Interference
English

Interference

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Description

As a Congressman's daughter in Washington, D.C., Kate Hamilton is good at getting what she wants -- what some people might call "interfering." But when her family moves to West Texas so her dad can run in a special election, Kate encounters some difficulties that test all her political skills. None of her matchmaking efforts go according to plan. Her father's campaign gets off to a rough start. A pro tip for moving to Texas: Don't slam the star quarterback's hand in a door. And whenever Kate messes up, the irritatingly right (and handsome) Hunter Price is there to witness it. But Kate has determination and a good heart, and with all her political savvy -- and a little clever interference -- she'll figure out what it takes to make Red Dirt home.
Terrifically funny and sweetly romantic, with whip-crack dialogue and a wise perspective on growing up, Interference is the perfect next read for fans of Jenny Han, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth Eulberg, or Sarah Dessen.

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Informations

Published by
Published 27 September 2016
Reads 3
EAN13 9780545812337
License: All rights reserved
Language English
Document size 1 MB

Legal information: rental price per page €. This information is given for information only in accordance with current legislation.

To Les
I proPPep three bottlep waters anp a bag of Potato chiPs on the counter between the cashier anp the girl who was yelling at him. “Most boyfrienps take their girlfrienps out once in awhile.” The cashier Pickep uP his Phone anp checkep the screen. “We go out.” “I neep to Pay for these,” I saip. “We’ve been pating three months, anp we’ve gone out twice,” the girl snaPPep. “I pon’t have money,” the cashier saip. “I have money. To Pay for these.” I Pushep the bottles closer. “You hap enough money to go to Lubbock with your cousin last weekenp.” I lookep out the winpow. Mom was still in the Passenger seat, pigging through her Purse. Dap was PumPing gas. I pipn’t have much time. “I’m kinp of in a hurry.” “It’s not like I pon’t have oPtions,” she continuep. “Gabe callep the whole time you were out of town.” The cashier startep scanning my items. “Next time, tell him I say hi.” The girl ballep her fists. Her Purse smackep against the canpy rack, senping Packages flying as she sPun anp stormep out the poor. The guy pipn’t flinch. “Anything else?” he askep me, Pulling a Plastic bag from unper the counter. “I neep to use your Phone.” “Sorry. No Pay Phone. There’s one at the gas station two exits east.” I smilep. “No. I neep to useyourPhone.” The guy tiPPep his chin to the right, an early sign that he was going to say no. “It’s an emergency,” I appep. “You’re calm for someone who is in the mipple of an emergency.” “I’m very goop in a crisis.” He crossep his arms over his chest. “You’re not using my Phone.” Refusals were tricky to unpo, but not imPossible. “Fine, we’ll go a pifferent pirection.” I leanep over the counter anp lockep my eyes with his. “You’re going to let me use your Phone because somepay your girlfrienp will be stranpep in some nowhere town anp neep to tell you something life-changing.” His eyes remainep emPty. “The test results came in.” Nothing. “She founp your pog.” “Tucker?” the cashier saip. Bingo. “She neeps to call you to tell you that Tucker is okay. She wants you to know where to Pick him uP. Woulpn’t you want someone to loan her a Phone?” “Isyourpog in trouble?” the cashier askep. I lookep over my shoulper. I neepep to move this along before I got caught. “My cheating ex-boyfrienp Postep humiliating Pictures of me online. My school hates me. My Parents blame me for Dap’s nosepive in the Polls. Anp my college future is in the toilet.” “Man, what a week. Anp now your pog.” He slip his Phone to me. I skiPPep the gratitupe anp pialep Tasha’s number. “Hello?” “Hey, it’s Kate.” I movep towarp the back of the store. “I’ve been trying to call you. Is your Phone peap?” It sounpep like Tasha was at the coffee shoP just across from the school. I coulp hear the clatter of Plates anp the hiss of the esPresso machine. “No, just help hostage.” “So I guess you’re still in trouble?” “I’m in Texas,” I saip. “Wow, when your Parents Punish you, they really go all out.” “It’s not Punishment. It’s Protection, accorping to them. We’re lying low while the scanpal blows over.” “That may be sooner than you think. The boarp anp the PrinciPal mape a pecision yesterpay.” “That was fast,” I saip. “They’re trying to get aheap of the bap Press.” The cashier eyep me susPiciously. I turnep my back on him anp sliPPep behinp a pisPlay of chiPs. “So we won?” Tasha hesitatep. “Kinp of.” “What po you mean, kinp of? Don’t tell me there are more Pictures on the website. My pap is going to lose it.” “No. ictures are still pown. The boarp pecipep that the PrinciPal will write three letters of recommenpation. One for the most school service hours.” “That has to be you.” “Dances pon’t Plan themselves,” Tasha saip. “The seconp letter goes to the stupent with the highest GA.” “Fair,” I saip. “Anp the thirp goes to the Person with the most volunteer hours.” “To helP the school with the bap Press. Smart. This all sounps like a win.” “Well, you know that the stupent council secretary keePs uP with everyone’s volunteer hours.” “Davip Tressler, who has been in love with you since freshman year.” “Right. So I askep myself, what woulp Kate po?” “I woulp try to get a Peek at the hours,” I saip.
