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The Pick

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The Pick

Ashley Hardy Myers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright @ 2017 by Ashley Hardy Myers

All right reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any format or in any medium without written permission of the author.

 

 

Chapter One

 

“Why did we decide to take AP Calculus again?” Kylie Brooks grumbled as she vigorously erased the incorrect solution for the third time.

“Because we thought it would be a good idea to get college credit,” Allison Parker laughed halfheartedly.

“Oh, yeah, that’s why,” Kylie said sarcastically as they both focused on their assignment again.

As they were sitting at the kitchen table, Ally noticed movement out of the corner of her eye. She glanced up to see Tyson, Kylie’s twin brother, staring into the fridge searching for something to eat. He was 6’ 2” with dark brown hair. Ally could tell that he had spent all summer working out. His shoulders were broader and his muscles more toned. With it being his senior football season, he had college recruiters watching him as a potential football player at the next level. From what she had heard, his hard work had paid off.

Ally missed the days when Tyson used to hang out with her and Kylie. Somewhere between middle school and their Sophomore year, Tyson became the most popular kid in school. While Ally and Kylie had remained close friends, Tyson soon began to hang out with new “cooler” friends. It wasn’t like Tyson ignored the girls or avoided them. He was always friendly when they passed each other in the hall and they occasionally talked when Ally was over at the Brooks’ home, but they had ended up in different social circles.

Ally felt a twinge of jealousy when she thought of Tyson’s most recent girlfriend, Jenna. Jenna was blonde, tall, skinny, and absolutely gorgeous. They looked like Hollywood stars when they were together. Ally couldn’t understand why Tyson would fall for a girl like Jenna. She wasn’t exactly known for her smarts and used Tyson for his popularity and good looks. She was always negative and mean to everyone, except Tyson, of course. Their personalities were completely opposite. Tyson got good grades. He was nice to everyone and he always had a smile on his face. A smile that had Ally falling even more for him, even though she would never admit it.

Ally shook her head. She had to stop thinking about Tyson.

“Finally!” Kylie exclaimed as she found the correct solution to the problem.

“Homework on the first day of school?” Tyson asked as he walked over with his freshly prepared sandwich and sat down at the table with Kylie and Ally.

“Yeah. Ally thought it would be a good idea,” Kylie smirked.

Ally said defensively, “It will be. College credit means we will get our degrees quicker and we will be making real money sooner than later.”

“Good you know you are still my ambitious business girl,” Tyson teased as he smiled that charming smile at Ally. There had been more than one time that Ally had tried to convince her childhood friends to start a chocolate chip cookie business or help them keep track of their pennies to save up for a much-wanted toy. Ally loved everything about business and had taken all of the business classes available at their high school.

Ally felt herself blush and was suddenly at a loss for words. Luckily, Kylie changed the subject by bringing up the Homecoming game and Tyson’s Homecoming royalty nomination.

“I really wish that I hadn’t been picked as Homecoming royalty,” Tyson stated. “I would rather be in the locker room at halftime preparing with the team than being on stage in the center of the field.”

“Ty, I’m pretty sure you are going to be Homecoming King, so just accept it and enjoy the attention. Speaking of which, have you asked Jenna to the dance yet?” Kylie asked.

“We broke up,” Tyson said with a shrug, as he took another large bite of his sandwich.

Ally and Kylie both looked at each other with surprise. Without having to be asked Tyson continued, “I just need to focus on getting a scholarship and preparing for a mission. She doesn’t think either is important. I don’t really know why I started dating her in the first place.

“Wow, our little Tyson is growing up,” Kylie said as if Tyson was 3. She had always treated Tyson like a little brother, since she was technically 10 minutes older than Tyson. “Who are you going to ask? The Homecoming King needs a date.

“I don’t know,” Tyson sighed. “A lot of the girls already have dates.”

“Kylie doesn’t,” Ally chimed in. “You can always take your sister,” she said with a smile.

“Yeah, I can just see the headline in the school newspaper, ‘Mr. Football Can’t Intercept Date for Homecoming’,” Kylie laughed.

“Ha ha. Very clever,” Tyson couldn’t help but chuckle. “Well good luck with your college credit. I actually have some homework I need to do too.”

 

 

Over the past couple of weeks, Tyson had felt like he needed to make some changes in his life. It suddenly seemed like he really needed to prepare for the future. Maybe it was because it was his senior year and he would be attending college next year. Or maybe it was because he had started to attend mission prep classes. Either way, what he wanted in the future was always at the forefront of his mind lately.

As Tyson pulled out his scriptures, he turned to his patriarchal blessing he received only two weeks ago. His patriarch had asked him to put it in the topical guide under the heading, ‘Patriarchal Blessing’. Ally had helped him shrink it down so it would fit in his triple combination and even printed it out on tissue paper, so it blended in nicely with the rest of his scriptures. It was glued in as if it were a part of his scriptures.

Tyson flipped to the paragraph that talked about choosing friends carefully, as his wife would be one of them. It then went on to describe his wife and all the wonderful qualities she would possess. He wasn’t exactly looking for a wife right now, but he had always heard that you marry who you date. This part of his blessing had hit home while the patriarch’s hands were on his head. He knew his girlfriend at the time, Jenna, didn’t have those qualities. Plus, Jenna had been pressuring Tyson to compromise his religious values lately, so he knew it would be better for both of them. He had ended their relationship a couple days before school started.

Jenna had not taken it well. She complained that she had already purchased a dress for Homecoming and it would go to waste if no one else asked her to the dance. She was worried about how she would tell her friends and what everyone in school would think. Tyson had ensured Jenna that she would get asked by someone else. And Tyson was right. Jenna didn’t have to worry. Yesterday at practice, a fellow teammate had asked Tyson if he could ask Jenna to Homecoming.

Tyson’s thoughts shifted to the dance. Who was he going to ask? Tyson ran through the list of girls that typically hung out with him and his friends. Every single one of them had already been asked. Tyson was realizing more and more how Jenna had made sure that she was the only girl he spent time with. Maybe he really was going to have to beg his sister to escort him on Friday night. She definitely would not like wearing a fancy dress.

Kylie almost always wore a ponytail and was a tomboy through and through. She had always enjoyed sports and was more than willing to challenge Tyson to a game of basketball or a game of checkers. She was a little bossy and always pulled the I’m the oldest card, but they had been best friends growing up. They had been on the same basketball, tee ball, and flag football teams when they were young.

Then there was Ally. She was Kylie’s best friend and he had grown up being friends with her too. Ally moved into their neighborhood when they were in 4th grade. It was the three of them. Ally fit in as if she were part of their family. She enjoyed sports as well and often it was Kylie and Ally against Tyson. As they got older, Kylie never really grew out of her tomboy phase. Ally, on the other hand, had embraced being a teenage girl a lot easier than Kylie had and helped her through the transition.

When Tyson was 14, he had the biggest crush on Ally. They had 9th grade math together and it had been his favorite class that year. Every day, Ally would sit by him even though she had other friends in the class. She was always willing to help him with their assignments. Ally would brighten his day when she smiled at him and laughed at his funny comments. He couldn’t help but chuckle out loud when he remembered the way she would playfully smack him and say, “Whatever,” when he would comment about her gorgeous sunflower eyes that could be yellow, blue, green, and brown all at the same time which perfectly complimented her long brown hair.

The next year, they entered high school and their paths never really crossed again. They would say “Hi” to each other in the hallways or have short conversations when she was over at Tyson’s house with Kylie, but their friendship had dwindled over the past three years.

That was when it hit him. Ally. He would ask Ally to Homecoming. It was the perfect way to strengthen their friendship they once had and who knows where else it might lead.

After he finished preparing for bed, he walked to Kylie’s room and was glad to see light was still escaping from behind the door.

“Ky?” Tyson asked as he knocked on the door.

“Come in,” Kylie responded. “What’s up?” she asked as he opened the door.

“Well, I was just wondering if Ally had been asked to Homecoming yet?”

Kylie sat on her bed with her laptop. “Nope. Why?” Kylie asked as she looked at Tyson with a questioning look.

“Just wondering…” he said with a smile and closed her door behind him as he headed back to his room.

That night, he drifted off to sleep thinking about the perfect way he would ask Ally to Homecoming.

Chapter Two

 

Even though Kylie was planning on a future career in the medical profession, Ally had talked Kylie into joining Future Business Leaders of America, otherwise known as FBLA. Ally was the President of the club and had chosen Kylie to be in her presidency as the Historian. Ally knew she needed someone that she could rely on to help her get things done. The remaining presidency members were boys, and they easily forgot things…. Things like their first presidency meeting to plan upcoming activities after school.

As Ally and Kylie were heading out to Ally’s car after their delayed meeting, Ally was busy entering things to do on her phone and Kylie’s mind drifted to the question Tyson had asked her the night before. She was pretty sure that Tyson was going to ask Ally to Homecoming. Why else would he have asked Kylie if Ally had been asked yet?

But why would he be asking her? She knew Tyson had a crush on Ally back a few years ago, but he hadn’t actually dated anyone like Ally. Kylie hadn’t been a big fan of Tyson’s past girlfriends. They were the girls who cared too much about what other people thought, what they looked like, and acted like they were better than everyone else. Ally was definitely the opposite of those girls.

Kylie knew Ally and Tyson hadn’t really spent time together over the last couple of years. However, Ally was a little shy when she was talking to Tyson last night and blushed really easily. Kylie knew that was how Ally acted when she liked a guy. Usually Ally was quick to give Tyson a hard time like Kylie, but she was definitely hesitant. But Ally would tell Kylie if something was happening with Tyson, wouldn’t she? Was Ally hiding something? Had they been spending time together and she didn’t know about it?

Kylie’s thoughts were interrupted as Ally exclaimed, “What in the world?”

Ally’s car was covered in Post-It Notes. Ally and Kylie walked faster to cover the distance to the car. There was one note with writing on it located on the driver’s door that read, “Will you go to Homecoming with me?”

Ally looked on the back of the Post-It Note hoping to find a name but there wasn’t anything. “Well I guess it’s time to search the entire car,” Ally stated. They began to search the car, looking on both sides of the Post-Its to find out who had asked Ally to the dance.

“I can’t think of anyone who would have asked me,” Ally said. “Maybe it was one of the boys in FBLA. That could have explained why they were late to the meeting?”

“Maybe,” Kylie answered. She was barely listening to Ally ramble on about the fact that she hadn’t ever been to Homecoming before or who it was that asked her. Kylie already knew who had asked Ally, but she was still having a hard time understanding why.

“Or maybe it was that cute guy in our Calculus class. He has been talking to me a lot lately,” Ally said as she pondered who could have possibly asked her.

Kylie knew she had to throw it out there to see if Tyson and Ally had been talking more or spending time together. “Do you think it could be Tyson?”

Ally laughed, “Are you kidding? I hardly ever see him, let alone have a conversation with him. I’m lucky if I get a wave in the hallway. It doesn’t make any sense that someone that popular would…” Then she gasped and whispered, “Tyson.”

Ally had found it. “Tyson” written on the back of a Post-It note located on the passenger rear tire. After that response, Kylie knew Ally wasn’t hiding anything.

“How did you know?” Ally asked.

“Last night, Tyson asked me if you had been asked to the dance yet,” Kylie said.

A grin spread across Ally’s face, “I’m going to Homecoming with Tyson!” She jumped up and down with joy.

On the car ride home, Kylie wasn’t listening to Ally ramble on about Tyson and finding a dress. Kylie wasn’t quite sure how she felt about her brother dating her best friend. Sure, it was only one dance, but when Ally fell for someone she fell hard and fast. Tyson’s relationships rarely lasted more than three or four months. With his recent shift to focusing on his future, Kylie worried that someone would get hurt and that that person was going to be Ally.

 

 

Over the next week and a half, Homecoming preparations were in full swing. Dresses were purchased, dinner reservations were made, and Kylie grew increasingly uneasy about the situation. She could tell that Ally was falling for Tyson more and more each day. He was going out of his way to talk to Ally. They had even gone out for ice cream one night after football practice. Maybe it was an effort to just make Homecoming more natural and less awkward, but Kylie still needed to figure out Tyson’s motive behind asking Ally to the dance. Was it sympathy because Ally hadn’t ever been to Homecoming? Did he run out of options and Ally was the only one left? Tyson wasn’t a jerk or one to knowingly hurt someone’s feelings, but Kylie needed to look out for her best friend, and her brother.

It was the Thursday before Homecoming and Tyson sat on the couch half studying, half watching Thursday Night Football. Kylie sat down next to him and waited until a commercial break to ask the questions that had been haunting her all week.

“Ty, I have a question for you,” Kylie said.

“Okay,” Tyson responded as he continued to work on his homework.

“Why did you ask Ally to Homecoming?”

Tyson sighed, set down his homework and muttered frustrated, “Do I seriously have to make an announcement to the whole school as to why I asked Ally?”

“What?” Kylie asked, surprised at his sudden frustration.

“You aren’t the first person to ask me that question… I have already had to explain it to the guys on the football team, a couple of girls, and even Jenna,” Tyson responded in a tired tone.

This was a twist Kylie wasn’t expecting. “Ty, come on. I’m your sister and Ally is my best friend. I just want to understand where all this is coming from, and Jenna?” Kylie asked as Tyson nodded his head. “Why does Jenna care why you asked Ally to Homecoming? And why do you care what she thinks anyways? You’ve never been one to let other people get in your head.”

“Maybe because she is jealous. I don’t know. Do you have a problem with me dating Ally too?” Tyson said in a slightly annoyed voice.

Kylie chose her next words carefully. “I don’t necessarily have a problem with it. I just care about my brother and my best friend. I don’t want either of them to get hurt. Ty, you haven’t dated anyone like Ally before and she hasn’t dated anyone like you.”

Tyson took a deep breath. “I think that is what the problem is for everyone. They start out with the fact that I could have asked any girl at school to the dance. But what they don’t understand is I wanted to ask Ally. I’m tired of the type of girls I have dated.” Tyson rubbed his hand over his face. “I asked Ally because she isn’t one of the girls trying to get my attention. I actually wanted to ask her.”

“So… she wasn’t your last hope at a date to the dance?” Kylie asked.

“That’s what you were worried about?” Tyson gave a slight chuckle.

“Ya…”

“Well Ky, I’m excited to spend some time with Ally and get to know the girl she has grown up to be. I just wish that everyone else would join in on the excitement.”

“Then, not that you care either way, but you have my blessing. If you hurt her though, I’m going to pummel you. And that’s a promise,” Kylie said, settling in to watch the rest of the game with Tyson. “Now, what do you think about Steve Smith? Do you honestly think that he has anymore left in the tank?”

Tyson smiled. “Have I told you that you’re my favorite sister lately?”

Kylie didn’t miss a beat and her eyes didn’t stray from the game, “Not today, but I’ll take it.”

Chapter Three

 

The sun was just starting to set on Friday night of the big Homecoming game. The lights above the football field were beginning to turn on. There was music playing from the speakers while Ally and Kylie found their seats on the front row of the student section.

Ally felt weird being at a football game in a dress. She was wearing a knee length, black dress with an empire waist. The top of the dress was slightly sparkly. She had red flats on, because there was no way she was standing through a three-hour football game wearing high heels. She was wearing the dress she wore to Sweethearts last year. Ally wished that she was wearing her Homecoming dress, but her mom was making the final adjustments on her dress for tomorrow’s dance, so it would have to do.

The football teams were warming up and she searched for Tyson’s number, 32. When she spotted him, she couldn’t help but smile. Sure, they hadn’t spent much time together over the last few years, but she had come to find during their recent time together that he hadn’t changed that much since their middle school days when they could talk about anything. She couldn’t wait to spend almost the entire day with him on Saturday.

“How many interceptions do you think Ty will have tonight?” Kylie asked interrupting Ally’s thoughts.

“I’m thinking one. He was lucky last game to get two. Don’t you think?”

“Probably. I hope this sign will bring some additional attention to the fact that Tyson should be Mr. Football,” Kylie added.

Ally and Kylie had made a sign titled Ty’s Picks with tallies marking the number of interceptions Tyson had so far that season. Typically, Mr. Football went to the top quarterback or running back in the state. However, there had been a push recently to give the award to a defensive player. It was the perfect year for Tyson to be a senior since he was destined to have a great season. He already had three tallies on the sign from the two previous games.

Tyson had played the position of quarterback since he started playing football at age 5. That all changed when Tyson hurt his hand in 4th grade. He missed out on a lot of development and his throw hadn’t been quite right since. He had still played quarterback at times, but when he was a Freshman the coaches had suggested to Tyson that he might want to switch to defensive back and stay there. Tyson had been hesitant at first, but realized that he would probably be beat out for the starting quarterback position when tryouts rolled around Junior year.

He was glad that he made the switch to defense because he had a lot of success his Junior year, having five interceptions and three sacks on the season. Tyson’s experience as a quarterback had changed the mindset of the defense and had allowed him to take on a leadership role both on and off the field. This year he was one of the captains of the team and his defense fed off of him. With Tyson’s enthusiasm, hard work, and determination, the defense was a force to be reckoned with. With the help of his teammates, he was one of the top defensive prospects in the state.

The student section was starting to fill in while the home team ran out on the field. As everyone cheered on their peers, friends, and children, Ally searched for Tyson in the group of football players on the field. She smiled as she found him emerge from the group as he headed to the middle of the field with his other fellow team captains for the coin toss. Ally couldn’t help but think about how good Tyson looked in his football uniform. She still couldn’t believe that he had asked her to Homecoming. He could have picked any girl and for some reason he wanted to go to the dance with her.

Ally had questioned Kylie regarding the issue. She wanted to make sure that Kylie hadn’t pressured Tyson to ask Ally to the dance. Ally had never been to Homecoming and she wouldn’t have put it past Kylie to try to convince Tyson to ask Ally to the dance to make Ally’s dreams come true. But Kylie had promised that she didn’t talk to Tyson about asking Ally to the dance, other than the night that Tyson had asked Kylie if Ally had been asked to Homecoming yet. She hadn’t figured out why he had asked her, but she wasn’t going to complain. She was going to Homecoming with her childhood crush.

Before long, the student section started chanting and jumping as special teams lined up for the kick off and soon the game was underway. Kylie and Ally rolled their eyes at the comments around them from girls and guys who had no idea what was going on during the game.

Ally was grateful that she had found a friend that understood football and basketball. They became friends because they got along, but they had become best friends because they had a lot of the same interests. Most importantly sports, music, and school. It was probably the fact that it was senior year, but Ally had been pondering the uncertainty of the future. Kylie and Ally’s future careers and goals would probably take them separate ways but Ally was sure that they would continue to be friends throughout life.

As halftime neared, Ally was growing nervous. She was instructed to go to the south end of the bleachers to meet up with the Homecoming royalty nominees and their escorts. This was the one part of the night she was dreading. She would be escorting the most popular guy in school out on the field. She worried about how she wasn’t going to be wearing her Homecoming dress and others might notice that she was wearing the dress she wore to Sweethearts. She worried that it wasn’t going to be as pretty as the other girls’ dresses.

“Does my hair look okay?” Ally asked Kylie during the timeout.

“Ya, it looks great.”

“Maybe I should have brought heels to change into. I bet all the other girls are going to be wearing heels. It will look like I missed the memo and I’m already like a foot shorter than Tyson.”

“Ally. Take a deep breath and look at me,” Kylie said as she put her hands on Ally’s shoulders to face her. “You look great, and just remember, Tyson picked you to be his escort and he wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Ally forced a smile and said, “Okay. Wish me luck.”

 

 

When halftime arrived, Ally found herself standing next to the group of Homecoming royalty and escorts. Ally was positive that she had never talked to any of these individuals before and she wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself. Jenna, Tyson’s ex-girlfriend, was nominated for Homecoming Queen and conversed with the other people waiting to climb into the limo.

Ally thought Jenna looked beautiful. She didn’t necessarily like how low-cut the front of the dress was but it was a gorgeous coral. Jenna had perfect hair and make-up. She definitely knew how to make a guy’s jaw drop. As she turned to wave to someone, Ally’s jaw dropped at how Jenna’s entire back was basically exposed. How in the world did her dress even stay on her?

As Jenna’s gaze turned back to the group, their eyes met. Jenna’s happy countenance quickly changed to a glare.

“You ready?”

Startled, Ally quickly turned to find Tyson standing next to her laughing. “Sorry, did I scare you?”

“Just a little,” Ally said as they were herded to the limo.

Once inside the limo, everyone was chattering away except for Ally and Tyson. Ally looked at Tyson, who seemed so focused. The black markings under his eyes were smeared. He was bent over with his elbows on his knees, hands clasped together, with his head resting on his hands. It almost looked like he was praying, but Ally knew that he was analyzing the game.

“Tell me what you are thinking.”

“What?” Tyson asked, his thoughts interrupted.

“I know you would rather be in the locker room right now. So, tell me what you are thinking. What adjustments are you going to make in the second half?”

Tyson smiled and shared what changes he wanted to make. What the offense was doing that he had seen on tape and what they were doing differently. Ally nodded her head with encouragement until Tyson was done. It was perfect timing, as they were directed to exit the limo that had pulled onto the track surrounding the football field.

Tyson helped Ally out of the limo. “My Lady,” Tyson grinned as he offered his arm like a gentleman.

Ally laughed, “Thank you, Sir.”

She linked her arm through his and they began walking down the red carpet that lead across the football field to the stage. She loved how he could be so serious, but the next minute switch to the goofy kid she used to play with in the backyard.

“Thanks for letting me talk it out. Now I feel like I can focus on tonight and being here with you,” Tyson whispered as they began their walk down the red carpet.

Ally grinned and looked into Tyson’s eyes as she said, “Anytime.”

Ally didn’t need to do much. She just stood next to Tyson as they announced the Homecoming royalty nominees. Three girls and three boys. The cheers were clearly louder when Tyson’s name was announced. They were also loud when Jenna’s name was announced. Before Ally knew it, they began their trek back to the limo.

At the limo, Tyson gave Ally a hug and said, “Thanks again.”

“No problem. Go get ‘em, Brooks,” Ally said with a smile and turned to get into the limo.

“Ally?”

She turned back around to face Tyson. He put his hand on her arm, leaned in and said, “I almost forgot to tell you… You look great.” He smiled at Ally as he ran off toward the locker room.

 

 

Kylie watched as her best friend and brother walked down the red carpet to the 50-yard line. She couldn’t help but acknowledge that they looked good together and seemed about as natural as a couple could be. And truth be told, how could they not be? Neither of them had changed much from when they were kids playing in the backyard. As Ally and Tyson took their spot in the line of royalty, Kylie’s gaze shifted to the last couple exiting the limo. Kylie was appalled at the dress Jenna was wearing. She was suddenly very grateful that Tyson wasn’t going with Jenna. Kylie even felt awkward looking at Jenna and her attempt to make sure she had all the attention.

Kylie couldn’t help but feel proud of Tyson when the crowd cheered loudly as his name was announced as a nominee. He was a guy that actually deserved to be Homecoming King. He was as genuine as they come, willing to help anyone that needed it and without expecting anything in return. As the couples made their way back to the limo, Kylie couldn’t help but think it was a little ridiculous that they had rented a limo for them to ride in for a couple of yards before they had to get out and walk to the middle of the field. In her opinion, they should have spent it on something else.

At least Tyson was treating Ally well, Kylie thought as he and Ally had reached the limo arm in arm. He gave Ally a hug and they turned to head their separate directions. Tyson stopped and hesitated for a second before leaning back in. For a second, it almost looked like Tyson had kissed Ally. Ally’s face blushed and Kylie could clearly see Jenna scowl as she witnessed this moment from behind.

Kylie was still trying to figure out what had occurred, when Ally took her spot next to Kylie. Ally sighed a breath of relief, “I’m glad that’s over with.”

“Did Tyson kiss you?” Kylie blurted out. Kylie was never one to hold back what she was really thinking.

Ally’s face was filled with confusion, “What?”

“Right before he ran to the locker room. It looked like he kissed you.”

Ally laughed, “No! What? He just told me that I looked great.”

“Well you do,” Kylie said with relief as they stood for the kickoff. “I think Jenna might have thought he kissed you too.”

“Why?” Ally asked.

“Because she gave you a dirty look.”

“She gave me one before we got in the limo too,” Ally frowned.

“I think you might have made your first enemy,” Kylie said.

“I sure hope not,” Ally said with concern in her face.

After halftime Ally and Kylie were able to add two more marks to their poster, as Tyson had two more interceptions. It ended up being a blowout, 42-7.

As Ally left the game, she remembered the tingling she had felt when Tyson had touched her arm and told she looked pretty. Even though he had a football game to focus on, he had taken the time to compliment her. She was so excited to spend tomorrow with him. But her mood quickly soured when she saw the note on her car.

He might have made you feel special tonight. But tomorrow, he will be dancing with me.”

 

 

Kylie left the game pondering the future. What would happen if Ally and Tyson started dating steadily? What would happen to Kylie and Ally’s friendship? Neither of them had had a boyfriend before. Would she lose both of her best friends? She wanted Tyson and Ally to be happy, but she was mostly worried about what would happen if it didn’t work out.

Kylie’s phone vibrated. She opened Ally’s text and Kylie’s worry quickly changed to anger. She knew it was Jenna.

Don’t let her get to you,” Kylie responded.

I know,” Ally sent a couple seconds later.

“Do you want me to talk to Tyson?”

No…. He doesn’t need to know about it.”

Kylie wasn’t quite sure about that. She thought maybe Tyson should know, just in case something happened tomorrow night. But she would trust Ally tonight.

 

 

Ally was anxious about tomorrow. She was worried about Jenna. Even though Ally shouldn’t have let the note get to her, Jenna had left a little doubt in Ally’s mind. What if Tyson decided to spend part of the evening with Jenna?

As she knelt down to pray that night, tears slipped down her cheeks as she pleaded for self-confidence. For the ability to see the value in herself as a daughter of God. She asked for courage and class if she had to face Jenna. But most of all, to enjoy her first official date with Tyson. That Ally would be able to accept Tyson’s feelings toward her, regardless of what ended up happening.

After she ended her prayer, she felt the peace spread throughout her body. She had felt this feeling before. One of love and knowledge. She offered a quick prayer of gratitude and climbed into bed.

As a typical teenager, she checked her phone one last time before she closed her eyes. There was a text from Tyson.

Thanks again for just listening during halftime. See you tomorrow. :)”

Ally fell asleep with a smile on her face.

Chapter Four

 

After the adrenaline from the game had worn off, Tyson left the game happy and excited. He had played his heart out, as well as his teammates. He smiled as he replayed the two interceptions he had during the second half. Then his thoughts switched to Ally. He was always impressed with how considerate she was of others. He was grateful that she had allowed him to talk about football. Ally had no idea how much it had helped Tyson get his thoughts straight before the second half. Jenna would have gotten mad at him for not focusing on her.

Tyson shouldn’t have been so surprised when it came to how much fun he had with Ally during the day date. Tyson and his friends had wanted to go paintballing for a long time and thought it would be a fun group date to go on. He had heard a couple of the girls in his group complain about the activity. However, Ally was grinning the whole time and it almost felt like they had gone back in time to their childhood. They may or may not have pretended to be secret agents while they worked together to help their team win the battle.

Later that night, as Tyson walked up the sidewalk to Ally’s house to pick her up for the dance, he began to notice that he was actually a little nervous. He took a deep breath and knocked on the door.

Tyson was warmly greeted by Ally’s mom and she ushered him into the front room. Not much had changed in the room since the days when he used to come over to play at Ally’s house. He wondered if the treehouse still existed in the backyard where Kylie, Ally, and Tyson had acted out many adventures. As he glanced up to see if he could see the treehouse from their back window down the hall, Ally turned the corner.

“Wow”, Tyson said barely audible.

Ally looked stunning. Her hair was in some fancy up do that Tyson didn’t know the name of. Her burgundy dress was modest with a fitted cut to perfectly show off her skinny waist. She had definitely grown up since the girl he used to play with in the mud.

“Hi,” Ally said quietly as she stopped a couple of feet in front of him.

“Hi,” Tyson responded. “You look amazing.”

Ally laughed, “Thanks. So do you, Mr. Homecoming King.”

“Hey, you don’t know that yet.”

“Oh, but I do,” Ally said with a teasing look.

Soon they were out the door and picking up two other couples in their group. After dinner, they headed up to the Capitol building. Tyson couldn’t help but glance over at Ally constantly. He was amazed at how easily she could talk to everyone in their group. Their dinner and car ride had been full of laughs and conversation. Her kindness and positivity seemed to rub off on everyone. Even Jenna’s best friend, Brooke, who was just as negative as Jenna.

After they had taken pictures, their group headed for the dance floor. Tyson was excited to dance the night away with Ally. It had been a long time since he had actually enjoyed a dance as much as he was enjoying this one with Ally.

 

 

“Hey Ally, do you want to go on a little trip to the ladies’ room with me?” Brooke asked in between songs.

“Sure,” Ally responded to Brooke. Then she turned to Tyson, “We are going to run to the bathroom.”

“Make it quick. I need my dancing partner back before the next song,” Tyson winked as the next song started.

Ally laughed, “I’ll be back in a jiffy.” Then she headed off with Brooke.

As they squeezed through the crowd waiting to get a drink, Ally was caught off guard as punch splashed all over the front of her dress. She glanced up to see Jenna.

Jenna exclaimed, “Oh my, I’m so sorry. I tripped and I’m so sorry. Here let me help you.” Jenna grabbed a wad of napkins.

As she tried to soak up some of the punch from Ally’s dress, Jenna whispered, “I promise, you don’t want to mess with me. Tyson is mine.”

Ally was speechless. She could hear Jenna’s friends starting to giggle and whisper. Everyone was watching. Her dress. It was going to be stained for the rest of the night or for forever. Jenna continued to smile at her and make her dress even worse by streaking the punch all over it. It seemed like an eternity. Why couldn’t she say anything or move?

 

 

“Hey man, do you want to go get a drink? This dancing is making me thirsty,” Tyson’s friend, Alex, asked after the girls had left.

“Sounds good.”

Tyson and Alex followed the same path Ally and Brooke had taken as they squeezed their way through the crowd to the punch bowl, which was located near the bathrooms. They reached the table just in time to see Jenna “trip” and spill punch all over Ally.

“No,” Tyson groaned as he pushed his way through the crowd that had gathered to watch the event unfold.

“Ally, are you okay?” Tyson asked as he gently turned Ally to face him, pushing Jenna out of the way.

“Umm… ya,” Ally whispered with a fake smile.

“All Homecoming royalty nominees please report to the grand staircase immediately. All Homecoming royalty report to the grand staircase,” boomed over the speaker system.

Jenna quickly linked her arm through Tyson’s and said with a squeal, “It’s time to be crowned royalty.” She practically pulled Tyson away as he looked back to see Ally’s eyes full of sadness and a forced smiled on her face as Tyson disappeared in the crowd.

 

 

Luckily, the crowd stopped paying attention to Ally after a Jenna and Tyson left. Ally could tell that she was close to tears so she hurried into the bathroom. After closing the stall door, she took some deep breaths to gain her composure. What was Jenna’s problem? It’s not like Ally was seriously dating Tyson. They were friends, for goodness sakes!

Ally did want to watch Tyson be crowned Homecoming King. She took one last breath and exited the stall. As she passed the mirror, she noticed all the little white flakes from the napkins and the lovely stain of punch down the front of her dress. She sighed. Suddenly, a girl’s reflection appeared in the mirror. It was a quiet girl from her English class. Ally didn’t even know her name.

“She’s just jealous.”

“What?” Ally questioned.

“Jenna. She is just jealous that Tyson only has eyes for you now.”

“What?” Ally almost laughed. “Tyson and I are just friends.”

“I saw the way that he looked at you. I haven’t ever seen him look that way at anyone else he has dated, and believe me, I’ve paid attention.”

“Ya, every girl in this school wishes Tyson would look at them the way he looks at you,” another girl in the bathroom cooed. “He definitely likes you.” Ally couldn’t help but smile.

“See,” the girl from Ally’s English class stated. Soon Ally was enveloped in a hug by these two girls she didn’t even know.

“Thank you,” Ally said.

“Now get out there and show Jenna that she can’t get to you,” the English Class girl said as all three of them walked out the bathroom door.

“Gather round as the Homecoming King and Queen share this next dance together,” the DJ summoned.

Ally squeezed into the crowd with her new-found friends, Cassidy and Jamie, and their dates as they watched Tyson and Jenna sway to the music. As Ally stood there watching the two dance, she couldn’t help but feel her newfound self-confidence start to fade.

Jenna and Tyson really did look like a perfect couple. Jenna was gorgeous. Many guys would do anything to get an opportunity go on a date with her. Maybe Tyson was just being nice to Ally. Maybe she really was just his last option for a date to the dance. But those thoughts flew out the window when Tyson and Ally made eye contact. Ally smiled and waved from afar. Tyson’s smile grew a whole mile as he winked at her and Ally felt herself falling for him even more.

The second that the dance ended, Tyson quickly made his way over to Ally to make sure that she was okay. The spot on Ally’s dress didn’t matter anymore. She was going to enjoy the night. And that they did.

 

The Homecoming dance wasn’t even over yet and Kylie had already seen the video. Jenna “accidentally” tripping as punch went flying all over Ally and her dress. She wished she could have been at the dance to put Jenna in her place. Ally might be too nice to start a fight right then and there. But Kylie would have let Jenna have it. Ally didn’t do anything to deserve the way that Jenna was treating her.

Kylie worried about Ally. She immediately sent a text to Ally asking her if she was okay. But Kylie knew that Ally had left her phone at home, since Tyson would have his. Kylie would have to wait until late tonight to find out.

At 1:30 a.m. Kylie woke up with a start when she realized that her room was pitch black and the menu screen from the movie she had been watching was replaying over and over again. She quickly grabbed her phone to see if Ally had responded.

I was a little upset at first. I’m pretty sure my dress is ruined. But I think Jenna’s just mad that Tyson broke up with her and she hasn’t gotten over it yet. Unfortunately, I was the one Tyson asked. If Tyson would have taken a different girl, she would be the one with punch all over her dress. We were right… Tyson took home the title of Homecoming King!”

At school on Monday, it seemed as if nothing had happened. Kylie thought that she would at least hear whispers as she and Ally walked through the hallways because the video of Jenna spilling punch on Ally had basically gone viral. But no one said anything. Ally seemed perfectly fine. Jenna still thought she was better than everyone else. Tyson diligently trained to be a better athlete and prepared for football games. Teaching and learning continued as normal. But Kylie had no idea what was just around the corner.

Chapter Five

 

After that first week of school, Ally seemed to find herself spending less time with Kylie. They only had Calculus together every other day and the occasional FBLA meeting to see each other. The rest of the school day was spent in different classrooms with different lunch schedules. After school, they had study groups they needed to work with and other obligations. But Friday nights were always spent cheering on Tyson at the high school football games.

Although Ally was spending less time with Kylie, she found herself spending more time with Tyson. They didn’t have any classes together, but they did have the same lunches. It started with lunch dates, then studying together and an occasional bite to eat after school.

Every time Ally saw Kylie she was bursting at the seams to tell Kylie that she had been spending time with Tyson. Ally wasn’t ready to admit that they were dating. Well she was ready. She just didn’t want to get her hopes up that maybe, just maybe, she really was dating Tyson. Her real hesitation was Kylie’s reaction. Would she be excited or upset? The timing never seemed to work out to tell Kylie, so she just kept it to herself.

Tyson hadn’t said anything about Ally and him officially and exclusively dating. They had held hands but nothing more. No mention of them being boyfriend and girlfriend. She didn’t want to go around telling everyone that she was dating Tyson until she was sure that he really did want to date her. The only people that knew about her dating Tyson was her mom and dad. For now, she was going to keep it that way.

On a warm Saturday afternoon in October, Ally found herself in her treehouse. Over the years, the treehouse had held many of her memories. It hadn’t gotten as much use after it was no longer cool to play house or pirates. But it remained one of Ally’s favorite places. Over the last couple of years, she had made the treehouse into a place where she could relax and read. With her homework done, Ally intended on reading a novel she had been wanting to read for a couple of months.

Ally was startled when she heard a knock on the treehouse wall and Tyson peeked his head in the doorway.

“Hey,” Tyson said with that smile that made Ally’s heart beat faster. “Your mom said you were up here. Do you mind if I come in?”

“Sure,” Ally said as she set down her book and made room for Tyson to join her on the giant bean bag chair that her parents had given her for her birthday last year.

“Wow. This place has sure changed,” Tyson said as he looked around at the walls now filled with posters instead of coloring pages.

“I guess it has changed since the last time you were up here,” Ally said as Tyson sat down and instantly weaved his fingers between hers.

“What brings you here to the treehouse today?” Ally asked.

“Well I was just in the neighborhood and thought I would stop by.”

Ally laughed. “You make it sound like I live all the way across town.”

“It was a long drive,” Tyson said with all seriousness.

“I’m sure it was. A whole two streets is a very long drive.”

Tyson and Ally talked about last night’s football game and then the conversation drifted to their memories of playing in the treehouse as kids.

“Ten years ago, I would have never guessed I would be sitting here with you,” Tyson said as he reached up and brushed a stray piece of Ally’s hair behind her ear. Ally’s heart started pounding as she looked into Tyson’s eyes.

“Me either. 12-year-old Ally would totally be freaking out if she knew she would be holding hands with you right now.”

“Why would she be freaking out?”

“Because she had a cru… Um… No reason,” Ally’s voice tapered off as she looked down diverting her eyes from Tyson’s.

“Why would 12-year-old Ally be freaking out?” Tyson teased as he lifted Ally’s chin so she was looking in his eyes again.

“She might have had a tiny, massive crush on you,” Ally stammered as she swore Tyson’s face was closer than it was a second ago.

“Well I know what could make 12-year-old Ally freak out even more,” Tyson grinned.

“What’s that?” Ally whispered, frozen in her spot as Tyson continued to lean in closer.

“If I kissed her.”

Ally was shocked. Was Tyson seriously going to kiss her? Ally’s mind was running a hundred miles per hour but she couldn’t get herself to move.

“Would she want to kiss me?” Tyson asked with a playful look in his eyes.

Ally willed herself to nod her head. Ally closed her eyes as Tyson closed the gap and kissed her. Ally smiled as they pulled away from each other. She had dreamed of that kiss for years and it had finally happened. To make it even better, it was her first kiss. Maybe, just maybe, it would be her last first kiss too.

“12-year-old Ally would definitely be freaking out,” Ally said. “Um, 12-year-old Ally hasn’t ever kissed anyone before, so can we try that again?”

“Anytime,” Tyson grinned and by the time Tyson left they were officially boyfriend and girlfriend.

Chapter Six

 

Ally and Kylie sat studying at Kylie’s kitchen table. They both had tests the next day. Even though studying together could be more of a distraction than helpful, they hadn’t seen each other outside of school for almost a week. It gave them a reason to get together.

Kylie was deep in thought studying Anatomy when she heard Ally stifle a giggle. Kylie looked up to see Ally smiling and typing on her phone. Ally set her phone down and started studying again. Shortly, Kylie saw Ally’s phone light up and Ally quickly picked up her phone. Kylie peeked up to see Ally with a grin on her face contemplating what to reply with.

After Ally sent her phone back down, Kylie asked, “Who are you texting?”

“Oh, no one,” Ally responded as she started reading her notes again.

About five minutes later, Ally couldn’t hold it in when she read whatever text was on her phone. She broke out laughing.

“Okay, seriously. Who are you talking to?” Kylie exclaimed. “Are you talking to a boy? Because only a guy would get Miss 4.0 so distracted while she was studying for a big test.”

“Maybe,” Ally blushed a little as she quickly went back to studying.

“So, are you going to tell me who he is?” Kylie asked as she went to reach for Ally’s phone. Soon they were sitting on the ground, out of breath, laughing over their battle for Ally’s phone. Ally still held her phone out of reach just in case.

“What’s going on in here?” Tyson asked as he walked into the kitchen from the garage. “Do I even want to know how you guys ended up on the floor?

“Ally is talking to a boy and she won’t tell me who it is,” Kylie said in mock frustration while Tyson helped them off the floor.

Quicker than lightning speed, Tyson snatched Ally’s phone out of her hand.

“Hey!” Ally exclaimed then gave Tyson a quizzical look.

Tyson just winked at her then proceeded to browse through her texts. “Oooo… It looks like Ally has a date tonight,” he said in a teasing manner. “And he is picking you up at 7? Here?”

Kylie looked over at the clock and exclaimed, “He’s coming here to pick you up? It’s 6:58. He will be here any minute. I guess he won’t be a secret much longer and I want to make sure that he is a good guy. He has to pass the best friend test.”

Tyson passed Ally’s phone back to her as they had gathered around the island in the middle of the kitchen. “I want to meet this guy too. I agree with Kylie, we need to make sure that he isn’t sketchy,” Tyson said with all seriousness.

“Will you please tell me what his name is? Does he go to our school?” Kylie started rambling off all the questions she wanted to know about Ally’s date. Ally glanced over at Tyson as if to ask him, “What should I say?” Tyson shrugged his shoulders.

Kylie noticed and said, “What’s going on? Tyson do you know who it is? Tell me.” Tyson just smiled. Kylie grumbled, “This isn’t fair!”

“You will know him when you see him,” Ally said.

Tyson looked over at the clock. “Oh, it looks like it is 7.” He paused then turned to Ally, “Are you ready?”

“Ya. I will just grab my stuff when we get back.”

“Sounds good. See you later Kylie.”

“Wait! Where are you going Tyson?” Kylie asked extremely confused.

“On my date with Ally.”

“What? You and Ally?” Kylie asked as she was catching on to what was happening. “How long have you guys been keeping this a secret?”

“Bye,” Tyson called out as he grabbed Ally’s hand and pulled her out the front door.

“You have some explaining to do when you two get back!” Kylie yelled in response.

 

 

My best friend and my brother dating?!” Kylie exclaimed inside. They had gone to Homecoming together. But she hadn’t heard anything about other dates since that night. She couldn’t decide if she was upset. Why did they keep this a secret from her? Were they keeping it secret from everyone? Why didn’t they just tell her?

She could understand why Tyson didn’t tell her. They weren’t as close as they used to be and they definitely didn’t share their crushes or dating situations with each other. But Ally. They were best friends and Ally was usually quick to gush over a cute boy she met. Or when a guy she liked smiled, made eye contact, or talked to her. They talked about everything. How did Kylie not notice this over the last couple of weeks? Usually, Kylie was quick to catch on to Ally’s new crushes based on how she acted around them.

That was the problem. She hadn’t seen Ally and Tyson together since the Homecoming football game. Kylie and Ally had been very busy lately with different schedules. Kylie hadn’t seen Tyson at home much either. Tyson and Ally could have been going out on the evenings when Kylie was busy and she wouldn’t have known any different.

Then came the flood of questions. How many dates had they been on? How serious were they? Were they casually dating or boyfriend and girlfriend? What if they break up? How would that affect her relationship with Ally? Would Ally ever come over to her house if they broke up? Would Ally even want to be her friend, knowing that there was a chance Tyson would be around?

Kylie took a deep breath. She was seeing a lot more cons than pros of this relationship between her best friend and brother. This relationship would only be a good thing if they didn’t breakup… Which would mean Ally and Tyson would end up getting married. Married! It would be pretty cool if Ally ended up being her sister-in-law. But it was a long shot. Most high school relationships ended after graduation.

She had a lot to worry about over the next hour while she waited for Tyson and Ally to get back. It was a good thing that they had a basketball hoop in the backyard. It didn’t help her study for her test, but it helped work out some energy. She had just walked back in when she suddenly felt nervous hearing laughter and the front door open. She hoped that they would be open with her and answer all her questions, so she could actually focus on her homework and maybe fall asleep tonight.

“Hey, Ky,” Tyson said.

“Sorry we just ran off,” Ally said as she offered Kylie a Loving It size ice cream cup from Cold Stone. It was Kylie’s favorite. Chocolate ice cream with peanut butter and Reese’s peanut butter cups mixed in, with fudge drizzled on top. It must have been Ally’s idea because Tyson wouldn’t have known what Kylie’s favorite ice cream combination was.

Tyson and Ally sat down at the kitchen table with Kylie. Ally seemed a little nervous and hesitant as she said, “We’re sorry that we didn’t tell you that we were dating.”

“Ya. We should have told you. Ally wants to be the one to talk to you about it. So, I’ll leave you to it,” Tyson said as he smiled at Ally and squeezed her hand, then left the room.

“How long has this been going on and why didn’t you tell me?” Kylie asked fervently.

Ally took a deep breath. “We have been hanging out ever since Homecoming. It started with eating lunches together and it progressed from there. I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you about it from the beginning. I wanted to but I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want it to affect our friendship. I didn’t know if you would be freaked out. I don’t blame you if you are. He is your brother,” Ally said.

There was silence for what seemed like an hour to Ally. Kylie finally asked, “Are you guys dating seriously? Like boyfriend and girlfriend status?”

Ally nodded her head. “Crazy, right? I really enjoy spending time with him, Kylie. He makes me really happy and you know he is a good guy.”

“He is a lot better than the other guys you have had crushes on lately. Like Nick,” Kylie agreed.

“Are you upset?” Ally asked.

“More shocked. But I think the ice cream will help,” Kylie smiled.

Ally let out a breath of air she seemed to be holding in. “I promise that I will try not to keep secrets from you and I will answer any questions you have. But I think that there are things that you would rather me not tell you, if you know what I’m saying…” Ally paused.

“You guys kissed?” Kylie exclaimed.

“Maybe?” Ally grinned.

“Ewwww!”

“Told you there were things you wouldn’t want to know.”

Over the next couple of weeks, Kylie had to admit that Ally was doing a good job at balancing her time with Kylie and Tyson. Although it was weird when Kylie would come home at night and find Ally at her house cuddled on the couch with Tyson. When they went to events as a trio, Tyson and Ally fully embraced Kylie into their conversations. It was as if they were the three amigos again from their childhood. Each of their individual friendships were actually being strengthened by Ally and Tyson dating. Kylie was surprised and hoped that things continued to go smoothly.

