“Come here, you.” Nina opened her arms and Sonnet gratefully slipped into her mother’s embrace.
“This feels nice. I wish I had a chance to come back here more often.” Sonnet turned her face to the warm breeze blowing in through the window. The sheer beauty of Willow Lake, nestled between the gentle swells of the Catskills, made her heart ache. Though she’d grown up in Avalon, the place felt foreign to Sonnet now, a world she used to inhabit and couldn’t wait to leave.
Despite her vivid memories of growing up here, playing in the woods with her friends or sledding down the hills in winter, she never truly appreciated the scenery until she’d left it behind, eager to find her life far away. Now that she lived in Manhattan, crammed into a closet-sized walk-up studio on a noisy east side street, she finally understood the appeal of her old hometown.
On the smoothly mown lawn below, guests were beginning to take their seats for the ceremony.
“Daisy’s going to be the prettiest bride ever,” Sonnet said, feeling a thrum of emotion in her chest. Daisy was Sonnet’s best friend as well as her stepsister, and she was about to marry the love of her life. To Sonnet it felt like a dream come true...but also, deep in a hidden corner of her heart, a loss of sorts. Now someone else would be the keeper of Daisy’s most private secrets, her soft place to fall, the person on the other end of the phone in the middle of the night.
“Until it’s your turn,” Nina said. “Then you’ll be the prettiest bride ever.”
“Aw.” Sonnet gave her mom’s hand a squeeze. “Don’t hold your breath. I’m busy saving the world, remember?”
“Just don’t get so busy you forget to fall in love,” Nina said.
Sonnet laughed. “I think you need to embroider that on a pillow. Maybe—” Her mind drained of everything but the sight of the tallest groomsman in the wedding party, escorting the grandmother of the bride to her seat in the front row.
In a dove grey swallowtail tux, he moved with long-limbed grace, although his height was not the most striking thing about him. It was his hair, as long and pale as a banner of surrender, giving him an otherworldly look. She couldn’t take her eyes off him.
“Holy cow,” she said. “Is that...?”
“Yep,” said her mother. “Zach Alger.”
“He’s finally grown into his looks, hasn’t he?” Nina commented. “I’d forgotten how long it’s been since you last saw him.”
Zach Alger. Surely not, thought Sonnet, practically leaning out the open window. This couldn’t be the Zach Alger she’d grown up with, the whiter-shade-of-pale boy who lived down the street, with his big goofy ears and braces on his teeth. Her best friend in high school, the pudgy kid who worked at the Sky River Bakery. This couldn’t be the college geek working his way through school, obsessed with cameras and all things video.
Zach Alger, she thought. Well, well.