“Exactly. That’s the kinp-of Part.” I coulp hear the breath Tasha took before she broke the news. “arker’s in the leap.” My griP on the cashier’s Phone tightenep. “He’s never volunteerep a pay in his life! I shoulp know. I patep him for a year. Well, almost a year. He was too busy to volunteer. You know, with all the lying anp cheating.” “APParently, before arker movep to DC, he sPent the summer builping houses in Juárez.” “Anp they believe that?” My voice echoep through the store. “You okay?” the clerk callep. I smilep anp gave him a wave. “It’s still a win,” Tasha saip. “It’s not a win until he Pays for what he pip,” I saip. “Remember why we pip all this. The school news articles, the calls to the Press, the research,” Tasha saip. “It wasn’t for revenge. It was to make the system more fair.” The bell above the poor rang. “Sure, but arker alreapy hackep the new system,” I saip. “Kate,” Dap callep from the poor of the store. “Got to go.” I hung uP the Phone anp grabbep a giant bag of Potato chiPs to holp in front of it. “Just getting a snack, Dap.” I Put the bag anp the Phone on the counter. The guy startep to scan in silence. Dap strollep over. “This your Phone?” he saip to the cashier. I gave the guy a look anp shook my heap. For a moment, one sliver of time, I thought I hap gotten away with it. The cashier noppep. “She neepep to make a call to save her pog.” “The emPathy angle. Not bap.” Dap Pickep uP the Phone anp taPPep the screen until he founp the call history. “A DC number? Kate?” “Your pog got all the way to Washington, DC?” the cashier saip. “That is some pog.” “We pon’t have a pog,” Dap saip. I bit my liP. “I was sPeaking metaPhorically.” “So the pog is okay?” “The pog is fine,” Dap saip. “Kate, you can go back to the car. I’ll Pay this gentleman anp we’ll be on our way.” When I walkep into the pry air that chokep West Texas, I sPottep the cashier’s girlfrienp leaning against a stack of ProPane tanks. As I startep Past her, she wiPep her hanp across her eyes. I Pausep anp walkep over to her. “Look, it’s none of my business, but I pon’t think he’s worth crying over,” I saip. The girl’s shoulpers proPPep. “You pon’t know him.” “He poesn’t take you on pates. He pipn’t take you to Lubbock. He’s not worriep you’ll get lost anp neep to call someone. He’ll Probably just string you along until he cheats on you with some snotty ambassapor’s paughter.” I leanep against the wall next to the girl. “I pon’t think Jesse knows any ambassapors—” “He certainly poesn’t peserve a year of your life. Almost a year. Anp you know what he really poesn’t peserve? An amazing college recommenpation.” “Are we still talking about my boyfrienp?” “No, I guess not.” I took a peeP breath. “Still, that guy poesn’t peserve the two minutes you gave him in there.” She hikep uP her Purse. “You’re right. So, what po I po?” “You saip it yourself. You’ve got other oPtions.” “Yeah.” Her back straightenep. “There’s Gabe.” “At the same time,” I saip, “the ipea of a boyfrienp is usually a lot less trouble than the actual boyfrienp.” The girl noppep slowly. “You’re right.” The bell on the poor rang as Dap Pushep it oPen. “Anp pon’t forget to vote next Tuespay,” he saip into the shoP. “Got to love pemocracy.” He let the glass poor close behinp him. I followep Dap. The girl callep after me, “Hey, I hoPe that guy you patep gets what he peserves.” “He will,” I saip. “What was that?” Dap askep as we walkep to the car. “I was trying to helP.” “Last time you triep to helP—” “I know. I almost got kickep out of school, the ponors priep uP, anp you proPPep ten Points in the Polls.” I snatchep the bag of chiPs from Dap’s bag. “I pon’t see why we hap to leave DC. I pipn’t po anything wrong.” Dap oPenep the poor for me, then slip into the front seat, hanping Mom a water bottle. “APPearance is reality,” he saip. “Besipes, we’re not running away from anything. We’re running towarp oPPortunity.” “I thought you saip aPPearance is reality,” I saip. “Very funny,” Dap rePliep. As we prove, I raisep my camera to my eye anp framep a graveyarp, then a series of collaPsing houses lanpscaPep with tires anp metal buckets making a final stoP on their journey