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This Unfamiliar Road

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Aly knows she killed it when she steps off the floor mat. It's humming in her bones, the way it only hits her in competition even if she has more technically perfect routines in practice sometimes.

She hugs her teammates and her coach, but it's quick, for form only; she wants to run laps around the building to get the jitters out.

Before anything has faded they're announcing her final scores, and everyone is screaming because it's enough to push her over into qualifying for the individual all-around, which - she didn't even dare hope that would happen, really. Everyone is so good, and she thought maybe if she was absolutely on her game she'd be third instead of fourth, but this, this is beyond her wildest expectations.

She can't help bursting into tears, it's just the outcome you get when these things happen.

It doesn't even hit her until later, after she's had a quick television interview, that if she made it, someone else didn't.

Jordyn is standing a little bit off to the side, crying, but not happy tears. She looks devastated. She puts her hands up over her face and rubs at her temples, then wipes the tears away with tight angry flicks of her wrists.

Aly isn't happy anymore. Well, she's still happy, of course she's happy and proud of herself, but seeing Jordyn so upset, when everyone thought Jordyn was a lock, was the favorite, when Jordyn was so intimidatingly good at Worlds, it's shocking.

They eventually pull Jordyn aside for her own interview, and Aly hangs back a bit, hoping to listen unobtrusively so she doesn't end up being spotted but can still overhear things.

"Of course I wanted that spot but I wanted Aly to do her best," Jordyn says at one point, which is, like, terrible. She wanted Jordyn to do her best, too, of course she did.

When she's done Jordyn shoulders her backpack and hurries out. Kyla and McKayla are whispering excitedly, and Gabby is looking for something she dropped, and no one is going after Jordyn. She takes a step in that direction, and then Gabby calls her name, and she turns back.

Jordyn probably wants to be alone anyway.

On the bus back to the Village, Aly busies herself checking her phone for messages. Everyone else is alternately celebrating and discussing what they'll need to fix for the finals, but it feels weird to celebrate beating her teammate.

She lets her parents know she's just heading back to the hotel, and then that she's tired and will probably go to bed. She might or might not actually go to bed anytime soon, but there are things it's easier to share with her teammates. Tomorrow she'll accept hugs and coaching suggestions and whatever else from her parents.

"Hey," Gabby says, leaning over and trying to look at her phone. "Are you talking to the hockey hottie?"

"Oh my gosh did he, like, text you? That's so awesome!" McKayla says, turning around to lean over the seat in front of them and trying to read her phone upside-down.

"I'm talking to my parents!" Aly says. "I haven't checked anything yet."

"It would be so great if he did. You should check now," Gabby says.

Aly flips over to look at twitter, where there are a lot of nice messages about her performance, and one direct message from Tyler Seguin, her favorite hockey player.

"You got something!" Kyla says, giggling, and Aly hadn't even noticed her leaning in.

"What does it say?" Gabby demands.

"He just says 'congrats'," Aly says.

"With how many exclamation points?" McKayla asks.

"Three," Aly says.

"Oh my gosh! Three!" Kyla says. "Is that good?"

"I think so," Gabby says.

"He's like, really attractive," McKayla says.

Aly pictures him for a minute in her head. He is really attractive.

"You have to write back!" Gabby says.

"You should think about it, make sure it's exactly the right thing to say," McKayla says. "You don't want to say something he'll think is dumb."

"Oh my gosh, no," Kyla says. "Boys are tough."

They pile out of the van and head up into the Village.

"I'm going to re-paint my toenails," Kyla says.

"Oh, me too!" McKayla says.

"Good idea! I'll come," Gabby says.

"I'm going to go check on Jordyn," Aly says.

"Oh, okay," Gabby says. "I could come."

"I'll call you guys or something, if she wants company, or I'll come over if she wants to be alone, okay?"

"Okay! You go be a good roommate and responsible captain and stuff," McKayla says.

"Yeah, we'll save you nail polish if you want it for later," Kyla says.

