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this unruly heart of mine

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Look, it’s not like Leah thought she’d ever fall in love. Well, there was Simon in middle school, but it wasn’t like this, an all-encompassing way of feeling, complete with butterflies and the things you hear about in songs. No, past Leah would have thought that was incredibly tacky and gross, and not just because it seemed impossible for her to fathom she could ever feel like that.

But then Abby happened.

Funnily enough, things almost didn’t turn out this way.

The first time the two girls met, Abby had taken Leah’s usual seat next to Simon in the cafeteria. When Leah approached the table, Abby was just finishing up a story that had Simon and Nick in stitches. Leah had shot Simon a look as if to say ‘what gives?’ and as was more and more usual lately, Simon was completely oblivious. Instead of sitting next to Simon, she sat next to Nick, ground her teeth, and introduced herself with as much fake syrupy sweetness as she possibly could.

She was ready to hate this new girl who had so seamlessly inserted herself into her lifelong friend group within minutes. Leah didn’t like to feel out of place, and in that moment, she felt like she was completely on the outside, like she didn’t belong.

The problem was, then Abby introduced herself. She was warm and kind, asked the right kind of questions and genuinely seemed to be interested in getting to know Leah. Before that first lunch ended, Leah actually started to warm up to Abby. Then Abby smiled at Leah for something she had said, and Leah had the first inkling that she was going to be in trouble.

Now, six months later, here she was: in love for the first time… with a straight girl with a boyfriend. Of course.

***

Leah was glad for her ability to keep her feelings to herself. None of her friends even knew that she liked girls, not even Simon and Bram, the star gay couple of Creekwood High, and they definitely didn’t seem to have caught on to the fact that she liked Abby.

Leah was so good at hiding her true feelings that Simon had tried to set her up with Nick of all people, in a stunt that nearly ruined their friend group. Leah had forgiven Simon. Turns out, when you’re being blackmailed by the school clown, there’s at least a little bit of leeway for your oldest friend in the world, even if his actions were supremely shitty. There was, however, the slight issue of Leah having told Simon that she was in love with him.

It wasn’t like it was a complete lie. She had been in love with him throughout middle school, and now that she knew Simon was gay and nothing would ever happen, she made a snap decision. Leah figured admitting to old feelings for him as if they were current seemed less fraught than admitting feelings for her friend Abby, who had just gotten into a relationship with her other very good, very male, friend.

It was fine except sometimes Simon looked at her with so much sadness, like he ruined her life or something, and she hated it, especially because she knew she had done this to herself.

***

Abby is a revelation as Sally Bowles, Leah can’t keep her eyes off of her.

When Leah comes backstage, her eyes immediately find Abby. Leah can’t help it, she runs up to Abby giddily. Leah barely recognizes herself.

Abby reaches out and pulls Leah in close for a hug. Leah goes willingly.

“Oh my god, I’m not even kidding, you were like, insane.” She knows she’s gushing, but she can’t help it, just like she can’t help the way she’s grinning as Abby pulls her in ever so slightly closer.

Then Abby sees Nick, and their moment is over. Leah tries her hardest to not let her face show the disappointment she’s feeling, and and channels that into talking to them about Simon and their carnival plans, and maybe forgiving him for what he did.

***

When Bram heads down the driveway a few mornings later, Leah gets out of the passenger seat and joins Abby and Nick in the back. She’s nothing if not the very best friend to Simon, willingly putting herself into that situation just so he can sit with his new boyfriend for that ten-minute drive to school.

Leah gets into the backseat and Abby scoots over. She’s sitting with Nick—her boyfriend, Leah reminds herself—but Abby , for some reason, chooses to hold her iced coffee with the hand closer to him and wraps her free arm around Leah when she gets into the car, and she doesn’t let go, just hugs her close.

Leah knows Abby doesn’t like her like that, but sometimes she wishes Abby was less… Abby. Less physically affectionate, less generous with her smiles and her laughter. It makes it impossible for Leah to even start trying to get over this crush when every little touch, every lingering look makes her stomach flutter.

