Become a Book Nerd
When you’re not reading books, read our newsletter.
Sadie stared at her bedroom door resolutely. “Today’s going to be the day,” she vowed. “Just say hi, that’s all. It’s easy…” Sadie’s mind drifted back to the first time she saw him, the object of her obsession, sixteen year old Ethan Michael Adams. A delicious smile touched her lips at being transported to that night eight months ago. Sadie had just moved to Brighton a couple days earlier and her aunt had guilted her into going with her and her uncle to the high school football game.
On their way to the parking lot the team had rushed past. Two players stopped directly in front of the trio with their helmets raised and then let out a victorious shout. The memory played out in slow motion, Ethan’s shaggy mussed black hair, his contagious grin and sapphire eyes that locked on her brown ones. That was the moment she fell in love with everything about him. He seemed so alive with excitement oozing out of him. It was in stark contrast to the way she felt. She’d just lost her dad and moved from the only home she’d ever known. Since that life altering moment, she’s spent many an hour watching Ethan from a safe distance. Sometimes though, when Sadie felt brave, she stood beside him at school and pretended to look for something in her purse. It was lame, but at least it got her this close to him since she couldn’t be with him. The reason being? Ethan didn’t know she existed.
Sadie tucked the memory away and tiptoed down the stairs in an attempt to slip out the door unbeknownst to her mother. “Sadie, breakfasts ready,” her mother announced just as Sadie had grabbed the doorknob.
“Just great,” Sadie mumbled under her breath. “I’m not hungry, but thanks anyway.”
“At least eat a piece of toast,” her mother replied in her no nonsense motherly tone. Sadie took a deep breath to gather up enough courage to face her mother and her infernal pamphlets. Once inside the kitchen, Sadie’s shoulders slumped at the sight of her mother sitting at the kitchen table which happened to be covered with a barrage of brochures right along with dozens of sign-up sheets. “I thought we could make some summer plans.” Her mother was careful to avoid her daughter’s gaze.
“I’d love to, but I need to get to school early. I have to see Mrs. Little.” It wasn’t the case, however it was the only reason Sadie could come up with to put off the inevitable.
Sadie’s mother raised an eyebrow. “Mrs. Little? Isn’t that the school counselor?” now her eyes locked on Sadie’s. “Is there something I should know?”
“Nah. I just need to talk to her about my schedule for next year. I’ll see you later.” With a quick goodbye Sadie was out the door. The two had never been close, but since her father’s death Sadie’s mother had wanted to bridge the gap between them. And with summer coming up, Sadie knew she had no friends, no boyfriend, or anything else to otherwise us as a deterrent.
One week after Sadie’s father’s funeral, her mother announced they were moving to her own hometown of Brighton, Ohio. It reminded Sadie of the sort on a TV show or picture postcard, with its oak trees and white picket fences seated pristinely in front of perfect cookie cutter houses. All the townsfolk had grown up together, and the generations before them and the ones before them… There was only one person that hadn’t been born and raised there: Sadie. Talk about not fitting in, not that she wanted to anyway. If it were up to her, they would have stayed at North Pointe where all her friends were. But her mom had felt the need to put the past behind her and at least she’d have her sister to lean on.
“Are you purposely ignoring me or just being rude?” A deep disembodied voice asks. Sadie’s startled at finding her dream guy walking beside her.
Say something witty…say something witty…Sadie stared at him with her mouth hanging open. And then, to her horror, her lips obeyed. Out it came, the one stupid word every person said when they found themselves in a situation like that: “Huh?” It worsened when the second part of that ridiculous response slid out of her mouth. “Are-are you tuh-talking to me?” Her hands instinctively rested on her chest in order to keep her heart from leaping out of it.
“No, I’m talking to the girl beside you,” Ethan said and his eyes darted past her. Too rattled to grasp the fact that he was joking, she turned her head to the side, which caused him to let out a poorly concealed laugh. “I was kidding, Sadie.”
“Sorry, I-I didn’t see you. I-I was sort of preoccupied.” It was getting hard to talk and breathe at the same time so Sadie stopped talking.
Ethan flashed what Sadie called his to die for smile, “Really? The old, I didn’t see you line? You can tell me the truth, I can take it. You pretended to ignore me so I’d go away, didn’t you?”
Not only was her stomach in knots, Sadie was pretty sure she was going to pass out because it was obvious he was waiting for a reply. “Everyone likes you.” Great comeback, Sadie. If you want to make any sort of impression, you’d better get your brain into the conversation. “Let me start over, okay?” Sadie fought the urge to bring her hand up to her mouth to make sure she wasn’t drooling. “I wouldn’t intentionally ignore anyone—not even you…”
“Did you just say, not even me?” Ethan’s eyes grew wide. “I hope you know that hurts. I could’ve walked right by without as much as a hello.”
At that point heat had risen to Sadie’s cheeks but she didn’t let it stop her. “Oh, so you felt obligated to say something?” Sadie gave herself a mental high five for being able to spit out a complete sentence. “Is that what you mean? You didn’t speak because you wanted to, but you had to? Am I that pathetic?” Ethan smiled as if he thought Sadie had been kidding. She knew they came from completely different social circles. So his talking to her was sort of like him breaking ranks interacting with the anti-social semi-new kid. Ethan’s best friend, Billy came out of nowhere and whacked Ethan on the back of the head.
“Come on or we’re gonna be late, Adams.” Billy sidestepped Ethan and placed himself beside Sadie. “Hi, Sadie” Her face burned hotter as she gave him a half-hearted wave. Who would believe it? Here I am, walking with the two most popular guys in school. Me, Sadie Ann Matthews. Amazing.
