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Cookie O'Gorman

“It had to be something,” I persisted. I needed to know. If Hooker and my own mother had gotten that impression, maybe other people had too. Just how far did this misconception go?

“Well,” Mom said finally. “First, there’s the fact that you’ve never had a boyfriend.”

“A lot of people don’t have boyfriends.”

“You’re going to be eighteen.”

“And?” I retorted. “What else?”

“There are those rainbow stickers you always carry around in your purse—”

“Those are for the kids at work!”

“—and then there’s the whole Becks issue.”

“What Becks issue?” I said.

“Sally, that boy is prime real estate to any female with eyes. You’ve been best friends with him since grade school, and never once have you said a word about how attractive he is.”

“Becks is Becks,” I said diplomatically. “And don’t think I’m not going to tell him about the creepy comment you just made. Please, go on.”

“You never go for anyone Lillian sets you up with,” she huffed.

As soon as she said it, I knew this was the real reason.

“That’s because they’re either criminals or total idiots,” I pointed out.

“That’s not true,” Mom argued. “There was Oliver Morgan—”

“Who constantly referred to himself in the third person.”

“Devon Spurrs—”

“Currently in ISS for trying to steal Funyuns out of the school vending machine.”

“Andy Archer—”

“He couldn’t remember my name, Mom. Kept calling me Sherry, even after I corrected him—eight times.”

Mom would not be sidetracked. “Then there was Cromwell Bates.”

“Well, there you go,” I said, and she pursed her lips. “The name alone makes him sound like a serial killer. I mean, who knows? Maybe his parents know something we don’t. Besides, he spit on me when we first met.”

“He didn’t do it intentionally.” Mom lifted her hands in a helpless gesture. “Sally, the poor boy has a lisp.”

I shrugged. The feel of Cromwell’s spittle on my cheek still gave me nightmares. At the time, I’d been afraid of hurting his feelings, so I’d just let it stay there, forcing my hands not to wipe at my skin as I felt condensation settle into the pores. First thing I did when he left was wash my face, three times for good measure.

“You know...it wouldn’t bother me if you were.” Mom hesitated, tone shaky but sincere. “Gay, I mean.”

“But I’m not,” I said again. “Just because I haven’t gone for any of the loser guys Hooker’s sent my way doesn’t mean I’m into girls.”

Mom laughed suddenly. “No,” she said, “no, I guess it doesn’t.” She took my hand and met my eyes. “I just worry about you, Sally.”

I gave her hand a squeeze. Mom had been saying that since my fifth birthday when I’d asked for a light saber instead of a Barbie doll.

“And don’t be too hard on Lillian,” she added. “She reminds me of me at that age, always trying to get people together.”

“I wish she wouldn’t,” I muttered.

“Her heart’s in the right place.”

“I don’t know why she feels responsible for my love life. Mom, I’m only seventeen. There’s plenty of time for me to find the right guy...and it will be a guy,” I reiterated just to be clear.

She shrugged. “One of these days, it could be The One, waiting right out there on our doorstep.”


“I know, I know,” she said, waving me off. “Occupational hazard, I guess. I’m a servant of true love; it’s what I do, Sally.”

I’d heard that one before. As a wedding planner, Mom really couldn’t help herself. It was natural for her to want to put soul mates together. Her job was to give couples their happily ever after. She and Hooker were like two peas in a pink-heart-shaped-love-drunk pod. I just wished they’d use their talents for good instead of trying to match me up all the time. “Don’t go planning my wedding just yet, Mom.”

“Oh, please, I’ve had your wedding planned since you were in the womb.”

I couldn’t hide my look of horror.

“Relax, I’m just kidding,” she laughed. “The truth is I don’t want you to be alone.” Her eyes went from sparkling to hollow. “Believe me, it gets old after a while.”

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