ISBN-13: 978-0-373-21124-1 LET’S GET LOST A Harlequin TEEN novel/August 2014 Copyright © 2014 by Alloy Entertainment All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher, Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario M3B 3K9, Canada. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental. This edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A. For questions and comments about the quality of this book, please contact us at CustomerService@Harlequin.com.
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1 “Elliot,” Maribel said, reaching out to lightly touch his
forearm. Light forearm touches were exactly how all the great love stories began. He knew he’d remember this moment forever and that, sometime in the future, he’d be able to recount the details for her: how beautiful she’d looked, how she’d reached out to touch him with the arm that wore the corsage he’d made for her, the one that matched the orchid on his lapel. He’d be able to recite word for word her response to his long-awaited admission of love. He prepared himself to remember, resisting—hopefully, for the last time—his urge to kiss her. “I really value your friendship. I do. And I don’t want to lose what we have.” She leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. “So let’s not complicate things, okay? Let’s keep things the way they are.” This is the wrong movie, Elliot thought to himself immediately. Those weren’t her lines. This was prom, and her nearly lifelong best friend had just confessed his love in a big speech. They had a whole summer of romance ahead of them. After the light forearm touch, she was supposed to kiss him. She was supposed to say, “I know.” And, “Me, too.”
It was not in the script—in any version of the script Elliot had envisioned for tonight— for her to give him one of those smiles that he’d fallen in love with in the first place, and then walk away. But that’s exactly what she did. Everything about the world felt heavy to Elliot. His feet carrying him down the sidewalk, the bottle in his hand, the bourbon on his tongue. The tuxedo weighed down on him as if it wasn’t just cloth but a tangible reminder that this night was supposed to be about him getting a weight off his chest, not this brutal opposite. After procuring a bottle of bourbon and taking a few swigs, Elliot had left the hotel ballroom in Minneapolis and started to walk the eighteen miles back home to Burnsville. After walking about a mile and a half through downtown, avoiding the knowing looks of adults who were clearly more accustomed to walking under the influence, he stopped to recover by leaning against a building. He closed his eyes for a moment, but he could still see the look on Maribel’s face: unmoved. A wave of nausea came over him, so he opened his eyes again and took a deep breath. If life were anything like the movies, it’d be raining. But the Minneapolis night was perfect, a few stars even showing through the spaces between buildings. Laughter rang through the night from the crowds of people spilling out of every bar on First Avenue. It felt as if the city itself was laughing at him or, worse, indifferent to his heartbreak. They never say yes when you want them to, the music coming from bars was saying. Why do you think we’re all in here drinking?
140 LET’S GET LOST
Something was tickling his chin, and he grabbed for it, finding the orchid boutonniere that he’d worn to match Maribel’s corsage. He yanked the flower from his tuxedo and, before he knew what he was doing, chucked it into oncoming traffic. It flew ungracefully through the air, its white outer petals flapping like broken wings. Managing to avoid the grill of a passing pickup truck, it landed on the asphalt unharmed. Elliot kept his eye on the flower, its bright purple inner petals flecked with crimson, like a bruise. It wasn’t long before a car’s tire squished the orchid into the road. In the camera in his mind, Elliot zoomed in on the smashed flower and held the shot for a beat, letting the sound of passing cars bleed together with the opening notes of a song. The petals had been torn apart, the flower’s bulb mashed into the unforgiving ground. He thought to himself that he knew exactly what that felt like.