“Is this okay? Should I stop?” he asks.

The four-leaf clover he gave me pops into my mind. I take a deep breath.

“Don’t stop.”

The next two weeks of camp basically go the same way—during the day I hang out with Parker, and at night, after everyone’s asleep, I spend time with Matt.

Every morning, I pray in the Woodsong Chapel, asking God to give me the strength to keep my hands off Matt. I haven’t let him go further than touching my chest, but it’s getting harder and harder to stop because I want him to touch me, because I care about him so much. And sometimes I get so sad thinking of Emily that Matt notices. He keeps asking, “Where do you go inside that head of yours?”

I can’t tell him. “Nowhere.”

Then he grins a sad, lopsided grin and kisses my cheek.

The good news is that the fun of camp totally distracts me. One afternoon, the girl counselors challenge the guy counselors to a game of Bonzo Ball. Well, all the counselors minus Eric, who decides to lead a small expedition of campers to look for snakes at the lake because he’s still not convinced I saw one.

With a hundred campers surrounding us, cheering and stomping, Parker, Andrea, Carlie, and I take on the guys. Much trash talk ensues.

“You don’t even know what Bonzo Ball is,” Carlie says to Ian, fake sneering.

“I do so know what it is. Don’t you remember me beating you five times last week?”


“Ooooh,” the boy campers say.

Carlie sets a hand on her hip. “I let you win because you always cry when you lose.”

“Ooooh,” the girl campers chorus.

Squatting low to the ground, Andrea slams the ball at Brad’s shins, knocking him out of the game. The girl campers cheer like mad, and I give Andrea a high five. Matt, Will, and Ian fake pout.

“Come on, girls!” a boy camper yells at us. He’s twelve and clearly has the hots for us.

Matt points at the boy. “Oh, you’re so going down, traitor.”

The game comes down to Parker versus Ian, and they totally start showing off, doing fancy jumps in the air and rolling out of the way of the ball. But in the end, Parker manages to hit Ian in the ankle, and us four girls jump up and down, hugging each other. It makes me smile that Andrea and I are getting along, at least in the name of girl power.

Thursday night before our week off, after I’ve said good night prayers with the girls in my cabin, I’m lying with Matt in the big field, staring at the stars.

“Where do you think heaven is?” Matt asks.

“It’s up there,” I say, pointing past the Big Dipper.

Emily said she doesn’t buy any of it anymore. Religion. God. Faith. Before I decided to help Emily get an abortion, my life was just fine. My parents love me. I have a beautiful home. All in all, everything was okay.

Since I sinned, life has been terrible and wonderful. I never had a boyfriend during high school. I didn’t have many friends except for Emily and my soccer team. But after they were taken away, I found out how little I truly had.

Now I have Matt and my heart is brimming with emotions, with something that feels like love, but I’m not ready to tell him that yet. We’ve only been dating a month. Can you feel love in that amount of time?

What if he still loves his ex?

I snuggle against his chest. “No girls in Cabo, understand?”

“No guys in Franklin, understand?”

“I’m being serious,” I tell him, using an exaggerated warning tone.

“You’re in trouble.” He rolls over on top of me and tickles me until I can’t breathe. I’m screaming at him, probably waking up the entire camp. I try to push him off me but he’s too strong. Then his mouth meets mine and for the first time, he rests his fingers on the button of my shorts.

I inhale deeply, grabbing his hand.

He rolls off me, shutting his eyes and rubbing his face. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to push you to move so fast I just get caught up in you—and I—”

I climb on top of him. “I get caught up in you too.”

We move against each other and my mind goes away into nothingness and it’s just our bodies, straining to get closer. My shorts are unbuttoned, unzipped, and so are his. He’s wearing light blue striped boxers that I can’t help wanting to touch. His hand gently grazes me through my shorts and then he runs a finger beneath the elastic of my underwear. That’s when I remember I have on plain white panties. I can’t let him see those. I bet Andrea doesn’t even own white cotton underwear.

“It’s late,” I whisper.

“To be continued?” he asks, smiling. “When I get back from Mexico?”

Even though I’ll miss him like crazy, I’m grateful for the break. For the chance to figure out how to balance the physical part of our relationship with the emotional. Andrea would probably give Matt whatever he wants. What scares me is that I want to give Matt whatever he wants. Not because I’m scared of losing him.

Because I want to show him how much I care.

Because I’m falling in love with all of him.

Because I kind of want it too.

“You want to go where?”

Parker and I spent the first few days of break riding bikes, swimming, and lying out in the sun, and that was really fun, but I never imagined Parker would invite me to a Fourth of July party at Jordan Woods’s house. Jordan is Sam Henry’s girlfriend, and like him, she probably has no idea who I am. I, however, know exactly who Jordan is. Former captain and quarterback of the Hundred Oaks High football team.

