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  • Meg Sechrest

The Stubborn Girl's Guide to Love

Updated: Jan 6

Sometimes, when I'm really excited about something I'm working on, I like to share a little bit of that project. This is one of those times. Normally I write in past tense, third person; however, in this story, I decided to switch my writing style completely to first person, present tense! It's been interesting and challenging! I've been working on this for a while now and hopefully it will be out and to the world soon for you all to read! Let me know what you think!

(Not the actual book cover but just a fun image of what I would like it to look like)


ONE- EMMA

Every summer since I was 8 years old and my parents divorced, I’ve been going to spend three months with my dad on the lake in the middle of nowhere of Ohio. Each summer since I can remember, I spend months with Dave. I’m 16 now, and my mom says I should stay in California with her and her husband, but I came to the butt crack of Ohio to see my dad for one reason and one reason only: my best friend in the whole world—Adam Maynor—he’s my only true friend, really. I would be in love with him if he didn’t know my life’s deepest secrets. But I can’t fall in love with him because it would be too painful to lose him.

“Em,” Dad says, knocking on my door one morning. I roll over, tilting my phone so I can see the time. 7:12. It’s far too early to be awake in the summertime.

“What?” I say, placing my pillow over my head.

“I’m heading out. I left $20 under a magnet on the fridge. Get a pizza or head into town. Keys to the old Chevy are in the garage. Love you, kiddo.”

“Bye.”

I hear him walk out the door and then I close my eyes. Only a few minutes later, my phone buzzes. Once again, I move it in my direction to see who it is.

Adam: I know you’re awake

I text back: Am not

Adam: Yes you are or else how are you texting me? 😜

I FaceTime him.

“I knew it,” he says when he answers.

“Knew what?” I ask.

“You’re awake.”

“What are you doing?”

He moves the camera so I can see he’s still in bed, lying in just his pajama pants.

“If you’re still in bed, why’re you bugging me at 7 in the morning?”

“Want to go to the pool today? I have to be a lifeguard from 9-3.”

“Sure.”

“Sweet. Do you want a ride?”

“Dad left me the Chevy.”

“K. Be there at 9.”

“K.” I hang up the phone and roll back over. My phone buzzes only a minute later. I read Adam’s text.

Adam: I know you rolled over. Don’t go back to sleep!”

Me: 😴

Adam: Brat.

Me: 😜

I lay in bed for about 30 more minutes, and then I toss my legs over the side and trudge out my bedroom door to the bathroom. I shower, towel dry my hair, throw on my swimsuit, shorts and a tank top. Then I braid my hair and go into the kitchen to get the $20. I slip my phone into my pocket along with the $20, grab a towel from the hall closet, and slide on my sandals and run out the garage door.

“Ugh!” I holler when I don't see the keys to dads old car in the ignition.

I dial Dad’s phone. No answer. After three more tries, Dad answers.

“What’s up?”

“Dad, the keys for the Chevy aren’t in the ignition.”

“Oh. Check on the stand next to my bed. If they’re not there, then I guess you’re hoofin’ it today kiddo, sorry. Gotta go.”

Dad hangs up the phone, and I walk inside to search for the keys as I text Adam.

Me: Hey. Can you pick me up? Dad forgot to give me the keys and I don’t want to walk all the way across town.

Adam doesn’t answer in the 30 seconds that I impatiently wait for his reply, so I shove all my stuff into a backpack and walk out the front door towards the city pool. The coffee shop is on the way, so I make a pit stop to get my usual.

“What can I get for you?” The barista asks when I walk into the coffee shop.

“Can I get a large iced coffee with caramel syrup, no whip.”

“Is that all?”

“A bagel with spread.”

“$8.64. Please.”

I hand her the money and put the change in her tip jar.

“Emma?” someone says. I turn around.

“Justin?!” I exclaim when I see Adam’s older and very handsome brother standing there. “I thought you were away at school?”

“I’m home for the summer,” he says, taking a sip of his iced mocha–his drink of choice. “I’m shocked you’re not with Adam.”

“I’m heading to the pool now,” I say, taking a bite of my bagel. “Just waiting for my drink.”

“Oh. Okay. I’ll see you later then,” Justin says.

I pick my drink up from the counter and walk behind him to the door.

“See you later,” I say when he opens the door to walk outside.

“Bye.”

