Boyfriends with Girlfriends and other novels
about love and friendship - for teens and adults
by
Alex Sanchez

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An Excerpt from Boyfriends with Girlfriends:

Chapter 1

Lance tapped the beat of A Chorus Line’s “What I Did For Love” on Allie’s bedroom door. “Hi, it’s me!”

“Come in, you!” She opened the door in a jean skirt, adjusting her bra. Ambushed by her cleavage, Lance slapped a hand over his eyes.

“Oh, come on!” she giggled, holding up a tie-dyed T-shirt. “Help me decide! Should I go with the—”

He peeked through his fingers and cut her off: “No way!”

She lifted a zebra-striped blouse. “How about the—”

“Ick!”

“Okay”—She held up a pink Lycra top—“I’ll go with the—”

“Good!” He checked the time on his cell, eager to go meet the boy he’d friended online that week. “You think he’ll like me?”

“He’s going to go wild over you,” she assured him while pulling her blouse on.

“Wild is good.” He put his arm around her and she snuggled up beside him in front of the mirror.

She’d always thought Lance was hot. At swim meets, when he strutted around the pool deck nearly naked, she’d often thought: If he were straight or if I were a gay guy, I’d be all over him.

“Feel something?” She planted a playful kiss on his cheek. “Anything?”

“Sorry.” He began to hum a show tune: a nervous habit.

“From My Fair Lady,” Allie said. “Right? What is it?”

He blushed, realizing what it was. “Why Can’t a Woman be More Like a Man?”

“Meanie!” She pulled away. “Shoes?”

“Your rose-colored pointy pumps,” he said, dabbing his hair with some of her gel.

“So, what did you say this guy’s name is?” Allie asked as they climbed into Lance’s car.

“Sergio,” Lance said, pronouncing the g with an h sound. “He’s Mexican. Hot and spicy!” Lance considered himself an equal opportunity dater, attracted to all types of guys—Latino, white, black, Asian... He’d been attracted to Sergio’s café-latte-colored skin; thick black hair spiked to a point; eyes dark as night. And although his nose seemed kind of big, even that was cute. “He’s a cousin of Penelope’s—from Drama Club.”

The boys had gotten to know each other a little bit over the phone and messenger. They were both seventeen. Sergio lived in a neighboring suburb and went to Liberty High.

“Home of the roaches,” he’d joked. “Ew, yuck, right?”

Lance went to the Academy, a local prep school. “But I’m not a big preppy or anything. I’m pretty down to earth.”

“Good,” Sergio replied. “Me, too.”

Sergio had an older sister in college; Lance was an only child. Sergio had a guinea pig named Elton; Lance had an Irish setter named Rufus.

“Help me think up some other stuff to talk about,” he asked Allie as they drove toward the mall.

“Have you asked him what kind of movies he likes?” Allie suggested. “And what kind of music?”

“That’s good,” Lance said. “My main worry is the bi thing.”

Sergio’s “friend page,” identified him as bisexual.

“I guess that means he’s still coming out,” Lance said to Allie. “Like in the saying: bi now, gay later? I just hope he’s not another closet-case.”

He didn’t want a repeat of Darrell, his one and only ex, who had been afraid to admit being gay.

When Lance and Allie got to the mall, he hurried her toward the food court fountain and anxiously searched the crowd.

“Are you sure I look all right?”

“You look fab,” Allie assured him, taking a seat on the fountain’s rim. “So, who is his friend he’s bringing?”

When setting up the meeting, Sergio had suggested they make it a friend thing. “You know, to take the pressure off?”

“She’s his best chick friend,” Lance said, taking a seat beside Allie.  “Her name is… ‘Kimiko’ or something like that.”

“Kimiko? Really? That’s Japanese!” Allie was totally into anything Japanese.

It had been Kimiko who had given Sergio the initial kick in the butt to answer Lance’s online friend request.

“Why wouldn’t you friend him?” she’d asked Sergio when he showed her Lance’s photos. “He looks gay-guy-adorable.”

“Prezactly,” Sergio replied. “I’m not ready to get dumped again.” He was still brokenhearted over Zelda; the girl who’d ditched him only three months earlier.

