“Babe.” His soft whisper instantly halts my thoughts.

“Hmm?” I angle my face up toward his.

“Two or three?”

I think about it for a second.

“Three,” I say.

He pauses.

“Dog or cat?”

“Dog,” I say.

He nods in satisfaction. And I rest my head in his lap again as he goes back to his dreams and to picking up the pieces of my hair and then laying them back down again.

“Three scraggly kids and a dog,” he confirms.

I can hear the smile in his voice — even over the cicadas’ song, and it makes my heart dance because I see what he sees too. I see the little house in the country — the row of apple trees, the purple and orange wildflowers swaying in the breeze, even the dog. I see it all, all from the view of some old porch swing somewhere. I know it sounds crazy, but minus one detail — one pesky, little detail that’s still a little blurry — I see it all so clearly — almost as if it were a snapshot right out of our future.

I nuzzle my cheek against Andrew’s leg again and let go of a happy sigh. Crazy or not, somehow I just know that from that old porch swing, I can see the stuff my dreams are made of.

Chapter Two

Last Day

“This is the last kiss that I’m ever gonna give you — at this locker,” Andrew announces.

I look up at him. He’s wearing a wide grin.

“Well, you better make it a good one then,” I say.

His grin quickly turns mischievous, and he doesn’t even bother looking around to see who’s watching. He just touches one hand to the back of my neck and the other to the small of my back, and he leans in. I close my eyes and instantly feel his shallow breaths on my lips. It feels raw and unscripted as he moves his tender lips over mine. And then he slips his tongue into my mouth, leans farther into me and kisses me harder. He plays with my tongue, and I kiss him back as my stomach does a somersault. And after a few more exhilarating moments of his breaths and his lips and his tongue, his kiss breaks from my lips, and he presses his forehead against mine.

“How was that?” he whispers.

I feel my lips start to edge up my face and into a wide smile. It’s his answer, and he knows it.

“I love you so much, Logan,” he whispers into my ear.

Then, before I can say anything, he slaps my butt and walks away.

“Get a room,” I hear a boy from across the hall yell out to Andrew.

Andrew doesn’t even bother to look back. “That’s a great idea,” he says, right before he disappears down another hallway. “Maybe I can use yours.”

Andrew’s voice trails off, and my attention goes to the boy. He looks defeated, but when he finds my gaze, his face brightens.

“Hi, Logan.”

“Hi, James.”

“You still coming to our house before graduation?” he asks.

I nod my head. “Mm hmm.”

He flashes me a content smile and then continues his trek down the hallway. “I’ll see you later then,” he says.

I laugh quietly to myself and turn back toward my locker. There’s only one textbook and a notebook on the shelf. I grab them both and go to close the locker before I stop and spot a note taped to the inside of the door.

I quickly peel the folded piece of paper off and fall back against the locker door. It latches shut with a click as I press the books against my chest and open the note with both hands. And instantly, my eyes go to reading the familiar handwriting:


I can’t believe we walk down that aisle in a cap and gown together tonight. I really wish it was a church and you were in a different kind of white dress, but I can wait, I guess. But not too long, okay?

Logan, if I haven’t told you today yet that I love you, find me and kick my ass. Because Logan, I’ve loved you ever since that rainy afternoon I showed up at your door. And I loved you that Monday too when you were that scared, little new girl in the third grade. I wanted to take your hand then and tell you that I’d walk with you for the rest of my life — that I’d hold your hand, so you’d never have to walk alone, so you’d never have to be scared. And the only reason I didn’t is because Doug Sorenson said you had some kind of reptile (yeah, reptile) disease and that if I even went near you that I’d die in three seconds flat.

Reptile disease? I laugh to myself, then continue reading:

And, yeah, I believed him until he made you that dumb Valentine’s card the next year and stuck all those lame hearts all over it. Damn Sorenson. Anyway, Logan, the point here is that I love you. I love you forever and a day. Happy graduation day!

P.S. You’re still coming with me to Jenson slab afterward, right?

P.P.S. You look as sexy as hell in those shorts. I’m really happy that no one gives a shit about dress code today!



I take in a deep breath and let out a happy grin as I refold the note and slide it into the back pocket of my jean shorts. The ring of the first bell makes me jump, but before I can start my hike to my last class, I catch the number on the locker right next to mine. It’s his locker. The number on the little, metal door is 92—our anniversary. We don’t really have a real date — a date when we first started going out or dating or whatever. I guess because we just kind of always were. Andrew picked the day we would use though. It’s the first day we ever had lunch together — September 2—in a little cafeteria at Cedar Elementary. He says I traded him my milk for his cookie. I don’t remember the trade, and I have no idea how he remembers the exact date — I barely remember it was even September when I moved here — but he swears he does.

I pull my books closer to my chest. God, sometimes I still can’t believe I fell for that messy-haired little boy with the plastic Wiffle ball bat slung across his shoulders. But more so, I guess, I can’t believe just how much I love him because in the end, I absolutely love that crazy boy with everything I am.

Chapter Three

Graduation Night

“Marry me,” he whispers.

His hat and tassel are long gone, but his black gown is still draped around his body.


