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I'm Pretty Sure About That Series, Book 1
I'm Pretty Sure You're Gonna Miss Me, Ronin McKinsey book cover

I'm Pretty Sure You're Gonna Miss Me, Ronin McKinsey

M.J. Padgett

“This is a bad, bad idea, Hazel. It’s too much.” Sara glanced up toward the gymnasium ceiling filled with balloons in a rainbow of colors. It was perfect, and I knew Ronin would love it. 

It was our first anniversary. One year since he’d kissed me as we watched a rainbow fade after a huge thunderstorm. It was magical, and I wanted to recreate the scene. I ordered 365 multi-colored balloons, one for every day we were together and filled them with helium to create a rainbow in the gym. I did not, however, anticipate the lovely lady at the party supply shop would accidentally send 3,650 balloons. Eh, what’s a few thousand more?

“Nonsense. He’s going to love it,” I said, waving her off as I released another bundle of balloons. They floated happily to the ceiling, blending with the other 2,975 we’d already set free. Sara shook her head and continued filling balloons with helium.

“Fine then, but it’s your funeral.” She was dramatic. Sara was always dramatic, always telling me to pull back a little, but I couldn’t. Who could pull back when they were in love? Who didn’t shower the love of their life with affection every chance they got? Of course, our first anniversary had to be amazing. It had to be over-the-top amazing, just like Ronin. 

“We’re going to be here forever.” She groaned again and adjusted the skirt of her cheer uniform. It was getting late, and the guys would be finished with practice soon. 

We still had a few hundred balloons to fill, but I knew we could get it done. I had confidence our efforts would be rewarded, and Ronin would fall in love with me all over again.

I might have been a touch over-confident about how quickly we were moving, though. After a moment, I heard the tell-tale signs the guys had finished practice—squeaky cleats on the gymnasium floor, and a half-dozen soccer balls rolling in from the double side doors.

“Oh, fiddlesticks,” I said. I dropped the handful of deflated balloons I had stuffed in my hand and shoved the box under the bleachers. Sara didn’t have a chance to disappear before the guys crowded through the gym door.

Coach Peters saw us and nodded a polite hello before ordering the guys to shower. He was always a little cranky, but he was also my uncle, so he tried harder with me. He disappeared into his office and closed the door while the guys mumbled about him being a jerk. When the team was out of sight again, we went back to filling the balloons.

We moved a lot faster. Many of them were sadly underinflated, but they blended in with the full balloons that covered the entire gymnasium ceiling. When there were only a few left, Sara turned off her helium tank and pushed it back into the corner.

“I’ve gotta get home, or my Mom’s gonna freak. Call me later?” she asked.

I nodded, working quickly to fill the last few balloons before Ronin came out of the locker room. “Sure thing, but it might be late. I’ve been thinking a lot, and I think maybe tonight might be the night,” I said.

She stopped short, her gym bag half on her shoulder and her eyes wide. “The night? Like the night?”

“Yeah, why not? I’ll be eighteen in a few weeks, and I love him.”

“Right, but just because you love him doesn’t mean you should—” A door slammed, startling us both. “Just… just be sure it’s what you want, okay? You always said you wanted to wait until marriage.”

I hugged her and helped her pull her heavy bag onto her shoulder. “I know, but… I don’t know, it just feels like the right time, but I promise I’ll think about it more.”

“Please do. Anyway, I need to hurry.” She rushed toward the door with a little jog.

“Love you!”

“Love you, too!” she shouted over her shoulder.

I glanced down at my uniform, a little wrinkled from working, but still cute as can be. I cleared the area, picked up the last of our mess, and waited for Ronin. I was excited for many reasons. I couldn’t believe, even after a year, that I was dating Ronin McKinsey. Captain of the soccer team, gorgeous, straight-A student—he was my perfect boyfriend. Sara always said it was cliché, the cheer captain dating the soccer captain, but I thought it was adorable. Who wouldn’t? After every game, he took me for ice cream and cake, our thing. And what guy didn’t love having his girlfriend cheer for him from the sidelines? It was perfect. He was perfect, and we were the perfect couple.

“What the…?” Tanner Gibson gazed at the ceiling, taking in all 3,650 balloons. “Did a bag of jelly beans blow up in here?”

I giggled at him and said, “No, silly. They’re for Ronin. It’s our anniversary.”

“Oh,” he said. “How could I ever forget?” His tone was a bit sarcastic for my liking, but then, he always was sort of a jerk. He yelled over his shoulder and pointed toward the ceiling. “Hey, Tee, come get a look at this!”

Terrence Gordon and several other players filed out of the locker room, following Tanner’s pointing finger. Tee, Ronin’s best friend, gazed upward and let his jaw fall open. Tee and I had always gotten along well, even when I tore Ronin away from their guy’s nights. He looked around the ceiling, every inch covered in bright-colored balloons. His gaze lowered and settled on me, but rather than his usual cheery smile, his face held a look of concern.

His concern was the last thing on my mind when I caught Ronin staring at the balloons. “What the…”

“Looks like your girl’s been busy. Tell me, when’s the wedding, McKinsey?” Tanner asked.

“Shut up, Tanner.” Ronin’s face was red, and his lips turned down into a scowl.

“Aw, are you afraid it’s gonna hurt your tough-guy reputation? I’m afraid that ship has sailed, my friend. You’re what we call whipped, Ronin. Whipped, I say.” Tanner laughed maniacally as he waltzed out the door. A few of the other guys followed, also snickering. I didn’t understand. Didn’t their girlfriends do nice things for them?

Terrence gave me one last look, then picked up his gym bag and walked out, leaving me alone with a frustrated boyfriend. Ronin ran his hands through his hair and groaned. “Hazel, what is this?”

I walked to the other side of the gym with a purposeful spring in my step. He was upset, but I could fix it. Once I told him the idea, he’d love it. He’d take me to dinner and, well, whatever happened after that would be great, too.

“Balloons, you know, for our anniversary,” I said excitedly. “I wanted to recreate the rainbow we kissed under, so I ordered 365 rainbow-colored balloons to release in the gym for you.”

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