As part of The Avery Shaw Experiment, Spanish Fork High science club president, Avery Shaw, and her new recruit, Spanish Fork High basketball star Grayson Kennedy were required to keep journals throughout their study. I happen to have a few of those journal entries, and am very excited to share them with you. Before I do, just in case you haven’t read the book yet, I believe I should give you a tiny bit of insight as to what, exactly, The Avery Shaw Experiment is. But since this is the day to get to know Avery and Grayson, I’ll let them explain it in their own words.
So, now that we know what kind of experiment Avery and Grayson have embarked on, lets get a peek inside those journals…
The following short stories were written as bonus material for The Avery Shaw Experiment. They are not excerpts from the book and are spoiler free. Enjoy!
Titles in reading Order:
- I See London, I See France (Avery)
- Purging (Grayson)
- Too Hot to Handle (Avery)
- Self Control, Or Lack Thereof (Grayson)
- Most Definitely a Real Date (Grayson)
- Post Shower Avery and Grayson Things (Avery)
The Avery Diaries #1: “I See London, I See France” (Avery)
Though I am clearly past the shock, denial, and bargaining stages of grief, I have not attained guilt yet. If I had to describe myself as anything right now, I would say I’m simply empty. Sad, hurt, and empty.
What happened between Aiden and myself was tragic, but, really, it was nobody’s fault. Aiden has as much right to his feelings as I do mine. He did what he did because it’s what he needed, not because of something I’d done. Even Grayson agrees that I did nothing wrong. He’s told me a hundred times already that I have nothing to feel guilty about.
Grayson’s right. I have nothing to feel guilty about. And I don’t. Feel guilty, that is. It’s been days and still the guilt won’t come. I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to feel guilty about. I just know it’s the next stage in the grieving process.
As part of the Avery Shaw Experiment, I have decided to try and let the stages of grief occur naturally. However, that doesn’t mean that I will sit around waiting for acceptance and a cured heart to find me. No one has ever achieved results by being stagnant.
I’ve decided that the best thing for me to do is that which true mourners do—try to move on with my life. I need to stop dwelling on the past. I need to accept that my relationship with Aiden will never go back to the way it was, and that my life has changed in a very permanent way. I will never be the same.
I figured step one of “moving on” was to purge my life of all things Aiden Kennedy. Tonight I had Grayson come over to my house and help me remove everything that reminded me of Aiden. My theory was that if I see nothing that sparks a memory, then I would be able to think of Aiden less and it would be easier for me to forget him.
This experience was much harder and more painful than I thought it would be. I never could have done it without Grayson’s support and encouragement. Crying in front of him was embarrassing, but he didn’t seem to think any less of me for it. I’m grateful to have such an understanding partner.
After it was all over—Grayson had to pry the garbage bag full of memories from my hands and drive away with it, or all of that stuff would have ended up right back in its place—I expected to feel better. I expected some sort of closure or sense of relief. Instead I looked around at all the bare walls and dust outlines on the dresser and cried even harder.
The empty spots where the pictures and souvenirs once were now stand as reminders themselves—big empty voids just like the one in my heart that used to be filled with my best friend. Part of me is missing. It’s as if I am an amputee missing an arm or a leg.
The spot on my wall where I used to hang a poster of Albert Einstein that Aiden had given me after I’d dressed as the brilliant physicist for Halloween in middle school was the most obvious gaping hole. I took one look at that spot and broke down.
When I lost it, Grayson wrapped his arms around me, told me he knew how to fix the problem, and then disappeared slamming my bedroom door shut behind him. After a minute, he came back and I watched, bewildered, as he pinned a pair of smiley face boxer shorts to my wall where Einstein used to watch over me.
I couldn’t help the way my horrified gaze dropped to Grayson’s pants. He burst into laughter, knowing what I’d been thinking, and insisted that the shorts now on my wall were his emergency pair—clean and washed—that he kept in his gym bag, and that this was most definitely an emergency.
I asked why he tacked his underwear up on my bedroom wall and he told me because now every time I looked at that spot I would think of him and laugh instead of thinking of Aiden and crying. He was right. I can’t help smiling at the ridiculous smiley faces.
