Authors: P.J. Night
Up and down the aisles she wandered, and though so much was familiar, there were small and unexpected differences: The lights seemed brighter, the colors looked bolder, even the sounds were louder. She smiled a little, to think how fascinated she was by a grocery store. How many times had she been in one before and hardly noticed a thing about it? Felt bored, even?
Now that seemed like a long time ago.
And here she was, drinking it all in, appreciating it, even appreciating the people around her, who weren't paying her any attention as they hurried past one another, obviously preoccupied.
Then she saw them, two girls around her age, one tall with long, straight chestnut hair; the other a little
shorter, her blond hair pulled back from her face. She watched how they giggled together, how the taller one leaned down to whisper something, a secret that they shared, their heads nearly touching. She wished she knew what they were talking about. It wasn't hard to tell that they were best friends; and a pang of longing made her want to look away. But she didn't. Instead she stared harder.
Did they have any idea how lucky they were?
Abby Miller stared at the contents of the grocery cart. “Okay, we've got soda, we've got veggies and dip, we've got popcorn,” she said. “Do we need anything else?”
“What about chips?” Leah Rosen, Abby's best friend, asked.
Abby nodded. “You go get some chips and I'll find something good for breakfast.”
Leah disappeared around the corner, leaving the cart behind for Abby. Abby wandered through the store to the frozen food section and stood in front of the breakfast case, weighing the waffle options: plain or buttermilk or blueberry or apple cinnamon orâ
Suddenly Abby had the creepiest feeling that she was being watched. In the chrome edges of the case,
she thought she saw something move.
But when she glanced behind her, no one was there.
She was the only person in the frozen food aisle.
Abby turned back to the freezer case and opened the glass door. She was reaching for a box of buttermilk waffles whenâ
Abby shrieked as she felt a swift tug on her hair. She spun around to see Leah grinning at her.
“Gotcha!” Leah exclaimed. “Wow, I really spooked you, huh? You have goose bumps!”
“Yeah, from the freezer.” Abby laughed, gesturing to the frosty air pouring out of the open case.
“Sure, Ab. Whatever you say,” Leah replied, her eyes twinkling. “Check out what I got!”
Abby wrinkled her nose. “Barbecue chips? You know I don't like barbecue!”
“More for me,” Leah said with a grin. “Don't worry, you're covered.” She tossed a bag of tortilla chips into the cart and placed a jar of salsa next to it.
Abby added two boxes of frozen waffles. “We'll order the pizzas after everybody else gets to my house, so I think that's about everything we need.”
Leah frowned. “You're forgetting one essentialâdessert!”
“What's wrong with me?” Abby said, laughing. “What should we get? Cookies?”
“Brownies?” suggested Leah. The girls exchanged a glance.
“Both!” they said at the same time.
“Come on, desserts are in the next aisle,” Leah said as she pushed the cart around the corner. Suddenly she backed upâright into Abby!
“Leah! What are youâ,” Abby began.
But Leah frantically waved her hands at her friend and whispered, “Shh! Shh!”
“What? What is it?” Abby asked as she followed Leah to the opposite end of the aisle.
Leah leaned close to Abby's ear and whispered, “Max! Max Menendez! He's right over there getting candy! Do I look okay?”
Abby reached out and smoothed out the bumps in her friend's blond ponytail. It was no secret that Leah had a major crush on Max. Every time she was around him, she got so nervous that she could barely speak. “You look great,” Abby assured Leah. “Want to go say hi?”
“Are you crazy?” Leah gasped as she tried to get a
glimpse of her reflection in the freezer case's shiny silver handle.
“Come on!” Abby urged her friend as she gave Leah a little push. “This is a perfect opportunity to talk to him! I'll come with you.”
But Leah shook her head. “I'll probably say something stupid,” she replied. “Let's just wait here until he leaves.”
“Come on, Leah!” Abby whispered. “How will you two ever go out if you won't talk to him? And this'll be a great story to tell Chloe and Nora at the party tonight.”
“Party? What party?” a voice asked.
Leah and Abby spun around.
It was Max!
He smiled at the girls. “You're having a party and you didn't invite me?”
Abby looked at Leah, thinking it would be the perfect time for her friend to say
to Max. But Leah just stood thereâas frozen as the peas across the aisle. Her eyes were so wide that she even looked a little scared.
“UmÂ .Â .Â .Â of course we didn't invite you,” Abby said, grinning playfully as she tried to save the situation. “It's a sleepover party. No boys allowed.”
,” Max said, pretending to be hurt. “I'm busy, anyway.”
“Oh yeah?” asked Abby. “Doing what?”
“Wouldn't you like to know?” Max said with a laugh. “Nah, I'm just messing with you guys. I'm going to a movie with Jake and Toby. I thought I'd snag some candy before the show.”
“That's cool,” Abby said as her eyes lit up. She didn't notice the way Leah began to watch her. “What are you guys gonna see?”
“Don't know yet,” Max replied. He laughed. “I mean, obviously some snacks were the priority, you know?”
“Well, have fun,” Abby said. “We've gotta go. See you later, Max.”
“See you guys,” Max said. “Hey, Leahâheads up!”
Leah jumped as Max tossed a candy bar to her. “I got too much,” he said with a smile. “You want one?”
“Uh, yeah, sure,” Leah stammered. “Th-thanks, Max.”
Max flashed another grin at the girls as he sauntered down the aisle. As soon as he was gone, Leah grabbed Abby's arm. “
Abby smiled at Leah's excitement. “Kind of,” she pointed out. “You still have to pay for it.”
But Leah was too distracted to pay attention to Abby. “Max is so cute!” she gushed. “I wish I didn't get so tongue-tied around him.”
“Just relax,” Abby said to her friend. “He's only a boy.”
“Only a boy!” exclaimed Leah. “How are you not as in love with him as I am?”
Abby thought for a moment about Max's spiky black hair and his big smile. He was definitely a hottieâbut there was a guy at school who Abby thought was even hotter. “Yeah, he's pretty awesome,” she said carefully.
But Leah gave Abby a piercing look. “You think there's somebody cuter than Max?” she asked. “Who?”
Abby pressed her lips together and shook her head. Her crush was top secretâand she wanted to keep it that way.
“Oh, come on, Abby,” Leah begged. “I told you a million years ago that I liked Max. You owe me!”
Abby laughed. “I'm not telling. It's not my fault you can't keep your own secrets.”
“I'll figure out who it is,” Leah said. “It's not Toby, is it?”
“Not even close,” Abby replied. “Now would you please stop? I'm not telling!”
Leah clapped her hands. “I know! I know! It's Jake, isn't it?”
Abby's mouth dropped open. “No! Why would you even think that?”
” squealed Leah. “Seriously? You like
“No way,” Abby said firmly. “Please, can you drop it? I mean it, Leah.”
Leah sighed. “Fine, be that way. But I
find out for sure who you like.”
Abby was silent as she pushed the cart toward the produce aisle to get some strawberries for breakfast. She knew that when Leah was determined to find something out, there was no stopping her.
And Abby also knew that even though Leah was her very best friend, she couldn't keep a secret. Leah might be shy around boys, but she wasn't shy when it came to gossip. Abby knew she meant well, but telling Leah something in confidence was as good as posting it online.
Before long, the whole world would know it too.
After Abby and Leah finished buying everything they needed for the sleepover, Abby's mom drove them to Abby's house. They had just started unloading the groceries when there was a loud knock at the door. Chester,
the Millers' oatmeal-colored cocker spaniel, jumped up and ran toward the door, yipping in excitement.