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Whatever Words You Want to Hear

Whatever Words You Want to Hear

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Whatever Words You Want to Hear

140 pages
2 heures
Jan 6, 2015


When Paula falls for the bad boy down the street, what she thought would be a silly summer romance becomes anything but

It’s Paula’s last summer at home, and in need of an affectionate distraction, she decides now is the perfect time to get involved with one of the two brothers from down the road, Jonny and Jordon. But which one? Likable, well-mannered Jonny? Or Jordon, who’s been kicked out of every school that would take him and who tells her up front that he wants her to have to choose—and wants her to choose him?

Who can say no to a bad boy? Underneath it all, Paula knows Jordon is the kind and gentle person she’s falling in love with—something his parents can’t, or won’t, see. And better yet, Jordon says he loves her back and promises to always be honest with her. But sometimes the truth isn’t what we want to hear . . .
Jan 6, 2015

À propos de l'auteur

Susan Beth Pfeffer is the author of many books for teens, including the New York Times best-selling novel Life As We Knew It, which was nominated for several state awards, and its companion books, The Dead and the Gone, This World We Live In, and The Shade of the Moon. She lives in Middletown, New York.

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Whatever Words You Want to Hear - Susan Beth Pfeffer



Meeting Jonny was perhaps the easiest thing I have ever done. He was standing by the gate to my house, not doing anything, not even looking, really, as I was coming home from town.

Hello, I said, because I was used to seeing strangers standing there, and had been encouraged by my parents to be friendly. Anything I can do for you?

No, he said looking self-conscious. I realized then, he wasn’t there because of my parents. I was just standing here. It looked peaceful. I hope you don’t mind.

Not at all, I said. Lots of people say it looks peaceful. I’m used to it.

That must be nice, he said. Are your parents peaceful people?

Why do you ask? They’re very giving people, I said. They say giving makes people feel at peace with themselves, so I guess that’s it.

My name is Jonny Stapleton, he said. That’s short for Jonathan.

I’m Paula Rickarts, I said. That’s short for Rickowsky.

I beg your pardon, he said.

Sorry, I said. Family joke.

He looked at me so blankly, I assumed he didn’t know what a family joke was. I wanted to stare back at him, but I decided to talk instead. Are you from around here?

Yeah, he said. My family moved here a couple of years ago. We live three, maybe four, miles from here. I went to Dillard.

Dillard was the very exclusive prep school that my parents wouldn’t send me to because they believed in public education. It was about ten miles out from town, and the kids from the high school very rarely knew the kids from there. So it didn’t surprise me that we’d never met.

What’re you doing here? I asked. I don’t mean that negatively.

I decided to walk, he said. I needed to walk very badly, and this was the direction I ended up walking. I stopped here because I was tired.

That’s a good reason, I said. Want to come in, and have a coke?

You don’t know me, he said. Would it be okay?

Sure, I said. We’re always having strange people in. Besides, my sister will be there to protect me.

Okay, he said. I just thought your parents might object.

That’s not the kind of thing they’d object to, I said, opening the gate. As a matter of fact they’d be more likely to object if I didn’t ask you in.

You must have very unusual parents, he said.

I guess so, I said. They’re very good people. You might say that’s what they do for a living.

I didn’t know there was any money in being good, he said.

The house? I said, and opened the door. It’s all a front. Actually, my father’s father had all the money. He left it to Dad, who’s been going through it very happily ever since.

That doesn’t sound very good to me.

This way to the kitchen, I said. He and Mom use it to start foundations, give scholarships, things like that. Dad’s a doctor and Mom’s a psychologist. You know what they say about psychologists’ kids.

No, what?

Nothing good, I said. Coke or ginger ale?

Ginger ale, thank you, Jonny said. So your parents both work, even though they have all this money?

‘Life without giving is meaningless,’ I said, quoting my parents who said it at least twice a day. ‘And life without work is valueless,’ finishing the quote. Besides they’re the kind of people who have to keep busy. God, do they keep busy.

You sound down on them, he said, and we sat down at the kitchen table.

I don’t mean to, I said. It’s just they think very differently than me.

And how do you think?

As little as possible, I said. Do you know what my greatest ambition is?

To be a philanthropist.

Wrong. To be a model.

He looked at me critically. Do you really think you could make it?

I’m very photogenic, I said. Besides, I’d settle for airline stewardess, or maybe call girl. I want to be frivolous for the rest of my life.

All this giving gets you down?

