Written by: TVM (firstname.lastname@example.org) & CJ Ames (email@example.com)
** ** ** Meanwhile @ Sammler-Manning Manor, front hall
"HEY PEOPLE!" Marley screamed from the front hall. Sarah came out of the living room as Marley grinned and pointed outside.
"Do you have to scream?" Sarah asked as Marley shrugged. "What is it?"
"ZoŽ girl got a new girlfriend," Marley said as she pointed outside. Sarah walked onto the porch and saw Shady's Pontiac parked on the lawn in front of Rick's truck and a giggling ZoŽ and Katie getting out. Marley joined Sarah and pulled on her pants leg and held her arms up, obviously wanting to be picked up. Sarah smiling as she picked her up just as ZoŽ and Katie stopped in front of them. "Hi, ZoŽ's new girlfriend."
"Huh?" Katie asked as ZoŽ laughed.
"Nooo, Mar bear she is my friend," ZoŽ said as her and Marley poked at each other. "This is Katie, say hi."
"Hi KT, I'm Marley I'm 4," Marley said as she held up four fingers. Katie smiled and asked, "You sure you only 4, you look much older?"
"Why do people keep saying that?" Marley asked as she held her hands up and everyone laughed.
"Who is this?" Katie asked.
"This is Cori's little sister, Marley Molloy," Sarah said. "She's impossibly sweet."
"Hi," Lily said as she came onto the porch and saw Katie. "You are a sight for sore eyes, young lady."
"So are you, wow, you're gonna pop any minute," Katie said as ZoŽ laughed. Lily smiled as she looked down at her expanded waistline and sighed. "Baby, baby?"
"Any day now," Lily commented.
"Anyway, if you let me stay the weekend you'll be sick of me by Monday," Katie said.
"Some of us already are," Sarah said as Katie gave her a dirty look.
"What's this about your parents, and you being almost homeless?" Lily asked softly.
"You need a place to crash K?" Sarah asked with a worried look.
"No she doesn't," ZoŽ said, "I wanted her to hang out with me this weekend."
"Thanks Zo," Katie said with a smile as she bumped hips with ZoŽ's. Then looking back to Lily she went on as Rick came onto the porch and joined Lily, "My Dad let my evil little... brother, Kyle, talk him into trying to break me and Shady up and it was just horrible. So, me and my older brother Kevin moved out of the house and in with Shady's Dad."
"Kevbo," Sarah giggled.
"Kevbo," Marley repeated as her and Sarah giggled.
"And Mom left Dad after Shady beat the snot out of Kyle," Katie said as ZoŽ laughed.
"What?" ZoŽ asked, "He hit her first and she beat the shit out of him."
"ZoŽ," Lily said as ZoŽ closed her lips and Katie giggled.
"She did, in my defense," Katie said. "And with Donald taking Sam, Shady and Mandy to the family reunion, he got me a room at the Marriott downtown but ZoŽ offered to let me stay here."
"I had no idea," Rick said. "That is just so unfair."
"Yeah," Katie said softly. "But Donald, he's great, he lets me and Kevin live with him and it's fun, nice."
"Yeah, the Palace is a lot more peaceful now that Kevin is around, right?" ZoŽ asked as Katie nodded.
"Yeah having a man around is something I never really appreciated until Kevin started staying there, he's broke up so many stupid McCree piss fights," Katie said.
"A lot of fighting?"
"Shady, Amanda and Sam are all hot heads," ZoŽ said. "But Katie and me usually play peacemaker. With us around I think it ends a lot sooner than it would without us."
"Lord knows that's true," Katie said.
"Mandy just seems so even tempered around here," Lily commented.
"It's Shady most of the time," Katie said.
"And Amanda," ZoŽ giggled. "They just don't get along sometimes. You know like it was with Jessie and Grace when we were on ABC."
"I like Manda," Marley announced. "She's nice, she still your girlfriend ZoŽ girl?"
"Yes she'll be back real soon," ZoŽ said as Marley smiled.
"Well you're staying the weekend?" Lily asked Katie.
"If you'll have me," Katie said with a shy smile.
"The couch OK?"
