Study Guide

A Little Less Girl

A Little Less Girl Summary

Our story opens with a breakdown—a literal one. Jake West's car breaks down on the side of the road and it just so happens to stop at the same spot where a girl from his high school named Amy committed suicide last year. Bummer. But this is a double bummer for Jake since everyone in town blames him for Amy's death. See, Amy had a major crush on Jake and then he said some not-so-nice things about her. Naturally, everyone assumed that after Jake stomped on her fragile heart, she decided to end it all and drove her car over a cliff. Yikes.

That same day, Amy's cousin, Dani Spencer moves into town and into Amy's old house. She knows all about Jake, but doesn't quite believe that Amy would have killed herself over some boy—even if this one does look particularly dreamy on horseback. When Dani finds Amy's old diary and a sketchbook of drawings, she decides to start poking through them to investigate and figure out exactly what happened to Amy. She's ready to give Sherlock Holmes a run for his money.

On the first day of school, Jake falls head-over-heels for gorgeous Dani. Of course she's probably not going to be standing in line to date the guy who drove her cousin to suicide, right? But as much as Dani wants to hate Jake, she has to admit that he's not quite the jerk she expected him to be. Even though pretty much everyone at school—including their teacher, Mr. Dermott—seems to blame Jake for Amy's death, Dani just can't bring herself to do it.

Dani starts hanging out with Jake and his friends and has some good times in an old abandoned bus. She also joins the swim team with Jake and is so fast she earns the nickname "the Mermaid." Sweet.

Finally, Dani asks to play something called "the Game." She read about it in Amy's diary and she knows that something really upsetting happened to Amy while she was playing one night; Dani just has to find out what. Turns out the Game involves being blindfolded and tied to a chair in the woods at night. Super spooky. Dani is out in the woods waiting for Jake to find her and untie her when someone suddenly tries to kiss her. What the heck?

Later, at a bonfire, Dani finds out that her mystery attacker is none other than her creepy ex-boyfriend, Cody. She also suspects that he's the same person who attacked Amy the night she played the Game. Cody tries to kiss Dani again at the bonfire and Jake rushes to defend her and gets stabbed for his trouble. Jake lives, but he's bleeding and Dani is seriously swooning. Later, Jake shows Dani some paintings Amy did in a tunnel in the woods and they see one showing Amy being attacked and biting someone's hand. Could this be Cody? Or some other creep?

Meanwhile, Dani talks with Mr. Dermott about some swimming scholarships and he warns her to stay away from Jake—the kid is totally a player. Dani tells Mr. Dermott that Jake isn't responsible for Amy's death. She knows because she read Amy's diary and she can see that her cousin didn't hate Jake and certainly wouldn't have killed herself over him. In fact, Dani tells him, that's why she doesn't think Amy committed suicide at all. Who cares what the official police report says? Detective Dani has her own theories.

That night, someone breaks into Dani's house and steals her diary. Weird, right? The next morning, Jake runs into Mr. Dermott at school and he's acting pretty odd. He's so out of it that he ends up confessing to breaking into Dani's house and also to having an affair with Amy. Whoa…

Turns out, Mr. Dermott was with Amy the night she died. Amy threatened to tell the school board about their relationship, so Mr. Dermott followed her on his motorcycle as she drove away from his house. He watched as Amy accidentally drove off the road, then he just motored away without telling anyone what happened. Now that's a jerk for you.

In the end, Mr. Dermott is caught and Dani and Jake finally know the truth about what happened to Amy. And, yes, in case you were wondering, they totally get together and ride off into the sunset on Jake's horse. Okay, the horse part didn't really happen, but we can dream, can't we?

  • Chapter 1

    Jake

    • The story starts with a little aside from Jake West. He assures us that he "didn't go looking for addiction." It just showed up one day in a lemon yellow Mustang . Hmm… interesting.
    • Jake's story starts with a breakdown. Specifically, his Jeep. On the side of the road right by a huge gorge.
    • This particular spot has a whole lot of significance for Jake. It's the place where a girl named Amy committed suicide by driving her car off the road last year. It also reminds him that he's a huge jerk. Why's that, we wonder?
    • Jake gets out of the car and notices that the memorial for Amy is dwindling a bit. There used to be all kinds of signs and flowers and teddy bears when Amy first died, but now there's just a couple of random items left.
    • Oh, and a bowl of lime Jell-O. Complete with a note that reads, "In case there's no lime Jell-O in heaven. Love D." Sweet.
    • Jake stands by the side of the road and considers his hometown, Raynesville. The place is your typical small town and Jake is feeling pretty suffocated there.
    • Suddenly, Jake notices a dirty yellow Mustang drive by.
    • And then he sees his friend, Alex, drive up in a different car and hop out.
    • Well, "friend" might be a bit of an exaggeration; Jake doesn't seem to think much of Alex. To be fair, the kid's accomplishments include throwing a football and eating twelve double cheeseburgers in one sitting.
    • Alex jumps out of the car and runs up to Jake. Does he need help with his Jeep? No? He also mentions that he saw Jake's ex-girlfriend, Katrina, at the pool today and, boy, was she looking hot. Jake doesn't mind if he asks her out, right?
    • Jake is doing his best to ignore Alex, but the kid keeps on talking.
    • Seems Alex's dad (who also happens to be a local cop) has hired some guys to build a shed for him. One of the dudes, Chuck, always has the best weed.
    • Okay, so now Jake is trying pretty hard to give Alex a clue that he's not interested in chatting, but the guy keeps going. Does Jake wanna hang out at the Bus?
    • An old bus that was abandoned in the woods by some hippies years ago? No thanks.
    • No biggie, Alex tells him as he heads back to his car. All the guys will have better luck with the ladies without Jake's pretty face hanging around anyway.
    • After Alex leaves, Jake notices the yellow Mustang has pulled into a gas station.
    • A skinny lady with tattoos and black spiky hair calls out to Jake for directions and then gets into the car.
    • Jake also notices a pair of amazing legs sitting in the passenger seat.
    • The Mustang pulls off. They're headed right in the direction of Jake's house. Nice.
  • Chapter 2

    Dani

    • Inside the Mustang, Dani and her mom eat some snacks and have a tense conversation.
    • Dani is upset because they just stopped at the place where her cousin Amy's car went off the road and it reminded Dani all over again how she missed Amy's funeral. And her grandmother's funeral a few months later, too.
    • Missing these funerals was pretty much all her mom's fault. They were on the run from one of her mom's insane ex-boyfriends at the time, so they couldn't go.
    • Now the two most important people in Dani's world—Amy and Grammie—are gone, and she's left here with her ex-drug-addict, heavily tattooed mother. Wonderful.
    • But Dani's mom isn't willing to concede that all Dani's problems are her fault. What about Cody?
    • Um, Cody only became obsessed with Dani when her mom invited the kid and his dad to move into their house. So, yes, that one was also Mom's doing.
    • Dani and her mom drive through Raynesville and finally pull up to the house that used to belong to Grammie.
    • This is where Grammie moved to get away from her hometown. At least in Raynesville no one knew that she raised two daughters who both wound up pregnant as teenagers.
    • While Amy's mom got her act together, Dani's mom could never quite figure out the whole mothering thing. Thank goodness for Grammie, though. Without her, Dani never would have survived past the toddler years.
    • Now here they are standing in front of Grammie's house. This is going to be their new place; Grammie left it to them, along with some money, when she died.
    • Dani's never really lived anywhere she considered home before. She and her mom have moved around so much, and Dani was even sent to foster care a couple times. But now she finally has a safe place to call home. Yay.
  • Chapter 3

