The fireworks were still cracking in the background, throwing colored flashes of light across his face.
‘I love you, Elle,’ he told me, brushing some hair off my face.
I could only breathe. I couldn’t say anything, and my mind went entirely blank for a moment; my heart alternated between doing somersaults and skipping a beat. Breathe, I told myself. Breathe.
Noah blinked at me. ‘Say something, Elle. I just laid everything on the line, dignity included, and you’re not saying anything.’
I laughed, and practically tackled him, throwing my arms around his neck and kissing him. He hugged me back, his lips responding and his tongue slipping inside my mouth.
When we broke apart a minute or so later, he just leaned his forehead on mine, tase captivating eyes boring into mine. A bright purple firework exploded across the sky behind him.
‘I love you,’ I whispered.
He chuckled, and I heard the relief in his voice. ‘Well, thank God for that. I thought I’d scared you off for a minute.’
I laughed, shaking my head against his. ‘Nope. Still here.’
‘Good.’ He gave me a brief peck on the lips.
Then he wrapped his arms around me, and I rested my head on his shoulder again. The firework display from the beach carried on, lighting up the darkening sky, while I was happy sitting on the top of a hill in Noah’s arms.
‘Will you be my girlfriend, Elle ?’
I blushed under my mask.
Up until now, I hadn’t even noticed the other people in the room. I hadn’t heard the whispers while Noah was up on stage. But right now their voices hit me like a confetti cannon at a pep rally.
‘Say yes !’
‘Oh my gosh, that’s so sweet!’
‘I can’t believe Flynn’s doing this…’
‘She’s so lucky !’
‘Look at him. This is so cute !’
‘Say yes, Elle !’
Everybody was egging me on. My eyes drifted back from the crowd to Noah, who just looked at me calmly, with a hint of a smirk at how much he was embarrassing me here.
‘So? Will you be my girlfriend, Elle Evans ?’
I bit my lips, but there was no way I could suppress the beaming smile that took over my face. ‘Oh, hell yeah.’
Lee was just about the biggest person in my life. Except for the whole Noah thing, he knew everything about me. He knew my bra size. He knew I hated the smell of jojoba in the shampoo he used to use. Hell, he even knew I had a birthmark shaped like a strawberry on my butt. He was my other half. I couldn’t lose him. We were supposed to be best friends until the day we died - and we’d probably even do that together too. We were born just minutes apart.
Some people say you’ll fall in love, and that’s the person you’ll spend forever with; the person who’ll know your deepest and darkest secrets and still love you even then, the person who’ll know exactly the right thing to say to make you laugh or smile or feel better. They’ll the person who, no matter what, you can’t live without.
I couldn’t have care less about whoever I fell in love with, to be honest. I just cared about losing Lee.
Before I knew what I was doing, I went up on tiptoe and pressed my lips against Noah’s.
Immediately I realized what a fool I was being and stepped back, my cheeks burning and my heart racing.
Noah looked at me, blinking in shock, it seemed. He stared at me, his expression unreadable.
‘Oh, God,’ I babbled hastily, feeling beyond humiliated, ‘I’m sorry. It’s just- I mean, I just - Oh man, I-‘
Noah took a stride forward and shut me up very effectively by crushing his lips against mine. Any resistance and tension went gushing out my body (whether from shock or something else, I wasn’t sure), and my arms curled around Noah’s neck.
I forgot what a fool I’d just made of myself and kissed him back. His hands were on my back and in my hair, squashing me against him so it seemed like every inch of our bodies was touching.
And for the record - there were definitely fireworks of some kind going on.
“Wow. Death by books. That would have been some way to go.”
“Screw the right thing to do. What do you want to do?”
“I automatically leaned back, my head fitting into that spot between his neck and his shoulder. Again, the cliched romantic in me wondered how we seemed to fit so perfectly, two pieces of a jigsaw, and have such different, clashing personalities... I didn't care how bad we were for each other or that he'd be off to college soon; I just remembered that I was in love with him.”
“He shrugged, "I dont know.. I just, well I mean.. Taking you to dance and stuff like that was me trying to say sorry. But sometimes, saying sorry doesn't mean a lot. And you deserve a hell a lot of better than that; than me. And man, I hate all this emotional shit but Im gonna say it all anyway because you deserve that much.”
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