“Alright, it’s too beautiful a day, so I think I’m going to actually take us on a little adventure,” Simon says from the driver’s seat.

Leah cheers.

Abby doesn’t take her arm back for the entire 30-minute car ride.

***

“Hell yeah,” Nick says when they pull into the Six Flags parking lot.

Their group had been talking about going to Six Flags ever since the carnival a week ago, as the rides there left something to be desired for all of them, though Leah suspects Simon and Bram will forever have plenty of fondness for that ferris wheel.

“Can we do the Goliath first?” Abby asks. “It’s my favorite,” she adds, and exaggerates batting her eyelashes first at Nick, then at Simon, who just laughs at her.

A girl after Leah’s own heart. That’s her favorite ride at Six Flags, too.

“Sounds good to me.”

“Sure,” Nick and Simon say at the same time.

“How scary is the Goliath on a scale of one to Tilt-a-Whirl?” Bram asks.

“Are you joking?” Nick asks. “You’ve never been on the Goliath?”

Bram shakes his head, looking apologetic.

“You haven’t lived,” Simon pipes up. “Plus, it’s definitely not as scary as a Tilt-a-Whirl.”

“Are you sure?”

Bram doesn’t seem too sure about this whole thing. Leah hopes he’ll have a good time today. The rest of them all love Six Flags like it’s their job. Leah genuinely thinks Bram is wonderful—both on his own and as Simon’s boyfriend—but if he can’t get on board with rollercoasters, she worries for their relationship. There is nothing in the world that Simon loves more.

Simon doesn’t seem to mind at all that Bram is a rollercoaster novice, though.

“Positive. And if you get scared, you can just hold my hand,” Simon says. He winks at Bram and Leah reconsiders her earlier opinion: there may be one thing in the world he loves more than rollercoasters. Leah can’t help but smile at them.

“Deal,” Bram says, and ducks his head sheepishly.

Leah isn't scared of rollercoasters, but she truly wishes she had someone’s hand to hold on one, too. And if the someone she has in mind is Abby, then so be it. Nobody needs to know.

***

“That was awesome,” Bram nearly shouts, high on adrenaline, as they exit the Goliath.

“Told you,” Simon says. His eyes dart around briefly, and he pulls Bram in for a hug and a quick kiss, smiling against his lips.

Leah doesn’t envy them. Being gay in Georgia always comes with an extra dose of vigilance. It’s part of why she still hasn’t actually told any of her friends that she’s bi, even though she figured it out four years ago. Not even Simon and Bram, who would probably understand. She talks about it with her online friends sometimes, and her mom knows, and that’s good enough for her right now.

When Simon and Bram pull apart, she can see Simon falter ever so slightly. No one else would notice, but Leah knows Simon better than anyone, and she knows he fears a negative comment or someone cursing them out. Nothing happens, though, and a smile is back on his face almost instantly.

“Okay, lovebirds,” Abby says fondly. “What’s next?”

They spend the entire day at the park, going on as many rides as they possibly can, and stuffing their faces with funnel cake.

When Abby gets sugar all over her cheek, Leah wants to do nothing more than to reach out and wipe it off. Instead, she laughs, not meanly, and points it out to Abby. Abby steals some of Leah’s funnel cake in retaliation, giggling the entire time, and Leah doesn’t mind at all.

Later, all five of them walk back to their car, arms linked, and Leah is just so fond of this group of friends that she’s found over the years. She’s not even bitter about technically fifth-wheeling this double date. It was one of the best days she’s had in recent memory.

***

Abby and Nick break up less than two months later, two months before graduation. Abby sends the rest of them a group text with the heads-up, but no accompanying information.

Simon, nosy as he is, asks Abby at lunch the next day what had happened, but she remains oddly tight-lipped, just mumbles something about “different ideas of what our relationship should be like,” and “worked better as friends and that’s the end of it.” She keeps glancing at Leah while she says it. Leah has no idea what that’s about, but it’s weird.

