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Page 45

But I think for him to let it go to waste—to never share it with the world—is what we should all be really afraid of. Because I truly think his art could change the world.

Anyway, hope that’s not too melodramatic. At LCC, Rishi was dressed as Aditya, an Indian Sun God superhero he’s been working on since he was fifteen. I’m attaching some of his sketches here. I hope you’ll see what I see when I look at them.

Rishi’s e-mail address is: [email protected]

Thanks,

Dimple Shah

Dimple had already attached the pictures she’d taken. All that was left was to press send. She took a deep breath. Her finger hovered over the button. Rishi would freak if he knew what she was doing. But he needed help. He needed a tiny nudge over to the other side, to show him what he was missing, what he could have. His parents weren’t going to do it; Ashish wouldn’t do it. That left her. Dimple wasn’t doing Rishi a favor, she was doing the world a favor.

So she pressed the button and listened to the swoosh that meant it was on its way to Leo. Dimple sat back, trembling slightly, half afraid, half ecstatic, the background noises that had been muted fading back in and crashing over her.

There was no going back now. She’d just have to wait and see how this unraveled.

The line in the bathroom was long, everyone getting ready for the weekend, and by the time Rishi was finished with the shower and brushing his teeth, it was seven thirty. “Crap,” he said as soon as he walked into his room and saw the clock on his nightstand.

Ashish sprang up from the bed, stared at him for a moment, and then sat back down. “Dude, where have you been?”

“Did you text Dimple? Did my phone buzz?” Rishi speed walked over to where his phone was charging—as much as one could speed walk in a towel, anyway—and checked the phone. Besides one Coming down soon? text ten minutes ago, she hadn’t said anything else. “Crap, she’s probably mad.” He texted her quickly: Sorry, line in bathroom was crazy. Getting dressed now.

“Why didn’t you get my phone and text her?” Rishi opened the closet door for cover, let his towel slip, and climbed into his boxers and jeans.

“Oh yeah, because you’d be totally fine with me pawing through your phone.”

“I wouldn’t have cared this once. It’s a half hour past when we said we’d meet her, Ashish, come on.” Feeling that familiar pulsing annoyance behind his eyes, like an ever present headache when Ashish was around, Rishi pulled on a light sweater and stepped out from behind the closet door. “All right, let’s go.”

They walked downstairs, Ashish weirdly distracted. He kept looking at Rishi, but when Rishi looked at him, he’d look away quickly. “What?” Rishi asked finally, trying not to snap. “Why do you keep doing that?”

Ashish raised his eyebrows, that perpetual defensive set to his jaw slightly deepening. “Doing what? What am I doing wrong now? Breathing too slow? Blinking too fast?”

Rishi sighed. Sometimes it just wasn’t even worth it.

They walked out into the lobby, and Rishi’s gaze instantly landed on Dimple, like his body immediately sought out where she was. She had her phone in her hand and was turning it end on end, her expression halfway between dazed and happy. Her smile was adorable, just barely there, like she had a secret that was too good to keep to herself. She looked up then, saw him, and dropped her phone trying to stuff it in her bag. Rishi couldn’t help the smile that broke out on his face. He was so, so glad that he flustered her just like she flustered him.

He loped across the lobby, not waiting for Ashish anymore. “Hey,” he said when he was close enough, pulling her up gently by the arm. He kissed her nose. “I’m sorry it took me so long.”

“Oh, no problem.” Dimple smiled and pushed her glasses up on her nose, her eyes darting away like she was shy. Probably Ashish, making her uncomfortable about the PDA . “I got your text. And actually, Celia isn’t here either. I couldn’t find her. Did she come up to your room?” She looked from him to Ashish, who had finally caught up.

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