When Ainsely's search for love leads to her best friend, she'll need more than Goals to land a boyfriend.
That’s me. Ainsley Airensen. Give me a goal and a checklist, and there’s nothing I can’t do. Keep my grades up so I’m top five in my class? Check. Participate in clubs and service groups to pad my resume? Check. Get accepted at my top choices of colleges? Check.
See, all I need is a list and a goal and I can conquer anything. Except for one thing. A boyfriend. Not for lack of trying, mind you. I have lists galore on the subject, as well as goals, but it doesn't matter. I can't check it off as a success.
“It doesn’t work that way, Ainsley,” Jesse O’Connor, my best friend since we could walk, said as we jogged around the track talking about my single status and what I planned to do about it.
Jesse had never given me bad advice, and with him being a guy, I always got a different perspective. Like now.
“Of course it does. How do you think those online dating sites work? They use a list.”
He chuckled. “Yeah, of things the two people have in common.”
“Well, I could make a list for that.” I started thinking about what I’d include. Running, watching movies―action flicks more than chick flicks―swimming in the warm months and skiing in the cold ones. All the things I loved. All the things I did with Jesse.
“What you need to do it make a list of guys you think you want to date, and I’ll help you narrow it down to your perfect choice.”
I brushed strands of my dark blond hair from my face. “Right. I’m pretty sure you won't let me put a single name on the list.”
He slowed to a stop and drew an ‘x’ across his heart. “I swear I will let you make a list and help you find the best guy for you.”
Wow. He totally meant it. Jesse never swore oaths unless he meant to keep them.
“Okay.” I bent over, stretching out my muscles as we talked. “How many guys do I need to list?”
He stretched a leg back and shoved his fingers into his chocolate colored curls. “Let’s go with five. Think you can pick five stellar candidates from the population of Roosevelt High?”
I grinned. “Easy. Chase Wainwright.”
“Why him?” Jesse cocked a brow, green eyes questioning.
“Who wouldn’t want him? I mean, he’s gorgeous, and he’s not conceited about it.”
“No. But he’s obsessed with hockey.” He switched legs.
I sighed as I stretched to the other side. It was true. Chase spent mega hours at the rink. “You told me I could make the list.”
“I did, but you need to be realistic here, Ains. He’s not the right guy for the list.”
“He’s going on the list. And so is Jordan Kingsley.” I tipped my head down, my ponytail falling down to swing across the track.
“Two hockey players? You want to be a rink bunny?”
I flicked my hair back as I stood and shrugged. “It can’t be that bad.”
He snorted. “Ask Samantha how it is. She practically lives there.”
“I will. But I’m not taking them off my list.” I glared, daring him to make a comment. Wisely, he kept silent. “For the third name, I’ll add Keith Lattimer.”
“I’m seriously questioning your taste in men. He’s an ass. One that happens to be dating Samantha.” Jesse shook his head and started walking toward his car in the student lot on the other side of the fence. “I just don’t see what you girls see in him.”
Jesse opened my door and I scooted inside, waiting for him to get behind the wheel before I answered. “He’s taller than me and older than me. What more do I need?”
“How about someone who will treat you right? Or, someone with a personality more outgoing than a bump on a log?” He shook his head. “Geez, Ains. You should read a romance novel or take in a chick flick once in a while. Your idea of romance and love is worse than a guys.”
“Like you’d know what to do on a date.”
He backed out of the parking spot then flashed a grin at me. “Add me to your list and see.”
I stared at him, my stomach doing funny flips. If Jesse wasn’t my best friend, he’d make the perfect boyfriend. Hell, most guys already thought he was my boyfriend. But he was my best friend. If we dated, what would happen to our friendship?
His grin faded, and he looked away, watching where he was driving. “Guess that’s a no.” He cleared his throat. I thought I saw a flash of pain in his eyes, but he blinked and it disappeared.
“No.” I set my hand on his arm, pulling his gaze back to mine briefly. “It’s not a no. You just surprised me with the suggestion, is all. ” I looked up at him, praying I wasn’t making the biggest mistake of my life. “I’ll add you to the list.”
“Great. Now you just need one more.”
Right. I couldn’t come up with another name. I’d barely been able to name three. And now that Jesse’s name was on the list, I didn’t want anyone else’s there. How had that happened? I’d never thought of Jesse that way before.
“Let’s just go with four.”
“Then four it is. And may the best man win.” He grinned and my stomach swirled with excitement and fear.
What was wrong with me? I never should have added him to my list. I studied him as we drove down the road, seeing him in a new light. Dark brown hair curled around his ears and neck, begging me to tangle my fingers into each strand and see if they were as soft as they looked. His spring green eyes held mysteries and wonders I’d never noticed before, but now I wanted to discover each and every one.
And just like that, I knew what my goal would be. It wasn’t just to get a boyfriend. No, it was so much more than that. My new goal was to make Jesse fall for me like I was falling for him.
Twisting tales one story at a time.
YA author Mary Waibel’s love for fairytales and happy-ever fill the pages of her works. Whether penning stories in a medieval setting or a modern day school, magic and romance weave their way inside every tale. Strong female characters use both brain and brawn to save the day and win the heart of their men. Mary enjoys connecting with her readers through her website: marywaibel.blogspot.com
We invite you to return on January 17th for a GOALS inspired story from Eric Price