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Where We Left Off (Middle of Somewhere #3)
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Leo Ware may be young, but he knows what he wants. And what he wants is Will Highland. Snarky, sophisticated, fiercely opinionated Will Highland, who burst into Leo’s unremarkable life like a supernova… and then was gone just as quickly.
For the past miserable year, Leo hasn’t been able to stop thinking about the powerful connection he and Will shared. So, when Leo moves to New York for college, he sweeps back into Will’s life, hopeful that they can pick up where they left off. What begins as a unique friendship soon burns with chemistry they can’t deny… though Will certainly tries.
But Leo longs for more than friendship and hot sex. A romantic to his core, Leo wants passion, love, commitment—everything Will isn’t interested in giving. Will thinks romance is a cheesy fairytale and love is overrated. He likes his space and he’s happy with things just the way they are, thank you very much. Or is he? Because as he and Leo get more and more tangled up in each other’s lives, Will begins to act like maybe love is something he could feel after all.
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IT ONLY took one day in New York City for me to break every single resolution I’d made.
Even after a year of dreaming what it would be like—a year of slogging back and forth between Grayling Community College and my parents’ house—I hadn’t even come close to anticipating how it would feel to actually leave Holiday, Michigan, much less to arrive in New York.
Nothing in any of the movies I’d seen prepared me for the feeling of watching the city rise like the distant sun of an alien planet miles and miles before the bus would reach it. It was just there, out the windows on both sides, its size an announcement: you still have time to turn back. Or: once you enter you’ll never get out again. Or: anything you could ever need is waiting for you.
LATER, AFTER I’d found my way to the dorms, I helped people move in, since I only had two suitcases, a backpack, and my skateboard. They were bringing whole lives with them into their rooms when all I wanted was to leave mine behind.
I exchanged some variation on the themes of What are you studying, Where are you from, and Have you met your roommate yet about a dozen times in the process.
The first girl I told I was from Holiday wore black jeans, boots, and a short black jacket even though it was in the eighties outside, and she was so amused by the name of the town that afterward I just said Michigan. In fact, all my responses seemed to vaguely amuse people, and I could feel my smile become forced, the muscles in my jaw starting to ache and the skin around my eyes tight.
That was Resolution 1—Make a good first impression—scuttled.
I hadn’t slept much on the bus, and what with all the changing buses and layovers on the way to New York, it already felt like the world’s longest day even though it was still early. The mix of sleep deprivation and overstimulation had made me feel all fluttery and tweaked-out. I finally escaped back to my room, desperate to throw my clothes in drawers and veg with an episode of something on Netflix.
I wanted to rest up before Joseph, my roommate, arrived. Joseph and I had e-mailed all summer, planning to go to the new student orientation together, to scope out campus and the surrounding neighborhood and to locate all our classes before school started so we weren’t wandering around like idiots. He’d been nice and funny; safe. And it’d been a relief not to be facing a new school all on my own, to say nothing of a whole new city.
When I opened my computer to find something comforting to watch, though, I found an e-mail from Residential Life instead. Joseph had declined to come to NYU at the last minute and they would be assigning me a different roommate in a few days. My heart started to pound and I closed my eyes. It was a small thing, I told myself. Not a big deal at all. But I guess I didn’t believe myself because suddenly I was close to tears, and before I knew it, I’d done what I always did when I felt freaked out or overwhelmed, which had happened a lot this past year: I called Daniel. As friends went, he was pretty much it for me, though I constantly doubted whether he thought of me the same way.
I’d met Daniel two years ago when he’d moved to Holiday from Philadelphia to teach English at Sleeping Bear College in town. Everyone had been talking about him—at least, everyone who was part of the circuit of small business owners around Mr. Zoo’s, the jumble-shop-cum-music-store where I worked.
At first, I was just curious. The mythology that had bloomed around him was intriguing, and the fact that one of the rumors was that he was gay made him irresistible. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I had begun developing a plan for how I’d choreograph our meeting. It would be casual, of course, subtle. I’d come off as cool and mature, and he wouldn’t be able to help wanting to hang out with me. In the end, though, it hadn’t gone anything like I’d planned.
Before I could even start phase one of Operation: Nab Daniel, he’d found me, swooping in to rescue me from getting my ass kicked by some jackasses I’d gone to high school with, like the hero of my own personal movie, vanquishing the bad guys with a few well-chosen words and gestures.
He was all messy hair and flashing green eyes and tattoos, his shirtsleeves rolled up after a day of teaching. So, okay, I kind of threw myself at him, but it wasn’t just because he was hot. He was like a tornado I wanted to get caught up in—lifted and spun around and deposited in a world more colorful and magical than the black-and-white of Holiday.