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Hi everyone! I am an aspiring author slash college student who loves to read which is probably obvious, and I love to share what I read with people, again, obvious. I think everyone has a book out there for them, its a matter of looking hard enough to find it and having a positive attitude about reading it. Anyways I hope you all find this blog helpful. Please feel free to comment and ask questions, that's why I do this! -Bookworm95

A High School Romance

A High School Romance 
By: Bookworm95



People say that your high school years are the most important years of your life. They say it's the most fun you will ever experience. I've even heard that if you can survive high school, you can survive anything. They say that the people you meet there, will most likely move on and you won't ever see them again. The friends you make and the memories you share, won't mean a thing once you are handed a diploma and you throw your cap in the air.
     My high school years were different. I got the chance to meet some great people and make some new friends. I even managed to hold on to my two best friends in the process. I went through some rough patches and came out a better person because of them.
     I laughed more in those four years than I think I ever will. I also cried. I made some happy memories, and some sad. I can tell you stories that I can't imagine ever forgetting. I learned many lessons. I made my share of mistakes.
     And I got the chance to fall in love. How many people can say that they found love in high school or that it survived long enough to tell about it? Not many. I couldn't tell you of anyone besides me. 
     High school is the time to find out who you are. It's the time to discover things about yourself that you may not have known before. It's a time for growth, mental, spiritual, and physical. A time when you develop talents, make good friends, and learn important lessons that make you a better you. Lessons that help you get though the difficult parts of your life. Lessons that really teach you something and remind you to be who you are everyday of your life. Lessons that teach you to do your best no matter what.
     As I look back on those years of growth, I can no longer over look the unpleasant things that took place. Everyone has a past, and everyone has things in their past that they wish they could change. But what most people don't realize, is that the things we wish we could change, are the things that make us who we are. They are the defining points of our character.

Chapter One

“Hey!” I called out the open passenger window of my old Jeep.
     “Hi!” My best friend Emma Johnson replied. “Ugh! I can’t wait for this school day to end!” She said.
     “Um I hate to break it to you Em, but the school day hasn’t even started yet.” Neither of us liked sitting in a classroom all day when we could be at the beach, or the mall. But then again, what kid did?
     Emma is a pretty girl with long, sun bleached, blond hair cut in swift layers around her face. She is tan from the beach and is rather skinny. She has bright blue eyes and a perfect smile that dazzled almost everyone. She has this sense of knowing. Knowing when someone is upset or happy and they don't have to say a word. Emma has a funky personality and she’s really smart.
     She’s my best friend.
     We’ve lived across the street from each other all our lives, and never fight about anything; I guess you could say we’re sisters. Inseparable really.
     Emma's and my house are oddly similar. Our houses are nothing fancy. The front of both is a light brown color with stones laid into the side of the garage. The driveways sit to the right of the cement pathways that lead to the front steps. Above the steps is a small porch and a white door. The green grass and flower beds shape the front and sides of our houses. I always thought it was awesome that we lived so close to each other.
          I turned the radio on and after a few minutes of flipping through the channels I finally find our favorite station. In no time at all we are both singing along and giggling at each other’s dance moves as we drive through town towards the high school.
     We live in a small coastal town nestled up high in the rocks. There is hardly ever a gloomy day here. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. I love that everything is in walking distance from my house. We're a close knit little town. Everyone always knows everyone's business. You could walk down the street and name every person you passed and know their life story. 
     We drive by all the little shops that have been passed down through the generations. We pass the ice cream parlor, where old Mr. Jenkins still gives out free scoops on hot summer days. We pass the candy shop where Mrs. Milton still sells her home made chocolates and gummy treats. We also pass the old perfume shop where Abigail Hansen makes her perfumes from scratch. Its one of my favorite stores in town. I'm always waiting for the next scent to come out.
     I guess what I love most about our small town is the stability it brings. I know that I can always go to Mr. Jenkins's ice cream parlor and see all the tubs of ice cream in their coolers, or all the candy in their glass containers on the front counter in Mrs. Milton's shop. I can always feel the calm, soothing, smells of lavender when I walk into Abby's store after a hard day. Its comforting to know that things will always be the same here.
     The next thing I know, we were in the school parking lot, and piling out of the car. We walked through the front doors, down the small flight of stairs, and to our lockers, which happened to be right next to each other. Its not a very big school to start with.
     “Hey Grace. What do you think of this color nail polish I bought at the mall last week? I kind of like it, but it’s a little shiny and really bright. I don’t think lime green is my color. Grace? Gracie are you even listening to me?” She demanded.
     But I hadn’t heard a single word she’d said. I had heard the familiar squeak of the front door's hinges and I turned to see who it was. She caught on after a few seconds and followed my gaze to the front steps.
     There at the very top of the stairs with his two best friends, Jared Anderson and Brandon Kenny, was the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen. I was always eager to get to school just so I could see him. If I saw him just once, it didn’t matter if I failed a pop quiz or had to run the mile in P.E. All that mattered at that moment was Sam Mathews.
     He was tall with blond hair that was a little long. His eyes were deep blue and he had a square chin and jaw. He dressed in jeans and a t-shirt most of the time. I see him at the beach sometimes with Jared and Brandon. He’s a really good surfer. . .not that I'm a stalker or anything. I surf too. Actually a lot of us here do.
     He's popular. More popular than I could ever hope to be. He doesn't even know I exist. 
     He's better off than most of us here, with his dad being a surgeon at one of the local hospitals and his mom being a lawyer for some big firm. But he's always seemed kind and modest, which is one of the reasons I like him so much. He seems real, you know?
     They started walking down the steps. They were almost three feet away from me when I turned my head and pretended to be digging in my locker for something. They had almost passed completely when I knocked my blue ball-point pen over the edge of my locker and onto the blue linoleum floor right in front of him.
     He picked it up and walked over to me. He tapped me on the shoulder with the end of the pen and said, “Um is this your pen?” I turned around and said, “Oh, uh ya it is. Thanks.” I was so nervous and could swear I was blushing. 

     “No problem,” and with a smile he turned and walked down the rest of the hall to his locker. 
     The whole time Emma was frozen solid against the side of her locker door. When he was out of earshot she turned to me and said, “Oh my gosh,” while taking the time to say each word slowly for dramatic effect.
     “Sam Mathews just picked up your pen for you.”
     “No . . . really? I hadn’t even noticed,” I said with heavy sarcasm. Emma threw me a glare and opened her locker, turning her attention to her mirror, prepping herself for her first class. She carefully brushes out her hair, and fixes any blemishes in her makeup she might see.
     “This is a big step in your relationship.” She said starting to babble a little. She always does when she gets excited.
     “I mean before he wouldn’t have even bothered to pick up your pen, no offense or anything. But today…Wow! Oh and don’t forget that one split second when your eyes met and you looked at each other. This is great.” She stopped to take a breath and turned her attention again to her mirror and herself.
     “What relationship Em. Sure I’ve known the guy since preschool, but who in this town hasn’t? It’s part of living in a tiny town like this. And I’ve only ever said a few words to him before today.” I said getting a little frustrated with her excitement over nothing.
     “Besides he didn’t even know I existed before five minutes ago. And I’m sure he still doesn’t. He probably just thinks he was picking up a pen on the floor. I bet he’s forgotten all about it by now.” I said, frustrated now at myself for not saying anything else when I had the chance. “Ok whatever you say Grace.” Emma said. “Can we just drop it, please.” Oh ya. Definitely frustrated now.
     “Fine. Fine. Have it your way. You up for the beach after school?” She asked. Thankful for a new topic I said, “Sure sounds like fun.”
     "Ok great. Well I better get going. Bells' going to ring soon,” She said.
     “Ok see you later” I said sounding like a whinny five year old, as I turned and headed down the hall to my first class. Algebra, great. It was only my worst, not to mention most hated class, of the day besides P.E.

     As I’m walking down the hall, I slowly let my mind drift to thoughts of Sam. I’ve had a crush on Sam for as long as I can possibly remember. But a guy like him wouldn’t go out with a girl like me.
     I was tall for my age, and slim. I have long brunette hair that flows down in spiral curls to the middle of my back. I have a heart shaped face and emerald green eyes. I wear contacts so that I don't have to wear the big bulky glasses my mom, Jennifer, picked out for me. 
     I have my own individual style. I'm not a tomboy, but I'm not a girlie girl either. I'm just floating along in the middle. I like what I like, so I never defined my style as tomboy or girlie. I guess you could say I'm not into labels.
     Emma is pretty much the same way. She isn’t real big on shiny and pink stuff, and she tries hard to look good. Even though I’ve told her on many occasions that she doesn’t have to try so hard. You could put her in a garbage bag and she’d still look good. But she refuses to listen and says, “You’re my best friend, you kinda have to say that.” So after a while I just stopped bothering her about it.
     I walked into my Algebra class and took my normal seat, at the back of the room, next to Emma’s and my other best friend, Oliver, or Ollie as we call him. He was tall and rather good looking and has dark brown hair that falls into his eyes. It's longer than it should be, I think. We tease him a lot about getting a haircut. And like Emma, he lives on my street. In fact he lives in the house right next door to mine.
     I set my bag down and get out my note book and the very pen that Sam Mathews had just picked up for me. Oliver leaned over and said in a whisper, “Another bad morning I take it?” I hate when he reads my face like that. He always makes me talk about the thing that's bothering me, when I want more than anything to forget it completely.
     “Well ya, what other kind of morning would I have had.” I said, a little harshly.
     Oliver knows about my crush on Sam. And he makes it worse by tormenting me with the fact that they’re friends. He would come to school and tell me all about how he was at Sam’s house over the weekend or how they were going surfing later. I just sit and count down in my head. It’s a kind of therapy I do. You count down aloud or in your head and by the time you get to one, you were suddenly calm again. It helps a lot if you tend to get a little frustrated.
     I ended up telling him about the pen and he sat back and listened like he always does. And then like always he started laughing when I finished my story. And then I say, “I always find it interesting when you laugh at something that you're supposed to take seriously.” But he had me laughing in a matter of seconds. He was like that with everyone. He could make you laugh and smile when you’re in the worst mood.
     We stopped laughing when our teacher, Mrs. Goldberg, walked in and called our attention to the front of the room.
     Mrs. Goldberg is and older lady, probably in her sixties or so. She's a very sweet person. She has silver hair that is whitening in some parts. She always has it in a neat bun on top of her head.
     She wears old skirts and dresses, and she always has on a gold locket. I’d asked her about it once, and she told me that it was handed down in her family for over a hundred years. She has a very grandmotherly attitude about her. The way she talks to her students. The way she loves each and every one of them in their own special way.
     She pulled out her book and opened it to the page we were on today. She got her whiteboard pen and wrote the page number on the board. Then she turned to us, and said with a smile, “Good morning class. If you will please get out a piece of paper and your books and turn to the page on the board.”
     I pulled out a piece of binder paper and my book and started to take notes. I got as far as putting my name on the paper when I remembered that Emma and I were going to the beach after school. I got out another piece of paper and started to write:


Emma and I are going to the beach after school. You want to come with?'

     I folded up the paper and waited till Mrs. Goldberg turned to the white board and handed the note to Oliver. He read it and started writing his response when Mrs. Goldberg called on me to answer a question. I didn’t even know what the lesson was about. There was a moment of silence and I didn’t say anything. Finally I said, “I don’t know.” She gave me a stern look and said, “Pay attention please Grace.” I was so embarrassed when I said, “Yes ma’am.” There were snickers from all over the room.
     She then turned to May, one of the brains of the school, to answer the question. I didn’t pay attention to what she said, but I could tell by Mrs. Goldberg’s expression that she’d answered it right. Oliver waited a minute for Mrs. Goldberg to turn back around and then tossed the note back to me. I picked it up and carefully unfolded it.

'Sure, that sounds awesome. But I have to run to Sam’s and pick up my jacket I left there yesterday. I’ll meet you guys there. Same spot?'

     I looked at the note and wanted so much to hit him. He could have said he had to go somewhere first, or that he had to run an errand, but no. He specifically said he was going to Sam’s just to get to me. I looked over at my so called best friend, and gave him a glare. He looked up at me and started to laugh under his breath. I would definitely give him a punch or two later. But right now I needed to pay attention to the lesson. I quickly jotted down my reply and threw the paper at him.

'Ya same spot. What kind of question is that anyways? We always go to our spot. You know that.'

     He read the note and gave me a big smile. I shrugged as if to say, ‘Whatever.”
     The three of us have a special spot we always go to when we are in need of a beach. We found it about a year ago and we haven’t told anyone about it. Not even our own families. We were just driving down the main road that turns into the public beach parking lot. There was a lot of people there. There usually was in the summer time.
     Emma, who was sitting in the back seat, suggested we keep going past the main beach and see if anyone was down at the other end.
     “Why don’t we just keep driving? I heard there’s a few smaller beaches down there that nobody bothers to go to. We can make it our getaway place and nobody but us will know about it.”
     So that’s what we did. We kept driving for about fifteen minutes. We searched frantically for our secluded paradise. But nothing was to be found. Absolutely nothing. We were about to give up, when I saw, what looked like a half circle of boulders that pointed to the ocean.
     I parked up against a railing that had a sign that stated the beach hours. I looked at Oliver and Emma and said, “Stay here. I’ll be right back.” I climbed out of my old jeep and walked over to the railing.
     I crawled between the two pieces of rope and down two huge boulders and looked out over the rest of the smaller rocks concealing the small amount of beach there was. It had to be the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
     There was a half moon of pure white sand, and a small pool next to the rocks where the water flowed in and out with the tide. I walked over the rest of the small rocks and onto the beach. I stared out at the horizon, and was breath taken by what I saw. Just above the horizon was the fading sunset. The sky had streaks and swerves of bright pink and orange, highlighting the white clouds. It was all so peaceful, and I didn’t want to disturb it.
     I walked back up to the jeep where I was met by two anxious faces.
     “So what did you find down there?” Oliver asked, excited now.
     “You will never believe what I found. You guys go check it out and I’ll start getting the stuff.” I said a little excited now myself. We had done it. We had found a place all our own and ever since that day, that has been our spot. We have never once seen anyone there. We just figured no one’s bothered to look down there yet, and we hope they never will.
     Then a thought crossed my mind. We were all going to the beach after school right? So it would be so stupid for Oliver to meet us there because he doesn’t have a way to get there on his own. I took out yet another paper and started writing my idea when I was suddenly interrupted.
     Out of nowhere there was a soft knock on the door. Everyone looked up to see Sam standing against the door frame. Mrs. Goldberg looked up from her lesson plans and said, “Yes, can I help you?”
     Sam was looking around the room when he saw me in the back row. Still looking at me he said, “Um ya. I just had my schedule changed.” Mrs. Goldberg walked over to him and took the paper he carried out of his hands. He looked away as Mrs. Goldberg said, “Uh ok. Well there’s only one open seat.”
     And then a new terror dawned on me. The only open seat was directly in front of me.
     “You can sit there. Grace,” she called to me, "Will you raise your hand please.” I was so embarrassed as I raised my hand in the air.
     “Thank you dear,” She said. Then she turned back to Sam and said, “Your seat is just there. You can borrow someone’s notes and get caught up with us.”
     He walked to the back of the room and sat down. He turned around to see Oliver. The two of them exchanged ‘Heys’ and then he turned to me. I remembered that I hadn’t taken any notes, and prayed that he didn’t ask me for them.
     “Hey, didn’t I see you in the hall this morning?” I couldn’t talk. I was in total shock that he was talking to me, not to mention that he even remembered. ‘Talk Grace. Say something. He’s waiting.’ I thought to myself. I looked at him and then said, “Uh ya, I um, I think you picked up my pen.” ‘That was lame Grace.
Was that the best you could do? Of course he remembers he picked up your pen. Why else would he have asked!
     “Oh ya,” he said with a smile. Then he turned around and pulled out his binder and text book from his leather messenger bag.
     He turned back to Oliver and asked to see his notes. We weren’t that far in the lesson so it didn’t take long for him to get caught up. Relieved that he didn’t ask for my notes, and that I didn’t have to say anything more, I turned most of my attention back to the lesson. Then I remembered that I had been writing a note to Oliver. I looked down at my paper and continued writing.

'Um you need a ride to the ‘spot’ so just meet me and Em at the same time at my house and we’ll head over to Sam’s and pick up your jacket on our way to the beach.'

     I folded the paper and tossed it to Oliver’s desk. Then a thought dawned on me. It was the end of May and no one in their right mind would wear a jacket in this heat. I turned my head and saw Oliver staring at me wide eyed, knowing he’d been caught. Before he could even think about responding with some lame excuse, I got another paper and wrote a very simple message:

'Busted. My locker, when the bell rings.'

     As I handed Oliver the note, I realized Sam was looking at me. He'd been watching us pass notes since he walked in. He looked at me, then at Oliver, and then he turned around with a small hint of a smile on his face. Oliver looked up, aware of the trouble he was in, and how furious I was. I looked away and returned to the lesson.
     That was all that was said for the rest of the period. When the bell finally rang, I stood up and gathered my stuff. When I looked up, Sam was gone. I threw Oliver a quick warning slash reminder glare and walked out of the room. I was turning the corner into the hallway when I saw Sam leaning against the paint chipping wall outside the class room.
     He was waiting for someone, I was sure. When I walked by, he looked up and started walking after me. He said, “Hey Grace right, wait up.” I was surprised he’d gotten my name right, or even remembered it for that fact. But then again I was still surprised that he was even talking to me.
     I turned around to see him jogging after me. There I was, standing in the middle of the shabby hallway with Sam Mathews and the only thing I can think of to say is, “Uh ya. . .” He looked at me nervously, and then looked at his feet, “Um . . . hey.”
     Then I did the most unexpected thing I’ve ever done. I turned around and started walking away, fast. I heard him say, “Wait. Wait a minute.” He ran and put himself between me and the direction I was headed. I couldn’t believe how irritated I was getting. “Wait,” He said, "I uh . . . I . . . I just wanted to. . .” Then he walked around me and he was gone. ‘That was so weird. I’ve never seen him act like that before,’  I thought.
     I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and pushed the number one speed dial button. "Emma if there is any day that you answer your phone please let it be today." I said under my breath. Ring, ring, ring. Ring, ring, ring. Finally Emma answered her phone. “Hello?”
     “Hey it’s me,” I say, “Are you at your locker?” 
     “Ya. Why?” She asked in a confused voice.
     “Is Ollie there with you?”
     “Ya. He’s standing here with me. Grace, what is it? What’s going on?” she asks again in that same confused voice.
     “There’s something I need to tell you,” I say simply.
     “Ok, well hurry up and get here,” she says, irritated, I’m sure, but with a hint of amusement.
     “Ok stay put. I’m on my way,” Then I snap my phone closed and am all but running down the hallway.

