My mother thought I was a lesbian.
After she’d set me up with her boss’s nephew—who, by the way, chewed with his mouth open, tucked his napkin into his shirt bib-style, and stole the last dinner roll—I hadn’t thought it could get much worse.
Guess that’s what I get for being an optimist.
“Never again,” Mom had said after the Bid Incident last summer. It hadn’t ended well. “I’m never setting you up again.”
“Do you solemnly swear?” I’d asked.
She’d nodded. “When it comes to you, Sally Sue Spitz, I am done. I’m hanging up my matchmaking gloves as of today.”
Too bad she’d handed those gloves down to someone even more meddlesome.
Daisy Wilkins rang our doorbell at precisely 7:30 p.m. Mom let her in with a huge smile and introduced her as the daughter of Stella Wilkins, my mom’s eccentric hairdresser, adding “She’s from New York.” I didn’t know everyone in our small town (though it felt like it sometimes), but I’d have known Daisy wasn’t from Chariot just by looking at her. That Mohawk screamed big city.
“Nice hair,” I said as we sat down for dinner. The pink tips were pure punk, but the bleach blond roots were positively Malfoy-esque. Not just anyone could pull that off.
“Nice smile,” she said back—which I thought was sweet. It wasn’t everyday you got a compliment like that and from a complete stranger, too. Mom seemed pleased, and I’d assumed it was because she’d put an awful lot of money into my smile with the braces and headgear I’d worn for three years.
We were nearly done with dinner when things took a turn for the weird.
“So Daisy,” Mom said, “do you have a date for prom? You know, Sally still doesn’t have anyone to go with.”
I did a mental eye roll. Thanks, Mom. Let’s just advertise it, shall we: Sally Spitz, salutatorian of her senior class, President of the German Club, voted Most Likely To Be Terminally Boyfriend-less until the end of time.
“Not yet,” Daisy said, picking at her mashed potatoes.
She didn’t say so, but I suspected Daisy was a vegetarian. She hadn’t touched her steak, and her purse had a bright pink patch with the word PETA on it. That plus the dirty looks she kept throwing the beef on her plate were pretty big clues.
“You hear that, Sally?” Mom raised her brows. “Daisy doesn’t have a date either.”
“Hmm,” I said, reaching for my water, glancing again at the clock.
When was Hooker’s latest matchmaking-disaster going to get here? My bestie, Lillian Hooker, had dreams of becoming a professional matchmaker—which unfortunately meant I was her special project. Boys would do anything for her. This included having dinner with her BFF and said BFF’s mother on Sundays. Tonight’s “date” was already an hour late. Not that I wanted to meet another guy in the long line of setups, but the Southern part of me revolted at the thought of his rudeness. The girly part of me was just ticked at being stood up.
“Maybe you two could go together?”
I choked, eyes watering. “What?”
Mom shot me a stern glare. “I said, maybe the two of you could go together. I mean, if Daisy’s not going with anyone, and you’re not going with anyone...” she trailed off, looking at me expectantly. When I just stared, she added, “Oh, come on, Sally. You both need dates, right? Why wouldn’t you go together? I think you and Daisy would make a cute couple.”
I simply blinked. At the time, I was incapable of anything else. She’d said “couple” like she meant…
“Very cute,” Daisy agreed, and when I looked to her, she winked. Winked!
I swallowed. Good grief, that was exactly what she’d meant.
“Mom, can I see you in the kitchen?” I was out of my chair and steamrolling toward the door before she could answer.
When Mom came in behind me, she sounded put out. “That was very rude, Sally. Now Daisy’s going to think we’re in here talking about her. What’s so imp—”
I rounded on her, voice incredulous. “Mom, you think I’m a lesbian?”
“Well, aren’t you?” she said confused.
“No!” I shot a quick glance at the door to make sure it was still shut. Seeing it was, I repeated, “No, I’m not. Not even a little bit. Mom, what...what would make you think something like that?”
“Lillian asked, and I couldn’t rule it out.” She shrugged, looking down at her hands. “I don’t know.”
“It had to be something,” I persisted. I needed to know. If Hooker and my own mother had gotten that impression, maybe other people had too. Just how far did this misconception go?
“Well,” Mom said finally. “First, there’s the fact that you’ve never had a boyfriend.”
“A lot of people don’t have boyfriends.”
“You’re going to be eighteen.”
“And?” I retorted. “What else?”
“There are those rainbow stickers you always carry around in your purse—”
“Those are for the kids at work!”
“—and then there’s the whole Becks issue.”
“What Becks issue?” I said.
“Sally, that boy is prime real estate to any female with eyes. You’ve been best friends with him since grade school, and never once have you said a word about how attractive he is.”
“Becks is Becks,” I said diplomatically. “And don’t think I’m not going to tell him about the creepy comment you just made. Please, go on.”
“You never go for anyone Lillian sets you up with,” she huffed.
As soon as she said it, I knew this was the real reason.
“That’s because they’re either criminals or total idiots,” I pointed out.
“That’s not true,” Mom argued. “There was Oliver Morgan—”
“Who constantly referred to himself in the third person.”
“Currently in ISS for trying to steal Funyuns out of the school vending machine.”
“He couldn’t remember my name, Mom. Kept calling me Sherry, even after I corrected him—eight times.”