Overnight Ally and Tyson had become the school’s power couple. Suddenly, the world of academics and the world of popularity and sports had come together. It was if those invisible walls that divided the popular kids from the other kids was no longer there. It was now okay to talk to anyone and hang out with anyone. Everyone wanted to be Tyson or Ally’s friend. Their kindness rubbed off on everyone.

Ally went out of her way to say hi to anyone she recognized in the hallways. Kylie could see the way that girls looked at Ally, hoping that someday they might be able to break into the popular crowd and date the star of the football team. But more than that, they wanted to be like Ally. Smart, pretty and kind to all. Even Jenna, who always seemed to be trying to hang around Tyson and get his attention. Although Tyson tried not to encourage Jenna, Ally always tried to go out of her way to talk to Jenna. Even though Jenna’s responses were short and curt.

Tyson continued to dominate on the field. Kylie and Ally found themselves rushing on the field at Rice Eccles Stadium after a defensive ending to stop a final drive to win the State Championship game as time expired on the clock. The girls found Tyson talking to a local news reporter with Jenna trying to get in the frame and hang on Tyson’s arm with the rest of the student body celebrating behind Tyson.

When Tyson stepped back to let another teammate speak with the reporters, Jenna took that as her cue to congratulate Tyson, making sure their hug would occur in the background of the current interview. But the minute Tyson saw Ally, he turned and swept Ally up in his arms. It was the first time that Kylie had actually seen them kiss, along with everyone watching the news that night. Although Kylie was a little grossed out, she had to admit that in that moment they did look like the perfect couple. It was even better that the news also caught Jenna as she scowled and stormed off, leaving Tyson to celebrate with his family and friends.

Chapter Seven

 

The next week Ally and his family accompanied Tyson to a special dinner for the nominees for Mr. Football. Tyson knew that he was up against some great players. He already had quite a few scholarship offers, so it wouldn’t be a big deal if he won the title. But it was something that he had worked all offseason for. He wanted to win.

As they played a highlight video for each of the four nominees, he felt the nervousness and butterflies set in. He only felt this nervous before football games and he just jumped up and down and stretched out to try to get it to go away. But that wasn’t acceptable here, so he just sat there holding his hands together and his head down. A feeling of calmness entered his body as Ally placed her hand in his. He looked over at her. Ally smiled at him and squeezed his hand as if she understood everything that he was feeling. Somehow, he knew the future would all be okay, as long as he had Ally by his side.

He held onto Ally’s hand with both of his as the announcer spoke, “The moment these four young men have been waiting and working for has finally come. I’m sure that each of them will be going on to play at the next level. It was a tough decision for the committee because each of these players possess great skills. But we had to pick one. So, without further ado, this year’s State of Utah Mr. Football had a career high of 15 interceptions and 10 sacks this season. During his career, he led his team to two State Championships, taking the State Title this year. Not only has he excelled on the field but also off the field by maintaining a 3.6 GPA. This year’s Mr. Football is Tyson Brooks!”

Ally looked over at Kylie as Tyson headed up to accept his award. There were tears in both of their eyes as Tyson expressed his gratitude toward his coaches and teammates. But most importantly to his family for their support and encouraging him to never give up.

 

 

The week after Tyson was awarded the title of Mr. Football, scholarships poured in from all over the country. Tyson sat around the kitchen table with his parents as they started sifting through the offers. Tyson took a deep breath as he looked at the pile that was before him. He never thought that so many colleges would want to have him come play on their team. He felt very overwhelmed with this process. He was deciding his future based on these offers. What if he picked the wrong school?

“I don’t know where to start,” Tyson admitted.

“It would probably be easiest if we weed out the colleges that you don’t want to go to first,” Mr. Brooks suggested.

“Ya, that sounds like a good idea,” Tyson answered. “I know that I want to play at a 4-year university. We could start by putting the Junior Colleges and Community Colleges in a separate pile?”

“Sounds good.”

Tyson and his parents went to work. It wasn’t too long before they had a good size stack of offers Tyson wasn’t going to accept.

“What’s next?” Mrs. Brooks asked.

Tyson shrugged as his dad suggested, “Let’s go through each of these and see what your gut feeling is. We could make a pile of no’s and maybe’s.” Tyson nodded to proceed.

“University of Montana?” Tyson’s mom asked.

“No,” Tyson responded.

“Duke University?” Mr. Brooks asked.

“They have a football team?” Mrs. Brooks exclaimed.

Tyson couldn’t help but laugh, “Exactly. That will be a no.”

Within the hour Tyson had it narrowed down to less than ten offers as he heard a knock on the door. He looked the clock to see that it was 7:00. He had forgotten about his date with Ally.

 

 

Kylie answered the door to find Ally standing on the doorstep.

“Hey, I didn’t know you were coming over. Did I forget we had something planned?” Kylie asked as she held the door open while reaching for her phone to see if she had missed a text from Ally.

“Umm… I’m actually here to see Tyson.”

“Oh,” Kylie said as she hid her disappointment with a smile. “Right. I forget you don’t have to come over here just to see me anymore. He is in the kitchen.”

“Thanks,” Ally said as she led the way into the kitchen.

“Hi Ally,” Tyson’s parents said simultaneously as they entered the kitchen.

“Hi,” Ally responded and looked around for Tyson. Not finding Tyson she pointed to the table. “What’s the huge stack of papers for?”

“Just narrowing down the scholarship offers,” Tyson said slightly out of breath as he ran into the kitchen having quickly changed out of his workout clothes into jeans and a t-shirt. “But now Ally and I are going to head out on a date,” he directed to his parents.

“Have fun,” Mrs. Brooks said.

“See you later,” Ally said to Kylie as she followed Tyson out the door.

Once they were in Tyson’s truck, Ally asked, “I thought we were going to do something at your house?” Ally was positive she remembered Tyson telling her to come to his house because he had a special date planned.

“Ya about that. I sort of lost track of time with everything that was going on, sorry. It will have to wait until another time. How does some ice cream sound?” Tyson sounded weary.

“You know I am always down for ice cream,” Ally said with a smile as she scooted a little closer to Tyson from the middle seat.

After they sat down with their Iceberg shake and onion rings to share, Ally asked, “So you were going through your scholarship offers?”

“Yeah, it is turning out to be quite the process. I had no idea this many colleges would want me, you know?” Tyson said with a forced smile.

“Who are the top runners?”

“I think I narrowed it down to Utah, BYU, Stanford, TCU and Michigan.”

“BYU!?” Ally exclaimed.

“I know. I know. How could a die-hard Utah fan even think about playing for BYU? But I think I left it on the list just to give my mom some more hope that I would stay close to home. And it’s not like I would get a bad education if I went there.”

That’s was true. Ally didn’t realize that most of Tyson’s choices were far away. Ally hadn’t even applied to Stanford, TCU, or Michigan. “Why not just go to Utah?”

“I don’t know,” Tyson said as he ran his hand through his hair. “The other schools have good football teams.”

“They do. But haven’t you always wanted to be a Ute? That’s what you always dreamed of when we were younger.”

Tyson sighed, “I know. I would love to play for the U. But I keep thinking, what if I’m not supposed to go play there. What if I’m supposed to play somewhere else? The team I chose to play for could affect if I make it to the NFL and my entire future.”

“Have you prayed about it?”

Tyson nodded his head, “I don’t feel anything when I pray about it. I don’t get a yes or a no. I just don’t know, Ally. What do you think?”

“What do I think?” Ally pondered. She didn’t want him to pick a school just because Ally was planning on going to Utah.

“Ya. What should I do? Tell me where I should go.”

“Ty, I can’t tell you where you should go. It is your decision. But sometimes I think that Heavenly Father doesn’t tell us what to do because he wants us to make a decision. Maybe you need to pick which school you think will be best, then pray about your decision to go to that school instead of seeking an answer as to where to go. And maybe any of those colleges will lead you to the NFL or wherever your future is meant to lead you. There are a lot of things to consider. Maybe talking with your family and coaches would help too, just hearing what they have to say.”

“How did you get to be so smart?” Tyson asked with that teasing smile that melted Ally’s heart.

Ally just shrugged her shoulders.

After a couple of minutes, Tyson asked, “Do you mind if we head back?”

“That’s fine,” Ally said encouragingly. “I know you have a lot on your mind.”

They said little on their way back to Tyson’s house. Ally was freaking out inside about what was going to happen with their relationship after high school ended. Ally had just assumed that Tyson would go to the University of Utah if he was given the opportunity. He loved Utah football, as well as Kylie and Ally. They occasionally accompanied Ally to the games when her family had extra tickets. Tyson was a Ute through and through.

Ally was positive that he wasn’t going to go to BYU. He would have a very hard time playing against Utah, his dream team, every year. But what if he chose a school out of the state of Utah? Ally didn’t apply to any of those schools. It would be the end after high school. She could feel the tears start to come. She just wanted to tell him that she loved him. That she wanted him to take into consideration their future together before he made a decision. But she couldn’t do that to him.

As they pulled into the driveway, Tyson got out of the truck and went around to open the door. He helped Ally out then led her to her car.

“Sorry we have to cut our date short tonight,” Tyson said.

“It’s okay,” Ally said not looking at Tyson. She quickly kissed Tyson on the cheek. “Just remember you don’t have to choose today. You still have until February.” Ally got in her car and tried not to look at Tyson as she drove away. As she turned the corner, she parked the car and cried.

 

 

Kylie could see the way that Ally’s eyes lit up when she saw Tyson and she could almost swear that she could see the same reaction in Tyson’s eyes when he looked at Ally. They really got along so well and Kylie couldn’t complain about the girl her brother was dating. So when Tyson was only gone about 30 minutes on their date, Kylie was curious if something had gone wrong.

Just as Kylie was going to ask Tyson how their date went, Kylie’s phone started ringing. It was Ally. Tyson looked defeated as he shuffled through his scholarship offers. What had happened on their date?

She quickly stepped out of the kitchen and answered her phone. Ally was crying and she was parked just around the corner. Had the day that she had dreaded finally arrived? Kylie quickly put on her shoes and told Tyson to tell their parents she would be back soon.

Kylie ran down the street and found Ally’s car. She knocked on the passenger door and got in when Ally unlocked the door. Ally was choking back sobs.

“What happened?” Kylie asked.

“I didn’t apply to TCU, Stanford, or Michigan,” Ally cried.

“What?” This wasn’t what Kylie was expecting.

“I thought Tyson was going to choose Utah. I didn’t think I had anything to worry about.”

“Wait, he didn’t pick the University of Utah?!” Kylie exclaimed, “I didn’t know this.” She finally understood why Ally was so upset. She was a little shocked herself.

“Well he didn’t not pick Utah. But what if he doesn’t? I know that I told you that I wasn’t going to talk to you about this stuff but I want him in my life. I don’t want it to end after high school and it looks like it is going to,” Ally said as a new batch of tears started flowing down her cheeks.

Kylie took a deep breath. “I would have thought he would have chosen Utah too, without a question.”

“Right? He is worried that he will pick the wrong school. That it will affect his future. That it will affect if he gets to play in the NFL. But if he picks a school outside of Utah, I won’t be in his future. Does he not want me in his future?”

“Oh, Ally. Did you tell him you want to be in his future? Even though he is one of the best guys around, he can’t read your mind.”

“He knows I love him but I can’t tell him that I want him to choose a school just because I’m going to be there. I don’t want him to regret going to Utah or BYU just because of me. That I limited his chances of playing in the NFL.”

“This right here is the reason why you are the best girlfriend Tyson has ever had,” Kylie replied as she handed Ally some napkins she knew Ally always kept handy in the glove box. “But, for the record, I don’t think that he would ever regret going to the same school as you just to keep you in his life.”

Ally sort of chuckled through the tears. “Thanks. I just want him to reach his potential. If that means he goes to Stanford, then I don’t want him to ignore whatever answer he gets just because I want him to go somewhere else. But I can’t imagine my life without him.”

“If it makes you feel any better, I can’t either. It will be different if he moves away. Or if you both move away.”

“I’m sorry! Here I am just thinking about myself. I’m sure that it will be hard for you too if he moves away. He was your best friend before me.”

“Yep…” Kylie sighed. “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. But no matter what, I’ll still be here.” Kylie jokingly punched Ally’s shoulder.

“Yes. Best friends forever,” Ally said as she reached over to give Kylie a hug.

“Are you going to be okay?” Kylie asked.

“Ya. Thank you.”

“Now you better get home. Don’t you have a big interview tomorrow?”

“Ha ha, yes I do.”

“You’ll do great. And try not to stress about Tyson quite yet. February is still a few months away, and he will probably change his mind a few times between now and then.”

Chapter Eight

 

The next morning at school, Tyson waited at Ally’s locker with a rose. He felt bad about cutting their date short and leaving the weight of his problems on her shoulders. But he was so grateful for her advice. He had prayed and knew that he needed to be patient. He felt like he needed to go on the campus tours, and discuss more with family and coaches before he made a decision. With a new focus, he knew he needed to make it up to Ally.

As the first warning bell rang, Tyson was starting to get a little worried. He usually met Ally here every morning and walked her to class. This was unusual for Ally to be late. Luckily, he saw Kylie walking towards him.

“Have you seen Ally?” Tyson asked.

“No, she is at that Sterling Scholar interview,” Kylie replied.

“Oh crap, I totally forgot about that.”

“Is that for Ally?” Kylie asked nodding toward the rose.

“Yes.”

“Good. She needs it.”

“Why? Is something wrong?”

“Ty, it’s not my place to be involved in your relationship,” Kylie said as the final warning bell rang. “I have to get to class.”

 

As Ally walked out to her car from her interview, she felt surreal. She knew that she was up against the top high school scholars in the state. But she had been prepared. After speaking with the other Business and Marketing Sterling Scholar candidates, she felt like she might actually have a chance at winning the scholarship. She had participated in a lot of business extracurricular activities during high school that gave her an edge. Her interview had gone so well. It was as if the answers to the judges’ questions had just popped into her mind. The words seemed to flow as she spoke. She offered a prayer of gratitude to her Heavenly Father for helping her.

When she neared her car, she saw Tyson standing there with a rose. She picked up her pace. He greeted her with a hug and a kiss.

“Well don’t you just look amazing today,” Tyson said as Ally straightened her suit jacket and smoothed her skirt.

“I had to dress to impress.”

“How did the interview go?”

“Really good!” Ally said with excitement. “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be in class?”

“Yes, I should be in class. But I wanted to give you this rose to say thank you for your advice last night.”

Ally accepted the rose and said, “Aww you didn’t have to do this. Plus, I don’t think I was very helpful in making a decision… Did you make a decision?” A knot formed in Ally’s stomach.

“No, I didn’t. I feel like I need to wait until I at least go on the campus tours first. Then I will have a better idea of which college feels right, you know?”

Ally nodded her head. Then looked at the ground. After a moment of silence, she said, “Well…I think we better get you back to class.”

“Probably. But first, is everything okay? Between us?”

“Yes,” Ally said with her eyes hinting at tears. “Why?”

“When I saw Kylie this morning she saw that I had the rose and mentioned that you might need it and that she wasn’t going to get involved in our relationship.”

“Oh, well… I just assumed that you were going to pick Utah, so I was caught off guard when you were contemplating out-of-state schools. That’s all.”

“Utah isn’t out of the question. Are you sure there isn’t anything else wrong?”

Ally hesitated. She wanted more than anything to tell him that she wanted him to pick the U. That she didn’t want him to move away. That she didn’t want their relationship to end after graduation. But she couldn’t. Instead, she settled for, “Nope. Nothing else.”

“Okay. I’ll see you at lunch.” Tyson left Ally with a kiss that made her worries go away. At least for today.

Chapter Nine

 

As Christmas neared, the acceptance letters started to arrive for Kylie and Ally. They had always dreamed of going to school together, so they applied to two of the same colleges: University of Utah and Utah State University. Ally for some weird reason decided to apply to BYU, but she insisted that it was just to prove to all of her BYU family members that she could get in and they couldn’t. Sometimes, well, most of the time, Kylie just didn’t understand Ally’s thinking.

They had been accepted to all of the colleges they had applied to and received academic scholarships as well. Now Kylie finally understood the dilemma Tyson was facing, at least on a smaller scale. What if she wasn’t supposed to go to the U? Ally and Kylie thought they would follow in Tyson’s footsteps, go on the campus tours, see how things felt and then go from there. Of course, their tours weren’t as exciting as Tyson’s, since Ally and Kylie weren’t top athletes.

Ally and Kylie had already been to Utah, so their only real road trip was to Utah State. Kylie was almost done packing when Ally knocked on the door.

“I’ll get it,” Tyson hollered. Kylie rolled her eyes. Of course, he would get the door since he knew it was Ally. Normally he would just act as if he hadn’t heard anything. Kylie grabbed her duffle bag and backpack, then headed into the front room.

Ally’s face was filled with excitement. “So, I got a letter in the mail today….”

“And?” Kylie pressed.

“I made it!” Ally exclaimed as she held out the letter. “I made it to the final round of interviews.”

“No way!” Tyson exclaimed as he gave Ally a giant bear hug and Kylie grabbed the letter out of Ally’s hand.

Kylie read aloud, “‘Congratulations. You have been selected as a Business Sterling Scholar finalist. Your final interview will be on February 5th at 3:00 p.m. The awards ceremony will take place on March 4th. Please invite your family and friends to join us in awarding the top Sterling Scholars in the state of Utah that evening. Again, congratulations on being selected as one of the top ten candidates in your specific area. We look forward to meeting with you again soon. Sincerely, the Sterling Scholar Selection Committee.’ That’s so awesome, Ally. Congrats!”

“Thanks! I can’t believe it. Me, one of the top ten?” Ally said still beaming, “Anyways, I guess we better get on the road. Utah State here we come.”

“See you two girls later. Have fun,” Tyson said as he shut the front door behind them.

 

 

On their way home from Utah State, Kylie was bursting at the seams to know if Ally was feeling the same way she was. What if Ally’s choice was different than hers. She had always had Tyson or Ally nearby her entire life. By the looks of it, Tyson was going to be going to a different state for college and she didn’t know what she would do if Ally chose to go to a different college than Kylie.

About an hour into the drive home from Logan, Utah, Kylie couldn’t stand it anymore. “What did you think of Utah State?”

“It was nice,” Ally responded.

“And…?” Kylie pressed. Sometimes it was so hard to get an answer from Ally.

“The campus was really pretty and the buildings were nice. But…” Ally hesitated. “It was really cold.”

“I know, right? Like painful, feel it in your bones, freezes your nose hairs cold.”

Kylie’s fears were gone within minutes as they started in on what they didn’t like about Utah State and how the University of Utah just felt like the right place to go. By the time Ally dropped Kylie off at her house, it was decided. They were going to the University of Utah and they were going to be roommates, just like they had always hoped and dreamed of since they were kids.

 

 

The days passed quickly for Tyson. In between college tours and recruiters, he spent the rest of his time at school, working out, or spending time with Ally. He hadn’t spent a lot of time with his football buddies, so he was excited when they planned a little get together.

When Tyson told Ally about the gathering, he could tell that Ally was hesitant to go. He knew that she was more of a stay-at-home kind of person and preferred small gatherings to large ones. She told him that she would go if he really wanted her to go with him. And he did really want Ally to come, so she tagged along.

Tyson was amazed at how well Ally seemed to get along with anyone she came in contact with. She was kind to all of his friends and their girlfriends. Ally was smart and beautiful. And here she was talking intellectually to his friends about football. His girlfriend was talking to his friends about football.

When Ally had to run to the restroom his friends were equally in awe of this girl.

“Tyson, where in the world did you find her?” Tyson’s teammate, Jason, asked.

“I wonder the same thing,” Tyson responded.

“Ya, man. I wish my girlfriend was as awesome as Ally. If you choose to go to Stanford, would you be okay if I dated her?” Jackson piped in.

“If it doesn’t work for Jackson, I call seconds,” Jason added. The other guys nodded their heads.

It hit Tyson like a bullet. He was overwhelmed with jealousy. He couldn’t imagine these guys dating Ally. Most of all he didn’t want them dating Ally. He wanted to be the only guy Ally dated. If he chose to go to Stanford, Ally would be free to date any guy that she wanted. He caught Ally’s eye as she headed back toward their group. Was this the answer he had been seeking?

Tyson tried to be involved in the conversations throughout the rest of the evening, but the thought wouldn’t leave his mind. Tyson hadn’t ever felt the twinge of jealousy when Ally talked to any of his football buddies. But tonight, when she laughed at their comments, he knew that somehow, someway he was going to make sure that Ally stayed his girlfriend. Even if it meant a long-distance relationship.

“Is everything okay?” Ally asked once they were in Tyson’s car ready to leave. “You seem a little distracted.”

Without saying word, Tyson leaned over and kissed Ally as if he were leaving for Stanford tomorrow.

“You’re the distraction,” Tyson said pulling away to look into Ally’s eyes.

Ally smiled, “Oh ya?”

Tyson kissed her again. “Have I told you that I love you? Everything about you?”

“Mhmmm,” Ally said nodding her head. “And I love you too.”

“I don’t know how I got so lucky. You really are amazing.”

“Thanks, Ty. But I think that I’m the lucky one.”

“I’m luckier,” Tyson said stealing another kiss.

“I’m luckiest.”

“I’m the luckiest times infinity. And infinity always wins.”

Ally laughed. “Okay, okay. Tonight, you can play the infinity card, but tomorrow’s a different story.”

“As long as you’re mine, I’ll always be a winner.”

This time Ally pulled Tyson in for another kiss. And Tyson knew he never wanted to kiss any other girl than Ally for the rest of his life

Chapter Ten

 

The night before Ally’s interview and Tyson’s signing day, Kylie sat in Ally’s room helping Ally practice interview questions.

“Well I think you are going to rock your interview tomorrow,” Kylie said.

“I hope so,” Ally responded. “I think I’m as prepared as I’m going to be. Hey, have you heard anything from Tyson?”

“About which school he is going to choose?”

Ally nodded her head.

“No,” Kylie replied. “You?”

“Nope, other than he has it narrowed down to Utah or Stanford,” Ally sighed. “I just wish that my interview was before the college signings, especially if he chooses Stanford.”

Kylie scooted over and put her arm around Ally, “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. I keep telling myself he will pick Stanford.”

“Why?” Again, Kylie didn’t get Ally’s thinking.

“So I can be prepared for the worst.”

“You have a habit of doing that, but I guess that works,” Kylie responded, gathering her backpack. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

 

The next morning, Ally tucked her favorite white blouse into her favorite grey business skirt and pulled on her matching suit jacket. She looked into the mirror and felt as if today was the day that would define the future. The butterflies were flying in her stomach but she also felt like she could conquer the world.

Ally grabbed her backpack, a granola bar and headed out the door. She normally ate her granola bar on the way to school, but today she wasn’t hungry. She stopped by her locker and placed her suit jacket inside, wanting to avoid the sweat marks of wearing it all day and being nervous.

When she shut her locker door, she was startled to find Tyson standing right there. He was dressed up in a suit and tie and wearing a huge grin.

“Good morning beautiful,” Tyson said as he leaned down and kissed Ally. “You look like you are going to knock their socks off.”

“So do you,” Ally responded as she smoothed his lapels. “You don’t look nervous at all.”

“Neither do you.”

“I feel nervous.”

“You are going to do great, Al. I just know it.”

“Thanks,” Ally responded. But it was more than just the interview that was making Ally nervous. The final warning bell rang. “10:30 in the commons, right?”

“Yep,” Tyson said.

“I’ll see you then,” Ally said as she gave Tyson a quick hug and headed off to class.

Ally could hardly focus during her first period class. But it was even worse during second period as she watched the clock move slowly. Luckily, she was a teacher’s aide during that period. As the clock neared 10:30 she sneaked out of the classroom with a nod from the teacher. She walked down the hallway listening to the sound of her heels. She felt like she was breaking out in a cold sweat.

When she entered the commons she immediately located Kylie and stood next to the Brooks family. The football coaches and Tyson’s family made up most of the crowd. There were a couple of news reporters talking to Tyson. Ally looked at the table where Tyson was going to make a decision. She expected to see a University of Utah hat and a Stanford University hat, but what she didn’t expect was the BYU hat.

Ally leaned over and whispered to Kylie, “BYU?”

Kylie shrugged her shoulders, “It’s news to me, but it seems like everything is these days. How are you feeling?”

“A little nauseous. But don’t worry, I haven’t eaten anything.”

“Serious?”

Ally shook her head.

“You are going to end up passing out instead,” Kylie responded very concerned. Sometimes Ally thought that maybe she had taken a few too many health classes.

Ally whispered, “Maybe I’ll be able to eat after this.” She nodded toward the table as Tyson took a seat.

After some introductions and cordialities, it was time for Tyson to choose which collegiate football team he was going to be playing for four years. Ally heart felt like it was going to beat out of her chest.

As Tyson reached his hand out to select the hat of his choice, Ally and Tyson’s eyes met as his hand stopped and went to pick up the BYU hat. Ally gave him an ‘Are you serious?’ look and Tyson winked at her then moved his hand to the Stanford hat. Ally’s heart dropped to her stomach as she closed her eyes to stop the tears that were suddenly appearing. Ally was determined not to let Tyson see her upset over his decision. She was going to support him. So, she took a deep breath before opening her eyes.

Everyone started cheering as Tyson pulled the University of Utah hat down on his head. Ally was shocked. She just stood there frozen until Kylie grabbed Ally’s arms and started jumping up and down. It broke Ally’s trance and soon she was jumping up and down with joy as tears ran down her cheeks.

Ally tried to regain her composure as Tyson made his way through his small crowd of supporters. Tyson finally spotted Ally at the back of the crowd. The way he looked at her with those beautiful deep blue eyes and the way he smiled made Ally feel as if the audience that was watching the two of them wasn’t there.

Tyson picked Ally up in a warm embrace and Ally didn’t want him to ever let go. A couple of tears Ally didn’t realize were remaining slipped out as Tyson let go.

“Please tell me these are tears of happiness?” Tyson asked in a voice full of concern as he cupped her face with his hands and wiped away the tears.

Ally nodded her head.

As Tyson leaned in to kiss her, Ally felt relieved and she couldn’t believe that he had actually picked Utah. She no longer had to worry about him going away to school and trying to figure out how to do a long-distance relationship. Ally was knocked back into reality as the rim on Tyson’s cap hit her forehead. Ally couldn’t help but laugh.

Tyson joined in. “Let’s try that again,” Tyson said as he reached up and flipped his hat backwards with one hand and pulled Ally close with the other.

The bell rang signaling the end of second period and the start of lunch for Ally and Tyson. Students began to fill the hallways, Kylie headed off to her next class, and Ally waited while the others in their group congratulated Tyson again before leaving.

Not soon enough for Ally, she was standing in the lunch line with Tyson. Her stomach growled louder and she was starting to wish she had that granola bar to tide her over for the next five minutes or so.

“Hungry?” Tyson asked, after hearing Ally’s stomach growl for the fifth time.

“Ya, I haven’t exactly eaten anything today,” Ally said holding her stomach, hoping that somehow that would contain any sounds that her body decided to make.

Tyson raised his eyebrow but didn’t say anything.

“I know, I know. I should have eaten something. I was just so nervous and anxious this morning that I didn’t feel like eating,” Ally said as they finally reached the front of the line.

Since they were late to lunch and all of the tables were already taken, they found their way back out into the common area and sat on the steps to eat their food.

Picking up where they left off, Tyson asked, “Are you really that nervous about your interview?”

“I’m a little nervous. But most of it will hit when I’m sitting there waiting for them to call my name. This morning, I was more nervous about you.”

“Me?”

“Ya, I didn’t know what I was going to do if you decided to go to Stanford. I mean we could have tried a long-distance relationship, but I really didn’t want us to end after high school.”

“I don’t want us to end either,” Tyson said as he squeezed Ally’s hand. “That’s one of the reasons why I decided to go to Utah.”

Concerned, Ally looked Tyson in the eyes and asked, “You didn’t pick Utah just because of me, right? I don’t want you to feel like you need to go there just because I am.”

Tyson smiled. “I know it’s where I’m supposed to go, Ally. I promise I’m not choosing Utah because you are going there, but it is definitely a bonus that you are going to be there too.”

Ally sneaked a quick kiss as the bell rang signaling the end of lunch. Tyson grabbed both of their trays and took them over to the garbage can.

Ally took a deep breath, “Well I guess I better head over to my interview.”

“You are going to do great,” Tyson replied, giving Ally a hug. “Are you sure that you don’t want me to drive over there with you?”

“I’m sure,” Ally said.

“Good luck.”

Later that day, Ally pulled into her driveway grinning from ear to ear. She couldn’t believe that less than 12 hours ago she had been a bucket of nerves. Her day had turned out better than she could have ever hoped for. Tyson was going to the same college as her and she had rocked her interview. She was actually looking forward to the next couple of months and the adventures they held.

Chapter Eleven

 

The evening of March 4th came quickly and Tyson found himself sitting in an auditorium on the same row as Ally’s parents and Kylie. He was typically the one being supported instead of the supporter. He couldn’t believe the anticipation he was feeling as he waited for the event to start. He was nervous for Ally and hopeful for her all at the same time.

Tyson leaned over to Kylie and asked, “Do you guys feel nervous for me when you come to support me at football games and stuff?”

“Ya?” Kylie said with a questioning look as the lights began to dim and the commentators took their place on the stage. “Why?”

“Just making sure it was normal to be nervous right now.”

As each group of Sterling Scholars were announced, the top ten in that category made their way to the side of the stage. The Math, English, Science, Dance, and Music winners were announced and Tyson found himself rubbing his hands together and the anticipation growing as the Business candidates were finally announced.

He smiled as he saw Ally up on the stage. Each candidate was dressed as if they were future CEOs. Ally had mentioned to him that she didn’t think she was going to win because she felt like she hadn’t accomplished a lot compared to the other top ten candidates. But she looked like she fit in perfectly. He hadn’t done a lot to help her get there, but he felt extremely proud of this amazing girl he called his girlfriend.

“The two runner-ups are Brayden Anderson and Jack Nowles,” the commentator announced. “And your Business and Marketing Sterling Scholar is Allison Parker.” Ally’s supporters jumped out of their seats and cheered.

“I knew she would win,” Kylie enthusiastically whispered to the group.

Ally’s mom nodded her head as a couple of tears escaped her eyes. “Ally made it sound like she wasn’t even qualified and she actually won,” Mrs. Brooks said.

Ally’s supporters sat in shock and elation for the rest of the award ceremony. It seemed to drag on forever for Tyson. He just wanted run and find Ally and celebrate with her. It was a new experience having to sit in the audience instead of being right in the action of the excitement.

After the lights finally turned on in the entire auditorium, Ally was already headed toward them. Her dad handed her a bouquet of flowers and embraced his daughter, followed by her mom. Then she moved on to hugging Kylie and Tyson last.

“And you said you weren’t as qualified as the other candidates,” Tyson teased.

“I didn’t think I was! If I would have known, I would have worn heels,” Ally said beaming from ear to ear. “I still can’t believe it.”

Tyson beamed from ear to ear as well. He could get use to this idea. Being the supporter instead of the one being supported.

Chapter Twelve

 

Soon graduation was nearing and Kylie couldn’t be happier. She was actually going to ace her human anatomy class. Tyson and Ally had made it through the school year without breaking up. Last of all, she couldn’t wait for her senior Trip to Disneyland with her friends the day after graduation. Just girls, no boys. However, graduation was the first day where she really felt like she was losing Ally to Tyson.

“You will never guess who asked Tyson to walk with him at graduation!” Ally exclaimed as they walked out of their last AP Calculus test.

“Who?” Kylie asked still focused on reviewing the test in her head as she continued to think about the last problem. She did the problem again step by step in her head. She thought she had remember everything.

“Hello?” Ally asked as she waved her hand in front of Kylie’s face.

“Oh sorry. What did you say?”

“Jenna asked Tyson to walk with her at graduation.”

“She does realize that Tyson broke up with her like 8 months ago, right?”

“Apparently not,” Ally said and shrugged her shoulders. “I wonder if she will ever figure it out.”

“Who is Tyson going to walk with?” It was the question Kylie had dreaded asking because she knew the answer. But she could only hope that Ally was still going to stick with their original plan.

At the end of Junior year, they had promised that they would try to be at the end of the graduation line, so they wouldn’t have to worry about being paired up with a guy they didn’t know. Historically, there were more girls than guys at graduation, so hopefully they could just walk into the auditorium together. At the time, neither of them had a boyfriend or prospects of a boyfriend. But now Ally had Tyson.

“Ummm… me?” Ally answered as if it was a stupid question for Kylie to ask.

Kylie sighed, “So no go on our original plan to stick toward the back and hope that we would get to walk together?”

“Oh no… I totally forgot, Kylie. I’m sorry. Tyson already asked me to walk with him,” Ally said with concern.

“It’s okay,” Kylie responded. But what she really wanted to say was, “You technically agreed to walk with me a year ago. So, Tyson is a little late to the party.” But she held her tongue. It wouldn’t be the last time, or even the first time for that matter, that Ally’s boyfriend took precedence over Kylie. And although it was hard to admit, she wanted to walk with Tyson too.

 

 

As the day of graduation arrived, Kylie found herself in the back of the line with some of her other friends, hoping that they wouldn’t have to sit next to a boy that smelled and that they didn’t know. She could see Ally with Tyson’s arm around her shoulders further up in the line. At that moment, she missed them.

Unfortunately, Kylie ended up getting paired up with a guy she hadn’t ever seen before. She still didn’t understand why the school insisted that the graduates sit boy-girl-boy-girl. Why couldn’t they just sit with their friends?

Graduation dragged on as Kylie sat there in misery, wishing she had at least snuck her phone in to keep up with the NBA finals. At first it was interesting to watch each of the graduates before her walk across the stage and receive their diploma. But after Ally and Tyson each took their turns, Kylie realized that she didn’t know a lot of the people in her graduating class and lost interest. She was almost at the back of the ceremony. When it was finally her turn she was grateful to realize that it was almost over.

Kylie couldn’t wait to leave when everyone around her threw their caps up in the air. She practically sprinted to find her parents. She wanted to get out and go home. She wanted this day to end, but as always, her parents insisted on taking pictures and lots of them.

They finally made their way outside to take pictures. Kylie felt a little better with some fresh air. She took some with her grandparents and parents. Then she took a million with Tyson, because that’s what happens when you are twins. Then Tyson’s friends wandered over and Kylie was grateful for the breather.

That was when she saw Ally wave. Ally lead her family over to where Kylie was standing and insisted on taking a picture with Kylie even though it wasn’t the last time that they would see each other. They were going to be roommates for goodness sakes.

“We made it,” Ally said with excitement. “Can you believe it is over?”

“Ya. It is pretty crazy, huh?” Kylie responded.

“I couldn’t have done it without you,” Ally said.

“That’s what best friends are for,” Kylie said as Ally hugged her and Kylie’s parents realized that Ally was there.

“Alright girls, just a couple more pictures for me,” Mrs. Brooks said and she snapped a few. “Tyson, get in the picture.”

Both families took pictures as Ally’s mom said, “I can’t believe the three little kids who used to play in our treehouse are all grown up.”

“I know,” Mrs. Brooks responded with nostalgia.

“Are we done yet?” Kylie asked as she was starting to get really tired of smiling.

“Let’s just get a couple of Tyson and Ally then we can leave.”

“Okay,” Kylie said with relief. She was more than happy to move to the side and let Ally and Tyson be the center of attention. As she stood to the side she was just a little annoyed at how perfect Ally and Tyson looked together. They were genuinely happy and laughing. Deep down she knew she needed to get over whatever feelings she was feeling because she knew that Ally and Tyson weren’t going to give each other up any time soon.

Later that night, Kylie was surprised to only find Ally waiting for her by the entrance to Boondocks where their graduation party was being held.

“Where’s Tyson?” Kylie asked.

“With his friends. It will be the last time that he sees some of his football buddies. Plus, I feel bad for leaving you to walk with some random guy,” Ally said as she bumped Kylie with her elbow. “He at least looked kind of cute…?”

“Who?”

“The boy you had the pleasure of walking with at graduation,” Ally teased.

“Oh, let me tell you….” Kylie dived into the details about the weird guy that sat next to her.

Kylie felt much better by the end of the night. She was even more excited for the next morning when Ally and their friends would leave for Disneyland. It was the best senior trip she could have hoped for.

Chapter Thirteen

 

The summer went by quickly, and soon Ally and Kylie were moving into their off-campus apartment with two other girls they didn’t know. Tyson moved in with a group of football players on campus. It seemed like overnight they were college students with independence to do whatever they wanted. But they also had to be responsible to get their school work done while also taking care for themselves.

Tyson woke up early to work out, went to classes, practices, meetings and other football activities, and capped off the evening studying. Even though he was redshirting, he still worked hard to be his best, and as a result he found it hard to find time to spend with Ally. They were able to eat lunch together twice a week. But it was especially hard to spend time together on the weekends when Tyson had away games. When he was home, Ally would always prepare dinner for the two of them on Sunday evening. They both made sure their homework was done so they could spend those evenings together. Sunday really was his favorite day of the week.

In addition, he was getting ready to turn in his mission papers so he could leave shortly after the end of the football season. If he had it his way, he would leave at the end of January or February so that he could be back in time for spring practices. He didn’t have to wait too long to see where and when he would be going on his mission.

The white envelope arrived on a Thursday. The family room at his parents’ house was buzzing with excitement as they waited for Tyson to open his mission call. Ally was sitting next to Kylie talking to some high school friends. Tyson looked around the crowded room, with the biggest grin on his face. He was so excited to find out where he would be going.

As his friends and family quieted down, Tyson felt the nervousness. This envelope held his future for the next two years. Before he opened the envelope, he surveyed the room. He saw his grandparents, friends, football coaches, and young men’s leaders all there to support him. His eyes stopped on Ally who smiled and gave Tyson a thumbs up from her seat across the room. He was so happy that Ally was supporting him in his decision as well as the rest of his family and friends. His nerves calmed a little at that realization.

His dad gave a little spiel about how grateful he was that the people that were important to Tyson were here to support him. Then he handed the letter opener over to Tyson. He carefully opened the envelope not wanting to harm any of the documents inside. He pulled out the papers and began to read the letter.

 

“Dear Elder Brooks,

 

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Mexico Tampico Mission.”

 

Tyson paused for a second as he soaked in the fact that he was going to Mexico. The sounds of his family and friends cheering and freaking out faded to the background. That meant he had to be speaking Spanish, right?

 

“You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on January 20th. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish language.”

 

Tyson was shocked, Spanish, wow. He quickly scanned the rest of the letter as friends and family members walked up to congratulate him.

 

 

Kylie was one of the first people out of her chair to hug Tyson. But Ally stayed in her spot for a little while. She thought Tyson’s family should be the first to congratulate him. She was so happy and proud of him for choosing to serve a mission. But it was starting to become a reality that Tyson would be gone for two whole years. Would he change while he was gone? Probably. She knew that she wanted him to learn and grow, but would the change be so much that it would affect their relationship?

Ally decided that she had a couple of months to savor every moment with Tyson before he left. She wasn’t going to dwell on the what ifs quite yet. The crowd was starting to die down so she stood up and made her way toward Tyson.

“Congratulations, Ty,” Ally said with excitement as she hugged Tyson. “Mexico is one lucky place.”

“Can you believe it? I’m going to have to learn Spanish!” Tyson said.

“You will catch on quickly. I just know it.”

 

 

Those months Ally had to spend with Tyson before he was ready to leave on his mission went by quickly. Tyson was busy with football, school, and trying to be as prepared as possible for his mission. Ally was just as busy with her full load of classes. Their obligations left little time for them to spend quality time together. Typically, Tyson spent most of his spare time trying to get a head start on learning Spanish. Ally knew how important everything Tyson was doing was to him and he went at it full speed.

Ally tried her best to support and encourage him, but Ally felt like they were growing apart. She knew that she loved Tyson and Tyson told her that he loved her, but it was hard to continue to build their relationship when they were lucky to see each other a couple of times a week. Plus, it was rarely time spent alone.

Slowly, but noticeably to Ally, there were less kisses and less hand holding. Ally was lucky to get a brief hug. She admired his focus on preparing to leave for his mission and she knew that was where his focus should be. But every time Ally tried to talk about the future, Tyson would change the subject. Ally still had so many questions.

“Thanks for helping us move this new furniture in,” Kylie said to Tyson one afternoon.

“No problem,” he responded.

“Ya, this looks way better than the furniture our old roommates had in here,” Ally chipped in.

“Do you two need help with anything else?” Tyson asked.

“I don’t think so,” Kylie said as Ally shook her head.

“Okay. Well I think I’m going to head out then,” Tyson said as he headed toward the door.

After Tyson shut the door, Ally flopped face down on their new couch and groaned.

“Did he seriously just walk out of here without giving you a hug?”

“Yes,” Ally groaned into the pillow she was pressing against her face.

“You still haven’t talked about anything?” Kylie asked as she made Ally make room for her on the couch. “You guys are cutting it pretty close.”

“No. Believe me, I wish we could just figure things out already. We are hardly ever alone to talk about it. And every time I tried to bring it up, he just changes the subject,” Ally complained.

“I’m sorry, Ally. I wish that he would just tell you what he wants from your relationship too,” Kylie said. “Remember in high school when you worried about going to different schools? He was pretty clueless then, and I hate to break it to you, but nothing much has changed.”

“Can’t you just ask him?” Ally pleaded.

“I told you and Tyson that I wasn’t going to get involved in your relationship. So, no, you will need to talk to him about it. But I hope you get it figured out sooner than later.”

“I just wish he would just tell me what he would like me to do. At the very least, just make it seem like our relationship matters, that I matter,” Ally said as she wiped a tear away. “But instead he hasn’t said anything. I don’t know if he will be mad if I date while he is gone. Or does he want me to date others? Does he want me to be here when he gets back? Or does he not care if I get married before he returns?”

“You still have time,” Kylie responded. “Try to talk to him about it. Because it sounds like you need an answer before he leaves or you are going to go crazy. Then you’re going to make me crazy.”

Ally nodded her head. “I’ll try, but he is so focused on his mission. Not that I don’t want him to focus on his mission. I just don’t know if I will get the opportunity.”

“Text him.”

“Text him?” Ally said with disgust.

“Ya.”

“I think that this is a conversation that we should have face to face. Not over text.”

“Okay if you say so, but it might knock some sense into him. At least make him think about it,” Kylie said as she flipped on the tv.

“I’ll think about it.”

 

 

Kylie had promised not to get involved and she wasn’t going to get involved. But she really wanted to know why Tyson hadn’t said anything to Ally. She had a hard time believing that Tyson didn’t want Ally to wait for him. She headed over to her parent’s house where Tyson was living until he left for his mission.

“Already started packing?” Kylie asked Tyson as she walked in the front door to find suitcases and clothes spread out on the couches and all over the ground.

“Yep. I really don’t want to forget anything,” Tyson responded.

“You do realize that there will be stores where you are going. At least for the first few weeks,” Ally teased as she plopped down next to Tyson. They sat in silence for a couple of minutes as Ally contemplated how she wanted to approach the subject.

“Two years is a long time. So many things could change,” Kylie said.

“Ya. I guess a lot of things could change. Like my favorite sister could get married while I’m gone,” Tyson bumped his shoulder into Kylie’s.

“Ha ha, you’re funny. I think that Ally has a better chance of getting married than me,” Kylie said liking how this conversation quickly turned in her favor.

Tyson paused, “I guess she could get married while I’m gone. But I hope she doesn’t. I mean I don’t want her to sit around and wait for me. I want her to go the institute activities and I want her to have fun while I’m gone.”

“Have you told her that?”

“Not in those words. We have been dating for over a year. I think she knows that I would love it if she was still available when I got back.”

More than anything, Kylie wanted to slap him with the pillow next to her and tell him that he needed to tell Ally that she was free to date while he was gone but that he would like to still date when he got back. Kylie had to hold her tongue. She had promised herself that she would not get involved and she was not going to get involved.

 

 

It was a good thing that it was the beginning of the semester and the real homework load hadn’t built up yet, because Ally was a wreck. Tyson was so busy catching up with all of his friends one last time, final preparations, and a farewell talk that Ally wasn’t able to sit down and talk with him.

Kylie had to admit that Tyson was doing a very good job at getting in the missionary mindset. At his farewell, Tyson hardly talked to Ally. Kylie understood it was because he didn’t want a girlfriend distracting his focus. But at the same time, Ally was beginning to doubt Tyson’s feelings for her. Especially when Ally only got a handshake when she said goodbye to Tyson for the last time and everyone else received hugs.

Chapter Fourteen

 

Tyson just wanted to hug Ally one last time and hold her in his arms for a few minutes, just to make sure that she knew just how much he loved her. He had tried to distance himself from Ally over the last couple weeks by intentionally limiting their hugs and kisses. He thought it would help him get her off his mind. It hadn’t been working. He was going to miss Ally while he was gone. He hoped that once he started the day to day duties of a missionary she wouldn’t be constantly on his mind.

Tyson shook his head. He had to stop thinking about her. He grabbed the last suitcase and placed it in the trunk. Today he would head to the MTC. Tyson was excited. He knew this was the right thing to do. It was going to be the best two years of his life.

 

 

When Kylie got home, Ally was sitting on the couch eating ice cream.

“How did it go?” Ally asked.

“Good. My mom cried, which is no surprise, and Tyson was practically running toward the doors,” Kylie responded as she reached in the cupboard for a bowl to dish up some ice cream for herself.

Ally smiled. “I’m sure he was. He wants to learn Spanish as quickly as possible. How are you handling it?”

“I’m fine. I thought it wouldn’t be too hard to see him go, but I already feel like I miss him. We haven’t been that close in many years. I’ve spent more time with him since he started dating you than I have since the beginning of middle school. I guess I have grown more attached. How are you handling everything?”

“The ice cream makes it a little better. Two years is going to last forever, especially since I never found out if he wants me to wait for him. Am I just supposed to sit here on this couch until he gets home?”

