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Authors: Diane Tullson

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Foolproof

Foolproof
Diane Tullson

o
rca s
o
undings

O
R
C
A
B
O
O
K
P
U
B
L
I
S
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E
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Copyright © 2015 Diane Tullson

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Tullson, Diane, 1958–, author
Foolproof / Diane Tullson.
(Orca soundings)
Issued in print and electronic formats.
ISBN
978-1-4598-1034-1 (pbk.).—
ISBN
978-1-4598-1036-5 (pdf).—
ISBN
978-1-4598-1037-2 (epub)
I. Title. II. Series: Orca soundings
PS
8589.
U
6055
F
66 2015       j
C
813’.6
      C
2015-901710-6
C
2015-901711-4
First published in the United States, 2015
Library of Congress Control Number:
2015935520
Summary:
When Daniel falls for the hottest girl in school,
he ends up unwittingly running drugs across the border.

Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.

Cover image by iStock

ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS

www.orcabook.com

18 17 16 15 • 4 3 2 1

For Steve, in memory

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Acknowledgments

Chapter One

I leave work and do up my jacket, not so much because it’s cool out but because I don’t want my uniform to show. I don’t need someone on the bus thinking it’s hilarious to place a burger order with me. In the parking lot, a horn honks. It’s Cyn Hawley in her white Honda Civic. She got an order at my drive-through window earlier. It’s a nice Civic—flat-black hood,
front spoiler. And Cyn Hawley is a nice-looking girl. She unrolls her window and leans out. “Want a ride?”

Cyn’s hair is in a ponytail, and a few dark strands blow loose in the breeze. I look around to see if she’s talking to me. She grins. “Daniel, right? Come on.”

I walk over to the passenger side and open the door. “Thanks.”

She moves her pack off the seat so I can get in. The interior is pristine. She says, “I went through your drive-through earlier.”

“Large coffee with cream and two sugars.” My face gets hot when I realize how lame I must seem to remember exactly what she ordered.

She laughs and reverses out of the stall. “Bio 12, right?”

In Bio, Cyn works with a group of girls at the next lab station. I nod. “Worst class ever.” Then I add, “Not because of you.” My face feels like it is bright red.

“Because of the nearly pervy Mr. Hetherington. That guy likes his latex gloves.”

I laugh. “I haven’t finished even one of his totally obscure lab experiments.”

She merges onto Main, shifting smoothly through the gears. She’s wearing tights that stretch smoothly over her thighs. I say, “I’m on the other side of the school, past the park. It’s kind of far.”

She waves her hand. She’s wearing nail polish the color of amber sea glass. “I’ve got no place to be.” She moves around a slow-moving truck, gearing down and touching the gas. The car responds.

“Whoa. This thing has some guts.”

She glances at me. “You drive?”

“I have my license. No car though.”

“Did you get the one with the extra
ID
? The one you can use at the border without a passport?”

I nod. Living right on the border, I think everyone in this town gets the enhanced license. “My sister told me to get it so I don’t need a passport to go across the line. She lets me use her car sometimes, but I’ve got to put gas in it. Gas is so much cheaper across the line. With the enhanced license, you can just go.”

“Yup. I always go across for gas.” She gets a dreamy look on her face. “And Malabar.”

“Huh?”

“You’ve never had a Malabar?”

I shake my head.

She says, “So much to learn. It’s only the best chocolate in the world. Not easy to get though.”

“My mom is making a soup for tonight that has chocolate in it. She’s made it before. It sounds wrong, but it’s really good.”

“Like, for supper?”

“Yes. It’s got black beans and peppers.”

“And chocolate. Mmm, that sounds amazing.”

“You should come.”

The words were out before I could stop them. Why would Cyn want to eat with me and my family? I can barely look at her, in case she’s rolling her eyes. I say, “Of course, you don’t have to. I mean, it is short notice. And my family is nuts. My sister and her kid live with us. You probably have plans.”

But she says, “I would love to.”

The way she says it, it’s like she really means it. I send a quick text to Mom, asking if I can bring someone. Her message back is just
XOXO
, her generic yes. I give Cyn directions to our street. We drive past the school, then Meridian Park. Police tape still dangles from a few trees. There was a shooting there last week—some minor gangster guy,
not even that old. Normally, people from school use that parking lot because the few spots in front of the school are reserved for staff. Last week everyone had to park on the street.

We get to my building, and as we climb the stairs I think about the uniform I’m wearing. Maybe I can keep my jacket on. I open our door, and Livy launches herself off the couch, where she’s been watching a kids’ show. I scoop her up and she squeals, “Uncle Daniel!” She squashes her cheek against mine. I say to Cyn, “This is Livy, my sister’s girl.”

“Who’s that?” Livy says, looking at Cyn.

Cyn is taking off her runners. She pauses. “I’m Cyn. I’m Daniel’s friend.”

Livy sings, “Cin, Cin, Cinderella.”

Cyn laughs. She puts her runners by the stack of shoes at the front door. “It’s Cynthia, actually, and I’m no princess.” She looks around for a place to put
her keys. I point to a key rack on the wall. There’s a toy set of Livy’s hanging on a hook. Cyn hangs her beside Livy’s.

My jacket is still done up to my chin. “Uh, just give me five to change, okay?”

“Sure.”

To Livy I say, “Maybe you could introduce Cyn to Gram.”

Livy wriggles out of my arms and grabs Cyn’s hand. She yells, “Gram, Uncle Daniel brought a girl home!”

From the kitchen I hear my mother say, “A girl?”

