Buzz Kill

Buzz Kill

4.5 4
by Beth Fantaskey

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Putting the dead in deadline
To Bee or not to Bee? When the widely disliked Honeywell Stingers football coach is found murdered, 17-year-old Millie is determined to investigate. She is chasing a lead for the school newspaper – and looking to clear her father, the assistant coach, and prime suspect.


Millie's partner


Putting the dead in deadline
To Bee or not to Bee? When the widely disliked Honeywell Stingers football coach is found murdered, 17-year-old Millie is determined to investigate. She is chasing a lead for the school newspaper – and looking to clear her father, the assistant coach, and prime suspect.


Millie's partner is gorgeous, smart—and keeping secrets
Millie joins forces with her mysterious classmate Chase who seems to want to help her even while covering up secrets of his own.


She’s starting to get a reputation…without any of the benefits.
Drama—and bodies—pile up around Millie and she chases clues, snuggles Baxter the so-ugly-he’s-adorable bassett hound, and storms out of the world’s most awkward school dance/memorial mash-up. At least she gets to eat a lot of pie.


Best-selling author Beth Fantaskey’s funny, fast-paced blend of Clueless and Nancy Drew is a suspenseful page-turner that is the best time a reader can have with buried weapons, chicken clocks, and a boy who only watches gloomy movies…but somehow makes Millie smile. Bee-lieve it.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 03/31/2014
After 17-year-old Millie Ostermeyer discovers the body of none-too-popular football coach “Hollerin’ Hank” Killdare, the student reporter decides to investigate his murder. She has several motivations, including beating out her nemesis—cheerleader/newspaper editor Viv Fitch—and clearing the name of her own father, the team’s assistant coach and the number-one suspect. Millie is joined in her amateur sleuthing by handsome, enigmatic quarterback Chase Albright; while Millie is attracted to him (or at least to his amazing vocabulary), she discovers secrets about his past, too. Bright, underachieving Millie is an offbeat and frequently hilarious narrator; after a falling-out with her favorite librarian, a heartbroken Millie huffs, “From now on, I’ll be using the school library.” (Aside from cracking the case, Millie’s primary ambitions are to win a local steak-eating contest and “to backpack around the world after high school. Or maybe take a nice nap”). A quirky cast and Millie’s quasi-bumbling antics make Fantaskey’s (Jekel Loves Hyde) murder mystery a breezy and thoroughly entertaining read. It’s easy to get swept up in the buildup to the exciting final confrontation. Ages 12–up. Agent: Helen Breitwieser, Cornerstone Literary. (May)
From the Publisher

"Buzz Kill is a smart chick-lit mystery with plenty of twists and turns."

"The fun comes from Millie's spunky sleuthing and Fantaskey's witty, cliffhanger chapter endings, which leave readers begging to turn the page. If only Nancy Drew had this much excitement solving her cases."

"For readers who want a solid mystery with a dollop of romance."
—School Library Journal

• "A quirky cast and Millie's quasi-bumbling antics make Fantaskey's murder mystery a breezy and thoroughly entertaining read. It's easy to get swept up in the buildup to the exciting final confrontation."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Fantaskey's funny murder mystery, with multiple red herrings and suspenseful cliff-hangers is a breeze to read, but watching Millie steamroll those in her way as she solves the murder is the real treat."