"Sounds good!" Aly says. She gives them all a hug and then heads up to her and Jordyn's room.

The lights are low, and she doesn't see Jordyn right away - there's no music playing or television, the bathroom door is open, too. Then she realizes Jordyn is curled up under all the blankets on her bed.

"Hey, are you awake?" Aly asks, low, because if she's not awake she doesn't want to wake her up, and her coaches always told her that whispers carry farther than talking in a normal voice.

There's no response. Aly dumps her bag on her bed and toes her shoes off next to it, then she dumps her warmup jacket on her bed too and puts on some pajama pants instead. She's not feeling particularly jittery anymore; this is probably the fastest a post-meet crash has happened to her.

She crouches down next to Jordyn's bed and peers at her face. Her eyes are open, and there are tear streaks on her cheeks.

"Hi," Aly says.

"Hey," Jordyn says.

Aly leans forward, resting her elbows on the mattress. Jordyn pulls back the covers, just a little bit, and Aly scrambles onto the bed, tucking herself in next to Jordyn before she can change her mind.

"Everyone else is painting nails, Kyla has the nail polish," Aly says, still softly.

Jordyn shakes her head. She's lying on her side, and Aly can feel her hair brush across her shoulder.

"I'm sorry," Aly says, even softer, maybe so soft Jordyn can't hear her, but she can't bring herself to say it louder.

"Not your fault," Jordyn says. Her voice is kind of hoarse, and Aly feels a tear drop on her shoulder.

She reaches over and wraps both arms around Jordyn, pulling her in so she's lying half on top of her. She's crying harder, shoulders shaking, getting Aly's shirt all wet.

Aly doesn't know what to say, because she can't go back and change what's already happened, and it's not like anything she can say will fix this, so she just holds tighter.

::

Aly wakes up super hot, which is confusing until she realizes she's still curled up with Jordyn under all the blankets. She shifts a little and kicks the covers off, which wakes Jordyn up.

"Sorry, I was just hot," Aly says. "Go back to sleep."

But Jordyn is already stretching over to the end table, grabbing her phone and checking the time. "Maybe we should get up, have some breakfast," she says.

"We do have to practice before we watch the boys," Aly says.

Jordyn sits up, and Aly follows. "You want first shower?"

"No, you can go," Aly says.

"Okay," Jordyn says. She grabs some things out of her suitcase, then comes back to stand in front of Aly. "I'm proud of you, okay? You were amazing, you'll be amazing."

Aly gets her phone out and fiddles with it while Jordyn is in the shower. She never replied to Tyler last night; she sends him a quick 'thanks' and then tosses her phone back onto her bed.

Their practice goes well, but then they go watch the boys crash and burn and she can't help but feeling weird about the whole thing. The boys were in top spot and made some mistakes, which is exactly the same thing that could happen to them, tomorrow. And she was already feeling some pressure to prove she deserved her spot in the individual all-around. This makes it worse.

::

Jordyn vaults first, and Aly sits back and crosses her arms so her hands don't shake. She's supposed to be the leader but she's so nervous, and she's not vaulting but she should be standing up there, cheering everyone on.

Jordyn's good, solid take-off, good form, only a little motion on the landing. Her score is high, too, slightly higher than the qualifying, and Aly lets out a little breath, hugs her when she comes back. It'll be okay.

Gabby's vault is really good, and she's all smiles when she comes down the stairs. And then McKayla kicks butt, she's almost perfect, and Aly feels something in her heart unclench. They can totally do this. They'll be fine.

There are some wobbles on the uneven bars and the Russians manage to bring their scores closer, but their beam routines are all good, and they absolutely knock it out of the park on the floor exercises. She can't help but cry as she runs over to her girls.

Everyone is all smiles, and she saves Jordyn's hug for last so she can pull her in close and give her an extra squeeze.

"You were awesome," she says.

"No, you were awesome," Jordyn says back.

"Okay, we can both be awesome," Aly says, laughing. Everything is beautiful. They sleep with their medals under their pillows.

