Tonight the Streets Are Ours / Page 60

Page 60


Because I don’t deserve to be loved that much, Arden thought. But she didn’t say it, because obviously Peter did deserve that—that and more—and she didn’t want to let on that in this one regard, she wasn’t like him at all.

“I think maybe I just love people too much,” Arden answered aloud. “So if other people love me a normal amount, that doesn’t come close to matching the way I feel about them.”

She felt Lindsey shift beside her, but didn’t look at her. She couldn’t say these words to Lindsey. But she could say them to Peter, because he could understand.

“Maybe I do, too,” Peter said. “Maybe we’re like mutant superheroes. Part of some government experiment gone awry, and we were left with a preternatural capacity for love.”

Arden broke into a smile.

“No way,” Lindsey objected, as Arden had assumed she would. “That’s not even true.”

“You mean we’re not superheroes?” Peter asked, raising his eyebrows in mock surprise.

“That nobody loves Arden as much as she loves them. Tons of people love you, you know that. Your parents, Chris, me, our other friends…”

Arden nodded at Lindsey’s words, but she thought about their argument when the Heart of Gold stopped running, and how wide the gap was between her and Lindsey’s definitions of love. Love meant taking care of someone else. It meant solving their problems for them, protecting them, supporting them even in times of crisis. In her heart Arden knew: There must be more to love, more than this.

“So what happened with Bianca?” Arden asked Peter softly, then quickly added, “You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”

But he did want to.

“She broke up with me three days ago,” he said, his long lashes fluttering as though he was blinking back tears. “She called before school, while I was still in bed. Usually I’d ignore a call while I was trying to sleep, but this was Bianca, and I never ignore calls from her. I used to silence my phone overnight, and now I leave it on just in case she needs something or wants to talk.

“Anyway, she called really early, and before I could say anything she told me that this was it, and it was over for real this time, and she never should have given me a second chance.”

“I’m so sorry,” Arden murmured. This wasn’t any new information, but hearing it from his mouth made her heart ache.

“Did she say why?” Lindsey asked.

“Well, a literary agent offered to represent me on Tuesday,” Peter began.

“Which is amazing, by the way,” Arden interjected. “Can we take a moment to discuss how amazing that is? I don’t know anybody who has an agent. You’re going to be a published author. You are! And then the whole world is going to know how talented you are.”

She hoped that this speech did a little bit to make up for Bianca’s demoralizing response. Peter was right: this should have been the happiest moment of his life. She wanted to give him that happiness.

“Thank you,” he said. “I don’t know if I will actually get published. It might never happen. But just knowing that an agent, a professional in the field, read my writing and thought it might be good enough to be published? It’s unreal. It’s the only thing I ever wanted.”

He stared off into the distance of the diner for a moment, his gaze resting on the glittery portrait of a 1970s Elvis Presley hanging on the wall. Arden looked around, too. She felt overdressed for chicken fingers at a diner, but it didn’t take her long to notice a girl wearing an even shorter dress than hers and a guy wearing even more makeup, so that helped her feel at ease.

“Bianca,” Lindsey prompted Peter.

“Right.” He refocused on the girls. “I told her the good news as soon as I found out. I thought she would be proud of me. At first, it seemed like she was. But the next time we talked, she said she didn’t want Tonight the Streets Are Ours to be published. She didn’t want people reading it.”

“People do already read it, though,” Arden pointed out. “Whether or not it becomes a book, it’s out there.”

“I know. And she freaked out at me about that, demanding that I take down the whole website. She’d never looked at it before, and once she took the time to read it, she immediately hated everything about it. She said I had to take down Tonight the Streets Are Ours, and I had to tell the agent that I didn’t want representation, and I wasn’t allowed to publish a book that mentioned her in any way…”

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