“You haven’t even met the guy yet,” Kimiko said, “and you’re already worried about getting dumped?”

“Yeah, he’s got that look: like someone who could be my future ex.”

“Here’s a thought.” Kimiko bopped Sergio on the head. “Maybe he won’t dump you.”

“He won’t if I don’t meet him. Hehehe.” Nonetheless, Sergio had replied to Lance’s friend request. And he’d liked chatting with him.

“But what if there’s no in-person chemistry?” Sergio now said as Kimiko prodded him through the food court toward the meeting. “Maybe he and I should just stick to communicating through electronic devices.”

But when he saw Lance, there was chemistry all right—both with Lance and his chick friend. HE’s a babe, one part of Sergio thought while another part of him said, Yeah, but SHE’S hot, too!

Luckily, he wasn’t into tall girls—nor were they usually into him—whereas tall skinny guys like Lance juiced him up: broad swimmer shoulders; sweet smile; teacup handle ears; and he loved the freckles.

“How do I look?” Sergio asked Kimiko. “No boogies hanging out my nose or anything?”

“You look good, dude.” She tucked his flipped-up shirt tag into his collar and gazed toward Allie. “That’s his friend?” 

“Yeah, I guess so. She’s a fox, huh?” Sergio knew that girly-girls were totally Kimiko’s type, even though she’d never actually been in a relationship.

“So… is she gay?” Kimiko asked—not that it made any difference; she had both gay and non-gay friends. But she was curious.

“I don’t know.” Sergio gave her a mischievous grin. “I guess you get to find out.”

“Well, do I look all right?” Kimiko asked, glancing down at her baggy boy’s jeans and black leather motorcycle jacket.

“Major league handsome.” Sergio spun her Harley baseball cap backwards and took hold of her hand. “Come on!”

“There he is!” Lance told Allie upon spotting him. “Curtain up!”

“Break a leg!” Allie whispered, standing beside him.

 “What up, man? I’m Sergio. And this is Kimiko, my handler.”

Everybody laughed and Lance asked, “Do you guys want to get smoothies?”

As they walked to the counter, he stealthily checked out Sergio: He was shorter than he looked in his pictures—nice compact bod, hunky but not too buff, which was good: Excessive buffness intimidated Lance. He liked those pecs, though.

At the smoothie stand, he got his usual Hearty Apple. Sergio ordered a Mango Madness, took a sip—“Mm”—and extended his cup to Lance. “Want a taste?”

“Um, okay.” Lance stared at the straw that had touched Sergio’s lips. “I’ve never tried mango before. I’m pretty plain-Jane. You want to try mine?”

“Sure.” Sergio exchanged cups, watched Lance take a sip and thought: Damn, his freckles are hot!

“Wow, that’s really good.” Lance handed the cup back, still tasting the sweet mango slush.

The girls led the way to a table while talking about mangas and other Japanese stuff. Allie sat beside Kimiko and Lance sat next to Sergio.

“So, um…” Lance began to ask the questions he’d rehearsed with Allie. “What kind of movies do you like?”

“Action!” Sergio replied, his hands slicing the air in a ninja move. “Hooah! …And Fantasy-type stuff. How about you?”

“Disney ’toons… and chick-flicks—nah, just kidding. Well, okay, sometimes. I admit it.”

“Ditto!” Sergio high-fived him, glad that Lance was free of the straight-acting BS that so many other guys had.

“So, um, what kind of music do you like?” Lance continued.

“Different types,” Sergio answered. “Trance… Hip-Hop... Tejano… How about you?”

“I’m huge on show tunes. Like I’ve got this kind of obnoxious habit of humming and singing show stoppers anytime, anywhere.” He shuffled his feet. “Gotta sing! Gotta dance!”

“Glad you warned me.” Sergio pretended to cover his ears, though in fact he liked Lance’s voice: Strong. Smooth. Sexy.

“Actually,” Lance continued, “I’m a better singer than dancer.”

“I’m just the opposite,” Sergio said. “My singing sucks, but my dancing is pretty good—especially Latin stuff. I’m president of my school’s dance club. Do you Salsa? I can teach you.”

