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Page 37

He smiled and started the car, pulling into the street. “Okay.”

Dimple’s mouth was dry. She’d never, ever done something like this before. To give herself something to do, she glanced sideways at Rishi and said, “You forgot the book.” She set A Wrinkle in Time in the center console. “You’re not going to look it up on the Internet and read the CliffsNotes, are you?”

He laughed. “No, I’m really looking forward to reading this. I have a theory: Charles Wallace is a killer robot.”

Dimple stared at him. “A . . . killer robot.”

“What? You said it’s sci-fi, right?”

Dimple groaned. “Hai Ram, not every sci-fi has to have a killer robot in it, Rishi Patel. Just read it.”

“I don’t see the point if there aren’t any killer robots, but okay,” Rishi said, and Dimple thought, I love the way your eyes twinkle when you’re messing around.

About fifteen minutes later, Rishi pulled over. “This is it, Bernal Heights.” Across the street, an old homeless man was yelling at thin air in a flat Boston accent. Rishi wondered what his story was; how someone from Boston ended up there, a fifty-something-year-old street person. His story would probably make an interesting comic. Everything’s not a story, Rishi , Pappa would say. Your head is in the clouds again.

Rishi got out of the car and held Dimple’s door open. Her face shone, pink-and-gold-tinged in the setting sun. She looked . . . excited. Rishi tried not to get his hopes up.

He’d obviously read this whole thing wrong. He’d thought the kiss meant that Dimple was conflicted; that maybe he could win her over even though she’d said this was a non-date. That obviously hadn’t worked to his advantage. She’d been aloof on and off through dinner, and he was fairly sure she saw his gifts as over the line. Ugh. Rishi still felt the echo of the sting of rejection, even though she hadn’t said anything outright. Well, he wasn’t going to give her the chance. From now on he’d be friendly and nothing more. That was his new motto: Friend. Amigo. Dost.

“It’s this way, I think . . . ,” Dimple said, walking forward, looking down at her phone.

Rishi looked around. They were walking along a winding path on one of the many hills in San Francisco, bordered on one side by green grass and on the other by squat houses, a road, and parked cars. Karl the Fog swirled, ever present. “So now are you going to tell me where are we? What’s here?”

Dimple smiled at him and put her phone away. Pushing a curl off her forehead, she said, “Just keep walking.”

CHAPTER 34

That was easier said than done. Bernal Heights definitely lived up to its name—Rishi’s thighs were burning from scaling the thing. It felt like they should have special equipment. But Dimple apparently wanted them to climb this giant hill, so Rishi did, with minimal grunting.

By the time they got to the top the sun was dipping lower, smearing the sky with color, and Rishi was trying his best not to look like he was dying. Which, you know, was hard to do when he was bent over, wheezing, with sweat dripping into his eyes. Crap. He was sweating. Did he smell? Rishi was dipping his head in what he hoped was a surreptitious way to sniff at his armpit when Dimple grabbed his arm and said, “Look!”

He straightened up. “Ho-ly crap.” They had a 360-degree view of San Francisco’s seven-by-seven-mile beauty.

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