Today, we get a sneak peek at the fun upcoming release from T.M. Franklin!
Seventeen-year-old Oliver Wendell Holmes (Yes, his parents are just that peculiar, but his brother’s name is Sherlock, so it could have been worse) knows that he’s different. He’s quirky, awkward, and he’s okay with that. Oliver also likes making lists—meticulous procedures for achieving his goals, step-by-step. Whether it’s “How to Get an A in Chemistry” or “How to Get Accepted to MIT,” he has a process, and it’s worked for him so far. He doesn’t even care that the popular kids mock him. Oliver’s got his eye on the prize.
So when he decides it’s time to declare his feelings for Ainsley Bishop, the girl of his dreams, it’s only natural for him to make a list—a point-by-point strategy to win her heart. He knows it will take a grand gesture for her to see all he has to offer, and her approaching birthday provides the ideal opportunity for Oliver to put his plan into action.
Finding the perfect gift is a challenge Oliver meets with his usual dogged determination. He’ll need to watch her carefully for clues to pinpoint exactly what he should give her. And along the way, he might just learn that what Ainsley really needs is not quite what he expected.
I hesitated for a moment, scanning the parking lot as I tried to decide whether I should approach her or continue on. On the one hand, it was a chance to interact with Ainsley without interruption. On the other hand, it was a chance to interact with Ainsley without interruption. I gulped, my mouth suddenly dry. After all, it was one thing to have a list, a plan of action. It was often another thing to implement that plan when the object of your affection made you feel like you might throw up at any moment.
I was pretty sure that would not aid my cause.
On the other hand, she was sitting there all alone and looking a little sad, if I wasn’t mistaken. And yes, I realized that was three hands, but I was kind of panicking a bit and unsure what to do and counting hands was a low priority at that moment.
“Oliver?” Ainsley looked up and waved, effectively making the decision for me.
I took a deep breath in a fruitless attempt to calm my racing heartbeat and put on what I hoped was a casual, yet friendly, expression as I made my way to her. She smiled, and I remembered that might be a good idea. To smile. So I did.
“Hi,” I said, my voice cracking. It always chose the most inopportune times to do that.
Ainsley was too nice to point it out, though. “Hi,” she said.
“Are you, uh . . .” I could do this. I could be brave. I could take the bull by the horns or the girl by the . . . whatever. “Do you need a ride or, uh, something?”
Good. That was good. Not too pushy, but helpful. I was a helpful guy. I could be helpful. Of course, then she’d be in the cab of my truck with me. A closed-in area where I’d have to make conversation without making a fool of myself. I felt the panic edging up again.
“Oh, no, that’s okay,” she said, waving a hand toward the football field. “I’m waiting for Ian. He’ll be done soon.”
Oh. I wasn’t sure if I felt disappointed or relieved. Disappointed. A little relieved. But mostly disappointed. “Okay then. I’ll just . . .” I made a vague gesture over my shoulder as I started to back away. I really needed to practice these interactions in front of the mirror or something.
“I was surprised to see you at practice,” she said, stopping me in my tracks. “I mean, no offense, but Drama Club doesn’t really seem like your kind of thing.”
Despite my strongest efforts to keep it down, a flush inched its way up my neck. “Oh . . . no. Yeah. It’s totally. My thing that is. Drama Club. Very Drama-clubby. I am. I mean.” I reached up to tug at my hair. Why couldn’t I form complete sentences? “I like plays,” I said finally, pleased that at least that made some kind of sense.