“The Best Day”
Five days earlier…
It should have been the best day. Crystal Waters floated home from the bus stop, and with each step her heart grew lighter and her smile bigger. She knew she probably looked like an idiot, grinning and swinging a near-empty book bag around—but for once,
she didn’t care how she looked. She twirled in a circle, then kept walking, just managing to stop herself from skipping.
The Parker twins sprinted past her, dumped their backpacks in their front yard and jumped onto their bicycles, tearing down the street, shouting, “Freedom!” at the top of their lungs. It was all Crystal could do to keep from screaming right along with them.
The North Carolina weather seemed to celebrate with her—bright blue sky without a single cloud, air tinged with a hint of honeysuckle and not a drop of its normal, sweltering humidity. It was as if the weather knew that Crystal’s book bag contained a note that was going to change her life. Just thinking about it sent a tingle crawling up her spine. She shivered. The Barrett Buzz, Alexis called it—and what a buzz it was.
Casting a quick glance around to make sure no neighbors were watching, she plopped down onto the sun-warmed sidewalk and yanked her yearbook out of her green book bag.
There it was, on the inside front cover, in the most adorable, masculine scrawl she’d ever seen:
Crys, Stay sweet and don’t change. See ya at the pool. Barrett. Oh,
Barrett Branson had given her a nickname, Crys. Never mind the fact that Crystal didn’t like being called “Crys”—everyone knew guys didn’t give you a nickname unless they really liked you. And sure, everyone wrote “stay sweet and don’t change” in yearbooks, but—did he really think she was sweet? She could swear the apostrophe in “don’t” looked a little like a heart. And “K.I.T.” as in, “Keep In Touch”? No one— certainly no boy—would write that unless he meant it, right? Alexis would know. She had to call Alexis.