::

It's completely surreal to talk to President Obama on the phone, and even more surreal to see all the activity on twitter about them, from Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift, among others.

"I think we need to have a dance party," Gabby says.

They can't turn the music up too high because people living around them have all sorts of other sleeping schedules, but it's still really fun. Aly ends up jumping around in between Jordyn and McKayla, holding Jordyn's hands, and she's just so happy, smiling so hard her face hurts.

A day later it's all different, because Gabby rocks everything and wins gold, and Aly screws up just enough to lose bronze on a tie break.

"You were awesome," Aly says, pulling Gabby into a hug. "You deserve this, you earned this."

"You should be proud," Gabby says in return. "You weren't even going to be here, and you got fourth."

"Oh gosh, Jordyn," Aly says. She looks around but can't see her in the stands anywhere. They head back to the Village and it's all crowded, tons of excited athletes mixing together in the common areas.

"Dance party?" Gabby suggests. Aly heads up to her room and they hang out for a bit, but she's really feeling beat.

"You look like you're sleeping," Gabby says.

"I'm really tired, sorry, I think I'm going to go to bed," Aly says. "Tomorrow, you want to go do something out?"

"I want to ride the giant ferris wheel," Gabby says.

"The Eye? Let's do that for sure. Maybe we can do some window shopping, too."

"Okay, awesome. We can meet up at breakfast. Sleep well."

"You too," Aly says. She grabs Gabby into another quick hug, then heads over to her own room. Jordyn isn't there either, but Aly can't really wait up for her to come back.

Of course then she gets into bed and can't fall asleep. She keeps replaying the routines over and over in her head, all the tiny things she could have done better to get an extra hundredth of a point and not have to go to a tie break.

"Hey," Jordyn says, and she hadn't even heard her come in.

"Hi," Aly says.

"Gabby said you were sleeping."

"I'm so tired but I can't," Aly says, sitting up. "I just - I can't let it go."

"Shove over." Jordyn climbs in her bed next to her and grabs her hand, twining their fingers together. "You have to let it go so you can sleep, hun. You have more competition, and you can't be thinking about this stuff and still do well there."

"I know," Aly says. "But..."

"Did you reply to your hot hockey player?" Jordyn asks after a brief silence.

"Yeah. We talked a bit. Not tonight, but before."

"I never watched much hockey."

"It's so great, you totally need to come visit me and go to a Bruins game together. It's a really fast game, they go up and down the ice all the time."

"Okay, I'll come visit you," Jordyn says. "Why is Tyler your favorite player?"

"Well, he's young, and really hot, although he has this kind of dumb tattoo now, but he has a really cute puppy, and he's so friendly to all the different people on twitter. And also he's good at hockey, he just - the way he skates, he," she has to pause to yawn. "It's beautiful. You should come watch. You'll see."

"What kind of puppy?" Jordyn asks.

"Chocolate lab." She yawns again. "It's named Marshall, it's so adorable. I think I can sleep now."

"Good," Jordyn says.

"Thanks," Aly says.

"Of course. I'm so proud of you, Aly."

Aly means to reply to that, but she falls asleep before she can.

::

They all turn out to watch McKayla on vault, of course. Aly brings her iPad because she promised to record the vaults, and also a tiny bit because she might need something to do in the breaks - she loves watching gymnastics but there's downtime sometimes during competition and when she isn't on the floor competing it can get a little boring.

Jordyn sits next to her and reaches out for her hand when the first vaulter goes up. Aly twines their fingers together and rests her other hand in her lap, on top of the iPad. When McKayla vaults they’ll probably all hold hands, for luck, and because it helps a lot to have something to squeeze. She usually holds her breath, too; the vault happened so fast that it was possible to do that.

The first couple vaulters are good. “McKayla can so do better,” Kyla says, leaning over to whisper in her ear.

“Yeah,” Aly says. She didn’t want to be too excited about it in case there were fans of the other girls sitting in front of them.