He also told me that they would help me have good dreams. When I asked why he said because I would dream about him being mostly naked instead of having nightmares of Aiden leaving me. I’d freaked out so badly that he’d had to prompt me to breathe again. I don’t know that I’ll have any dreams at night, but the daydreams are already ridiculous. I can’t stop picturing him in those shorts! I’m going to have to get something to replace them. Soon!
The Avery Diaries #2: “Purging” (Grayson)
Avery is crazy. Girls are slightly insane in general, but Avery is especially nuts. She called me up tonight and asked me to help her purge Aiden from her life. I have been asked by a lot of girls to do a lot of things, but never to help them purge. Whatever she meant, I was sure it wasn’t going to be all fun dates and playing like she’d promised me when I agreed to this whacked-out experiment.
Apparently purging was smart-girl talk for throwing out your ex’s junk. I know this is like some kind of sacred ritual among chicks—they have scenes about it in movies and everything—but I don’t get what the big deal is. It’s just stupid crap. Pictures, CD’s, lame stuffed animals, and in Avery’s case, old science projects, reports, and even a Civil War diorama that she and Aidan had done in the 3rd grade. The thing was practically biodegrading and yet Aves nearly had a panic attack when I shoved the old shoebox into a garbage bag.
Avery was a freaking train wreck through the whole thing. I had to do all of the actual throwing out because she wasn’t really capable of anything more than pointing at stuff and bursting into tears. She couldn’t even explain why half of that crap reminded her of Aiden. (I’m still at a loss with the Diana Ross CD.)
I thought her attachment to all of it was stupid, but I have to admit the concept had merit. She needed to get over my idiot brother already. The dude was not worth the emotional pain Avery was putting herself through. If I could, I’d wipe Aiden clean from the Earth, but since murder is a felony and I’m too hot to go to prison, purging him from Avery’s life was the next best thing. Aves may have found the evening emotionally scarring, but I thought it was mildly satisfying. Punching Aiden in the face would have been more satisfying, but there was some consolation in burning his pictures.
The more stuff we got rid of, the better I felt. When I carried the garbage bag out of the house—I had to pry it from Avery’s fingers—I thought Aves would feel better too. I thought for sure there would be some kind of relief for her.
Not so much.
I came back inside and found Avery staring at her bedroom wall like some kind of mental patient. When I walked in the room she turned to me and my heart almost broke for her. Her tears were pouring down her face again and the look in her eyes was so devastated that I felt her pain with her.
In a single stride I pulled her against me and wrapped her tightly in my arms hoping that feeling her there would stop the throbbing in my chest.
Crying girls have always been my biggest weakness. I pretty much hate this about myself, because it makes me vulnerable to them. But I seriously cannot stand it when girls cry. It’s like there is something in me, some kind of physical part of me that reacts when I see a girl cry. It makes me crazy and the feeling doesn’t go away until I’ve made them stop. I have to make them stop. I have to do whatever it takes to put a smile on a sad girl’s face no matter what it does to my dignity.
I’m such a sucker.
Tonight was no exception. Actually, it was one of my least dignified moments ever. Curse my stupid hero gene.
Aves was falling apart and I had to make it better. While she buried her face in my chest, my brain spun frantically searching for some sort of solution. I wasn’t even sure what had set her off this time, but then I looked up at the wall and everything fell into place.
Avery had had this lame poster on her wall of an old dude with crazy hair. I think it was Albert Einstein or someone. I’d taken it down, but it had been in that same spot for so long that you could see the outline of it where the sun had bleached the paint around it over the years.
The big empty rectangle spot was worse than the poster. It was practically jumping off the wall, mocking me in the worst way. I may as well have painted the words AIDEN LEFT YOU in the poster’s place when I took it down, because now it was obvious that it was gone. Just like Aiden was.
I had to fix it. I had to get rid of that spot. But I couldn’t put the poster back. I had to put something else there. Something that wouldn’t remind her of Aiden. More than that—it had to be something that would cheer her up and put a smile on her face when she saw it. It was the “smile” thought that gave me the idea.
