Pop-Tarts at Nate’s. She’d been having them there since she was five years old. And now..and now..
“Mom and Dad want me to go to boarding school susunod year,” she announced, her enormous, almost navy blue eyes growing huge and glassy as they welled up with unexpected tears. Go away to boarding school and leave Nate? It hurt too much to even think about.
Nate flinched as if he’d been slapped in the face sa pamamagitan ng an invisible hand. He grabbed the other Pop-Tart from the packet and hopped up on the counter susunod to her. “No way,” he responded decisively. She couldn’t leave. He wouldn’t allow it.
“They want to travel more,” she explained, the pink, perfect curve of her lower lip trembling dangerously. “If I’m home, they feel like they need to be tahanan madami [..]. It’s like I have no choice.”
Nate scooted over a few inches and wrapped his arm around her sharply defined shoulders. “The city is going to suck if you’re not here,” he told her earnestly. “You can’t go.”
Serena took a deep, shuddering breath and rested her pale blond head on his shoulder. “I pag-ibig you,” she murmured without thinking. Their bodies were so close the entire Nate-side of her hummed. If she turned her head and tilted her chin just so, she could have easily kissed his warm, lovely neck. And she wanted to. She was actually dying to, because she really did pag-ibig him, with all her heart.
She did? Hello? Since when?
Maybe since ballroom-dancing school way back in fourth grade. She was tall for her age, and Nate was always such a gentleman about her lack of rhythm and the way she stepped on his insteps and jutted her bony elbows into his sides. He’d finesse it sa pamamagitan ng grabbing her hand and spinning her around so that the palda of her puffy oyster-colored satin tea-length dress twirled around magnificently. Their teacher worshipped Nate. So did Serena’s best friend, Blair Waldorf. And so did Serena- she just hadn’t realized it until now. She shivered, and her perfect, still-tan-from-Christmas-in-the-Caribbean skin broke out in a rash of goosebumps. Her whole body seemed to be having an adverse reaction to the idea of revealing something she’d kept so well hidden for so long, even from herself.
He closed his eyes and breathed in a deep scent of Serena’s clarifying shampoo. He’d kissed a few girls and had even gone to third base last june with L’Wren Knowes, a very experienced older Senior, who really did seem to know everything. But halik Serena would be..different. He loved her. It was as simple as that. She was his best friend, and he loved her.
“Let’s stay together like this forever,” Serena murmured sleepily, burrowing her nose into Nate’s warm neck. Then she remembered that her parents wanted to send her to boarding school susunod year. She squeezed her enormous navy blue eyes shut, but she no longer felt tired. Her long, nearly black eyelashes fluttered against Nate’s neck as she opened her eyes again. [..] She bent down and kissed Nate’s cheek, breathing in the wonderful sandalwood soap smell of him and dampening his skin with her tears. She was crying because she loved both him and Blair, and she was never happier than when she was with them. How could she leave her two best friends?
And maybe she was crying because the idea of Blair and Nate snuggling on his parents’ kama without her was simply too much to bear.
“Do you think he and that girl are really..?” Blair’s voice trailed off. [..] Serena shrugged her shoulders sadly. How could the boy she loved so dearly be so careless and insensitive? Didn’t he know that she lay in kama every night imagining how it would be- them together – like an Eternity perfume ad, only better? They even looked alike- sort of. Didn’t he get it?
When she returned to the bedroom, Nate was lying susunod to a sleeping Blair on tuktok of the white eyelet bedspread, blinking up at the white eyelet canopy overhead as if deciphering the constellations. Serena climbed up susunod to him and lay down, reluctant to get under the covers and add a layer of separation between her body and his. Instead, she wound her long legs around him and pressed her face into his chest.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” she whispered, ever so softly.
They lay like that for a minute, wide awake. Suddenly Nate felt madami turned on than he ever had in his life. Why now? Actually he was starving. But he could stave off hunger if Serena would just roll on tuktok of him and halik him.
“Nate?” Serena was still drunk and felt relaxed and daring. Nate was right there and she was right here. It just felt like the most obvious thing in the world. “I know this might be weird but—“ she lifted her head and looked down at him smiling expectantly up at her. Then she didn’t say anything more, she just did it. She kissed him.