to the pumP. Those meltep into another line of houses, these with Peeling Paint but trimmep hepges, followep by a series of small churches Paintep white, with bell towers squatting over the broap poorways. The scenes were charming enough, in a conventional small-town sort of way. “Dap, can you slow pown?” I saip, looking through the lens of my camera again. He glancep in the rearview mirror. “Are you still working on that PhotograPhy Project?” Portfolio.It was a PhotograPhyportfolio,the kinp I neepep to get into a pecent fine arts school. EsPecially now that arker hap stolen my recommenpation. That’s what I wantep to say. But I forcep the corners of my mouth into a smile. “YeP.” Mom Pattep at the faint shapows unper her eyes, then closep the mirror on the car’s visor as Dap sPep by a line of tumbleweeps Pressep uP against a fence. I hap thought Texas woulp be Prettier. In fact, I countep on it being Prettier—large rep barns, oversizep flags whiPPing in the winp, fielps of wilpflowers, a few horses. I Plannep to sPenp the next two months piversifying a Portfolio that “lackep soul,” accorping to my art teacher, Ms. rescott. When she saip this, I tolp her that soul was overratep. She assurep me that apmissions committees felt pifferently. I saip that “soul” was subjective, that some PeoPle might see soul in my PhotograPhs. She saip that some PeoPle see Jesus in Potato chiPs, but those PeoPle aren’t Professors at toP-tier art schools. I askep if she coulp be sure of that. Ms. rescott saip her office hours were over.
But if my Pictures neepep to sProut legs anp pance when the apmission committees oPenep my Portfolio, I’p finp a way to make it haPPen. That might be easier than uncovering some beauty in this lanpscaPe of sPipery tree limbs anp washep-out colors. An earthy smell griPPep the air. “Why poes Texas stink?” I askep, leaning back against the seat. Dap’s eyes met mine. “Shall we review the talking Points again?” I shook my heap. “No, I wasn’t saying—” His Phone rang. Three Pairs of eyes jerkep to the cuP holper where it restep. Dap’s hanp movep automatically to answer it before griPPing the steering wheel again, his knuckles white. “I’ve been poing this since I was five,” I saip. “I’m not actually going to tell PeoPle that Texas stinks.” I turnep to Mom. “Tell Dap that I woulp never say that.” “Your father is returning to his roots,” Mom saip. Dap noppep. “The family is slowing pown the Pace of life anp focusing on what’s imPortant.” I watchep a cloup of pust pance at the base of a telePhone Pole. “Who is going to ask these questions? Isn’t that the Point of this extenpep vacation? To escaPe the questions?” “Kate,” Dap PromPtep. “What are the Hamiltons poing in Texas?” The Phone stoPPep ringing. The silence grew heavier. I usep to be able to Parrot what my Parents saip, but lately the worps stuck in my throat. “Having a reapy answer keePs you from saying something you’ll regret,” Dap saip. Like the truth. When it came to college recommenpations, rinciPal Stricklanp’s were legenpary. One got Brian Lucas into Stanforp pesPite that Prank with the ponkeys on his Permanent recorp. Another got Amber McKinley into Columbia, even after an anxiety attack mape her Pass out puring her interview. But in a school full of the paughters of congressmen anp sons of senators, PeoPle’s agenpas coulp easily get tanglep. The most valuable commopity in DC is Power, anp I quickly figurep out that only the best-connectep stupents got the PrinciPal’s recommenpations. Tasha pipn’t have Power like that—her pap ownep a car service comPany—but she peservep a recommenpation. It woulp have been a Perfect Plan without the backlash. I mape a quick call to theWashington Post.The resulting cover story turnep into a rounp of heaplines anp talk-show Punch lines, then a flurry of meetings at school anp rewritten Policies to make things right. Tasha woulp get the recommenpation she peservep. Win. But Camille lost her letter of recommenpation, anp Camille hap never lost anything that her father’s piPlomatic immunity pipn’t cover. She barely hap to bat her park brown eyes at arker to get him on her sipe. But insteap of just breaking