The Sweetheart Sham

By: Danielle Ellison


“She’s more than serious. She could’ve at least picked a shorter dress. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”

He smirks. “What do you want to do?”

“Go home.”

“Will went to find Drew,” Beau says. “Wanna go sit?” He nods toward the porch swing.

“Oh no, not there, anyway. Trust me,” I say.

Instead, we head toward some of the logs that are set up around a dying campfire. My shoe gets stuck in some mud, and he waits for me to get it unstuck. He only laughs a little bit, and when I’m free I punch his arm.

“Hey now.”

“Don’t laugh at me.”

“I’m not laughing at you.”

“I know it’s ridiculous. I’m trying here.”

“You’re not ridiculous. You’re beautiful,” he says. “You always are.”

I feel myself blush, and I’m not sure why. This is Beau. But Beau has never called me beautiful or looked at me that way.

Beau is staring at me, this strange look on his face. For a second I think he’s gonna hurl, but that’s not what he does. He kisses me. Beau kisses me, straight on the lips.

After, we stand there and neither of us moves. I’m still processing what happened when Will calls our names. “Drew is in the car!”

“Georgie,” Beau says, reaching out for me.

“You better sober up real fast,” I say. My heart races as I walk ahead, and my legs are shaky but not from the dress. Beau Montgomery just kissed me.





Chapter Four


Georgie


Will and I have kept our fakeship, code for Fake Relationship, a secret for the last five days. I tried to make sure I hinted to Momma and Daddy that something was going on with someone. I smiled more than usual, and even did a few of those cute laughs that girls do while checking their phone. I played coy when they asked. Momma likes to know everything, so I’m surprised she didn’t pry harder.

We decided we’d reveal it tonight at the Montgomery family dinner, since both of our families will be there. Will’s handling the reveal, and I’m handling the breakup details at the end of the summer. We even set some ground rules.

Hand holding, good.

Hugging, always okay.

Flirting, as needed.

Kissing, none unless absolutely necessary. Hopefully it’s never.

I’ve walked into the Montgomery Estate millions of times in my life, but today it feels like the first time. I’ve never been dating a Montgomery before while I do it. Momma pulls at my dress. “Why do you seem nervous?”

“I’m not,” I say.

“You have a line right here.” She points and touches my forehead.

“Leave her be, Jessamyn,” Daddy says and pulls her away before she can protest.

Will lets us in and my parents hug him. “Everyone’s out back,” he says. Once they’re gone, he looks at me. “You ready to face the Montgomerys?”

Yes. No.

“I’m ready if you are.”

Some Luke Bryan song plays throughout the house, and suddenly I am nervous. What if this doesn’t work at all? Momma could look right at me and know we’re lying, couldn’t she? His grandpa could die from the shock of it all; I don’t want to be the one who kills Orry Montgomery.

Or what if it goes well? Like, really, really well? What if we never get out of the lie? That won’t happen. We won’t let it happen. We’ve talked about all the possible outcomes, and we will definitely be breaking up at the end of this summer.

They’ll buy our story, right?

“You look pale,” Will says.

I see the family outside through the big windows. They’re laughing and talking. Most of them changed my diapers at some point, which is weird to think about, but they’ve been around since I have. “I reckon I am a little nervous.”

Will chuckles, but it sounds more like a squeak. “Me too. I’ve never brought a girl home before.”

He takes my hand before we turn the corner. Will’s held my hand before, but never like this. Never when it meant something else. And it doesn’t, because we’re not interested in each other, but we have to convince all of Culler, South Carolina, that we are. Worse, we have to convince every Montgomery and Monroe that we are An Item.

No pressure.

Orry, Will’s grandpa, sees us first. He’s facing the door, pouring some scotch, and he literally freezes to look right down at our hands, which are entwined and sweaty from nerves and heat. Not that he knows that part. Then he laughs his old man laugh that he’s known for, one that’s all air trying to squeeze out and getting caught in his chest. (He used to be a smoker.)

“Tell me I ain’t seeing this wrong.” Orry nods toward our hands.

Will and I exchange a look. He seems really nervous now—at least I don’t think my hand is that sweaty on its own—so it’s up to me to take charge.

“Yes, sir. Will here finally swept me off my feet.”

Orry hollers and slaps Will on the back. A few people look toward the sound.

“’Bout time, boy! This is the best news.” Will relaxes some and even smiles as Orry pulls him away from me with a hug. “Everyone’s gonna be happier than a dead pig in the sunshine.”

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