“I don’t think Tyson expects you to just sit here the whole time,” Kylie said taking a seat next to Ally. “You are in college. This is the time to have fun and be adventurous. Plus, it would be really boring if my best friend didn’t ever want to go do anything.”

Ally chuckled. “Fine, I won’t just sit here on the couch.”

“Good. Now, let’s go have some fun.”

 

 

Talking about going out and doing things was much easier said than done for Ally. A majority of the time, she found herself feeling lonely and she struggled finding things that she was willing to do to change it. Ally found that she had a lot of extra time on her hands. All of the time she had spent with Tyson was now filled with studying, watching tv and movies, or reading a book.

Once Ally and Tyson started dating, Ally’s social life had expanded greatly and she had made a lot of new friends because of it. Without Tyson, it was easy to go back into her little turtle shell. She had her best friend, Kylie, her roommates, and some acquaintances from classes. That was good enough for her. She was perfectly content to just dive into her studies and wait for Tyson to come home. But if Kylie had her way, that wasn’t going to happen.

Chapter Fifteen

 

“Ally, come on. It has been three weeks since Tyson left. You need to get out. You need to meet new people. Please, just come to the institute dance. If you really hate it, we can leave after an hour. I promise,” Kylie begged.

Kylie was getting sick and tired of Ally just sitting around their apartment. She was either there or at class. Kylie was starting to get worried that Ally was becoming depressed. Her wardrobe had started consisting of sweats and loose t-shirts. Ice cream had taken a key role in almost all of her meals. Kylie knew that she had to get Ally out of the house and the institute dance was the perfect opportunity Tonight she was determined not to let Ally sit around in her sweats, eat ice cream, and dwell on the fact that Tyson was gone.

“I don’t know, Kylie. They are having a Say Yes to the Dress marathon tonight.”

“I thought you had decided you weren’t going to just sit around and wait for Tyson. I doubt he wants you sitting in front of the tv on a Friday night when you have a chance to go have fun.”

Kylie felt like adding that Tyson didn’t want to come back to an Ally that had gained 20 pounds and dressed like a hobo, but she knew that probably wouldn’t go over very well. The goal was to get Ally to come with her, so she held her tongue.

“It is a country themed dance and you love country. There is food and you love food. And there could be some really cute boys. It’s everything you need to have a good time,” Kylie added.

Ally raised her eyebrow.

“Maybe you can find a cute boy just to take you mind off Tyson until he gets back. Or maybe you can just help me find someone. We both know that I need the help.”

“Fine, I’ll go, but only to find your future husband,” Ally said as she got up off of the couch.

“Good. Thank you,” Kylie said as she hugged Ally and followed her into the room that they shared.

As Ally went to grab her comfy jeans, Kylie shoved a curling iron in Ally’s hands. “While you curl your hair, I’ll pick out your outfit.”

Kylie had come to accept the idea of Tyson and Ally getting married and actually couldn’t wait until Ally was her sister-in-law. But Kylie knew that Tyson didn’t want Ally to just sit around and wait for him. She wished that he would have just told Ally that before he left. That he wanted Ally to have fun. She knew that Tyson was torn because he didn’t want Ally getting married while he was gone, but he also didn’t want her to pass up other opportunities if they came along. Kylie didn’t want her to find someone else either, but Ally needed something or someone to take her mind of Tyson. If not, Ally and Kylie were both going to be miserable. Kylie wanted to experience the college life with Ally by her side, just like they had always dreamed they would.

Kylie scavenged Ally’s closet for the outfit she knew would get some heads turning. A plaid button up shirt and the pair of skinny jeans Kylie wished that she could fit into, with some ankle cowboy boots.

When Ally walked out into the living room, ready to leave, Kylie knew that she had picked the perfect outfit. Kylie was sure there would be a few guys asking Ally to dance. And maybe, just maybe, one of their friends would ask Kylie to dance. At least, that’s how it usually worked.

“Man, I think I need to go running with you. These skinny jeans are a little tight,” Ally said.

“They look good, but I could always use a running buddy,” Kylie said with a smile. At least Ally was realizing that maybe she had and would gain some weight if she just sat around on the couch all day long. “Let’s go.”

Ten short minutes later, they pulled into the parking lot where the dance was being held. As they walked toward the entrance, Kylie could tell that Ally’s countenance had changed and there was an extra bounce her step. Tonight was going to be a good night, as long as Ally didn’t dwell on Tyson too much and tell every guy that she had a missionary. Ally might find someone to go on a couple dates with just to make these next two years not as miserable as she was making them.

Within 10 minutes of hitting the dance floor Ally got her first dance offer. Just like Kylie had hoped there was usually a friend of the guy that asked Ally to dance that asked her to dance as well.

“Thanks for convincing me to come,” Ally said after finding Kylie in the crowd after a slow song.

“See? Didn’t I tell you that you would have fun,” Kylie responded. “It looks like it has been over an hour since we got here. I’m taking it that you want to stay and dance some more?”

Ally nodded their head as Kylie and Ally joined the line dance to Boot Scootin’ Boogie.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we have reached the last dance of the night. So, fellas find that girl you have been wanting to dance with all night and just ask her. It’s your last chance,” the DJ announced.

“Well shall we head out?” Kylie asked and Ally agreed.

When Kylie held the door open and looked to make sure that Ally was following right behind, she wasn’t there. Kylie stepped back inside but couldn’t see Ally anywhere. After watching most people leave, Kylie began to wonder if she had missed Ally walk past her and maybe she was waiting by the car. But when she got to the car, there was still no sign of her there either.

After sitting in her car for twenty minutes and being one of the last cars in the parking lot, Ally slid into the passenger seat. “Sorry, someone asked me to dance on the way out.”

“A twenty-minute song?”

Ally laughed. “Yep. Apparently, he liked something about me because he asked for my number.”

“Really? That’s awesome. Maybe he will ask you out.”

“Maybe.”

 

 

As Ally got ready for bed that night, her mind kept drifting to the handsome guy that had asked for her number. She had enjoyed talking to him and they actually had a lot in common. He loved football and had been the quarterback during high school. He had gotten injured right before the state championships his senior year. His injury had ruined his chances at being a college quarterback. Ally was surprised that she hadn’t ever met him before, since he played for her high school rival. He was a Freshman and was planning to go on a mission after the end of the semester. He was also a very good dancer and he had been easy to talk to.

At the same time Ally almost felt guilty for even thinking about dating someone other than Tyson. She reminded herself that Tyson hadn’t asked her to stay locked up in her apartment and just sit around twiddling her thumbs waiting for him. In fact, he hadn’t given her any direction. Yet, Ally felt as if she was being unfaithful to Tyson. But he was gone. She wasn’t in a committed relationship. He was going to be gone for 23 more months.

It was okay for her to think a guy was cute or to have fun talking to a different guy, right? Maybe she was just struggling with the fact that someone other than Tyson had caught her eye? Maybe she was strung up on having someone ask for her number? Why was she even debating this? It’s not like Justin had asked her out on a date. He had only asked for her phone number. And just because he had her number did not mean that he would actually call or text her.

Just as Ally was falling asleep, her phone’s vibration startled her awake. “Hey, it’s Justin.”

A grin started to spread across Ally’s face as she unplugged her phone from the charger and pulled it closer. But her smile stopped for a minute when Tyson crossed her mind. Ally closed her eyes. Tyson wasn’t even thinking about her. She emailed Tyson every week, but he had only responded one time. She knew he was busy and his focus should be on being a good missionary. At some point during the night, Ally realized that she couldn’t just sit around and wait for Tyson. She was going to go crazy if she did. She had given him every opportunity to let her know where they stood before he left, but he didn’t.

After an exchange of multiple texts, she was meeting Justin at the Utah basketball game that Wednesday. What was wrong with one date?

Chapter Sixteen

It had been two months since the institute dance and Kylie was beyond starting to regret convincing Ally to go with her. At first, it was just one date a week, which was right in line with her plan, but now Ally was spending more and more time with this guy named Justin.

Kylie was happy that Ally was getting out of the house. But she had hoped that Ally would be going out and doing things with her and only occasional dates with boys.

Kylie walked into her room to find Ally debating on which outfit to wear. Kylie didn’t remember Ally worrying this much about how she looked when she was dating Tyson.

“Are you going to the institute movie tonight?”

Ally nodded her head. “Are you going?”

“Yep. Maybe I can finally meet this Justin you have been spending all your time with,” Kylie responded.

“I have not been spending all my time with him.”

“You kind of have… How many days have you seen him this week?”

Ally paused.

“Every day?” Kylie asked.

“Ya, I guess so. Is there something wrong with that?”

“No, not necessarily, but what about Tyson?”

Ally sighed and plopped down on her bed. “He never asked me to wait for him and you even said that Tyson doesn’t want me to sit around and wait for him. Is there really any harm to just going out on a couple dates with this guy?”

Kylie rolled her eyes and tried to hold back what she really thought. “It’s been more than a couple dates. And I haven’t even met him, which is a little odd since he is picking you up all the time. He hasn’t had to pass the best friend test yet, unless you’re scared he won’t pass?”

“Fine….”

“Then I get to meet the mysterious Justin tonight?” Kylie asked.

“Yes, you can meet him tonight. Do you like this outfit?”

“It looks great.” Kylie couldn’t wait to meet the new guy that Ally was obviously falling for. Ally quickly pulled the t-shirt over her head and grabbed her coat and purse just as there was a knock on the door. Ally slipped out the door without Kylie even getting a sneak peek at this Justin guy. It added to the feeling Kylie had that Ally was trying to hide him from her and it kind of hurt her feelings that Ally was keeping him a secret.

The movie theatre was mostly full by the time Kylie and the rest of her roommates, arrived. She looked around for Ally and the mysterious Justin, but didn’t see them. They were able to find a seat toward the back of the auditorium as the movie was about to start. Just as the lights were beginning to dim she spotted Ally.

Kylie gasped. The Justin Ally was sitting next to wasn’t just any Justin. It was Justin Hawthorne.

 

 

Ally couldn’t focus on the movie as she kept glancing down at her hand which was entwined with Justin’s. They had been dating for a while now, but Ally had made Justin aware that she had just gotten out of a serious relationship so she wanted to take things slow and he was doing his best to respect that. Her thoughts slowly turned to just how surreal the last year had been. She had hardly dated anyone before Tyson and now she had dated two guys who were the stars of their high school football team. They were both popular, extremely good-looking, and for whatever reason, they had chosen to date a normal girl like her.

Her eyes drifted from their hands as she glanced at the guy next to her. At this moment, he could have literally walked out a magazine. He looked like a model with his plaid flannel shirt, dark wash jeans and brown canvas shoes. His blonde hair was cut perfectly. He had bright blue eyes that were the color most people had to get contacts to achieve. His white teeth were perfectly straight which matched his perfectly put together outfit. Not to mention that he was tall, well built, and tan.

Every once in a while, she would get a whiff of the cologne he was wearing and he smelled good. Tyson definitely didn’t smell like that. Not that he smelled bad, he was just more of an Old Spice than an Axe kind of guy. Justin squeezed her hand bringing Ally back to the present and sending a tingling up her arm. She looked up to see him smiling at her out of the corner of his eye and Ally smiled back. She had to stop thinking about Tyson. He was just a friend over a thousand miles away and Justin was right here.

“I’ve been meaning to tell you that you look amazing tonight,” Justin whispered in Ally’s ear.

Ally blushed as she tucked a stray hair behind her ear. “Thanks. You too,” Ally responded as Justin’s closeness seemed to take her breath away. She tried to focus on the movie but before she knew it the movie was over.

When the lights rose in the theatre, Ally turned around to see Kylie a few rows behind her. Ally smiled and waved at Kylie.

“Hey Justin, Kylie, my roommate, is here and she wants to meet you,” Ally said.

“Of course,” Justin said as he reached for her hand and they began to work their way toward the aisle. But their progress toward Kylie’s seat stopped when they ran into a group of Justin’s friends. After a couple of minutes, Ally looked over to see Kylie gathering her stuff to leave.

“Justin?” Ally whispered. After a couple seconds, she repeated herself a little louder.

“What?” Justin said in a tone that Ally couldn’t decide whether he was annoyed or just forgot that they were going to meet Kylie.

Ally tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and went with he forgot. “You were going to meet my roommate.”

“Just a minute,” Justin replied as he jumped back into the conversation.

The next time Ally turned around, Kylie was already gone.

 

 

Kylie couldn’t believe it was Justin Hawthorne. It all made sense why Ally was hiding Justin from her. How could Ally go around dating the one person that Tyson couldn’t stand? Ally had to know how much this was going to drive Tyson crazy and probably hurt him too. Why? That’s all that she wanted an answer to tonight.

Kylie had to make sure that Tyson didn’t find out about this from someone else. That is IF he found out. Kylie was mad. Plus, Ally didn’t even bring Justin over to meet her. His friends were apparently more important. Kylie spent the rest of the night stewing until she heard the door open.

“Kylie? Are you here?” Ally called out.

Kylie stormed into the room ready to rip into Ally. That is until she saw Justin standing next to Ally in the doorway. No matter how much Kylie hated this guy, she had to admit that he was attractive. He could make any girl weak in the knees.

“Kylie, this Justin. Justin this is my roommate and best friend, Kylie,” Ally said.

“It is nice to meet you finally meet you,” Justin said as he stuck his hand out toward Kylie. Kylie shook his hand. Why was he being so nice to her? Then Kylie realized that he didn’t recognize her.

After a moment of awkward silence, Ally said, “Well now that you guys have met, Justin should probably get home. He has somewhere he has to be early in the morning.”

“Ya. Have a good night ladies,” Justin said to both of them. Then turned to Ally and said with a wink, “I’ll talk to you soon.”

Ally closed the door behind Justin and turned around to face Kylie. “So, what do you think? Isn’t he sooo attractive?” Ally asked with a huge grin on her face.

Kylie frowned, “Really? Justin Hawthorne. Of all the guys you could date you chose him? Are you serious?”

“Wait. What? How do you know his last name?” Ally asked slightly confused.

“Are you really that mad at Tyson for not giving you a definite answer to wait or move on? Have you told Tyson you are dating someone else? You better not tell him it is Justin. It will break his heart. He needs to stay focused on his mission. He is enjoying it and if you tell him you are dating Justin Hawthorne, he is going to be devastated,” Kylie rambled on.

“Slow down. I’m lost. I thought you wanted me to get out and date people?”

“I wanted you to get up off the couch and stop sulking around. And yes, I do want you to date people. Multiple people. Not exclusively the Justin Hawthorne. I can’t believe you would do this. I guess I finally know why you have been sneaking around with him,” Kylie said as she paced back and forth.

“Kylie, what exactly is wrong with Justin? How do you know him? And what does this have to do with Tyson?”

“You seriously don’t recognize who Justin is?”

“No,” Ally said a little irritated. “Should I know who Justin is?”

“Yes!” Kylie exclaimed. “Your new boyfriend is the Justin that broke Tyson’s hand in 4th grade right before tryouts as quarterback for the competitive football team. The Justin that made Tyson have to sit out the entire season because of that broken hand. The Justin that ruined Tyson’s dream of being the starting quarterback because Justin had the starting quarterback position from then on that year. The Justin who is the only person on planet earth that Tyson might actually hate. THE Justin who is the only person who might actually hate Tyson. And out of all the guys you chose to date that Justin!”

“Ohhhh… I remember hearing about that. I moved in 4th grade during Christmas break, remember? All of that happened before I even knew you or Tyson,” Ally answered flabbergasted.

“Tyson has played against him multiple times. You have been to most of Tyson’s games. How did you not recognize him?”

“When Justin said that he played quarterback for ‘the school that must not be named’, I knew that I had seen him play before. Tyson hasn’t mentioned that story in years. I just thought that the reason you got so excited about Tyson sacking their quarterback was because they were our rivals, not because the quarterback was the kid that broke Tyson’s hand. Plus, how many football players can you recognize from 70 feet away? I think I have only ever seen him with a helmet on. I honestly wouldn’t have known what he looked like.”

Kylie took a deep breath. “Oh. Huh. You really didn’t know who Justin was?”

“No. I didn’t,” Ally shook her head. Her phone vibrated indicating she had a text. She glanced down to see it was Justin.

Kylie noticed and asked, “Is that Justin?”

“Yep,” Ally said.

“So, when are you going to tell him?”

“Tell him what?”

“That you’re breaking up with him?”

“What? Why would I break up with him? I’m not going to break up with him just because Tyson and Justin got into a fight when they were 10 years old.”

“No, break up with him because deep down he is probably still a jerk.”

“You really think that Justin is the same 10-year-old kid?”

Kylie shrugged her shoulders, “I don’t think he has changed. He still looks like a spoiled kid to me.”

“Well maybe he has changed, Kylie. He acts like he really likes me. So, can you please just give him a chance? You wanted to me to get out and date other people and stop thinking about Tyson. I’m sorry that you don’t like 10-year-old Justin, but can you please give 19-year-old Justin a chance?”

Kylie sighed. “I guess…. I just don’t want to see you get hurt. Or Tyson.”

“Tyson, Tyson, Tyson. You just don’t like him because he isn’t Tyson, right?! If you are so worried about whatever I do hurting Tyson, you should have made sure he told me he wanted me to be here when he got back or maybe that he hoped I would still be available when he got back. I don’t believe that he cares who I date while he is gone because he seems to have just forgotten about me,” Ally paused as tears started to well up in her eyes. “I have written him every week, sometimes multiple times a week when he first left and guess what? I have only gotten two letters from him. Two. And they were just spiritual thoughts.”

“Well what do you expect? He is on a mission, Ally. He is supposed to be focusing on that. Not on you. And you should have asked him what he wanted you to do, because you’ve always known that I wasn’t going to be the middle man for you two.”

“How many emails and letters have you gotten?”

“Well, I guess I usually get one every week. But that’s different because…”

Ally cut Kylie off, “Because you are family? And if you went on a mission how many times you do think you would email me?”

“Probably every week.”

“But I’m not your sibling, so why would you email me that often.”

“Because you are my best friend,” Kylie answered wondering where Ally was going with this.

“Exactly. I may not be his sister, but Tyson was one of my best friends, just like you are, and I’m lucky to get an email once every other month,” Ally said quietly as she tried to hold back tears. “If you are so worried about me getting hurt, well I already have. I don’t feel like Tyson cares at all about me anymore. That I’m just some high school acquaintance who he writes back just to be nice. Until he convinces me otherwise, I’m going to try to move on.”

Kylie didn’t know what to say. Although she didn’t necessarily agree with Ally’s reasoning, she could see where she was coming from. Kylie would be hurt if her best friend only wrote her once a month.

After a couple of seconds, Ally broke the silence as she wiped away a tear, “Well I’m going to go to bed. I’m sorry that Justin is the first guy I have seriously dated other than Tyson and I’m sure is it different. But please just give him a shot. I really do like him.”

As Kylie laid in bed that night, she thought about what Ally had said. She could see where Ally’s train of thought was going but she had to come up with a plan to fix it. Kylie had a gut feeling that Justin hadn’t changed. He was just a spoiled kid and he always got what he wanted. She just had to fix all of this before Justin hurt Ally.

Chapter Seventeen

 

It was P-Day and Tyson couldn’t wait to go to the Internet Cafe down the street from his tiny apartment to read the emails from home. If he was lucky, one of his family members would be able to email back and forth with him while he was there.

Tyson sat down next to his companion, Elder Fenton, at a computer. He unlocked the computer and the timer started. After he sent the mandatory email to his mission president, he glanced at the emails in his inbox. He felt a twinge of disappointment that there wasn’t an email from Ally. He hadn’t received an email from her last week either.

It seemed like every P-day he had to remind himself of his first day in Mexico, when his mission president had sat down with him, he mentioned that Tyson looked like a handsome man and asked if he had a girl back home. Tyson told him that he did indeed have a girl that he hoped would still available when he got back, but that he hadn’t asked her to wait for him. Tyson had felt nervous as his mission president pondered in silence. He had then advised Tyson to only write Ally once a month. He promised him that if his focus was on his mission, then he would have success.

Tyson had followed his mission president’s advice and he had had many promising investigators. But he still wanted to talk to Ally. He missed talking to her. Tyson checked his sent mail hoping it had been a month since he had emailed her, but instead it had only been two weeks. He shook his head and turned his focus to his mom’s email.

After he had sent an email to his mom and dad, Kylie, and a general update to everyone on his email list, he waited to see if any replies came in. As he stared at the computer screen, he had to fight off the urge to compose a message to Ally. Gratefully, his companion asked if he was ready to go.

The Elders paid as the headed out the door back onto the sunny streets. Tyson took a deep breath and immersed himself in the work he was there to do.

 

 

As Ally sat in the library, she checked her email one last time. She clicked refresh a couple of times, willing an email from Tyson to show up. She had received the group email only 20 minutes before. She had hoped that he would send her an email this week. But nothing.

Ally sighed and closed the browser. She didn’t know why she was disappointed. She had come to terms with the fact that she wasn’t important to Tyson. But some part of her held onto some hope that he would have emailed her this week. She stopped herself and remembered that Justin was her boyfriend and he didn’t deserve to have Ally thinking about Tyson all the time. She shoved Tyson out of her mind as she turned her focus to the economics paper she was supposed to be writing.

Another ten minutes passed and the words still weren’t coming. Ally shut her laptop and packed up to head back to her apartment.

Her mood was lightened as she ran into Justin walking into the library as she was walking out. Justin wrapped her up in a tight hug and Ally already felt better. In this moment, it seemed like she had it all, the perfect school, great friends, and to top it all off, a fantastic boyfriend, but at the end of the day she always felt like she was waiting, maybe even hoping for something different, and still hadn’t figured out why.

“I’ll be by to pick you up at 5.”

“Okay, but I thought that the party wasn’t until 7:30?” Ally asked.

“I thought we could go out for a nice dinner beforehand.”

“Oooo. Okay. I like food.”

Justin laughed. “Yes, you do. Sometimes I think you could eat more than me.”

“Ain’t that true!”

“Well I need to go finish up some homework,” Justin said as he gave Ally a goodbye hug. He lingered just a little bit longer as if he was going to kiss Ally. She held her breath thinking he just might. Instead he winked and said, “I’ll see you later.” Justin walked off toward the library doors.

Maybe tonight would finally be the night that it wouldn’t be so hard to stop thinking about Tyson after all.

 

 

Just before five, Ally walked into the living room in their apartment.

“Wow, you look good. Are you going somewhere special with Justin tonight?” Kylie asked. “Is he proposing or something?”

“No way!” Ally exclaimed. “But we are going to dinner and a party and Justin likes it when I dress up when we go out.”

Tyson wouldn’t have cared what Ally wore as long as Ally was with him, and he would probably want her to be comfortable, Kylie thought to herself. At some point, wouldn’t dressing up get kind of old?

There was a knock on the door. “Well, have fun,” Kylie said.

“Thanks,” Ally said with sincere gratitude. “Kylie, I know that it is hard for you to like someone as much as Tyson, but I really do appreciate it.”

“You’re welcome,” Kylie said.

After Ally walked out the door, Kylie went to the window see if Justin treated her like a lady by opening the car door for Ally. Even though she was going to put up with Ally dating Justin on the outside, in the inside she was bound and determined to find something wrong. It was only a matter of time before Justin let his guard down.

But much to Kylie’s disappointment, Justin opened the door for Ally and Ally did seem happy. The only thing she found wrong with Justin was that he was a spoiled, snobby, rich kid. All claims that were solidified by the fact that he drove a sporty convertible that was definitely paid for by his parents and his clothes were a little too expensive.

 

 

The night was fancier than anything Ally had ever experienced. First, Justin pulled right up to the front of the Brio Tuscan Grill at City Creek. She had never had a car valet parked. Nor had she ever eaten at the Brio. Ally was shocked to see how much the items on the menu cost. She even offered to share a dish with Justin, but he insisted that Ally pick anything on the menu. It took some time, but she finally found something that didn’t seem to have weird ingredients and didn’t cost too much, at least compared to Justin’s choice.

Ally was a little disappointed when the food actually arrived. It was too fancy for her taste, and for as much as it cost, she was expecting there to be more on the plate. But Justin was paying for her dinner, so she was determined to enjoy the meal. The best part was the delicious chocolate cake afterwards.

Once they were back in the car, Ally noticed they were heading up the canyon instead of toward campus.

“Is the party up here somewhere?” Ally said, curious as to where they were going.

“No, but I thought we could just take a drive up here. I know that the leaves aren’t changing and the flowers aren’t blooming yet, but there is a little spot I wanted you to see,” Justin explained as he pulled off on a dirt road.

After a couple of yards, Justin put the car into park and ran around to the other side of the car to open Ally’s door. He helped her out and lead her a couple of feet in front of the car.

“Wow,” Ally said as she took in the beautiful view that was before her. She could see the lights of the Salt Lake Valley. “It’s beautiful. I could look at this all night.”

“It is pretty amazing,” Justin said as he put his arm around Ally’s shoulders. They stood there in silence for a minute until a shiver ran through Ally’s body. Justin wrapped both of his arms around Ally and she rested her head on his chest. Although Justin was warm, it didn’t take too long for the cold to seep back in.

“We should probably head back down, so we can make it to the party before it’s over,” Ally said, finding an excuse to get back into the car and turn the heater up.

“Good idea,” Justin said loosening their embrace. “But first…”

Justin closed the gap between them and kissed Ally. His lips were soft and Ally’s heart fluttered as he pulled away. Ally leaned in to kiss him again and she stood on her tippy toes to shorten the distance. She had been wanting Justin to kiss her but somewhere in the middle, she missed the way Tyson used to kiss her. Frustrated that the thought had crossed her mind and trying to push it away, she deepened her kiss and Justin responded without hesitation.

A couple of minutes later, they pulled apart. Ally smiled up at Justin with no spec of Tyson on her mind, “Well shall we go?”

Justin nodded his head as he led her back to the car.

 

 

That evening Ally shut the door behind her still trying to catch her breath from the kiss she had shared with Justin just seconds before on the doorstep.

“Have a good evening?” Kylie asked breaking Ally’s trance.

“Ya, it was a good,” Ally said as she plopped down on the couch.

“Tell me all about your date. What did you do?” Kylie inquired.

“Well we went to Brio at City Creek. Then we took a little drive up the canyon before the party.”

“What in the world did you do up the canyon? It’s freezing up there and there is still snow on the ground.”

“He took me to this overlook and he… Well we just looked at the city lights,” Ally said as she blushed.

“He kissed you, didn’t he?” Kylie’s concern growing by the minute. It was going to be harder than she thought to get Ally to stop hanging out with Justin and turn her focus back to Tyson.

“Yes,” Ally said growing with excitement. “We kissed. And then we kissed again and again.”

Kylie nodded her head not fully listening as Ally expanded on the details of the night. In all reality, she didn’t want to accept that this was really happening. She could tell that Ally was falling for Justin. Maybe her plan to get them to stop dating wasn’t going to be very easy after all.

Chapter Eighteen

 

The days started to fly by quickly as the end of the semester was approaching. Ally spent hardly any time at the apartment, since she was spending most of her time with Justin. Occasionally, Justin was over at their apartment and as a result Kylie did her best to avoid them. She really wanted to be able to give him a shot, even if it was just for Ally’s sake, but she just couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something about him that wasn’t quite right.

Mother’s Day arrived and Kylie couldn’t wait to video conference with Tyson. Lately, she talked to Tyson more than she talked to Ally. She wasn’t quite sure how things would go if Tyson asked about Ally. How do you explain to your brother that you talk to him more than you talk to your best friend who lives with you, let alone that she was seriously dating someone else?

Kylie and her family had been gathered around the living room television talking with Elder Brooks for a while when the conversation started to die down. Kylie could tell Tyson was looking around at all of the people who were there to see him.

“Where is Ally?” Tyson asked.

Kylie hesitated while the rest of the family was quiet and waited for her to answer the question. Kylie’s parents knew that Ally was dating someone else, but no one had told Tyson.

“Umm… She had some family event she had to be at,” Kylie responded, assuming that Ally was indeed spending time with her family on Mother’s Day.

“Oh, okay.” Tyson changed the subject, but Kylie could tell that Tyson was disappointed. She wished that she could have talked to him about everything that was going on. It made Kylie’s heart ache because she knew that Tyson loved Ally and they were perfect for each other. From the time they were little, whenever Ally had a crush she fell hard and fast. With Justin, it was no different. Except that this time, it really could go somewhere. But she wasn’t going to break Tyson’s heart by telling him that Ally was dating someone else if she didn’t have to.

Chapter Nineteen

 

Ally finished her last final of the semester and walked out of the business building with satisfaction. She had done well on all of her finals and she was excited for the summer. Justin had gotten his mission call to Kansas and he had compiled a bucket list of things he wanted to do before he left. He wanted Ally to tag along, and the adventures sounded fun. Bungee jumping, hiking, race car driving, and throwing a party were just a few things that they had already started planning. It almost seemed like Justin going on a mission meant he had to stop having fun. He wanted to live it up now, before he left.

She hurried home to change for the beginning of summer party that Justin was throwing at his parent’s house. Ally always felt a little out of place when she was there. The house was three times as big as the one she grew up in and she was always afraid she was going to break something just by looking at it. She couldn’t believe that Justin was actually going to throw a party there. Well, actually it was his father’s executive assistant that was doing all of the work. She felt bad for the maids who would be cleaning the mess up and making sure the house was up to Mrs. Hawthorne’s standards. That lady scared her.

Justin had asked Ally to show up early. He wanted her to be there before everyone else arrived. Ally knew before she even got there that it was going to be long night. Parties weren’t her favorite thing and she was the girlfriend of the host. That basically meant that she had to be outgoing and talk to all the right people. She hoped that she would be able to just follow Justin around all night and he could do all of the talking.

Ally walked up the steep steps to the largest house in the cul-de-sac. She knocked on the door and it only took a few seconds before the Hawthorne’s housekeeper answered the door.

“Hi Miss Ally. Please come in.”

“Hey Ally!” Justin hollered as he ran down the stairs. “Come check out the backyard. Kristine did a great job! This party is going to be awesome.”

The minute Ally stepped through the glass French doors leading out to the backyard, she knew it was going to be a party the guests would be talking about all summer. There was a live band. The porch was decorated with bright colors and pool toys were already floating in the pool. Justin had even taken her advice and surprised her by having a build-your-own burger bar.

It wasn’t too hard for Ally to follow Justin around for the first part of the party since he insisted on introducing Ally to everyone. Eventually Justin and his friends started to do stupid tricks off the diving board into the pool and Ally couldn’t watch. She decided it was time to check out the burger bar. As she went through the line, she realized that she wished Kylie was here. It hadn’t even occurred to her to invite her. She hadn’t really seen her or talked with her in a few weeks. Ally didn’t know anyone and she wished she had some friends here. Ally found an empty table away from most of loudness and dug into her juicy burger topped with caramelized onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and barbeque sauce. She wiped her hands off, and reached to grab her phone. Maybe Kylie would come by if she could get ahold of her.

“Ally!”

Ally looked up to see three of Tyson’s friends from his high school football team heading toward her.

“Hey guys,” Ally said as they each gave her a hug. “How are you doing?”

“Just happy that this semester is over… Jackson over here almost didn’t pass any of his classes,” one of Tyson’s friends answered.

Ally laughed, “Of course it would be Jackson who barely squeaked by.”

“How is Tyson doing?”

“He is doing really good. He loves Mexico,” Ally responded.

“That’s good,” Jackson piped in. “So, I have to ask, are you strictly waiting for Tyson? Or are you dating anyone?”

“Calling dibs on Ally a year ago, doesn’t mean she is going date you of all people,” one of his friends stated.

“You called dibs on dating me?” Ally questioned with surprise.

“Who called dibs on you?” Justin asked as he slid his arm around Ally’s waist and pulled her close even though he was still dripping wet from his recent dive in the pool.

“Hey Justin, these are…um some of my friends from high school,” Ally said.

“Who called dibs on you?” Justin pressed.

“It’s no big deal, Justin. They were just joking around,” Ally insisted.

“Ya,” Jackson said. “We were just reminiscing about who would get to date Ally once Tyson wasn’t around. But it looks like you got to her first, so I think we will go get some food. It was good to see you, Ally.”

“You too,” Ally replied, wishing that Justin hadn’t scared off the only people she knew at the party.

Jackson turned to Justin, “Great party.”

Once they were out of earshot, Justin asked, “Who are they? And who is Tyson?”

“They are friends. And Tyson is a guy I used to date… You already knew that I was in a serious relationship before I started dating you.”

“Were those guys on your high school football team?”

“Yes? Why?” Ally asked, wondering if Justin was beginning to figure out who Tyson really was.

“Was this Tyson on the football team?”
Ally nodded her head.

Justin paused. “What position did he play?”

“Defensive back,” Ally hesitated, seeing Justin’s hand clench into a fist.

“You dated Tyson Brooks? And you didn’t tell me? I can’t believe you lied to me,” Justin said his voice rising slightly.

“I didn’t lie. Plus, I didn’t think that you really wanted to hear about my old boyfriend,” Ally retorted.

“Well you didn’t tell me the truth!” A few heads were turning toward their conversation.

“Justin, I’m sorry. I didn’t think it was a big deal.”

“Not a big deal? I can’t believe that you would ever date someone like Tyson. I can’t believe that you would date someone who tried to ruin my chances at being a quarterback. How could I fall for someone like you?”

“Justin…”

He cut her off. “Ally, I…. I don’t think this is going to work out anymore. I think you should leave.”

Justin walked away and Ally felt the tears starting to well up in her eyes. She noticed the people quickly looking away as she looked around the backyard. She made her way into the house and out the front door, praying the tears would wait until she made it to her car.

 

Ally opened the door very quietly and hoped that no one was in the living room. She slipped through the door and turned her back to the living room just in case there was someone there. She shut the door softly hoping she could slip into her room without being seen. She had tried to wait for the red, puffy eyes to go away but it was hot in the car.

“It’s pretty early for you to be sneaking in, don’t you think?” Kylie asked, startling Ally.

“Um… as a matter of fact, yes,” Ally said as she scooted toward the hallway keeping her back to Kylie.

“Is something wrong?” Kylie asked.

Ally was so close. “Nope. Just going to my room.”

“Whoa, whoa,” Kylie said as she blocked the hallway. “Why does it look you have been crying?”

“Because,” Ally responded.

“Because?”

Ally nodded her head, afraid that if she spoke the tears would start falling again. How were there still tears left to be cried?

Dread filled Kylie’s voice, “What did Justin do?”

“We… um… broke up.” The tears started rolling.

“Ally, I’m sorry,” Kylie said. Getting Ally and Justin to break up was easier than Kylie thought. It happened without intervention, although she would have preferred Ally doing the breaking up. Even though they had drifted apart over the last few months, she really hated seeing Ally hurt. “What happened?”

“Some guys from the high school football team were at the party and then Justin found out about Tyson and then Justin said it was over. I guess you were right. I should have told Justin when we first started dating. Then maybe this wouldn’t suck so much,” Ally squeaked out before a round of sobs came.

Kylie led Ally to the couch and let Ally cry it out.

“Ugh, I feel a headache coming on,” Ally groaned once she calmed down. “I’m going to go to bed.”

“Ally?” Kylie called out before Ally headed down the hallway.

“Ya?”

“Just remember these two things… Justin doesn’t know what he is missing out on and there is someone even better out there.”

With a half-smile, Ally said, “Thanks, Ky.”

After changing into her favorite pajamas, Ally climbed into her bed and pulled the covers over her head. As she willed her headache to go away, a couple of tears squeezed out. She took a deep breath and pulled herself up on her knees. As she prayed, she felt the peace envelope her. Quickly she fell asleep, knowing that everything was going to be okay.

Chapter Twenty

 

The next morning, Kylie was surprised to find Ally up and about acting as if everything was okay.

“Want a waffle?” Ally asked.

“Sure?” Kylie asked with a questioning look at Ally.

“What?”

“I’m trying to figure out if you are just putting on a face that you are okay or if you really are okay.”

Ally shrugged and poured some batter on the waffle maker. “I think I’m okay. Tyson will always be a part of my life as my friend and my best friend’s brother. If Justin can’t handle that, then I guess this is for the better.”

Kylie smiled. “Good for you. I’ll whip up some homemade syrup for these waffles to celebrate this special occasion.”

The morning was everything Kylie had hoped college would be. For the first time since they had started college over a year ago, it seemed as if they really were best friends again. They headed out for an afternoon of shopping and were determined to shop ‘til they dropped, except Kylie had a group project to work on that evening.

When Kylie pulled into the driveway of the apartment that evening with a tub of ice cream and a Redbox movie, she was surprised to find Justin’s car there. Not wanting to interrupt, she drove around for about an hour. Her ice cream was melting by the second. Once Justin’s car was no longer there, she angrily shoved the ice cream in the freezer and hoped that she would be able to salvage part of it. Kylie kept telling herself that Justin was leaving soon and Tyson would be home before Justin got home from his mission. She could do this. Just a little bit longer until Justin wasn’t around anymore.

 

 

Later that night, Kylie pulled the ice cream out of the freezer after it had re-frozen. After a little taste test, she decided that it wasn’t ruined.

Ally slid up next to Kylie. “Can I have some?”

“Ya, I guess so,” Kylie said, passing the tub to Ally. “So… I guess everything is okay between you and Justin?”

“Mhmmm,” Ally mumbled as she quickly licked some ice cream that slipped down the side of her cone.

“Did he suddenly change his mind about Tyson?”

Ally hesitated. “Well, I don’t think that he likes Tyson any better than he did before, but he apologized for overreacting. He realizes that Tyson was my high school boyfriend and Tyson will always be a part of my past. But he also realizes how lucky he is to have me in his life now and the future we have together. He kept saying that he had made a mistake. It was actually really sweet… But enough about me, I hear you have a date tomorrow?”

“Ya, I do. We are going out for lunch,” Kylie smiled.

“That’s so exciting,” Ally gushed.

Kylies laughed nervously. She had been on a date before. But this was only her second date since high school. She was trying to ignore the butterflies that appeared when she thought about her upcoming date.

“You are going to have a great time,” Ally stressed.

Avoiding the subject, Kylie asked, “Still up for watching a movie?”

“Of course.” Kylie was relieved that Ally dropped the subject.

Kylie tried to pay attention to the movie, but the news of Justin once again being in the picture made the night a bit of a downer.

Chapter Twenty-One

 

Kylie slid into the booth at Chili’s with her date, Jacob. He was kind and had been a perfect gentleman since he picked her up. She was grateful that Ally had helped her pick out an outfit and even let her borrow one of her shirts.

Once the chips and salsa had arrived and their orders had been placed, Kylie looked around the restaurant surprised at how empty it was. Sure, it was only lunch time, but it was literally dead. As she was dipping a chip in the salsa, she almost dropped it when she heard his laugh.

“Seriously? She used to date Tyson?”

“Yep,” Justin said. “Who would have ever thought I would be taking something Tyson loved again. Being quarterback was one thing. But his girl? I really won this time.”

“Nice,” said the guy who was talking to Justin. “But don’t you have a bigger problem? Won’t Tyson be getting home before you?”

“I’m going to ask Ally to wait for me.”

“Seriously? I mean I know that Ally is pretty, but she isn’t exactly the size 2, blonde, drop-dead gorgeous, comes from a wealthy family type of girl you usually go for.”

“Ya, I’m serious. She may not look like the girl I thought I would marry, but she makes up for it with smarts. Once I graduate and take over my dad’s business, she is going to make the best personal assistant. She will make sure everything is organized and will be perfect host for parties and gatherings. It might be an adjustment at first for her to live up to the expectations, but she will end up fitting in well.”

“Hmmm, ya, I guess I can see that. Do you really think she wants to just be your assistant? Isn’t she going to school to be an accountant?”

“Yeah, but I think I could convince her to do anything I want. And maybe we’ll have a kid or two that she can focus on instead of working. Then being my assistant would seem more like just fulfilling the duties of being a wife.”

“Well, it seems like you have it all worked out, except for one tiny detail, Tyson still gets home before you? How do you know she won’t go back to him?”

“Well, that’s another thing I love about Ally. She is committed. Once she sees the diamond and promises to wait for me, she will. That is just how she is. Plus, once we are married, I won’t have to worry about her having an affair, like most of the wealthy, size 2, blonde married women tend to do.”

“I need to find a girl with commitment like that. I feel like everyone we know is cheating on someone lately,” the guy said seriously.

“Kylie?”

Kylie’s attention was brought back to her date, Jacob.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I… I zoned out there for a moment.”

Jacob smiled, “No worries, I was just telling you about my new job….”

As their food arrived and Jacob attempted to keep the conversation going, Kylie tried not to focus on what Justin was saying but she couldn’t help it. Kylie learned about the many dysfunctional families and couples within his family’s social circles. She decided that there was way too much drama going on. She also learned that Justin’s friend planned to keep dating until the day he was married, just to ensure that he was marrying the right girl even though he expected his future fiancée to be committed to him. It sounded like a crazy idea to her. Unfortunately, Kylie missed Justin’s response. And she was pretty sure that Jacob would not be calling her for a second date.

Although Kylie was a little upset that Justin didn’t seem to love Ally for the right reasons, she had to admit that he was right about one thing… Committed. Once Ally made a promise, she usually kept it. If Justin really did ask Ally to wait for him, Kylie might have a hard time ensuring that Tyson and Ally ended up together. Or at the very least, ensuring that Ally and Justin didn’t end up together.

Chapter Twenty-Two

 

Ally stood in front of the mirror, analyzing her outfit. She had chosen her favorite black skinny jeans and a white blouse that accentuated her waist, with a bold, chunky necklace and coordinating pumps. Even though she wished that she was wearing sandals, she knew that Justin appreciated a well put together outfit. She just hoped that her shirt wasn’t too plain.

The last couple of months had been full of adventures that she would never forget. Justin had involved Ally in helping him cross of most of his pre-mission bucket list. They had gone bungee jumping and driven in a race car. They had eaten at a lot of fancy restaurants and driven great distances just to go on certain hikes.

For the last week, Justin and his family had been on a cruise to the Caribbean, where he was able to go parasailing and swim with sharks. Tonight’s date would be one of their last dates before Justin left on his mission.

Ally didn’t know if it was because this was her second missionary to send off, but this time around didn’t seem as hard. She was going to miss the excitement she felt when she was with Justin, and there was no doubt that she would miss kissing him. But somehow, she just knew it would all work out.

She heard a knock on the door and butterflies appeared in her stomach as she answered the door. Sometimes she didn’t know if they were butterflies of anticipation to see Justin or nervousness that he wouldn’t like how she was dressed.

Justin swept her up in his arms and kissed her in a way that Ally knew he had missed her over the last week. As he let her go, she noticed his eyes survey the way she was dressed. She suddenly felt very self-conscious as a look of disappointment crossed his eyes.

“Did you not get my text?” Justin said as Ally realized he was wearing suit. Which was saying something, since it was the middle of the summer and almost 100 degrees outside.

“Ya, I just didn’t realize that dress nice meant dress fancy,” Ally explained.

Justin checked his watch. “Okay, well hurry. We have a schedule to keep.”

After Ally returned, now dressed in her favorite red dress. Justin said, “Much better.”

During the car ride, Ally was engrossed in Justin’s animated recount of his cruise. It was full of adventure, relaxation, and lots of ice cream. By the end, she was feeling a bit jealous that she had never been on a vacation like that and it made her want to go on a cruise one day. She soaked every word in wishing that she was able to go with him, but she understood that it was just his family that went and it probably wouldn’t have been acceptable for her to go with them anyways. She was just his girlfriend.

“I hope that one day I can go on a cruise,” Ally said dreamily.

Justin squeezed her hand with a smile as he said, “Well next time I go, I will be sure to invite you.”

As the car went around the bend, arose of out the ground a large, colorful hot air balloon.

“Have you ever ridden in a hot air balloon?” Justin asked.

“No. But I have always wanted to.”

“Well today is your lucky day.”

“Are you serious?” Ally exclaimed.

“Yep.”

Ally couldn’t contain her excitement. She immediately jumped out of the car when they parked, before Justin even had a chance to undo his seatbelt. Ally knew that Justin would be upset that she didn’t wait for him to come around and open the door, but she couldn’t wait.

Justin hurried to her side. “I was going to get the door for you.”

“I know,” Ally said, giddy. “I’m just so excited.”

Ally held onto Justin’s arm tightly as they walked down the not-so-smooth path toward the balloon. It would have been a lot easier if Ally wasn’t wearing high heels. It made Ally question why she was even wearing high heels and a dress as they were walking through a field in the mountains. Justin was usually very particular about wearing clothes that were appropriate for their outings.

“Mr. Hawthorne?” a gentleman appeared from the side of the hot air balloon to their right.

“Yes,” Justin said as he shook the man’s hand.

“This here is our ride for the evening,” the man said pointing to the hot air balloon. “Please take a step inside the basket. I just need to finish up some things and we can begin our ascent.”

“Thank you,” Justin said as he helped Ally into the hot air balloon.

After Ally and Justin settled into the corner of the basket, as far away from the flame as possible, Ally asked, “I thought that hot air balloons rides were only in the morning?”

“Usually, but I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse,” Justin said with a smile as he leaned down to kiss Ally.

The view was beautiful as they floated over the valley in between the Wasatch mountains. Ally’s stomach briefly filled with butterflies as she looked down at the vast fields below them. She also found herself holding on to Justin’s hand a little bit tighter.

“Ally?” Justin asked and Ally turned to face him. “I have been doing a lot of thinking with my mission being so close, and making sure that I have things ready to go…”

“Well you are leaving next week,” Ally said.

“Yes, that’s why I wanted to ask you something.”

Ally waited as Justin pulled a box out of his pocket. He opened it to reveal a diamond necklace.

“I want you to know that you are important to me and I hope you will be willing to give me a chance when I get back. So, Ally, will you wait for me?”

Ally only paused for a second before she responded, “Oh Justin! Yes, yes I will wait for you.”

