When we got to his car, I punched him. Pretty hard, too. He looked over at me shocked.

"NP3!" I shouted.

"Ouch," he said, then paused. "What was that for?"

"You have a Prius," I said, raising my eyebrow like this was the most normal thing in the world.


"That's what you do when you see a Prius. God, and you call yourself a Washington citizen."

"This is Washington DC, not state."

"Oh, right."

He rubbed his arm. "You throw a good punch."

"I've practiced."

He pulled out his keys, and the door beeped twice. I reached to open the door, but he stopped me and said, "Allow me."

I smiled, and plopped into the seat. It still smelled like new car. He climbed in next to me.

"So, you're chivalrous, even after somebody punched you?" I bit back a laugh.

"Well…" he looked at me, "I have nothing to say to that."

I grinned victoriously.

"Except that I'd only do that for you."

"Sure…" I nodded, a bit sarcastic. He looked over at me earnestly, and I rolled my eyes. He put his hand on the back of my seat as he looked out the back window. I glanced over at him. He caught my gaze, and the car stopped. I glanced away, blushing. We finally got out of the parking space, and started out of the parking lot. He was a good driver.

"So, you moved here last week?"

"Yeah," I said, focusing harder on the landscape.


"My dad wanted a change of scenery for him and his bimbo wife," I said, trying and failing to keep the bitterness out of my voice.. He glanced over at me, and I smiled innocently. He laughed.


"Me? No."

"I assume you didn't want to move?"

"Yeah, no kidding. Just when things got interesting, too." I muttered under my breath.

"What?" He heard me. Of course he heard me. We're in a sedan.

"What? Nothing."

He raised an eyebrow, but didn't say anything. We were on the freeway. I concentrated on the road before me. He tried not to laugh.

"I saw that."

"Saw what?" he said, still laughing.

"You're laughing at me."

"I am not."

"Just tell me why?" I said.

"Why are you hiding something from me?""What?" I was shocked. Woah, how'd he know about that?

He laughed. He laughed? What is wrong with him?

"It's obvious you're hiding something from your past." He said it as if it was common knowledge.

Oh no, was it common knowledge? So much for subtlety…

I groaned, and he laughed. Again. I grumbled at him.

"Come on, tell me."

The car rolled to a stop in front of a large Victorian house. Her jaw dropped open a little bit.

"Like it?" Owen asked. She glanced over at him.

"This is my house."

Owen raised his eyebrows. "I was talking about that house." He pointed across the street. It was an even larger Victorian house. She laughed. Loudly. Owen scowled a little bit. She laughed harder.

"Oh, come one. Don't you think this is even the slightest bit funny? We live across the street from each other. It's like you're stalking me!"

He laughed then. She smiled.

"Or you're stalking me."

"You're the one that followed me around at school all day."

"I showed you around. You could've refused."

"I had no idea where I was going!"

"But you still could've said no."

I scowled at him. He smiled.

"Whose house? Yours or mine?" he asked. I glanced between them.

"Is anyone at your house?"

"I don't know."

I grumbled. "I don't know; I'm indecisive."

He smiled at me, and said, "Your house." I raised my eyebrows. "I'm tired of my house."

I shrugged, and pulled her keys out of my bag. I held them up, and jingled them. "Let's go!"

He laughed, and climbed out. He opened the door for me, and I couldn't help but smile. "Still chivalrous, I see?"

"Why, yes. Of course, ma'am."

I grimaced, "No."

"No what?"

I stuck the key into the lock, and turned it. "No calling me ma'am. I'm in high school, jeez." I pushed the door open with my foot and pulled the keys out of the lock. Owen smiled at me.

"So, uh, are you hungry?" I asked, moving further into the house.

"Sure," he said. I turned around and raised an eyebrow.


"Well, I could be hungry. It's not like I'm absolutely starving or something."

I just rolled my eyes, and turned back around. "So, wanna help me find the kitchen?"

It was Owen's turn to roll his eyes. "Well, I guess I have to."

"Yeah, if you want some of my world-famous cookies."

"Cookies?" he asked. He'd always had a cookie soft-spot. Especially for well-made, home-baked cookies.

I turned into one of the rooms, and clapped excitedly. "Found it!"

Owen smiled, rolling his eyes. "Alright, where are the cookies?"

"I have to make them. Durr," I said. Owen raised an eyebrow. "Now, help me find what I need."

He rolled his eyes again. "So, you're going to make world-famous cookies, without even knowing what you have in the kitchen, or where it is?"