Jordyn is rubbing her thumb slowly back and forth over Aly’s hand. It;s probably some kind of nervous habit but it's a little bit distracting, making her feel all tingly. Still, she doesn’t pull away, even when it's time to record McKayla. She props her foot up on the chair in front of her and Kyla helps her hold the iPad steady.

Jordyn reaches over to grab Gabby’s hand and they all kind of lean in a little bit. Jordyn stops moving her fingers and just holds tight, almost digging her nails in a little bit.

And then McKayla sits down on the landing.

“Oh,” Gabby says.

“That’s not,” Kyla says.

“She’ll still get a medal,” Aly says, because she will, her other vault was good, and her form is so good and she's McKayla, no way she isn’t medaling.

“Yeah, but not gold,” Gabby says.

“Silver is good. Bronze is good,” Jordyn says, and her fingers are tight on Aly’s hand. Aly almost wants to protest but she looks at Jordyn’s face and didn’t say anything.

“Of course they are!” Kyla says.

“I just thought McKayla was gold for sure,” Gabby says.

“Sometimes things happen,” Jordyn says. Her grip is so tight Aly can’t help wincing, and she drops Aly’s hand immediately. “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Aly says. She takes Jordyn’s hand again. “You can hold my hand whenever, okay?”

Jordyn squeezes her hand, but just lightly, and smiles. “Okay,” she says. “Guys, we still love McKayla no matter what, right?”

“She’s my best friend,” Kyla says.

“Of course we do,” Gabby says.

“She’s team,” Aly says.

::

After, when Aly has the bronze she’d had to challenge for on the beam and the gold she won outright on floor, and they have time to wander around London more and catch all the other sports (“Oh my god, volleyball! Basketball! Soccer!” Gabby says. “I mean, football!”), and they try and fail to have swimming races because the pool is always closed when they go down (which made McKayla make her angry face again, but they all made faces too and took pictures and it was funny), and they go to the closing ceremonies (which were awesome)...

After all of that, Aly stands looking out of the window in their room. She has to get up so early to fly home, and she could sleep on the plane but she should really do some sleeping first, now, and she can’t.

“I can’t believe this is over,” Jordyn says, stepping up to stand next to her and wrap an arm around her waist.

“Me either,” Aly says. “I’ve waited for this my whole life.”

“Yeah,” Jordyn says. “Me too.”

“What do we do now?”

“Well, we have to hang out, right?”

“You need to come visit me in Boston,” Aly says.

“Obviously. I’ve never been there, what fun things can we do?”

“Everything,” Aly says.

“Okay, that sounds good then.”

“And Gabby and McKayla and Kyla have to come, too, for like a reunion tour,” Aly says.

“Oh,” Jordyn says. Her hand tightens briefly on Aly’s hip.

“What?”

“That’ll be fun, I’ll miss them too.”

“Plus McKayla and I haven’t had our swimming race yet.”

“Is there a beach we could go to?”

“Yeah,” Aly says. “For sure. Maybe we’d drive a bit, but there’s definitely beaches.”

“Then we meet up and you and McKayla swim and we can do whatever else. It will be awesome.”

“But no hockey, unless you don’t come until winter, which is too far away and also it’s too cold to swim at the beach in winter.”

“I guess I could visit more than once,” Jordyn says. “If you really want me to.”

“Oh my gosh, I want you to visit all the time. Every day. I miss you already just thinking about it,” Aly says.

Jordyn shifts so she can rest her head against Aly’s shoulder. “Me too,” she says.

::

There’s a lot of planning that goes into visits, especially when it turns out that McKayla and Kyla’s moms are going to come too because they’ve never been to Boston (and maybe they think their daughters need a chaperon or something, which is crazy).

And then Gabby calls her up and says she can’t come. “But why not?” Aly asks. “You and Jordyn were going to stay here, and we were going to have so much fun.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to, okay? But my dad is coming home.”