 

 

Ally fingered the beautiful necklace Justin had given her as she walked through her apartment door. She was pretty sure it was at least a carat, because she had never seen a diamond that big. It was princess cut with a whole bunch of little diamonds encircling the main diamond. Justin had hinted to Ally that the diamonds could be reset into a wedding ring when the time came. Ally couldn’t imagine having a wedding ring that big.

“Hey Al. Where did you go on your date?” Kylie asked from the couch, startling Ally out of her day dream.

“Oh. You will never guess, Kylie. He took me on a hot air balloon ride.”

Kylie set down the book she was reading. “Wow. That’s pretty awesome.”

“Yep, it was beautiful and he gave me this,” Ally said holding out her necklace.

“Holy cow… it that real?”

“Of course it is. Justin doesn’t skimp on anything.”

“True,” Kylie replied.

“I’m glad that he gave me a necklace instead of a ring. I couldn’t imagine wearing a ring that big while he is gone.”

“So, I’m guessing he asked you to wait for him?” Kylie asked, wishing that what she had overheard at lunch was wrong.

“Mhmmm.”

“You do realize that Tyson gets home before Justin will, right? Are you even going to give him a chance?”

“I thought we had already been over this,” Ally said with her mood quickly souring. “Tyson doesn’t want me to wait for him.”

“You don’t know that,” Kylie retorted.

“I don’t know otherwise, because he never talked about it.” Ally stormed off to bed.

As she laid in bed, Ally had to keep pushing the thought of what she would do when Tyson came home out of her mind. Maybe she shouldn’t have told Justin she would wait for him, because Tyson would be coming home first. She still had a year and a half to figure out what she would do. But before she fell asleep, she had decided that there would be no harm in writing both of them.

That night Ally dreamed that she kept trying to kiss Tyson. But he kept pointing at her necklace and Tyson refused to kiss her because she had promised to wait for Justin. She woke up frustrated. She was in love with Justin and couldn’t understand why her head couldn’t figure that out.

Chapter Twenty-Three

 

Kylie had to admit that Ally was handling Justin leaving on a mission a lot better than she had handled Tyson leaving. Maybe it was easier the second time around? Or maybe it was because Justin had asked her to wait? Kylie wasn’t sure, but she was grateful that she didn’t have to pull Ally out of bad eating habits or beg her to get out of the house all over again, although the more she thought about it, Kylie wouldn’t be begging Ally to get out of the house ever again. Last time was a disaster.

There was something about Justin that still bugged her. She hadn’t caught him doing anything wrong, but he was seriously lacking something. She wished that she could just figure out what it was. She didn’t like the condescending way that he talked to Ally sometimes, but he hadn’t done anything to hurt her, other than their 24-hour break up. In the way of actions, he treated her like a princess, taking her to fancy restaurants and on expensive adventures. Maybe it was the fact that he didn’t ever hide the fact that he came from a wealthy family? Or maybe it was because Justin was a jerk growing up and she kept looking for anything to prove that he still was? Or maybe it was because he still hated Tyson for no good reason?

She had to continually remind herself that Tyson was getting home first. Hopefully, that would be enough to push Justin out of the picture. Kylie hoped that Ally hadn’t fallen too in love with the lifestyle she lived when she was with Justin. There was no way that Tyson was going to be able to compete with that.

 

The last month had been difficult for Elder Brooks and his new companion, Elder Tito. To say that they didn’t quite get along would be an understatement. Elder Tito preferred to sit around and spend their days at the local church building, while Tyson wanted to knock on every door. Even though he wasn’t sure that knocking on every door would bring much more success than they had had. Tyson hadn’t met anyone who was willing to have them back for a second discussion since he left his last area two months ago.

Not only was Tyson frustrated at his companion’s laziness but he was also starting to blame himself for their lack of success. Coming to Mexico, he had heard that the people were ready to accept the gospel and that missionaries typically baptized dozens during their mission. But day after day, no one wanted to listen, his baptism count wasn’t increasing, and Tyson was starting to feel like he was not an adequate missionary. He was beginning to question his decision to serve a mission. If he wasn’t accomplishing anything, why was he even there?

As they walked into the internet cafe, Tyson dropped his backpack next to his chair. It was P-day, Elder Tito’s favorite day. He claimed it was the literal day of rest and treated it that way. But for Tyson, it was his least favorite day of the week and he dreaded the next 60 minutes that would feel like hours. He hadn’t answered any emails for a couple weeks, letting them stack up in his inbox. He didn’t feel like trying to be optimistic for anyone other than his mom. Most of all he did not look forward to telling his mission president that Elder Tito and himself had not had any success this week, again. But he forced himself to send the required emails.

As Tyson was about to close the internet browser, his breath caught when he saw an email from Ally. He quickly moved the mouse to click on it. He hadn’t heard from her in months. Tyson stopped himself from opening the email. Doubts filled his mind as he thought maybe this was just a complimentary email letting him know she was engaged. He kicked his former self on a regular basis for not letting Ally know that he at least hoped that she would be available to date when he got back. He knew that was something that he couldn’t tell her now.

He took a deep breath and a leap of faith, hoping that the email might make his day a little bit better instead of a whole lot worse.

 

“Elder Brooks,

 

I have to start by saying that I hope you will forgive me. I have not been a very good friend. One letter in five months…. I am the worst! I wish I could say that I was too busy with school or maybe I broke my hand so I couldn’t write, but I don’t have a good excuse.

Over the last month, you have continued to pop into my mind. I have felt like I needed to write you, but for some reason I haven’t. At first, I think it was because I was upset that you were responding to everyone else’s emails and letters but mine. Then I let that frustration build up and somehow convinced myself that you didn’t want to talk to me. Crazy, right?

Anyways, like I said, I have felt like I needed to write to you and increasing so over the last week. But I have been stubborn and I have lost a lot of sleep trying to push you out of my mind at night, so that is why I am writing this at 2:30 in the morning.

I always read the email that you send out to everyone. It sounds like you have had a lot of success. That is so wonderful. But lately your emails seem a little distant. I have a feeling it isn’t because you have so many appointments you can only send a five-minute email. Ty, He never said it would be easy, He only said it would be worth it. When you backpack feels too heavy, your feet hurt, and you are faced with discouragement, please remember that.

Think about the many people you have already shared the gospel with. A lot of them have embraced it and you have been able to share in their joy. And ‘how great shall be your joy’ for bringing those people happiness and knowledge. But one thing that I think is wonderful about serving a mission is your opportunity to become more converted to the gospel.

When you don’t seem to be having any luck finding investigators, I hope that you will put your heart and soul into learning about the gospel. I wish that I had two years to dive into the gospel and learn all that I could without the distractions of the world. It is an opportunity I hope you won’t take for granted. As you become more converted, those you come in contact with will be able to see your light and conversion. It will be a witness to those you speak to.

Please don’t give up. I know you can overcome any trials that you face. I am proud of you for making the decision to serve a mission. I don’t know if I ever told you that, but I am. Best of luck this week, and remember it will be worth it.

 

Yours truly,

 

Ally”

 

Tyson quickly read through Ally’s email as hope and comfort filled him. He was amazed that Ally had addressed his worries and questions without even knowing it. Most of all he was grateful that she had listened to the Spirit, even at 2:30 in the morning, because her words were exactly what he needed to hear.

He hadn’t shared his doubts with anyone, hoping that maybe he would get over them or they would go away. In a way, he was almost embarrassed to tell others that he was struggling. But in that moment, Tyson felt like he should tell Ally and he wanted to. Ally’s words had always brought him peace of mind in the past and he knew that he could count on her to help him see the bright side of things. Tyson took a deep breath, let his guard down, and told Ally everything.

Feeling better than he had in weeks, Tyson responded to a few other emails. Then Tyson and his companion headed out the door into the pouring rain. Elder Tito grumbled but Tyson was filled with new light and determination to make the best of it.

 

 

While eating lunch at her apartment, Ally reached for her phone after hearing it vibrate on the table. She was suddenly nervous, remembering the email that she had sent Tyson early that morning. She felt silly for thinking that he might be struggling, but she couldn’t fight the feeling that she needed to give him words of encouragement.

As Ally read Tyson’s email, tears rolled down her cheeks as he expressed his struggle with his new companion, the disappointing appointments, and his wavering confidence in his ability to be a good missionary. Tyson expressed his gratitude for Ally listening to the prompting that she had and that she had been the answer to his prayers for comfort and perseverance. She had said exactly what he needed to hear to carry on.

A sob escaped Ally as Tyson explained to her that his mission president had asked him to only write her once a month. He asked her to write more often because he wanted to hear from her and he was sure that he would need her words of encouragement over the next 15 months. In that moment, it finally sunk in that he wanted her to wait.

Glancing at the clock she realized she needed to leave for her last class. Ally quickly responded to Tyson’s email letting him know that she was always there for him and he could tell her anything. She promised to write more often and would wait patiently for his replies.

Chapter Twenty-Four

 

For Ally, the next year was filled with sappy, love letters and packages from Justin, heartfelt, spiritual letters from Tyson, and a lot of mixed feelings. She continued to write to both of them, sharing words of encouragement. Neither of her missionaries knowing about the other one, giving Ally time to decide what she was going to do when Tyson returned home.

Fall semester was starting the next week and the church foyer was buzzing with stories of summer adventures. Ally and Kylie had chosen to stay in their apartment for another year, because they enjoyed their ward and the close proximity to campus.

When Ally and Kylie left for church that morning, neither of their roommates had arrived back from summer break, so Kylie was surprised when she saw Stephanie.

“Hey Kylie!” Stephanie waved from across the foyer.

“Hi Steph. I didn’t expect to see you today! When are you moving in? I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever. We need to do some serious catching up,” Kylie responded once Stephanie made her way over.

“Yes, we do need to catch up! I’m going to start moving my stuff in a couple of days. The sooner the better. I don’t know if I can bear another boring week at my parent’s old folks ward. That’s one of the reasons I decided to come to the singles ward today.”

Kylie laughed. “There is definitely a lot more energy here. Hopefully this semester there will be more single men. And if we’re lucky, maybe they will even be attractive.”

“I sure hope so. At the very least, I need some handsome men to daydream about. Is Ally here?” Steph asked looking around.

“Hey Steph, when did you get here?” Ally said, appearing out of nowhere.

“I popped in at the end of Relief Society.”

“The home ward was too boring for her,” Kylie explained.

“Ahhhh, I see. How was your summer?” Ally asked.

“It was good. I just worked at my mom’s quilt shop. How about you? How is your missionary doing?”

“He is doing good. He absolutely loves the Mexican people and the food, even though he got hit with a parasite a couple of weeks ago. But the branch he is serving in took really good care of him. I can’t believe that he only has a little more than four months left before he comes home.”

“Wait, I thought Justin went to Kansas?” Stephanie asked with confusion as Kylie’s jaw dropped to the ground.

“Oh, um, ya. He did… Uh, he is doing good too,” Ally stuttered.

“You are going to have to tell me all about this mystery Mexican missionary when we get home,” Stephanie chided as she headed over to one of her other friends she had just spotted.

Kylie and Ally walked out of the church building in silence.

“So, just to address the elephant in the room…When did ‘your missionary’ become Tyson again?” Kylie asked.

“I don’t know. Believe me, I am just as surprised as you are,” Ally said as she shook her head. Her heart had spoken and she knew at that moment that it felt right.

“Also, how did you know that Tyson had a parasite? I don’t remember him saying anything about that.”

“Oh, did he not write about that in his weekly email?” Ally asked, hoping that he had.

“Nope.”

“Maybe he just didn’t want his family to worry. Plus, he is back to being healthy again.”

Kylie dropped the subject, but wondered what else Tyson had told Ally that he had kept from everyone else.

Chapter Twenty-Five

Sitting in church a few months later, Kylie finished writing her letter to Tyson. She couldn’t believe that in three weeks, Tyson would be home. This would be the last physical letter that she would send to him. In his letters, he seemed to be thriving in the mission field. She was so proud of this ability to find the positive in everything. There was a time back at the beginning of his mission, when she was a little worried about him. But as a result, he had done a lot of growing, especially spiritually, and she could hardly wait until he was back home.

Kylie couldn’t deny that she did feel a little jealous that Tyson seemed to tell Ally everything, while withholding certain little details from his family. Especially the things that might cause his family to be concerned. But she couldn’t complain too much, especially after the Justin disaster. She was just happy that Ally talked about Tyson as if she was waiting for him.

Kylie knew that Ally still wrote to Justin as well. There always seemed to be a package in the mail from Justin. It got to the point that Kylie wished he would have gone far away to a remote island so that packages wouldn’t come often or at all. She made comments frequently about how she wondered if Justin was able to accomplish anything as a missionary with all the time and effort he was putting into these packages. Ally usually just rolled her eyes, but never said anything.

It wouldn’t be long before she found out if the relationship that Ally and Tyson had nurtured only through letters and emails over the last two years resulted in friendship or marriage. Ally hadn’t changed a lot since Tyson had left, even throughout living a life of money and luxury while she dated Justin. Kylie gave her props for that. She knew that Tyson had changed a lot, mostly spiritually. Physically he had lost weight, even though he lifted weights every day. In the last picture she had seen, his hair seemed to be slightly lighter and his skin tan from the sun. She caught herself from laughing out loud when she thought of the defined farmer’s tan Tyson probably had. She could just picture how hilarious it would be if the tan didn’t fade by the time he had to put a football jersey on again.

“What’s so funny?” Ally whispered.

“Just thinking about how Tyson probably has a nice farmer’s tan.”

“Yeah, he probably does,” Ally said with a smile.

 

 

Elder Brooks subconsciously straightened his tie as he paused before going down the escalator. He couldn’t believe that he was this nervous. For the last two years he had talked to complete strangers as he tracked with his companions. At the bottom of the escalator was his family and friends he missed, including Ally. He took a deep breath and stepped on to the escalator.

The nervousness evaporated when he saw his mom, tears streaming down her face. She was surrounded by his family and friends with signs and balloons. When he reached the bottom of the escalator, he quickened his stride toward the people he loved and gave his mom a bear hug, lifting her up off the ground.

The hugs continued to his dad, Kylie, family and friends. Selfies and pictures were taken. As the crowd waiting to welcome him home seemed to be dwindling, Tyson felt a wave of disappointment when he realized that he hadn’t seen Ally. Another one of his friends stepped forward to greet him and that was when he saw her standing next in line. He couldn’t help but smile when he caught her eye. She smiled back as Tyson tried to focus on what his friend was saying.

Suddenly she was standing right there in front him. The person who had helped him in his darkest moments and the one he had shared all of his trials with. Ally had been his lifeline when he felt he couldn’t continue. He didn’t know it was possible, but she was more beautiful than she had been two years ago. He wanted to wrap his arms around her and tell her that he couldn’t live without her. But he knew that probably wouldn’t go over too well quite yet.

“Hey,” Ally said shyly. Tyson felt a little better thinking that maybe she was a little nervous too.

Tyson instinctively stuck his hand out. “Seriously Tyson, what are you thinking? You have hugged all of your other friends. She is your friend. It would have been okay to hug her. Even just a side hug.”

As he went to pull his hand away, Ally placed her hand in his. “Welcome home, Elder Brooks.”

“Te extrañaba,” Tyson replied. I missed you.

With that everyone was laughing at their awkward handshake and Tyson’s slip back into Spanish and Ally was lost in the crowd again.

 

 

After leaving the airport, Tyson and his family and friends sat down at Iceberg with some onion rings he had been craving for two years. He smiled as he remembered the last time he had eaten onion rings and his war with Ally over the last remnants of the fry sauce. He looked around and couldn’t find her anywhere.

He leaned over to Kylie, “Is Ally coming?”

“No,” Kylie replied after swallowing a scoop of her mini shake that was more like a large size shake. “She had a class she had to go to. Her Business Law class is brutal.”

“Oh ya, she told me about that class.”

“That reminds me. I have all of your class assignments ready to go.”

“I still can’t believe that I missed a whole week and a half of classes,” Tyson sighed. “Maybe I should have waited until next semester to start up again.”

“Ty, you are going to be fine. You are a smart kid. Plus, you had to enroll to practice with the team in the spring,” Kylie ensured.

“Right.” He was already a week and a half behind at school and he had to prepare his Homecoming talk for the coming Sunday. Reality began to feel a bit overwhelming. He didn’t know if he was going to be able to handle being thrown back into school. He had been learning the gospel for the last two years. But for some reason, academic learning seemed like a completely different ball game. He was really going to have to focus in order to get caught up.

Chapter Twenty-Six

 

Ally set her backpack down and slumped into the couch next to Kylie.

“How was crashing Tyson’s study session?” Kylie asked.

“Horrible,” Ally groaned as she covered her eyes.

“Oh, come on, it couldn’t have been that bad.”

“It was. To start off with, he hardly acknowledged my existence. When I finally got his attention, he took off his headphones just long enough for me to ask if it was okay if I sat at the table and for him to say sure. Then he put his headphones right back on. And that was it. No smiles, no more conversation, nothing.”

“Ok, that is pretty horrible.”

Ally nodded her head as she added, “I finished all my homework, studied for a test that isn’t until next week and even watched an episode of Gilmore Girls before I finally gave up.”

Kylie grimaced.

“And all I got when I packed up and left was a nod.”

“I’m sorry, Ally.”

“What happened?” Ally sighed. “We used to talk to each other about everything. Tyson has been home for almost a month. No dates, no hanging out, no real conversations. Nothing. Valentine’s Day is in couple of days and I thought that we would at least be dating by now.”

“I don’t know why, but I do know that he has been pretty stressed out. He had to catch up on a week and a half of class and he hasn’t had to study and prepare for tests for two years. Plus, he is trying to gain back the weight and muscle he lost on his mission. I think he is just overwhelmed. Give him time.”

“I know… I just wish he would let me help him. I have already taken a lot of the classes that he is taking this semester.”

“You know how he is. He just doesn’t want to ask for help. I could drop a couple hints for you if you would like,” Kylie offered.

“Thanks, but you know our agreement. We never want you to be stuck in the middle of any of our relationship problems. You just have to hear us complain about them instead,” Ally joked with a small smile.

“Ha ha, ya. I’m not sure which is worst… Speaking of Valentine’s Day, Ben asked me out to dinner!”

Ally put on a smile and let Kylie tell her about her day’s events. But the only thing she could think about was how she needed to take going on a date with Tyson into her own hands.

 

 

Tyson grumbled. Who in the world could be knocking on his door? All of his roommates were on dates and he was looking forward to studying at his apartment instead of having to trek to the library for quietness. He set his history book to the side and went to the door.

He opened it to find Ally holding a picnic basket and a blanket.

“Hi,” Ally said. “Can I come in?”

“Well I’m in the middle of studying for my tests tomorrow, so…”

“I figured you would be,” Ally interrupted. “But I promise, I’m here to help and I brought food.” Ally held up the picnic basket. Her smile triggered something in Tyson that made it so he couldn’t say no to her.

“I guess I could eat.”

“Good answer,” Ally said as she pushed her way past Tyson.

Tyson wasn’t quite sure what to do as Ally pushed the coffee table out of the way and laid out the blanket. Ally sat down on the blanket, looked at Tyson expectantly and patted her hand on the blanket.

“I really need to study, Al.”

“You need to take a break. I promise that we can spend the rest of the night studying for your tests. Plus, I have flashcards for everything that will be on your tests tomorrow,” Ally said as she pulled two stacks of flashcards out of the picnic basket.

“Where did you get those?” Tyson asked cautiously as he reached for them. He knew of a lot of cheating that went on around him and he didn’t want to find himself caught up in that mess and risk getting suspended from the football team.

Ally jerked them away. “I took these classes while you were gone. I knew you would eventually take the same classes, so I held on to them. Marketing and accounting have a lot of the same requirements. I made sure that Kylie registered you for the same teachers I had as well. But before we get to that, we eat.”

“Oh”, Tyson said as he sat down. He wanted to smack himself for thinking that Ally would cheat to get him some flashcards. He actually felt a little bit of relief when he thought of the flashcards. Tyson smiled as Ally pulled out a pair of Village Baker sandwiches and two cups of hot broccoli cheese soup.

“I hope you don’t hate me but I got tomatoes on yours so you could give them to me, just like old times,” Ally said.

They both dug into their thickly sliced sandwiches, after Tyson gave his tomatoes to Ally. Tyson was surprised at how easily their conversation flowed. He realized how much he had missed just talking to her. Had he really gotten so swept up in school and adjusting back to living a normal life that he put their relationship on the side burner?

Once they finished eating, Ally handed over the flashcards and the studying began. Tyson was grateful for the flashcards that Ally had kept over the last two years. He was able to get an understanding of the type of questions the professors would be asking on the tests. Sometimes that was all you needed to know how to study for a class.

Tyson was in the middle of mixing up the last few of the flashcards that he hadn’t mastered yet, when Ally exclaimed, “Oh no!” with a look of horror on her face. Worried that something was actually wrong, Tyson couldn’t help but laugh uncontrollably when she ran over to the picnic basket and pulled out a bottle of sparkling cider and two glasses.

“What’s so funny?” Ally asked.

“You looked like something horrible had happened…. And then you pulled out a drink,” Tyson said while trying to get his laughing under control.

“Well I just made you eat your whole meal without a drink. And it wouldn’t be a proper picnic without a drink. Well I guess now it wasn’t a proper picnic because we didn’t drink it while we were eating. But I guess it is okay to be studying on a picnic. It can still be a proper picnic, right? Plus, I made sure to open it yesterday so it wouldn’t be so fizzy. The last time we had some I remember you saying that it was too fizzy and I just didn’t want you to miss out on non-fizzy sparkling cider,” Ally rambled.

“Okay, okay. I’m sure that it is fine to study at a picnic,” Tyson said as he stood and grabbed the sparkling cider and glasses from Ally’s hands.

After he twisted off the cap, he poured a glass for Ally and one for himself.

“It also wouldn’t be a proper picnic without a toast,” Tyson said. “To Ally, for being so thoughtful and saving the flashcards for me.”

“You’re welcome,” Ally said as they both sat down on the couch. “And to Tyson, for letting me in the door.”

“Cheers,” they both said simultaneously.

As 11:00 neared, Ally pulled a Village Baker chocolate chip cookie out of the picnic basket and handed it to Tyson. “I think you’re ready. I have a feeling you are going to great.”

“Aren’t you going to stay and eat your cookie too?” Tyson asked, actually wishing that Ally would stay a little bit longer.

“Well, I kind of already ate mine on the way over here. I was a little nervous just showing up at your doorstep,” she said with a laugh as she gathered up the picnic items.

“We could share mine? I know how much you love a chocolate chip cookie,” Tyson teased.

“Thank you, but I want to be home to hear the details of Kylie’s Valentine’s date.”

Ally turned toward the door just Tyson realized that it was Valentine’s Day. That’s why all of his roommates were out on dates on a weeknight. It was Valentine’s Day and he had totally forgotten. Valentine’s Day and he should have been taking Ally somewhere nice. He had been home for almost a month and he hadn’t even spent time with her. Valentine’s Day and she chose to spend it with him instead of going out with someone else.

“Why aren’t you out on a date tonight like everyone else?” Tyson couldn’t help but ask as he hurried over to escort Ally out the door.

With her hand on the door knob, Ally turned around and said shyly, “There isn’t anyone else I wanted to be with.” Then she slipped out the door with a smile.

Tyson grabbed the flashcards as he sat back down on the couch and tried to review them but his thoughts kept drifting back to Ally. He knew that he needed to make things up to her. He had planned to date her when he got back but school had gotten in the way. For some reason, it bugged him that he had made Ally be the one who had to make the first move. Thinking back now, she had made multiple first moves and he had just overlooked them somehow. She must really think that he didn’t want to pick up where they left off before his mission. Tyson could only image how hard he had made it for Ally. He needed to do something to make it up to her. But first he had to focus on his tests.

 

 

The next day, Kylie opened a box of Little Caesar’s pizza while Ally stuck in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Their classes were over for the week and they couldn’t think of a better way to start the weekend. Sure, it was only 4:30 but anytime is pizza time.

“Any word from Tyson?” Kylie asked, taking a bite.

“No, but I’m not going to stress about it too much. The ball is in his court and it has only been a day. I’ll give him a little time before I start to worry.”

“Wow, you sound like a woman with experience.”

“Ha, says the woman who has been on the most dates in the last six months,” Ally replied as she took a bite of crazy bread. “Mmmm, these taste so good.”

Ally had been on a handful of dates since Justin left. But she hadn’t been interested in any of them, so she hadn’t let them lead to more than a second or third date. Once she decided that she wanted to wait for Tyson, she had limited her dating even more to an occasional group date here and there. Kylie on the other hand had been going on a lot of dates lately. It seemed like she knew that her husband would show up soon, she just had to figure out which guy it was. Knowing Tyson was coming home, made it easier initially to watch her best friend go out on way more dates than Ally. But lately, it had become more painful the longer it took for Tyson to come around.

Hopefully, after her impromptu picnic with Tyson, she wouldn’t have to wait too long before he figured things out. She didn’t know what she was going to do if Tyson didn’t want to date her. She also worried that her limited dating had caused her to develop a reputation in her ward for turning down guys or that she was a one date and done girl. There was always Justin, but she really wanted everything to work out with Tyson.

It didn’t take long for the two of them to eat the entire pepperoni pizza and side of breadsticks. Ally was grateful that she had changed into yoga pants and a loose t-shirt because she was going to burst. But she made herself comfortable and was determined to watch the movie without thinking about Tyson too much.

Kylie glanced at Ally when there was a knock on the door.

“I can’t move. I’m too full,” Ally groaned as if she were in pain.

“I don’t believe you,” Kylie replied as she paused the movie.

Ally gave her best puppy dog pout. Kylie gave in and answered the door.

“Hey, Ty,” Kylie said a little bit louder than normal. “Come on in. We were just watching a movie.”

From the couch Ally could see Tyson give Kylie a hug. He caught Ally’s eye and smiled at her and Ally smiled back, while also freaking out a little bit because she was pretty sure she looked like a slob. She hoped her hair at least looked okay as she pulled the blanket that was on top of her closer to her chin.

“I haven’t seen you in a week. To what do I owe the honor of seeing my brother’s nose out of a textbook?”

Tyson pulled a bouquet of roses from behind his back. “I brought these for the girl that brought my nose out of a textbook. So, I guess you owe it to the roses or to Ally.”

Ally didn’t care what she looked like anymore. She jumped up off of the couch and walked over to take the flowers from Tyson.

“Thank you, Tyson. You didn’t have to do this,” Ally said as she smelled the roses.

“Hey I thought you said you were too full to move,” Kylie teased.

“Well I’m not too full anymore,” Ally said as she smiled at Tyson. “Thanks again, Ty. Let me put these in some water.”

“Do you want to stay and watch the rest of the movie with us?” Kylie asked as Ally moved to the kitchen to find a vase.

“Well I’m a day late, but I was actually hoping that Ally would let me take her to Cafe Rio to make up for not taking her on a date on Valentine’s day? I haven’t eaten there since I got back. But it looks like you already ate.”

“We can still go to Cafe Rio. I can just have a couple bites of your food,” Ally said putting the vase of flowers on the end table next to the couch.

“No way! I am getting you your own salad. I know what happens when you say you will only take a couple bites. You end up eating half of my food,” Tyson teased.

Ally jokingly smacked him on the arm. “Hey, that was one time.” This was the Tyson she loved so much. She just wanted to wrap her arms around him and hold him close.

“Still, I’m not risking it.”

“You don’t mind if I leave, do you?” Ally said, turning to Kylie.

“No, I don’t mind,” Kylie replied, actually happy to be watching this unfold before her eyes.

“Great! Let me go change really quick,” Ally said enthusiastically.

Tyson grabbed her hand and stopped her from leaving, “You don’t need to change.”

“Are you sure?”

“Ya, I’m sure,” Tyson said, still holding her hand as they walked to the door. “By the way, are you wearing one of my shirts?” Tyson raised his eyebrow.

“Umm, maybe,” Ally said embarrassed as she pulled her coat on.

Kylie chipped in, “She raided your closet after you left.”

“I thought I was missing a couple things,” Tyson grinned.

“Well you always get all the nice Utah Under Armor stuff,” Ally explained as Tyson followed Ally outside and shut the door.

Chapter Twenty-Seven

 

Tyson smiled as he reflected on the things that had happened over the last week. Ally had helped him ace his tests. He wasn’t as stressed out about his classes. He was doing better at balancing his time in the weight room, studying, and also spending time with Ally. There was something about her that just made everything in his life fall into place. It wasn’t the first time she had had that effect either. In high school and on the mission, she was the one that calmed the storms in his life and helped him though.

He glanced down at Ally who was snuggled up on the couch next to him. There were a lot of movies that he had missed while he was gone and Ally had made sure to make a list of the ones that he just had to see. He wasn’t really paying attention to the movie. He was just enjoying how relaxed he felt and how grateful he was for the girl next to him.

Tyson and Ally had quickly eased back into their relationship after that Valentine’s Night picnic. They had actually grown closer while Tyson was on his mission. He was continually grateful that Ally hadn’t given up on him over the last month. He would have missed out on having her as his best friend again and being able to share everything with her. Tyson sighed as he thought about the fact that he still hadn’t kissed her. He wanted to, but the thought made him nervous. It wasn’t like he hadn’t kissed her before. He wasn’t nervous at all when he kissed her in her tree house years ago.

But there was something about the fact that he knew this kiss would mean more than it had back in high school. Tyson did care about Ally back then, but now they were both in the stage of life where this kiss could possibly mean marriage. The thought seemed daunting after he looked at everything else he had on his plate.

How could he, recently home from his mission, with no steady income while he played football, support a wife and potentially a family? Even though Ally had a scholarship that paid for her tuition and most of Tyson’s expenses were paid for, he still worried. Tyson took a deep breath. He reminded himself that he didn’t need to rush into this. He hadn’t been around Ally for two years, and he still wanted to make sure that neither of them had changed too much. So far things seemed to be going well, but Tyson decided that he wasn’t going to force the kiss. He would wait until they had dated a little longer and then he would kiss Ally when the moment felt right. He didn’t need to rush anything. Right now, he could just focus on the present.

 

 

Ally and Kylie sat at their desks on opposite sides of the room they shared.

“Hey Ky? Do you have any pictures of Tyson and me together? Just the two of us?”

Kylie turned around. “I’m pretty sure that you have all of the pictures that I might have. Why?”

“I’m just trying to round them up,” Ally said not realizing that Kylie had gotten up and walked over to Ally’s desk.

“Why are you looking at wedding decorations?” Kylie asked, startling Ally.

Ally tried to think of a good reason as to why she would be looking at wedding decorations, but couldn’t think of anything other than the truth. “I’m just looking at ideas,” Ally shrugged.

“And you need to start gathering the pictures now?” Kylie asked.

“Well, if I’m going to get married before fall practices start in August, I need to start getting things in order. I only have four months to plan a wedding and they say you are supposed to pick out your wedding dress at least six months in advance. I’m already behind schedule. I figure if I have everything planned out beforehand, then maybe it won’t be as crazy trying to plan it later,” Ally explained.

“Al, are you sure about all of this? I mean last I checked you guys hadn’t even kissed yet. I know you are ready. But are you sure Tyson is ready?”

“Do you know something I don’t…?” Ally questioned, trying to hide the concern and disappointment in her tone and face.

“No, no,” Kylie rushed to explain. “I’m sure that he wants to marry you. I don’t know why he wouldn’t. And I will be so happy for you guys when you do. But maybe he isn’t ready to get married before football season starts. That is really, really quick.”

“It has to be before,” Ally said confidently. “If not, we will have to wait to get married until the beginning of next year. That seems like forever away.”

“I see. You’re just dying to get rid of me,” Kylie pouted.

“No, I’m not,” Ally said squeezing Kylie’s hand. “We will be family and you will be around for forever. Also, there is a bridal show next week. Will you go with me? Just to get ideas?”

Kylie laughed. “Will there be taste testing?”

“I think so.”

“Okay. I’ll go with you,”

Kylie wished that Ally would just be patient. Why couldn’t she remember just a few weeks ago, Tyson was struggling with balancing school and dating? Kylie didn’t think he was ready to take on marriage and football in a just a couple of months. She also knew that there wasn’t any chance of convincing Ally to take it slow. She was very organized and liked to have everything planned out. If worse came to worst and they did end up waiting to get married, at least everything would be planned. This wasn’t a battle that she wanted to take on.

Chapter Twenty-Eight

 

Kylie had to admit that there were a lot of things to think about when it came to planning a wedding. More than she thought. She could just see the wheels turning in Ally’s mind as they walked up and down the aisles full of ideas and possibilities.

As the afternoon progressed, Kylie wanted to smack each vendor who said that the random wedding date Ally had picked, July 30th, was coming fast. If only they knew that Ally wasn’t even close to being engaged yet. It was only making Ally more stressed, which without a doubt would be shared with Kylie later on.

They had a good time and Kylie was surprised that she actually enjoyed it. She felt like she was already apart of Ally’s future wedding as she sat on the floor with Ally sorting through all of the business cards, pamphlets, and pricing sheets they had gathered during the bridal show. Kylie was starting to think that maybe Ally needed to be going into event planning with her organizational skills. She already had a binder put together to separate each item needed for the wedding, such as: cake, bouquet, bridesmaid dresses, venue, etc. Together, they looked up the vendor’s website to get a feel as to if Ally liked the style or not, then discarded it or placed in its designated pile.

“What in the world are you two doing with all of these papers all over the floor?” Tyson said as he bent down to pick up a handful of flyers on the ground.

“Don’t you know how to knock?” Kylie said as Ally quickly found herself on the ground scooping the piles into her hands, not caring if they became messed up.

“I did. And no one answered, so I Iet myself in. We need to leave soon if we are going to go to the ward activity. I even rounded up some inner tubes,” Tyson replied as he glanced through the papers in his hands.

“Oh ya,” Kylie responded. “We lost track of time. We just need to grab our stuff, then we can go.”

“Kylie, you didn’t tell me things were so serious with Ben. Wedding cakes, flowers, invitations. Where did you get all of these anyways?” Tyson teased.

“We got them at a bridal show and they aren’t for me, Ty. You know how my date with Ben went….” Kylie shot back at Tyson with the glare that can only come from a sister.

“Well then who are they for?”

“No one,” Ally said as she picked up the pile next to Tyson’s feet, then stood up with the piles in her arms. She grabbed the flyers in Tyson’s hand without looking at him. “I’ll take those.”

Ally quickly grabbed the binder off the end table and walked briskly down the hall to her room. Kylie followed. Tyson realized that only one person in this apartment would be organized enough to have a binder and between Kylie and Ally, Kylie was the furthest from getting married. Tyson chuckled when he realized that Ally had been planning their wedding. Part of him thought it was cute and he was definitely going to give her a hard time about it. The other part of him felt the heaviness in the pit of his stomach just thinking about getting married right now.

Ally said little as they made their way up to the Tracy Lodge sledding hill. Tyson and Kylie carried on most of the conversation, even though Ally sat between them in Tyson’s truck. They finally turned on some country music and Tyson worried about what might be wrong with Ally. Was she really that embarrassed about being caught looking at wedding ideas? Or was it something else?

Once they arrived at the cabin, Ally seemed to return to her normal self while they trekked up the hill and rode down on the inner tubes that Tyson had brought. After a few rides and a hot chocolate pit stop, Tyson dragged Ally away from their group of friends and she agreed to go on another ride down the hill.

When they reached the spot that Tyson had picked out earlier on the side of the sledding run, he pulled the tube over by a tree so they wouldn’t slide all over while they talked. He picked that spot because it would provide them a little bit of privacy, but they could still watch the riders fly past them.

“Do you mind if we stop here and take a little break?” Tyson asked.

“Sure,” Ally said slightly out of breath. “This hill is quite the workout.”

“You think it was a workout? Think about me, I’m the one pulling the giant tube.” Tyson plopped himself into the middle of the tube.

“Aww, you poor thing,” Ally said joining him. “I can pull it the rest of the way.”

Tyson chuckled, “It’s okay. It will just help me prepare for spring practice.”

“Don’t they make you push tires around and such?”

“I don’t know what Coach will have us do. I haven’t been around for a spring practice, but we definitely ‘push’ tires around during Fall Camp.”

As their conversation about the expectations of spring ball dwindled, Ally had relaxed into Tyson’s arms. They watched a couple of sleds go down the hill and even saw some fall off and continue their slide down the hill without their sleds. Tyson was almost positive that Ally had been quiet that evening because he had caught her looking at wedding ideas. He dreaded having to talk about it, but they needed to discuss the elephant of the night.

Tyson whispered in Ally’s ear, “Did you find what you were looking for at the bridal show this morning?”

He could feel the immediate tension in Ally’s body. “What?”

“I know that the piles of wedding cakes and flowers on the floor were yours. There is no way that they would be Kylie’s.”

“Oh,” Ally responded quietly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for you to find out.”

“Why are you sorry? I’m not mad.”

“You’re not?” Ally said with a touch of surprise.

“No. Unless you are engaged, then I might have a problem with the fact that you went on a date with me last night,” Tyson said teasingly.

Ally laughed a little. “Nope, not engaged. I just…”

“What?” Tyson prodded, wanting to hear her be the first admit that she wanted to marry him. They had talked about the future and at times it was assumed that they would have a future together, but neither of them had actually said they wanted to marry the other. He leaned a little bit closer and rubbed his nose against Ally’s. It was something that they had come to call the ‘Eskimo kiss’ before his mission and usually preceded a real kiss. He really did want to kiss her and the moment seemed right. “You know you can tell me anything.”

“Well…” Ally hesitated as Tyson waited for Ally to say she wanted to marry him. “I guess I just want to get things in order if we are going to get married before football season starts.”

Tyson pulled back realizing that Ally was planning to get married as soon as possible. Ally continued to ramble on about how she was worried about the timeline of getting engaged. She didn’t know how they were going to pull off planning a wedding in four months. About how she was already behind in scheduling a venue and finding a dress and all the things that needed to get done. All Tyson could think about was the fact that four months was way too soon.

 

 

“Ty?” Ally asked after Tyson didn’t say anything for a while. “Please tell me what’s going through your mind.”

Tears started to build in Ally’s eyes as she realized that maybe Tyson didn’t plan on marrying her. It would all make sense, why they hadn’t kissed yet, why he was so slow to even resume their relationship. Maybe he was realizing that they had changed while he was on his mission and it was just a matter of time until they broke up. “I guess we aren’t on the same page, huh?”

Tyson shook his head and Ally looked away, trying to hide the tears that were inevitable. “I’m sorry. I just thought…” Ally couldn’t will herself to say that she thought that they would get married. She could feel the tears on the verge of a waterfall. “I’ll find another ride home,” she said as she slid off the tube and started down the hill.

She didn’t get far before Tyson caught up to her. “Ally? What are you talking about? Why do you need to find a ride home?”

“Because,” Ally said with her back to him. She didn’t want him to know she was crying, so she continued walking.

“Al, wait. Why you are leaving?” Tyson said stepping in front of Ally. She quickly put her hands up to cover her face. She had to admit that she was grateful for the additional coverage her gloves provided.

“Ally please, talk to me.”

Ally shook her head. Any words would come out choked up from the stream of tears she was failing to hold in. Tyson tried to pull one of Ally’s hands away from her face and when he didn’t succeed, he pulled Ally into his arms and held her.

At first, she tried to push away, but when Tyson didn’t let go, she couldn’t hold it in any longer.

 

 

Deep concern filled Tyson as he felt Ally shake in his arms, her breathing unsteady. He pulled her closer and he realized that she was crying uncontrollably. He wracked his brain trying to figure out what he had said to upset her. He held her until she was breathing normally with a couple sniffles in between. He took off his glove and released his hold on her enough to wipe away some tears from her face.

“Please, tell me what’s wrong.”

Ally looked at the ground and replied quietly with pauses in between words as she fought to keep the tears at bay, “I…I thought…maybe….we were going to…get married someday.”

“Who said we weren’t going to get married?”

“You did. You said we weren’t on the same page.”

It all clicked in Tyson’s head. “Ally,” he said as he lifted her chin to look into her eyes. “I am dating you with the full intention of marrying you someday. I was just caught off guard by getting married so soon. 4 months is really fast, Al. I just don’t think I can handle everything at one time. I’m barely fitting in school and training and having a social life. Then throw in football practice, away games and marriage?” Tyson sighed. “That wouldn’t be fair to either of us.”

“So, we aren’t breaking up?” Ally asked cautiously.

Tyson chuckled. “No. We aren’t breaking up and I’m sorry that you thought that I didn’t want to marry you someday. I just need you to be patient with me, okay?”

“Okay,” Ally nodded her head slightly in agreement.

“I’m still in that awkward RM stage where I’m still trying to figure everything out. But I do know one thing,” Tyson said as he leaned in closer to Ally.

“What’s that?”

“I still love you,” he whispered.

“I love you, too,” Ally whispered back as Tyson closed the distance between the two of them and kissed her.

Chapter Twenty-Nine

 

It was a warm, sunny Saturday in April. Well, after a cold winter, 60 degrees felt warm. The Brooks and Parkers gathered in a cluster of seats on the west side of Rice Eccles Stadium. Kylie looked around soaking in the surroundings. She loved being in this stadium. She could feel the excitement of football in the air, even though the season was still months away.

Kylie smiled as she turned to see Ally applying sunscreen. That girl could get a sunburn just thinking about the sun. She was glad that Ally had cut back on her wedding preparations. It didn’t mean Ally stopped pinning things on Pinterest, but now she knew that she had plenty of time to plan the wedding of her dreams.

As the team ran out onto the field, Kylie could tell the minute that Ally spotted Tyson. A smile spread on her face and carried to her eyes. At times, Kylie found herself feeling a little jealous of the bond that Tyson and Ally shared, especially when Tyson came over and she knew it was more to see Ally that it was to see his family. But she couldn’t help but be happy for them.

Plus, Kylie had been on a couple of dates with one of Tyson’s former mission companions and new roommate, David Hyer. She really liked him and things seemed to be going well.

The group around her cheered when Tyson ran out on the field as the red team headed out to play defense. He wasn’t a guaranteed starter. Since he didn’t play in any actual games before his mission as a redshirt freshman, this scrimmage was a shot for him to show off his skills. It didn’t take very long for his presence to be made known. He picked off the first pass of the scrimmage.

Kylie’s smile grew as she heard the group of people behind her trying to figure out who number 32 was. Throughout the scrimmage, he made good tackles and got to the quarterback a couple of times. She made a mental note to let Tyson know that the group behind her were his new biggest fans, since they had mentioned multiple times that “that kid looks good”.

After the game, their families hung around until Tyson changed, as well as a couple other groups of families and fans waiting for the players to finished up. When Kylie spotted Tyson, she was surprised to see two girls walking on either side of him. Even though it was warm, she didn’t think it was that warm for what they were wearing, well, really more of what they weren’t wearing. She glanced over at Ally hoping she wasn’t going to freak out over this. Then she remembered what it had been like in high school when Tyson was the star. Apparently, he was on his way to being the star again and that made him the guy that every girl wanted to date.

When Tyson stopped at their group, with girls in tow, she saw a look pass over Ally’s face. She wasn’t sure if it was confusion, jealousy, or surprise or who knows what else. Their families congratulated Tyson, cautiously eying the girls.

“These are some fans that I met and when I mentioned that I was meeting up with my family, they wanted to meet you guys too.” Tyson went on to introduce each member in the horseshoe-shaped group that had formed, with Ally on the end and last to be introduced. Tyson stepped up next to Ally and put his arm around her shoulders and said, “And last of all this is my girlfriend, Ally.” Ally smiled and slid her arm around Tyson, as he kissed her hair.

Kylie had to admit that Tyson had handled that very well, based on the looks of surprise on the girls’ faces. They weren’t expecting Tyson’s group of family to include his girlfriend. Ally must have eased easily back into the role of popular Tyson’s girlfriend because she knocked the girls down by adding her own greeting.

“It’s so nice to meet you,” Ally said as Tyson squeezed her close. “I love meeting Tyson’s fans. It’s nice to know that other people are out there cheering him on too.”

The girls quickly said their thanks and goodbyes and once they were far enough away, Kylie burst out laughing.

“They definitely weren’t expecting that!” Kylie exclaimed.

“Thanks, Al,” Tyson said. “I couldn’t shake them. It reminds me of the days when we first started dating and a certain girl still couldn’t grasp the idea that I was dating you.”

“Looks like you are Mr. Popular again,” Ally said.

“You handled it so well. It’s one of the reasons I love you. I hope that this doesn’t become an everyday occurrence.”

“Sounds like you need an engagement ring more than I do,” Ally said with playful smile and the rest of the group agreed.

 

 

Over the next few weeks, the social events and football hype began to pick up. Ally had told Kylie of a few stories where Ally had to “rescue” Tyson from girls, as she called it. However, it seemed that most people had gotten word that Tyson and Ally were seriously dating and the girls seemed to back off.

It seemed like Ally and Tyson were spending more and more time at Kylie and Ally’s apartment than anywhere else these days. Kylie was getting ready to head out to the gym when she got a phone call from Tyson asking her to come by his apartment.

“What is so important that you need me to come over there? I mean I never go over there. You are always over at my place.”

“I needed to talk to you without Ally around,” Tyson replied.

“Okay?” Kylie asked. “Does this mean you need help planning how you are going to propose?”

She could hear the smile in Tyson’s voice as he tried to explain, “Not exactly. Well, not yet. I need you to help me pick out an engagement ring first.”

“Hmmm, well I know that she likes square. Not round and not gold.”

“Ya, I have gotten that from Ally as well, but I was thinking that you could maybe talk her into going to look at rings just for fun. Then if she finds one she likes, I could go back later and buy it.”

“She definitely eyes those stores every time we go to the mall. But getting her in there without her being suspicious is going to be tricky.”

“I hear you and David might be getting pretty serious, so maybe you could use that as your excuse?” Tyson added.

“Did David say something?” Kylie asked trying to hold in her excitement at the possibility of marrying David.

“My lips are sealed.”