“Cool!” Lance exclaimed. He’d always dreamed of dancing with a guy—holding him in his arms, moving together… But first he needed to slow down, get back to the present. “So, um…” He moved to the next question on his list. “Are you out at school?”

“I’m out as bi,” Sergio said, a little cautiously. Although girls usually accepted his bi-ness, with guys it sometimes seemed like the kiss of death.

The word “bi” prompted Allie to turn from her conversation with Kimiko and nod encouragingly to Lance.

“Well, um…” he stirred the slush in his smoothie cup and asked Sergio, “…What exactly do you mean when you say ‘bi’?”

“You know,” Sergio said. “It means I’m turned on by both guys and chicks.”

“But you admit you’re attracted to guys?” Lance asked, trying not to come off as confrontational.

“Yeah…” Sergio said. “But I’m also attracted to chicks.”

Lance chewed on his straw. At least Sergio was admitting he liked guys. That was a move up from Darrell. But why didn’t he just take the next step and say he was gay? Maybe he wasn’t as mature as Lance had hoped.

“Are you out at school?” Sergio asked, sipping his smoothie.

“Yeah. The Academy is pretty progressive. Allie and I started a GSA—you know—a Gay-Straight Alliance? I’ve never really gotten any flak. Have you?”

“Nothing major.” Sergio shrugged. “I get called ‘fag’ sometimes, but hey, doesn’t everybody?”

“True,” Lance agreed. He decided to drop the bi issue for now. Maybe I’m making too big a deal of it. He liked Sergio—his confidence, his coolness, and the way Adam’s apple jutted out from his throat in a way that was ridiculously sexy. Plus, he noticed that Allie and Kimiko were getting along. It would be awesome for them to become friends, he thought, so the four of us could do stuff… if Sergio and I became a couple.

“What about your parents?” Sergio asked. “Do they know?”

“They knew before me!” Lance laughed and Sergio laughed, too, relieved that they’d gotten over the bi bump.

“What about your family?” Lance asked. “Do they know about you?”

“Yeah. My blabbermouth older sis outed me. But my old man pretends like he doesn’t know, and my mom prays I’ll grow out of it. She lights novena candles, all that Latino Catholic mama drama.”

Lance slurped the last of his smoothie, trying to recall what else he’d planned to ask. “So, um”—his voice went up—“are you seeing anyone?” Even though Sergio had said he was single on his page, Lance wanted to be sure.

“Nope,” Sergio replied. “Not at the moment. Are you?”

“Um, no,” Lance said, and glanced into his empty smoothie cup. He realized the only question he had remaining was the Big One: asking if Sergio wanted to go on a real date.

Sergio realized it, too. Should he be the one to ask Lance out? It would be his first time to ask anyone out since Zelda. Was he ready to risk rejection again? Maybe he should wait, see if Lance asked. But what if Lance didn’t ask?

He liked Lance. The dude was undeniably a hottie, even with his sticky-outy ears; he clearly had a mind; he wasn’t stuck-up, even though he went to prep school; and it felt so refreshing to meet a guy his own age that was comfortable being out.

“So…” Sergio ventured. “…Do you want to go out sometime?”

Lance blinked. He hadn’t expected Sergio to be the one to ask. He took a hard swallow, suddenly having second thoughts. Was he jumping into this too fast?

Across the table, Allie nodded for him to say yes.

“Sure,” he told Sergio. “That would be great.”

“Great,” Sergio echoed and took a breath, both excited and nervous.

They returned to talking about simple stuff like favorite foods and books, each trying to relax, until Allie announced she needed to go—meaning that Lance had to go, too.

Outside on the sidewalk, they all said good-bye and Allie took hold of Lance’s arm as they walked back to his car.

“Look at you!” she whispered. “Mr. Got-Asked-For-A-Date-By-Hot-Sweet-Guy.”

Lance forced a smile. It definitely had felt good to get asked out, but…

“Uh-oh,” Allie said worriedly. “What’s with the face?”

“The bi thing,” Lance said as they climbed into his car. “I don’t get it. He says he’s attracted to guys; he’s out at school; he asks me out on a date. And my state-of-the-art gaydar is ringing ding-ding-ding! Jackpot, he’s gay! So why can’t he just say it?”

