“Are you going?” I asked.

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I wanted to talk to you about it first.”


He was so close to me on the bed, I could feel the warmth of his breath. I also noticed he smelled like mint, and it made me wonder if he uses bottled water to brush his teeth before he comes over here. I always send him home every day with lots of water.

I brought my hand up to the pillow and started pulling at a feather sticking out of it. When I got it all the way out, I twisted it between my fingers. “I don’t know what to say, Atlas. I’m happy you have a place to stay. But what about school?”

“I could finish down there,” he said.

I nodded. It sounded like he already made up his mind. “When are you leaving?”

I wondered how far away Boston is. It’s probably a few hours, but that’s a whole world away when you don’t own a car.

“I don’t know for sure that I am.”

I dropped the feather back onto the pillow and brought my hand to my side. “What’s stopping you? Your uncle is offering you a place to stay. That’s good, right?”

He tightened his lips together and nodded. Then he picked up the feather I’d been playing with and he started twisting it between his fingers. He laid it back down on the pillow and then he did something I wasn’t expecting. He moved his fingers to my lips and he touched them.

God, Ellen. I thought I was gonna die right then and there. It was the most I’d ever felt inside my body at one time. He kept his fingers there for a few seconds, and he said, “Thank you, Lily. For everything.” He moved his fingers up and through my hair, and then he leaned forward and planted a kiss on my forehead. I was breathing so hard, I had to open my mouth to catch more air. I could see his chest moving just as hard as mine was. He looked down at me and I watched as his eyes went right to my mouth. “Have you ever been kissed, Lily?”

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I shook my head no and tilted my face up to his because I needed him to change that right then and there or I wasn’t gonna be able to breathe.

Then—almost as if I were made of eggshells—he lowered his mouth to mine and just rested it there. I didn’t know what to do next, but I didn’t care. I didn’t care if we just stayed like that all night and never even moved our mouths, it was everything.

His lips closed over mine and I could kind of feel his hand shaking. I did what he was doing and started to move my lips like he was. I felt the tip of his tongue brush across my lips once and I thought my eyes were about to roll back in my head. He did it again, and then a third time, so I finally did it, too. When our tongues touched for the first time, I kind of smiled a little, because I’d thought about my first kiss a lot. Where it would be, who it would be with. Never in a million years did I imagine it would feel like this.

He pushed me on my back and pressed his hand against my cheek and kept kissing me. It just got better and better as I grew more comfortable. My favorite moment was when he pulled back for a second and looked down at me, then came back even harder.

I don’t know how long we kissed. A long time. So long, my mouth started to hurt and my eyes couldn’t stay open. When we fell asleep, I’m pretty sure his mouth was still touching mine.

We didn’t talk about Boston again.

I still don’t know if he’s leaving.


• • •

Dear Ellen,

I need to apologize to you.

It’s been a week since I’ve written to you and a week since I’ve watched your show. Don’t worry, I still record it so you’ll get the ratings, but every day we get off the bus, Atlas takes a quick shower and then we make out.

Every day.

It’s awesome.

I don’t know what it is about him, but I feel so comfortable with him. He’s so sweet and thoughtful. He never does anything I don’t feel comfortable with, but so far he hasn’t tried anything I don’t feel comfortable with.

I’m not sure how much I should divulge here, since you and I have never met in person. But let me just say that if he’s ever wondered what my boobs feel like . . .

Now he knows.

I can’t for the life of me figure out how people function from day to day when they like someone this much. If it were up to me, we would kiss all day and all night and do nothing in between except maybe talk a little. He tells funny stories. I love it when he’s in a talkative mood because it doesn’t happen very often, but he uses his hands a lot. He smiles a lot, too, and I love his smile even more than I love his kiss. And sometimes I just tell him to shut up and stop smiling or kissing or talking so I can stare at him. I like looking at his eyes. They’re so blue that he could be standing across a room and a person could tell how blue his eyes were. The only thing I don’t like about kissing him sometimes is when he closes his eyes.

And no. We still haven’t talked about Boston.


Dear Ellen,

Yesterday afternoon when we were riding the bus, Atlas kissed me. It wasn’t anything new to us because we had kissed a lot by this point, but it’s the first time he ever did it in public. When we’re together everything else just seems to fade away, so I don’t think he even thought about other people noticing. But Katie noticed. She was sitting in the seat behind us and I heard her say, “Gross,” as soon as he leaned over and kissed me.

She was talking to the girl next to her when she said, “I can’t believe Lily lets him touch her. He wears the same clothes almost every day.”

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