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Cookie O'Gorman

Letting out a breath, I finally relaxed. “Rogue has it all over Storm and you know it.”

“Puh-lease,” she said, rolling her eyes, “Storm could cause a hurricane that’d knock Rogue back to last week.”

“Yeah, and all Rogue would have to do is touch her, and Storm’d be out like a light, transferring her powers to Rogue in the process.” Right as Ms. Vega was walking to the board, I asked once more, just to be sure, “So, no mystery men…or women?”

Hooker held out her palms. “Just Xavier and his crew.”

“Then I’m in,” I said back, and Hooker smiled.

Being so dateable herself, Hooker always seemed to have some guy on the side. For the past three months, it’d been Will Swift, a college boy fresh out of Chariot and attending UNC. Boys were just drawn to her. They’d been calling her up since middle school, and she couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want her castoffs.

As my best girl friend and an aspiring professional matchmaker, she felt it her duty to “broaden my romantic horizons.” She typically arranged meetings with guys who were either hot and/or experienced—the bad part was she never actually told me beforehand. Sunday guess-who’s-coming-to-dinner was just the start. I’d show up someplace (a restaurant, the mall, a football game) at a time we’d agreed to meet, and instead of Hooker I’d find Joe Piscotti, the second guy she’d set me up with, who I admit had been easy on the eyes—but who had also been twenty-six to my seventeen. Thankfully, Mom had never found out about that fiasco. Or Connor Boone, a nineteen-year-old self-proclaimed artist who’d offered to paint me in my birthday suit. I’d respectfully declined.

It wasn’t that I thought I was better than them (except, well maybe, in the morality department). In fact, on the whole, it’d been the guys who’d ended the dates early. They hadn’t been interested, simple as that. Honestly I hadn’t been either, so it’d worked out great for everyone except Hooker, who’d taken it personally. I was now her mission.

Hooker had upped the amount of setups this year, determined to have me matched by graduation.

“Senior year, Spitz,” she’d said on our first day back. “I have to find you a guy.”

“You really don’t,” was my response.

“Yes, I do.” Her eyes were bright. “I want to be a matchmaker. What does it say if I can’t even find my own bestie her man? Unacceptable.”


“No buts, Spitz. I’ll find you a guy or die trying.”

Too bad I couldn’t tell her I’d already found one, The One as a matter of fact.

But that was a secret I’d sooner take to the grave.

Still, I’d asked Hooker countless times to stop fixing me up, but she never listened. She had to know it was a lost cause. Didn’t she realize I was best buds with the Adonis of the school? The only girl in Chariot never once chatted up, picked up, or felt up by the town’s best-loved playboy? There had to be something wrong with me. Not pretty enough, not girly enough, something. I’d accepted it a long time ago, so why couldn’t she?

My classes went by quickly. After school, the German club meeting ran a little long—which hardly ever happened since there were only two other members—so I had to sprint out to the bleachers to catch the end of practice. I swiped a hand over my forehead, and the back came away damp. Apparently my glands had missed the memo about how girls aren’t supposed to sweat, because I was definitely sporting more than a glisten.

My eyes wandered to the sidelines of the soccer field, catching Becks flirting with yet another legs-for-days cheerleader, his second of the day. Coach Crenshaw yelled his name, voice slicing through the air with all the finesse of a foghorn. Becks didn’t even flinch. He was sweating like a fiend, but Miss Double Back Handspring didn’t seem to mind.

Crenshaw called Becks’s name again, turning red in the face, which was around the same time he noticed me. Ignoring the coach, Becks jogged right over.

“Enjoying the show?” he asked, tugging the bottom of his shirt up to wipe his face.

A bout of girlish squeals erupted.

“Sure,” I said, cocking my head, “but not nearly as much as they are.”

“Ah, Sal, give me a break. I’m working my butt off out there. Are you going to write me a prize piece or what?”

“Oh yeah, definitely,” I nodded, tapping at my notebook, “Don’t you worry. It’ll be totally Pulitzer-worthy.”

“Hey, listen.” He cleared his throat as Crenshaw bellowed his name a third time. “If you can’t stand the heat, get off the field.” He paused, smiling wide. “So, what do you think?”

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