From my nightstand, my phone chimes with a text message. Thinking it’s Raini, I snatch it up and fall onto my bed. It’s Max.
What are you up to?
As if he’s in the room with me, excited butterflies flutter to life in my stomach. Homework, I type back, because the truth, listening to my parents fight, is definitely too much information.
On Sat. night? I thought I taught you better.
I smile. OK, Life of the Party. What are you doing?
Deep in thought.
I purse my lips, now deep in thought myself. About?
His reply, sent within seconds is, Honestly?
Of course, I type. I wait for his response, nearly bouncing with anxiety. After what happened this afternoon, I’m not so angry anymore. There’s something about this conversation—texted or not—that feels very big. Like things between Max and I are about to shift again.
My phone chimes. He’s sent only one word: You.
I’m thankful that I’m alone in my room because I can’t help the little gasp of surprise that escapes me. I’m able to make my reply, Don’t play games with me, Holden, only because we aren’t face to face.
No games, he texts. And then, I had a good time today. You?
Yes, I key into my phone. After sending the message, I set it upside down on my stomach and let the admission sink in. As much as I don’t want that yes to be true, it is. No matter how often I argue with myself—or Raini, for that matter—deep down I know I’m happiest around Max. He hurt me more than I ever could have imagined over the last month, but despite it all he’s still Max—the boy I grew up with, the boyfriend I’ve always wanted.
So you’ll hang out with me again?
What about Becky? I send in return, proud of my bravery. I’m head over heels for him, but I’m not desperate. I refuse to be his fall back girl.
It takes him awhile to respond and I grow both curious and dreadful at the same time. Maybe Becky’s none of my business. When my phone chimes, I snatch it up and read his words. That was over before it started, Jill. I thought I needed a distraction, but I was wrong. Now I know what I want.
I hold my phone with clammy hands and stare at its tiny screen with a pounding heart. I reread his message to make sure I’m not making it into something it’s not.
I don’t think I am.
A grin spreads across my face as I key in a reply, feeling all coy and flirtatious and so not like myself. What is it you want?
To take you for ice cream. Meet me out front in 5?
A Max-style apology.