“I don’t know.” Allie stared across the car seat. “Maybe his parents are phobes and he’s afraid they’ll find out?”

“No, he said they know. His sister outed him.”

“Then maybe he really is bi.”

Lance frowned. . “So where does that leave me?”

“Going out with a bi guy?” Allie replied.

“Lucky me,” Lance mumbled and started the engine.

“But you were so excited,” Allie said sadly.

“I know, I know! Let’s see if he calls.”

“You can call too,” she encouraged him.

He backed out of the parking space, changing the subject. “Kimiko seems really cool. At first I wasn’t sure if she was a girl or a guy—she’s such a dude-chick with her cap and clothes. It seemed like you two got along great.”

“Yeah, I’m so psyched she’s Japanese. I wish we could’ve hung out longer.”

From the sidewalk outside the mall, Kimiko watched Allie and Lance drive away, wishing they could’ve hung out longer, too.

“Way to go, dude!” She turned to Sergio and fist-bumped him. “I overheard you ask him out.”

Sergio bumped her fist in return. “So, what do you think of him?”

“I think he’s the most perfecto guy in the world for you. He’s your age, cute, gentle, nice… What do you think of him?”

“I like him. I’m just not sure he gets the bi thing.”

Kimiko’s mouth drooped into a pout. “But you two seem good together.”

“Yeah… Let’s see if he calls. If not, I’ll call him… in a couple of days.”

“What are you afraid of?” Kimiko asked.

“I’m not afraid. That’s just the rule with guys. Wait two days… Otherwise I’ll seem too easy.”

Kimiko rolled her eyes; she’d heard his goofy theories and rules before.

“Now, as for you, girl”—He rested his arm on her shoulder—“you should phone Allie ASAP. I could feel the mojo between you two all the way across the table.”

“Dude, she’s got a boyfriend.”

“So?” Sergio persisted. “Maybe she’s bi-curious.”

“Even if she were…” Kimiko let out wistful breath. “She’s out of my league.”

“What’re you afraid of?” Sergio asked, mimicking her.

“Shush!” Kimiko said and play-punched his arm.

Chapter 2

When Kimiko had first seen Allie at the mall, she’d kind of stopped in her tracks, surprised by the uber-girl with a knockout figure and an angel’s face.

“Sup?” Kimiko had said and boyishly fist-bumped her.

“Hi, I’m Allie—that’s short for Alegría,” she explained as they walked to the smoothie stand. “It’s the Spanish word for ‘joy.’”

“Sweet,” Kimiko said. She immediately liked Allie’s voice: breathy and femme. “My name is Japanese for ‘child without equal.’ As if!”

“You are Japanese!” Allie’s face lit up. “Oh, my gosh! I’m an absolute Japan-geek—you wouldn’t believe! My life dream is to go there. Have you been?”

“Yeah, like every summer. We go to visit my obaasan—that’s my grandma.”

“Can you write Japanese?” Allie asked when they got to a table. “Would you write something for me, please? Or is that too annoying?”

“No, it’s okay.” For the first time in her life, Kimiko actually felt grateful to her mom for the hours she’d made her spend learning Japanese. From her leather jacket, Kimiko pulled out the Sharpie pen and notepad she always carried to jot down notes for poems. “What would you like me to write?”

“Oh, anything. You decide.”

Allie sipped her smoothie and Kimiko thought for a moment before writing.

“This is the word for ‘joy,” she said, tearing out the page and handing it to Allie. “Yorokobi.’”

“Awesome, thanks so much!” Allie exclaimed and held it out at arm’s length, explaining, “I’m a little farsighted.” She turned to the Lance and Sergio. “Look! That’s my name: Yorokobi.”

“Cool,” Lance said, admiring the kanji characters.

Kimiko had a good feeling about him. He seemed easy-going, sweet, and good-natured.

Allie asked Kimiko her thoughts and opinions about all sorts of Japanese stuff: Naruto, J-pop, sushi, Hello Kitty, Dragon Ball

Kimiko had never met anybody her own age so interested in Japanese culture. She kind of liked being elevated to authority status. And she loved Allie’s soft giggle.

