Chapter One

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I love summer.

Most girls my age love summer too. What's wrong with beaches, pools, and no school for more than two months? You'd need a really good reason to find fault in such an amazing time of year. I know most high schoolers started countdowns on their calendars and most teachers even kept track of how many days were left in school on their white boards, but I am almost positive that they aren't longing for summer more than I am. Summer is different for me.

I live on Minute Island, a beautiful beach town stranded in the Atlantic Ocean right off the coast of Pennsylvania. My home is famous for its warm, white sand beaches, its sparkling water, and (of course) its varieties of deep fried foods. Minute Island takes "tourist destination" to whole new levels. Throngs of people pour off the ferries from the mainland multiple times a day. Most of the time I can hardly see the sand on the more popular beaches here, almost every square inch is covered with a towel or some brightly patterned umbrella.

My dad and I get our best business in this season. His shop, Ty's Beach Gear, sells everything from bathing suits to wind chimes to plastic sand toys for kids. Once the tourist boom hits, the store is packed with people wanting to buy a new boogie board or pair of flip flops.

But sometimes, even in the tourist season, the customers slow to a trickle.

And sometimes, even though Dad always says the customers are always right, I find myself gritting my teeth at annoying buyers.

I pull at my blonde hair as I listen to a group of girls with brightly colored eye shadow argue with each other over whether or not shark tooth necklaces were "in" or not.

"I don't know, it just seems too little kid-ish." one of them expresses.

The girl who actually wants the necklace sighs, "But did you see Nikki Harold wearing a shark tooth necklace in her latest movie?"

"That doesn't mean it's cool!"

And the arguing ensues again. I desperately look around the store for someone, anyone to get me out of this torture, but I remember that I am on my own today. And I know we can't afford to sass customers out of the store, which I would have most happily considered. Even though sometimes we get a lot of people inside Ty's Beach Gear, we never make nearly as much as a lot of the other stores on the boardwalk.

Probably because we don't have a mascot dancing around outside the door or because we don't sell ice cream or waffle fries.

I suggested both of these options to my dad, but I didn't exactly get a great response back. Dad isn't really into changes and all that.

But now, I'm not really into waiting around my entire shift for these annoying girls to make a decision. I have to be cautious because dealing with customers is like disarming a bomb, one wrong move and it could blow up in your face. That's a little life lesson I picked up over the years working here.

"So are you ready to purchase?" I ask as sweetly as possible.

One of the girls spins around and gives me a dirty look.

It's going to be one of those days... I groan to myself.

"No, we aren't ready..." the girl squints at my name tag, "Halle."

I close my eyes for a second and take a deep breath. She had pronounced my name as "hail" even though it's supposed to rhyme with "valley". I say this much to her: "It's Halle- rhymes with valley or alley or-"

 "Yeah, whatever." The one with the highest ponytail cuts me off, "Sorry, Jen," she says loudly to one of the girls most interested in the necklace, "I don't think this is for us."

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