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Author: Ginger Simpson
Genre: Young Adult
Release: March 2011
Editor: Lea Schizas
Line editor: Penny Ehrenkranz
Cover artist: Delilah K. Stephans
Word count: 44061
E-book price: 5.50 There is a complimentary Shortcomings Teacher's Guide with each download purchase in our bookstore.
Our shortcomings don't define who we are, unless we let them. Cindy Johnson needs to learn that. Born with one leg shorter than the other, she has no self-esteem because of the cruel comments and cold stares she receives from her classmates. When Cory Neil, the football quarterback asks her to Homecoming, she's quite sure he's asked her on a dare and refuses. It takes more than just her mother's assurances that Cindy's beautiful before she realizes she may have made a mistake in turning him down.
Cindy glanced at the clock above the teacher’s head for the hundredth time since taking a seat. Only ten minutes of class remained. Perspiration dampened her hands at the thought of seeing Cory. She wiped her palms on her skirt then quietly slipped her books into her backpack. What in the world had she been thinking when she agreed to meet him?
The second hand tick, tick, ticked, and with each stroke, her heart beat quickened. Her mind tried to assemble her jumbled thoughts into a proper greeting. Nice to see you! Or, Hey, Cory, glad we could get together. She clenched her teeth. Everything sounded so stupid and rehearsed.
The bell announced the end of the period and startled her from her musing. Hoping she hadn't missed anything important the teacher may have said, she hoisted her backpack onto her shoulder and pushed free from the confines of her desk. The moment was here, and she still hadn't decided if she was filled with dread or just nervous anticipation. Her stomach churned, and the taste of bile rose in her throat. “Oh, God, I should have said no,” she muttered on her way into the hall.
Homecoming banners painted in bright colors hung everywhere. She glanced up and grimaced. She’d never heard of spirit week at her old school; they didn’t even have a football team.
Pausing outside the library, Cindy smoothed her hair into place and took a deep breath. She walked through the doorway and scanned the tables for Cory. He wasn't there yet, thank goodness. At least she didn't have to make her entrance limping over to him. She hurried, found a seat, and rifled through her backpack to find her math book, some paper, and a pen. Poised and ready when he entered, Cindy fixed a smile on her face and tilted her head coquettishly to one side. That seemed to be a pose assumed at least once by her favorite romance heroines. She licked her lips and swallowed, trying to find saliva in a mouth as dry as cotton.
She spied him as soon as he came through the door. Her heart hitched. As he neared, Cindy took a deep breath and prayed whatever she said came out semi-intelligently. She tried to look relaxed, but beneath the table, she pressed on her stomach to quell the flippy thing that happened whenever he was near.
“Hi, Cory.” Her voice held a nervous quiver. Being with a boy was totally new ground.
“Hey, been waiting long?” He plopped his backpack on the table.
She looked up at him, trying to maintain her composure. “Uh, no, I just got here. Are you ready to get started?”
“Yeah, I need all the help I can get.”
“Shhh.” Cindy held a finger to her lips. “We’re in the library, remember?”
He grinned and slid into the chair next to her. “Well, where do we begin?” His voice was so low she barely heard him.
Her fingers trembled as she pulled her math book over and opened it. Cory smelled like he'd just walked out of a shower. His nearness distracted her. “I…I guess we’ll start with what we’re studying in class? How are you with equations?’ She softly cleared her throat to quell the quiver in her voice.
“I suck at them.” His brow creased. “Anything to do with math confuses the heck out of me. If only numbers came as easy as playing football.”
Although she hadn't been to an actual game, visions of him in his uniform flashed through her mind. She’d caught a glimpse of him at a noontime pep rally a few days back and struggled not to stare. A smile tugged at her lips, but she sobered quickly, hoping he hadn’t noticed. She didn't want to act all giddy and stupid despite the fact he was a sight to behold in his shoulder pads and tight pants.
The room grew warmer. She lifted the hair from the back of her neck. “Let’s get started.” She felt a tad breathless, and math offered a welcome distraction.
After an hour, Cindy closed the textbook and leaned closer to him. “Do you think that helped at all? You seemed to be a little clearer than when we started.”
“I’m beginning to understand.” He paused, and with a sheepish shrug adjusted his volume. “But I think I need a few more sessions, if you’re willing?”
His request sounded like music to her ears. A few more sessions? She’d spend a lifetime with him if he asked, but she pushed her girlish thoughts aside and nodded at him. “Not a problem. I don’t really have anything else planned, and this sure beats being at home with a bunch of crazy kids.”
A stray, dark curl hung in the middle of his forehead; Cindy had a sudden urge to reach and brush it back but resisted. His nearness stifled her, made her want to act crazy. She scooted away. “So, tomorrow then?”
Cory stood, but she remained seated. There was no way she wanted to display her uneven gait while walking out with him. “Aren’t you coming?” he asked.
“I still have some homework to do. The library doesn't close for another half hour, so I’m gonna stick around a while longer.”
He picked up his backpack and patted her shoulder. “Okay, so I’ll see you tomorrow. I have practice the day after, but on days I don’t, I really need your help.” He slung his book bag over his shoulder and flashed his trademark smile at her.
Her skin warmed beneath his hand—a feeling she wanted to capture and keep forever. “Sure, I…I’ll meet you here at the same time.” What was it about him that made speaking difficult?
Her gaze remained fixed on him as he walked away. His shoulders were broad even without the pads he wore under his uniform, and his jeans fit just right, not sagging in the backside like some of the boys at school. What she wouldn't give to be the girl he asked to the dance.
Also by Ginger Simpson:
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Customer Reviews:S.Durham (Monday, 19 September 2011)
CKVolnek (Wednesday, 06 July 2011)
tche1478 (Thursday, 17 March 2011)
rodow62 (Thursday, 17 March 2011)
Young Adult Mystery (8)
Young Adult Fantasy (49)
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Young Adult Historical Fiction (7)
Time Travel (1)
Paranormal Romance (8)
Young Adult Paranormal (14)
YA Christian/Religious Fiction (3)
Young Adult Romance (6)
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