“My fave manga are shonen-ai,” Allie said. “You know: boy-boy love stories? Stuff like Gravitation. What kind do you like?”

Shojo-ai, girls’ love” Kimiko replied, hoping her reply might prompt Allie to reveal whether she was gay.

Allie had already assumed from Kimiko’s guy clothes and square-shouldered stance that she was probably lesbian—maybe even transgender. “I’ve never read any girls’ love,” she told Kimiko. “You’ll have to tell me your fave titles.”

“I’d be glad to,” Kimiko said, still trying to figure Allie out.

As they continued to talk, Allie pulled out her cell phone and showed Kimiko her photos. “This is Lance and me in Guys and Dolls last year… And this is my ‘surprise’ brother, Josh…”

Kimiko tried to keep her attention on the pictures as Allie leaned closer, feeling comfortable, her shoulder unintentionally touching Kimiko’s. She puckered her lips into a kiss at Josh’s photo… “This is my mom and dad… I’m a total Daddy’s girl… And this is my boyfriend, Chip…”

An unexpected sense of relief enveloped Kimiko: Allie was not only not lesbian; she was also taken—placing her safely out of bounds from the remotest possibility of their dating.

The boyfriend in the photos was WASPY all-American… tall… sandy-colored hair… a ski-slope nose… everything the opposite of Kimiko.

“I’ve got to go meet him,” Allie said, looking at the time. “Saturday is our date night.” But she seemed like she didn’t want to go, and neither did Kimiko. She was enjoying hanging out.

“How about you?” Allie asked. “Are you dating anyone?”

“Me?” Kimiko fidgeted with her cap, thinking: My mom would never approve. Besides, who would I date? Who would want to date me?  

“No,” she told Allie. “No one.”

“I find that hard to believe,” Allie said with a smile, and Kimiko watched her eyes glisten—blue at first, then green, like the ocean.

“Would you like to hang out again sometime?” Allie asked.

“Huh? Sure,” Kimiko said. She wasn’t quite certain what to make of Allie. By all appearances she seemed like one of the cool kids—smart, good-looking, confident, no doubt popular—the type that usually brushed past Kimiko in the school hallway as if she didn’t even exist. And yet she was asking Kimiko for her number and screen name.

While the girls exchanged info, Sergio gave Kimiko a suggestive grin—as if exchanging numbers meant something beyond becoming friends. She ignored him and put her phone away.

When the four of them finally wandered toward the exit. Allie kept stopping to check the window displays, and Kimiko definitely wasn’t in a hurry.

“Well,” Allie said when at last they got outside. “Nice to meet you.”

“Yeah, good to meet you, too,” Kimiko replied, giving her a gentle fist-bump. It had actually felt more than good: kind of wonderful. She liked Allie’s unpretentiousness, considering how much she knew about Japanese stuff and how pretty she was, and she liked all the attention she’d gotten from Allie. It had felt totally wonderful, not just kind of.

After the mall, she went to Sergio’s to hang out, listen to music, play a few games, and have dinner. His mom’s spicy Mexican recipes were a welcome break from her own mom’s bland cooking and she loved talking soccer with Sergio’s dad. His parents were more lenient about them being alone together. Kimiko’s mom wouldn’t allow her to have a boy in her bedroom—as though there were the remotest need to worry. She’d never felt even the slightest interest in guys as anything more than friends.

Later that night, when she walked the three blocks home, her parents were watching TV in the living room. Her eight year-old brother, Yukio, lay asleep on the sofa beside them.

“Sup, I’m home,” Kimiko announced and went to the kitchen for a glass of soymilk. Her mom followed shortly after her, bringing a tray with some rice cookies.

“Did you eat dinner?” she asked, setting the cookies next to Kimiko. “Here, have some. How was your day?”

“It was good, had dinner at Sergio’s.” She took a cookie and told her mom about meeting Lance and Allie, leaving out any allusion to anything gay. She was out and open at school and with friends, but not with her family—although surely they must know. Just look at me, she often thought. How could they not know?