"Fans looking for a less prim and proper Nancy Drew (and a few more lustful kisses) will find her here."
Children's Literature - Toni Jourdan
Millie Ostermeyer sees herself as a modern day Nancy Drew as she delves headfirst into unlikable football coach “Hollerin’ Hank” Killdare’s murder. It’s not bad enough that she happens upon his body slouched over a John Deere, but she must struggle to keep the story to herself. Millie’s arch nemesis Vivienne Fitch hopes to win this year’s literary Pacemaker Award by writing the winning article for their school’s Honeywell High Gazette. Vivienne’s gaze is not only set on the Pacemaker; she also has a crush on reclusive, quarterback Chase Albright, the handsome senior high student with a past. Every girl at Honeywell High is intrigued by gorgeous Chase Albright, even Millie. Millie’s more curious about his past—his good looks are just icing on the cake. Her curiosity over his past, the coach’s murder, and then another murder hitting closer to home cause her to super sleuth her way through her senior year. When the unthinkable happens and her father, Mayor Jack Ostermeyer becomes the new head coach and the key murder suspect, her life goes topsy turvy, especially since her dad starts to be interested in her favorite librarian. This quick-witted mystery, romance, high school dramedy is perfect for the reader who enjoys a slick sleuth and a likable girl who is quirky, stubborn, and has a do-or-die spirit. Fun writing, cliffhanger chapter endings, and the completely endearing Chase Albright combine to create a struggling romance that just HAS to work out. Reviewer: Toni Jourdan; Ages 12 up.
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Marissa Wolf
Fantaskey, author of the best-selling Jessica’s Guide To Dating On The Dark Side (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009/Voya June 2009), takes a stab at murder-mystery fiction, paying homage along the way to Nancy Drew, the main character’s role model. Millie Ostermeyer, journalist for the school newspaper and daughter of the assistant football coach, finally gets to live out her dream of being a detective when the football team’s disliked head coach is murdered. Finding Coach Killdare’s murderer is not going to be easy when more than half a dozen people, including Millie’s own father and Millie’s rival, the school’s “Queen Bee,” have a motive. While trying to find the truth, Millie teams up with Chase, the hottest guy in school and the team’s star quarterback, to investigate. As the case goes on, Millie begins to question Chase’s intense interest in the case—and in her, the intelligent, unpopular bookworm. Buzz Kill is a smart chick-lit mystery with plenty of twists and turns in the case and great chemistry between Millie and Chase. Short chapters and a fast-paced plot make this a good choice for reluctant readers. While the characters are seniors, substitution of polite curse words for actual curses and presenting Millie and Chase’s relationship in a “PG/PG-13” manner may make the book more appealing to the younger high school crowd. Humor, mystery, and romance are balanced well, making this a fun, quick read. Reviewer: Marissa Wolf; Ages 11 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Millie Ostermeyer writes for her school newspaper, hangs out with her friends, worries about her widowed father, and wonders about the new guy at school. She's a lot like her literary heroine, Nancy Drew. Millie and her mother would read the mysteries together, while the latter was dying of cancer, and now the books have a special meaning as the teen tries to deal with her grief. When the head football coach at her school is found dead, Millie's detective skills kick into high gear. The list of possible suspects is long, since Coach Killdare was not everyone's favorite person. Unfortunately, the number one suspect is Millie's father, Killdare's assistant coach—who often very publicly disagreed with the victim. As Millie investigates, she uncovers some surprising facts about all of the suspects, including her own dad. As Chase helps her look for clues, they soon become friends, taking tentative steps toward a romance. The mystery climaxes with the sudden revelation of the murderer, a character no one had even considered. The narrative emulates the "Nancy Drew" series (Penguin) formula: short chapters with cliff-hangers endings. This novel is more character driven, as the heroine works through her feelings about her mother's illness and death. For readers who want a solid mystery with a dollop of romance.—Diana Pierce, formerly at Leander High School, TX
Kirkus Reviews
A small-town murder plus a big-time romance equals one feel-good mystery. When high school senior Millie Ostermeyer discovers football coach "Hollerin' Hank" Killdare's murdered corpse on school property, no one is surprised that someone would want this seemingly abusive official dead. The suspect could be anyone in Honeywell, Pa., even the assistant coach, whom everyone has seen arguing with Killdare—and who happens to be her widowed father. Taking leads from her beloved literary heroine Nancy Drew ("WWND?"), the prizewinning investigative school newspaper reporter tackles every angle to solve the mystery. Her self-deprecating humor comes in handy more than once, whether it's outwitting inept Detective Lohser (with a long "o," of course) or her vindictive newspaper editor, also a cheerleader and her archenemy. And like Nancy's Ned, Millie has boyfriend Chase Albright to help her solve the clues. Well, he might be her boyfriend if she can also figure out the mystery of why this hot transfer student spends his weekends alone. Their punchy, flirtatious banter will leave fans of John Green and Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss (2010) swooning. Although it's clear early on who the killer might be, the fun comes from Millie's spunky sleuthing and Fantaskey's witty, cliffhanger chapter endings, which leave readers begging to turn the page. If only Nancy Drew had this much excitement solving her cases. (Mystery. 13-18)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Fall, Junior Year  

