Today we're spotlighting Lisa Freeman's book, Riptide Summer! Read on for more about Lisa and her book, plus an excerpt and giveaway!
Meet Lisa Freeman!
Lisa Freeman is the author of RIPTIDE SUMMER (May 9, 2017) and HONEY GIRL (2015), both from Sky Pony Press. She grew up amidst the Hollywood scene and emerged as an actress in such films as Back to the Future, Back to the Future II and Mr. Mom. She now lives in Santa Monica, just down the road from State Beach, where HONEY GIRL and RIPTIDE SUMMER take place.
The year is 1973, and Nani is firmly established as one of the top girls in the State Beach lineup. She’s looking forward to a long, relaxing summer of days spent in the sun with her surfer boyfriend, and to secret nights with Rox, the lineup’s queen supreme.
But when surf god Nigel breaks her heart, and Rox reveals a secret that tears their friendship—and the lineup—apart, Nani is left to pick up the pieces. If she can’t recruit new Honey Girls to the lineup, the friends will lose their reputation as the beach’s top babes.
With the summer spiraling out of control, Nani starts to question everything she’s always believed about how to rule the beach. Maybe it’s time to leave the rules behind, starting with the most important one:
Girls don’t surf.
The Keeper of Secrets
I hurried into Roy’s, twisting the tips of my hair to one side so I wouldn’t sit on them. At the familiar booth in the back, Rox and Claire sat, head to head, plotting.
Rox and I had a special something going, but I never forgot she was the most dangerous sign in the zodiac: a Scorpio. She had a famous wink and a killer body, but when she saw me, her eyebrows furrowed into a tight little V. She dropped her shades down her nose and said, “What, Nani?”
I had to tell her the message from our boyfriends: they had bailed and gone surfing in Porto.
When I did, Claire laughed. “BFD.” She stood up, adjusted her hip-hugger bell-bottoms, and flipped her blonde hair to one side so I could easily gaze into her dreamy turquoise eyes. She whispered in my ear, “Rox has news,” then strolled out. Guys hooted and whistled at her, but of course she didn’t acknowledge them. That was against the rule:
Younger guys don’t matter.
Summer had officially started, and the local surf grotto was jammed.
The best part was that Rox and I were going to Fiji tonight. Not the one near New Zealand. We go to Fiji in my room. It’s our code word for getting naked and warm.
When I slid into the booth, the seat was hot where Claire had been sitting. Rox bumped her knee into mine and put her sandy foot next to my thigh. I beamed at her.
Meeting Rox last summer was like finding treasure without a map. Her perfectly streaked brown hair hung down to her elbows, and she fidgeted, tapping the side of her coffee cup. I knew better than to ask what was going on. She’d explain when she was good and ready.
“We have to postpone our trip to Fiji,” she said after a long pause.
I swallowed, even though there was nothing in my mouth. Now I’ll be alone all night.
That blows. We’d been planning this sleepover for weeks. It was going to be special. A real party to celebrate her graduation, for just the two of us. I even cleaned my room and changed my sheets, especially for her. And I made sure my mother would be working the graveyard shift at St. John’s.
Rox tossed a few ice cubes from her water glass into a milky cup of coffee, then sipped slowly. I took hold of her hand under the table like, Ain’t no big thing, I’m cool. Inside though, I was crumpling like burning paper. But before I could say anything, Rox told me, “Tubed magazine is coming to State.” That was the biggest surf rag in town. “If I have my way, I’ll be in the September issue.”
“Surfing?” I asked.
“Don’t be stupid. Just standing there. Looking hot. In this.” She pulled a bikini out of her pocket. It was so small, I almost thought it was a headband. Then she hesitated. “There’s something else, but I’ll tell you later. Did you lock your bike?” she asked.
I shook my head.
“Then there's no time to waste,” she told me. “It could be gone in seconds.” She slipped her feet into her wedges. The heels made clacking sounds as we charged through the crowd of our admirers. Rox pushed me forward as the boys ogled her low-cut top and tight jean shorts. Good luck with that, I thought. She’s mine.
Once we got outside, I noticed the sign: PATRICK’S. It was taped in the takeout window. Underneath, it said, ROY SPLIT. “What does that mean?” I asked Rox.
“The food’s gonna get better.” She lit up a smoke and let me take a drag, never taking her eyes off mine. Marlboro Reds tasted like sawdust, but I pretended to enjoy it, making the moment last as long as possible. Since I could see my bike right where I left it, I linked my arm with Rox’s and cautiously escorted her around several dogs sleeping on the sidewalk. The locals’ mutts are mellow, but Rox hates it when they sniff her. When I pushed up the kickstand on my bike, Rox grabbed the handlebars so it was hard to move. There was a twinkle in her eye as she brushed against me one more time. It was her way of showing me I was special.
