Prologue

Ro

An excited buzz filled the air, my band-mates eyes all held the unmistakable glint of anticipation to get out there.

Trevor slung his favorite Guitar over his head while Logan did the same with his Bass.

Chloe gave me a bright, excited smile, tousling her curled hair once more as crew members bustled around us giving directions.

A variety of hoots and hollers came from my band as we marched down the hall, ready for one of many amazing nights to come.

Travis tapped on a railing with his drumsticks as we made our way through the twisting backstage halls, his eyes alight with the performance (and the stage) just around the corner.

Logan and Trevor jumped up and down a few times before the rest of us joined them. Our pre-show ritual that we do before every performance. We jump around in a circle like shaking up bottles of soda. Once we’re on stage we pop the tops, ready to give all our energy to the performance and making sure the crowd has the time of their lives along with us.

I didn’t hear the ear-piercing screams or chanting of our names coming from the ocean of people I was about to stand in front of.

The only thing I was focused on was Dylan’s hand that still held onto mine.

We were given our microphones as we made our way to the stage. Just behind the entrance Dylan looked at me, letting the rest of the band go before us. He nodded with an encouraging smile, holding our hands up between us, letting me know something like “You can do this, I’m here for you.”

I took a deep breath before we strode on the stage together. As soon as I could see them, I heard them.

More people than I could count filled the stadium, on their feet screaming their hearts out, for us.

For the All-Stars.

But first, let’s go back a few weeks, when my life was going in a completely different direction.

Let me tell you how I got here.

This is the story of how I became the sixth All-Star. (Told by me, with the help of my friends.)

CHAPTER 1

The irritating sound of my alarm clock rang in my ears for the third time that morning. I felt around my side table until I found the rude little box and hit a few buttons until it shut up. Five minutes later, the stupid thing started beeping yet again. I grabbed for it but accidentally knocked it down and it hit the floor with a crack.

I rubbed my eyes, groaning as I stirred in bed, procrastinating the inevitable fact that I would eventually have to get up.

My bedroom door cracked open, “Rosalie Faye Mable Brooks,” (double first name) “you were supposed to be up fifteen minutes ago. You’re lucky I set your alarm early. That will teach you not to leave your assignments to the last-minute.” My mother is the only one who uses my mouthful of a full name, everyone else shortens it to Ro.

I stretched and made some very unattractive sounds as I forced myself to sit up, throwing the blankets off of me. First for the best beginning to any day, music.

After shuffling a playlist of my favorite music a reminder popped up.

‘English paper due today.’

“Crap,” I groaned “I fell asleep before I could finish my report!” I flopped back onto my pillow with a sigh. I looked over at the window seat and saw my dog lounging there in a beam of morning sun.

She got down and jumped onto my bed, trotting across the paper I was working on last night that had fallen on the floor during the night. We don’t know exactly what breed she is, but with her curly golden coat, she’s got to have some poodle in there somewhere.

“I don’t suppose you could write my paper for me, could you Key?” I asked her as I knelt to pick up my report from the floor.

Her head perked up at the sound of her name, she opened her mouth and yawned, letting out a quiet whine as if to say “Yeah, right.”

I laughed a little as I shuffled the papers in order and she jumped off the bed and lay her head on my lap, whining much louder this time.

I sighed, getting up and going to the closet to choose my clothes for the day, a pair of jeans and a pinkish orange top with my trusty old sneakers. I’ve had these things forever, white high-tops I’ve doodled on in permanent marker so much it looks like the garbage can of a cartoon artist.

While my oatmeal cooked I danced around the kitchen to the music I live surrounded by, pouring some juice into a glass as I turned up the volume.

“Ramona, time to get up honey.” My mother’s voice echoed from upstairs.

I put my bowl down and raced upstairs, tripping over some shoes in the process. After a quick recovery I made it to the top and couldn’t help laughing at her bed head. My sister’s brown hair was going in all different directions, the blue streak in the front fading.