"No, Mom come on, I got a big bed and it's so not fair to make her sleep on the sofa," ZoŽ said. "Remember what you said about trusting me?"
"OK, OK," Lily said as ZoŽ grinned.
"Hey no fair, when I stay here you make me sleep on the sofa," Sarah said as Lily took a deep breath. "You love her more than me, huh Mom?"
"Mom?" Katie asked in a giggle. "You've always been weird."
"Bite me," Sarah said as Katie and ZoŽ laughed. "And you can bite me too my little monkey."
"I am not your little monkey anymore," ZoŽ said calmly. "But Marley sure seems to be."
"No, you're my only little monkey," Sarah said as ZoŽ smiled and hugged her. Marley giggling as she hugged both of them.
"I'm sorry for hurting your feelings over that," ZoŽ said as Sarah smiled. "Forgive me?"
"Of course," Sarah said and looking back at an ever smiling Marley as she said, "Besides Marley is my little Mar Bear now."
"GRRRRRRRRRR," Marley growled as she showed Sarah her 'claws' and everyone laughed. Rick and Lily shaking their heads as they headed back inside with Sarah and Marley a few moments later. Cori came down the steps as Katie and ZoŽ came in, Sarah and Marley settling back into the living room.
"Whoa, look at you!" Katie said with a huge smile. "You're walking and everything."
"Hey," Cori said with a huge smile as Katie hugged her. "It's been so long since I saw you."
"Hey you want a soda?" ZoŽ asked Katie as she headed towards the kitchen.
"Sure," Katie said with a smile. Looking back to Cori, "You look like the old Cori."
"Acting like her sometimes too," Cori said softly. "Me and Joey broke up."
"She's with that Marissa girl now I heard," Katie said. "I think you made her lose her mind."
"I blame you, you knew her before I did," Cori said.
"Only a little, that was back when I was running with Joanna a lot," Katie said. "She was Shady's friend and..."
"I got some of my memory back too," Cori said in a rush.
"Great!" Katie said excitedly.
"I am soo sorry for all the crap that I put you through over Jessie," Cori said as she looked down.
"Thanks," Katie said. "But that was a lifetime ago, so apology excepted and we don't need to talk about it. OK?"
"Cool," Cori said.
"What are you doing here... Billie?" Jessie asked as Katie looked up and saw Jessie at the top of the steps.
"Not for you," Katie said as she stuck her tongue out and watched Jessie smile. Feeling herself loving the short moment as she watched Jessie walk down the steps slowly. "ZoŽ invited me over for the weekend."
"Sure she did," Jessie said as she walked over and hugged Katie warmly. A long moment passing as both felt like the wounds of the past had finally healed. "You just wanted to see me."
"Stop flirting," Katie said as Jessie smiled. "We both know that's not a good idea."
"This is true," Jessie said. Katie grinned as ZoŽ arrived back from the kitchen and handing Katie a cold soda. "Thanks."
"She really did invite you?"
"Yeh," Katie said with a nod of the head.
"Oh yeah, me and Steph are driving down to see Mom and August you wanna bum a ride?" Jessie asked, ZoŽ thinking this is where her weekend with a friend ended abruptly.
"Nah, that's ok," Katie said as Stephanie came bouncing, literally, down the steps. She gave Katie a weird look, a moment of tension filling the room as their eyes locked on each others.
"Hey," Stephanie said nervously, her eyes never leaving Katie's. Jessie followed Katie's to Stephanie's.
"Hey," Jessie said as she touched her hand and took it in hers as Stephanie looked at her. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Stephanie said with a less than convincing smile.
"Ok, we all know Jessie and Katie used to be something, ok?" ZoŽ asked. "But now Steph you got Jessie's heart and she has yours, I know this."
"Keep talking..." Stephanie said as she smiled at ZoŽ. One that was not lost on Katie or Jessie.
"And this girl..." ZoŽ said pointing to Katie, "...is in love with Shady McCree. Either of you do anything to screw that up and I swear you're gonna have me to deal with. You wanna try me?"
"Message received ZoŽ," Jessie said as she hugged Stephanie. Stephanie smiled as she kissed her a moment later. "You ready to roll?"
"Yeh," Stephanie said with a huge smile.