I sailed home on Dad’s four-speed, past the neighborhood gay bars, where Mom hung out and drank in peace, knowing none of the guys were interested in picking her up. The wind lifted the hem of my hot pants, and my poncho clung to my arms.
I loved living by the beach, but I hated our house. When I saw the dome-shaped mailbox covered with marbles, I knew that, unfortunately, I was home. I’d decorated it to look like a candy jar and covered the wood post in pear-shaped shells and soda caps spelling out 33 Sage, my address.
There was a large package leaning against it. The brown paper wrapper was smashed and torn on either side. It looked like it had been to Vietnam and back. I didn’t have to wonder what Jean, my wino mom, bought during one of her drunken stupors; I could see it without opening the box. There were reusable bowl covers, because Tupperware was too expensive, and a hand- held magnifier, because eyeglasses cost too much. There was even another girdle to hold in her thunder thighs. You know, the important stuff we couldn’t afford, and she couldn’t live without.
Seeing that package wouldn’t have bothered me so much if I were still going to go to Fiji with Rox. But no Fiji meant no vacation from my sucky life.
[CH] CHAPTER TWO
I prepared for the worst as I opened the back door. My home was past the point of no return. I swear, this house was a bummer magnet.
I wanted to set Jean’s package on the kitchen table, but her mess from breakfast was still there. She’d left the newspaper open, a few headlines circled in red for me to read. I tried not to look at the news anymore. Nixon swore he was innocent, but investigators found out that he talked about the cover-up more than thirty times with his lawyer. What a dweeb. He was such a liar. Jean still thought he was a good man. I thought she was living on Mars.
The dishes in the sink didn’t matter since Fiji was cancelled, but I washed them anyway. I took a plate from my secret stash and some food from the cabinet. Jean didn’t get to the grocery store much these days, so I always kept my favorite dinner hidden: rice, Spam, and canned pineapple.
What I hated most about being alone was the silence. It was scary. Once I was sure 33 Sage was more secure than the Pentagon—windows closed and locked, closets inspected, and doors double bolted—I took Jean’s package into her room and placed it beside her bed. Right next to the urn of sand, which she still thought was filled with Dad. Sometimes I felt kind of bad about stealing his ashes, but I was glad he wasn’t still stuck in that bottle, like some genie waiting centuries to be freed.
I tiptoed down the dark hallway to my room and stood in the doorway for a minute, assessing everything like a soldier. I have a photographic memory. It’s like I’m a camera. I
remember everything that I see, so I place things in certain spots so I’ll always know no one has entered but me. That way I can work up the courage to go into my room, knowing it’s safe.
“You are sixteen. Get over it,” I reminded myself again. “The windows are locked. The doors are closed. You’re okay.”
Still, my skin prickled. I made a barricade out of the small display case I got for my toys at a garage sale. It was easy to pull across the doorway. I placed my black-and-white TV on top. TV was my best friend—when I wasn’t with the lineup. Lisa Y. and Lisa H. were going to be the rulers this summer. They’d been at each other’s throats all year, vying for the top spot, and Jenni was still so shy she barely said a word.
I wished Rox were here. She’d keep me company and trim my Bowie bangs for me. They looked dorky when they got too long. I listened to the silverware wind chime clanging outside, and another surge of loneliness welled up inside me. I wrapped my arms around myself and squeezed as tightly as I could. What a pathetic hug. If I could have unzipped my skin and stepped out of this feeling, I would have. But I was stuck with myself.
I lit a drip candle from the Topangas to calm myself and watched the match burn down to the tips of my fingers. Unfortunately, the Topangas were getting too big for their britches. There were so many of them now, spreading like a virus across State Beach.
I looked at the bed. When I was small, I was afraid of things hiding under there, but now that’s where I kept my biggest secret safe. The one that no one, not even Rox, knew about. It was shipped here in my mom’s station wagon—sent by boat to the mainland. I still missed Hawaii, my real home, but having this present from my dad helped me live without it.
Dad was going to give this to me for my sixteenth birthday, but he died seven months before that happened. I found this beauty in the backseat wrapped in towels, with a birthday card
taped to it. It read: Hau’oli La Hanau, which meant happy birthday. Then he wrote “For my darling daughter, Haunani. I hope you enjoy this Tom Parrish Lightning Bolt board. Can’t wait for some waves. Love, Dad.”
I got on my knees next to my bed. Touching the board sometimes made me feel better. It was the most beautiful stick in the world, and the only solid thing in my life. It had never seen the ocean, and it most likely never would. But dreaming about surfing tonight was almost as good as going to Fiji.
It was so quiet that when the phone rang, I must have jumped a mile. I tried to ignore it, but it kept ringing. If it was Jean and I didn’t answer, it would be my fault when she freaked out, got drunk, and wound up fired. Then we’d really be broke. But if it was a bill collector, I’d have to pretend I didn’t speak English again. Or I could pick up the receiver and just wait—that’s what I did.
