Royce McNabb from A Year Down Yonder is the love interest for Mary Alice. He is also a transplant to the town and this gives them some common ground from the beginning. She invites him to grandma's house to help her study math, but she really just wants to get to know him. Later, when he leaves to go to college, they continue to write to one another. We learn later that he and Mary Alice eventually did get married.
He loves Mary Alice and she loves home they don't know that yet and when he goes to college she writes him every day and then in the end they get married