Ace Bosse has always found solace at home, but when she returns for the summer from college she builds an unexpected relationship with the reckless Max Miller.
Three years ago, Max left for Alaska to find what he thought he’d lost, but now he realizes just how much he left behind.
Max teaches Ace that sometimes a little crazy is exactly what life needs while learning that some chances are worth taking, regardless of the risks.
But how do you know when you’ve met the right person? And will they be prepared to experience one of life’s biggest obstacles?
Falling in love isn’t easy, but holding on to it is where the real challenge lies.
Mindi, Savannah, and Jenny left Kendall and me to the lounge chairs in the backyard after ensuring we weren’t too drunk to pass out and drown, but apparently not to question that we’d be just drunk enough to do something stupid.
“Go where?” I ask.
I instantly laugh at the thought as I shake my head.
“Come on!” She wraps her fingers around mine and tugs once again, and I willingly follow her through the house. I’ve definitely drank too much, because I can hear a teeny tiny voice in the back of my head telling me that this is a bad idea, but a much louder voice in the forefront of my mind giggles and discusses strategy. That louder voice is my voice, as I help load Kendall’s arms.
“You look ridiculous.” I laugh at the sight of my sister in her neon green bikini bottom with toilet paper rolls bulging from her arms.
“We have to stay down so no one can see us,” Kendall whispers conspiratorially. I try to keep a straight face, but all I want to do right now is laugh. Everything seems funny, from the fact that we’re about to TP a house to Kendall wearing my bikini top because she thought it would make her boobs look bigger—it doesn’t, but by the time we finished swapping tops she was ready to go.
“You dropped one!” I stop in front of the fallen roll.
“I can’t. We need all of them!” I slowly bend to retrieve it and drop three more in the process.
Kendall’s giggles fill the air. “Stop, stop,”
I laugh as I work to pick up the four rolls of toilet paper. As I get the last one in my arms, it squeezes too tightly against one another and two more fall out of my arms. My laugh follows them rolling down the street.
“Oh my god, I think I just peed!” Kendall cries between squeals of laughter as she presses her forehead to my shoulder.
We decide to abandon the two rolls, and Kendall starts humming the Batman theme as she straightens and bolts down the middle of the road, surprisingly fast for how drunk she is and being in a pair of flip flops I know from experience are stiff and uncomfortable to walk, much less run in.
I chase after her feeling but not really caring about the sharpness of the road against my bare, pool-pruned feet.
We duck behind a large azalea bush that lines Mr. Tucker’s walkway, which is only three houses down from Marshall’s, as a pair of headlights turn toward us.
“Shhh!” I whisper as Kendall leans heavily against me, still giggling. The small voice in the back of my head instructs me to look back and ensure it isn’t our parents. They’re supposed to be gone overnight, but catching us would definitely invoke a “Harper Jo.”
I stand to watch where the vehicle’s going, and Kendall levels me as she attempts to run forward. The rolls of toilet paper fall from our grasps as our arms fly out to catch ourselves. We lie on the cool grass, bursting into shrieks of laughter.
After a few minutes we slowly stand up. A stitch burns in my side from giggling as I dust dried grass off my exposed skin and begin picking up the fallen rolls.
When we get to Marshall’s we dump our collection under the large weeping willow that sits on the corner of his property and each grab a roll. We race around, throwing them to drape trails of toilet paper as quickly as possible.
“What are you doing?” The words are hissed from behind us making me jump and Kendall scream.
My head whips around, terrified that we haven’t been paying enough attention to the house and that Marshall’s caught us, or worse—our dad.
“You scared the shit out of me!” Kendall screeches, reaching out to slap Jameson’s chest as I take a deep breath of relief.
“What are you guys doing?” he repeats.
“He was being a creeper!” Kendall wails.
“Shhh!” Jameson and I both hiss.
“What was he doing?” This time I’m the one that squeals as I hurl my roll behind me toward the voice I recognize as soon as the toilet paper hits his chest.
Max stands behind me, looking satisfied at my reaction. I glare at him, feeling my heart thrumming in my neck and my hands shaking from nerves.
“Where are your clothes?” Jameson asks, ignoring my reaction and Max’s question.