"STEPHY, WAIT, STEPHY, JESSIE, WAIT!" Marley screamed as she came running out of the living room. Stopping in front of Stephanie and looking up as she asked, "Where you two go?"
"We'll be back in a few," Jessie said as ZoŽ motioned with her hand for Katie to follow and they headed up the steps.
"Can I go, I be good?" Marley asked excitedly as Stephanie smiled and a knocking came at the front door. A handsome young man waiting patiently as Jessie opened the door and stepped into the entry way and opened the front door as Marley trailed her. Seemingly forgetting her previous request now as she eyed the man in the door.
"Lily and Rick Sammler?" he asked.
"Their house," Jessie said as he handed her a thick manila folder, clip board and a pen.
"Please sign here," he said as Jessie signed her name and returned the clip board and pen. "Thank you."
"Bye mister," Marley said with a friendly wave as he walked off. Getting no reply she frowned and walked back into the house with Jessie. "He's mean."
"Didn't he say bye to you?" Jessie asked as Sarah came out of the living room and spotted Marley. Chasing her away from Jessie and back into the living room.
"No, nooo, boogerhead," Marley giggled as Grace came down the steps and watched Sarah crawl after Marley now.
"Give these to Mom and Dad?" Jessie asked as Grace took the manila folder in confusion. Jessie and Stephanie left a few moments later as Grace looked at the address on the label of the folder and seeing to her surprise that it said, Auckland, New Zealand. Rick came out of the kitchen just as Grace was about to go and find him.
"These came for you and Mom a minute ago," Grace said as she handed them to Rick. A squeal of laughter came from the living room as Marley crashed into Sarah and both went tumbling to the floor and laughed as Marley got across Sarah's stomach and started acting like a bear as she growled. Grace watched closely as Rick opened the folder and pulling out the contents.
"Oh my god," Rick said in shock and staggered back a step or so as Grace grabbed his arm to steady him.
"What's wrong?" Grace asked.
"Go get your mom ok?" Rick asked as he sat down in the chair by the phone.
"Ok yeh," Grace said as she ran into the kitchen. Seeing Lily fixing Passion's hair in the mirror by the back door she said, "Mom, Rick needs to talk to you. I think it's important."
"Well he can't have her I'm using her now," Passion said as Lily smiled and rolled her eyes.
"Come on let's go see what he wants and then we'll see about getting you dressed for tonight," Lily said.
"Tonight?" Grace asked.
"I've officially got a date with Wylan Keller," Passion said as her and Grace smiled at each other. "He's so hot."
"He sure is," Lily said as Grace's mouth dropped open. All three walked down the hall to meet Rick as more squeals of laughter came from the living room.
"Lily honey, you won't believe what I have here," Rick said as he stood.
"Paper?" Passion asked as Grace laughed.
"Yes, papers with your name on them," Rick said as Passion looked confused and worried.
"What do you mean?" Lily asked as she protectively hugged Passion around the shoulders. "Someone trying to take her and Marley away?"
"Just the opposite," Rick said with a smile crossing his face. "Passion, honey, your Dad signed over legal guardianship of you and Marley to me and Lily."
"I'm staying?" Passion asked with cautious excitement. "I don't have to go home?"
"According to these you don't," Rick said as Passion squealed and jumped into Rick's arms.
"I can really stay with you guys?" Passion asked, "Like for good? Cause I love it here."
"All we have to do is sign them and return them to the judge and you can," Rick said as Passion turned and hugged a shocked Lily.
"Is it ok? I promise I'll be good..." Passion said with pleading in her eyes. Lily smiled with tears of joy in her eyes that Grace could clearly see. Lily kissed Passion's cheek as both smiled. "Is that a yes?"
"Yes, of course it is," Lily said softly. "We'll sign the papers right now."
"Woman I'm not so sure," Rick said as Passion turned and glared at Rick. "She's an awful lot of trouble. Maybe we can send her home and keep Marley?"
"Sooo mean to me," Passion said as Rick fell back into the chair laughing as Passion blushed. "I changed my mind I wanna go home."
"Well now you don't have a choice," Rick said as he pulled a giggling Passion down onto his lap and kissed her cheek. "You're really family now Pash."
