A Moonlit Knight: A Merriweather Sisters Time Travel Romance (A Knights Through Time Romance Book 11)
Present Day—Holden Beach
“This is supposed to be the happiest day of our lives and you look like somebody swiped your last piece of peach pie.”
Chloe fingered the green and white tassel. It looked like Christmas lying on the red table. “I am happy.”
“Chloe Penelope Merriweather, don’t you dare fib to me.” Sara Beth scowled across the table, green eyes bright under the neon signs.
It was loud in the diner. Everyone from school had gathered together one last time before they partied all night long and went their separate ways over the summer. Chloe sighed.
“Really. Truly. I’m happy.”
Her friend was gorgeous, with green eyes and short black hair. She’d be perfect on a movie poster about an escaped fae princess. Half of the baseball team was drooling as they watched Sara Beth eat her sweet potato fries.
She waved a fry in the air, ketchup droplets landing on the table. “Oh, please. I’m positive you’re having some kind of crisis. I mean, come on, you turned down Jake Evans, the hottest guy in three counties. Something’s up.” She narrowed her eyes. “Now spill.”
Stalling for time, Chloe took a long sip of the double chocolate shake. Then she reapplied her lip balm and looked around the diner. It was retro; the waitstaff dressed like they were from the fifties.
Sara Beth’s mom was a life coach and her best friend loved to analyze and “help” those around her. Though right now, Chloe could do without her friend’s all-seeing gaze. She forced herself not to squirm but to remain relaxed and cheerful. A senior graduating from high school. Going onward, ready to start the rest of her entire life and plan everything out down to the last detail. Oh my gosh, was it hot in here? Chloe fanned herself.
A sharp rap on the table made her jump. “What?”
“I swear if you don’t tell me what’s going on, I’m going to text Jake this instant and tell him you’re on the way to his party.” Sara Beth held up her phone, the purple glitter case sparkling under the lights.
The anxiety of knowing what to do with the rest of her life faded a bit and Chloe laughed, holding out her hands. “Okay, okay, you win.”
Her friend leaned across the table. “Is that it? You’ve reconsidered?”
“No way.” Chloe shook her head. “Jake is hot, I’ll give you that much, but he’s dated every girl within a hundred miles. I’m not interested in being another ex of Jake Evans. There should be a support group. They could call it Jake’s Jilted Women.” How did she explain to her best friend what she was having trouble figuring out herself?
“We’re done with high school. You’re going to California for the summer and then UCLA. Everyone’s leaving. Nothing will ever be the same again. Before you know it, we’ll all be back here for our twenty-year reunion and everyone will be so much older. I want time to stop.”
Sara Beth took her hand and squeezed. “Everything is supposed to change. We’re going to college and then we’ll find jobs, get married, maybe have a couple of kids—who knows where we’ll end up living. You have to keep moving forward. It’s just life.” Then she grinned. “But I’m not aging. No way. I plan to look like this forever.”
Chloe sniffed. “I know we have to grow up. But why can’t things stay the same?” She blew her nose. “Don’t get me wrong; I’m super excited to travel around Europe. But my grandparents are getting older. I thought they’d be here forever, constant, never changing.” Her throat closed up and Chloe had to swallow a few times before she could go on.
“They’re supposed to be here forever. Arthur is nice enough and my mom is great, but Granda Drake is the one I want to walk me down the aisle, to pull out his sword and tell the guy he better treat me right or he’ll run him through.” The words tumbled out, faster and faster. “When I think of losing them, I can’t breathe. What if something happens to one of them while I’m gone this summer? Or away at school?” She used her thumb to swipe at the tear rolling down her cheek.
Sara Beth squeezed her hand, then let go. “You’ve been my best friend since third grade, when you socked Willie James for putting that awful toad down the back of my dress.” She paused while the waitress cleared their plates.
“Can I get y’all anything else? Everyone’s heading to the Evans’ for the big party.”
Chloe let out a long sigh.
“No thanks, Mrs. Bean. Just the check,” Sara Beth said.
Mrs. Bean hugged them, tightly. The woman was a workout fanatic with arms of steel. “This one’s on me. You only graduate from high school once. Now you two have fun tonight.”
When they were alone again, Sara Beth looked Chloe in the eye. “Everyone in town knows your grandmother will live forever. My mom says Miss Mildred has mellowed but that she used to terrorize the whole town before she and Drake got together.”
“She almost fell on the steps last week,” Chloe said. “And now she’s hobbling around. It makes my heart hurt.”
“Girl, you trip over your own feet at least once a week. And Miss Mildred will outlive us all.” Sara Beth stopped laughing. “You’ve always been serious. With your nose in a book, daydreaming away. But Chloe, it’s time to take your nose out of the book, forget the imaginary boyfriends, and live. Fall in love with a real guy. Someone a little older than you. You need a guy who’s mature and responsible. Someone who cares about others more than himself.”
“I’ve been in love,” Chloe retorted.
Sara Beth smirked. “Oh, you have, have you?” She pointed at a group of guys in the corner. “And what fine specimen of manhood has had the honor of your affections?”
“Please. You dumped him for not holding the door open for you.”
“Fine. I loved Jim.”
Sara Beth rolled her eyes. “You said kissing him was like getting big, slobbery, smelly kisses from a dog.”
“That’s what I thought. You hold every guy up to an impossible level. No guy will ever measure up to Mr. Drake. Or to any book boyfriend.” Sara Beth arched a brow.
“Noah,” Chloe whispered.
“Oh, sweetie.” Sara Beth took her hand, the purple nail polish sparkling in the light. “I know you loved him. I’m an idiot for bringing the subject up.”
“It’s taken me a long time to get over him.” Chloe pulled her hand away. “When you and Bobby broke up, how long did it take you to trust again?”
Sara Beth looked away. “I’m still working on it.” Then she smiled. “But I’m dating, and I’ll keep dating until I know I’m over it. By then, I’ll be ridiculously happy.”
“It’s hard for me to put myself out there,” Chloe said as she slid out of the booth.
“I know. But if you don’t, you’ll end up all alone with five little yappy dogs that you dress up in costumes and post all over social media.” Sara Beth hugged Chloe as they made their way out of the diner. It was nearly empty; everyone was already on their way to the party.
“Promise me.” Sara Beth pulled back and looked Chloe in the eye. “Promise me you’ll give some cute, slightly older European guy a chance, and fall madly in love with him. You need a summer fling. Or better yet, a fling in every country.” She waggled her eyebrows, looking like a demented fairy.
“That’s ridiculous,” Chloe said. “Why would I want to fall in love and then have to come back to the States and go away to college in the fall? I think that’s a bit too long-distance of a relationship, even for me.”
“Trust me. You’ll hear all those sexy accents and fall in love. It will be good for you. Consider it homework.” Sara Beth climbed into the passenger seat of the red MG. “I still can’t believe Miss Mildred let you take the car tonight. Now put your hair up and let’s go find a cute boy to kiss to celebrate graduating. With honors, I might add.”
Instead of retorting that she’d kissed enough frogs for several lifetimes, Chloe put her hair up and then put the top down on the old car. She’d make an appearance at the party and talk Sara Beth into leaving early.
Her friend cranked up the radio, singing along, and Chloe gave up that plan. It was going to be a long night.