By: Kathy Lynn Emerson

Chapter One

"Someday, Kristy," Sonny Flagler said, "if you stay as sweet and innocent as you are now, you'll make some lucky guy a great wife."

I stared after him in silent misery as he walked away. I was crushed by his lack of insight into my true potential. What an exit line! I couldn't believe he'd said that, not after all the adventures we'd shared.

And those kisses.

It had taken me ages to get him to notice that I was more than "one of the guys" but I'd succeeded. I'd gotten his attention, then won his friendship, and I thought I'd been slowly winning his heart, but now I had to wonder if I was really any closer to that than I'd been at the beginning of the semester. My senior year in high school was almost over. By now Sonny Flagler was supposed to be as crazy about me as I've always been about him.

Sweet and innocent?

Gruesome! Insulting, too. Who wants to be labeled sweet and innocent? It's right up there with brain, which I'm already struck with, and nerd, which, thank goodness, I'm not.

Then a worse thought struck me. What if "some lucky guy" hadn't ever had a chance of being six-foot-tall, sandy-haired, hazel-eyed Sonny Flagler? All those vague doubts, all those tingles of dissatisfaction I'd been trying to ignore for weeks came back to torment me. I couldn't put off thinking about them any longer.

By the time I got home that afternoon I was pretty depressed. I was also confused. What had I done wrong? I'd expected a completely different outcome from the day's daring gambit. Somehow I'd misread things completely.

I plopped down in the desk chair that sits in front of my computer, resigned to starting the report that was due in English the next week. Then it came to me. I suddenly realized that there at my fingertips was the perfect tool to help me sort things out. All I had to do was write down everything that led up to Sonny's stupid remark and I'd be able to figure out why he made it . . . and what I'll have to do to change his mind.

"Select File Name," the word processing program demanded as I logged on.

I typed: SOMEDAY

Next I recorded Sonny's heartbreaking words. They glowed at me on the monitor, taunting me.

There were a lot of things, I realized, that could have made Sonny say what he did. There was my age, for one. I was born exactly one day before the cutoff date for starting school. Then, a few years later, some bright guidance counselor decided I should skip the third grade because I was gifted. That's how I ended up so much younger than everyone else in my class. Somehow, though, I didn't think that being barely sixteen was reason enough for Sonny to call me sweet and innocent.

I raised my fingers over the keyboard, hesitating only a moment before I decided on a starting point. Sonny wasn't even there, but the event that would bring us together was Miss Beatrice Calioni's decision to cast me as one of the lead dancers in the annual ballet recital. That's when it all began . . .

The girls in the long, narrow dressing room–an even dozen of them in the advanced class, all in their teens but representing every possible shape and size–stopped talking as soon as I lifted the red velvet curtain hanging over the door from the studio. I knew why. They'd overheard every word Miss Calioni'd said to me in her "office" next door.

"Sorry, Kristy," Beva said.

Her brown eyes were mournful as a beagle's, assuring me that she really did understand how upset I was. When I tried to smile at her, I caught sight of my pitiful effort in a mirror and realized that it looked more like a grimace of pain than a grin.

Beva Gauch is my oldest and dearest friend. We started taking ballet lessons at the same time, right after Miss Calioni first moved to Lumberton, the next town over from Wilmouth, which is where Beva and I live. That was ten years ago and every year since Miss C. has choreographed a fairy tale for her students–all female and from every town in our far-flung rural county–to present during the winter doldrums. One other thing has been constant, too. Every year the tallest girl in the advanced class is cast in the part of the prince. The hero. The male lead.

This year I was it.

Miss Calioni thought it was an honor. "Kristy, darling, you'll be perfect," she told me.

Miss C. meant I’d look the part. If it wasn't for masses of straight, light brown hair hanging clear down to the middle of my back, people might find it hard to tell I'm a girl. With the exception of a nose that's a little too long, I was really cute until I hit thirteen. Then I got taller, nearly five foot ten, but stayed flat-chested. Beva grumbles about being short and chubby, but nobody will ever mistake her for a boy.