Head football coach “Hollerin’ Hank” Killdare was having such a massive meltdown that even from where I was standing at the Booster Club’s concession stand, I could see his trademark blue vein popping in his neck and the usual flecks of spittle flying out of his mouth.
   Well, maybe I couldn’t see the spit, but from the way demoted, one-time quarterback Mike Price—the object of the coach’s rant—kept flinching as Mr. Killdare tore into him, their noses inches apart, I was pretty sure Mike was getting a shower during the game.
   Apparently, according to the beefy, balding coach, Mike, now a lowly running back, had done something “boneheaded” and “dim-witted” that was going to cost the Honeywell Stingers “the whole bleepin’ season.”
   As the student reporter assigned to cover that particular “bleepin’” game—and daughter of Assistant Coach Jack Ostermeyer—I probably should’ve known what had just happened on the field. But the truth was, I didn’t really like sports and hadn’t been paying attention to the action, preferring to focus mainly on the book I’d brought with me—Understanding Kant: Concepts and Intuitions—and my pack of Twizzlers.
   However, even I couldn’t overlook it when Mr. Killdare abruptly wheeled around and, completely unprovoked, drew back his big foot and booted our school’s costumed mascot, Buzz the Bee, right in the stinger, launching him across the sidelines. Which was—anybody would have to admit—pretty funny. Especially when Buzz, stumbling and flailing wildly, careened toward the cheerleaders and smashed directly into my archenemy, Vivienne Fitch, sending her sprawling on her butt, so everybody got a view up her flippy little “cheer”
   That really should’ve made me laugh, but I actually kind of winced. If this ends up on YouTube, Viv is going to murder Mr. Killdare AND stomp a poor, innocent bee.
   As Viv jumped up and tried to act like she hadn’t just been publicly steamrolled by a guy in a bug suit, I tucked my book in my backpack and took out my reporter’s notebook, thinking I should at least find out what was causing Hollerin’ Hank to go nuclear—which also happened way too often in the gym classes he taught.
   This guy is nuts, I thought, echoing stuff my dad said all the time. A total whack job!
   In fact, I was pretty sure my father was thinking something along those lines right then as he approached Mr. Killdare, obviously trying to get him to cool down. My dad was rabid about football, too, but at least he didn’t literally foam at the mouth, unlike Hollerin’ Hank.
   “Come on, Hank,” I heard Dad coaxing while I edged past Principal Bertram B. Woolsey, who I thought should’ve done something more than bite his neatly manicured nails. And, pushing farther through the crowd, I heard a lot of parents and other fans muttering about why a foul-mouthed blowhard continued to be allowed to work with kids. Sentiments I knew they’d forget when the Stingers won yet another state championship trophy for our school’s already full case. “I think that’s enough, now!” Dad added. “Enough!”
   But Hollerin’ Hank wasn’t done yet. In fact, he spun around and confronted my father, actually drawing back his fist.
   I knew my dad could fight his own battles—his conflicts with Mr. Killdare were pretty much the stuff of legends. And more to the point, I was only five foot two and weighed about one hundred pounds, despite a steady diet of cheeseburgers and Little Debbie products. But without even thinking, I dropped everything and started to run to my father’s aid.
   Before I could get there, though, the new quarterback, Chase Albright, stepped in.
   Wrapping his hand around Coach Killdare’s big forearm, he stopped what had seemed like an inevitable punch.
   The two guys stood there for a long time, Chase’s obscenely perfect, thick, dirty-blond hair riffling in the breeze, while everybody else seemed to suck in a collective nervous breath. Even the cheerleaders stopped chattering for once.
I glanced at the sidelines and saw that Viv was clutching her shivering pompoms to her locally legendary cleavage—and glaring at Mr. Killdare like she hoped for a fight. One that would result in the coach getting his butt kicked to the grass. I also caught a glimpse of my French teacher, Mademoiselle Lois Beamish, who was pressing her hands to her also large, but somehow not as attractive, chest, as though she was terrified for Chase, her prize student. And I once again thought, Ugh. She has a crush on him!
   Then I returned my attention to Chase, who was saying something to Coach Killdare—although so quietly that I couldn’t hear a word. But whatever he uttered . . . It made Mr. Killdare’s face fade from crimson to pink, and his hands fall to his sides.
   I stared at Chase—a mysterious, reportedly uber-rich kid who’d transferred from some pricey “academy” that nobody seemed quite able to pinpoint—wondering, What are you? A crazy-coach whisperer?
   Honestly, it seemed possible, because the next thing I knew, Hollerin’ Hank pulled free of Chase and addressed Mike in a brusque, but civilized, tone. “Price—you’re benched.” Then, as Mike sat down to sulk, Mr. Killdare and my dad exchanged some gruff coaching-type words and the game got underway again, as if nothing had happened.
   Retrieving my stuff from the ground—and brushing a footprint off my notebook—I climbed into the bleachers, trying to pay more attention, so I’d at least have something for the Honeywell High Gazette. But my mind kept wandering, and as the fourth quarter drew to a close, I found myself doodling a picture of the heavyset, universally despised coach with a knife in his chest and x’s for eyes, next to the word “Inevitable?” And just to pass the time, I inked a list of suspects, if the murder ever really did happen.