When he sees me walking down the sidewalk, he hollers, “Emma! Wait!” Justin hurries up behind me. “Do you need a ride?”

“Sure,” I reply. “Thanks.”

We both get in Justin’s old Honda civic and he says, “Buckle up.”

“How’s your summer going?” He asks as he starts driving.

“Pretty good,” I say. “Mom wanted me to stay in California, but it’s tradition for me to come see my dad.”

“Man, if I lived where you do, I’d never leave. Sunny, bright, warm…”

“But you’re a country boy. You’d miss it. Plus, I don’t love California. I guess it loses its sparkle if you’re there all the time like I am.”

“And Adam isn’t there,” he says with a smirk and a glance in my direction.

I nudge his side and say, “You know it’s not like that. Adam is my friend. My only true friend, really.”

“C’mon, now. That’s not true.”

“It is.”

“I’m your friend,” he said.

“You’re also 19.”

“So? That’s only three years older than you.”

“That’s a lot.”

“It’s not. So, you’re telling me you never think of Adam that way… ever?”

“Nope. Never. He’s just my friend.”

“I don’t believe it. Plus, you’re kind of hot now that you’re all grown up. I’m sure Adam is checking you out,” he says with a wink and a side smile as he parks in front of the pool for me to get out.

I feel my cheeks redden and my phone buzzing.

Adam: Em, where are you?

“Thanks for the ride,” I say and open the door.

“Yep,” he replies. “Behave.”

“Never,” I say, sticking out my tongue as I grab my things and my drink, hop out, and shut the door.

I walk to the pool entrance and pay the $3 entrance fee, then I go through the women’s locker rooms and straight over to Adam. He’s sitting on the side of the pool with his legs in the water. Sitting down next to him, I say, “Any hot chicks at the pool today?”

Adam smiles and replies, “Hey.” He picks up my iced coffee and takes a sip. “Yum. What is this?”

“Iced caramel coffee.”

“I could’ve guessed that.”

He takes another drink, and I say, “So, no hot girls here today?”

“Not really.”

“Any hot guys?” I ask, glancing around the pool, my eyes resting on a good looking dark-haired guy who’s standing in line for concessions. After soaking in his hot body for a few seconds, my eyes continue until my green eyes locked eyes with Adam’s blue eyes, and he says, “How would I know about hot guys?”

I shrug.

“But really, we need to get you a girlfriend, Adam. What about her?” I point to a tall and leggy brunette that’s making a show of stepping out of the pool, flaunting her really hot body.

“She’s hot, but she’s not my type.”

Giving him a side glance, I say, “Hot and beautiful isn’t your type? Shut up.”

“I know her brother. He’s an asshole.”

I stand and slip off my shorts and shirt, tossing them next to Adam before jumping in and disappearing beneath the water for a few seconds. When I emerge, his eyes are on me and he says, “That bikini is too revealing. Since when do you have boobs?”

I slap his thigh and say, “Adam Michael Maynor! Don’t be obnoxious! And don’t look at my boobs!”

He laughs and splashes water at me with his feet, saying, “I wasn’t. I just wasn’t aware you had any is all.”

‘Well, I do.”

“Since when?”

“None of your business,” I say, splashing him back.

I swim for 40 minutes or so before I get out and wrap my towel around my waist and sit down next to Adam again.

“Emma!” I hear just as I spread my towel out and lay back against the concrete.

I look around but don’t see who it is until Adam points to her. I groan. Macey Kendrick is headed our way. Macey Kendrick is my dad’s neighbor and is also the most annoying person on the planet. Since my mom decided she hates my dad, then up and moved to California when I was 8, Macey has made it her mission to make my life Hell. She thinks by hanging around me and trying her best to show me up, she’ll be able to win Adam’s heart. She hasn’t succeeded yet. Adam just doesn’t like her. It’s not that she isn’t pretty. She is. She has nice hair and good eyes. I mean, sometimes I wish I had her blonde hair and brown eyes. They’re far more traditionally beautiful than my green eyes and brown hair is. It’s just Macey doesn’t understand the kind of person Adam is. He’s been through so much. And I mean so much. Showing off won’t win him.

“Emma! How are you?!”

“Hi, Macey,” I say, remaining with my back against the cement as I allow the sun to beat against my pale skin.

“Better be careful laying in the sun unprotected like you are, Emma. Your skin is so pale and you have all those freckles. You’re gonna get a sunburn. Too bad you don’t have my golden skin,” she says, stretching her legs out in a dramatic way for Adam to have a good look.

