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She thought they were only friends.
Until he kissed her.

When his movie finally finishes filming, Pat can't wait to return to Hartfield to spend time with his brother. But Walter would rather pretend they're complete strangers. At least his friend doesn't seem to mind him hanging around.

Melinda has just about figured out how to balance her schoolwork with her new dance class and friends. She's even found a way to spend some time with her boyfriend, Eliot. Life should be perfect, right?

Except for the fact that Eliot doesn't like that Melinda's best friend is a boy. Or that Melinda happens to be friends with a famous actor.

And just when Melinda thinks her life can't get any more complicated, an unexpected kiss forces her to reexamine they way she thinks about one of her friends.

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Melinda's Story
(Click here to read Pat's Story first)

One of the best things about Hartfield Sunday mornings was the fact that the dining hall was so empty at breakfast. I closed my eyes, savoring the moment as I sipped my hot cocoa. It was peaceful.


Until my best friend placed his tray on the opposite side of the table. I wordlessly passed Walter the plate of bacon and eggs he had asked me to carry. His own tray was overburdened with a freshly made waffle, a bowl of fruit, and glasses of milk and water.

I looked at him expectantly. He shoved a forkful of eggs in his mouth as he stared past me. I turned slightly to see what had caught his attention. There were four girls sitting a few tables away. One of them kept sneaking glances at Walter.

I shook my head as I turned back around. “Didn’t you say you had a question?”

“Huh? Oh. Yeah. So, there’s this girl in my math class.”

I pointed over my shoulder with my fork. “Lemme guess. The one over there who keeps looking this way?”

Walter’s face turned crimson. “Yeah. She usually sits on the other side of the room, but the other day, after I sat down, she came to sit next to me. And she did it again yesterday.”

“And, what? You don’t want her to sit with you?”

“She spent most of class asking me questions. I can’t tell if she likes me or if she just wants me to help her with her work.”

I raised my eyebrows. “You’re not seriously thinking of asking her out.”

Walter looked at his plate. “Maybe?”

“Walter! You just broke up with Bella.”

He sent me a pointed look. “So? As I recall, you started seeing Eliot the day after you broke up with the arrogant jerk who shall remain nameless.”

I rolled my eyes. “That is so not true. I just started talking to him again. Besides, I’ve known Eliot since, like, the third grade. Do you even know this girl’s name?”

“Ava . . . Something. I forgot her last name. I’m not sure I ever knew it.”

“Do you know anything else about her?”

Walter shoved another forkful of eggs in his mouth. “No. Which is why I want to spend some time with her outside class. So I can get to know her.”

I pursed my lips. “You know I have to approve of her before she becomes your girlfriend.”

“A pact is a pact.”

I sighed. “I’m going to the mall this afternoon with Sarah, Larry, and Eliot. Why don’t you go ask Ava if she wants to come with.”

Walter’s eyes grew wide. “What, now?”

“No. Wait until she’s alone. Do you want to come with us?”

“That depends. Are you going to the movies?”

I sat back with a shrug. “We don’t really have plans. If we did,” I lowered my voice and leaned into the table, “are there any movies playing that don’t star a member of your family?”

Walter pretended to glare at me, but it was a serious question. A couple of weeks ago, he had confided in me that his father was Adam Evans from the Grammy award-winning band, CAVEmen. As if that wasn’t enough, his mother was none other than Kara McGregor, the famous Hollywood actress. His sister, Meghan McGregor, had graduated last year and was taking a break from acting, having nearly as many screen credits as her mother. Meanwhile, his older brother, Patrick McGregor, was currently filming a movie in Hawaii and would return to school at the end of the month. Walter’s biggest fear was that everyone would treat him differently if they found out his secret.

He frowned at me. “None worth seeing. I think I’d rather just go hang out at the mall.”

I shrugged. “Works for me.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the girl who had been eyeing Walter leave her table. As she headed toward the servery, she sent him a shy smile.

