Twice in a Blue Moon

Page 15

I blinked over to him, confused. “Cats?”

“Yeah, I don’t like them.”

“That’s your theory?”

He laughed. “No. Listen. I don’t like cats, but whenever I go to a house with cats, they always come over and sit on me.”

“Because they take one look at you and think you’re furniture.”

This made him laugh harder. “Sure, that’s another theory. But here’s mine: those anti-cat vibes would be weird for a human—like when we sense someone doesn’t like us, and it’s just really uncomfortable—but maybe for a cat, those weird vibes are comforting.”

“Bad vibes are good for cats?” I asked.

“Exactly. There’s something about the tension they like.”

I stewed on this one a little, thinking. “If that’s true, cats are sort of evil.”

“Without a doubt they’re evil. I’m just finding the root of it.”

I looked over at him. “I think cats are cute. They’re not needy, they’re smart. They’re awesome.”

“You’re wrong.”

This made me burst out laughing, and I let it roll through me, pushing out the residual tension over Dad, and what I’d learned from Sam. But just thinking about it again brought some of the tightness back to my chest.

Maybe he sensed it, because Sam squeezed my hand. And then I knew he sensed it, because he said, “I’m sorry your dad sucks.”

This pulled a surprised laugh out of me. “I’m sorry your dad sucks, too.”

“I’m never seeing another Ian Butler movie ever again.” He paused. “Except Encryption, because that movie is the fucking bomb.”


“Sorry, Tate, it’s just science.”


MOM MUST HAVE SAID something to Nana—telling her to go easy on me, let me have some fun, something—because without any complaint or even a whiff of displeasure from my grandmother, Luther and Sam became our regular companions in London. Each morning I bolted from bed and raced through the process of getting ready, eager to sit across from him, to wander the city together, to see him. We talked for hours in the garden every night. He said he’s lived in a small town for all but the first two years of his life, but he has more stories and random theories than anyone I’ve ever met.

At breakfast each morning, they were across the table from us: Sam with his flirty smile and plate piled high, and Luther with his highly sugared cup of coffee. On the street, they were usually a few steps behind us, wrestling with the giant map Luther insisted on using and arguing over alternative Tube stations when we found Paddington closed.

On a particularly gloomy day, we avoided the rain by visiting the National History Museum. Luther made up funny—and very loud—fictional stories about each of the dinosaurs in the Blue Zone, and even managed to coax Nana into dropping her plans for lunch at an old hotel she found in a guidebook. Instead, we ate burgers at a dark pub and laughed hysterically as Sam told us about things going disastrously wrong with the milking equipment on his first morning shift alone at the farm.

Not only did Nana not seem to mind our new traveling sidekicks, she genuinely seemed to enjoy Luther’s company. After lunch, they walked on ahead, and Sam came up alongside me while we strolled, bellies full, to the Baker Street station.

“What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?” he asked.

I took a few quiet seconds to think while Sam and I wove in and out of pedestrian traffic. Together, apart, together. His arm brushed against mine, and in a heated breath I registered that it didn’t feel accidental.

“Nana’s house is on the water,” I told him. “It’s raised on stilts, overlooking the Russian River and—”


“Yeah, I mean, the river floods a lot, so most houses near the water are on stilts.” When his eyes went wider, I said, “Don’t get a mental image of some sort of elaborate castle. It’s really just a three-bedroom, plain house on stilts. Anyway, we’re not supposed to jump from the deck because it’s so high up. The river is pretty deep there, but our toes always brush bottom, and the depth changes year to year. Someday we’ll jump and it’ll just be riverbed.”

Sam’s hand brushed mine when we sidestepped a man on the sidewalk, and this time it was accidental: he apologized under his breath. I wanted to reach out and make the contact permanent.

“Charlie and I would jump off the deck when we were home alone. I’m not even sure why.”

“Of course you know why.”

“To be scared?”

“To feel a rush, yeah.” He grinned over at me. “What would you think about when you jumped?”

“Just . . .” I shook my head, trying to remember the feeling. “Just that there was nothing else in that moment, you know? No school, no boys, no drama, no chores. Just jumping into the cold water and feeling crazy and happy afterward.”

“You’re pretty cute if that’s the craziest thing.”

I wasn’t sure whether I was more thrilled that he called me cute, or embarrassed to be exposed for being so tame. I held in a shaky breath and laughed. “You know me.” And in a weird way, I feel like he did. “What about you?”

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