I keep my eyes planted in the black sky and the sea of stars as I lace my fingers in his and make myself comfortable against the metal grooves of the truck bed.

“Marry me,” he says again.

I don’t say anything. I just smile. And out of the corner of my eye, I watch him turn over onto his side and play with the quilt beneath us.

“Logan, remember when we were kids, and I always used to say that even if you were the last girl in the world, I’d never marry you?”

I laugh softly.

“Yeah,” I say, meeting his eyes.

“Logan, I said it, but…”

He pauses, then reaches behind him and pulls out from the darkness a little journal and holds it out to me.

I stare at it for a second before I slowly reach for it. The journal is small, and its edges are worn away, and down the front of its soft, leather cover in big, block letters are the words: KEEP OUT OR DIE!

My eyes dart to his. “Andrew, I don’t have a death wish.”

He rolls his eyes and sighs playfully.

“It was for the little brother. It worked…I think.”

I watch his gaze wander off as he seems to get stuck on a thought. Then, all of a sudden, his eyes snap back to me.

“Go ahead,” he says, gesturing toward the book.

He’s wearing a boyish grin. I keep my stare in his for a second or two longer. Then, I slowly pull back the journal’s faded cover and look back up at him for further instruction.

“Read.” He holds his phone’s light to the book.

I turn the first, blank page and then stop. I stop at the big, sloppy handwriting that scrolls crooked down the next page. There’s a date at the top. It reads September 2, 2000. I take a second to add up the years. He was nine. We were nine.

“Andrew, is this really yours?”

I just can’t bring myself to believe that Andrew Amsel kept a journal. I mean, he had his moments — those moments when I could maybe find it believable that the spirited, little boy I knew when we were nine wrote his thoughts down. But a journal?

I watch his eyelids fall over his eyes as he lowers his head.

“My mom made me keep it. Believe me, I protested. I even tried to flush the first one she gave me down the toilet.”

He stops and laughs.

“I flushed it six times without it going anywhere before she caught me. And in the end, Mom won, and I remember her telling me that someday it would be fun to read it. I didn’t give a shit about that back then, but now that I think about it, I guess she was talking about today — that maybe today, it would be fun to read it.”

I can’t help my eyes from turning suspicious.

“Go on.” He gestures toward the little journal again. “Read it.”

Again, I force my eyes to his little-boy words barely hanging on the page:

There’s this new girl in my class. She lives down the road. Her name is Logan. It’s a funny name. Anyway, she can’t hit a ball. Her hair stinks like flowers, and she’s too tall.

I finish reading over the words and look back up at him with pretend narrowed eyes.

“My hair stinks…like flowers?” I ask.

He laughs.

“And apparently, you could be too tall,” he says.

“There’s still more.” He gestures with his eyes toward the bottom of the page.

I look closer. I wouldn’t have noticed the tiny letters scribbled upside down along the bottom of the page if he wouldn’t have pointed them out.

I turn the journal upside down and squint my eyes to see the writing:

She can hit a ball. Flowers don’t smell that bad, and I wish I was as tall as her.

I peek at him through my eyelashes. I’m pretty sure there’s a questioning look plastered to my face.

“I never wanted to find out what my mom would do to me if she caught me being ugly or worst yet, in a lie,” he explains. “She promised she wouldn’t read it, but you know my mom.”

I shrug my shoulders and then nod my head in agreement. Over the years, Mrs. Amsel has become like a second mom to me, so I do know her. And I know she loves her boys, but I also know she could never resist the temptation to learn more about them if an opportunity in the form of, say, a discarded, open journal presented itself.

“Go on, keep reading,” he says.

I laugh and turn the page. It’s dated the next day, September 3, 2000:

I told Logan today that I wouldn’t marry her even if she was the last girl in the world. She’s annoying, and I hate her.

I suck in a big breath but then notice the tiny letters again at the bottom of the page and quickly train my eyes to them:

I would marry her. She’s not so bad, and I don’t hate her. I don’t hate her at all.

I look up at him again.

“It kind of goes on like that for another hundred pages or so,” he says. “Every once in a while there’s a rant about how much I hate the lunch ladies’ beef stroganoff or how much I wish my brother was a puppy, but for the most part, it’s all about you.”

He stops and chuckles to himself.

“And there are no disclaimers about the stroganoff or the puppy brother either,” he adds. “I wasn’t lying about those things.”

I shake my head and laugh before I catch his stare again. And in that short moment, his eyes seem to have turned serious all of a sudden.

“But there’s one more I want you to see.”

He pulls out another journal. And from what I can tell, this one isn’t so tattered. Its edges aren’t really worn, and it still has a bright-colored cover.

“Yeah, so it’s kind of addicting,” he says. “I’m still a hard-ass. Don’t be fooled.”

I give him a sarcastic look and then carefully take the journal from his hands.

“The last entry,” he says.

I fall into his soft, brown eyes then, and my heart melts a little. I really do love this boy — even more than I did a moment ago. How is it possible to love someone so much and then to love them even more? And it’s not just any love either. It’s that kind of love where you know you would do anything for him, go anywhere, even take on his pain if you could — that kind of love.

I return my attention to the journal and flip to the last page with words on it. It’s dated June 5, 2009.