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When they finished, they both came back into the house covered in paint. Mom was wearing an apron, and a paintbrush was balanced behind her ear. She looked a little like herself.

“Thank you, Grey,” I told him as he was getting ready to leave.

“For what?”

“Being you.”

I didn’t know why he’d come into my life all those weeks before. I didn’t know why he chose to stay. I didn’t deserve a friend like him. Honestly, I wasn’t sure anyone deserved Greyson East in their life, but I was so thankful he was in mine.

Mom walked up to me after Greyson left and wrapped her arm around my shoulder. “You know what I like about that boy?” she asked.

“What’s that?”




By the time Mom’s sixth chemotherapy appointment came around, school was back in session. I’d never thought I’d say it, but being back at school was the kind of normal activity I needed in my life. It distracted me from worrying, and I needed a break from worry.

Shay and Greyson made sure to keep my mind busy, too. They’d come over to my house and read books with me, and they’d sit with me during lunch. They’d talk about anything and everything to keep me laughing. Turned out Greyson was the master of telling really bad jokes that didn’t make sense but, somehow, were still funny.

Even on the days when I wasn’t feeling happy, I’d give them a small chuckle.

If Shay wasn’t checking in on me, Greyson was looking for an update.

I needed that. I needed their check-ins to remind me that I wasn’t alone.

One Saturday afternoon, I sat at my computer researching cancer. My parents told me not to search anything on the internet anymore, but I couldn’t help it. It was like an odd addiction that I couldn’t break. Even though it made me sadder, I kept hitting enter on the search engine.

When the doorbell rang, I sat up a bit as Mom called my name. I hurried into the living room, and I stepped back a bit when I saw Greyson standing there in a suit and tie with a corsage in his hands.

“Hey, Ellie,” he said with that Greyson smirk of his.

I raised an eyebrow. “Hi…?” I lowered an eyebrow. “What are you doing?”

“Oh, I was just in the neighborhood and wanted to see if you wanted to be my date to homecoming.”

“Uh, homecoming is tonight,” I told him, confused.

“Yeah. I bought the tickets a few weeks ago, but didn’t want to tell you, because I was pretty sure you’d find a way to talk yourself out of it. So, now it’s too late to say no, and seeing how I’m already in a suit, you have to come.”

Mom snickered a little while I shifted around on the carpeted floor. “I can’t go to homecoming with you.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know, I just can’t. I’m actually busy doing some research.”

“On what?” Mom asked with an arched eyebrow.

“Nothing,” I sharply responded, knowing she would’ve killed me if she found out. “Plus, I don’t even have a dress.”

“You can borrow one of mine,” Mom said, giving me a smile. “I’ll even help you get ready.”

“But what if you need something? What if you and Dad need my help?” That was my biggest fear: something going wrong while I wasn’t around.

“I’m fine, Ellie. Still here,” she said as she walked over to me. “Now, I think you have to give this nice boy an answer. Are you going to homecoming with him?”

I bit my bottom lip as my stomach twisted up with butterflies and worry all at once. I glanced over to Mom and then over to Greyson. Then back to Mom. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“One hundred percent.”

“And if you need anything you’ll call?”

“One hundred percent.”

I sighed and let the worry kind of slide away as more butterflies came in. I turned to Greyson and smiled. “I need a few minutes to get ready.”

“Take your time.” He walked over to the couch and took a seat. “I’ll wait.”

Mom took me to her bedroom, and she started rummaging through her closet for opportunities for me to wear.

I’d never been to a dance.

I didn’t even know if I knew how to dance, honestly.

If I knew anything about myself, it was the fact that I wasn’t the best at social gatherings. Ask me to read a chapter out loud in class, and I’d nail that. Ask me to go be social, and I’d melt into a puddle of anxiety.

But it was with Greyson.

How could I say no to those eyes and that smile?

“How about this one?” Mom asked, holding out a black dress with a low drop back. “You can even wear your Chucks with it, because you’re you, and that’s awesome.”

“It’s beautiful,” I told her. “I think it’s perfect.”

“Good. Now, go change. There’s a really sweet boy waiting out there for you.”

