Prologue

A Letter to Farmer Ted

Dearest Ted,

I love you. I love the slope of your neck, your Adam's apple. I love your deep blue eyes. They're like oceans I could swim in forever. I want you, Ted. I need you. Most guys, they just turn me on. But when I look at you, my heart swells. My love burns for you with the intensity of a thousand white-hot suns. Your soft lips! Your warm arms! I pine! I perish! I've loved you from afar since the night after sixth grade graduation. It was Seven Minutes in Heaven. "Endless Love" played. You spun me with the bottle. We were in the closet, and you kissed me. You held me and brushed the hair out of my face. I really was in heaven. Every time I see you, I think, "Be still my heart!" You had a pimple on your chin last week. I would take that pimple on a Roman holiday if I had enough birthday money saved up. You are a sex god, even if you are a virgin. In my dreams, though, you aren't and neither am I. I love how you smell, like soap and fabric softener. I wish I knew if you feel the same way about me that I do about you. We still talk all the time. I don't know if we're acquaintances, friends, or actually flirting. A sign that you might love me back makes my day. An embarrassing moment in front of you, and I'm cringing and red faced for a week. When you might like someone else, I'm devastated. Am I nuts? Probably. But only over you. I adore you, I want you, I ache for you, I worship you. Every thing you do is beautiful, and I wish sometimes that life could be like my dreams, and it would be just you and me. I want you to hold me. I want to feel you. You are my everything. I may have set feminism back about thirty years, but I don't care. You amaze me more and more every day. If I could have you profess your love right before I died, I'd die happy. You make me feel my heart racing, butterflies, warmth. Like I could float on air. You're immaculate, all of my love, The girl you left in seventh heaven

Ashley sighed and sprayed her letter with Love's Baby Soft. Both of her friends, Amber and Torrance, rolled their eyes and groaned. They were hanging out in Ashley's room after school as usual. "Oh my god, Ashley," Amber said. "Every four months with this. It's worse than this neck brace, and this neck brace kills." Ashley sighed. "What's wrong with it? It's the deepest depths of the eternal pool of my soul." "Oh, Goddess, Ash," Torrance moaned. "You've only managed to set back feminism by at least thirty years before. Not to mention, it's so cliché, a love letter." "Thanks a lot, Ashley," Amber said. "Now you've made Torrance get up on her soapbox." "Torrance, I love him," Ashley said dreamily. Torrance rolled her eyes. "Now if he wrote you a letter back, it would be something I could get behind. Not that he'll have a chance." "He'd better this time. I'm not dealing with this again," Amber said. "Every four months since the beginning of seventh grade, you've written some flowery-ass letter to Ted, and then you chicken out. You leave it at home, or tear it up, or throw it out. If you don't give it to him, I'll throttle you." "I don't know what to do, guys," Ashley said. "I love him so much...it's killing me inside more and more everyday."

"Then GIVE HIM THE GODDAMN LETTER," Amber shouted, frustrated. "I can't. If he didn't feel the same way... I don't know." "God, Ash," Amber said. "You're out of his league. He'd be thrilled if he found out you had a crush on him." "How I'm out of his league?" "Gee, let's see, you're blonde, you're a cheerleader, you have boobs, you're rich, you're perky, at least at school, and here's the best part: you're Jake Ryan, the king of Shermer High's little sister, for Christ's sake!" "I still don't get why that's such a big deal," Ashley said. "Here's a hint," Torrance said. "He's Jake friggin' Ryan! I have a crush on him, and I think I'm a lesbian, for Goddess' sake!" "Torrance, name one girl you've had a crush on," Amber said. "Uh, I don't know, Christie Brinkley, I guess." "You're not a lesbian, you just hate guys." Torrance rolled her eyes and ran her fingers through her cropped brown hair. "I'll figure it out in college." The other two just rolled their eyes. "I want him so bad," Ashley said, filled with emotion and teen angst as usual. "He's a dork," Torrance said. I don't get what you see in him. It's not like he's an undercover male model or something." "He could be." Amber and Torrance began convulsing with laughter. "Maybe for Underoos," Amber said between laughs. "Are you guys done," Ashley asked. "Not yet," Torrance cackled. "Give us five, ten minutes tops." Ashley rolled her eyes. "I just knew you guys wouldn't understand, from the day we kissed."

"Ash," Amber said, slowly calming down. "For the love of God, he's Farmer Ted. I mean, what he tries to cop a feel? What would you do?" Ashley sighed. "I might let him." "OK, that's it," Torrance said. "You've officially disgusted me. I can't even imagine how gross this letter must be if you won't even let your best friends see it. I'm going home." "Ditto," Amber chimed in. "We'll see you tomorrow at school, by Torrance's locker, right?" Ashley nodded. "When have I not been there? It's in the prime location for me to get to first period." "And the prime position for you to see Ted, since his locker is right next to mine," Torrance said, swooning to tease Ashley. Ashley smiled. "See you guys tomorrow."

She packed the letter in her backpack. Ashley couldn't believe she did it. She didn't know why she brought it. She wore scrunch socks, a leather pleated miniskirt, white tank top, and a black sweater tied around her shoulders. She saw this outfit on Brooke Shields before, and hoped she could pull it off. She dropped by Torrance's locker. "Hey, Tor," she said. "So, did you rip up the letter that even your bosom buddies couldn't read," Amber asked. "No, I brought to school," Ashley whispered, taking out the letter. Torrance snatched it away and browsed the letter. She laughed out loud at it, until she was done reading.

"Dear Penthouse, I never believed this would happen to me, but the hottest girl in my class is totally warm for my form. She wrote all about it in this semi-creepy secret admirer letter. Isn't that rad?" Ashley laughed a little nervously. "He's coming," she hissed. "Laugh like I said something hilarious." Torrance rolled her eyes in response. "Oh God, Ashley," Amber whispered. "He's only five feet away now." She fanned herself dramatically and Torrance joined in. "Guys, what if he sees us?" "Then we'll say we're hot," Amber said. "He's only four feet away now." "Quick, check my breath," Ashley asked. Torrance rolled her eyes. "OK, breath on me." Ashley quickly blew her breath in Torrance's face. "Minty fresh." "How about my pits?" "Ewww," Torrance said. "No one is putting their face in your armpit, Ashley. You don't smell, okay? And there's nothing in your teeth or on your clothes."

"Two feet," Amber trilled. Ashley fixed herself up in Torrance's locker mirror, putting on some concealer, blush and mascara. Amber took the letter quietly, and slid it in Ted's locker. Ashley saw her through the mirror. "Holy shit, Amber, what'd you do that for," she screeched. "Somebody had to," Torrance pointed out. "I was going to throw that out," she moaned. "So it's a good thing I did it." "Yeah, Ash," Torrance said. "Now you can stop angsting." "No, because now you've probably ruined my chance with the greatest guy in the world. Thanks a load, pals." Ashley slammed herself into a locker and slid downwards just as Ted approached. "Uh, hello, down there," he said. "Could you please, uh, move over a little." And that was when Ashley realized, just when things couldn't get any more frantic and horrible, that she'd just been caught slinking down to the object of her affection's locker. Shit.