“Well, your sweater has dragonflies on it, and your hairclips are dragonflies, too.”

Oh, right. I’d have bet good money I was the only girl at the party who had dragonfly clips in her hair.

“It’s kind of mine and my mom’s thing.”



“That’s a weird thing.”

“I’m a weird girl.”

He narrowed his eyes as if he was studying me, trying to scan my DNA with his eyes.

“What is it?” I asked as my stomach flipped.

“It’s nothing. I just…I swear I know you from somewhere.”

“Well, we do go to school together,” I commented sarcastically.

“No, yeah, I know that, but you just…” His words trailed off and he shook his head. “I don’t know. You probably weren’t at Claire Wade’s party, huh?”

“That’s a big no.”

“Kent Fed’s?”

Blank stare from me.

“Right. It’s just weird, because I swear—” Before he could finish his sentence, he was cut off as Landon came rushing over.

“Mission aborted, dude. Shay’s just a bitch,” he said with a grumpy frown. It was clear my cousin had bruised his ego.

“Call my cousin a bitch one more time, and I’ll show you a real bitch,” I barked.

Landon glanced at me and rolled his eyes. “Yeah whatever, weirdo.”

“You don’t have to be an ass, Landon,” Greyson said, standing up for me. “And she’s right—Shay didn’t do anything to you. You’re the one who cheated on her. It doesn’t make her a bitch because she doesn’t want you back.”

Wait, what?

Did Greyson East just stand up for me and Shay?

Well, okay then.

I guess I’ll be having his kids someday.

Those stupid butterflies in my stomach wouldn’t leave, so you can imagine my relief when Greyson stood up to go. My skin was pretty pale and when I blushed, it was obvious. I turned into the ripest tomato known to mankind. I didn’t need him to witness that.

“Whatever, man. Let’s go,” Landon said, looking past me like I didn’t even exist. That was fine, though. I looked at him the exact same way.

“I’ll talk to you later, Eleanor.” Greyson waved goodbye as he walked away. “Enjoy the book.”

Under my breath, I said bye before going back to my novel. Every now and then, though, Greyson would float around in my head along with Ron Weasley.

Not much later, Shay reappeared, and we started our walk home. “So, it seemed you and Greyson were having a good conversation,” she remarked.

I shrugged. “It was fine.”

“He’s a really nice guy, Ellie. Nothing like Landon. Greyson is genuine.”

She said it as if she was trying to talk me into allowing the butterflies in my gut to remain, while I was trying to somehow rip off their wings.

I shrugged once. “He’s fine.”

“Just fine?” she mocked, nudging my arm, probably seeing my reddened cheeks.


Just fine.

Shay was crashing in my room that night, and when we walked into the house, the living room television was glowing bright. Some horror movie was playing so I hurried over and grabbed the remote, quickly shutting it off. There they were, passed out on the couch. Dad was lying out flat and Mom was wrapped in his arms.

“Should we wake them?” Shay asked.

I grabbed a blanket and covered them up. “Nah. They always end up in bed by the morning.”

This was a normal sight with my parents—Mom wrapped in Dad’s arms after they’d fallen asleep watching television. Whenever she would shift around on the couch, Dad would smile, readjust his arms around her, and get comfortable again. I’d never seen two people who’d merged so completely as one. If it hadn’t been for my parents, I’d have thought soul mates were a lie.



“I’m just saying, I don’t get it. I’m real good-looking, she’s real good-looking! I just don’t get why she wouldn’t want to be with me,” Landon said, tossing his hands around like a madman as we walked home from the party. “I mean, we’re pretty much the Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson of Raine, Illinois. We’re meant to be together!”

He said it so passionately, I could hardly tell if he was kidding or not.

Honestly, he would’ve done a lot better dating Shay if he’d been this obsessed with her while they were dating. He pretty much shot himself in the ass by acting like one.

“I think you should let the idea of you and Shay go, man. I don’t think she’s interested.”

“She just doesn’t know she’s interested yet. You’ll see. You’ll all see!”

I rolled my eyes, but let him keep talking. There was no point in trying to reason with someone as wasted as he was right now.

“Anyway, sorry I made you talk to her weird cousin,” he said, running his hand through his hair.

