The Hazards of Skinny Dipping

By: Alyssa Rose Ivy


I can’t imagine trying to write a book without the support of my family. Grant, your encouragement and unwavering faith means the world to me. Thanks to Karen Allen—your editing and sense of humor are priceless. To Kris Kendall, your proofread went above and beyond. To Stephanie Nelson, once again you’ve created an amazing cover for me. To Jessica Watterson, I’m so glad to have you on as a beta. Jennifer Snyder, your friendship and advice are worth more than you’ll ever know. Kelly Simmon, I’m so excited to be working with you—thanks for giving me so much encouragement with this project. To the bloggers dedicating their time to helping me spread the word about my books—you’re the best. And to my readers—once again, thanks for taking this journey with me.


Skinny dipping was the last thing on my list. Of the five items, it was the hardest one for me. It wasn’t a bucket list or anything like that—I wasn’t thinking about death. It was a things-to-do-before-college list my cousin, Amy, made for me.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is going to be one of those stories about the death of a loved one spurring a girl down a path of self-discovery. It’s not. My cousin is alive and well, and at the time of this story was in Malawi with the Peace Corps. The list was her way of preparing me for the wilds of college (her words, not mine). Amy was under the impression that I was entirely unprepared for the life of a coed.

I still remember her exact words. We were hanging out in her room at her parents’ house while she packed. “Juliet, sweetheart, you know I love you, right?”

I glanced at her apprehensively. “Yeah…”

“So know that, when I say this, it’s out of love.” She tossed a huge pile of t-shirts into her large black duffel.

I tensed. “Should I be scared?”

“No.” She smiled her million-dollar, brings-guys-to-their-knees smile, and I knew I should actually be terrified.

“Okay.” I clasped my hands together, refusing to look at my chipped nail polish.

She flipped long, dark hair off her shoulder. “I’m worried about you.”


“I don’t want you to totally drown next year.” She shoved a small, pink envelope into my hand. “Here, don’t open this until after graduation.”

“But you won’t be here. You leave tomorrow.”

She gave me her signature ‘duh’ look. “I’m well aware. Just open it, and do exactly what it says.”

“This kind of feels like the beginning of a YA novel.”

She laughed. “No. Trust me. The contents of this letter are not YA appropriate.”

My stomach dropped. What was Amy getting me into?

I brought the envelope home and stared at it about four times a day for the next two weeks. Obviously, I could have just opened it, but I’m usually kind of a rules person. Each time I started to tear open the envelope, I chickened out. I kept picturing Amy’s perfectly made up face yelling at me. I know that description doesn’t quite fit with a girl who joined the Peace Corps, but if you knew Amy, you’d understand. She was just Miss Perfect. It wasn’t until I got home from a graduation party at a friend’s house that I finally opened it. As I unfolded the pale pink paper, a Georgia driver’s license saying I was twenty-two fell into my lap. I set aside the fake ID and read the note.

Juliet’s Must-Do Before College List

Get drunk (and no, a buzz from sugary drinks does not qualify as drunk).

Go to a bar. Any bar will do, but you need to at least know what they look like inside.

Wear something you know would give your father a heart attack if he saw it.

Kiss a random guy, and don’t let it go further.

Go skinny dipping.

I’m sure you expect me to detail how I crossed the first four items off my list, but this story isn’t about the first four. It’s about what happened when I did number five.

Chapter One

Finally alone, I reveled in the silence, looking out the large floor-to-ceiling windows of my family’s beach house. My grandparents had bought the house located just outside of Charleston, South Carolina years ago, before Kiawah became a retreat for millionaires. They were generous and let the entire extended family use it whenever we wanted. After two weeks of sharing the house with five other people, I was excited to have it to myself.

I’d decided to stay an extra day, craving some alone time before I had to give up all of my privacy and move in with some random girl. The whole idea of having a roommate sounded good in theory, but knowing my luck, I’d be living with my exact opposite or something even worse.

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