Author: Rebecca Phillips
Publication Date: June 30, 2015
Summary from Goodreads:
“Edgy and honest, Faking Perfect is the real thing.” –Huntley Fitzpatrick
When Lexi Shaw seduced Oakfield High's resident bad boy Tyler Flynn at the beginning of senior year, he seemed perfectly okay with her rules:
1. Avoid her at school.
2. Keep his mouth shut about what they do together.
3. Never tease her about her friend (and unrequited crush) Ben.
Because with his integrity and values and golden boy looks, Ben can never find out about what she’s been doing behind closed doors with Tyler. Or that her mom’s too busy drinking and chasing losers to pay the bills. Or that Lexi’s dad hasn’t been a part of her life for the last thirteen years. But with Tyler suddenly breaking the rules, Ben asking her out, and her dad back in the picture, how long will she be able to go on faking perfect?
Rebecca Phillips has been a fan of contemporary young adult fiction ever since she first discovered Judy Blume at the age of twelve. After a brief stint writing bad poetry as a teenager, she finally found her niche with realistic, coming‑of‑age YA. Her third novel, OUT OF NOWHERE, was a finalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. She's also the author of the best-selling JUST YOU series. Her next YA novel, FAKING PERFECT (Kensington), is set to be released on June 30, 2015.
“We’re not going to get caught,” he said with utmost confidence, like the petty criminal he was. “You said your mom never sets foot in your room.” This was true. She’d avoided my room for years, and not because she respected my privacy. Six years ago, when I brought Trevor home from the pet store, I quickly realized that owning a corn snake came with some unexpected perks. For one, people thought I was weird, which I didn’t mind much back in sixth grade. And two, my mother’s deathly fear of snakes afforded me hours of uninterrupted alone time in my room, which I didn’t mind either. I wasn’t sure why she was so afraid. Trevor (named after a boy I had a crush on at the time) lived in a tank on my dresser and rarely escaped anymore. He spent most of his time either hiding or eating the dead mice I stored in boxes behind a stack of ice trays in the freezer. Mom avoided the freezer too. “So,” Tyler said, wrapping one of my strawberry-blond curls around his index finger. “You wanna do it again?” “No.” I reached down to retrieve my T-shirt and slipped it on under the blankets. Once was enough. Once was always enough to release the pent-up frustration inside me, if only for a little while. Twicewouldn’t happen unless I initiated it. I needed to be the one in control, which was why I’d chosen Tyler, Oakfield High’s resident badass/burnout/man-whore. His type dodged commitment and never fell in love. He didn’t care about being used, and he knew how to be discreet. And even though he was failing most of his classes, he wasn’t stupid. He’d never risk the good thing he had going with me. Also, the sneaking around turned him on. Tyler gave up on trying to tempt me with an encore and lit up a cigarette. He wedged a couple pillows behind his head and took long, lazy puffs as if relaxing in the park. Annoyed, I sat up and flicked on the lamp. “Hey,” he said, shutting his eyes against the light. I looked over at him, noticing that his perpetually tousled dark hair was even messier than usual, likely because I’d been running my fingers through it earlier. His shirt was inside out, his zipper half-down, his neck mottled with what looked like a bite mark. Was this what he looked like afterward? I’d never actually looked closely at him after the fact. Usually, all I saw was his back and then his legs as heshimmied out my window. “Why are you still here, Tyler?” I asked, waving away his smoke. “It’s one o’clock in the morning. I want to go to sleep.” He smirked. “And have sweet dreams about Mr. Wonderful?” “Don’t push me,” I warned. “Oh right. Sorry, I forgot. It’s a Lexi Rule.” I shot him a look. Okay, so I did have a few rules, but nothing unreasonable or difficult to follow. One, he had to avoid me at school. Two, he had to keep his mouth shut about what we did together. And three ... under no circumstances was he ever allowed to tease me about my friend Ben, who I’d had an unrequited crush on for two years. Ben, with his integrity and values and golden boy looks, did not belong in this room with us. He wasn’t like us.
