“Read the rest…” She beamed. “That’s not even the best part…”

I looked over it and summarized it aloud. “Since there was a mistake and this is short notice, based on your talent and recommendation letters, they’re offering you a full scholarship if you confirm.

She practically squealed.

“Congratulations. I’m very happy for you.” I started to hand the paper back to her until my eyes caught the bolded line at the bottom. “It says you’ll need to arrive there June 16th, though. Is that right?”

She nodded, still smiling.

“That’s two weeks from now, Ari.”

“What?” Her smile slowly faded and she snatched her letter back. “No, it’s not. It’s…” She read the letter again and again. “I was reading it so fast when I got it this morning…I could’ve sworn it said July…”

“And it’s an eighteen month program with no extended breaks?” I read more of the fine print. “You only get five approved holidays…The first approved holiday is in six months.”

Her eyes met mine and neither of us said anything for a while.

I stood up and moved to her side of the booth. Her fingers effortlessly entwined with mine under the table, and I looked into her eyes.

“We’ll make the most of it.”

Track 19. I’m Only Me When I’m With You (2:22)

Two weeks might as well have been two seconds, and I was starting to wish that I hadn’t emailed the French school with an all caps “YES” before meeting with Carter. I’d been so caught up in the moment, so elated that my dream of studying under the best was coming true, that I hadn’t thought of what that would mean for us.

Whatever “us” was anyway…

We’d spent every waking moment together for the past several days. He helped me shop and get what I needed for the trip—even buying me a new suitcase and volunteering to ship whatever couldn’t fit. We’d taken advantage of each other’s bodies too many times to count, and most of our mornings were spent walking alongside the shore.

For years, I’d never understood what it meant when people said they felt like laughing and crying at the same time, until now.

I was standing in Margaritaville, waiting on Carter to return with our drinks and I was trying to hide the fact that I was a cesspool of emotions.

“Something wrong?” Carter handed me a beer.

“No. Just wondering why we always promise to come here last, yet we always end up here first.”

“Bad habit.” He tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “What’s really wrong?”

“Nothing…” I lied. “Nothing at all.”

“Carter! Arizona!” Josh walked over, clearly buzzed within an inch of his life. “What are you two doing here? No, wait. Don’t answer that.”

“You guys want to bar hop with us?” The girl hanging on his shoulder asked. “We’re going to head down to 13th Street and try to make it back down here within two hours.”

“All cover charges are on me!” Josh made an offer we couldn’t refuse.

We left the bar, walking through the city’s balmy night air. I shivered when we made it several blocks down and immediately felt Carter placing his blazer over my shoulders.

“You know what’s going to be funny five to six years from now?” Josh asked as we stood in line at Club Red.”


“When one of you gets married. If it’s you, Carter, you’re going to have to explain to your wife that wherever Ari goes, you go. And I’m not sure if she’s going to take that very well.”

“Okay.” Carter shook his head. “Just how many drinks have you had tonight?”

“I’m practically sober.” Josh laughed. “But seriously though. Now that we’re done with college and out in the real world, just think about that. I seriously don’t think you two going to singles clubs together is going to be a good move anymore.”

“You two aren’t a couple?” His date spoke up. “Didn’t I see you two at the EPIC house party together?”

“No, no, no…” Josh said. “They’re together wherever they go. Don’t even try to question anything. It’s the weirdest friendship I’ve ever seen so just roll with it like I do. Guess what the best part about it is, though?”

“What?” She looked utterly intrigued.

“They’ve never even thought about crossing the line,” he said. “Known each other since fifth grade—”

“Fourth grade,” I corrected him.

“Okay, fourth grade,” he said. “Yet they’ve never even so much as kissed each other. If I was a sap and they weren’t my friends, I’d actually think the idea is kind of sweet…”

“It is!” She laughed. “Okay, I must have seen two other people all over each other at the party. That’s cool…Strictly friends minus the attraction? I like that.”

“I like it, too.” Josh said. “Let me know if one of your spouses ever tries to claim you’re cheating via a divorce. I’d be more than happy to volunteer to be your lawyer.”

“Thanks…” We managed in unison.

Josh handed the bouncer a twenty, and after the man checked all of our IDs, we headed straight for the bar. Josh started a tab and encouraged us to “live it up,” and I realized why he was being so generous: