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Pray for the Preacher's Daughter

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Wednesday 25th February 2015

Keila and Hayden had their heads together in literature when Bonnie walked in. Their hushed whispers were drowned out by the rest of the class’s raucous chatter, but from the way their hands were waving around animatedly, she gathered it was about something exciting. Bonnie dropped into her usual spot beside Hayden and pulled out her books before trying to decide whether interrupting them was a good idea.

In the end she didn’t even have to ask. Hayden twisted to look at Bonnie, a silly little smile on her face. “You know how I got a mystery gift on Valentine’s right?” she began, not waiting for an affirmative before going on. “I got another one this morning. Well… not a gift. But there was this note in my locker.”

She held out a folded piece of paper and waited for Bonnie to read the words. It made her smile.

She rolled in from the west in a summer sun dress. Hotter than the heat in July.

“Cute, isn’t it,” Hayden exclaimed, bouncing in her seat. “Not sure why July though, since that’s winter. But other than that it’s adorable.”

“It’s a song,” Bonnibel told her, laughing. “That’s why it’s July. But yes, it is super cute. Do you know who gave it to you?”

“I think the point of having a secret admirer is that he’s a secret,” Keila put in flatly. “How do you know it’s a song?”

“I spend a lot of time with Marceline?” Admittedly her answer sounded like a question, but seriously. How hard was it to make that connection? “Doesn’t it feel weird to know there’s someone at school – or not at school, which is probably worse – kind of stalking you?”

Hayden sighed. “Only you would think of that. It’s not stalking. It’s admiring, and it’s quite nice, thank you.”

“Plus asking a girl out is apparently a nerve-wracking experience,” Keila giggled, rolling her eyes.

“Wait, what do you mean?” Bonnie pressed.

“Yeah,” Hayden added, drawing out her word. “Have you ever asked a girl out?”

Keila scoffed. “No. I don’t swing that way. But I’ve heard… From sources.”

“How vague and unhelpful,” Hayden sighed. “Whatever. I’m kind of excited. You do know that it means someone might ask me to the senior formal, right?”

“We don’t have a senior formal,” Keila told her sadly. “Halte’s a fun sponge and refuses to let us do it.”

Hayden waved away her concerns. “I know that. But Melissa and Ellen only took like five seconds to convince and they’ve started a petition. If those two can’t drum up enough support for it then I’d say it’s a conspiracy on behalf of the whole town to deny us.”

Keila blinked. “They’ve seriously done that?”

“Yep. They even employed Pippa’s art skills in making posters to pin up.” She frowned. “Haven’t you seen them?”

“Can’t say I pay school drama much attention,” Keila dismissed with a nonchalant half-shrug. “I’m backing them though. Halte is pretty grumpy and set in his ways, sure, but Melissa plus Ellen working towards something? That’s an unstoppable force right there.”

Bonnie quirked an eyebrow. “Does that mean we should all start thinking about dates and dresses now then?”

Keila bobbed her head in a sort of indecisive way. “I guess if you want. At worst what happens? You have a dress and a guy in a nice suit without a dance to go to. I can think of worse things.”

“True.” Bonnie sighed, making a mental note to call Cherry later. Dresses were her forte.

 

-*…*…*-

 

Lunches with the friends Bonnie had made early last year were frequently loud affairs. And they’d only gotten more so since their little table had allowed Marceline and Keila to osmose over and join them. Weirdly, everyone got on better than anticipated. That didn’t stop Marceline from arguing with them though.

And lunches weren’t the best place to corner someone about word use anyway.

Too many witnesses.

So it wasn’t until her second last period of the day that Bonnie managed to get Keila alone. And that thought sounded much more harmless in her head. Honestly.

“So. Keila.” Is how Bonnie prefaced sliding herself into the spot beside her friend.

Keila – bless her – instantly looked wary. “So. Bonnie.” Props for a good response though.

“I need to know, strictly between us though,” she began. “Who exactly is your source on how scary it is to ask girls out?” Her eyes narrowed. “Is it Gary?”

“No.” And she let out this huge sigh like she was relieved. “The way you started that made me think I’d done something horrible and was about to get ripped a new one. Whew.”

Bonnie laced her fingers together, eyes still squinting. “Seriously, Keila. This is important.”

“Why?”

“Because I need to know who is spreading these nasty lies about girls,” she replied drolly. “For science.”

“I have a feeling you’re lying to me.”

“It’s a good feeling. Answer me anyway. Please?”

Keila tilted her head and Bonnie could see the cogs clicking in her brain as she thought. “Just between us, right?”

“I solemnly swear.”

“Marceline.”

Bonnibel blinked, feeling – for the first time in a while – absolutely stupid. “What?” she asked politely.

“Marceline’s my source,” Keila repeated slowly. “You’re not… like, freaking out because of… that… are you?”

“Um. No. I just… you know Marceline is… not completely straight?”

Keila’s jaw swung open limply. “You know?” She made an honest attempt to keep her voice down but it still sounded kind of shrill.

“She told me… more or less,” Bonnie confirmed.

“She hasn’t officially told me yet,” Keila grumbled.

“What’s the story?”

“Hum?”

“The story… behind her telling you girls are scary to ask out,” Bonnibel prompted.

“Oh right, well…” Keila’s voice fell away. “Are you sure you can keep this a secret?”

“I absolutely can. I’m very good at keeping secrets.”

“Really? Whose secrets?”

Bonnie winked. “If I told you, I’d ruin my reputation.”

