How I Live Now
by Kyra Cullinan

You'd had this idea, sort of. Mostly you'd just wanted to run, but you thought of the sun and the water and nothing but you and him, and you felt like maybe you could breathe easier. Light and salt and his skin, and yours.

You stole the boat and you liked it -- you don't tell anyone this, but you liked doing it. You liked it for the same reasons you like him, because he makes you feel the same way you did when you had Dean in your bed, when you let Jess touch you on Luke's ratty old couch. Makes you feel more and less like yourself at the same time. Like you can be someone you didn't know. Makes you want to prove yourself.

This is all easier than last time, not talking to your mother -- last summer you had the Atlantic between you, but this time you've had practice. And you're not a child -- you can do what you want.

So this is your life now, brand new car smell and all. He comes over and he kisses you and it's not quite the same because the whole time you're listening for the sound of your grandparents coming home. If they walked in with him in your bed, like this -- you can't even imagine, but it makes your heart beat faster.

But it's not like you can stop. He smiles at you in that way he has, like when Finn's drunk and demanding you recount your criminal exploits for the third time and you're both about to vanish. He smiles at you like that, and he calls you Ace and you follow him across the pool house in his shirt and your bare feet. He pours you a cup of coffee and it's the middle of the afternoon and there's nowhere you have to be.

The best thing is how he keeps surprising you. You've been guessing the endings of books since you were five; you know what Paris will say on any given subject, what your mother will say, but you can't ever tell with him. How he didn't like you and then how he stayed with you and how he said yes and took your hand and ran. The surprise party, with those stupid outfits.

If he's always a step ahead of you, there's always something to keep you off balance, make you dizzy, keep you from thinking. You can do this as long as you want. All you have to do is keep up.


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