Kody Keplinger: The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

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Kody Keplinger The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend
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    The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend
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    Современная проза / на английском языке
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    Английский
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Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face. But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley. Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

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“God! Gross, Casey!”

“-and everything will be back to normal.” She paused as I pulled into her driveway. “And in the meantime, I’m here for you. If you need to talk, you know I’ll listen.”

“Yeah, I know.”

It was the same Casey Saves the Day speech I’d been hearing for twelve years, any time the slightest problem appeared in my life. Not that I needed it that night, really. Honestly, since we’d left the Nest, Dad hadn’t been on my mind that much. I’d released all that stress when I’d kissed Wesley.

And that was what kept me from sleeping. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d done at the Nest. My skin itched. My lips felt foreign. Plus, no matter how many times I’d brushed my teeth in Casey’s bathroom (after half an hour, she’d knocked on the door to make sure I was okay), the taste of disgusting, womanizing bastard was still in my mouth. Ugh! But the worst part was that I knew I’d done it to myself.

I’d kissed him. Yeah, he’d groped me, but what had I really expected? Wesley Rush didn’t exactly have a reputation for being a gentleman. He might have been a jackass, but I had to take the blame for this situation. That knowledge didn’t sit well with me.

“Casey,” I whispered. Okay, so waking her up at three a.m. wasn’t very nice of me, but she was the one always telling me to share or vent or whatever. So, technically, she brought this on herself. “Hey, Casey?”

“Hmm?’

“Are you awake?”

“Mmm-mmm.”

“If I tell you something, will you swear not to tell anyone?” I asked. “And will you promise not to freak out?”

“Sure, B,” she mumbled. “What is it?”

“I kissed someone tonight,” I said.

“Good for you. Now go back to sleep.”

I took a deep breath. “It was Wesley… Wesley Rush.”

Casey shot straight up in bed. “Whoa!” She shook her head and rubbed the sleep from her wide hazel eyes. “Okay, now I’m awake.” She turned to face me, her short blond hair sticking up in every possible angle. God, how did she manage to make even that look good? “OMG! What happened? I thought you hated the guy.”

“I do hate him. I will always hate him. It was just a stupid, immature, thoughtless moment of… stupidity.” I sat up and hugged my knees to my chest. “I feel dirty.”

“Dirty can be fun.”

“Casey.”

“Sorry, B, but I don’t see what the problem is,” she admitted. “He’s hot. He’s rich. He’s probably a fantastic kisser. Is he? I mean, he has those lips that just make me think-”

“Casey!” I put my hands over my ears. “Stop! Look, I’m totally not proud of this. I was upset, he was there, and I just… God, I can’t believe I did that. Does this make me a slut?”

“Kissing Wesley? Hardly.”

“What do I do, Casey?”

“Kiss him again?”

I shot her a cold look before falling back onto my pillow. I rolled over so that I faced away from her. “Forget it,” I said. “I shouldn’t have told you at all.”

“Oh, B, don’t be like that,” she said. “I’m sorry, but I think you should look on the bright side for once in your life. I mean, you haven’t had a boyfriend since…” She trailed off. Both of us knew the name, after all. “Anyway, it’s about time you started getting a little bit of action. You never talk to any guys but Joe, and he’s way too old for you. And now that we know Toby’s off the market, what’s the problem if you date Wesley? Would it kill you?”

“I am not dating him,” I hissed. “Wesley Rush doesn’t date, he fucks-everyone, for that matter. I just kissed him, and it was so stupid… stupid, stupid, stupid! It was a huge mistake.”

She nestled back into her side of the mattress. “You know, I knew even you couldn’t resist his charm forever.”

“Excuse me,” I said, rolling back over to glare at her. “I’m resisting just fine, thanks. And you know what? There’s nothing to resist. I find him repulsive. Tonight was just a lapse in judgment and it will never happen again.”

“Never say never, B.”

She was snoring within seconds.

I grumbled to myself for a few minutes, then fell asleep, inwardly cursing both Casey and Wesley. Strangely enough, that was comforting.

Dad had just gotten in from his job at Tech Plus, a local rip-off of Best Buy, when I walked through the door the next afternoon, shaking fresh snow out of my hair. The storm hadn’t been as big as the weatherman predicted, but flurries were still falling outside. The sun was bright, though, so the moderate dusting would be melted by that evening. I took off my jacket and glanced over at Dad, who was on the couch, browsing through the Hamilton Journal with a mug of hot coffee in his left hand.

He looked up when he heard me come in. “Hey, Bumblebee,” he said, putting his mug down on the coffee table. “Did you have fun with Casey and Jessica?”

“Yeah,” I said. “How was work?”

“Busy,” he sighed. “Do you know how many people in this town got laptops for Christmas? I’m sure you don’t, so I’ll just tell you that a lot of them did. Do you know how many of those laptops were faulty?”

“A lot?” I guessed.

“Bingo.” Dad shook his head and started to fold up the newspaper. “If you don’t have the money to spend on a good laptop, why bother? Just save it and buy a better one later. You’ll just wind up spending that extra cash on the repairs if you don’t. You remember that, Bumblebee. If I teach you one thing in life, let that be it.”

“Sure, Dad.”

Suddenly I felt like an idiot. How could I have gotten so worked up last night? Clearly it was over nothing. I mean, yeah, he and Mom were having issues, but it would probably blow over like Casey said. He wasn’t depressed or sad or even remotely close to touching a drop of alcohol.

Still, I knew Mom’s latest absence was hitting him kind of hard. So I figured I ought to try and make it easier on him. I knew he was probably feeling a little lonely lately, and I guess that was partially my fault too.

“Wanna watch TV?” I asked. “I don’t have much homework due tomorrow, so I can wait and do it later.”

“Sounds good,” Dad said. He swiped the remote from the side table. “There’s a rerun of an old Perry Mason on right now.”

I grimaced. “Uh,… okay.”

“I’m kidding, Bumblebee,” he laughed, flipping through the channels. “I wouldn’t do that to you. Let’s see… Oh, look. There’s a Family Ties marathon on TV Land. You used to love this show when you were little. You and I used to watch the reruns when you were about four.”

“I remember.” I settled onto the couch beside him. “I told you I wanted to be a Young Republican because I thought Michael J. Fox was cute.”

Dad snorted and adjusted his thick-rimmed glasses. “That didn’t happen. My Bumblebee’s a liberal now.” He put an arm around my shoulders and squeezed. And I knew this was what he needed. Or maybe we both did. Just a little bonding time so that the house didn’t feel quite so empty. I mean, I loved the quiet, but too much of it might drive you crazy after a while. “What do you say we watch a few episodes?”

I smiled. “Sure, Dad.”

About halfway into the first episode, I had this weird revelation. Okay, so when I was a kid, I had a major crush on Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox’s super-Republican character on Family Ties), but twelve years later, I was in like with Toby Tucker, a Young Democrat. Did I have a thing for politicians or what? Maybe I was, like, destined to be the wife of a senator… or I might wind up being the First Lady.

Nah. Politicians didn’t marry Duffs. They didn’t look good enough on the sidelines of debates. And I wasn’t the marrying type, anyway. I had a better shot of being the Monica Lewinsky of the future. I’d just be sure to burn all, um, incriminating dresses.

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