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Chapter One

Oh my God!”

Celeste Tippen’s best friend almost sent her flying onto the last row of white folding chairs set up on Longbrook High School’s lawn. Under the hot Palm Springs sun, dressed-up families were filling the aisles, clutching graduation programs, and claiming rows of seats by laying jackets and purses across them. Several audience members turned to look at the crazy girls in the back, but Devon Wright didn’t let go of Celeste’s elbow.

“What?” Celeste spun around, rubbing her tan arm where Devon’s nails had dug in. That was definitely going to bruise.

“Stefan Napoli!” Devon hissed, frantically smoothing her sleek, shoulder-length black hair behind her ears.

“How’s my hair?”

Celeste rolled her eyes. “Fabulous, of course. When does your hair ever not look perfect?” Devon was now using Celeste’s sunglasses as a mirror to apply fuchsia lipstick from an ornate gold tube. Celeste stared at the color. “Wow, that’s bright. Are you worried Stefan might not be able see you in this crowd?”

“Hold still.” Devon was concentrating on her lower lip. “At least it’s interesting, Ms. Cherry Chapstick.”

“Hey! I like my Chapstick. It goes with everything, it’s not expensive—”

“It’s nice and safe and boring,” Devon finished for her. “I know, it’s perfect for you. If you weren’t dating Travis, I’d already have held a funeral for your wild side.” She clicked the lipstick closed and stuck it in her lime green Prada clutch.

Celeste smiled as she thought of Travis Helding, her boyfriend of almost a year. “Maybe that’s why we’re so good together. He loosens me up and I bring him down to earth.” She turned away and squinted at the figures packed into the rows of chairs in front of them, trying not to wobble in her new black espadrilles. “So, which one is the infamous Stefan?”

“Which one?” Devon sounded as if Celeste had asked which one was Justin Timberlake. “Him, obviously.” She pointed to a tall guy with tousled brown hair lounging across two seats halfway down toward the stage, his legs sticking out into the aisle.

“Isn’t he that guy you were talking to at Logan’s party? I think his brother’s graduating today,” Celeste replied over her shoulder as she searched for seats. “Ugh, why is it so hot?” She lifted her long, wavy chestnut hair off the back of her neck and wondered what stroke of insanity had convinced her to wear her new black D&G

sundress to spend hours sitting in the sun at the seniors’


“Um, I don’t know,” Devon replied. “Maybe because we live in the middle of the desert?”

“Ah, yes. That might be it.” Celeste pushed past a group of leggings-clad junior high girls blocking the aisle. “By the way, thanks for coming with me. I don’t think I could sit through this ceremony alone without collapsing from boredom.”

“Of course. Now when you collapse from boredom,

I’ll be here to catch you,” Devon said. “Kevin Fraser’s after-party will be worth sitting through this.” She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively and looked up toward the stage. “Hey, where’s Travis?”

“Probably back there somewhere.” Celeste pointed to the screen hiding the graduating seniors. Black mortar-boards bobbed above the top. Celeste was surprised she couldn’t pick out Travis’s cap in the crowd—her boyfriend was six foot six, a good four inches taller than anyone else in the senior class. Either he was late or had decided that the final moments before his high school graduation would be the perfect time for an outdoor nap.

Neither option would be out of character.

“Here.” Celeste gave Devon a little shove. “There’re two seats together.”

The girls settled themselves in the third row from the back. They were surrounded on all sides by moms in Lilly Pulitzer print dresses, dads fumbling with digital cameras, and grandmothers clutching ridiculously large handbags. In front of the sleek stucco archway that marked the school’s entrance, a temporary stage had been set up on risers, with folding chairs lining the back and giant potted ferns on either end. A podium was set up just below, while a huge printed banner reading CONGRATULATIONS, LONGBROOK HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR CLASS

hung over the whole scene. Celeste could just barely see the atrium of the indoor swimming pool gleaming over the school’s red-tile roof.

“Are your parents here?” Devon asked. Celeste

jumped slightly.

“My parents?” She whipped her head around.

“Where?” Her dad wasn’t Travis’s biggest fan. The fact that the first time he’d met Travis, Celeste had been only partially clothed and Travis had been only partially sober had a lot to do with that. And nothing in the last eight months had really changed her dad’s first impres-sion of her boyfriend, despite Celeste’s pleas for him to give Travis a chance. At this point, the farther the two of them stayed apart, the better.

Devon gave her friend a pitying smile and smoothed her purple and pink Cavalli hippie dress over her knees.

“You have got to relax, babe. I said, are your parents here?”

“Oh.” Celeste reclined back into her seat. “No, they didn’t come. They’re really busy getting ready for the season—you know how that goes.” Celeste’s parents owned one of the most luxurious, exclusive resorts in Palm Springs. Pinyon Ranch wasn’t huge. In fact, it only had twenty guest rooms and a dozen private villas, but it was known for its five-star service and—most important for some of their L.A. clients—privacy.

Celeste closed her eyes and sighed happily, thinking of the long summer days stretching in front of her. Lying out on her towel at the beach with Travis, hiking in the desert at twilight with Travis, watching trashy movies with Travis at his house in the afternoon. Then she sat up and shook her head. What the hell alternate universe was she in? She was going to be performing her usual six-days-a-week slog at the resort, folding towels and fetching water bottles, just like every summer. And Travis was going be two hours away, teaching surf lessons at the beach.

“Oh, Devon!” she wailed suddenly. A tiny white-haired lady next to them shot Celeste an alarmed glance, then turned back to

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