Page 1

Chapter 1

“Some old lady just called me the c-word.”

I glance up from the magazine I’m paging through. Isabel Alonso, my best friend and fellow cashier at the Sur-N-Sav, leans back against her register and snaps her gum. Her dark hair is caught up in a messy braid, black against the green of her apron.

“Just now?” I ask. The store is more or less deserted, which has been the case since the giant Walmart opened up on the other side of town, so Isabel and I are the only cashiers working today. I haven’t had anyone in my line in over an hour, hence the magazine. Still, I can’t believe I was absorbed enough to miss something actually exciting—if super rude—happening.

Isabel rolls her eyes. “It’s my fault the price of sour cream went up.”

“That seems fair,” I tell her with a solemn nod. “You are a fabulous dairy heiress, after all.”

Isabel turns back to her register, punching buttons at random. “We have got to get new jobs, Daze. This is humiliating.”

I don’t disagree, but when you live in a small town in north Florida, your options are kind of limited. I’d wanted to get a job at the library last fall, but that hadn’t worked out—no funding—and one summer of helping out at Vacation Bible School had cured me of the desire to work with little kids, which meant babysitting or working part time at the local preschool was out. So it was all Sur-N-Sav all the time.

Although now, looking at my phone where it’s propped against the register, I see that my time at Sur-N-Sav is up.

“Ah, three o’clock, the most beautiful time of day,” I say happily, and Isabel groans. “Not fair!”

“Hey, I’ve been here since seven,” I remind her. “You wanna leave early—”

“You have to take the early shift,” she finishes, waving a hand at me. “Okay, Mrs. Miller, got it.”

Mrs. Miller is the manager of the Sur-N-Sav, and Isabel and I have gotten very used to her lectures over the past year.

Sighing, Isabel leans next to her register, chin propped in her hand. Her nails are painted three different shades of green, and a simple beaded bracelet slides down one slender wrist. “Four more weeks,” she says, and I repeat our favorite mantra.

“Four more weeks.”

At the end of June, Isabel and I are bidding a not-so-fond farewell to the Sur-N-Sav life and heading out to Key West for Key Con, then plan to spend a week bumming around the town. Isabel’s brother lives there with his wife and Isabel’s ridiculously cute baby nephew, so we have a free (and parent-approved) place to stay. To say my entire life is revolving around this trip might be something of an understatement. Not only will we get our geek on, but we will also get to do fun Key West things. Snorkeling, the Hemingway House, all the key lime pie a gal can hold . . . yes, this trip is going to make my entire summer, and Isa and I have been planning it for almost a year now, as soon as the con was announced. Our favorite author, Ash Bentley, is going to be there talking about her Finnigan Sparks series, plus there are at least twenty different panels Isabel and I want to check out—on everything from women in space operas to cosplay design. It is geek heaven, and we are beyond ready.

“You need to come over this weekend so we can start planning outfits,” Isabel says, straightening up and punching random buttons on the register as Whitney Houston wails about the greatest love of all over the sound system. “I still haven’t decided if I’m cosplaying as Miranda from Finnegan and the Falcon or Jezza from Finnegan’s Moon.”

“Ben would probably prefer Jezza,” I say. Ben is Isa’s boyfriend, and has been for roughly eleventy billion years. Okay, since eighth grade. “Lot less clothes on Jezza.”

Isa screws up her face, thinking. “True, but Ben’s not even going to be there, and I don’t know if I’m ready to show a quarter of my butt cheeks to all of Key West.”

“Fair,” I acknowledge. “Besides, being Miranda means you get to wear a purple wig.”

She points a finger at me. “Yes! Miranda it is, then. Who are you going to go as?”

Smiling, I start shutting down my register. “Cosplay is your thing,” I remind her, “so I’m just going as me. Boring Girl in T-Shirt and Jeans.”

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