Leah doesn’t really know what to say, feels like everything she could offer is too loaded and not enough at the same time. She lets Abby have her last two Oreos, much to Simon’s silent displeasure— everyone knows Simon always gets the last Oreo—and that makes Abby smile for the first time that day. Leah only realized then how much Abby smiles every day, and just how much she’s missed seeing it.

***

Abby and Nick’s breakup seemed somewhat amicable at first, but Nick has shown up at their lunch table less and less over the past week. Leah feels kind of bad about it. Nick is one of her oldest friends, and just because he was dating the girl she’s had a crush on for the better part of a year, that doesn’t mean she wanted him around less, especially not now that they’re so close to graduation. She also doesn’t want him to feel like Abby has replaced him in their friend group. Leah knows what that feels like, and no one deserves it. Especially not Nick. Maybe that’s what makes her decide to reach out to him. Maybe it’s her conscience, feeling guilty over how relieved the breakup makes her feel. Maybe she just misses her friend.

Leah waits for Nick until soccer practice is over. She catches up to him as he walks out of the school and heads towards the parking lot with him.

“Hey, Nick, wait up,” she says as she taps him on the shoulder.

Nick turns around. “What’s up, Leah,” he says, a little surly.

“Is everything okay? I haven’t seen much of you lately,” Leah says, carefully and measured.

“Yeah, I guess that’s what happens when you break up with your girlfriend, who is also friends with all of your friends,” Nick says warily.

“So I take it things are not okay,” Leah says, and Nick pulls a face as if to say ‘no shit.’ “Wait, are you mad at me? What did I do?”

Nick is visibly uncomfortable all of a sudden. He takes a deep breath and his shoulders slump. He almost looks embarrassed. “You’re right, I’m sorry,” he says. He sounds deflated. “You didn’t do anything.”

“Are you okay?” Leah asks him again.

“Not really. I miss Abby.” His face breaks Leah’s heart. She can’t help but reach out to him and pull Nick into a big hug, holding on tight. It feels weird, they’re not really the kind of friends who hug, but when she lets him go, Nick looks moderately better than he had just moments before.

“But I will be,” Nick adds.

“I know you will,” Leah says. Then she has an idea. “Can I sit with you at lunch tomorrow?”

“Just you?” Nick asks, sounding as if he’s hoping for an affirmative answer.

“Just me,” Leah says.

“Then yeah, sure.” He smiles.

“Good, I’ve missed you,” Leah says, and then laughs uncomfortably. Theirs is not really a friendship of heart to hearts, and this has already been way too sincere for either of their comfort.

She playfully elbows him in the stomach. “Give me a ride home?” she asks. There, something to restore their equilibrium.

“Of course.”

Leah high fives him and they head towards his car. She really has missed Nick, so much. This is the longest they’ve gone without having lunch together all year, and having him missing from their group has made Leah feel a little off-kilter.

If sitting with Nick also means not having to spend any extra time sitting across from the girl she’s in love with who doesn’t like her back, then well, that’s just an added bonus.

She sits with Nick all week.

***

On Sunday night, Simon summons Leah to come to his house after dinner. She was expecting it, in a way. Simon wasn’t going to let her get away with not spending time with him at school for another week.

Emily Spier opens the door for her and beams at her. She’s always made Leah feel special, and Leah truly appreciates that.

“Hi Mrs. Spier,” Leah says.

“Hi Leah, Simon’s upstairs with Bram… with the door open, I hope.” Emily says the second part of that loudly enough for them to hear upstairs. Clearly, she didn’t care that much, or she’d have known if the door was open in the first place. Another reason to like Simon’s mom.

“Yes, Mom!” Simon yells down from his room, drawing out the O in ‘mom’ to a comical degree. Leah snickers. Then, after a beat, he yells, “Hi Leah, come on up.”

Leah heads upstairs, passing Bieber on the stairs and giving him a few pets and head scratches, just the way she knows he likes.

When she arrives in Simon’s room, Simon and Bram are both lying on Simon’s bed, holding hands, watching a cat video on YouTube. It’s truly unfair how cute they look together.

“What’s going on with you, Leah?” Simon asks.