“Oh! Of course, oh my gosh you totally have to see him. That is, I’m sorry, you should come next time and I’ll miss you a ton and I love you but have fun with your dad, okay?”

“I love you too, and I’m totally coming to visit or you can come visit me, just not this week.”

“Okay, we can all come visit you next! That would be so fun,” Aly says. “And Jordyn or Kyla can call you during our race so you can hear all about how I’m beating McKayla.”

“Yay! And maybe you can have a rematch next time.”

“I won’t need a rematch,” Aly says.

“McKayla might,” Gabby says.

“Oh, true. Okay! We’ll do that, then. And seriously, have a great time, and I miss you, and hug your mom for me and everything.”

“I will, Aly.”

After she hangs up the phone, a little sad but happy for Gabby all the same, she checks twitter. They’ve all been talking about their plans all week on twitter, and she has to let everyone know that Gabby isn’t coming.

And then she sees the message from Tyler Seguin, about how they should hang out, and after she replies ‘of course’ she freaks out. Actually meeting him in person is... she doesn’t even know how to describe it.

"OH MY GOD Tyler Seguin said we should hang out at the beach! You have to come, okay, we're going when you are here, what should I wear? I need new things to wear I have nothing awesome enough,” she babbles as soon as Jordyn picks up the phone.

“You should wear a swimsuit,” Jordyn says.

“But I hate all of them. We have to go shopping. Oh man okay we aren’t hanging out with him right away so there’s plenty of time to go to the mall or whatever,” Aly says.

“I’m sure we can get something great. Gabby can help, she’s really good at shopping,” Jordyn says.

“Noooo but Gabby isn’t coming! She has to stay home because her dad is coming home. Which is awesome for her, but what will I do for fashion?” Aly says.

“We can handle it! McKayla and Kyla are still coming right? And I’m coming! We’ll get something awesome, and he’ll be so impressed.”

“Impressed?”

“Attracted to you? I don’t know, what are we going for here?” Jordyn asks.

“I don’t know! Okay, I’ll figure it out before you get here so we can use our shopping time most efficiently.”

::

Way too soon it is beach time, and they’re all piling into Aly’s car. Her mom is going downtown with McKayla and Kyla’s moms to do some kind of sightseeing, so it’s just them. It feels weird not to have Gabby in the car too but they’d skyped with her yesterday and she looked awesome and happy.

They sing along to various pop songs in the car, and they’re at the beach before they know it. McKayla immediately jumps out and runs down the sand to fling herself into the water, and the rest of them gather up everything they brought before following at a more sedate pace.

“Come on, slow pokes!” McKayla shouts. Aly scans the beach, which is moderately crowded, but doesn’t see any sign of Tyler. She is pretty sure she’d recognize him in person after all the times she’s looked at pictures of him online and seen him play.

“Are we racing first?” Aly asks.

“Start here, swim to where Jordyn is?” Kyla suggests, waving at a buoy down the beach some.

“Yeah,” McKayla says.

Aly wades out into the water; it’s cold, but not that cold, and she dunks her head under, getting everything all wet. She’s so ready.

“Set?” Kyla asks. They both nod at her, and she drops her arm, like some kind of racing professional. “Go!”

Aly’s not a swimmer but she loves to swim, and it feels good to stretch out her muscles in the water and just go fast. She reaches Jordyn first, barreling into her and knocking her over in the water, and they’re both laughing hysterically when McKayla arrives.

“I win!” Aly says.

“Best two out of three?” McKayla asks.

“Okay,” Aly says. They shake on it, and Jordyn counts them off and sends them back to Kyla. McKayla gets there first, shooting past Kyla in the water and then doubling back to grin at Aly.

“Now you have to go again,” Kyla says. “But I think Tyler’s here. We could do it later.”

“Now,” McKayla says. “I’m warmed up, and maybe Aly’s tired.”

Aly scans the crowd and sees Tyler, who waves at her and starts to head towards the water. “Now. I just let you have that last one.”

