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My heart pounded wildly as my boyfriends lips touched mine. For a minute I completely forgot that we were sitting in his car outside thebuilding where I lived. I just closed my eyes and kissed him.
"Mmm." I sighed as his fingers brushed the kin at the back of my neck. Sometimes I couldn't believe that Matt Fowler was my :'Boyfriend. Sure, I'd dated lots of guys, but Matt wasdifferent. He really understood me. And okay, he was gorgeous. Piercing blue eyes. Wavy brown hair. athletic body from playing wide receiver for the South Central Lions.
I wanted to keep kissing him, but Matt pulled back.Hold that thought till we get upstairs," he said as he turned off the engine of his Jeep.
"Right."I jumped out of the car and tugged on my backpack. "Race ya!" I cried, and ran toward the apartment building.
"No way! You have a head start!" Matt shouted as he charged behind me.
Ever since football season ended, this was our after-school ritual. Matt would drive me home and hang out at my apartment for a while. My mom worked as a junior-high guidance counselor and usuallygot home a few hours after us.
"Gotcha!" Matt rushed up the stairs and gave me a huge bear hug as I keyed my way into the apartment.
I turned in his arms to hug him back. "Yeah, but I let you catch me."
"You always do that. It's no challenge at all. Now a two-hundred pound linebacker, that's a challenge." He lifted me off the ground and hauled me into the apartment. I laughed as Matt kicked thedoor closed and gently tossed me onto the couch."So ... where's Dan?" he asked.
Wiggling out of my backpack, I glanced toward my brother's room down the hall. Dan wastwenty years old and had quit college to start a business online. At the moment his old bedroom was hisheadquarters. I usually could tell if he was home by the monitor glow (or lack thereof) coming from his room. "No glow," I replied. "He must be out.
A dark curl fell over Matt's forehead as he flashed me a conspiratorial look. "Does that mean we're actually alone?"
I gazed at Matt and smiled. "So what do you want to do?" I asked, nuzzling and kissing his neck.
"Let's celebrate with a double bacon cheeseburger," he replied.
I pushed him away. "You're kidding, right?"
"Uh-huh," Matt pulled me closer and kissed me passionately on the lips. Then he stopped.
"What?" I asked.
"Well, now that I mentioned it, I am kind of hungry."
I sighed and got off the couch. "Okay," I said, going into the kitchen. "But that would be minus the bacon and the burger. Mom purged the fridge of meat a few weeks ago when she went through thatwhole macrobiotic thing."
"How could I forget?" Matt asked, peering into a fridge filled with tofu and vegetables.
I glanced at the counter and noticed the stack of letters and ads on the table. "Dan must have brought in the mail," I said. I was leafing through it when I saw a familiar seal on a returnaddress. "Oh, my God."
Matt placed a small container of soy milk on the counter as I stared at the crisp envelope.
"University of Miami?" he read aloud. "Whoa. Do you think it's about your scholarship?"
"I don't know," I said nervously as I ripped open the envelope. I had received an early acceptance from Miami, but I'd been waiting to hear about a scholarship. The Witker Grant. Mom planned topay my tuition, but there was no way she could afford all the other costs: room and board, books.... I really needed that grant. If I got it, I could go to the school of my dreams. If I didn't, mylife was pretty much over. "This is it-my whole destiny, folded in this thin envelope." I winced, turning it in my hand. "Shouldn't it be fatter? Filled with forms and stuff?"
"That's the rule for admissions letters," Matt said. "Scholarships are different, I think." He touched my shoulder. "Go on, read it. I'm sure you got it. Who could be more perfect than you forthat grant?
My hands were shaking as I took out the few pages and unfolded the cover letter. My eyes skimmed the first few lines. "Thank you for applying . . ." I read aloud. "Looking forward to seeing you inSeptember. . . ." My heart pounding, I skipped ahead. "Unfortunately, scholarship funds are limited and we received an overwhelming number of qualified applicants this year. Thus the
University of Miami is unable to offer you the Witker Grant at this time." I collapsed onto a kitchen chair. "They turned me down."
"It's not so bad. It's just for the scholarship," Matt said sympathetically as he rubbed my shoulders. "They still want you. They even sent forms for you to sign up for room and board."
"But without that grant, I can't afford room and board." I tried not to sound whiny, but it's hard to be upbeat when your dreams are slipping through your fingers. "I can't believe it. I wonder ifI can appeal to the committee or something."
"Who knows?" Matt sat down beside me and reread the letter. "You should ask your mother."