   Dad (It’s true!! Wants that head coach glory!)
   Mike Price—disgraced football hero, probably losing chance for scholarship
   Mike’s parents—soon paying $$$ for college for meathead son!

   I glanced again at the sidelines, where Viv had resumed hopping around with a scary-false smile on her plastic face, and added her, too.

   V.F.—humiliated in bee incident + natural born killer

   Then I tapped my pen against my chin, recalling a kid who’d recently been taken away in an ambulance during one of Mr. Killdare’s controversial “two-a-day” football practices, and who still wasn’t back in school. Rumor was, Roy Boyles had shriveled in the hot afternoon sun and might be a vegetable—or worse. I set pen to paper, writing “Roy’s family?” along with

   Principal Woolsey—stuck with nutcase on staff (tenure!)
   Anyone who’s ever met Coach, exc. his mother (maybe)

   Okay, maybe it wasn’t the most narrow, practical list.
   Then I also sketched a tall guy in a football uniform, with a question mark on his jersey, along with the query


    I was a decent reporter when I put my mind to it, and I’d read about fifteen classic Nancy Drew books with my mom, back when I was nine, so I considered myself pretty well equipped to solve mysteries. But as I watched the enigmatic guy who was rumored to be either in the witness protection program, a teen CIA agent, or royalty slumming it to learn the ways of commoners—seriously, folks?—I had a feeling I’d never get that question answered.
   Bending my head again, I retraced the question mark on Chase’s jersey, darkening it, because he might not have been—as I guessed—anything more than a phenomenally snobby kid who thought he was way too good for our school, but Chase Albright definitely seemed to know how to keep his secrets.

