For the Love of Jupiter

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Cora waited for Friday with as much patience as any New Yorker

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Cora waited for Friday with as much patience as any New Yorker. She rushed home from school, ditching Eva once more with promises that she'd make it up to her.

"At least tell me how it goes," Eva had called after her. "Don't keep me hanging all weekend?"

Cora had laid out her outfit the night before, a plaid mini skirt, black tights, and white turtleneck. She'd pull the outfit together with her black ankle boots. Her mother came in as she was pulling the mini skirt over her bottom, which seemed to have grown the last time she wore the mini. "No more truffled macaroni for me," she said, zipping up the side zipper.

"You look beautiful," said Stella, sitting on her bed. "The better to fool them."

Cora stood in front of the mirror to get a better sense of how she appeared from the back. The outfit didn't feel right now that she had it on. She had ten minutes before he would show up. She could change. She tugged at the sweater, grimacing.

"You look great. Stop messing with it," her mother said.

Cora stopped tugging at the sweater and tugged at her skirt instead. She had worn a skirt last time. "Is the skirt too short?" she asked. "Is it too tight?"

Her mother tilted her head. "By my standards, yes. But not for you girls nowadays."

Cora grabbed her hair into a ponytail, thinking she should wear it up to show off her features like her mother always told her she should. If only she could find a hair tie. She searched her room for one, while her mother watched.

"I've decided to allow Willow on a group date," Stella said.

"That's great, Mom," said Cora. She was on her knees, head under her bed.

"But only if you're there," she said.

Cora forgot she was under the bed, lifted her head too fast, and banged it against the frame. She stood up. "What? Why'd you tell her that?"

"Picking my battles," Stella said. "I'd rather her not sneak around behind my back."

Cora didn't respond. She didn't have time for this, not when Beau would be there any minute. She opened her jewelry box, still searching for a hair tie.

"Willow would really appreciate it," her mother said.

"Okay, Mom," Cora said, sweeping her hair to the side. She'd decided to wear it down after all.

She was dressed and in the hall by the time the bell rang, opening the door on the first ring. "Beau," she said, smiling.

He had a square box tucked under his arm. When he removed it, Cora saw it was a book. "This is for you" He held it up. "It's my favorite. Continuing with our theme from last time, I thought you'd like it to read it."

The lightness returned to Cora's heart again. She took it from him. The book was thick with a bent cover and dog eared pages. It was the most sentimental gift anyone had ever given her, other than her granny's dress. She didn't want to run upstairs to put it in her room.

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