    Jake

    • When Jake gets home, he sees the yellow Mustang in the driveway of Amy's house, which is down the block from his.
    • No one has lived there since Amy's grandma died three months after she did, but that looks like it's about to change.
    • Inside the house, Jake sees his little sister, Hannah. Tomorrow is her first day of high school, but Jake's not going to be able to drive her since his Jeep is still sitting by the side of the road.
    • Then Jake heads into the family's home office and finds his mom and dad there. They are obviously having a very adult conversation since they stop speaking as soon as they spot Jake.
    • It seems Jake's dad has been talking to Coach Higgins, who's in charge of the Raynesville swim team. The coach needs Jake back on the team; he's their best swimmer. And he also needs him to help out as an assistant coach.
    • Two years ago, Jake would have been pretty psyched about this offer, but things are different now that Amy's dead and the whole town blames him for it. He tells his parents thanks, but no thanks. They're not amused.
    • Jake also mentions that he saw someone at Amy's house. It seems her aunt has inherited the place and she'll be moving in with her daughter.
    • They must have been the ones who left the lime Jell-O. And, hey, if they knew Amy that well, then they definitely know all about Jake West and how he pushed poor Amy into an early grave. Ugh.
  • Chapter 4

    Dani

    • Dani explores the new house and thinks of Grammie and Amy as she looks through their stuff. She really misses them.
    • Her mom, however, is less sentimental. She's mostly concerned about where her cigarettes have gone.
    • Dani takes up residence in Amy's room. Amy's things are still there, and one wall is covered in paintings, including a huge one of a guy with long black hair on horseback. Dani finds Amy's diary, too.
    • Maybe, just maybe, this little book has some answers. Dani just doesn't think Amy was the kind of person who would have killed herself. If she reads through her cousin's diary, maybe she can figure out what happened to change her.
    • On the cover of Amy's diary is a little quote referencing Mr. Darcy and Heathcliff from Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights. Amy absolutely loved romance… especially in books.
    • Dani remembers the summer that Amy's mother died. Dani and Amy had always lived by each other, and they were more than just cousins—they were best friends. But when Amy's mom died, she had to go stay with Grammie far away. Bummer.
    • Dani heads over to Amy's window and sits down on the seat to see a clear view of the house down the street—a.k.a. the one that belongs to Jake.
    • Amy told Dani how much she adored Jake; she spent hours daydreaming and obsessing about him. Of course, Jake didn't even know she existed. And then he said something cruel to Amy that really upset her. Dani knows all about it.
    • Dani's mom comes into her room and announces how much she hates this new house. Dani loves it, though, so her mom better get used to it because she's not leaving.
    • After Mom leaves, Dani sees a box of old clothes. They were Amy's from before she lost weight. Dani also finds a whole bunch of paints—Amy was always quite the artist.
    • This is all Dani has left of her best friend now. Well, this plus the diary. Maybe it can help her understand how Amy had become so upset that she'd driven herself off a cliff?
    • That's what the police decided happened, anyway. There were no brake marks at the scene so they concluded it must have been a suicide.
    • And the rest of the town decided it was all Jake West's fault. After all, Amy was obsessed with him and he broke her heart. Though Dani can't shake the fact that this just doesn't seem like something Amy would do…
    • Inside the diary, Amy wrote about all her "Jake sightings" and how he's obviously the hottest guy on the planet; he was dating Katrina at the time, but Amy wasn't impressed.
    • Amy struggled with her weight, and her doctor told her to write down what she ate. Someone in town once told Grammie Amy had a "pretty face," which is about as backhanded as backhanded compliments come.
    • When Dani closes the diary, she wonders if anyone in town knew how amazing and funny and smart Amy really was.
    • She knows one thing for certain: If she wants any answers, she's going to have to start with Jake West.
  • Chapter 5

    Jake

    • It's the first day of senior year and Jake is having breakfast in his kitchen with his best friend, Blister. His first name is actually Kevin, but after he got blisters on the monkey bars in second grade the name just kind of stuck. Second grade nicknames will do that in a small town.
    • Jake's mom still isn't amused by Jake's look. He's letting his hair grow long and refusing to shave, but she much prefers a more put-together son.
    • She mentions that Jake's dad is willing to have his Jeep fixed if Jake gets back on the swim team and agrees to coach. Sure, it's blackmail, but how else is Jake going to get his car up and running with no money in the bank?
    • Until then, Jake and Blister have to walk to school. As they're making their way, Katrina pulls up in her baby blue VW Beetle. Do they want a ride? Will Jake talk to her? No and no. So she drives away.
    • Blister can't believe that Jake has dumped such an unbelievably hot girl. Maybe she'll be so heartbroken that she'll off herself like Amy, Blister jokes.
    • Jake doesn't find it funny (shocking). Besides, Katrina is way too self-centered to do something like that.
    • At school, Jake sees the yellow Mustang in the parking lot.
    • And he notices a whole bunch of people staring at him. Wow, he really hates this town—he'll be so glad when high school is over and he can get out of here.
    • Inside Jake's locker, he finds a pair of leopard print panties. Katrina strikes again.
    • Alex is pretty impressed, though, so Jake hands him the underwear.
    • Unfortunately one of their teachers, Mr. Dermott, sees the whole thing. Teachers, right?
    • Mr. Dermott is like a rock star at Raynesville High School; he's the cool teacher everyone loves. He and Jake were fine with each other until Amy died, but after that little event, Mr. Dermott made it clear that he thought it was all Jake's fault Amy took such a downward spiral and started crash-dieting.
    • Mr. Dermott mentions that Jake's GPA has really taken a nosedive. Guess scholarships are out, then?
    • Wow. It's going to be a long year…
  • Chapter 6

    Dani

    • When Dani and her mom walk into the office to enroll in the school, the secretaries can't stop staring.
    • Dani's mom looks like she's just crawled out of bed, while Dani's wearing one of her wilder and more revealing outfits. Go team.
    • Dani did this intentionally, of course; she's hoping to catch Jake West's attention. But right now she's seriously having second thoughts.
    • She manages to catch Alex's eye as he barges into the office to complain about his class schedule. Given Alex's thoughts about Katrina's undergarments, we're thinking catching his eye maybe isn't so hard to do.
    • The lady in the office insists Dani talk to the principal before being allowed to go to class. This girl is in pretty serious violation of the dress code.
    • The principal just gawks at Dani until she lets him in on some facts about herself: She's been to four different high schools, she's a straight-A student, she got a near perfect SAT score, and she's broken ten swimming records. Oh, and Amy is also her cousin. In other words, she's more than just a mini skirt.
    • Dani's allowed to stay for the day, so she heads off to first period. Score one for the new girl.
  • Chapter 7

    Jake

    • In Ms. Miller's English class, Katrina asks Jake to sit by her. Jake's all no thank you, though, and instead is joined in the back by Blister.
    • Ms. Miller begins class and it's clear she's really tough. Jake is one of the few students she likes, but Blister? Not so much.
    • Just then, Dani walks in with her mini skirt and black army boots and dark makeup.
    • Katrina makes a snide comment about the goth look Dani has going, but Jake and Blister are more drawn to Dani's legs. Yowza.
    • Jake can barely stop looking at Dani. She's insanely gorgeous even with the tiny scar on her chin. She's also Amy's cousin, though… so does she know about him?
    • Ms. Miller starts a discussion of their summer reading assignment, Lord of the Flies. Dani raises her hand even though Ms. Miller assumes she hasn't read the book. Turns out Dani has and she gives a pretty awesome description of the main themes in the story. Ha.
    • Ms. Miller asks Dani if she thinks the book would be different if it featured young girls instead of young boys. Dani does.
    • Jake speaks before thinking, saying he doesn't agree that a bunch of shipwrecked girls would get along just peachy on a deserted island.
    • Dani thinks men are more prone to violent behavior, though. In fact, men are way more cruel than women, right, Jake?
    • Jake realizes Dani knows exactly who he is and what he said to Amy. Crud.
    • Blister passes Jake a note during class and Jake writes back, "You sure are interested in that book."
    • But instead of going to Blister, the note lands on Dani's desk. She thinks it's for her and she writes back, "Actually, I hated it." Ha.
    • Double crud. Jake and Amy never even dated or touched or kissed—heck, they'd barely spoken to each other—but Amy is still making Jake pay for his careless words.
  • Chapter 8