"Well, I know where the oven is, I can improvise from there." I opened a cupboard and shuffled some stuff around. I grabbed two bags: one of them labeled: sweetened coconut shreds, and the other labeled: semi-sweet chocolate morsels. I grinned, and opened another cupboard. I pulled out a sack of flour, some measuring cups, and a bag of walnuts. I turned to him, and said, "You aren't allergic to anything, right?"

He nodded. "Just pollen." I nodded, then continued searching. I pulled out brown sugar next, followed by butterscotch morsels, and then mixing bowls and cookie sheets. I opened the bags, and started measuring the ingredients into the bowls. Owen reached out to help, and I smacked his hand away.

"No touching," I said, resuming my careful mixing.

Owen rolled his eyes a third time, then said, "Am I allowed to talk, or would that throw you off?"

That threw me off. "What?"

"Can we talk?"

"Oh, yeah, sure," I started mixing the dough with a wooden spoon.

"So, what are you hiding from me?"

"What?" That really threw me off. The spoon clattered onto the counter, and then to the floor. We stood staring at each other for a few seconds, before I blushed profusely. Something about the way he stared at me made me feel really weird. Like, good uncomfortable, I guess.

I picked the spoon up, ran some water over it and left it in the sink. I dried my hands off and continued mixing with my hands. Owen tapped my shoulder. I whipped my head around.

"You didn't answer my question," he said, taking a step closer to me. I pushed my self closer to the counter.

I kind of wanted to tell him all about Mike and me, and everything that happened with my mom and dad, and Veronica. Something about him made me want to spill my life story. I bit my lip. He took another step closer. Something about this whole thing reminded me way too much of Michael. I could feel his warm breath on my face. I held myself back from swooning.

"Okay, there is something I'm not telling you," I said, turning back around and leaning onto the sink for support. He reached out to comfort me, but I turned and started kneading the dough again. I started to form balls of dough.

"When I lived in Washington State, I had a best friend named Michael. We'd been friends since forever," I began. He stood behind me, watching me. I pressed the balls onto the cookie sheet. "The day my dad told me we were moving, I was shocked. I stalked up to my room in a huff, and Michael was in there. He'd heard the whole thing."

The memories started to fill my head.

"How did you get in here?" I said, falling onto my bed next to him. He smiled down at me.

"Same as last time, and the time before then, and the time before then."

"And how did you get in those times?" I shifted my weight onto my elbow, sitting up a little bit.

"The trellis. I climbed up, squashing your stepmother's beautiful ivy," he smiled sarcastically, "And up, into your window and onto your bed."

"Oh, that's how." I laughed, forgetting my troubles.

"So, what was that about? Downstairs?"

I groaned. "You heard?"

"Wasn't hard to hear." He laughed as he said it, lowering himself to my eye level. "What's going on?"

"Well, to begin with, the bimbo and her spawn are moving in. But, the punchline is, they aren't moving in here. They're moving in to our new house in Washington. Washington DC." I sat all the way up as I said the last sentence. Tears were coming to my eyes.

"What?" he sat up too, grabbing hold of my waist so that he could see my face. I broke out of his grasp and stood. I faced the other way.

"I'm moving. Across the continent. And I don't know why." A stream of salty water lined my cheek. He grabbed my wrist and pulled me back onto my bed.

"But…" he couldn't finish his sentence. He was speechless. I was speechless.

"And, I don't even know when we're leaving." We looked into each other's eyes, like we'd never see each other again. Which was quite a possibility. He suddenly wrapped his arms around me and squeezed me into a hug.

"Oh, Isa, don't go!" I could feel him shake.

"I almost forgot. I don't have any say, because I'm grounded."

He pulled his face back; his eyes were red but know they were smiling. "For what? Oh, the she-monster called you Isabella again?"

"Yup." I grinned at him, holding back sobs. I sucked in a huge breath of air, trying to calm myself.

"Well, Isa, I want to tell you something." I met his gaze. He looked different, more serious.

"I, uh, I think I like you. You know, in the weird sense."

"Wait, what?"

"I came here to tell you that I wanted to be your boyfriend, but you're going away. So, will you? Be my girlfriend? Even if only for today?" He smiled awkwardly.

I gazed at him, considering my options. He was looking at me. I couldn't think of anything to say.

"What?" was the best I could squeak out. I gazed at him, by best friend. He seemed to be deep in thought. I just studied his face.