“Fine, I’ll see what I can do. But you owe me one.”

“Thank, sis,” Tyson said. They talked about what price range Tyson was thinking and decided that Tyson would come up with a reason as to why he was busy that night so that Ally would be free to go to the mall with Kylie.

When Kylie got home that afternoon, she found Ally watching Say Yes to the Dress.

“Do you have any plans for tonight?” Kylie asked.

“No, Tyson is going up to Logan tonight to do a temple session with some of his old mission companions that are going to Utah State. Then they were going to watch a movie or something after, so he was going to stay the night.”

“That will be good for him to catch up with them. And probably smart to not drive home late tonight,” Kylie said trying to hold in a smile as she thought about the elaborate white lie Tyson had to come up with to make sure that Ally didn’t find a way to tag along. In all reality, he was staying at his apartment all night.

“Ya. It will. They can speak Espanol with each other. Is David going with Tyson?”

“No, he had to work. He’s pretty bummed,” Kylie lied as she made a mental note to tell David about the situation. He would need to know that he missed out on a trip to Logan that wasn’t actually happening.

“Speaking of David, how are things going with Tyson’s mission companion? Is he your soon to be eternal companion?” Ally asked.

Kylie and Ally spent the next couple minutes talking about Kylie’s dates with David. Tyson had set the two of them up. The four of them had gone on a few double dates and Ally thought that they made a cute couple. Kylie gushed about how she really liked him and she thought that David liked her back. She claimed that he had almost kissed her last night.

“Maybe we will get married around the same time!” Kylie exclaimed. “That would be pretty cool, don’t you think?”

“Ya, that would be cool,” Ally said doubting that that was going to happen anytime soon. At least based on the rate that Tyson was taking to adjust to everything.

“Since the boys are busy, what do you think about going to the mall and doing some shopping?” Kylie asked.

Ally quickly agreed and in a matter of minutes they were on their way to the mall. After browsing a couple of stores, they reached the first jewelry store. Kylie could tell that Ally was walking closer to the store front so that she could see the diamond rings in the little display windows.

“Do you want to go in a look around?” Kylie asked.

“No, it’s okay,” Ally responded.

“Well I do. Come on,” Kylie said as she walked into the jewelry store.

At first, Ally was hesitant but Kylie’s enthusiasm wore off on her. The two of them tried on rings and critiqued what they liked and didn’t like about each one. Kylie tried her hardest to keep Ally within Tyson’s budget by suggesting that the diamonds were too big. Or in some cases that she thought a different ring would look better.

When they left the store, Ally didn’t seem too impressed with any of the rings she had tried on. There was another jewelry store across the aisle and even though Kylie felt like she might be pressing her luck on keeping the real reason why they were looking at rings a secret, she didn’t want to let Tyson down by not figuring out which ring Ally wanted.

Before Kylie could figure out what to say, Ally was already peering into the little display window.

“Wow, this ring is gorgeous,” Ally said in awe.

Kylie found herself looking at a white gold ring with a vintage set of diamonds. Even she had to admit that it was beautiful.

“It looks exactly like the ring you have always wanted, huh?” Kylie asked.

“It definitely is everything I want in a ring.”

“You know you want to try it on,” Kylie said as she led the way into the store.

When they were greeted, Ally asked if she could try on the ring in the window. While Ally admired the ring on her finger, Kylie eyed the price tag and the sales representative showed Ally matching wedding bands. Ally let Kylie take a picture of the engagement ring and wedding band on her finger, just for future reference. Kylie smiled when she finally saw the price. It was on the high end of Tyson’s range, but still within the bounds.

Chapter Thirty

 

Two weeks had passed since Kylie had sent the ring information to Tyson. He had thanked her, but she hadn’t heard anything since. She didn’t know if Tyson had gotten the ring yet or if he even planned on proposing anytime soon.

But one thing she did know that Ally was starting to lose her patience. She had started back up on the wedding preparations and kept asking Kylie if she knew when Tyson was going to propose. In all reality, it was probably a good thing that Tyson was keeping Kylie out of the loop. That way Kylie didn’t have to come up with any white lies or pretend that she didn’t know what was going on, because she didn’t.

A few puzzle pieces fell into place that Saturday as to why Ally was set on getting married as soon as possible while Kylie sat at the kitchen table eating lunch. Ally sat across from her on her laptop, most likely looking at wedding ideas on Pinterest, when their roommate, Stephanie walked in the door.

“Ally another package came for you today,” Steph hollered as she shut the door behind her.

“Thanks. You can just set it on the counter,” Ally responded without looking up from the screen.

When Ally didn’t get up to look at the package, Kylie’s curiosity got the better of her as she took her dishes to the sink. That’s when she saw Elder Hawthorne on the return label. Kylie felt anger quickly rise within her. She couldn’t believe that Ally was still writing him. Especially with her and Tyson planning to get married. She didn’t want to fight with Ally, but how dare she do this to her brother.

“Isn’t Justin supposed to be coming home soon?” Kylie asked hoping she could go about this in a roundabout way and stay calm.

Ally didn’t flinch as she responded, “Ya, I think he is supposed to be coming home next month. Why?”

Ally looked up just in time to see Kylie pick up the box. “Because you got a package from him.”

“Oh. Ya, he usually sends one every couple of weeks.”

How was Ally being so calm about this? Kylie couldn’t handle it any longer. “Seriously, Ally. You are still writing him? I can’t believe that you would do this to Tyson.”

“No, I’m not still writing him Kylie,” Ally said as her voice gained an edge. “He still sends emails and packages even though I don’t write back. I just delete the emails and I have a stack of unopened boxes in my closet. Go see for yourself. I haven’t written him since Tyson got home.”

“Have you told Justin about Tyson?”

Ally looked back down at her laptop. “I just hoped that he would get the hint. But apparently not.”

“Well you better tell him before he gets home. At least try to tell him.”

“What am I supposed to tell him Kylie? I’m dating someone, so don’t look me up when you get home? You know that won’t be enough to stop him from trying. I kept hoping that I would get engaged before he got back because then maybe he would stop trying…” Ally said as she ran her hand through her hair.

Even though she was frustrated with the fact that Ally hadn’t Dear Johned Justin, Kylie calmed down as she realized why Ally was acting the way she was about getting married.

“That’s why you wanted to get engaged right when Tyson got home and get married before football season. And why you have started bugging Tyson about an engagement ring, huh?”

Ally shook her head. “Kylie, I love Tyson. I want to marry him and live happily ever after. But I worry that Justin has the potential to mess things up. I’ve seen his temper, especially when it comes to Tyson. I’m a little bit scared of how he’s going to react when he finds out about Tyson.”

“Have you told Tyson about Justin?”

“Not exactly.”

“I know that I told you that I would stay out your relationship, but you need to tell him, and preferably sooner than later,” Kylie said as she picked up the box. “If you tell Tyson, I will open all of the boxes from Justin for you.”

“Okay, just make sure you keep anything that seems like something Justin might want back or is of high value,” Ally said as Tyson knocked on the door and let himself in.

“Hey! How are my two favorite ladies doing today?” Tyson asked cheerfully.

“Fine,” Ally and Kylie replied at the same time.

“Are you sure? Because I feel like I just walked in on something. Do you want me to go back outside?”

Ally said, “No.” At the same time Kylie said curtly, “We’re fine.”

“Okay,” Tyson said cautiously as he put his arm around Ally. “You ready to go darlin’?”

“Ya. Let me go grab some shoes and I will be right back.”

Once Ally was out of the room, Kylie whispered, “When are you going to propose?”

Tyson looked behind him, double checking that Ally wasn’t in the room, “Soon.”

“Sooner the better, Ty,” Kylie said as Ally walked back in the room and said she was ready to go.

“Sooner the better,” Kylie hollered as Tyson and Ally walked out the door, neither of them acknowledging her plea.

 

 

As Tyson and Ally drove up the canyon, she couldn’t help but be happy. She loved being with Tyson and how he made her feel beautiful even when she didn’t feel beautiful. Even though they had known each other for a long time, they never seemed to get tired of each other and she dreaded having to say goodnight each time he dropped her off at her apartment. She loved each moment that she got to spend with him.

Tyson pulled off the road into a little clearing and helped Ally out of his truck. He told Ally to close her eyes and she could hear him moving things around in the truck bed. Eventually, he walked back over to where Ally was and led her to where he had laid out a picnic.

“One of my favorite memories is when you brought a picnic to my apartment. That night I realized that you hadn’t given up on me and I am so grateful that you didn’t. You helped me see that I could balance everything in my life. That is one of the reasons I love you. You are my rock.”

For a brief moment, Ally couldn’t help but think that Tyson was going to propose. But instead he helped her into the back of the truck and once they were settled Tyson pulled out Village Baker sandwiches and a bottle of sparkling cider.

“Don’t worry, I opened the sparkling cider a couple of days ago,” Tyson said with a wink.

“Good. That’s the way I like it,” Ally said as she laughed away her hopes that Tyson was going to propose.

Once they had finished eating, Tyson pulled a book out of the picnic basket. “Remember that book of emails I made for my mom for Mother’s Day?”

Ally nodded her head.

“Well I made one for you too, except it has just the emails between you and me.”

“Really?” Ally asked as she scooted over next to Tyson and grabbed the book from his hands. “This is such a wonderful gift. Thank you!”

They settled against a pillow Tyson had brought along and they both skimmed through the emails.

“This is my favorite email,” Tyson pointed out. Ally noticed that it was the email she had sent in the middle of the night when she couldn’t shake the feeling that she needed to write Tyson. “I hadn’t gotten an email from you in months. Then this email came at the time when I needed it the most. I was so discouraged and well, you know the rest.”

Ally couldn’t help but feel her stomach turn at the real reason why she hadn’t written during those months. Justin. She didn’t want to tell Tyson about him, but she knew that she needed to.

“Ty?” Ally asked. “I need to tell you why I didn’t write you during those months.”

She started to explain when Tyson interrupted her. “It’s okay, Ally. You don’t have to explain.”

“Yes, I do.”

“No, it’s okay. I already know.”

“You know?” Ally said with obvious relief in her voice as she looked up at Tyson.

He shook his head. “Some of the guys on the football team told me.”

“They did?” Ally asked.

Tyson nodded his head.

“And you aren’t mad?”

“No, I’m not mad. That is, unless you still have feelings for him.”

“You have my whole heart, Ty.”

“Then I don’t have any reason to be mad.”

“You’re sure?” Ally asked still a little suspicious.

“Yes,” Tyson laughed. “I promise.” As Tyson kissed her, she felt relieved to know that he already knew and he still loved her.

That night when Ally got home, the first thing Kylie asked when she walked in the door was if Ally had told Tyson about Justin.

“Ya, he said that he already knew. Can you believe that? Here I was worried about how Tyson would react and he knew all along.”

“Wow,” Kylie said surprised that Tyson wasn’t even a little upset over it. “I didn’t realize that he knew either. But at least you know that he knows, right?”

Ally sighed. “Yes, it feels great.”

Chapter Thirty-One

 

Over the next month, Tyson took Ally around on dates reminiscing about his favorite memories of Ally and he always told her something that he loved about her. Each time, Ally got her hopes up but the proposal never came. Other times they went on double dates with Kylie and David who were getting pretty serious. However, she had a feeling that tonight’s date was going to be different than the others.

“Kylie, does my dress look okay? Does my hair look okay?” Ally took a deep breath. “Do these shoes look okay?”

“Yes, Ally you look fine. Tyson would like what you were wearing even if it was sweats.” Kylie turned around in her desk chair.

“Okay,” Ally said as she turned back toward the mirror and wiped her sweaty hands on her dress.

“Why are you so nervous?” Kylie asked. “It’s not like this is your first date with Tyson.”

Ally put a little more hairspray in her hair. “Well, I just think that maybe he might propose tonight.”

“And why do you think that he will propose tonight?”

“Because he told me to get all dressed up.”

“That seems like a dead giveaway…” Kylie said as she rolled her eyes. “Anyways, I’ve got to go. I’m meeting David at the movie theatre.”

“Maybe there is a proposal in store for you too?”

“At the movies? I doubt it. Plus, I really hope he proposes somewhere better than a movie theatre,” Kylie said as she grabbed her purse. “But I hope Tyson does propose tonight, Al. Good luck.”

Ally looked at herself in the mirror again. It was the best she had time for since Tyson was picking her up any minute. She paced into the kitchen and back to her room, as the butterflies fluttered in her stomach. She didn’t know why she was so nervous. This was what she had been waiting for and wanting more than anything for almost 2 years. She reached for her phone hoping a distraction would keep her mind occupied. Ally picked up the phone just as she received a text from Tyson.

“I’m running late, I was helping my dad move some things. Will you meet me downtown? Park in the City Creek parking and text me when you get there.”

“Okay.” Ally pushed send as she felt the disappointment creep in. Maybe he wasn’t going to propose after all. Plus, Kylie didn’t know anything about the proposal. Tyson would have told her, gotten her involved. He knew that Ally wanted their families to be there.

A couple of seconds later, Tyson sent her directions to the parking lot. She smiled. At least he knew that she was directionally challenged.

 

 

Tyson breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Kylie round the corner. She waved when she saw him. He mentally checked off everyone who was there. Ally’s family, his family, and David were all standing around him waiting for the signal to hide. He patted his suit pocket for the millionth time to make sure the ring was there.

“You ready?” Kylie asked when she reached him.

“Ya. I think so. Does she have any idea?”

“You mean does she hope you are going to propose tonight? Of course she does. She has been waiting for this day for months,” Kylie responded with a laugh as she straightened his tie.

Tyson felt his phone vibrate and his stomach turned in a knot.

“She’s here,” Tyson said, as he read Ally’s text. His entourage scattered to their hiding spots. He quickly sent the text he had drafted giving her step by step directions to the location where he was standing with the Salt Lake Temple in the background. All Tyson had left to do was remember to breath and ask the most important question of his life.

 

 

Ally opened Tyson’s text and the butterflies in her stomach made an encore. Maybe tonight was finally the night. She quickly locked her car and headed toward the nearest elevator. Once she got out of the elevator she read Tyson’s text again.

“When you exit the elevator, turn right and take approximately 15 steps until you reach a green bush. You might find something special there.”

Ally only took about 8 steps before seeing the bush and something red in it. She walked as quickly as she could, considering the fact that she was wearing high heels, and pulled the red rose out of the bush.

“Now continue straight until you come to a post with directions.”

The post was only a few yards away with a rose at the base. Ally bent down and picked up the rose. She continued following the directions until she found herself on Temple Square with more than half a dozen roses in her hand.

She was a bundle of nerves as she read the last sentence of the text. “Walk toward the temple until you reach the first opportunity you have to turn right. But turn left instead. I’ll be there waiting for you.”

Ally kept glancing to the right for the designated turn off. Once she reached it, she took a couple steps to the right just to make sure it was really a sidewalk that went to the right and not just an entrance to a building that was set back further than the rest. She read the text one more time then turned around and headed in the opposite direction.

She didn’t make it far before she heard someone calling her name. Ally stopped and looked around to see who it was. She had to blink twice to make sure she was seeing correctly. Justin Hawthorne was jogging toward her.

Ally found herself frozen in place. What was he doing here?

Before Ally could say anything, Justin swept Ally up in a hug and swung her around in a circle. “What are you doing here?” Ally asked flustered as Justin set her down.

“My family and I are going to Brio. I sent you an email to tell you that we were going there for dinner once I made it off the plane and got released.”

“You got home today?” Ally asked still trying to process what was happening.

“Ya, I sent you an email that you obviously didn’t get. Anyways, we can talk more about all that later. Come eat with us,” Justin pressured as she recognized his parents approaching.

“I can’t,” Ally stuttered. “I’m…” And with that Justin leaned in so quickly Ally couldn’t pull away. His quick motions had Ally feeling like she was going to fall as he dipped her and planted a kiss on her lips. She instinctively threw her arm around Justin’s neck to keep her balance. His strong grip on her made it so she couldn’t pull away even though she tried.

After what seemed like an eternity, he finally pulled her upright and let go. He tucked a piece of hair behind Ally’s ear as he walked past her. “I’ll text you.”

Ally felt like she was rooted in her spot. What had just happened? Why did Justin have to come home today? She glanced at the roses. He had just ruined her perfect day. But Tyson was expecting her. She untucked the hair behind her ear, straightened the flowers in her hand, then walked toward the spot where she was hoping to start the rest of her life with Tyson.

 

 

Tyson felt like he was going to throw up. He was grateful that there was a bench next to him, as he sat down to steady himself. He placed the single rose he was holding in his hand on the bench, and rested his elbows on his knees. He placed his hands behind his head to try to get the nausea to pass.

He couldn’t decipher between his emotions as the feelings of anger, confusion, sadness, jealousy, and hurt tore through his body. All he knew was that he had just seen the person he hated the most, make-out with his soon-to-be fiancée, and she had let him kiss her. She hadn’t done anything to stop it. He was rubbing the back of his neck when he heard her approach.

“Ty, are you okay?”

As he looked up at the person he thought he wanted to spend forever with, the feelings of betrayal and anger surfaced.

“I don’t know. How would you be feeling if you just saw the person you were going to propose to making out with some other guy?”

Ally took a deep breath and looked away for a moment before looking back at Tyson to see that his head was down again. “I wasn’t making out with him.”

Tyson’s head shot up with piercing eyes. “It sure looked like it to me.”

He kissed me, I promise. I couldn’t pull away… I’m sorry,” Ally said as she touched Tyson’s shoulder.

He bolted up and stepped away from Ally as if her touch had been fire. “And Justin of all people. You know how I feel about him!”

“You said you knew,” Ally said quietly as the tears threatened.

“How would I know that you were dating someone behind my back?”

“I’m not, Ty. He just got home to…”

“I thought you loved me! I thought you wanted to spend forever with me. I was going to ask you to marry me tonight,” Tyson said as he ran his hand through his hair.

Tears rolled down Ally’s cheeks. “I do love you, Ty. Please, just let me explain.”

“Actions speak louder than words. And to be honest Ally, I’ve seen enough.”

Tyson stormed off past Ally heading in the direction of the parking garage. Ally ran after him, slipping off her high heels in the process. They were only holding her back.

“Ty. Please. Wait. Ty,” Ally called after him, drawing the suspicious eyes of those around her.

Tyson turned around with such abruptness that Ally almost ran into him. “Ally, I….” Tyson paused searching for the right words. “I can’t. Please don’t follow me.” Tyson turned back around and left Ally watching him until he turned the corner.

 

 

Ally couldn’t go to her car, because it was the same direction Tyson went when he asked her not to follow. She found herself walking back to the spot where Tyson was going to propose to her. The tears fell silently as she noticed the rose that was still lying on the bench. She picked it up as she sat down and added it to her bouquet of flowers while she replayed the night over and over in her head.

Two people sat down on either side of her. Ally realized it was her parents as her mom wrapped her arms around her.

“Why did he have to be here?” Ally cried.

“I don’t know, sweetheart,” Mrs. Parker consoled. “I know that you were worried about this happening. I don’t think any of us expected for the two of you to bump into each other tonight, and especially here of all places.”

“You know I stopped writing him, right? I haven’t written him in months. I thought he could take a hint.”

“I know,” Ally’s mom said.

“Just give Tyson some time,” Ally’s dad said as he patted her knee. “He’ll come around.”

Ally didn’t know how long she sat there until her dad suggested that she sleep at their house tonight. He would drive Ally’s car and she could ride with her mom. Ally agreed and soon she was tucked into her childhood bed. She had a pounding headache from crying and even though she kept replaying the night over and over in her head, she fell asleep quickly.

She woke up the next morning with a tear stained pillow and her hair stuck to her face. Ally grabbed her phone to see what time it was, 10:30 a.m. She couldn’t believe she had slept so long. There were 8 missed phone calls and about twenty texts from Kylie asking Ally if she was all right.

I ended up staying the night at my parents. Sorry.”

Kylie quickly responded. “You had me worried when you didn’t come home. But I’m so sorry. Let me know if I can do anything at all.”

“Thanks, but I think I will just spend today at my parents.”

“Okay, I understand. I’ll see you later.”

Ally double checked to make sure that there wasn’t anything from Tyson. After a stop in the bathroom, Ally went out to the kitchen to find her mom making hash browns and the smell of cinnamon rolls filled the air. It wasn’t the typical breakfast, but she was touched that her mom made her two favorite breakfast foods even though they didn’t go together.

“Good morning, Ally. How are you feeling?” Mrs. Parker asked as she hugged her daughter.

“Wishing this was all a nightmare. But it seems that my tear ducts have dried up for now. So at least there’s that,” Ally responded.

 

 

Ally spent the rest of Saturday lounging around the house. She watched a couple of movies. Got pampered by her mom and tried to avoid looking at her phone. Randomly, tears would escape, but she couldn’t help it. She felt horrible.

She knew she couldn’t bear to see Tyson in church tomorrow, so she texted Kylie to let her know that she was going to stay another night at her parents. Tyson had asked for space, and even though she was worried that she might lose him completely, she was going to do her best to make sure he had time to sort things out.

Chapter Thirty-Two

 

Sunday morning, Tyson was awakened by Kylie turning on the lights and yanking the covers off his bed.

“I’ve been worried sick about you and so have Mom and Dad. You don’t answer our texts or our phone calls. Luckily, David here is your roommate so at least he told me you were breathing.”

“Sorry bro, she was determined,” David apologized from the doorway.

“Now get up and get ready for church,” Kylie demanded.

Tyson pulled the pillow over his head to block out the light. “I don’t want to,” he mumbled under the pillow.

“What?” Kylie asked.

“I don’t want to go.” Tyson surprised himself by how loudly it came out once his voice was no longer muffled by the pillow.

“Why not?” Kylie challenged. It wasn’t the first time they had had argued as siblings.

“I can’t.”

“I see no reason why you can’t. You still have two legs and you’re still alive. What seems to be the issue?”

“She’ll be there.” Tyson was regretting his decision to find an apartment in the same ward as Ally. He could be living in the nice on-campus housing with the some of the football team.

“No, actually, she won’t be there. She’s at her parents. You have 10 minutes,” Kylie said as she stormed out of the room and shut the door behind her.

Tyson sat up and rubbed his hand over his face. He walked to the bathroom and looked at himself in the mirror. He put some gel in his hair to calm the wild. Who cared if he showered? 5 minutes later he was in the car, wishing he was still in bed.

Once sacrament meeting was over, Kylie let him go home. He couldn’t stand another second at church. He was surrounded by single people who were searching for “the one”. Two of them had apparently found “the one” as they cuddled on the row in front of him. He never realized how much he had looked forward to graduating from the single’s ward until now. He thought he was getting out, but now he had to start over and that was the worst feeling ever.

When he got home he threw himself on his bed and loosened his tie. Why did he feel that Ally was “the one” when she obviously had other plans? How could he be so blinded by love? Why had he felt so strongly that he was supposed to marry her? The questions flooded his mind. He thought to pray, but it just seemed too hard as he felt a tear roll onto the pillow.

Instead of letting the tears come, he fought them off by quickly putting on his running clothes. He grabbed his headphones and decided a long run was just what he needed.

 

 

Ally had spent all Sunday debating if she should text Tyson, call him, or just show up at his apartment. How much time did he need? After deciding that texting was the best route, she couldn’t seem to format a text that said everything she wanted to say.

She missed him more than when he left on his mission and it had only been two days. There was a constant ache in her chest and tears that were ready to spill over at any moment. She loved him so much that the thought of not being with him hurt so badly. Ally didn’t know what she was going to do if he never forgave her.

Finally, she couldn’t wait any longer and sent Tyson a simple text Monday morning.

 

 

Tyson was walking into the football facility when he saw Ally’s text. “Can we talk? I miss you.”

The thought popped into his head that he missed her too. But he quickly dismissed it as the image of her kissing Justin and anger clouded his mind. She couldn’t possibly miss him. She had another boyfriend.

As he opened his locker, Ally sent him another text. “Please, just let me explain. It’s not what you think, I promise.” In Tyson’s mind, there was absolutely nothing to explain. He had seen it with his own two eyes. He turned off his phone and put it in his locker. He didn’t feel like talking to anyone right now, and he especially didn’t want to talk to her.

 

 

In the following days, Tyson studied harder, tackled better, and ran faster to become stronger. Fall camp had started and his hard work was paying off. There was a possibility he could be a starter this season and he was going to try his best to prove that he deserved to be there.

He loved the feeling of his muscles burning and constant distractions. It kept him from feeling his aching heart and that was exactly the way he preferred it. Especially since Ally reached out to him on a daily basis. He was able to ignore her phone calls, but even though he tried to ignore her texts, he still found himself reading and rereading them.

Part of him wanted to believe everything she was telling him. How she had dated Justin while Tyson was on his mission. That once Tyson came home, she had stopped writing Justin and had focused solely on Tyson. Most of all he wanted to believe that she hadn’t even known what day he was coming home and it was all just a fluke that Justin had been on Temple Square that night.

 

But there was always the other part of him that told him it couldn’t be true. There was no one in their right mind, who would kiss someone the way Ally and Justin had kissed without seeing or talking to each other in the last two years. For whatever reason, this part of him always seemed to win out. So, Tyson continued to ignore Ally and put his heart and soul into playing his best on the football field.

 

 

It had been almost two weeks since Tyson had attempted to propose, when he got home from a nice, long run to find David waiting for him. He was surprised to see David still awake past midnight on a weeknight. Sure, it probably wasn’t the greatest idea for Tyson to be running around that late at night. But sometimes he just couldn’t sleep and it was too hot outside to run during the day.

Tyson removed his headphones and turned off his music. “What are you still doing up?”

“Well I don’t ever see you anymore and I need to ask you a question.”

“What’s up?” Tyson asked as he sat down across the kitchen table from David.

“How would you feel about me marrying Kylie?”

“I wouldn’t have set you guys up if I was against you marrying my sister.”

“So, you would be okay with it?”

“Of course,” Tyson said with a slight smile.

David let out a breath. “Good. Because I am going to ask her on Friday.”

“Congrats, man. We are going to be brother-in-laws. Who would have thought? Do you already have the ring? Have you asked my dad?”

“Yes and yes, and I need your help setting up. What time do you get done with practice?”

“I should be done by 3.”

“Great! I will send you the directions to the park. But now, I have to get to sleep or I won’t be able to wake up for class tomorrow,” David said as headed off to his room.

Tyson hoped that David’s proposal would go better than his.

Chapter Thirty-Three

 

Why couldn’t this guy take a hint? And why couldn’t Ally just tell him to go away either? Ally settled on sending Justin another text explaining that she was busy again that night. This time it was the truth though. She glanced at the time and realized that she needed to go help David set up decorations for his proposal tonight. She fought off the wave of sadness she felt, wishing that Kylie and Ally could have been planning their weddings together. She knew tonight would be hard watching her best friend get engaged, but she was determined to put on a smile and celebrate.

When she pulled up at the park David had given her directions to, she was worried she was in the wrong place until David pulled up next to her. Ally grabbed the pictures David had asked her to print off and got out of the car.

“What is she doing here?” Ally froze as she recognized Tyson’s voice still full of anger.

David’s voice was a little strained, “I asked her to help. She is Kylie’s best friend. Who else did you expect would be here?” Maybe he was starting to realize this might not be the best idea.

Tyson picked up the table he had pulled out of David’s trunk and walked quickly toward the gazebo where David would propose. Apparently, that answer had been good enough. David smiled at Ally and thanked her for coming.

“Of course,” Ally responded sincerely. “I would do anything for you and Kylie.”

David described to Tyson and Ally the vision he had for the gazebo and they went to work. David and Tyson worked on getting the lights wrapped around the gazebo while Ally hung pictures of Kylie and David from the ceiling at varying lengths. Luckily, someone else had had a similar idea recently, leaving strings dangling from the ceiling to easily hook the pictures onto.

Ally had hung up a dozen or so pictures, when she realized that even though she was standing on her tippy toes on the step stool, she was not going to be able to reach. She risked a small jump, but when the step stool wobbled she decided it probably wasn’t the best idea.

“David, can you come hang this? I can’t quite reach,” Ally called out.

“I’m kind of in the middle of something,” David said as Ally looked over to see him trying to untangle the lights, but in all reality, he was just getting himself tangled in them. Ally smiled but it was instantly erased as David told Tyson to help Ally.

Tyson was closer to her, but she remembered that Tyson had ignored her for the last two weeks and the scowl that Tyson shot in David’s direction said everything she couldn’t bear to hear.

“No, it’s okay. I can do it.”

Tyson must have given in as he yelled something to David in Spanish and started to walk towards Ally. “Give it to me,” he grumbled.

“It’s fine, I can do it,” Ally insisted as she tried jumping again. She was so close.

“Seriously, just give it to me,” Tyson said with his hand held out.

“You can do it,” Ally thought to herself. “Just a little bit higher.” In the blink of an eye, she hooked on the picture and then found herself in Tyson’s arms as the step stool tipped over under her unbalanced weight.

They locked eyes for a second before Tyson quickly set her down and stepped away. Ally’s skin burned where Tyson touched her and she felt the weight in her chest as she realized that she had only seen anger in Tyson’s eyes. Did he not care about her at all anymore?

“Why do you have to be so stubborn?” Tyson mumbled as he walked back to where he was wrapping lights around a post.

“I’m stubborn?” Ally retaliated as an unfamiliar feeling of anger filled her. If he didn’t care about her anymore, then she wasn’t going to let him think she cared either. “You’re the one who is stubborn.”

“Me? Well I’m not the one who almost got hurt because they wouldn’t let anyone help them.”

“Well I didn’t get hurt and look,” Ally said as she pointed at the picture. “I got it up there.”

“Not even a thank you?”

Ally shrugged as David yelled, “Tyson, Ally, stop it. Tonight isn’t about either of you, so knock it off. Kylie will be here in an hour and we need to get this finished.”

Tyson and Ally both stormed off to complete their tasks.

Ally finished putting the final touches on the table where David and Kylie would be eating after the proposal. Tyson had gone to move the cars while David changed into a suit and tie. She smoothed out a bubble underneath the tablecloth as she saw David and Tyson approach along with both of their families. What did the Brooks think of her? Did they believe that Ally was telling the truth? She suddenly felt like she wanted to go hide. Instead, Ally busied herself by straightening things on the table that were already straight.

“Ally, dear. How are you doing?” Mrs. Brooks asked, embracing Ally as if nothing had happened between Ally and her son.

“I’ve been better,” Ally responded without looking Kylie’s mom in the eye. She was practically her second mother and just like her mom, she knew that she wouldn’t last long in her company without breaking into tears.

“Hang in there,” Mrs. Brooks said as she squeezed Ally’s hand, “It will all work out in the end. Maybe not the way any of us planned, but I know it will.”

 

 

Tyson clenched his hands while he watched his mom give Ally a hug as if nothing had happened. She was there too. She saw Ally kiss Justin. Why wasn’t she mad at her too?

Realizing he still had Ally’s car keys in his hand, since David had forced him to move her car too, he chucked the keys at Ally in order to break up the little pow-wow between her and his mom. “Catch,” he yelled.

Ally had quick reflexes but the force that Tyson threw the keys with sent pain up Ally’s arm. “Ow, you didn’t have to throw them so hard.”

The look his mom shot him made him cringe, but he just shrugged his shoulders and walked over to where David was standing. Eventually the little group formed into a circle as their parents talked about how great the lights and decorations had turned out.

“This is a little nerve wracking, isn’t it,” David said as he went to straighten his tie, but ended up making it more crooked than it was before.

Ally stepped forward to fix it. “Don’t worry. I have seen the glow in her eyes when she talks about you and I have heard it in her voice that she loves you. She will say yes and then you will wonder why you were ever nervous in the first place,” she said with a smile.

“That is until she shows up with her other boyfriend,” Tyson mumbled loud enough for Ally and David to hear.

Ally turned to face Tyson, “For the millionth time, Tyson, he’s not my boyfriend.” The newfound feeling of anger filled Ally again.

“I didn’t realize you make-out with complete strangers,” Tyson said as their voices were starting to escalate.

“I wasn’t making out with him. He kissed me!”

“And you let him. Willingly, I might add.”

“That’s enough you two,” Tyson’s dad yelled before Ally could come up with a rebuttal.

Just then David’s phone lit up. “She’s about 5 minutes away. Everyone should probably get to their hiding spots.”

Tyson and Ally were still standing in front of David when he said with a touch of disappointment in his voice, “Thanks for the pep talk, guys.”

 

 

David had sent Kylie on a chase around town with clues leading her to the different places they had gone on dates. David had sent his friend with her to video her expedition, so she knew what was coming when she reached the last clue. Her jaw dropped when she saw the pathway lined with lights. At the end was David standing at the bottom of the gazebo steps. As she neared the gazebo, she couldn’t believe that he had gone to all this effort to put the lights up and she smiled when she saw the pictures of her and David hanging from the ceiling.

David took her hands in his and she felt her heart start pounding as she smiled at David. This was it. The moment that every girl dreamed of.

“Kylie, from the moment I met you I knew that I wanted to spend forever with you. I can’t imagine my life without you.” David got down on one knee, holding out a ring. “Will you marry me?”

“Of course I will,” Kylie said as she shook her head yes. He placed the ring on her finger and they kissed. Cheers erupted as their families came out from behind the bushes. In that moment, everything seemed perfect.

 

 

Ally stayed back as the group rushed forward to congratulate the newly engaged couple. She took a couple of deep breaths to keep the tears that were threatening at bay. She couldn’t determine if they were sad tears because this is what should have been happening to her two weeks ago or if they were happy tears because her best friend was getting married. Either way she wasn’t going to let Tyson see her crying.

When Ally felt like she had her emotions under control, she put on a smile and headed towards Kylie. She hugged Kylie and David and congratulated them in the happiest voice she could muster.

“Okay, so let me see the ring,” Ally said in a chirpy voice as Kylie held out her hand. “It’s gorgeous, Kylie. I’m so happy for you.”

“Thank you. Thank you for being here. I know it is probably hard,” Kylie said nodding her head toward Tyson. “But thank you.”

Ally glanced over at Tyson to see him with his arms folded as he stared at the ground. A lump in her throat formed as she held back tears. She would give anything for it to be her and Tyson who were getting engaged tonight. But today he had spoken to her with such anger in his voice, that it hurt her. He wouldn’t listen to her and he kept his distance from her. Maybe he didn’t ever love her after all. If he had loved her, why wasn’t he fighting for her? Why wasn’t he trying to understand? If he truly loved her, how could he hate her so much?

“Are you okay?” Kylie asked, shaking Ally from her thoughts.

“Ya,” Ally said with a forceful smile. “I’ll let you enjoy your evening. Congratulations, again.” She quickly stepped to the back of the group. She wiped away a tear as she turned her head so that no one would see. She was grateful when the group dispersed to let Kylie and David eat dinner together.

When she got home, she checked to make sure none of her roommates were there. Then she crawled in bed and let out everything she had been holding in. She sobbed into her pillow as she thought about the past and her diminishing future with Tyson. When she opened her eyes to see the picture of them on her desk, she felt as though someone had knocked the air out of her. There wouldn’t be a future with Tyson. His actions tonight said everything. He didn’t want her in his future.

Ally realized that she needed to move on. She couldn’t spend the rest of her life begging Tyson to listen to her. She was suddenly determined to prove to Tyson and herself, that she could still be happy. Attitude was everything right?

She spent the next hour disposing of Tyson. Pictures, t-shirts, letters, and random objects were shoved up into the top corner of her closet where she would be able to forget about them and him.

Exhausted, Ally grabbed her phone to delete Tyson’s texts and phone number when she saw Justin’s last message asking her out. Justin hadn’t given up on her. Somewhere inside, it gave Ally hope that maybe there was someone out there besides Tyson. Maybe Justin had showed up because she wasn’t supposed to marry Tyson. As she pondered that thought, she decided that maybe she should give Justin a chance. Maybe he was the one she was supposed to marry.

Ally found it a little exhilarating as she sent the text to Justin. “I’m free tomorrow.”

Before she fell asleep, Justin had responded and the date was planned for the following evening. She wondered if the ache in her chest would ever go away, but there was only one way to find out.

Ally was dressed to impress the next evening when Kylie and David returned from their late lunch date.

“Wow, Ally, why are you so dressed up?” Kylie asked, knowing that Ally hadn’t exactly changed out of her pajamas for the last two weeks.

Ally shrugged, “I have a date.”

“Wait, what?” Kylie asked in shock.

Ally sighed. “Tyson hates me. If only you could have heard the way he talked to me. And did you see the way he looked at me? He’s never going to forgive me. I’ve got to move on. Or at least try to.”

“Just give Tyson some time. He’ll come around,” David inserted.

“It’s been two weeks. I’ve called, texted, and practically begged him to listen to me. To let me explain what happened. But nothing. If he still loved me, it wouldn’t take this long,” Ally said with determination.

Before Kylie could say anything to persuade Ally, the doorbell rang and Ally opened the door. Kylie did a double take before Ally quickly shut the door behind her.

David turned to her and asked, “Was that who I think it was?”

Kylie nodded her head with worry, “Justin.”

Chapter Thirty-Four

 

Ally searched all over for the necklace that Justin had given her two years ago. He had commented on the fact that she wasn’t wearing it the previous night on their date. Even though Ally had come up with the excuse that she didn’t think it looked great with her outfit, she really didn’t even know where it was. Where could she have put it?

The boxes. She had put it in one of the packages from Justin that she had opened before Tyson came home. Kylie had said she would sort through all the packages for her.

Ally ran out into the living room where David and Kylie were watching a preseason NFL game. “Sorry to interrupt, but where did you put those packages from Justin?”

“Well there is only one box now and I hid it. Why?”

“I need to find something and I hope it is in that box.”

Kylie sighed and hesitated before finally saying, “I hid everything in a box in the back of the pantry. I figured out of sight, out of mind.”

“Thanks,” Ally said.

She pulled the box out of the pantry and began her search. After a couple of minutes, she finally found it at the bottom. She felt relieved that it wasn’t lost. She didn’t know how she would have explained that to Justin. She put everything else back in the box, while taking a mental note of the things he had sent her just in case he asked about them at dinner tonight.

Once everything was back inside, except the necklace, she slid the box back into the pantry and headed to her room.

“Did you find what you were looking for?” Kylie asked as she walked past them.

“Ya, I thought I had lost this,” Ally said, holding up the necklace.

“Holy cow,” David said as he tried to get a better look. “Is that real? Because I have been looking at diamonds lately and that has to have cost a couple thousand dollars.”

“I think so,” Ally said with a shrug. “Well sorry for interrupting the game.”

As Ally got ready to go over to Justin’s condo, she reflected on the previous night. Justin hadn’t really changed. He was still charming and handsome. He had made her laugh and showed affection that had taken Tyson months. She had resisted his unexpected kiss on that night two weeks ago, but once she actually let him kiss her, there was no denying that he hadn’t lost his touch over the last two years.

In the moments when she managed to keep Tyson out of her thoughts, Ally did have a good time. Justin had taken her out to a nice restaurant and finished the night off with a showing of The Lion King at Eccles Theatre. She definitely felt like royalty with valet services and VIP tickets.

She couldn’t believe that Justin still felt so strongly about her, even with her ignoring him over the last 6 months. He didn’t hesitate to tell her that he loved her last night. He didn’t seem to care that she didn’t say it back. To be fair, she didn’t really have a chance to say anything since he kissed her immediately after telling her.

She really did enjoy being with him. He made her smile and laugh. Ally felt loved and protected when she was with him. Maybe Justin really could be her future.

 

Chapter Thirty-Five

 

Over the next two weeks, Kylie was starting to wonder if Ally even lived there anymore. It was summer, but Kylie definitely thought Ally was spending way too much time with Justin. Ally was usually gone before Kylie rolled herself out of bed and typically didn’t get home until after Kylie had already called it a night. Every once in a while, their schedules would match up and Kylie would get an update on what was going on in Ally’s life.

Kylie was frustrated with the fact that Ally couldn’t see that Justin was just trying to win her over with the extravagant dates they went on. From parties to expensive restaurants and VIP passes to everything, Kylie wondered if Ally was really falling for this guy and falling in love with the special treatment. Or just filling up her time to avoid thinking about Tyson. There was no way Ally could just get over Tyson like that. Even if someone was trying to buy her emotions.

Kylie knew that Justin was a smart kid. He had landed an academic scholarship even after his collegiate football dreams had been shattered. But she could also see that he was just a partier who enjoyed the thrill of adventures and always got his way. For some reason, that Kylie couldn’t figure out, Ally was falling for it all.

Since it was the last weekend before school started, Justin had taken Ally down to Moab to go rock crawling and river rafting. Even though a couple of Justin’s buddies and their girlfriends had accompanied them, Kylie still didn’t like the situation they were putting themselves in. If Justin was anything like he was before his mission, which from what Ally had told her, he still was a very affectionate person. Plus, Ally had to still be hurting over Tyson. Kylie felt like that could turn into a precarious situation very quickly.

Then there was still Tyson to worry about. Kylie had only seen him a couple times since he had helped David propose. She usually caught a glimpse of him in the back of the chapel on Sundays. He had been slipping into sacrament meeting after it started and leaving before it ended. Kylie didn’t know where he went while he should have been at church, but this wasn’t like him. Even as a teenager, he never complained about going to church.

David had informed her that Tyson’s schedule was a lot like Ally’s. He would leave early in the morning and come home just to sleep. She also knew that he had been avoiding their parents. He had come up with an excuse every time they invited him, Kylie, and David over for dinner. They were all worried about him.

Kylie rolled over to check the time on her phone. 12:30 a.m. Ally still wasn’t home and school started tomorrow. She had hoped Ally would have been home earlier so they could make plans to go wedding dress shopping sometime this week.

Kylie drifted in and out of sleep worrying about Ally. She was relieved when Ally whispered, “Kylie, are you still awake?”

“Um hmm,” Kylie mumbled as she sat up.

“Good,” Ally said as she climbed onto Kylie’s bed. “I need to talk to you.”

“I need to talk to you too,” Kylie said.

“You go first.”

“Okay, well I was wondering if you would be able to go wedding dress shopping with me this week. I made a couple of appointments and I want to find a dress before school gets too crazy. Your last class get out at 3, right?”

“Ya, just let me know what time and I will be there.”

“Good. I was worried,” Kylie admitted.

“Worried about what?”

“Well, you have been spending a lot of time with Justin and I didn’t know if you would have time. Or if it was something you wanted to do anymore.”

“Kylie, I promise, as your maid of honor, I will be wherever you need me to be. It’s my job.”

Kylie smiled. “That’s why I picked you to be my maid of honor. Anyways, what did you need to talk to me about?”

“I know you are getting married in January, so I promise I won’t steal any of your thunder. I promise that my focus will be solely on your wedding until every little task is complete. Then you can help me plan my wedding,” Ally exclaimed.

“Wait, what?” Kylie asked completely confused. They couldn’t be engaged. Justin and Ally had only been dating for a little over two weeks.

“I’m engaged,” Ally said and held out her hand to reveal an emerald-cut diamond with a halo and diamonds down the band. It was gigantic compared to Kylie’s engagement ring, well any normal person’s engagement ring for that matter.

“Wow,” was all that Kylie could muster as she tried to digest what was happening.

“I know,” Ally said as pulled her hand back in to look at the ring. “Apparently all the diamonds add up to 2 carats. I feel like someone will try to chop my finger off so they can steal it.”

“It definitely is big.”

Kylie listened, not knowing what to say, as Ally described her evening. Justin had insisted that they go to dinner when the rest of their group headed home. That’s why she had been late getting home. It seemed like a normal dinner, until Justin had started talking about their future together. As Justin got down on one knee, he had explained to Ally that even though they had just started dating again, he loved her and he knew that he wanted to spend forever with her. They could continue to date for a while and get married sometime next year, but he wanted to make it official now. Ally had said yes.

“Well, anyways, you are probably tired. I just wanted to let you know that I won’t be taking away any of the spotlight.”

With that, Ally crawled into her own bed and Kylie laid there sick to her stomach, trying to wrap her mind around what just happened. All she knew was that Tyson could not find out about this turn of events from someone else. It was a conversation she dreaded having with him. Somehow, someway she had to get Tyson and Ally to both realize that they were still meant to be together. Maybe there was still hope that Justin would turn back into that 10-year-old jerk, too.

The next morning, Kylie went over to David’s apartment to discuss the situation while Ally was off doing who knows what with Justin. They had both agreed that they needed to intervene if they were going to save their best friends from being miserable for the rest of their lives.

To set things in motion, Kylie sent Tyson a text telling him that he needed to come back to his apartment right after practice. It was an emergency.

 

 

Tyson was out of breath when he stepped into his apartment. Lately, running was an easier way to keep Tyson’s mind off of things. He didn’t drive his truck unless it was too far away to run to. He had picked up the pace since Kylie had said it was urgent that he come home, but it also made him worry about what could be wrong.

“Is everything okay? Are Mom and Dad okay? Is the wedding still on?”

Kylie smiled but it was forced. “Nobody got hurt and yes, the wedding is still happening.”

“Well that’s good,” Tyson said as David got up from their living room couch. “What’s the emergency?”

“You should probably sit down first,” David said as he pointed to the couch.

“Okay?” Tyson said as David sat in a nearby chair and Kylie sat down next to Tyson on the couch.

“Ty, I don’t know if you already know this, but Ally’s kind of dating someone,” Kylie said.

Tyson stared at the ground in front of him. Did Kylie really just say that Ally was dating someone? His Ally? The Ally that he was going to ask to marry him only a month ago? That would make sense since she had stopped texting and calling him. Why hadn’t the thought ever crossed his mind that Ally would eventually date other people? Suddenly it felt harder to breath. Sure, he had just been on a good run, but had this pain in his chest always been there?

As Tyson felt the anger melt away to sadness, he realized that he really did believe her and he had since that day at Temple Square. He knew Ally. She was his best friend. She wouldn’t have betrayed him. Why didn’t he realize this sooner? He knew he needed to talk to her right away. He needed to let her know that he still loved her. And hopefully, it wouldn’t be too late.