“What?” She squinted from the light of the hallway and yawned. Her eyes opened wide for an instant before she darted around me and into the bathroom, shutting the door in my face.

“Good morning to you too!” I said, loud enough so she could hear me behind the bathroom door.

My little sis insists on looking her best for school. I would go to school in my pajamas if it was socially acceptable. Or even dress code acceptable.

I sat down on my unmade bed and took out the half-finished English paper. I wrote quickly, already knowing what I want to say but trying to make a coherent essay out of the jumbled mess of ideas and thoughts floating around in my head.

I heard the shower start on the other side of the wall shortly followed by music blasting through a speaker. Rolling my eyes I put on my headphones, drowning out the boy-band music my sister loves oh-so-much.

I was two-thirds of the way done when Moni popped in my room and said something.

“What?” I asked.

“Shh!” She shushed me and repeated herself.

“Why are you whispering?”

“I’m not! Take off your headphones!”

“What are you girls yelling about?”

“Nothing!” We both yelled as I took off my headphones.

“I said I’m done in the bathroom.” She sighed.

“Finally!” I said, jamming my books, paper and pencils into my backpack.

I brushed my teeth, ran a brush through my hair and put it in a messy bun on top of my head.

I grabbed my keys and slid my sunglasses behind my ears “Moni, do you need a ride?” I asked my almost thirteen-year-old sister.

“Yes please!” She said. Moni (short for Ramona) has forbidden anyone but our mom to call her Ramona.

“Bye Mom, love you.” I said giving her a quick hug.

She was rubbing bees wax cream into her hands. Being a nurse at a nearby hospital, (St. Peter’s.) her hands suffer from constant dry flakiness. She smiled warmly, the crinkles around her eyes showed more when she smiled, traces of her past hardships still evident on her face, but only if you knew her well.

“Bye kiddos.” She hugged us back.

Moni grabbed her backpack, and we were out the door.

Over the past few years I saved up my babysitting money, and it finally added up to what was sitting in our driveway. It’s not an especially special car, actually it’s fairly ordinary, about ten years old and smells a bit like fast food. But just the fact that it’s mine makes it a little special, in my eyes.

When I bought it my sister said the only reason I liked it was because the burnt sunset color matched my hair.

“Are you going to drive your car or stare at it?” My sister said from the passenger’s seat, checking her hair in the mirror.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” I say climbing in and buckling my seatbelt.

The bell rung just as I pulled into a parking spot in the back corner of the lot. I killed the engine, stopping the music from my radio mid-song.

I rushed through the rows and rows of cars, holding my bag down as my shoes crunched down on the asphalt under my feet.

I pulled on the handle. I pulled on it again and a couple more times to make sure it was really locked. “Great!” I throw my hands in the air “Just great.” I sat on the top step of the stairs, resting my forehead on my knees.

The sound of squealing hinges behind me pulled my thoughts away from how this would mess up my nearly flawless attendance record.

“Is there any particular reason you’re sitting outside, Ro?” A familiar voice said.

Megan.

Megan Roberts is my cousin, my dad and her mom were siblings.

(Flash back)

Someone knocks on my door, but I don’t move from the window seat where I’m curled up, watching the rain.

“Hey Ro! Look what I got for my birthday!” The red-headed girl a few years older than me says, marching into my bedroom.

I turn my head, putting down the plate of untouched dinner.

She holds up a Piano Keyboard “It lights up and everything!” She exclaims, turning it on. “Come on, try it! It’s really fun.” She drags me over to the floor and sits me in front of the little Piano. She pushes a button, making a few of the keys light up. “I already learned a song, listen!” She plays a jolly little tune with the help of the light up keys.

“C-Can I try?”

“Yeah! Just push this and then play the ones that light up.” I try, a smile growing as we play with the little Keyboard all afternoon.

“Mom said you were sad, so we made cookies. You want some?” She said, offering me a plate of chocolate chip cookies.

I reached forward and took one, the sugar and chocolate irresistible to my ten-year-old self.

Meg has always known how to cheer me up, she’s like an older sister to me.

