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Cookie O'Gorman

Becks shrugged. “I’m a guy. I love women,” he said and shot me a grin. “Some more than others.”

Shaking out of it, I punched him, popped him right in the arm. “You jerk. Why’d you say all that? Was it to embarrass me or what?”

He laughed the whole thing off like nothing happened. “It’s true, Sal. You’ve ruined me for other women.”

“Yeah, right.”

“Where am I going to find another girl who throws a punch like that?”

“Haha, good joke,” I said, throat tight. I knew better. Becks hadn’t said anything, never made a move in all this time. But as he’d described me, his eyes softened—or had I imagined that?

The timer went off, and Becks pulled the pizza out of the oven. The crust was golden brown, cheese spread evenly over the top.

“I better get going,” Becks said, setting the tray down, grabbing his bag off the floor. “See you later?”

“Probably.” I swallowed and forced a smile. “May the Force be with you.”

“You, too.”

Becks waved as he walked outside, and I waved back, trying to ignore the ache in my chest.


“Mom, have you seen my gloves?”

I’d looked all over my room, under the bed, the nightstand, even checked the bookcase. The search had started over an hour ago after I finished my homework. The Calc questions were always a breeze, but the reading had taken longer than usual—mainly because I’d kept replaying that talk with Becks. My hair took more time tonight. Despite what Becks had said, it wasn’t wavy. It was downright unmanageable most days. Sprinkled over my cheeks and the bridge of my nose, I’d made peace with my freckles over the years. But they weren’t cute; they were just there. Looking back on it, I should’ve known it was a joke from the get. I shouldn’t have spent so much time over thinking. Maybe then I wouldn’t be running late.

“Mom?” I said again, stepping into the kitchen.

“What gloves?” she asked, head down, looking at a layout of bills while she compared cloth swatches. The bride must’ve chosen orange and bright green for her wedding colors. I shuddered. My eyes hurt just looking at the mix.

“Um, the only gloves I own.” I tried not to sound too sarcastic. It wasn’t her fault the stupid things were missing. “The short yellow ones. Bright, stretchy, kinda cheap-looking.”

“Oh, those,” Mom said, discarding amber for vermillion, “Did you check the hamper?”

Jogging to the laundry room, I rifled through the basket of dirty clothes. “Not here, either.” I’d known it was a long shot. I hadn’t worn them out in a while—not since my X-men themed eleventh birthday party—and besides, I suspected the shoddy material wouldn’t hold up in the wash. Walking back, I muttered, “I could’ve sworn I laid them out last night on my dresser.”

“Did you look to make sure they weren’t on the floor somewhere?”

I nodded. “Yeah, even checked behind the headboard.” Sighing, I slid into the seat opposite her. “Guess I’ll just have to go without them. Hooker’s going to be disappointed. You know she goes all out for this stuff.”

“Don’t worry,” Mom said as she bound a few squares together. Looked like she was going with shamrock and orange peel with an accent of deep gold. Not bad, considering what she had to work with. “Lillian won’t—”

“Won’t what?” I mumbled, picking at the table as I waited for Mom to answer. When she didn’t, I looked up and caught her staring at me. “What’s wrong?”

She shook her head. “Nothing. Sally...what happened to your hair?”

“Oh.” I instinctively raised a hand to my brown locks. “I just used some hot rollers and teased it a little. Put some baby powder on the front strand to look more Rogue-ish—Rogue circa the ‘90s cartoon series not major motion picture Rogue. Do you like it?”

“I’m not sure,” Mom said with a small frown. “It makes you look...older, somehow.”

“Thanks a lot,” I said, not bothering to hide the sarcasm. Over the hill at seventeen. My life just kept getting better and better. Standing, I brushed the remaining wrinkles out of my black X-Men tee. The gloves would’ve completed the ensemble, but oh well. This would have to do. “Alright Mom, I’m gonna head out.”

Mom glanced at her watch. “But it’s not even eleven yet.”

“Hooker wanted to meet early to get good seats.”

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