The Sweetheart Sham

By: Danielle Ellison


That’s our code for “Save me!”

Next I hear Momma’s sticky sweet hospitality voice echo through the house. Then it’s not the sound of two heels on our hardwood floors, but eight. I look up. Daddy’s got his paper tucked under his arm and his coffee in the other hand. “You aren’t leaving me alone!” I wail.

He opens the back door. “Be strong, Georgia Girl,” and he’s out as Momma reenters the kitchen.

Emma Claire Stanguard is beautiful. I’ve only met her a couple of times in passing, and each time I see her I have to pause. She’s beauty queen gorgeous, and all legs even though she’s kinda short like me. Long red hair that falls down her back in these perfectly curled wisps—my hair would never do that—bright green eyes, a few freckles along her nose. She’s much too pretty for Drew, even if he is a Montgomery.

“Georgie, so nice to see you,” she says, pulling me into a hug. Like I said, I barely know her but she’s thoughtful. She asked me all sorts of questions when we first met and she remembers every answer. “Your momma said you’re letting us use some of the space in your room. It’s so sweet of you to let us expand in there. I know this wedding will be taking up your whole house.”

I give Momma the side-eye. What exactly is she keeping in my room? I shouldn’t even ask. It’s probably better if I don’t know until it’s there so I can’t fuss about it.

“Yes, yes, Georgia Ann is a peach. Pearl, Jane.” Mom turns to Emma Claire’s mom and sister/maid of honor. “Some tea or coffee before we start talking about the flowers?”

Just like that my phone beeps, and it’s Will. I’ll be there in 10.

Thank the sweet baby Jesus for Will Montgomery.

Nothing says summer like sitting by the pool at the country club. Since it’s not even 9:00 a.m., it’s only Will and me here. Just the way I like it.

Well, Will and me and his phone.

I adjust myself on the plastic lounge chair and watch Will text again. “Who is that?”

Will clicks the side of his phone so the screen goes black. “The boy from the party.”

“You’ve been talking to Mystery Boy?”

Gosh, his smile is so radiant. I’ve never seen Will smile that way before. “Since Friday.”

Now I really want to know who it is. None of the guys we hang out with can carry on a conversation, let alone text one for four whole days.

Will taps the back of the phone with his fingertips. “He wants to go on a date in Charleston so we can be alone together and not worry.”

I pull my legs up to my chest. “How you going to manage that?”

I’d mention coming out again, but his trump card is always the same one: Dale Westin. I can’t make him come out before he’s ready, and I don’t want to, but I wonder how much easier his life would be. Maybe it wouldn’t be easier, I don’t know really, but I just want him to be happy.

Will smiles at me. “Georgie.”


He has this nervous but determined look on his face. The same look he gets before a big football game. “Remember when you said you’d do anything for me—did you mean it?”

“Of course I did.”

“I have a completely insane idea,” he says then pauses.

“I’m listening.”

He shuffles in his chair so he’s facing me and his legs are tucked under him. “What’s the one thing our family has wanted for generations?” He doesn’t let me answer. “A Monroe/Montgomery union  .” He points at me, then himself. “Us.”

I pause because Momma texts me and because my brain is trying to pick up whatever he’s putting down. “Us?”

“You should be my girlfriend.”

I laugh, but he’s wearing his serious face. “You want to date me?”

“Not for real, just for the summer. Look, I can’t go missing for dates with a house full of Montgomerys and all this wedding stuff. Plus, someone will want to meet whoever it is, and telling them no is like trying to kiss a rattler.”

The town watches everything he does; as the Golden Boy it’s sorta the requirement. They talk, they gossip, and if anyone sees Will with Mystery Boy, everyone will know. Now there’s no escape for him.

“If we’re dating, they’ll all be happy about it and I can go out with someone who really likes me.”

As he’s saying it, I try to imagine my summer as Will’s girlfriend. Even if it’s not real for us, it is going to be real for everyone else. Too real.

“I don’t know,” I start.

“It could also help you have a break from the wedding craziness,” Will adds. “You know your momma is going to be all about it, more than she is now.”

He’s got a point there. Momma is going to be in Planning Mode all the time. She already is, and we have months. It darn well feels like a good solution for both of us. It’s the only way no one will suspect anything. The only way Will can be sure no one finds out his secret before he’s ready to share it, and the idea of having a little bit of my own life is real appealing.

▶ Also By Danielle Ellison

▶ Hot Read

▶ Last Updated

▶ Recommend

Top Books