to a storm in the Atlantic somewhere (I bet Claire would know the precise details), and Zoey is ogling his bod. The wetsuit is very tight. Zoey lights a fire and they make out for a bit before Zoey has to put a stop to things. Zoey again tells him that she’s not ready for sex. Lucas pouts, grudgingly says the right things, but without a hint of sincerity. [Rosey: I’m really growing to dislike Lucas tbh.]
After another make-out session, Zoey is feeling a bit too agitated to go straight home, so decides to drop in on Nina, since they haven’t spoken since the night before Homecoming. On her way in, she notices that Claire is on her widow’s walk, and they talk about the weather. Claire uses a lot of terminology that baffles Zoey, so breaks it down into lay-person’s terms: Snow. Killington. Three-day weekend coming up.
Zoey realises that Claire’s suggesting a ski trip and is suitably excited – this is probably the only thing she and Claire have in common. Then she heads inside the house to talk to Nina, and quickly deduces that Nina’s been avoiding her because she’s been avoiding Benjamin. Nina says her first date was no big deal, but after a bit of pressing admitted that she had a nice time, she wasn’t sure when to start and stop holding hands, but overall it was nice. And that she kissed Benjamin, on the mouth, with no tongue. The last detail makes Zoey question the wisdom of about pressing her BFF for romance details about her brother. [Wing: You only just figured that out? Oh, Zoey.] Nina decides that kissing Benjamin is papayas.
“You know, like it’s unfamiliar, you haven’t tasted it before, so you’re cautious. It’s not something you’re sure of, like watermelon or apples. Then you start thinking, well, it’s new and different, but it’s not bad. I could see where over time I could develop a taste for this.”
She then worries that Benjamin’s not as into papayas as she was, because he’s had them before with Claire. Zoey reassures her that Claire’s too into Jake to make a play for Benjamin, but Nina says that Claire dumped Jake, so…
“Please. Claire would snatch a cookie out of the hand of a starving orphan. I’m not saying she would enjoy it, but if she felt she had to… I’ve tried to tell you,” Nina went on, wagging her finger, “she worships Satan up there on that widow’s walk. In fact, Claire gets Satan to do her homework for her. Last week he slept over and they made popcorn and stayed up all night watching reruns on Nick at Night. Satan is especially fond of F Troop, it turns out.”
I fucking love Nina. If you don’t love Nina, I honestly don’t understand you. [Rosey: 2014Satan loves Full House.]
Nina asks Zoey to find out how Benjamin feels about her, but Zoey says no, she’s not getting in between them.
Over with the Grays, Christopher is revelling in the luxury of the Presidential Suite of Gray Inn, which could fit all of his apartment into the bedroom alone, and on top of that is a dressing room, a living area, and a fabulous bathroom with a Jacuzzi in. He’s in the hot tub watching TV when Aisha shows up, telling him to stay in the water, she doesn’t want to see anything. She asks if he can come down for dinner, or should they bring something up. He asks her to kiss him and – after thinking about it and saying she’s not sure, they’re not exactly resolved right now – she does. Aisha pulls away first and says she loves him – he pauses to think about it, he just doesn’t want to limit himself to one girl, although he does love her, and appreciate the fact that she’s been so loyal and caring about it – and that’s it. Aisha’s hurt by his hesitation and she walks away. [Wing: Why do you tell him you love him?! You don’t even want to kiss him at first because you’re not exactly resolved and yet you turn around and tell him you love him?! Aisha, I love you, but oh honey, no.]
Claire thinks to herself that the ski trip is perfect – she’s invited Zoey, who’ll invite Nina, therefore Aisha will go, and Lucas will follow Zoey, so Christopher will probably go with Aisha, and Benjamin might even go to spend time with Nina – providing she hasn’t screwed up their relationship already. It’ll be quite natural for Jake to go along, since he loves skiing more than any of them. Providing it looks like an islander outing, not a couple’s retreat. The next stage is getting someone else to ask him. [Wing: I love our machinations, Claire!]
She bumps into Zoey and Nina downstairs, and brings up the skiing trip, saying that she and Zoey are going, and presumably Lucas. Zoey immediately panics at the thought of just the three of them (Zoey, her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s ex) and invites Nina. Claire implies that she doesn’t want Nina to come, which makes Nina immediately state she’ll be going. Claire says one of them had better invite Benjamin. Claire is so good at reading people. Manipulation is not my thing at all, but I really do love the way Claire does her thing. She’s elegant. [Wing: Claire is such a delight. I love how she outlines a plan and then sees it through.]
Next up is question 4 of Zoey’s quiz.
4. Which of the following ten descriptions would your boyfriend agree apply to you?
Jake would say she was: manipulative, beautiful, intelligent and sensual (she’s not [as much as people would think] but Jake would hope she is); but not vain, giving, friendly, romantic (Claire is, but Jake wouldn’t say so), funny, loyal (again, she is, but Jake wouldn’t see it that way), good (she tries to do what’s right as long as it’s the one that gets results).
(Also, that’s 11 descriptions, not 10.) [Wing: I’m surprised she could limit herself to 11. I think I’d need a book to write all the sides of Claire.]