“Sit like a lady, Miko.” Her mom gently nudged Kimiko’s knees together. “There, that’s better.”

Kimiko forced a smile and went along with it; she wanted to be a good daughter. But in seconds, without her even realizing it, her knees again drifted apart like a boy’s.

* * *

“This is my name in kanji.” Allie showed the characters to her boyfriend, Chip, during dinner. “Isn’t it amazing?”

“Cool,” he answered, giving the lettering a quick glance while grabbing another slice of their super combo pizza. He’d never really gotten her craziness for Japanese stuff. And with each passing day, Allie wondered if he really got her.

They’d been going out since freshman year, when she’d first spotted him towering over the hallway crowd. His height was a major selling point to a girl who constantly got flak for being tall. Even though she’d had several minor league boyfriends, he’d become her first truly serious relationship. She liked his floppy hair, hazel eyes streaked with blue, and his gentle shyness. Unlike other boys, he didn’t try to push himself on her, and when they kissed, he let her teach him how. Within a month after meeting, they’d become a couple: walking arm-in-arm in the hall, going to school dances together, bringing each other candy treats, telling each other “I love you…”

During tenth grade, they’d settled into each other, but over the last few weeks, as they returned to school for junior year, she’d begun to question their future together. Even though she still got sexually stoked by him, she no longer felt the same emotional connection. It felt as if they’d gone as far as they could go together, like they’d drifted apart. She wanted to try something new, something different.

Tonight after dinner, they returned to the little bungalow behind his parents’ house that he’d taken over as his band room, took their usual places on the sofa, and turned the TV on.

While he surfed through channels, she debated how to talk to him about her doubts. Maybe she should just hold on and wait till graduation. Then they’d go away to separate colleges and she’d have more space to figure out her feelings—except that was nearly two years away.

After settling on a music video program, he leaned across the couch to kiss her and she went along for a moment. Then she pulled away.

“How do you feel about our relationship?”

“Um…” His brow crinkled as he leaned back, obviously surprised. “Good… Why? What’s the matter? Did I do something wrong?”

“No, no, no.” She didn’t blame him for anything. He was the same person he’d always been. “It’s just… Where do you think our relationship is going?”

“I don’t know.” His face went blank. “I haven’t really thought about it… I guess we’d finish school… Go to college together… See what happens. Why? What do you think is our future?”

“I’m not sure,” Allie said. She became quiet, and they stared at each other. She wasn’t sure what more to say at this point.

“Well,” he said at last, “the important thing is that I love you.”

Hearing that failed to resolve her uncertainty; it sort of made her feel guilty.

“I love you, too,” she answered. But saying it didn’t feel the same as it used to.

He bent over again to kiss her again, and she knew that unless she stopped things, they’d soon be shedding clothes and putting the condom on.

“Do you mind if we just make out tonight?” she asked.

He peered at her a moment, looking a little wounded. “Um, okay. Are you sure everything is all right?”

“Yeah, I’m just in a weird mood,” she replied. “Sorry.” She leaned across and kissed him, even though she wasn’t feeling exactly thrilled.

While they made out, her mind began to drift… first to Kimiko and how much she’d liked hanging out with her… then to the Academy’s tiny, six-person Gay-Straight Alliance… and how although Chip never said anything against her participating in the club, he’d never shown any interest in going to meetings… He’d never really gotten that aspect of her, either.

After making out for a while, they just held each other, watching and listening to the music videos. She liked holding him and being held by him. And for a moment, the feeling of connection returned.

On her drive home, she put in her earphone and called Lance to check in. “Hey babe. How’s it going?” 

“Um, okay.” He was in the middle of peeling off his clothes, getting ready for bed. “I ended up going to eat veggie food with Megan and Nancy.” They were two friends of theirs from the school GSA club. “And you?” he asked Allie. “How did it go with the Chip-meister?”

“I want to ask you something,” Allie answered. “Do you think I’m, like, settling with him?”

“Um, I don’t know.” Although she’d hinted to Lance about her doubts before, the question took him by surprise. “Do you think you’re settling?”

