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“Because you’re better?”
I put up a hand. “So you’re glad I’m having sex with other men. Because you think I’m going to sleep with you at some point and I’ll be blown away by your mad sexual skills?”
I lift an eyebrow in question.
“I’m glad you’ve had sex with other men. In the past.” He checks the rearview and changes lanes. I watch his profile while he maneuvers the car. He is confident, I’ll give him that. From the moment I met him, an hour ago, he’s not shown me a moment of anything other than exhausting confidence. “You are a bit younger than me.”
“A lot.”
He glowers at me. “I’m four years older than Finn. It’s hardly any different.”
I shrug.
“So you’re younger than I am. I’m glad you won’t have to wonder if it’s different between us. Because you’ll know that it is. The second I lay a finger on you, you’ll know.”
See what I mean about the confidence?
Three Years Ago
I survey the disaster that is my new room in Stroh Hall at the University of Pennsylvania. Half my clothes are lying on the unmade bed. My desk is covered with toiletries. Bags of stuff cover the floor. But the mini-fridge is plugged in. That’s a start.
“Are you sure you don’t want us to stay and help you unpack?” My mom eyes the mess with a worried frown. “I could find your sheets and make the bed at least.”
“Helen, come on. Let’s hit the road. Everly is going to combust if we don’t get out of her hair.” My dad puts an arm around her shoulders and kisses her forehead. “She’s only going to be three hours away, honey.”
My mom plants a smile on her face and hugs me. “We’re so proud of you, Everly.”
“I know, Mom.”
Dad winks at me from the door. She’s having a hard time with the idea of being an empty-nester. My dad’s taking it just fine and has planned a surprise trip to Paris to celebrate and help distract her. They’re leaving tomorrow evening. He’s going to pick up fresh croissants for breakfast and tell her to pack her bags. My parents are adorable. Perfect, really.
They had my brother just a couple of years out of college, and me eight years after that, so they’re still young. Well, young for parents of grown children. They both celebrated their fiftieth birthdays during my senior year, and they’re healthy, active people. I get my dark hair from my mom. Hers is shorter than mine, but still the same chocolate color. Dad’s turning a little grey, but his hair is much lighter than ours to begin with. It looks good on him, distinguished. They could easily pass for parents of middle-schoolers, instead of an eighteen- and a twenty-six-year-old.
I feel a pang of homesickness as I hug her goodbye, and it surprises me. I’ve been so focused on getting into Penn, on laying the groundwork for my own perfect future, that I didn’t stop to think about how it would feel to leave. It’s silly. I’m three hours from home. They’ll be back in a few weeks to take me to dinner, I’m sure. But still, this is it. I’ll never live in their house as a child again.
They leave and I survey the disaster. Chloe’s side of the room is perfect, naturally. She moved in this morning, her side unpacked and not a stray box to be seen. I flop onto her made bed and open a text message to Finn.
This is the first time I’ve had his phone number. Eric sent us a group text last week.
Everly, this is Finn’s number. If you get arrested, use it.