Now, this is the part where my dignity comes into play. I was so desperate to cheer Aves up that I’d have given her the shirt off my back if I thought it could help. Unfortunately, in this case, my shirt wouldn’t do any good. But my underwear…
That’s right, I gave Avery Shaw my underpants. The stupid, dorky ones Aiden got me for Christmas a couple of years ago because he’s a tool like that, that I kept in my gym bag. They were white with rainbow smiley faces all over them. Ridiculous. But they would make Avery laugh.
Before I could think better of it, I strolled into Avery’s room and tacked those dumb shorts right over that stupid poster spot. After they were securely fastened to her wall I turned around and grinned at her as big as I could. The trick was confidence. I had to act like I thought this was totally normal, and the most brilliant idea ever or Avery would know how stupid I suddenly felt and then she’d get embarrassed.
Avery looked slightly horrified and her eyes dropped to my waist. I burst into laughter and pulled up my shirt, exposing the band of the boxers I was wearing as proof that I was still dressed beneath my pants. Once she was assured that the shorts on her wall were at least clean she, of course, asked me why I’d just decorated her room with underwear.
I explained my theory of them making her laugh and think of me instead of the Einstein poster making her cry over Aiden. It worked. She looked up at my shorts and actually smiled. It was the first smile I’d seen on her face since I’d arrived. I felt five hundred pounds lighter all the sudden and my smile reached goofy status.
Then, because I’m a jerk and couldn’t help myself, I made a comment about her dreaming of me in nothing but those smiley faces. She totally freaked of course. I knew I shouldn’t have done it, but I love watching her blush too much. She turned so red that I was sure she had a very clear mental image stuck in her head.
I waited until she started breathing again, then I kissed her bright red cheek and told her to have pleasant dreams tonight. It was classic. There is no one on the planet more adorable than Avery.
The Avery Diaries #3: “Too Hot To Handle” (Avery)
I think I’ve gotten myself in over my head as far as Grayson is concerned. It’s not that I don’t like him. I do. How could I not? He’s so nice! He’s been so thoughtful and amazing since Aiden dumped me. But I completely overestimated my ability to handle his… I don’t know what to call it. His Grayson-ness, I guess. He’s just so confident. And charismatic. And smooth. And gorgeous. And flirty. And utterly ruled by his hormones.
I was an idiot for thinking he wouldn’t affect me.
I gave him back his boxer shorts after school today—which was completely mortifying. He seemed disappointed that I didn’t want to keep the gift. It was kind of cute in a really weird he-wanted-me-to-keep-his-underwear way. I didn’t want to offend him, but I just couldn’t keep his intimate apparel up on my wall!
I explained to him that I want to fill the spot on my wall with a collage of souvenirs from our experiment and promised I’d pin up a sheet of smiley face stickers in honor of his crazy underpants incident. That seemed to placate him. Considering the way I blushed, he knew that the stickers would be plenty to help me remember what he’d done. In fact, I’ll never look at a smiley face again without picturing Grayson half naked. Not that Grayson needs to know that!
After that I made the mistake of inviting him back to my house. We needed to study for his physics test but I didn’t want to go to his house where I might run into Aiden, and he refused to go to the library. I can’t believe he is so scared of the library! It’s not like he’ll catch dork cooties or something if he walks inside. Well, considering he was the one driving us, he won the argument and we ended up back at my house. Where we were alone since my mom doesn’t get home from work until dinnertime.
Mistake number two was deciding to study in my bedroom. On my bed. The kitchen table would have been a much wiser idea. I always study on my bed, so I didn’t even think about it. Plus, it was Grayson! Not only is he older and popular and only interested in tall, athletic, gorgeous bomb-shell girls, he’s practically family. I never in a million years thought he’d be his normal player self with me.
Then again, he is Grayson Kennedy. I don’t think he almost kissed me on purpose. I think he just got bored with studying and switched to autopilot. Making out is just what you do when you’re Grayson Kennedy and you’re alone with a girl on her bed.