"Daddy, Ms. Lily," Marley said with a mad look on her face from the entrance to the living room.
"What sweetheart?" Lily asked as Sarah crawled up behind Marley and pecked on her shoulder. Marley giving her a mean look as Sarah laughed.
"I wanna watch SpongeBob and Sarah won't let me," Marley said. "She keeps tickling me."
"Well tickle her back," Grace said with a smile.
"I DON'T WANT TOO!" Marley screamed as everyone laughed.
"Well maybe Grace will come and help you," Sarah said as Marley took a deep breath and pointed to Grace and asked Sarah, "You tickle her now ok?"
"Now that's the best idea I've heard in a long time," Sarah said with a devious grin on her face, "What do you say Sarah's girlfriend?"
"Yeh please Sarah's girlfriend?" Marley asked as Grace groaned. Sarah fell back on the floor laughing.
"I say you can bite me Blue Eyes and you too Mar Bear," Grace said as Sarah laughed harder.
** ** ** Meanwhile @ Book Lovers
"You are so hot," Joey said under her breath as she stared at Marissa from behind the counter. Marissa leaned down beside one of the users at the computers patiently explaining something in detail. Joey pulling herself away as a by now familiar face made his way into the store and stopped by the counter. "Langston, how are you handsome?"
"Young lady if you keep flirting, word may get back to my wife of 48 years," Langston said with a gentle smile.
"Don't wanna get the wifey mad, she might not bake anymore of those cinnamon squares," Joey said as she rubbed her belly. "Good eatin."
"Too good," Langston said as he handed Joey the money as he pointed to the computers. "Oh did I tell you I got a really nice email from my Grandson Greyson, all the way from Florida."
"You know we charge extra for out of state emails," Joey said as Marissa came to the counter.
"No we don't," Marissa said. Langston rolled his eyes and went on. "Sent me three of the most lovely pictures I've ever received."
"You should send him some pictures back," Marissa said.
"I would be so lost in that pursuit," Langston admitted.
"How about you pick out some nice photos next time you come on and I'll scan them in for you," Marissa said. "And it's so easy to send them once you get them on the computer."
"Well that sounds like an easy enough arrangement," Langston said.
"Now how do you plan to do that blondie?" Joey asked, "We don't have a scanner. Duh."
"I'll bring mine from home," Marissa said. "And I can talk Judy into getting one. Duh."
"Computer 7," Joey said as Langston smiled and walked off towards the computers. Joey's hand covering Marissa's as she started to walk off. "You are so smart."
"Trying to make up for that blondie?" crack?" Marissa asked as she playfully pulled her hand away from Joey's. "I'm not a dumb blond."
"This is true," Joey said. "I said you were smart and I think it's true."
"Yeh?" Marissa asked as she leaned across the counter. Her and Joey now coming eye to eye.
"This internet thing has been a huge boost to business," Joey said as Marissa smiled brightly. "You did that not me."
"Feels so good to know I helped someone," Marissa said. "Someone who really deserves it too. Judy is so nice. Henry too..."
"What about me?" Joey asked as she gently touched Marissa's cheek. "Am I nice?"
"You are so nice," Marissa said as Joey grinned and kissed her cheek. Joey seeing Marissa's face go from a huge smile to one of fear as she looked over Joey's shoulder. "Ohmigod..."
"What?" Joey asked as she followed Marissa's eyes and saw a gentleman in a business suit coming across the street towards the store.
"My fuckin Dad..." Marissa said in a panic as Joey rounded the counter and got in front of her. "He has no idea I like gi... you... ohmigod, I am so unbelievably stupid."
"Marissa calm down, it's not that bad," Joey said softly as she touched her cheek. "Calm down for me. You think he'd freak out?"
"I have no idea," Marissa said. "He might ground me forever or welcome you to the family."
"Joey Turner?" Joey asked as Marissa laughed and pushed Joey playfully. "I don't like it."
"Shut up, please I am begging you, no games in front of him?" Marissa said as the bell rang as he entered, "Please Joey?"
"Ok, no games," Joey said with a touch of Marissa's hand and circling back around the counter and taking her seat again. "Hi and Welcome to Book Lovers."