Oh, so they were doing this right away.

“Hello to you too,” she says.

“Hi Leah,” Simon says pointedly. “Now tell me, what’s going on?”

“What do you mean?” Leah hopes that by pretending to be oblivious, she can buy herself some time. She doesn’t see a way out of this without telling Simon the truth, and truth be told, she’s kind of done with all the secrets.

“You didn’t sit with us at lunch all week,” Simon says. “Did I do something?”

“Why do you think you did something?” Leah asks, then because she knows how worried Simon can get about that, she immediately adds, “You didn’t do anything, I swear.”

“Then what is it?” Simon asks.

“Someone should be sitting with Nick. Just because he and Abby broke up doesn’t mean he’s no longer our friend…” she trails off.

“And?” Bram asks, looking up at her with his kind eyes.

“And nothing,” Leah says, a little snippy. Bram is way too good at reading people. There was at least a small chance Simon would have just taken that answer at face value.

“Leah,” Simon says, drawing out her name. “Something’s clearly going on with you.”

“Okay fine. You both deserve to know most of all,” Leah says and takes a deep breath.

“What does that mean?” Simon asks, but Bram looks like he might know where this is going as he perks up ever so slightly.

“I’m bi,” Leah says. Simon gapes at her in surprise. Bram doesn’t look shocked at all, which surprises Leah.

“Why didn’t you....” Simon starts, but then takes a breath and decides to continue with, “Thank you for telling me. Telling us. You know I love you, right?” instead. Leah is grateful that Simon isn’t making a big deal of this. She figures that’s what he would’ve wanted as well, if he had been given the choice, and she loves him all the more for it.

“I know,” Leah says. “I love you, too,” she says, trying her best to not let her voice break.

“I just want to say thank you for trusting us with this,” Bram interjects. “It seems like this has been really hard on you.” Bram is so effortlessly kind, Leah almost wouldn’t be able to stand it if she weren’t so relieved.

Leah nods, and Bram gets up to give Leah a big hug. She goes willingly. Bram is such a good hugger, so solid and warm. Simon is lucky.

Simon, as if he knows what Leah is thinking, joins their hug and pushes them all onto the bed, laughing, and manages to make Leah laugh as well, which is just what she needs.

“But wait,” Simon says when they finally disentangle themselves. “What does that have to do with you not sitting with us at lunch anymore? Did anyone find out? Did someone say something mean to you? I’ll kill them,” he says.

“No, it’s not that,” Leah says, and smiles at the thought of Simon hurting anyone. “The reason I haven’t been sitting with you guys at lunch is…”

She takes a deep breath. No time like the present to rip the bandaid off.

IhaveacrushonAbby,” she says between her teeth, as quickly as she can. “And she clearly doesn’t feel the same way, so what’s the point in torturing myself by seeing her even more than I already have to?”

Simon and Bram share a look. It almost seems like they’re communicating telepathically. Leah wonders if that’s what happens when you’re in a relationship with someone. It looks like Simon is signaling to Bram to say something.

“Aww, Leah,” Bram finally says. “Crushes are hard. And if it’s too much, that’s understandable. But we miss you sitting with us, and I know Abby misses you, too.” Bram’s every word seems measured, but he is always so wildly kind to her. She’s grateful for his presence in her life every day.

“Abby misses me?” is what comes out when Leah finally speaks. Ugh, that’s not what she wanted to say, but it’s what she’s got. Simon grins at her. Oh, he is going to have a field day with this.

“Wow, you really do like her a lot, don’t you?” he teases.

“I dooooo,” Leah whines.

There’s a bit of a pause, and then Simon’s face does something weird.

“But wait. Didn’t you tell me you were in love with me?” Simon finally asks. “You sure move on fast,” he says half-jokingly.

“Yeah… about that,” Leah says.

Bram grins. “I never really questioned that part of the story when Simon told me about it,” he says. “I get it, he’s super cute.”

At that, Simon blushes and briefly squeezes Bram’s hand. They are sickeningly adorable, Leah would probably hate them if they weren’t two of her favorite people.