“Ready?” Kyla asks. They both line up and head out. Knowing Tyler’s watching, it makes her want to swim even faster. Her lungs are straining but she pushes faster, grabs for Jordyn and feels her hand grabbing back.

“Well?” McKayla demands, shaking her hair back and adjusting the straps of her bikini.

“It was super close,” Jordyn says, but she raises Aly’s hand in the air, and Aly grins at her.

“Boo,” McKayla says.

“Best of five?” Aly suggests. “Or, rematch next time, and we make Gabby judge?”

“I’m going to practice and blow you out of the water,” McKayla promises.

“We’ll see,” Aly says.

“Aly?” says a voice behind her, and she drops Jordyn’s hand and spins around.

It’s Tyler Seguin for real, no fooling, standing hip deep in the ocean in front of her. She can see his tattoos up close.

“Hi! Tyler!” she says, and reaches a hand out, like she’s going to shake his or something. He pulls her in for a hug instead, which she wasn’t expecting but is kind of awesome. He’s way hotter in person than in photos.

“It’s great to meet you,” he says.

“Oh my gosh, likewise,” she says.

“Volleyball?” Jordyn asks, coming up behind her and wrapping her arms around her waist.

“I like volleyball,” Tyler says. “I brought some friends, I hope that’s cool. We can split into teams.”

“Me too, obviously,” Aly says, gesturing behind her to where Kyla and McKayla are splashing each other.

Tyler smiles, and seriously he’s so hot. It’s sunny but she shivers slightly, and he’s not looking at her face, he’s staring lower. At first she thinks it’s a little rude, but then Jordyn’s hands spread out wider on her stomach and his eyes widen, just a little bit, and that’s okay then.

“So how do you want to do teams?” Jordyn asks, hooking her chin over Aly’s shoulder.

“Tyler and Jesse will both play,” Tyler says.

“I’m going to swim instead, I think,” McKayla says.

“Me too,” Kyla says.

“Okay, so then the three of us against Tyler and Jesse?” Aly suggests.

“Are you good at volleyball? That might be unfair,” Tyler says.

“We’re both pretty short,” Jordyn says. “They’ll probably have an advantage even with just two.”

Jordyn actually has a pretty badass overhand serve, which Aly can’t pull off; she has to serve underhand.

“Learned it in gym class,” Jordyn says, after she serves an ace for the first time.

It evens out because neither of them can jump high enough to to reach the top of the net, and they stop counting points after the second time Tyler’s dog dashes between their legs and puts everyone down in the sand, laughing.

Jordyn sticks close all day, through more swimming, snacks (Aly totally planned ahead better than the boys because they have all kinds of awesome stuff to eat with them in a cooler), some frisbee, and an epic sandcastle.

Not that Aly minds, because yeah, she has this huge crush on Tyler and his friends are pretty cute too, but without Jordyn she’d probably have been super awkward and the whole thing would have been embarrassing and weird.

Jordyn refreshes her sunscreen for her and suggests fun things for everyone to do and keeps putting an arm around Aly or holding her hand or resting her hand on Aly’s back.

They stay out until the sun sets, but then the beach closes, and Tyler suggests heading for ice cream.

They end up hanging around outside with their cones. Kyla and McKayla clamber up onto the hood of the car, and Aly leans against the door, Jordyn relaxing next to her. They laugh at Tyler when his ice cream melts down his hand and he has to lick it off, and just generally talk about whatever happens to come up.

Aly totally loses track of time until Kyla leans against McKayla and yawns.

“Oh my gosh, do you need to go home?” Jordyn asks.

“No, I’m just going to sleep here,” Kyla says. “We should go camping or something, I like sleeping outside.”

“We do have early flights,” McKayla says.

“Not me,” Jordyn says, linking her arm with Aly’s.

“Yeah, yeah, staying longer, I see how it is,” Kyla says.

“Okay, I guess that’s our cue to head out,” Aly says.

“I’m glad we could meet up,” Tyler says.

