About the Author:
a thing like the rest of the house. Maybe at one point his mother had had a
hand in decorating it, but it was hard to tell because of the lengths he must
have gone to cover it up. The bones of the room were strong and masculine:
solid, wooden furniture stained a dark, deep cherry. But besides the furniture,
the rest of the room appeared to be one giant battle against any influence of
a soft shade of green, were plastered over with posters of people and old,
rusty road signs. The far wall above his bed was almost entirely covered with
instruments. I didn’t recognize most of them, but there were a few of them that
I could name: a couple of guitars, a mandolin.
to the wall.
little,” Penn said, glancing up from his speakers. “But I’m only really good at
a few. Mostly I play the guitar.”
but most of the surfaces were covered in discarded clothes and towels.
Apparently Rosa didn’t pick up the laundry in his room the way she did for
glancing at the photographs that covered the mirror above the gigantic set of
dresser drawers. There were pictures of Penn at the beach, and of him playing
the guitar in front of a roaring bonfire. There were pictures of him clustered
amid groups of his friends. I searched their faces, trying to recognize the
girl from the swimming pool, but none of them seemed familiar.
you out with Amos Lee since you liked Ray LaMontagne so much.”
playing, sounding as if it was coming from all four corners of his room.
the piano, both familiar yet totally new. It was always enchanting to hear a
new composition after hearing the same ones year after year, and this one was
no exception. The notes were lonely, full of melancholy that reminded me a bit
of one of Beethoven’s sonatas. But I wasn’t prepared for the ache I would feel
once the singing started. I took a shuddering breath.
mouth I wouldn’t be able to speak. I closed my eyes again and let myself drift
into the music. It wasn’t until the song faded out and I opened my eyes again
that I realized Penn was sitting next to me. He was staring at me again, that
same puzzled expression on his face.
before he could ask me again if I was all right.
favorites. Who would have guessed I’d have the same taste in music as a pet
from Greenwich Kennels?” It was the first time he’d mentioned my past without
down on the bed next to me, pushing a notebook and a pair of pants onto the
“Here, you can scoot over if you want.”
the music. Both of us sat perfectly still and listened to the strum of the
guitar and the beat of the drums that played underneath like a heartbeat. Next
to me, I could feel the heat of Penn’s leg seeping through the fabric of my
dress, making my thigh burn.
the bursts of gold inside his eyes, but all I could think about was that kiss,
the way his lips had felt against mine. So soft. So warm. I wanted to feel that
again. I closed my eyes.
scooted away from me, but not fast enough. His father threw the door open.
us. “I looked all over the house for you, Ella. Didn’t you hear me calling?”
have heard you,” I said, “I’m terribly sorry, Master.”
cringe. I should have remembered that I wasn’t to use that word, but I was so
nervous, and the Congressman’s face was flushed and red, distracting me. I
couldn’t think straight.
were you thinking, taking her up here?”
It’s not like I—”
you to introduce her to. If I remember correctly, you need to be focusing on
catching up on your school work, not wasting time listening to songs.”
Congressman didn’t seem at all interested.
waiting in the conservatory to meet Ella. I’ve wasted ten minutes looking for
her, so I really don’t have time for your excuses right now.”
elbow and led me from the room, I chanced one last glance back at Penn.