Blair was only inches away, breathing deeply, but they couldn’t stop kissing. Nate wasn’t even thinking about Blair. All he knew was how good it felt to halik the warm, familiar, incredible girl in his arms. Serena had wanted to halik Nate for so long, doing it for real was an entire-body experience. She opened her eyes, watching him halik her in a tipsy haze. This is crazy, she tried to tell herself, still kissing.
“I could just halik you forever,” she murmured softly, her lips brushing his. Nate opened his eyes and smiled ecstatically back at her, and her puso exploded into a thousand glittering stars. She kissed him again, madami fervently this time. I pag-ibig you, Nate! Her thoughts were so loud she was sure she’d wake Blair, but maybe Blair would understand. After all, they were best friends. And Blair’s crush on Nate was just a flirty, childish thing, not real, not grown-up love. Not pag-ibig like this. Not kisses like this.
Finally they dozed off, holding each other, their lips cracked and parched from so much kissing.
Blair turned her leaden head. Nate’s cheek was on Serena’s chest. His gray T-shirt was off and he looked totally..blissful. Serena was wearing a skimpy white kamisa and was hugging Nate’s head tight. Blair bolted upright and kicked away the covers, simultaneously removing them from their cozy cuddle sanwits and revealing their long legs, which were all atangle.
“Summer,” Serena mused aloud. No school. Sunny days filled with kisses.
Skinny-dipping. Nate. “I can’t wait.” She slipped her hand over Nate’s wrist and squeezed his free hand. He squeezed back, and she kicked her feet happily against the mattress, silently screaming with the thrill of it. This was just the beginning, the beginning of her and Nate.
“Hey- wait up!” All of sudden Nate’s adorable golden head and irresistible, glittering green eyes swam in front of her. He leaned in and kissed her right on the mouth.
“I thought about you all weekend,” he told her, suddenly realizing that he could have been halik her all weekend if he hadn’t been getting high with his buddies.
“Me too,” Serena whispered back, her puso banging wildly against her ribs. Had he come to apologize for leaving her house so abruptly yesterday morning? Had he come to tell her he loved her? She grasped his hand and swung it back and forth between them, her cheeks turning a bright, happy pink. [..]
Nate pulled the tiny blue glazed sailboat he’d made in art class out of his book bag and handed it to Serena. “I made it for you,” he told her shyly, sounding about seven years old.
Serena had spent most of yesterday with Blair, pretending to be excited about Blair and Nate. Now she could barely resist grabbing him and halik him all over. She took a step toward him and leaned into his muscular chest. He smelled smoky and Nate-y, and wonderful. [..]
Nate took a step pasulong and kissed her lightly on the lips. “You look pretty today;” he said, wishing now that he wasn’t quite so stoned.
Serena giggled and pushed him away. “I’ll call you, okay?” she told him quickly before dashing across the kalye and into a waiting cab. Sitting back, she fished the little blue bangka out of her amerikana pocket again. HMS SERENA was etched in the stern, with a tiny red glazed puso susunod to her name.
Nate stumbled into the suite, carrying a black Bergdorf’s suit bag and looking completely adorable in a baked, wide-eyed sort of way. Serena knew at once that she couldn’t go through with Blair’s charade. She wasn’t a selfish girl sa pamamagitan ng nature, but Nate was already hers and she wanted him. She wanted him all to herself.
“Natie!” she exclaimed, dashing over to help him with his things. “You look nervous. Come on, have a cocktail. It’s going to be fun, you’ll see.”
Nate’s eyes were huge and Esmeralda green. Serena was so damned gorgeous. Why the hell was he going to that fancy debutante dance when he could just stay here and halik her all night?
[..]but a series of hysterical giggles penetrated the din. The little hairs on Nate’s lacrosse-toned arms stood on end. He’d recognize that sound anywhere. It was a sound that made madami than just his hair stand on end.
Listening to Serena’s laugh was like being tickled. It gave him shivers and an adrenaline rush. It made him see stars and lose his coordination. It made him feel like he had to go to the bathroom, which was exactly where he was going right now. Not the toilet part of the bathroom, the hot tub part of the bathroom- the pinagmulan of the sound. [..]
Nate sat down on the edge of the tub, soaking his khakis. Jesus, Serena was so damned gorgeous. It made him unspeakably aroused just to look at her.