“So, I actually did have a crush on you… in middle school,” Leah says. “I don’t know what came over me, somehow it seemed easier to tell you I liked you than it did to tell you I liked Abby and open that whole can of worms.”

“You weren’t ready,” Bram says, and once again Leah marvels at how it is that this boy who’s really only been in her life for a few months just gets her.

“Yeah, exactly. I’m sorry for lying to you,” Leah says, and means it. She hopes Simon knows that.

“Well, I can’t really be mad at you, it’s not like I’ve been the beacon of truth.” He shrugs and makes a face at Leah, which tells her he truly isn’t mad.

“How about we agree to not lie to each other from now on,” Leah suggests.

“Sounds good to me,” Simon says.

“Me too,” Bram pipes up, and they all laugh, knowing that Bram likely hasn’t lied about anything, ever.

“Please don’t tell Abby, though,” Leah says after a pause.

“We wouldn’t,” Bram jumps in immediately.

“Tell Abby what?” Simon pretends to be obtuse. Leah is grateful for him.

“Exactly. Thank you,” she says, and smiles at both of them.

“Okay, now, will you please come back and sit with us again at lunch tomorrow?” Simon asks, and adds, “I miss youuu,” in a whiny voice.

“Okay, fine,” Leah says, trying to sound as if she’s capitulating under severe duress, but she smiles at them anyway, giving herself away. She’s missed them, too. She’ll just have to be better at splitting her time between the whole group and Nick, and maybe talk to Simon about making Nick feel included. That’s a conversation for another time, when things aren’t so tense.

She’s grateful when Bram suggests they play a round of Mario Kart. She’s decidedly had enough soul-baring sincerity for one afternoon.

***

Abby is the only one at their lunch table a week later when Leah arrives. Leah usually tries to avoid that situation, but Simon and Bram seem to be off god-knows-where. Probably making out under the bleachers, or something equally as clichéd.

“My mom is out of town this weekend,” Abby says before Leah even has the chance to sit down. “I feel like I haven’t seen much of you lately. You should come over tomorrow night, we’ll have a sleepover. Face masks, comfort movies and the like…”

Leah has to work very hard to keep her face from doing something weird at “and the like”, but she thinks she manages for the most part. In the meantime, though, Abby is expecting an answer that Leah hasn’t given her yet, and she almost looks… afraid like Leah might say no. Has she been acting that aloof recently?

“Yes, I'd love to,” Leah says quickly, even though she knows it’s a bad idea. It’s just that the prospect of seeing Abby sad is too much to bear.

Leah is rewarded for her answer, as Abby smiles at her. Abby’s smile can truly light up any room, but this one was reserved just for Leah, and Leah allows herself to bask in it for a moment, though she doesn’t really want to admit to herself how good it feels to have Abby’s undivided attention and to get a private invitation from her. Leah wouldn’t be Leah, though, if she didn’t start to second-guess herself. What if this is a group activity after all? She doesn’t think Simon and Bram would be into face masks, but she can’t be sure.

“What about Simon and Bram? Are they coming, too?”

“Apparently Bieber is sick and Simon’s parents are going out of town, so they have to dogsit.” Abby rolls her eyes as if she doesn’t quite believe that story. Leah doesn’t either, but she figures if Simon’s parents really are out of town, there’s a good chance that Simon and Bram will want that weekend to themselves.

“It’ll be just the two of us,” Abby says, but she looks a little nervous. “Is that okay?”

Is it? Leah can obviously control herself around cute girls (well, the cute girl) she has a crush on, she’s had a lot of practice throughout the year, but a sleepover sounds like the ultimate test for her. Isn’t that when girls bare their souls to each other? Leah wonders what kind of masochist would say yes to that, but her brain says one thing, and her mouth says, “Yeah, totally, that’s great!” She tries hard not to wince.

“Do you want me to bring anything?” Leah asks a beat later.

“Just your beautiful self,” Abby says, still smiling at her. “Oh, and maybe some snacks.”

“Will do,” Leah says and makes herself stop grinning before Simon and Bram join their table and their conversation turns to their English assignment.