“That’s not the worst part,” Kylie hesitated as Tyson froze. What could be worse than Ally dating someone else? “She’s engaged.”

He sensed who it was before Kylie said it, “Ty, she’s engaged to Justin Hawthorne.”

Tyson felt like he had just been kicked in the stomach. He was too late. For the first time since the night that he had planned to propose to Ally, he allowed himself to truly feel the emotions that he had fought so hard to suppress. He quickly thanked Kylie and David for telling him and excused himself to his room.

As he sat down on his bed, he realized that he had messed up. Ally was right. He was being the stubborn one. He felt hot tears escape his eyes. He didn’t hate Ally. He missed her. He still loved her. But now it was too late. He had pushed her away. Right into the arms of the guy who always got what he wanted.

When Tyson woke up the next morning, he felt horrible inside, but continued his regular routine. His coaches had notified him that he would be starting in the game on Thursday. Now was not the time to slack. At least he had control over one thing in his life.

Chapter Thirty-Six

 

Ally woke up Thursday full of excitement. It was the first football game of the season and she couldn’t wait to feel the energy from just being in Rice Eccles Stadium. Ally and Kylie had been able to obtain season tickets in the student section, also known as the MUSS, on row 8. She had been excited about that since it was the closest her seats had ever been. However, things had only gotten better when Justin informed her that he had secured tickets for the two of them on the first row. Ally wasn’t sure how he had pulled that off, but it worked out great because David could then use Ally’s ticket to sit next to Kylie.

4:30 p.m. couldn’t come fast enough for Ally. She was out the door before Justin even got out of the car. They decided to leave his car at Ally’s apartment since it wasn’t too far of a walk to the stadium. He had gotten tickets for a tailgate where they enjoyed some sandwiches and a variety of salads. Then they walked over to the MUSS tailgate, where a bunch of Justin’s friends were.

Ally noticed Kylie and David inside the MUSS tent and waved at them. Justin and his friends started playing some tailgate games, so she slipped away to chat with her friends. She picked up some more food on the way to their table. Red Robin was catering and there was no way she could resist their BBQ burger.

Once she sat down, they talked about the upcoming game and Kylie mentioned that Tyson would be starting somewhere in the mix. Ally knew that it had been Tyson’s goal, so she was happy for him. But just then Justin sat down.

“Hey, Kylie,” Justin said, then turned to David. “I don’t think we have met yet.”

“That’s David. Kylie’s fiancé,” Ally said as she took another bite of her burger.

“Oh ya, you told me they were getting married too. Congratulations.”

“Thanks,” Kylie and David said at the same time.

“Still hungry?” Justin asked Ally. “Didn’t you eat enough at the other tailgate?”

Ally shrugged, “It’s a BBQ burger. I couldn’t resist.”

“Don’t you think it’s a little too much? Don’t you want to look your best in your wedding dress?” Justin said with a smile on his face, but a touch of disapproval in his voice.

“We aren’t getting married for like a year,” Ally said as she set down her burger.

“Well there’s no harm in starting now, Sweetie.”

Kylie and David looked at each other with concern on their faces as Justin picked up Ally’s burger and said, “We are going to head over to the stadium. It was nice to meet you, David.” With his other hand, he grabbed Ally’s and off they went.

When Ally and Justin reached the stadium, there was still about 45 minutes before the game started. They went up to the suite that Justin’s father and a couple of his friends had purchased for the season. Ally had never been up in the Tower before. Other football games were playing on the flat screen televisions. To top it all off, there were complimentary drinks that Justin and Ally helped themselves to.

“The best part, is when it gets cold we can come up here and not have to freeze our butts off,” Justin said as they walked over to talk to Mr. Hawthorne.

Ally had only met Justin’s dad a couple of times, but every time she always felt like he was scrutinizing her every move. Justin and his dad talked about the game and Ally pipped in every once in a while. In the end, Ally felt like she had made a good impression, but she was still relieved when they headed back down to their seats. She couldn’t help but wonder if she would ever feel comfortable around Justin’s family.

The band finally took the field as the pregame traditions began. It was the first football game that she had attended with Justin. He seemed a little surprised realizing that Ally wasn’t joking around when it came to how much she loved football and being a Ute fan.

Soon the football team took the field as Ally and the rest of the stadium cheered. Their opponent was a division II school, so Ally wasn’t too worried about the outcome of the game. The Utes had won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. The defense ran out on the field and Ally quickly spotted Tyson wearing the number 32.

She tried to keep her focus on where the ball was going, but no matter how hard she tried Ally found her eyes drifting over to where Tyson was. At halftime, the game was closer than expected and Ally hoped that Utah would look better in the second half.

Ally loved how she could always catch people off guard with her football knowledge. She was able to participate in the conversation Justin and his friends were having about the game so far and the injuries that were making an impact, especially the center who had to be carted off the field right before half. Ally always felt bad for players who got hurt, but it just meant that the next guy in line had to step up.

With 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter, the Utes needed just one more stop to be sure that the opposing team wouldn’t be able to come back and win. As the MUSS participated in the traditional “3rd Down Jump”, the stadium was roaring. Ally screamed along with those around her as the quarterback was ready to hike the ball. As the football left the quarterback’s hand, she could see Tyson cut toward the receiver the football was intended for. The crowd silenced as they waited for the outcome. Ally felt as if everything turned into slow motion as Tyson and his teammate both went for the tackle. In that moment, Ally heard the crack of helmets hitting and watched Tyson and his fellow defender drop to the ground.

Her heart dropped to her stomach as Tyson’s teammate got up and waved frantically to the sideline. Tyson wasn’t moving.

“Please move something,” Ally whispered, as she grasped the rail in front of her. “Ty, please.” Tears quickly built up in her eyes as she willed Tyson to wiggle his foot or lift his hand.

“Please move something,” Ally said louder as tears overflowed. “Anything.” She rocked back and forth, still holding on to the railing, while the medical team surrounded Tyson. She glanced back to find Kylie, but Kylie was already sprinting up the stairs with David closely behind.

“Ally?” Justin said as put his hand on her back. “Calm down. You’re making a scene.”

“But he’s not moving,” she said as Justin wrapped his arms around her.

“He’ll be fine. I’m sure,” Justin said as he held her close. He chuckled a little as he said, “I didn’t realize that you cared so much about the football players. It’s good to know that you would have been crying over me when I tore up my knee.”

Ally held on to Justin as she watched the cart drive onto the field. Somewhere along the way the tears stopped as the medical team strapped Tyson to a backboard and loaded him back onto the cart. Something was really wrong. She closed her eyes as the cart drove off the field and prayed that Tyson was okay, while the crowd clapped to show their support.

The game was quickly underway again. Ally watched the players run around, but it didn’t make any sense. She didn’t feel like cheering, even when the Utes recovered a fumble right in front of her. She kept checking her phone to see if Kylie had responded to her text about Tyson’s condition. All she could think about was Tyson laying motionless on the field.

Holding Justin’s hand, she silently walked like a zombie out of the stadium while Justin chatted away with his friends.

“Hello? Earth to Ally?” Ally noticed Justin waving his hand in front of her face. She looked up at him expectantly. “Jake and Shane are having a party at their place. We’ll grab my car and then head over.”

Ally hadn’t really processed what Justin had said, until they had arrived back at Ally’s apartment and she was sitting in Justin’s car.

“Justin,” Ally sighed. “I really don’t want to go to the party. But you can still go.” Ally turned to get out of the car. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Justin grabbed Ally’s arm and turned her back around to face him. “What’s your problem?”

“I just don’t want to go. I’m tired and I have an early class tomorrow.”

“No, what was your deal at the football game. You were so into it, then after that one player got hurt you were off on a different planet,” Justin’s voice was rising. “There were other players who got injured and I didn’t see you crying over them. Seriously, Ally, you were crying during a football game.”

Justin’s phone lit up as it sat in the cup holder in the middle console. He did a double take then grabbed his phone. After a minute, Justin put his phone down. “We’re going to the party.” He put the car in reverse and Ally didn’t feel like arguing. Instead she checked her phone again for an update.

It wasn’t too long before Ally was alone at the party. She watched as Justin and some other guys played pool. He seemed to be winning the rounds, because the other guys kept handing over money. Normally, she would have questioned Justin on why he was betting, but she didn’t care at that moment. It was his money. She breathed a sigh of relief as she read the text from Kylie. “Tyson’s going to be fine. He will have to sit out for the next couple of games. But he’s okay.”

Ally arranged with Kylie to come pick her up. When Kylie got there, Justin was very focused on his shot. Ally decided to send him a text letting him know that she had gotten a ride home. She just wanted to go home.

Kylie filled Ally in on their trip to the hospital and how Tyson had a concussion, which is what had caused him to lose consciousness. He couldn’t do anything for the next few weeks, but he would be able to play again before the season was over.

 

 

Kylie was exhausted. She couldn’t wait to get into bed and relax knowing that Tyson was going to be okay. She thought it was going to be much worse than a concussion. Kylie and David were just finishing a bowl of ice cream in the kitchen, when someone pounded on the door.

“I’ll get it,” Ally said.

Even though Kylie couldn’t see who it was from the kitchen, she knew it was Justin the second he started yelling at Ally.

“You left without telling me.”

“You were busy. I didn’t want to interrupt.”

“Allison. You are my fiancée. I would like you to attend events with me even if you don’t want to be there. It was humiliating to have to ask around to find out you had left.”

“I sent you a text,” Ally said, matter-of-factly.

But apparently Justin didn’t hear her because he just continued on his rant that continued to escalate. “And your actions during the football game were completely embarrassing. You were acting ridiculous, crying during a football game. To all my friends, it looked like you were upset over a random football player who happened to get hurt. But don’t worry, ESPN notified me that Tyson Brooks was the player who was knocked unconscious.”

Kylie looked at David. Thankful that he had read her mind, David peeked his head around the corner, “Everything okay in here?”

“Ya,” Justin said. His voice calmed as David walked back over to where Kylie was standing.

“Sorry, Ally. Sweetheart. I guess I get a little jealous when I think that there still might be something going on between you and Tyson. Or any other guy for that matter.”

“It’s okay,” Ally said. “I understand where you’re coming from. I feel the same way when I see you talking to other girls.”

“You know I love you, right? You are everything that I could ever ask for in a wife. I don’t know what I would do without you in my future.”

Ally must have nodded her head, because Justin continued, “I’ll pick you up tomorrow at 3.”

Kylie heard the door open and shut and Ally walked back into the kitchen. “Everything okay?” Kylie asked with concern.

“Ya, sometimes he gets a little worked up over things,” Ally said with a shrug.

“A little worked up? That’s an understatement if I’ve ever heard one. Did you remember that we are going wedding dress shopping tomorrow at 5?” Kylie asked.

“Ya, I’ll be back by then… Well I’m going to bed. I’m exhausted.”
Once Ally had closed the door to their room, Kylie and David whispered about their concerns. Ally was definitely in a bad relationship, but apparently she couldn’t see it. They needed to put their plan in action immediately, if only for Aly’s sake.

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Ally waited by the door for Justin to arrive. He didn’t like it when he had to wait for her, and it was easy enough for her to make sure she was ready 10 minutes before Justin was set to arrive.
Last night, she had forgiven Justin pretty quickly for the harsh way that he had spoken to her. But that didn’t mean that his words didn’t hurt a little. She understood where he was coming from, but wished he had used a different approach. She told herself that she would try harder to be the wife Justin wanted her to be and maybe eventually he would soften the way that he spoke to her. After all, at least he loved her, unlike Tyson.

She sighed in frustration. She had to stop thinking about Tyson.

Justin knocked on the door at exactly 3. At least he was always on time. Which was something Ally could appreciate. When she opened the door, Justin looked like a kid on Christmas morning.
“I have a surprise for you. Close your eyes,” Justin said as Ally did as she was asked. “Don’t peak.”

Justin lead her out the door and down the front steps. “Okay, open your eyes.”

Sitting in Ally’s driveway was a brand-new Acura. “You got a new car?” Ally asked, surprised that he had traded in his convertible for a four-door sedan.

“No, it’s for you! My car is over there,” Justin said as he pointed to his car on the side of the road.

“You bought me a car?”

Justin nodded his head with a big smile on his face. “Do you like it?”

“Of course, I like it. But Justin, you already bought me this ring which has to be around $8,000. I looked it up. You don’t need to buy me a car… I don’t know what to say. You know I can’t return the favor with large gifts like this,” Ally explained.

Justin pulled Ally into his arms. “I don’t expect you to. At least not until after we are married. But I just wanted to let you know how sorry I am for last night. So, will you please accept my peace offering? I insist.”

Part of Ally was hesitant to accept the car. What would happen if they broke up? But the other part of her didn’t want Justin to be upset since he had gone out of the way to purchase it and he was so excited to give it to her. Why not? The worst that could happen would be her having to drive her old Honda Civic again.

“Well, I guess, if you insist,” Ally teased.

“I do,” Justin said as he tossed her the keys.

Justin also insisted that they take his car on their outing, since he wanted to take a drive up the canyon with the top down. Ally was fine that. The leaves were beginning to change and Ally loved the smell of fall that the season brought. Once they reached an overlook, Justin stopped the car. It had taken them almost an hour to get to this spot.

“You remember that I need to be home by 5, right?”

“I know. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have time for a little bit of this,” Justin said as he leaned over the middle console and kissed Ally.

Eventually, Ally pulled away catching her breath, “We should probably head back.”

“Just a little longer?” Justin asked as he kissed her again.

Ally shook her head, “Kylie has a wedding dress appointment and I promised her I would be there.”

“Fine,” Justin said in a disappointed tone and started the car.

Ally groaned as she looked at her phone. It was already 4:30. She hated being late.

Justin didn’t disappoint though. Maybe he took the turns a little fast, but Ally walked through the door to her apartment at 5:10.

“Sorry, I’m late. We lost track of time,” Ally apologized, but she stopped dead in her tracks when she realized that Tyson was sitting on the couch.

 

 

David had told Tyson that they needed to go over to Kylie’s apartment for some important wedding business that involved the best man. Tyson couldn’t figure out what could be so important that the best man needed to be involved in. But then again, he couldn’t figure out a lot of things lately. The doctors said it would wear off, but he just wanted to feel normal again.

When Ally walked through the door, Tyson did a double take. He wouldn’t have doubted it if he was seeing things. It had been a month since he had last seen her on the night of David’s proposal. Other than the fact that her hair was a little windblown, she was just as beautiful as ever. Tyson’s heart and head hurt when he remembered that she was engaged to someone else. Even though he knew that he had lost his chance, he still hoped that they could be friends again one day.

“What’s he doing here?” Ally bitterly directed her question at Kylie. “I thought we were going wedding dress shopping.”

Maybe they wouldn’t be friends after all. It was apparent Ally wasn’t happy to see him.

Kylie calmly answered, “I decided I liked the dress I found on Wednesday. I’m going to go try it back on after this little meeting. Now, if you will please sit down, David and I need to tell you both something.”

Once Ally was seated as far away from Tyson as possible on the couch, Kylie continued, “Now you have both mentioned to David and I, that as the best man and maid of honor, you will do anything to help us with this wedding. Do you guys still feel that way?”

Tyson and Ally both nodded their heads and said, “Yes.”

“Good, because David and I decided to move the wedding up to October 18th.”

“What?” Ally asked. “That’s in like 6 weeks.”

“That’s why we need your help,” David spoke up.

“If you will pick up the folders in front of you,” Kylie said pointing to the coffee table and continued as if she were a commanding officer. “Inside, you will find the scheduled appointments that you will be expected to attend.”

As Tyson reached for the folder, he noticed the ring on Ally’s hand. His jaw dropped. He had never seen a ring that large before. It definitely cost a lot more than the ring he had purchased for Ally. And it looked completely different. Was that really what Ally wanted? Maybe he hadn’t known her as well as he thought. He shook his head and tried to focus on what Kylie was saying.

“Wait,” Tyson interrupted after he glanced through the detailed schedule before him. “I know that my head is a little cloudy, but did you really say that you want me to be at all of these?”

“Yes. Since you will be sitting around for the next couple of weeks, I do expect you to be there,” Kylie stated matter-of-factly.

“You’ll be fine,” Ally grumbled.

“Last of all, David and I have decided that instead of bachelor or bachelorette parties, we would like to have one big engagement party for all of our friends. As our best friends, we would like you to work together to plan it.”

David piped in, “You can throw it at my parents’ cabin.”

“What?” Tyson and Ally exclaimed at the same time.

“You want me to plan a party with him?” Ally asked pointing at Tyson.

“Remember what you just promised?” Kylie asked before Tyson could formulate anything to say. “This is my wedding. Well mine and David’s. And you both promised to do whatever we asked you to do to help us have the wedding of our dreams. So, you are going to do what I ask you to do. Okay?”

Ally contemplated for a second before she answered. She folded her arms as she surrendered.

“Fine.”

“Tyson?” Kylie raised her eyebrow at him.

“Okay,” Tyson responded. He hoped he would be able to survive being around Ally almost every day for the next 6 weeks.

 

 

Tyson was grateful when David took him back home, while Ally and Kylie went to order Kylie’s wedding dress. He felt helpless. There was no way that Tyson could compete with Justin, especially when it came to the new car he had purchased Ally. Worst of all, Ally was still mad at him. Looking back at how he treated her the last time he saw her, he realized that he had brought the harshness upon himself.

To add to it, he didn’t have any control over football anymore. All Tyson could do for the next week was sit around. He couldn’t work out or even study film. The doctors told him that he wouldn’t be able to play for at least a month. They wouldn’t even consider checking to see if he was ready to get back out on the field until then. Luckily there was a bye week at the end of September, so if all went well he would only be missing three games.

Bored out of his mind, he found himself pulling up Facebook on his phone. He had multiple friend requests, all people he didn’t know and multiple messages. He had at least ten from one of his favorite converts, Kevin.

When they had first started teaching Kevin, they didn’t expect him to embrace the gospel since Kevin was an older man who seemed set in his ways, had a lot of money and loved to drink and smoke. But he had given it up without hesitation, and was baptized a couple months before Tyson came home. They had stayed in touch, but with the recent events in his life, Tyson avoided getting on Facebook.

Tyson’s smile grew as Kevin explained that he was ready to go to the temple and would be flying in next Friday to attend the Salt Lake temple, so that Tyson could be his escort. Tyson’s smile faltered a little bit when Kevin mentioned that he couldn’t wait to meet Ally, but instead he quickly messaged Kevin back letting him know that he would love to be his escort.

Within seconds, Kevin replied with his flight details. Things were starting to look up.

 

 

As Ally laid in bed that night, she felt overwhelmed. She had promised Kylie that she would help her in any way to plan the wedding of her dreams. But pulling it all off in six weeks was crazy. And she had to plan an engagement party with Tyson. She didn’t know if she was going to be able to handle it. It still hurt that he was mad at her.

Then there was the car. Why did Justin have to buy her a brand-new car? She should have been more excited. Anyone else probably would have been jumping for joy. But instead the first thing that had popped into her head was, what if they broke up?

Ally tried to ignore it. They were happily engaged and planning to spend the rest of their lives together. There was no reason for them to break up. But the thought had continued to haunt her all day. What if they did break up? She had already lost Tyson. If she lost Justin too, what was she going to do?

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Justin was not happy to hear that most of Ally’s evenings for the next month would be filled with Kylie’s wedding preparations. After listening to him complain for what felt like the hundredth time, Ally finally had to explain that if it was her and Justin that decided to get married quick, Kylie would be there in a heartbeat to help. It’s what best friends do. She did manage to leave out that she would be spending most of those nights with Tyson. She was already tired and didn’t want to start a fight. Gratefully, Justin seemed to accept the situation and didn’t ask any more questions.

Ally dreaded the idea of working with Tyson to plan the party. Maybe she would just do most of it herself, so she wouldn’t have to put up with his negativity. But then again, Tyson was actually pretty level headed the last time she saw him. Maybe the concussion had helped.

With everyone loaded up in the Ally’s car, because it was cool, as David described it, the group headed out to look at reception venues with Tyson and David in the back seat and Kylie up front.

Throughout the evening, Tyson stayed out of the way and seemed to avoid looking at Ally, talking to her, or really any interaction at all. Ally couldn’t complain. At least he wasn’t being rude to her. To Ally it felt like it was huge progress. She returned the favor and didn’t talk to him either.

They made steady improvements during the rest of the week. Ally and Tyson began having small conversations without making snide comments and even shared some of the things that had been happening in their lives over the last two months as they helped David and Kylie pick out a wedding cake, taste and select the desserts for the reception, and finalize their wedding guests.

As Ally totaled up the number of invitations they would need to order at the appointment tomorrow, Tyson explained to Kylie that he wouldn’t be able to go with them to pick out invitations because Kevin was coming into town to receive his endowments. Then he was going to spend the evening with him because Kevin was flying back out Saturday morning before the football game.

Surprisingly, Kylie, who had turned into a sort of bridezilla, didn’t have any problem with it. Ally didn’t mind Tyson not being there either. He didn’t seem to enjoy wedding planning as much as Ally did. A part of her loved planning weddings. But most of all she wished Justin would commit to a wedding date so she could start planning her own wedding.

Chapter Thirty-Nine

 

Tyson felt better than he had in a long time as he walked out of the temple with Kevin. Kevin had insisted that Tyson take him to get the best American food in Utah, so they climbed into Tyson’s truck and headed to Iceberg. Tyson couldn’t wait for Kevin see the size of the shakes. Most of all he was excited to speak Spanish for the entire evening.

“Is Senorita Ally going to meet us here?” Kevin asked.

“No. We actually broke up,” Tyson admitted as he put the truck in park.

“No!” Kevin exclaimed. “What happened? She was such a wonderful girl.”

“Let’s get our food, then we can talk.” Tyson lead Kevin inside and helped him order a burger, shake, and fries. He hoped that this highly greasy meal wouldn’t kill his elderly friend on the spot. Their shakes were ready almost instantaneously and Tyson laughed as Kevin insisted that they had given him the wrong size shake. There was no way that the cup he held in his hand was a mini shake. Their food arrived at their booth shortly after and Kevin wasn’t afraid to dive right in.

“I have always felt connected to Ally. Ever since you let me read her testimony that she sent to you, wow, I just knew that the gospel was true. Not that you and Elder Brewer weren’t good teachers, but hearing it from someone who I didn’t know and feeling the Spirit in that way, I just knew that it had to be true.”

“You know she loves these onion rings,” Tyson said absentmindedly as he put one on Kevin’s tray to try.

“Tell me, Elder. What happened? I can tell from your eyes that you still care for her.”

Tyson divulged everything that had happened, from the proposal to Ally being engaged and even the recent wedding planning for Kylie and David.

“I miss her, Kevin. But I messed up. It’s my own fault I’m miserable. She tried to tell me the truth but I didn’t want to listen. Now that I finally realize that I believe her, it’s too late,” Tyson shook his head.

“No, it’s not.”

“Yes, it is. I’ve pushed her away. And not to mention the gigantic ring on her finger.”

“It’s not too late until she is married.”

“But she seems happy with Justin. He buys her all these expensive things and takes her to fancy places. I can’t compete with that.”

“Do you really think that those are the things that make Ally happy? Because I don’t.”

Tyson shrugged his shoulders. “She seems to enjoy them.”

“Everyone enjoys nice things. I know,” Kevin smiled. “But something that I have learned during my many years on this earth, is that you can only know if someone is truly happy by looking in their eyes.”

Tyson looked at him confused. He wasn’t sure what to say to that.

Kevin continued, “A lot of people can put on a mask, Elder. Think about the many masks you have worn over the last couple months. A mask of anger to hide your emotions. A mask of determination while you immersed yourself in training and preparation. Most recently a mask of contentment while you try to convince everyone around you that you are okay.

“Ally might simply be wearing a mask of happiness to try to convince herself and everyone else that she is over you and loves this other guy. The only way you can tell is by looking in someone’s eyes. Just like I could see that you still cared about Ally.”

As Tyson contemplated what Kevin was saying, Kevin added, “Do you think that you know Ally well enough to look into her eyes and tell if she is happy or sad?”

“I used to be able to,” Tyson said. “I could always tell when she was hiding something, or if there was something that was bothering her.”

“You will still be able to tell. Promise me that the next time you see Ally, you will find a way to a look into her eyes. I bet under that mask of happiness, you will see sadness, and quite possibly other things as well.”

“Okay. What if I do see sadness or regret, or who knows what else? What do I do then? She is engaged to someone else. I can’t just declare my love for her.”

“Yes, you can. Nothing is final until she is married. Tell her what you told me. That you believe her and that you are sorry that it took you so long to realize it. Tell her that you still care for her. Ask her if she will give you another chance.”

“But what if she says no? What will I do then?”

Now it was Kevin’s turn to ponder. “If Ally is the woman I picture her to be, she will tell you no. Not because she doesn’t love you anymore, but because she is being faithful to her fiancé.”

“Then what’s the point?”

“Then at least she knows. Give her some time, but also show her that you still care for her. If she still loves you, she will come around. I promise.”

“But how are you so sure?” Tyson asked unconvinced.

“I may not know everything, Elder. But I’ve seen a lot of things and I’ve done a lot of things in my 65 years of life. True love like yours and Ally’s always prevails, but you can’t give up without a fight. It sounds to me like she has already fought, but you weren’t ready. Now it’s your turn to fight.”

Tyson nodded his head as he internalized everything Kevin was saying. Monday, he would find a way see if Ally really was happy.

Chapter Forty

 

After another football victory, Ally found herself at another party. She wasn’t a big fan of the atmosphere, but Justin wanted to celebrate with his friends, so Ally went along hoping that after they were married the partying would stop. She could never quite figure out what they were celebrating either. None of the football team ever came and nobody even brought up the football game that they were supposedly celebrating.

“What’s wrong?” Ally asked as Justin scowled at his phone.

“All my teams are losing this week,” Justin replied, putting his phone back in his pocket.

“At least Utah won,” Ally smiled as she kissed Justin.

“Ya, but I placed a lot of money on Alabama and they didn’t pull through. They were even playing a division II team. Guaranteed win. But they blew it.”

“I didn’t know you were gambling on football games?”

“It’s not really gambling. Just making a couple of bets.”

“Isn’t gambling and betting the same thing?” Ally asked.

Justin shrugged his shoulders as he stood up and asked, “Do you want a drink?”

Ally knew that was a sign that he didn’t want to talk about it anymore. She knew she should drop the subject, but it bugged her that Justin seemed to bet on everything. She had questioned him before on the topic. His rebuttal was always that it was his money. Soon it would be her money too. She should have some input on how their money was spent, right? But pushing the issue would only lead to an argument. One thing that Justin had taught her was that their public image was important. Knowing that Justin would prefer that she bring it up when they were alone, she decided to drop the topic for now.

“Sure. Some water would be great,” Ally called after Justin who hadn’t waited for her response. Ally looked around the room. Even after three years, she still didn’t enjoy going to parties. Once again, she found herself at a party where she really didn’t know anyone. She couldn’t talk to any of the guys because Justin would get jealous and she didn’t want to talk to any of the girls who were only there for the guys anyways. At least, for the most part, Justin was staying by her side this time.

Right as Justin returned, some of his buddies came over to talk about the new car so and so had gotten. Ally couldn’t keep all of the Hawthorne’s acquaintances straight. She knew she needed to work on learning everyone’s names. But for now, she didn’t care to talk about cars. Or who bought what. She just wanted to be anywhere but there.

She thought about the invitations that she needed to design for Kylie and David’s engagement party. She needed to get them in the mail as soon as possible. She wished that she had been able to give the guests another week’s notice, but all of Ally’s spare time had been taken up by school, wedding planning, or Justin. She wanted to throw the party the first weekend in October, but Tyson had a bye the weekend before, so it was the only Saturday that worked for both of them to be there. She had hoped to have time to get them done tonight, but it didn’t seem like Justin was ready to leave any time soon.

Ally absentmindedly grabbed one of the cups that Justin set down on the table next to them. She took a sip of her drink, only to find a bitter taste and burning feeling on her tongue. She spit it back into the cup and exclaimed, “Justin, what is this?”

Ally continued to gag as Justin excused himself from his friends and escorted Ally outside.

Justin let out an exasperated sigh, “What have I said about making a scene?”

“Justin, what is this?” Ally asked holding out the cup toward him.

He took the cup and responded, “It’s just a beer, Ally. Calm down.”

“Calm down? Justin, last I checked we don’t drink alcohol.”

Justin took a deep breath. “Ally, honey, I’m sorry. I didn’t really think anything of it. I got you what I got myself to drink. I’m sorry… But seriously, a beer wouldn’t kill you. You have been worked up lately with all this planning for a wedding that isn’t even ours. You need to relax.”

“And drinking is relaxing? Are you kidding me?” Ally asked upset with the whole situation.

“Allison, it’s just a few drinks,” Justin continued to act as if it was no big deal. “We’re not going to get drunk taking a couple sips. I promise.”

“But what about getting married in the temple? I thought you wanted to get married in the temple, too. Was I completely wrong in assuming that?” Ally asked looking up at Justin. “I don’t know how long you have been doing this, but you need to stop. And the gambling. That needs to stop too.”

“But Ally, it’s just…”

“No Justin,” Ally cut him off. “You have asked me to do a lot of things and I’m only asking you to do these two things. I always knew you liked to be adventurous and even a little dangerous at times, but have you always drank and gambled and I just didn’t know about it?”

When Justin didn’t respond, Ally added, “I thought we were on the same page, but maybe we aren’t.”

Ally pulled herself away from Justin. But before she could walk away he grabbed her hand. “Wait,” Justin said as he threw the cup onto the grass. “I guess with all my friends drinking, I got tired of turning them down and then it just became a normal thing. I’m sorry. I promise I will stop drinking.”

“And what about the gambling?” Ally asked.

Justin sighed. “I’ll stop that too, I guess.”

“No guessing, Justin. I’m tired of it. You can’t have just one foot in. I need you to be all in. For me and for us,” Ally insisted. “I need you to promise me.”

“Okay Ally, I promise I will do whatever I need to do in order to marry you. Because that’s what’s most important to me. Making you my wife.”

Ally relaxed into Justin’s kiss as he pulled her closer. She had put a lot of energy and effort into their relationship, trying to be the person that Justin expected of her. She hoped that he really would keep his promise. This was just something that they needed to work through. And once they were married, maybe Justin would settle down and be the husband she knew he could be.

When Ally got home that night after one o’clock, she quietly changed into her pajamas. As she climbed on top of her bed, it squeaked and Ally held her breath hoping she didn’t wake Kylie, who was a very light sleeper.

Just when Ally thought she hadn’t disturbed her sleeping roommate, she heard Kylie say her name. “Ally?”

“Ya?” Ally whispered.

“I need to talk to you about something.”

Thinking that maybe Kylie was having second thoughts about the wedding, Ally quickly got off her bed and sat down in the desk chair next to Kylie’s bed. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m worried about you. Like, really worried.”

“Me?” Ally asked. “What about me?”

“Please know that I care about you and I’m telling you this because you are my best friend and the closest thing I have to a sister. Okay?”

“Okay?” Ally responded wondering what Kylie was going to tell her.

“You are making a huge mistake marrying Justin.”

“Just because he isn’t Tyson?” Ally said instantly annoyed even though Kylie had given her a heads up.

“No. This has nothing to do with Tyson. I can’t just sit by anymore and let Justin control your life. He dictates where you go, what you wear, what you drive, what you eat. Don’t think I haven’t noticed that you have lost weight. Not that losing weight is bad thing, but skipping meals because Justin wants you to fit in a size 2. Really?”

 

“We all know I won’t ever be a size 2,” Ally responded quietly.

“And you don’t have to be. Ally, what I’m trying to say is… please think long and hard about if you really are making the right choice. There are so many other guys out there who would treat you with the respect that you deserve. Marriage is a two person show. One person can’t direct the whole thing. Have you really prayed about this?”

“Yes, I have,” Ally replied. She hadn’t necessarily felt one way or the other when she prayed. But she had always heard that sometimes when you don’t get an answer, you should just proceed with the best choice. That was what she was doing. Justin loved her and she loved him. Right now, he was the best choice.

Kylie continued, “Okay. Well, all I’m asking is that you stop and look into the future. Is Justin really the one that you want to spend your life with? Is he really the kind of man you want to be the father of your children? Most of all is he going to support your dreams and truly make you happy? If you answer no, to any of those questions please don’t marry him. People don’t change no matter how much you want them to. I don’t want you to regret this decision in a couple years.”

“But…”

“Ally, you don’t have to defend your choices. If you do indeed marry Justin, I won’t stop you. I promise that I will be by your side. But please look closely at Justin’s actions and make sure that he really is everything you dreamed your husband would be. Because if he isn’t, I promise there will be someone else out there who is everything you dreamed of. I just don’t want you to settle. Promise me that you will continue to pray and think about it?”

Not feeling like starting another fight, Ally surrendered. She had had enough arguing for one day. “Okay. I promise.”

Ally heard Kylie roll over and Ally headed back to her bed. As she laid there trying to go to sleep, she told herself that Justin was all those things Kylie had asked her. But her conversation with Justin tonight came to her mind. Was he really going to stop drinking? Or would he go back to the occasional drink once they got married? Would he really stop betting? Maybe he needed her in his life to help guide him and keep him on the straight and narrow. She knew that no one was perfect. She saw the potential that Justin had. She knew he could be a wonderful husband and father. Plus, Justin loved her and that was all that mattered.

Chapter Forty-One

 

Monday afternoon, Ally and Tyson found themselves playing dress up as Kylie tried to decide which dresses and tuxedos she wanted the bridesmaids and groomsmen to wear.

She couldn’t decide if she wanted the bridesmaids to wear grey or what she called dusty blue nor which shade of grey she wanted for the groomsmen. They were on their fourth outfit combination when Kylie finally settled on a dusty blue bridesmaid dress.

“Now does it look good with the tux?” Kylie pondered.

“I like this grey better than the darker one,” David suggested.

“Ya, I like this one better too,” Kylie agreed.

Tyson mouthed the words thank you in David’s direction. He did not want to change again.

“Maybe it’s the tie that is throwing it off? Try this one on,” Kylie said as she threw a tie at Tyson from where she was sitting. Maybe he had spoken too soon.

Tyson quickly untied the tie that was already around his neck, tossed it on the table next to him, and hurried to put the new tie on. The sooner this was over the better. He had tried to fulfill his promise to Kevin. But every time he got close enough to Ally, she looked away or Kylie called her over to help with something. Maybe he could suggest that they go get ice cream, so he could sit Ally down across from him. But Tyson had forgotten about the powers of twin telepathy as he turned to face Kylie.

“Scoot closer together,” Kylie insisted with hand gestures. Ally and Tyson both took a step closer to each other.

“Seriously guys, you need to get closer in order for me to tell if the blues in the tie match the dress.” Ally and Tyson took another hesitant side step toward each other. “Come on. Closer, closer, perfect.”
Tyson felt Ally’s hand brush his as Kylie placed them standing with their arms touching. Ally must have noticed the brief touch, because she quickly folded her arms.

“Ally, put your arms down. I can’t see the full effect of the dress with your arms folded,” Kylie commanded.

They stood like soldiers as Kylie paced back and forth, analyzing the outfits in front of her, while Tyson tried to fight the urge to hold Ally’s hand. This experience would be a lot more bearable with Ally’s hand in his. He just hoped that she still cared for him the way he cared for her.

“There’s still something that isn’t quite right,” Kylie pondered. “Tyson, your tie is too short. Ally will you please re-tie it? Apparently, he can’t tie a tie.”

Ally and Tyson just stood here and Kylie added, “You’ve gotten good at tying that fancy knot for Justin lately. Now hurry up.”

As Kylie walked over to look at the collection of ties she had picked out, Tyson undid the knot in his tie and left it hanging around his neck. Even though he was sick of Kylie’s demanding attitude today, Tyson couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity with Ally grabbing both ends of his tie.

“I didn’t know that you could tie a tie?” Tyson asked with sincerity.

Ally looked up at Tyson and their eyes met. In that moment, his heart stopped. Even though Ally smiled slightly, he could undeniably see the sadness in Ally’s eyes as she shrugged her shoulders and said, “It’s one of my new talents.” Ally focused her eyes back on the task at hand. Tyson was elated, he still might have a chance. What did Kevin say to do next? Talk to her? Be her friend? Tell her he loved her?

“Ally?” Tyson whispered as Ally finished and looked up at him again. “I just wanted to tell you… I believe you.”

Ally froze in place with her hands still on his tie. Tyson could see a jumble of emotions pass over her eyes.

Kylie interrupted the moment, “All right, face me again and let’s see if this tie is the one.” Kylie and Tyson really needed to fine tune their telepathy. “Yes, that’s it everyone. We finally found a match.” Kylie waived over the sales associate and started the process of ordering the ensembles.

“I really need to talk to you. Can I buy you some ice cream after this?” Tyson turned back toward Ally who was staring at the ground. “Please?”

“Okay. But I’ll buy my own ice cream. This can’t look like a date,” Ally said before quickly walking to the dressing room to change.

Kylie was still working out the details of her order when Ally and Tyson had changed back into their normal clothes. Tyson mentioned to David that he was going to talk to Ally and that Kylie and David could leave without him.

With a smile, David said, “Good luck.” Tyson was going to need a lot of it.

Luckily there was a frozen yogurt shop next door, because Tyson was growing more and more nervous by the second. He didn’t want to say the wrong thing, but most of all he hoped Ally would agree to date him again. Ally kept her end of the deal by paying for her yogurt before Tyson had even decided which flavor to get. Neither of them said anything during this process. They sat down at the table and Tyson took a deep breath.

Ally sat in silence as Tyson told her everything. How he had been angry at first, but once he heard that Ally was dating someone else, he realized that he had messed up. That he had let her get away and he didn’t intend for that to happen. He couldn’t imagine his future without her. He apologized for taking so long to realize that he did believe her. Most of all he missed her.

By now, Ally had finished her little bit of frozen yogurt and Tyson’s was mostly melted. He hesitated before asking the question that scared him the most. “Ally, I still love you. Will you please give me another chance?”

To Tyson the seconds that passed seemed like hours before Ally finally answered. “Ty, you know I can’t. I’m engaged. I can’t just go around dating other people. I’m sorry. We can still be friends though.”

Even though Kevin had prepared him for this moment, he still felt sick to his stomach. He was disappointed, but he gained a little hope knowing that he still had many more opportunities to change her mind thanks to Kylie and David. For now, he would just have to settle for friends.

“Okay, I understand,” Tyson said as he looked into Ally’s eyes. “I just hope that he makes you happy and he treats you like you deserve to be treated. That he sees how amazing you really are. If that’s the case, then I won’t stand in your way. You deserve the best. And I really do hope that we can be friends.”

Chapter Forty-Two

 

The next day in class, Tyson tried to get over Ally’s rejection. Did he really think that Ally was just going to drop her engagement to Justin and run back into his arms? Most of all, how could Ally be over him so quickly? Why couldn’t he get over her?

He glanced over at Beth, who always sat next to him. She was going into marketing as well, so they had been in a few of the same classes over the past year. She always said hi to him when they passed on campus and they had had plenty of conversations before and after class. They had even worked on a couple of projects together. She was nice girl.

He snuck another peek at her while she wrote something down in her notes. Beth was actually quite pretty. Why hadn’t he ever noticed that before? If Ally could get over Tyson simply by seeing another guy, maybe it would help Tyson get over Ally if he started dating other people too.

As class ended and everyone started packing up, Tyson decided he had nothing to lose.

“Beth?” Tyson asked.

She turned to face him. “Ya?”

“I was wondering if maybe you would like to, um, go on a date with me sometime?” Tyson asked as he painfully realized how horribly ridiculous he sounded. He hadn’t asked someone out for the first time in a long time and it seemed pretty obvious.

A big smile spread on Beth’s face making Tyson feel a little bit better. “I would love to. When?”

“Um,” Tyson hadn’t thought about when. “When are you free?”

“Tonight would probably be best. I have something going on every evening for the rest of the week.”

“Alright, tonight it is then. 6:30 okay?”

“Ya. I’ll text you my address,” Beth said as she headed toward the door.

Tyson smiled. Maybe he could do this after all.

 

 

Kylie was surprised to see Tyson walk in the door wearing jeans and a t-shirt. When he hadn’t been at his apartment when Kylie had come over to spend time with David, she had assumed that he was at the gym or running. It was how he spent all of his free time lately.

“How’d your date go?” David hollered before Tyson could escape to his room without talking to anyone. Which he always tried to do when Kylie was there. But apparently he talked to David, because she had heard nothing about this.

“You went on a date?” Kylie asked. What about Ally?

Tyson shrugged his shoulders. “Ya.”

David turned to Kylie, “He thought by going on a date, it would help him move on from Ally.”

“Oh,” Kylie said disappointed that her brother was giving up on Ally. “Did it work?”

“No,” Tyson said plopping into the bean bag across from them. “If anything, it made it worse.”

Maybe Kylie still had hope. “What happened?”

“I couldn’t stop thinking about Ally the entire time. Every time Beth did something, whether she smiled or laughed or tucked her hair behind her ear or hugged me at the end of the date, all I could see was Ally and how Beth wasn’t her.”

“Well did you at least have a good time? Maybe you should give Beth another chance. No one is going to be like Ally,” David added. Kylie shot a glare his way but resisted the urge to punch David in the arm. What was he doing? They both agreed that Tyson and Ally were meant to be together, they just needed a little help realizing it.

“I mean it was fine. But when I brought up football, I could tell she had no idea what I was talking about. Ally could analyze a play with me. Beth didn’t even know that cornerbacks played on the defensive side of the ball.”

“Yikes,” Kylie said. Maybe David was helping Tyson realize that he was meant to be with Ally after all.

“Ya, well I’m going to go for a run,” Tyson said getting up. “But David’s right, I don’t think that I’ll ever find anyone like Ally.”

“Ty,” Kylie said before Tyson walked out of the room. “Don’t give up on Ally yet. I’m guessing that you saw the same sadness in her eyes yesterday that I’ve been seeing for weeks. Just keep being you, give her some time to see that she can trust you again.”

He didn’t say anything as he turned back toward his room. Kylie hoped he wouldn’t give up on Ally. Not yet. Their chances of getting back together would be practically nothing, if they both gave up on each other.

Chapter Forty-Three

 

As Ally drove to Tyson’s apartment a couple days later, she thought about Tyson’s declaration of love. She was still trying to decipher her feelings. Ally wanted more than anything for things to be the same with Tyson. To be friends again. But she knew that things couldn’t be the same. Tyson wasn’t her boyfriend. She needed to make sure that she kept those boundaries very obvious.

She kept remembering the flutter of hope she had felt when Tyson had said that he believed her and that he still loved her. She had quickly suppressed it, reminding herself that she was engaged to Justin. She couldn’t let her mind go wandering like that. She was practically married, for goodness sakes. But did Justin really make her happy? Kylie and Tyson had both hinted at the fact that maybe she wasn’t happy. She was happy, wasn’t she?

Tonight, Ally and Tyson would be going to check out the cabin that David’s family owned in Park City to see how they could decorate for the party. Tyson had seemed okay with just being friends, but Ally was still nervous to see if they really could be friends. Or did they have too much history to pull it off? They would still be spending a lot of time together before the wedding. Would they just be awkward around each other for forever?

Once Tyson got into her car, Ally didn’t have anything to worry about. Tyson asked her questions about her classes and he told her about his progress toward getting back on the field. He could finally work out a little and he was studying film again. She laughed as he told her about his crazy professor who wore a different wig to class every day. After a few minutes into the drive, she realized that maybe being friends wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

It was starting to get dark as they pulled up to the cabin. From the outside, it looked like a little log cabin. But once they were inside, Ally knew it would be perfect for the party. The main level was mostly open with an updated kitchen and living room, while all the bedrooms were upstairs. They walked around discussing where they were going to put everything.

Eventually, Tyson had to sit down because he still got dizzy every once in a while if he stood up for too long. But he smiled as he listened to Ally describe the decorations they could make and where to hang them.

“We should check out the sound system,” Tyson said grabbing the remotes on the table next him. “David said it is pretty awesome. It’s even Bluetooth, so we don’t have to plug anything in.”

“That’s cool,” Ally said as she looked in the fridge to see how much space they would have for storing food. They would be feeding at least 20 people. They still needed to figure out what they would be eating, but it seemed like there would be plenty of room for whatever type of food they decided on.

Ally was torn from her thoughts as music started blaring through the speakers throughout the kitchen and living room. It was one of Tyson’s workout songs with some rapper dude “singing”.

“Let’s see how loud it goes,” Tyson said with a grin. Ally covered her ears as the music vibrated the cabin. It was a good thing there weren’t any close neighbors.

“Turn it down,” Ally yelled.

“What?” Tyson yelled back.

“Turn it down,” Ally repeated.

“Turn it up?” Tyson said with a wink. “Okay.”

Ally reached for the remote to turn down the music, but he quickly tossed it to his other hand to keep it out of Ally’s reach. “Don’t you like it?” Tyson asked mischievously as he stood up and held the remote above his head.

“No, this ‘music’ is the worst!” Ally jumped on the couch as she tried to grab the remote, but only locked fingers with Tyson’s hand instead as he switched the remote over to his other hand again. Without thinking, Tyson pushed his hand that was holding Ally’s hand around her back and pulled her close.

“Now you will never get it,” Tyson yelled with a grin holding the remote as far away from Ally as possible.

Ally found herself remembering what it felt like to be in Tyson’s arms. She tried to resist the urge to relax into his embrace. It was so familiar and natural. More so than Justin’s.

Justin. She pushed herself away. Tyson must have gotten the hint because he quickly let go of her hand. He turned down the music and pretended like nothing had happened. Once they agreed that they had looked at everything they wanted to, they locked everything up and headed home.

 

 

Tyson smiled every time he thought about holding Ally close to him. He wished she wouldn’t have pulled away so quickly, but then again, he felt a little guilty for putting her in that position. He didn’t want to force anything and make Ally distance herself from him. He thought they were making great progress toward being friends and he didn’t want to ruin it. Tyson still hoped that their rekindling friendship would lead them to more.