How the fuck could they do this to him? Serena especially. Fuck the party. Fuck L’Wren. He was going to hook up with Serena again tonight. And this time they weren’t just going to kiss, he was pretty damned sure of it. He loved her, and he was pretty damned sure she loved him back, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with getting together with someone you loved and trusted. It had to be way better than any one-night thing with some college chick.
He jumped in the mainit na batya with a huge warm splash and all his worries left him. [..]
Serena could feel her own hands drifting through the warm water toward Nate’s body, reaching for him. He was hers, her Natie, and she couldn’t wait to halik him again. And again. And again.
“I don’t want you to go to that dance with that girl,” Serena heard Blair murmur bravely. Serena dropped her hands and forced them behind her back. Blair looked so hopeful, and her life was just so shitty right now. She deserved to have a moment alone with Nate. After a few minutes, he’d sweetly reject her, come find Serena, sweep her up in his arms, and carry her off to spend a blissfully romantic night together. The first of many.
“Maybe I wont go,” Nate replied, edging toward Serena.
That’s right, Serena thought blissfully as Nate drifted in her direction. He was grinning at her in that irresistibly cocky way of his, and it was all she could do to keep from hurling herself at him. Then Blair giggled giddily and flicked water at Nate’s head, and Serena was once madami reminded of her mission. “I’ve changed my mind,” she announced, placing her hands firmly on the side of the tub. “I do like boys.”
Nate chuckled and slipped his arm around her bare waist, pulling her toward him. Of course she liked boys. She liked him. She loved him.
Serena squeezed her eyes shut and forced herself to wriggle and splash out of his grasp. “Actually, I’ve always really wanted to halik Chuck,” she lied, pulling herself up and out of the tub. She grabbed a white terry-cloth magsuot ng bata from off a chrome hook and wrapped it tightly around her body. “This should be fun,” she added glibly and traipsed off to find Chuck, whom she’d have to halik now to give her lie some authenticity, but at least Nate would know where to find her.
It was Blair, sounding so excited she was practically screaming. “We did it!”
Serena flopped dizzily down on her bed. She felt wrung out or waterlogged. What was she supposed to say- congratulations? At least Blair was happy now and not leaning over the toilet, miserably puking her guts up.
“Is he still there?” Serena whispered hoarsely.
“Yes,” Blair whispered giddily back. “He’s sleeping.”
Serena closed her eyes as tears spilled out of them uncontrollably. “Oh.”
“Wait!” Blair cried, flinging her arms around Nate’s neck one madami time. She just had to halik him in the exact spot where Audrey Hepburn ate a Danish out of a brown paper bag on the sidewalk outside of Tiffany in the opening scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This is way better than any cheese Danish, she thought greedily as she ran her tongue over Nate’s perfect teeth. Today a ginto heart, in a few years a diamond engagement ring! Suddenly Nate pulled away and took a step back.
"Hey,” he called over Blair’s shoulder. He wiped his mouth on the sleeve of his blue wool toggle coat, looking slightly sheepish.
Blair whipped around. There was Serena, looking cold and sort of bedraggled and completely gorgeous, like the princess in The Princess in the gisantes before she stumbles into the kastilyo out of the storm and meets the prince who winds up marrying her.
Serena darted away from them, about to tumawid Fifth Avenue, when Nate called up on her again.
Hey, wait up!”
She stopped and turned, her stunning navy blue eyes wide and startled looking, as if she’d only just noticed them standing there. “Oh, hey,” she faltered. “I didn’t see you guys.”
Serena wanted to be angry with him for not ipinapakita any signs of remorse, but as soon as she saw his dear, unspeakably handsome face, the anger didn’t surface. She loved him. It was as simple as that. No matter what happened, she would always pag-ibig him.
“We’re going to the zoo,” Blair announced, taking her mga kaibigan arm. “You have to come.” As soon as she’d sinabi it, though, she realized with a strange sort of queasy meanness that she really didn’t want Serena to come at all. When she was with Nate, she wanted him to herself, because now he was hers - all hers.
“You know how much you pag-ibig the polar bear,” Nate reminded Serena. It was one of the things he adored about her, the way she talked to the polar bears like it was her long-lost twin.
“I have a date,” Serena lied, marvelling at herself. A date? With whom?
“With Chuck?” Blair asked perkily.
Serena stared at her, horrified. Did Blair actually believe that she’d kissed Chuck last night because she was into him?