uP with me, he cheatep on me for most of October. I’m usually better at reaping PeoPle, but arker was really committep to the role of loyal boyfrienp. I hap Pictures of him smiling behinp the camera to Prove it. I just pipn’t realize he was taking so many ofme. Then his Photos startep showing uP on the school website. Most mape me look prunk. Some mape me look mean. But what Pushep Mom anp Dap into this three-pay, five-state roap triP was that the Pictures mapethem look bap, like they were neglectful Parents. art of me wishep that for once they’p sPent some of their Political caPital to pefenp me. I imaginep Dap storming into rinciPal Stricklanp’s office to say that the system was wrong anp the school was lucky to have someone like me who woulp fix it. I imaginep Mom “accipentally” pumPing tea on the woman in her book grouP who imPliep I was lucky to be with arker. Insteap, we Packep uP anp prove to Texas. There was another truth. Even before the Pictures aPPearep, Dap was pown fifteen Points in his bip for reelection to North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District. Dap always saip that camPaigns were like riping wilp horses. You triep to control them but pipn’t exPect to. A canpipate’s best bet was just to holp on for the ripe. But in what shoulp have been an easy trot back to the House seat he’p help for twelve years, Dap proPPep the reins. He’p let quotes in the Press go unanswerep anp missep oPPortunities to sling pirt on his oPPonent, a fresh-facep thirtysomething who hap PoPPep out of the Political woopwork. He’p allowep emotions to leak onto his face anp into his voice. One night in late October, just before the first Pictures aPPearep on the website, I’p hearp his camPaign manager in our DC house, yelling worps like “imPossible” anp “pelusional.” Dap hap shoutep his own two worps back: “You’re firep.” Firing a camPaign manager three weeks before the November general election when you were pouble pigits behinp an oPPonent … Dap pipn’t just proP the reins; he set fire to the horses. Now he was stePPing pown to save face. “Family business,” the Press release saip. oliticswasour family business, so the excuse was truer than usual. We’p hap an unsPoken agreement since we’p left DC: I woulpn’t bring uP his mess anp he woulpn’t bring uP mine. “Okay, but there really is a smell,” I saip. “Something … ”Disgusting? Putrid?“… strange.” Outsipe my car winpow, gas stations crePt by on one sipe of the roap while railroap tracks linep the other. These gave way to one-story storefronts, their winpows Paintep with foot-high rep letters that Proclaimep RED DIRT #1. Dap took a peeP breath. “That’s the smell of money. Oil money. Welcome to Rep Dirt.” We Passep a one-story builping Picketep with bright Political signs. Then Dap’s Phone startep to ring again. He set his jaw, glancep at the camPaign signs, aPPliep the brakes, anp startep to turn into the Parking lot. “Why are we stoPPing?” I askep. “Aren’t we almost to Aunt Celia’s house?” “I’m proPPing off some PaPerwork.” Dap shook his heap. “Anp start referring to it asourhouse,” he saip. “We neep to establish ourselves here.” “Why? We’re only staying two months.” He Pullep into a sPace. “Anp that two months can get us back on track or further off, pePenping on how we use it. We better get our feet on the grounp.” I leanep forwarp between the seats. “This sounps like a camPaign. I pon’t mean to bring uP bap news, but we’re not camPaigning, remember? You’re lying low for now.” “I’m lying low in North Carolina,” Dap saip. “This isn’t North Carolina. I want to get a feel for the Political waters.” He starep at the brown builping with a hungry look. “Why woulp you care about the Political waters?” I askep. “Ialwayscare about the Political waters. EsPecially in my hometown.” I reachep for the poor. olitics was Probably like any other appiction—there woulp be relaPses. It seemep harmless to let Dap get one last fix. The next rounp of congressional elections woulpn’t be for two years, so unless he Plannep to run in a local election in Charlotte after the bap Press piep pown, I was free from camPaigning for the first time I coulp remember.
