I smile at him. Candlelight flickers across his face. I pull my foot up next to us. “Look, I finally put on the fairy tattoo you won on our first date.”

He grins, gently running a finger across the tattoo on my ankle. Tingles rush up my leg. “Remember how you kissed me first?”

“I do.” I grin back at him.

“You scandalized me.”

I smack his arm. “I did not. You loved it.”

We dig into our pizza again until he asks what I did today.

“Went to the mall with Parker.”

“Did you buy anything?”

“Maybe,” I say, barely able to contain my smile. He raises his eyebrows.

I go on, “Her friend, Drew, showed up and we helped him pick out some clothes. And when I got home I had some ideas for more outfits—” I reach up onto the couch and pull my sketchbook into my lap.

Fear rushes through me. I clutch my book to my chest. I’ve never shown anyone my sketchbook, and just now, it was so easy to reach behind me and grab it and open it in front of him.


How serious are we?

“Can I see what you drew?” he asks quietly.

Pulling a deep breath, I thumb through my sketchbook until I get to the picture of Drew wearing the outfit I picked out. I show the drawing to Matt, who takes another bite of pizza and talks as he chews.

“He’s a decent-looking guy.”

“He’s gay.”

“Then I’m glad you had a nice afternoon shopping with him,” Matt says with a laugh.

I close my book and move to set it aside, but he speaks again. “Can I look at your other sketches? I’ll wash my hands first. Promise.”

“It’s okay,” I say, passing him the book, even though I’d rather lock it up in a safe. “You don’t have to worry about getting it dirty.” But he gets up and washes his hands anyway, and then flops back down on the rug with me. He opens my book carefully to the first page. He doesn’t move an inch as he studies a sketch of himself. Is he breathing?

Then his finger turns the page, and a minute later, to the next.

“They’re of me,” he says, his voice full of awe. He leans down and presses his lips to my forehead, and then goes back to my drawings, looking at each one carefully.

When he shuts the book, I curl up against his side, slightly lift his shirt and touch his abs. He shifts under my hand, then pulls me onto his lap, so I’m straddling him. The rug digs into my knees. Beneath my dress he sets his hands on my waist, rubbing his thumbs over my hipbones. His blue eyes stare into mine. Every noise—the entire world, seems to silence around us.

Finally he breaks it. “How about a tour of the rest of your house?”

“Like, my room?”

“Especially your room,” he growls playfully. I smack his arm and he smacks me back, and then he’s up on his feet and darting toward the staircase with me chasing after him. Our laughter rings through the house. I dart up the stairs as he checks doors on the second floor.

“Is this Kate’s room?” he asks, opening a linen closet. “Are you like Harry Potter? Do you live in a cupboard?”

I pinch his elbow. “I sleep on a shelf with the Q-tips.”

He moves on to my parents’ room, where a pair of Daddy’s dress pants lay on the chest. “Are you cheating on me?” he jokes, strutting into the room.

“Get out of here,” I say, pulling him into the hallway.

“Where are you hiding this guy who wears the fancy pants?”

“I’m hiding him in here.” I walk backward to my room, pulling Matt by an arm. His face goes serious when I push the door open with my butt.

Silently, he spends a lot of time looking around my room. I’m so glad I got rid of my kiddy bedspread for the soft white duvet and matching pillowcases. I light a few candles while he studies each of my paintings and looks at all of my books, even the ones from middle school, and when he finds the pile of pictures of me and Emily, the photos I took off the wall, he turns each frame over one by one. He laughs silently at the picture of us sitting together in the Forrest Sanctuary dunking booth at Vacation Bible School.

“Who’s this?” he asks, waving the frame. “Your friend?”

Not tonight. I can’t tell him tonight. I take a deep breath, holding out a hand. “Matt. Please.”

Then he’s moving across the room toward me, sidestepping my laundry basket, a blazing look on his face, and then we’re kissing and falling backward onto my bed. But this isn’t like at his house or on the parachute at camp. This is completely unhindered. I can’t even think as he lifts my dress up and over my head—static from my hair catching the fabric, leaving me in the lacy pink bra and panties I bought today. His eyes slowly scan my body and his breath catches in his throat.

He tosses his T-shirt and khaki shorts onto the rug, and lies on top of me, his fingers digging in my hair. Our feet twist together. His lips pepper my neck and I can’t breathe. I try to focus on the ceiling fan, going round and round and round.

“Matt, Matt,” I mumble, delirious.

He pulls away. His biceps strain as he holds himself above me. “Yeah?”


We kiss and kiss, pressing against each other until I can’t take it anymore. I ignore the guilt. It’s not strong enough to make me stop. I need relief. My body feels like a bomb. It’s like he senses it, because his hand heads south and he focuses on my face and asks if it’s okay and I say yes, even though I shouldn’t let him touch me there.

