A Secret Ending

 

As a special thanks for all the reviews that readers have posted, I agreed to unearth a scene that had been deleted from the final book. That scene takes places during the second half of the book so there's some spoilery stuff in there if you haven't read the book. I'd always loved that scene, so it was such a pleasure to be able to release it.

 

But I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't dying to write more Abby and Zeke. Especially scenes that take place after the book is done. Like how do they spend the last few days before school ends? And what happens next?

 

Well, I've been overwhelmed by the reviews that have come in, and especially all those asking for just that. So as a thank you for the more than 50 reviews on Amazon, I wrote a special scene that takes place in those last days of school. So don't read it if you haven't read the book yet. Really.

 

And I'm still keeping my promise. If I can get to 100 reviews on Amazon, I'll write a full epilogue and... it won't take place in the US.

Before the summer ends...

 

“Ow!” Zeke is trying to dislodge his elbow from my ribs, and in fairness to him, this bed is really small but… “Ow!”

 

“Sorry!” His whisper is more of a breath on my cheek and really, I don’t care a fig about my side or how sharp his elbow is because tonight is our last night at Huntington and…

 

I don’t want morning to come.

 

Morning will bring Jed and Simon and the minivan and all the boxes shoved inside and awkward handshakes with Ezekiel Martin, baseball superstar, and an empty room and saying goodbye to Zeke…

I don’t want morning to come.

 

“Put your head on my chest,” he says. I shift and my ear presses against the warm cotton of his shirt. The night is hot and there’s no need for covers, so we lie on top of the bedding, snuggled together. We watch as the sky slowly grows lighter.

 

I don’t want to cry so instead I focus on the sound of his heart as it beats, like a musical instrument that only I can hear.

 

Tonight was the end-of-summer celebration in the quad. If it had been up to me and me alone, I would have skipped it. I would have holed myself up in my room with Zeke to eke out a few more minutes together. But Alice wanted to go. And after the kick-ass job she did in her final poetry reading, after she totally nailed it up there in a room full of people, she deserved to make the choice. Especially since the expanse of the quad allowed the party not to feel claustrophobic.

 

And as much as I wanted to be holed up with Zeke, as much as I wanted his lips on mine, our fingers intertwined, secrets spoken on skin, the party was a good Plan B.

 

“Did you see Alice dancing?” I whisper, because Alice is sleeping a few feet away.

 

“She was glorious,” Zeke laughs.

 

“Hey,” I pinch his side in mock protest, lifting my head off his chest so I can see his eyes. “Are you admiring my roommate, Zeke Martin?”

 

Even in the dark, Zeke’s eyes are so blue they almost light the night. His glasses are folded on my desk, his chucks kicked off at the foot of my bed. I always thought of boy feet as being vaguely gross, all hair and bony toes, but barefoot Zeke makes my stomach swoop and fall.  It’s a good thing that barefoot Zeke is wearing shorts and a soft grey tee because…

 

Well.

 

“Do you want me to tell you that it’s hard for me to even think about anyone else when I’m near you?” he asks, “Tu es tellement belle…”

 

I curl my lips into a smirk and when he pauses, I raise my eyebrows. “That all you got?”

 

But instead of delivering a retort, or some more flirty words in French, his lips find mine, and suddenly I don’t care about whether or not he notices anyone else. The way he kisses, there’s no room to think of anything else. He turns toward me, pivoting me onto my side and for a split second I worry that I’ll fall off the bed, wake up Alice and totally embarrass myself. But then his hand slips to the small of my back and he holds me so securely that I stop worrying about falling.

 

 

Unfortunately there isn’t much that can happen in this tiny bed, with Alice sleeping in the same room. She’s so close I could probably hear her breathe if I was paying attention to anything but Zeke and the way our bodies are so close now, the way tomorrow afternoon our bodies will be so far away…

 

Except I can’t think about that.

 

“How are we going to see each other after tomorrow?”

 

Zeke pulls me closer, and I nestle my head under his chin. “Well, phones are equipped with this amazing feature, it’s called a video chat function and then there’s this thing on the computer called Skype…”

 

“That’s not real.”

 

“I know. But we’ll figure it out. Maybe you can invite me to Homecoming or…”

 

“You would come to my school’s Homecoming?” It’s hard to keep my voice down. I lift my head to make sure he isn’t joking, and man my neck is going to be in rough shape tomorrow. “Would you really fly across the country to…”

 

He shrugs. “I don’t know if you know this, but your Cubs—”

 

“They aren’t mine,” I growl, and Zeke giggles. He freaking giggles.

 

“Your Cubs,” he repeats, “are doing fairly well. Like maybe even well enough to—”

 

“Don’t say it!” I squeak.

 

We both turn to Alice but luckily my little freak out didn’t wake her. But come on, what self respecting sports fan would jinx a team like that?

 

“Let’s just say,” he whispers, “that if certain things happen with certain teams in certain sporting events, it’s possible that your homecoming dance…” He laughs. “I’m allowed to talk about that, right?”

 

I glare. I love this boy. I. Love. Him.

 

He continues. “So if your homecoming dance were to fall on the same weekend as an important baseball game in Chicago…I mean, only if I happened to be a fan of baseball, and a certain team which shall not be named. And Chicago. Of which, I happen to be.”

 

He’s wearing a goofy smile and my heart melts into a giant puddle. And I don’t know if it’s the exhaustion or the feelings I’m having right now, but I open my mouth and suddenly I can’t remember how to say anything in French.

 

“Well, if said baseball event were to happen in that city, which happens to be my city, and someone you knew happened to have a ticket for said event, just by chance. Should I – I mean, should someone – save you a seat?”

 

“Only if that seat is beside you.”

 

For a moment I picture being at Wrigley again. Something I never thought I’d do. And I know better than to get worked up about the possibility of a victory, especially when the Cubs are involved, but…

 

“I would be willing to sit through a sporting event if my seat was beside yours,” I admit.

 

I lay my head back down on Zeke’s chest. His soft chuckles rock my head, and it’s really, really hard to keep my eyes open.

 

I’m so tired, I’m starting to feel delirious. Did I really just agree to go to a Cubs’ game?

 

Merde! My French is back.

 

“Go to sleep,” Zeke says, his words distorted by a yawn.

 

To yawn, bailler, I translate to try and keep myself from yawning…but it doesn’t work.

 

“Talk to me,” I whisper, and my eyes close. I feel like it’s one of those nights when we stayed on the phone as he drove back from Boston. Something I have a feeling we’ll be doing a lot of when we’re on opposite ends of the country. I’ll curl up in bed and fall asleep listening to Zeke’s soft voice every night. “Tell me something that will give me good dreams.”

 

“Hmmm.”

 

He thinks for a few minutes and my eyes droop again.

 

But then he says, “Remember how you told me on the first day that our names started with A and Z and that put us on opposite ends of the alphabet? Well, maybe I can make an A to Z list of all the things I want to show you in Paris. The Abby and Zeke Tour of Possibilities, we’ll call it.”

 

“Okay,” I whisper. Because the thought of me and Zeke in Paris is just about the best dream I could ever imagine.

 

“A is for Angelina, the source of the richest hot chocolate I’ve ever had.” He pauses and I want to interrupt, I want to tell him how much I appreciate him, how much I love him, how much I’m going to miss him tomorrow, and the next day, and all next year…

 

But before I can even find those words in French or English, he continues. “B is for Berthillon, the best gelato in Paris. It’s on Ile Saint-Louis, and it’s totally acceptable to go there every day that you’re in Paris. I insist on it. C is for…”

 

But sadly, C is where his words turn into warmth and light and happiness and seriously good dreams about something to look forward to.