I look down at my pink bikini bottoms and neon green top that belongs with Kendall’s bottoms and over to Kendall. She’s looking down at her own bathing suit.
“We’re wearing clothes.” One hand goes to her hip in defiance.
“According to a nudist colony maybe,” Jameson retorts.
Kendall ignores him and picks up the roll she’d dropped and tosses it toward the front flower bed, leaving a trail of white. A new eruption of giggles pierces the air as she trips, her hands finding my arm for support.
There’s something about Kendall’s giggle that has always been infectious to me, even when I don’t know what’s funny. When we were little and dangerously close to being in trouble, the sound of her giggling always had me laughing almost instantly, and it’s having the same effect now.
“Oh my god, you guys are hammered!” Jameson cries, and his genuine shock makes me laugh even harder. He shoots a death glare at me, but unfortunately it just makes me laugh harder and soon I’m doubled over with laughter, not able to breathe.
As our laughter subsides I notice that Max is holding two rolls of toilet paper in his hands. He tosses one to Jameson who catches it and drops his shoulders as his eyebrows rise. We all watch as Max drops the first couple of squares that inevitably always seem to tear at the beginning of each roll and chucks it high into the weeping willow, much higher than Kendall or I could have hoped to have achieved. Jameson quietly mutters something under his breath and shakes his head before his shoulders roll and he follows suit.
When the yard is sufficiently covered in white and our arsenal of toilet paper has expired we stand admiring our handiwork for a moment. It’s the first time that I’ve ever TP’d someone’s house, and although I feel a slight spasm of guilt, I’m quite liberated with this small act of rebellion.
“Shit!” I hear Jameson cry, and before I can turn to see what has him panicking, I’m mid air.
In one fell swoop Max has me over his shoulder and he’s running as though I’m nothing more than a beach towel.
I should be angry and demand to be put down, especially since I’m only wearing my bikini and his hands are clasped around my bare hips, but then I hear yelling and recognize Marshall’s voice ordering to know what’s going on, followed by empty threats, and decide to remain quiet because Max is fast, really fast. My observation is likely skewed a bit, being that I’m upside down, backwards, and have had too much to drink; all the same, he seems crazy fast.
“Did he see us?” Kendall asks as Max stops and slides me back to my feet. I look around the unfamiliar yard and realize when I see the cement birdbath that we’re standing in Max’s backyard.
“I don’t think so,” Jameson says, taking a deep breath as his chest heaves. “That was close! Why in the hell did we just help TP that house?”
“That’s Marshall.” Kendall’s voice is a statement, like this explains everything..
“A dirty creeper. He asked Ace to model for him and then handed her the Victoria’s Secret catalog and told her she could pick.”
Jameson raises his eyebrows, and Kendall nods knowingly. “Told you. Creeper.”
“I was a little worried you girls were just bored and picked a house at random.”
“I’m sure he was joking. He’s socially awkward and kind of strange, but Jose and Kendall made it sound like it was a good idea,” I admit.
“Jose?” Max asks.
I turn to look at him from where he’s standing behind me and notice he looks more annoyed than usual.
“Cuervo!” Kendall throws an arm into the air with a whoop, making me laugh again.
I turn my attention to Max and Jameson and see them shaking their heads. “How’d you guys find us?”
“We drove by and saw you two run into the bushes and then watched you guys sprawl out on the grass with a gazillion rolls of toilet paper, so we parked and followed the noise.” Max shrugs. “Late night TP’ing in bikinis, only the two of you would do that.” He looks at me and his eyes fall to my feet. “And barefoot. What if he’d caught you?”
“Technically, he did catch us.”
Max rolls his eyes at my response, and I can’t help but roll mine in return.
Mariah Dietz lives in Eastern Washington with her husband and two sons that are the axis of her crazy and wonderful world.
Mariah grew up in a tiny town outside of Portland, Oregon where she spent the majority of her time immersed in the pages of books that she both read and created.
She has a love for all things that include her sons, good coffee, books, travel, and dark chocolate. She also has a deep passion for the stories she writes, and hopes readers enjoy the journeys she takes them on, as much as she loves creating them.