Authors: Elise Koepke
This is a work of fiction. The events and characters described herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific places or living persons. The opinions expressed in this manuscript are solely the opinions of the author and do not represent the opinions or thoughts of the publisher. The author has represented and warranted full ownership and/or legal right to publish all the materials in this book.
All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2013 Elise Koepke
Cover Photo © 2013 JupiterImages Corporation. All rights reserved - used with permission.
This book may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without the express written consent of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
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To my friends and family who believed in and encouraged me, thank you! I love you all! A special thanks to Kristi Castleberry for doing my editing, Malerie Abramowitz for being my go-to girl from the start and constant ear
to listen to my newest crazy idea, and Emily Ertel for always being there.
And, of course, my beautiful mom, sister, brothers,
and dad for their support, and my beloved boyfriend,
Charlie, for giving me that final push to get published.
ome on, Marie!” Savannah Morgan shouted up the stairs. “I’d like to get to the movies sometime before tomorrow!” The movie was going to start in twenty minutes, and Marie had been in her room for much too long.
“All right, hold your horses! Jeez, you used to be so much more patient!” Marie yelled back.
Savannah gave a little grunt of disgust and leaned backward to check the time from the kitchen clock. Yep, it was seven twenty-five. In twenty minutes the previews would start and she hated it when they missed the previews. “You’ve been up there for a half an hour! If you’re not ready in three minutes, I’m coming up there!”
“Oh relax, Anna. If you’re so worried then come help me pick out an outfit.”
After uncrossing her arms and checking the clock one last time, Savannah ran up the stairs to the room at the end of the hall. Pushing open the door, she saw her friend wearing nothing more than a pair of gym shorts and a white spaghetti-strap, while holding a black mini skirt and lilac blouse against her body. “Please don’t tell me that you’ve been up here this long and you haven’t even decided what pants you’re wearing yet.”
Marie spun her head and gave her friend a fleeting apologetic glance. “I’m sorry, Anna. I just can’t figure out whether to be more girly and pretty in my new skirt, or to be more casual and flirty in pants and a low cut top.” She gave another doubtful look to herself in the mirror as she held up a second top with the same skirt, then the first one again.
Rolling her eyes, Savannah walked over and scanned the wide selection of shirts and bottoms on the bed. She never realized how many articles of clothing one sixteen-year-old girl could have. If her friend wasn’t so obsessed with her outfits, she would have convinced her to send them to Salvation Army by now. “You do realize that we’re going into a dark theater where everyone, including all the hot boys (probably on their dates anyway), is going to be focusing on the movie, right?”
Marie didn’t even bother to turn her head this time. She just glanced at her once in the mirror and then back down at the ensemble. “Yeah but it won’t be dark when we enter the theater. Besides you never know who you’re going to meet and where.”
Savannah shrugged in defeat. What was the point? Marie always tried to look her best, no matter where she was going. “All right but if some creepy guy with one tooth and a Star Wars tee-shirt comes up to you, I’m not pretending to be your lesbian girlfriend again.”
Marie turned and wagged a slender finger at her. Much like the rest of her appearance, Marie’s fingernails were always polished and perfectly feminine. “That was one time and I promised I wouldn’t do it again! Besides,” she turned back to her reflection, admiring the way the pink blouse complimented her straight black hair and cat green eyes, “if I play my cards right, it’s not the creepy geeky ones I’ll be fending off.” A mischievous smile spread across her face.
Savannah smiled too, fully knowing the impact that Marie had on boys. They drooled over her constantly and she was rarely found without a date. The only problem she had was keeping a boy for more than two weeks. “So, speaking of boys, how was your date with Jason the other night?” Savannah asked.
“Oh, it was okay. I mean, he’s no Prince Charming or anything, but he is really mature when you get to know him.” In response to Savannah’s snort, she furrowed her eyebrows. “What?”
“I’m sorry, it’s just ... I don’t see how sticking two straws up your nose in the middle of lunch is mature.”
At this, Marie turned around and placed her hands to her hips. “Why do you always have to bash the guys I go out with?”
“I didn’t bash him. I just said that I don’t think Jason’s all that mature or romantic.”
“So I like him and all, he’s just not the kind of guy I could see you going out with.”
A skeptical look crossed Marie’s face as she moved her clothes on the toy chest at the end of her bed and sat next to Savannah. “He’s not the kind of guy you see
going out with, or he’s not the kind of guy you see
go out with?”
Savannah raised her eyebrow. “What are you talking about?”
“You know, Anna, sometimes I wonder if the reason why you turn down so many of the guys I date is because you’re really scoping them out for yourself,” Marie said. Then, raising a hand to her friend’s objection, she continued. “Let me finish. Sometimes I think that this whole ‘I-can-do-just-fine-without-a-boyfriend’ bit makes you feel lonely, so lonely that you take over as my matchmaker and body guard against loser guys. Therefore, when you reject a boy because you think he’s not good enough for me, you’re really rejecting him because he’s not good enough for you.”
Savannah stared at her for a full minute before even opening her mouth. What Marie said was completely and totally insane. Okay, so what if she secretly hoped Marie would dump or be dumped by the poor excuse of men she dated? They were all awful anyway.
