Page 6


“Who the hell allowed you to get those shoes?” Eric emerges from the basement stairwell carrying one of the chairs to an old dining set that’s been taking up space in the basement ever since Mom replaced ours a few years ago.
Finn appears a moment later with a matching chair. His hair is tousled and he’s got the hint of a summer tan left. He’s wearing athletic shorts and a gray t-shirt and I try to ogle as much as I can with my brother standing right next to him. I take a mental picture so I can write down every detail of this encounter in my diary later.
“Shortcake!” He smiles at me and I wait for it. For that flash of recognition to cross his face. The one that says I’m not a child anymore. The one that says he finds me attractive. The one I’ve been waiting for my entire life. But I get… nothing. Just the same friendly grin I’ve gotten my whole life.
“Dad, are you letting her leave the house in those shoes?”
Dad has just emerged from the basement with a third chair and Eric doesn’t waste a second letting his opinion on my footwear be known. Thank God he never moved back in after college. I’d have died a virgin. He’s more protective than both of our parents combined.
“That’s between your mother and Everly. I stay out of it,” Dad tells him as he kisses my forehead. “You look lovely, princess,” he says to me. “Be good and don’t wear yourself out tonight. You don’t want to fall asleep again during the football game tomorrow.”
Ugh. I see Eric smirking at me from the corner of my eye but I ignore him.
“What are you guys doing?” I nod to the chairs.
“Mom’s donating our old table set to Finn’s new apartment.” Eric slaps Finn on the back. “He got a job at Penn. This fool is going to be teaching the future of America.”
“I don’t know about the future of America, buddy. A few thousand Economics students, maybe.” Finn shrugs and it’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. He’s grown up, I realize. He’s filled out. Not the skinny high school boy I remember. He’s fit, with a runner’s physique, and I remember that he ran cross-country for Summit High School.
I joined cross-country freshman year. It was the worst afternoon of my high-school life. So we aren’t going to be one of those couples who jog together. No biggie.
They head out the door with the dining chairs as I turn to Chloe. “Well, looks like we’re going to Penn. College decision done.”
“Well, one of us has the transcript for Penn,” she says slowly, wrinkling her nose at me.
“Ugh. How hard could it be?” I eye the door, hoping for another glimpse of Finn.
Chloe pinches the bridge of her nose. “It’s Ivy League, Everly.”
“So I’ll Legally Blonde myself together.”
“Good plan. You remember how that movie ended, don’t you?”
I nod. “She gets the guy.”
“Not the guy she got into law school for.”
Humph. Sometimes Chloe is just so literal. “It’s an outline, Chloe. We can edit as we go.”
There’s a commotion at the door as Tim and Dave arrive, followed by Dad, Eric and Finn. I check Finn’s face for jealousy. Nope. None. Tim’s eyes bug out when he sees me though, which mollifies me slightly. Eric slaps a firm hand on his shoulder and leans in, I assume to threaten him. Meanwhile, Dave shuffles over to Chloe with an awkward hello. She is never getting laid.
“Pictures!” Mom emerges from the kitchen with her professional-grade camera. She’s a middle-school librarian, not a photographer. I’m not sure which she loves more—slicing open a new case of books for the library shelves, or documenting her children’s milestones on film.