“See, you tricked me,” Abby says, wagging a finger. “I thought you liked Hipster Will.”
“But you hung out with him.”
“Olivia told you that?”
She nods. “But you’re not interested in Will.”
I bite my lip. “No.” Nor is he interested in me.
“Then why’d you hang out with him?”
“I don’t know.”
“You totally know.” She’s smiling faintly. “Come on. I think you need to say this. Like, own it. It’s okay.”
“Yeah.” I nod. “I’m . . .”
There’s this pause.
She looks at me. “Wow. Like, you can’t. You actually can’t admit it.”
I cover my face.
“This is so sad and adorable.”
“I’m twelve years old. I know.”
“You seriously are.” She laughs. “Which is okay! But you’re gonna have to turn thirteen.”
“All right. I’m going to draw this out of you. First question. If you’re not into Will, why did you hang out with him?”
“Okay, I’m not—”
“Answer the question.”
I take a deep breath. “Because Reid was hanging out with Olivia.”
“Yeah, you might have misinterpreted that.” She grins. “But let’s keep going. So, Reid was hanging out with Olivia, and then you called Will . . .”
“No, I texted him.”
“Whatever. You got in touch with Will because you wanted . . .” She trails off.
“I wanted to make Reid jealous.”
“Because you like him.”
“I like him.”
“There you go.”
“Yeah.” And I’m blushing so hard, and it’s stupid, because I’m not in middle school. I’m not twelve. I’m not this much of a mess.
“You like him!” Abby says.
“But it’s not anything. We haven’t even kissed.”
“Yet.” She’s beaming.
“Stop being smug.”
“You don’t even know smug. Wait till you kiss him. Come find me then.”
“I’m not going to find you.”
She bursts out laughing. “Yeah, okay. Do you know what you didn’t just say?”
My whole body is blushing. Because I know she knows, and probably everyone in the entire world knows.
I didn’t say I wouldn’t kiss him.
Maybe I actually will.
HI. I KNOW I PROBABLY shouldn’t be texting you this late
But I need to tell you some stuff, and I don’t want to talk myself out of it. So, yeah.
First of all, I’m really sorry.
Reid, I am so sorry. I was an asshole to you. You probably don’t want to talk to me right now.
I totally get it.
It’s not fair of me to be a jerk about you hanging out with Olivia
Especially when I was hanging out with Will
That sucked. And I’m sorry.
But here’s the thing
Actually, here’s a lot of things
There are some things we’ve never talked about that we probably should talk about.
Like how I’m not interested in Will. And he’s not interested in me.
And how everything’s just a little off-kilter right now, like with Cassie and Mina.
Which has nothing to do with Olivia!
And is obviously not a good reason to keep you from making out with her.
Please don’t make out with Olivia.
Because that’s the other thing.
I don’t think you should make out with Olivia.
I can’t believe I’m about to say this
HE’S TYPING SOMETHING.
My hands are shaking so hard, I can barely hold my phone.
My stomach aches, and the area below my stomach aches, and the area below that aches. There is a good deal of lustful aching occurring.
Hey. I’m here, he writes.
Hi! Okay. So, I guess we should talk?
But maybe we should do it in person
My heart beats extra fast. Yes. Okay. Where are you?
Home. Where are you?
I can be there in five, he says.
Here’s the thing they don’t tell you about time: there are spaces in between seconds. And sixty seconds is actually a pretty huge number. Three hundred seconds might as well be infinity seconds.
I slip outside and settle onto the porch swing to wait for him.
And then he’s here.
He’s wearing new sneakers. It’s the first thing I notice. Brownish-gray with white laces, vaguely vintage looking.
“Hey.” I smile up at him. “Want to sit?”
“Yes. Okay.” He nods firmly—and he looks so sweetly intense that I have to giggle. He sinks down beside me, close enough that our legs touch. I am very aware that our legs are touching. I think my brain must have been built for this kind of awareness.
“I like your shoes,” I say.
“Oh, thanks.” He runs a hand through his hair. He seems jittery and unsettled. “That was Olivia’s idea.”
He turns to face me. “So, let’s talk about Olivia.”
I need to breathe. I need to be cool. If Reid tells me he kissed her, I have to be happy for him. For them.
I nod, and he’s quiet. We swing back and forth gently.
“Are you guys together?” I ask finally.
“What? No. I told you that.”
“But you like her.”
“No! Not like that. I want to introduce her to Douglas.” He pauses, and I can see him swallow. “I’ve been talking to her about you.”
His eyes flick toward me, his fingers trailing along the armrest of the swing. I can barely catch my breath.
It’s the middle of the night.
I’m on the porch swing.
Next to Reid.
Reid, with a needlessly detailed map of Middle Earth on his shirt. Reid, with his hazel-gold eyes and wire-rimmed glasses and the starlight in his hair and his very soft mouth. Not that I’d know. But I highly suspect his mouth is soft.
I stare at my knees.