Falling into You Read online

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“Shit!” Kyle said, standing up and brushing himself off. “That honestly scared the crap out of me. I think I might’ve peed a little. ”

  I laughed so hard I had to clutch his arm to stay upright.

  We drove home the rest of the way without incident, but the memory of the moment we’d shared in the car was foremost in our minds. We didn’t kiss for as long as we normally did before I got out at my driveway. I knew the power of getting carried away, now, and out of the heat of the moment, I knew I still wasn’t ready. I didn’t think Kyle was either.

  Chapter 3: Going to the Hotel

  Valentine’s Day

  I was a little jittery during school, absentminded, wondering what Kyle had planned for us. I knew he knew it was Valentine’s Day, and I knew he had something planned, as he’d hinted at something special. We’d been careful the last couple weeks, keeping our kisses calm and under control. We both knew, in an unspoken way, that if we let ourselves get carried away, it would be too easy to simply not stop.

  We had to talk about it, at some point. I knew we had to. He knew we had to. But we kept avoiding it. Which was weird, in a way, because we were both horny, hormonal teenagers. I knew he wanted it, and I did too. But we were both scared, I think, because we knew that would be another line crossed, a more significant line.

  Just in case, though, I’d gone with Becca’s cousin to get birth control, and I’d been taking it for about a week. I hadn’t told Kyle, though. Another thing I figured I probably should do, but couldn’t ever seem to find the right time for.

  Sixth period finally ended and I met Kyle at his car. He grinned at me as he opened my car door and closed it behind me.

  “Are you gonna tell me what we’re doing tonight?” I asked.

  He wrinkled his brow, as if confused. “Tonight? What’s tonight?”

  I stared at him, trying to decide if he was joking, or if I had misinterpreted his hints. “You’re kidding, right?”

  At the warning tone in my voice, he bursted into laughter. “Yes, Nell, I’m kidding. No, I’m not gonna tell you. Both of our parents know we’re going to be out late, though. I’ve already cleared everything with them. Our temporary curfew for tonight is two a. m. ”

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  I cut my eyes at him. “Two? Planning on keeping me out that late, huh, Kyle?”

  He blushed. “Maybe. ”

  I took a deep breath, knowing I had to broach the subject. I didn’t think he would. “About tonight. Are we…I mean…if we’re staying out late, does that mean you’re planning on us—” I couldn’t get the words out.

  Kyle fiddled with the gearshifter, chewing on his lower lip. Finally he glanced at me as we pulled to a stop at a red light. “Look, I know what you’re getting at, and…I’ve made arrangements. You know, in case that’s what we want. But we don’t have to. I want it to be right. ”

  “You’ve made arrangements? What does that mean?”

  He blushed again, redder than ever. “We have a room at the Red Roof Inn. It’s just down the road from where we’re having dinner. ”

  I tried to joke. “Getting a bit presumptuous, are we, Mr. Calloway?”

  Kyle grinned at me, but we both knew the joke had fallen flat. “Just…in case. ”

  A thought struck me and I blurted it out before I had a chance to over-think it. “Kyle? Have you thought that maybe we’re not ready if we can’t even talk about it without getting uncomfortable?”

  He laughed, a nervous sound. “Yeah, that thought has crossed my mind. ”

  “Are we doing this because it’s what all our friends are doing?”

  He glanced at me in irritation. “No! I mean, Jason told me about him and Becca, and I know Aaron and Kyla have done it too, but no. No. And we’re not doing anything, necessarily. I just wanted to have the option available. ”

  I laughed, more at myself than anything else. “I don’t know if I’m touched that you thought ahead, or weirded out that you assumed we would. ”

  “I didn’t assume anything, Nell. ” Kyle sounded almost angry. “I just—you know what, yeah. I did assume. I mean, I really want to be with you, Nell. I know we’re young, but I love you. I think we’re ready. ”

  I stared at him: he’d said the words. “We’re sixteen, Kyle. ” I quirked an eyebrow at him. “And aren’t you supposed to wait until a romantic moment during dinner to tell me you love me? The middle of an argument doesn’t seem like the best time for it, you know?”

  “Is this an argument?”

  I shrugged. “Kind of? I don’t know. I don’t want it to be. ”

  “Me neither. And I guess you’re right, but it’s out there now. I do love you. I’ve been wanting to say it to you for weeks now, but I’ve been too chicken. I was planning on telling you tonight. I had a whole thing scripted. Like, actually written out. ” He dug into his pants pocket and pulled out a folded piece of lined notebook paper, edges ragged with ripped-out spiral-bound tags.

  I know we’re young, it read. And I know most people would say we’re just kids, or to young too know what love is. But screw that. I’ve known you my whole entire life. We have shared everything together. Every important thing in our lives has happened together. We learned to ride bikes together and we learned to swim together and we learned to drive cars together. We failed 8th grade algebra together. (Remember how nasty Mr. Jenkins was? How many times were we sent to the office that semester?). And now we’re learning how to fall in love together. I don’t care what any one else says. I love you. I’ll always love you, no matter what happens with us in the future. I love you now and forever.

  Your loving boyfriend,

  Kyle

  I read the note through several times. I wasn’t aware that I was crying until something plopped onto the crinkled, much-folded page, spreading a wet blue stain over the ink. This changed everything.

  “I love you too, Kyle. ” I laughed, even as I sniffled. “This note is so sweet. So perfect. Thank you. ”

  He shrugged. “It’s true. I know this wasn’t maybe the most romantic way for me to tell you I love you, but—”

  “It’s perfect, Kyle. ” I refolded the note and tucked it into my wallet in my purse.

  That note would become my greatest comfort, and the reminder of my deepest heartache.

  * * *

  The restaurant Kyle had chosen was insanely busy. Even with reservations, we waited almost an hour for our table to be ready. There were dozens of couples ranging from our age to old married couples. We took our time, sharing a salad, soup and an entree, as well as huge piece of cheesecake for dessert.

  We were oddly relaxed, now that the declaration of love was out of the way. We chatted easily about everything from teachers at school to gossip regarding who was sleeping with whom and who wasn’t. Eventually Kyle paid the tab and we went back to his car. Kyle pulled out of the restaurant parking lot and wound his way slowly around town. He was killing time, I knew, giving us a chance to talk before we broached the issue of going to the hotel or not.

  Kyle circled town on the dirt back roads as we talked, and after about half an hour, he pulled back onto the main road approaching where I knew the hotel was. He glanced at me, reached out and took my hand in his.

  “Do you want to go home? There’s a couple movies playing at the theater, too, in case you wanted to see a movie. ” He fidgeted with the steering wheel as we sat at a stoplight, then finally turned to meet my eyes, his gaze serious. “Or we can go to the hotel. ”

  Decision time.

  Oh god. His eyes were liquid brown, mocha sprinkled with cinnamon red highlights, little specks of topaz and flecks of tan. He was so serious, so sweet. Offering up the idea without pressuring me. I squeezed his hand as we approached the signature red tile roof of the hotel. I swallowed hard.

  “Let’s go to the hotel,” I said.

  We were still skirting the issue. Talking about it in code. Going to the hotel