“I don’t know either.” She stopped at a traffic light. “I think he’s a great guy. I mean, in the two years we’ve gone out, he’s never lied or cheated on me. He doesn’t do drugs… He’s good-hearted and generous… Plus, I still think he’s hot. So why don’t I feel excited about him anymore?”

Lance laid down in bed, trying to think of an answer. “Maybe that’s just what happens after you’ve gone out with somebody for a couple of years.” Then he added: “Wow, that’s depressing.”

“I still feel excited to see you every day,” Allie argued. “And I’ve known you for—what—ten years?”

Lance shifted his phone from one ear to the other, as a familiar worry popped up: Was she too attached to him?

Once at a party, she’d gotten kind of drunkish and when he drove her home she’d cooed, “You’re my hero, you know that? My best friend, my soul mate”—a hiccup interrupted her—“Oops, sorry.” She covered her mouth, then began again: “I’m a better person because of you. I doubt I’ll ever love anybody as much as I love you.”

“I love you, too,” he’d told her, even though he felt nervous she might be putting the make on him. But she hadn’t, and the next day she’d apologized for being “kind of a mess” the night before.

“Maybe you should just be honest with him,” Lance now suggested. “Tell him how you feel.”

“I don’t want to hurt him,” Allie said, turning onto her street. “Besides, I’m not sure how I feel. I mean, even though I don’t feel like he completes me or anything like that, I still care about him. You know what I mean? I feel comfortable and safe with him. Shouldn’t that be enough? Maybe I’m expecting too much. But if I’m not in love with him anymore, am I like misleading him?”

“You’re not in love with him anymore?” Lance asked. It was the first time she’d said that.

“I don’t know. On some days I wonder if I ever was in love with him. Maybe it was just infatuation. But then I wonder if maybe it’s not really about him; maybe it’s about me. I mean: Maybe there’s more to me I still want to explore.”

“That’s cool,” Lance said. “Like what?”

“I’m not sure.” She gave long, questioning sigh as she pulled into her driveway. “Anyway, thanks for listening.”

“Sure, anytime.” It was apparent she’d gone as far as she wanted to go with the topic for now.

When she got into her house, her mom and dad were watching Saturday Night Live. She sat with them for a while, and on the way to her room she peeked in on Josh and watched him sleeping.

Inside her room, she pulled Kimiko’s kanji out from her bag. And as she undressed and got ready for bed, she recalled times growing up when she’d met a new girl and become friends; and how she’d felt a sort of crush, thinking how pretty the girl looked and how much she liked to be with her. The feelings had eventually died down, and she’d never thought of them as romantic or sexual.

But there was one night in middle school, when she’d had a sex dream with a girl, and the next morning she woke up with her whole body tingling. The experience had felt as intense as any sex dream she’d ever had about a boy.

On the school bus she’d told Lance about the dream, giggling nervously.

“You’re gay!” he whispered, thrilled to think his best friend was a latent lesbian.

“You really think so?” Allie stared out the window, thinking about it. “But then why do I get turned on by guys? Lesbians don’t, do they? Maybe I’m bi.”

“I think bi’s kind of a copout,” Lance argued. “Maybe you should try it with a girl—I mean: at least try kissing or something.”

“With who?” Allie asked. She felt too chicken to do anything with any girl from her school or church. No way. Nevertheless, she did mention the dream to her friend, Jenny, after field hockey practice one day—or at least she tried to.

“I’ve got a question for you,” she said in a low voice. “Have you ever had a sex dream with… a girl?”

“No!” Jenny scrunched up her face in disapproval. “That’s gay! Why? Did you?”

“No,” Allie lied, regretting having asked. “I was just curious.”

“I mean,” Jenny said, softening her tone. “I like Lance and I’ve got nothing against gay people, but that doesn’t mean I’m gay. So why would I ever have a sex dream with a girl?”

“I don’t know,” Allie said, and quickly changed the subject.

After that experience, she’d put the dream aside, never having another like it. And as she began to date boys, she’d almost completely forgot about the dream. Now, as she pinned the kanji up on the bulletin board above her computer, she remembered the dream for an instant and thought how cool it was going to have Kimiko as a friend.

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Read the rest, starting April 2011 - wherever books are sold - in stores and online!