“He did what!” Emma asked. The three of us were sitting at a picnic table at the very center of our school.
     We have enclosed halls which have the lockers, the classrooms, the cafeteria, and the gym. Each hallway has a door that which leads to the picnic bench area we call the quad. There are tables, benches, and lots of shady trees to sit under.
     Like every other high school in America, or even the world, our school is socially divided into groups. There’s the cool kids that consists of the jocks, cheerleaders, and all their friends that are also popular. This is where Sam hangs out.
     Then there’s the geeks and the nerds who tend to form one big group. Then there’s the Band, the math club, the science club, art group, drama club, photography and yearbook club. Then there’s those of us who don’t have a group. That’s where Emma, Oliver and I fit into the picture; at the bottom of the food chain. Yep, it’s just your average, everyday, normal high school.
     Sometimes, I think of it as just floating along, looking for a place to land. But like I said, I'm not into labels.
     We have a fifteen minute break after the first two periods of our day, and my first class is Algebra, a two period class. It usually didn't really get on my nerves, having Algebra first thing in the morning, but today it seemed like forever till it ended.
     “Ya, he was waiting for me at the end of class," I said. I still couldn’t believe what had happened. And judging by the look on Emma’s face, she didn’t either. But I had Oliver to back me up for most of my story. That helped a lot. “And he didn’t say anything. Nothing at all?” She asked. We were both trying to figure out what happened, but nothing was making any sense to us.
     “Ya he just called after me, and then all he said was ‘um hey, um I uh just wanted to’ and then he turned and walked away. It was really weird,” I said. I had repeated the story at least three times already. I was getting a little annoyed.
     Oliver had been quiet this whole time. All he said was 'yes' when Emma asked if what I was telling her was true. Then it occurred to me that maybe he was only being so quiet, because he wanted me to forget that I was mad at him.
     So I leaned over towards him, pulled back my arm and punched him hard on the shoulder. “Grace!” Emma was looking at me as if I was crazy person. “What the heck did you do that for?” Then I remembered that I didn’t tell Emma about Oliver ditching us to go to Sam’s house.
     “She’s mad at me because I’ve been ditching you guys to go to Sam’s house,” Oliver said.
     Emma was wide eyed. It was quiet for a few minutes then she said, “What? Ollie why would you lie to us?” I could tell Emma was just as hurt as I was. She leaned toward Oliver and punched his other shoulder just as hard as I had. “Ah! Could you guys please stop hitting me?” Oliver pleaded.
     “Ollie, you know you don’t have to ask our permission to hang out with your other friends. We totally get it. You’re a guy and you have other friends besides us. We’re just mad that you think that you had to lie to us,” I said.
     “I know, I know. It’s just that with your liking Sam and all, well I just thought it would be weird you know?” He said. And I did know. And inside my head I was thanking Oliver for that.
     “Well if you don’t want to go surfing then that’s ok with us. “ Emma said.
     Then Oliver’s phone started to ring. He picked it up and said, “Hey man, what’s up?” then he just listened. “So we’re on for this afternoon then right?” then he listened again. Then, “Ok, we’ll pick you up around 3:30. See you then.” He snapped his phone shut. Emma and I looked up at each other. We were both confused by the conversation.
     It was quiet for a few minutes and then Oliver said, “So what were we talking about?”
     But I had this funny feeling in the pit of my stomach about the conversation Oliver just had. “Ollie, who were you just talking to?” I asked.
     “Um, Sam. Why?” he said looking at the table now. “And um, who’s this ‘we’ you were talking about?” I was watching him very carefully for a slip in the composed expression on his face. “The three of us.” Oliver said playing with his hands now. He looked up at me and asked, “You guys still up for the beach?”

Chapter Two


I woke up this morning thinking this was going to be just another normal day. I got up and got ready like usual. Then I picked up Jared and met Brandon in the parking lot. Just your regular school day. When I went inside and I saw her, I could swear my heart skipped a beat. She was standing by her locker with her friend, what was her name, Emily? Emma?  That's what it is. Emma.
     Anyways she was standing by her locker in her jeans and Converse, like she did every day. But for some reason today she looked different to me. When she dropped her pen and I picked it up for her, she had this smile on her face, and this expression of shock. She looked beautiful. It almost pained me to walk away.
     The bell rang and I went up to the main office to see my counselor, Ms. Stanley. She was a younger woman with blond hair she always had in a ponytail. I knocked on the door and she said, "Come in Sam."
     I sat on one of the hard plastic chairs in front of her desk. She looked up from her computer screen, "I think I have your new schedule all figured out. It's late in the year for a schedule change though so you might be a little behind at first. But I'm confident you will be able to catch up quickly. Your other classes are the same, like math and English. You just have them at different times."
     She handed me my new schedule and I saw that I had Algebra first period. Great. Math first thing in the morning. Oh well at least I got out of Band. I thanked Ms. Stanley, and headed towards my new class. I had Mrs. Goldberg with my old schedule, but I had had her last instead of first so I knew where her classroom was. I stopped by my locker to grab my text book and then I headed down the hall to class.
     When I got there I knocked on the door, but my attention went directly to the pretty brunette girl in the back of the room. Grace. She looked up and saw me at the door. It looked to me as if her eyes had widened just a little and I saw the blush go into her cheeks.
     I handed Mrs. Goldberg my pass and my schedule change and she told Grace to raise her hand so I could find my seat. I went and sat down and asked Oliver for his notes so I could get caught up with the class. The whole time I was trying to be smooth so I didn't look stupid in front of Grace.
     I couldn't help but notice that she was writing a lot of notes to someone. I felt about ten times better, when I realized she was writing them to Oliver. While I was sitting there, half listening to the lesson, my mind was as war with itself. Talk to her. . .Don't talk to her. Would it be awkward if I did talk to her? I don't  really know her that well and I've never really had a conversation with her before. This shouldn't be that complicated, but yet there I was sitting in Algebra fighting with myself. I should take a chance right?
     By the time class had ended, I had made up my mind to talk to her. As I gathered my things to leave I chickened out and all but ran out of the room and down the hall. But the part of me that really wanted to talk to her ended up out weighing the part that didn't and I turned around. I leaned against the door frame, trying to look relaxed, and waited for her.
     When she finally came out of the classroom,  she looked irritated. She saw me and started walking the other way down the hall. I had to jog a little to catch up to her. I said, "Hey Grace right, wait up." My mind was rushing to find something coherent to say but it kept coming up blank. She looked a little nervous, but so was I. 
     "Uh ya. . ." she  said. 
     It was like my brain was totally shut off. I didn't know what else to do but look at my feet and say lamely, "Um. . .hey."
     I watched as she turned on her heels and started walking again. I was going to loose my chance if I didn't think of something to say. Fast.
     "Wait. Wait a minute." I said as I ran to block her path. "I uh. . . I. . . I just wanted to. . ." As I trailed off, I realized what an idiot I was being. I guess that triggered my flight response because I stepped around her and started to walk  the opposite way.
I can't believe I just did that. I just made a total idiot out of myself.
     I was sitting at my lunch table with Jared and Brandon like every other day. But today my mind kept drifting back to Grace. Was this Love? It couldn't be. I didn't even know her. In all the years we've gone to school together I never bothered to get to know her. All I knew about her was the small details her friend Oliver told me in a story or in a light conversation. That wasn't much.
     I know she loves to surf and play the piano. I know she has a little brother named Travis and a half family that lives a few minutes from here. I know she is warm and funny and people love to be around her. And, from my own observation, I know she's pretty. I like that she isn't caught up in all the girl drama, or obsessed with her looks. I especially love that she isn't afraid to be herself no matter what anybody thinks.
     "Sam. Sam, dude wake up," Brandon was trying to get my attention. "Did you hear anything we just said?"
     "What, no sorry," I said snapping out of my thoughts.
     "We were just saying that we were going to catch a movie tonight. You want to come?" Jared asked me.
     "Um, sorry guys but I've got plans tonight. I can't. Maybe tomorrow?" I said. Oliver had called me earlier and asked if I wanted to go surfing with him and some friends that afternoon.
     "That's cool. We can go tomorrow," Brandon said, and then added, " Are you ok Sam? You've been acting weird all day."
     "Ya, ya I'm fine. I just have something on my mind," I said. But Jared  knew that wasn't it.
     "More like a someone. I know that look. Who is it this time Sam?"
     I sighed in defeat and said, "Grace Evans."
     "Grace Evans? The chick we saw this morning? She's cool I guess," Jared said. For some reason that surprised me a little. 
     "I just can't get her out of my head," I said.
     "Well have you talked to her?" Brandon asked.
     "I tried too after class this morning, but I choked. I don't know what happened. I just. . . I don't know," I said lamely.
     "So what your saying is, you don't know," Jared said joking around.
     "Thanks man that helps a lot," I said getting a little irritated.
     They both started laughing and then the bell rang for us to go to our last two classes of the day. Soon it would be 3:30 and I would free of my thoughts of Grace. Or so I thought.

Chapter Three


"Sam Mathews is going where with us?" I half screamed at Oliver. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
     "I thought you'd be happy," Oliver protested. "I already had plans with him and I figured since you were going surfing. . .that you know, we'd tag along."
     I couldn't talk. I didn't know what to say to that. Oliver thought he was doing me a favor and I couldn't be mad at him for that. Maybe it would be ok, I mean what's the worst that could happen? Right then my mind drifted to a vision of myself doing about a hundred really embarrassing things all at once.
     "Ok so we're going surfing with Sam Mathews," Emma said smiling, pleased, I was sure, with the raising of her social status. "This is gonna be great." She obviously didn't see anything wrong with our afternoon plans. I was going to make an idiot out of myself. A nervous, clumsy wreck.
     "Great so we're gonna pick him up at 3:30 then," Oliver said. Just as he said that, the bell rang filling the quad area with a loud, familiar buzzing that droned out all conversation. As everyone filed into the halls I tried to keep my thoughts from dwelling on what was sure to be a disastrous afternoon.

When the final bell rang signalling the end of the school day, I met Emma in the parking lot and we drove back to my house. My eight year old brother, Travis wasn't home from school yet. We quickly changed into our swim suits and threw on some shorts and a tank. We loaded an ice chest and some chairs into the trunk of my Jeep. We grabbed our beach bags that contained our wet suits, sunglasses, and towels. We strapped our boards to the roof and set off.  
     Oliver walked out of his garage a few minutes later, with him board in hand. "Hey guys," he cheerfully greeted us as we strapped his board beside ours on the roof. He threw his bag in the trunk and climbed into the backseat of my Jeep.
     "So where does Sam even live?" I asked after we were all strapped in.
     "Just drive and I'll tell you where to go," Oliver said from the seat directly behind me. I pulled out of his driveway and Oliver directed me to a very large front gate, that led to an even larger house, or mansion, I guess you could call it. I pressed the button on the brick wall that was under a speaker. "Yes," a voice said a few minutes later. I pressed and held,  the button again as I spoke to the man on the other side of the speaker. "Um, hi. I'm here to pick up Sam. We're, uh going surfing."
     With that the front gates sprung to life and we were directed inside. As we drove down the long cemented drive way, we stopped in front of a huge Victorian style mansion. It looked like something pulled right out of a movie. There were a series of giant floor to ceiling pillars that shaped the front of the house and deck. Above them were countless amounts of windows that led to various rooms. Beautiful hedges line the sides and front of the house. There was a series of steps that led to the front door which was a beautiful oak with inlaid glass trimmed with gold and a massive gold knocker. There was a very old looking porch swing that looked to fragile to sit on. Around it was a series of white country styled chairs with matching cushions and side tables. It was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. I was momentarily breath taken.
     When I recovered from my shock, I looked behind me at Oliver and asked, "Sam lives here?" I had always know that Sam was out of my league but now it was definite.
     "Yup," was all he said. It was quiet for a few minutes and then, "I guess I'll go up and get him."
     After Oliver had gone up to the front door, Emma looked out the window and breathed, "Wow." I looked out the front window to see what could be more amazing than the house. It was then that I got a look at the front yard. We both got out of my Jeep and Emma came to stand beside me. The whole house was surrounded by vast green lawn. There was a fountain in the middle of the circular driveway and there were trees planted in various parts of the yard. They provided large amounts of shady areas that would be great for picnics or just for sitting and reading a great book with a glass of lemonade on a hot summer day.
     We heard the front door open and Oliver greet Sam's mother, Karen. "Hey Mrs. Mathews." Then we heard her call for Sam. They stood on the front porch and talked while they waited for Sam. Then "Hey Sam, you ready?" He told his mother goodbye and she told him to have fun. You know, the things all mothers tell their kids. 'Be safe' 'Have fun' 'Be back for dinner' kind of things. Oliver helped Sam with his board and they walked down the porch steps. Then he saw Emma and I gaping wide eyed and open mouthed at his front yard. "Um . . . hey," he said with a smile, trying to hold back a laugh.

When everything was loaded up in the back of my Jeep, we headed for the beach. We had the radio on to mine and Emma's favorite channel. Emma was singing softly under her breath, and Oliver was whispering to Sam in the back seat. I was alone to my thoughts. 'What if this was a bad idea. What if I did something stupid and embarrassing.' I was so consumed with my thoughts that I almost missed the next turn.
     We had reached the main beach parking lot. We drove past the turn in when Sam said, "Um, I think we missed our turn. Where are we going?" 'Was he talking to me?' I didn't know but I spoke up anyways.
     "We have our own spot further down the beach. It's secluded and no one knows about it but us . . . um we think. Anyways, its great. You'll love it." I was so surprised at myself. I didn't stutter at all.
     "Cool," he said. "How much farther is it?"
     "Not far. In fact, we're here." We had just pulled up to the sign that stated the beach hours. I parked and hopped out of the drivers seat. Emma, now aware of where we were, unbuckled her seat belt and started unloading the ice chest and chairs from the back. Oliver and I started untying the surf boards.
     “Um are you sure this is it? It just looks like a bunch of rocks.” Sam asked.

     “Just wait, you’ll see,” Oliver said.
     I grabbed mine and started down the rocky path.
     This little cove always made me stop and admire it's beauty. The still white sands and the crystal clear water called to me in a way I can't explain. I set my board up against a rock and kicked off my rubber flip flops. I walked to the waters edge and stuck my toes into the cool water. I stood there for what felt like hours, but it was just a few minutes. I jumped when I heard someone say "Wow."
     I turned around to find that Sam had found his way down to the waters edge and was now a few feet away from me. "It's great right?" I asked even though I got the answer from his 'Wow'. He came to stand next to me. "Grace-" he was cut off by Emma calling me from my car.
     "I'll be right back," I said as I slipped on my flip flops and started heading up the rock path again.
      Oliver and Emma were at the side of the Jeep trying to take as much as they could with one load. "We need your help. We can't carry all these chairs," Emma said to me when I arrived. We gathered all the chairs and I locked my car. When we finally made it to the beach, Emma and I set up the chairs and ice chest. She looked over her shoulder at Sam and Oliver who were standing at the waters edge, where moments ago I had been. "They're acting weird. Don't you think?" Emma asked. They had been whispering to each other ever since we picked Sam up.
     "Ya, I guess," I said. We got out our wet suits and towels and laid them out on our beach chairs. 
     "Hey Gracie, can you help me for a second?," Emma asked holding a bottle of spray on sunscreen out for me. "I can't reach my back."
     "Sure," I said. I took the bottle and sprayed her back a few times.
     "Now do me," I said when I was finished. After we were done applying sunscreen, we asked the guys if they were ready to catch a few waves. They were still standing at the waters edge. Emma and I took off our shorts and tanks and started getting into our wet suits.
     "Sam and I will come out in a minute," Oliver said when Emma and I were heading out.
     "See," Emma said. "They are acting weird."
     "Or, maybe they just aren't ready to go out yet," I replied.
     Emma and I started to swim out. When we were far enough, we sat and waited for the perfect wave to carry us back to the beach.

Chapter Four

"Dude, wake up." Oliver was sitting beside me in the back seat of Grace's Jeep. We had just pulled out of my driveway and I was still in a state of shock.
     "You didn't tell me she was gonna be here," I whispered fiercely.
     "Who? Grace?" He was playing dumb.
     "Yes Grace. Who else would I be talking about?" I was getting irritated.
     "Just calm down. Its all gonna be ok," he said. By then we were half way through town and almost to the beach.   
     When we got to their "special spot". I looked at Oliver in confusion. We were parked on the side of the road next to a sign. I couldn't see anything but giant rocks and boulders. We all piled out of the car. Grace unstrapped her board with a swift ease. She probably did this everyday. Oliver reached up and unstrapped mine. I looked around in confusion. Where had Grace gone?
     "She already went down. You'd better hurry. This may be your only chance to be alone with her. Just follow the little sand path," He gave me whispered directions and then I was making the treacherous climb down to the water.
     When I finally reached the beach I almost dropped my board. I was standing in a beautiful half circle of pure white sand. The sun was setting in the distance and the water looked warm and clear. Grace stood with her back to me and her bare her toes in the water. I stood where I was and it was quiet for a few moments. She looked like an angel with her long, curly brown hair glittering in the orange glow of the sun. She looked so peaceful I couldn't disturb her. I felt like I was staring at a painting.
     "Wow," I breathed. She probably thought I was talking about the beach because she replied,"It's great right?" But I wasn't talking about the beach. . .not really. I took a step forward and was standing next to her, "Grace-" I started. But I was interrupted by Emma yelling from the car.
     "I'll be right back," was all she said before turning and walking back the way that I had just come. I probably wouldn't get another chance to talk to her alone today, and I wouldn't be able to tell her all the things I'd been about to say.

When everything was unloaded and brought down to the beach, Oliver came to stand next to me at the waterline.
     "Did you do it? Did you tell her?" He asked anxiously.
     "No, I was about to," I said miserably.
     "Well why didn't you?"
     "Emma," Was all I said.
     "Oh I'm sorry man. I  tried to get her to wait for a few minutes, but she said that we couldn't carry all the stuff by ourselves. And I couldn't tell her why she needed to wait, so she called Grace anyways."
     "It's ok. I'll get the chance eventually."
     After the girls paddled out, Oliver and I stayed on the beach and got our wet suits on. We finished getting our boards ready, drank some water and then we were heading out.
     The water was warm and the tide was starting to come in. I wasn't really sure how great the waves were going to be. A few times I caught Grace's eye but we both quickly looked away. It was beginning to get dark and we decided to catch one last wave and then we would head in. Emma and Oliver both got on the next big wave and rode it all the way to the shore. It was just me and Grace sitting on our boards waiting for the next wave to roll around. 
     There was an awkward silence and then she asked, "Do you surf a lot?" I was completely caught off guard.
     "Um, ya whenever I get the chance to come out here," I said. "Do you?"
     "I love it out here," She said not really answering my question. "The slow, subtle movements of the water. The sun on my face and in my hair. The cold, white sand between my toes. And I love the smell of salt in the air. I would live on the beach if I could. I'm here pretty much every afternoon."
     For some reason those words stuck to me. Maybe it's because I feel the same way. I don't really know. I didn't get a chance to respond because just then we caught the wave that took us to her 'home'.
When we got back to the beach, the sun was almost gone and the stars were starting to come out of hiding. We toweled off and pulled out the beach chairs. We sat on the beach and watched as the remaining light left the sky. Emma handed out sandwiches and water. Oliver arranged it so I sat by Grace. Emma was on her other side and Oliver was on mine.
     "The stars are beautiful. Aren't they?" she asked no one in particular.
     We sat for a while more and then we were packing up our stuff and heading up the rocks and to the car. We took everything in one load. Emma packed all the stuff in the trunk while Grace, Oliver and I strapped the surf boards to the roof. Grace and I walked around to our side of the car and I held the door open for her. She was about to climb in when I looked up at the sky and said, "Wait. Look!" she turned in time to see the shooting star fly across the sky. "Make a wish," I breathed.
     She closed her eyes for a few seconds and then looked up at me. I asked, "What did you wish for?"
     She got this sly look on her face and said, "If I told you, I'd have to kill you . . . and that would really put a damper on my day." And then she turned her back, and got in the car.
     I thought about her answer and wondered what she had to hide.
     The ride back to my house was quiet. We drove through the still streets of our tiny town. All the shops and side walk stands that were open only hours earlier were now closed and locked up until tomorrow.
     As I stared out the window, lost in my own world, I thought about all the insightful things Grace had said to me during the short time we were together. I had learned a lot. She loved the ocean and the sandy beaches that came with it. She loved the setting sun and salty breeze in her face. But the thing that stood out to me the most, the one thing that I have noticed many times before, was that she wasn't afraid to be who she really was. She was so. . .real. 
     That much she didn't have to tell me. I saw it on her face and in the way she moved. I heard it in her voice when she talked.  I saw it in the way her face looked when she was off in her own world; dreaming big dreams. After all, what are we without are dreams? We can't go anywhere or do anything without them; And we definitely can't accomplish anything either.
     I realized, sitting in the backseat of her car, just how much I admired her for that.