I turned back to him. “Is that Ava?” When he nodded, I rolled my eyes. “Go follow her. Ask if she wants to go to the mall. And get some toast or juice or something while you’re in there, so she doesn’t think you’re stalking her.”

Walter nodded. As he hurried from the table, Sarah placed her tray beside me.

“Hey, Melinda. How was church?”

Before I could answer my roommate, her boyfriend sat on her other side, looking around. “Where’s Walter?”

I nodded my head to the servery. “He went to invite someone to come to the mall with us.”

Larry smirked. “The girl from math class?”

I nodded as Walter returned to the table with a glass of juice. We all looked at him expectantly.

He shrugged. “She’s going to meet us for the noon shuttle.”

Sarah and Larry liked to watch cartoons at the MAC on Sunday morning, so I wasn’t surprised to see them waiting near the main entrance as I headed to the shuttle stop. Walter arrived a few minutes later with the girl I had seen at breakfast.

She was wearing tight jeans and an even tighter pink sweater that flattered her petite frame. She waved to us with a smile.

“Hi! I’m Ava.”

“Ava, these are my friends.” Walter pointed to each of us. “Larry lives across the hall from me. Sarah is his girlfriend and Melinda is her roommate.”

We didn’t have time for more than a quick hello. The shuttle arrived, and I followed my friends aboard. Larry and Sarah sat together in the back corner, with Walter and Ava in front of them. I sat across the aisle, texting our ETA to my townie boyfriend.

Walter turned to me as the bus pulled away. “So, where’s Eliot meeting us?”

“The food court. He said to eat without him if he’s late.”

Walter sent me a thumbs up and began a quiet conversation with Ava. Sarah and Larry had been whispering since we boarded the bus. I looked out the window at the passing houses. As much as I liked Eliot, having a boyfriend who didn’t attend my boarding school was a tad inconvenient. And sometimes somewhat lonely.

About twenty minutes later, the bus pulled up to the mall. I followed my friends inside the building. Ava never stopped talking.

“I just love the mall. I could live here. I spent, like, most of my long weekend at the mall. Of course, this one’s not that big. The one near me is like, one of the biggest in the country. Well, in the top ten. It has so many stores you can’t find elsewhere.”

Sarah smiled at her. “Where are you from?”

“Not far from Westchester. New York.”

“Oh, there’s Eliot.” I led the way to the guy sitting at a table at the entrance of the food court.

Ava sent me a confused look. “Why is he meeting us here?”

“He lives in town. Ava, this is Eliot. Eliot, this is Ava. You’ve met everyone else.”

Eliot eyed Walter cautiously as he waved to my friends. I had a feeling the arm he put around my shoulders was supposed to be a warning to Walter. The last time we were at the mall together, Eliot was very jealous of the fact that one of my best friends was a guy.

I didn’t want another heated scene. I tried to ease the tension. “So, who’s hungry?”

Eliot squeezed my shoulder gently. “Hey. Anyone want to try that Asian fusion buffet I saw on the map?”

Ava inhaled loudly. “Speaking of Asian buffets, there is this AMAZING restaurant at my local mall. You put all the food you want into a bowl and they cook it in a wok right there in front of you. It is soooooo good.”

“Well, I’m pretty sure this one is just a regular buffet.”

Walter shrugged. “I’m always up for a good buffet.”

Larry shook his head. “Of course you are, bro.” He managed to dodge Walter’s playful punch as he ran toward the escalator.

This buffet was by far the largest I had ever seen. It was as if someone had taken take-out menus from several Asian restaurants and cooked every single item. There were two extremely long hot bars, an equally long cold bar, and a dessert bar with ice cream, fruit, and some foods I couldn’t readily identify. It smelled heavenly.

I was the first to return to the table with a plate, Eliot sitting beside me a moment later.

“So, any chance we can get together this week? How does tomorrow look?”

I shrugged. “I have tap.”

“The new class you told me about?”

