With You All the Way - Cynthia Hand Page 0,1

His.

“Welcome.” He ushers me inside. Closes the door. “Make yourself at home.”

There’s nowhere to sit but on his bed. I perch on the edge and fold my hands into my lap, gazing around at the various posters on the walls. Most of them are of swimmers. Leo’s captain of the swim team at his school. By the look of it, he’s obsessed with Michael Phelps, and this other guy with a huge tattoo that covers most of his left arm.

I wouldn’t have pegged Leo for a posters-all-over-the-walls kind of guy.

“That’s Caeleb Dressel,” he explains almost shyly. “Two gold medals. Holds the world record in the hundred-meter butterfly.”

“Nice.” I try to seem appreciative, but it’s weird to be admiring these spandex-clad older men. I can’t imagine sleeping in here with their eyes on me. Or sleeping in here, period.

“So,” says Leo.

“So,” I say. My heart is skittering again. I’m okay, I tell myself. I’m sixteen, which I consider old enough to make a mature decision about it. Leo’s seventeen. We’ve been dating for almost five months. I like Leo, really like him. I’m curious about what sex will be like. With Leo, like everything has been with Leo so far, it will probably be great.

“Do you want to listen to some music?” He reaches around me to turn on a speaker on the bedside table. Then he thumbs through his phone to find a soundtrack for the business at hand. The first song is about (you guessed it) having sex. It’s a little cringey, how Leo obviously googled the best songs to have sex to. I hope there’s not an entire playlist of sex songs.

Leo sits down next to me. We kiss. He buries one hand in the hair at the base of my neck, cradling my head. Kissing him is always so good. Delicious. I can’t define what he tastes like, exactly, but it’s not similar to any food or drink I know. Not sweet, but spicy isn’t right, either. He tastes like Leo. Which I like.

After a few minutes he pushes me gently back onto the bed. I hang on to his shoulders. Leo has broad, muscly shoulders, from the swimming. He’s a big guy—six three, solid, which is one other reason I like him. Leo being so big makes me feel smaller, in a good way.

His mouth is on my neck now. Goose bumps jump up along my arms. I tilt my head to give him better access. He moves to my ear. I predict he’s going to stick his tongue in there. He’s done that before, and I wasn’t really a fan. I turn so he won’t. Touch his face so I can pivot him back to my mouth. Kiss him again. Again. Exploring. Trying the different angles.

He moves on top of me, his large body stretching over mine. For a few seconds I feel smothered; he’s too heavy, squashing me, but then he shifts his weight onto his arms and I can breathe again. His body against mine is familiar, but the way he’s moving is new. The bulge—that solid bump that I know is his, uh, junk, what my mom would insist on calling his penis, because Mom refuses to be anything but technical and precise about naming things—presses against my thigh.

Oh god, I’m thinking about my mother. I squirm, and Leo pulls back. His face is so red it makes his eyebrows stand out against his skin, like furry caterpillars clinging to his forehead. It’s distracting.

“You’re beautiful,” he mumbles.

“You too,” I say automatically, and blush so hard it feels like my cheeks and neck have been scalded. Leo keeps kissing me and touching me, and I’m totally into it. At least my body is. My lower half seems to be transforming into hot liquid. There’s a knot of sensation building between my legs. But the further along we get, the closer to the actual sex that’s going to be happening any minute now, the more weirdly disconnected I feel. To the point where I can almost slip out of my body and float over us. See myself from the outside.

I’m wearing a red Harry Potter shirt from last year’s trip to Orlando. It reads “9¾” on the front. It’s childish—I can see that so clearly now—and unflattering, a size too big for me, because I prefer loose-fitting clothes. Leo is pulling this shirt up, exposing my very white, not-very-flat belly, and underneath he discovers a gray sports bra, which confounds him because it doesn’t

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