On the ferry on the way home from school, we have a delightful conversation between Aisha, Zoey and Nina. I always love these, because they always show the friendship between the girls. Nina wants to know whether there is some secret rule about boys and girls sitting together at certain times (the boys never sit with them at lunch, etc.) and maybe she should not approach Benjamin. Zoey reiterates that she’s not getting involved in that one. Nina then turns to Aisha and asks if Christopher wants to go skiing, which Aisha immediately snarks at. They explain the plan to go skiing – Claire’s dad knows someone who will let them have a condo – and Aisha considers asking Christopher. They discuss how it’s a bit couply, except for Claire, who will be going solo. For half a second, Nina wonders if this is all a great plan to get Jake up in the mountains for canoodling, but decides not, as “not even Claire was that subtle.” [Wing: How dare you doubt her. How very dare.]
Nina falls in step beside Benjamin as they get off the ferry, and has an infuriating conversation where she wants to know if she should keep reading to him or not, but it’s all in double-speak and “do you want me to not want to read to you?” Nina, I love you, but I really hate this. But you get a pass, because if anyone on the island has a reason to get anxious about their newly-started love life, it’s you. Benjamin says he had a nice time when they went out, Nina said she did too – the music and the dancing – and Benjamin reads this as a clue that she’s just not that into him. But she will come over and read to him. *shakes head* This kind of stuff does my head in. But then, I’m just wired to say exactly what I mean.
Oh, and now we have the same scene from Sweet Valley Twins in my last recap: Jessica’s New Look. Zoey’s English teacher has been contacted by someone from the Weymouth Times to do an article on illegal drug use on the varsity football team.
Zoey felt a thrill of anticipation. It was just the youth page, but it was for a real paper. Those kinds of clips, along with her contributions to the high school paper, would help get her on the student paper when she went to college. And that was an important step toward landing a serious reporting job when she graduated from college. Not the White House beat for the Washington Post, maybe, but a good starting job that might lead to the White House beat at the Washington Post. Followed by some time overseas covering wars and natural disasters. Then, after she’d proven herself as a serious journalist, a move to TV. Say, ABC bureau chief in Paris or Tokyo or Jerusalem. And during her spare time, she’d write steamy romance novels under a wittily chosen pen name. Only her closest friends would realize that the queen of romance and the serious, Pulitzer-prize-winning foreign correspondent were the same woman.
(I posit the theory that her steamy romance pseud will be Chastity Houston. Is it arrogant to reference your own fanfic? It is, isn’t it? Ah, sod it, there are like four Making Out fanfics on the internet and I wrote one and a half of them.) [Wing: Dear god, I hope there’s more than four, because I wrote two and a half.] [Rosey: I’m gonna need links for the other ones please! The Christmas one is a delight, and that detail about Zoey being North Harbour’s own EL James was the cherry on top.]
Zoey wonders if Jake knows anything. Lucas had made a comment about Jake being high at the homecoming game, but she hopes that it was just down to the bad blood between them, and not actual facts.
Over with Jake, he’s putting himself through a vigorous workout to combat the weakness he knows must be there – he let the team down by doing cocaine; he let his brother down by loving Claire; and Claire dumped him because he’s a loser. [Rosey: we never hear anything about Jake having seen a grief counselor to help him deal with Wade’s death. His parent’s seem ok for cash, can we get the boy someone to talk to about all this please?]
He was convinced that everyone would be talking about him behind his back, but there was nothing. He would have plenty to say if someone so straight-arrow got high during a game. What people are talking about is him sleeping with Louise Kronenberger aka K-berger (aka the slut of this piece, especially as far as Zoey is concerned). The bizarrely named BeeBee Hoyt asks him about Louise, and Jake snaps back that he guesses it’s open season on him now (also, internally, he doesn’t remember a thing about having sex with her, only that she was at a party where he got wasted). BeeBee quickly says no, he has no idea what Jake’s talking about. Coach explained it to them all, and so if Coach says they know nothing about anything, then they know nothing. He heaves a sigh of relief, Coach is covering for him to protect his chances of getting into a college athletics programme, and with Jake’s clean reputation, he can get past this blip, even if the story does eventually trickle out. [Rosey: This is just reinforcing the idea that coach has been here before with his team and is an old hand at covering up for them. It’s no wonder the local paper are sniffing about.] [Dove: I hadn’t thought about that until now. That’s a really good point.]
Then we shoot over to the girls at lunch, and they are first of all wondering what the hell their lunch is – everyone is very sassy and adorable – then Claire moves them on to skiing, and promptly feels like tearing her hair out as Zoey and Aisha immediately start making excuses because they don’t want to be alone with their men, and the sleeping arrangements are going to be a faff to arrange. So then she turns to Nina, who also hasn’t asked Benjamin. She internally vows that like it or not, everyone is going with their boyfriends, whether they like it or not.
I love Claire, and I get her frustration. Also, I can see Zoey and Aisha’s point of view – their guys may grudgingly respect it when they say no, but they do try the “Sex now? No? How about now? Still no? How about now?” approach, which must be a pain in the ass. Claire is lucky she’s so aloof that nobody has the nerve to pressure her.
Back with Jake, he has a free period because he’s off the football team at the moment, and he runs into Louise, who thanks him for Friday night. Jake says he doesn’t remember anything that happened, and Louise says she can’t believe he didn’t remember his first time. Jake is shocked, and Louise says they were both drunk and “it was my idea as much as it was yours.” so, um, neither of them could fully consent? Is that better or worse? Let’s just say this is not a good thing for either of them, although Louise doesn’t seem to mind at the moment. Jake worries that other people know about him and Louise and it will get back to Claire and she’ll never take him back. [Rosey: Eugh, this is messy, but Louise remembers it and knows he thought she was someone else, so I think she was in the position of power? I definitely wouldn’t say it was as much Jake’s idea as her’s.]