    Dani

    • Back at home, Dani's mom is painting her toenails and asks Dani about her first day.
    • It was fine. Well, except for the whole Jake plan. What did Dani think she would do? Just walk into school and hate Jake and make him feel awful? It was really a weak plan.
    • Dani's mom isn't loving life in Raynesville. She doesn't get why everyone at school was so freaked out about how Dani was dressed.
    • Hey, Dani tells her, we finally have a home and that's that. Maybe Mom could go grocery shopping sometime and get some food for dinner? Huh?
    • Dani also mentions that she might try out for the swim team. She was pretty fast in California, right?
    • When Mom asks if Dani saw Jake, she can't help but tell her the truth. Yeah, the guy is pretty gorgeous and perfect. Sigh.
    • Dani goes upstairs to wash her goth makeup off. Outside, she notices some horses grazing in a field down the street. Those are Jake's horses.
    • Dani decides to read a little bit more of Amy's diary. Cue more dreamy details about Jake. But Amy also mentions a kid named Ryan Wilford who isn't looking too good—no one seems to notice but her. Maybe that's because she's invisible, too?
    • Amy also tells a little story about science class. Turns out Jake saved her from burning her hand on a beaker full of acid—what a dreamboat—and since Jake actually touched her hand, she will not be washing it anytime soon.
    • Okay, Dani thinks, so Amy was obsessed with the guy, but he actually seems nice. Where's all the bad stuff? Where's all the cruelty? How's Dani supposed to hate Jake West anyway?
  • Chapter 9

    Jake

    • Jake goes to see Coach Higgins about being the assistant coach for the team.
    • Raynesville is a bit of a swimming town. The sport is a huge deal here, and parents are thrilled when their kids make this team because they've won so many championships.
    • Inside Coach Higgins's office, Jake spots Dani just as she's leaving. Turns out she's there to ask about tryouts. Jake's heart skips a beat. Actually, make that several.
    • Anyway, onto important business. Last year the swim team lost the championship because Jake quit. Sure, there was all that stuff about that girl that killed herself, but that's no reason not to swim your heart out, is it? Or so Coach Higgins's thinking seems to go.
    • Jake isn't so sure, but he agrees to join the team again and help coach.
    • Before first period, Blister tells Jake that he got a ride to school with Dani that morning. Seriously, this girl is like an angel; already Blister has fallen pretty hard for her.
    • Jake's kind of glad that he's not the only one who thinks Dani is super beautiful. He'll probably forget about her soon, though, right?
    • Blister asks if Jake is interested in Dani, reminding him that she's Amy's cousin so it would be awkward. Plus Blister has a better chance if pretty boy Jake is out of the way.
    • Jake is kind of annoyed by all this so he ends up avoiding Blister for the rest of the morning.
    • He does run into his little sister, Hannah. Turns out high school isn't all she imagined it would be. Poor kid might be a little too smart and nerdy and into sci-fi for her own good.
    • At lunch, Blister and Jake sit together and Alex joins them. Alex mentions that the guys have a little pool going for who can get it on with Dani first.
    • Blister is not amused, so Jake makes Alex scram.
    • Just then, Dani stops by to say hello to Blister—and then she sits down to eat with him and Jake. But Jake just can't be around her. His swooning heart can't take the heat, so he gets up and leaves the table.
    • At which point he's promptly cornered by Katrina. She misses him. Doesn't he miss her?
    • Seriously, this is year is going to be ridiculously long.
  • Chapter 10

    Dani

    • Back home, Dani heads up to her room and spots Jake from her bedroom window; he's helping his little sister carry her backpack.
    • Dani was kind of hoping Jake would be some conceited monster so she could just hate him for what he said to Amy and get on with her life.
    • But so far he just seems like a decent guy. He even helped Blister at lunch when Alex was ragging on him, and he clearly doesn't have eyes for Katrina.
    • Dani comes across one of Amy's sketchpads, which includes lots of pictures of Jake. Maybe the diary will have more details, too?
    • In these entries, Amy sees Jake a few times, but he doesn't notice her.
    • She also doesn't have a good day with food and she wishes that everyone still wore fancy empire-waist gowns so no one would notice her lack of hips.
    • This just makes Dani sad. Sure, Amy always liked to eat, but Dani didn't know it ran so deep. Maybe Amy really was depressed?
    • In another entry, Amy talks more about Ryan Wilford. He's sick, probably with cancer. He was out of school for a few months, but now he's back and everyone is staring at him.
    • She also mentions how nice Mr. Dermott was. Amy didn't have a partner for the history project, so he volunteered to be matched up with her. That is one stand-up dude.
    • Dani realizes that she's in one of Mr. Dermott's classes. She agrees that he seems pretty nice.
    • Dani sits back for a while and thinks about home. Here she is in her very own house. She always thought that she might go live with Grammie—her mom's had some pretty rough patches with drugs—but Dani always thought her mom needed her, so she stuck around. As it turns out, Amy might have needed her more.
    • Out the window, Dani can see Jake's house. Amy might have dreamed of romance, but Dani just wants to live a normal life.
  • Chapter 11

    Jake

    • In Comparative Religion class, Jake notices Mr. Dermott talking to Dani.
    • He seems pretty chummy with Dani, which is kind of annoying. Of course, it's no secret that practically every girl at Raynesville High has a crush on Mr. Dermott—but Dani wouldn't fall for that, would she?
    • During class Dani offers her thoughts on religious institutions. Jake can't help but offer some of his own back. He thinks religion can help people face death, but Dani isn't so sure—not everyone is afraid of death, she notes; some people even seek it out. Snap.
    • Blister isn't thrilled with Jake's back-and-forth with Dani so he passes Jake a note telling him to just jump Dani's bones and get it over with.
    • Mr. Dermott doesn't appreciate the note-passing and he lets Jake know it in front of everyone.
    • Stupid Mr. Dermott.
  • Chapter 12

    Dani

    • Dani thinks Amy's description of Mr. Dermott is pretty spot-on. The guy is dreamy, smart, and confident. Kudos for your good taste, Amy.
    • Jake on the other hand? Well, the jury's still out on him.
    • Mr. Dermott catches up with Dani in the hallway and mentions that she might try applying for a scholarship for swimmers with high GPAs. Dani hasn't made the team yet, but she'd definitely be interested if she does. Wow, Mr. Dermott is just so awesome and caring, right?
    • Alex sees Dani walking by and he asks her if she want to go hang out with him and his friends at the Bus this weekend.
    • Dani's not dying to hang with Alex, but she thinks that a little mingling could help her figure this place out.
    • Maybe Jake will be there?
    • Hmm… why did she think of Jake all of a sudden?
  • Chapter 13

    Jake

    • After school, at swim tryouts, Jake is getting everything organized.
    • Katrina's best friend, Becky, says hi to him and Katrina shoots him a death stare. Katrina might be the fastest girl swimmer they have, but her attitude is the worst.
    • Just then, Dani emerges from the locker room and walks over to join the other swimmers who are trying out.
    • Coach Higgins introduces Jake to everyone and goes over how competitive this swim program is—it's sink or swim, guppies.
    • Katrina peels off her sweatshirt, which is very distracting to the freshmen boys who are trying out for the team. Blister is up in the stands, but he only has eyes for Dani.
    • Coach Higgins decides to race Dani against the other senior girls. Jake notices a small mermaid tattoo on Dani's shoulder. Hmmm… foreshadowing possibly?
    • Yup. Once Dani hits the water, she glides ahead of the other girls. Her times are amazing and Coach Higgins is losing his mind; he has Dani race a couple more times with several other stokes, but she's the fastest thing in the water that day. Clearly, Dani is in.
    • After tryouts, Jake sees Dani sitting on the bleachers shivering, so he hands her his sweatshirt. Katrina makes a snide comment and Blister shoots Jake a death stare of his own.
    • Inside Coach Higgins's office, he shows Jake an article he pulled up online. It's about a swimmer from California named Danielle Spencer who earned the nickname the Little Mermaid for being so darn fast in the pool.
    • Coach Higgins is pretty psyched. Not only does he have Jake on the team, Dani is going to be an amazing anchor for the girls. Championships, here we come.
    • Jake is pretty excited, too, but he's more interested in getting to know Dani out of the water. If you know what we mean… (You do, we know you do.)
  • Chapter 14

