"Why a star"" Quinn asked.
"So he"s not alone. He can play with the other roosters and chickens in the sky in his dreams."
Quinn was looking at me funny when I stood, brushing the dirt from my hands onto my pants.
"What"" I asked absently and started walking back to his house.
"I"m gonna marry you someday, Daisy June."
My breathing stopped at the same time my feet did.
Spinning around, I stuck my hands on my hips and planted a smirk on my face, hoping it hid the weird feeling bubbling in my tummy. "Really""
He nodded, grinning like he did when he acted like he knew everything. "Yep. One day, after we get done with college and I take over this farm, you"ll be my wife." He stepped closer, and my heart started beating scary fast. "And I"ll make sure you never have to see another rooster get its head chopped off again."
Grabbing my hand, he leaned down, and I felt the warm brush of his lips on my sticky cheek.
He didn"t say anything else, and neither did I. We trudged back through the weeds with grins on our faces and the stars glowing behind us like a smiling audience.
I didn"t realize what had happened at the time. Why I felt like I could hear my heart echoing in my ears, or why I couldn"t stop smiling for days afterward.
Looking back, I realized that was the first time Quinn Burnell stole a huge chunk of my heart.
Unpacking my comforter from one of the last boxes, I tried not to roll my eyes.
"Mom, you seriously left like an hour ago. I"m fine."
She made a whining noise in my ear. "Oh, I"m sorry." Sniffling, she murmured, "You"re just going to be so far away. I thought I could handle it " and, oh hell. Just let me wallow and worry for a little longer, okay" I need it."
I wedged my phone between my ear and shoulder, tucking the last corner of the fitted sheet over the single mattress. "Okay," I said, resigned. "I can allow it for another minute or two, I suppose."
She sputtered out a laugh. "Don"t give me sass. Eighteen or not, I"ll make your daddy turn this car around, young lady."
My dad said something to her in the background, and she sighed. "Okay, your dad says I"m being clingy, and that if I want you to still answer my calls, I need to ease up."
I laughed then, grabbing my comforter and dragging it over the bed. "I love you, Mom, and if I miss your calls, I will call you back. Okay""
She heaved out a loud, labored breath. "Okay." She paused a second. "I love you, honey."
"Behave!" my dad hollered. "Stay away from any alcohol you don"t pour yourself. Better yet, just stay in your dorm. If you party, you"ll fail. You don"t want to fail, do you""
"Joseph," Mom scolded. "Okay, we"re going. We love you!"
Smiling, I said, "Love you, too. I"ll call you soon."
After hanging up and dumping my phone on the old beechwood nightstand, I grabbed my pillows and tossed them to the head of the bed before taking a step back to survey my new digs.
Not bad. Not great either, but I knew not to expect too much the minute I"d walked into the tall, brown brick building. I"d done my research online. No, more like obsessed. If I somehow managed to get lost after all the hours I spent squinting at maps, buildings, forums, and streets, then I figured I deserved it.
Gray Springs University. Finally.
Grinning, I glanced at the painted brick walls of the small room. They"d make it hard to hang much of anything on, let alone my art. But I"d sure try.
I"d just flattened the empty boxes and was putting them in the top of the wardrobe next to my old sketchpads and portfolios when the door opened.
"Mom, shit." A girl with mousy brown hair stumbled in behind a small, robust woman. "You should"ve "" The girl glanced at me, wincing. "Knocked."
"Hi," I said, closing the doors to the wardrobe and tucking my hands in front of me. "You must be my roommate""
"Pippa, the walls are bricks! How on earth will you stay warm in winter"" The woman clucked her tongue and glanced from the empty single bed to my freshly made one, realizing then they weren"t alone. "Oh," she squeaked, her hand flying to her ample chest and a beautiful smile lighting up her softly lined face. "Sorry, I"m Terry, Pippa"s mom."
She moved to shake my hand, and I slowly unfolded mine to let her.
The girl"Pippa, I was guessing"groaned. "I"m so sorry."
I took my hand back, and Terry glanced at her daughter, her dark brows crinkling and her hands going to her hips. "Don"t be embarrassed, Pip. I"m just "" She stepped farther into the room, her nose scrunching as she ran a finger over the dust that lined the nightstand next to the other bed. "Worried."