(In fact it reminds me of a situation where we told someone we were siblings to get out of trouble. Considering how we share many of the same features including but not limited to our hair and eyes, it’s believable enough.)

“Thank you, Riley.” My mom says to my aunt “I haven’t seen her this happy since before the accident.”

“Don’t thank me Kathy, it was all Megan’s idea. I’m just glad she is healing.” She lowered her voice “Speaking of healing, how is Ramona?”

“The doctors said she’s almost ready to come home.”

“That’s good, I’m so glad. Maybe having her little sister back home will help Ro.”

“I hope so.”

After a few months my mom got me real lessons. Little did I know what they would start, I also took up Guitar and Vocal lessons along with Piano. I’m learning to play the Drums but it is slow going since I can’t practice at home.

My mom doesn’t want Drums in her house, she says they’re too loud, but I say there’s no such thing.

Anyway, where was I? Oh right, Megan.

(End of flash back)

“Come on!”

I jumped to my feet “Oh my gosh! Thank you!” I whisper shouted to her.

“Don’t mention it. Mrs. Goodman is two-and-a-half minutes late, I would run if I were you.” She suggested, sipping on her coffee.

I crouched to not be seen, my steps echoing in the empty halls. Lucky for me the teacher was running late too, but she was close, I could hear her heels clicking around the corner as I reached the door.

I pushed open the door to the classroom and took my seat. The teacher, Mrs. Goodman, came into the classroom seconds after me, turning on the TV in the corner of the room as she sat down at her desk with a sigh, ruffling through some papers.

I probably looked like a mad woman scribbling away at my English paper while the school news played.

“In other news- Good morning LA! Let’s start the hour with an announcement!” A different voice boomed “This upcoming Monday between two and three PM you will have the chance to win some awesome tickets to the sold out All-Stars concert on Saturday at Ritter Stadium!”

My head snapped up from my paper.

“When you hear this sound,” A duck quack played through the speaker “call our station! The thirty third caller will win tickets for them and three friends! Tune in! All right, up next we ha-” the screen went black for a few seconds before the students came back.

“Sorry about that everyone,” One of them said “we had some technical difficulties, but we’re back.”

The announcements continue as I wrote on a scrap piece of paper the time and station.

Moni is turning thirteen on the same day as the concert and the All-Stars are her favorite band right now.

The end of the day came, and I found myself both dreading and excited for music class.

Lindsay Carson is the most arrogant person I’ve ever met. She struts through the halls with her immaculate manicured nails and tanned skin dressed in bubblegum pink from her perfect blonde hair to her favorite pumps.

She’s got a lot of daddy’s money and a gang of airhead followers trying to be as ‘glamorous’ as she thinks she is.

I only have one class with her, but it’s also my favorite class, so it evens out to just okay.

She handed over a folder “Here’s the homework Mr. Roberts, I hope you don’t mind that it’s so early.” She said in the sickly innocent voice she’s been using since kindergarten to get what she wants.

“That’s fine, thank you Lindsay.” Mr. Roberts said, his eyes staying on his desk while a pair of rectangular glasses sat on the bridge of his nose.

Lindsay turned away from his desk and headed for the door, her smile faded to a scowl when she noticed me leaning on the frame.

I returned the favor with a sarcastic smile of my own.

“Hey Charlie.” I said. Charlie Roberts is my uncle and the school’s music teacher.

“Hey kiddo, how was your day?” He asked. Charlie has two kids of his own, Megan, and Emma who is thirteen.

“Pretty good.” I said “That homework isn’t due till next week, right?” I ask, making sure I still had time to finish mine. Sitting down, I grabbed a Guitar and strummed a little.

“That’s right.” Charlie nodded, “It’s nice when a student like Lindsay takes initiative in school.”

“But there’s a big difference between working hard and being a suck up.” Meg piped in.

The look her father gave her was just as funny as the comment itself, making me chuckle.