    Dani

    • Back at home, Dani thinks about Amy and Jake. How can she hate Jake when he keeps doing nice things like loaning her sweatshirts? Ugh.
    • Dani notices the horses across the street again and she walks over to see them. Then she notices Jake coming toward them, too.
    • She thinks about running away, but that would be a little bit silly. Besides, Jake is sort of breathtaking—Amy had good taste… though Dani feels like a traitor for even thinking about Jake this way.
    • Jake talks to Dani about the horse she's petting. He got him when he was seven years old (how adorable). He asks Dani if she's liking Raynesville so far.
    • Dani tells Jake she could get used to the place, and then she starts back home.
    • Jake interrupts her to mention that she's a really great swimmer. Um… duh.
    • Dani just stands there looking at Jake in all his romantic hero goodness and all she can muster is "thanks" before heading back home.
  • Chapter 15

    Jake

    • At his house, Jake keeps thinking about Dani. It's not just that she's beautiful or a great swimmer, there's something else. It's like she knows the truth about Amy—she's the only one who can tell Jake whether or not he's responsible for Amy's death.
    • Upstairs, Jake takes a shower and then combs out his long hair. He used to keep it short, but he grew it long after Amy died as sort of a tribute to her. Too bad she wasn't around to see it.
    • Blister stops by later and is pretty annoyed with Jake for moving in on his woman. Jake assures him there's nothing between him and Dani, but Blister's not buying it.
    • He knows that Jake likes Dani. Everyone does. It's just harder for Jake because no one's ever rejected him.
    • Jake wonders if Blister has kissed Dani yet. Blister says nope, no one has, but Alex is certainly gunning to be the first. He invited Dani to the Bus and told her that he might jump off Lucifer's Ledge. What a turd.
    • Blister mentions that he stopped by Dani's house. Her mom is a little weird, but on the upside, he found out where the scar on her face came from—a dog.
    • Jake suspects that isn't quite right, but doesn't say anything.
    • Blister tells Jake that Dani is going to walk to school with them the next morning, but Jake should definitely refrain from putting any moves on her.
    • After Blister leaves, Jake can't help picking up his sweatshirt and pressing it to his face to breath in the sweet smell of Dani.
  • Chapter 16

    Dani

    • That night, Dani wakes up around 2:00AM and hears her mom singing along to Janis Joplin downstairs.
    • Her mom mentions that Blister stopped by to visit while Dani was in the shower before bed. Dani can't help but feel a little disappointed that it wasn't Jake knocking at her door.
    • Dani and her mom listen to some more records and her mom starts to tear up. These were Grammie's records, but she hid them in the bottom of her closet under a Bible and some knitting needles. Grammie also saved some pictures and a report from when Dani's mom was in third grade.
    • Mom feels like a total failure, first as a daughter and now as a mom.
    • Dani assures her she's done all right.
    • Back in her room, Dani decides to look through Amy's diary a little bit more.
    • More swooning over Jake, who holds the door for a teacher, and then Amy wonders how Dani is doing and whether she'd gotten away from that creepy guy and his son.
    • Dani knows exactly who Amy is talking about: Dani's mom invited a guy and his son to live with them. The son, Cody, was two years older than Dani and it turns out both father and son were drug dealers. Good times.
    • When Dani's mom found out and confronted the guy, he threatened to stab her. Dani ended up getting punched in the face. That's how she really got her scar.
    • Amy goes on about what she's been eating and then mentions Ryan Wilford again; he looks even worse, like he's going to die. Amy thinks knowing you're going to die is terrifying.
    • Dani doesn't think these sound like the words of a girl who is about to commit suicide.
    • Then Amy mentions something else that she found out: Ryan and Jake are friends. So she wasn't the only person who noticed him. See? Jake isn't just beautiful, he's kind and caring, too.
    • Dani closes the diary but can't shake the feeling that everything is off. Her mom is turning more motherly, Amy sure doesn't talk like someone who wants to die, and mean Jake West seems to be anything but.
  • Chapter 17

    Jake

    • The next morning, Jake, Dani, and Blister walk to school together.
    • On the way, they pass by a house with a huge, mean Rottweiler in the yard who always barks and growls at them.
    • The dog lunges at the three of them, but Dani isn't afraid. She just smiles at the dog and then reaches down to pet him, and then she waves to the dog's owner, Mr. Walker.
    • Afterward, Jake and Blister explain that no one ever talks to Mr. Walker or pets his dog—the guy's always outside watching everyone with a scowl.
    • Dani says that maybe he's just been waiting for someone to say hello. Oh, Dani.
    • At school, Blister heads off and Dani tells Jake how much his best friend looks up to him.
    • Jake's not so sure, but he tells Dani not to hurt Blister if she can help it.
    • Dani says she wouldn't do that.
    • Jake asks her why she lied about her scar being from a dog bite—after all, people who are attacked by dogs don't usually walk up to pet vicious-looking ones like she just did.
    • Dani tells him that not everyone can have a charmed life, by which we assume she's referring to the fact that Jake grew up on a pony farm. Ponies!
    • Jake stares at her for a long time. He can sense what she's thinking, or at least he thinks he does. Dani wants to know why—why he said those cruel things to Amy.
    • He tells her that it was only five words; Amy wasn't supposed to hear. As soon as he saw her listening, he wanted to take back what he'd said back, but he couldn't.
    • Dani tells Jake that he was Amy's romantic hero, but Jake doesn't believe those types of guys really exist. They're only in books.
    • Dani says Amy had to find that out the hard way.
    • Jake wants to ask Dani if she thinks he's responsible for Amy's death, but he doesn't and instead he tells her how sorry he is.
    • Dani is, too.
  • Chapter 18

    Dani

    • Dani is getting ready to head to the Bus. While she's waiting for Alex and Blister to pick her up, though, she decides to read Amy's diary a bit.
    • Amy talks about how embarrassed she was one day in gym class when she couldn't run the mile. She decides to stop with all the junk food—her mom died from heart failure and Amy's not going to let the same thing happen to her.
    • Dani knew Amy had lost weight, but she always assumed it was because of Jake. Could there be another reason?
    • Amy mentions running and working out. She's also found a new secret place to paint and it keeps her mind off food and she can be alone there.
    • Dani also notices another entry—this one looks like it's written in anger.
    • Amy tells her diary that Jake West is kind of jerk. He told his friend that he "prefers a little less girl." Whatever, Jake; Amy prefers someone who's a whole lot more man. Oh, snap.
    • Dani can't believe it—these aren't the things that someone who was heartbroken would write. Amy didn't try to lose weight because of what Jake said, and she wasn't torn to pieces by his words either. In fact, she knew she was too darn good for him.
    • Dani flips through the rest of the entries. It seems Amy did lose a whole lot of weight, and she got noticed. In fact, Alex invited her to the Bus one weekend and mentioned that they might play the Game. His friend, Chuck, was also going to be there. Maybe, Amy wrote, she'd make a go for him—look out, Chuck.
    • Alex honks his horn and Dani rushes outside. She's determined to find out what's up with the Bus and this "Game" thing.
    • The guys explain to Dani about the Bus—it seems some hippies lived in it years ago and then abandoned it in the woods—and Dani asks about the Game.
    • Alex thinks they should come back that night and play it, but Blister isn't so sure. No one has played it since… well, since, you know.
    • Blister changes the subject to Alex's friend, Chuck, asking whether he's back in town.
    • Dani perks up and asks if Amy knew Chuck, too.
    • Alex tells her maybe… Chuck was around last year, but not for long.
    • They get to the Bus but Dani hasn't learned any new info. She is, however, kind of excited to see Jake standing there.
    • Seriously, though, a crush on Jake is the last thing Dani needs right now.
  • Chapter 19

