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He said condom with an accent. He’s starting to sound more and more American now. And I can’t believe this is where my train of thought is when I just asked a guy to have sex with me. A guy I’m not even attracted to.

Is this really happening?

Do I want it to happen?

I do. I want to get it over with. Rip the Band-Aid off. I don’t want it to mean anything at all. I want it to be trivial with little effect on my life. I want to be the exact opposite of my parents.

When Luck returns, he closes the door and locks it. “Do you mind if I turn off the lamp?”

“I’d actually prefer it.”

He turns off the lamp and climbs into bed. We both crawl under the covers and begin to remove our clothes. “You sure about this, Merit?”

“Yep,” I say as I struggle my way out of my jeans. My heart is starting to race and my conscience is fighting to break through the wall I’ve put up. But I don’t stop until all my clothes are off. Once we’re both undressed beneath the covers, Luck scoots closer to me. “It probably won’t feel good,” he warns.

I don’t know why, but that comment makes me laugh.

“I’m serious,” he says. His hand meets my hip. “It might even hurt.”

“It’s fine. My expectations aren’t that high right now.”

He scoots closer and pauses with his hand still on my hip. “You want me to kiss you?”

I think about his question for a moment. I’m not sure that I even want to kiss him. Is that weird? Of course it is. This whole thing is weird. “I’ll leave that up to you.”

Luck nods, just as his hand slides up to my waist. It isn’t until he reaches my breast that I feel the weight of what’s about to happen. I try not to let it weigh too heavily.

It’s just sex.

I can do this.

Almost every adult in the world has done this.

I can do this.

He gently rolls me onto my back and then reaches for the condom. As he’s putting it on, a good thirty seconds go by that I could use to change my mind. But I don’t. Luck then rolls on top of me, holding his weight up with his hands on either side of my head. He brushes my hair back which is an oddly sweet gesture and then he reaches between us and spreads my legs.

I close my eyes. He presses his forehead into the pillow beside my head. “You sure?”

“Yes,” I whisper.

I keep my eyes closed and I try not to focus on the fact that I made such a spontaneous decision. But I can’t really think of any negative consequences that will come of this. I won’t have to worry about never losing my virginity and Luck will get to add another line to his book.

“Last chance to change your mind, Merit.”

“How long does it usually last?” I whisper.

Luck laughs in my ear. “You already hate it that much?”

I shake my head. “No, I just . . .” I stop talking. I’m making it even more awkward.

Just when I think I’m no longer going to be a virgin, my phone lights up. “Someone’s calling you,” Luck says. I glance to my left and fumble for my phone. I try to power it off, but the screen is still lit. Luck is just staring down at me. His face contorts and then he’s not on top of me anymore. He falls onto his back.

“I can’t do it.”

“Seriously?” I ask. “We were two seconds away!”

He nods. “I’m sorry. It’s just . . . when your phone lit up . . . you made this face that reminded me of Moby.”

I cringe.

“He kind of looks like you and Honor. It’s weirding me out.”

I pull the covers up over my breasts. “That’s gross.”

He doesn’t disagree. “Are you okay?”

I nod. “Yeah.” My voice isn’t very reassuring, though.

He turns on the lamp and then sits up. I look the other way as he removes his condom and pulls on his pants. “You aren’t mad at me, are you?”

I assume it’s safe to look in his direction now. He’s holding his shirt, looking pathetically regretful as he stares down at me. “No. I’m sure I can find someone to do it eventually.” I’m mostly kidding.

He gives me an apologetic, yet reassuring smile. “Whoever you have sex with, it’ll be better than what this would have been. I promise.”

I laugh. “Yeah, I’m not sure it can get much worse than what just happened.”

Luck flips me off. “I’m normally very impressive and have excellent follow-through. This is a rare exception.”

I like that he’s still playful. We just experienced one of the most awkward things two people can possibly experience, and from the looks of it, nothing changed between us because of it.

He opens the door with impeccably terrible timing. Sagan is walking by, but he pauses as soon as Luck opens the door.

It’s just a two-second glance, but I feel more in this visual exchange with Sagan than I did during the entire past fifteen minutes with Luck. Sagan’s eyes are locked on mine. His eyes move to Luck. His eyes are back on mine. Luck quickly steps out of my bedroom and closes the door, but he’s not fast enough to save me from the absolute most horrific part of this entire day.

I pull the covers over my head and try to wish away the last ten seconds. I didn’t want anyone to find out about what just happened between me and Luck, but Sagan is the absolute last person I would have wanted to find out about it.

I can feel the tears of embarrassment begin to form as I roll over.

I’m drowning in regret.

“Coming down for air,” I whisper.

It’s been several hours since I almost lost my virginity. I’m still the same and I have a feeling I’d still feel the same if my hymen were no longer intact. I wouldn’t feel sexier, I wouldn’t feel more worldly, I wouldn’t be miraculously confident. If anything, I’m a bit . . . disappointed. Why do people risk so much for sex?

So far, all it’s caused me is mortification. I’m so embarrassed to face Sagan, I haven’t even left my room since he walked past it. I can hope he didn’t assume the worst, but Luck walked out of my room without a shirt. Sagan saw me in bed, the blanket covering me just enough to make it obvious I wasn’t wearing clothes.

I’m not embarrassed that he might have caught me having sex with someone. It shouldn’t matter to Sagan if I’m seeing anyone else because Sagan isn’t my boyfriend. He’s dating my sister.

I’m embarrassed because it was Luck. We share a relative. It’s disturbing. And now Sagan probably thinks the worst of me.

Luck came to my room during dinner and asked if I wanted him to bring me something to eat. He thought I was too mortified to come out of my room because of him, but it has nothing to do with Luck. In all honesty, I don’t even regret what almost happened. I only regret that Sagan knows about it.

As embarrassed as I am, though, I doubt my feelings even come close to what my father must be feeling. He knows I know that he’s still sleeping with Mom. And I’m sure he’s terrified I’m going to tell Victoria. Or anyone else in the family for that matter. He’s so mortified, he didn’t even come to my room to talk to me about it.

All I’ve heard from him today was in a stupid text. “I’m sorry you saw that. Please let me talk to you about it before you jump to any conclusions.” In other words, he’d appreciate the opportunity to swear me to secrecy before anyone else finds out what’s really going on around here.

So many secrets in this house. And yet, the one secret I should have told years ago is the one I’ve kept the quietest.

Speaking of quiet. I haven’t heard anyone moving around in the house for a while, which means everyone is probably in bed now. Not only am I starving, but I would put money on the fact that no one has fed Wolfgang today. I go to the kitchen and open a frozen dinner. After I put it in the microwave, I grab a pitcher from beneath the sink to fill it with dog food.

I’m rinsing it out when my father finally gets the balls to confront me. I heard the door to their bedroom open right after I closed the microwave. I heard him walk into the kitchen when I bent down to grab the pitcher. I felt him hesitate at the counter as I was rinsing out the pitcher.

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