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Time grinded to a halt as she waited for Talon to respond. One hour passed, then two, then four. All afternoon she waited, her anxiety rising as each minute ticked by. By the time dinner rolled around, she was almost cross-eyed from staring at her screen for so long.

When twenty-four hours passed without a response, she was convinced something happened. Perhaps he was held up at gunpoint and someone robbed him of his phone? Or maybe he got hurt at football practice and was currently at the hospital in a medical induced coma? Those scenarios sounded plausible….right? Because even if he didn’t want to talk to her, he would have at least sent a text telling her to go away.

“Would you put that thing away?”

Keeley’s head jerked up. Her brother stood in front of their bowling lane, impatiently tapping his foot. He held a neon yellow bowling ball to his chest, which screamed, “Look at me! Look at me!” But that wasn’t even the worst part, the ball blended in perfectly with his neon yellow polo. She would have made some sarcastic retort about it except she was wearing the exact same shirt. When their mother heard they were going to spend quality time together, she ran out of the house and bought them matching outfits. Neither wanted to wear them, but they pushed aside the embarrassment—and there was a lot of embarrassment—when they saw how happy it made her. She even took commemorative photos, which both Keeley and Zach agreed needed to be destroyed immediately.

“I don’t want you to miss the throw that ultimately defeats you and names me the victor,” he continued with a smirk.

She looked past him to the two pins at the end of lane. One pin stood at the far right, while the other stood at the far left. “There’s no way you’re going to make that.”

“Oh ye of little faith,” Zach crooned. “Want to make a bet on it?”

She glanced at the pins again. It was a 7-10 split—one of the hardest splits in bowling. “Alright. I’ll take my chances. What are the terms?”

Triumph flared in his eyes, but he quickly masked it. Rubbing his chin, he pretended to ponder. “If I don’t make it, I’ll do your chores for a month.”

“And if you do?” she asked suspiciously.

He flashed her an innocent grin. “You have to cover for me the night of Homecoming.”

So that was his game. She propped her elbows on her knees and bent forward. “What exactly do you want me to do? You know Dad wants you home by midnight.” He was adamant about it. He didn’t want them out on the streets at all. Last year during this time, a student from a neighboring high school had gotten drunk at his Homecoming dance. He made the bad decision to drive and ended up smashing into another car, killing a young boy.

“I know, but I’m going to be Homecoming King this year. I want to go out and celebrate.” He lifted a hand when she gave him a warning look. “And I’m not getting behind the wheel. The party is happening at Cory’s place so I’m going to crash there for the night.”

“And what if you don’t get voted as Homecoming King?”

He rolled his eyes and shifted the ball to his other side. “The only way that would happen is if all the ballets mysteriously disappeared so they couldn’t announce a winner.”

A sly look entered her eyes as she bit her lower lip.

“Nuh-uh,” Zach murmured, pointing a finger at her. “Don’t get any ideas, missy. I’ve waited four years for this moment. I will not be denied.”

“Don’t act as if this is your only chance. You’re going to be voted Prom King too. What’s the big deal if you don’t get voted for both?”

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