“She’s not that weird.”

“Cardigans every day. Head always in a book. Weird.”

“Just because someone is different doesn’t make them weird,” I said, getting a bit defensive about Eleanor. Sure, she had her quirks, but so did Landon. He bit down on forks and pulled them out of his mouth, making an unbearable sound. He couldn’t watch a movie without going “Wait, rewind that, I missed something.” He couldn’t get the hell over his infatuation with Shay because she bruised his massive ego.

Sure, maybe Eleanor wore a lot of cardigans, but at least she wasn’t a jerk.

“Alright, alright. I see you made a new friend today,” he said, tossing his hands up. “I still think she’s a weird loner, but whatever.”

I guess in a way Eleanor was a loner. She was a professional at keeping to herself, outside of Shay.

Sometimes I wished I could be more like that.

It seemed less complicated.

Landon lived on the same block as me, and when we walked up to my house, his over-the-top chatty persona faded as he took in the howling that was coming from my house.

Mom and Dad were home.

That was always a treat to partake in.

Landon stuffed his hands in his pockets and he gave me a pathetic smile. “You wanna crash at my place tonight?”

I shook my head. “Nah, it’s fine. I’ll just hurry to my room. I’m sure my dad will find a reason to storm off soon enough.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. Night.”

He scratched the back of his neck, hesitant about my choice, but he started walking away. “All right, night, Greyson.” He paused, then turned back to me. “I’ll leave the window to the first floor guest room open tonight if you need it, okay?”

Even though he was sometimes a crappy human, he was a damn good best friend.

“Thanks, Landon.”

“Yup. Night.”

Once I reached my front porch, I hadn’t gone inside. I knew nothing good would come from walking into that place.

My parents were in yet another screaming match.

That was nothing new. Whenever they were both home, fighting was what they did best. Mom was probably wine-drunk, cussing out Dad, and Dad was probably whiskey-drunk, telling her to shut her piehole.

Though, I was pretty sure whatever was going on was Dad’s fault. He was pretty good at screwing up and making it look like Mom made the mess. I’d never met a person who was so damn good at gaslighting another person. Mr. Handers taught us that word last year in English class—gaslighting—and the moment I heard it, I knew it was my father to the T.

He was a professional manipulator. Both at work, and at home. He was so good at making my mother think she was completely mad. If she smelled perfume on his clothes, he’d say it was hers. If she found lipstick on his shirts, he’d convince her that she placed it there. If he told her the sky was green, she’d doubt her own eyesight.

He once forced her into the hospital to test her psyche.

The tests showcased that she was sane. She’d married an asshole.

Dad stayed eerily calm during Mom’s meltdowns, too. Which was another mind game of his—making her seem as if she was crazed, even though he was the one driving her to the looney bin. Sometimes I thought he left other women’s numbers in places just so she’d find them. I wouldn’t put it past him.

When I was younger, he’d try to get me to side with him—to use me to throw Mom under the bus. But I never did. I’d always known that the only thing Mom had done wrong was fall in love with a monster.

My father was a liar, a cheater, and a messed-up man.

Actually, there was one other thing Mom had done wrong. She stayed.

I never understood that.

I didn’t know if it was because she loved him, or loved the comfortable life he created for us. Either way, it wasn’t healthy. I guess that’s why she was hardly ever home. Maybe she got comfort from seeing the world on Dad’s dime. Maybe spending his money made her feel as if she was somehow winning.

“I know you’re messing around with her, Greg!” Mom hollered as I sat on the top step of the porch. I rolled my hands over my ears, and tried my best to drown out the sounds.

I wished Grandpa was still around. For the most part I tried my best not to think about him being gone, because it really messed with my head, but some nights I just wished I could sneak off to his house and watch old kung fu movies with him and eat insane amounts of popcorn.

The best thing about my grandfather was the fact that he was nothing like my father.

He was a good man through and through, and the world sucked that much more now that he was gone.

It had been a few weeks since I’d lost him, and honestly, I still didn’t know how to stop missing him.

The guidance counselor at school told me that over time it would get easier dealing with loss, but I didn’t find that true. It didn’t get easier; it just got lonelier.