First there was Bobby. Bobby had a tendency to conveniently drop things underneath a girl’s skirt and then feel the need to retrieve the item while at the same time looking up the skirt. Right off the bat Savannah knew that he was a pervert, but Marie pretended not to notice. Then there was Kevin. Kevin was nice at first, but he later became one of the most pessimistic people Savannah had ever met, thinking that the world was going to end by the year 2015. He talked in monotone and never smiled. Shortly after, there was Simon. Now Simon was so narcissistic that it took him nearly three times longer to get ready for school than it ever took Marie, and Marie can take up to an hour if need be. So, really, all of her boyfriends were in fact losers. Marie simply had a problem noticing it.
“All right first of all,” Savannah began at last after tearing her eyes away from Marie’s, “I am not lonely. I am perfectly fine the way I am and without someone to call me up every night just so we could talk about this movie star’s latest fashion or that singer’s newest baby. Second of all, I don’t reject boys because they’re not good enough for you. Well, most of them aren’t anyway, but that’s not why I don’t like them. They all just aren’t … right, I suppose.”
“Right?” Marie cocked her head to the side.
“Yes, right. You should be with someone who adores you and treats you like the most important thing in the world, the one thing in this world he couldn’t bear to lose. You should be with someone who opens a door for you even if you both know it would be easier for you to get it yourself, not someone who walks through a door and lets it slam in your face behind him. But more importantly, you should be with someone who, you know, changes because of you. He should be a guy who was nothing without you—a hopeless wreck who couldn’t get his act together. But then you come into his life and suddenly his life is set into place, and he changes into this new, better person. And in the end, there’s no other way to describe how you are with each other but … right.”
Marie had held her breath as Savannah talked, not fully aware that she wasn’t breathing. Exhaling, she allowed her lips to twist into the haughty, cat-like smile that she wore too well. “See, I knew you wanted someone of your own.”
“Well how else would you have been able to give me that speech if you hadn’t thought about it already? More importantly, why would you have thought about it already if you didn’t want someone of your own?”
Savannah didn’t respond at first to Marie’s sly grin. Then, after thinking about it, she at last just opted to change the topic. “So where is everyone, anyway? It’s not very often that you’re home alone.”
Marie knew that she was right because Savannah wouldn’t have changed the topic otherwise. Ignoring the urge to confront her about it, she said, “Mom and Dad are in Hawaii. They’re on their second honeymoon, or at least that’s what they call it. They left Derrick, Bethany, Adam, Timothy, Brian, and Ella at my grandparents, while Helen and I are staying here.”
“Oh, where’s Helen tonight? I didn’t see her when I came in.”
Marie chuckled. “She’s out with Marc again. I’m surprised she accepted his second date invitation. Actually,” she began, taking her place in front of the mirror again, “I’m more surprised that there was a second date invitation. What is wrong with that boy?”
“Really?” Savannah laughed. “Oh dear, I wonder how she convinced him to go out again.” Helen was not exactly the kind of girl you would call ‘nice’. In fact, sometimes she was downright mean, but most of the time she was simply irritating. True she was beautiful, much like Marie. But unlike her sister, Helen had poor people skills and a look that could kill when she didn’t get her way.
“By the way, Anna, I forgot to ask how your birthday was yesterday.” Savannah shook her head at a shirt Marie held up for her opinion. “Did you and your mom have fun?”
“Oh yeah, of course. We went shopping for a little while and then ate lunch at Olive Garden. It probably wasn’t the most exciting day of my life, but hey, what’s to celebrate? I’m just another year older.” It was true; she was nothing more than a sixteen-year-old girl now. The most adventurous things that she’ll be doing in the near future are getting her driver’s license and going off to college, and that wouldn’t even be for another year and a half.
The truth was, Savannah had always hoped for more in this world. She had wanted to do something special with her life and had felt that she was meant for something big. The problem was that she never knew what. That, and there was nothing she could think of that was unique enough for her. She had grown up a remotely normal child with a mother who soon became her best friend, another best friend living right across the street, and a small town neighborhood where everyone knew everyone. She really did have a typical, relatively
Leave it to Beaver
styled life. There were only two flaws in her childhood that she could think of, and those were that her father died when she was six and that she had never known any other family aside from an aunt, an uncle, and a cousin, all of whom were not blood related. They were just close friends to her parents and thus became her accepted relatives over the years.
It was strange because she couldn’t recall hearing her parents talk about any other family members. She didn’t even know if she had any grandparents. Well, of course she did but she had yet to meet them. When she would ask her mother about it, she would simply answer, “I’ll tell you when you’re older.” She had once asked her aunt about other relatives, but her only reply was, “Go ask your mother.” What was the big deal? Was her family that much of a secret?
Marie shook her head and glimpsed at Savannah in the mirror. “Jeez, Anna, when did you become such a cynic?”
Savannah’s eyes narrowed while her lips pursed. “I am not a cynic,” was her curt reply.
“Really?” Marie raised another eyebrow. “Then you wouldn’t mind demonstrating for me how optimistic you are through a little game, would you?”
“Sure,” Savannah quickly agreed, though she would never admit that she was a bit nervous as to what she had just agreed to.
Marie at last opted on a pair of jeans and threw them on before sitting on the bed. “Here’s how it works—I’m going to choose a word and you have to tell me the first thing that comes into your mind when you hear that word. Got it?” Savannah nodded. “Okay … candy?”