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“Just think, soon it will be us graduating,” Blake observed enthusiastically the next afternoon, as we drove to a barbecue. Danny Lehman, a popular graduating senior, and his parents were throwing a big commencement bash.

“Yes, I know, your hotness,” I tossed back playfully. I found my new oversize sunglasses in my bag and put them on. They made me feel like a whole other person.

I relaxed into my seat, pretty pleased about everything just then. When Blake picked me up to go to the party, I introduced him to my parents, which went a lot smoother than expected. After June paved the way, I feared my parents would associate Blake with a wild crowd.

Mom and Dad were unusually quiet and didn’t say or do anything embarrassing, thank God. Maybe it was because I’d never brought a boy home before. Despite myself, I was relieved when it was over and about their mellow reaction. Going out with Blake was stressful enough without any unnecessary pressure created by my parents. Besides, with all the Jayne drama, I still hadn’t found out why Blake left his old school.

Even so, for once, this experience with love was turning out to be truly worth it. I definitely wanted to take the chance with Blake — there was no possibility of looking before leaping into this relationship, no more hesitation at all.

“It’s too bad you couldn’t stop by Rich’s last night,” said Blake.

“Yeah, I had to open the café today. Anna switched with me so I could go to Danny’s barbecue,” I replied, yawning. The massive amount of coffee I consumed that AM was wearing off. Neither Marnie or Gigi were very happy about not getting to go to Rich’s little gathering, but I didn’t feel like shirking my responsibilities at the café. I was on the phone with Blake until 2 am last night as it was. “When did you guys finally crash?”

“We passed out about three o’clock.” Blake yawned too.

Recently, I found my life revolving around the hours I spent with Blake, or on the phone with him. I used up a lot of the rest of my time fantasizing about when we were going to see each other and what we were going to do.

I’d already gone further with Blake than with any other guy, and I was pretty sure I wanted to go all the way. I was determined to live in the moment. We had the summer together, the last summer before we were seniors. Next year we graduated and would get on with our lives in the real world. It felt the right time to do something major.

Halfway to the party, I snapped out of my daydream when Blake asked, “Where do you think you’ll go to college next year? Maybe we should apply to some of the same schools.”

This caught me by surprise.

“Yeah, I still don’t know where I’m applying yet. We have months to think about it.” I uncharacteristically evaded the question.

Whoa, I thought to myself, I’m so not ready to share my plans to leave. Blake’s family tied him to Westlake. I knew, deep down I just knew, that I was going to one coast or the other. Curiously, just as quickly, I felt pulled in the complete opposite direction, back towards Blake, and said, “I’m definitely applying to State.” I knew what was expected of me if I wanted to keep on being his girlfriend.

“Yeah, I’m going to apply to State, too. A lot of our class will probably end up there.”

We fell silent for a minute.

“But with your grades, you could probably go to any school you wanted to,” Blake said pointedly when I didn’t say anything else. “I’d miss you if you went too far away,” he added wryly.

“We could both always join the Peace Corps,” I suggested, and laughed so Blake would know I wasn’t completely serious. I really wanted to change the subject.

“Yeah, maybe,” Blake said in a bored voice. He didn’t sound too enthused about volunteering.

I stared out the window of the car, watching trees and more and more manicured, landscaped estates and farms zip by in a blur the farther we got from town. God, we’re going fast, I thought.

Should I tell him to slow it down? I wondered, hesitating. I don’t want him to think I’m a baby. I silently debated the point for another five seconds before natural instinct took over.

“Uh, Blake, do you mind slowing down a little? You’re scaring me,” I said slightly breathlessly.

“Oh, come on, Emma, I’m only going 85!” Blake laughed. “This car rides really nice over 80 miles an hour. And I’m stoked with this stretch of road. We have it all to ourselves.”

I saw a flash of black and blue out of the corner of my eye and didn’t think we did.

It happened so fast Blake didn’t have a chance to slow down. Out of nowhere, a police car appeared, lights flashing and siren blaring.

“Shit!” Blake swore loudly. “Do I have to stop or should I try to outrun them?” he asked me in all seriousness, speeding up slightly.

I gave Blake an unbelievable look. This guy plays too many video games, I thought in disbelief.

“Stop!” I cried out, petrified with fear as soon as I heard the sirens. “Blake, you have to stop,” I insisted. “What’s the worst they could do, give you a ticket?”

Blake hesitated for a second. “I guess you’re right,” he relented, slowing down.

We pulled over to the side of the road, the cop car coming up behind us. An extremely large and intimidating policewoman got out of the black and blue car and approached Blake’s Porsche.

“License and registration, please,” the cop demanded, sternly.

“Yes, officer,” Blake replied brightly. As he turned towards me to reach into the glove compartment for the registration, I saw a flicker of fear in his eyes. He popped open the glove box, shifted some stuff around and momentarily looked relieved, then pulled out the papers and handed them to the cop.

“Do you have any idea how fast you were going, Mr. Worthing?” the policewoman asked, a hostile note in her voice. Judging by Blake’s expensive sports car, she undoubtedly thought he was just another wealthy wiseass.

“Yes, officer, I was going about ninety miles an hour,” Blake answered politely. I guess he knew good manners and breeding worked miracles and the young punk act wouldn’t. “It’s so exciting to drive this car, I couldn’t help going fast. The engine is a V-8 with 380 horsepower and I didn’t see any other drivers around…” Blake trailed off lamely. “I was just having some fun, really,” he finished with a charming cocky grin.

The policewoman wasn’t moved by Blake’s speech — or the smile. “Well, it’s going to be fun for me to write you this ticket! The speed limit on this road is 45 miles an hour.” She quickly finished filling out the paperwork, and handed Blake the bill for his joyriding.

Blake took the ticket grimly and said, “Yes, officer, it won’t happen again.”

The policewoman gave him one last withering look, then returned to her car and drove away.

I glanced at Blake for some sort of reaction, but he didn’t say anything, only just shoved the parking ticket and registration into the glove box with barely a glance.

“How much was it for?” I wanted to know.

“Oh, I don’t know, $150 or so,” Blake said carelessly. “So, are you ready to party?” He reached towards me and grabbed my hand with his, using both of our hands to shift gears back onto the road.

I couldn’t believe Blake wasn’t pissed about having to pay all of that money. “Yeah,” I said, smiling incredulously. “It’s gonna be a great time.”

Blake raced off again, and I tried to forget the speeding ticket, the college questions, whether or not I liked Blake enough to continue getting serious — all of it. We were headed to one of the best graduation parties that year, and I wanted to be in top form. I forced a smile and tried to get excited about the party.

I’m not going to give any more thought to whether Blake and I are going too fast, I vowed.

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