Chapter Five


I pulled up to the giant front gate of Sam's house and pressed the buzzer. This time instead of hearing someones voice, the gates swung open and I drove in. I pulled up to the front of the house and parked in the same spot as before. I got out with Sam and Oliver and we unloaded all of Sam's stuff from the trunk. Emma had turned the radio on again, and was busy trying to find a good song.
     "Thanks for asking me to come with you guys today. I had a blast," Sam said as we walked him to the front door. I set his backpack down on the creaky front porch. Oliver laid his board up against the house and said, "Your welcome. We should all hang out again soon. It was a lot of fun."
     Oliver and Sam said their goodbyes and then Oliver left us standing on the front porch and got in the car. I could swear I saw him wink at Sam before he left. I looked at Sam who was looking at me. He probably didn't even notice.
     "Well I guess I'll see you in class on Monday. Thanks for coming with us. I had a lot of fun," I said.
     "Ya, I'll see you in class."
     I was on the second to the last step when he called me.
     "Grace wait!" I turned around to face him. He looked so cute in the porch light and my heart skipped a beat when he said my name.
     "Ya?" I asked.
     "Um what would you say if I asked you to go to the Spring Festival with me this Friday night?"
     The Spring Festival was this Friday night! I had totally forgotten about it. He was waiting for my answer so I said, "I would say that my wish came true." And then I turned around and walked back to my car.
     When I got back in the car, Emma started to ask me what Sam and I were talking about. I said, "Wait till I'm out of the drive way. Act normal." I was trying to keep it together long enough to make it out his front gate.
     When we were finally driving in the direction of our houses, Emma almost screamed, "Please! The suspense is almost killing me! Tell me what he said to you!"
     I almost couldn't form the words into a coherent sentence. "He asked me to the Spring Festival." Then Emma and I started to scream.
     "Whao, whao, whao! Calm down! You're both acting like a bunch of crazies!" Oliver said from the back seat.
     "What were his exact words! Tell me everything!" Emma said.
     I told her about what happened at the beach and how he had been trying to talk to me all afternoon. I told her about the shooting star, and about what had just been said on his front porch.
     "Oh my gosh! How romantic! Ok you need something awesome to wear! Tomorrow we are going shopping!" she said.

This had to be the best day ever. I was going to the Spring Festival with Sam Mathews. I had just spent the whole afternoon with him and I didn't do anything stupid. I said all the right things and I didn't stutter. I was proud of myself.
     We made it back to my house and I had parked in my usual spot in the driveway. Emma and Oliver helped me unload everything from the back of my car. We laid my surf board up against the wall in the garage, and slid the ice chest and chairs beside it. Then they grabbed their boards and beach bags and headed home for the night. 
     "Grace?" my mom called from the kitchen when I came in.
     "Ya mom it's me," We did this every night. I'd come home and she would be waiting to ask how my day was.
     "How was your day?" She asked coming to greet me in the living room.
     I thought about that for a minute. "My day was great," I said smiling. After saying that, I noticed that I couldn't help but smile.
     "What happened? Why are you smiling like that?" she asked a little suspicious now. 
     "Nothing. I just got asked to the Spring Festival...by Sam Mathews," My mom and I told each other everything. She knew who I liked and she was great at not being weird about it. If she were a teenager and not my mom, I would probably hang out with her. 
     "Honey, that's great!" she said. We went and sat on the living room couch, and I told her all about my day, starting with this morning. "And that brings us to now," I concluded.
     "Well I'm glad that you're so happy."
     I told my mom goodnight and went upstairs to my room.
     When people think of teenagers, they think of messy rooms. Parents have conversations with other parents about it. It's in T.V. shows and movies. Even in books. But my room wasn't like that. It was super clean. I can't stand being in dirty rooms. That's probably why I never go into Travis's room. You can't see the floor.
      The walls outside of my room are covered with picture frames of the three of us; me, my mom, and Travis. My mom and dad got divorced when Travis was two and I was nine, and he now lives with his new wife and three kids in our neighboring town. I see him a couple times a week, but mostly I see him on the weekends when I babysit. My "step mom" Susan is ok but I don't think of her as my step mom. Its more like an aunt/niece relationship. My mom and Susan are friends and they have lunch together at least once a week. I love spending time with my half siblings. I have one half brother, Jacob, and twin half sisters Addison and Jude. Jacob is six and the twins are turning four in a few months. They live about a twenty minute drive from my house which makes it easy to see them.
     My room is the first door on the right at the top of the stairs. Grace is written across my bedroom door in swirly purple letters. When you walk in, the wall to the left, is my closet. It has floor to ceiling, mirrored doors that slide open on tracks and take up half of the wall. 
     Next to my closet there is a door that leads into my bathroom. The wall that my mirror hangs on is hot pink with lime green polka dots and the others are white. There are stenciled lyrics to my favorite songs painted randomly around the room. My favorite one is 'And I find that I'm never alone, And I find that my heart is my home. And the music within makes me whole. A world that I built on my own.' It's a Kate Earl song called Melody.
     The towels are lime green and they hang on silver racks. The rugs and shower curtain are pink. There are three big light bulbs above the mirror. A white cabinet sits above the toilet. In the cabinet under the sink, there is a series of drawers. Two little ones that pull out, on each side and one long one in the middle. Then there is one large storage space underneath the top middle drawer. 
     On the far wall of my bedroom, facing the door, there is a window that looks out over the front yard. The window is draped with long, swaying layers of purple, black, and zebra curtains.
     My bed sits on the opposite wall, across from the window. The metal bed frame is silver and it is twisted into swirls that make up the back board. It has a shiny dark purple comforter with black and purple pillows that line the back of the bed. There is a series of smaller pillows in front of them. I especially love the round, cylinder zebra pillow that sits in the very front. The head board rests against the wall, and the rest sticks out in the middle of the room. There are two matching nightstands on both sides. One has my alarm clock and iHome. The other has a black chandelier lamp and my reading book. My glasses are laid next to the lamp. There is a Zebra printed blanket folded and laid on the end of my bed.
     I have a black wood book case in the far right corner of my room. It's stuffed with books to the point that I had to install shelves on my walls to hold them all. I love to read. My black metal desk sits on the wall next to the book case. My purple Dell Inspiron is off and pushed up against the wall. There is another black chandelier lamp on the other corner.  
     My room wasn't crowded but it wasn't big either. It was the right size and I loved it. I was especially proud that I had designed and decorated it myself. And I thought that I did a pretty good job.
     I dropped my bag on the floor by my door, and walked to the bathroom. I seriously needed a shower after a long day at school. Not to mention that I was covered in beach sand and salt. I turned on the shower and left the water warm up. I grabbed my pajamas out of my closet, and closed the bathroom door.
     I took my time and washed all the sand out of my hair and off my body. The whole time I was in the bathroom, I couldn't stop thinking about the Spring Festival on Friday. I'd need a great outfit. Emma and I had made plans to go shopping tomorrow. Then I remembered that I had to babysit tomorrow afternoon.  I hurried through the rest of my shower and wrapped a towel around my hair. I picked up my cell phone and dialed Emma's number. I plopped down on my bed.  She answered after one ring.
     "Grace? What's up?" she asked.
     "I just remembered that I have to babysit at my dad's tomorrow afternoon. So we need to go shopping earlier."
     "Ok," she said, "We can go tomorrow morning. What time do you need to be home at?"
     "Well I have to be at my dad's at one, so I should probably be back at my house at 12:30. Why don't we go around ten?"
     "Ok that sounds great. We can have lunch too," She started making plans and I was only half listening. She would walk over to my house , since she lived across the street and we would go to the mall. Then once we had secured a great outfit and shoes, we would accessorize. After which we would have lunch somewhere; we hadn't thought about the "where" part yet.
     "Well I'll see you tomorrow then," I said, feeling the affects of the day.
     "Night," She said.
     We hung up, and I laid my phone on my nightstand next to my book. I plugged my iPod into my iHome and clicked on my favorite playlist. I listened as the music began to play. It was classical music. I always listened to classical as I fell asleep. It calmed me down and cleared my thoughts and after a few minutes I would be following along with the music instead of thinking about my current problems.
     Sam had asked me to the Spring Festival instead of his ex-girlfriend Cassie. I was nothing compared to her. She was tall and blond with those clear blue eyes most girls would kill for. She was pretty and she knew it. Often times it worked to her advantage. She was captain of the cheer squad, and she was popular. She had a rich daddy who worked for some big law firm. She lived like a princess. But I never wanted any of that, so it never bothered me that we weren't friends.
     Cassie and Sam had been dating off and on for two years, and they had recently broken up. I heard them yelling in the quad last week, and he sounded pretty serious when he said that it was over for good. She never liked me much. So when she hears that I'm going to the Spring Festival with Sam and she isn't. . . well lets just say that I don't think we're going to be friends anytime soon. Again. . .not that I care.
     I'm not sure if I was dreaming or awake when I started picturing Sam and me sitting around a giant bonfire on the beach, laughing, and talking, and having the time of our lives.

Chapter Six


No matter what I did to occupy my time, all my thoughts kept flipping an illegal U turn and heading straight back to Grace. I didn't sleep at all. I tossed and turned all night. I was constantly replaying all the things I'd said to Grace, and the things she'd said to me, over and over again in my head. Analyzing everything that had happened. Remembering all the quick glances and the split moments when our eyes met and she wasn't afraid to hold my gaze.
     Around five in the morning I decided that it was a waste of time to lay in bed, if I couldn't fall asleep. With as much sleep as I had lost, I didn't feel tired. My parents were still asleep in their room and my older sister Heather would be up soon. She gets up early to go for a jog every morning while it's cool outside.
     I walked through the quiet halls of my house looking for something to occupy my mind. The sun was about to come up. I headed out to the back deck, which faced the sun, and sat on the old rocking chair that had once belonged to my grandmother.
     The weather, despite the early hour, was warm and I was lost in a train of thought, watching the sun come up. The horizon was streaked with orange, yellow, and pink, and there were traces of white clouds that had now vanished.
     I felt a rather small hand rest on my shoulder. The touch made me jump as I came back to this universe. I looked behind me, and saw Heather standing there in her jogging shorts and shoes. I returned my gaze to the rising sun.
     "Sam? Are you ok? What are you doing out here?" She asked me.
     I didn't look up as I replied, "I couldn't sleep, so I thought that I'd come out here and sit for a while." My voice sounded lifeless, and sad.
     "Is everything alright?"
     Heather and I are really close. I told her everything, and she, more often than not, knew when something was bothering me.
     "Ya, I'm fine. I just can't stop thinking about this girl."
     "Uh Oh. What's her name? Wait you broke up with Cassie right?" Her forehead bunched up as she said this. She never did  like Cassie much. She said that she just wasn't right for me and that I deserved better.
     "Yes I broke up with Cassie. Her name is Grace Evans," Just saying her name filled me with a happiness that I had never felt before.
     "Grace Evans huh? Well what's she like? Is she pretty?" She pulled a chair up next to me.
     "Extremely, but that's not why I like her. She's fun, and caring. She's passionate about so many things, like surfing and the sea. She has a great smile and a great laugh. Just being near her makes me happy, you know? I just can't stop thinking about her."
     My sister looked at me with an expression of puzzlement, like she was trying to process what I had just said. Then a she flashed a broad smile, and said, "I want to meet her." 
     "Ok," was all I said.
     "No Sam, I don't think you heard me. I want to meet her today. Like right now. If she means that much to you, then I want to meet her as soon as possible. But not with mom and dad. You know how they can be. How about we go to lunch or something. Or we could grab dinner. Either way I'm meeting her today."
     "Ok I get it. Geese pushy much? I'll see what I can do. Oh and did I mention that I asked her to the Spring Festival . . . and she said yes?" I told Heather all about yesterday and the events that had unfolded on the isolated beach. She didn't say anything for a few minutes.
     "Whenever I'm with her I feel like I have known her my whole life," I said to break the silence. "I just want to be near her all the time. I know that sounds cheesy and all, but it's true."
     "It doesn't sound cheesy to me. In fact, I think it's sweet," She got up from her chair next to me and said, "I'm going for my run. I'll be back in a few. Whatever you do, don't tell mom and dad about Grace. If they ask you about the Spring Festival just say that you asked a girl from school, and that they would probably meet her on Friday," She turned to go, and stopped, "Now go call her and see when we can get together. If you don't, then I will." And then she was jogging down the back steps and through the backyard fence that lead to the street.

So what was I supposed to say? Hey I know this may be a little weird, but my sister wants to have lunch with you. I just asked her out! I can't ask her to meet my family yet. That's moving just a little too fast for me and probably for her too.
     But I got her number from Oliver anyways. I couldn't help it. I had to hear her  voice again even if I was going to make myself look stupid. I looked at the clock on my bedroom wall. It was 7:30 A.M. It wasn't to early. . .was it? I decided that it was and I  headed down the stairs and to the kitchen for some breakfast. After I had eaten a bowl of cereal, I checked the time again. It was now almost 8:00. Just a little longer I said. It was Saturday after all.
     I went  back upstairs and headed for my bathroom. A shower was sure to calm my nerves, right? I started the water, and let it run for a few minutes while I headed back to my room for a clean polo shirt and jeans. Then I made my way back to the bathroom.
     It was about 45 minutes later when I emerged from the steamy bathroom. I took my time, so I could waste a couple minutes. I was wearing a baby blue polo shirt and navy blue denim jeans. It was close to 9:00 now. Grace would be up by now right? I picked up my cell phone and dialed the number Oliver had given me.
     After a few seconds I heard the dial tone buzzing in the  background. I was pacing back and forth in the middle of my room. The dial tone stopped suddenly and my heart skipped a beat, and then it started again.  
     I was sure she wasn't going to answer when I heard, "Hello." I heard her sweet voice on the other line, but I was momentarily paralyzed. I didn't say anything.
     "Hello?" She said again.
     I snapped out of my stupor, and said, "Um Grace? It's Sam."
     There was a moment of silence, and I could hear her quiet breathing in the background. I had surprised her, that much  was clear.
     "Is this a bad time?" I asked.
     "No, no. Um hi," She said.
     "I know it's early, but I have a weird question for you," I started.
     "Ok what is it?"
     "My sister would like to get together with you and have lunch or something. I know that sounds weird, but she found out we were going to the Spring Festival, and well she's a little pushy," The words spilled out of my mouth so fast, I wasn't sure if she had heard me at all.
     "Well I'm going shopping and having lunch with Emma today, And then I'm babysitting for my dad this afternoon, but why don't I call you when I get done? I shouldn't be too late."
     "Ya that sounds good." I was relieved that she had said yes.
     "Are you going to come to?" That surprised me a little. I hadn't thought about that yet. Did I really trust Heather alone with Grace?
     "Um, if you want me to, then ya."
     "Ok then I guess I will talk to you later?"
     "Ok I'll talk to you later."
          I hung up the phone, and stood in the middle of my room for what felt like hours, but in reality it was only minutes. I thought about Grace as my heart swelled up with happiness.

Heather walked in just a few seconds after I hung up with Grace.
     "So, how did it go? she asked me. I was still standing in the middle of my room, with my phone in hand.
     "She already had plans for lunch and she has to babysit this afternoon, but she's going to give me a call when she's through."
     "Great! Thanks Sam. I know you didn't want to call her like that but you did it anyways. I'm excited to meet her." She was leaning up against the door frame.
     "I'm excited for you to meet her too."
     The day was going to drag on. I was already starting to feel anxious. I needed to see her again. Even though I hardly knew her, she was the center of all my thoughts.
     "Well I'm going to go take a shower, and try to find something to wear for tonight."
     "Ok," I said, even though there was a chance she still wouldn't be able to make it.
     Heather left and I was alone with my thoughts. I was going to dinner with Grace. . .maybe. . .and my sister. This was going to be interesting. 
     What would we talk about? What would I say? Was I even supposed to go? Grace wanted me to be there, she'd said so. I was laying in the middle of my bed stretched out and comfortable. I thought, yet again, about Grace as I drifted off to sleep.
It was well into the afternoon when I finally woke up. Since I hadn't gotten any sleep the night before, my nap was well appreciated. I glanced at my alarm clock and saw that It was 4:00. Wow I had literally slept the whole day away. I got up and stretched. After I was fully awake, I looked in the mirror. I looked awful. I had small dark circles under my eyes, and my clothes were wrinkled. My hair was bent in a million different ways.      I hurried through my shower and walked back to my room. I got dressed and blow dried my wet hair. I put on my shoes, and then glanced in the mirror. I looked better than I had. The dark circles were subsiding, and my hair was neatly brushed. My clothes were neatly pressed and wrinkle free. A few minutes later I heard a soft knock on my door, and said, "Come in."
     I walked to my closet and grabbed a fresh polo shirt, this time cherry red. I dragged my feet all the way down the hall and to my bathroom. As soon as I closed the door, the events from the previous day, and this morning, came flooding back with a sudden urgency. I remembered that Grace was supposed to be calling me anytime now.
     Heather stepped inside my door. She was wearing dark skinny jeans, and a short sleeved white shirt that flowed away from her body at the waist. She had a long gold chain around her neck that dropped almost to her waist. She had on tall black high heels and her blond hair was pinned up somehow with a few loose strands hanging freely. 
     "Did she call yet?" She asked.
     "I-," But I was cut off by the sound of my cell phone ringing.
     "Hello?" I said.
     "Sam? It's Grace. I just left my dad's house. Do you still want to go to dinner?"
     "Ya, where do you want to go?"
     "How about I meet you guys at the Burger shack?"
     "That sounds great."
     "Ok, well I have to run home really quick, so I'll see you in a few ok?"
     "Sounds great. See you there." I clicked the end button on my cell phone and filled Heather in.
     "Yay! I'm going to go finish getting ready to go."
     She looked ready enough to me. I checked my reflection in the mirror and tried to calm down. I was suddenly really nervous. About a half an hour later, Heather came in and said, "Are you ready?"
     I nodded a little stiffly.
     "It'll be fine. Come on."
     She led me down the stairs and out the front door. She had her big black leather purse on her arm. She dug for her car keys as we closed the front door. When she found them, she unlocked the doors of her sleek gray Prius. Once settled inside, I felt my nervousness reaching an all time high.
     Seeing the expression on my face, Heather said, "Relax. It's just dinner."
     She stepped on the gas pedal and we rolled smoothly down the driveway, heading in the direction of the Burger Shack.