Chapter 1

There were probably a million things we seniors could’ve—or should’ve—done on the rainy day in early Septe ber when nobody showed up to teach our first-period gym class. Such as, say, choose somebody to lead calisthenics while we waited for a real teacher. Or organize some kind of game, with a ball.
   But as the minutes ticked on with no sign of Coach Hollerin’ Hank Killdare or a substitute, most of us wandered back to the locker rooms, got our stuff, then sat down on the mats usually used for crunches and proceeded to text, study, or—in my case—read Montaigne’s Collected Essays.
   Only my best friend, Laura Bugbee, seemed unhappy about what most of us accepted as a stroke of good luck. I mean, I was okay with not running laps for one day. But Laura’s conscience, at least, couldn’t rest.
   “Millie . . . Don’t you think we ought to tell somebody that Mr. Killdare didn’t show up?” she fretted. “Like Principal Woolsey? Maybe Coach had a heart attack in his office!” She looked toward the guys’ locker room with genuine concern in her brown eyes. “Maybe he’s dying in there. He looks like he has high blood pressure!”
   Laura was probably right about Coach Killdare’s constricted veins, especially since his one positive claim to fame—off the football field—was consuming, in one sitting, a sixty-ounce porterhouse at the local Sir Loin’s Steakhouse—a feat I aspired to myself someday. But my friend’s imagination was definitely running away with her.
   “Think about it, Laura,” I said, shutting my book reluctantly, because I’d been very intrigued by Montaigne’s arguments against formal education. “If Mr. Killdare was dead or dying in his office, don’t you think the guys would’ve noticed when they changed? I mean, I doubt the boys’ locker room is a model of order or hygiene, but I don’t think somebody could die in there without attracting some attention.”
   Laura seemed somewhat reassured, but she still scrunched up her eyebrows, scanning the gym through her wire rims. “Maybe. But we could ask one of the guys to check. Just to be safe.” She frowned. “I wish Ryan was in this class. He’d do it.” She was referring to our friend Ryan Ronin, who was a nice guy. However, Ryan was also a football player and complained endlessly about how Hollerin’ Hank treated him. “I don’t know if even Ry would get off his butt to save Mr. Killdare,” I noted. “I’d say it’s fifty-fifty.”
   Would anybody bother to save Coach Killdare if he ever really was in trouble?
   All at once—although I was still pretty sure our teacher was probably stuck in the long morning drive-through line at Dunkin’ Donuts or something like that—I recalled a list I’d made the previous year, when I’d been bored at a football game. A roll call of people who might actually want to kill the coach, and not just by failing to resuscitate him. If I remembered correctly, I’d been able to think of at least six—or possibly sixty—individuals, including my own dad, who’d probably like to stick a knife into Hollerin’ Hank’s overtaxed heart.
   Then that weird thought was interrupted by the sound of a ball being dribbled, and I realized somebody had finally started using the equipment.
   Laughing, I nudged Laura. “Hey, Chase is up and full of energy. Why don’t you ask him to check the locker room?”
   I believed Laura was genuinely concerned about Mr. Killdare—but obviously not enough to approach a guy she’d worshiped from afar, ever since his transfer to Honeywell. “No, that’s okay!” she sort of cried, her face getting red.
   “Oh, come on,” I teased, grabbing her arm, like I was going to drag her over to where Chase Albright was alone, shooting hoops. He was a one-man team, sinking a shot, retrieving it, and going in for a lay-up—all with the lazy, I-don’t-give-a-damn-who’s-watching, but-don’t-ask-to-join-me vibe that he always managed to give off. Chase was, I thought, the embodiment of aloof. Which apparently didn’t bother Laura or a lot of other girls, who seemed perversely drawn to his inaccessibility—and, I supposed, the way he looked in his T-shirt and shorts. Even I—who had nada for Chase—couldn’t deny that he filled out a gym uniform pretty well. And his face, with those blue eyes that gave away nothing . . . There wasn’t much to criticize there, either.
   My grip on Laura loosening, I studied Chase as he did another layup, his hair managing to gleam under the fluorescent lights, just as it had on a sunny day when I’d doodled his picture with a question mark on his chest.
   And I still don’t know much about Chase—except that he likes to watch moody foreign films that no other kids go to. But I can’t seem to ask him what’s up with that when I sell him his single ticket from my claustrophobic booth at the Lassiter Bijou . . .
   “You think he’s amazing, too.” Laura’s accusation brought me back to reality, and I realized I was still holding her arm. She pulled away, giving me a smug look. “You practically went catatonic, watching him!”
   “I did not,” I protested, my cheeks getting warm. A propensity to blush for virtually no reason was the curse of being a redhead. “I find him interesting,” I explained. “How can a guy who should be the most popular person in school—a guy everybody wants to be around—seem to have zero friends, let alone a girlfriend?”
   At least, Chase had never brought a date, or anybody else, to the theater where I worked, as required by my father, who insisted that earning minimum wage “built character.”
   “I heard there’s a picture of a girl in his locker,” Laura informed me, both of us again observing Chase, who’d switched to taking shots from the free-throw line. “A very pretty girl.”
   “Really?” I turned to Laura, intrigued. “Who is she?”
   Laura shrugged. “Nobody knows. Probably a girlfriend at his old school.”
   Interesting. And where, exactly, is that school . . . ?   
   I was just about to voice that question when somebody
behind me butted into the conversation, saying in a super-snarky, high-pitched voice, “Dream on, ladies! Especially you, Millicent. Because Chase Albright is exactly one million miles out of your league.”
   Knowing that things were about to get very, very bad—probably for me—I slowly, reluctantly, turned to see who had joined us.
   Oh, crud . . . Here we go!


