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Cookie O'Gorman

“But what about the gloves?” Mom said, following me to the door. “Don’t you want to check again?”

“No, that’s okay.” I gave her a peck on the cheek. “Hooker will just have to deal. Love you, Mom.”

“But Sally, can’t you just wait...”

Before she could say more, I opened the door...and saw the boy with the sky blue Scion striding toward our house.

Through clenched teeth, I hissed, “Mom, tell me you didn’t.”

“I didn’t,” she said, but I wasn’t buying. Her smile was too bright, her manner too content, to be some innocent bystander. Then the truth, “Lillian did.”

“I told her no more dates.”

“She’s just trying to be a good friend, Sally. Who knows? He could be your soul mate.”

“If the first eight weren’t my soul mates, the odds aren’t in his favor,” I said. “Plus, I don’t want Hooker feeling like a third wheel.”

Mom’s look was shrewd. “And since when does Lillian go anywhere without a boy on her arm?”

She had a point, but...

“I’m not doing this.” I shook my head. “Not tonight.”

“Oh yes, you are,” Mom said, pushing me onto the porch as I tried to back away. “His name is Austin Harris. He’s a good boy, according to Lillian, and I promised I’d make sure you left together. Now—” She slipped something into my hand. “—go out and have some fun.”

The door slammed. Unbelievable. Mom had literally thrown me out of the house. As I heard the lock click into place, I looked at what she’d given me.

The yellow gloves. She must’ve taken them out of my room sometime this afternoon while I was at school.

My mom, the calculating mastermind.

The thought nearly made me grin, but by then Austin had made his way to the door.

“Hi,” he said smiling, reaching out a hand, “I’m Austin. I ran into Lillian at the bookstore, and I guess she thought—well, yeah.”

“Sally,” I said, shaking his hand. Austin had the body of a surfer/swim model with a face to match. I couldn’t figure out why he was being so nice. Boys who looked like Austin rarely were. But after eyeing him more closely, I noticed…was that a pocket protector? I’d thought those were a myth. And his dark blue tie, which he wore loose over a white, untucked button-down was actually imprinted with the Hogwarts seal. “You like Harry Potter?” I asked, nodding to it.

“Hell yeah,” he said enthusiastically. Then, like he’d caught himself, he said, “I mean, yeah. Harry Potter’s pretty cool. If you’re into that sort of thing.”

I grinned. “I wear my Gryffindor jersey at least once a week.”



“Oh. That’s good.” He looked relieved. “I thought I’d blown it in the first five minutes.”

“No, you’re doing fine,” I said then took a peek at my cell. If I wasn’t there in ten minutes, Hooker would be shooting lightning bolts out of her eyes. “Listen, Austin, I don’t know what my friend told you, but we’re meeting her at the movie theater. If I’m not there in about ten minutes, it’ll probably be sold out.”

“X-men, right?” Austin fished two tickets out of his pocket. “I already got them. Lillian sent me a text a couple of hours ago.”

“Wow.” I was honestly impressed. Hooker’s deviousness had suddenly reached an all-time high. “So, you won’t mind hanging out with the two of us?”

“Not if she’s as cool as you are.” He flushed a little but gestured in my direction. “I like your hair by the way.”

“Thanks,” I said.

And that’s how I ended up going to the movies with Austin Harris, a boy I barely knew, who’d already given me more compliments than any of my previous dating disasters combined, and was a surprisingly cautious driver.

Too cautious. He drove like a ninety-year-old man with cataracts. If he stopped at one more yellow, I couldn’t be held responsible for my actions.

When we walked in, Hooker was propped up against the snack stand, tapping her foot impatiently, clad in full-out Storm paraphernalia. The white thigh-high boots she was wearing looked painted on, but that was nothing in comparison to the white Lycra bodysuit and cape. My favorite touch was the frosty bob wig she’d donned just for the occasion. Classic Hooker. She never did anything by halves.

Spotting me, she pushed off.

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