Kisses, Lies, and Oatmeal Cream Pies
Meridian’s sophomore year is off to a rough start. Her bestie ditches their traditional birthday party of the last fifteen years for a seat at the cool kid’s table.Kelli is the cool kid, and Meridian’s nemesis. Kelli is also the girlfriend of the class hottie, Cam Kohl, aka Meridian’s long-time secret crush. Meridian suffers in silence while she hovers in a corner booth as a helpless spectator to Kelli’s popularity with an unwanted front row seat. Fate smiles on Meridian in the form of a magical rune, and a haunting love spell is cast. Juan, a not-so-secret admirer from Meridian’s past returns. His feelings haven’t changed. Meridian soon dodges the affections of a few but craves unexpected attention from Cam and Juan.
Cam and Meridian’s friendship grows, but the spell has Meridian wondering how much of it is real. If kissing Cam breaks the spell, is Meridian willing to let him go?
And what about Juan? Can she handle losing both of them? A full moon and a fright night in a Haunted House is the perfect place to lay her doubts to rest. Will Meridian’s lips be brave enough to put love to the test?
BUY THE BOOK!
It’s been six long months since my mom’s passing, and I miss her every day. Sometimes when I get lonely, I get out my checklist for my future husband, the kind Meghan Trainor sings about. I doubt I’ll find exactly what I’m hoping for in the chaotic high school hallways which feel more like a zoo; but what is life and love, if not to dream of what might be, which is what I’m doing as I lay here in my bed wide awake at 4:45 a.m., wishing I could go back to sleep. It’s my sixteenth year, the fateful year that was so magical for my mom.
Mom was a hopeless romantic. She could make a love story out of a milk dud. I can still hear the smile in her voice. “What if there was a boy who loved milk duds, and a girl who held the last box at the movie theater, and so he sat by her, and she shared her milk duds...and they lived happily ever after?” Mom got her happily ever after with my dad. I just wish it had lasted longer.
Mom was sixteen when she met my dad, the boy she was “destined to marry”. I never tired of hearing their story. Her eyes would light up as she looked over at my dad sitting in his recliner with a small smile on his face as she told of their meet-cute; how he almost knocked her over in the school hallway when they bumped into each other, and how she knew he was “the one” from the moment he picked her books up off the floor.
Mom loved romantic comedies, and I loved watching them with her. Once a week without fail, mom and I would curl up in our blankets on the couch with bowls of popcorn and ice cream and spend a few hours falling into the land of happily ever after. Then we would move on to the second half, analyzing the movies after they were done. We would talk about the characters and how they emerged and grew in the perfect span of one hundred and twenty-five minutes. If they didn’t meet our romantic standards, we would make up our own endings with little additions to make it a more perfect love story.
Mom is the reason I started my list of the kind of love I want someday.
Memories of mom make me wonder if I’ll meet my first love this year. I wonder if I’ll know right away when I meet him, or if our love will develop over time and in-between relationships like when Harry Met Sally.
I read over my checklist as I lay in bed, not sleeping. A window rises on the opposite wall. I stumble out of bed to look into a pair of very familiar big brown eyes. My bestie, Anna Marie, takes my hand and hauls herself over the ledge. “You should know, bee-yotch, I don’t get up for just anyone at 5:00 a.m. You should feel like totally honored I’m here for your birthday.”
I frown at her. “Language this early in the morning? The sun’s not even up yet.”
Anna Marie sets her cup holder and brown bag on my end table. She wipes a dainty hand across her glistening forehead. “I’m too old for this.” She wrenches her cup out of the coffee shop cup holder and takes a sip. “It’s a good thing I’ve had lots of practice climbing in and out of windows. Otherwise, I might have dropped our coffee and donuts, and that would be sacrilege. You know how I feel about wasting a perfectly good donut.”
I take a sip of my delicious white chocolate mocha, my absolute fave. “Yeah, Anna Marie, I know.” I clutch my future love list in my hand. “I’m not sure I’m ready for this.”
Anna Marie gives me an are-you-kidding-me-right-now look. “Meridian. It’s your sixteenth birthday! This is the perfect time to send off this moony love list of yours.” She sighs. “I swear, sometimes I think you’re just in love with flowery words written on a piece of paper.” She whips out a folded-up piece of paper from her hoodie pocket. “Either way, I made one too, and you know how much I hate this kind of thing.”
My heart melts a little. “You made a love wish list for me?”
She groans. “Sure. Let’s call it that. Shut up about it already.” She slips an arm through mine. “Come on, Meridian, let’s do this thing right. Now, where are the lanterns?”
I point to the top of my closet. “They’re up there. I didn’t want them to get broken. They’re fragile.”
Anna Marie stretches and groans as she stands on her tippy toes. “You’re making me work this morning. It’s a good thing we’re best friends.” She hands me my lantern.
We stand by the window. She smacks my butt! “You’re getting your skinny arse out on that rooftop and we’re doing an epic Instagram-worthy, super-sappy, Snapchat story to kick off your destiny quest for the perfect guy. If you’re going to follow in your mom’s footsteps and find the love of your life, you gotta do it up right.”