“Good point. Well it’s not much of a story really,” she exhaled. “There’s just this blonde girl who works at the Blackwater Mall’s movie theatre. We don’t know her shifts or anything; she’s just always working on Thursday afternoons. Always. That’s her day.” Keila shrugged. “Marceline thinks she’s cute, but every time I catch her staring and tease that she should ask the blonde out she gets all weird and defensive. One time she said she couldn’t because girls are scary.”

“That’s the story?” Bonnie pushed when she stopped talking. “That’s it?”

“Yep. You expected more?”

She leaned back in her chair. “I don’t know. I didn’t expect that… I guess.”

Keila blew out air, fidgeting nervously now. “God, I shouldn’t have told you that,” she muttered. “She’ll kill me for spilling stuff.”

Bonnie gave her a flat look. “Sure.”

Her shoulders hunched up around her ears. “You really okay with knowing that about her? For real?” Keila leaned a little closer as if that would help get across how serious she found this. “Like… you guys hang out a lot and she’s…”

“I’m fine with it, Keila,” Bonnie laughed.

“Whew,” she exhaled, slumping into her chair. “Because let me tell you, if you were like… grossed out by it or something and stopped talking to her… Wow. No. Not good.”

“Only the worst kind of people judge based on sexuality,” Bonnibel murmured, turning her attention down towards her notebook.

Keila eyed her dubiously but didn’t say anything. Not for a long moment anyway. And even then her only comment was, “Gotta live with them though.”

And the sentiment echoed Marceline’s assurances so closely it was mildly scary.

 

-*…*…*-

 

I need you to take my measurements to Zara’s.

“Hey, nerd. Want a lift home?” Marceline sidled up beside her after school just as she sent the text to Cherry.

“Sure,” Bonnie replied. “That sounds nice. Are you going to hang around?”

“I always do.”

Her phone beeped as she was dumping her bags in the back of Marceline’s car. She didn’t pull it out until she was seated though and it still earned her a look from Marceline. That she ignored until after she’d read the message.

Oh, and hello to you too. Yeah, I’m good, glad to hear you’re doing alright starting your last year of high school. That’s nice. Yes, Stanley and I had a wonderful Valentine’s. Of course I still have your measurements, thanks for asking. Why does Zara need them?

She rolled her eyes at the sarcasm.

“Secret girlfriend?” Marceline teased. But as always, there was an undercurrent of uncertainty.

“You’ve got that covered,” Bonnibel jabbed back. “No, just talking to Cherry.”

“The best friend from Ormeau?”

“That’s her. She’s being mean.”

“How dare she.”

“I know. Do you mind if I reply?”

Marceline snorted. “Of course not. She’s your best friend right? And she lives a bazillion miles from here. Text away.”

Bonnie grinned. “Thanks. I promise you’ll have my undivided attention later.”

The red flushing Marceline’s face at that made the wording worth it.

I text you all the time, Cherry. And you sent me an essay about the Valentine’s date.

Right. But you didn’t reply.

What did you want me to say? It sounded like you had a nice time. I smiled.

Imagine I’m rolling my eyes at you. Now about these measurements?

It was such a good thing she and Cherry were friends. Otherwise this conversation might sound like they hated each other. Bonnibel just smiled at her phone. Do you remember that dress I said I liked in ninth grade when we went dress shopping?

… Vaguely. It was blue. You said you’d get something like it for your senior formal. But you told me Reich doesn’t do a formal.

We don’t, Bonnie confirmed. But some of the students are protesting and since I really want Zara to make it I figured I’d get in early.

And if you end up not needing it?

I’ll come out of this with a pretty dress.

Fine. I’ll let her know.

You’re the best, Cherry.

Yeah, yeah. Video chat this weekend?

It’s a date.

Nuh-uh. I don’t bat for your team. And I’m taken.

Very funny, Cherry. I’ll talk to you then.

She slipped her phone back into her pocket just as they pulled into her drive. Excellent timing.

“Can I pry?” Marceline asked carefully.

“Sure. But no details. I might want it to be a surprise later in the year.” She winked as she slung her bag over one shoulder. “I just wanted to get some preparation done on the off chance Melissa and Ellen get the formal petition through.”

Marceline arched an eyebrow. “Dress stuff I’m guessing?”

“Correct.”

She rolled her eyes, letting her own things flop to the floor of Bonnie’s lounge. “I doubt Halte will let us have a function like that.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Bonnie assured her with a shrug. “Just planning. And speaking of planning…” She sucked her bottom lip between her teeth trying not to smile at the way Marceline’s face contorted when she shuffled a step closer. “I know what I want to do for date three.”

That drew a smile from her. “Yeah? What?”

“We’re going to see a movie.”

Her brow crumpled together again. “Do you think maybe we do movies too much? Especially given that this is… dating…”

“Movies are like pizza; you can’t have too much,” Bonnibel ascertained. “Plus, we can always go out for lunch or dinner as well.”

“That’s true,” she sighed. “Alright. When?”

“Has to be after exam block,” Bonnie decided.

“Has to be before the Easter break,” Marceline countered.

“Why?”

“My brother’s coming down and I really don’t want to give him any kind of ammunition. He knows me well enough to guess if I’m seeing someone.” She shuffled her feet awkwardly. “He’d give me a lot of crap.”

“Aw,” Bonnie sang, threading her fingers through Marceline’s. “What about the last Thursday of term? My last exam is Wednesday.”

“Mine’s art, Thursday morning,” Marceline mused. “I suppose that would work.”

She tilted her head. “Date?” And then she bit her bottom lip for good measure.

“Yeah alright. I’ll pencil it in.”

“Yes.” She pulled Marceline closer, facilitating her unending desire to kiss the other girl. Bonnie smiled into it, not only for having a third date, but also for the cunningness of her plan.

With luck it wouldn’t run sour.