I clench my eyes shut. Clutch the duvet. He gently kisses me through my underwear, and then his fingers move below until tingles rush through my body, leaving me out of breath. Relieved. Then I tug his boxers off and move my hand up and down until he comes. He breathes in and out, panting, his eyes shut tightly, and pulls me up against him.

“Wow,” he says, smiling. Just that one word makes me feel so many things. I feel proud, I feel remorse, I feel tingly all over, I feel responsibility. I feel loved.

I breathe.

“What time do you need to leave?” I ask quietly, playing with his hair.

“I don’t have a curfew. I’ll call my parents later and tell them I’m sleeping at the DTK house…Is it okay for me to stay?”

I answer him with a long kiss that leaves us both breathless again.

We relax against each other, cuddling, and he begins tracing the freckles on my arms. He touches everywhere, as if worshipping my body.

“What happened here?” he asks, rubbing a thumb over the purplish bruise on my knee.

“Tripped on a rock in the driveway. I fell.”

He drags a finger up and down my surgical scar. He talks against my lips, kissing me. “Clumsy.”

“Look away, I’m hideous,” I joke.

“Far from it. I’m the hideous one.” He chuckles, but I can hear the emotion in his voice. Does he really believe that?

He dips a hand between my legs again and guilt courses through me. I clutch at the hair at the nape of his neck, and even though my parents aren’t home, I try not to make noise.

“Why would you think you’re hideous?” I whisper.

He kisses my chin. “It’s not important.”

“Yes, it is. Tell me.” I trace the soft hair on his lower stomach and wait for an answer.

“Tom’s a lot taller than me, and he got into a better school… Sarah, um, liked him more…”

“The guy who was your best friend?”


He rolls over to focus on the ceiling, where candlelight dances. I let him think. He doesn’t say anything, so I slowly begin kissing his neck, and that turns into us making out again.

“Don’t think about Tom and Sarah anymore, okay?” I whisper. “I’m here.”

He tucks my head under his chin. And we fall asleep in each other’s arms.

“What is going on?”

I sit up straight. Emily’s here. Standing in the doorway. Staring at me.

I grab my duvet up to my chest, to cover myself. I’m in only my bra and panties. She looks from the discarded clothes littering the rug to Matt, who lifts himself into a sitting position and rubs his eyes, then secures the sheet around his waist.

“Hi—” I begin, but Emily starts yelling.

“You hypocrite!” she cries.

I clutch my duvet tighter. My breathing races.

“I’m Matt,” he says, stretching a hand out to her. When she doesn’t take it, he ruffles his hair and reaches down to pick his boxers up off the floor. He doesn’t seem all that concerned he’s naked in front of someone he’s never met.

“You’ve been giving me such shit for months,” Emily exclaims, “And you’re sleeping with some random guy—”

“I’m not random,” he says, and I blurt, “We’re not sleeping together.”

“But it’s okay for you to fool around but I can’t? Jacob and I were in love and you were such a bitch anytime you found out we did something—”

She’s right. I shouldn’t have let him touch me. He shouldn’t have spent the night.

“Emily,” I try to interrupt.

“You are such a hypocrite. I can’t believe I wasted my time coming over here.”

I’m trembling. “Why did you come over?”

She looks at the ceiling, shaking her head. Tears pool, filling her lower lids. “I felt bad for how I treated you when you came by. I figured you were off work this weekend…I wanted to apologize…and maybe talk about everything. I knocked and rang the doorbell and you didn’t answer. I noticed a strange Jeep was here…I got scared. I found the spare key.” She glances at Matt, who’s now trying to wrangle himself into his underwear beneath the comforter.

“This is my boyfriend, Matt,” I mumble.

Her eyebrows furrow and lines zip across her forehead. “You didn’t tell me about him…”

“Not y–”

“I was your best friend.” She turns and slams my bedroom door.

I cover my eyes, letting the duvet fall to my waist. I let out a low cry.

“Hey, hey,” Matt whispers. “What’s wrong? What was that all about?” He tries to hug me but I shrug him away and pick my duvet back up, so he can’t see my body. He shouldn’t see any part of me. We’re not married. What was I thinking? We didn’t have sex, but last night was a sin.

We woke up in the middle of the night and started all over again. I touched him, and when I think about how good it felt when his hands explored my skin, I shudder. When he touched me with his mouth, my entire body relaxed, and I felt sensations I’d never felt before.

Tears begin to drip down my cheeks.

“Kate,” he says gently.

“Please go,” I say, wiping my face on my duvet.

He scoots closer. “No. Tell me what’s wrong. Why didn’t you tell your best friend about me?”

“She’s not my best friend anymore.”

“What happened?”

“I can’t do this. Please, just go.”

“What do you mean, go?”

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