It’ll be okay, Gemma.
I think it might be a bad sign when you don’t even believe yourself.
So, this was not how this summer was supposed to go. Like, at ALL. I was supposed to be with my boyfriend, Teddy, on our volunteering trip in Colombia. We would spend days helping people and spend nights walking along the beach looking at the stars. (I’m leaving out the part about digging latrines. I didn’t understand until I got the forms that this was what volunteering involved. I’d imagined it would be more along the lines of teaching adorable children to sing. It’s entirely possible I might have been thinking of The Sound of Music.)
But then, out of nowhere, Teddy broke up with me. Broke up with me in the gardening aisle of Target. My devastation was not helped by the fact that I was wearing a red shirt and khakis, so while I was experiencing the worst heartbreak of my life, people were coming up to me and asking where the fabric softener was because they thought I worked there. He didn’t give any explanation, just ended things. We’d been together two years, and he was my whole world. To say the least, I was devastated and basically retreated to my bed with a box of tissues, and planned to spend the rest of the summer there.
I just hadn’t realized that since I was no longer going to Colombia and
teaching children to sing digging latrines, my summer plans were now out of my control. My mother and stepfather were off to Scotland to help a Laird with his salmon (don’t ask), so I would have to spend the summer with my real dad in the Hamptons.
My dad’s a screenwriter, and we would be staying with Bruce Davidson—yes, that Bruce Davidson, the famous Hollywood producer—while my dad worked on a script. And I know that for most people, the thought of staying at an awesome estate in the Hamptons sounds perfect. But not for me.
See, I hadn’t been back to the Hamptons since I was twelve. When I was there last, I did some pretty terrible things to Hallie Bridges, who had been a friend of mine. But when I realized her mother and my dad were dating, I needed to do anything I could to try and derail the relationship—including making Hallie miserable. Things spun out of control, and I ended up doing more damage to Hallie and her mother than I’d ever intended. I’d felt bad about it ever since, and it had always been one of my biggest regrets. So, I didn’t think returning to the scene of the crime was the best idea.
But since I didn’t have any other options, I was off to the Hamptons. The day I left, my best friend, Sophie Curtis, secretly booked me into her hairdresser, since she feels that makeovers are the only way to get over a breakup. She made sure to send me off with a new cut and color. I was, as always, wearing my “S” necklace, just as Sophie was wearing her “G”—our version of BFF necklaces. And even though my heart was broken and I wasn’t even going to think about dating anyone, I couldn’t help but notice how cute the guy sitting next to me was. We started chatting on the train ride to the Hamptons. He noticed the “Sophie” that was written on my iced latte that she’d bought for me, and had told me it was a great name, and I agreed that it was.
His name was Josh, and he was really nice. Like me, he hadn’t been back to the Hamptons since he was a kid. We got off at the same stop, and while I waited for my dad, and he waited for his sister, he asked if we could hang out again—he didn’t know many people in the Hamptons.
It was when I was putting his number into my phone that everything started falling apart. He told me that his last name was Bridges, which I was just thinking was a coincidence—surely this wasn’t the Josh Bridges who was Hallie’s brother—when a car pulled up and Hallie got out.
It was five years later, but I still recognized her, the girl whose life I’d ruined. I was positive that Hallie would recognize me too, and that things were about to get really bad right there at the Bridgehampton train station.
But then Josh introduced me as Sophie, thinking that the name on the cup, and the initial on the necklace, were for my name. And Hallie told me it was great to meet me, and hoped we could hang out soon.
And though I knew it was crazy, even at the time, I didn’t correct her, didn’t tell them that my name wasn’t Sophie. I only had a split second to make the decision, and I just thought that maybe this could be my chance to make things right with Hallie. She’d never listen to my apologies if she knew I was Gemma. But what if I could become friends with her? I could show her that I was a good person, and make up for what I did five years ago.
Except now the reality of this is crashing down on me and I’m beginning to panic. Am I really going to be able to pull off going as my best friend’s name all summer? Will Hallie be able to forgive me once I tell her who I really am? And then there’s Josh. He’s so cute, but I know I shouldn’t even be thinking about anyone like that right now. Plus, he thinks my name is Sophie.
Oh, god. What have I gotten myself into?