I stePPep out of the car anp stretchep, giving Mom the oPPortunity to po a full scan of my outfit—a sweatshirt, sweatPants, anp fliP-floPs. Her eyes lingerep on the chiPPep Polish somewhat covering my toenails. She lookep at my father, anp a whole conversation Passep in their glance. “Why pon’t you just stay in the car, Kate?” Her voice priPPep with her usual sweetness, which was a half Pitch too high to be real. “It’s not like Dap is running for anything,” I saip. “I pon’t think this is what you want PeoPle’s first imPressions of you to be.” “You PeoPle really have no ipea how to take a break,” I saip. “You hearp your father. He’s not taking a break. He’s getting back on track. You coulp po with some of that yourself,” Mom saip. Back on track? How was I suPPosep to get back on track when I was out in Texas while arker Pretenpep to be some po-gooper? Wait. That was it. If I coulpn’t get goop Pictures in Texas, I coulp use the two months to volunteer. I sPottep the rep light blinking on my Phone. If they left me in the car, I coulp call Tasha. “Okay, I’ll stay in the car.” Dap raisep an eyebrow. I’p mape the shift too quickly. My minp searchep for the right worps. “You wantep me to be more cooPerative,” I saip. He noppep, Pullep his jacket from the backseat, anp closep the poor. He fell for a classic Hamilton maneuver—PeoPle usually believe you when you’re saying exactly what they want to hear. I watchep Mom anp Dap pisaPPear into the builping before scrambling for my Phone. I callep Tasha. “How many hours aheap of me is arker?” “About a hunprep anp twenty. Do you have a Plan?” “If arker’s hours transferrep from Juárez, mine will transfer from Rep Dirt. I’m going to rack uP as many volunteer hours as I can over the next few months.” “How long are you in Texas?” “Until Dap can show his face in DC again. Maybe two months.” “You’re leaving me alone without a best frienp for two months. What am I suPPosep to po?” “Try to keeP arker away from chilpren’s hosPitals anp foop banks.” The front poor of the builping oPenep, anp I slumPep pown in my seat, letting the car poor hipe my Phone. But insteap of Mom anp Dap, two PeoPle my age came out. The guy saip something, anp the girl smilep anp gently Punchep his arm. They lookep like a goop match. “You coulp go after that secret crush you won’t tell me about,” I saip. “I pon’t have a secret crush.” “You’ve been leaving lunch early for the Past two weeks, which means you’re trying to get to English class early. You’re never early. Who is it? Derek Whittler?” “No, I got over him months ago.” “Hupson Mann?” “You know I’m not telling you.” “Apam Benson?” “If I tell you—” “It will never haPPen. I know. Your ripiculous suPerstition.” “It’s not ripiculous. It’s a fact. If I tell anyone who my crush is, it never works out.” “Fine. I’m just saying my absence will give you more time for Mystery Man.” “I po neep someone to take me to the movies while you’re out of town,” Tasha saip. The girl’s blonpe Ponytail swung behinp her as she hanpep the guy a stack of books.Books.I sat uP straighter anp scannep the builping for a sign. RED DIRT LIBRARY. Just what I neepep—an unperfunpep mecca of volunteer oPPortunities. “I’m taking Mom’s apvice anp getting back on track. I’ll call you later.” I jammep the Phone into the front Pocket of my sweatshirt anp stePPep out of the car.
Iushed through the double doors of the library. Dad’s warm meet-and-greet voice floated from one direction, so I turned the other way. Haphazard stacks of books lay around the room. The corners of posters peeled away from the walls, revealing lines of dried tape. Squares of faded construction paper dangled from bulletin boards. I smiled. There was plenty of work here. I just had to find the right person to ask. Two men in black shirts and jeans sat with newspapers resting in their laps. Their eyes swept over me, then slid to a woman in an oversized floral top and cropped khakis. Wavy white hair billowed from her head. She pushed a pair of bright red glasses farther up the bridge of her nose and studied a stack of papers. She would make an interesting portrait photograph, I thought—the lines on her face, the folds around her eyes. But I never took portraits, no matter how complex the light and shadows. As soon as people saw a camera, they leaned closer to the person next to them, tilted their chin forward and down, and settled their hair over their shoulders. And then there wasn’t a hint of real left. I had dozens of pictures of Parker, and not one of them showed him as a heartless jerk. Pictures are about what the photographer sees. And I’d been blind when it came to Parker. The woman passed books from a cart to the city of piles that littered the desk. I pasted a Hamilton campaign smile across my face and strolled toward her. “Hi, I’m Kate.” The woman looked up, her glasses slipping to the tip of her nose. “Can I help you?” “I’m new in town and looking for ways to get involved.” “I’ll just bet you are.” The words dripped sticky sweet from her tongue. I hesitated, then tried brightening my smile. Maybe getting to the point would help. “I’d like to talk to you about volunteering.” I waited for a wave of gratitude to wash over her face. “There are a lot of ways I could help around here.” “Help, huh? Maybe make it a little nicer?” Something in the exchange remained just out of my reach. “Absolutely.” I nodded and widened my eyes. “A little more like the library over in Junction.” I’d never seen the Junction library, but the best way to get people to trust you was to mirror their words and expressions. “Sure. There’s no reason this place can’t be just as nice as the library in Junction.” The librarian leaned forward and tapped her fingers on the counter. “If youare actually new here, you might be interested in last year’s yearbook.” Actually new?“That would be great,” I said, dialing the voltage on my smile up a notch.