WANTED FOR ARSON. CATFISHED AT SANTA'S. ROBBED AT THE FALLS. SHAKESPEARE OR DIE. DRIVER PICKS TUNES.
I'm weird. This isn't news to me or anything. I have lived in a UFO my entire life. This wasn't a coincidence. My parents believe in extraterrestrial life. You know, phone home and all that crap, and they dragged my sister Mercury
and I into their mess when they named us what they named us. So it wasn't a
surprise, when after getting accepted to UW and expressing my desire to
actually attend, they lamented that college is "just another ploy for the
government to keep tabs on you, man." In other words, we won't be helping you out, Jupiter. That's fine, though, because my best friend Frankie and I can be pretty clever chicks when we want to be. We found a way up there and it was in the form of a longtime crush, his equally cute cousin, and a kickin' set of wheels. Buckle up, Buttercup, it's going to be a bumpy ride.
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Ezra Brandon’s soul was older than his body. He wasn’t always like that, though. In fact, at one point not long before what Frankie and I badged as “the change,” he’d been fully entrenched in activities that would indicate his soul wasexactly the age of that body, but circumstances being out of his control, the soul tired of parties, friends, and happiness. He adopted the cynicism of a forty-five-year-old man, threw it on like an old coat, and buttoned it up to his chin. It insulated him from the outside world so well that within a year of the adoption, he was forgotten by everyone at Endicott Academy.
But not by me. No, not by me. He was just as beautiful to me then as he’d always been.
“You’re drooling again,” Frankie said, startling me. My eyes popped open. I brought a hand to my lips to wipe away any evidence of her accusation but felt nothing. Frankie snorted then laughed. I threw a disparaging glance her way.
“Why you gotta be so rude?” I sang at her.
“’Cause. You’re an idiot. You’ve got zombie face again, and it’s so obvious people are gonna start wondering if they should intercede on your behalf. Report your Forrest Gump ass to social services or whatever.”
I laughed. “I can’t help it, Frankenstein. He’s so on the brink.”
“On the brink of what, Jupiter?” She turned Ezra’s direction and drank him in. She leaned in close and whispered, “The only thing he’s on the brink of is a sudden exclamation of ‘What’s it all mean!’ before jumping headfirst through that window.”
We both looked out the second story toward the looming earth below and gulped.
I shook my head. “He is not,” I argued.
Frankie pointed toward the front of the classroom where Ezra was sitting, his hands buried in his chin-length brown hair, knuckles white with intensity. Maybe she was right. Maybe just a little. I stared at him again.
Ezra was tall, taller than most guys I knew. Six foot two inches, one hundred seventy pounds is what his old published lacrosse stats stated. He had killer light brown hair, eyes so light green you felt like you could see right through him, and a smile so catching, I could still remember it despite the fact I, nor anyone else for that matter, hadn’t seen it for almost two years.
“Life is like a box of chocolates, Jupiter.”
I threw another annoyed look her direction. “Can you please let me ogle in peace, Lieutenant Dan?”
“No, jackass. The bell rang. Get your rear in gear or you’ll be late again.”
My next class was clear across campus. I scrambled to get my stuff together, decided it was as intact as it was going to get, and hauled ass up the aisle, but when I turned to complain to Frankie for the thousandth time since the beginning of our senior year that it wasn’t fair to assign kids back-to-back classes that far away, I was abruptly halted by the very body I’d been ogling not thirty seconds before. We collided in spectacular fashion—papers flying, books crashing. My elbow met his gut, which made him grunt and double over, which then made his forehead punch my left boob, which made me die a million mortifying deaths within a second.
“I’m so sorry,” I told Ezra as I felt my face warm to impossible temperatures. I took a second to glance toward Frankie for some sort of best friend intervention but only caught a glimpse of her signature Jupiter’s-a-dweeb facepalm instead.
“It’s okay,” he said quietly, his voice like silk, the inflection of which swam through my head, tingling down each strand of hair all the way to the ends, and making me shiver.
I watched like an idiot as he bent to gather all my stuff for me. He stood, handing me the lot, offering a crooked smile when I stared at him like he was a betta in a bowl.
“Thanks,” I wheezed, taking all that had fallen.
He shrugged, hiking his bag higher on his shoulder, tucking his own fallen papers and books between his hip and the palm of his hand. “See ya,” he offered before heading out the door.
Before long, Frankie shouldered me. “Whoa,” she said.
“Whoa,” I agreed.
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