“Are you still in the mood to travel?” Rox sounded like she had her hand cupped around her mouth.
“Yes,” was all I managed to say before she hung up.
I squealed. A high-pitched girl sound jetted out of my mouth as I clenched my fists and jumped up and down, like a contestant on Let’s Make a Deal who just chose door number three and won the big prize. I was stoked, hopping down the hall, forgetting my stinky thoughts with just enough time to gobble up dinner and pop into the shower.
[CH] CHAPTER THREE
Rox slinked toward me until we stood, face to face, on either side of my bed. I tracked every move she made: the bend in her wrist as she lifted her hand and curled her finger, gesturing for me to come closer; the touch of her cool palm on my cheek; and the black licorice taste of Sen- Sen breath freshener when our tongues slowly touched.
There’s a powerful center in the heart of Fiji, where volcanoes explode and cool into the sea. The first step to seeing the truth of who we really were was turning out the lights. We responded to each other’s every need without words. I knew what to do without thinking. Like magic, we left one world and entered another.
I loved everything about Rox—the fuller curve of her hips and how her pointy edges had softened recently. Even her face had a glow to it—not from the candle, but from within. How did she keep getting more beautiful? I took a picture of her with my mind. Then she put her hand on my chest, feeling its rise and fall. I could smell my scent on her fingers.
I lit a Lark 100 and offered it to her.
“I quit,” she told me.
“When?” I asked, stunned.
“Just now.” She smiled, slipped out of bed, and squeezed into one of my nightgowns. I
was amazed. How did her boobs get bigger and better? “Do you have any peanut butter left?” she asked.
“Probably.” We stayed close as we moved from room to room, like one person instead of two. I scraped what was left of the peanut butter out of the jar and put it on toast, on celery, and finally on a banana before she was full. Rox only chows down when she breaks up with her boyfriend—the incredible, edible, dark fish Jerry Richmond, who surfs so much he’s rarely dry.
“Did you and Jerry have a fight?” I asked, carefully. That would make our summer perfect. Maybe beyond perfect. Especially since Nigel, my demigod, born-again boyfriend was going to India with his twin to convert Calcutta to Christianity. With both of them out of the way, we could practically move to Fiji permanently.
But Rox was laughing at me. I hated when she did that.
“Quite the opposite,” she said. “Jerry and I are getting married.”
My heart plummeted like an elevator when its overhead cables have been cut. I imagined
myself smashing into thousands of pieces as I hit the cement.
Bam. Inside I was blown to smithereens, but I tried to keep an even keel. “When did he
pop the question?” My voice sounded thin and strained. “He hasn’t. But he will.”
“Can you keep a secret?”
Hello? I travel to Fiji; I’m in the Sisters of Sand; and I know every single thing about
you, I thought. But I just nodded to appease her. “Promise?”
Oh, please get a grip, I wanted to tell her. Spit it out. Why, at just eighteen, would the hottest girl, fresh out of high school, want to get married? And right after an amazing trip to Fiji?
“I’m pregnant.” She put her hands on her hips and did a little twist, shaking her ass. I couldn’t move.
Rox thought I didn’t understand, so she continued, “There’s a bun in the oven.” She
waited for my reaction, then laughed at me again. “There’s a pea in the pod!”
My body stiffened as Rox kept talking. “I have a plan, and it will be better than okay.” She paused dramatically and announced, “I’m going to marry Jerry and have kids, and you are
going to marry Nigel.”
Was she kidding? I am a Funny Kine. If I ever get married, it will be to a girl. As if. “Let’s make a pact. What do you think?”
She was so happy, I couldn’t bring myself to break her good mood. Even though a part of
me wanted to slap her.
But marriage and babies? That was going too far. With women’s liberation, we didn’t
have to do that anymore—at least, not right out of high school. A pact is more binding than a promise. It’s like an oath. Rox had created a prison without an escape.
When I still didn’t answer, Rox stood up and pulled me in front of her, looking into my eyes. She said, “I promise to take you as my Fiji-loving mate.” It sounded like we were getting married. That almost made me forgive her.
“Now you say it,” she said.
“I promise to take you as my Fiji-loving mate, too.” The smell of sulfur filled the air when Rox lit a match, inhaled quickly, and then took a long drag to hotbox her smoke. So much for quitting. The end of her Marlboro sizzled and sparked a bit before she jabbed it into the inside of my left arm. She didn’t push hard, but the burning made me gasp. I liked how much it hurt. It put all my other pain somewhere else.
But it was weird doing the same to her. I didn’t like scarring her.
Still, now the pact was sealed. We’d be together forever. One way or another.
By: Lisa Freeman
Release Date: May 9, 2017
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