    Jake

    • Alex asks Jake right away if he's going to jump from the Ledge.
    • No one's done it in the last twenty years because it's super dangerous and the last moron who tried wound up shattering his feet on the rocks on the way down. Yikes.
    • Somehow people always thought Jake would jump from the Ledge. And by "somehow" we mean because Blister tells people that Jake is cool enough to do anything—even make the big jump.
    • Katrina shows up to the Bus along with three of her other friends from cheerleading. Jake really does not want to see her, but he just couldn't bear the thought of Alex out here with Dani.
    • Jake decides to hike up to the Ledge. Sure enough, it's a rocky and dangerous cliff with a waterfall that pours into a lagoon below.
    • Jake sits on the edge and thinks about Amy. He thinks it takes guts to drive a car off a cliff like Amy did. Her death was sensational, at least. More than Ryan Wilford's—that kid just died of cancer, and since it was quiet, no one seemed to care much.
    • Blister and the rest of the group come up to the Ledge to see Jake. Apparently, they all think he's going to jump.
    • But Blister is having second thoughts—he tells Jane this is dangerous. Gee, you think?
    • Dani looks out over the Ledge to see the water below; then she sits down to unlace her boots.
    • Jake wants to know what the heck she's doing.
    • Oh, aren't we jumping off this deadly cliff, Dani asks? And a second later, she's gone down into the water.
    • Everyone is freaking out for a minute and no one can see any sign of Dani in the water at the bottom. So Jake rushes down to a lower ledge and looks in again. Still no Dani—yikes—so he dives into the water.
    • He goes under a few times looking for her; no one up top can see her either. Just then, Jake hears a voice. It's Dani saying the water's cold.
    • Jake yells up that he's found her. Phew.
    • Dani looks at Jake for a long time and then finally says to him, "Amy didn't kill herself because of you."
    • Jake tells her that he already knows that; he's not arrogant enough to think a girl would off herself just for him.
    • Dani tells Jake that Amy really loved him, though, and that she wrote about him every day in her diary.
    • Jake tells her that he's sorry Amy died.
    • Dani says people didn't really know how great she was, but Jake says he knew.
    • He explains that while he might not have paid much attention to Amy, once she overheard what he said about her, he started to notice her. He saw how she was losing weight and that she was really funny and a super talented artist.
    • Jake just looks at Dani and has this crazy urge to kiss her… but he doesn't.
    • Once they meet back up with the group, Blister and Alex start going on about how awesome Dani's jump was, but Jake heads off on his own.
  • Chapter 20

    Dani

    • After the jump, Dani decides to dry out on some rocks.
    • She hadn't realized that jumping from the Ledge was such a huge deal; she'd assumed that kids in Raynesville did it all the time. Had she known, she never would have tried something so crazy.
    • Jake comes out to join her and they hear Chuck's motorcycle pull up. Dani can't make out his face behind his helmet, though, and the guy ends up pulling away after taking one look at Dani. That's weird…
    • After a minute, Jake tells Dani that he needs to show her something. He leads her to a giant pipe next to a stream and they walk inside. On the wall Dani sees a whole collage of Amy's pictures, including one of Jake on his horse. This must be the secret place Amy mentioned.
    • Jake tells Dani that he saw Amy walking down here with a bunch of paints and so he followed.
    • Dani can't help but notice that someone has gone over the pictures with a clear coat of varnish, like they were trying to protect them. It was Jake (of course).
    • Dani notices a picture of Mr. Dermott. Jake tells her that he and Amy were friends, and Amy would go to his office a lot for counseling.
    • Hmmm… maybe Mr. Dermott will have some answers about Amy?
  • Chapter 21

    Jake

    • When Jake and Dani get back to the Bus, Katrina and Blister are shooting them daggers. Jake doesn't care, though—after all, they blamed him for Amy's death, and so long as Dani doesn't think he's responsible, all is well.
    • Alex mentions that they've all decided to come back that night and play the Game.
    • Blister explains to Dani exactly what it is: Each girl is tied up and left alone in the woods at night, and a boy has to come find her. The last couple to come back has to strip down to their underwear and stand by the side of the road while cars pass.
    • Jake tells Dani how weak the game actually is, but Dani agrees to come—well, if Jake will come, too.
    • He agrees (shocking), but he's not looking forward to it.
  • Chapter 22

    Dani

    • Back home, Dani showers and gets ready to play the Game. She thinks it sounds kind of dumb but she's also hoping it will give her some insight into Amy. So, Game on.
    • Dani takes a quick peek at Amy's diary. She notices that she's nearly at the last entry—looks like playing the Game was one of the last things Amy did.
    • Jake comes to pick Dani up, but Blister isn't with him since he's annoyed that Jake is trying to come between him and Dani. Hmm… he might be right about that.
    • Dani asks Jake if he was there when Amy played the Game.
    • He says he was and explains that Amy was out in the woods for a long time. When Jake finally found her, she was untied and just sitting there crying. She left without telling anyone what happened and everyone just figured she had freaked out from being alone for so long.
    • This isn't great news, but Dani's still determined to play the Game and figure out what might have happened to Amy out there.
    • At the Bus, everyone picks partners and Jake randomly draws Dani's name; he's the one who has to find her.
    • Alex is in charge of hiding the girls. When he gets Dani to her spot in the woods, he ties her hands and legs to a chair with rope and then blindfolds and gags her.
    • Dani isn't the type of person to panic, but she starts to feel pretty shaky once she's sitting there all alone in the dark, tied up and unable to see.
    • Of course Dani realizes that Jake is probably right: Amy just panicked after being by herself for so long. Dani is certainly starting to.
    • After a bit, Dani hears footsteps and someone comes up to her and takes her gag off—and then he grabs her face and kisses her. What? Dani bites his lip and the guy pulls away. She screams.
    • She hears more footsteps and Jake appears to untie her. He wants to know how she got her gag off.
    • Someone else untied it, which is creepy.
    • Back at the Bus, Blister and Alex are there. Dani figures it couldn't have been either of them, and neither of the other guys have bite marks on their lips when they come back either. So who was it?
    • Katrina and her partner are the losers and have to strip down, but Dani asks Jake to take her home.
    • During the car ride, she tells Jake that she only sees Blister as a friend, nothing more.
    • Jake tells her that she's not the kind of girl guys want to be friends with.
    • Dani realizes that she's falling for Jake despite trying so hard not to. She thinks about telling him what happened, but she can't quite get the words out. The whole thing has left her wondering whether the same thing happened to Amy when she was out there all alone in those woods…
  • Chapter 23

    Jake

    • After swim practice, Jake sees Dani sitting by the pool; he can tell she's feeling sad.
    • She tells him how much she misses Amy, and Jake tells her about Ryan Wilford and how Amy was always nice to him.
    • Dani says she knows that Jake and Ryan were friends, too.
    • Jake has a sudden urge to kiss her, but he just doesn't think he'll ever be able to work up the courage to do it. He offers Dani a ride home instead.
    • While she's getting changed, Coach Higgins spots Jake and mentions that he shouldn't do anything to throw Dani off her swimming game. Um, Jake wasn't planning on it, Coach.
    • Coach Higgins tells Jake that they both know he's messed up a few girls in his time at Raynesville High. Seriously, dude?
    • As they walk to the parking lot, Jake asks Dani what it was like to jump from the Ledge.
    • Dani admits it was scary, and says that if she had thought about it more, she probably wouldn't have tried it. Jake was brave, though—not only did he jump from the lower ledge, he was the only one who tried to save her. Everyone else just stood there.
    • Jake tells her it was pretty much him or no one, and then admits he was totally worried. He really likes this girl a ton.
    • Jake asks about the Game and how Dani's feeling.
    • Her answer? Not awesome. It was kind of weird that someone pulled off her gag and kissed her.
    • Jake is ticked, but Dani isn't too freaked out about it, though it does make her wonder about Amy. Did the same thing happen to her out there in the dark? Or was it something worse?
  • Chapter 24