Chapter Seven


Emma came at exactly ten o'clock the next morning. I was upstairs still trying to process the fact that Sam had just called me and I was having dinner with his sister. Emma came upstairs a few minutes later not bothering to ring the door bell. She never does. I just heard her down stairs yell out, "Hey Mrs. Evans!" before running up the stairs to my room. 
     I was sitting on my bed with my cell phone in my hand, staring blankly at the wall. Emma came in and jumped on my bed. She laid down on her stomach beside me and said, "Grace, ya ready?" Then she saw my face.
     "Grace what's wrong? What happened?"
     I replayed the phone conversation I had with Sam this morning. She listened intently and when I was finished she said, "Well, I guess we're going to need two new outfits. We'd better get going."
     I was in shock. That was her great advice. Get another outfit? No words of encouragement or wisdom? I was freaking out. I had to go sit and make a conversation with Sam and his sister.
     "Come on. It's going to be fine. It's just dinner."
     She got up from my bed and grabbed my purse off the floor. She handed it to me and said, "Let's go."
     We walked down the stairs. I grabbed my keys off the peg by the garage door.
     "Bye mom. We'll be back soon."
     "Ok, have fun girls," She said over another cup of coffee.
     Emma and I closed the front door, and we walked to my Jeep, which was still parked in the driveway from the night before. Climbing in the drivers' seat, I started the car, and backed out of the driveway. We drove down town to where all the big stores were. Well, big for this town. There was really just one shopping mall that had semi-good stores in it. I pulled into the parking lot and we climbed out. I locked the doors, and threw my keys in my bag.
     We walked through the front entrance and passed all the fast food restaurants. We were walking down the strip, when I saw a great pair of chocolate colored, knee high boots that were just my style. They were sitting in the window of one of my favorite stores. Go figure right?
     "Emma, those would be great for tonight right?" I asked as I walked up to the store window.
     "Ya! And you know what would be great with those?" She asked the personal stylist in her head. "A great  pair of dark wash jeans," She finished.
     "That would look great," I agreed. I had to admit, Emma was brilliant.
     I asked the store clerk to get me the right size, and then we checked out. The next hour went somewhat like that. We would find something in a store window and I would try it on. Then depending on the item I would either buy it or discard it.
     At around eleven, I had pulled together a great outfit for tonight's dinner. With the leather boots I had found earlier, I had also managed to find the perfect pair of jeans. I also found a great tan tank top, and a leather belt to go with it. The leather belt sat on my hips and the washed out gold buckle and studs, made it look vintage.
     Emma and I talked about it over a Subway sandwich.
     "You're going to look great!" Emma said as we sat down.
     "Thanks Em."
     "Now we just have to find a great outfit for Friday night. Do you want to wear a dress, or do you want to wear jeans?"
     "You know I'd rather wear jeans."
     "I know, but I had to ask in case you miraculously changed your mind."
     It was quiet for a few minutes and then she said, "I'm going to find a great outfit for Friday night too."
     I knew then that she had been holding something back.
     "Emma, what are you not telling me?"
     "Oh nothing . . . just that I got asked to the Spring Festival by Jared Anderson."
     I was a little hurt that I hadn't been told sooner, but I was quickly overtaken by happiness for Emma.
     "Em that's great! Ok so now we have to find great outfits. We'd better get going."
     We finished our lunch quickly and then we set off again, looking for two perfect outfits for what was sure to be one perfect night.
We ended up back at my house at about 12:30 that afternoon. We were tired but we both got great outfits. We got our shopping bags out of the trunk of my car, and we said goodbye. I watched as she walked across the street, and then I headed inside. I set my bags down in my closet and then headed back down stairs. 
     "Mom, I'm leaving again. I'll be at dad's babysitting if you need me."
     "Ok, tell Susan I said hello," she said. 
     I drove the short distance to my dad's house. I pulled into the driveway and started to walk up to the front door. I didn't get any farther than the front yard when I was tackled by Addison and Jude. They were probably waiting by the window watching for me.
     "Gracie!" they screamed in unison. 
     "Hi guys! Where's Jacob?" I asked.
     Before they could reply, I felt another hundred pounds land on top of me.
     "I'm right here silly!" Jacob cried.
     "Alright guys get up before you break Grace in two," my dad said.
     When I got up I saw him standing in the front door with Susan.
     "Hey guys," I said hugging them. Addison, Jude and Jacob were all trying to hide behind me and giggling while I talked to my dad and step mom.
     "Hi honey. Listen thanks for coming up. We shouldn't be long. We'll probably be back around 4:30 but you know how business things go," my dad said.
     "Ok that sounds fine. You'd better go or you'll be late."
     "I know, I know. We're going," He said with a laugh.
     "Now, you guys listen to Grace. She's in charge," Susan said to my half siblings.
     A chorus of 'yes mommy's' rang out.
     "Oh they're always good. Don't worry," I said.
     They finally left and I took the kids inside. Whenever I babysit, one of them gets to pick the movie, while I make popcorn. This time it was Addison's turn. I made the popcorn and sat down on the couch. Jacob sat on my left and Addison on my right. Jude crawled into my lap. She put the popcorn bowl into her lap and I pressed the play button on the DVD remote. It wasn't long before we were all laughing at the characters on the screen.
     We finished the movie and two bowls of popcorn by 2:30 or so. After Addison, it was Jude's turn to pick a movie. We got half way through the second movie, when they all started to fall asleep. I couldn't get up without waking them, so I finished watching the movie. Just as the credits started to play my dad and Susan walked in.
     "Hey," they both whispered.
     "Hey, they all just fell asleep," I said.
     "That's ok, they probably needed a nap anyways," Susan said.
     My dad carefully lifted Jude from my lap, and I gently laid Addison's head against a pillow. I had to carefully walk over Jacob, who was sound asleep on the floor.
     "Thanks for babysitting Grace," my dad said.
     "No problem. I love spending time with them anyways. I should probably get going. I'm supposed to be going on a date tonight."
     "A date? With who?" Susan asked.
     "Sam Mathews," I said.
     "Sam Mathews huh?" She said.
     "Ya, he asked me to Spring Festival too," I said filling her in.
     "Well that's great. Have a good time."
     I hugged them all goodbye, and kissed my sleeping siblings foreheads.

I called Sam on my way home, and then I called Emma. She was in my room when I got home. I got dressed in the outfit I found before lunch. I slipped on my jeans, and slid my belt into the loops on my jeans. I zipped up my boots, and pulled my tan tank top over my head, tucking it into my jeans. I stepped out of my bathroom, and asked, "How does this look?"
     "Wow you look great," Emma said.
     "Are you sure its not too much?" I asked worriedly.
     "No it's totally you and you look good."
     "Thanks Em. Will you help me with my hair? I don't know what to do."
     "Lucky for you, I do," Emma said.
     She jumped up from the bed, and grabbed my arm.
     "Come on." She said.
     "Hold on one sec. I need some music first."
     I walked over to my iHome and turned on a random song. I turned up the volume and walked to my bathroom where Emma was waiting with the curling iron on and a box of booby pins in front of her. Even though my hair was already curly, she decided a few pieces needed to be touched up.
     It took a few minutes for Emma to complete the challenge and I had to say, she had magic fingers. I don't know how she did it, but she twisted and curled and pulled my hair until it was in an up do. It was pinned into a messy bun with little curly strands escaping here and there. It went great with my outfit.
     "Ok you're done," Emma said as she turned off the curling iron, and checked to make sure everything was perfect one last time.
     I touched up my makeup, but I didn't wear that much in the first place.
     "Thanks Em," I said as we walked out of my bathroom.
     "What are BFF's for?" she asked.
     I prepped myself in the mirror on the wall and decided I looked fine. I put on a small amount of perfume, and grabbed my purse off the floor.
     "Ready?" Emma asked me when I didn't move for a few seconds.
     "Ya . . ya, um I was just . . ." I trailed off.
     "Having second thoughts," she finished for me.
     "Kind of. Maybe. I don't know."
     "We did not go through all this planning and preparation for you to back out now. What's the worst thing that could happen? Are you afraid he won't like you or something?"
     Ouch. She nailed it right on the spot. I realized that was exactly my problem. I'm afraid that he won't like me.
     "Yes," I sighed in defeat.
     "Well then he's stupid and he doesn't deserve you anyways. So what can this dinner hurt?"
     Everything, I thought.
     "I guess you're right," I said instead.
     "And I am going to be waiting right here when you get home. So be ready to spill."
     "You're the best Em," I said giving her a quick hug. 
     We headed down stairs and I told my mom goodbye for the hundredth time today.
     "Remember, breath, don't talk to fast, and don't fidget," Emma said.
     "Ok, I can do that," I was really nervous.
     I climbed into my car as Emma walked across the street. I took an extra long time putting on my seat belt and sunglasses. I messed with the radio for a few minutes. Finally I couldn't find anything else to stall with so I back out onto the street and waved goodbye to Emma who was standing by her front door watching me.
     I drove towards the Burger Shack, wondering why I didn't suggest somewhere nicer to eat. I pulled into the parking lot and grabbed my purse. I stepped down from my car, and looked around for Sam. I saw him across the lot, looking directly at me.
     I started walking in that direction. Just before I reached Sam, a tall blond girl stepped out from behind him.
     "Hi, I'm Heather. Sam's sister. And you must be Grace," the tall blond girl said.
     "Ya, hi," I said with a smile, "It's great to meet you."
     "Are you ready to eat? I'm starving."
     "Ya, lets go," I said as we started walking toward the door. I saw Sam still looking at me so I said, "Hey."
     "Hi. I'm sorry about Heather. She can be a little pushy."
     "I heard that," Heather said.
     "Good," Sam said with a laugh.
     I look towards the front of the restaurant. It was a small, old looking place. The white paint was chipped and pealing. It had been there ever since I could remember and I was good friends with the owner, Bill and his wife Sydnee. He was an elderly man with balding white hair and glasses. He always looked like a tourist with his Hawaiian shirts and shorts. His bushy white mustache hid his mouth, and his light eyes were always happy and welcoming.
     Sam held the door for us and we headed for the front counter. Bill saw us come in and said, "Hey Gracie! What can I get for you?"
     He always called me Gracie. It was a nickname he picked up from Emma when we were kids and my mom would bring us to get a burger for lunch after a long morning at the beach.
     "Hey Uncle Billy, I'll have the usual please." Another nickname. I always called him Uncle Billy as a kid even though I knew we weren't related at all.
     "And for you two?" He looked from Sam to Heather waiting for their orders.
     "Um, I'll just have a cheese burger please," Heather said.
     "Make it two please," Sam said when Bill looked at him.
     "Fries for everyone?"
     "Yes please," I answered for them.
     Sam paid for our food and Bill handed them cups and they wondered over to the soda machine.
     "Hey Sydnee! Gracies' here!" Bill yelled behind him. Sydnee was his high school sweetheart. They had been together for more that 50 years.
     "Gracie!" Sydnee came around the counter and hugged me. She was around the same age as Bill. Her shoulder length hair was also white and she wore the same Hawaiian shirts and shorts as her husband.
     "Hey Aunt Syd," I said as I hugged her back.
     "Is that Sam Mathews I see over there?" she asked.
     "Yes and his sister. I guess you can call it a "double" date. We're just having dinner. Did I tell you he asked me to the Spring Festival?"
     "No! Oh I'm so happy for you!"
     "Thanks!" I said with a big smile.
     "Well you better go. Don't want to keep them waiting. Go, go!"
     "Ok, I'll see you guys later then," I waved goodbye, and headed over to the soda machine. After I had filled my cup with Pepsi, I walked over to the booth by a window where Sam and Heather sat waiting.
     "Sorry about that," I said sitting down next to Heather.
     "No problem," Sam said.
     "Grace? Is it ok if I ask you a serious question?" Heather asked me.
     "Sure. What do you want to know?" I was a little nervous about what she wanted to ask me.
     "Where in the world did you find those boots? They're gorgeous!"
     I let out the air I was holding in my lungs and answered her, "I found them in the mall. Right when you walk in there is a little store on the right. They were in the window."
     I heard a low chuckle. I looked over at Sam who was sitting on Heather's left.
     "What are you laughing at?" Heather asked him.
     "Nothing, nothing. It's just that only you would classify that as a 'serious question'. That's all."
     "Ha . . . ha . . . ha. Very funny," Heather retorted with heavy sarcasm, which only made Sam laugh more.
     Heather punched Sam playfully in the arm, and then started laughing with him. Their teasing made me laugh too. Then Melanie, Bill's granddaughter and waitress, brought over a tray with our food on it. Mel was a tall girl about twenty years old. She had blond hair and green eyes. She placed the tray in the middle of the table and winked at me.
     Before she turned to leave she leaned over and whispered in my ear, "You picked a good one. " She stood upright and was walking away when I called after her, "Thanks Mel."
     "Ah ha. No problem Gracie," She said over her shoulder.
     Melanie was about three years older than me but she still hung out with Emma and me whenever she could. She was in community college right now. That's where she met Derek, her boyfriend. They've been together for more than a year now, and he's a nice guy. Mel always wonders if he will be 'the one'.
     I looked over and saw that both Sam and Heather were staring at me.
     "What," I asked.
     "Nothing," they said together.
     Sam passed out the food and I was about to pick up a fry when Heather said, "Grace can you show me where the bathroom is? I need to wash my hands."
     "Sure. Its right next to the soda machine."
     "I can't see it. Will you come with me?"
     "Um. . . sure I guess." I was not totally sure if Heather was faking it or she was serious about not being able to see the bathroom from where we were sitting.
     Turning to Sam she said, "We'll be right back."
     I got up started walking Heather to the restroom. She walked beside me and looped her arm lightly through mine like we were old friends being reunited. Once inside the bright restroom, Heather went straight to the sink and started to wash her hands. Feeling kind of awkward standing by the door, I decided that i should wash my hands too. A few minutes passed in silence when she said quite bluntly, "Ok here's the thing."
     "Aw, I new there was a 'thing'," I said rather sarcastically.
     "Look I know you like my brother. And I know for a fact that he likes you. A lot actually. I don't know you very well, but you should know he probably won't admit just how much he likes you. So you have to be the one to make the first move. Got it?"
     I was in a state of shock. She new for a fact that he liked me. I knew I had to say something so I said, "Ok."
     Heather was reaching for the door and I started to follow her out when she stopped short and said, "You know . . . I think I like you. You're not like the last girl Sam dated. She was a real piece of work. I really want to hang out with you some more and get to know you  better. Maybe we could be friends."
     "I would like that a lot Heather," I said.
     We left the bathroom and walked arm in arm back to our table with wide grins on our faces. Sam, looking shocked by how comfortable we were acting towards each other and said by way of greeting, "So what did I miss?"
     Flirting a little I answered, "Nothing you need to worry about."
     "Ya, you would be totally bored by it. You never were good at girl talk," Heather added.
     Looking disappointed, Sam picked up his burger and began to eat. Heather and I let out a little giggle and did the same. We kept up a continuously easy conversation while we all finished our dinner.