“Mmhmm. It’s so much fun. But, it runs kind of late and I have orchestra at night. Tuesday would be better.”

Eliot shook his head. “Math competition. You’ll never guess where.”

I was vaguely aware of my other friends returning to the table, but Eliot had caught my attention. There was something about his smirk that made me curious. “Where?”

“West Shore.”

“No way. Our West Shore?”

Eliot nodded. “Yup. My parents already talked to Mr. Pinto. They’re going to meet me there. Take me out to dinner or something, then bring me back to my aunt’s house.”

“I wonder if anyone we know is on the team. You’ll have to tell me.”

“You know Drew probably made the team.”

“Of course. He’s in like, precalc, right?”

Eliot nodded. “And I’m willing to bet Rosa’s on the team, too.”

I made a sour face. “I don’t think so. She was really struggling in algebra last year.”

Ava pouted. “I don’t get it.”

I turned to her. “West Shore is the high school in our hometown.”

“You mean the private school you two used to attend?”

I shook my head. “No. The public high school.”

“Really? You went to public school? Like on TV?”

I glanced at Eliot. He looked as confused as I felt. When we nodded, Ava grew excited.

“What was it like? I’ve never been. I’ve been in private school since preschool.”

How was I supposed to explain the differences between my middle school and Hartfield? How could I possibly know what the high school was like? I had never been.

Eliot was only there a couple of days before moving to Oakville. But it’s not as if he could make a good comparison. He had never been to private school.

I decided to change the subject. “Is this your first boarding school?”

Ava nodded as she sipped her water. “Yeah. My parents mentioned it once or twice when I was younger, but I didn’t want to leave home.”

Larry made a face. “Lucky. My parents didn’t give me a choice. They just said, this is your new school. You’ll love it.

Walter sent him an amused look. “Didn’t you?”

“Well, yeah. But it would have been nice to be asked.”

Ava looked annoyed at the interruption. “Well, when my parents mentioned Hartfield, I couldn’t resist. I mean, this is one of the best schools in the country. Do you know how many celebrities send their kids here? I mean, think of the opportunities. You could meet someone famous and make amazing networking connections.”

Walter was playing with the food on his plate, not actually eating it, a sure sign something was bothering him. He turned to Ava. “Is that the only reason you’re here? Networking?”

Ava shook her head. “No, of course not. I want the education, too. I mean, it’s hard, but I know it will help me get into a great college.”

I nodded toward her. “Do you know what kind of college you want to go to? Like, what you want to study?”

“Not really. My parents are doctors and I think they want me to go into medicine. But, I’m really squeamish. I would love to go to art school, but I know there’s not really much you can do with an art degree.”

Eliot pointed an egg roll in her direction. “Oh. Are you an artist?”

“Nah, not really. I mean, I can doodle a little, but I can’t draw. I want to study art history and there’s not much you can do with that. Maybe work in a museum?”

We all nodded. Between the six of us, we couldn’t think of many jobs that would require a degree in art history. This led to a general discussion of future careers. I was clueless and didn’t like most of the suggestions, although it was fun ruling out some of them.

After lunch, we roamed the mall, Ava going into any store that might potentially sell shoes. While Sarah gleefully joined her, the boys and I had little interest in shoe shopping and soon grew bored. In the third store, Walter turned to Eliot.

“Melinda thinks Molly is just pretending to be infected.”

Eliot seemed to understand Walter was referring to NeoGenesis, a television show the three of us all loved to watch. He shook his head at me with a smile. “Sorry, but you’re wrong.”

It still amazed me that I could see nuances that were missed not only by my friends but also by the two faculty advisors who ran the NG viewing club at my school.

“Molly’s just pretending. Like, she didn’t actually eat that bloody steak and then she said she would help her mother, but she didn’t actually do it.”

Eliot shook his head. “But what about the other night? The final scene where Doc was running all those blood tests and he’s surprised? He knows Molly has the parasite.”