    Dani

    • Inside her house, Dani's mom mentions that she and Frank might come to Dani's first meet.
    • Dani just wonders who the heck Frank is, though.
    • Oh, he's her mom's new boyfriend.
    • Dani is not thrilled. Her mom does not have the best track record with guys, though she assures Dani that this guy is different.
    • Then Dani lets it out: She tells her mom that she doesn't think Amy killed herself.
    • Her mom tells her that it might be hard to believe, but they just have to accept that Amy was hurting inside and they didn't know about it.
    • The next morning, Dani ignores her mom's advice and heads to see Mr. Dermott. Dani wants to know if Amy ever mentioned being depressed or suicidal when she would come see him for counseling.
    • Mr. Dermott is all nope, though he also points out that Amy had a lot on her mind—her mom died, her grandma was getting older, plus she was overweight.
    • But Dani's not buying it. She asks Mr. Dermott why everyone in this town wants to sweep things under the rug, and then she pulls out the big guns and tells him Amy kept a diary, which reveals something creepy happened to her. She asks Mr. Dermott if Amy ever mentioned anything about that.
    • Mr. Dermott tells Dani that he can't really say much more.
    • Dani leaves his office disappointed. Will she ever figure out what happened to Amy?
  • Chapter 25

    Jake

    • At the first swim meet of the year, Jake is busy making sure he has everything in order as both a coach and the star swimmer of the boys' squad.
    • Coach Higgins is super excited for the other team to see Dani in action as she blows them out of the water.
    • Jake asks Dani how she's feeling. Is she nervous? Dani says not really. She and Blister did have a long talk, though, and they're just going to be friends. Seems Dani had a bad relationship last year and she'd rather just be alone right now.
    • Darn, Jake thinks to himself. Though, on the upside, he's glad that Blister will stop being mad at him.
    • Once the meet starts, Dani destroys the competition, and by the time she's finished, the crowd is chanting, "Mermaid! Mermaid!" as she swims. Coach Higgins wonders why she's not swimming on the Olympic team.
    • Afterward, Jake and the boys' team race, but it's not nearly as exciting as Dani's races. Jake always thought he was a good swimmer, until he saw Dani in action.
    • After the meet, Alex and Blister congratulate Jake and Dani and mention that they're ready for the bonfire tonight. A bonfire after the first swim meet is tradition.
    • Jake asks Dani if she wants a ride to the bonfire. Surprise, surprise, she does.
    • Mr. Dermott overhears them talking and comes up to see Dani. He mentions the swimming scholarships again, and suggests she stop by his office tomorrow to pick up the applications.
    • Coach Higgins is elated by the win and having Dani on the team. Dani has this effect on people—Jake knows the feeling.
  • Chapter 26

    Dani

    • On the car ride home, Dani's mom mentions that it might not be such a great thing if word gets out that a super fast swimmer with a mermaid tattoo on her shoulder has moved to Raynesville.
    • Dani thinks it's going to be okay, though; they'll just have to keep their eyes out and make sure none of Mom's ugly skeletons come trying to find them.
    • At the house, Dani's mom has made dinner. Like, a real dinner. Dani's pretty amazed, and feels like her mom is making progress. For her mom's part, she notices that Dani is spending a lot of time with Jake.
    • That night, Jake picks up Dani and she can't shake the feeling that she shouldn't be thinking all these dreamy thoughts about him.
    • On the car ride to the bonfire, Dani asks about the bonfire and tells Jake about her mermaid tattoo and the nickname.
    • At the bonfire, Alex tells them that Chuck is finally going to show up. Dani is kind of interested in meeting him; so far, this guy is pretty elusive and mythical.
    • When Chuck finally shows up, Dani is pretty surprised. Turns out Chuck's real name is Cody—as in the crazy drug-dealing Cody who was obsessed with Dani back in California. Gulp.
    • Dani realizes it must have been Cody who kissed her the other night during the Game. Yuck.
    • A stream of questions comes running from Dani's mouth: Did Cody come here to find Amy? Did he attack her last year? And where is Cody's creepy dad?
    • Cody tells her that his dad is in jail, and he never attacked Amy—he just wanted to find Dani. He can't live without her; he needs her.
    • Dani is totally disgusted by this guy and doesn't want anything to do with him. But Cody's not having it, and he grabs her and tries to kiss her.
    • At the same moment, Jake grabs Cody and punches him right in the face.
    • Cody reaches into his boot, though, and pulls out a knife. He manages to slice Jake's hand pretty good before Alex scares him off.
    • Blister wraps Jake's hand and Alex calls his dad to report what happened to the police.
    • Dani is freaking out: Cody has been following her this whole time, and now everyone knows about her sordid past. Plus Jake is hurt all because of her.
    • Blister and Dani drive Jake to the hospital. It looks like his swim season might be over with this nasty cut on his hand.
    • Jake wants to know about Cody so Dani explains. She hasn't seen him in a year, and they actually never really dated; he was just totally obsessed with her. It was Cody's dad who gave her the scar on her face.
    • At the hospital, Alex's dad talks to Dani in order to file a police report about the incident. Dani tells him that she thinks Cody might have had something to do with Amy's death.
    • Alex's dad assures Amy there was no evidence of foul play. The only other tire tracks at the scene were a motorcycle, and as far as they could tell, that bike just happened by before the accident.
    • At which point Dani tells him Cody drives a motorcycle. Whoa.
    • Alex's dad agrees to reopen the file and see if there's anything they missed the first time. Maybe Cody is part of this somehow…
    • Jake has to get eight stitches in his hand and his mom drives Dani home.
    • At home, Dani tells her mom that creepy Cody showed up and attacked her and wounded Jake. Her mom is really upset that her terrible past has caught up with them here.
    • Alex's dad also stops by the house to let Dani know he looked at the report from Amy's accident again. Turns out, Cody was in jail the night Amy died—Alex's dad picked him up for drunk and disorderly conduct—so he couldn't have had anything to do with Amy's death.
    • Alex's dad lets Dani know that Cody won't be around for long; they're shipping him back to California where he has some more warrants out for his arrest. Alex's dad assures Dani and her mom that they've probably seen the last of Cody. Good riddance.
  • Chapter 27

    Jake

    • The next day, Jake heads out for a ride on his horse when he sees Dani on the porch.
    • She comes over, but she's clearly feeling terrible about Jake's hand. Jake tells her that he'd have done the same thing even if he knew Cody had a knife.
    • Dani tells Jake that Cody is going back to California and that Alex's dad confirmed he wasn't involved in Amy's death.
    • Jake offers her a ride on his horse; Dani suggests they go back to Amy's secret painting tunnel.
    • Dani tells Jake she wouldn't feel right about swimming in the next meet when he can't, but Jake tells her Coach Higgins might die if she quits the team. Besides, what happened to his hand isn't her fault.
    • At the tunnel, Jake and Dani look at the pictures. Dani really likes the one of Jake… maybe it's the horse that she's into? Yeah, right.
    • Then Dani notices another painting off in the corner.
    • This one isn't as cheery as the others. It's a picture of a mouth taking a bite out of someone's palm, and it's all in red and black and white.
    • What if something terrible happened to her, Dani says, and this is what she painted? Then she looks at Jake's hands.
    • Jake notices, and when he does, he freaks out: Does Dani still think he's the one who's responsible after all this time? Has it occurred to her that maybe no one is responsible, that perhaps Amy just killed herself or fell asleep at the wheel or swerved to miss a deer? Heck, maybe she was just a lousy driver? He finishes his panic-fest off by suggesting Dani just stop obsessing over what happened to Amy.
    • Oops… Once Jake's done, he realizes he's stepped over the line. But it's too late. Dani just turns and starts to walk back without him.
  • Chapter 28

