"Teacher doesn't like you reading this, bro. Don't blame me if they knock thisExcerpt
book right out of your hand.
Got that straight?
Now, let's begin."
You wake up one morning and find your supposed-to-be easy senior year of high
school is going to be demolished by something called CoreAmerica. Camera crews
are everywhere. It's taking over your school, and they're calling it an experiment.
And in the middle of it all is this girl, Everett — man — she has it all. Never in a
million years did you ever think you might get her. And she's smiling at you now,
Problem is—to keep her—you'll have to give yourself up.
Hell of a senior year.
Seventeen year old Reed wasn't looking to change the world, just
graduate into one. He didn't know he would first have to choose
between who he loves and what is right.
“When did you know?” Everett asks, her fingers twirling your chest hair. You can’t see her
face: her brunette hair spills over like a closed curtain. Feel her shiver, though. Perhaps she’s
cold—you are outside in freakin’ October in your father’s open truck bed.
“Know what?” you smartass back.
“And here I thought nothing ever hurts you, Reed.”
“Sorry to disappoint.”
“No, I'm serious. You never show it.”
You shrug. “I don't let much get inside.”
Everett holds what looks like a silent conversation with herself before asking, “Since your
Hadn’t really thought about it. Stings like the truth. So much didn’t seem to matter after mom
left. You nod.
“Do I get inside?”
Your voice wavers. “Yeah, you kind of do.”
“So answer my question. When did you know you loved me? Was it after we first, you
You shift your arm under her head—this sleeping bag is snug for two, and the truck bed is
hard underneath your back. “Nah, you can’t know then. Too busy with the getting and the
“Okay, so what about after you got me?”
“A bit after that.”
“Huh.” She twirls your chest hair some more. “How’d you know, for sure?”
“When you’re not all about looking for where your boxers are, and, ‘Hey, look at the time.’
Happy to feed your girl popcorn, listening to her tell you about some guy who dumped her for a
“Little Miss Bendy…”
“That’s what you called her, all right.”
“You never did believe that daddy-chased-him-away story,” she says, exhaling it out.
“Maybe for about a second and a half.”
She lifts up the bag of cheesy popcorn you’ve been sharing. “Wait? That means you
“Oh.” Everett lifts her head off your chest. Pulls back her hair, revealing wet lines down her
face. She says, her voice rising to a squeak, “Don’t you want to know when I knew?”
“Nah.” You stroke her hair. “I already do.”
The whites of her eyes grow huge.
“Remember? You dropped the L-bomb on me a week ago.”
Everett shudders with laughter. “Oh, yeah. I did do that, didn't I?”
“Then I was like, ‘Smart girl like that. Damn. Didn’t see right through me?’”
Her laugh tinkles like glass. “Shut up!”
“I was pulling for you, really.”
“Keep that up, and I might start believing you.” Evil smirk. “I’m just glad I never told you how
I got even with Hernando.”
“Did you, now?”
“That’s the one thing I could never take, Reed. Legitimately. You choosing someone over me.”
“Why would I do a fool thing like that?”
She scrabbles on top of you, all warm, the sharp bones of her hips resting on your stomach.
Her dark hair hangs down on both sides of your face—taking the stars away, leaving only her
eyes. “You love me, then?”
"Yeah.” You clear your throat. “Want some more popcorn?”
A teardrop falls on your cheek.
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