“No, see. That’s what we’re supposed to think. But I think he’s going to find that Molly’s immune. Then he’ll use her blood to make an antidote.”

Walter shrugged. “You’re wrong.”

Eliot nodded. “Yeah. I’m gonna have to agree with Walter on this one.”

I rolled my eyes. They were so wrong. “You’ll see.”

When I walked into the library study room that night, I wasn’t surprised to see Walter sitting in his usual place at the study table with his pile of books to his left. After all, we studied here together most nights. It did surprise me, however, that he wasn’t alone. On his right sat Ava, flipping through a math book. I wordlessly sat across from my friend, removing my things from my bag.

Ava smiled, speaking in a chipper tone. “Hi! Walter said I could join you guys. I hope that’s okay.”

I nodded. Even though Ava wasn’t Walter’s first girlfriend to join our study group, it still felt strange to have someone new invading our space.

But that wasn’t the only part of the situation that wasn’t right. Walter was working on tonight’s homework with Ava, even though he had finished it with me on Friday. I made no comment, opting to complete tomorrow night’s assignment on my own.

While I understood the material, I missed working with Walter. He always compared our answers when we were done, and he usually found my silly mistakes. I just hoped Mr. Davidson wouldn’t collect the assignments.

I finished the same time as Walter and Ava. When I took out my next textbook, Ava made a face of disgust.

“Ugh. Isn’t Latin boring? I mean, no one speaks it.”

Remembering an incident I had witnessed in the hallway last week, I smiled. “Mr. Henderson does. And the other Latin teacher. I don’t know her name. But I saw them speaking Latin to each other.”

“I think French is just so much more practical.” Ava’s prissy tone was borderline whining. “I mean, most of the world speaks it.”

I knew that wasn’t true. My geography teacher last year had written the top ten most widely spoken languages on the board. I remembered it vividly because it had sparked a heated debate between me and Eliot on whether dialects—such as British versus American English—should count as separate languages. Mandarin and Spanish were near the top of the list. French never made it onto the board.

But I wasn’t going to pick a fight with Ava. I ignored her comment, opening my text to the assigned lesson. Ava removed a book from her own bag and brought it to read in one of the comfy chairs in the corner of the room. Meanwhile, Walter took out his Latin notebook and turned my book so we could both read it.

By the time I finished writing out my English translation of the passage, Walter had moved on to the review questions. He stole my paper, reading through it and circling some of my words in pencil.

“We haven’t learned passive yet, so you can’t say the book is held by Cornelia. You have to say Cornelia holds the book.”

I pointed to the Latin sentence. “But book comes first.”

“Yeah, but book is in the accusative case and Cornelia is nominative.”

He was right, of course. I shook my head, crossing out my sentence and writing Walter’s translation. Even though what he said made perfect sense, I had no idea whether I could remember it on my own on our next quiz.

I was annoyed with myself as I moved on to the questions. I needed to stop making these careless mistakes.

At least I answered the questions correctly. When Walter returned my paper with no pencil marks, I checked my assignment pad for my English homework.

With a sigh, I glanced at Walter. “I forgot we were done with the myths. I don’t have my Odyssey.”

Walter shrugged. “Well, you could probably go find it downstairs in the stacks. But you won’t be able to mark it while you read.”

I checked the time, then glanced over at Ava. There was something about her presence making me feel unwelcome. I frowned.

“Nah. I think I’ll just go read it in my room. We can talk about it tomorrow.”

“Okay.” Walter looked a little sad as I packed my books. “I’ll text you later.”

I glanced at Ava. She was clearly watching us while pretending to read her French book. I shook my head. “I’ll probably be too engrossed in Odyssey. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I felt a twinge of guilt walking back to my dorm. There were still a good twenty minutes until the break. But I just wasn’t comfortable in that room. Ava’s presence had changed the dynamic between me and Walter. And I still wasn’t sure how I felt about the situation.