Chapter Eight


As I sat at the booth, watching Grace and Heather walk towards the bathroom, I couldn't help but think about how amazing Grace was. She was beautiful, that much was obvious. But that's not what I loved the most about her. She was smart and insightful. She was passionate, and caring. She got along great with people and, most importantly, she was herself.
     Cassie, my ex-girlfriend, had a tendency of doing things just so she could fit in. She was constantly trying to be something she wasn't and everyone could see it.
     But Grace was different. She didn't care what people thought of her, and she held herself with confidence. She was graceful too. I have never seen her stumble or fall.
     All these little things made me realize that, yes she was simple and quiet at first, but she was happy and content.
     When she and Heather returned from the restroom, there was something new in the air. They acted like they were old and close friends, not like girls that had only met an hour or so earlier. They seemed. . . closer if that makes any sense. I knew instinctively that I had missed something important and it was driving me crazy. I thought about what it could be on the drive back down town, and suddenly came back into focus as I started to recognize my neighborhood.
     "Heather, what are we doing here? We have to take Grace home remember," I asked.
     "Oh relax. You can drive her home after a bit. I want to show her around first. It's only like 7:30."
     "It's ok really. I don't mind," Grace said from the back seat.
     "Ok. But don't say I didn't warn you," I said. I knew my parents were home and I was a little skeptical about their reaction to meeting Grace on such short notice.
     Heather parked the car in front of the steps. I opened Grace's door and she stepped out.
     "Thanks," she said with a smile.
     Heather walked around the car and pulled Grace up the steps locking arms again. I almost had to run to keep up with them. Heather put her car keys on the peg that was just inside the door, and I heard Grace gasp. I turned to see what was wrong. She had taken maybe three steps inside the door and was staring at the entry way.
     "Grace? Are you ok?" I asked suddenly concerned.
     "It's. . .it's. . .wow. . ." She stammered.
     Just then I heard my mom coming down the stairs calling, "Heather? Sam? Is that you?"
     "Ya mom. We're in here!" Heather called back.
     Then I saw her as she reached the last step. My mother was a tall woman in her early forties. She has blond hair that is cut to her shoulders. She is always, like today, dressed in khakis and sweaters unless it was a special occasion. She looked at Heather and then at me. Then her eyes finally settled on Grace.
     "And who do we have here?" She asked clearly surprised.
     "Mom this is Grace. Grace Evans. Grace this is my mom," I said a little nervous about how my mom would react.
     "It's a pleasure to meet you dear," She said with a smile. 
     "It's a pleasure to meet you too Mrs. Mathews," Grace said smoothly.
     "Please call me Karen."
     Grace responded with a smile and then my mom said, "So what are you all up too?"
     "We just grabbed a bite to eat, and I wanted to show Grace around a little," Heather said.
     "You have a beautiful home," Grace said a little breathless again.
     "Thank you," my mom was all grins now. She loved talking about the house and how it had been kept in her family, and how she had remodeled it pretty much all by herself. Well, with my dad's help too of course.
     "Well can I get you guys something?" She asked politely.
     "Oh, no thank you," Grace said.
     "No I think we're good. Thanks mom," I said.
     "Ok then you kids have fun. And it really was nice meeting you Grace." Then she turned and headed towards the kitchen.
     "Well what should we show her first?" Heather asked me.
     "Um, I'm not sure. Why don't we just go out back," I suggested.
     "Sounds good to me," Heather said.
     Heather led the way down the hall. A few quiet seconds passed and then I felt someone slip their small, cool hand into mine as we walked. I looked over to see Grace smiling at me. I smiled back and gave her hand a little squeeze. We reached the sliding glass door, and Heather slid it open and we all walked through. I let go of Grace's hand momentarily to close the door behind us, but she was waiting for me when I turned around and I returned my hand to hers.
     Since it was still light out, we could see everything pretty clearly. The green lawn that stretched all the way around the house, the dock that our boat was tied to, the almost setting sun, and of course the pool and spa. 
     "Wow it's amazing out here too," Grace said to no one in particular. 
     Just then, I heard the back gate open. I turned to see my father walk in. He must have just gotten back from golf, because he was wearing one of his usual golf outfits and he was carrying his clubs. My father, unlike my mother, was in his late forties. His once black hair was graying on the sides. His mustache was growing again, and he was in good shape, believe it or not. He was wearing a white polo shirt and trousers along with his golf shoes.
     Heather turned and saw him come in.
     "Hi Daddy," She said enthusiastically.
     "Hey Dad," I said.
     "Ugh," he said as he put his golf clubs down. "I'm getting to old to carry those. Anyway, hello, hello," He sang. "How was your day?" he asked in his deep, slightly southern voice.
     "Pretty good. How was the golf match today?" Heather asked.
     "Better then yesterday's that's for sure. Although Gary still had the better game," he said sounding disappointed. He took golf so serious and after all these years, I have yet to figure out why.
     "And who is this?" He asked, referring to Grace.
     "Oh, uh, Dad this is Grace Evans," I said.
     "Grace Evans? That's a pretty name," He said.
     "Thank you Mr. Mathews," Grace said with a smile.
     "We were just showing Grace around Dad," Heather said.
     "Well that's great! Y'all have a nice time. It was a pleasure to meet you Grace," He said before turning away.
     "You too," Grace called after him. Then she looked at me and said, "I like your parents. Their great."
     "Thanks, I knew they would like you though," I replied cooly.
     "That's the biggest load of crap I have ever heard. You should have seen your face! You were as white as a ghost!" Heather said. She had always been good at reading people like books. You could try to hide it all you wanted, and your face could be a clean slate, and she could still crack you.
     Grace laughed thankfully and then said, "So what next?"
     Heather laughed a little too, and said, "Well this is about all there is to see out here. I want to go change into something a little more comfortable. Sam you had better drive Grace home. It was great meeting you, and I hope to see you soon." I could swear I saw Heather wink at Grace before hugging her and heading back towards the house. When she was inside I turned to Grace and said, "Ok so what's up with you and my sister? Are you two planning some kind of evil plan against me?"
     "Maybe. . . But that's for us to know and you to find out," She retorted.
     I could only laugh at that. She was looking at me with those intense eyes and it was hard to look away.
     "Do you want to go for a drive? To be honest, I would rather not take you home just yet if that's ok."
     "I would like that," she said and smiled up at me. I took her hand again and led her back through the house. I grabbed Heather's car keys off the peg, and then closed the front door behind me.

It was silent as I drove down town again. Grace was looking out the window at the shops that were beginning to close. We made our way past the main beach parking lot. I parked in the same spot as the day we went surfing and we got out of the car.
     "Come on," I said taking Grace's hand.
     "Oh hold on" She said. She reached down and unzipped her boots. She slid them off and pinched both in one hand. She set her bare feet against the sandy asphalt and took my hand again.
     Even though I was sure that she could have made her way down without my help, I held onto her hand and led the way. It was like a whole new world down by the water. It was so calm and peaceful. We climbed up on a huge flat rock over looking the water and the sunset, and sat down to watch.
     "It gets more and more beautiful every time I see it," She said.
     "Ya, it does," I said almost to myself.
     It was silent for some time and I just stared at her. She was so calm sitting beside me watching the sun set. She must have felt my gaze because she turned to me and said, "What?"
     "Tell me about yourself," I said.
     "What do you want to know?"
     "Everything," I said. And I was serious. I wanted to know every little thing about her.
     "Ok fine. You get ten questions. Use them well," she said sarcastically.
     "What! Just ten! I have so many more than that."
     "Ok fifteen then."
     "Fine. First question. Do you have any siblings?"
     "Yes. I have a little brother, and three half siblings, Jacob, Addison, and Jude. Addi and Jude are twins," She started.
     "Go on," I encouraged her.
     "Well Travis is eight, and he's really into video games. Jacob is six and the twins are turning four in a few weeks. I live with my mom here in town. My dad and his wife Susan live a few minutes from here. We're all pretty close."
     She stopped and a few silent minutes went by. It looked as if she was trying to decide what to say next.
     "Next question," she said.
     "What kind of music do you like?" I asked.    
     "Pretty much anything. Although I really don't like rap." That was good because neither did I. Cassie was always playing rap. It was something else she thought would make her popular, though I doubt she really even liked it much.
     "Me too," I said. "What's your favorite color?"
     "Purple. I don't know why. I just always liked it."
     "What's your favorite animal?"
     "Dolphins. They're amazing."
     "Next question. What do you want to be when you are older?"
     "I want to be a Pediatric surgeon."
     "Wow, that's a big job. Working on kids."
     "I love kids."
     I stared at her for a few seconds and then she looked down and said, "Next question."
     "What's your biggest dream in life?" It was getting darker now and the stars were beginning to come out. Grace stretched herself out on her back and lay staring at the sky. It wasn't long before I was laying beside her holding her hand on the space between us.
     "How about we go with one of my dreams in life."
     "Ok what's one of your dreams?"
     "That counts as a question. Just so you know," she smiled and then continued, "I want to travel. I want to see the world, the culture, the people. I want to eat exotic foods and explore unknown civilizations."
     "I've always wanted to go to Europe. I've heard it's amazing there," I replied.
     "Europe is on my list. Though I've always wanted to go to Africa the most. I want to see the wide open plains and the strange animals."
     We sat there yet again in silence just staring at each other. Then she said, "You have eight questions left," and pulled away.
     "Ya. I guess I do," I said. "Can I save them? I want to think of some really good ones first."
     "Sure. I guess. If you want to," Grace said.
     By now the sun was completely gone, and the moon was making it's slow assent into the sky.
     "Wow we missed the sun set," I said mostly to myself.
     "Ya, I guess we did."
     "Do you want to head back?" I asked.
     "I probably should, ya," She said. I was disappointed by that answer.
     We both stood up and I hopped down from our perch. I took Grace's hand and was helping her down when she slipped right into my arms. Her hands were against my chest, and my arms wrapped tightly around her. She caught her balance and looked up at me. I could see the blush in her cheeks, knowing she was slightly embarrassed that she had fallen.
     And then I was kissing her. She put her arms around my neck, and I pulled her closer to me. I felt like I could stand here forever kissing Grace Evans. And when she finally pulled away, I disguised the unhappy look on my face with a wide grin. She had pulled away so quickly that I was left feeling empty. Like she had taken the only good part of me, and I knew then that I wanted to spend forever with Grace.
     Some people don't believe in love at first 'touch' or love in general. But I do. And I knew that I had found it with this amazing girl I hoped to call my future. 
I helped Grace back up the rocks and to the car. I opened the door for her and she got in. We drove in silence back through town and toward her house. I took her hand as she gazed out the window. The drive didn't take as long as I wanted it to, because in a matter of minutes we were back at her house. I let go of her hand long enough to open her door. She still had her shoes off as I walked her to her front door and she looked up at me.
     "I had a really great time tonight," she smiled at me.
     "So did I. Will I see you at school on Monday?"
     "Ya, I'll see you Monday."
     She turned to open the door, and I said, "Grace wait-" I wasn't sure what I was going to say I just knew that I didn't want to let her get away so fast.
     "Yes?" she said turning back to me.
     "I just . . . um . . ." I stammered.
     She came back and took my hand, and kissed me again.
     "Goodnight Sam," she said to me. Then she was gone and I was left alone on the front porch looking after her, hoping that she'd come back.

Chapter Nine


"What happened? Tell me everything!" Emma and my mom were both staring at me as I walked through the front door of my house. Of course they were both watching from the window as Sam and I drove up. I couldn't stop the wide smile from forming on my face as we sat in the living room, and I replayed the night for them.
     "Oh my gosh! She said that?" Emma asked me. I was telling them about Heather's suggestion in the restroom. "And I know for a fact that he likes you. A lot actually. I don't know you well enough to judge, so I won't. But know this. He probably won't admit just how much he likes you. So you have to be the one to make the first move. Got it?"
     "Ya she really said that. So I took her advice and I made the first move." I went on with my story. I told them about his house and how I had reached down and held his hand. I told them how Sam had wanted to go for a drive, and how we ended up at the beach. Emma wanted to know what we talked about, so I told her about the insightful questions he asked me and how he really had me thinking.
     So much happened tonight.
     I finally finished my story, and all was quiet. I looked up at their faces. They were both sitting on the couch looking at me with the oddest of expressions.
     "What are you looking at me like that for?" I asked.
     "You just seem really happy. That's all," My mom said, speaking for the first time since I got home.
     "I really am," I said and then added, "I really can't wait until Friday. It seems like a life time away."
     "We can get ready together," Emma said all smiles. "Do you guys mind if I crash here tonight?"
     "Of course not Emma. You know that," My mom said.
     "Well I'm going to go change. Goodnight Mom," I said, then looked at Emma and said, "Are you coming?"
     "What? Oh ya I'm coming. Sorry," She said.
     I looked at her face. She was somewhere else completely.

     We were walking up the stairs when I said, "What are you thinking about Emma?"
     "Who? Me? Oh nothing. Nothing."
     I knew that tone and I recognized her hesitant behavior.
     "Emma? Are you thinking about Jared?" I asked her.
     "Um . . . Ya. Maybe a little."
     I realized then that she never had told me about Jared, and how he had asked her to the Festival. We had both been to caught up with Sam. Or maybe it was me who was caught up with Sam. She had been excited for me, and I had brushed her news away without a second thought.
     We were in my room now. I tossed my bag to its usual spot on the floor. I put my boots away in the closet and walked over to where Emma was sitting on my bed, still in la la land.
     "Hey Em? You never did tell me how Jared asked you out."

     "Oh, it's not that big a deal."
     "Yes it is. I want to hear all about it."
     "Well, I see Jared everyday during passing period. He's usually with a group of friends, but yesterday he was alone. I was almost to the door of my next class, when I heard him calling after me.
     "'Hey! Emma right?' I was amazed that he even knew who I was. I looked up and he was standing right beside me. 'Hey' I said. 'Um, I was wondering if maybe you had a date to the Festival next Friday?' and I said, 'Um no I don't.' He looked at me and said with the cutest smile, 'Well would you like to go with me? To the Festival I mean.'
     "He was so nervous. I realized that he is actually really cute. I don't know why I hadn't noticed it before. Anyways I said, 'Ya. Ya I would love to go to the Festival with you Jared.' And then the bell rang and he said 'Great! I'll see you later then.' And then he walked down the hall.
     "Then at lunch just before you called me I found a note in my locker. It had Jared's number on it and it said, "Emma,
     I can't wait for the Festival on Friday. I'll pick you up around 6:00. See you soon!
     "Anyways that's about it I guess," Emma said with a shrug.
     "Em! That's great. I'm really happy for you!" I exclaimed.
     "So we both have dates to the Festival. This week is going to drag."
     "Ok so you're coming over here to get ready right? Or I could go over to your place. Which ever is fine with me," I said.
     "I think I would rather get ready here. My house can be a little hectic."
     "Ok then here it is," I said with a smile.

The week passed slower than either of us had expected. Although there was some interesting changes.
     On Monday morning, Emma and I were at our lockers before first period started. I saw Sam and his friends walk in like every morning. But instead of just walking  by, Sam, Jared and Brandon came and stood by us. Sam leaned against me and held my hand. He kissed me on the cheek and said, "Good morning."
     Emma was so surprised she almost fell over. Jared went to stand next to her and held her hand. I felt kind of bad for Brandon who was standing between all of us looking a little awkward.
     When the bell rang, Emma and Jared walked towards their classes still holding hands. Sam took my books from me and said, "Let me carry those." He held both of our books  in one hand and I reached for his other. We walked to class together and when we got there, Oliver looked . . . Smug? What was up with him?
     "Hey Ollie," I said a little suspicious.
     "Hey Grace. How was your morning?"
     "Surprisingly," I looked at Sam, and then at Oliver, "The best morning I've had in a long time."
     I let go of Sam's hand and took my seat. Class, of course dragged on. Eventually the bell rang and I grabbed my book and was about to head out the door when Sam reached for my hand. We went to our lockers and grabbed our books for our next class.
     "Come with me," He said. He lead me down the hall. We turned a few corners and passed people. We came to a stop in an abandoned hall on the other side of the school. No one every goes there. He pulled me to a stone bench and we sat down.
     "I come here sometimes. When I want to be alone. But today, I just want to be alone with you."
     He leaned in and kissed me. It was a few seconds before either of us could speak.
     "You know, I still have eight questions left," He said slyly.
     "Yes you do. What do you want to know?" I asked.
     "Question number eight. When is your birthday?"
     Well that was easy enough to answer.
     "April 22nd," I said.
     "That's a week after the Festival," Sam said.
     "When is your birthday?" I wondered.
     "Oh no. These are my questions. You'll just have to wait your turn," He said.
     "What? That's not fair!" I said.
     "Aw don't pout."
     "I am not pouting!"
     "Come here," he said with a teasing tone to his voice.
     He pulled me closer to him and kissed me again.
     When I looked up at him I cleared my face and was very serious.
     "Sam, I have a question and I need you to be serious for a minute.
     He caught my tone and said, "What is it Grace? What's wrong?"
     "Sam, how many other girls have you brought here? I mean I guess I really don't care, I was just . . . curious. Ya know?”
     He looked at me for a fraction of a second and then he was kissing me.
     He pulled away and said, "None. I swear you are the only girl I have ever brought here. Scouts Honor." He held up his hand.
     "Ok, I believe you."
     "Because of my persuasive kiss, or because I'm telling the truth?" he asked.
     "If I say both, does that make me a bad person?" He laughed at my response.
     "Hmmm," He said, "I don't know. I'll have to think about it.
     "Uh! Are you serious?" I almost shrieked.
     "Kidding! Kidding! Calm down!"
     "That wasn't very funny," I said adding a slight pout to my face.
     Just then the bell rang. "So I'll see you at lunch?" I asked hoping he would say yes.
     In answer, he pulled me up from the bench and kissed me gently again. He walked me back to the main hallway and then turned into his next class.

The next few days were pretty much the same as Monday had been.
     I picked Emma up in the mornings same as always. We met Sam, Jared, and Brandon in the parking lot and they walked us our lockers. We all grabbed our things for class and then the bell would ring. Sam would walk me to our first class, and we would say hello to Oliver. Then, Sam and I would head to our bench as soon as the bell for break rang.
     Eventually it would be lunch, meaning that half of the day would be over. Sam and I would sit with Oliver, Brandon, Jared, and Emma at our usual table and eat. After that, the day dragged. The only thing that got me through my mornings was that I would get to see Sam soon. I didn't have that luxury in the afternoons. I had a few classes after lunch, and then I would meet Emma and we would drive home.
     By Friday though, I was beginning to feel as though the Festival would never come; or not come fast enough. We were all at lunch, when the topic abruptly changed to that of the Festival the next night.
     "So Brandon," Jared started, "You never did tell us who you were taking to the Festival tomorrow night."
     "Oh, uh I asked Taylor Williams. She's in my Bio class. Who are you taking Oliver?"
     Everyone turned to looked at Oliver.
     "Kelly Handler. She's uh, in my English class."
     "Kelly Handler huh?" Emma said.
     "That's great you guys!" I said with a smile.
     "Let's all hope that we don't get a repeat of last year. Remember? The Senior prank?" Sam said.
     The Spring Festival is a long time tradition in this town. It's held on the beach every year. There's food, dancing, fireworks, games, and of course the bonfire. The whole town goes and it is a very big thing. Kids play in the water and people roast marshmallows when it gets dark. Elderly couples sit and watch the waves and the sunset. Families set out blankets in the sand with their coolers and umbrellas. Months of planning go into this every year. So people tend to get upset if you mess around with the Festival.
     Every year the Senior class pulls a prank. Now the prank is supposed to pulled on campus, so nothing in town gets damaged. Well, the Seniors wanted their prank to be legendary. So the day before the Festival, the Seniors handed out flyers that said the Festival had been canceled. The Festival has never been canceled. The next day, the committee went out to the beach to set up, only to find out that no one was coming because they had been told that it had been canceled.
     The town was furious when they found out that no one was really canceling the Festival. There wasn't really anything our principal could do because the Seniors were graduating anyway. That prank will never be forgotten.
     "I'm really excited,"  Emma was saying to Jared.
     "Em, you're still coming to my house to get ready right?" I asked.
     "Oh ya, I'll be there around four."
     "Jared and I will pick you up at six then?" Sam asked.
     "Six is fine with me, Emma?"
     "Yep, six it is."

The rest of the afternoon dragged. I went from class to class trying to find a way to make the time fly. But of course, nothing helped.
     I met Emma in the parking lot like every other day, and we drove home. She was literally bouncing in her seat.
     I dropped her off at her house and then pulled into my driveway. I said hello to my mom on my way up the stairs. Travis stopped me in the middle of the hallway.
     "Hi Grace," He said.
     "Hi Trav," I said. I walked the rest of the way to my room and set my bag on the floor. Travis flung himself down onto my bed.
     "So, are you going to the Festival tonight?" he asked me.
     "Ya," I said reluctantly. "Why?"
     "Well I was wondering..." He started.
     "Hey guys!" Emma said walking through my bedroom door with a black garment bag in her hands.
     "Hi Emma," Travis said while pushing his glasses up onto his nose. They were constantly sliding down his face.
     "Travis, what do you want to ask me?" I was getting a little annoyed, and I had to get ready.
     "Well, could I maybe go with you? Please? I won't bug you, I just need a ride. Kevin and his family are going to be there and mom said I could sit with them," He pleaded.
     I looked at Emma. Sam and Jared were supposed to pick us up.
     "Oh why not. We can meet them there. Just call Sam and tell him," Emma said.
     "Ugh. Oh all right. Travis, be grateful Emma loves you so much."
     He jumped of the bed yelling, "Yay! Thank you, Thank you!" and hugging Emma and then me. I dug through my bag trying to find my phone. A few minutes later I heard the dial tone.
     "Hello?" I heard Sam say into his receiver.
     "Hey Grace, I'm gonna change in here," Emma said heading for the bathroom.
     "Ok," I said to Emma.
     "Sorry," I said to Sam, "um, listen. We have a change of plans. My mom needs me and Emma to take Travis to the Festival with us, so we are going to have to meet you and Jared there," I said.
     "No problem. We will wait for you in the parking lot," He said.
     "Ok, thanks. We'll see you soon then."
     "Ya see you soon."