Next question on the quiz:
5. Will your boyfriend say that he tells you the whole truth
(A) All of the time, even if it reflects badly on him;
(B) Most of the time, unless it reflects badly on you;
(C) Only when it’s something you need to know;
(D) Only when it suits his purposes. (Try to get your boyfriend to answer at least this question honestly.)
Claire says: Jake is an A – the only guy she knows who is. Benjamin is fundamentally honest, but will save it up for when it will do him the most good. She and Lucas weren’t particularly honest with each other back in the day. Claire herself is a D.
Aisha says Christopher is a D, but if she got him up to a C, she could live with that. She’s a B. Like, she wouldn’t tell him that his singing “makes birds fall down dead out of the trees”. She’s saving that for when she’s really pissed off with him. [Rosey:… So she’s a D?]
Nina says that Benjamin is between a B and a C (a C+), and she’s sorry for screwing up his GPA and hopes there will be a makeup test. Also, she’s not really sure they’re a proper couple anyway.
Zoey doesn’t give a letter answer, she just says that she and Lucas are utterly honest, e.g. he’s honest that he wants sex, and she’s honest that she’s not ready. But she’s not sure how these honest opposing views are going to affect their relationship.
Over with Claire, her plan is not going well. Behold:
On Thursday morning Aisha complained that now that she was spending more time under the same roof with Christopher, she was beginning to think he wasn’t as good-looking as she had once thought. On Tuesday evening Benjamin had called the house wanting to speak to Nina, and Nina, who had once quivered every time Benjamin entered a room, told Claire to tell him she was out. Then, just this morning, Zoey had shown all the signs of pouting after some sort of fight with Lucas, who was showing all the signs of pouting right back.
[Wing: Poor Claire, if only people were as easy to manage as your plans.]
When Nina, Zoey and Aisha go to the mall after school, Claire declines to go with them and instead rides the ferry home with all of her exes to put her plan into motion. First she asks Benjamin what his answer is about the ski trip. Benjamin, of course, knows nothing. Benjamin says he can’t figure out her angle, and Claire says that: a) she’s got to make arrangements for the condo; and b) she might not be the best sister ever but she actually does care for Nina, so if there’s an issue, can she help. Benjamin says that Nina’s sending him signals that the dance was a one-time thing. Claire says she’ll see what she can find out, but she thinks it’s probably Nina’s inexperience of what happens after a first date. So, will he go? Benjamin tentatively agrees, since it’ll be funny to see people’s reactions to him saying he spent the weekend skiing. He then adds that he still doesn’t know what she’s up to. She kisses him on the cheek and tells him to lighten up.
Lucas sees the kiss and is a bit enraged about all the secrets that keep falling in his lap: Louise and Jake hooking up; Christopher getting other girls’ numbers; and now knowing the identities of the skinheads that beat up Christopher. And on the last one, see Rosey’s very accurate rant about his selfishness in her recap. Lucas is keeping that secret on the off chance that the skinheads find out it was him who told the police who actually hurt Christopher and they might hurt Zoey. Another secret is that Christopher asked him to get a gun – as if Lucas knows how.
Lucas heads over to see Christopher, who immediately asks about the gun again. Lucas says no, guns are for killing and the guys didn’t kill him. Christopher says he can injure them with a gun then. Christopher is very frustrated and you can really feel his impotence in this, and the police are not making any progress (thanks, Lucas), is he supposed to just shrug off the fact that a bunch of dudes flattened him because of the colour of his skin. Lucas tries to talk him down, saying wouldn’t he rather go to college next year, instead of prison; he doesn’t even know who jumped him, so is he just going to shoot white dudes and hope they’re racist; and Lucas had to take a twice-weekly beating from his dad every week before he want to Youth Authority, so he understands the rage, and “Sometimes you just have to take your beating and survive.” [Rosey: I’m really growing to dislike Lucas tbh.]
He heads over to see Zoey, who’s out, and gets talking to Benjamin. Benjamin asks him if he’s up for the ski trip, and Lucas, naturally, knows nothing about it. Benjamin says “A-ha!” then admits that he doesn’t know what the “A-ha!” was for, but something is up. Apparently everyone is going skiing, but none of the boys know anything about it, and Claire’s up to something. Lucas realises that Zoey hasn’t invited him because THEY COULD HAVE SEX! LOTS OF SEX! SEX IN THE SNOW! SEX IN THE HOT TUB! SEX AGAINST THE WALL! SEX ON THE FLOOR! SEX ON A BEAR SKIN RUG IN FRONT OF A ROARING FIRE! SEX! SEX! SEX! [Wing: … maybe avoid the snow. And actually, if so many other people have used the hot tub, also the hot tub.]
When Zoey gets home, he ambushes her, calling her a hypocrite for keeping secrets and generally being a complete brat about it. It’s quite enjoyable, despite Lucas being an asshat for keeping the identity of the skinheads secret.
6. First, rate your boyfriend’s looks end attractiveness on a scale of one to ten, with one being equal to, say, Senator Jesse Helms, and ten being a melding of John Kennedy Junior and Denzel Washington. Then rate yourself. Finally, have your boyfriend rate you and himself on the same scale.