***

Leah frets about what to wear to the sleepover, what pajamas to bring, what the best snacks are—everything. She finally settles on a cozy oversized but cute sweater and a pair of leggings, and brings pink shorts with koalas on them and a matching white tank top to sleep in. She remembers how much Abby liked the chocolate chip cookies she made for a bake sale earlier in the year, so she whips some up in the kitchen. Baking has always calmed her, and her nerves are on overdrive.

Leah knows nothing is going to happen, but she is a bundle of nervous energy and can’t help but feel like tonight is going to be significant in one way or another.

***

When Leah gets to Abby’s house, Abby pulls her into a hug immediately, and lets Leah go way too soon.

Leah hands over the cookies she made and when Abby opens the tin and sees what Leah brought, she exclaims, “I love you so much, oh my god.”

It shouldn’t feel this good to hear it, but it does. She grins at Abby.

“I remembered you liked those. I hope they’re still good.”

“She hopes they’re still good, she says,” Abby quips. “They’re only the best damn cookies I’ve ever eaten.”

Getting complimented has no right to feel this good, but it does. Baking is one thing Leah is actually good at, and she’s proud of that, and if she can make Abby happy with that, even better.

“Do you want to do manicures? I just got this really cute glitter nail polish I’ve been meaning to try, it would look super cute on you,” Abby says.

“Sure, that sounds fun,” Leah says. “Should we get into our PJs first?”

“Good plan. Let’s get comfy,” Abby agrees.

Leah heads into Abby’s bathroom to get changed, and when she comes out in her shorts and tank top combination, Abby just… looks at her. If she didn’t know better, she’d think Abby was checking her out, but that’s impossible, right?

“So, manicures,” Leah says in an effort to snap herself out of her thoughts.

“Oh yeah…” Abby jumps off her bed and heads to her vanity, where she gets supplies out of the top drawer. “Do you want to go first?” she asks.

“Sure,” Leah says, and Abby grabs the purple glitter polish. She reaches for Leah’s hand in her left hand and Leah shivers a little when their hands touch. Leah isn’t prepared for how magical Abby’s hand feels against hers, so soft and gentle, and she really hopes Abby doesn’t notice.

Abby starts to apply the nail polish, pursing her lips concentrating on Leah’s nails, but when she looks up after the last nail is painted and Leah meets her eyes, everything seems… charged somehow.

Leah has to look away, not wanting Abby to see anything she doesn’t want to share, and the moment ends.

***

Later, they lie in Abby’s bed in comfortable silence. Leah turns to look at Abby to see if maybe she has fallen asleep.

She hasn’t; their eyes meet. Abby looks like she has something to say.

“I need to tell you something,” Abby says after a beat.

“Yeah?” Leah isn’t sure where this is going to go, but she thinks Abby sounds nervous and that has her intrigued, if a little worried.

“I never told you why I broke up with Nick, did I?” Abby asks.

Not really where Leah thought this was going, but alright.

“No. It seemed like you didn’t want to talk about it, and I didn’t want to pry,” Leah says honestly.

Abby finds Leah’s hand and gives it a squeeze, then drops it and sits up. Leah follows her.

“The reason I broke up with Nick is because I fell in love with somebody else,” Abby says, and Leah’s world shatters. There had been moments tonight that had made her hopeful that maybe this whole crush situation wasn’t quite as one-sided as she once thought, but clearly she had been mistaken.

“Oh yeah?” Leah asks with as much enthusiasm as she can muster. “Who’s the lucky guy?” She gives Abby her best fake smile, but it doesn’t last long before she has to break eye contact to not give herself away completely. She looks down at her hands, as if her newly painted nails are the most interesting thing in the world all of a sudden.

Abby shakes her head. “What…” Abby stumbles over her words a little. “What makes you think it’s a guy I fell for?” she asks. Leah has never heard Abby sound this hesitant before. Does that mean… oh. She looks at Abby’s face and Leah doesn’t know what to do with herself.