Loud rap music rings through the trees. Lit torches with flames reaching toward the sky dot the yard, along with tables and tables of food and drinks.

“Uhhh,” I say to Parker. “I’ve never been to a party like this.”

“I don’t like them much, either,” she whispers back. “We’ll just say hi and then come up with an excuse to leave, okay?”

“Then why are we here?”

She jerks her head toward Will. A bunch of boys from the baseball team rush up to surround him, talking about how the Braves blew a 3–2 lead in the ninth.

Will never lets go of Parker’s hand as he talks and even kisses her knuckles from time to time. No one is talking to me, and I wish so bad that Matt were here, but he’s not. He’s in Cabo. What if Andrea comes on to him? What if he changes his mind about me while he’s in Mexico?

Leaving Parker and Will with the baseball players, I make my way toward one of the many drink tables. On my way, a really cute guy catches my eye and smiles. He abandons the guy he was talking to and stalks toward me with a major swagger.

My breath catches in my throat. The guy must be six-four, and he has these ginormous muscles and gorgeous blond hair. “Hey,” he says, checking out my jean shorts.

“Hi,” I say, not sure of what to do with my hands.

“I’m Jake.” He thrusts out a hand and I take it.


“Are you a friend of Jordan’s?”

“No,” I say, swallowing hard. “We’re not friends.”

“Oh, good.”

“Why is that good?”

“Jordan gets pissed if I talk to her friends.”

“Are you her brother?” He fits the mold. Tall, blond, Adonis-like. But not as Adonis-like as Matt.

He laughs. “Her brother’s my best friend.” He takes a step closer to me, where I can see a few freckles on his nose. “Want to go for a walk down by the docks?” he says quietly. He slides a hand onto my shoulder. It doesn’t feel good or exciting. It only reminds me of how much I miss Matt. It scares me a little, to realize I am beginning to depend on him like I depended on Emily. I don’t think I will lose him, but I can’t help but worry about how much I’ve come to count on him being around.

“I have a boyfriend,” I tell Jake.

“I can understand why,” he replies, scanning my body again and taking a step closer. “Can I ask you a question?”


He grins a lazy grin, then whispers, “Do you believe in love at first sight…? Or should I walk by you again?”

I open my mouth to speak, then shut it again. “Really? Did you really just say that?”

“Reynolds!” I hear a voice yell. Jake jumps away from me, eyes wide. I turn to see Jordan stalking this way. “Get away from her before I get medieval on your ass!”

Jordan walks right up and takes Jake by the bicep and yanks him over to another guy, who looks a lot like Jordan. He hands Jake a beer. She yells at both guys and points toward the house and basically makes a big scene. The guys laugh at her and go back to drinking their beers.

I need something to do with my empty hands, so I dip my fingers into a bucket of slushy ice to search for a can of Coke or a bottled water. But all I can see are beer, wine, wine coolers, and more beer. Where are Jordan Woods’s parents anyway? Her dad is a famous football player, so he must travel all the time.

“Can I get you a drink?”

Jordan has reappeared beside me. She’s wearing a bright gold Purdue T-shirt.

“Um,” I say, turning my focus toward the grass. Jordan is like a foot taller than me and she’s supermodel gorgeous and strong and well-respected by just about everybody. I’ve never actually spoken to her but I’ve always admired how she follows her dreams.

“I’m sorry about Reynolds,” Jordan says, smacking some chewing gum. “He’s a perv.”

I nod slowly and consider calling Daddy to ask him to come pick me up. Parker and Will are still chatting with people.

“Did you want a drink?” Jordan asks again.

“I don’t drink,” I reply.

She thrusts her hand down into the bucket and whips out a root beer, which she passes to me. Then she pulls out another and pops the tab. “I don’t drink either,” she says, taking a sip. “I’m not messing up my body when I’ve got football to play.”

“I don’t want to mess up my body either,” I tell her.

“Nice,” she says, tapping her can against mine. “Cheers.” She jerks her head toward a picnic table over by a lush garden full of cornstalks and sunflowers. Sam Henry, JJ, and Joe Carter are playing flip cup and slurping beers. “My boyfriend doesn’t mind messing himself up.”

“That stinks,” I say. Sam’s as popular as Jordan, and I’ve never heard of him being mean to anybody. He does have a reputation, though—Emily once told me he’s fooled around with lots of girls at school.

I don’t love that Matt’s off in Cabo with his frat brothers right now, but I like him enough to live with it. I guess you can love a person without loving everything about them.

“I don’t really know Sam, but he seems like a nice guy,” I say.

She sticks out a hand. “I’m Jordan, by the way.”

“Kate Kelly. We went to school together.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“You do?”

She winces. “I heard about your knee. That sucks major.”

I slip a thumb through my belt loop and toe the grass.

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