Zoey complains that the suggested hot guys in the question are a bit out of date (in the 90s!), and objects to the question on feminist grounds, but then rates herself a 7 and Lucas a 9. [Rosey: In 2014 the out-of-date-hot-guys were Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale. I feel old.]
Lucas says Zoey’s a 10, and he’s a 7 because “I look more like I should be a bass player for some alternative rock band.” Lucas, some girls much prefer that look to Jake’s John Cena looks. [Wing: Why not both? Don’t knock yourself, Lucas, both looks are good. Also, in case you don’t listen to our Sweet Valley Online podcast, we did another round of rating musical instruments, and I was soundly mocked for calling bass guitarists the hottest guitarists. I think Lucas just proved my point.]
Claire says “Who cares?”
Aisha says that Christopher would rate her 8 or 9, and says he’s an 8, but believe himself to be a 12 – or infinity. Aisha thinks she’s probably an 8, and Christopher is the same. [Wing: I am dying over how Aisha thinks Christopher would rate himself.]
Christopher says Aisha’s a 9 and he’s a 10. [Rosey: How can Aisha have Christopher so fucking dialed but still think they can have the relationship she wants?]
Nina requests fractions to avoid the question, then says that Benjamin would have to go by what people told him – Zoey would say a 10, Claire would say a 2, which averages out at 6. Benjamin himself is perfect, so probably wouldn’t have anything to do with her if he could see.
(No, Nina. You and your sister are literally the best things in this entire series. You’re both 10s.)
On the ferry on the way to school, there’s a rather tense discussion about what’s going on with the ski trip. Now that the boys know, the girls are obligated to go – but they’re not sure who leaked it first. Nina has to ask Benjamin, so that he knows that she wants him to go (unless he doesn’t want her to want him to go, in which case she doesn’t), and Benjamin cautiously says he’ll go, because it’s a group outing and they’re friends. She stomps off and tells Claire she and Benjamin are in, and Claire says good, Benjamin seemed keen when she asked him yesterday. Claire says that she was doing Nina a favour, but Nina thinks that Claire must want Benjamin back.
During gym, Aisha and Zoey are playing tennis against Claire and Louise. When Zoey hits the ball over the fence, they all congregate to talk instead. Louise uses this time to wind up Zoey and Claire by implying she’s after at least one of their boyfriends. Zoey naturally gets riled up and blurts that Lucas will be spending the weekend skiing with her, and Louise makes a crack about virgin islanders, then pointedly says that not all of them are virgins. Zoey assumes the worst, thinking that there’s a chance she slept with Lucas.
Later Zoey wonders if she should invite Jake skiing, since she knows he loves it more than anyone else. She goes back and forth on it for awhile (and admits it would be a little self-serving, she could ask him about her article), and eventually asks Claire what she thinks about it. Claire plays it very coolly, saying she’ll ski, and if Jake wants to come, she won’t stop him. Zoey thinks Claire is an icy princess with no heart, but is happy that she can invite Jake. [Wing: I love you, Claire.]
Jake sees them talking and worries hard, having heard his name come up – he thinks they either know about the suspension, his hookup with Louise, or both. He nearly laughs out loud when Zoey catches up to him and invites him skiing. He thinks Claire asked Zoey to ask him, and isn’t really into that. However, he does love skiing, and is proud of the way the islanders always hang out together, so says he will go along.
7. How does your boyfriend feel about the other people in your life? Try to guess whether your boyfriend will say he:
(A) really likes;
(B) somewhat likes;
(C) is indifferent to;
(D) somewhat dislikes;
(E) can’t stand:
your closest friends, your mom and dad, your siblings, and your previous boyfriend, if applicable. Then compare your guesses to your boyfriend’s actual answers.
Zoey says that this is an interesting question, because she hasn’t thought about it before. Lucas probably somewhat likes Aisha, Nina, Benjamin and her parents; somewhat dislikes Claire; and is closest to indifference to Jake, given their history.
Claire says that her closest friends would most likely be Zoey and Aisha, and she doesn’t know how Jake feels about Aisha, but obviously he still cares deeply for Zoey. He’s indifferent to her father, and Jake and Nina loathe each other. Jake is the absolute opposite of Benjamin, so she doubts they’ll ever be close.
Aisha’s not even sure how Christopher feels about her. He seems to like everyone in her life, but for all she knows he’s secretly lusting for any or all of her female friends, she just doesn’t know. Which sucks because he’s the only guy she’s ever fallen for.
Nina knows her best friend gets along with Benjamin, since they’re siblings. He gets on well with her father. Benjamin and Claire aren’t as close as they were, but Nina thinks things could resurge, so:
There’s only one possible solution—kill Claire in her sleep. A stake through the heart should do it, but it will have to be sometime when the sun’s up and her evil power is weakest.
Zoey plans to buy something to sleep in that makes it clear that sex is off the table, somewhere between Sears and Victoria’s Secret. Sounds sexy. Zoey starts making a list, Nina mocks her for it, and Aisha supports list-making. I absolutely guarantee that Wing is on Team List. You should see her when she’s shopping for planners. Actually, I think planners is a touchy subject right now. [Wing: I’m designing one for my writing group. Fuck everything else. And lists are the best.] I’m Team Mental List with Nina. Nina then produces her dad’s AmEx card, saying she told him she was thinking of completely changing her look, while showing a J Crew catalogue. Claire says she’s proud of her for the beautiful manipulation.
