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Cookie O'Gorman

“About what?” I asked.

“I’m thinking that’s going to be my quote for yearbook.”


His face dropped. “Too obvious?”

“Yeah, just a little.” Unable to stand that look, I added, “But for you, it kind of works.”

“Really?” His face suddenly brightened. “Then I’ll go with it.”

“Take it off!” The shout brought on another round of feminine laughter.

Turning toward the giggling mass of girls, Becks grinned. “Only if you say pretty please.”

“Pretty please,” they replied in unison, and I nearly gagged. When he didn’t immediately strip, the girls started up a chant of “Take it off! Take if off!” This was why they shouldn’t let cheerleaders hold practice next to the soccer field. The words got louder and louder as they got bolder, an unruly mob of hormonal teenage girls with megaphones. It was a scary sight.

“You’re not seriously going to listen to them,” I said flatly.

“What else can I do?”

“Becks, beware the dark side.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It’s a Yoda-ism,” I said, “and you know exactly what it means. Becks, have you no shame?”

“Nope,” he said, lifting the jersey over his head in one swift pull, causing a mixture of applause, screaming and appreciative sighs.

I shook my head, struggling to keep my eyes north of his jaw line.

“What can I say, Sal?” he said, backing away. “It’s like that line from that show Oklahoma. I’m just a guy who can’t say no.” Flicking his jersey at one of the cheerleaders, he hot footed it out to center field, grinning all the while. He gave a frowning Coach Crenshaw a swat to the backside, and then the team got down to business.

I wrote down Becks’s quote, making a side note to include it in my next article, while the girl who’d caught Becks’s jersey gripped the shirt to her heart and pretended to faint.

At least, I hoped it was pretend.


“Becks, not so high! You’ll drop it.”

An eye roll. “Relax, Sal, I do this every night.”

Looking at the frilly cooking apron he wore, I raised a brow. “You wear pink lace every night? Wow, Becks. After all these years, the truth finally comes out.”

“If that’s a dig at my masculinity, you know it won’t work.” Becks tossed the dough higher, grinning as I gasped. “Why do you make me wear this anyway?”

Because only one thing beat a shirtless Becks: Becks wearing a hot pink number, featuring “Kiss the Cook” on his chest, making pizza for me and my mom. After practice, he’d followed me home so we could hang out before he went to work. Mom wouldn’t be back for a couple hours because of a consultation in Bixby. Becks made dinner for us at least once a week. The apron was just a bonus. It’d been a gift to Mom, but even she’d said it looked better on Becks. Which reminded me…

“My mom thinks you’re hot.”

He almost missed the dough for real this time, saving it just before it hit the ground. The look on his face was priceless.

Recovering, he said, “That’s nice.” Dropping the dough on a pan, he pushed at the edges and started rolling the crust.

“Nice?” I repeated. “Don’t you mean weird? Creepy? All kinds of wrong?”

Cutting me a sideways glance, he said, “Why are you getting so worked up?”

“I’m not,” I lied. My mother was hitting on the one guy I’d secretly loved forever. No big. Who’d get upset over a little thing like that?

“At least we know Martha has good taste.”


He laughed as I crossed my arms. Once he’d sauced and topped the dough off with cheese, pepperoni and pineapple, Becks popped it in the oven, set the timer, then came over and mimicked my stance. He was grinning, but I refused to crack.

“Speaking of taste,” he said after a beat, “what’s with this music?”

“Classic ‘80s,” I sniffed. “If you don’t like it, feel free to switch the station.”

“No, I like it.” Becks nudged my shoulder. “Brings back memories, doesn’t it?”

“It does,” I agreed, a smile touching my lips. Becks and I had gone through the same ‘80s phase every kid goes through. A lesser-known rite of passage.

“I seem to remember you having a thing for that guy in that dance movie.”

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