Ki$$ & $ell: Chapter Twenty

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Chapter Twenty

I spotted McCartney almost immediately as we pulled up to the South Kennedy Mall. It was 7:45 on a Saturday morning and I was not at all happy about the fact that I was up so early. I’d always been of the opinion that weekends were meant to be spent sleeping in, then lounging around in your pajamas until at least noon, while you watched your favorite cartoons (which are not just for little kids anymore; have you heard some of the jokes on them lately?) and stuffed your belly with sugary treats like donuts, cinnamon rolls or chocolate chip pancakes.

            Yet, here I was, pulling up to an empty mall several hours before I should’ve been waking up. And did I mention this was all totally against my will?

            “There’s McCartney,” my mom said a minute after I’d already found her. “So, you guys are shopping for dresses?”

            “That’s the plan,” I grumbled, rubbing at my eyes.

            Because of my guilt over my lack of communication with my friends lately, I’d agreed to go dress shopping with McCartney. But when I’d said yes, I hadn’t realized she’d want to go before the rooster even got out of bed for the day.

            “Okay, well, have fun, hon. Give me a call when you’re ready for me to pick you up. I’m just going to be reading for a session I’m having later this week.”

            “Thanks, Mom.”

            Once the car rolled to a stop, I pushed open the door and hopped out. McCartney better realize what I was sacrificing for a little girl-on-girl bonding time. I pulled my hoodie up over my head and shoved my hands deep into the soft, fuzzy pockets. Dragging my feet in the direction of the bench McCartney was sitting on, I silently cursed her for choosing such an ungodly hour to get her shop on.

            “Great, you’re here!” she said, jumping up and walking to meet me halfway. “I was hoping we could strategize before the doors open.”

            “Mmmggrrrrrrr,” I said, doing my best impression of a zombie.

            “Oh, here,” McCartney said, producing an energy drink from her purse. “I’ve got a few more stashed in here if that doesn’t do the trick. You know I wouldn’t make you come here this early and not bring you the cure to sleepiness.”

            I popped open the top and gulped it down, only stopping when the can was empty. McCartney took the drink out of my hands and replaced it with a new one. I could feel the caffeine start to work almost immediately and took my time sipping the second. When I began to feel my annoyance disappear along with my sluggishness, I pulled my hood off and surveyed the few people who’d gathered around us.

            “Thanks. I needed that.”

            “No problemo,” she answered, before moving on. “Now back to strategizing. I’m thinking we should start at Forever 21 and then make our way back through the mall. We’ll probably need to run to the shop though, because you know that everyone else will be heading there, too. And I want first dibs on all the best dresses. There’s no way I’m settling for someone else’s castoffs.”

            “Do you seriously think anyone else from school will get up this early? McCartney, they’re teenagers. They’re probably just going to bed,” I said, switching my drink from one hand to the other like a hot potato.

            “I love you, Arielle, but have you gone mental? Everyone is going to be here today. It’s the last weekend before Homecoming and that means it’s our last chance to get the perfect dress.”

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