“We had to risk it,” Dorrie said. “Those teacup pigs go quick.”
“It’s true,” I said. “They literally fly off the shelves.”
Dorrie groaned, which egged me on.
I flapped my wings and said, “Fly! Fly away home, little piggy!”
We’d fully assumed Gabriel would have flown home by now, so to speak. Last week, Tegan had gotten word from the breeder that Gabriel was weaned, and Tegan and Dorrie made plans to drive to Fancy Nancy’s Pig Farm to pick him up. The pig farm was in Maggie Valley, about two hundred miles away, but they could easily get there and back in a day.
Then came the storm. Bye-bye plan.
“But Nancy called tonight, and guess what?” Tegan said. “The roads in Maggie Valley aren’t so bad, so she decided to drive on up to Asheville. She’s spending New Year’s there. And since Gracetown’s on the way, she’s going to swing by and drop Gabriel off at Pet World. I can get him tomorrow!”
“The Pet World across from Starbucks?” I said.
“Why there?” Dorrie said. “Couldn’t she bring him straight to your house?”
“No, because the back roads haven’t been cleared,” Tegan said. “Nancy’s buddies with the guy who owns Pet World, and he’s going to leave a key for her. Nancy said she’d put a note on Gabriel’s carrier that says, Do Not Adopt This Pig Out Except To Tegan Shepherd!”
“‘Adopt this pig out’?” I said.
“That’s pet-store-speak for ‘sell,’” Dorrie said. “And thank goodness for Nancy’s note, since no doubt there’ll be thousands of people storming the pet store, desperate to buy a teacup piglet.”
“Shut up,” Tegan said. “I’ll drive into town and get him the very second the snowplow comes through.” She made praying hands. “Please, please, please let them get to our neighborhood early!”
“Dream on,” Dorrie said.
“Hey,” I said, struck by an idea. “I’m opening tomorrow, so Dad’s letting me take the Explorer.”
Dorrie made muscle arms. “Addie has Explorer! Addie no need snowplow!”
“You’re darn straight,” I said. “Unlike—ahem—the wimpy Civic.”
“Don’t be mean to the Civic!” Tegan protested.
“Ooh, sweetie, we kind of have to be mean to the Civic,” Dorrie said.
“Anyway,” I interrupted, “I would be happy to pick up Gabriel if you want.”
“Really?” Tegan said.
“Is Starbucks even going to be open?” Dorrie asked.
“Dude,” I said. “Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor hail shall close the doors of the mighty Starbucks.”
“Dude,” Dorrie shot back, “that’s the mailman, not Star-bucks.”
“But unlike the mailman, Starbucks actually means it. They’ll be open, I guarantee it.”
“Addie, there are nine-foot drifts out there.”
“Christina said we’ll be open, so we’ll be open.” I turned to Tegan. “So yes, Tegan, I will be driving into town far too early tomorrow morning, and yes, I can pick up Gabriel.”
“Yay!” Tegan said.
“Hold on,” Dorrie said. “Aren’t you forgetting something?”
I wrinkled my forehead.
“Nathan Krugle?” she said. “Works at Pet World, hates your guts?”
My stomach plunged. In all the talk of pigs, I’d forgotten entirely about Nathan. How could I have forgotten about Nathan?
I lifted my chin. “You are so negative. I can totally handle Nathan—if he’s even working tomorrow, which he probably won’t be, since he’s probably off at a Star Trek convention or something.”
“Already you’re making excuses?” Dorrie said.
“Nooo. Already I’m demonstrating my complete and utter lack of self-absorption. Even if Nathan is there, this is about Tegan.”
Dorrie looked dubious.
I turned to Tegan. “I’ll take my break at nine and I’ll be the first person through Pet World’s doors, ’kay?” I strode to my desk, ripped off a Hello Kitty sticky note, and scrawled, Do Not Forget Pig! on it with my purple pen. I marched to my bureau, pulled out tomorrow’s shirt, and slapped the sticky note on it.
“Happy?” I said, holding up the shirt for Tegan and Dorrie to see.
“Happy,” Tegan said, smiling.
“Thank you, Tegan,” I said grandly, suggesting with my tone that Dorrie could stand to learn a little lesson from such a trusting friend. “I promise I won’t let you down.”
Tegan and Dorrie bade their farewells, and for about two minutes I forgot my heartbreak in the midst of our good-byes and hugs. But as soon as they were gone, my shoulders slumped. Hi, said my sadness. I’m ba-a-ack. Did you miss me?
This time my grief took me to the memory of last Sunday, the morning after Charlie’s party and the worst day of my life. I’d driven to Jeb’s apartment—he didn’t know I was coming—and at first he was happy to see me.
“Where’d you run off to last night?” he said. “I couldn’t find you.”
I started crying. His dark eyes filled with worry.
“Addie, you’re not still mad, are you? About our fight?”
I tried to answer. Nothing came out.
“It wasn’t even a fight,” he reassured me. “It was a . . . nothing.”
I cried harder, and he took my hands.
“I love you, Addie. I’ll try to be better about showing it. All right?”
If there’d been a cliff up there in his bedroom, I’d have flung myself off it. If a dagger had been lying on his dresser, I’d have plunged it in my chest.
Instead, I told him about the Charlie Thing.
“I’m so sorry,” I said, blubbering. “I thought we’d be together forever. I wanted us to be together forever!”
“Addie . . . ” he said. He was still trying to catch up, but right that second, what he was reacting to—and I knew this because I knew Jeb—was the fact that I was upset. This was his most pressing concern, and he squeezed my hands.
“Stop it!” I said. “You can’t be nice to me, not when we’re breaking up!”
His confusion was terrible. “We’re breaking up? You . . . you want to be with Charlie instead of me?”
“No. God, no.” I jerked away. “I cheated on you, and I ruined everything, so”—a sob choked out—“so I have to let you go!”