“Hey Ro,” Meg said “My apartment building got fumigated today, they said we could go back in after about six hours, but it’ll smell for a little while, I was thinking I’d grab Emma and we’d have a movie night at your place?”

“Sure, sounds like fun.” I smiled.

The rest of the class poured in the small room. They took their seats, the bell rang, and class begun.

“Hey little sis.” I said, putting my arm around her shoulder and gave her a sideways hug.

She pushed me away, crossing her arms “Yeah, hi.”

“What’s got you in a mood?”

“Nothing, let’s go home.” She rolled her eyes, getting into the passenger seat of my car.

“All right, if that’s what you want.” I buckled my seatbelt, a smirk on my face.

I decided to take a little detour on our way home from school, pulling into the ice cream parlor. I’m the bestest big sister ever. (That’s not a word. Whatever, moving on.)

“What are we doing here?” She groaned, sliding down in her seat.

I didn’t say anything, I simply parked and went inside. Moni followed, dragging her feet.

We approached the counter and were greeted by a lady who had short blonde pixy cut hair and sunken in cheeks. It was hard to tell her age, she spoke like an adult but looked no older than twelve. “What can I get for you ladies today?” She asked.

“Um, we’ll take one tub of mint chocolate chip, one tub of sherbet swirl and…” I said “Moni you pick one.”

“Rocky road!” She blurted out as if I would come here and not get her favorite.

As we got into the car Moni held a bag with the ice cream in it “All right either you’re super hungry, or we’re having company over.”

I smirked and rolled my eyes “Yeah, I’m starving. I totally plan on eating three pints of ice cream in one sitting.”

She laughed “Good luck with that.” She reached forward and turned on the radio, switching the station.

I sighed as it landed to the same song she was listening to this morning “You really like this one, huh?”

She nodded “The All-Stars are my favorite band. Well, top three anyway.”

I laughed as we walked through the front door “We’re home!”

“I’m in the back yard!” My Mother’s voice echoed.

Moni put the ice cream in the freezer, and we joined her outside.

She was planting yellow flowers in the raised bed on the right side of our in ground pool.

“Hey Mom, Emma and Meg are coming over soon.” I informed her.

“All right well, I guess that’s fine, but I wish you would have called to give me a heads up. I would have cleaned up a-” She cut off when Moni said “I’ll get it!”

Moni raced into the house, I ran after her, eager for a night full of games, movies, and junk food.

CHAPTER 2

I jolted awake from the sudden sound of music.

Really, (really, REALLY) loud music.

There was a strange scene unfolding in front of me. Emma and Moni were standing a few feet away from the TV, holding microphones and singing along to a song I didn’t recognize. I could only see every other movement they made because of Moni’s party light system. (Something she likes to use at every opportunity). Shielding my eyes from the bright flashing lights, I unsteadily stood from the sofa making my way through the dark trying to find the light switch.

What are you two doing?” A groggy voice asked from behind me in the pitch black room.

“We were just about to hit the chorus.” Moni pouted, dropping her microphone to the carpeted floor as I paused the game.

I rolled my eyes flipping the regular lights on. The second I did so I was met with the angry glares from two munchkins and the squinty, confused face of Meg who glanced at the clock and did a double take because it read three o’clock in the morning.

My older cousin promptly turned off the TV, then began searching for the off switch for the party lights.

“What’d ya do that for?” Emma whined hopping up onto the couch and jumping around.

“It’s so late you guys, if you want to get more than five hours of sleep you’d better start now.” Meg sighed, finally turning off the bright flashing lights.

“I’m so tired!” Moni exclaimed, joining her cousin in jumping on the couch.

“If you’re so tired then why are you jumping on the couch?” Emma asked with all her sassiness.

“Come on you two, go to sleep.” Meg tossed them extra pillows and blankets from the closet.

“One more song, come on just one more song won’t hurt!” Moni whined. I was about to say no and demand sleep when she gave me the puppy eyes.

“All right, fine.” I sighed.

“Let’s make it a quartet!” Emma said, handing me a microphone. I looked at it indecisively until she too resorted to the puppy eyes. The power they have over me will get me into trouble one day.