“Such a shame,” I reply, then I feel Adam nudge me.

“So, you guys,” Macey says. “You wanna hang out later?”

I cringe thinking how to respond. There’s no way I’m spending the day with her. No. way. Thank god for Adam because he says, “Sorry, we can’t.”

“Oh. Okay. Maybe tomorrow.”

Macey stands up, making a show of tossing her hair as she says, “Sorry I can’t stay, but I’m getting my hair done soon.”

“Shame,” I say. Adam nudges me again.

“Later,” she says as she walks away.

“Later,” Adam says.

“Bye,” I say.

Once she’s out of ear shot, I turn toward Adam and scold him.

“You shouldn’t pretend to like her.”

He chuckles. “I don’t.”

I cross my arms over my chest, facing away from him.

“Stop pouting like a baby and go get us some nachos,” he says as he reaches for his duffle bag.

“I’m not pouting,” I say.

“You are… here,” he says, handing me $10. “Bring back nachos and a gatorade. Get whatever you want.”

“Okay.”

I walk over to the concessions but turn around as I do, and I see Adam watching me as I walk away, making me feel awkward and self-conscious. The thing about Adam and me is that our relationship has always been easy and care-free, but since we’ve both hit puberty, things have been kind of weird. Not because we are interested in each other that way, because we’re not, at least I don’t think he is, but because I don’t think we know how to act now that we’re practically adults. I mean, Adam is 17. He grows facial hair. Dark facial hair and hair on his chest. It’s weird for him to act the same way around me like he did when we were 10 or even 11 because I know he looks at girls the way I look at guys. Sometimes I wonder if he looks at me that way. Not because I want him to look at me that way but because I wonder if I’m worthy of being looked at that way. I’ve thought about asking him, but I know it would be weird for him and me, and he’d probably answer me with something like “You’re not a girl. You’re Emma.”

“Hey Emma. What can I get you?”

“Oh hey, Jeff,” I say when I realize I got lost in my thoughts about Adam. “Adam wants nachos and a red gatorade. I want a pretzel with cheese and a coke.”

“Sure,” Jeff says and walks away. He comes back just a minute later and says, “We’re out of pretzels.”

“That’s okay. Just the nachos.”

He walks away again.

When he returns, he has the nachos and drinks in hand and says, “Six dollars.”

I hand him the money, wait for the change and say thanks. Then I head back to Adam.

“You didn’t get anything,” Adam says.

“I got a Coke.”

“You didn’t want food? I told you to get whatever.”

“I wanted a pretzel, but they’re out,” I say and sit down on the side of the pool once more, dangling my feet over the edge.

“Oh. Have some of my nachos,” he says.

When I reach for a bite, someone hollers at Adam, and I awkwardly shove the nacho into my mouth.

“Adam, my man!”

“Sup, bro?!” Adam replies to the guy running over.

They do a dorky and very cringe guy handshake and one-armed hug before Adam says, “Conner, this is the friend I was telling you about.”

“The one from California?”

“Guilty,” I say standing up beside them.

Conner gives me a pervy eye-up like a typical 17-year-old male, and says, “Adam, she’s way hotter than you said, dude.”

I scold Adam with my eyes and say, “Stop talking about me like that!”

“I wasn’t!”

“Liar,” Conner says. “Dude, you wouldn’t stop talking about her for like weeks and…”

“He’s a fuckin’ liar, Em! I swear!”

Feeling mortified and unable to process my emotions if Adam really is thinking about me that way, I turn around and sit on the side of the pool.

“Anyway, you coming to the lake tomorrow?” Conner says.

“Maybe,” Adam says. “Who’s going?”

“Hayley, Brian, Michaela… I don’t know. A bunch of us. You can bring your friend if you want.”

I glance back at Adam because I know he’s waiting for my response. I’m right. He’s looking at me.

“Whatever,” I say.

“See?” Conner says. “She wants to.”

“This isn’t a yes. It’s maybe.”

“Sweet. See ya’ll later,” Conner says then jumps in the pool and swims toward the slide.

Adam sits down beside me and says, “Well, do you wanna go?”

I shrug. “Maybe. But you gotta tell me what you were saying to your friend.”

“He’s new to my school and everyone was telling him how I have this really hot girlfriend who lives in San Francisco.”

“Oh.”