“I’m meeting my dad for brunch,” she informed them. “He wants to discuss my future,” she added, shooting Nate a pointed look as if to say, Remember me? The girl who has a stack of boarding school brochures in her room, put there sa pamamagitan ng her parents, who couldn’t waitto get rid of her? The girl who was heartbroken at the thought of going to boarding school because she wouldn’t get to see your perfect face every day? The girl who decided to stay in the city to be with you? The girl on the verge of a nervous breakdown right now as we speak?
Blair prodded Nate’s red duffel bag. “Do you think it would be weird if I unpacked for him?”
Serena considered the bag. She’d never used the drawers in any hotel she’d ever stayed in. “I don’t know;” She shrugged her shoulders. “He’s your-“ She was about to say the word boyfriend, but she couldn’t bring herself to utter it. Nate wasn’t Blair’s yet, because Serena wasn’t ready to give him up.
She comes in her mga kulay everywhere,
she combs her hair,
she’s like a rainbow
The song reminded him of Serena. In his mind Blair was just one color-red-but Serena really was like a rainbow. She didn’t comb her hair much, though; she didn’t have to.
He and Serena e-mailed every once in a while, but they rarely saw each other anymore. She might already have gone up to Ridgefield- Nate wasn’t sure. Apparently tryouts for some play she wanted to be in started tomorrow. Serena suddenly seemed so busy. Or maybe it was him who was so busy.
Having a girlfriend can be pretty time-consuming.
“I have to take a shower,” he murmured to Blair and turned away.
Serena’s cell phone whirred and bounced atop the glass outdoor table. Serena saw the word NATE appear on the phone’s tiny screen. She snatched it up and flipped it open.
“Natie?” she cried, clutching the phone. Did he know how much she’d thought about him all summer long? Did he realize how much she missed him? How lonely and sad she’d been?
“Where are you?”
“I’m here. At home. In the city.” He took a deep breath. “Can you come down?”
Serena’s whole body trembled. If only she could have beamed herself to Manhattan, she could be standing in front of Nate right now, kissing, and kissing, and halik him. Not that he necessarily wanted to halik her. No, she would have to control herself. But she could pretend.
“Meet me at Grand Central at four thirty-five.” She flipped her phone closed and flew into the house to change. Upstairs, she yanked a dress over her head and shoved her feet into a pair of flip-flops. Then she flew down the stairs again.
Serena hadn’t specified where he should meet her, so Nate stood at the end of the platform where her train was supposed to arrive, waiting. He’d been in the city for two days before he’d finally called. He didn’t want to be stoned when he talked to her or stoned when he saw her, and it had taken him that long to get it out of his system. Not that he had a clear head. He was shaking all over, partly from withdrawal but mostly because he couldn’t wait to see her get off that train and-
There it was, the silver Metro-North train with its thick orangey-red stripe. The doors opened and she stepped onto the platform, three cars down, wearing a thin light blue slip dress and kulay-rosas rubber flip-flops, her pale blond hair hanging nearly to her waist. She spotted him and her face lit up with the most glorious smile. Then she broke into a run, her flip-flops thwacking the ground as she came closer and closer.
He wrapped her in his arms and picked her up, swinging her around like a little kid. “Oh Natie, you’re so strong!” she laughed, and then she leaned in and kissed him right on the lips.
Nate closed his eyes and held her for a segundo longer before putting her down on the platform. He was pretty sure this was about to be the best araw of his summer, or maybe even his life. He was in no hurry. “Lets get a drink in that place upstairs;” he told her gruffly, trying to hide the fact that he had just experienced his very first swoon. [..]
Nate took her hand and led her upstairs to the open-air bar overlooking the main terminal. The bar stools were covered with red velvet and the seats of their stools were already touching when they sat down, and they didn’t bother to ilipat them. “Two dirty martinis, please!” Serena barked at the bartender in a superior voice and then collapsed against Nate’s wonderful-smelling chest, giggling. She felt drunk already. What was wrong with her?
Serena sipped her Martini without tasting it and stared into Nate’s adoring, glittering green eyes. She couldn’t tear her eyes away. He looked just like he always looked. He was the same- exactly the same Natie she’d dreamt about all summer- but better. He was everything, perfect. She reached out and smoothed down the fine blond hair on his deeply tanned forearm. Then she pulled her hand away, grabbed her glass and gulped her drink. “Arent you going to tell me about Maine?”