With only a week and a half left, Tyson looked forward to finalizing the details of the engagement party. Their first planning session had been cut short because Justin had called insisting that Ally meet up with him somewhere. Tyson recognized the small amount of jealousy he felt as Ally excused herself, but he reminded himself that Justin was Ally’s fiancé. Maybe it wasn’t wise to let himself quietly continue to pursue Ally. It would only be harder to get over her if she didn’t end up getting back with Tyson. But he would deal with it then. And at least he would know that he did everything that he could do to show her that he was genuine.

Things were looking up for Tyson. He was practically back to normal. He could stand up for long periods of time. And he hoped to be able to attend partial contact practice sometime next week. He just wished he knew of a definite way to get Ally back.

He had just gotten back from grabbing dinner, when Ally knocked on the door.

After letting Ally in, he said, “I hope you haven’t eaten dinner.”
Ally shook her head as Tyson continued, “I always hear your stomach growl whenever we get together, so I grabbed us some dinner. I got your favorite. A chicken sandwich, crispy not grilled, a side of onion rings, and a cookie dough shake, right?”

Ally nodded her head as she took a bite of the shake and savored it. “I haven’t eaten at Iceberg since…” Ally hesitated. “Well since the last time we ate there.”

“We did frequent that place,” Tyson said with a smile.

They sat down at the table and dove in while they reminisced about their adventures to different restaurants. He hoped that the memories would remind Ally of the good days when they were together. Tyson was practically finished with his meal when he realized that Ally had stopped eating sometime during their conversation.
“Is that all you’re going to eat?” Tyson asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Ya. I’m trying to watch what I eat.”

Tyson had noticed that she hadn’t eaten much when they had gone to taste test the catering, but he hadn’t really thought about it at the time. She had felt skinnier when he had wrapped his arm around her waist at the cabin and her stomach was always growling. He knew she could eat all of the food in front of her. Yet she had only eaten half of her sandwich, maybe one onion ring and a couple bites of her shake.

“Why?” Tyson asked suddenly very concerned. Why hadn’t he noticed this before? Looking at her, he could see it in her face too.

Ally shrugged, not looking at him. “I could be skinner.”
“Ally,” Tyson said as he scooted his chair closer to her. “You have always been skinny.”

“Not skinny enough,” she whispered.

“Yes, you are. Who is telling you this? You haven’t ever cared about this before. You’ve always looked great.”

Ally shrugged, avoiding eye contact with Tyson. But that was enough for Tyson to guess who.

“Justin?”
When Ally didn’t say anything, Tyson felt his blood begin to boil. He wanted to knock some sense into that guy. He was messing with Ally and Tyson didn’t like that. Didn’t Justin realize that Ally was perfect just the way she was?

“Ally,” Tyson reached over and placed his hand over hers. Then he quickly pulled back remembering that he couldn’t do that. But it was enough for Ally to look at him. “Sorry, I know I can’t do that. But I just want to make sure that you know that you are beautiful just the way you are. You have always been perfect in every way. You don’t have to change who you are and what you look like, just because someone says you should.”

“That’s what Kylie said too. You guys really have that twin telepathy thing down,” Ally sniffled.

“Well she’s a smart one, and as far as the telepathy goes, we’re still working out some of the kinks,” Tyson said as Ally smiled a little and agreed. “So, will you please eat some more?”

Ally nodded her head as Tyson reach up and wiped a lone tear that had escaped off her cheek. Tyson picked up his shake and took another bite while he leaned back in the chair. He shivered as he wondered what else Justin had done to diminish Ally’s confidence in such a short time.

In less than 10 minutes, Ally groaned, “I’m so full I’m gonna die. I literally cannot move.”

Tyson laughed, “Good. That’s what I like to hear.” He cleaned up the wrappers and threw them in the garbage.

“You missed this one.” Ally crumpled up a napkin and tossed it toward the garbage can, hitting Tyson in the back of the head instead. “Sorry!” Ally loved sports but she wasn’t the best shot in the world.

“Hey!” Tyson responded. Ally giggled as she jumped out her chair and Tyson lunged for her. Ally ran into the living room but she couldn’t outrun Tyson for long. He caught her from behind, picked her up and threw Ally and himself onto the bean back in the living room.

“I thought you said that you were too full to move?” Tyson whispered in her ear and he noticed how good her hair smelled. But the spell was broken as Ally sat up quickly no longer laughing.

“We should probably finalize the details for the party,” Ally said grabbing her notebook.

“Yes, we should probably do that.” Tyson already missed how it felt to hold Ally in his arms. Being just friends was a lot harder than he thought it was going to be.

Chapter Forty-Four

 

Ally was nervous. It was the first fancy fundraising dinner she would be attending with Justin and his family. She hoped she could remember the etiquette dinners she had attended in Young Woman’s years ago. She knew that his parents and everyone would be scrutinizing her every move. Justin had given her a few tips and told her he would guide her through the evening, but she was still worried she would mess up.

As she finished zipping up her dress, she heard the doorbell ring. She glanced at her phone to check the time and ran to answer the door.

“You’re early,” Ally said when she opened the door to find Justin standing there.

He stepped inside and held out a large box with a bow on it. “I know. I just had to make sure you had time for this.”

“You want me to open this now?” Ally asked as she took the box from him.

Justin nodded his head as Ally opened the box to find a long, black, fitted lace dress. She held it up in front of her. “Wow, Justin. It’s beautiful.”

“I figured you might want something nice for tonight. I’ll wait here, while you change.”

“Okay. I’ll be just a minute.” Ally hurried off to her room.

Ally topped off her outfit by putting on the necklace Justin had given her and stood in front of the mirror. She was surprised at how much confidence an amazing dress could bring. She grabbed her clutch and walked out to Justin.

He stood up from the couch and buttoned his suit jacket. Justin wrapped an arm around Ally’s waist and pulled her in for a kiss. “Ally, you look amazing. Watching what you are eating is really paying off.”

Ally felt a little deflated at Justin’s comment about watching what she ate, but at the same time she smiled. Justin had no idea how much she had eaten two nights before.

“How did you know what size to get? This dress fits perfectly,” Ally asked trying to keep the memory of Tyson holding her in his arms from entering her mind.

“I just have good intuition when it comes to sizes or something.”

“Well good guess then. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. We should probably get going.”

Ally didn’t know what she was so nervous about as they walked into the lobby of the Grand America Hotel. Justin took the lead and guided her as they entered the ballroom. He ordered their drinks and grabbed appetizers off trays for her. As they mingled with his family’s acquaintances, she was grateful that she didn’t have to say much since Justin did most of the talking.

As they perused the items available in the silent auction, Justin asked for Ally’s opinion on which things they should bid on together. Ally definitely couldn’t afford the donation amounts, so she insisted that Justin write his name down even though he had offered to foot the bill for her if she won. As they moved down the row of tables, they settled on bids for a photoshoot that they could use for their engagements, a Chef’s Table experience at a local restaurant, and a cruise for seven days to the Caribbean which would be great for their honeymoon.

As they approached his parents, the knot of nervousness returned inside Ally. The Hawthorne’s were definitely intimidating. Justin greeted them while Ally smiled.

She was surprised when Justin’s mom was actually nice to her, “Allison, your dress looks lovely on you.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Hawthorne. Justin actually picked it out,” Ally replied. “Your dress looks beautiful as well.”

“Please call me Terri. You are practically part of the family, so no need to call us Mr. and Mrs. Hawthorne anymore. Right, Richard?”
“I agree,” Justin’s father replied with a short nod. “It looks like it is time to sit down, shall we?”

Justin and Ally followed his parents to their assigned table. Ally followed Justin’s lead as he pulled out her chair for her then took his seat, placed his napkin on his lap and reached for the menu.

Ally did the same as she noticed how many plates, glasses, and utensils were in front of her. Justin must have sensed her hesitation, since he squeezed her hand under the table and leaned over to whisper, “Just follow my lead.”

The waiter came around and took their drink orders. Ally was happy to see that Justin was just drinking water tonight, since most of their table had ordered wine. It was probably because his parents were there, but she really hoped that he was keeping his promise to her.

“What are you going to get?” Justin asked Ally.

“I’m thinking the Chicken Cordon Bleu,” Ally responded. “What about you?”

“Steak,” Justin said with a smile.

“Of course,” Ally said with a wink. “I should have known.”

Once Justin had ordered for both of them, she listened in on the conversation at the table. She had been introduced to everyone sitting at the table while they were mingling earlier that evening. They were all in high positions at Justin’s father’s company or their spouse and she didn’t know much about them. She didn’t plan to say anything unless a question was directed at her, but she wasn’t able to avoid it for too long.

“Miss Parker, Justin tells me that you are studying to be an accountant,” a man across from her asked. If Ally remembered correctly, his name was Mr. Downs. “Is that correct?”

“Yes, sir,” Ally responded. “I’ll be graduating this coming spring.”

Mr. Downs opened the floodgates as questions came in from all around the table. They asked about her family, what her parents’ occupations were, where she had grown up and where she had gone to high school, what her hobbies were, and what her plans for the future were. She felt like by the end of the interrogation session they could have written her autobiography for her.

As their food was arriving, Mr. Downs spoke again. “Miss Parker, we could use a lovely woman like you in our accounting department, don’t you think Richard?”

Justin’s father nodded his head.

Mr. Downs turned to Ally and said, “Make sure you let us know when you have your degree. Justin, you will see to it that we get her resume?”

“Yes, sir. I will.”

Justin smiled at Ally and squeezed her hand again. Luckily, their food arrived and the conversation was directed toward other topics. Once Ally was no longer the center of attention, she was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the evening. They even won the photoshoot they had bid on.

As they waited for the valet to bring Justin’s car around, he asked, “Now, it wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Ally laughed, “No, I guess not. But I couldn’t have done it without you. Who would have thought there was a separate plate for your bread?”

“You did great. No one would have guessed it was your first fundraiser event. You are a natural,” Justin said as he pulled Ally close and kissed her. The valet arrived with the car and Justin helped her in the car. As they headed toward home, they talked about his parent’s shift in attitude toward Ally and Mr. Downs’ surprising job offer.

When they were almost to Ally’s apartment, Justin suddenly pulled onto a side street and put the car in park.

“Why are we stopping here?” Ally asked.

“Because I don’t want tonight to end quite yet,” Justin said as he leaned over and kissed her. “I also think that we should set a wedding date.”

“What?” Ally asked, surprised that Justin was bringing it up. He usually avoided the topic whenever she tried to get him to settle on a date.

“I know I had said that we should wait until the end of next summer. But I don’t want to wait that long anymore. What do you think about March? I was thinking the Friday before spring break.”
“Really?” Ally asked as Justin leaned in again.

“Mhmm,” he mumbled kissing Ally again. “Also, I think you should go try on some wedding dresses. Isn’t that little store you were talking about in Park City? Why don’t you go look at a couple of dresses while you are up there for the engagement party?”

“But aren’t you going to be up there too?”

“I won’t be able to come up until right before the party starts. So maybe you could take Kylie and your mom Saturday morning? That will give you plenty of time to focus on the party.”

“Okay,” Ally said kissing Justin back. “I think I will.”

Ally was on cloud nine when she fell into bed that night. The evening had been perfect. Justin’s parents had seemed to have accepted her into their family. They had settled on a wedding date and Ally couldn’t wait to go try on wedding dresses.

Her phone vibrated and she picked it up to find a text from Justin. She set her phone back down and decided that she would just read it in the morning. She really wanted to go to sleep. She was exhausted.

A couple seconds later, her phone vibrated again. She opened one eye to see it was from Tyson. She smiled and opened the text.

“Our plane just landed in Salt Lake and I got cleared to play in the next game!”

Ally’s tiredness quickly disappeared as she sat up and called Tyson. She tiptoed out to the living room so she wouldn’t wake Kylie. She was so excited for him. She knew he had been waiting for this day to come. Maybe she could go meet him when he gets home and celebrate. She would need to go wake up Kylie and call David. On their way, they could stop by the store to get some cookies and cream ice cream, which was Tyson’s favorite.

Ally stopped in her tracks and realized that she couldn’t do any of that as Tyson’s voice came on the line, “Hey, Al.”

“Ty, that is so awesome! I’m so happy that you get to get back out on the field.”

Tyson told her how it all went down and they talked a little bit about the Utah game that Tyson had watched from the sidelines and Ally had been able to watch on tv before the fundraiser dinner.

“Well I just wanted to say congrats,” Ally yawned, realizing she should probably be in bed. It was well after midnight.
“Thanks. Good night, Al.”

“Night,” Ally said as Tyson hung up.

Ally climbed back in bed and plugged her phone back into the charger. It lit up and she noticed that she hadn’t looked at Justin’s text message. Questions began to flood her mind. She had just had a wonderful evening with Justin, yet she had been eager to read Tyson’s text, not Justin’s. She had even jumped out of bed to call Tyson and congratulate him when she could have simply sent him a text instead. Why had she been so eager to call Tyson? In that moment, Ally realized that once she was married, she would no longer be able to talk to Tyson. To be honest, after she was married, she wasn’t even sure she would have time to catch up with Kylie.

Ally thought about her interactions with Tyson over the last few weeks. She had enjoyed every moment she had spent with him and looked forward to their upcoming plans. That couldn’t be said for her time spent with Justin. She found herself feeling anxious before every date and she couldn’t explain it. They had both declared their love for her, yet she had stayed with Justin. What if she did give Tyson another chance?

She pushed her head into the pillow and closed her eyes tighter begging sleep to overcome her. What was she thinking? She would never find out what could have happened, because she loved Justin, right? But now that Tyson was back in her life, did she really want to let him go?

Chapter Forty-Five

 

“Kylie, have you seen my umbrella anywhere?” Ally hollered as she checked the coat closet by the door. “It’s pouring out there and I really don’t want to get soaked on the way to the car.”

“I haven’t,” Kylie said as she took another bite of her cereal. She glanced at the clock to see that they still had 5 minutes before they needed to leave for church. “We can share my umbrella?”

“You know that that never works,” Ally said as she gave up on the coat closet and headed back to their room.

Less than a minute later, Kylie heard a loud crash and yelled, “Ally, are you okay?”

“Ya,” she heard Ally say. Kylie sighed a breath of relief and went back to finishing her breakfast.

Five minutes passed and Kylie was ready to go but Ally was nowhere to be seen. She headed back to their room to see what was taking Ally so long.

Kylie was about to ask Ally if she was ready, but stopped when she saw a bunch of boxes and pictures strewn all over the floor with Ally sitting in the middle of it. She picked up one that was close to her. It was a picture of Tyson and Ally after the football team had won the state championship in high school. She picked up a couple more and realized that these must have been the pictures that Ally had printed off when she was planning their wedding.

“Ally, are you ready to go?” Kylie asked, startling Ally.

“Oh, ya.” Ally quickly put the pictures that were in her hand in the box. As Ally went over to her bed to grab her scriptures, Ally kept her back to Kylie and Kylie could tell that she was trying to be discreet about wiping away a couple tears. They had been friends for too long for her not to notice when Ally was trying to hide the fact that she had been crying.

“Everything okay?” Kylie asked, trying not to smile as she hoped that Ally was crying over the pictures of her and Tyson.

“Ya,” Ally said and held up her umbrella. “I found it.”

Kylie was distracted all during sacrament meeting. She kept sneaking glances at Tyson on the other side of David and Ally who was sitting on the other end of their group next to her. She couldn’t believe that her plan could actually be working. She wished she could be a fly on the wall to see what had been going on between those two over the last couple weeks.

She had noticed that they had been acting normal around each other. In a way, Kylie was surprised, since Tyson had told her that Ally had turned him down and said they could only be friends. She had to give Tyson props for not giving up and his determination to be Ally’s friend. Kylie hoped that what she had witnessed today was a sign that Ally was starting to question her future with Justin and maybe she was realizing she had made a mistake.

 

After calling the wedding shop to make an appointment, Ally called her mom to let her know about the plans for Saturday morning. They decided that it would probably be best to go up Friday night and spend the night, then her mom would go home after the dress appointment. Now she just had to talk to Kylie and everything would be set.

Monday night she found David and Kylie playing a round of Uno and figured now was as good a time as ever. “Kylie? I have a favor to ask of you.”

“What’s that?” Kylie asked.

“I know that I promised that I would focus solely on your wedding until after it was over. But there is a little wedding dress shop up in Park City and since we are going to be up there, I was thinking that maybe we could stop by, if that was okay with you?”
Ally crossed her fingers as Kylie responded hesitantly, “I guess so.”

“Awesome! Also, David would you mind if my mom, Kylie and I go up Friday night to the cabin. Then we will already be up there in the morning since the appointment is at 10?”

“I don’t see any problem with that,” David responded. “I’ll let my parents know.”

“Thanks guys. I’ll see you later,” Ally said as she walked out the door to head over to Justin’s condo. That went a lot better than Ally expected. Things were going well with Justin. All she had left to do was figure out where or if Tyson fit in her life.

Chapter Forty-Six

 

The party was only a few days away. Ally had spent all Thursday afternoon at Tyson’s apartment putting together decorations and party favors. Ally was grateful that they had decided to order sandwiches and salads for dinner, because she definitely didn’t have time to make those too. Tyson had been a trooper, not complaining once about helping Ally with all that she had decided to take upon herself to do for the party.

Ally couldn’t deny how comfortable she felt around Tyson. Over the past few weeks, she had probably told him more about what was going on in her life than she had told Justin. They laughed and joked around just like they had when they were dating. Which had caused them to have a few moments that were borderline more than friends. She hated that she still liked it when Tyson had held her in his arms. It just came so naturally.

What if she did give Tyson another chance? Would their relationship work out? Or would they find that they had both moved on? Most of all, what would she do if they broke up again? Justin wouldn’t take her back. She would have to start back at step one in finding her future husband. Was that a risk she wanted to take?
She had been praying to know if she was supposed to stay with Justin or give Tyson another shot. She didn’t want to spend the rest of her life wondering what could have been with Tyson. But she also didn’t want to throw away the relationship she had with Justin. She knew that while they may have some ups and downs, he would at the very least take care of her.

She knew that she had a long way to go to fit into Justin’s lifestyle and be fully comfortable among his friends and family. But their future together was all planned out and it looked pretty perfect to Ally. Justin already had a steady income from working for his dad. Once he graduated, he would be a partner in his dad’s company and eventually take over for him. They would stay in Utah and she would get to be a stay-at-home mom.

Her future with Tyson was never set in stone, even when they were dating. Ally knew she would have to work while Tyson went to school. But once Tyson graduated, that is where their plan had ended. Would Tyson get drafted to play in the NFL? Would they have to move across the country? Or would he get a job in sports marketing? Could he get the job he wanted in Utah? If he could, would Ally still have to work? She hadn’t been afraid of the uncertainty when they were dating, so why was it bugging her now?
Maybe all the questions and uncertainty pertaining to a future with Tyson was her answer? Or was the fact that she was thinking about a future with Tyson her answer? Ally didn’t know. Ally shook her head and focused on frosting the sugar cookies in front of her. She had to get this figured out sooner than later.

Gratefully, Tyson distracted her from her thoughts.

“Have you discovered any good, new songs lately?”

“Ya, I actually updated my favorites playlist a couple of days ago. I have found a lot of new songs that I really like. Do you want to hear them?” Ally asked as she grabbed her phone and navigated to her songs.

“Sure. I have to be honest with you, I kind of miss listening to country music.”

“Really? Does this mean that you are ready to admit that country music is the best?” Ally teased.

Tyson laughed, “Nah, my music is still better. But thanks to you, I like listening to it every once in a while.”

They chatted while music played in the background. With only a few cookies left to frost, Ally heard her favorite song come on and she couldn’t help but start singing along and bobbing her head. She was surprised when Tyson joined in on the chorus. She shouldn’t have been surprised because she had first discovered the song when she was dating Tyson. Ally couldn’t help but laugh when she turned around to see him holding the knife he had been using to spread the frosting as a microphone.

Ally turned up the music. Tyson grabbed her hand and spun her around. They sang at the top of their lungs while they danced around the kitchen. Throw in a couple air guitar solos, hair flipping, ridiculous interpretive dancing, and anyone would have thought they were crazy. But it wasn’t the first time Ally and Tyson had had a karaoke dance party like this.

They were out of breath as the song ended. But Tyson didn’t hesitate to pull Ally into a slow sway when the next song came on. Ally locked eyes with Tyson as she realized it was their song that was playing. The song they had danced to many times before. The song that they were supposed to dance to at their wedding. She could see the regret in Tyson’s eyes as he gave her a small smile. Ally reciprocated the smile as the memories of the special moments that she had shared with Tyson flooded her mind. She knew she would always care for him. But could she live without him?

In that moment, Ally didn’t want to let him go as she took a step closer.

 

 

Tyson’s heart pounded as he stared into Ally’s eyes. He wished he could read her mind. She hadn’t retreated when their song had come on. If anything, she had taken a step closer. Did she want him to kiss her? Because he wouldn’t mind caving in to the desire he had been fighting all night to kiss her.

Tyson stopped himself. He couldn’t just kiss her, because he would be doing the same exact thing that Justin had done to him back on that night that seemed so long ago. If Tyson kissed Ally, it could ruin their friendship that Tyson had worked so hard to rebuild. He wondered if Ally would keep it a secret from Justin? What if she got upset? Could he handle Ally being mad at him again? Most of all, would it ruin his chances at getting her back?

But what if Ally wanted him to kiss her? What if it was the catalyst to getting Ally back? What if he leaned in? Would Ally close the distance? The party was on Saturday and he might not see much of Ally after that. What if this was his last chance? Did he want to keep wondering what if for the rest of his life? Was it a chance he was willing to take?

They had stopped swaying to the music somewhere along the way. Tyson’s eyes never strayed from Ally’s as he pulled her close and leaned in a little to test the water. He felt like his heart was going to pound out of his chest as Ally leaned in and pulled his head closer to hers. Ally closed her eyes and Tyson didn’t resist.

But the magic was broken when the door to Tyson’s apartment burst open as David ran in with Kylie close behind. Ally quickly pulled away and walked over to the sugar cookies she had been frosting. Tyson stood there wishing he could have the moment back.

 

 

Kylie caught her breath as David said, “I won.”

“You cheated. You were running before you even said you would race me to the door.”

“But you still love me, right?” David said as he pulled Kylie in and kissed her.

“I guess so,” Kylie said returning his kiss.

“How’s the party planning going?” David asked, directing the question at Tyson and Ally.

“Good. Just a few more cookies and everything will be ready,” Ally responded. But Kylie was more concerned with the way that Tyson was just standing in the middle of the kitchen.

“You okay?” Kylie asked, walking past him to steal a cookie.

“Ya,” Tyson said as he ran his hand through his hair and moved to lean against the counter.

Kylie gave him a questioning look. “If you say so. Ally, what’s the plan for this weekend?”

Ally finished frosting the last cookie and started to pack everything up, keeping her back to everyone. “I was thinking we could leave tomorrow around 8 or so. My mom is going to drive up separate, since she is going home after we go wedding dress shopping. David and Tyson will meet us at the cabin around lunch time, after they pick up the food for the party. Then we will decorate and hopefully everything will be ready by 5.”

“Sounds great to me,” Kylie said.

“I better give you the key now, before I forget,” David said handing the key to the cabin to Kylie.

Tyson walked over to Ally who was washing the remainder of the dishes.

“Can I help?” Tyson asked as he ran his hand through his hair again.

“You can load everything into my car,” Ally said as she grabbed her keys and handed them to Tyson all while avoiding eye contact with him. That was enough for Kylie to know that something was up. Tyson only played with his hair when he was unsure or stressed. They had made such progress in becoming friends again. What had happened?

“I’ll help you,” David offered.

Once the guys had taken the first load out, Kylie grabbed a towel to dry off the dishes Ally was finishing up with. “Is everything okay?”

Ally nodded her head.

“Are you sure?”

“Ya. I’m just tired.” Tired was Ally’s favorite excuse for when something was wrong. She was going to ask more but the guys came back for their second load. With Ally’s help, they didn’t need to make a third trip.

“Do you want a ride?” Ally asked Kylie.

“No. David can take me home. Right?”

David nodded his head. But the real reason she wanted to stay was to ask Tyson what was going on. Unfortunately, the second that Tyson came back up from Ally’s car he went straight to his room. David suggested that they watch a couple episodes of The Office before he took her home. Kylie agreed, hoping that she would get a chance to talk to Tyson.

Kylie expressed her concerns with David. Something seemed to be off between Ally and Tyson. Maybe she was wrong about the rekindling romance between the two of them. Ally was still planning on wedding dress shopping and who knows what other things her and Justin had started to plan for their wedding. Ally hadn’t been willing to tell her what was going on earlier that evening, so she doubted she would get much out of her tonight if she tried. Tyson was her only hope. But he never came back out of his room before David took her home.

Luckily, Kylie didn’t have to wait long to find out what happened. As she expressed her concerns again at lunch the next day, Kylie could tell that David was keeping something from her.

“Do you know something?” Kylie asked.

David took a deep breath. “I talked to Tyson after you left last night. But he told me not to tell you.”

“He should know better than to make you keep secrets from me. What did he say?”

“Well I guess they started dancing and singing with each other. Tyson said they were having a great time. Then their song came on.”

“Their song? As in the one that they were going to dance to at their wedding?” Kylie clarified.

David nodded his head. “I guess they started dancing to the song and Tyson felt like there was a real connection between them. That maybe Ally still had feelings for him so he decided to lean in a little ways to see if Ally would lean in the rest of the way for a kiss. Apparently, she started leaning in and they were literally centimeters away from kissing…”

“You are telling me that they kissed!?” Kylie exclaimed, interrupting David. This was great. Her plan had worked and now Ally was going to break up with Justin. Tyson and Ally were going to get back together. Everything was going to be perfect.

“Actually, they didn’t,” David said shaking his head.

“Oh. What happened?” Kylie said, feeling deflated.

“You and I came bursting through the door.”

“No…”

“Yep. Ally just quickly pulled away and we know the rest.”

“I guess that makes sense now as to why Tyson was just standing in the middle of the kitchen looking like he wasn’t sure what to do with himself.”

“Yep. Tyson was pretty frustrated last night. I guess he apologized to Ally once I had headed back up to the apartment after we put everything in Ally’s car. He told her he was sorry. That he didn’t want to put her in a position that could harm her relationship with Justin.

“But the thing that is bugging him the most, is that all Ally said was thank you, got in her car and drove away.”

“Thank you for…?”

“Exactly,” David said. “Tyson is driving himself crazy trying to figure out what she meant. He doesn’t know if she was just saying thank you for apologizing or for remembering that she is in a relationship with Justin. He thought he saw her wipe a tear away before she drove off, but it was dark and he thinks that maybe he is just hoping that the thank you means more.”

“Hoping that the thank you means that Ally realized she still has feelings for him?”

David nodded his head. “He doesn’t know what to do. I told him he should just wait until this weekend is over. Maybe Ally just needs some time to digest everything.”

“I agree,” Kylie said as she got a text from Tyson. “Speaking of Tyson, he wants me to meet him at the field house. Thanks for the heads up.”

After Kylie and David parted ways, Kylie sent a quick text to Ally asking her if she was still planning to go wedding dress shopping tomorrow morning.

“Yes. Why?” Ally responded.

“No reason.” But Ally’s answer was enough to give Kylie a feel as to where Ally’s head was in this situation. She was still going wedding dress shopping. Maybe the almost kiss didn’t mean anything to her after all.

Kylie waited outside the field house as the other football players filed out after practice. When she saw Tyson, her heart ached for her brother. How was she going to tell him that he shouldn’t get his hopes up? She didn’t want him to get hurt again. But she knew how much he still loved Ally.

They sat down on a nearby bench and Tyson spoke first, “I need your opinion on something that happened last night.”

“David told me,” Kylie interrupted. She didn’t want him to have to repeat the story again.

Tyson took a deep breath and stared at the ground. “What do I do? In that moment, it felt like that chemistry was still there. But then she just says thank you? What does she mean, Ky? You’re her best friend. What does she mean?”

“Ty, I don’t know her as well as I used to. Once she started dating Justin, she stopped telling me a lot of things. You know how close we used to be, even when she was dating you. All of that has disappeared.”

“But you know how girls think. Do I try to talk to her about it? Just give her space? Or do I try harder to stay in the friend zone?”

“I think that maybe you should give her some distance,” Kylie said as she saw Tyson’s shoulders slump. “I’m not saying that because I don’t think you have a future with her. I’m saying that because I think she needs some time.”

“But what if backing away makes her think that I’m giving up on her? Do I just sit here and watch her marry Justin?”

Kylie thought for a second, “Do you want her to happy?”

“Of course I do.”

“If marrying Justin is what ends up making her happy, then yes, you will just sit by and watch her marry Justin. I know it won’t be easy, but you’ll do it because you care about her and you want her to be happy.”

He sighed. “I don’t know if I can give up on her quite yet. I still love her.”

“I know. But she is still going wedding dress shopping tomorrow, Ty. I checked with her on my way over here. You have to remember that she is engaged to a different guy. Granted, nobody likes him and I wish that he would just disappear. But you have done all you can. You have been her friend and the two of you have had a couple of moments where maybe she remembered what you guys used to have and could have again. But she has to be the one to make the decision now.”

“But she still had our song on her playlist of her favorite songs. And she leaned in, Kylie. Doesn’t that mean something?”

“I don’t know. Whether it meant something to Ally or if she just got caught up in the moment, we might never know. But I really think you need to take a step back for now.”

“I guess. I was hoping you would say something different than David. But maybe you two are right.”

“Tyson. You know I’m on your side, right? I don’t think I told you this, but a couple of weeks ago she came home really late one night and I talked to her about my concerns. I told her that I was worried about her. That she hasn’t been the Ally we know and love. I asked her to reconsider marrying Justin. I even told her that I didn’t even care if it wasn’t you. I don’t want Ally to marry Justin just as much you don’t. All I want is for her to be happy to have a good man in her life.”

“Really? What did she say?”

“She promised to take a close look at her future with Justin.”

“Well, that’s good, right?” Tyson said with hope in his voice.

“Maybe. Or maybe not,” Kylie said cautiously. “She knows how we both feel, but now we have to let her do what she feels is best for her. But one thing is for sure, I’ll always have your back, Ty. I promise.”

Kylie walked away from Tyson knowing that he was going to try to give Ally some distance this weekend to let her sort out her thoughts. However, she could tell that Tyson was still holding on to a little hope that Ally still loved him. Kylie had to be honest with herself as well, she still hoped that Ally would come around too. She really didn’t want to see Tyson or Ally get hurt again. Everything was in Ally’s hands.

Chapter Forty-Seven

 

As Kylie, Ally, and Mrs. Parker walked into the wedding dress shop the next morning, Kylie tried to put a smile on her face. But in all reality, she was annoyed.

During the entire drive up to Park City, Ally gushed about Justin and how they were finally starting to plan their wedding. She told Kylie about all of her ideas, which weren’t too different from the ideas she had had when she was planning her wedding with Tyson. They were just more elegant and classic and a lot more expensive.

Ally acted like nothing had happened between her and Tyson. Did the almost kiss really mean nothing to Ally? Kylie couldn’t believe that Ally would just go around playing with Tyson’s heart. Had she really turned into the kind of person who thought that this was okay?

The next hour seemed to drag on for Kylie. Ally tried on dress after dress. When she did ask for Kylie’s opinion, it was easy for her to just say, “I think it looks great. But what do you think?” She did look great in all of them, so she wasn’t lying. Fortunately, Ally was able to find something wrong with most of them, so Kylie didn’t have to say much.

Kylie was starting to think that they were going to get out there without Ally picking a dress. But Ally found two that she really liked in the last few dresses that she tried on. They were two completely different dresses. One was all lace and was fitted, while the other had lace up top but the bottom flared out with tulle right below the waist.

Kylie was starting to get impatient as Ally tried each dress on again. She was grateful when the consultant stepped in to help Ally make a decision because Kylie really just wanted to leave. In a way, she felt bad because Ally had been patient with Kylie through all of her wedding planning. But she just couldn’t stand being here anymore, knowing that Ally obviously didn’t care about the fact that she was breaking Tyson’s heart a second time.

“Are you going to be doing a first look session with your fiancé? Or is he going to see your dress for the first time on the wedding day?” The consultant asked Ally.

“I will probably be doing a first look,” Ally answered.

“Perfect. I have a little trick that usually works in helping you decide which dress is the one. Do you mind if we try it?” The consultant asked Ally.

Ally nodded her head. The consultant went and grabbed the tulle dress that was still in Ally’s dressing room.

When she returned she said, “Okay, take a look at yourself in the lace dress. Now, close your eyes.” Ally did so, while the consultant placed the tulle dress in front of the lace dress and held it from behind.

“Okay, now open your eyes and look at this dress. Close your eyes again. Picture yourself in the place where you will be getting your first look pictures taken. Your fiancé has his back turned to you and you are walking toward him. When you reach him, you tap him on the shoulder. He turns around and you step back so he can see all of your dress. Which dress are you wearing?”

Kylie was sick inside as tears started rolling down Ally’s cheeks. Ally was definitely having a Say Yes to the Dress moment.

The consultant brought over some tissues and asked, “Is this the dress?” Ally nodded her head. “Great! Feel free to stay in the dress as long as you want, take some more pictures, and I will get all the information written down for you.”

Much to Kylie’s surprise, Ally stepped down off the pedestal and walked right to the fitting room with her mom following closely behind. Didn’t she want more pictures of the dress? Kylie had taken at least a dozen different angles of her dress. But maybe Ally was okay with the few that her mom had already taken.

When Ally and her mom finally emerged, the consultant handed them a card and directed them to the front desk where they could order the dress. Kylie joined them, but much to her surprise, Ally’s mom said, “Thank you for your help, but I don’t think we are quite ready to make a purchase today.”

Kylie could tell that the consultant was a little disappointed, but gave them her card and didn’t pressure them into buying the dress. Kylie thought for sure that that Ally was going to buy that dress. What had happened? Maybe the dress had cost too much? Kylie hadn’t been paying close attention to prices when they were shopping. But Ally had seemed to be willing to try on any dress. Why would she have tried on a dress that she couldn’t afford?

Ally’s mom suggested that they get some French toast from Kneaders. Kylie got in her car and followed Ally and Mrs. Parker, still puzzled as to why Ally had cried over the dress and then decided not to get it.

Kylie wanted to ask Ally what had happened, but Mrs. Parker did a good job of keeping the topic off of the wedding dress shopping. She asked Kylie about David and their wedding plans. Ally seemed a little distant, but piped in every once in a while. Once they were all stuffed from unlimited Chunky Cinnamon French Toast, Ally’s mom excused herself since she had to be back for a church activity that afternoon.

Kylie thought she was going to get her chance to ask Ally what was going on, but Ally started cleaning up and headed toward the garbage can before she could say anything.

Once they were outside, Ally took off toward where they had parked at the far end of the parking lot. The other breakfast joint in the complex was crazy busy, so they had had to park quite a distance away from Kneaders. Kylie was practically running to keep up with Ally’s fast pace as she weaved in and out of cars.

Kylie ran into Ally as she suddenly came to complete stop. Kylie was about to ask Ally why she had stopped when her car was still a couple rows away, until she saw what Ally saw. That was definitely Justin’s car. And inside was Justin definitely making out with some girl.

Kylie’s frustration with Ally quickly turned into anger toward Justin. “I’m gonna kill him,” Kylie mumbled as she headed toward Justin’s car. But Ally quickly grabbed her arm and held her back.

“Not here,” Ally said as she started pulling her back in the direction of Kylie’s car.

Once they were finally in the car, Kylie asked, “Are you really just going to let him get away with this?”

“Please, can we just go to cabin?” Ally said as she stared out the passenger side window.

“Fine.” Kylie backed out of the parking spot and headed toward the cabin.

 

 

Tyson knew that Ally and Kylie would be walking through the door any minute. He was a little anxious, since it was the first time seeing Ally since they had almost kissed. He kept reminding himself that he needed to make sure that he kept his distance, while also balancing being a co-host for the party.

Tyson and David were putting the food in the fridge when Kylie came storming through the door.

“I’m gonna kill him,” she exclaimed as she slammed the door behind her. “I knew there was something that I didn’t like about him. I can’t believe he did this. When he gets here tonight, he is going to get it.”

“Whoa, Kylie. Honey, calm down,” David said as he pulled Kylie into a hug. “Who are you going kill exactly?”

Kylie pulled away from David and started to pace around the room. “Justin. That’s who I’m going to kill.”

“What did he do?” Tyson asked suddenly worried about Ally. “Wait, where’s Ally?”

“She is still in the car. She wanted some time to herself. Which I don’t blame her. Justin is such a jerk. And Ally didn’t do anything about it.”

“Wait. Back up. What happened?” David asked.

“Ally and I were walking to the car after we were done eating at Kneaders and suddenly Ally just stopped walking. And there was Justin making out with some girl in his car,” Kylie explained as she continued to pace back and forth.

“Is Ally okay?” Tyson asked. His heart went out to her. He knew what it was like to see your significant other kissing someone else.

“I don’t know. She wouldn’t let me confront Justin in the parking lot and she just stared out the window the whole drive here and didn’t say a word. I don’t know what is going through her head. But I hope she says something to Justin about it. She can’t just let him go around cheating on her. And to be totally honest, I don’t think that this is the first time.”

“She doesn’t deserve to be treated like that,” Tyson said wanting to go out to the car and make sure Ally was okay. But then he remembered that he needed to keep his distance.

“No, she doesn’t. What bugs me the most is that Ally has done everything that Justin wanted her to. Everything. She lost weight, went to all of his parties and social events, did whatever he asked of her, and then he does this.” Kylie slumped down on the couch. “I just hope that he doesn’t get away with this. If Ally doesn’t do anything, I will.”

David sat next to her. “I’m sure you won’t let him get away with it. But for now, you should probably give Ally a chance to talk to him first.”

Kylie folded her arms. “Fine,” she grumbled as Ally walked in the door.

 

 

Ally took a deep breath when she walked through the door. Kylie was upset, so she figured that David and Tyson probably already knew about what Kylie and Ally had witnessed in the parking lot. She knew what she needed to do. She just needed make sure that someone had her back.

“Hey guys,” Ally said quietly noticing that Kylie still looked like she could kill someone with the fire burning in her eyes. “Kylie, can I talk to you for a minute?”

“You want to talk to me?” Kylie asked surprised.

Ally nodded her head. “David? Tyson? Do you think you could find the banner and hang it up above the fireplace?”

“Of course,” David said as he pulled Kylie up from the couch.

Kylie followed Ally to one of the bedrooms and shut the door behind her as they both sat down on the bed. Right as Ally sat down, the tears started. Kylie pulled her into a hug and let her cry for a minute.

“I’m sorry, Al,” Kylie said with softened eyes.

“I’m not,” Ally said.

“What?”

“Yes, it sucks that Justin cheated on me and I don’t know how long he has been doing this behind my back. But honestly, I feel so relieved. Today has been an answer to my prayers.”

Kylie stared at her with wide eyes.

Ally smiled through the tears. “Let me back up to a couple weeks ago.” Ally went on to tell her how she had really started to question her decision to marry Justin when Tyson told her that he still cared for her. Add in her late-night talk with Kylie and she knew that she needed to make sure that she made the right decision.

As she spent time with Tyson planning Kylie and David’s engagement party, she realized how much she enjoyed spending time with him. Then she started to question if she really wanted to live without Tyson in her life. Ally knew that if she married Justin, he wouldn’t let her see Tyson. But she also knew that she had a dream life waiting for her, if she stayed with Justin. She didn’t know if she wanted to take the risk of breaking up with Justin, just to realize that Tyson and her couldn’t be more than just friends.

“Then two nights ago, right before you and David came home, Tyson and I were dancing and everything felt so right. And when he leaned in to kiss me, I wanted him to. So, I leaned in too, but you and David came bursting through the door. In that moment, I realized that I couldn’t just kiss Tyson. I was engaged to someone else. I kept telling myself that I had just gotten caught up in the moment.

“I was starting to get frustrated, because I had been praying about it for weeks and I still didn’t know what to do. It is such a big decision and I didn’t want to make the wrong choice. Then this morning, when the consultant told me to picture my fiancé seeing my dress for the first time, it wasn’t Justin who turned around. It was Tyson.”

“Serious?” Kylie asked.

“Right then I knew I couldn’t marry Justin,” Ally smiled as fresh tears rolled down her cheeks. “I knew the answer. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize it. I think I knew all along that I still have feelings for Tyson. And those feelings are so much stronger than anything I have ever felt with Justin. Then seeing Justin with that other girl. Well at least I can keep Tyson out of the equation when I break up with Justin. I can focus on the fact that he was cheating on me. Not that I’m breaking up with him because I have feelings for someone else.”

“Wow, Ally. I had no idea that this is what was going through your head these past few weeks. When are you going to pull the plug with Justin?”

“I was thinking tonight after the party. Honestly, I’m a little worried about how Justin will react. When he gets upset, it’s a little scary. I want to make sure that other people are around, just in case something happens.”

“Look at what he did to Tyson years ago, when he didn’t get what he wanted.”

“That’s what worries me.”

“Well, I’ve got your back. But don’t you think that maybe we should tell David and Tyson. Because I’m not going to be able to do much when it comes to protecting you from Justin.”

“You can tell David. But I really want to leave Tyson out of this.”

Kylie nodded her head. “Make sense.”

“Well shall we go get everything ready for the party?” Ally asked relieved that someone knew about her plan.

“Sounds good to me.”

Chapter Forty-Eight

 

When the girls walked back into the kitchen, Tyson couldn’t believe how much Kylie’s attitude had changed. She was actually happy. Although Ally was a little quiet, she seemed to be taking this morning’s events quite well also. They must have a had a really good talk.

Ally put David and Tyson to work hanging up more decorations, while Kylie and Ally put together the food. Ally focused on making sure everything was perfect. Which involved David and Tyson moving a banner three times. Even though Ally seemed to be doing okay on the outside, Tyson still worried about what was going on inside. He reminded himself that he needed to keep his distance. But it was okay to ask Ally if she was okay, right?
“How are you holding up?” Tyson asked Ally as he helped her fill the punch and water.

“I’ll be better when the night is over,” Ally responded as she walked to the freezer and pulled out the ice.

“Let me take care of the ice.”

“Thanks,” Ally said as she walked over to the table and started arranging the items on it.

Why would Ally be better after tonight? Was she really that stressed out about the party? Well, the least Tyson could do was help her more so that she wasn’t stressed.

“Ally, Tyson, this looks great,” Kylie said as they were finishing the final details. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Ally and Tyson both responded as the doorbell rang.

“I’ll get the door tonight,” Tyson said to Ally as he walked to the door. For the next little while, there was a steady stream of guests arriving. Ally wasn’t far behind Tyson in welcoming people as they arrived. She guided them to the kitchen and somehow ended back by the front door at the perfect time as each batch of guests arrived.

The stream was dying down as Tyson opened the door to see Justin. He had forgotten that he would be here. It made sense. Ally was still engaged to him and Justin didn’t know that he had been caught cheating on Ally. He wanted to give Justin a piece of his mind, but knew he couldn’t. For now, he was just going to have to deal with it.

“Hey, Justin. Ally’s in the kitchen,” Tyson said as he opened the door further and let Justin in.

“What are you doing here?” Justin seemed surprised to see him.

“Well David is my best friend and Kylie is my sister.”
“Kylie’s your sister?”

“Always has been and always will be,” Tyson replied sarcastically, with a grin, realizing that Justin had no idea that Kylie was his sister.

Ally walked in at that moment and Justin’s face turned from a scowl to a smile. “Hey, babe,” Justin said as he walked over and kissed Ally passionately.

Tyson knew the display was to make him jealous, and it worked. It was like Tyson was watching the night that he was going to propose to Ally all over again. He felt like the air had been knocked out of him. How could Justin do this to Ally?

He felt a little better when Ally seemed to pull away quickly keeping the kiss short and Justin followed her down the hallway to the kitchen. Why did she even let Justin kiss her? Tyson wanted to punch him for being a jerk. Didn’t Ally want to do the same?

Soon the party was in full swing as everyone dished up their food. Some had found seats in the living room, while others mingled in the kitchen. A couple of David and Tyson’s mission companions had been able to make it and Tyson was having a great time catching up with them.

Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Ally trying to restock the sandwiches while balancing the to-go tray on the little space available on the table. He quickly excused himself and went over to help her.

“Can I help you with that?”

“Yes, thank you,” Ally responded as she let Tyson hold the tray while she placed the sandwiches on the nice serving platter.

They were almost done when one of Kylie’s friends ran in asking if Ally knew where a rag was, because someone had spilled punch on the carpet.

“I can finish this,” Tyson said to Ally as she quickly went to clean up the disaster. Tyson wondered why anyone served punch at parties. Without a doubt, someone always spilled some on the carpet. It would be easier just to stick with water.

Tyson could tell Justin was near him before he heard him. “I heard about your concussion. Are you going to get to play again?”

The last thing Tyson wanted to do was talk to him. Justin was the same jerk he had been when he was a younger. He hadn’t ever liked Justin and Tyson had this gut feeling that Justin still didn’t like him either. Tyson took a deep breath, he could do this. He could be civil. And he definitely didn’t want to ruin Kylie and David’s party.

“Actually, I get to play next week.”

“Well that’s good I guess…. You know, I’m actually kind of glad that I got hurt before I got to college, because now I get to spend a lot more time with Ally. If I had to go to practice, like you, I would only get to see her for a couple hours each day. But now I don’t have to worry about choosing between football or Ally.”

Tyson wanted to tell Justin that if he was able to find time to make-out with other girls, he wasn’t spending enough time with Ally. But he held his tongue as he finished with the sandwiches and walked over to the garbage can. Tyson hadn’t ever felt like he had to choose between football or Ally. Sure, he wished that he could have spent more time with her, but she had supported him in his decisions and football was something that they both loved.