Sarah was working on her physics assignment with her headphones on. I wasn’t sure she even noticed me returning to the room. Since my chair wasn’t very comfortable and I would fall asleep on my bed, I changed into my pajamas and brought my book downstairs to the common room.

I made myself comfortable on a couch in the corner. A short time later, the traffic in the room increased. Larry gave me a small wave as he entered the dorm. He went straight toward the staircase, presumably to visit with Sarah. When the library closed, Ava and Walter sat huddled in a corner of the common room talking in quiet whispers.

I was happy for my friend, but I noticed a small pang of jealousy. It wasn’t a romantic envy. I didn’t think of Walter like that in the slightest. I resented the fact that someone was stealing my friend and study partner.

But I couldn’t dwell on it. Instead, I tuned out the noise around me and read about a woman named Penelope. She was being courted by many suitors, who were sitting at her dining table. Walter and Eliot were among them. I glanced at Penelope at the head of the table. She bore a striking resemblance to Ava.

“Melinda?” Someone was gently shaking my arm. “Melinda? Wake up.”

I blinked a few times. My prefect was squatting in front of me. Behind her, Mr. Price was smiling. I looked around. The common room was empty.

“Is it second study hours?”

Adrienne shook her head. “You fell asleep. It’s past curfew. Go to bed.”

Monday, October 16

Last week, Miss Serena introduced me to Mr. Pablo and I joined the advanced tap class. I couldn’t wait to work with them again on Friday.

Except that morning, I received an email that all dances were cancelled due to an emergency at the studio.

I hope everyone is okay, of course. But I really hope Mr. Pablo is back. I can’t wait to dance with that class again.

Melinda's Vocabulary Journal

New words in this story

Older Words from my Journal
  • arrogant: believing oneself to be superior or more important than others (return to story)
  • common room: large living room (return to story)
  • dormitory (dorm): a building where students live and sleep; the bedroom building (return to story)
  • prefect: an older student, usually a sixth-former, who is in charge of younger students (return to story)

Pat's Story
(Click here to read Melinda's Story first)

I stood on the shore, the surf washing over my feet and a beautiful girl by my side. A gentle breeze blew her long, dark hair in front of her face. I brushed it away with a smile.

“I love you.”

Closing my eyes, I brought my mouth to hers. She parted her lips slightly as she wrapped her hands around my neck. I tried to make my lips fit between hers a little better.


I stood back, trying not to wipe my mouth. I didn’t mind kissing Hana. It was just like every other kiss. Weird and boring.

The director marched between us. “We’ve been filming for over a month and you two still have no chemistry! I want to feel your love in that kiss. I’m not feeling it!”

Henry stomped back to his seat. I turned to my costar.

“Hana? Are you kissing Patrick or Kevin?”

“I’m kissing you, moron.” She rolled her eyes, but I had no idea what she was trying to tell me. I never understood when girls rolled their eyes.

I sighed. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. You need to be Akari. Get inside her head. Akari is kissing Kevin. Hana isn’t kissing Patrick.”

Hana looked at me for a moment. “I’ve never done this before. Kissed on screen. It’s so different!”

I nodded. Other than the audience, I wasn’t sure what made it so different. I didn’t get to ask her to explain. Henry was ready to go again.

“Take twenty-two. And . . . Action!”

I had never been in love, but I had watched a lot of sappy movies. Been in a few, too. I tried to imagine what it must feel like, what I wanted it to feel like, as I looked into Hana’s eyes. When our lips met, it felt more natural.

It seemed like a long time before Henry ended the scene. “Finally! Okay, now, we need to do the closeups. I want it that perfect every time.”

Hana smiled at me. “You’re pretty good at this. Who were you thinking of?”

I sent her a confused look. “What do you mean?”

“My acting coach said I should think of my boyfriend while I was kissing you. Makes it less weird.”

I shrugged. “I was just thinking of how Kevin should feel about Akari.”

We did a few more takes, but we had finally nailed the scene. When Henry called a break, I decided I wanted to know why everyone was making such a big deal about kissing.

