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Published by Self Published on April 20th 2016
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Source: InkSlinger PR
In the game of love, everyone roots for the underdog. You know, that girl-next-door type who wears glasses and has a shy smile and who falls for the most popular boy in school…she’s the hero of every story. And when the shy girl takes off her glasses and the quarterback kisses her and the crowd roars and the movie fades to black, people sit back and are satisfied.
But what about the cheerleader? The one he dumps at the fifty-yard line and the one who runs off the field humiliated and sobbing? What about her feelings? What about her?
He Loves Me Not tells the story of what happens after the cheerleader is denied her fairy tale ending. Maggie's life was perfect--she had perfect friends, perfect parents, and a perfect boyfriend. But when she's abruptly dumped in front of the entire county by that perfect boyfriend, her life falls apart. With her clique, her friends, and her social standing obliterated, Maggie is resigned to a lonely, humiliating senior year of high school.
...at least until she meets AJ Abbott, a musician who breaks every rule her mother ever taught her. He has no college degree. He wants to be a rockstar. He wears entirely too much black and leather.
But despite their differences, Maggie is slowly drawn into AJ's rock and roll lifestyle, and she'll be forced to choose which is more important--clinging to her nonexistent popularity or learning that maybe there's more to her than her beauty queen tiaras and cheerleader pom-poms.
They had been so perfect together—the head cheerleader and the star quarterback. Seniors in high school and poised for a successful long distance relationship while in college, and then marriage and two wonderful children. And then he ruined everything when he dumped her at the fifty-yard line at the biggest football game of the year.
Her momma had always told Maggie to never let anyone see her cry—unless she needed their sympathy—and Maggie was sure her mom had to be quite proud of how she crossed the field with her head high and her shoulders back. She made it inside the locker room before the tears came. There are two kinds of tears—the kind that are beautiful and the kind that are ugly.
Maggie cried ugly tears. Ugly tears with giant, shuddering sobs and streaky black mascara. Bless her heart, Caroline didn’t let her cry alone for long. She hit Maggie in a tornado of black hair and long limbs. “Mags, I swear I’m going to tear that boy limb from limb! I can’t believe what just happened.” Her hug was as fierce as her words.
Maggie didn’t have the energy to hug her back. Instead, she watched herself cry in the mirror—her skin blotchy, her nose as red as her hair. She had felt so beautiful out on that field. And the crown… With shaking fingers, she reached up and took the delicate tiara from where Principal Martin had positioned it on her curls. A few auburn strands of hair were still entangled in the combs. She looked at it sadly. “Oh, Caroline. What will our grandkids say?” Sadness crushed Maggie—so heavy that she couldn’t catch her breath. She had always envisioned telling their grandkids about their perfect love story, and now Bobby had gone and ruined it.
“Grandkids? Geez, Maggie, look at me.” Caroline grabbed her shoulders and turned Maggie to face her. She couldn’t stop looking at herself in the mirror, though. She rarely cried like this, and she was weirdly fascinated by how disgusting she looked. “This is not the time to worry about your ten-year plan.”
“He just made a mistake. We all know it. He’ll be back.” Maggie raised her chin and wiped the mascara from under her cheeks. Already her voice sounded calmer. Caroline was wrong. This was absolutely the time to worry about her ten-year plan, during which she graduated from UVA, married Bobby, and became pregnant with her second child. They’d have a girl named Savannah and a boy named Rhett and a golden retriever named Sunshine. The picture of how her life was supposed to be shone so bright in her mind that she couldn’t help but start crying again. “What can he possibly see in…her?”
It was one thing to be dumped, but another thing to be dumped for freaking Chloe King. Maybe she was kind of pretty with her dark hair and eyes, but Maggie had never even seen her smile. What kind of girl never smiled? Maggie’s spirits lifted. Bobby loved her laugh. They had so much fun together. He would be back. “He’ll be back,” Maggie said again.
“Maybe,” Caroline began carefully, using a tissue to help Maggie wipe the makeup from her cheeks. “But, let’s not think about that now. Maybe you should go home and relax a little.”
“Relax? But we have to cheer!” Maggie’s eyes were already looking brighter. “I have to cheer! It’s the homecoming game!” Bobby had always told her he loved knowing she was cheering for him from the sidelines.
Caroline was biting her lip and looking over her shoulder toward the door like she was waiting for someone. Maggie followed Caroline’s gaze to the door. “Care, please tell me you didn’t call—”
“Maggie! Oh, my poor sweet baby. What an ass!” Her momma swept into the locker room wearing a bright red dress that matched her lipstick and her hair.