It wouldn’t except I had a fight with Mom last night, I said. She’s very good at giving. She gives to everybody, except me. I wanted her to do me one little favor, and she doesn’t have the time. Dad gets very upset when I ask her to do anything for me, so he got angry too, and we ended up wanting to shout at each other, only we don’t. We reasoned it out. Dad and Mom are very big on reasoning things out. So I got to explain why I wanted Mom’s help, and she got to explain why she didn’t have the time, and I ended up losing just the way I knew I would before I even started. Can you understand that?

Not completely, Jonny said. What about your sister?

She’s different, I said.

That I understand, he said.

I looked at him blankly this time. What?

I mean the way parents can treat brothers and sisters differently.

That’s not it exactly, I said. It’s just Marion’s adopted and I’m not. So they overcompensate. They love us equally, I’m sure of that, but they feel that they have to show it to her more. Is it that way in your family?

No, not at all, he said. That must be an awkward situation.

It’s not really awkward, I said. Just different. In any event, Marion’s very secure, and so am I. What’s your family like?

I’m sorry, he said. You’ve told me everything about yourself, and I haven’t told you a thing.

I haven’t told you very much, I said. Only the negative stuff. Most of my life is very positive.

That’s good, he said. I mean, it wouldn’t be right if you lived in a peaceful house and had giving parents and a secure sister, and couldn’t stand it anyway.

I stand it fine, I said. What about you?

Not so fine, he said. I have a brother, Jordon, a couple of years older than me.

Are you close?

Very, Jonny said. Are you and Marion close?

Not really, I said. She’s seven years older than me. We love each other, but we don’t have that much in common.

I’m not sure about me and Jordon, he said. But we’re very close.

That’s good, I said. I’m in favor of brotherly love.

I’ve stayed too long, he said. I’m sorry. I’ll go now.

No, I’m sorry, I said, because I liked the way Jonny looked, and his manners, and I’d split up with my old boy friend a couple of months before and was in the mood for someone new. I was being rude. Forgive me.

No, he said. I mean, you weren’t being rude at all. Just the opposite. Letting in some raggedy stranger, giving him shelter from the storm.

First of all, you’re not very raggedy. And secondly, it’s a beautiful day. It is, you know, I said, starting to feel more cheerful. Bright, and full of warmth.

Like this house, he said.

Exactly, I said. So now that we’ve apologized to each other …

Oh, I’m sorry, Marion said walking into the room. I didn’t realize you had company.

We’ll let someone else apologize, for a change, I said. Jonny smiled. Marion, I’d like you to meet Jonny Stapleton. Jonny, my sister Marion.

Hello, Marion said. Jonny smiled at her. Are you a friend of Paula’s? I don’t think I’ve ever met you.

We met about ten minutes ago, Jonny said.

I’m giving him shelter from the storm, I said.

Oh, Marion said, and looked out the window. Emotional, I assume.

Jonny goes to Dillard, I said.

Went, he said. I graduated this June.

So did I, I said. Where are you going to college?

Yale, he said.

Princeton, I said. I always like telling people I’m going to Princeton.

That’s pretty frivolous, he said.

They have a fantastic modeling program, I said.

I hope the two of you know what you’re talking about, because I don’t have the slightest idea, Marion said. The only reason I came in here was to get some strawberries. Would you like some?

No thanks, Jonny said. I’d better be going, if I have to walk back.

I can drive you, I said.

Thanks. I’d like that.

I’m starting to worry about myself, Marion said. People keep walking out on me. Maybe I should switch deodorants.

Oh, Marion, I said, because she and her husband had just split up, and I thought her remark was a little tasteless.

I really do have to go, Jonny said. I didn’t tell my parents I was leaving, and they might be worrying.

I was only kidding, Marion said. It’s been nice meeting you.

Thank you, Jonny said. I hope we’ll have a chance to talk some more.

You’re always welcome, Marion said, and left the kitchen, carrying the bowl of strawberries with her.

Want to go? I asked, but I didn’t get up.

No, he said. I’d much rather stay here.

What happened at home? I asked. Why the need for four-mile hikes?

Nothing new, he said. A fight. Just uglier than usual.

Do you fight often with your parents?

No, he said. Almost never.

All right, I said. I guess I was prying.

I’m sorry, he said. What I meant was my parents had a fight with my brother, with Jordon. They’re always fighting with him, and I should be used to it by now, but this one was really bad, so I left. I don’t think they even noticed.

They don’t pay much attention to you?

"No, that’s not it at all. They pay lots of attention to me. They’re not stifling, or anything, but they pretty much know what I’m doing. It’s just when they get into a battle with Jordon,

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