"Thank you," he said softly and just then noticing Marissa and saying, "Well there's the girl I was looking for."
"Hi daddy," Marissa said. "Did you need something?"
"No, I had a business lunch down the street and wanted to see the place and people who have kept you so busy the last few weeks," He said.
"Ok ok, ummmm... Daddy this is my friend Joey, she's the assistant Manager," Marissa said. "Joey, my dad James."
"Nice to meet you sir," Joey said. "Thank you again for the computers."
"You are quite welcome," he said.
"Can I ask an honest question of you sir?" Joey asked as Marissa looked at her nervously.
"What would you think if I asked your daughter out on a date?" Joey asked boldly.
"Ohmigod, Joey..." Marissa said as she crossed around the counter and confronted Joey. "You said no games, this is not funny. God you're being mean."
"Marissa, no games, you wanted to know," Joey said as Marissa glared at her. Tears in her eyes that Joey could see and a heart breaking fear just beyond that it looked. "I'm sorry, I don't deserve to be your friend, I'm the stupid one."
"Well judging from my daughter's reaction, either she didn't want to know for fear of my reaction or she's not interested," James said. "But considering the level of sleaze your last few dates seem to have had, I'd much prefer you seeing a nice young lady to the likes of those little boys."
"Daddy, you're serious aren't you?" Marissa asked as her heart began to beat again. Joey smiling in shock.
"Yes I am, Logan has filled me in on a great deal of your life lately," he said. "You should have told me about this Alex Parks."
"I dunno..." Marissa said in shock.
"Hey, breathe," Joey said softly as she touched Marissa's cheek gently.
"I'm sorry Daddy, Joey just helped me move past it," Marissa said as she smiled at Joey. "She's just so nice to me and doesn't make me apologize for every thing I've ever done a million times."
"Never done anything to me," Joey said as Marissa bit her lip and tried to hide her smile.
"Can I really go on a date with her?" Marissa asked softly of her Father. "Please?"
"Yeh please?" Joey asked with a huge dorky grin as Marissa laughed and covered her face. James smiled and shook his head.
"On one condition," James said as Marissa and Joey both got nervous. "You, young lady, come to dinner."
"Nah, sounds like to much trouble," Joey said with a shrug of the shoulders. Marissa gasping for air in shock as Joey shot her an almost evil grin.
"Tell him yes or I'm gonna kill..." Marissa said as Joey boldly pulled her into her arms and touched her cheek gently. Kissing her on the lips a moment later. Despite her shock, Marissa instinctively moved her lips against Joey's for a moment before jumping away and looking at her friend in complete shock and seeing Joey began to laugh. "...you, you, ohmigod, you kissed me."
"Well that was certainly a colorful display," James said as Joey laughed harder at his reaction.
"I wouldn't go out with you now if you were the last girl on earth Joey Larue," Marissa said as she blushed a million colors and seriously wanted to kill her friend as she glared at her.
"Not so funny when I get you good in front of your parent," Joey said as she tried to get her giggles under control. "Huh?"
"Excuse me?" James asked.
"It's a game we play, trying to embarrass each other," Marissa said. "I did something like that in front of her mom. That was Joey's payback."
"Soooo funny too," Joey said as Judy emerged from the half circle that now linked 'Step by Step' & 'Book Lovers'. "Sir, this is the owner of Book Lovers Judy Brooks."
"Co-Owner thank you," Judy said.
"This is my dad," Marissa said proudly.
"Well we certainly owe you a huge thanks for letting Marissa spend all those hours here," Judy said. "She's been a huge help."
"I have?" Marissa asked.
"You sure have," Judy said as Marissa smiled proudly.
"Well she seems content in spending her time here," James commented. "And you did me a huge favor by taking those computers off my hands."
"You did us the favor, thank you," Judy said. "If things keep going well, I'll make a profit this month for the first time. A real profit."
"Are you serious Judy?" Joey asked as Judy smiled and nodded.
"Well congratulations on that and to your continued success," James said as his phone began ringing. "I must be off. Marissa honey, you won't be late?"
"Bout 10 ok?" Marissa asked as James nodded and disappeared out the door.
"A real profit?" Joey asked. "Meaning we made money?"