“Momma!” Maggie exclaimed, shocked to hear a curse word fall from her lips. She couldn’t figure out if she was happy or upset to see her mother in the locker room. She always had a way of soothing Maggie, but sometimes her personality could be a little hard to handle—especially when she was already emotional.
“Oh, sugar. I’m absolutely warranted to curse in a situation like this. What kind of jackass does that to my baby girl? In front of the whole county no less? Your father is getting Beaufort Bishop on the phone right now. What Bobby did to you was just deplorable. Just deplorable.” She set her purse down on the counter and removed her makeup bag.
“Momma, please. Don’t call Bobby’s dad. This is all just a silly mistake.” Maggie fumbled to find her own makeup bag before her momma could get to her face. Bless her heart, but whenever she did Maggie’s makeup, she always ended up looking like a Mary Kay model from 1993.
“A mistake?” Her momma breathed. “Darlin’, he dumped you in front of the entire county.”
“Ouch,” Caroline mumbled under her breath from where she was leaning against the locker. Maggie gave her a dirty look. What a traitor. She knew better than to call her mother in the midst of a crisis.
“Technically, he didn’t dump me.” Her momma approached with a bright pink powder brush, and Maggie brandished her more tasteful NARS compact before the brush hit her cheek.
“Honey,” her momma began carefully. “He kissed someone else in front of thousands of people.” She frowned as Maggie elbowed away her hand from her face and swirled her own blush on her cheeks, scowling. Her mother never minced words.
“Maggie! Caroline! Are y’all okay?” Abby appeared in the doorway, tugging down the bottom of her too small cheerleading top. She froze when she saw the tableau in front of her. “Oh. Hi there, Mrs. Marion. I didn’t know you were in here.”
“Abby, honey, come in here and tell us what everyone’s saying outside.” Her mom turned and smiled her most persuasive smile. Her friends all liked her momma because she let them borrow from her gigantic designer-filled closet, and they were pretty easily bowled over by her personality.
“Well…um…Mags, you know that I love you but—” Abby began, stammering as she backed away from the door. Maggie fixed her with another look, and she visibly paled. Abby looked back at Maggie’s mother, and then laughed nervously. “I have to go! We’ll just get started without you.”
Caroline scrambled to her feet. “I’ll come too!” She looked at Maggie apologetically. “Mags, this will all blow over. I promise. You’re a million times better than that stupid Chloe King.” Caroline bounded forward to hug Maggie again, and then with a furtive look at her mother, she practically ran from the locker room.
Maggie rolled her eyes at her back before turning toward the mirror again. If you ignored the fact her eyes were a little bloodshot, no one would ever even know that she had just been dumped. Oh no. Was she actually admitting this? Her momma stood blissfully quiet as Maggie finished applying a few more swipes of mascara to her lashes. Once she’d finished and was admiring her reflection, her momma finally spoke. “Honey. You don’t need to go back out there,” she murmured, her voice warm and soft.
“I do. I told you. This is all a big mistake. I can’t let the team down.” Maggie’s smile lit up the room, but her voice caught on the word mistake. She put the mascara tube down and took a shaky breath. An image flashed of Bobby smiling before he kissed Chloe. The laughter from the crowd. The pitiful looks in the eyes of the boys on the team—of her friends. Her stomach clenched.
“Sugar.” Her mother smelled like magnolias and vanilla as she wrapped her arms around Maggie. “Honey, I am so sorry that happened to you.” Maggie clenched her jaw as her eyes filled with tears, and she looked up at the ceiling to keep them from falling. It was like her mom’s hug squeezed the truth out of Maggie.
“Are we really…did he really break up…with me?” Her voice cracked on the last word, and the tears came again. Maggie wrapped her arms around her momma’s waist and cried into her shoulder. They really were over. The boy she had loved her entire life had broken her heart. “I can’t go out there.”
“You don’t have to. Come on home with me. I’ll tell Daddy to pick up some Cherry Garcia and a tub of Nutella and maybe some croissants.”
Maggie wiped her nose. It was red again. “But I’m on a diet. You said no sugar.”
Her momma squeezed her shoulders as she picked up her gym bag. “Everything in moderation, darling. You deserve it. Come on home. Besides, I’ll need help hiding the shotgun before your daddy goes hunting for it.”
They had to pass one of the main entrances to the football field on their way to the parking lot, and Maggie heard the announcer bellow Bobby’s name as he ran the ball for a touchdown. Her chest constricted, and as her mom prattled on about all the shopping they were going to do to repair her broken heart, Maggie blew Bobby a kiss. She was going to get him back.