Felix, Morgan, and Izzy ran from the schoolhouse as fast as their legs could carry them, arms pumping furiously, by some unspoken impulse all making their way to the King barn, where they collapsed in the hay. Between the intensity of their race and the bursts of laughter that kept coming, it was a while before any of them grew calm enough to draw a steady breath.
"Oh, her face," Felix panted eventually. "Her face."
"Guuuuus!" Morgan drawled out.
"What about his face?" asked Izzy. She contorted the muscles of her face into a rigidly comical approximation of the surprised expression Gus had worn when the three children had caught him and Felicity inches from kissing.
"I like Gus a lot," said Felix. "But he has horrible taste in women."
"What would you know about taste in women?" scoffed Morgan.
"Nothing, thankfully, and I mean to keep it that way," Felix retorted.
"Who'd want to kiss anybody, anyway?" shuddered Izzy.
"Exactly," Felix said earnestly.
"I don't know," Morgan said, suddenly thoughtful. "I remember Arthur didn't used to be all that interested in girls, either, and now...."
Izzy groaned. "He's another one after Felicity."
"Maybe something horrible happens to you between the ages of thirteen and sixteen that nobody's told us about yet," Felix mused. "Something that turns your brains to mush and makes you interested in bossy know-it-alls like my sister."
"I promise never to be interested in your sister," said Izzy, and the three dissolved into giggles.
"I promise never to be interested in your sister, too," said Morgan.
"And I promise..." began Felix, but Izzy grabbed his collar in one hand and a handful of hay in another.
"Don't even say it, Felix King."
"I'm not saying it, either. What do you want to do, jinx us?"
"I was only promising...hey!" he cut off as the hay made its way down the front of his shirt.
"You don't have to promise something stupid."
"You started it," he reminded her, grabbing two handfuls of hay and tossing it into her hair. She was about to retaliate, but Morgan surprised them both with a double tackle and all conversation was forgotten.
That evening, after Janet King had thoroughly scolded her son for tracking hay bits all through the house and Felicity had made a snide comment about not expecting any better, Felix remembered the topic of discussion in the barn.
He was glad Izzy had stopped him mid-promise. She would never be anything like Felicity. She couldn't. There was no danger of her growing up and turning into a full-out girl on him, so there was no need for a promise that would only remind her—and Felix, too—that she really was a girl at all. Without that stupid promise, they could keep being friends forever, just like they were.
She was pretty smart, that Izzy Pettibone.