He had this weird fascination with my hair. He kept pulling it like we were in second grade. When I got mad and snapped at him to cut it out—also very elementary school behavior, sadly—he tugged the ponytails off my braids and started undoing my hair.
There was something about him taking my hair down that gave me cardiac arrest. His hands were so gentle, and they moved so slowly, and he was leaning in so close… The moment was so intimate that he may as well have been undressing me!
There was a second there, when he finished undoing my braids and raked his hands through my hair in an attempt to comb it out a little, that his eyes fell to my lips and I thought he was going to kiss me. No, that’s not quite right. He looked like he was going to push me back on my bed and make out with me until I passed out.
I froze. I had no idea what to do. I couldn’t have done anything even if I did know what I wanted. I couldn’t think. Grayson had obliterated my ability to use my brain!
I was thrown into panic like I’ve never experienced. Panic so intense that I simply shut down. Strangely, I was so shocked that I couldn’t freak out. I didn’t start to cry or even hyperventilate. I couldn’t because I’d stopped breathing. Stopped processing. Couldn’t move if my life depended on it. I was completely transformed like one of those kids who’d been petrified by a basilisk in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
I saw it in Grayson’s eyes the moment he realized what he was doing, and that he was about to do it to me, of all people. He looked as shocked as I was, but he snapped out of it almost immediately and plastered a ridiculously handsome smile on his face.
He tousled my hair and teased me about my dorky braids as if nothing had happened at all. I didn’t know how he could switch gears so fast, but then, obviously he hadn’t been as affected by the moment as me.
I was a mess though. I couldn’t snap out of it until Grayson asked me a question about his homework. Science was something I understood, something I could process, so I grabbed on to his question like it was a lifeline. I managed to not panic, but I never did calm down the rest of the night.
I have no idea how I’ll ever be able to act normal around him again. I have to figure it out though because he wants to work on our experiment tomorrow night. I really hope that whatever he plans, it’s somewhere very public. I don’t think hanging out with him alone is a very good idea anymore. Maybe not even at all. At this rate, he’s likely to kill me long before we get to the science fair.
The Avery Diaries #4: “Self Control, Or Lack Thereof” (Grayson)
I am such an idiot. I totally screwed up tonight. But Aves was just so cute that I forgot I can’t treat her like any other girl.
It started after school when she came up to me in the parking lot after school, all red in the face, saying she had something for me. I was intrigued, but it just turned out to be the boxer shorts I’d pinned to her wall last night. I was a little bummed that she didn’t want to keep them, but, then, she did seem almost petrified of them. She blushed so deep when she handed them over that you’d think she’d been the one to take them off me personally. It was hilarious! The girl seriously kills me with how prude she is.
Then, as if that weren’t enough, she demanded that I let her help me study for my physics test. She actually crossed her arms and stomped her foot down when I started to say that wasn’t necessary. She was trying so hard to look stern and I laughed at her because Avery is not the stubborn demanding type. When I laughed, she got mad and yelled at me that she knows I’m smarter than I give myself credit for and that she was going to prove it to me, and I had to just deal with it.
Part of me wanted to laugh again because she was being so adorable, but I had this strange feeling in my chest that kept me from doing it. I didn’t know what to say. Nobody ever thinks I’m smart, and they definitely wouldn’t go out of their way to help me fix my grades. I’ve never really had anyone believe in me like that before except for my parents.
Avery is too freaking sweet for her own good. My brother is such a tool for throwing her away like he did. The idiot. Oh well. His loss is my gain. I’ve decided that Avery is mine now, and I’m not giving her back to him even if he does manage to pull his head out of his butt someday and realize what a mistake he made.
Anyway, back to Avery. I really hate studying, but how could I say no to her? I plopped her in the front seat of my car and took her back to her place where I had my first ever study-date that actually involved studying. Well, it had the pretense of studying. My textbook was open anyway.
Avery was trying to help me study, but it was really hard to concentrate when we were on her bed and she smelled good enough to eat. I think it was her shampoo. She had her hair in these two braids like some kind of farmer, and every time she leaned close to me to point something out in my book, her hair would brush against me and I’d get this whiff of strawberries and cream. It was driving me crazy!