I sought Frankie. He was a couple of years older than me, had graduated last year, so I figured he would probably know something about the subject. He had to know more than me. I was clueless.

I found him signing with the ASL interpreter on the set. I waved to catch his attention. He excused himself, signing as he approached me.

“What’s up?”

“Got a minute?”

When he nodded, I inclined my head towards the school trailer. “Come help me with my homework.”

He sent me a puzzled look, but followed me nonetheless. Hana never used the classroom, so I had it all to myself. Frankie collapsed on the couch and I straddled my chair facing him.

“I have a girl question,” I signed. Frankie gestured that I should continue. “I just did a scene with Hana. I had to kiss her. You ever do a stage kiss?”

Frankie shook his head. “I never had lead roles in school plays. Spent most of my time backstage.” That didn’t surprise me. Frankie was more interested in directing than acting.

“Well, Hana said that kissing on camera is different from regular kissing. And when Chloe kissed me—”

Frankie waved a hand to interrupt me. “Who’s Chloe?”

“Meghan’s best friend. I saw her when I went home a couple of weeks ago.”

“She hot?”

“Does it matter?”

“Trying to paint a picture.”

I shook my head in exasperation. “She could be a supermodel.”

“You kissed your sister’s hot best friend? You dog. Was your sister watching?”

I threw a book at him. “We were in New York. I walked Chloe home, had pizza just the two of us. I thought it was as friends, but she kissed me.”


“She said she didn’t feel anything.”

“Did you?”

“That’s just it. All I ever feel when I kiss a girl is smushed lips. I didn’t realize I was even supposed to feel something. Is that a girl thing?”

Frankie shook his head. “No.”

“Well, what am I supposed to feel?”

Frankie stood. He looked a little uncomfortable. “I can’t describe it, man. You’ll just know. I gotta get back. You good?”

I nodded, and we bumped fists before he left. At least he had answered one of my questions. I was supposed to be feeling something. I just wished I knew what that was.

That night, I knew I had the hotel room to myself. Dad and his brothers had finished writing the last song for their upcoming album, so the four of them were planning to go out to celebrate. I just wanted to chillax by the pool. Maybe swim some laps if it wasn’t too crowded. Memorize tomorrow’s lines and maybe try to figure out this whole kissing thing.

But my eleven-year-old cousin Julie found me. And wouldn’t leave my side. She followed me all the way back to my suite.

“My mom said maybe we could come visit you at work again.”

I plopped myself on the living room couch. “Yeah, I guess. Aren’t you guys leaving soon?”

Julie nodded. “Yeah. Dad wants to do a few more touristy things, so we’re staying till the weekend. Can we come tomorrow?”

I glanced at the shooting schedule in my hand. Hana and I had a couple of kissing scenes in the morning. It was awkward enough knowing her mom was watching us along with the rest of the crew. I didn’t need my family there, too.

I shrugged. “Maybe? I gotta clear it with the director.”

“Do all the actors go in every day? All the kids, I mean.”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

Julie bit her lip. “Do you have a lot of scenes with Tommy?”

“Not too much. His scenes are pretty much with Hana and Matt.”

I went into the minuscule kitchen and grabbed a soda. I needed something to go with it. Did I want pineapple again or some banana chips? I could really go for pizza. Whose idea was it to only buy local foods?

“Do you guys hang out? Like when you’re not filming?”

“Kinda. Not really. We’re all behind on our schoolwork.” Maybe if I checked the fridge, she would get the hint and go away.

“Oh. I was kind of hoping I could come hang out with you guys between scenes.”

I glanced at her over the top of the open fridge door.“Don’t you have schoolwork to do?”

“My mom said we could take a few family days. Hanging out with you counts as doing family stuff, right?”

“Sure. Whatever.” With a shrug, I returned to the fridge.

“Will Tommy be on set tomorrow?”

