I was a dancer expressing something deep and unknowable on a stark New York stage. . . . I was an artist painting a picture of what life was all about. . . . I was a singer chanting revolt in a smoky discoteque. . . ."" Sunning (alone) on the beach, musing on her senior-in-a-new-school status, Piper Hiatt is bounced onto a teenagers' tarpaulin blanket, then tossed into briefly-met Mitch Everson, a dropout with second thoughts and several slowly confessed firsts--like helping a convalescent father and paying off a motorcycle. Mitch becomes a frequent companion although he never does get around to reading her favorite (Tolkien). Meanwhile Piper resorts less and less to fantasy, more and more to what's around--how to talk to BGOC Marydel at school, how to live with a melancholy divorcee mother, mostly how to do rather than think up heroic poses. The Gate at Vista del Mar is what neither she nor Mitch have access to until the enterprising boy befriends the watchman and gets his father the landscaping contract. A timed problem-solving end (can they replant the maliciously uprooted landscape before the rich return?) puts all the villainy onto a goading cycle contest loser. For romance (non-tactile), an inside track; as fiction, an uneven pace.