Avery was trying so hard to keep me focused, but all I could think about were those adorable braids. I kept tugging on them and I knew it was driving her insane, but I seriously couldn’t help myself. Finally she snapped at me to stop it, so I pulled the rubber bands out of her hair and untangled the braids.
Bad idea. Taking a girl’s hair down is such a turn on.
Aves froze when I started undoing her braids. I didn’t mean to invade her personal space like that, but once I’d started I couldn’t stop myself. The moment was too freaking hot! I got the braids undone and then ran my fingers through her hair to shake it out.
I wanted to kiss her so bad. Her lips were right there. My hands were tangled in her hair. I wanted to lay her back on the absurd mound of stuffed animals behind us, and kiss away all of her innocence.
Too late, I realized my mistake. The girl was freaked out. Her face was white as a sheet and she stared at me with her big blue eyes full of shock. She’d also stopped breathing.
I waited for her to go into one of her panic fits, but it’s like she was too shocked to even accomplish that. Since she wasn’t having a complete meltdown, I decided to go with the whole pretend-it-didn’t-happen tactic. I shrugged, told her the braids had looked too dorky—even though they didn’t—and then asked some really stupid question about something sciencey.
Avery let it drop, but she wasn’t the same after that. She sat further away from me, she spoke a lot softer and a lot less, and she didn’t laugh again for the rest of the night.
I wanted to kick myself for being so stupid! I know Avery isn’t the kind of girl who makes out just because the moment is right. She hasn’t even ever been kissed! I’m a world-class jerk just for thinking about it!
I am so in over my head with this project. I had no idea it would be so hard to control myself with Aves. I mean it’s Avery for crying out loud! She’s practically been a little sister to me all my life. And she’s not even hot! She’s only cute. But all of the sudden cute has become irresistible. The girl is constantly in my head. She’s under my skin. I even asked her to go out with me tomorrow night, and I wasn’t thinking about the experiment. I just want to take her out.
I’ve got to keep it together. I’m going to have to plan something in a large group and very public. No more hanging out alone together, or I’m going to end up kissing her, and it’ll probably send her into a shock coma.
The Avery Diaries #5: “Most Definitely A Real Date” (Grayson)
I’m taking Avery out on our first date tonight. I don’t really count New Years Eve because the girl was beyond messed up that night and she only stuck around for about fifteen minutes. That was more like an emergency rescue than a date. Tonight will be a real one—no matter what Avery says.
When I called to ask what time Aves wanted me to pick her up for our date, she immediately brought up the fact that this was a school project. Not a date. Whatever. She claims to be stuck between bargaining and guilt, but clearly the girl is still dealing with some major denial. We’re totally going on a date tonight. I think I’ll bring her roses just to prove it.
At first I thought about taking her out on a group date with a bunch of my friends, but I decided against that for several reasons. One, they’re all going to go see a movie, and after I nearly jumped Aves yesterday I don’t think taking her to a dark theater where the armrests between the seats can be lifted up is the best idea.
More than my lack of self-control, though, I want to have Avery all to myself for the night. Avery is so shy. She tends to clam up or fade into the background when she’s around my friends, and I want the opposite from her tonight. I want her to open up to me.
It occurred to me while we were studying yesterday that I don’t really know Aves very well. Of course I know her, but we’ve never hung out much before. In fact, up until she’d asked me to help her with her Aiden-purging, I’d never even been in her bedroom before.
I have this idea in my head of who she is, but now that I think about it, that’s mostly based on what I know about my brother. I can’t really picture her separately from Aiden any better than she can. Well, I don’t particularly care much for my brother right now. I don’t want to associate Avery with him anymore.
There’s got to be more to Avery than just the fact that she’s Aiden’s best friend. I want to see that side of her. I want to learn what she likes and doesn’t like, not what Aiden likes and doesn’t like. I want to see how she handles things when she doesn’t have him there to lean on.