Chapter Ten


Tonight is our first real date, I thought. Even though Grace and I have sort of been a thing lately, I still felt nervous as I picked Jared up from his house and drove the familiar route to the main beach parking lot.
     "Hey man. Are you ok?" Jared asked me.
     "Oh, sorry. Ya, I'm fine."
     "What? No. Why would you think that?" I tried to cover. But Jared knew me too well to buy it.
     "Ya, me too. I don't know why though. I've spent almost a whole week with Emma. I. . .I don't know."
     "Don't worry about it. Its gonna fine."
     The rest of the drive was spent in silence as Jared and I looked out the windows at all the deserted shops, that were closed for the festival.

We were playing a quick game of beach volleyball with a group of kids when she pulled in to the parking lot. She got out of the car; her curly brown hair blowing in the wind. She was beautiful. I couldn't stop looking at her.
     I had totally forgotten that I was playing a game when then the volleyball came flying over the net and slammed into the side of my face. My head was filled with instant pain as I tumbled backward and I heard Grace scream my name. Then her hands were on my face calling my name.
     Sam? Sam? Can you hear me Sam? It was like an echo in the back of my head. I reached with my right hand and touched my forehead. "Ughhh," I moaned. And then I heard it. Grace started to giggle. I opened my eyes and saw her sitting next to me in the sand. The sun was shining around her head, and all I could see was her staring down at me.
     "Hi," I said still laying on my back.
     "Hi," she said back.
     "You look great."
     "Thanks. Here let me help you up."
     Once I was back on my feet again, she walked me over to her car, where Jared and Emma were standing. Jared had a smirk on his face. He was probably enjoying the fact that I had just fallen on my back in front of the entire town. . .and Grace.
     "Shut up Jared," I growled.
     That really got him laughing. I turned my head away only to see a pair of emerald green eyes identical to Grace's behind a pair of glasses. An eight year old boy was sitting in the driver's seat of the Jeep. Grace saw me looking and said, "Travis come here for a second."
     The little boy got out of the car and came to stand beside Grace.
     "Trav, this is Sam. Sam this is my little brother Travis." Travis looked at me for a second and then shrugged.
     "So you're Grace's new boyfriend," he said.
     "Travis!" Grace exclaimed.
     "Hey," I said with a smile. Travis had a look of amusement on his face as he turned to his sister and said, "What? It's true isn't it?"
     I started laughing as Grace looked away.
     "So where are you supposed to meet Kevin and his family?" Grace asked her little brother impatiently.
     "Um, I don't really know. I just figured I'd walk around until I found them," Travis said shrugging his little shoulders again.
     "Ugh! Travis! Alright, I guess we should start looking for them," She said. Then she turned to me and said, "I'm really sorry. It will only take a few minutes. I'll be right back."
     "That's ok. I'll come with you," I looked at Jared and Emma who were talking quietly together. "We'll catch up with you guys later."
     They didn't hear a word I'd said. They just kept talking. So Grace, Travis and I started down the beach. I reached for Graces hand, while Travis eyed me. To try and break the ice, I said, "Hey Travis, do you want some Cotton Candy?"
     His eyes lit up and Grace laughed. I walked up to the counter and asked for two bags of Cotton Candy. I handed one to Travis, and one to Grace. The cotton candy was bigger than his head.
     "Is this all for me?" He asked in astonishment.
     "Ya. Dig in little man," I said with a smile. 
     He tapped on Grace's shoulder and she leaned down so he could whisper in her ear. . . except I could hear every word he said. 
     "I think I'm gonna like him. . . If he keeps this up."
     I held back my laugh and Grace smiled up at me. She took my hand and we started down the beach again. We eventually found Travis's friend and his family. I hung back while Grace talked to the kid's mom. But again, I could hear every word.
     "Are you on a date with Sam Mathews?" She asked Grace.
     "Ya," Grace said with a smile. She turned around and looked at me, and I waved.
     "Oh honey that's great. You kids go and have fun. We can drop Travis off on our way home so don't worry about him."
     "Thanks again Mrs. Andrews. I really appreciate it." Grace started walking back towards me, and I could feel a pair of eyes boring into my back. I handed Grace the cotton candy and we made our way back down the beach.

When we got back to her car, Emma and Jared were no where to be seen. Oh well. We'd have fun without them. 
     "So, we have now walked down the beach and back, and eaten cotton candy. What do you want to do now?" I asked.   
     She thought about it for a minute and said, "Well we could play some games, and maybe ride a few rides. It is a festival after all. There's lots of things to do."
     "Games and rides it is," I said with a smile. She took my hand, and we walked over to the ball toss. I won Grace a stuffed snake, that she slid around her neck. Then she half ran over to the bumper cars, dragging me behind her. She is a great driver.
     After we rode the bumper cars, I suggested that we ride the Ferris Wheel at least once.
     "Um, no I um, why don't we go to the carousel?" She was fidgeting with her stuffed snake. Then I understood.
     "You're afraid of heights aren't you?"
     "What? No. That's ridiculous," She said.
     "Ok fine then. Let's go," I said because I didn't think she would agree.
     She must have realized that I was only testing her, because she straightened her shoulders and said, "Fine. Let's go."
     We gave the man at the gate our tickets, and climbed into the box. Grace immediately gripped the metal bar that was lowered in front of us. I stifled a laugh and said, "Ready?" She nodded, but I could tell she was scared. I gently unclenched her white knuckles and held them between my hands. Then we started to move upward. I let go of her hands when we were about half way up and she put them back on the bars gripping with all of her strength. I threw my arms up in the air. I loved the feeling of being in the air. Hovering above the world.
     "Stop moving!" She shrieked at me. That was it. I started laughing, which shook the compartment more.
     "Sam! I'm serious! Stop!" I was really freaking her out now. I stopped laughing and said, "Hey, hey look at me."
     She turned her head ever so slightly. It was almost like she couldn't look away from the bar that held us in.
     "Grace. Look at me." I pulled her face around. "Do you honestly think I would let you fall?"
     "No I guess not."
     "Ok then. Let go of the bar and try to enjoy the ride. Its beautiful up here."
     She slowly released her grip on the bar and relaxed a little.
     "See. This isn't that bad is it?"
     "I guess not" she mumbled.
     That made me laugh again. She playfully smacked me with the end of her snake and said, "Its not funny!"
     But she was laughing too. So I said, "Yes it is. You know it is."
     Then she kissed me and laid her head on my shoulder. We spent the rest of the ride pointing out things we saw from our box. With her head on my shoulder, we began our descend. 
A little while later, after we had played every game, and rode every ride, we finally ran out of things to do. It was getting late, so I suggested that we grab something to eat before the fireworks started. We were sitting in Grace's car, resting our feet. Grace had taken off her shoes and had thrown them into the back seat. One was on the floor, while the other hung off the edge of the back seat. 
     "What do you want me to get you?" I asked even though I already knew the answer.
     "Just a cheese burger and fries," She said with a smile.
     "Ok, I'll be right back."
     I got out of her car and walked over the concession stand where Bill and Sydnee had set up. I ordered our food and went to sit at one of the empty tables to wait. I looked out at the ocean and the setting sun. I thought about all the time I had spent with Grace in the last week. Then I started to think about the time I could spend with her in the future.
     That's when I looked over my shoulder and saw Cassie standing next to Grace's window.

Chapter Eleven


I was sitting in the front seat of my Jeep, watching Sam walk away, when I started thinking about everything that had changed in just the short time of a week. All the things I didn't have last month, all the great memories I might not have ever known if I hadn't dropped my pen that day in the hallway. Its funny how everything works out.
     I looked out over the water and I watched the birds fly, and the clouds that drifted past. It was a peaceful scene. I was in a sort of trance. My own happy, blissful moment. I breathed in the salty sea air, and let all my muscles relax. I leaned back in the driver's seat and closed my eyes. I was in my happy place. Then it all changed.
     I heard someone clear her throat and looked up. Cassie Adams was standing outside my window. Her clique of friends was standing at a distance but close enough to listen.
     "Um hi," I said, unsure what she wanted.
     "You're Grace Evans right?" Cassie said with an edge of perkiness to her words.
     "Uh, ya. . ."
     "Look, I just came to warn you. Warn you about Sam."
     "Why? Warn me about what?"
     "Look I know he's hot and all. But he's trouble. He does the same routine with all the girls."
     "What routine?" I asked.
     "He took you to dinner with his sister right? Then he took you back to his place to meet his parents then he took you for a drive. Then a few days later he takes you to the bench at the other side of school. He asks you to come with him tonight. He rides rides with you and wins you prizes. Then a few great months together and he'll dump you and never look back."
     I didn't know what to think. Sam had told me I was the only girl he had ever done any of those things with. But how would Cassie know about them unless she had done them too?
     "Listen to me or don't. It's your call. I just thought I would let you know before you fall for him just as hard as the rest of us."
     "Thank you for your concern but I think I can take care of myself," I snapped. 
     Cassie turned and walked away. I looked back at Sam. He was at the counter paying for our burgers. What was I supposed to think? Everything Cassie had said was true. Sam had done all those things with me, well except the whole dumping thing. 
     He was making his way back across the beach. What was I supposed to say to him? He reached the passenger side door and got in. 
     "Hey, I got the food," He said. 
     My face must have given me away, because he stopped short and said, "Grace what's wrong?"
     I didn't answer. I couldn't answer. 
     "Grace? I saw you talking to Cassie. What did she say to you?"
     Again, no answer.
     "Grace-" He reached for me but I flinched away. I reached for the door handle and got out of the car. I started walking down the parking lot. Away from the beach.  

"Grace! Grace wait up! Come on. Please!" Sam was a few paces behind me. I knew I was being ridiculous. Where was I planning to go anyways? My car was back at the beach and I had now reached the end of the parking lot and was walking down the main road. I didn't care where I ended up. I just knew I had to get away from here. From him. I felt Sam's strong hand grab my arm and spin me around.
     "Can you please just listen to me."
     "Why? Why should I listen to you. You've been lying to me this whole time. Just leave me alone."
     "Lying to you? About what?"
     "About everything! Everything you've said to me in the last few days has been a lie."
     "Grace I've never lied to you. I meant everything I said."
     "I don't want to be just another girl you date and then dump. I don't want to do the same things with you that you've done a thousand times before with a thousand other girls."
     "Is that what you think?" He said. He put both his hands on either side of my face. I tried to turn away but he held my face securely. 
     "Grace, whatever Cassie said to you, its all a lie. I swear."
     "So you've never taken other girls to dinner with your sister, and then taken them home to meet your parents? Or told them that you couldn't stand to be away from them? You've never taken other girls to that stupid bench at the other side of the school and-" Just then Sam pulled my face to his and kissed me right there in the middle of the street. I temporarily forgot everything that had happened in the last few minutes. I forgot that I was mad at Sam. I forgot what Cassie had said and for a second, I didn't care what had happened between Sam and other girls.
     "Grace," he said, "I could care less about all those other girls. I just want to be with you."
     I didn't say anything. I just listened. He looked so sincere. Like he meant what he said.
     "I love the way you make me smile whenever I see you. I love that you're passionate about so many things. I love that you would run around barefoot if you could," he said looking down at me bare feet on the asphalt. "I love that you keep me up all night thinking." I could feel a tear running down my cheek. He gently wiped it away and continued. "But most of all I love that you're the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about before I fall asleep at night. Every time I see you-" But this time it was my turn to interrupt. As I stood in the middle of the road kissing Sam, I realized that it didn't matter what had happened. I didn't care anymore. 
     He rested his fore head against mine and I said, "I'm sorry." Everything he had just said to me, explained exactly how I felt about him. I started to giggle and he looked at me like I was crazy.
     "What's so funny?" he asked.
     "Oh, nothing. I. . .just feel exactly the same way." I smiled at him and he took both of my hands in his.
     "I love you Grace Evans." He said.
     Most people are shocked into silence when someone tells them 'I love you' for the first time. Not me.
     "I love you too Sam Mathews." And I meant it. Most people think that teenagers don't know what real love is. "You don't know the first thing about love" is a common phrase on T.V. But I didn't care what the world thought of kids and love. I believed in it. I believed that I had found it with Sam.
     He put his arm around my waist and pulled me close to his side as he led me back towards the beach.

Sam and I spent the rest of that evening laying on the beach. We talked for hours. Every topic imaginable. When we ran out of things to say, we just stared up at the stars. His arm was still wrapped around me and I dreaded the thought of him ever letting me go. As we lay in silence we watched as the first firework of the night lit up the sky. There were 'ooos' and 'awwws' from the surrounding families and locals all gathered on the beach. I knew that the night was almost over. But there was a part of me that knew it was never going to end.

Chapter Twelve


It was almost physically painful to walk Grace back to her car after the fireworks were over. We walked hand in hand back down the beach and to the parking lot. She stood by her door, looking up at me with those beautiful eyes. We didn't say anything for a long time.
     "Sam, I'm-I'm sorry about earlier. I shouldn't have listened to Cassie or let her get under my skin. I should have just asked you about it. I completely over reacted and I'm sorry," she said all at once.
     "It's not your fault. That was just Cassie stirring up trouble. Don't worry about it. Ok?" but I could tell by the way her eyebrows were knit together that she was still worrying about it. So I pulled her to me and kissed her goodnight. "Ok?" I asked again.
     "Ok," she said a little shyly. I hadn't even noticed Jared and Emma walk up to the other side of Grace's car to say their goodbyes. After a few minutes Jared went and stood at the hood of the car looking at Emma as she buckled herself in. I let go of Grace and opened her door for her.
     She climbed up into her seat and said, "Talk to you tomorrow?"
     "Ya, I'll talk to you tomorrow." I said with a smile. I closed her door and went to stand beside Jared. We both watched as she and Emma backed out of the parking space and drove away.
      Jared and I stood there, probably looking ridiculous with our hands in our pockets, long after they were gone. We walked back to my car in silence.
     The drive back to Jared's house was a quiet one. We were both thinking about our nights. Our amazing girlfriends. . .if that's was Grace was . . .my girlfriend. She was right? I decided I liked the way that sounded.

I had a hard time sleeping that night. All I could think about was Grace, and our night together. We had so much fun just being together. We didn't have that tension that Cassie and I always had. We just laughed and talked. And for some reason, just talking and laughing seemed like enough to me. It was early the next morning that I decided sleep was never going to come. It was still pretty early for a Saturday. I realized that it had not been that long ago that I was up this early thinking about Grace. That was the day we had dinner with Heather.
     Heather was already gone for her run by the time I got up and headed for the shower. She was back though, when I went down to get something to eat. We sat at the counter and I told her everything about the previous night. She listened quietly, nodding here and there. It was only after I had finished talking that she muttered something under her breath about Grace and taking her advice. I had no idea what that meant, and I didn't ask.  
     Then she looked up at me and said, "I'm really happy for you Sammie. You look. . .happy."
     "I am happy. It's a strange feeling; to be this happy. But I like it."
     Heather headed up to her room and left me in the kitchen and to my thoughts. I sat there for a long time. Even after I had finished eating, I still sat there lost in thought. It wasn't until ten o'clock when my phone rang and brought me back to reality.
     "Hello?" I answered.
     "Hi. It's me." I heard Grace say. "I was wondering. . .do you have any plans today?"
     "No," I said, "I don't think I'm doing anything today. Why?" I was so glad to hear her voice.
     "Well, this may sound weird but-" I remembered saying something close to that the first time I called her. "well I have to go to my dad's house today and watch my brother and sisters. And I was wondering if maybe you wanted to come with me?"
    "That sounds like fun, but will your dad mind if I'm there?" For some reason I wanted her dad to like me.
     "I already checked with him and he said it was fine. I'm taking Travis up there with me. Usually we just watch movies when I babysit. It will be a pretty relaxing day. But if you don't want to, its fine."
     "No it sounds like a lot of fun," I said honestly.
     "Ok I'll pick you up in say, twenty minutes?"
     "Sounds good. I'll see you then."
     We hung up and I ran up the stairs to get ready to go. I passed Heather's room on my way and she stopped me.
     "Whoa! What's the rush little bro?"
     "Grace just called. She has to babysit and wants me to tag along," I said.
     "Oh, well have fun."