“Me too, this was so fun,” Aly says.

Tyler holds his hand out, and she puts hers in it, not sure where this is going. He writes his phone number across the back of her hand. “We should do it again. Call me sometime.”

“Okay,” she says. “I’m really looking forward to hockey season.”

“Me too,” he says, and then he gives her a quick hug and turns to leave.

“Dude,” the other Tyler says. Tyler shoves him and he stumbles to the side, laughing.

“Boys are silly,” Kyla says, sliding off the hood of the car.

::

When they get home after dropping Kyla and McKayla off at the hotel, Jordyn waves to her parents but heads upstairs pretty much immediately after.

“Did you have fun?” her mom asks.

“Yeah. We swam and played a lot of beach volleyball and Tyler Seguin is really nice. Can we go to some Bruins games this year?”

“Probably we can,” her dad says.

“I think I’m going to go to bed, though, I’m pretty tired,” Aly says. “We ran around a lot.”

“Sleep well!” her mom says.

She kisses her dad and mom on the cheek and then goes upstairs. Jordyn is already hiding under the covers of her bed.

“Did you have fun?” Aly asks, tossing her swimsuit in the direction of the laundry and pulling on pajamas.

Jordyn hums. “Did you?”

“Yeah. I don’t think I honestly thought I’d really meet him until he showed up.” Aly climbs into the bed and pulls the covers over her. She has a full bed, but Jordyn is closer to the middle than the edge so they’re pretty close together.

“Are you gonna call him?”

“Do you think he’s too old for me?”

Jordyn shifts on her side and props her head up on her hand to look at Aly. “You’re eighteen,” she says.

“True.”

Jordyn scoots a bit closer. “So you can do what you want, if you want to call him.”

“Okay,” Aly says.

“Do you want to?”

“I don’t know,” Aly says.

“He is really hot,” Jordyn says. “Like, hotter than you said he was.”

“He is hotter in person, although part of that might have been his swimsuit.”

“Okay, well,” Jordyn says. She looks like she wants to say something else, but she doesn’t; instead she brings her hand towards Aly, and Aly grabs it in her own. Both of their fingers are a little bit sticky from ice cream, but she doesn’t let go.

“Well, what?” Aly asks.

Jordyn leans in so she’s almost on top of Aly and kisses her softly. Aly’s a little too surprised to kiss back, and Jordyn pulls back after a couple seconds.

“Sorry, um,” Jordyn says. It feels like she’s trying to pull her hand away, too, and Aly tightens her fingers, not letting her escape.

“No, wait,” she says. “What?”

“I just thought, I don’t know. You like Tyler, right? And I’m pretty sure he was totally into you, he was watching you the whole time.”

Aly shakes her head. “Maybe, but he was watching the way you were touching me more.”

“I, um, really?” Jordyn asks.

“I think so. Also guys totally find it hot when two girls are together,” Aly says. “I’m pretty sure.”

“I’ve heard that too,” Jordyn says. It’s hard to tell because the lights are off but Aly thinks she’s blushing.

“Listen,” Aly says. “You should kiss me again.”

“I should?” Jordyn asks.

“Definitely,” Aly says.

Jordyn leans in again, slowly, giving Aly plenty of time to back away, but Aly doesn’t want to. She raises her other hand to Jordyn’s shoulder and tugs a little bit.

Jordyn’s lips are soft, maybe because she wears lip gloss all the time, and she smells like summer, sunscreen and salt water and a bit of sweat and sand.

“Okay?” Aly asks, when she pulls back for a second time.

“Yeah,” Jordyn says. “Better than okay.”

“I'll probably call Tyler so we can hang out again,” Aly says.

Jordyn’s breath hitches and she squeezes Aly’s hand, but she doesn’t say anything.

“But also I’ll tell him that I’m dating someone.”

“You will?” Jordyn asks.

“If that’s okay with you,” Aly says.

“Yeah. Yes.” Jordyn kisses her again. “Definitely.”

“Good,” Aly says.