God. I hustle to my room and peel off my uniform. I sniff my armpits. I could use a shower, but there’s no time. I grab a T-shirt I got at the thrift store and take off the price tag. Seven bucks, and it is brand new. I duck into the bathroom. Livy’s tub toys are strewn all over the floor from her bath. I douse a towel and use it like a giant washcloth, hoping it will get most of
the burger smell off me. I rake my damp hair with my fingers and then slather on deodorant. I put on the clean T-shirt and go back out to the kitchen.

My mother is at the stove, stirring the soup. Cyn is helping Livy set the table. My sister has arrived home—I noticed her keys on the rack as I went past and a stack of textbooks on the floor. She’s leaning against the kitchen counter, taking in my hair and the clean T-shirt, a small smirk on her face. I ignore her and give my mother a hug. I say to Cyn, “You’ve met my mother? And this is my sister, Megan.”

Cyn says, “Just now, yes.” If she’s aware of Megan’s appraising stare, she doesn’t show it.

My mother says, “Cyn was telling us she works at Dove’s.”

My sister says, “So you’re both in the restaurant business.”

I send Megan a
shut up
look and take the basket of bread my mother hands me.

Mom says, “Dove’s is a nice restaurant, I’ve heard.”

Megan says, “I know Dove. He was a year ahead of me at school.”

Mom says, “He’s so young to have his own restaurant.”

“He used to sell dope in the parking lot,” Megan adds.

“Megan!” Mom scolds.

Cyn blinks.

I say to Megan, “And you would know that he sold drugs how?”

Mom puts her hands on her hips. “Enough, both of you.”

Cyn clears her throat. “I don’t know Dove that well. I just hostess there. I don’t really know him at all.”

Mom says, “People can change. It sounds like Dove is doing well now.”

“His parents probably bought him the business,” Megan scoffs. “His parents bought him a car in eleventh grade. A nice car too. He acted like he deserved it.”

I glance at Cyn. She’s looking down at the floor. I say, “There’s nothing wrong with parents buying a car for their kid.”

Cyn says, “That car I drive is actually my brother’s. He lost his license for too many tickets, so I’m driving it for a while.”

I say to Megan, “If someone bought you a nice car, you’d think you deserved it too.”

“Daniel, Megan, that’s enough.” Mom starts dishing out the soup. “Please, let’s sit.”

Livy climbs up onto her chair. “At that restaurant do you eat doves?”

Cyn takes the seat beside her. “People eat steak mostly. And this incredible sticky-toffee dessert.”

“I want to go to Dove’s,” says Livy.

Megan puts a bowl of soup in front of Livy, stirring it so it will cool. I sit across from Cyn. She smiles at me. Cyn’s eyes are the color of amber sea glass too. I feel my sister watching me. I drop my gaze to my bowl and concentrate on eating without getting food all over my clean shirt.

Chapter Two

The school cafeteria rumbles with the noon-hour rush. Tables are crammed with people and trays and disgorged lunch bags. Where I sit with Maxwell, someone has left a half-eaten carton of pineapple yogurt in the middle of the table. As I eat my sandwich, I watch a glob of yogurt slip down the side of the
carton like a pale yellow sun setting into the scarred surface of the table. Across from me, Maxwell has stopped eating and is looking at me with his mouth open. Remnants of his lunch string his teeth. For a guy who spends an hour every morning on his hair, Maxwell is the world’s most gross eater.

Finally, Maxwell finds his voice. He says, “That is crazy. I don’t even believe that story.”

I shrug. “It’s true. She picked me up from work, and we spent the whole evening together.”

His left eyebrow creeps upward. “Cyn Hawley.”

“Yes, Maxwell. Cyn Hawley.”

He cups his hands around imaginary breasts. “Cyn Hawley from Bio.”

I sigh. “Could you act more astonished?”

He sits back. “Crazy.”

The blob of yogurt slumps onto the table. “Don’t overthink it, Maxwell. People win the lottery.”

“Maybe so. But you haven’t even been in the game.”

I can see I haven’t convinced him, but I don’t have to. Cyn appears and straddles the bench beside him. She sits down and plops an apple core into the pile of lunch debris in the middle of the table. “Hey,” she says to him, and then turns to me. “Does your mom always cook like that? Because that was the best dinner ever.”

Maxwell’s mouth drops open again.

Cyn says to me, “I’m cutting classes this afternoon. It’s too nice to be in school. Want to go for a drive?”

I glance at Maxwell. He’s looking at me with both eyebrows raised. Once or twice I have faked being sick to miss school, but then I missed the whole day.
I’ve never actually cut class and left school in the middle of the day.

Cyn puts on pink lip gloss. She does that thing girls do with their lips when they put on lip gloss—like they are kissing themselves. I guess I’m staring, because she smiles at me. “So?”

“Yes.” What classes am I missing, and who cares? “Sure. I’m in.”

“Well.” Maxwell snickers. “Mr. Responsible cuts loose.”

Cyn ignores him. “Let’s go.” As she gets up, the edge of her top lifts to show a sliver of smooth skin. If I take my eyes off her, I’m afraid this will all dissolve like a dream. I scramble up from the table and follow her out.

We head toward the Meridian Park lot. She says, “Do you have your license with you? I need some gas.”

I pat my wallet. “Yes.”

“And I want to check out some runners.”

“Uh, I have to work at four.”

“No wait times at the border. Half hour down. Half hour back. I’ll drop you off at work.” She nudges me in the side. “We’ll have lots of time, Mr. Responsible.” She says it with a smile, so I smile back.

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