""'Well, say something, Val.'

I didn't.

Parker looked sick not worried. He stared over my head. 'Did I ruin it? Friendship over, right?'

My lips burned. I felt all weirdly tingling. Parker even looked different to me. He was an amazingly hot guy, wasn't he?

Parker kept talking still over my head. 'Val, I'm only human. You're so beautiful. You grabbed my neck. Put your face in front of me. Smiled. I thought you were hinting.'

I couldn't let that pass. 'Hinting?'

Parker seemed enraged. 'It's not so impossible. I have girls hit on me all the time, you know.'

'You do? Who? When? Anyone I know?'

'Shut up, Val!'

Bewildered, I laughed saying, 'I never said you weren't good-looking. Maybe to some girls you are.'

Parker got even more angry. 'Stop laughing. You know what? Forget it. I wait years for you and you-'

Warning! An alarm sounded in my mind. Parker was about to end our friendship. I couldn't believe it.

I did the only thing I could think to do. Words from my favorite book Lana, Master of Spies ran through my mind. Without even realizing what I was doing, I relived one of my favorite parts when she's worming information out of evil General Shank. I ran my fingers along the inside of Parker's collar. He stopped mid-breakup. 'Well, you gorgeous hunk of man whose all mine to adore, touch, and desire, where's my next kiss?'

I got it. With a vengeance. With determination. With gusto. With all the pent-up passion of a guy who has waited since he was 13 years old. We spent the next twenty minutes with me sitting backwards on his lap as I held onto his collar. I kept pulling him closer towards me, repeating some of the best phrases like, 'When I think of a man, you are the only one I see.', 'Hold me. Make me yours. Let our love consume us.', and 'You make me feel more like a woman than I ever dreamed I could feel, Parker. Kiss me again as I think about your manly strength.' I found it hard to keep a straight face.

I read the books because they're corny, sappy, silly, and a great mental break from all my AP classes. Misty Roads, the author, would be flattered to see how seriously Parker took every word I said.

After an hour, Parker kissed me one last time as he only ran his fingers down my hand. I felt something slide onto my thumb. He raised my left hand and kissed my thumb. 'My beautiful, darling Val, why didn't you ever tell me before? Don't you know I love you? I've been in love with you since I was just a kid. You have no idea how happy you've made me.'

And, so, Mom, that's the whole story."

"And you're now going steady with Parker. Do you still say going steady? You know, dating exclusively, be his girl, not date anyone else-"

"Yes, yes, mother. I get it. I'm now Parker's girlfriend."

I thought her laughter was over the top when I told her I was dying of cancer when I got my first period at age 9 but hadn't gotten the talk from her yet. Today, she put that laugh to shame. She shook. She choked. She banged the table. She rocked back and forth. She nearly hyperventilated. In the end, she called Jenny Thomas.

"Jen, sorry." She went to another peal of maniacal laughter. "Did Parker tell you? No, no, no. He and Val made out for an hour in the-"
"HALF an hour."

"Sorry, half an hour in the Lawton's forest today. And Parker gave her his senior ring! Yes!"

I could hear hysterical laughing on the other end of the phone followed several minutes later by a choked out, "That's why he was singing, It's A Beautiful Day, and-"

More laughter. "Kissed me, cut the grass, and went for a run."

I peered at my mother and her unseen accomplice with my eyes as thin as slits. I gave them my best Lana withering look. These two evil women are my arch-nemeses. They had spent five years trying to get me and Parker together since it first occurred to them that Parker was in love with me.

Now, Parker thinks I'm all wild and hot for him, in love with him and want to date him.

After spending two hours in my living room making out with Parker with my mom giving us really outstanding tips, I decided I had been right along and just didn't realize it at the time. Dating Parker was a great idea. I have no clue why I never realized it before.