I hurried out to my room and changed into the dress. It fit me pretty okay, but Mom was a safety pin queen and made it tighter where it needed to be tight, and she hemmed up the bottom so I wouldn’t trip over the dress all night long. Then, she helped me with my hair, and gave me a touch of makeup. She even sprayed me with her favorite perfume.

“You look like a goddess,” Mom said, tearing up. “You look like a beautiful goddess, Ellie.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

She hugged me tightly, and then walked me out to the living room, where Dad and Greyson were sitting and waiting. They both stood up instantly when we walked out and both of their jaws dropped.

“Wow,” they said in unison.

“Ellie, you look—” Dad started.

“Beautiful,” Greyson finished.

I felt my cheeks heat up as I looked away, feeling bashful. Then Greyson walked over to me with the corsage and asked for my wrist.

“Wait! Pause! I need to get the camera!” Mom shouted, waving her hands. It was fun watching how excited she was getting about it all. Lately every time she smiled, it felt a bit like a blessing.

She hurried back, holding a camera, and she started snapping photographs of Greyson and me.

“Watch that hand placement, Greyson,” Dad warned.

“Yes, sir,” Greyson replied, moving his hands a bit higher, hardly touching my back. I think Dad kind of made him nervous, which was funny, seeing how Dad was nothing but a big teddy bear.

“If you want we can drive you two to the school dance and then pick you up later on,” Dad offered, and we took him up on it.

As we drove, Mom kept glancing back and smiling at the both of us. “You two look adorable,” she kept repeating, shaking her head in awe. “Just adorable.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Gable,” Greyson said, and I swore his face was even a little red from embarrassment. At least I wasn’t alone.

We pulled up to the school, and they dropped us off. “All right, you two, have so much fun!” Mom exclaimed.

“But not too much fun,” Dad added, pointing at Greyson.

Greyson swallowed hard and hopped out of the car.

As I got out and started walking away, Mom called after me, rolling down her window. “And Ellie?”


She held her hands out toward me and I walked over to her, taking them into mine. I leaned in and she squeezed my hands lightly. “Live in this moment, my dragonfly. Live fully in this moment.”

“I love you, Mom.”

She pulled me closer and kissed my cheek. “I love you, too. Now go. Have the time of your life.”

I walked over to Greyson, who looked so handsome in his suit. There were a ton of people standing around the entrance of the school, dressed up and laughing.

“Nervous?” he asked me.

“Terrified,” I replied.

This was kind of our first outing in public. Our reveal, of some sorts. Sure, we ate together at lunch, but Shay was always there. We never looked like we were a thing, but walking into that building together would definitely make it seem that way.

I didn’t even really know what we were, but I didn’t see a need to find out, either.

It was pretty simple, actually.

He was him, I was me, and we were us. This was our story.

“Don’t worry, Ellie. I got you. And also—” he took my hand into his, linking us together as one— “you look beautiful tonight.”


Chills all across my body.

“Ready?” he asked.

“Ready,” I replied.

When we entered the gymnasium, a few people whispered about the two of us being together, but Greyson didn’t seem to pay much mind to it. I didn’t either, because if he didn’t mind, it didn’t matter.

He looked at me every now and then like I was the only girl in the room, and that meant everything to me. In a room filled with Stacey Whites, his eyes were on Eleanor Gable.

“Do you want to dance?” he asked as an upbeat song began.

My heart started pounding against my rib cage. I shifted my feet. “Oh, no. I don’t know how to dance.”

“You don’t have to know how to dance in order to dance.” He stood in front of me and started kicking his arms and legs around like a wild man. “You just do it.”

I laughed. “You look crazy!”

“So?” he said, still kicking, still jumping. Then he held his hand out toward me. “Look crazy with me?” he asked with the silliest smirk ever and I swear, I just thought about kissing him in that very moment.

I took his hand in mine and stood up.

Okay, Greyson.

Let’s go crazy.

The night was perfect in every way, shape, and form. When it came time for the last slow dance, we walked to the dance floor and Greyson placed his hands on my lower back. We swayed back and forth just like every other couple around us, not really doing anything, but feeling like we were doing everything.

“Why did you want me to come to the dance with you?” I asked him.