Her smile didn’t look completely ugly anymore.

As she started off, I stood quickly, knocking over the worms again. “Hey, Maggie?”

She swung away on her heels. “Yes?”

“Can we maybe try the kissing thing one more time?”

She blushed and smiled, and it was beautiful. “For how long?”

“I don’t know…” I stuffed my hands into my pockets and shrugged, looking down at the grass as a worm wiggled across my shoestring. “Maybe just for ten more seconds.”

I loved Brooks Tyler.

I wished there were a bigger word to describe my feelings for the handsome, rude boy who had been kissing me lately, but love seemed to be the only thing that came to mind whenever he stood near me.

As I lay on my bed, thinking and thinking about our last ten-second kiss, I heard a loud, “You have to be kidding me!” from Cheryl.

I wasn’t certain what was howling more, the wind outside or Cheryl. “I don’t know how to be a maid of honor!” Cheryl whined as she plopped down next to me. Her curly red hair bobbed up and down as she bounced on my mattress. Cheryl had been my best friend since I’d moved in with her family, on top of being my stepsister. Therefore, she had to be my maid of honor.

“You don’t have to do anything, really, except everything I don’t want to do, and when I’m stressed over wedding planning, you’re the girl I get to yell at nonstop. Oh, and you have to hold the back of my dress while I walk down the aisle.”

“Why do I have to hold your dress?’

I shrugged. “I don’t know, but my aunt’s maid of honor held hers, so I think that’s just part of getting married.” In the middle of my bedroom floor I’d set up the whole layout of the wedding ceremony with my Barbie dolls, stuffed animals, and My Little Pony toys. Ken was standing in for Brooks in the position of groom, and Barbie was standing in for me.

“How’d you even get a boyfriend, anyway?” Cheryl asked, still bouncing.

“Fiancé,” I corrected. “And it’s pretty easy really. I’m sure you could get one. You just twirl your hair and write a letter telling him he’s going to marry you.”

“Really?” Cheryl’s voice heightened. “That’s all it takes?”

I nodded. “That’s it.”

“Wow.” She sighed, sounding a bit amazed. I didn’t know why, though. Boys were pretty easy to get. Mama said it was the gettin’ rid of them that was the trouble. “How do you know all of this?”

“Mama told me.”

She pouted. “Why didn’t she tell me? I’m her daughter, too. Plus, she was my mom first.”

“You’re probably just too young. She’ll probably tell you next year or something.”

“I don’t want to wait a year.” Cheryl stopped her bouncing and started twirling her hair. “I need a pen and paper. Or, well…are you sure Brooks wouldn’t want to marry me, too?”

My hands slammed against my hips, and I cocked an eyebrow. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

She kept twirling. “I’m just saying. I’ve seen him smile at me a lot.”

Oh. My. Gosh.

My sister was a tramp. Mama said I wasn’t allowed to say that word, but I had heard her call her sister it once for going after a married man, and Aunt Mary hadn’t been happy about it. Cheryl was pretty much trying to do the same thing.

“He’s friendly. He smiles at everyone. I saw him smile at a squirrel once.”

“You’re comparing the smiles he gives me to the smiles he gives squirrels?” she asked, her voice heightened. I hesitated for a moment, thinking on it. Cheryl and squirrels had a few things in common. For example, squirrels liked nuts, and Cheryl was completely nuts if she thought for a second Brooks would like her before me.

Cheryl stood up and huffed, still twirling her hair. “You took too long to answer! Wait until I tell Ma what you said! I could get any boyfriend I wanted, Maggie May, and you ain’t gonna tell me no different!”

“I don’t care. You just can’t have my fiancé.”

“I could!”



“Shut up and stop twirling your stupid hair!” I screamed.

She gasped, teared up, and whined, storming off. “I’m not coming to your wedding!”

“You aren’t even invited!” I hollered back her way.

It only took a few minutes before Mama walked into my room with narrowed eyes. “You girls had another fight, huh?”

I shrugged. “She was just being dramatic again.”

“For two best friends, you sure get annoyed with one another quite often.”

“Yeah, well, that’s kind of what girls do.”

She smiled and agreed completely. “Well, just remember, she’s younger than you, Maggie, and Cheryl doesn’t have it as easy as you do. She’s a bit of a loner and an oddball, and doesn’t quite fit in. You’re her only true friend and her sister. She’s family, and what does family do?”

“Look out for each other?”

Mama nodded and kissed my forehead. “That’s right. We look out for each other, even on the tough days.” Whenever Cheryl and I got into fights, Mama always said that to me. Family looks out for each other. Especially on the tough days when it was hard to even look at each other.

I remembered the first time she had said it, too. She and Daddy had sat Calvin, Cheryl, and me down in the living room and told us all it was okay to call them Mama and Dad if we wanted to. It was the night of their wedding, and we were officially a family. As we sat there, Mama and Daddy had us pile our hands on top of one another and make a promise to always look out for each other. Because that’s what families do.

“I’ll apologize,” I whispered to myself, talking about Cheryl. She was, after all, my best friend.

I spent the rest of the afternoon planning the wedding. I’d been dreaming of my wedding since I was seven years old, so a super long time. I wondered what kind of music Brooks liked. Since he wouldn’t let me listen, I had to guess on my own. He and Calvin had been messing around with Daddy’s guitars a bit each night and said they were going to be famous musicians someday. I didn’t much believe them at first, but the more they practiced each night, the better they got. Maybe they could play at the wedding. Also, maybe I’d pick his favorite song to walk down the aisle to. Then again, he and my brother had been singing “Sexy Back” by Justin Timberlake for the past week, and that didn’t seem wedding-y enough for me.