“The things we do for these two.” I say to Meg, rolling my eyes.

Three minutes, one song and tons of crazy dance moves later, we were ready for sleep.

Moni and Emma spread out on the basement sofas while Meg and I took off to the living room.

“I’m going to go change.” Megan said once we were upstairs, grabbing her bag.

“Into what? An ostrich?” (Trying to be funny while half-awake is more difficult than it sounds, okay?)

After throwing on some sweat pants and a t-shirt, I went back downstairs where Meg had already started a movie in the living room. I sprawled out on the opposite side of the L shaped couch and pulled a blanket on top of me.

“I see you’re not an ostrich, bummer.”

I woke up the next morning at around eight o’clock.

I stood up from the couch and saw that Meg wasn’t there anymore. I went into the kitchen where she was frying bacon and using the waffle maker. “Good morning sleepy head!” She chirped.

“Meg, what are you doing?” I asked, a bit groggy.

“What does it look like? I’m making breakfast!” (Ugh. Morning people.)

“Okay well, do you need any help?”

“Um…” She looked around the kitchen “Could you go wake up Emma and Moni?”

“Sure” I sighed, tromping down the stairs.

The lights were still off in the basement but small strands of sunlight were streaming through the blinds, making golden stripes across the carpeted floor.

Moni had sprawled out on the floor in front of the bigger couch, Emma was curled up under a blanket on the small sofa.

(Hmm, how should I do this?) I looked around the basement and my eyes landed on Key who slept soundly on the sofa that Moni had started out on last night.

Perfect.

“Come here girl, give Moni a kiss.” I whispered. Key got up and stretched in the funny way dogs do. She came towards Moni and licked her across the face.

Moni’s face scrunched up and she wiped the slime off with her sleeve. “Gross Key, ugh why would y-” her eyes traveled up to mine and she scowled at me.

I smiled “Good girl, who’s a good girl? You are, yes you are.” she barked quietly and turned in a circle before jumping up on the couch again.

Moni’s glare turned to a look that would surely strike me down if such things were deadly “Why?” She complained loudly.

Emma sat upright “I’m up!”

“Morning.” I smiled with a little wave.

Emma replied with a grunt and a grimace, ducking under her blanket.

“Meg made breakfast, bacon and waffles.” I said in a taunting tone.

Key must have heard Meg make some kind of noise because her ears perked up and she sprinted up the stairs. Moni and Emma copied the dog and dashed up the stairs after her.

Once we were all seated around the table, I poured myself a glass of milk and asked Moni “Should we wake Mom up?”

“She left for work before you got up.” Meg told us, passing around some sliced fruit.

It isn’t unlike her to go into work on the weekends, but I now felt bad about our late night (or should I say early morning) round of karaoke.

“This is nice, it feels like we haven’t seen each other for so long.” I say breaking the peaceful silence of our breakfast. “This is my favorite part of our sleep overs.”

“What? Spending quality time with our cousins?” Moni suggested.

“No, I meant the part where Meg makes food I don’t have to cook.” Emma and Moni chuckled and Meg turned her head just in time for her spit take to miss the food. Meg was still laughing, and I looked at the sliding glass door that had been covered in coffee.

“Thanks Meg, I totally wanted to clean that this morning.” I say.

“You’re welcome?” She chuckles.

Monday. (Yuck.)

I tapped my pencil on my desk while the teacher droned on and on. The clock on the wall seemed to tick slower than ever. My history teacher’s lecture about what the Queen of England liked to have for breakfast was growing ever more boring as the seconds ticked on.

When the bell finally rung, I went down the concrete stairs of the school, closing my car door behind me. I turned on the radio and tuned into the right station. A song that Moni loves came on, I don’t know the name of it, but I realize now that I’ve never really listened to this group she likes so much. I kind of like this one though.

Next was a commercial break which I ignored, looking around the parking lot that was quickly becoming empty.

