Counting Thyme

Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin

Book: Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin Read Free Book Online
Authors: Melanie Conklin
Emily’s holiday party,” Celia said as Delia pulled a card from the envelope and held it up for me to see.

    A note was written across the bottom in Emily’s bubbly handwriting: Sorry for the short notice! I really hope you can make it!
    â€œScore,” Delia said as she handed over the shiny invitation. “Are you excited?”
    I nodded, but honestly I didn’t know how I felt about the invitation. With everything going on at home, I didn’t feel like going to a party. We usually spent Christmas at Grandma Kay’s with just our family, unless my cousins came to visit. It was nice of Emily, though. She’d kept her promise from the copy room, but did that really mean she was my friend? Or was I just a project, like Lizzie had said?
    â€œWe’re totally going,” Celia said.
    â€œWe go every year,” Delia added. “Our dad works with Emily’s dad.”
    I thought about how much Emily must love having the twins invade her house every year.
    â€œYou should come,” Celia insisted. “Your family can come, too. They have this huge apartment. It’s a whole floor at the top of the building, and they have a Christmas tree in every single room and waiters with trays of fancy food. It’s the best party
    â€œI believe you,” I said, “and that sounds awesome. It’s just . . .” I searched the invitation, as though it might give me an answer. I wasn’t going to get my usual Christmas, anyway. With her bad hip, Grandma Kay couldn’t fly all the way across the country. Maybe going to the party would be anice distraction. But if my family came with me to the party, everyone would find out about Val, and the drug trial, and everything . . .
    â€œI don’t know if my family can make it,” I blurted out. My cheeks burned with a hot mixture of shame and panic.
    â€œThat’s totally okay,” Celia said.
    Delia patted my arm. “We’ll all be there, so you won’t be alone.”
Was that what I really wanted?
    Celia and Delia walked away with their arms linked together. After a minute, I slid the invitation between my books, clicked my locker shut, and headed down the hall after them.

    Halfway to homeroom, I slowed down. My head hurt from crying the night before. I didn’t feel like listening to gossip about the Spring Fling. Plus, now that Emily was mad at Lizzie, there was bound to be drama at lunch. Maybe I would go to the nurse and tell her my stomach felt sick. That I needed to go home. At the thought of home, my stomach really did clench.
    I spun around and started weaving down the hall in the opposite direction. Mom was sure to be annoyed when I called, but Mrs. Ravelli wouldn’t mind coming to get me. She’d probably even make me one of her hot chocolates and tell me stories about skipping school in Italy.
    By the time I hit the front hall, I was running. I turned the corner at full speed, ready to leave MS 221 behind forever,and smacked right into Jake Reese.
    My books went flying, and so did Emily’s invitation.
    For a second, we both stood there, staring at each other. Then I bent down to get the books at the same moment he did, and our heads smacked together, too.
    â€œS-sorry,” I stammered as Jake rubbed at a spot on his forehead. He was wearing a dark wool jacket with metal buckles. His hair looked even curlier than usual. I’d been trying not to stare in class, but up close, it was impossible not to look. He was just so
    â€œYou okay?” he asked.
    â€œYeah.” Great. Just perfect, Thyme.
    I grabbed my books, trying to stack them so they wouldn’t slide, and Jake handed over the invitation. He looked past me like he wanted to leave, then kind of stood there like he was waiting for something instead, only I didn’t know what. Was I just supposed to leave first? Or was he waiting for
to say

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