It lists what everyone buys, I won’t do the full list, but here we go:
Zoey: sexy nightshirt; unsexy nightshirt; three bodice-ripper romance novels; REM CD; skiing/travel misc. [Rosey: 2014Zoey doesn’t buy a CD, which makes sense, but I bet it would have been Coldplay.]
Claire: French roast coffee and two books; skiing/travel misc [Wing: What exactly — oh, wait. That says “misc” and not “music.” I was going to ask what songs were skiing music, but never mind.]
Aisha: Two books on skiing for beginners; green satin PJs; magazine with article on “Why Men Lie”; skiing/travel misc.
Nina: (I’m quoting the lot here) 1 Porno for Pyros CD; 1 large bag peanut M&M’s; 2 pairs men’s boxer shorts; 4 pairs L.L. Bean heavy woolen socks; 1 Barney the Dinosaur mask (Spencer’s Gifts); 1 sample-size Afta Shave; 3 temporary tattoos; 1 Thighmaster; 1 ChapStick
Jake: Skiing misc.
Christopher: The same books as Aisha; condoms; travel misc.
Benjamin: CDs (including Blind Melon – ♫ all I can say is that my life is pretty plain… ♫); books on tape; scarf (“hopefully black”); and Jolly Ranchers.
Lucas: Mints and condoms.
[Wing: I could really use (a) some of the girls being ready for sex and (b) girls buying their own condoms.] [Dove: True, but I don’t think this is a likely moment for that. Zoey and Aisha have actively told their guys that sex is not just off the table, but not even in the same room as the table. Nina and Benjamin are completely confused about whether they even are a couple, and Claire is, techinically, single. Although it would have been interesting if she’d bought some. It would work well with her character – prepare for every possible outcome, even the less likely ones. However, there are scenes of non-slut girls buying condoms in later books.]
Zoey heads to the restaurant after her shopping trip, where her parents separately give her a talk about being sensible – Darla is actually shocked that her daughter doesn’t drink. Because she’s a cool mom.
[Rosey: ^^^This is literally what I hear whenever Darla is talking.] [Dove: I hear ~I’m not like other girls~, she really needs it on a t-shirt or something.] The Darla moves on to the sex talk. Use a condom if she must sleep with someone. Also, don’t sit on public toilet seats and flush using your foot. Ah, so Darla’s one of the annoying people who piss all over the loo seat, because they’re worried about their regal bottom touching something that other bottoms have touched. Zoey asks who was with her mom in the van earlier today, and Darla says nobody.
That night, Zoey can’t sleep because she’s worried about sex. She feels the pressure already, and it’s not like she doesn’t want to sleep with Lucas at some point. The problem is, she considered having sex with Jake too, and they broke up and she fell for Lucas more deeply than she loved Jake, so how could she be sure Lucas is the one.
Unless you’re Wing, I’m pretty sure most people don’t end up with their childhood sweetheart. *smirks* Sorry, it just always amuses me that the least romantic of this recapping team can claim such a sweet and romantic achievement. And I like the way she gets cross when I bring it up.
But back to Zoey, I think she’d be less anxious about this if she wasn’t such a dramatic romantic person. I think Zoey’s questing for her loss of virginity to be with her soulmate who she has marriage and babies with, rather than accepting that it’s quite likely that she’ll have sex with someone who she loves, but they won’t be together forever. Actually, I think Zoey’s quest for absolute perfection is what causes pretty much all of her problems with everything. It has to be storybook rather than reality, and damn if she doesn’t lose her shit when reality interferes. [Wing: This is a good description of how a lot of people think about it.] [Rosey: +1 to all this.]
Claire is also awake and on her widow’s walk, quite nervous about the upcoming trip. She hopes for true love and happiness, but is happy if she gets Jake back and they work on it from there.
8. Will your boyfriend say it is okay for him to
(A) look at other girls as long as it is totally innocent;
(B) look at other girls, deliberately make eye contact, and smile;
(C) look at other girls as much as he wants as long as he doesn’t actually ask them out; or
(D) never look at other girls when he’s with you.
Nina just says “next question”.
Zoey says she doesn’t mind if Lucas looks if it’s innocent, but if he answers B or C she won’t be happy. She never looks at other guys. Almost never.
Claire is not that fussed. If he wants to look, fine, because she looks too. If he wants to cheat, then he’s going to cheat, regardless of her worrying or imposing rules about looking at other girls. Claire is so chill and philosophical.
Aisha hates it when Christopher looks and even more so when he does more than look. She is PISSED OFF about it.
Next up we get “The Drive” which is a very quick snapshot of the shit that goes down for each person who drives. I’ll bullet point the highlights, but honestly, you must read these books, because when Grapplegate do this, you can only appreciate the full fun of it by reading the whole thing. Also, the 1990s release have drawings of cars and things in the margins. I bet Rosey’s new releases do not. [Rosey: *sigh* They do not.]
- Claire is wearing a leather mini-skirt. Christopher admires her legs. Aisha is cross. [Rosey: Remeber this from earlier? “Aisha’s not even sure how Christopher feels about her. He seems to like everyone in her life, but for all she knows he’s secretly lusting for any or all of her female friends, she just doesn’t know.”]