“I told him you’re not my girlfriend.”

“And?” I say, feeling really uncomfortable about the conversation, so I shove a nacho in my mouth and look across the pool.

“I told him you’re cute, Em, that’s all. I wasn’t being weird about it. I swear.”

“Do you really think that about me?” I ask, feeling awkward as I brush my hair behind my ear and look away from him since I know my face is turning red.

“Sure, I do. What am I gonna say? That you’re hideous? Now, I don’t think that at all,” he says, nudging my side.


TWO

Dad: I won’t be home for dinner.

“Want to grab a burger?” I say to Adam as he gathers his things and I dangle my legs over the side of the pool, watching the people swim and the kids race to the water slide line.

“Sure. You’ve only been here two days, though. Won’t your dad want you to have dinner with him?”

“He’s working late.”

“Oh. Alright.”

“I mean, we could have pizza at your place instead.”

“Whatever. My brother is home though and he’s a pain in the ass. Let’s just go to the burger shop.”

“I like Justin, but alright.” Adam’s eyes glance up at me as he grabs up my things and we walk out to the parking lot.

“I don’t know why.”

“I saw him earlier,” I say.

“Justin?”

“Yep. He dropped me off here this morning.”

Adam glances back at me and says, “I thought you brought your dad’s old car.”

“I couldn’t find the keys.”

“Oh,” he says and turns the key to unlock his brown 1975 pickup truck. “Then get in.”

“What’s the matter?” he says.

“Nothing.”

“You’re being quiet.”

He walks around to his side and tosses my stuff inside on the rear bench.

“Your dad okay with you riding with me?”

“He’ll be fine,” I say and roll down the window. It has to be 80 degrees outside and Adam’s truck doesn’t have any A/C.

“Will he though, Em? He hates me.”

“He only hates you because he thinks you’re trying to have sex with me,” I say and give him a side glance. “But you’re not. I’ve known you for 8 years and you haven’t even kissed me.”

Looking awkwardly out the window he has his elbow resting on, he says, “Do you want me to kiss you?”

“No!”

“Okay. Good.”

“Do you want to kiss me?” I ask. Adam doesn’t say anything for a moment before he looks out his window again and mumbles, “No. Of course, I don’t. Why would you even ask that?”

He stays quiet the rest of the way to the pizza place. When he parks he says, “Be right back.”

Adam leaves me in the truck, but I feel impatient–and also very hot in the summer heat–and go inside after about 10 minutes. Much to my happiness (or dismay, I’m not really sure yet) Adam’s talking to the leggy brunette who was at the pool. He looks in my direction and his eyes go wide and he says, “Uh, Emma! This… um… we…”

I walk over to her and extend my hand. “Hi. I’m Emma.”

Though she seems reluctant, she smiles back and says, “I’m Carly. Nice to meet you. Are you Adam’s girlfriend?”

Laughing dramatically, I reply, “God, no! I’m Adam’s best friend!”

Adam looks over at me as I say that, and then he says, “Alright, well, our pizza ia ready, so we have to go, Em.”

“Carly, you should definitely come by Adam’s house sometime.”

She glances at Adam, waiting for his invitation. When he doesn’t give it, she says, “Yeah. That’d be cool.”

Adam picks up the pizza off the counter and says, “Bye, Carly. C’mon, Em.” And he walks out the door.

“Bye, Carly,” I say and follow him out the door.

“Adam Michael! What was that?!”

“What was what?” he asks as he climbs into his truck.

“You know what! That girl is so hot and you weren’t even that into her!”

He shrugs and drives out of the parking lot. “I told you she isn’t my type.”

“Okay then. Who is your type?”

He stops at a red light and turns his face at me and says, “I don’t know, Em. Why does it matter to you so much?”

“It matters because I want you to be happy.”

“Can we just go inside?” he says as he pulls into his driveway.

I sigh. “Yeah.”

Justin is sitting in their living room watching TV and drinking a can of something when we walk past to the stairs.

“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” Justin hollers when he sees us walk past.

“Why are you such an idiot?!” Adam yells back. Then he looks at me and says, “Justin said he thinks you’re hot now.”

“What?! I don’t believe it.”

Adam sighs and opens the door to his bedroom. “Try to hide your excitement just a tad if you would. He is my brother and it’s weird.”






©Meg S. 2023


All Rights Reserved.



This article may not be reused or reprinted without the author's written permission.



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