Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Book: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins Read Free Book Online
Authors: Stephanie Perkins
Tags: young adult romance
    The word hangs between us, loaded with strength and meaning. Max and I talk about running away to Los Angeles and starting a new life together—me designing elaborate costumes by day, him destroying rock clubs by night—but I get the sense that St. Clair’s conversations with Anna are more serious than the ones I have with Max. The thought makes me uneasy. I stare at St. Clair. He’s not that much older than me.
    How can he be so confident?
    “When it’s right, it’s simple,” he says to my unasked question. “Unlike your hair.”

chapter ten
    T he moon is fat, but half of her is missing. A ruler-straight line divides her dark side from her light. She hangs low over the bustling Castro, noticeably earlier than the night before. Autumn is coming. For as long as I can remember, I’ve talked to the moon. Asked her for guidance. There’s something deeply spiritual about her pale glow, her cratered surface, her waxing and waning. She wears a new dress every evening, yet she’s always herself.
    And she’s always there.
    Since my shift was early, I rode the bus and train home. I’m not sure why I’m so relieved to be back in my neighborhood. It’s not like the work itself was hard. But the familiarity of Castro Street comforts me—the glitter in the sidewalks, the chocolate-chip warmth radiating from Hot Cookie, the groups of chattering men, the early Halloween display in the window of Cliff ’s Variety.
    I’m lucky to live in a place that’s doesn’t have to hide what it is. Businesses like the Sausage Factory (restaurant), Spunk (hair salon), and Hand Job (manicures) are clear about the residents, but there’s a genuine sense of love and community. It’s a family. And like a family, everyone knows everyone’s business, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I like that the guys at Spike’s Coffee wave as I pass by. I like that the guys at Jeffery’s know Betsy needs the large container of fresh Lamb,Yams & Veggies. I like—
    “LOLA !”
    A stab to my gut. With dread, I turn to find Cricket Bell performing a spin move around an elderly couple entering Delano’s grocery as he’s exiting. He’s carrying a carton of freerange eggs in each hand. “Are you headed home? Do you have a minute?”
    I can’t meet his eyes. “Yeah.Yeah, of course.”
    As he jogs to catch up, I keep moving forward. He’s wearing a white dress shirt, a black vest, and a black tie. He’d look like a waiter, except he’s also wearing his colorful bracelets and rubber bands.
    “Lola, I want to apologize.”
    I freeze.
    “I feel like a jerk, a total ass for . . . for putting you in that situation last week. I’m sorry. I should have asked if you had a boyfriend, I don’t know why I didn’t ask.” His voice is pained. “Of course you’d have a boyfriend.You’ve just always been this cool, gorgeous girl and seeing you again brought up this whole wreck of emotions and . . . I don’t know what to say, but I messed up, and I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”
    I’m shocked.
    I don’t know what I expected him to say, but it certainly wasn’t this. Cricket Bell thinks I’m cool and gorgeous. Cricket Bell thinks I’ve always been cool and gorgeous.
    “And I hope this doesn’t make things even weirder,” he continues. “I just want to clear the air. I think you’re amazing, and being your friend that summer was the happiest summer of my life, and . . . I just want to be a part of your life. Again.”
    I can hardly think straight. “Right.”
    “But I’d understand if you don’t want to see me—”
    “No,” I say quickly.
    “No?” He’s nervous. He doesn’t understand how I mean it.
    “I mean . . . we can still hang out.” I proceed carefully. “I’d like that.”
    Cricket droops with relief. “You would?”
    “Yeah.” I’m surprised by how obvious it is. Of course I want him back in my life. He’s always been a part of my life. Even when he was gone, some fragment of his

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