"Yes, and you my favorite employee are getting a raise," Judy said.
"No, no, let's see if this is real before you do that," Joey said. "I don't want you having to worry about paying me if things turn bad again."
"They won't," Marissa said with a huge smile as she hugged Joey from behind. The ringing of the bell brought in not one but three customers. All college students it appeared. "Welcome to Book Lovers."
"Thank you, I heard you were offering internet access?" one of the guys said.
"Yes we do, and we have three computers open, all three of you need one?" Marissa asked.
"Yeh I'm Graham Stokes, another struggling college student," he said. "Do you by any chance offer a student discount?"
"Ummmm...." Marissa said.
"We do now, that is an excellent idea," Judy said. "Do you have a student i.d.?"
"That I do have," he said as he showed it to her.
"Half price sound fair?"
"WOW!" he said. "Yes thank you."
"Yes thank you," the others chimed in.
"If you plan to get more computers I definitely think I can throw some business your way," Graham said as he followed Judy back to the computers, being followed by his friends.
"So cool," Marissa said as Joey turned in her arms. "I'm so happy for you and Judy."
"And you," Joey said, "Face it, without you this wouldn't have happened."
"This is true," Marissa said with a smirk as Joey laughed and nodded her head and playfully kissed Marissa. "That feels so nice."
"Yeh it does," Joey said softly and kissed her again. She felt Marissa kiss her back this time with no resistance or hesitation. Both smiled as they parted and touched foreheads. "So sweet and beautiful."
"You are too," Marissa said and for the first time she kissed Joey softly. "Will you please go somewhere with me?"
"MMMM yeh," Joey cooed in a sultry voice as Marissa blushed.
"Noooo, we have tomorrow off, I want you to go somewhere with me," Marissa said, "Please?"
"This is important?"
"Very, and you're my best friend..."
"Ok," Joey said as Marissa smiled. "Where?"
"My Mom's grave," Marissa said. "I haven't been in so long, and with you there I think I'll have the strength to actually go and see it."
"And I got your back on this, like I promised," Joey said. "Is it far?"
"A hundred miles or so?" Marissa said softly. "Near some town called West Lafayette or something, in Indiana."
"That's where Joanna moved," Joey said as Marissa looked at her in shock.
"Yeh," Joey said. "She called me out of the blue a few nights ago to say hi."
"I so need to apologize to her," Marissa said. "I dunno why I treated her the way I did."
"Joanna's mouthy, she's an easy target," Joey said as Marissa laughed.
"Think she'd kill me if I tried to at least apologize?"
"We'll go and find out if it's important to you," Joey said as her and Marissa again touched foreheads and smiled.
** ** ** Meanwhile @ Sammler-Manning Manor, front porch
"You been quiet for the last couple of hours, you still thinking about Jessie?" ZoŽ asked pointedly as her and Katie sat on the front porch and watched traffic go by.
"Yeh, just we seem to be in such different places now and both happy with other people," Katie said. "It's a numbing feeling to realize it's truly and finally over."
"So until now you thought there might be a chance..."
"No, I made the mistake of letting Jessie get away " Katie said. "But through that mistake I got to know Shady and now it just feels so good in her eyes and knowing she wants to be with me. She's so good to me, you know that."
"I was hoping you did," ZoŽ said as she bumped her shoulder against Katie's. "She loves you so much..."
"I know, more than Jessie ever did too," Katie said as ZoŽ looked at her in shock. "I think it's true."
"I don't know, I mean at the time..."
"Jessie neglected me, ZoŽ, more than once for Sarah," Katie said. "I am Shady's first priority at all times. It was never that way with Jessie."
"She was in love with you," ZoŽ said.
"Yeh, until the truth came out and the whole thing in Nashville happened with her Mom," Katie said. "See you know we slept together?"
"Yeh?" ZoŽ said.
"Jessie changed after that and then when she went to Nashville with Sarah..." Katie said softly and looking to make sure no one else was listening, said, "...some things happened that Jessie would never have done before we did it."
"Jessie and Sarah?"
"Yeh, and no they didn't do that," Katie said as ZoŽ smiled and shrugged. "Jessie did a strip show for her."