    Dani

    • As Dani runs home, she realizes Jake is right—she is obsessing over Amy's death.
    • Maybe it's because she doesn't want to accept the fact that her best friend was in such pain that she killed herself and Dani wasn't around to help her when she needed it.
    • She never really thought Jake was involved with Amy's death, she just had to check. But how is she ever going to face him now?
    • Up in her room, Dani looks through Amy's diary one last time.
    • The book is so Amy. Dani thinks about what an incredible person she was and can't shake the idea that she let her down somehow.
    • Later, Blister stops by Dani's house. Apparently he's been to Jake's and he knows the whole story—he shows Dani his palms as a joke.
    • Blister tells Dani it isn't her fault. Sometimes people just get obsessed with things. Amy was obsessed with Jake, Cody was obsessed with Dani, and now Dani's obsessed with finding out about Amy's death.
    • Dani asks Blister what Jake thinks of her, and Blister guesses Jake will come around pretty soon. After all, he's pretty obsessed with Dani.
    • Blister explains that Jake has always had things pretty darn easy, but what happened with Amy kind of shook him up; Jake couldn't stand the fact that he had made her feel bad about herself. The fact that Dani doesn't blame him for Amy's death really helps a lot, though.
    • After Blister leaves, Dani starts working on an essay for school, but it morphs into a letter for Amy. She tells her how much she misses her and asks why she left them, and then Dani tells Amy how broken up Jake is about what happened to her. Sniff, sniff.
    • Dani writes and cries until she hears Jake's voice outside her window. She looks and see him on his horse talking to his mom. Dani stares at Jake until he looks away.
  • Chapter 29

    Jake

    • The next morning, Blister sees Jake at school and tells him that he got an email from his estranged dad. Apparently Blister's dad has married someone else and had another kid… and this is the first Blister's hearing of it.
    • Jake agrees that this news is pretty much the worst.
    • He's also thinking about Dani a lot. He probably overreacted last night. After all, why wouldn't she suspect him of having hurt Amy? Everyone else did.
    • In English class, Ms. Miller has a pop quiz ready for them. (Too kind, Ms. Miller.) This teacher clearly has it out for Blister, and when he drops his pen she yells at him.
    • Blister is in no mood for her today, though, so he sasses back and Ms. Miller sends him along to the principal's office. Well that escalated quickly…
    • Jake can't help but notice that Blister's basically been sent to the principal over dropping his pen, so he raises his hand and asks if this is the standard punishment for pen-dropping in this school.
    • Ms. Miller is not amused, so she sends Jake to the office right along with Blister.
    • In the office, the secretary is surprised to see Jake. She mentions that they got a fax from the doctor about how Jake can't swim. Bummer.
    • Jake says he's so glad everyone is concerned about his swimming career and not the fact that his hand was sliced open by some crazy dude.
    • The principal is out for the morning, so Mr. Dermott is handling all the disciplinary cases currently. Great.
    • Jake heads in to see him and Mr. Dermott is his usual cheery self. He tells Jake that next time he acts up he'll get suspended. Oh, and he has one more thing to say: Jake needs to stay away from Dani.
    • Huh? Why would Mr. Dermott care?
    • Mr. Dermott tells Jake that he's done enough damage to the ladies in Dani's family; Dani doesn't need him hanging around ruining her chances for a swimming scholarship. After all, everyone knows Jake's a player.
    • Jake is not having this, though, and he tells Mr. Dermott that he'll see whomever he wants to, thank you very much.
    • Jake is completely annoyed by the time he gets out of the guy's office and he asks the school secretary to call his mom and see if he can go home sick. His hand does hurt, after all.
    • At home, Jake finds Hannah, who stayed home sick with a sore throat.
    • Turns out school isn't going so great for Hannah. She's always in the shadow of her perfect, awesome big brother, Jake. People want to be her friend… until they find out she's nothing like him.
    • Jake tells her that school is the pits. She's smart and awesome and she's probably going to have to wait for college to find people more like her. So it gets better… we guess.
    • The two sickies sit on the coach and watch TV. When The Little Mermaid comes on, Hannah asks about Dani and how Jake feels about her.
    • Um… he likes her. A lot. Duh.
  • Chapter 30

    Dani

    • At lunch, Dani and Blister sit together. He's still bummed about his dad, but he also wants to know if Dani is going to keep ignoring Jake for much longer.
    • Dani says it's doubtful—he's way too dreamy, plus she's bad at holding grudges.
    • Blister tells Dani he wishes he could have seen Jake tell off Ms. Miller.
    • After school, Dani is supposed to be at swim practice, but decides to skip it. She's quitting the team. Or so she thinks…
    • She sits in the library for about half an hour before deciding to go to practice. She likes this school and she likes this team; she finally belongs somewhere and she's not going to lose that.
    • When she walks into practice, Dani's missed warm-ups, but she jumps in the pool anyway. Coach Higgins looks really relieved to see her. Even Jake has a little smile for her.
    • During the first couple laps in the pool, though, Dani suddenly gets a cramp in her leg—so much for skipping warm-ups. She's having a hard time staying above the water when she feels Jake's arms around her pulling her to safety. He's jumped in to save her even though he's not supposed to be in the water because of his hand. Jake doesn't seem to mind, though, and he helps Dani with her cramp and then goes to re-bandage his hand.
    • In Coach Higgins's office, Dani sees Jake rewrapping his hand and offers to help.
    • See? No bite marks, Jake jokes with her.
    • Dani tells him that she's sorry and she knows he would never hurt Amy. She really loves Jake and she could never like someone who could turn out to be a violent jerk.
    • Jake tells Dani he's glad they're still friends. Friends, eh? Sure.
    • In the locker room, Dani hears someone clanging around and she starts to get a little worried. According to Alex, Cody is heading back to California, but she just can't shake the feeling that someone is following her and doesn't want to be seen. Weird.
    • Back at home, Dani sees her mom hanging out with her new boyfriend, Frank. Dani is pleasantly surprised because the guy looks and acts different from the usual bums her mom brings home.
    • More good news: Frank's offered Dani's mom a cashier job at his hardware store.
    • After he leaves, Dani comments on how much her mom as has changed—in a good way. She actually seems happy now, which is a really good thing.
  • Chapter 31

    Jake

    • At dinner that night, Jake's dad is annoyed because he heard about the whole jumping-in-the-pool-to-save-a-drowning-girl thing. Doesn't Jake know the stitches on his hand have to stay dry if the cut's going to heal properly?
    • Jake's mom comes to his defense, though; she thinks her son was pretty heroic. Jake's dad agrees, much to Jake's surprise.
    • Jake's dad isn't too keen on Dani and her mom, though. Seems he's found out about their unsavory past from Officer Moore and he doesn't like the trouble they've brought into town.
    • Again, Jake's mom comes to the rescue and says how delightful Dani and her mom are.
    • After dinner, Jake walks over to Dani's house to check on her. Perhaps she wants to walk over to see some baby owls Jake found living in a nearby tree?
    • Jake can tell her leg is still feeling off, though. Dani says she'll be better tomorrow, and Jake observes that she must be used to a little pain since she's tattooed. Dani smiles.
    • Jake's glad Dani and her mom are getting used to Raynesville; hopefully they'll be in town for a long time.
    • Dani explains that she always wanted to be part of a perfect little family, but it just never happened that way. One time, she tried to impress a social worker by cleaning up the entire house and baking, but when the woman arrived, she saw Dani's mom strung out with some guy in her bedroom and Dani ended up in a foster home.
    • Jake asks if Dani could've gone to her grandma's, and Dani admits she might've been able to. Her mom needed her, though, and she just couldn't leave her behind.
    • When it's time to finally go inside, Dani thanks Jake for helping her in the pool today… and for jumping in after her when she jumped off the Ledge… and for getting between her and Cody… and protecting Amy's paintings. Wow—that's a whole lot of thanks.
    • Then Dani takes his hurt hand and gently kisses it.
    • Jake can barely stop himself from grabbing her and kissing her as she walks inside the house.
  • Chapter 32