- Zoey hates music while she drives, because she worries about killing everyone. (Zoey is growing on me. I’m a very nervous passenger. This is a result of aquaplaning on a motorway and hitting a solid barrier at 70mph.)
- Christopher stops gazing at Claire’s legs. Aisha is pleased until she notices he can now see a great view of her cleavage in the rearview mirror. [Rosey: I’m really growing to dislike Christopher.]
- Claire frequently glances at Jake in the rearview mirror. Nina thinks she’s looking at Benjamin.
- Jake plays highway tag when he drives and engages in trash talking with a “Mass-hole” (driver from Massachusetts).
- Benjamin plays an opera CD, which unifies everyone else into voting for turning it off.
- Aisha requests a pee break, Zoey joins her. The boys team up, Nina joins the girls, and they have a big argument over bladder size relative to gender until Claire tells Jake to make the pee break stop.
- Zoey and Lucas hold hands under a jacket.
- Benjamin sits between Nina and Claire, Nina thinks he’s sitting closer to her, but can’t be sure.
- Nobody wants her to drive, but nobody had the nerve to say so. Everyone is terrified.
- Claire lets her skirt ride up a little, and Jake keeps glancing at her legs and hates himself.
- Benjamin wonders why Nina smells of Afta Shave.
- Aisha lets Christopher put his arm around her.
- Lucas valiantly ignores Claire’s hair which is draped over the back of the seat and touching his knees.
Everyone is exhausted by the time they arrive. And this chapter is exactly the kind of thing that I love about this series. I wish more books employed fun mechanics like this. Try Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriaty, which doesn’t do the same thing, but avoids traditional storytelling.
Once they get inside, Zoey immediately collars Claire to complain about the sleeping arrangements, there are only two bedrooms, 1x double bed; 2x double beds; pull-out couch in the living room gives 8 places to sleep. Claire assumes the girls will bunk with girls, the boys with boys, but everything goes to hell very quickly.
The boys are terrified they will catch “teh ghey” from sharing a bed, even Benjamin weighs in to say guys don’t share beds. I actually know straight guys who do. They’re mostly Magic: the Gathering players – if they share a bed at an event, they have more money to BUY CARDS! BUY SLEEVES! BUY PLAYMATS! BUY MORE CARDS! [Rosey: When I was the same age as these kids, my friends and I would frequently share beds in all kinds of combinations. But our cohort also included actual gays, so I guess we were all less scared of catching it *eyeroll*]
Claire comes pretty close to killing everyone. If she was Jessica Wakefield, it would be like the twin/hallway scene from The Shining right now.
Claire tries to be reasonable: the girls are willing to share beds, the boys are not, therefore two of the boys need to sleep on the floor. That does not go well. The boys counter that they’re not the problem, the girls who won’t share with them are.
“Fine,” Claire snapped. “Let’s draw lots or whatever. Four people win. Then those four people can invite or not invite one of the remaining four to share. For my part, if I win, I’ll sleep with Zoey or Aisha.”
Nina chose that moment to come wandering in from the bathroom. “Excuse me? Claire? Is there something you’ve been hiding from me all these years?”
“Let me have your pack of cigarettes,” Claire demanded.
“Smoking and sleeping with girls?” Nina asked archly. “Boy, you sure change when you get away from home.”
Claire takes eight cigarettes, breaks four in half (*cries*), and then offers it to the group – long cigs get the beds. Jake, Nina, Lucas and Christopher get the beds. Zoey assumes that she’ll still get a bed because Nina will share, but Nina delightfully puts a stop on that. [Rosey: Ha!]
Once the bed debate is over, the bedroom debate starts, and I’m amazed Claire doesn’t slaughter everyone. Thankfully it’s off screen, and I’m not sure how it ends, but I assume Nina gets the bedroom, because after book 3 are we really going to make her share a room with a dude – especially since she’s not close with any of the guys who got beds.
Benjamin heads to the hot tub, while Jake, Claire and Zoey head for the slopes and Aisha, Christopher and Lucas sign up for beginners classes. Nina comes outside to be with him, and Benjamin feels a flare of rage that she stuck around because she pities him. He asks her why she’s here, and she says she doesn’t ski and she isn’t interested in learning, and Benjamin basically tells her to fuck off, he doesn’t need a baby-sitter. She then says she wanted to spend time with him – until he showed her what a jerk he was and “one lousy kiss” has spoiled their friendship. Go Nina!
On the first run of the day, Jake is the first to start skiing, and Claire follows him, determined to overtake and beat him down the mountain. Instead they both faceplant halfway down – Claire a bit worse than Jake – and he stops and helps her up. Claire sheepishly admits she was trying to beat him, and Jake then admits that he was showing off for her. They agree to take it a bit more slowly and safely together. Oh, and Zoey sails past safely and stylishly, because she wasn’t showing off for anyone. Despite the fact I feel that Zoey is 90% Elizabeth Wakefield, this actually made me smile.
Claire and Jake spend the day together, and she knows it’s a shaky truce – he adores her, obv, but that doesn’t mean he’s willing to move on and be with her. They bump into Zoey towards the end of the day and decide to hunt down the beginners. They find Aisha and Christopher, who are tentatively getting the hang of things. Christopher reports that Lucas has taken to snowboarding as if “he found religion or something”, but he got tired and headed back to the condo to thaw out. Jake suggests they call it a day, head back, thaw out, and then go to a club that doesn’t require IDs – it’s usually full of kids, but they can just ignore them.