"Ohmigod," ZoŽ said as she covered her mouth. "She admitted that?"
"Yeh," Katie said. "And after that everything felt different between us. Course I didn't realize until a few weeks ago when I really had a chance to think about it. Sarah was there for her when I should have been, and they bonded big time."
"As best friends," ZoŽ said softly. "You said nothing happened."
"According to Jessie the stripping was it," Katie said. "But after Jessie came back all she wanted to do was hang out with Sarah. It made me jealous as fuck."
"But you never told her," ZoŽ said. "Right?"
"I didn't know it bothered me so much until after the explosion at the hospital when we fought like jealous sluts in the cafeteria," Katie said as ZoŽ laughed, but thought for a quiet moment as both drifted to thoughts of their own and came to a shocking conclusion and didn't know exactly how to ask the question.
"Ok, I got a stupid question," ZoŽ said as she turned to Katie and leaned in so her lips were next to Katie's ear and asked, "Are you saying something is going on with those two?"
"No," Katie said as ZoŽ took a deep breath and was relieved that she was indeed wrong. All that being washed away in the next few moments as Katie delivered a bomb shell prediction, "But just between us..."
"Of course," ZoŽ said as Katie leaned in and whispered at a barely audible level, "I think their in love... with each other."
"No, no fuckin way, no, absolutely not..." ZoŽ said as Katie covered her mouth gently and said, "Listen, both are convinced it's just a deep bond of friendship."
"But when they do let themselves feel it..." Katie said in a whisper, "...all hell is gonna break loose."
"That would be a serious disaster," ZoŽ said.
"I dunno" Katie said, "Maybe not."
"It would mean your sister would be single" Katie said with a wry smile. "Heartbroken but single."
"So?" ZoŽ asked.
"Nothing..." Katie said, "...I said to much."
"No, you are not treating me like Grace does and shutting me out because you think I'm too young to hear this," ZoŽ demanded. "I'm asking you to be my friend and tell me."
"ZoŽ we are friends, as weird as it seems that me and you would become friends, we are," Katie said. "And not just because you and Mandy are together. Real friends. And that means you have to keep this conversation a secret from everyone."
"On my heart," ZoŽ said. "I promise."
"Your sister is my fantasy girl," Katie said as her and ZoŽ began to giggle and push each other playfully. "If we were single, I'd be camped out here begging that girl for attention."
"Wait till Grace finds out about this," ZoŽ said with a devilish smile as Katie's bottom lip dropped. ZoŽ rolled away and scrambled to her feet and went tearing down the lawn as Katie gave chase. Katie trailing her as ZoŽ rounded the mail box and headed back up the lawn towards the house as the front door opened and out stepped Grace. ZoŽ stopped short of her sister and tried not to laugh at the coincidence as Katie crashed into her from behind, sending both tumbling to the grass. Grace didn't believe her eyes as she watched the two now struggle against the other to get back to their feet. "Katie?"
"Hi," Katie said as she finally pushed ZoŽ off her and darted to her feet. "What's up, buddy?"
"Buddy?" ZoŽ asked as she got back to her feet and laughed. "Dork!"
"What are you doing here?" Grace asked with a smirk.
"She's my girlfriend for the weekend," ZoŽ giggled as she plopped down in the chair behind Katie. "She's hanging out, Amanda and Shady went to a family reunion."
"Mom says dinner is ready, you coming in?" Grace asked.
"Can she sit by you?" ZoŽ asked as Grace gave her a weird look and noticed Katie glaring at her.
"Either shut up or we'll fight," Katie said as she pulled ZoŽ to her feet and ZoŽ fought to control her giggles.
"Ok sweetheart," ZoŽ said in a barely contained giggle.
"Since when are you two such big friends?" Grace asked.
"Since I got to see what Mandy sees in ZoŽ," Katie said. "She's a really cool friend."
"Thanks," ZoŽ said as she smiled at Katie.
"Hey people," Marley said as she came to the door with Cori now trailing her. "Ms. Lily say dinner ready and my belly rumbling so you better hurry."
"And you need to stop telling people what to do," Cori said as Marley looked up at her and pointed a finger as she said calmly, "No, no, boogerhead."