Tonight for our date, I am going to take Avery to do something she’s never done before. I want tonight to be one hundred percent The Avery and Grayson Show. Aiden is so not invited—literally or metaphorically. Call me selfish, but I’m taking Avery out. Not Aiden. I don’t want him to be there in any way, shape or form. I want Avery’s thoughts and feelings to be centered on me. Not stuck on that stupid, selfish punk and what he did to her. I want her to smile all night long damn it. And I want her to laugh. A lot. Girl has such an adorable laugh. She needs to use it more often. In fact, that gives me a great idea. I just figured out what we’re going to do tonight.
The Avery Diaries # 6: “Post Shower Avery and Grayson Things” (Avery)
He brought me roses! No one has ever given me roses! When he showed up holding a giant bouquet my face turned the same color as the flowers, but he was still so sweet to bring them. It didn’t really help the whole not-a-date thing, but I didn’t care. I loved them.
Grayson is completely crazy. Hilarious and sweet beyond compare, but absolutely insane. Tonight he brought me a list that he’d titled Post Shower Avery and Grayson Things. He had this silly notion that he and I needed “things” the way couples have things—like a song, or a place… When I argued that we weren’t a couple, he said we were science partners, which was just as important. He said in order for the Avery Shaw Experiment to be successful, we, as partners, needed to have a solid foundation to build our relationship on.
In a way he was right. We are going to be working very closely together for the next while, and the subject of our experiment is very personal. The more we know each other the better we’ll work together. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but Grayson and I haven’t spent much time together on our own.
Of course I knew him. Or, I knew the image he puts on for people. But until tonight, I’d never really seen much of the real him. I can’t tell you how surprised I am. I mean I knew he came to my rescue with Aiden, so I knew he was nice, but I had no idea he could be so… so… again I am at a loss for words to describe him. He went above and beyond tonight. This whole evening was crazy, but it was incredible! I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun or laughed so much.
First, Grayson took me to dinner at a place widely known for doing karaoke on Friday nights. I about had a heart attack when he pulled into the parking lot. I was going to refuse to go inside, but Grayson promised me that under no circumstances whatsoever would I have to sing. If I’d had any idea what he was planning, I’d have made him promise that he wouldn’t sing either. I’ll never make that mistake again.
We ordered dinner and then Grayson asked to see the song catalog. (This is where he’d shown me the Post Shower Avery and Grayson list.) He told that we needed a song to add to that list, then made me randomly open the catalog and point with my eyes closed. Whatever song my finger landed on would become “our” song.
“Ring My Bell” by Anita Ward.
I laughed. It was funny. But then Grayson made his way to the stage and I stopped laughing. I knew what he was going to do, and I felt like crawling under the table to hide. First, he apologized to the crowd for what was about to happen, but explained that the song he was about to sing was “our” song and he just had to sing it for me.
Oh my gosh! Grayson didn’t just sing that song. He performed it like a pro! He danced around the stage belting out the song in his best falsetto. He made a complete fool of himself, but he did it for me. To make me laugh. He did it to level the playing field between us so that I wouldn’t be so intimidated by him or feel like such a geek around him. And once I got over the horror of everyone looking at me, it worked. He looked like the biggest dork ever up there. I can’t believe he sacrificed his own dignity just to make me feel less shy around him. It was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.
I laughed until there were tears in my eyes, and “Ring My Bell” is definitely now “our” song. Forever. Kind of like “showering together” and “smiley face stickers” are “our” things. (He’d added both of those things to the list before he’d picked me up tonight.)
The ridiculousness didn’t stop there either. Grayson took us all around the city on this strange sort of scavenger hunt to acquire a bunch of “things.” Among other things, chocolate milkshakes, pennies that you smash into souvenirs, and llamas are all now our things too. Yes, I said llamas! I knew we had a llama farm here in Spanish Fork, but I’d never been to it. Neither had Grayson, so he said it was the perfect place to make “our place” since we could experience it for the first time together. Did you know you can rent llamas? When Grayson learned that he freaked out. He insists that once it warms up we are going to go hiking together on llamas!