Say You'll Stay - Sarah J. Brooks



Ten years ago

Young love was meant to be beautiful.

It was a stomach full of butterflies.

It was secret moments stolen between shy glances.

It was soft touches that led to passionate first kisses.

Falling in love was supposed to feel perfect.

Too bad I decided to fall in love with my best friend.


“Ugh, I hate dressing up,” I complained as my sister Whitney tied my hair into a complicated updo. She gave the strands a yank, and I winced. “Are you trying to make me bald,” I griped, my eyes watering.

Whitney rolled her eyes. “Stop whining; you’ll look beautiful.”She tucked an intricate braid into the bun at the nape of my neck.

I blew out a noisy breath that was equal parts exasperation and anxiety. I stared at my reflection in the mirror as Whitney carefully placed a dozen or so bobby pins all over my head. I was wearing a knee-length sleeveless green dress that flared slightly from the hip. The color complements my dark red hair perfectly. It was a gorgeous chiffon material that made me feel incredibly fancy. I loved the way it floated around my body. The bodice was scalloped and embroidered with tiny beads. It showed just enough cleavage without making me look slutty.

So even though I grumbled and huffed with irritation at all the primping and styling, a part of me loved every girlie second of it. I loved feeling pretty and desirable.

Particularly when I hoped to make a certain person finally see me as something other than Meghan Galloway, softball captain, and all-around tomboy.

Maybe, just maybe, this dress would do the trick.

“All done,” Whitney announced, standing back with a satisfied expression.

I stood up, shook out the skirt of my dress, and faced the new me in the mirror.

And damn, she did not disappoint.

I put a hand on my hip and turned from side to side, taking in my sister’s handiwork. Whitney was a whole eighteen months older than me and going to the community college down the road. She hated school, but she loved fashion and makeup. And every single feminine thing that I loathed and detested.

Except this once.

Because I looked freaking awesome.

Dare I say, even attractive?

It wasn’t an adjective I usually ascribed to myself. Not that I thought I was ugly. I wasn’t the kind of girl that moaned and cried about my weight or my looks. My self-esteem was just fine; thank you very much. Mostly because I took very little stock in what other people thought about me.

I never applied makeup. I typically wore my thick, red hair in a ponytail. And my normal uniform consisted of my favorite pair of faded jeans, an assorted collection of graphic tees, and my most comfortable pair of battered Chuck Taylors.

Sure, most guys would say I was cute, but I wasn’t the kind of girl that caught their attention when I walked by. I didn’t get catcalled or hit on. I was the girl the guys picked first for their soccer games. I was the one who joined them for hours of Call of Duty. I’d be first in line for the new slasher flick, never squealing over blood and gore.

Whitney always said if I didn’t have boobs, she’d wonder if I was even female. And she wasn’t wrong. I was the antithesis of everything girlie.

Until I realized I was half crazy in love.

With Adam Ducate.

My best friend for my entire life.

Since then, everything had gone to hell, and my don’t-give-a-crap attitude went right out the window. I spent longer on my hair. I even started wearing a little bit of lip gloss—nothing too over the top, of course. I had even gone out and bought some prettier shirts. Whitney’s eyes had nearly bugged out of her head when she saw me in the color pink. Because I wanted him to look at me the way he looked at Angelina Jolie when we watched Tomb Raider for the fiftieth time.

My almost obsessive fixation on his lips was also becoming a problem. I had to force myself not to stare too long at his mouth. I couldn’t think about much else but his gorgeous blue eyes and dimples. And soft, dark hair that fell slightly in his eyes. And his cocky smile with the chipped front tooth from the time I threw a football at his face, and he failed to catch it.

I had it bad.

“You’re a magician, Whit. You turned me into Cinderella,” I laughed, twirling.

Whitney snickered but then became serious. “So, you’re finally gonna say something?”

I stopped preening