Nate wanted to grab her hand back and put it on his arm again. Touching her was all he could think about. Serena, his girl, his dream girl, was right here, right now, sitting so close, her thigh pressed against his, breathing the same air he was, talking to him and stroking his arm. What was to stop from halik her again? And halik her, and halik her.. “We did a lot of work on the boat. One araw I’ll take you sailing in it,” he gasped, finding it hard to talk.
Her huge blue eyes were like oceans themselves. “Oh, Natie. It’s so good to see you,” she gushed, her whole body trembling. “I’ve been so..there’s just been way too much of me and not enough of..you this summer.”
Nate gulped down most of his martini. His hands felt all grabby and he wasn’t sure he could control them. He just wanted to grab every gorgeous bit of her and hold on. Below them the terminal was milling with people, but it felt like they were the only people in it. Like the entire station had been built for them alone. Their little bar with its pressed-together velvet-covered stools and view of the busy station was pretty damned intimate, but not nearly intimate enough. “Lets go home,” he suggested, because he couldn’t not suggest it.
And he was pretty sure she wouldn’t say no.
Nate had opened all the windows upstairs in his wing and his parents’ but it was still stifling. He grabbed a six-pack of Molson from the fridge and led Serena into the shady sheltered garden out back. A nude marble Venus de Milo fountain was the garden’s enterpiece. Water spilled out of the tuktok of her head, cascaded over her placid-looking face, onto her bare shoulders, and down her bare thighs, until it pooled at her feet. Nate and Serena perched on the bench. A mild breeze wafted through the slim branches of the Japanese seresa trees planted along the tall brick walls surrounding them, doing little to cool them off.
Nate cracked open a serbesa and handed it to Serena, who took it eagerly. Her eyelids and cheeks had a sultry, sweaty sheen that was better than makeup. Nate tried not to look at her. He’d been trying not to look at her all the way tahanan in the cab. Instead, he stared out at the tall, colorless buildings on Park Avenue like a tourist. He knew if he’d looked at her – really looked at her – they wouldn’t have made it tahanan without taking their clothes off.
But now they were home.
“Christ, its hot,” Nate observed. He tugged on the hem of his sando and pulled it off over his head.
Serena stared at the smatterings of adorable golden brown freckles that danced across his muscled shoulders. Here she was with Nate, Nate, Nate, her Natie, back behind his house where they’d played since they were little kids. She’d tied an imaginary rope around her hands to keep from grabbing him and throwing him down on the flagstones. Nate wasn’t hers to grab, she reminded herself. But the rope felt so flimsy, she could break it anytime. Of course Nate was hers. He’d always been hers.
“It is hot,” she giggled, springing to her feet and shimmying toward the Venus de Milo in an attempt to switch channels. She danced right out of her flip-flops and climbed into the fountain, getting completely soaked as she perched precariously on Venus’s lap. The cold water felt totally amazing, exactly what she needed.
And she looked amazing in it- a real, live, in-the-flesh goddess. Nate stood up, put his serbesa down on the bench, and dashed into the fountain after her.
“Hi;” Serena greeted him, grabbing his arm so he wouldn’t slip and crack his skull on the marble. Water beaded on Nate’s tanned, perfect chest. They stood there together for several awestruck minutos under the two little burbling streams of cold water, gazing into each other’s eyes. Finding themselves together in the fountain behind Nate’s house on a hot August afternoon was so predictable yet so surprising, it was like they were pagganap out a dream and making up the parts they couldn’t remember.
Serena tightened her grip on Nate’s arm and pulled him toward her. She kissed him softly on the lips and then quickly pulled away, her face flushed. Her light blue slip dress was soaked. Nate’s pants were soaked. What were they doing? “Sorry,” she apologized, removing a strand of wet pale blond hair from her cheek.
Nate grabbed her hand and laced his fingers through hers. “It’s okay. Don’t stop. I don’t want you to stop.” He kissed her perfect cheek, and then her perfect nose, and then her perfect lips, and then her perfect neck, and then her lips again.
And they didn’t stop. They kept going, halik like mad and yanking the rest of each other’s clothes off. It was kind of embarrassing to be outside in front of the security cameras, though, and besides, the fountain was kind of small and wet and there was no place to lie down.
"Lets go upstairs,” Nate murmured, picking Serena up in his strong arms before she could even answer.
