The Sweetheart Sham

By: Danielle Ellison

At least I always thought he did, but then he broke mine. He told me I was important to him, kissed me all summer, then up and left town without a word’s notice to any of us. Worse, he never came back—and now I get to see him again. At least it’s only for the wedding, and then he’s back out of my life for good. I’ll be so busy the week of the wedding that I won’t even be able to think about him.

I glance at my phone. It’s way after midnight. I need to find Will and get home.

I nudge Lyla off my lap, and she curls up into a ball. Haley is only a few feet away going to second base with a boy from Lane, but she makes eye contact with me over the boy’s shoulder. I point to Lyla and Haley nods, then I bolt out of there.

I make my way through the couples on the ground and try not to see anything. It’s not that I’m a prude. I’ve kissed boys before—three boys actually, but only one that really mattered. And he left me. So to settle for someone else when I don’t really want to a) be stuck in Culler for the rest of my life or b) be a notch on someone’s belt, I choose not to. I reckon my granny would be proud. Or maybe not. Carrying a torch for a boy who left two years ago and never looked back is kind of lame.

But love is lame, or so I’ve heard.

Not that I love Beau Montgomery. I don’t. The boy I knew is a stranger now, but I think one day I will be in love and it will probably have lame parts, and definitely kissing. Real good kissing. Until then, I will keep my hands and my tongue to myself.

Something jumps out at me and knocks me to my rear and right in the mud. My dress is ruined, that’s my first thought. When did I become that girl? is my second one. Then I hear Will laughing.

“You all right?” he asks, still laughing.

“Help me up,” I say, and he does. That’s the second dress I’ve ruined at an End of the Year Party.

“Where were you?” He waggles his eyebrows. I don’t know what that means right now. “Can we go?”

“Sure. I didn’t mean to bump you.”

Will is still beaming, practically skipping as we walk.

“I’ll be sure to tell Momma it was all your fault,” I say. She’s less likely to be mad at him than at me anyway.

“Do whatever you want. Nothing can hurt me tonight, Georgie.” Will takes my hand and kisses it, then he opens the door for me.

I raise an eyebrow. “What happened to you?”

Will only hmms in response. “Not here.”

He doesn’t say anything until we’re in his Jeep halfway down the road. He pulls over and puts the car in park. His eyes are twinkling. They only do that when he’s really excited. He smiles so big that his dimples appear. He doesn’t flash that smile too often.

“Tell me.”

“I hooked up with someone.”

I gasp. “A boy?” He gives me a look. “Sorry, of course. I’m in shock. Who was it?”

“I can’t tell you. I swore I wouldn’t.”

I slap his arm. “But it’s me.”

“I can’t,” he says, drawing out the word.

“Someone we know?” I ask, but Will doesn’t give anything away.

“He’s not out yet, either.”

I think for a second. It’s gotta be someone from Haymont or Lane, right? What if it is someone else in town? How did it happen? Who made the first move? I have so many questions.

“At least I know it’s a boy,” I finally say.

“He wants to see me again. We don’t know how we’re going to do it, but I want to see him, too.” He practically jumps out of his seat from excitement. “This is crazy! I met a boy in Culler.”

I chuckle. “At least one of us did.”

Will laughs, and the sound of it makes this whole evening, and the thought of Beau being here, a little more bearable. He drives us out of the farm, toward home.

“When are you going to see this Mystery Boy again?”

His laughter fades and the cicadas sing louder in the silence. “I don’t know. It’s damn near impossible. If I tell my family I’m going on a date, they’ll want to meet her immediately.”

“And there is no her.”

“Nope. I wish there was, ya know? Someone like you I can bring home to the family.”

“If only it were that easy,” I say.

Will stares at me for a second.

“What? Something in my teeth?”

“No, no, it’s nothing.”

“I’m happy for you, Will. You’ll find a way.” I look out the window, thinking about Beau again. I knew he’d come for the wedding, but it wasn’t until I saw that checkmark next to “Yes” that I actually believed it was true. Funny how that happens.

Will stops outside my house and he gives me a hug. “I love you, Georgie. This was the best night ever; thank you for going.”

“Anything for you,” I say. Will is the one person who never lets me down. We’ve always been there for each other, and he gets me more than anyone else here. He knows me and I know him. Our friendship is everything to me.

“You really mean that?”

“I do,” I say.

Will gives me a hug, and then gets back into the truck. As his taillights disappear down the road, another truth dawns on me: the number of people who know Will Montgomery is gay has gone up by one.