Twenty minutes later, the door bell rang, and I almost tripped on my way down the stairs. Unfortunately, Heather beat me to it.
     "Grace! It's great to see you again!" she said enthusiastically. She gave Grace a hug and opened the door wide. "Please, come in."
     "I'd love to Heather, but my brother is waiting in the car," As if he heard himself being mentioned, Travis rolled down the back window and waved at us, his glasses falling down the bridge of his nose.
     "Oh well, another time then. You guys have fun."
     I walked with Grace down the front steps and to the open window where Travis was all but hanging out.
     "What's up little man?" I asked him.
     "Nothin much," he replied. I climbed in beside Grace in the passenger's seat. Once we were out of my drive way and heading out of town, she turned on the radio to her and Emma's favorite channel and then she took my hand on the center consul. I could hear the noises Travis's game was making from the back seat. I turned around and said, "What are you playing?"
     "This really cool game Grace got me for my birthday. Its about these robot warriors. I'm a good guy of course. I have to go on an intergalactic mission to track down all the bad robots and destroy them," his eyes were wide and he spoke with excitement. "I could show you sometime."
     "It sounds cool," I said. "What do you like to do besides play video games?"
     "I don't know. Lots of stuff. I ride my bike, and I play baseball," He said.
     "And annoy Grace," Grace said with a smile.
     "That last one sounds like the most fun," I said. She gave me a playful punch in the arm.
     "Its soo much fun annoying Grace," He said laughing now. "This one time, I brought my pet frog in from his cage outside and I put it in her bed. You should have seen her face. She screamed pretty loud too."
     "I didn't know she was afraid of frogs," I said. I was enjoying this ride a little to much. Travis was having fun telling me about all the pranks he'd played on Grace over the years.
     He was in the middle of telling me about another, this one more embarrassing than the last, when she said, "We're here!" and pulled into the driveway of a very nice looking house.
     She barely had time to put the car in park, when I saw two sets of small hands press against the glass of her window. She opened her door and got out and was immediately tackled by two little girls. "Gracie! Gracie!" they screamed in unison. I could tell by Grace's reaction that this was probably a routine.
     She tried to get up, but the two little girls wouldn't let her. "Addi, Jude, where is-" A little boy came running out of the house and sat on top of them. "Here I am!" he said.
     I got out of the car and watched as Travis ran up to the door and yell, "Dad! Susan! We're here!" The kids were starting to roll off of Grace and I went over and offered her my hand. I helped her up and she stood beside me and pointed to the kids. "These are my siblings. This is Jacob," She said as she put her hand on the little boy's head. Jacob had light brown hair and freckles across the bridge of his nose. He held his hand out to me very formerly. "Hi," he said. I shook his small hand while Grace continued.
     "And these are my twin sisters, Addison, or Addi, and Jude. Guys, this is Sam Mathews." I looked down at the two identical girls. Their wavy light blond hair fell just below their shoulders and they wore matching outfits in two different colors. The one in pink was Addison, and the one in purple was Jude. They both had the front of their hair clipped back so it was out of their faces and they both had freckles like their brother.
     "Hi," I said, "it's nice to meet you."
     "Sam are you Gracie's boyfriend?" one of the girls, Addison I think, asked me.
     Grace and I looked at each other, "Well-" She started. 
     "Grace!" A tall man said walking out of the house with Travis and a woman by his side. 
     I could see she was thankful for the distraction. "Hi Dad," She said giving the man a hug. "Dad, this is Sam Mathews. Sam, this is my dad." Mr. Evans was a tall but thin man with brown hair like both of his sons. He looked like a nice guy. He wore jeans and a t-shirt and he looked very relaxed.  
     I held out my hand and said, "Its nice to meet you Sir."
     "Please, Sam call me Mark. It's nice to meet you too son." 
     "And this is my step mom Susan," Grace said. Susan was a little shorter than her husband and she had light blond hair identical to that of her daughters. It went just below her shoulders. She was thin with blue eyes which highlighted the light freckles that dotted her nose. She had a very warm smile on her face as I greeted her.
     I shook her had and said, "Its nice to meet you ma'am."
     "Please honey, I'm not old enough to be a 'ma'am' yet. Susan will be just fine." I nodded my head and smiled.
     "Alright then should we go inside?" Her dad asked.
     We followed him inside and the kids seemed to disappear, but only for a few minutes.
     "Alright, well you know the drill. We aren't sure when we'll be back. You don't have any plans for later do you?" her dad asked. Grace looked at me and I said, "No, I think I'm good."
     "Great then we will see you when we see you."
     Grace said goodbye to her parents and then they were gone and the kids were swarming us.
     "Grace," Jacob said, "It's my turn to pick the movie right?"
     "Ya I think Addi and Jude picked the movies last time. So why don't you and Travis go pick one?" Grace said as the boys ran off. "And you two," she said tapping both girls on their noses, "Go find a place to sit while Sam and I make popcorn."
     We went to the kitchen and I stood by the counter while she moved around getting bowls and bags of popcorn from the pantry. "Need help?" I asked her.
     "No, I think I'm good. Thanks though."
     I didn't know what to do so I went and stood next to her while she put the bag of popcorn in the microwave. She pulled herself up onto the counter while she waited for the timer to go off. I went and stood in front of her. We didn't say anything for a minute, she just looked at me.
     "So, about a few minutes ago. . .you know, when Addison asked if you were my boyfriend. . ." she trailed off.
     "Ya, what about it?" I asked.
     "Well, I was just wondering. . .are. . .you?"
     I answered her with a kiss. We both jumped when the timer went off.
     "Good," she said, "I was hoping that was gonna be your answer." She hopped off the counter and opened the microwave. She emptied the bag of popcorn into the first bowl and said, "would you take this to them while I start this other bag?"
     "Sure," I said taking the bowl and walking into the living room where Travis, Jacob, Addison, and Jude were all sitting on the floor in front of the T.V. patiently waiting for us to start the movie. I set the bowl on the floor and they all scooted into a half circle around it. "Here you guys go."
    Jude, or I thought it was Jude, tugged on my pant leg and shyly said, "Thank you Sammie." I smiled at her and she giggled and went back to eating the popcorn.
     I half sprawled myself on the couch waiting for Grace so we could start the movie. After a few minutes she came in and I was about to move so she could sit down when she said, "No, you're fine." At first I thought she was going to sit somewhere else, but she sat down on the couch and snuggled up against me. She grabbed the remote and pressed play.

Chapter Thirteen


 It was weird having Sam in my dad's house. Weird in a good way of course. I loved seeing him laugh at the cheesy kid movie we were watching. It felt. . .right with him here. I don't really know how to say it better.
     It wasn't long after we started the movie that we all needed more popcorn. We left the kids on the living room floor while we went to the kitchen. Sam stood by the counter again as I put the first bag in the microwave.
     "Thanks for coming with me," I said.
     "Thanks for asking me to come with you," He said. I don't really know why I still got butterflies when I talked to him. I guess I still couldn't believe that he was here, with me. He was MY boyfriend. It all just felt so unreal.
     He walked over to where I stood and kissed me. After a few seconds, I could swear I felt something pulling on my pant leg. I looked down and realized it was a someone. Jude had come into the kitchen and was now standing beside me with her hands in the air. I looked at Sam and smiled. He bent over and picked her up. She started to play with his face and giggle. I went to the microwave and took the bag out.
     "Jude,  can you take this to the living room please?" I asked her.
     She nodded, "can Sammie come wit me?"
     "Sure," he said. I handed him the popcorn bowl and he took Jude to the living room. He was back in less than thirty seconds.
     "Um, where were we?" he asked me with a smile. I walked over to him, put my arms around his neck and we kissed again, in the middle of my fathers kitchen.
     I broke away to say, "You know, I think I may have some competition."
     He looked at me with a confused expression, "And who would that be?"
     "Well, I think my sister had a bit of a crush," I said with a smile.
     "Does she now? Well, we'll just have to show her that I'm yours, and you're mine."
     "I like that plan," I said. We kissed for another long minute and then we went back to the living room.

After the movie was over, I took the popcorn bowls to the kitchen. I was in the middle of washing the first one, when I felt someone wrap their arms around my stomach and kiss my neck.
     "Is this going to become a habit with you?" I asked, "Kissing me in the kitchen?" I heard him laugh. I ignored him the best I could as I continued to do the dishes.
     "I hope so," he said.
     "In that case, go see what they're all doing in there. Its suddenly very quiet."
     "Ok, fine. But we will continue this later," he said with a pout on his face and a sternness to his voice.
     It was quiet a little longer, then all of the sudden I heard yelling coming from the kitchen. I put down the dish rag and went to see what was going on. I started laughing as soon as I turned the corner. Travis, Jacob, Addi, and Jude had tackled Sam to the carpet and were now all sitting on him. He started to wrestle them all off of him but as soon as he got them off, they were back.
     "Ok! Fine! I give up!" he said out of breath.
     "Ok everyone up!" I said.
     "Grace can me and Jacob go play outside?" Travis asked me.
     "Sure but stay away from the pool and off of the trampoline until I come out ok?"
     "Ok," he said. He and Jacob bolted for the door.
     "Can we go outside?" Addi asked me.
     "Sure, I'll be out in a minute."
     The ran outside after the boys.
     "You're a great big sister," Sam said.
     "Well thank you," I said with a smile.
     "Did I, uh hear you say trampoline?"
     We went outside and helped Addi and Jude onto the Trampoline. They jumped and giggled and fell down. The boys got up there with them and Sam and I watched as they all chased each other around. 
     Sam took my hand and led me over to the trampoline.
     We all played outside for the next few hours. We went in when everyone started to get hungry. Sam and I made them all PB&J sandwiches. Addi and Jude normally took a nap in the afternoon so, while Sam cleaned up the kitchen, I took the twins upstairs to their room. I tucked each of them in and closed the door. The boys went to Jacobs room to play quietly.
     When I came downstairs Sam was standing at the sink washing the peanut butter and jelly knives. I walked over to him and put my arms around his stomach and kissed his neck.
     "Is this going to become a habit with you?" He asked me.
     "Hmmm," I thought, "I hope so." We both laughed.
     "Hello? We're home!" I heard my dad say on his way in the door.
     "We're in the kitchen!" I said.
     He and Susan came around the corner.
     "Hey guys," I said.
     "Hi honey, " Susan smiled. "Where is everybody?"
     "The boys are in Jacobs room, and the twins are taking a nap."
     "Good, good. Did you guys have fun?"
     "Ya we did," I said. We all sat down at the kitchen table and my dad started talking to Sam. It was nice to see my dad and Sam talking. I was glad to see they were getting along. After a few minutes, I said, "Well I should go get Trav."
     "Oh I can go get him," Susan said, "I want to check on the girls anyways."
     I gathered my stuff and Travis's while my dad said goodbye to Sam. Travis and Susan came down the stairs with Jacob not long behind them.
     "Well, honey thanks for watching them for us," My dad said.
     "You know I don't mind. It's a lot of fun seeing them," I said honestly.
     "Ok well you kids drive safe. Ok?" Susan said.
     We all piled into my car and I waved as I backed out.
I drove back to my house and parked in the driveway.
     "Mom? We're back from Dad's!" I yelled as we came in the front door.
     "Hey guys," My mom said coming into the room.
     "Hey Ms. Evans, " Sam said politely.
     "Hi Sam," my mom greeted him warmly.
     "We're just going to be in my room," I said as we headed for the stairs.
     We walked up our small flight of stairs and to my room. I dropped my bag by the door and went to my closet to put my shoes away. Sam lingered by the door, a little awkwardly. I took his hand and pulled him further into the room.
     "What do you want to do now? You don't have any plans do you?" I asked.
     "I don't have any plans. Why don't we call Oliver, Brandon, Emma, and Jared and see if they want to do something with us?"
     "We could go out to the beach? Surf a little, maybe eat dinner?"
     "Sounds great." he said.
     An hour later we were all making our way down the rocky path and to the water's edge. Emma and I set up all the chairs and food while the guys went in search of fire wood. It wasn't getting dark yet, but we would need it soon. Emma and I pulled on our wet suits and grabbed our boards.
     "Hey you two, wait up!" Jared yelled as the boys made their way back to the beach.
     "Nah! You guys are too slow! We'll see you out there!" Emma called back. We swam out far enough to not be over heard and sat on our boards in wait of the perfect wave.
     "So we never got to talk about last night. How was your date with Jared?" I asked her. Emma is my best friend, but lately I feel as if we are farther apart than ever before.
     "My date was great. We laughed the entire time, and we talked about so much. It was amazing. It felt great just being with him. You know? He's so easy to talk to and we have so much in common its ridiculous. How was your night with Sam? I saw Cassie talking to you. I thought it was weird. What did she want anyways?"
     I told her all about my date with Sam, and Cassie's warning that felt more like a threat every time I thought about it. I didn't really know what to think about that conversation but it didn't sit right with me. I trusted Sam when he said that they were completely over and he didn't know what she was talking about. I don't know. But like Sam said, she could have just been stirring up trouble.
     I had tried to push it from my mind last night as I lay awake thinking about Sam. It was still bothering me today at my Dad's house. I felt so much better being able to share all of that with my best friend. She sat quietly on her board while I talked. But when I finished I was the one who was sitting quietly while she thought about what I had said. I could see by the way her eyebrows were knit together that she was thinking really hard about the right thing to say to me.
     "Honestly Grace, I-I can't say I'm surprised that she approached you like that. I mean it's a totally Cassie thing to do. She wants you on edge. I think that she just said all of those things to you so you would break up with Sam. She's jealous. I wouldn't worry about it yet if I was you. I would just let it all play out. If he likes you as much as he says, and I think he does, he won't do anything stupid. And if you like him as much as your face is telling me you do, fight for him. Don't let her get to you."
     I was in shock. "Em, do you know that you're a great best friend? That may be the best advice you have ever given me. I love you," I said reaching over to hug her. I didn't realize until it was too late that we were to far apart and when I reached out to her, I fell over on my board and dragged her with me. We came up from under the water quickly and tried to climb back on our boards. When we were some what stabilized, we looked at each other in total seriousness. "Oops," I said. And that was it. We started laughing and it was a long time until we could get ourselves to stop. Seeing the guys back on the beach made us laugh even harder. They were standing there trying to hold back their amusement, but when they saw us start laughing, they joined in. I wouldn't have been surprised if we drew a crowd of curious people come to see what all the noise was for.
     We were in the water for a long time. We all surfed and splashed and laughed until it was getting to dark to see. Everyone laid their boards against the boulder and started to dry off. I took off my wet suite and threw my hair up into a wet, messy bun on the top of my head. It was suddenly really cold out and I remembered I had my favorite old hoodie in the back of my car.
     "Hey guys, I'll be right back. I'm just going to run up to the car and get a sweatshirt."
     "I'll come with you," Sam said. I decided to take my board up with me so I wouldn't have to worry about it later. Sam followed my lead and took his up too. It was nice to get away from all the noise and just be with Sam for those few short minutes. We strapped our boards to the top of my car in silence and I was just about to head back down when he grabbed my arm and pulled me back to him.
     "Let's not go back down just yet. Lets have a few minutes. Just us." I couldn't argue with him so I walked back to him and wrapped my arms around his neck. He walked backwards until his back was up against the passenger door. We just stood there and somehow I could tell we were both thinking about the first time I had brought Sam here. That night felt  like such a long time ago and really it was less than two weeks ago. People would probably say we were moving to fast. But to me it felt like we'd been together for a really long time.
     "We should probably get back down there. They might start to wonder where we are and come looking for us." Sam whispered.
     "Five more minutes won't hurt anybody" I whispered back.
"Where have you two been? We were about to come looking for you. We'd thought maybe you had run off together and we were just thinking how extremely lucky it was that we all brought our own cars" Emma said with a playfulness to her voice.
     "Uh, didn't you go up for a sweatshirt?" Oliver asked me. It was then that I realized that I had totally forgotten about the sweatshirt.
     "That's all your fault," I whispered to Sam with a smile.
     "Oh, I'll gladly accept responsibility for this. It was worth it," he whispered back. Then more loudly, "Oh, don't worry, I'll go back and get it for you."
     "My knight in shining armor," I said dreamily. Everyone laughed as I walked over to the fire, trying to get warm. Walking around in a wet swim suit at night is generally not a good idea for anyone.  
     I found a spot where Sam and I could sit in front of the fire. When Sam came back he sat behind me with his back against the giant log. I leaned back and laid my head against his chest. After a few minutes he rested his chin on the top of my head and wrapped his arms around me. It was strangely comforting laying on the beach with great friends, gorgeous waves, and an amazing boyfriend.

Chapter Fourteen


I kept thinking, while I was sitting there on the beach, how incredibly lucky I was. I was surrounded with friends and I had an amazing girlfriend. I was in a blissful heaven as I laughed at stories and jokes, and kissed the top of Grace's head. I didn't want this perfect day to end. These were the little things in life that really mattered. I had everything I could have ever asked for. I don't think I have ever smiled so much in such a short period of time.
     The conversation eventually died down as we all watched the deep blue waves roll in. We watched as the sun went down over the horizon and the magnificent colors made their way from the sky. I watched as each individual star revealed itself in the night sky. I was completely amazed by how beautiful they seemed to look. It was almost like someone had spilled silver glitter on a dark piece of fabric that stretched for miles and miles, never ending.
     Emma and Jared were curled up in front of the fire and were talking softly to each other. Oliver and Brandon were finishing off the last of the food and trying to figure out which one caught the best waves that afternoon. Grace and I were still lounging on the beach towel in front of the fire. She was leaning against my chest while my back braced against the giant log. I was enjoying her mere presence. It felt good knowing that she was mine, and I felt lucky to be the one holding her in that moment. It was company enough just sitting there. I loved that we didn't have to talk all of the time. We just understood each other. But when we did talk, she never ceased to surprise me.
     "What are you thinking about?" Grace asked me quietly.
     I thought about that for a minute. I was thinking about so much. "Everything," I replied honestly. "I'm thinking about you, and us. I'm thinking about all the time I've spent with you and how much I loved every minute of it. I don't know, I'm just thinking about. . .everything." That answer seemed to satisfy her and she was quiet for a while.
     "What about you? What are you thinking about?" I asked her.
     "Honestly? I'm thinking about the stars," She said lost in deep thought. "I remember that night we came here and we just laid on that rock looking up at the stars. We talked about so much, and you asked me questions about everything. I was thinking about how you still have eight questions left and about the first time you kissed me. I was thinking about how I fell and you caught me." She trailed off and was quiet for a while. She lightly drew shapes on my arm with her index finger as she talked.
     "And I was thinking  about how that was one of the best nights of my life."
     She twisted her body so she could look up at me. Even in the moonlight, she was gorgeous. I leaned down and kissed her. I wondered, sitting there on the beach kissing Grace, how I had not noticed her at school for all these years. I regretted all that lost time, but I was glad I was making up for it now.
     We all laid on the beach lost in thought. When it began to get to late, we gathered our belongings and headed up to the cars. I helped Grace load her things into the back of her Jeep and then we went to say goodbye to everyone.
     We didn't talk much on the drive to my house. But that was ok. I wanted this night to last forever, but it suddenly came to an end when I saw Grace press the button on the speaker and watched as my gate sprung to life. She drove up the driveway and parked in front of my house. She got out with me and helped untie my board. I laid it against the side of the car and looked at Grace. I could tell she didn't want to leave yet so I pulled her around the far side of the car, out of my family's prying view, and wrapped my arms around her waist.
     "Will you come by tomorrow?" I asked her, trying not to sound too desperate. I didn't like being away from her. When you think about it, that might come off as possessive or clingy, but it wasn't like that.
     "Sure," she said, "I don't think I have anywhere important to be tomorrow."
     "Good, then come bye in the morning. I know Heather would love to see you. Not to mention you're handsome boyfriend could be an added bonus," I said.
     "An added bonus hu?" She laughed. She reached her arms around my neck and pulled my face to hers. We stood in my driveway for another few minutes just kissing and talking. It was only when I saw our porch light flick on and off that I came back to reality. Of course my family was watching. They could be so embarrassing.
     "Looks like my time is up," I said.
     "Looks like it. I'll see you tomorrow?"
     She walked with me part of the way. I let go of her hand and she turned to get back in her car. I stood on the porch and watched her drive away.

"Grace! It's great to see you!" Heather said as I opened the door. She ran right to Grace and threw her arms around her. "Come in, come in!"
     "Hi," I said. I took her hand as Heather lead her to the kitchen.
     "Hi," she said.
     "Grace do you want something to eat or drink?" Heather asked.
     "No thanks. I'm good."
     I heard my mom coming down the stairs.
     "Mom! Grace is here!" Heather yelled.
     She walked into the kitchen and said warmly, "Grace it's nice to see you again."
     "Hi Mrs. Mathews," Grace said with a smile.
     "Now, now, its Karen remember."
     Grace nodded her head.
     "What are you kids up to today?"
     "We don't know yet. What do you want to do?" I asked Grace.
     She shrugged and said, "I don't care. Anything."
     "Ooh Grace! Why don't we go to the mall! It would be so much fun shopping with you!" Heather said, her excitement building.
     "That sounds like fun. We could get lunch too," she said. Then she looked at me.
     "Are you going to come with us?" Heather asked me.
     I thought about that for a minute. Did I really want to go to the mall? Did I want to spend hours sitting outside of dressing rooms? I did, however, want to see Grace today. So I guess that meant tagging along. "Sure why not," I said with a sigh. Grace half smiled at me as if to say, "Sorry". It wouldn't be that bad right?
     We left my house a few minutes later. I sat in the back seat and listened as my sister and my girlfriend talked about their favorite stores and brands. It was a little weird seeing then talk like old friends, but at the same time, it was nice and I was glad that they liked each other. Heather hated Cassie. They never went anywhere together and Heather avoided her at all costs. It was a nice change of scenery I guess.
     Grace and I walked to the entrance hand in hand with Heather right beside us. It was only a few minutes later that I truly regretted coming with them.