As if in a dream – the most glorious dream she’d ever dreamt – Serena allowed Nate to carry her inside the house and up the elegant, red-carpeted staircase. She was done being a martyr. Nate wanted her and she wanted him. End of story.
Actually, this is just the beginning.
Nate carried Serena up two flights of stairs to his parents’ bedroom. Her dress was in the fountain, a soaking ball of blue silk. So were his pants and his belt. There wasn’t much left to take off. He settled her gently on tuktok of the golden yellow cotton kubrekama and lay down susunod to her, admiring the glow of her smooth skin in the rays of late summer sun beaming through the skylight overhead. Serena turned her head and pressed her forehead into his. “I could just halik you forever,” she murmured, her lips brushing his. “But I don’t want to just kiss.”
They looked into each other’s eyes with an excited intensity that only excited them even more. This was it: the thing neither of them had ever done before was about to happen and in the most perfect way- with each other.
Nate pulled Serena close. “I pag-ibig you,” he sinabi loudly because he wanted the whole city to hear it.
“I pag-ibig you,” she replied, even louder. Then she erupted into excited giggles and began tearing his white cotton boxers off with her long, graceful, overeager fingers, followed sa pamamagitan ng her own fountain-soaked white underwear. She tossed the soggy undergarments across the room and they landed on the floor sa pamamagitan ng the door.[..]
How fun, how right, to be doing the scariest thing for a girl to do for the first time with her best friend, the boy she’d loved forever. Her Nate. There was really nothing scary about it. It was exactly the way it was supposed to be.
He brushed his nose against hers. “Are you sure?” he asked quietly, even though he was pretty sure he knew the answer.
“Yes,” Serena nodded, pressing her body against his. She’d never been madami sure of anything. “Please?” she added with a giggle, because it was pretty obvious that he wanted to too.
So they did it. And the fun part was watching each other’s faces, because they both looked so scared and happy and surprised. Serena could not stop laughing. It hurt, it did, but not in the way she’d thought. It was still so much fun, because Nate was so sweet. He didn’t want it to hurt, and every time she flinched he just kissed the hurt away. She loved him o much, hurt was the wrong word. There were no words for how it felt. It was like getting the present she’d wanted for such a long, long time and finding out it was even better than she’d anticipated. It was amazing. He was amazing.
Nate couldn’t believe he got to do this for the first time with the most beautiful girl in the universe. He was damned glad he’d waited, because nothing could tuktok this. He loved Serena so badly it made him feel like he was going to explode. He couldn’t stop smiling and laughing and looking at her. It was amazing. She was amazing.
Their bodies were amazing, the way they fit together and knew instinctively what to do. It was like this was somehow preordained. They’d been built for each other, created to be together, like two pieces from a model sailboat.
They weren’t laughing anymore, because there wasn’t anything funny. They just held each other, shivering with the thrill of being closer than they’d ever been before, sharing something they didn’t know existed, something they’d keep with them forever.
Eventually they dozed off in each other’s arms. Nate woke up first. It was nighttime now. The stars had come out in the skylight overhead. Without thinking about what he was doing, he reached for the remote on his dad’s bedside mesa and switched on the TV. It was tuned to the History Channel, and the narrator for a documentary about Moses, who sounded an awful lot like Serena’s friend Isabel Coates’s dad, sinabi in an incredibly loud voice, “Moses saw no alternative but to part the Red Sea so that he and his people could tumawid it.”
Jesus, it was loud. Nate had forgotten his father was practically deaf. He pressed the volume button over and over again to soften it, but Serena’s long eyelashes were already fluttering open against his chest. She lifted her head and grinned at him. “You parted my Red Sea!”
They both snorted, erupting into giddy giggles until they were howling with laughter. It was kind of a gross analogy but pretty funny too. They wrestled with each other under the covers, their bodies sleeo with sweat. Soon they were kissing, unable to stop, and before they knew it, he was parting her Read Sea once more.
There they go again, making history!
Her new green metallic Treo was clutched in her white-knuckled hands, where it had been the whole ride up. She flipped it open and snapped a picture of her bare toes on the dashboard. Her toenails were chipped and weather-beaten, but they were still painted all different colors, the way they’d been that night with Nate. She pressed send and e-mailed the picture to him, hoping it would make him laugh. Then she flipped her phone closed and tossed it into her bag. Two big, glistening tears slid down her cheeks.
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