Two more songs played, and I knew Moni would be wondering where I was soon. I dialed the number for the station, ready to hit call.

After another song the DJ was talking about some celebrity drama that happened last year, but everyone seems to still care about.

“… and so after they broke up she was still starting rumors about him left and right, and of course the media gobbled it up, while this poor kid was probably heartbroken,”

The guest cut in “And at such a young age too, Dylan was hardly sixteen at the time.”

“Yeah and the funny thing is-” The host was cut off by a duck quacking “Okay folks, looks like it’s time to give away some tickets! Call now!”

I pushed the call button and waited.

It rang.

It rang again.

“Congratulations! You are our thirty third caller! What’s your name?”

My eyes became the size of cookies and I said the very intelligent sentence of “Uh… um, gah!”

“Hello?”

I snapped out of it and reply like a human this time “Hi! Hello!”

“What’s your name, lucky winner?”

“Ro. My name is Ro.”

“Ro! All right! Nice to meet you. Who’s going to the concert with you?”

“Um, I’m taking my sister for her birthday.”

“All right, awesome! Congrats to our lucky winner Ro everyone!” A trumpet sounded in a celebratory way. The host told me to stay on the line while they went to commercial, then I gave them my info and they said they would send me the tickets.

I stopped at a light “I got your birthday present picked out.” I said trying and failing to hide the smile on my face.

“Really? What is it?” She asked from the passenger seat, her voice getting higher with every letter.

“You’ll just have to wait and see.”

“Oh come on, give me a hint.”

“All right fine, it’s something we can do together.”

“That’s it? That’s my hint? That could be anything!” She waved her hands around, coming very near to hitting me in the face.

“I know, but there’s not much more I can say without giving it away.” I shrug my shoulders.

“When can I have it?” She asked.

“On Friday.” I said with a smirk.

She sighed, giving up.

Friday. (Better than Monday. Much, much better. But still not as great as Saturday.)

In the cafeteria the loud chatter of students and the clatter of plastic trays couldn’t muffle the sound of three pairs of pumps coming my way.

Just as I was about to enjoy the first bite of my spaghetti, Lindsay and her friends came into my view.

“What do you want?” I sighed, wishing for nothing more than to be left alone with my lunch.

“Aww what’s wrong Ro, I wanna have a chat.” Lindsay said with a bat of her fake eyelashes. “A little birdie tells me you won tickets to the All-Stars concert from the radio station.”

“Why do you care?”

“I just think it’s kind of… strange,” She shrugged “I thought you hated them.”

I sighed again “Are you really that threatened by me that you have to resort to things like this?”

She scoffed “Me? Threatened by you?” She moved closer “Where are your seats? They said the winner would get tickets for the front row, right?”

They never said that, they advertised ‘awesome tickets’ I stayed silent hoping that she would someday get bored with taunting me and bother someone else.

Oh how I wish.

“How about this,” Lindsay proposed “you give me your tickets, and I don’t tell the whole school about the little accident you had in gym two months ago.”

“Like anyone would even believe that happened.”

“You wanna try me?” She stepped even closer, talking in a hushed tone “I have this school wired. I mention a rumor, it spreads like wild fire.”

“Whatever Lindsay,” I say, standing up and taking my tray with me “I’m done with you. You think you’re so popular and loved, but the truth is they don’t care about you. I don’t care what you think, and neither does anyone else. Now get out of my way.” It was then when I noticed the entire place was silent. Every eye was on us.

I rolled my eyes at how ridiculous this place is.

I met Lindsay’s gaze with a glare, standing my ground.

After a few seconds she looked to the side with an annoyed pout, and side stepped away.

I felt eyes burning in the back of my head as I walked away.

After a car ride full of questions from Moni about her birthday present we made it home. I grabbed an apple to snack on and went upstairs to print out the tickets. It wasn’t needed, but I wanted a physical copy to give to her. I put them in the envelope with her card and sealed it.

I sat down next to her on the couch and handed her the envelope “Happy almost birthday!”