By lunch, they both had about a dozen or so bags from multiple stores. I was grateful for the break as we sat down in the food court with our food. Because there was so many different things to choose from, and they were all so close together, we all ended up at different counters.
     "Well that was fun!" Heather said between bites of Chinese food.
     "Seriously. We should do it again and Emma can tag along," Grace said eating the sub she had ordered.
     "Next time I think I may opt out, " I said laughing as I put hot sauce on my taco.
     "What do you guys want to do now?" Heather asked us.
     "We could go back to the house. We could go swimming?" I suggested. I would probably go for anything if it meant no more shopping.
     "That sounds fun," Grace said. "I'd have to run home really quick and grab my suit. I can drop off all these bags while I'm there."
     "We can run by there on the way back to our house?" Heather suggested.
     "That would be great. Thanks," Grace said. We all finished eating and I helped Grace with her bags as we walked back to Heather's car. As we drove to Grace's house, they talked about their purchases. You know, Girl talk, I guess. We pulled up in front of Grace's house and she said, "I'll be right back." She grabbed her bags from the back of the car and walked inside.
     "I like this girl Sam. I like her a lot," Heather said.
     I didn't know what to say, so I remained silent in the back seat.
     "Don't screw it up ok," Heather said.
     A few minutes later Grace returned with a beach bag in her hand. "Ok," She said as she buckled her seat belt. We drove back to my house in silence.
     "I'm just going to run up stairs and change," Heather said.
     When she was gone I turned to Grace and said, "Finally, we're alone."
     "Hi," she said again. I kissed her hello, since I wasn't able to do it this morning.
     "Hi," I said.
     We heard Heather yell from her room, "I'm almost ready! Hold on!"
     "I'd better go change," Grace said.
     "Down the hall. We'll be in the back yard when you're done," I told her.
     I ran up the stairs taking two at a time. I changed quickly and grabbed a towel from the linen closet. I walked to the back yard where Heather was waiting for us. I put my towel on one of the lawn chairs. and walked to the side of the pool. I dived in and came up quickly. Heather was sitting on the side with her feet in the water. I heard the sliding glass door open and watched as Grace walked over to the pool. She was wearing a emerald green bikini  and she had pulled her dark hair into messy bun. She came and sat beside Heather.
     "Are you two going to just sit on the side or are you actually going to get in the water?" I teased.
     "We'll get in when we feel like it," Heather said with a playful attitude.
     I swam over to where she was sitting and said, "How about you get in now?" She seemed to realized what I was about to do because she said, "Sam Mathews don't you dare."
     I grabbed her ankles and pulled her into the water so quick she didn't even have time to scream. She fell into the pool with a splash and I immediately started laughing. She came up with her hair wet and falling out of the hair tie and her glasses askew on her face. She looked angry which made it all the more funny. I was laughing so hard I was having trouble breathing.
     "You should see your face!" I laughed.
     "Oh, I'll get you back. You won't see it coming, and you won't know what hit you. But you wait. I will get my revenge," She said as she started to fix her messy wet hair.
     I looked at Grace. "And what about you? Are you going to get in, or will your fate be the same?"
     She stood up and walked to the diving board. She dived in and came up standing in the shallow end next to Heather.
     "I'm with Heather," She said playfully.
     I was starting to realize that their becoming friends was probably not such a good idea.
We all lounged in the shallow end listening to the music Heather was playing from her iPod speakers on the patio. Grace had her face turned towards the sun, letting it warm her skin. She seemed to be deep in thought and I could see a hint of a smile on her lips.
     She and Heather liked the same music apparently, because they both hummed the same parts and swayed to the same melody.
     "Oh! I love this song! Do you know it?" Heather asked.
     "Ya, isn't this that Christina Perri song? A Thousand Years?"
     In answer, both she and Heather started singing. "I have died everyday waiting for you. Darling don't be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years, I'll love you for a thousand more."
     I sat staring at Grace. I couldn't believe how amazing she sounded.
     "What?" she asked.
     I shook my head and smiled, "Nothing."
     "Well I don't know about you too, but my toes are completely shriveled. I'm going to get out," Heather said laughing and breaking my reverie.
     "Me too," Grace agreed.
     We all went inside and decided to make a snack after we changed. I ran upstairs and changed quickly. I took the stairs two at a time shaking out and brushing down my wet hair. I made it to the landing and expected to see Grace or Heather, but no one was there. I checked the kitchen, and still saw no one. I walked back towards the stairs and ran into Heather.
     "Where's Grace?" I asked.
     "I don't know, she's your girlfriend. I'll be in here looking for something to eat," She said motioning to the kitchen. I shrugged and kept walking. I saw that the bathroom door was open, meaning Grace was already changed and waiting somewhere.
     That's when I heard it, the soft tunes of the piano coming from the office. 'Who is that? No one ever goes in there.' I thought. The music was so beautiful and I had to stop and listen. I peaked around the door and saw Grace sitting behind the piano. I didn't know she played. . . but she looked so peaceful and I couldn't bring myself to interrupt. So I stood there watching her play. Then she started to sing.
     "Wow," I breathed.
     "Is that Grace?" Heather whispered behind me.
     We both stood there and listened to the beautiful girl I loved, play and sing a beautiful song in my family's office.

Chapter Fifteen


I was the first one finished changing. I pulled my wet hair out of its hair tie, and began to towel dry it as I walked out of the bathroom. I wandered through the entry way and looked at family photos hanging in elaborate frames on the white walls. I had seen the inside of Sam's house a few times and each time it left me breathless, but now I was alone and it felt like I was seeing it all for the first time. I noticed all the small details, and the hard work that went into making this house an amazing place to live. I noticed all the personality behind every decorative choice Mrs. Mathews made. It was truly an amazing house.
     One of the large oak door was standing ajar, and I wondered what was inside. I peaked around the door frame and was completely shocked at what I found. I opened the door farther and saw a large room with shelves covering three walls. The shelves had rows of old and new books. Every shape and every color. Every genre imaginable. There had to be hundreds.
     There was a large set of floor to ceiling windows draped with flowing white fabric. The room was light and open with the sun's rays streaming in. A large, magnificent desk and leather chair sat underneath the window facing the door. In another corner, there was a very comfortable arm chair made from the same leather as the desk chair. A tall lamp shadowed the chair, meant for late night reading.
     Finally, my eyes rested on the most beautiful thing about this whole house. The largest, most grand, grand piano. It must have cost a fortune. It was beautifully crafted and polished. The slick, black lid was propped open and I could see its mechanics. Its insides. The keys were whiter than the crisp white walls or the pressed draperies. The stool was made of black leather and it was begging me to come closer. I knew I shouldn't, this wasn't my house, but I couldn't help myself.
     I walked over to the bench and sat down, staring at my reflection. I ran my hands along the keys, filled with a sort of joy. I couldn't resist the urge to play.
     I pulled my hair into a low ponytail with the wet hair tie around my wrist. I stroked a few of the keys and heard the piano's sweet sounds. Then, I was over come with the urge to play more, and the music took over me. I remembered the song that Heather and I listened to a few minutes ago in the pool and started to play the introduction. I reached the first verse cue and started to sing softly under my breath. And I guess the more I played, and the farther I got in the song, the stronger my voice became.
     "Heartbeats fast, colors and promises, how to be brave, how can I love when I'm afraid to fall? But watching you stand alone, all of my doubt suddenly goes away somehow. One step closer. I have died everyday waiting for you. Darling don't be afraid I have loved you for a thousand years. I'll love you for a thousand more. . ."
     I stopped short when I heard someone's foot shuffle outside the door.
     I looked up to see both Sam and Heather standing in the doorway watching me, like it was their own personal concert. I was suddenly overcome with embarrassment and I could feel my cheeks flush bright red. I started to get up and close the lid hovering above the keys.
     "Wait, no, don't stop," Sam let out in a rush.
     "That was absolutely beautiful!" Heather gushed. "Keep going!" she ordered.
     "No, really, I, uh-" I stuttered. Both Sam and Heather walked farther into the room and Heather sat down in the large reading chair. Sam sat cross legged at her perfectly manicured feet. They both wore an expression on delight as they waited for me to continue.
     "Uh, ok I guess," I said as I turned back to the piano and lifted the lid that hid the keys. I took a few nervous breaths as I tried to calm myself, then I began where I left off. "Time stands still. Beauty in all she is. I will be brave, I will not let anything take away. . ."
     I sang until there were no more words to the song.
     Then, I sat and stared at the girl whose big eyes betrayed the adrenaline rush. And I waited.

It felt like hours, but it was only seconds. They had praised me before, but now they were silent. What were they thinking? Maybe they had changed their minds. They had spoken to soon and now that they had listened, they realized what a disaster I really was. I bet they regret even coming to see who was playing. Maybe they will start a conversation. Try to avoid the topic. That would be fine. I would refrain from playing or singing in their presence ever again. I wouldn't even hum!
     I let my mind drift to all the horrible insecurities I had harbored over the years, but it was all for nothing.
     With shining eyes, Sam sat silent and still next to his sister like a statue of a Greek God in a museum. "You're amazing," was all he said. And that was all I needed to hear.

Chapter Sixteen


Of all the girls Sam has dated in the last couple of years, I hated Cassi Adams the most. There was just something about her that I couldn't stand. I mean, besides the obvious flaws to her personality. She was and is still, the definition of "mean girl". Sure, she was attractive on the outside, if that was your kind of thing . . . but I still can't figure out what made my brother ever think about asking her out.
     Every high school has at least one girl. One girl who feels the need to make everyone around her miserable so she can feel good about herself. Eventually, after she has established herself as the Queen Bee, she begins to recruit. She gathers her posse. She forms her hive. And no one is ever the same again.
     Now, I was never in high school at the same time as Cassi Adams . . . thank God. I like to think I would have been gutsy enough to stand up to her. Put her in her place. But who knows, then, what I would have done. All I know, is I heard and saw some pretty messed up things connected with Cassi Adams.
     I absolutely hated the way she hung all over Sam, like someone was going to take him without her knowing. She was paranoid.
     I thought about pulling my hair out every time I heard her say, "Please? For me Sammie?" all google eyed. It was disgusting.
     But now, with Grace, things are great. The ghost of my brother has returned to his body. There's a spring to his step, and a shine to his eyes that was never there with Cassi. Grace makes him happy.
     I don't know how he could do any better. She's polite and smart. Clearly gifted and kind. She doesn't need much either, in the sense of possessions. Cassi always had to have the best of everything. The best car, and the nicest clothes. She had her hair and nails done every week. You would think she was living in Malibu.
     But Grace was happy with her almost vintage Jeep and her seemingly always messy surfer hair. She wore bathing suits under her clothes because she was always in the water. She's practical and modest and humble. She's everything Cassi isn't.
     She's everything Sam needs.
     She gets him in ways Cassi never could, or ever tried too. Cassie is all about Cassi all of the time.
     I never felt quite right around her either. I know it sounds like I'm building her up to be this awful person with a lump of coal for a heart, but that's what she is.
     What Cassi wants, Cassi gets. And what she can't get, she buys with her daddy's money. And what she can't buy with her daddy's money, she sabotages and meddles until it falls apart. If she can't have it, no one can. She said as much in the mall restroom.
     When I went shopping with Grace and Sam that Saturday, we took a lunch break. I got my food, and I found us all a table to sit at. I excused myself to use the restroom and I was just about to come out of my stall when Cassi and her friends came in. So I stayed where I was. Turns out they had been following us.
     "What does he see in her anyways?" one of her friends was saying.
     "She's not even that pretty. She's always so boyish looking," Her other friends chimed in.
     "Both of you shut up! I need to think," the oh-so-charming Queen snapped at her peasants.
     They stood in front of the mirrors for another few minutes checking their faces and their hair. I was still trapped in my stall, not daring to show myself. This could get interesting.
     "Well it's obvious. We have to do something. This can't go on. It's ridiculous," one of the girls said, despite Cassi's demand for silence. Brave move
     It suddenly got eerily quiet in the bathroom. Then, with a serial killer kind of sneer, Cassi said, "Oh, don't worry. This won't last long. If I can't have him, no one can. She's going to be sorry she ever looked in his direction. It's only a matter of time before things go south, and when they do. . . well, I best be there to pick up the pieces."
     They picked up their Prada purses and I heard the click click click of their stilettos as they left the bathroom.
     Since then, I've been on the lookout. I know I have to warn Sam and Grace but I think I should get some sort of proof. I know Grace would believe me, but Sam might think I'm just making it all up because I hated her so much. For now, I'll wait patiently in the wings.
     I just hope I can warn them in time.

Chapter Seventeen


Over the next couple of days, Sam and I fell back into our school routine. He met me in the morning and walked me to class. We saw each other during our morning break and during lunch we sat with our new found group of friends. I still have a hard time realizing that what was once my small table for three was now my very large table for an average of eight.
     I loved the sudden change my life had taken. I had a lot of new friends and I had an amazing boyfriend. Nothing had changed between Emma, Ollie, and me even after I had thought for sure we would drift apart so subtly that none of us would notice. You could say that I was blissfully floating along on cloud nine.
     However, even with all of this new found bliss, I couldn't escape the smallest of thoughts in the back of my head. A small thought implying that something about this blissful new life wasn't quite right. Every so often, I find myself going over the checklist in my mind, telling myself that the old me just can't be happy for the new me. Or maybe I just couldn't appreciate everything that I had. Then I would console myself saying things like, 'You're just being silly, and paranoid. Nothing is wrong with your life. Sit back and enjoy it.' But then, I would magically find myself back where I started, at the beginning of these crazy, self conscious thoughts.
     I would rant off the check list like this:
     1) Amazing family. . .Check
     2) Amazing friends. . .Check
     3) Good grades. . .Check
     4) Wonderfully sweet boyfriend. . .Check
     5) And as far as I know, no one had died. . .
     So what was this bizarre feeling I had?
     I couldn't put my finger on it. But if I had to guess, and I know this will sound totally crazy, but for some reason, my thoughts keep drifting back to the the night of the Festival. Cassi Adams had confronted me. She had said she was there to warn me about Sam. She said he wasn't the guy I thought he was. When she left, Sam and I got into a huge fight. My bad feeling wasn't geared toward Sam, but more along the lines as being pointed at Cassi. Why had she tried warned me? We weren't and were never friends. She has no sense of loyalty or compassion towards me and she doesn't owe me any sort of favor. I don't know why I never thought about that incident. With all that was going on with Sam and I, and our ever growing list of friends, I guess my conscience deemed it unimportant.
     I guess when I really thought about it, I had to admit that my bad feeling was coming from Cassi.

"Hello?" I heard Sam's voice from the other end of the line.
     "Hey," I said smiling, even though I knew he wouldn't see it. "I was just calling to ask you if you wanted to come to the twins birthday with me on Saturday. I know it's not the ideal thing to do with your weekend, but my dad called me last night and said that they were demanding you be there."
     It was late on Thursday night and Sam had gone home about an hour ago. I had taken a short shower and was now towel drying my hair in the middle of my bed. I watched as the dripping ends of my hair made small spots on the bed spread.
     Saturday was the twins fourth birthday and my dad and Susan were throwing them a princess themed party. Every little girl's dream.
     "My mom and Travis are heading there in the morning to help set up. I was planning on going a little later. I have some last minute homework to finish up. If you're up for it, I can come by and pick you up?" I left the question hanging and waited for his response.
     "That actually sounds like a lot of fun. With the stress of finals coming up I could use a breather." He was right. It was nearing the end of April. Teachers love to start piling on the homework and projects. Everyone at school was feeling the pressure.
     "On the bright side, there is always prom to look forward too. Doesn't that make finals just a little bit more worth it?"
     "Ya, I guess it does." I got the feeling he was downplaying the whole prom thing. I didn't really think I needed to drop any hints, but now I'm not so sure. I decided to let the comment slide for now.
     "Well, anyways I'll figure out what time I'll plan on leaving on Saturday and let you know, ok?"
     "Ok, I'll see you tomorrow. I love you."
     "I love you too."
     We hung up and I sat and stared at the little silver phone in my hand. He was acting a little strange wasn't he? Or was I just imagining it? Its just the stress, I tell myself. Nothing to worry about. I finish drying my hair and slip beneath the water spotted covers.

All day Friday I got the sense that Sam was far away when really, he was sitting right beside me. He was abnormally quiet and thoughtful. He didn't jump into ordinary conversations with our friends, and when people would talk to him, they would receive a distanced, "Huh?"
     I could tell something was bothering him, but I didn't really know how to bring it up without him becoming defensive. I tried to ignore it, but the longer it went one, the harder it was to ignore. This wasn't like him. Ya, he sounded a little off when I talked to him last night. But I had written it off as stress and exhaustion. I figured all he needed was a good night's sleep and he'd be as good as new.
     But that didn't seem to be the case.
     I leaned over to Emma at lunch as whispered, "Does Sam seem ok to you?"
     "Just a little quieter than usual maybe. But not like crazy, depressed, psycho-from-a-movie different. Why?"
     "No reason," I said. I know that that answer didn't satisfy her, but until I knew more, that was all I could say.
     I vowed, that if he was still acting weird after the last bell, I would get to the bottom of this.

Lo and behold, when the last bell rang and I met up with Sam, he was still his quiet self. Something was up. I told him I'd be by his house around noon or so to get him for the party, but if he didn't feel like it, he should stay home. He said he was still planning on coming with me and I just went with it.
     After he closed my door and walked away, I immediately dialed Heather's number.
     "Hey Grace!" Heather said in her ever so happy voice.
     "Hey Heather. I need to talk to you about something. Well it's about Sam actually. Have you noticed him acting weird at all? Like in the last twenty-four hours? He's not really being himself."
     "Well, he's been kind of quiet I guess. I just figured he was tired and I didn't really bother him. Why did something happen?"
     "Not that I know of. I figured he would tell me if something had."
     "Well, don't worry. If there's something to find, I'll find it. I'll call you later after I talk with him. Ok?"
     "Thanks Heather."
     I hung up and drove home, anxious and antsy.




blackkat said...

I love the story so far! :) Write more! :P

blackkat said...

I read it and loved it! hurry up! write more! PLZ!!! :)

Movie Chick said...

I FREAKING LOVED IT!! Seriously, I am not just saying that. I was SO sad when Chapter 12 came...haha. CLIFF HANGER!!! You have some serious talent, my amazing frined!

P.S. Sam is super DREAMY! :)

Bookworm95 said...

Thank you so much! here's a tip if you don't see the next chapter heading, that means the previous chapter isn't done yet so always check so ur not caught in the editing process and get confused! lol
And thanks :) that means a lot lol ur site is so amazing too! ur going to be a great director/movie blogger lol
Oh and Sam lol gotta love him! he's like the perfect boyfriend who screws up (forshawdowing!) Thanks for reading it! and I will continue to keep posting lol