Copyright © 2012 by C.J Duggan
The Boys of Summer
A Summer Series Novel, Book One
Published by C.J Duggan
First Smashwords edition, published December 2012
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted
in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including
recording, scanning, photocopying or by any information storage and
retrieval system, without the written consent of the author.
Disclaimer: The persons, places, things, and
otherwise animate or inanimate objects mentioned in this novel are
figments of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to anything
or anyone living (or dead) is unintentional.
Sarah Billington|Billington Media
Copyedited by Anita Saunders
Proofreading by Sascha Craig & Heather Akins
Cover Art by
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Author Photograph © 2012 C.J Duggan
Boys of Summer
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It seemed only natural to nickname them the
‘Onslow Boys’. Every time they swaggered in the front door of the
Onslow Hotel after a hard week’s work, their laughter was loud and
genuine as they settled onto their bar stools. I peeked through the
restaurant partition, a flimsy divider between my world and theirs.
I couldn’t help but smile whenever I saw them, saw him … Toby
Quiet seventeen-year-old Tess doesn’t relish
the thought of a summertime job. She wants nothing more than to
forget the past haunts of high school and have fun with her best
friends before the dreaded Year Twelve begins.
To Tess, summer is when everything happens:
riding bikes down to the lake, watching the fireworks at the Onslow
Show and water bomb fights at the sweltering Sunday markets.
How did she let her friends talk her into
After first-shift disasters, rude, wealthy
tourists and a taunting ex-boyfriend, Tess is convinced nothing
good can come of working her summer away. However, Tess finds
unlikely allies in a group of locals dubbed ‘The Onslow Boys’, who
are old enough to drive cars, drink beer and not worry about
curfews. Tess’s summer of working expands her world with a series
of first times with new friends, forbidden love and heartbreaking
All with the one boy she has never been able
It will be a summer she will always
Warning: sexual references, and occasional
Dedicated to my best friend, Sascha.
For the drama, humor, tears, support, loyalty and
most of all love!
Bringing sanity to me each and every day.
I love you more than is measurable.
Love is not necessary to life, but it is what
makes life worth living.”
I shouldn’t have opened it.
But I did. I mean, it’s what you do when a
wad of paper hits you in the back of the head, right? You unfold it
in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, it might be a note confessing
undying love from a green-eyed, dreamy, Italian exchange student.
such an exchange student at Onslow High. A girl
could dream. There wasn’t a boy in sight that you could even hope
to admire, and there certainly wasn’t anyone else you would even
remotely want to attract.
My best friend, Ellie, plucked the
scrunched-up wad of paper from where it had settled in my hoodie,
which, to the boys behind me, served as a makeshift basketball
ring. She was fast, real fast –even more so with her
lightning-speed dagger eyes that she cast to those snickering in
the back row.
“Just ignore them, Tess, they’re not worth
I barely heard Ellie’s words as I took in the
crude drawing of me. I knew it was me, thanks mostly to the giant
arrow that pointed to a box-shaped figure with the words ‘TESS’
highlighted. A stick figure would probably be flattering for most
high school girls with image problems, but this wasn’t stick form;
it wasn’t even a box. It was a drawing of an … ironing board? Was
that what it was? A speech bubble protruded from the pencil-thin
smile. To their credit, the smile was drawn in red pen. My guess,
it was to offer the ironing board more feminine authenticity.
“Hi, I’m Tic-Tac-Tess,” the speech bubble
said. “I’m flatter than two Tic Tacs on an ironing bored.”
Ironing board was spelled wrong, idiots!
I stared at the image for the longest time,
muffled laughter and the unmistakable sound of high-fives being
slapped from behind me, but it was only the sound of an unexpected
voice that finally broke my attention.
“Do you care to share, Miss McGee?”
Ellie’s elbow in my rib cage snapped me out
of my trance to find Mr Burke overshadowing our desk. His thick,
bushy eyebrows drew together into an impressive, yet frightening,
Frozen, I made no effort to hide the note
that was all too quickly plucked from my hands. Mr Burke
re-adjusted his glasses and cleared his throat as he slowly
examined the crumpled paper that had held me so entranced.
I could feel it; all eyes were on me, and I
tried not to cringe as heat rushed to my cheeks. My heart slammed
against my rib cage; a new tension filled the air as the class fell
silent. We waited, bracing ourselves for the outburst that Mr Burke
was so famous for.
I flicked a miserable look to Ellie who
offered her best ‘don’t worry’ smile.
Along with the rest of the class, I held my
breath and silently counted down.
In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… cue the
“WHAT IS THIS?” Mr Burke bellowed. His red
face surpassed my flushed cheeks, a vein pulsing in his neck.
Before I could form a sentence, he did the worst thing possible,
the very thing I feared the most: he read out the note.
“TIC-TAC-TESS?” He held the drawing out to
display to the class.
“Flatter than an ironing board, hmm?”
I slid down in my seat.
This couldn’t be
I cursed the boys in the back row with their
stupid red pencil, crappy illustration and subpar spelling. (It was
Dusty Anderson. Had to be. Or Peter Bricknell – no one else in
school spells as badly as him.) I fantasised about them being
dragged out by their ears to the principal’s office, systematically
getting booted in the behind like in a bad slapstick movie. There
was also lots of crying and apologising in my fantasy. I quite
enjoyed watching Peter cry. Instead I was to be punished, as was
the rest of the class. Punished by a whole lot of shouting, I mean.