She smiled wide and tore open the envelope, pulling out four tickets and the card.

“Are these what I think they are!?” She squealed.

“If you think they’re four tickets to the sold out All-Stars concert tomorrow, then yes!”

“Thank you so much Ro!” She said giving me a hug from the side.

“You’re welcome.”

“So who’s coming with us?”

“I thought we could invite Meg and Emma, what do you think?”

“Awesome!” She giggled.

We got up and joined our mother in the kitchen.

“Mom you will never believe what Ro got me for my birthday!” Moni said.

“What’s that honey?” My mother’s voice faded away as I went into the other room to call my cousin.

“Hello?” She answered.

“Hey Meg.”

“Hi, what’s up?”

“I scored four tickets to the All-Stars concert tomorrow, and we were wondering if you and Emma wanted to come.”

“Sound’s fun, I’ll see if Emma wants to, and by that I mean I’ll hold my hands over my ears while she screams, hold on.” The line fell silent for a few minutes before Meg came back.

“So what time should we pick you guys up?” I could hear her smiling through the phone.

“I’ll take that as a yes then?”

“Please don’t make me ask her again, I think I have hearing damage from the first time.”

“Okay,” I chuckled “it takes about a half-hour to get there and I’d like to be early so we should leave our place at around five-thirty.”

“Cool we’ll be there.” She said.

“See you tomorrow, bye.”

“Bye.”

I hung up and joined Moni and my mom at the table.

“What did they say?” Asked Moni on the edge of her seat.

“They’ll be here at five-thirty to pick us up.” I told her.

Moni’s reply with what I can only describe as the scream of a happy banshee.

Great, now Meg and I can be hearing-damage-from-excited-tweens buddies!

CHAPTER 3

“Moni come on, they’re goanna be here soon.” I yelled from the front closet.

“I’m coming, I’m coming.” She shouted from upstairs. I heard a few doors open and close, then Moni came hobbling down the stairs with one shoe on, the other in her hand. At the bottom of the stairs she nearly fell over standing on one foot to pull on her other shoe as the doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it!” I yelled.

I opened the front door to an excited Emma and Meg. “Let’s go Moni.” I said gesturing to the door.

We arrived at the venue at six o’clock. When we entered the parking lot it was nearly empty. Meg was driving, I was in the passenger’s seat with Emma and Moni in the back.

“Moni, let me see those tickets again.” I said, turning down the radio.

She gave me the tickets and I read them over. “Ritter Stadium, admit one: All-Stars, Saturday May 18 10:15 P. M.”

“That can’t be right,” I said, studying the ticket “this says it doesn’t start for hours.”

“How did that happen?” Emma asked.

“Apparently Ro doesn’t know how to tell time.” Meg said.

“Wow, thanks Meg.” I snapped.

“So… what do we do now?” Moni chimed in.

“I don’t know, but if I’m staying awake that long, I need coffee.” Meg said.

“Seriously?” Emma remarked.

“What?” Her sister shrugged.

Emma scoffed and rolled her eyes at her sister “You’re the only twenty-year-old in the entire world that likes to go to bed before nine.”

“That may be true baby sis, but you are the only thirteen-year-old I’ve met that stays awake until two in the morning and can get up at seven the next day.” Meg retorted with a smirk.

The laughter of all four of us rang through the car like music, one of my favorite sounds. After that, none of us were in a hurry to get anywhere, we were having fun together and that was all that mattered.

The Coffee Hut was filled with the hiss of espresso machines, the loud clunks of old refrigerators and the quiet chatter of a single group of people.

There were two employees working there, they wore green aprons and tan hats. The older one of the two, a man, rearranged bags of beans on the shelf, and the younger woman filled a machine with water behind the counter.

As we approached the counter and were greeted by the woman I felt like I was getting goosebumps. Maybe it was intense scent of coffee attacking my nose, or the awkwardness of being in such an empty shop.

Suddenly I was very aware of every move I made. I felt eyes on me.

“What can I get for y’all today?” She asked with a thick southern accent.

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