I stare down at my lantern. “I don’t know if I’m ready.”
Anna Marie pulls me close and looks deep into my eyes. “Meridian, there’s only one way to know if he’s out there.” She stretches an arm out the window and gets all starry-eyed as she gazes at the moon like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. “You must send out your request on a wing and a prayer into the mystical, magical, universe of love, and hope it responds.”
I bite my knuckle to keep from laughing.
She stomps her foot and sighs. “Hey, I know I don’t have your mother’s romantic touch, but it’s the best I can do. Let’s go already.” She steps out on my roof in her white ducky pajama pants with her matching yellow hoodie.
I flatten out my list, tape it to the inside of my lantern, and follow her out the window. I shiver beside Anna Marie in my flannel jammies and fuzzy slippers. I hold my lantern in both hands like it’s a precious crystal vase.
Anna Marie squeezes my arm. “You can do this, Meridian. It’s time to let your idea of the perfect love and the perfect guy go. There’s no such thing. There are only boys and their crazy hormones and annoying flaws. You just have to decide which ones you’re willing to put up with.” She gives me a wink. “I say go for a pair of broad shoulders that come with a handsome face.”
I sigh. “You’re wrong, Anna Marie. My perfect guy is out there somewhere, I just know it.”
Anna Marie coughs a little. “I hope so, Meridian, but life ain’t like the movies. No one rides off into the sunset. There’s no grand gestures. No one says what they’re feeling. Everyone’s too busy playing games.” My bestie picks up her lantern. She throws her arms wide. “Oh, great universe. Hear my plea for someone to love me, preferably someone who looks and kisses like Hardin Scott.”
I nudge Anna Marie. “Hardin Scott? Really?”
She giggles and shrugs. “What can I say? I like depressed bad boys and tats.” She turns to me and winks. “Now we get to play with fire! I’m lighting the fuel cell.” She takes the lighter from her pocket and lights the square. She gives her lantern a shove, and it floats up into the early morning sky.
I look down at my lantern with a big heart drawn on both sides. I pick it up carefully and hold it up in the air one-handed. I take the lighter from Anna Marie’s hand and light my square. Something magical happens as the lantern leaves my hands and rises toward the moon. I watch in awe and wonder as a piece of me becomes a part of the sky. I wonder if my mom is close by. I wonder if she’ll read my words, a continuation of the conversations we used to have. I look up at the moon that fades into the sky as it lightens. “Universe. Accept my plea for the perfect love. I know it’s out there somewhere. Let it find me.”
I glance over at Anna Marie. So what if she says I need to forget all about my perfect guy because he doesn’t exist, just like my make-believe check-list boyfriend doesn’t exist; I think she’s wrong. The love I want and wish for is out there, and one day I’ll find it.
I watch the glowing lantern of my perfect love as it joins Anna Marie’s. A shooting star winks at me as it burns out. It’s definitely a sign. This year I’m going to find “the one.”
I keep my eyes on the sky long after my hopes and dreams float away. I picture my wishes fading into the universe and dream of what I long for:
• A devoted and undying love that includes swamp fires and giant creatures, and is inescapable, like Wesley and Buttercup’s in The Princess Bride
• A Reality Bites love-hate relationship filled with heated stares, dramatic moments, and high emotions like Lelaina and Troy
• A love that is as quirky and crazy as Benny and Joon’s, complete with a top hat and grilled cheese sandwiches
• A Jack and Rose Titanic timeless love that is muse-inspired
• A complicated Million Dollar Baby love with a little fame and a cheering section like Frankie and Maggie’s
• A magical, spell-binding Practical Magic Gary and Sally love that is mysterious and captivating
• A dutiful and committed Pride and Prejudice love that lingers, like Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet
• A persistent and intense, true, and magnetic Noah and Allie kind of love that can’t be broken, one that is necessary and inseparable like in The Notebook
My list is lengthy and specific, but I know there is a guy out there who embodies all these things. I just have to find him.
Anna Marie gives me a big hug. “Happy birthday, Meridian.” She makes a face at me. “Your list has pret-ty high standards. So, if you don’t find the guy, just know I’m here for you.”
I hug her hard. “Thanks, Anna Marie, but I think I’ll find him.” I look over at the fat tree branch that grazes my rooftop. “You going down the way you came up, or do you want to use the front door?”
She grins at me. “I’ll just grab my coffee and donut before I shimmy down that tree branch and head for home. I’ve got a three-hour date with my bed.”
Anna Marie slips out my window. I watch her exit the tree and lope across the grass. I set my coffee and donut on my dresser and sit on the floor by my windowpane. A single tear rolls down my cheek. I wipe it away and wait for the sun to rise.
“I’m sixteen now, Mom. I wish you were here.” My words break the silence along with my heart. I sit a bit longer before I climb back in bed and wish for sleep to steal my sadness.