“Why don’t you get lost, Saunders? Can’t you see Sadie and I are having a private conversation?” Ethan asked and came over to her other side. It was hard for Sadie not to smile as a ridiculous thought came to mind. We’re like a cream filled cookie and I’m the cream filling.
“Maybe she doesn’t want me to go,” Billy countered and moved a little closer. His proximity caused Sadie to involuntarily take a step to the right, which put her closer to Ethan. Her crush took that as a personal victory and his smile grew.
A light breeze blew past and two distinctly different scents wafted past. The first was a decidedly earthy scent, reminding Sadie of being out in the woods. She surmised that was Ethan. The second was more of a hanging out under the summer sun sort of scent. She turned toward Billy and inhaled, which confirmed her guess. Sadie peered at Billy from behind her lashes and noticed his eyes were resting on her.
“Why don’t we let her decide,” Ethan interjected, drawing Sadie’s attention away from Billy. “You want to tell him to get lost, or should I?”
Her heart was way past the point of racing and was seconds from exploding while her mind was ecstatic over the fact that these two perfect specimens were arguing over being with her. Ethan may have been her dream guy, but Billy was most assuredly a close second. To Sadie his sun streaked blondish-brown shaggy hair and soft seductive gray eyes had the ability to suck the heart right out of you. And his rock hard body, well, it was absolutely exquisite. On top of all that, he’d been blessed with one particular trait that garnered him the title of most popular guy with the girls. He oozed charisma. At the moment, Sadie was thankful to be immune to that charm.
“See you around, Billy.”
“You heard her, Saunders. Get lost.” Ethan grinned at Billy and Billy was grinning right back.
“Are you sure about that, Sadie?” Billy asks. “I mean, look at him. He’s not the easiest on the eyes and he’s got nothing to offer you.” Billy’s carefree smile caused Sadie’s knees to go weak and her pulse raced a little faster. “What do you say? Wouldn’t you rather be with me?”
Sadie’s heart started falling for his charm but her brain remained resolute. All she was able to do was shake her head since she’d lost the ability to speak. The faint sound of the warning bell let her know they were standing in front of the school.
“It looks like fate has other plans for us, darlin’,” Billy said and glanced at the brick building. “Come on.” Billy punched Ethan in the arm. “We can’t be late for French again or we’ll be serving some serious detention time.”
Ethan stepped closer and to Sadie’s delight, tucked a wayward strand of hair behind her ear. As he did, the back of his hand brushed against her cheek. She wasn’t sure if it was her imagination or if it really happened, but she swore a slight current of electricity passed between them. Even his eyes shone brighter for that second. Sadie was afraid to breathe, afraid that one simple act would end the most sublime moment of her life. Ethan let his arm fall and then took a step back. “I gotta go but I’ll see you after school.” With a wink and a nod in her direction, he turned and ran after his friend.
A few stragglers trekked past, but Sadie was in no hurry. Her mind was too caught up trying to absorb what just transpired between her and Ethan. For the rest of the afternoon, she spent her time reliving the most perfect morning ever. And when the final bell rang, Sadie ran for the door so she could get outside fast enough to bump into Ethan. Rather than finding Ethan, Sadie found her cousin Brittney standing there.
“Please tell me you’re not here to throw yourself at Ethan?” Brittney asked, but the smug expression on her face answered the question without Sadie having to say a word. “You are so pathetic, you know that?” Brittney shook her head and let out a loud tsk-tsk. “I saw you three this morning…” her grin turned into one that would have rivaled that of the Cheshire Cat. “I thought you were smart enough to know better. It’s a game Ethan and Billy play. They choose a victim and whoever that unlucky girl is, that’s their target. It always starts out the same. Ethan walks up and lays on his sweet innocent ‘Are you purposely ignoring me…’ line and then once the girl starts to respond, Billy shows up and from there it’s on. The loser is the one the girl tells to get lost first. Sound familiar?”
Too flustered to speak, Sadie stormed off. Brittney doesn’t know what she’s talking about, she thought in order to placate herself. Despise her pep talk; Sadie’s logical side was quick to intervene. If she was lying then why wasn’t he anywhere to be found?
“He had somewhere to be and left before I got there, that’s all,” Sadie responds to her logical self. Her commonsensical side shoots right back. Brittney was right, they were using you. Do you really think either one of them would waste a minute on someone like you? They flirt with the popular girls, not losers. You were an easy target, Sadie. Right now they’re probably laughing while Ethan brags how he bested Billy.
Hot tears streamed down Sadie’s face as that horrible truth sank in. How could I have been so gullible? I’m not stupid after all. From the first moment Sadie had laid eyes on Ethan, she’d known she never stood a chance. But this morning he’d seemed so—“sincere,” she said the last word aloud. Now that she was able to see what type of person he really was, an empty void grew deep down inside. The only thing she had to look forward to every day was seeing him. And now…now I have nothing at all. I mean, how can I ever think of him the same after he did something so mean?
Seeing her mother’s car in their driveway made Sadie even more melancholy. Even if she’d been able to slip inside and made it to her bedroom, it would only have been a matter of time before her mother would have been knocking on the door with a plate of cookies in one hand and those dumb pamphlets clutched in the other. When Mom set her mind on something, she became a crazy lady, obsessed until she had every piece in place. Every single minute of every single day would be planned out from sunrise to sunset, including meals and restroom breaks. So, rather than go inside, Sadie crossed the street and headed toward her sanctuary, the library.
All the way there Sadie told herself that she was being paranoid and the boys were just being nice to her. The only problem was she couldn’t quite make herself believe it. At least schools over in a couple weeks and then you won’t have to see him anymore. Sadie’s heart let out a sigh of its own. She’d never cared what anyone thought of her before, but this time it was different. Why? Because the object of her affection thought it was okay to get his laughs at her expense.