Click! She had a little crush. It was kind of cute. I had to help her. I smiled at her over the door. “Yeah. I’ll introduce you.”

“OMG! That would be so cool!”

Apparently, that was how to get her to leave me alone. She bounded out of the suite. I found some leftover manapua and threw it in the microwave. While I waited for it, I sent some texts to my brother and sister, even though I knew it was the middle of the night on the east coast. I really missed my family. Alone in the suite, I took my food to my room to review my lines.

The next day, Julie was awake and dressed when I got in from my morning run. I found her waiting for me by the door to my suite. “When are we leaving?”

“Does your mom know you’re here?”

She shrugged. “I left a note.”

I sighed. “I’m shooting first thing, then I need to get some schoolwork done. I’ll tell your mom to bring you by after lunch, okay?”

Julie bounced away as I headed into my apartment. My morning run hadn’t been enough to clear my head this morning. If I grabbed breakfast on the set, I could squeeze in a quick dip in the pool.

I changed quickly and headed back outside. As I swam laps, I thought about today’s scenes. I ran through my lines in my head. I knew most of them, although I would refresh my memory during makeup this morning.

Julie and Aunt Margaret arrived on set after lunch, right when I was starting a scene with Tommy. I hadn’t seen him much that morning. Before homework time, I had been working with Hana, and he had been filming with her while I was studying.

Tommy and I managed to shoot the scene in ten takes. The director gave us a quick break while he reviewed the film, and I went to visit my cousin and aunt.

“Hey,” I greeted them with a smile. “Having fun?”

Aunt Margaret nodded, but Julie wasn’t listening to me. She was looking past me to where Tommy was standing with his mother. A girl about Julie’s age was standing with them. I saw Tommy take her hand and start leading her around the set.

It broke my heart to see tears forming in my little cousin’s eyes. I tried to cheer her up. “Hey. Why don’t we go for a walk on the beach? I need some new shells.”

Tommy and his girlfriend ended up on the beach as well. Even though they were only eleven, the girl reminded me of one of my exes. And not one I particularly liked. She held his hand the entire time they were together. Any question I overheard was about filming the movie. I never once heard Tommy answering a personal question. Entirely too superficial for me.

Eventually, the director decided liked what he had seen and moved on to shoot a scene with Matt and Tommy. I was supposed to use my time to do my homework but, contrary to what I had told my cousin yesterday, I wasn’t too far behind. In light of her broken heart, I opted to stay on set with Julie and Aunt Margaret. I could catch up tomorrow.

The scene took a long time. Tommy’s mother kept correcting his Japanese pronunciation. Matt had to wait for the ASL interpreter to sign whatever the director was saying. While they were filming, Tommy’s girlfriend tried to make friends with Julie.

“Hi! I’m Paige.” She stuck out a hand.

My cousin shook it reluctantly, her voice like ice. “Julie.”

“Tommy’s my boyfriend. Who’re you with?”

Julie pointed in my direction. “My cousin.”

“OMG! Patrick McGregor!” Her shriek was loud enough to have the director turning in our direction.

“Patrick! Off the set!”

I nodded and led the way to the craft food tent. Unfortunately, the annoying little girlfriend wouldn’t leave and she babbled the entire time.

“OMG. Can I have your autograph? Wait till everyone at school hears I met Patrick McGregor. Can I take a selfie with you? No one’s gonna believe me.”

I sighed. This was the reaction I expected from girls. My mind drifted to my brother’s friend. The one who had treated me differently.

I had met Melinda when I went home a few weeks ago. She hadn’t screamed or asked for my autograph. She had asked about my sister’s recent health scare and whether I was enjoying working in Hawaii.

How she would react if she were here? I was willing to bet she would look at the amazing beach, the breathtaking flora. Maybe she would comment on the delicious food or the way people interacted with each other. I doubted she would fawn over the celebrities. I resolved that if she and Walter were still friends the next time I filmed a movie, I would definitely invite her to the set.

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