Over the next four months, we fell truly in love with each other. Parker became my own heart's dream. We went to our small Christian School's prom alternative banquet and awards ceremony together. We spent a lot of our weekends together, but still kept up her other friendships. We had a combined graduation party. We cried like kids leaving for camp when I boarded my flight to Milwaukee to leave for college. Parker made me swear fidelity, love, and all sorts of other things. I did it gladly knowing that he was my soulmate.

Mrs. Valerie Thomas was my future.

That's why it came as a total shock when I got the email today.

"Dear Val,

On due reflection, we may have been too hasty. Our circle of friends was so small. We really haven't experienced life. What I'm trying to say is that I'm dating a girl I met here at Riverton.

Would you please send me back my ring so that I can give it to her? I'll pay you back for any shipping cost over Christmas when I get back from her place in Toronto. She's Canadian. Sorry if I'm causing you trouble. Hope you meet somebody else too.

Sorry to not write more but Felicity and I are going out.

Talk Soon, Buddy.


My extremely knowledgeable and understanding roommate Dena came to my aid greatly when she learned I had no idea how to burn someone in effigy. I bought a dorky-looking action figure with a misshapen mouth and otherwise badly painted face from a dollar store. I also got some charcoal and a lighter. We adjourned to a nearby park with very convenient BBQ grills. We started a lovely roaring fire. I wrote "Parker the Scumbag" across the front of its shirt. Dena then had the marvelous idea of tying the action figure to a long stick so that we could dangle him over the fire to slowly melt him. Watching him melt away into the flames as his twisted smile and badly painted face seemed to meld into a look of sheer horror and shock did my heart more good than anything else could have.

As the last bits fell into the flames, I quietly recited, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." I shook my head as fake Parker melted away. "Oh, Parker Thomas, you don't know who you are dealing with. You just wait to see what happens now. You will eat your heart out."

The next day, I waited outside the men's locker room as football practice let out. After ten minutes, I saw him. Ross Michaels.

Old Val would have never dreamed of approaching the Senior football Center and asking for his help, but kindly Parker had eradicated all fear of man from my heart. Punishing Parker was all that had mattered to me for nearly 24 hours now.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Michaels?"

Ross turned around surprised and laughing. After a string of profanity, he asked me what I wanted.

"To help punish my cheating, lying, dumping boyfriend."

Ross's face grew terrifying. The guy was furious. I felt panicked and realized I should not have done this. "If you are out to punish a cheater, count me in. I caught

Luanne with Richards last night. In MY car. Only you're going to help me too. Don't get mad, but you're not nearly as hot as she is. She'll be shocked when she thinks I'm with you."

I wasn't mad. I knew it was true. I had seen Luanne Zander already.

"Agreed. My roommate Dena will take the pictures and video."

"No, I got a really good camera. My roommate Charlie will do it. He's a photography major."

We met up in an hour and shot photos. By 7:30, a veritable collage of pictures and videos of me and Ross graced my social media. My favorite was Ross chasing me as I screamed, catching me and effortlessly swinging me up over his shoulder and putting me in a tree before taking me down again very slowly with my face hovering right above his. He lowered me so, so, so slowly down towards his lips. I ran my fingers through his hair whispering his name. The camera cut just as the kiss began. The kiss was supposed to be fake, but when I leaned back from him, Ross got a strange look on his face. "You are one sweet chick. Nicest babe I ever knew. Sorry. Not missing this." When he finished kissing me, I realized something that I never knew before.

Parker is an absolutely horrible kisser - and I told Ross so. He was so flattered that he kissed me a few more times. I really didn't mind, although I knew that I should. Charlie got pictures of them all.

My page exploded. I mean, it went crazy. Dena told me that nearly the entire campus had seen the video and the pictures. The campus gossips were going wild about Michaels dating a Freshman - a normal, average, nothing special Freshman who was studying Archaeology of all things.

I waited and waited and waited.

Finally, Jenny Thomas saw the video. Her comment was "Shared with Parker. He said,'Oh, wow. Yeah. Good. Good for her. Glad she's happy.' GREAT JOB! Keep it up."

My favorite was my mother's. "Remind me to never, ever, ever get on your bad side."