Who is Sam Raines's Perfect Ten?
It’s been two years since Sam broke up with the only other eligible gay guy in his high school, so to say he’s been going through a romantic drought is the understatement of the decade. When Meg, his ex-Catholic-turned-Wiccan best friend, suggests performing a love spell, Sam is just desperate enough to try. He crafts a list of ten traits he wants in a boyfriend and burns it in a cemetery at midnight on Friday the thirteenth.
Enter three seemingly perfect guys, all in pursuit of Sam. There’s Gus, the suave French exchange student; Jamie, the sweet and shy artist; and Travis, the guitar-playing tattooed enigma. Even Sam’s ex-boyfriend, Landon, might want another chance.
But does a Perfect Ten even exist? Find out in this delectable coming-of-age romcom with just a touch of magic.
Excerpt from Perfect Ten
“. . . and so I’m thinking maybe before the holidays, when his parents are picking up his sister from college. We’re thinking of doing it up right, you know? Hotel room, hot tub, champagne . . . I know it’s clichéd, but it’s also kind of romantic, right?”
We’re walking home from our school, Athens High, and Meg is rambling, as Meg often does. And as I often do, I’m zoning out completely. Until she says that.
She stops walking and stares at me, so I stop walking and stare back.
“Sam, did you hear anything I said?” Her hands go on her hips like my mother when she’s frustrated with me, but with Meg, it’s nowhere near as effective. “Great Goddess. I wish you gave me half the attention you give to your imaginary friends.”
I manage to stop myself just short of rolling my eyes. “They’re characters. Not imaginary friends, and come on, Meg. I’m sorry. What were you saying? You and Michael?”
“Yeah. Sex. While his parents are away. Clichéd first time but hopefully with good room service. What do you think?”
“What do I think? Oh, that is a whole can of worms, Meghan Grace.”
“Enlighten me.” Meg fishes a pack of Marlboros out of an inside pocket of her black skull-and-crossbones hoodie, the one she never goes without. It’s got these little devil horns sewn onto the hood so that when she puts it up she looks positively demonic. Or at least she thinks she does. But her wholesome face and stick-straight strawberry-blonde hair kind of lessen the effect. She slides a single cigarette out of the pack and lights it, and I can’t help but notice that the Zippo she’s using has the Sacred Heart of Jesus on it. It looks like something an old sailor would have tattooed on his sagging bicep, and don’t even get me started on the irony of Meg using such a thing.
“You know I’m not exactly Michael’s number one fan,” I say.
She inhales deeply and blows the smoke in my face. “Because you won’t give him a chance.”
“Because apparently you’re smoking for him now, for one.”
I pluck the cigarette out of her fingers and throw it to the ground, crushing it with my Adidas. We both cough.
“No, I’m not,” she sputters.
I narrow my eyes at her.
“Okay, not for him. He just looks so cool doing it sometimes. You know? Like some old-time movie star, leaning up against a wall, brooding and sophisticated . . .”
I sigh loudly and start walking again. “Yeah, a brooding and sophisticated candidate for lung cancer. And it’s such a bad idea.”
“Fine.” Meg takes the pack of Marlboros out again and hands them to me, as if she doesn’t trust herself to dispose of them. “I just wanted to try them once.”
“I meant about the hotel room,” I say, and pocket the pack. I’ll ditch them in the first trash can I see.
“Why?” Meg loops her arm through mine and guides me in the direction of Saint Catherine’s Cemetery, which is one of six in Athens that, legend has it, make a pentagram if you connect them on a map, with Saint Cat’s in the center. Meg loves that, as she loves all things spooky, and all things witchy. Our freshman year, after a particularly heinous fight in which her über-Catholic parents threatened to (a) send her to a convent, and (b) perform an exorcism, Meg ditched Catholicism for good and took up Wicca. It was kind of a genius power play on her part, because as adamant as they are that she be a virtuous Catholic, they’re even more scared that they’ll cause her to sink deeper into the dark side. She’s got them in that perfect rock–slash–hard place position where they’re too panicked to punish her much. So as long as she keeps it quiet and doesn’t break curfew, they get by with vague disapproval and guilt trips.
