Ivy was relieved to be taking all the pins out of her hair, shaking it loose with her fingers as the wind whipped it around her face. They had stuffed their faces with all the donuts Flynn had picked up, and were now enjoying the peaceful view of the bay from the top of the lighthouse. The wind was chilly, and Ivy was surprised when Flynn suddenly removed his jacket and put it around her shoulders. She turned red again, tucking her hair behind her ear shyly.

“You don’t need to do that,” she said. “Now you’ll get cold.”

“Ah, I’m used to winds like this,” he said. “I spend a lot of time by the water. But the coast back home is much different than this bay.”

“It’s a little out of the way,” Ivy said. “I guess there aren’t a lot of people who appreciate it. That’s why it’s so quiet. Heaven forbid that a single lock of hair gets blown out of place by the wind.”

“But you don’t care?” he asked.

“No,” she shrugged. “Well, a little bit. Only because this wind is going to make my hair incredibly painful to brush out later tonight.”

“You could always just shave it all off,” he joked.

“Don’t kid around, I’ve considered it,” she laughed. “They can’t tease me about having bad hair if I don’t have hair at all.”

“Why do they do that?” he asked. “Tease you, I mean.”

“Oh, um, I don’t know,” she said, shifting awkwardly. “I had my chance to be like Ginny, you know? I could have gone to music lessons with her, I could have practiced my walking and my talking and my curtsies. I could have learned how to do my hair and how to follow along with fashion trends. I was capable of it all. I just chose not to do it. I think that’s what upsets the girls. I’m not a natural beauty, and I don’t make an effort to be prettier.”

“Well if it’s not too bold, I think you do have a natural beauty,” he said.

Ivy turned red, looking back out at the sea. She was so flustered, she didn’t know what to say to him.

“Thank you,” she said softly. “It is getting dark, though. We should probably head back.”

They cleaned up their mess and headed back down from the lighthouse. Ivy could have stayed there forever, but she knew Ginny was waiting for her. They walked in silence at first, until Ivy piped up nervously.

“You know, those girls earlier weren’t staring at the both of us,” she said. “They were staring at you.”

“Why would they be doing that?”

“Are you playing cute with me, or do you seriously not know how handsome you are?” Ivy asked in frustration.

He gave her a surprised look and she blushed, quickly looking away again.

“Sorry, never mind,” she mumbled. “We’re back at the festival. I should find Ginny.”

“I’ll come with you.”

“Alright, but before we go back there...,” she said, her voice trailing off.

She shifted back and forth on her feet, then quickly built her courage back up and tugged him down, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek.

“Thank you,” she said. “I know it wasn’t a real date, and you could have gone on a real date with another girl... but I’m glad you picked me. Don’t worry about Harvey’s money, I can take care of it.”

He didn’t get a chance to say anything else before Ginny found them. She took a moment to glance between the two of them, then looking Flynn up and down.

“I’ve been looking for you,” she told Ivy. “We should go home. A girl went missing tonight.”

Ivy’s first thought went to the friend she had made earlier. Perhaps Samantha’s secret admirer was treating her to an extended date. Ivy didn’t know the girl enough to judge that aspect of her character.

“She’ll turn up,” Ivy said. “She probably just met someone.”

“Maybe,” Ginny said. “Where have you been?”

“On my charity date,” Ivy said. “Like you.”

“My date was only dinner,” she said. “Like everyone else. I was gone for an hour. With Jacob Stevenson, no less. He never stops talking about his hair care product. And I had to pay for dinner, because he didn’t realize he spent all of his money on paying for the date.”

“Sounds about right.”

“Why are you lying?” she asked. “You’ve been out with Flynn, I’m not stupid.”

“Flynn was my date,” Ivy frowned.

“No he wasn’t,” Ginny said with a humorless little laugh. “I was watching the auction. It was a taller gentlemen. Disheveled hair, brown suit?”

“A friend of mine,” Flynn said, giving Ginny a hard look that matched the one she was giving him. “I was a position where I didn’t want to attract attention to myself. I kindly asked him to bid in my place.”

“And why is that?” she asked. “Who were you avoiding?”

“Ginny, please,” Ivy huffed. “I’m sorry, Flynn. Thank you again for tonight.”

“Of course,” he said, tearing away from his staredown with Ginny to look at Ivy. “But if girls are disappearing in the night, it would ease my mind if I could walk you two home tonight.”

“That would be wonderful,” Ivy said.

Ginny didn’t seem too thrilled, but held her head up high and led the way. Flynn made a bit of a goofy face at the back of her head, making Ivy giggle. Ginny didn’t talk much during the walk, until they began nearing home.

“Well, Flynn, it seems like you and my little sister are becoming fast friends,” she said, linking her arm with Ivy.

“Yes, I suppose we are,” he said.

“Well, our family is very protective of each other,” she told him. “Ivy is dear to us, and it would be quite neglectful of us not to get to know her friends. Don’t you think?”

“What, do you want me to take you on a date, too?” Flynn chuckled.

“Why don’t you join us for dinner tomorrow evening,” Ginny said bluntly.

He seemed caught off guard by this, but Ivy didn’t think it was a bad idea at all.

“I think our father would like you,” she told him. “And Ginny is right. I think I would love for my family to meet you.”

“Uh, right,” he said. “Sounds great.”

“If that’s alright with you, of course,” Ginny said, a slight tone of a challenge in her voice. “It’s just a casual dinner. Unless you have something you would need to hide, that is.”

Ivy looked between them as they stared each other down. There were polite smiles on their faces, but their eyes were hard. Flynn straightened out his jacket, giving Ginny a polite nod.

“Thank you for the invitation, Ginny-”


“-I would be happy to join your family for dinner tomorrow evening.”

“Good, then,” she said. “We’ll see you tomorrow.”

“I’m looking forward to it.”

As friendly as their words were, they seemed to spat it at each other like it was an insult. Ivy shrunk back, giving Flynn a tiny wave as she headed inside with her sister.