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Connect the Stars

Connect the Stars

Connect the Stars 23

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  EPILOGUE

  Audrey Alcott

  Greenwood, Delaware

  JANIE’S PARENTS WERE GETTING A divorce. By the time she told me this, I’d already figured it out. It takes a long time to fly from Texas to the Philadelphia airport, which was the closest one to my house in Delaware, but I needed every minute because, while I was a natural at knowing when people were lying, I was brand-new at understanding the reasons they might have for doing it.

  All the dots were there for my connecting: Janie’s quietness; her absences from school; her undone homework; her tired, February-looking face; the flowerpots her dad had left unfilled; the stolen bracelet; how when her mother stood in the doorway with her arm around Janie and lied to me, her words had said she’d picked the bracelet out of a catalog for Janie to buy, but her voice and eyes had said something more like Audrey, please just let this drop, I’m begging you.

  As soon as the plane wheels hit the tarmac in Philly, I was texting Janie, asking her to meet me the following day in the woods between our neighborhood and the school, which I knew was a good place to be alone but thought would be an even better place to talk to your best friend for the first time in much too long, the perfect place to tell the truth, the perfect place to say “I’m sorry.” Because I was so sorry.

  I started this way: “When it comes to friendship, the anyway is the whole point.” And I hoped harder than I’d ever hoped for anything before that Janie would agree.

  She did.

  Later, we went back to Janie’s house, and I told her about my unsuperpower because she was my best friend and I trusted her. Besides, if I was ever going to accept it as just another part of myself, like Aaron had suggested, I was going to need all the help I could get, especially at school.

  Afterward, the two of us boxed up the bracelet and sent it back, and even though I told her she didn’t have to, Janie wrote a note to Lyza explaining what had really happened, all of it. The day before she’d stolen the bracelet, her dad had moved out of their house and into an apartment.

  All I could think was that I hadn’t seen my mom smile in so long. That’s no excuse, though, for what I did to you and to Audrey, and I’ve felt terrible about it ever since. Whatever the consequences will be, I’m ready to take them.

  She did take them too—two days later, when Lyza and her mom showed up at her front door. Lyza’s mom brought a casserole. Lyza brought Boo-Dog on a leash and asked Janie if she wanted to go for a walk. They picked me up along the way.

  Yes, good people can lie and still be good people. But when they tell the truth, it gives all of us the chance to be amazing.

  The minute I got home from that walk, I texted Aaron, Louis, and Kate to tell them about it because without them, it never would have happened.

  Aaron, Kate, Louis, and I agreed: the hardest part of camp wasn’t almost drowning in a flash flood. It wasn’t brutal heat or desperate thirst, cactus spines, bats, or hailstones. It wasn’t late-night crying or gluey oatmeal or being chased by a giant, possibly homicidal ex-football player or body-slammed by Randolph. It wasn’t even getting a millipede down your shirt, although Louis said that was a close second. No, in the end, the hardest part was saying good-bye.

  Of the Fearless Four, I was the first to leave for the airport, and as I was saying good-bye to each of my friends in turn, I laughed through my tears and said, “Sheesh, this is like the end of The Wizard of Oz.”

  I didn’t just mean the tears and the hugs and the going home. I meant, also, that we were all leaving with gifts, ones we’d given each other, not medals or diplomas or watches shaped like hearts like in the movie, but new ways of being who we were. Although I guess they weren’t really new; they’d been there all along, but we’d needed each other in order to see them.

  When I got to Aaron, he smiled and said, “Did you notice how I didn’t even mention that the Cowardly Lion’s costume was made from real lion pelts or that the Tin Man’s oil was actually chocolate sauce?”

  Aaron Archer, I think I’ll miss you most of all.

  “Don’t forget! My house in three weeks!” said Louis. “That’ll give me plenty of time to install the trapeze and get really good at it.”

  It had turned out that we all lived within a couple of hours of each other, and even though “a couple of hours” wasn’t the same as “a few tents away,” we would take it. I’m pretty sure that Louis was joking about the trapeze. But I’m not positive.

  When we’d gotten to camp, we’d been Louis the Scared, Kate the Sad, Aaron the Memory Boy, and Audrey the Hermit. We left it Louis the Brave, Kate the Protector, Aaron the Kind, and Audrey the—well, by the time I got home, I was so many Audreys: the Confused, the Understanding, the Liar, the Loyal, the Trusting, the Friend. I’d gone from being a human polygraph test to just plain human.

  And all of this in just two and a half weeks. Next summer, at whatever camp we decide on, we’ll have the whole six.

  Just imagine what could happen.

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  PROFOUNDEST THANKS TO: our awesome agent, Jennifer Carlson, who is great when times are great, tough when times are tough, and gracious always;

  our spectacular editors, Alice Jerman and Kari Sutherland, who kindly allowed us to wander into the wilderness and skillfully guided us back;

  everyone who loves the desert as much as we do, especially James Barnes, Mark Caughey, Susan Davis, Todd Lancaster, Kym Pinder, Erik Ryberg, Kristina de los Santos, Andrew Teague, and Charles Teague;

  our avid early readers, Andrew Avila, Annabel Teague, and Julie Heaney;

  and finally, David thanks Marisa for seeing the desert so vividly, and Marisa thanks David for showing it to her.

  BACK AD

  ABOUT THE AUTHORS

  Photo by Leigh Minor

  MARISA DE LOS SANTOS has published three New York Times bestselling novels for adults, including Love Walked In and Belong to Me, while DAVID TEAGUE is the author of the picture book Franklin’s Big Dreams. Together, they are the authors of Saving Lucas Biggs and Connect the Stars. Married for over twenty years, Marisa and David live with their two children, Charles and Annabel, and their Yorkies, Finn and Huxley, in Wilmington, Delaware.

  Discover great authors, exclusive offers, and more at hc.com.

  BOOKS BY MARISA DE LOS SANTOS AND DAVID TEAGUE

  Saving Lucas Biggs

  CREDITS

  Cover art © 2015 by Neil Swaab

  Cover design by Sarah Creech

  COPYRIGHT

  CONNECT THE STARS. Copyright © 2015 by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse-engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.

  www.harpercollinschildrens.com

  * * *

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  De los Santos, Marisa, date, author.

  Connect the stars / by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague. — First edition.

  pages cm

  Summary: “When thirteen-year-olds Aaron and Audrey meet at a wilderness camp in the desert, they think their quirks are enough to prevent them from ever having friends. But as they trek through the challenging and unforgiving landscape, they learn that they each have what it takes to make the other whole”— Provided by publisher.

  ISBN 978-0-06-227465-6 (hardback)

  EPub Edition © September 2015 ISBN 9780062274670

  [1. Friendship—Fiction. 2. Ability—Fiction. 3. Camps—Fiction. 4. Deserts—Fiction. 5. Wilderness areas—Fiction. 6. Mystery and detective stories.] I. Teague, David, author. II. Title.
/>  PZ7.D339545Co 2015 2014047811

  [Fic]—dc23 CIP

  AC

  * * *

  15 16 17 18 19 LP/RRDH 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  FIRST EDITION

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  Marisa de los Santos, Connect the Stars

 


 

 
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