The Novella Collection by Katie McGarry

Chapter 1


“Promise me you will not elope.” Through video chat on my cell, Lila gives me her patented best-friend glare of disapproval. Her blond hair is pulled back in a ponytail and swings with the shake of her head. “I swear to God, I will never forgive you if you do. Like never. I have been your best friend for too long to be left out of a big moment like you getting married, do you understand?”

From the passenger side of my Honda Civic, I glance out the window to make sure Noah’s still in line in the convenience store. He rolled down all four windows so I wouldn’t wither in the August heat of Pensacola Beach, Florida, and the last thing I need is for him to walk up and hear my best friend talking about wedding-dress shopping, bachelorette parties, and what should be the something borrowed and something blue.

My car is filled with our vacation. A bag of clothes in the back that desperately needs to find a washer, printed out directions from Louisville to here that we never used since the GPS worked, a few crumpled fast-food bags and the drinks we brought along with us from the lunch we just had at the Whataburger.

“One, what makes you think Noah and I would elope?” I ask. “Two, he hasn’t proposed. Three, I seriously don’t think he has plans to propose.”

Lila rolls her eyes and does it in such a big way that it was clearly meant as her entire response. “You’d elope because your father hates him.”

True, but my father understands that Noah’s not going anywhere. After regaining my memories during my senior year of high school as to why I have scars all over my arms, I forced my father into therapy with me last January.

Because we’re both stubborn, we argued, we yelled, and sarcasm was used as a whip made of spiky chains. I’d get so angry I’d cry, and he’d go mute because he’s my father and that’s what he does when he doesn’t yell. After three months of both of us being intolerable to each other and probably to the therapist, my father broke—and when I say broke, I mean he cried.

I swallow when my throat tightens with the memory. My father doesn’t cry and when he cried, I cried and we were both crying and we finally talked about a lot of things. One of them being, I loved Noah and my father was going to have to deal with the fact that Noah is not a phase and would be in my life.

“I pinkie-swear to you, I am not eloping,” I say, but Lila continues like I didn’t speak.

“You’re leaving in four days to live over a thousand miles away from Noah and the guy first asked you to marry him after you dated him for two months. You’re telling me that he hasn’t proposed to you while you’re surrounded by white-sand beaches and tropical air? I have to admit this little game you’re playing with me is starting to tick me off.”

I place my hand in the air in a stop. “He took that proposal back because he didn’t really mean it. He was only seventeen! He was scared of not getting custody of his brothers and he was realizing he was falling in love with me and he just said the first thing that came to his mind as a solution, so it doesn’t count. That was two years ago, and just so you know, Noah and I have absolutely no plans of getting married until we’re out of college.”

Because God knows we had enough complications in our personal lives before we even met each other or graduated from high school. We talk about our future together and we talk about what our lives will be like once we get married, but for now our goal is to take the next few years slow and easy.

Since we’re not even halfway through college, most people would think we’re too young to think about forever, but those people haven’t lived my life or Noah’s and they can keep their opinions to themselves.

Lila shrugs. “Whatever.”

My eyes narrow as I take in my best friend since birth. There’s a glint in her Glinda the Good Witch blue eyes I missed before. “What do you know?”

Her face falls. “He really hasn’t asked you, has he?”

I sit up straight in the seat and ask again, “What do you know?”

She ducks. “Nothing.”

Nope. Not nothing. “Too late. You