“Hey, Gracie and Laura—” I hated to break up their hug. but I needed to do one more thing to make all this right. I turned to Maddie to include her as well. “I want to introduce myself, since, you know, I’m your next-door neighbor. My name’s Taylor Burton, but everyone calls me Tay.”
I pulled Kade closer to me and continued my reintroduction.
“This is my twin brother Kade, who I haven’t seen in two years because he was healing from some past mistakes. Our dad is Kai Burton, the guitarist for the rock band Buxton Peak. We moved here to get a fresh start, and I would love if you could be a part of it.”
Gracie smiled and stepped forward putting her hand in mine to return the handshake. “It’s nice to meet you, Tay. I’m Gracie Hansen, and these are two of my best friends, Laura and Maddie. I’m glad you moved in next door, and happy to be a part of your fresh start.”
I reached my hand out to Maddie. “I heard you have a beautiful singing voice. You and my brother Kade would probably get along great. He’s a pretty talented musician.”
Maddie shook my hand with a giggle and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, locking eyes with Kade. “I’m excited to get to know you better, Kade.”
“I’m excited to get to know you as well, Maddie,” Kade said, taking the hand she’d just released from mine. “You know, a slow song just started in the ball room. Would you dance with me?”
“I would love to dance with you.” Maddie giggled again and they walked away together, swallowed into the sea of high school kids on the dancefloor.
I stepped over to Laura and reached out my hand to her as well. “I heard you’re kind of like a sister to Gracie. And any sister of Gracie’s is a sister of mine.”
“I’m sorry I’ve been a jerk the past few years,” Laura said. “And I’m sorry I printed mean things in the newspaper.”
“All is forgiven.” We shook and then I turned to Gracie. “You know, I’ve had my eye on you all night and I hoped I could ask you to dance.”
“I’d love to dance with you, Tay Burton.” Gracie chuckled and shook her head in resignation. “That’s going to take some getting used to.”
“Guess we’re going to have to spend lots of time together so you can get used to it.”
“Tay, can I interrupt for a second?” Laura asked. “Could you, maybe, introduce me to your dad’s band sometime? I’m kind of a huge fan.”
“I’ll do even better than that,” I said. “Next time they have a concert within a hundred-mile radius, I’ll get us all free tickets and backstage passes.”
“Thank you so much,” Laura said with a huge grin. “You two have fun on the dance floor.” She started to back away, but Gracie pulled her in for one more hug.
As we headed over to the dancefloor, Gracie called over her shoulder. “You’re coming to my tennis match tomorrow, right?”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” Laura called back.
What had started as the worst night of my life ended with Gracie in my arms on the dancefloor, her hands around my shoulders, her wrist corsage resting near my boutonniere. “We match,” I said.
“We’re a perfect match,” Gracie said. Then she lifted onto her toes and her lips met mine in a perfect kiss.