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Ringing in the New Year
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Reed Sanders knew the first time he saw the neighbor girl in second grade that she was the one. He even stole his mom’s ring to seal the deal, but he got into trouble for doing it. It’s okay, though, because he knows that one day she’s going to be his wife and he’ll keep giving her the ring until then.
Cami Evans fell in love with the boy next door when she was seven years old. They spent their whole lives falling for one another until one day she’s taken from him. She spends five years with her father in a cult until she’s able to make her escape and find her way back to Reed.
Warning: Can true love happen when you’re just a kid? According to Alexa Riley it can! Fall head over heels for this ultra-sweet story of how childhood sweethearts find their way back to one another.
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I stand there watching the girls play hopscotch and wonder what they find so fun about it. They giggle as they jump down the chalk lines and repeat it over and over again. I only care because every time Cami makes the sound it gives me a funny feeling in my stomach. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but after I heard her laugh a few more times I decided it’s not so bad. She peeks over at me and smiles before it’s her turn again.
“Reed, come on, man, we need you on our team. You’re the best kicker,” my best friend Sam yells at me, making all the girls turn to look at him. Cami looks at me again and my stomach does that thing.
“Not today,” I tell him because I don’t have any plans to move from this spot.
“You said that yesterday.” He throws his hands up in the air.
“I’m busy,” I shout back, but he doesn’t give up.
Cami walks the few steps over to where we are and plays with the braid my mom put in her hair this morning. “You don’t have to stay, you can go play with your friends.”
My mom takes both of us to school, and before we left she did her hair. I tried hard to pay attention to how she was doing the braid so I could figure it out. She even tied a pink bow onto the end to make it look nice. Before when I saw girls put stuff in their hair I thought it was stupid. Hats, I can understand because they block out the sun, but bows didn’t do anything. But when I saw Cami’s I thought it looked pretty and it made her smile. I think everything about Cami is pretty.
“I told my mom I’d watch out for you,” I tell her.
Cami, or Camibell as her dad calls her, moved into our guest house three weeks ago. My dad hired her dad to take care of my mom’s horses. When he showed up he had Cami with him, but she didn’t have a mom like me. I could tell she liked when my mom played with her hair and did other girl stuff with her. I didn’t mind sharing my mom with her or even letting her play with my toys. She didn’t have any of her own and she didn’t break mine.
Mom told me to keep an eye out for her because she’s new and new schools can be scary. I agreed because I like being close to Cami. She’s not like the other girls, who are annoying. She’s sweet and I want to make sure nobody is mean to her.
“It’s fine. You really don’t have to.” Her voice is low and her bottom lip comes out and I don’t like the sound coming from her.
“You heard her. You don’t have to stay. Come on, Reed,” Sam tries again.
“Dude, shut up,” I tell him before I walk over to Cami. He shakes his head before running off and finally giving up. “She asked me to look out for you, but I was gonna do it anyways.”
I grab Cami’s hands to keep her from wringing them together. She looks up at me with big blue eyes that remind me of the lake my dad and I go fishing at. They’re so clear you can almost see to the bottom.
“You were?” she says, and her little voice is full of hope.
“I thought we decided we’re friends, right? Friends hang out.” She smiles and her two big dimples dent her cheeks.
I decide now is the moment, so I reach into my pocket and pull out the ring I took from my mom’s bathroom this morning. Dad told me he gave it to Mom as a promise to always take care of her and that he would be with her for the rest of their lives. The thing is massive, but I know girls like it because they always comment on it when my mom wears it. I don’t think she’ll mind me giving it to Cami, though, because she’s told me to take care of her and that’s what I’m doing. I slide it onto her finger. Cami’s mouth falls open as she stares at it.
“It’s so pretty,” she says in awe.
“Not as pretty as you,” I tell her, and her head jerks up to look at me.
I can feel my face warm because I hadn’t meant to say that out loud. It kind of just popped out, but from the look on her face I think I’m glad it did.
“You think I’m pretty?” she asks, and I nod.
I think she’s the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen even though my dad always said Mom was. My mom is pretty but not the same as Cami.