Chapter no 77

If He Had Been with Me

We’re in his car again, but it’s under different circumstances. It’s one a.m., and a police car has just pulled us over. It’s the second time this week, but Finny has never done anything wrong. They just pull us over because we’re teenagers in a red sports car.

“Do you ever wonder,” I ask Finny as he gets back in after watching the policeman search his trunk, “if this car is more trouble than it’s worth?” Finny shrugs. Behind us, the police car pulls away. Finny turns off his flashers and looks over his shoulder as he pulls out onto the street again. “Your mom says the insurance is crazy.”

“Yeah,” he says, “but I like it.” “It is a cute car,” I say.

“Don’t call my car ‘cute,’” he says.

I giggle. “Finny has a cute car. It’s so cute.”

“Shut up,” he says, “or I’ll stop driving you everywhere.” “Will not.”

“Will too.”

“You’d miss me.”

“Not if you keep calling my car cute.” I laugh again.

“I should teach you to drive,” Finny says. I frown. “What? No,” I say.

“Oh, come on, you can’t go forever without learning to drive.” “Watch me.”

“Take the wheel.”


“Autumn, take the wheel.”

I don’t know if he’s realized that I can’t refuse him when he says my name like that, but it works. I lean closer to him and take over the steering, and the car immediately begins to swerve to the right.

“Whoa!” Finny says. I start to take my hands away but he places his over mine. He presses gently and turns us straight again. “There we go,” he says. My heart is hammering and I feel as if I am falling. “You have to make little adjustments as you go,” he says. “Otherwise you’ll end up going off to one side.”

“Oh,” I say. My voice is shaking. I swallow.

“You’re okay,” he says. “I’ll catch you if we start to go too far.”

He helps me turns us around a corner and then another. We circle several blocks and then he takes us back to Main Street.

“Do you want to go on the highway?” “No,” I say.

“Too bad,” he says. His hands press down on mine as he forces me to turn us toward the on ramp.

“Oh my God,” I say. Finny takes my right hand off the wheel and places it on the gearshift. “Oh my God,” I say again.

“It’s okay,” he says. “I’ve got you.” He presses on my hand again and we change gears. My palms are sweating but his are hot and firm. The highway is nearly empty and the road stretches in front of us uninterrupted.

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