Camp Christmas by J.K. Rock
Publication date: December 17, 2013
Publication date: December 17, 2013
by Spencer Hill Contemporary
Genre: Young Adult
Genre: Young Adult
About Camp Christmas:Hannah never meant to be a mean girl – at Camp Juniper Point or at her high school. It just sort of happened during one painful year when her parents split and her life fell apart. Who knew being mad at the world would catapult her to popularity? But since changing the status quo would make her some serious enemies, she’s prepared to ride out her time until graduation. That is, until a camp friend calls her on the act during their school ski trip. Will Julian out her to her friends? Or will the guy she once accused of being King of the Nerds make her wish she was a whole lot more like him?
Camp Christmas Excerpt
A male voice in my ear made me jump.
“I thought you gave up the mean girl act at camp last summer.”
Turning slowly, I faced the only boy at Northstar Academy who knew I attended camp in a remote corner ofthe Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina every year.
“I thought we had a deal never to speak to each other,” I shot back, nudging my bag higher on my shoulder. I didn’t follow my friends since I didn’t want to be seen talking to Julian Berwick.
“Really?” He grinned, surprising me with a flash of white teeth and humor. “I think a ‘deal’ implies agreement between both parties. You barking at me to keep my mouth shut when we were ten years old doesn’t count.”
He strode away toward the main lodge, his long legs covering ground in a hurry. What was he, like six-foot-four? He’d been tall and gawky forever. Now, he seemed tall and…built.
“Wait,” I called, following him toward the building and hoping none of my friends watched from the windows.
Thankfully, thick holiday wreaths covered most of the windows anyway, the whole place decked out for Christmas.
He stopped. Turned.
I took a breath, ready to launch into a tirade about keeping his distance. But seeing him through the falling snow, his longish dark bangs half covering one eye, it was like looking at a stranger. When had he quit carrying a dopey fake sword with him everywhere? He’d worn a cape for as long as I’d known him, whether he was with a bunch of rich kids from Manhattan at Northstar or he was at camp with his geekster squad of science-lovers and video game freaks.
“Where’s your cape?” I asked, sounding like an idiot. I cleared my throat, grateful I had pulled down my goggles earlier, since they hid half my face. “I mean, you’re not trying to turn normal or anything, right? Because I think it’s too late for you to fit in.”
Why did I feel awkward around Julian of all people? It made no sense. Maybe I was just regretting the showdown with Missy since I’d hoped to have fun on Christmas Eve instead of the endless battle to maintain social status.
“Same old Hannah.” He heaved a sigh and shook his head. For the first time, I noticed some kind of tattoo on his neck, half hidden by a scarf. “Guess the camp rumors about you had it wrong.”
He turned to head inside by the time my ears caught up with what he’d said.
“Excuse me?” I tugged his sleeve to pull him away from the door, away from a red-cheeked family wearing matching wool reindeer sweaters and clutching paper cups of hot cocoa.
Julian glanced at my hand on his sleeve and frowned. For a second, my gaze darted to where my snowflake-decorated fingernails rested on his wrist just above his black leather glove. Flustered, I let go.
“If you have more insults in mind, I’m going to leave.” He spoke clearly, as if he was talking to an eight-year-old. “Otherwise, I’m listening.”
I pulled off my goggles, wanting a better look at this semi-normal-seeming boy who’d taken the place of Julian the Super Nerd. My hair snagged in the hinge though, and I accidentally yanked it. When Julian reached to help free me, I pulled back and tugged out enough strands to hurt.
“You can’t talk smack about camp rumors and then walk away. What gives?” I loved camp. No one there knew about my mom, serial dater of rich men. No one at camp noticed if I wore last year’s clothes. Or if I forgot to be too cool for campfire songs and trilled a chorus of “Kumbaya” with the girls in my cabin.
I really missed them.
“Nothing. I just thought…” He folded his arms across his chest, taking up way too much space for a boy I’d always thought of as gangly. He started to lean against the side of the lodge, until an underclassman approached and handed him his lift ticket. “Thanks, man. Would you mind getting Hannah’s, too? You can take a turn down the mountain with my video camera.”
The younger kid looked at me, nodded at Julian and then ran off as fat snowflakes fell all around us, a waterfall of icy lace.
“Thanks,” I said, figuring my friends weren’t going to miss me too soon anyway. Better to give Missy a little time to cool down. “So what’s the deal with camp? And who’s trash-talking me behind my back?”
I hadn’t been the reigning queen bee of our cabin, Divas’ Den, for the last seven years by letting the rumor mill get the best of me. I worked the system, not the other way around.
“No one.” Julian reached toward me and I tensed. But he just lifted the heavy bag with my skis off my shoulder and propped it up against the lodge. “I just saw you hanging out with the Munchies’ Manor girls at the end of camp last year. The word around camp was that you’d made peace with your nemesis.”
Leave it to Julian to make it sound like the rival cabin was from the Klingon Empire. Not that I would ever admit to familiarity with Klingon culture. It was one thing to lust after Chris Pine. Another entirely to admit I’d ever attended a Star Trek convention in my own brush with nerd-dom.
“Oh.” Last summer at camp had been weird. But then, it wasn’t easy being fabulous all the time, especially not when other girls were letting down their guards and having fun.
Not when that was exactly what I wished I could do, too.
“Maybe. But Northstar Academy is a long way from Camp Juniper Point.” My eyes went to his neck where I’d seen a hint of a tattoo. Something dark green and black. I was curious.
“Seven hundred seventy miles.”
“That’s not what I mean.”
“I am aware of that.” His brown eyes studied me in a way that made me self-conscious. And not because of last year’s clothes. “I’m telling you, it’s not that different here.”
“You wouldn’t understand.” I grabbed my bag again, ready to be done with this conversation. Since when did Julian-Freaking-Berwick get to judge me? “It’s different for me and you know it.”
“Because you’re a girl?”
I rolled my eyes and remained silent while my phone started to vibrate. My friends must have finally noticed I was missing.
“Do you think I’ve never felt like an outsider?” Julian asked.
I forced a laugh as I pulled my phone from my pocket. No way was I letting him see how much that question got to me…
Joanne and Karen Rock- writing sisters-in-law- formed a partnership to pen YA novels as J.K. Rock. Their debut book, Camp Boyfriend, is available July 2, 2013 from Spencer Hill Contemporary.
Prior to joining creative forces, Joanne Rock began her career as an author of adult romance for various Harlequin series. Published in twenty languages and twenty-seven countries, Joanne writes both contemporary romance and medieval historicals in addition to the occasional romantic suspense. She is a three-time RITA nominee and Bookseller’s Best finalist.
Karen Rock sold her first adult romance to Harlequin’s new Heartwarming line. The Forever Wish (September 2013) is an uplifting tale of love against the odds during the hero’s battle with cancer. In addition to writing, Karen is an eighth grade English teacher who has written and published screenplays for production by school theater departments. She is a regular blogger at Cynthia Leitich Smith’s popular “Cynsations” blog.Together, Joanne and Karen write Young Adult stories that don’t back down from real issues. Whether their characters are falling in love at summer camp or facing the consequences of tough life choices, the authors enjoy helping them navigate those challenges. Their “Camp Boyfriend” books are romantic dramas with a strong emphasis on teen friendships and self discovery. Fun, warm-hearted and emotional, the series includes Camp Boyfriend (July 2013), Camp Payback (April 2014) and Camp Forget-Me-Not (August 2014).
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