It's not like he's ugly or something. He's actually quite the opposite. If we hadn't been friends since elementary school, and best friends since sixth grade, I probably would have considered him. But, the fact remains, I'm going into my junior year in high school, he's been my best friend for five years. I just haven't thought of him that way before.

I looked up at him again.

Was it just me, or was his face getting closer? I continued to stare at him quizzically. No, it couldn't be, I told myself.

And then I understood what was happening. He was trying to kiss me. Yes, yes it could. My eyes widened.

Unfortunately, his eyes were already closed by then. His face was less than an inch away from mine.

It seemed like an eternity before his lips touched mine.

You know how they say that before you die, you see your life flash before your eyes? That happened to me, before the kiss. I saw myself when I was learning to walk, and learning to talk. I remembered things I could have sworn I'd forgotten, and things I didn't remember doing. I saw myself on the beach with Mom; wearing that ridiculous hat Grandma gave me that I had to wear. I had no say in the matter.

I was back into real life before I really had the time to realize what was happening in my head before it was gone. And then it finally happened. I was in reality now.

It wasn't what I'd expected. It was, actually, kind of nice. I got involved in it, wrapping my arms around his neck, letting him in a little more.

Thoughts were racing through my mind. Fortunately, no longer were they memories. And my mind stopped at one.

I moved my hands to his chest, and pushed myself back from him.

"Sorry," he said, blushing. I looked away.

"I can't do this, Michael. I just can't." I turned my body slightly away from him. His eyes had lost their lethargic veil. He was in reality now, too. But his reality was behind a curtain.

"Why not?

He reached out and grabbed my hand. He'd done this hundreds of times before, but now it seemed different. Now it was wrong.

I pulled my hand from his grasp, and into my lap. I was avoiding his gaze.

"Isa, what's wrong?"

"Michael, don't you understand? I'm going to Washington DC! I probably won't see my home for years. I may never see you again! And, well, you're my best friend. You've been my best friend since sixth grade. I… I just haven't considered you as more than that."

I was standing now, pacing. He was still on the bed, watching me. It was like a tennis match. Back and forth; back and forth.

"I mean, you're a great guy, and if this had happened before my dad decided to move me across the country, I would probably do all this with you. But, it is happening. I am moving. I'm sorry, Michael, I really am."

By the time I ended the story, I realized I was crying. Owen had somehow enveloped me in a hug, and I was there, shaking and crying into his shirt. He rubbed my back rhythmically, and I slowly calmed down.

"I… I'm s-sorry, Owen." I rubbed the wet spot on his shirt.

"No, don't worry about it," he said, tipping my chin to look at him in the eye, "He didn't deserve you, anyways."

My eyes started to water again. Owen pulled me towards him and brought me down onto the floor with him. I sat there, in his lap, crying, for a few more minutes.

The oven beeped. I stood up, wiped my eyes, and finished putting the dough onto the tray. I opened the oven door, slid the tray in, and set the timer. I turned around and Owen had a transfixed look on his face.

"Owen?" I said. He grabbed my hand and pulled me toward him. He hugged me one more time.

"You okay now?" he asked. I nodded. He shrugged, then said, "So, how about we start on that homework.

It was my turn to shrug. We poked around for a few minutes to find the living room. Finally, we sprawled out on the furniture there and pulled out our books. I was doing English while he was working on Algebra II.

"Hey, Isa?" he said. I glanced towards him. "How do I do this?"

I took the piece of graph paper and smirked. "This is easy. You FOIL x and y, add z, and then square root the whole thing."

He looked from the paper to me, and then back again. He took one look at the book, before turning to me again, and saying, "What?"

I sighed, then explained it all. He solved the next problem on his own, and I smiled when he got it right.

The oven beeped in the background. I stood up and took the cookies out of the oven. I came back with a plate of them and a carton of milk with two glasses. He grinned.

The rest of the day went really smoothly. We did homework, I helped him with math, and we ate cookies. It was really nice. It was dark out when he left. I stood on the porch with him.

"Look, I'm really sorry about Michael," he said. I grimaced.

"Did you have to bring it up?"

"I just want you to know that I think you can do so much better."

I nodded, and started to turn around. He grabbed my hand again. I turned to face him. He sighed, then said, "Goodnight, Isa."

"Goodnight, Owen," I said. He pulled me into a hug, and I had to resist swooning again. When we finally pulled apart, he pulled me toward him one final time, and kissed me on the cheek. I glanced up at him, confused. He grinned, then turned and walked across the street to his house. I put my hand on the spot where he kissed me.

I walked into the house and closed the door behind me.