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“Sneaking around?” Weston said with a sweet grin. “Fine.” He picked up his phone.

“What are you doing?” I asked while he tapped out a message.

“Breaking up with Alder.”

Chapter Six

I grabbed his phone and held it away from him. “Are you trying to make things worse?”

“No. But you telling me you won’t hang out with me because of a girl I don’t even like anymore . . . that’s an easy fix.”

“Why would you stay with someone you don’t like for five years?”

He shrugged. “Something to do, I guess. She’s not ugly.”

“No,” I said, sighing. “She’s not. You sound like a huge ass**le right now.”

“Do we have to talk about this?”

“No, you can just take me home.”

He groaned, and then sat up, facing me. “My parents have been married for twenty years, and they don’t really like each other.” He paused, and when he realized I wasn’t satisfied, he continued, “I liked her at first, but I never liked the way she treated people. You, in particular. When I talked to her about you, she just seemed to treat you worse. But every time I thought about breaking it off with her, the drama I knew would follow didn’t sound all that appealing.”

“Five years is a long time,” I said.

“You have no idea.”

“So are you just going to wait until you leave for college?”

“That was the plan, but now I kind of want to do it sooner.” He leaned toward me, and I leaned away. He snorted. “You’re really going to make me do this by the book, aren’t you?”

“I’m not making you do anything,” I said, handing him back his phone.

“You’re making me miss this movie.”

I glanced at the television. “It’s paused.”

“Oh, yeah,” he said with a smile, pushing a button. The violence ensued, along with screaming, gun shots, and helicopter blades whirring in the air. Weston settled back into the cushions again, and I did the same.

He looked down at his phone, still in his hand. “What’s your number, anyway?”

“I don’t have a cell phone.”



Weston frowned, but kept his eyes on the television screen. “Do you like hanging out with me?”

I wasn’t sure if I’d heard him right. “Yes?”

“Not because you don’t have anyone else to hang out with?”

“I have other people to hang out with.”



“What if I wasn’t with Alder? Would you . . .?” He stared at the TV.

“Would I what?”

“Let me kiss you?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. I’m not sure you’d enjoy it.”

He turned to me. “What makes you say that?”

“I haven’t had a lot of practice. None, actually.” I could feel my face heat up. I preferred to tell the truth, but it wasn’t always easy.

“You’ve never kissed anyone before,” he said, as more of a statement than a question.


He stared at my lips and readjusted so he could look straight ahead again. “I’m available whenever. If you want to practice.” He was purposefully keeping his face smooth, but he wasn’t doing a very good job because the corner of his mouth kept trying to curl up.

“I don’t want to practice. I want a real first kiss. And not from a guy who’s cheating on his girlfriend.”

He frowned. “I told you I’d break up with her. You don’t want me to.”

“We’d never have a moment of peace. The whole school would freak out, and I’m pretty sure your mom would, too.”

“Is that why you don’t want me to break up with her? Or is it because you just don’t want me?”

I kept quiet, and the air in the room became thick and stuffy. It was suddenly hard to breathe. Weston squirmed while he waited for my answer.

“I’ve thought you were kind of amazing since kindergarten,” I said.

He peeked over at me and grinned. “Yeah?”


With his eyes back on the television, he spoke softly and nervously. “Me, too. About you.”

I nodded, and we watched the rest of the movie without another word.

When it was over, Weston put on his jacket, picked up my backpack, and walked me upstairs. He snatched his keys from the kitchen counter. We made our way outside into the chilly night air. Weston pulled off his jacket and draped it over my shoulders. It was warm and smelled like him, and I pulled it tighter around me. Weston helped me climb into the passenger seat. Before he could round the front of the truck, his parents came outside to talk to him.

Their conversation immediately looked tense, and Weston kept stealing glances at me. He put his hands on his hips, shifted his weight nervously, and shook his head a lot. He was beginning to look angry. I wished he didn’t have automatic windows so I could roll mine down to hear what they were saying.

Finally, his parents turned to go inside, and Weston joined me in the truck.

“Sorry about that,” he said.

“Don’t be.”

“No, that’s just f**king rude to do that in front of you. They could have waited.”

“What did they say?”

He shook his head and backed out of the drive. When he pulled onto the street, I reached over and touched my fingertips to his. He intertwined his fingers in mine.

“What did they say, Weston?”

He sighed. “They’re concerned about my new friend. They don’t think it’s appropriate for me to be spending time alone with you because of Alder.”

“They’re right.”

He squeezed my fingers. “I can’t give you up now. When we spend time together, I feel this peace that I don’t get when you’re not around. It’s kind of like when you’re a kid, and you put on fresh PJs after a bath and get into a made bed with clean sheets straight out of the dryer. That’s what being with you feels like.”

My eyebrows lifted, and a surprised, appreciative smile swept across my face. “I think that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”