Leah can’t believe this is happening to her, and she probably still wouldn’t believe it, except that there is something now that would explain why Nick was kind of an asshole to her before.

She meets Abby’s eyes and gapes at her in shock. What an attractive look that must be. Leah closes her mouth and Abby smiles at Leah almost shyly, taking Leah’s hand in hers and interlacing their fingers.

Leah has to look away, it’s too much, she’s feeling too many things and they must be written all over her face. Abby only lets her for a second, though. With her other hand, Abby reaches out to touch Leah’s cheek and turns Leah’s face towards her. This is Abby. Abby, who’s smiling the same kind, brilliant smile at her that Leah is so used to now.

“Wait, what?” Leah says finally. All the signs are there, and yet she still doesn’t dare hope. The butterflies in her stomach betray her and make her smile at Abby in the goofiest way.

“Do I have to spell it out for you?” Abby asks sweetly.

Leah smiles now. “Yeah, I think spelling it out might be a good idea.”

“I have the biggest crush on you, Leah,” Abby says, her voice heavy with genuine emotion.

Leah can’t help the relieved giggle that escapes her. “You have a crush on me?” she asks incredulously.

“I do,” Abby says patiently.

“But I have a crush on you!” Leah exclaims, and giggles. She can’t believe this is her life right now.

“Well, isn’t that lucky?” Abby asks, clearly not expecting an answer.

Leah can do this. She can be brave. “Can I kiss you?” she asks instead, after a beat. For once, she doesn’t doubt what Abby’s answer will be.

“Please,” Abby says on an exhale, and Leah does as she’s told.

She cups Abby’s face with her hands and brushes her lips against Abby’s gently, a few quick, exploring kisses at first. It’s so gentle, Leah almost can’t stand it. Abby wraps her arms around Leah, pulling her in closer, and deepening their kiss, and Leah sinks into it. She mentally catalogues everything - the way Abby’s skin feels, warm against her hands. The way her chapstick tastes slightly of raspberries. The way Abby’s lips brush against hers, the way her hands move to the back of Leah’s neck, sending a pleasant chill down her spine.

Leah can’t believe how good this feels, how good she feels, as if she’s floating on a cloud. Never in a million years did she think she was going to be able to have this, and now, against all odds, she does.

When they break the kiss, Leah has no idea if a minute or an hour just passed.

“So good-” Abby says a little breathlessly.

At the same time, Leah says, “I’ve wanted to do this for so long."

They grin at each other and Abby pushes Leah onto the bed, kissing her some more.

***

“Why now?” Leah asks later as they lie in Abby’s bed together, completely blissed out. She’s holding onto Abby’s hand and resting her head on Abby’s shoulder, and in that moment Leah thinks that life has never been this perfect.

“Why now what?” Abby asks.

“Why did you decide to share your secret now?”

“Well…” Abby starts. “I decided you were worth taking the risk...”

At that, Leah smiles widely. She’s never considered herself to be someone worth taking a risk for before, and she decides she likes it a lot.

“I may also have had a little help from our favorite scheming friends,” Abby adds.

“What did Simon and Bram do?” Leah asks. “I swore them to secrecy!”

At this, Abby smiles and shakes her head. “We’re such idiots,” she says, laughing now. “So did I.”

Leah is at a loss for words at that. Not only did Simon and Bram know that Leah liked Abby, they ostensibly also already knew that Abby liked Leah. How Simon didn’t just shout that from the rooftops, Leah doesn’t know. She figures Bram probably had something to do with that.

“So you’re telling me they’re not dogsitting this weekend?”

“Yeah. Simon didn’t actually say anything to me, but when I told him my mom was out of town and I was planning on having a sleepover with the three of you, he told me in no uncertain terms that I was to have a sleepover with you and just you, and he and Bram would not be in attendance...”

Leah sighs. So much for Simon’s miserable attempt at subtlety.

Abby continues, “... and I had no idea you felt that way about me before, but when Simon said what he said, I was starting to have hope, and I decided to at least try, and here we are.”

“Here we are,” Leah repeats, and pulls Abby in for another kiss.

She could happily do this forever.