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.“Now I’m damn curious,” he says, leaning against his locker and crossing his arms.“What’s she look like? Tall? Short? Curvy? Blond? Throw me a bone here, Vin.”I slam my locker shut and head to homeroom, which I might actually get to on time for once.“Forget it.She’s off limits.There’s no way I’d bring her to our shitty neighborhood.She’s too—”“Vin?” A familiar voice calls my name down the hallway, which is getting more crowded every second.It’s a voice that doesn’t belong here.Leo lets out a long wolf whistle.“Who is that fox?”I feel my throat go dry and shake my head because I have to be hallucinating.There’s no way it’s…“Keira.” She’s next to me now, her smile so wide and bright, it’s electric.“What are you doing here?”I take her arm and lead her away from Leo, whose eyes are bugged out of his head.I weave in and out of the traffic in the halls and duck into an empty stairwell with her.A thousand thoughts are racing through my brain.I want to stay in this stairwell all day with Keira in my arms.As much as I want that, there’s something I want even more: I want to march her to my car, push her into the passenger seat, and drive her away from here immediately.I want to drop her off at the private all girls school she’d been going to since she was in elementary school.The one where she was elected class president, the one with huge leafy trees all over the sprawling campus, the one where the teachers aren’t just state-paid zombies sludging through another too-long workday.What kind of fucked-up world is it that would let Keira grow to love a place like that only to have it ripped away from her right before her senior year? It pisses me off.I pin her against the wall, my hands on either side of her head, my lips brushing hers even though I’m supposed to be getting her the hell out of here.I just want a few seconds before she leaves for good.She stands on her toes to kiss me, and I wrap my arms around her waist, yanking her up against my body.My hands run up into her silky hair, and I breathe the sweet smell of her deep into my lungs.“How did you figure out I went here?” I ask, rubbing my hands up and down her delicate back.“I’m glad to see you, I swear I am, but you gotta get out of here, Keira.”“I didn’t figure anything out,” she says, her smile so wide it must make her cheeks ache.It’s hands down the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life.“This was where I got reassigned.My father’s company moved him to Ridgedale.”“Ridgedale goes to Edison,” I insist, like saying it will change things.Maybe I can change things.She’s on my turf now, and I might actually have some pull.I wonder if anyone in my family has ties to anyone in Edison.“The north end of Ridgedale does,” she says, her smile falling.“Our new apartment is in the south end, just at the edge of the border.” She pulls back from me and furrows her eyebrows together.“When I saw you in the hall, I felt like I finally had some good luck after weeks of being stressed.But it’s like you’re not even happy.”“I’m not,” I snap, hating the way her shoulders sag.I take it down a few notches.“I mean, I’m happy to see you.Of course, I’m always happy to see you, Keira.But not here.We need to go to the office and see if we can get your district reassigned.” I run a hand through my hair, trying to think of a way out of this, and the answer flashes through like a lightning bolt.My relief is instantaneous.I snap my fingers.“I have an aunt who lives in Brooklawn.That’s an Edison sending district.Use her address.She’ll vouch for you.We can have it figured out by the end of today, and you’ll only have missed a few classes.”It’s not her old school, but it’s better than Eastside for sure.“What are you talking about?” Keira stares at me, her mouth tight.“I’m not using your aunt’s address so I can go to some other school.Eastside is my new school.Ridgedale is where I live now.You think it’s not hard for me to have left everything I know, Vin? But I’m here with you now.That’s all I could have asked for.”“This place is a shithole, Keira,” I growl.When she backs away from me, I take a step in her direction and put my hands on her shoulders.“And I’m not.I’m not the guy you think you know.Not here.” I’ve never felt the kind of shame that fills me now.She looks up at me, those gorgeous blue eyes fiery with accusation.“You’re not the guy who said he’d be there for me no matter what? Who’d love me no matter what?” she challenges.“You have no idea how much I love you, Keira.And that holds.I consider it my fulltime job to look out for you.Which is why I need to get you out of Eastside as fast as possible.This isn’t where you need to be.And you don’t need to see me here, like this.”I don’t really know how to explain it all to her.How can I explain that the guy I was this summer, with her, doesn’t exist at Eastside? Because he can’t exist here.She doesn’t realize I come with major baggage.And—while I never out and out lied to her—I sure as hell held back huge portions of the truth.I expected to have this entire year to figure it all out, to be a new man when we were ready to get together again this summer.I need more time.She can’t see what a fuck-up I really am, or I’ll have zero chance of winning her for good.Keira is going to expect me to the be that guy I was this summer, and when she realizes I’m not…she’s going to walk.“Like what, Vin?” she asks, her eyes brimming with tears.Her voice shakes so hard, and I try to touch her, but she jerks away from me.“I’m looking at you, and I see the same smart, funny, hardworking, sexy guy I fell in love with this summer.Are you trying to tell me that was a bunch of lies?”I take a deep breath and try to calm the hell down as everything good in my life explodes in front of my eyes.“You saw the guy I wish I could be.”“Wish you could be?” Her laugh sounds broken.“What are you saying? You can be whoever you want to be.”“It’s not that easy,” I tell her, but she’s not hearing me.She paces across the linoleum and looks out the dirty little window to the pitted asphalt of the basketball courts behind the school.Without facing me, she says, “I’m staying at Eastside, Vin.That’s not up for debate.” When she turns toward me, her eyes are bright [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]