Maddie and I technically slept together on prom night. Before I brag too much, I should clarify that we were still fully dressed and lying on the sand dunes watching the moon set over Lake Michigan.
My tux was covered in sand, Maddie’s prom dress was crinkled, and there were ants in her wrist corsage.
We got in so much trouble.
The only reason our parents let us back out of the house was to attend Gracie’s tennis match.
Not surprising, Gracie called us out when we arrived. “You two look like you didn’t sleep at all.” There was a teasing glint in her eyes. No doubt Taylor had already ratted us out. Not that I cared.
Prom was lame, Maddie had her own car, so we ducked out halfway through the evening and drove down to the beach. We sat and talked, digging our feet into the sand, splashing each other in Lake Michigan still wearing our prom attire. Lying on the beach, gazing at the moon and the stars, listening to the water splash on the shore. Yeah, it wasn’t surprising Maddie and I fell asleep. I was really starting to like her.
I reached over and wrapped my arm around her waist, pulling her close to me. “Who can sleep when you have this beauty lying next to you?”
Maddie giggled and winked at me before turning to Gracie “We can sleep when we’re dead. We weren’t going to miss your tennis match against our rivals.”
Gracie flashed a huge smile, glancing around our group at Taylor, me and Maddie, and Laura, her former best friend. As of last night, her former friend turned enemy turned friend again. I couldn’t keep track. Gracie was probably still on a high from everyone making up. “How did I get so lucky to have such amazing friends?”
Taylor wrapped his arm around Gracie’s shoulder “Just don’t forget, you and I have officially moved out of the friend zone.”
“Gag me,” I said, rolling my eyes. I was stoked to have my brother back to treating me like his twin, but I don’t do mushy. Taylor had always been the more romantic one of us. I had to admit he and Gracie were kind of cute as lovesick puppies. Never for me. That wasn’t my style.
“I’m excited for your tournament, Gracie,” Laura said with an encouraging smile.
“I wish you were out there playing with me.” Gracie pouted.
“Nah, I’m going to CMU in the fall to focus on photojournalism. They have one of the best programs in the country, and it’s still close to home, so it was kind of a no brainer. Tennis was a hobby for me. That’s your thing.”
College. I didn’t even really think about how college was supposed to start in just a few months. I never thought about going to college. I don’t see a point when I want to pursue music anyways. I wondered if Maddie knew where she was going.
“Tay and I are going to Stanford,” Gracie said. “I’m signing my national letter of intent on Monday to play tennis there. I’m planning to major in engineering.”
“And I’m going to major in environmental science.” Taylor puffed up his chest like that was something to brag about. What a dork I had for a twin brother. He could be an environmental scientist. I was going to be a rock star like our dad.
“Well, it sounds like you two have it all figured out,” Maddie said, slumping her shoulders. I wondered what she had figured out.
Gracie turned to her coach who was waving her over. “Oh, I’ve got to go. Wish me luck.”
“Good luck,” we said in unison then walked over to the bleachers and sat down together to watch Gracie play. Within a few minutes of the tournament starting, Gracie was in control. She ran all over the court, smacking the ball with force.
“I hope I never get on Gracie’s bad side,” I said to Maddie, who sat by my side. “Because I wouldn’t want to be the ball to her racket.”
“Right? She’s so talented.” Maddie didn’t take her eyes off her best friend.
I wanted to ask Maddie about her plans for the future because I kind of liked the idea of having her around. Knowing I was planning to head back to Nashville eventually made me nervous. I nudged her shoulder. “So, do you know where you’re going this fall?”
Maddie wrinkled her nose and shook her head. She turned to me and said, “No, I thought I wanted to go travel and do humanitarian work somewhere in the world, but now I’m not so sure. I want to pursue a music career, but I don’t even know how to get started.”
Humanitarian work. Music career. Why didn’t I think of this before? “I just had the loveliest idea,” I said in my best British accent, mimicking my dad.
“Oh yeah? What would that be?”
“You and I go down to Nashville and volunteer at my Uncle Ian’s charity for inner-city youth,” I said. “You could meet my dad’s band, and maybe they can connect us with the right people so we can work on music too.”
Maddie bit her lower lip and creased her brow, cringing with apprehension. “I don’t want you to think the only reason I’m hanging around you is because your dad’s a rock star.”
I grabbed her hand, pulling it to my chest. “Maddie, I’ve been around girls like that. Believe me, you are nothing like them.”
Maddie sighed and leaned toward me. I wrapped my arms around her and held her tight. This felt so natural. So right. Where had this girl been all my life? “Where would we even stay?” Maddie asked.
“You could stay at my dad’s place with me. It’s plenty big enough. There’s an amazing pool, multiple wings and stories, and a recording studio where we can work on music together.”
“I don’t know, Kade,” Maddie said. “We barely just met.”
“Maddie, I’ve done way crazier things with people I’ve known for a shorter amount of time than you. Trust me, it’ll be fine.”
“That’s reassuring,” Maddie said sarcastically.
“Okay, that’s not what I meant,” I said quickly. I didn’t want to deter her from this plan. Now that the gears in my head were turning, I seriously wanted this to work out. “It isn’t like I’m asking you to move in with me or anything. The house is enormous. There is even a guest house you could stay in if that would make you feel better.”
Maddie nodded her head as if thinking through all the possibilities. I wasn’t just asking her to move three states away, I was asking her to move into my rock star father’s millionaire lifestyle. That’s a lot for most people to take in.
“You don’t think your parents would mind?” Maddie asked hesitantly.
“Nah, my mom already knows you through Gracie and Tay, and my dad’s chill. There’s very little conventional about him, notwithstanding him being a rock star.”
Maddie closed her eyes and let out a deep breath, then sat up and looked at me. “Yes, I’ll go. Let’s do this.”
“Awesome!” I called out a little too loudly in celebration just as Gracie missed a ball and lost a point. I couldn’t contain my smile even as Taylor turned around and punched me in the leg.
“Quiet moron, this is a tennis match,” Taylor growled under his breath.
“Sorry,” Maddie and I said together, sheepish.
We turned to look into each other’s eyes, and I knew then that I was starting to fall hard for this girl. Every minute drew me closer to her and I didn’t want to lose her. Being together in Nashville doing what we both love was a sure way to make her mine. I raised my eyebrows seductively. “This is going to be awesome. I promise.”
Book Club Discussion Questions: Ask Audi Lynn Anderson what the name of her new book is...