Mr Burke’s irate, verbal onslaught ranted and raved about idiotic
time wasting, short attention spans and even the evils of paper
wastage. Never was bullying (or the fact they had spelled ironing
board wrong) mentioned. I mean, seriously, how does anyone get to
Year Ten and not know how to spell board?
No, the bad guys wouldn’t be punished.
Instead, what had begun as a private joke, generated from my evil
ex-boyfriend and his lackeys, was now shared with the entire class.
It would soon spread to the rest of Year Ten and then, inevitably,
the entire school. Brilliant job, Mr Burke.
That was how it began. Pretty much one year
ago today, I had become stupid Tic-Tac-Tess. Even when the more
supportive teachers overheard the taunts and duly gave stern looks
and warnings, it did little to appease the situation. Even though
the hype had moved on to some other unfortunate soul, the latest
being Matthew Caine’s drunken, school social scandal that had him
vomiting over Mr Hood’s Italian leather loafers. The effects of
that infamous day in Mr Burke’s Biology class still haunted me.
There was no rhyme or reason to high school.
What made you team captain one day could make you a social outcast
the next. I was neither popular nor a freak-a-zoid; I was no one, a
real Jane Doe, and that’s the way I liked it. I avoided the
spotlight, which ironically followed my best friend, Ellie,
everywhere she went. Boys were like moths and Ellie was the flame,
which in my eyes was not a great thing. I’m not a prude or
anything, I’ve had boyfriends and done stuff with them, but she’s
my best friend and I’m just worried about her. And I had reason to
worry: I had overheard canteen-line mutterings of Ellie being a
‘slut’, but I would never tell her that.
So I chose the comfort of remaining in my
friend’s shadow; beautiful, bubbly Ellie with her perky,
honey-blonde ponytail, a light dusting of freckles on her perfect
ski-jump-curved nose. Ellie always looked like she had stepped out
of a ‘Sportsgirl’ catalogue. And there was Adam, our other bestie,
who’s full of charisma and charm, and he’s really funny, too.
Everyone loved Adam, particularly the teachers. He was late for
everything, but when he
arrive, it was always with
lesson-disrupting flair. With his bed-tousled hair and his beaming
smile, he could charm the knickers off a nun. His words – not mine.
The three of us made unlikely allies, but
we’d been friends all our lives. Sure, Adam would disappear at
recess over the years for some male bonding, from the sandpit in
primary school to the footy field at Onslow High. He would always
return and plonk himself next to Ellie and me, leaning over to
steal a chip from one of our packets, earning him a well-deserved
punch in the arm that had him screaming in dramatic agony.
He was such a drama queen. Ellie and I always
predicted he’d be an actor one day. “Destined to be a thespian,” we
Adam would do a double take, his eyebrows
Ellie and I would groan in unison. “No idiot,
“Oh, riiiiight.” He would nod, a wry smile
fighting to break out. He’d known exactly what we’d said. Yeah,
that was Adam.
The two shining lights of my two best
friends’ personalities seemed to be a good buffer for me. Ellie
said I was really intelligent and had the biggest brain out of
anyone at school, but I didn’t know about that. We all balanced
each other out in some way and watched out for one another, and it
was never more evident than in times of peril.
As Ellie and I turned into our Year Eleven
locker room to gather our books for English, our smiles faded and I
froze. Dread seeped into me just like it had in Biology twelve
months earlier. Except this time, it was a thousand times
I will not cry. I will not cry!
repeated to myself over and over again as my nails dug into my
palms with such ferocity that they threatened to break the skin.
Laughter, loud and low, surrounded me from all angles in the room.
A mixture of faces represented shock, horror and disgust, but the
general mood was hilarity. And relief that it was happening to
someone else. My gaze shifted directly to where I assumed Scott
would be, laughing the loudest, but he was noticeably absent. Only
a few of his friends loitered, their beady eyes trying not to flick
from me to each other. It wasn’t working. They were obviously
waiting for a reaction, one I would never give them. I never
I just stood silently looking at my locker.
The door had been smeared with something brown and sticky. My
breath hitched in a tight vice of absolute fear and loathing. I
noticed what I suspected was a string of caramel drool that
dribbled diagonally to a mashed, chewed, chocolatey nugget that
appeared to have been regurgitated onto my lock. It was a bizarre
moment of bittersweet relief. It was only chocolate … and spit.
Yeah, my relief was short lived.
“Looks like someone had a nasty reaction to a
Dusty Anderson deliberately bumped my
shoulder as he walked by me. Laughter following him out.
“More like a Twirly Hurl,” added Peter
Bricknell. More laughter erupted, but strangely no high fives. I
would have thought this was definitely a high-five occasion.
“Oh, fuck off!” Ellie yelled after them.
I think her outburst shocked me more than my
defecated locker did. If steam could physically pour from someone’s
ears like in the cartoons, it would have been pouring out of Ellie
right then. Instead, a death-like stare and flared nostrils had to
“Ellie, don’t,” I implored. “It’ll just make
“Worse? Worse than this?” She pointed.
The few loiterers that had remained in the
locker room slowly exited as Ellie continued her tirade.