“Do you ever wonder if that’s the reason why you and Ally didn’t work out?” Tyson clenched his fists. He had hoped that Justin wouldn’t follow him, but apparently, he wasn’t finished talked to Tyson yet.

 

Everything inside of him wanted to give Justin a piece of his mind. No, football wasn’t the reason that he and Ally broke up, it was Justin’s fault. But Tyson knew he couldn’t cave in when he turned around to see a smirk on Justin’s face. Justin knew he was the reason. Tyson wasn’t going to let Justin get to him.

Tyson tried his best to be casual, “Maybe.” Hopefully that answer would be enough for Justin to leave.

“Isn’t it funny how all those years ago, you were the starting quarterback and then you broke your hand and I got to be the quarterback from then on. Now here we are, Ally was yours and you let her go and now she’s mine,” Justin said saying the last part in a whisper that made Tyson wish they were on the football field so he could sack Justin nice and hard.

 

 

When the carpet looked like nothing had happened, Ally headed back to the kitchen. She picked up her pace when she noticed that Justin was talking to Tyson and Tyson looked like he could lose his cool any second.

“Hey boys,” Ally said as soon as she reached them. She turned to Tyson, “Thanks for helping me with the sandwiches Ty.”
Tyson nodded his head. His eyes told her he wasn’t going to be able to say anything without exploding. Maybe she should have broken up with Justin before the party. Then Tyson wouldn’t have to be putting up with Justin’s crap. And she wouldn’t have to still act like Justin’s fiancée. The kiss when Justin had arrived was not pleasant to say the least.

But she didn’t have time to dwell on that. She had to get Justin away from Tyson, so she grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the living room.

“I need your help.” Ally searched the room for something, anything that she might need help with.

She settled on having Justin help her move a table and a couple chairs to set up for the first game they would be playing. Once it seemed like everyone had finished eating, she had everyone take a seat in the living room.

“Thank you all for coming to support Kylie and David,” Ally said. “When they asked Tyson and I to be the best man and maid of honor, we promised that we would help them with whatever they needed to pull off their dream wedding. Apparently, we didn’t realize what we had just signed ourselves up for.”

Ally went on to tell about how Kylie and David had surprised them by moving up the wedding date, while leaving out the fact that Tyson and Ally weren’t getting along at the time. Everyone laughed as Ally told them about the detailed calendar that Kylie had given Tyson and Ally.

“I think that Tyson will agree with me that helping them plan all the little details of their wedding actually ended up being a lot of fun. We got to see how much Kylie and David love each other and that they really are perfect for each other.”

After Ally’s speech, she let Tyson take over to introduce their version of the Newlywed game while she took her seat next to Justin.

With the game underway, Justin leaned over to Ally and whispered, “You didn’t tell me that Tyson was at all of those wedding planning events you went to. And you never told me that Kylie was Tyson’s sister.”

Ally shrugged her shoulders and whispered back, “I didn’t think it was a big deal. And you never asked.”

“Of course it is a big deal,” Justin said, his whisper getting louder. “I wouldn’t have let you go, if I would have known.”
“It was and is all for my best friend’s wedding. We have already been over this before,” Ally sighed. “We can talk about it more later.”

“Fine,” Justin huffed, slumping back in his chair. Ally was grateful Justin didn’t continue to pursue the topic. They had to make it through the party first.

 

With Ally back in charge of the party, Tyson headed outside to get the campfire going while the group finished playing the last game and Kylie and David opened presents.

He loved how peaceful it was outside. They had cracked open the windows, so he could hear the laughs and chatter from inside. But at least he wouldn’t have to see Justin or see him hang all over Ally. Had she really forgiven him? If she hadn’t, she was doing a really good job of pretending that she had forgiven him.

Tyson sat down on a nearby log and stoked the fire until the party started to file outside. While they roasted marshmallows, Starbursts and any other type of roastable item people could find, Tyson conversed with his mission companions.

Switching to Spanish, one of his companions nodded toward Ally and asked, “Is that Ally the Ally?”

Tyson nodded his head.

“I heard that you guys had broken up. Is she really engaged

to that guy now?”

“Sí.”
“He kind of seems like a jerk.”

Tyson went on to tell them about his history with Justin and how he had jumped in and won over Ally. “I just hope she realizes that he is a jerk before she marries him.”

Chapter Forty-Nine

 

As the party died down and most people had left, Tyson found himself back inside the cabin cleaning up. He let Ally handle the farewells and soon there was only David, Kylie, one of her friends, Ally, Justin, Tyson, and a mission companion left.

“Kylie, these sugar cookies are delicious,” her friend gushed as she took another one to go.

“Well you will have to thank Ally and Tyson. They spent almost an entire day together making all the treats and decorations,” Kylie said. Tyson noticed Kylie glance at Ally with a worried look that asked if she had said too much.

Ally just smiled, while Kylie lead her friend to the front door. But the look in Justin’s eyes said that Kylie had brought up a sensitive subject.

“Ally, we need to talk,” Justin said in a whisper that was still loud enough for David and Tyson hear.

“I need to help clean up.” Ally said not looking at Justin, as Kylie walked back into the room.

“No, we need to talk now,” Justin said frustrated as he grabbed her arm and pulled her toward the back door.

Tyson noticed Kylie and David share a look of concern as the door shut. “What was that look that you two just shared? Because it didn’t look good. Do you know something I don’t?”

Kylie started pacing back and forth, “Ally’s going to break up with Justin.”

“What?” Tyson said as his heart cheered for Ally. Good for her. “Wait, how do you know?”

“She told us because she is worried that Justin isn’t going to handle it very well,” David said.

“And it doesn’t look good. Because he is already mad and he doesn’t even know that she is going to break up with him,” Kylie added.

Dread filled Tyson. He knew from experience that Justin could physically hurt someone when he got angry and lost his cool. He hoped Justin didn’t hurt Ally, but what if he did? Tyson sat down on the couch, he couldn’t stand any longer.

“Um, question,” Tyson’s old mission companion piped in. “How are we going to know if Ally needs our help?”

As if on cue, Justin and Ally’s voices trickled through the cracked windows. Tyson felt a little weight lifted, knowing that they would be able to hear if something went wrong. But would it be too late?

“Why did you lie to me?” Justin yelled in frustration.

“I didn’t lie to you,” Ally said standing her ground. Everyone in the room was silently cheering for her.

“All those nights saying you were planning Kylie’s wedding, you were really with Tyson. You know how I feel about him, Allison. I don’t want you anywhere near him.”

“I was helping Kylie and David. I was not going to see Tyson. If you are worried something happened, I can promise you that it did not.”

Tyson was suddenly grateful that the kiss had not happened the other night. Otherwise, Ally wouldn’t be able to say that.

“But you didn’t tell me the whole truth. As my wife, I expect you to tell me everything. How can I trust that you aren’t going off spending time with other guys?”

“I’m not your wife.”

Tyson could hear the frustration in Ally’s voice and he knew she was going to drop the bomb soon. He placed his head in his hands listening intently, hoping that Justin wouldn’t explode.

“Engaged is basically married.”

“Well we aren’t engaged. At least not anymore.”

“What?” Justin exclaimed. “It’s because of him, isn’t it?” Tyson could hear the anger in Justin’s voice rising. He didn’t realize how much Justin actually hated him, and dread filled Tyson as he realized that he might end up taking that hatred out on Ally.

“No, it has nothing to do with him,” Ally said, her voice not as strong as before.

“Don’t lie to me,” Justin growled.

Tyson could picture the moment when he was a kid. The anger that had propelled Justin to hurt him was no different than what he was hearing now. Tyson looked up and caught Kylie’s eye. Kylie’s worried look validated the fact that he did not have a good feeling about this.

“Justin, please,” Ally said barely audible to those inside. “Please let go.”

Tyson’s heart dropped as he jumped off the couch and headed toward the back door. But he stopped before opening it. He couldn’t go out there. No matter how much he wanted to save Ally from being hurt. He couldn’t. He would only make things worse. He looked at David and his old mission companion. Right now, he needed them to do what he couldn’t.

“I’ll come with you,” his mission companion said as he and David headed out the door.

Tyson leaned over the counter as he imagined the worst possible scenario taking place outside.

He heard David say, “Let her go.”

“This is none of your business,” Justin retorted. But he must have complied because Ally spoke with more confidence.

“Justin, I know you are cheating on me. How can I trust you to be faithful to me when we are married, if you can’t be faithful while we are engaged?”

“What are you talking about?” Justin asked sounding flabbergasted.

“Next time you decide to make out with a girl that isn’t your fiancée, you should probably find a parking lot that is farther away from the store where your fiancée is shopping for a wedding dress.”

Tyson strained his ears, but didn’t hear a peep from Justin.

Ally continued, “Here’s the ring back… and the keys to the car.”

“I’m sorry,” Justin begged. “I promise it won’t ever happen again. I love you. Please don’t do this. Please take the ring back.”

“I thought we could work through the drinking and the gambling. But this… I can’t.”

Tyson looked at Kylie and whispered, “Drinking and gambling?”

Kylie shrugged her shoulders, “I had no idea.”

Silence hung in the air for what felt like minutes until Ally continued, “Justin, if you really loved me or ever cared about me at all, please, just let this be goodbye.”

Justin must have accepted what was happening, because Tyson didn’t hear anything else until the door opened and David and his mission companion walked back in the door.

Kylie let out a breath that she must have been holding the entire time, “Is he gone?”

David nodded his head, “Crisis averted.”

When Ally didn’t follow them inside, Tyson asked, “Where’s Ally?”

“She said she wanted to stay outside for a little bit,” David replied. “Let’s get this place cleaned up so we can head home.”

While they cleaned up, Tyson kept waiting for Ally to walk in but she never did. He checked through the blinds to see that she was sitting by the campfire. He was proud of her for breaking up with Justin. He could definitely be intimidating. But what he really wanted to do was to hold her in his arms and comfort her.

Kylie noticed Tyson looking out the window. “You should go talk to her.”

“But I thought I was supposed to keep my distance?”

“Ehh, I think after all that’s happened tonight, she could use a friend,” Kylie said as she shrugged her shoulders. “It’s getting chilly outside. Take her a blanket. Use that as your excuse.”

“Okay. But everything is packed up and ready to go.”

David added, “How about I leave you the key? Just make sure the fire is out and lock up when you are ready to leave.”

“That sounds like a good idea to me,” Kylie said as she grabbed the remaining food. “Don’t force the conversation, when she is ready she will talk to you.”

With a blanket in tow, Tyson walked toward the fire where Ally sat stoking it with a stick.

“I thought you might want this,” Tyson said handing Ally the blanket.

“Thanks,” Ally said as she wrapped it around her shoulders. Tyson sat down next to her on the log. He didn’t want to sit too close but he also didn’t want to sit too far away from her. He picked a spot that he hoped would be a good distance. But apparently, he didn’t have to worry keeping his distance, since Ally scooted right next to him and leaned her head on his shoulder.

As they sat in silence he enjoyed the feeling of having Ally so close to him. He was tempted to put his arm around her, but decided he was going to let Ally dictate what she was comfortable with. Tyson wondered what was going through Ally’s mind. Was she sad? Was she hurting inside? What could he say to make her feel better? He just wanted her to be happy again.

“I’m sorry,” Ally said startling Tyson from his own thoughts. “I’m sorry that you had to put up with Justin’s antics. I don’t know what he said to you, but he was obviously trying to push your buttons and for that I’m sorry.”

“Well it was nothing compared to what you have been through today.”

“Actually, it hasn’t been too bad. Everything that has happened today has been an answer to my prayers.”
“Really?” Tyson asked.

Ally nodded her head. “Ever since you asked me to give you another chance, I’ve been asking myself if I really wanted to be just friends or if I still wanted to see if we could make it work.”
Well Justin cheating on Ally wasn’t exactly the reason that Tyson wanted her to give him another chance. But he would hear her out. He had ruined everything the last time he didn’t listen to what she had to say.

“For weeks, I have prayed about it. I enjoyed spending time with you. But I was finally being accepted by Justin’s family and I was enjoying my time with him too.

“As we spent more time together, I started to realize that if I married Justin, there was no way that I was ever going to be able to see you or hang out with you. I was going to miss all the good times we had together. But if I broke up with Justin, would you and I still have a chance? Or would we realize that we were just trying to relive all the special moments that we have had over the years? Would we really make it?

“In that moment when we almost kissed, I wanted us to make it. But when it didn’t happen, I started to question my feelings. I wasn’t sure if I had just gotten caught up in the moment or if the fact that I wanted to kiss you was a sign that I was supposed to break up with Justin.

“I probably should have realized it then,” Ally said with a laugh. “The fact that I had feelings for a guy that wasn’t my fiancé should have been a big enough sign. But it had to be shoved in my face for me to notice it.”

“When you saw Justin with that other girl?”

Ally shook her head. “Shopping for a wedding dress. I had it narrowed down to two dresses. I liked both of them and I couldn’t decide which one to get. The consultant that was helping us told me to envision the place where I planned to do my first look video. She told me to picture my fiancé with his back to me and when I tapped him the shoulder to have him turn around, the dress that I was wearing was supposed to be the one.

“But when the guy turned around it wasn’t Justin. It was you…” Ally said as a tear slipped down her cheek. “That’s when I knew.”
Tyson’s mind reeled. Ally hadn’t broken up with Justin because he had cheated on her. She had chosen to break up with Justin because she knew she was supposed to be with him.
Ally continued to ramble on, “But I was worried about how Justin would react. I knew he would automatically assume that it was because of you. Which it was, but I didn’t want to drag you into it. So, when I saw him with that other girl, I was relieved. I could use that as my excuse for breaking up with him. And now here we are.”

Ally glanced over at Tyson staring into the campfire. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to have dumped everything on him. Maybe he had changed his mind about her? He couldn’t have changed his mind in two days, or had he? Had she hurt him too many times?
She wiped the tear streaks off her face and took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to just unload everything on you. I understand if you need some time to digest it all. I thought you would like to know, but if you want to just stay friends…” Ally faded as she stared into the fire suddenly wishing this day was over. Maybe she had been wrong about Tyson’s feelings for her.
“Ally,” Tyson said as he reached over and wiped a fresh tear from Ally’s cheek. He didn’t move his hand that cradled her face as she turned to look at him. “Do you still want to be just friends?”

“No,” Ally shook her head. “I want to be more than your friend.”

“Good. Because I don’t want to be just friends either,” Tyson said with a smile as he looked into her eyes. Ally felt relieved as she smiled back at him. “One more question, would it be okay if I kissed you now?”

Her smile grew as Ally laughed and nodded, “Two days has been torture.”

As they pulled away from the best kiss Ally had possibly experienced in her life, she knew without a doubt that she didn’t want to spend a single day without him by her side. Why did she think she could ever live without him?

 

 

With Ally in his arms and the campfire dying out, the last two months just seemed like a bad dream. He was simply grateful that she was back in his life.

“Kylie and David are probably waiting for us, huh?” Ally said.

“Nah, they left a long time ago,” Tyson replied.

“Oh good,” Ally said as she pulled him in for another kiss. He was never going to take her kisses for granted again.

“But we should probably get going. The fire’s almost out. And Kylie is probably dying to know what is happening right now.”

Ally chuckled. “Well I guess we shouldn’t keep her waiting too long.”

As they drove home, Tyson smiled when Ally reached over and held his hand. This was the life. In that moment, Tyson promised himself that he wasn’t going to let Ally get away again.

Chapter Fifty

 

Ally smiled as she watched Tyson from across the room talking with the athletic scholarship donors. Tyson and a few other student-athletes had been invited to speak at a dinner for top tier donors regarding his athletic scholarship he had received and how it had helped him. He had asked her to be his plus one, and she was glad that he wanted her to be there. He had done a great job and Ally was so proud of him. She loved watching him achieve his dreams and Ally would be content doing that for the rest of her life.

The last three weeks had flown by, filled with school, mid-terms, football, and most of all final wedding preparations. Ally and Tyson tried to see each other as often as their schedules allowed them to. They studied together, ate together, went out their way to see each other in between classes, and typically didn’t part ways until late at night. They had practically become inseparable. Even to the point that Ally had become a well-known face at the football facility.

Ally couldn’t believe how much she loved Tyson. She couldn’t imagine her future without him. She thought she had loved him before they had broken up, but since they started dating again, something was different between them. Maybe it was because they knew what it was like live without each other, so it made every moment they spent together that much more special.

The topic of getting married had come up a couple of times, but Ally wasn’t going to push the subject. She had told Tyson that she would wait years if she had to be his wife. She knew that he wouldn’t ask or expect her to wait that long, but she had a feeling that Tyson wouldn’t ask her to marry him until football season was over. Their lives were already crazy enough.

With the room void of most of the donors, Ally finally got up from the table where they had eaten dinner and made her way over to Tyson.

“You did such a great job,” Ally said as she gave Tyson a quick kiss and a hug. “If I had money to donate, I would have given it all away based on your speech.”

Tyson laughed, “Is that so?”

Ally nodded her head, with a sly smile on her face.

“Miss Allison, how are you doing?” Ally turned around to see Justin’s parents walking toward them.

“Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Hawthorne. I’m doing well. How are you doing?” Ally replied, as Mrs. Hawthorne gave her a hug.

“Honey, you can still call me Terri.”

“Oh okay, Terri, how are you?” Ally said shocked that Justin’s parents were being so nice to her. She was the one who broke up with their son. Surely, he hadn’t told them why she had really broken up with him.

“We are doing fine. Just sad that you won’t be our daughter-in-law,” Mrs. Hawthorne replied.

“But it looks like you found yourself a nice young man here,” Mr. Hawthorne added.

Ally smiled and introduced them. “Tyson, this is Richard and Terri Hawthorne.”

“Nice you meet you,” Tyson said as he shook their hands.

“Wonderful speech, young man. I really look forward to watching you succeed out on the field,” Mr. Hawthorne said.

“Thank you, sir,” Tyson replied. “I don’t know if I would be following my dreams if it weren’t for your support.”

“You’re welcome. The only thing I ask is that you treat this young lady with more respect than my thoughtless son did.”

“Yes, sir. I plan to.”

“Good,” Mr. Hawthorne said. Then he turned to Ally. “I still want to see your resume on my desk in a couple months. Justin won’t even know that you work there. Here is my business card.”

“Good luck to both of you,” Mrs. Hawthorne said as her husband handed Ally the card and they walked away toward the door.

Ally turned to Tyson. “What just happened?”

“Looks like you have some fans of your own, my dear,” Tyson said as he kissed Ally on the forehead. “Now let’s see if we can get out of here.”

“Yes, I’m tired and we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow.”

 

 

“How did it go?” Kylie asked Tyson as he walked through the door to his apartment.

“It was good. But you will never guess who was there.”

“Who?” David asked.

“Justin’s parents,” Tyson said as he sat down next to the couch where Kylie and David were watching a movie.

“No way!” Kylie exclaimed. “How did that go over?”

“Surprisingly well. They were very nice and Justin’s dad offered Ally a job to work for him. They even told Ally that they were sad she wasn’t going to be their daughter-in-law.”

“Wow,” Kylie said. “They must have found out the real reason why Ally broke up with Justin.”

Tyson nodded his head. “Wait, I thought the bride and groom weren’t supposed to see each other the night before the wedding?”

“Ehh, we don’t really believe in that superstitious stuff,” David said.

“Okay. Well I’m glad you are both here because I have decided that I want to ask Ally to marry me sooner than later.”

“Yay! It’s about time!” Kylie exclaimed. “Ally thinks you aren’t going to propose until after football season is over. But I knew it wasn’t going to take you that long!”

“She really thinks that?” Tyson asked. Ally had said that she would wait as long as he needed to get married. But the fact that she had no idea he was going to pop the question so soon, made Tyson even more excited to do it as soon as possible. She was going to be so surprised.

Kylie nodded her head. “So how are you planning to propose?”

“I don’t know. That’s why I need your help. I had always planned on proposing to her in front of the temple. I guess I could try it again?”

“No,” Kylie said. “I don’t think that is a good idea.”

“You could propose up at the cabin?” David offered.

“Ya, I like that idea,” Tyson said. “It’s special since that is where we decided to start dating again.”

“But how are you going to get her up to the cabin,” Kylie asked. “It’s not like you can say, ‘Let’s go stay up at the cabin’ and if you blindfold her or say you are taking her up to Park City, she is going to be suspicious and will probably figure it out by the time you get there.”

“True,” Tyson said.

“What about during halftime or at the end of a game?” Kylie asked.

“I don’t think the coaches would like that and what if we lost? I would want to do it at a game where we won. Plus, our next two games are on the road.”

“You could just drive back over to Ally’s place and propose right now?” David joked.

“No way,” Kylie said as she playfully smacked David on the arm. “Plus, Tyson probably wants our parents there too. Right?”

Tyson nodded his head. “I bet I could get access to the football field sometime this week.”

“Wait, you want to propose this week? But I want to be there,” Kylie whined. “We don’t get back from our honeymoon until next Sunday.”

Tyson sighed. “Well I’ve waited 3 months to propose to her. I guess another week won’t be the end of the world.”

“Hold on, I’ve got it,” Kylie exclaimed.

Chapter Fifty-One

 

Ally had spent the night at the Brooks’ home to help Kylie get ready. Even though it was early, Kylie was still grinning from ear to ear. It was contagious. Ally was so happy for her best friend. She couldn’t believe she was getting married today.

With Kylie looking absolutely beautiful, Kylie left with her parents to go to the temple. Ally got ready and waited around for Tyson to pick her up. When Tyson walked in the front door, her heart melted with Tyson standing there looking like he could be the groom.

“Good morning,” Tyson said as he pulled Ally close and kissed her. He twirled Ally around and added, “You look absolutely beautiful today.”

“Well you know, gotta look good for all those pictures.”

“Oh ya, pictures. My favorite,” Tyson groaned.

“You know you love them. Plus, you will be the most handsome man there, so all you have to do is smile.”

“The most handsome, huh?” Tyson said with a smirk.

“Always,” Ally said as she reached up on her tippy toes and gave him a peck. “We better get going, so we can pick up the flowers before you need to be at the temple.”

With flowers in hand, Ally parted ways with Tyson at the temple entrance. He was off to watch Kylie and David get married, while Ally headed over to the front desk to make sure that the bride’s bouquet and groom’s boutonniere found their way to Kylie and David before they made their grand exit.

Outside, Ally found a bench to sit on in the sun, since the shade was a little chilly. The weather had turned out to be nice that October day. Time flew by quickly as she watched newly married couples exit the temple with their family and friends cheering. She found herself smiling at how happy the bride and groom always seemed to be. They had found their eternal companion. The person that they wanted to spend forever with. The person that they wanted by their side through the ups and downs. The person that they didn’t want to live without.

Ally tried to guess what their stories were. Some had probably waited a long time to find their soul mate. Maybe they had to date a lot of jerks before they found someone that treated them well. Or maybe at one point they thought that their spouse didn’t exist. Others might not have had to search hard to find the one. Maybe that special someone walked into their lives and they knew right away they were meant to get married.

She pictured the day she would be standing there with Tyson outside the temple doors. She doubted anyone would be able to guess their story. In a way, she had waited a long time for Tyson. But he had always been there. She didn’t have to search hard to find the one she wanted to spend eternity with. It just took her a while to realize that he really was the only one she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.

Before she knew it, Tyson had joined her on the bench. As the rest of the wedding party gathered around to wait for Kylie and David to come out, Ally passed out the bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages to the appropriate people. They all cheered as Kylie and David finally walked outside. Ally smiled as David dipped Kylie and kissed her.

“Ehh, I’ve seen better,” Tyson whispered in Ally’s ear.

“What?”

“David hardly dipped her at all.”

“It was cute,” Ally replied.

“Well, when it’s our turn, you better hold on for dear life because it isn’t going to be a wimpy dip like that,” Tyson winked.

“Oh ya?” Ally chuckled. She didn’t really know what to say. Was Tyson really thinking about how he was going to kiss her when they walked out of the temple on their wedding day?

“Don’t worry, we can practice,” Tyson said as he stepped forward to congratulate his sister and best friend.

Ally followed behind to hug the happy couple. They were soon on their way to the steps in front of the temple to take pictures. And lots of them.

Ally couldn’t help but smile during the whole process. Either Tyson was in the picture being taken, in which Ally couldn’t help but smile at how Tyson’s smile made her insides melt. Or Ally was in the picture being taken and Tyson was making faces at her from behind the photographer.

When they were no longer needed, Ally sat down next to Tyson to watch the rest of the pictures being taken of Kylie and David on the temple steps.

“Kylie looks absolutely stunning today. Don’t you think?” Ally asked.

“Ya. I don’t know how David is able to look at the camera.”

“Why wouldn’t he be able to?” Ally turned toward Tyson and gave him a questioning look.

Tyson shrugged his shoulders and looked into Ally’s eyes. “I just think that if that was us, I would have a hard time taking my eyes off of you to look at the camera.”

Ally pulled Tyson in for a kiss. “Have I told you that I love you?”

“Not today,” Tyson said as he kissed her back.

“Well I do.”

“That’s good because I love you too,” Tyson replied, kissing her again. Ally closed her eyes and rested her head against Tyson’s chest as he put his arm around her and pulled her close. What had she done to deserve to be cared for the way that Tyson loved her? She could stay there forever in his arms.

Eventually they headed over to The Lion House for the wedding luncheon. Ally and Tyson both gave a little speech about how happy they were for Kylie and David. But the hard work was ahead of them at the reception center, where they needed to turn the place into Kylie’s dream in just a few hours.

Everyone took orders from Ally as she directed them where to place things and how things were supposed to look. She made sure that everyone had their assignments for the evening, such as restocking refreshments and keeping an eye on the gifts. Ally took a final walk through of the venue to make sure everything was in order just as the first guests began to arrive.

“I’m exhausted,” Ally sighed as she sat down next to Tyson at one of the tables.

“Well everything looks great, thanks to you. Based on the effort you have put into this reception, I can’t imagine how perfect ours will be,” Tyson said.

“I don’t know,” Ally said as she grabbed a brownie off Tyson’s plate. “I’m realizing that it is a lot of work. Maybe we should elope?”

“Right now?” Tyson asked with all seriousness.

“Why not?” Ally responded.

“Alright, let’s go.” Tyson grabbed her hand and started to get up.

“But Kylie and David wouldn’t be too happy with us, that they couldn’t be there.”

“Probably not,” Tyson said as he settled back in his chair. “And I kind of want to marry you in the temple. Not in some chapel with Elvis.”

“Ya, me too,” Ally sighed. “It will be worth it.”

“Yes, it will,” Tyson said as he squeezed her hand.

A group of their friends sat down and that was how the rest of the evening went. Ally felt like they were always talking to someone, whether it was Tyson’s family or mutual friends of Kylie’s, the stream of people kept coming. But Ally was just happy to have Tyson by her side all night long.

As the evening was coming to a close, Tyson and Ally gathered around the cake to watch Kylie and David cut into it. They were so sweet to each other as they served each other a little bite on a fork and kissed.

“Well that was the worst,” Ally whispered to Tyson as they turned away from Kylie and David.

“Yes, it was,” Tyson agreed. “You are going to have to wear a poncho over your dress, because I’m not going to be as nice as David was.”

“Good. Because I plan on taking a big ‘ol slice and shoving it in your face like this,” Ally said as she pretended to smear it all over Tyson’s face.

“Hey,” Tyson said as he grabbed Ally around the waist and spun her around while Ally laughed.

“Alright, all the single guys, it’s time for you to gather over here on the dance floor,” the DJ announced. “It’s time for the garter toss.”

“Go get ‘em Brooks,” Ally said as she pushed Tyson toward the dance floor.

“This isn’t football,” Tyson said over his shoulder.

“Just pretend like you are going for the interception,” Ally encouraged. “You’ve got this.” She gave him the thumbs up and winked as she moved to watch from the sidelines.

As David flung the garter toward the group of fifteen guys vying to catch it, Ally couldn’t help but laugh as Tyson didn’t even try to jump for it. If David had tried to aim at Tyson, he had done a very poor job since it ended up as far away from Tyson as possible.

Tyson walked over to where Ally stood and shrugged his shoulders.

“What happened to going for the interception?” Ally said with a smile. Just because Tyson didn’t have a chance at catching it, didn’t mean that Ally couldn’t give him a hard time.

“I wasn’t in position and I didn’t want to risk a pass interference call,” Tyson said as he stood next to Ally and folded his arms. It was the first time that evening Tyson had stood next to her without holding her hand or putting his arm around her. Did he really actually want to catch the garter? Maybe she had gone too far with the joke?

“Single ladies, now it’s your turn,” the DJ announced.

“Well I guess it’s up to you. I don’t know if we can get married if neither one of us catches anything,” Tyson said with a wink and Ally headed onto the dance floor. Maybe she was just reading too much into his non-verbal actions.

Ally ended up in the front as the other ladies gathered around her. She chatted with another one of the bridesmaids while Kylie got in position. When she glanced over at Tyson, he wasn’t there anymore. But she didn’t have time to see where he had moved to as Kylie started counting down.

“One,” Kylie hollered as she practiced throwing the bouquet over her head.

“Two,” she yelled with another practice throw.

“Three,” Kylie said as all the single ladies prepared to catch the bouquet that should be flying toward them at any second.

Instead Kylie turned around and quickly walked toward the group of girls. In the blink of an eye, Kylie handed Ally the bouquet.

“You’re next,” Kylie said as she turned Ally around.

As the group of girls separated to the edge of the dance floor, somewhere in the background it registered in Ally’s mind that her’s and Tyson’s song had started playing. That’s when she saw Tyson walking toward her with a big smile on his face, as the room hushed to whispers.

She stood there smiling back at him with tears already rolling down her cheeks. She knew what was about to happen and Ally’s heart pounded as Tyson got down on one knee.

“Ally, I would have never imagined that asking you to Homecoming would change my life. But every day, I still find myself falling more in love with you. I can’t imagine my future without you. Will you marry me?” Tyson asked as he opened the jewelry box to reveal the ring that she had fallen in love with many months ago ring shopping with Kylie.

Ally nodded her head, “Yes!” The room erupted into cheers.

Tyson stood up and Ally threw her arms around his neck as he pulled her close and kissed her. They pulled away just long enough for Tyson to slip the ring on Ally’s finger.

“It’s perfect,” Ally said she kissed Tyson again.

Ally laughed through the tears as they were bombarded by Kylie, David, family and friends who rushed to hug them. It was official. She was finally marrying the man of her dreams.

 

 

Tyson held Ally close as they swayed to the music playing in the background. Kylie and David had left, along with their guests. The only people left was the cleanup crew, which consisted of the bridal party and a couple of family members. With almost everything packed up, Tyson had pulled Ally back onto the dance floor for a quiet moment before they had to head home.

Tyson hadn’t ever felt happier than he did right now. The proposal had been a success. No unexpected boyfriends showed up and the best part was that Ally had said yes. Seeing Kylie and David get married today, made him want to marry Ally as soon as possible. He wanted her by his side, always. He dreaded having to say goodnight at her doorstep later tonight. He looked forward to the day when they no longer had to part ways at the end of the night.

“I can’t believe that Kylie let you propose during her wedding,” Ally said interrupting Tyson’s thoughts.

“Why do you say that?”

“Well you know how much of a crazy bride she has been these last couple of weeks. I’m just surprised that she was willing to give away some of her perfect day for us.”

“Maybe it only made her day more perfect?” Tyson questioned. “Plus, she was the one that came up with the idea.”

“What?”

Tyson nodded his head. “We were throwing out ideas on how I should propose and none of them seemed to work. I wanted to propose to you as soon as possible, which I figured would be sometime next week. But Kylie insisted that she wanted to be there and they would still be on their honeymoon. Then she came up with this idea.”

“Wait, when did you guys talk about this?”

“Last night,” Tyson said like it was no big deal.

“Really? You did a good job pulling everything off with just one day’s notice. I had no idea.”

“That’s what I was going for. Kylie did most of the hard work though. I just had to make sure I was standing behind you when she handed you the bouquet.”

“I wondered where you had disappeared to. By the way, where did you have the ring hidden? Because I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in your suit jacket.”

“Well I knew if I had it on me all night, I would keep checking to make sure it was still there. Which you would have caught on to. Or you would have noticed it was in my pocket. So, David actually had it all night.”

Ally laughed. “For some reason, I just find it funny and kind of weird that the groom at his own wedding had the engagement ring for a different girl in his pocket while he greeted everything who was there for his wedding.”

“It worked out really well. Once you headed to the dance floor, David met me over by the drinks and handed me the ring box.”

“Were you nervous?”

Now it was Tyson’s turn to laugh. “I wasn’t until after they cut the cake. Then it started to sink in. But I once heard someone say not to worry. Because after she says yes, you will wonder why you were ever nervous in the first place. Which is exactly how I feel now. I don’t know why I was nervous.”

“Did David tell you that?”

“No,” Tyson said. “You did.”

Ally looked at him confused. “I did?”

“You told David that when he was nervous about proposing to Kylie. I might not have been the most pleasant person to be around that night. But for some reason, that stuck with me.”

“Well I’m glad that I could be of service, when I didn’t even know that you were going to ask me to marry you. Speaking of getting married, when do you want to seal the deal?” Ally asked.

“Is eloping still out of the question?” Tyson asked with a teasing smile as Ally nodded her head. “Okay, how about tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow’s Sunday.”

“Right,” Tyson said. “I’m thinking sooner than later. If that’s okay with you?”

Ally nodded her head and smiled that smile that made him fall even more in love with her each time. Tyson wonder how he ever ended up with the most beautiful girl he had ever met.

“Do you have your phone on you?”

“Ya,” Tyson said as he pulled it out of his pocket and handed it to Ally.

“Okay,” Ally said as she navigated his phone. “Well your next 5 Saturdays are booked. Then the one after that might be booked if you go to the Pac-12 Championship game. Then there’s finals week. We aren’t going to know when the bowl game will be. It could be any day in December or the first part of January. Then if by some miracle you guys end up in the National Championship, that will push it back another week. So that basically means we have to wait until the middle of January.”

“Doesn’t school start again on the 16th?” Tyson asked trying to figure out when they could squeeze their wedding in.

“I think so. It doesn’t look like we will get much of a honeymoon.”

“I know you hate missing school, but you can miss a few days for our honeymoon,” Tyson said as he kissed her forehead.

“I don’t know. I want to focus on us and if I’m worried about what I’m missing in class, then I’m going to be focused on that instead. It’s my last semester,” Ally said a little disappointed.

“Can I look?” Tyson asked as Ally handed the phone back to him. “Why don’t we get married the Tuesday before school starts? I know it’s not ideal to get married on a weekday, but then we will still have a good four days before we have to be back for school.”

“Ya, that could work,” Ally replied.

“January 11th, it is then,” Tyson said.

“January 11th,” Ally smiled. “It can’t come fast enough.”

Chapter Fifty-Two

 

Kylie looked out the window to see large snowflakes falling. She was grateful that the storm had held off until now. She was also grateful that she was inside the Tower at Rice Eccles Stadium and not in the seats surrounding the football field below her. That morning at the temple had been cold, but snow would have made things miserable.

Fortunately, the reception would be over before the worst of the storm hit that night. But you only had to take one look at Ally and Tyson to know that they didn’t care that it was freezing outside or that a snow storm was threatening to keep people from coming to their reception. They were the happiest newlyweds Kylie had ever seen.

In the weeks leading up to their wedding, Kylie had expected to be a lot more involved when Ally had asked her to be her maid of honor. But once Ally realized how many people would be coming to their reception, she knew that she couldn’t do it all herself and had decided to outsource most of the tasks. She worked with the decorator to include a few personalized decorations, but other than that, she had let others do the work for her. But Kylie couldn’t complain. At least she hadn’t had to stay up late making decorations, like she had to for her own wedding.

Kylie was also surprised that Ally had chosen to have the reception at Rice Eccles. It wasn’t exactly rustic and that was what Ally had always wanted. It was one of the harder decisions that Ally had had to make during the wedding planning process. The decorator had done a good job incorporating rustic aspects, but Kylie knew that Ally had always wanted to have her reception at a venue with rustic charm, like a building with some exposed wood. Not in a big room that was built for conferences.

But she knew that Ally had made the right choice, no matter how hard it was to give up her vision. There had been a steady stream of guests all night, even though there was a storm coming. Tyson and Ally knew a lot of people and when a majority of the football team walked in, Kylie knew that Ally would be forever grateful she had chosen a larger venue.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the bride and groom are going to cut the cake. If you want to watch, please make your way over,” the DJ announced as Kylie grabbed David’s hand and pulled him over to the cake. Tyson and Ally had always been the playful type, so she knew it was going to be good. She had to make sure she was in front. She was not going to miss this because she couldn’t see over the football team’s heads.

Kylie couldn’t hear what Ally and Tyson were saying to each other over the conversations that were going on around her. All she knew is that their smiles were contagious as they cut the cake together. With a piece of cake in hand, the group quieted to see if Ally and Tyson would be nice to each other or not.

They didn’t disappoint as they each shoved an entire piece of cake into each other’s faces. The guests cheered as Ally and Tyson kissed. But the football team couldn’t contain their excitement as Ally blindsided Tyson with a handful of frosting as they pulled away from the kiss. Tyson quickly swiped some more frosting and wiped it all over Ally’s face. They looked ridiculous with cake and frosting all over their hands and faces, but there was no doubt that they were in love.

The final events of the night went by quickly as Tyson used a football to throw the garter to his buddies, Ally uneventfully tossed the bouquet, and the football team descended upon the refreshments while Ally shared a tearful dance with her dad. Tyson took Mr. Parker’s place on the dance floor, pulling Ally close when their song began to play. As Kylie looked around the room, everyone had smiles on their faces as they watched them sway back and forth. Most people knew what it had taken for Ally and Tyson to reach this point. Kylie wasn’t one to cry easily but when she saw her mom and Ally’s mom standing next to each other wiping away tears, she felt one of her own slip out.

Kylie would have never thought back in high school that the two of them would actually get married. There had been some major bumps along the way, but they really were perfect for each other.

The spectators cheered when Tyson twirled Ally around and kissed her as he dipped her while the song came to an end. As everyone made their way onto the dance floor to dance the night away with Tyson and Ally, Kylie headed toward Ally and gave her a hug. They had both found their happily ever after and she couldn’t wait to see what the future held for both of them.

Three Years Later

 

Ally stood on the football field waiting for Tyson to exit the tunnel. It was senior Day and today was the last time Tyson would play at Rice Eccles Stadium. She couldn’t believe that this chapter in their lives was coming to an end.

Being married to Tyson was better than Ally ever imagined it could be. She thought she had loved him before they had gotten married, but it still surprised her how much her love for him grew each day she spent with him. Every day she was grateful that she had chosen to marry him, because she knew without a doubt that she couldn’t live without him.

Together they had endured tiny apartments, became parents, and supported each other while they worked to reach their dreams. Ally had ended up finding a job working for one of the Hawthorne’s close friends, upon a glowing referral from Justin’s dad. Tyson spent his days at school or doing whatever it took to improve his football skills. And they had welcomed a baby boy into the world a few months before football season started.

Although their schedules didn’t always coincide, Ally’s favorite part of the day was right before they fell asleep at night. In Tyson’s arms, she knew that no matter what they had to endure, they could make it through as long as she had him by her side. Especially with the uncertainty their future held.

The next chapter of their lives would begin in a couple months, as Tyson awaited the NFL Draft. The mock drafts had Tyson being selected early in the second round. But there was no guarantee as to which team would pick Tyson. They could be moving across the country or just a couple states away.

Tyson’s name was announced as he exited the tunnel and the crowd erupted into cheers. Over the last two seasons, Tyson had become a face of the football team. Everyone recognized him. They couldn’t even go to the grocery store without someone wanting to take a picture with Tyson. At first it had bothered Ally, but she remembered that these people were also his fans. They wanted him to succeed just like she did. They were proud of him just like she was. Now, she wished she could tell them all thank you for supporting Tyson and believing in him just like she did.

Ally was so proud of Tyson and how hard he worked to reach his dream. She hadn’t realized the toll it took on him until they were actually living together. She had never been around to notice how early he woke up each morning to head to the gym. She knew his days were busy, but when he came home exhausted, she felt guilty for the many times she had kept him up late while they were dating. But she felt even more grateful when he got up with Ethan in the middle of the night. She was amazed at how Tyson never seemed to complain, even when he had bruises and minor injuries. She was able to tell when he had had a rough day at practice versus a good day, but he always put her and Ethan first.

Ally loved football, but watching what Tyson went through each day to be the best football player he could be, made her realize that she wouldn’t be able to endure what he did nor did she want to. Yet she did her best to support Tyson, because that’s what he wanted to end up doing every day of his life. They had talked about Tyson’s chances of going pro ever since they had started dating in high school. Now it was finally here. The chance to play in the NFL. Ally was excited for the possibilities that lay ahead for Tyson and their little family, but she couldn’t deny the fear of uncertainty she felt at times.

Her eyes met Tyson’s as he walked toward her and his family with their 6-month-old baby boy in his arms. Ally couldn’t help but smile. Those two boys were her life. As long as she had them, everything was going to be okay.

She hadn’t even realized that she had been crying until Tyson said, “I thought we said no crying today.”

As he leaned in to kiss her she noticed the emotions in his eyes. Not only were emotions running high because they were playing BYU, but she knew what this game meant to him. Although it wasn’t the last game he would play as a Ute, since they would be going to a bowl game, it was the last time he would play in this stadium filled with Utah fans who had cheered him on to be the best he could become.

“Right,” Ally replied. He had told her beforehand that he didn’t know if he was going to be able to hold back the tears if he saw Ally crying. So she quickly wiped the tears away while Tyson hugged his parents, Ally’s parents, Kylie, David, and gave a high five to his two-year-old nephew.

“Alright, little guy. It’s time for you to go hang out with momma now,” Tyson said as he handed their son over to her. He pulled Ally in for another kiss.

She whispered, “Go get ‘em Brooks.” Tyson smiled and jogged over to mid-field to join the other captains of the team for the coin toss.

The game was too close for comfort as the fourth quarter started. Tyson and the defense had played well, holding BYU to only 10 points the entire game. But there wasn’t much more they could do, when Utah’s offense had only put 13 points on the board.

All Utah really needed to do was put together a good drive down the field and take time off the clock. Most importantly, they couldn’t settle for the field goal. They needed to score a touchdown, to put them up by two scores instead of one.

Everything seemed to go according to plan. They were successful at running the ball and there was only 3 minutes left in the game. But they came to screeching stop, as their quarterback got sacked, then they got a called for offensive pass interference, followed by a false start. They just couldn’t overcome the 38 yards they had to go to get a first down.

This left the outcome of the game on the defense’s shoulders. They gave them a good fight, but BYU kept getting first downs and soon they were entering the red zone. Ally didn’t have a good feeling about the outcome of this game.

 

It was third down and BYU only had one yard to go before they got a fresh set of downs. If they got the first down, Ally didn’t know if the defense could stop them from scoring a touchdown. She could tell by the way the defense slowly got to the line of scrimmage that they were getting tired. They had been on the field a lot today, no thanks to their offense. They had already made a lot of great stops, but could they do it again? Ally wasn’t sure.

The crowd was screaming at the top of their lungs. It was really all they could do to help and encourage the defense. Ally turned to Kylie and yelled, “It’s going to be a run.”

“Probably. It would be too risky to pass,” Kylie yelled back.

As the quarterback hiked the ball, most of the defense committed to the run. But Tyson must have seen something different. Ally noticed him drop back and start heading toward the complete opposite side of the field. Instead of handing the ball to the running back, the quarterback settled into the pocket for a pass. That’s when Ally saw the open receiver running down the sideline as the quarterback threw the ball in his direction.

The crowd held their breath, along with Ally, as Tyson cut the route in front of the receiver and went up for the ball. The crowd erupted as Tyson landed back on his feet, the ball in his hands. He didn’t make it far without being tackled, but it was enough to guarantee the win.

Ally and Kylie hugged while high fives were shared around them. As Tyson handed the football to the referee, he turned to where his family was and pointed toward them. While the crowd cheered, thinking that he was pointing at them, Ally knew it meant much more than that. It was Tyson saying that the pick was for her.

Ally’s dad turned toward Tyson’s dad and said, “I bet that will help his chances of getting picked earlier in the draft.”

Tears sprung to her eyes as Tyson’s teammates celebrated with him. This is what he loved. He had picked her to join him on this journey through life. No matter where their future took them, she would be forever grateful that she had chosen him. She didn’t care if he got picked first or last in the draft, because in the end, Tyson was her number one pick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

 

Ashley Hardy Myers is an avid reader of LDS fictions novels. She has always dreamt of writing a book of her own and can now cross it off of her bucket list. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business education and loves spending time with her husband and family. Football is her favorite season of the year and spends every gameday cheering on the University of Utah. Go Utes!

 

 


The Pick

When high school senior Tyson Brooks finds himself without a date for Homecoming, he decides to ask his twin sister’s best friend to the dance. Throughout their Senior year, Tyson’s childhood friendship with Allyson Parker grows into a budding romance. After high school, Tyson leaves on his mission without addressing their future and Ally is left without knowing if Tyson wants her to wait for him to return. Soon she meets and begins dating Justin Hawthorne, who turns out to be Tyson’s lifelong enemy. This leaves Kylie Brooks in a sticky situation of supporting her best friend’s decisions while also being faithful to her brother. Over the next year and a half, Ally writes both of them on their missions, hoping she can figure out which one she will date when they return. Tyson returns first and they begin to make plans for their future together. But Justin ruins their plans when he returns and sweeps Ally off her feet, literally. By the time, Tyson declares his continued love for Ally, she is already engaged to Justin. Against her promise to not get involved in Tyson and Ally relationship, Kylie forces them to plan her engagement party together. Throughout their duties as best man and maid-of-honor, Ally begins to question her decision. She likes the stability of Justin but enjoys the familiarity of Tyson. Who will she pick to spend forever with?

  • Author: footballgirl32
  • Published: 2017-08-20 02:17:37
  • Words: 82288
The Pick The Pick