Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea…
After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn’t himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help him, but she doesn’t know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows that she shouldn’t let him kiss her. But she can’t resist, and when they’re caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it’ll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.
With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?
I detect humor in his voice as he goes on, “Remember when you had that horrible summer job walking the Rolons’ dog?”
They hired me a few years back to take their grouchy terrier around the block once every weekday while school was out. It was a thankless job full of ankle nips and poop scooping, worsened by the fact that it was one of the hottest summers on record. “Ugh. Yes, why?”
“Remember how I used to walk with you?”
“I do.” Max’s company was the only thing that kept me from strangling that dog.
“Do you know why I walked with you?”
Curious, I fold my hands across his chest, drop my chin, and work to make out his features through the darkness. “Why?”
“Because I thought I was in love with you.”
I laugh out loud, only quieting when I remember I’m in Max Holden’s bed in the middle of the night, down the hall from his sister and a floor away from his parents.
“Seriously. I was convinced you were, like, my soul mate.” He pauses, smiling at the memory. “Even back then, watching you drag that shitty little dog down the block, I thought you were the most beautiful girl in the neighborhood.”
“I can’t imagine why,” I say, only able to recall braces, knobby knees, and a flat chest.
He brings my hand to his mouth and kisses my palm. “I still think you’re the most beautiful girl in the neighborhood.”
I wriggle up so we’re face-to-face and run my fingers through his hair; it’s deceptively soft. “Do you think it’s weird that we know each other so well, even though this”—I gesture between the two of us—“is new?”
“No way. I like that I know everything about you.” He gives me a lazy grin. “Makes you easier to put up with.”
“You don’t know everything,” I say, indignant.
“Wanna bet?” He plows ahead without waiting for an answer. “I know you like soda best from a fountain, and I know your cookbook collection’s the first thing you’d save in a house fire. I know you drink your coffee with cream and a shit-ton of sugar, and I know your favorite book is The Giver. I know you like dark chocolate more than milk. I know you have a tiny freckle on the inside of your left wrist.” With the pad of his thumb, he grazes the spot he’s referring to. He sits up and trails his fingers down my spine, over my hip and along my thigh. With his eyes locked on mine, he wraps his hand around the back of my knee and says, “I know this is the only place on your body where you’re really, truly ticklish.”
I giggle and squirm until he stops, then work my way back into the crook of his arm. He tilts his head and waits for me to brush my lips against his. “Saturday,” he says. “You figure out dinner, but I’ve got the rest.” The hopeful timbre of his voice, the impish gleam in his eye—they’re very cute.
He kisses me again, softly, then sprinkles kisses all over my face—across my cheeks, along the line of my jaw, and once on the tip of my nose. He finds my mouth again, and his lips taste of seawater, the last evidence of my tears.
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About Katy Upperman
Katy Upperman is a graduate of Washington State University, a former elementary school teacher, and an insatiable reader. When not writing for young adults, Katy can be found whipping up batches of chocolate chip cookies, or exploring the country with her husband and daughter. Kissing Max Holden is her debut novel.