Sacred
right? But Brandon didn’t seem to feel that way about it. I think he was about ready to pound Kevin when we told him.” He slurped the final drops of his Coke from the bottom of his glass.
    “Why did you tell him?” I asked.
    Andy seemed a little startled by my question. Maybe because he’d gotten used to the conversation being one-sided. “I dunno. I guess we figured he had a right to know.”
    “What right?” I asked. “I mean, they were broken up, weren’t they?”
    “Yeah, but still …” Andy shrugged. “It seemed the right thing to do.”
    I doubted that, but I nodded as if I agreed. It seemed to me that Andy and Connell were a bigger set of gossips thantwo old ladies, and they had wanted to see what would happen if they passed their little gold nugget of information along to a jealous ex-boyfriend.
    The lump of meat in my stomach felt as if it was beginning to congeal, and it seemed that I could feel the saturated fat pumping through my veins.
    “Are you taking Drama again this year?” Andy asked, probably to change the subject.
    I shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess.” I was signed up for Drama, seventh period, just as I had been the two years before … but the thought of getting onstage now made me uncomfortable.
    “You should. You’re so good in all those little plays. So pretty.” And he leaned across the table to brush his hand across my cheek.
    “Yeah. Thanks.” My eyes flitted over to a small crowd that was waiting over by the hostess stand. “We should go … give our table up,” I said.
    “Sure.” Andy pulled his wallet out to pay and I reached into the small pocket on the front of my skirt for my cash. “No, I got it,” he said.
    “No, you paid for the golf … let me at least pay for my food,” I argued.
    Andy pursed his lips and shook his head. I knew from experience that he wasn’t budging on this one.
    If there was any question about whether or not this was a date, how this meal was paid for would settle it.
    I wasn’t sure if the discomfort in my belly was the burger or the pressure from the decision I was about to make. “All right,” I said smoothly. “But I’m leaving the tip.”
    I could see from the look on Andy’s face that he wasn’t quite sure about this turn of events, but he didn’t argue.
    I didn’t know exactly how much the bill was; I left Jill a five-dollar bill. Andy draped his arm across my shoulders and pushed the door open for me.
    The air outside was chilly, and the sun had disappeared entirely from the sky while we were eating. Andy’s arm felt good, a comfortable weight pressing me firmly to the earth, grounding me.
    We walked like that, together, through the town. The water lapped quietly at the shore; the boats in the harbor bobbed gently in their moorings. Above us, a heavy moon sailed across the sky.
    My arm hesitated, then wound around Andy’s waist. It didn’t feel the same as it had before, but it still felt nice.
    Andy’s face dropped to my hair and he breathed deeply. “Mmm,” he said. “I’m glad you came out.”
    We walked farther and turned up my street. It was empty now, the windows in the front rooms glowing blue from televisions that ensnared the people inside.
    Andy walked me to my house, then up the steps of my porch. My father had left the porch light on for me; moths flitted about it in mindless circles.
    I knew Andy was going to kiss me now.
    I turned and tipped my face up to his. “Thanks for dinner,” I said. “And the golfing.”
    He laughed, low and sweet. “Yeah, you really loved that golf,” he said, and then his lips caught mine.
    I didn’t give him a chance to hesitate; my arms wrapped around his neck and I pulled him roughly against me. I toldhim with my mouth the things I couldn’t bring myself to say—that I was grateful for him, that I was glad he’d showed up at my house, that it was good that he’d waited for me, these long months of summer—that I was back, or trying to be, at

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