Anyway, the cemetery is also the shortest way to get to our houses from school, as it’s right in the middle of our neighborhood. I don’t know why, but some construction company in the seventies thought it would be a good idea to build a subdivision around a cemetery. I bet a lot of weird stuff seemed like a good idea in the seventies, but I digress.
“Come on, Sam,” Meg prods. “What’s so bad about Michael?”
“You mean besides the smoking and the horrible cliché of losing your virginity in a hotel?”
“I’ve already owned up to the cliché, Samson . . .”
“You just caught him texting another girl a few weeks ago.”
She pouts prettily. “He explained that. It was nothing.”
“And the time before?” She opens her mouth to protest, but I go on before she can. “I’m just saying, why would you want to with him?”
She unlinks her arm from mine and gives me a shove that has a little more force than I expect. “I don’t know. Why did you want to with Landon?”
At the mention of my ex-boyfriend–slash–other best friend, I feel myself tense. “I was in love with Landon.”
“And I love Michael.”
“But Landon and I were different.”
She crosses her arms over her chest and kicks hard at an innocent pebble in her path. “Oh yes, and you and Landon were the exception to every rule. Michael and I couldn’t possibly be that perfect. No one can live up to the Sam and Landon standard of epic and tragic romance.”
“That’s not what I’m saying. And we weren’t that tragic.”
“Darling, you two were practically Brontë characters. You broke his heart and now here you are, two years later, and you haven’t even had a crush on someone since, have you, Sam?” I don’t answer, and there’s a tense pause between us before she adds, “Exactly two years, actually.”
“You know, I could have gone through the whole day without thinking of it, but thanks for that reminder,” I say acidly.
“I’m sorry,” she says, and I know she means it. “He brought it up to me at lunch. He’s the one who remembered. Not me.”
I don’t know how any of us could have forgotten it, least of all me. October tenth, two years ago, I ended my relationship with Landon. He didn’t speak to me for almost six months. Meg didn’t speak to me for three days, the longest we’d gone without talking since I accidentally decapitated one of her Barbies when we were seven. Hell, I wouldn’t have spoken to myself if I could have gotten away with it. I absolutely loathed Samson Raines for a long time afterward. But now Landon is my friend again. We worked everything out. He and I are fine. All three of us are fine.
Fine, fine, fine.
“I wish he didn’t remember,” I say, and Meg shifts our arms so she can squeeze my hand. I sigh. “Bygones. Anyway, we were talking about you and Michael, and not my love life, which is totally unfair to bring up by the way, because I don’t exactly have any options, do I?”
“There’s always Archie,” she says, smirking. Archie Meyers is the only other gay boy besides Landon and me at Athens High, but he’s not even a blip on my radar. It’s not that I’m shallow, but there is absolutely nothing attractive about Archie. Between the buck teeth, the acne, and the IQ that must top out in the double digits, I would have to be drunk out of my mind to even consider it. Even then it would be a stretch.
But then her smirk droops thoughtfully. “No. Wait. I heard the other day that Archie’s dating some guy he met at a Dungeons and Dragons meeting over the summer . . .”
I turn my head slowly to Meg. “Seriously? Even Archie Meyers has a boyfriend?”
Meg makes a clicking sound with her tongue. “There’s a whole big world of boys out there, Sam. Someone perfect for everyone, I think, even the D and D playing sort with buck teeth.”
“Then I’m sure there’s someone out there for you who isn’t a total douche like Michael.”
That sets Meg off on another tangent in defense of her boyfriend, effectively taking the attention off of me. I only half listen as I walk her to her large brick house on the corner, and nod automatically when she suggests I call after dinner to work on homework together. I pat her family’s statue of Saint Francis on his bald head as I walk away, but I don’t go home. Mom won’t expect me home for a while, and Dad is in New York, yet again. Instead, I walk past my house and back toward town, toward Landon’s.