When they get home, Claire realises that Nina and Benjamin have had a fight. She says they should work it out – not that she cares, but she’s on a mission here, and those two fighting are screwing up the ambiance – and then heads for the shower. When she gets out, Nina is discussing the situation deeply with Zoey and Aisha. Nina snipes that Benjamin is pining for “the lost ice princess and her twin icebergs” and Claire snaps it’s nothing to do with her and Nina needs to woman up and sort things out.
Aisha gets into the hot tub, and finds herself striking up a conversation with a cute Estonian boy named Peter (or Pyotr, in his country) who happens to walk by, he says he hopes to see her at the club before he leaves. Christopher then comes out and says people are getting ready to leave. Aisha does not want to get out of the hot water and run through the slush and the cold air to the condo. Christopher sees this, and asks if she won’t get out because she’s naked. She says yes, so he has to promise not to peek when she gets out. He says of course, he’s not a slimeball. And of course when she gets out to run, he yells that she’s wearing a bathing suit. Aisha says how would he know, he promised not to look. Then locks him out of the condo. [Rosey: HE IS SUCH A SLIMEBALL.]
9. Will your boyfriend say that his dreams about you are usually rated G, PG, PG13, R, or X? How about your dreams of him?
Zoey refuses to answer, because people’s dreams are their own business.
Lucas says “There is a very useful saying I learned while I was in jail—I respectfully refuse to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me.”
Aisha says hers are mostly PG, and if she’s being realistic, she’s bound to show up in Christopher’s dreams, though probably doing nothing interesting. She’d like to know, but not if he knows she knows.
Christopher barely remembers his dreams, but hopes they’re R and X, because he’s sure not getting any.
Nina briefly references her recurring dreams, mentioned in Nina Won’t Tell, and then says that if she features in Benjamin’s dreams, it’s probably a G. If he dreams of Claire, it’ll be PG-13, but for horror, not sex.
Benjamin says he has seeing dreams, in which he can see what his friends look like now they’re older. And he totes never has sexy dreams. Ever. 😉
Jake has sexy dreams and football dreams. He prefers the sexy dreams.
They get to the club and manage to find a booth, though Lucas and Zoey head off to the dance floor. Claire dances with Benjamin, which makes Nina want to stab things. Christopher and Aisha dance, and Jake visibly wrestles with himself about whether he should ask Nina to dance. He looks in her direction, she shakes her head, and he looks relieved. I don’t always like Jake, but I love it when he does things like this. He loathes Nina, they’ve never gotten along, but she’s the only girl who hasn’t been asked to dance, so should he ask her to dance? Just adorable. (Also, these two agree on music – nobody else really agrees with Nina’s music taste.) Uh, yeah, I ship it a little. Not in a long-term way (that’s Nina/Lucas for me), but I think it could be a really fun one-shot fic, where Jake’s sense of duty and goodness forces them to hang out because reasons, and they have an oddly good time, but don’t really want to repeat it.
The dancing couples swap partners, and this leaves Claire and Nina alone in the booth. Nina suddenly explodes in rage and jealousy: she had a crap time today, Benjamin was an ass, and it’s all Claire’s fault. She should give up on Benjamin, she had her chance, and Nina waited for so long – both for Ben to be free and herself to be ready and NINA GOES BOOM, PEOPLE. She says she knows the entire trip was set up so Claire could get another chance with Benjamin. At this, Claire looks worried, notes that their friends are on the way back, and drags Nina outside where they can discuss things in private.
Outside, Claire confides in Nina where whole glorious plan, including flirting a little with Benjamin to make Jake feel jealous. Nina is impressed. Claire suggests that Nina try being direct. Nina points out the hypocrisy of that statement, and Claire says you work with what you have.
Aisha finds Christopher in conversation with two guys and two girls, one of which is flirting with him. She’s not happy, but since she’s not sure they’re even dating, there’s nothing she can do about it. Thankfully, Peter from Estonia turns up. They dance and talk. He’s Russian, and being Russian in Estonia is not good, apparently. He’s also on his way to join the Olympic skiing team for the USA, so he offers to give Aisha lessons skiing in exchange for her teaching him to dance. [Rosey: I know we haven’t known him long, but I really think Peter from Estonia is a massive improvement on Christopher]
The Geigers return, Nina asks Benjamin to dance, Jake asks Claire, but she has to visit the ladies’ room, so Zoey takes the dance. During the dance, she mentions that she’s doing a story on drug use on the football team, and Jake is furious with her, thinking that she invited him, knowing he was the one, just so she could get the story. He storms off and Claire tags along with him.
Benjamin and Nina get back to the condo to talk. Nina calls him a “twisted scrotal sac”, which is awesome, and with a lot of assertive statements, Nina tells Benjamin that she really likes him, he made her feel like crap today, and she read his signals that the date was a one-time thing. Benjamin realises he’s an ass and says he thought she was telling him to back off. So, with all that cleared up, they kiss and agree to tell the truth going forward. Also, Ben reveals that he’s always known it was Claire’s plan to get back with Jake, he just pretended he didn’t know so she could feel superior. I’m not sure if that’s sweet or smug. Probably both.