    Dani

    • The next day, Dani can't stop thinking about why she kissed Jake's hand.
    • Okay, she knows why—he's gorgeous and kind and wonderful—but she wonders what Jake will think of it all.
    • During lunch, Dani stops to watch Hannah playing chess against some other girl in the quad. Dani realizes it must be tough for her to relate to other girls because she's so smart.
    • After a few minutes, Dani gets up and takes a walk over to Mr. Dermott's office. She's supposed to meet him to grab those scholarship forms.
    • Mr. Dermott invites her inside and asks her how she's feeling. Is she still upset about Amy?
    • Well, Dani probably won't ever totally get over it, but she guesses she has to accept that there might be some things she'll never know about Amy.
    • Mr. Dermott is glad. But he also has one more thing to tell Dani: She might want to think twice about hanging out with Jake West. He's the one who sent Amy down a bad path with crash-dieting and such in the first place.
    • Dani tells Mr. Dermott he's wrong. She knows because she read all about it in Amy's diary. Amy didn't want to die like her mother did and that's why she started dieting—she wasn't looking for death, she was afraid of it. So Dani knows Amy would never commit suicide.
    • As Dani leaves the office, Mr. Dermott hands her the scholarship papers, and as he does, she notices that he happens to have a small crescent-shaped scar on the palm of his hand. It looks oddly like a bite mark. Huh…
    • Outside Mr. Dermott's office, Dani feels dizzy. She runs into Jake, who winds up catching her as she collapses onto the floor. (Because of course he does.)
    • Once Dani regains her composure Jake asks if everything's okay. Dani just can't tell him what she saw, though. That scar could be anything, right? She must be overreacting. It's like Jake said—she's obsessed and she needs to stop.
    • Jake walks Dani to class and she tells him that she was feeling upset about Amy, nothing else.
    • Dani tells Jake that when she came to town she wanted to hate him but she just couldn't.
    • Jake reaches down to touch her face and then kisses her once softly.
    • Dani is so overcome with emotion that she starts to cry and Jake instantly apologizes.
    • Dani tells him not to, though, saying, "I needed that kiss."
  • Chapter 33

    Jake

    • The rest of Jake's day is pretty much a blur. He couldn't stop himself from kissing Dani, and now it's all he can think about.
    • Blister lets him know that the whole school pretty much knows about him and Dani making out in the hall.
    • Jake explains that's not quite what happened and tells Blister they just hugged. Yeah, it's a little white lie.
    • After school, Jake has to drop his car off with Alex to rotate the tires and Blister and Dani come along. They're all joking around with Alex when Blister mentions scars on the palms of people's hands.
    • Alex brings up some pretty nasty bite marks on Cody's hand, saying Cody got them last year, purportedly from some girl in a bar.
    • Looks like Dani was right all along and Cody did have something to do with Amy's attack. Dani's sure he's the guy in the painting.
    • After they leave the auto shop, Dani is really upset. She feels like Cody came to find Amy because of her, and Amy got hurt because of her. She's worried that Cody did something so terrible to Amy that she killed herself.
    • Then Dani mentions Mr. Dermott and the mark she saw on his hand, explaining that this was why she was so upset after coming out of his office.
    • Jake knows exactly the scar Dani is talking about. He says Mr. Dermott's had it for a long time and that he got it when he used to ride motorcross. So it can't be him in the painting.
    • Jake and Blister tell Dani that what happened to Amy isn't her fault; plus it looks like Amy stopped Cody from hurting her any worse by biting the heck out of his hand. Way to fight, girl.
    • Jake drops Dani off at home after swim practice and they notice Dani's mom inside the house. They sit in the driveway for a minute and talk about scars. Dani thinks scars look cool on guys but not so much on girls; Jake disagrees.
    • Before Dani gets out of the car, Jake kisses her and he can feel the tiny scar line on her lip.
    • When he gets home, Jake finds Dani's mom in his kitchen having coffee with his mom and dad. How neighborly.
    • Wait a second… If Dani's mom is here, who did Jake see inside Dani's house?
    • Jake shouts to his mom to call the police—Cody must be back—as he races out the door to Dani's house. Dani comes outside and is totally confused when she sees her mom rushing after Jake. If her mom is outside, then who's in her bedroom?
    • Officer Moore arrives a few minutes later, but he doesn't find anyone inside.
    • He tells Dani and her mom that it couldn't have been Cody in the house—he's in jail in Los Angeles—so perhaps it was a burglar. They should let him know if anything has gone missing.
    • Um… thanks for your help, officer?
  • Chapter 34

    Dani

    • Inside the house, Dani and her mom don't notice anything missing. There's not much damage either. Why would this thief have broken in if he didn't want anything?
    • Jake calls to check on Dani. She and her mom are going eat a frozen pizza and sleep in the living room, but otherwise they're good. Jake reminds her that he can be at her house in less than a minute if they need anything—he's that fast.
    • When Dani hangs up, her mom can tell something is up and calls Dani out on being totally into Jake.
    • Dani's all whatever, Mom about it and she heads to her room to grab some sleeping supplies. When she arrives, though, she notices that her nightstand is oddly empty. Dani swears she left Amy's diary right there, but now it's gone.
    • She asks her mom if she moved it, but she didn't.
    • So Dani thinks the thief took Amy's diary. Whoa.
  • Chapter 35

    Jake

    • The next morning, Jake picks up Dani, but she's still a bit distracted about the diary. She must have misplaced it… right? Someone wouldn't break into her house and steal a teenager's diary…
    • At school, Jake swoons a little over Dani's short skirt and they kiss for a while in the school parking lot.
    • Jake heads over to Coach Higgins's office to fill out some paperwork for practice that afternoon. And no, typing on the computer isn't easy when you have one hand wrapped in gauze.
    • When Jake hears a door open he assumes it's Coach Higgins, but it turns out to be Mr. Dermott instead. And he is not pleased to see Jake. In fact, he looks a little bit crazy.
    • Apparently Mr. Dermott saw Jake and Dani making out in the parking lot. He yells at Jake, and Jake wisely just backs away; he does not want to mess with this unhinged teacher.
    • Then suddenly Mr. Dermott blurts out something else: "It was all her fault. She claimed she was going to tell the school board. I went to stop her. I had no idea she would swerve off the road." Um, excuse us?
    • Jake tries to wrap his head around what he just heard. Did Mr. Dermott just admit to having an affair with Amy? And being there when she died? After all the poop he's given Jake, he's the one who was responsible? Whoa.
    • Mr. Dermott lunges at Jake, but the younger guy ends up getting a few punches in before Mr. Dermott slams Jake's hand against the wall, opening up his stitches. Jake's down on the floor when Dani comes in and whacks Mr. Dermott with her backpack.
    • The two of them manage to escape from the office, at which point they run into Coach Higgins. Jake tells him what happened and the coach calls the police.
    • Mr. Dermott has fled the building, but Chief Moore takes down all the info about the incident from Jake and then heads off to hunt down Mr. Dermott.
    • Jake can hardly believe what he's saying. He tells Dani that Mr. Dermott was having an affair with Amy, and he followed her car with his motorcycle that night and saw her swerve off the road. He tried to help her, but her car burst into flames, so he left the scene and didn't tell anyone. It's awful.
    • Suddenly Dani remembers that she mentioned Amy's diary to Mr. Dermott—so maybe he's the one who broke into her house and took it.
    • Jake has to head back to the hospital since he hand needs some new stitches. He doesn't really care, though, since he's so into Dani.
  • Chapter 36

    Dani

    • Officer Moore returns Amy's diary to Dani; he found it when he searched Mr. Dermott's house. Looks like everyone's favorite teacher was their thief…
    • Mr. Dermott also watched Amy's car head into that gorge and didn't tell anyone. So let's just say he's not going to be teaching again anytime soon.
    • Also, Dani was right—Amy's death wasn't a suicide.
    • As Officer Moore is leaving, Jake stops by and asks Dani how she's doing.
    • She's still trying to come to terms with everything. Amy was like the other half of her soul. She knew Amy didn't kill herself and she's finally been proven right.
    • Jake asks if this means she's looking for a new soul mate.
    • Dani tells him maybe. Does he like lime Jell-O?
    • As Jake and Dani kiss on her front porch, Dani thinks of how happy she is. Jane Austen might have Mr. Darcy and Charlotte Brontë might have Heathcliff, but Dani has Jake and he's just as amazing as all those other romantic heroes. Oh, yeah.