St. Clair is stil for a moment. And then he nods.

I pul off my necklace and insert my key into the lock. He waits behind me. My hand shakes as I open the door.

Chapter twenty

St. Clair is sitting on my floor. He tosses his boots across my room, and they hit my door with a loud smack. It’s the first noise either of us has made since coming in here.

“Sorry.” He’s embarrassed. “Where shal I put those?”

But before I can reply, he’s blabbering. “El ie thinks I ought to go to San Francisco. I’ve almost bought the plane ticket loads of times, but it’s not what Mum would want. If my father doesn’t want it, she doesn’t want it. It’d put too much additional stress on the situation.”

I’m startled by the outburst.

“Sometimes I wonder if she—El ie—if she, you know ...” His voice grows quiet. “Wants me gone.”

He never talks about his girlfriend. Why now? I can’t believe I have to defend her. I line his boots beside my door to avoid looking at him. “She’s probably just tired of seeing you miserable. Like we all are,” I add. “I’m sure . . . I’m sure she’s as crazy about you as ever.”

“Hmm.” He watches me put away my own shoes and empty the contents of my pockets. “What about you?” he asks, after a minute.


“What about me?”

St. Clair examines his watch. “Sideburns. You’l be seeing him next month.”

He’s reestablishing . . . what? The boundary line? That he’s taken, and I’m spoken for? Except I’m not. Not real y.

But I can’t bear to say this now that he’s mentioned El ie. “Yeah, I can’t wait to see him again. He’s a funny guy, you’d like him. I’m gonna see his band play at Christmas. Toph’s a great guy, you’d real y like him. Oh. I already said that, didn’t I? But you would. He’s real y . . . funny.”

Shut up, Anna. Shut. Up.

St. Clair unbuckles and rebuckles and unbuckles his watchband.

“I’m beat,” I say.And it’s the truth.As always, our conversation has exhausted me. I crawl into bed and wonder what he’l do. Lie on my floor? Go back to his room? But he places his watch on my desk and climbs onto my bed. He slides up next to me. He’s on top of the covers, and I’m underneath. We’re stil

ful y dressed, minus our shoes, and the whole situation is beyond awkward.

He hops up. I’m sure he’s about to leave, and I don’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed, but . . . he flips off my light. My room is pitch-black.

He shuffles back toward my bed and smacks into it.

“Oof,” he says.

“Hey, there’s a bed there.”

“Thanks for the warning.”

“No problem.”

“It’s freezing in here. Do you have a fan on or something?”

“It’s the wind. My window won’t shut all the way. I have a towel stuffed under it, but it doesn’t real y help.”

He pats his way around the bed and slides back in. “Ow,” he says.


“My belt. Would it be weird ...”

I’m thankful he can’t see me blush. “Of course not.” And I listen to the slap of leather as he pul s it out of his belt loops. He lays it gently on my hardwood floor.

“Um,” he says. “Would it be weird—”


“Oh, piss off. I’m not talking trousers. I only want under the blankets.That breeze is horrible.” He slides underneath, and now we’re lying side by side. In my narrow bed. Funny, but I never imagined my first sleepover with a guy being, well , a sleepover.

“Al we need now are Sixteen Candles and a game of Truth or Dare.”

He coughs. “Wh-what?”

“The movie, pervert. I was just thinking it’s been a while since I’ve had a sleepover.”

A pause. “Oh.”



“St. Clair?”


“Your elbow is murdering my back.”

“Bol ocks. Sorry.” He shifts, and then shifts again, and then again, until we’re comfortable. One of his legs rests against mine. Despite the two layers of pants between us, I feel na**d and vulnerable. He shifts again and now my entire leg, from calf to thigh, rests against his. I smel his hair. Mmm.


I swal ow, and it’s so loud. He coughs again. I’m trying not to squirm. After what feels like hours but is surely only minutes, his breath slows and his body relaxes. I final y begin to relax, too. I want to memorize his scent and the touch of his skin—one of his arms, now against mine—and the solidness of his body. No matter what happens, I’l remember this for the rest of my life.

I study his profile. His lips, his nose, his eyelashes. He’s so beautiful.

The wind rattles the panes, and the lights buzz softly in the hal . He sleeps soundly. How long has it been since he’s had a decent night’s rest? There’s another uncomfortable tug on my heart. Why do I care so much about him, and why do I wish I didn’t? How can one person make me so confused all of the


What is that? Is it lust? Or something else altogether? And is it even possible for me to feel this way about him without these feelings being

reciprocated? He said that he liked me. He did. And even though he was drunk, he wouldn’t have said it if there wasn’t at least some truth to it. Right?

I don’t know.

Like every time I’m with him, I don’t know anything. He scoots closer to me in his sleep. His breath is warm against my neck. I don’t know anything. He’s so beautiful, so perfect. I wonder if he ... if I ...

A ray of light glares into my eyes, and I squint, disoriented. Daylight. The red numbers on my clock read 11:27. Huh. Did I mean to sleep in? What day is it? And then I see the body in bed next to me. And I nearly jump out of my skin.

So it wasn’t a dream.

His mouth is parted, and the sheets are kicked off. One of his hands rests on his stomach. His shirt has hiked up, and I can see his abdomen. My gaze

is transfixed.

Holy crap. I just slept with St. Clair.

Chapter twenty-one

Imean I didn’t SLEEP sleep with him. Obviously. But I slept with him.

I slept with a boy! I burrow back down into my sheets and grin. I can’t WAIT to tell Bridge. Except . . . what if she tell s Toph? And I can’t tell Mer, because she’d get jealous, which means I can’t tell Rashmi or Josh either. It dawns on me that there is nobody I can tell about this. Does that mean it’s wrong?

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