Epilogue

Jake's parents got me home late. It was nearly one o'clock in the morning, and I had to go to sleep. I wouldn't get long, because I was pretty sure that Henry would be waking us all up in about four hours. I sighed and started taking my hair down as soon as I walked into the house.

Then, the door started to open behind me. I gasped, and ducked behind one of the various shelves in our living room. Would I actually be able to catch Ricky in the act? He came in, and though the room was dark, I could barely make out his silhouette. He was struggling to carry a large box toward the Christmas tree.

I slowly stood up, stalking behind him at a safe distance. I couldn't really tell what was in the box. Despite the glow of the Christmas tree, the box was still shrouded in Ricky's shadow. I squinted. What was he…?

I sneezed.

I couldn't help it. I didn't even feel it coming on. I just sneezed. Ricky looked up and straight at me before I could hide. "Jayla?" he called.

"Yes," I said, stepping forward bravely.

This was it. He was going to admit it now.

Ricky sighed. "You weren't supposed to know about this yet."

My eyes narrowed. "I can imagine," I hissed.

Ricky gave me a confused look in return. "What are you so mad about? Come here and look in the box."

I stepped closer, and when the box came into better view, I realized it was one of those cardboard boxes with the air holes. The kind they give you at pet shops and stuff. I also took notice of the fact that it was moving. "What the…" I whispered, a smile spreading slowly across my face. I reached down and yanked the box open.

A tiny brown puppy bounced out of the box and into my arms with a yelp. I shushed it, hoping not to wake Henry. "You like him?" Ricky asked. "I asked my cousin Rose, who works at the ASPCA, to take care of him until Christmas." I nearly dropped the puppy as relief washed through my entire body. Then I burst out laughing so hard that the puppy started to whine and struggle in my arms.

"Is that what you've been doing in secret all this time?"

Ricky nodded and took the puppy from my hands. "Henry had been talking about puppies since April, and your mom has said that she wants a pet too. So, I figured this little guy was the perfect addition to our family."

I leaned closer to him and he licked my nose. I giggled. That's when I remembered his computer's search log, and my heart sank. He had searched something about finding singles in his area. Was this whole puppy thing just a cover up?

"But Ricky… why… why did you search 'New Dating Site'?"

"Me?" Ricky asked.

I nodded, keeping my poker face on, staring straight at him.

"I never…" he murmured.

I stuck out my lower lip. "You did. I'll show you right now!"

I marched over to the computer and switched it on, being careful not to make eye contact with HIM. The puppy I set in the office chair. He awkwardly squirmed around, turning the seat just a little.

I clicked on Ricky's user account, and it asked for a password. I stepped aside wordlessly and HE typed it in. I opened the browser and scrolled through the history. There were a lot more sites on the list now, but I was still able to locate the dating site easily.

"See!" I said. "It's right there!"

Ricky leaned closer to the screen and squinted.

"This?" he said.

I nodded defiantly.

Ricky sighed and double clicked on the words. Slower than molasses, a colorful page with pictures of laughing couples appeared. I had never heard of this dating site before. In the middle of the screen, a big red box read, "Sign Up Now! Only $29.99!" Underneath those words were more advertisements of eerily similar looking shopping sites and social networks.

This was definitely a fake site.

But that didn't get Ricky off the hook. Why was he looking at a dating site, real or fake? "Ok, so it's fake! That doesn't make it okay!"

Ricky rolled his eyes again.

"Do I really have to spell it out for you? It was a spam link. I clicked on it by mistake!"

I frowned at him, not totally sure I believed him. That just seemed too… simple. Ricky sighed. "If you don't believe me… look." He pulled out his phone, and I watched him delete "Rose" from his contacts, and allowed me to scroll through and look for any other women. There were no more that I didn't know.

"There. The only times I really need to talk to Rose are when mom is hosting a family reunion, anyway. So there." He snapped his phone shut. "Now, since you're awake, why don't you help me set up a place for our little friend to sleep?"

For a moment I had the urge to snap no, my typical knee-jerk reaction, but then I looked up at Ricky and smiled. "Sure. Why not?"

At that moment, as we stood in front of our beautiful Christmas tree, holding our new puppy, I realized something. I realized that maybe; just maybe, Ricky wasn't as bad as I had thought. I could never know for sure whether he'd been cheating on my mom. But for some reason, on this night, it felt right. I could almost feel, somehow, that the worst of my family drama was over.

But still, just maybe.


Okay, so first order of business... things I want to know!

What do you guys think?

Was Ricky cheating or not?

And if yes, is it over now, or is he still hiding something?

Now that that's out of the way...

WHO'S EXCITED FOR THE NEXT BOOK?

I KNOW I AM!

If you, too, are ready for the next book, please keep on the lookout for it.

I know some people think they'll notice it as soon as it's on the "Young Adult" page (that is where it will be), but you might not.

I don't have a set date for Book 2's release, but it won't be too long of a wait. Bear with me.

I recommend checking my profile regularly, because I update the status of my latest work there. I will put it on there when the first chapter is up.

Of course, I also wouldn't mind if you subscribed to me, so that way you'll get an e-mail when the first chapter is posted! :D

ONE FINAL THING.

Thank you. All of you, from the bottom of my heart.

It doesn't matter if you reviewed, subscribed, favorited, or just read this story.

All of you gave me the confidence and advice I needed to keep this story going. I'm glad all of you stuck with me this far.

I expect to hear from all of you (and maybe some friends you invite?) while Book 2 and 3 are going.

Someday in the future, when I'm writing books (like I hope to be) I swear I will remember you.

I do have a good memory like that. ;)