Tyler finished his cigarette and dropped the butt into the half-empty can of 7-Up on my nightstand. Ashe did this, I heard a cough coming from upstairs and then footsteps plodding across the floor. My mother was walking from her bedroom, where she stayed up late every night watching the Game Show Network, to the kitchen, which was right above my room. Next, she would pour herself a glass of iced tea or white wine if there was any left over from the weekend, and then trudge back to her bedroom and shut the door.Family Feud, Press Your Luck, Match Game, Password, The Price is Right... she watched them all for hours on end, her expression never changing aside from a raised eyebrow now and again when a contestant was being particularly boneheaded. She gave me the same look sometimes. “Okay, it’s time to go now,” I said, elbowing Tyler in the ribs. It freaked me out that he was beside me and not evacuating the house like it was on fire, which had been the case most other nights. Having him here while my mother was awake went way beyond my comfort zone. “I have a math test first period tomorrow. Come on.” I poked him again, and he finally started to get up. “Oh yeah, I guess I do, too.” He looked down at me and smirked again. “Thanks for helping me study again. I never knew vectors and shit could be so interesting.” “You’re welcome,” I said, even though we hadn’t studied at all. The last time we really studied together was back in late September, when I used our upcoming math quiz as an excuse to get him into my room for the first time. He needed a tutor, I needed an outlet. It was all very practical and casual. Clinical, almost. Devoid of emotion. Lately, though, I could feel something changing, the way animals can sense when a storm is near. A subtle shift in the air between us. A possessive look burning into my back as I passed him in the hall at school. A touch so gentle it made my breath hitch. And now this, sticking around as long as he dared, not quite ready to leave. This was bad. It seemed Tyler was on the verge of breaking the one rule I’d left unspoken. Do not get attached. I needed to squash this problem immediately.
“Let’s not do this anymore,” I said to his bare back as he took off his shirt and turned it right side out. I kept my eyes on the tattoo on his left shoulder blade—the grim reaper in his black cloak, smiling and holding a scythe. The harvester of souls. Tyler pulled on his shirt and glanced back at me with a flickering of a smile. I tried not to let it get to me. All my life, I’d suffered such a weakness for boys like him. In the first grade, I’d had a massive crush on Cody Hatcher, who pushed kids at recess and regularly spit on the teachers. By middle school, I felt myself drawn to the troubled boys with bad home lives who cut class and sneaked cigarettes behind the convenience store. Then, in the tenth grade, when I started cultivating my good girl image and making new friends, I gave up on the bad boys and set my sights on the nice, well-adjusted ones. Like Ben Dorsey, for instance, track star and honors student and way too good to be true. Too good forme, anyway, which was why I’d strayed back to the bad boys again. But nobody could ever know about that. “Do what?” Tyler said, even though he knew full well what I meant. He’d heard those words from me before. “This.” I gestured to the tangled sheets and my half-nude body and then to him, the ultimate bad boy with his tattoo and cigarettes and close, personal acquaintance with the entire Oakfield police department. “This,” he repeated, leaning over the bed toward me, his hands sinking into the mattress. I pulled away from him, but not before I caught the warm, smoky scent of his skin. He saw my reaction and laughed, which infuriated and excited me. “You really want to stop this. You want me to leave and never come back. Right?” “Right.” We stared each other down. From above, I could hear the faint applause of a live studio audience. “Right,” Tyler said, lowering his face to mine. He kissed me and I let him, even though once had been enough and he was the one in control and my mother was upstairs and awake. I knew I was supposed to refuse him, to squash this problem once and for all and become the girl most people saw each day—the smiling, confident girl who’d secured a place at the top of the high school food chain. But I could never truly be her, at least not permanently. So I turned off the lamp, wrapped my arms around Tyler’s neck, and pulled him closer. I shut my mind to everything else, including the intrusive thoughts of Ben. Ben, who I possibly could have loved if only I was brave enough to love someone like him. I didn’t love Tyler Flynn. I didn’t even like him.