Meet the Author

Beth Fantaskey is the author of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, Jessica Rules the Dark Side, Jekel Loves Hyde, and Buzz Kill. Shelives in rural Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters. Visit her website at

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Buzz Kill 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
megan105 More than 1 year ago
Great book! Couldnt put it down
kari-s More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars, actually better than average The narrator, Millie, is a breath of fresh air and I enjoyed her story, her outlook on her life and her quirkiness. This is a girl who isn't different simply to be different, but is contentedly her own person. That isn't always easy to accomplish with a book character. There is a fine line that must be balanced and I feel that the author did a great job with it. Millie makes mistakes in how she handles some things. But, she does see where she might be wrong and might have made wrong moves and tries to make amends. This rang very true as a character for me. People don't always do what seems obvious and instead let their emotions lead them. Anyway, I think Millie is a great character. Chase, the mysterious boy(no, he isn't super-natural, immortal or sparkly), was a well-crafted character, as well. When his secrets are revealed, you can see that his behavior makes sense for what he's been through and I think you'll feel sympathy toward him. I did. I thought his story was believable and something to think about, hopefully make better choices than what he's made. I enjoyed the tentative friendship as it developed between these two, particularly that Millie grows to see beyond his physical person to who he is and that she is more excited over his vocabulary that his football prowess or his blue eyes. And that Chase sees her as she is. The murder mystery, which is the central part of the story, is thoughtfully done with some red herrings and lots of clues. I did figure it out a little early in the story, but that didn't stop my enjoyment of it. Not only did Millie put the clues together, but she also got a better idea of who their gruff football coach really was. And I liked the personal growth from Millie and Chase, both of whom had situations that were tough to deal with in different ways. Fun read. I recommend it.
noahfence More than 1 year ago
I had been rushed by my brother while buying books and bought this because of it's cover, which is different from the one shown above. It really is a very lovely cover. Two stars is generous for this book. The pacing is horrendous. The beginning and ending are abrupt while we are stuck with a long middle. The ending in itself is completely unsatisfactory. The ending is a cliffhanger that is resolved by an epilogue that should just be another chapter. The epilogue's ending sentence felt extraordinarily elementary. It felt like there was a lot of self-insertion on the author's part. Millie, the main character, would use slang that is rarely heard now, and if so, is heard from older people (such as "factoid," "crud," "rubber-neckers"). Millie, although sometimes slightly charming, was an annoying character. Little development is seen from her inside the book and she had a nasty case of Special Snowflake Syndrome (see also: I'm Not Like The Other Girls). She doesn't participate in school, but she loves philosophy and Nancy Drew. Not much else was taught about her. She never developed, and I can say the same for almost every character except Chase, who began to talk when in the beginning of the book, he didn't. He was not a very interesting character either, although I did feel the anticipation of learning his reason for remaining silent. Laura barely had any purpose, and even more so, Ryan could've been completely done without. Many of the supporting characters had little purpose and Ryan felt there so he could simply be the token gay character. Viv is the stereotypical evil cheerleader but she did not have much character either. She was flat and one-sided and what truly makes a good evil character is a 3D one. However, she, like many other characters, simply followed a common character trope and was left to fend for herself with only that. The chapters were unreasonably plentiful as many of them didn't surpass a page or two in length! The reader is given an overdose of cheesy cliff-hangers and chapters that shouldn't even count as chapters in some cases. The writing in itself was juvenile. I found nothing unique about it and felt no emotional connection to it. The book's few merits are, however, it's humor in some areas. This book could appeal to pre-teens as it had a very middle-school vibe. If I had been in early middle school and read this I probably would have given it four stars as the relationship between Chase and Millie and the "mystery" (which truthfully wasn't too suspenseful) would have really excited me.
supernaturalover More than 1 year ago
super cute
Anonymous More than 1 year ago