On the way back to the condo, Jake explodes at Claire, saying that Zoey is the queen of manipulation and invited him here just to get the story for her article. This shocks Claire, because Zoey is the least manipulative person on the planet. Jake then tells Claire the whole story, about being suspended and why, and how betrayed he feels by Zoey. Claire feels guilty that while she’s been playing games to make sure he comes back to her, Jake’s been in emotional turmoil that is down to her. Jake realises that he screwed up big time – just like Claire did with drink driving – and sometimes things just go wrong.
Claire looked up into his eyes. “Jake, I am more sorry than I could ever tell you for what happened with Wade.” Her own words, intended only to clinch the moment, suddenly struck home. It occurred to her that she was telling the truth. “There are just two things I deeply regret. One is that I never knew what my uncle was doing to Nina so I could protect her. The other is what I did to you and your family.”
They get back to the condo, ready to make up, but find Benjamin and Nina making out on the couch. Claire is shocked Nina took her advice.
Zoey and Lucas head back to the condo and find Nina and Ben in the hot tub listening to opera. I think they should go back to making out, that sounds more fun. Lucas asks for the keys to the van and then comes back a few minutes later saying he has a surprise for her. It’s the van, with the seats arranged so they can lie on the floor together. Wow. If Raven surprised me with that, I’d be like, “Dude, I was expecting a My Little Pony. Or chocolate. This sucks.” But then, those are the things that Raven surprises me with most often.
Aisha goes to Peter’s hotel, despite feeling a bit dubious about it. They stay in the lobby, and he gets her tea and shows her pictures of home. She thinks it’s sweet, but it’s Christopher that she really wants to be with, [Rosey: Why tho?] so he walks her home, where he gives her a chaste kiss on the cheek.
When she gets inside, Christopher hits the roof. Aisha is vague in her answers and calmly goes to bed, leaving Christopher to stew about it all. A+
Back in the van, Zoey is getting tired but Lucas wants to keep on going. He gives a little speech about how he wants to make love and he’s brought condoms, and this surprises Zoey so much she giggles, which turns into a laughing fit which turns into hiccups. When she calms down, she says no, she’s not ready. She doesn’t want to yet. She occasionally considered sleeping with Jake, and if she had slept with him, she’d have probably slept with Lucas, and that would be two guys she’d banged by the tender age of seventeen. Also, if they have sex, then Lucas will always want to do it, and their relationship will be nothing but sex – um, am I doing relationships wrong? Raven and I have many other shared interests beyond sex. Or is everyone else having nothing but sex? Anyway, then Zoey moves onto not wanting to get pregnant, and Lucas immediately says he’d stand by her, but Zoey further explains that with no qualifications, she’d be on minimum wage, so no college, etc. [Rosey: While I fully agree that a healthy relationship has many more elements than just sex, I feel like Zoey might have a point here, bearing in mind how relentless Lucas is being about them Doing It]
Lucas turns petulant and demands a date by which they’ll have sex and Zoey snaps back when she’s ready. Jesus fucking Christ, Lucas, the girl said no. Stop being a cock. But no, he gets all entitled and tells her that when she’s ready, he might care, but he doesn’t now. With that he jumps out of the van and storms off in an entitled blue-balled rage. Fuck you, Lucas.
Why do I like Lucas? I know I do, but I’ve seen no evidence of why. At the moment, Jake is my favourite of the boys. Claire and Nina are still the best girls.
[Wing: In my head, Lucas is my favourite and Christopher is pretty great. In rereading this, all the guys suck and Jake sucks the least. How is this possible?! My world, it is askew.] [Rosey: I am really not enjoying the guys in this re-read. Christopher is a dog, and Lucas is a coercive fuckwit. Does it get better? I hope it gets better.]
Zoey spends the night in the van, crying and imagining that Lucas will come back and apologise, or that she’ll run into the condo and “make love to him so gently and quietly that no-one else in the room would even know” but neither scenario plays out. Instead, at dawn, she goes into the condo and whispers to Benjamin that she’s getting the bus home, she and Lucas broke up, Jake hates her, she feels rotten, she’s going home.
10. Will your boyfriend say you and he will still be together a week from now, a month from now, a year from now?
Claire says Jake will give three yeses, because he’s a romantic. She doesn’t try to predict the future.
Aisha worries Christopher would say yes, yes, no, and wishes she knew where she stood so she could get on with her life.
Nina says Benjamin would go with a solid “who knows?” for all three, and she’d call the Psychic Friends Network.
Zoey’s answer is three yeses. It’s also crossed out.
Zoey finally gets home after a long bus journey and heads straight to the house, deciding that showing up at the restaurant would freak out her parents. There’s someone in the house though, in her parents’ room – her mom and a man who is not her dad.
Still as good as I remember, but I can’t really work out why I like Lucas, other than he’s wittier than the other guys. Well, Benjamin is witty too, but I find him irritating. I’m loving Jake this time around. I really like it when his sense of duty puts him in an awkward situation – less so when it puts him in emotional turmoil.
Claire is magnificent as always. I love her plans, especially when them come off. Nina and Benjamin are resolved.
… and with that ending, all hell is going to break loose in the Passmore household. That I can do without. If you think about how much I don’t like Ben, and then realise that he’s my favourite Passmore, I think you get an idea of how little I care about their drama. I really hate the Passmore parents though, so a book about Darla having an affair is coming… *sigh*.