In Real Life

Free In Real Life by Jessica Love

Book: In Real Life by Jessica Love Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jessica Love
them or not. Either prospect is completely terrifying.
    â€œI don’t know if I can do this,” I say into Lo’s ear. “I’m freaking out over here. What if I don’t recognize him?”
    â€œHannah, you have a million pictures of him on your phone. You’ve video-chatted with him. Don’t be ridiculous. You’re going to recognize him.”
    She’s right—I know she is. But I need to look at a picture of him, just in case. My hand shakes at the thought of real-life Nick, though, and I have a hard time controlling my phone. I somehow manage to sort through my saved pictures until I find one of my favorites. He texted it to me a couple of months ago, when Alex found a stray dog wandering around the skate park and they brought him home. In the picture, Nick holds the dog they named Bobo—a schnauzer mix with a majestic mustache—close to his face as he licks Nick’s cheek. The picture catches Nick’s surprised laughter, and I can imagine the sound of his laugh in my ear—full and loud and sudden—when I look at it. His laugh always sounds like he’s having a much better time than anyone else in the room, and it makes me want to join in as soon as I hear it. In this picture, his light brown hair is spiked up in a faux hawk and his black glasses are sort of slipping down his nose, his eyes are crinkled on the side just enough, and he has this huge, genuine smile on his face. He’s absolutely beaming. I love this picture because it’s totally natural. I know this is how Nick looks when no one is watching.
    Lo peeks over my shoulder at the image on my phone, then looks at me, her mouth hanging slightly open.
    â€œHow have you not driven to Vegas and jumped his bones before now?”
    â€œI don’t know, okay? It’s seriously not like that with us.”
    â€œLet me see more pictures,” she says. “You know, so I can help you spot him.” I hand her my phone so she can scroll through the pictures herself. “Not that we’ll have any problem finding the hottest guy in the room. Jeez, Hannah. I don’t know why you don’t go for guys like this at home. Your usual guys are so boring.”
    â€œFine. I get it. I’m stupid.”
    â€œI’m not saying you’re stupid. I’m saying you better not mess this up tonight.” She hands back my phone. “Let’s find a place to strategize. It looks like we have about thirty minutes until the show starts.”
    We push our way through the small groups of people gathered so far. Grace always says most people don’t care about the opening bands, and these kinds of things don’t get packed until closer to when the opening act starts. I wonder if these people here are friends of Nick’s and of his band. It’s a bit dark for me to recognize anyone from the pictures I’ve seen, but I search the faces anyway.
    â€œIs he here?” Lo asks as we move through the tiny crowd.
    â€œI don’t see him.” I try to play it cool, but the thought of seeing Nick for the first time, really seeing him, has me so undone, I don’t think I can actually get words out. I wipe my sweaty hands on my jeans again and turn to face her.
    Clearly my nerves are written all over my face, because Lo grabs my shoulders and pulls me close. “You can do this,” she says. “It’s obvious how he feels about you. Seeing you here will absolutely make his life. You know that.”
    Somewhere in the back of my head, I do know that. In the place where I keep our whispered late-night phone conversations; all the secrets he’s shared with me, like the constant tensions with his brother; and the softness in his voice when he calls me Ghost. I try to hold on to these things I know, but the part of my brain that wants to tell me what a mess I am won’t shut up. You are wrong, Hannah, it says. He’s going to be embarrassed. You are

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