You can't decide whether money changes things or not; it does. You can decide, however, whether it changes things for better or worse.


17. Seventeen

"So, this weekend." Alex says, coming out of nowhere and making me jump when I'm at my locker. "There is a bit of a Marvel marathon going on at the cinema on Saturday and you have to come with me to watch it."

"Sorry, can't." I say quickly, relieved that I have an excuse. "Sleepover."

He grins. That can't be good. 

"Why are you grinning?" I narrow my eyes. 

"Because I was hoping you'd say no because now you have no reason not to come to the Star Wars marathon with me next weekend." he says gleefully. 

I groan, leaning against my locker. "I really don't want to go to that."

"Yeah, you say that now but you'll be thanking me." he says. "Anyway it's just the first three movies because watching all of the movies would take like thirteen hours, but the first three are the best in my opinion anyway so-"

"Wait. How long is it going to take to watch three of them?" I raise an eyebrow.

He avoids my eye as he clears his throat and says "Six hours."

I sigh. "Alex-"

"You'll love it!" he promises. "Anyway, it's like a midnight thing."

"What makes you think my dad is going to let me out at midnight until six in the morning to watch a Star Wars marathon? With you." 

He frowns, looking wounded. "Why does it matter that you're going with me?" 

"It doesn't matter that it's you, it matters that you're a boy." I wave him off. "Plus, he's not going to let me out that late anyway."

"Then sneak out!" he says. 

My eyes widen. "I have never been in trouble in my life."

"And you're not going to get in trouble because your dad's not going to find out."

"He gets up at six."

"Then we'll leave the cinema a little early!" Alex insists. "Please, Kaya?"

I sigh and reluctantly nod before walking off to class. It's really hard to say no to him and maybe I don't even want to say no to him anyway. Maybe it's not the fact that he's making me sneak out late at night and watch a movie with him, maybe it's just that he makes me want to be more the kind of girl who sneaks out late at night to do something with him. 


I have no idea how to sneak out of my house.

It's 11:45 and Alex has parked his car around the corner. I'm hovering by my front door. It makes a really loud creaking noise when you open it so I know my dad will hear if I go out of the front door. I consider the back door but he'll hear that shut. In the end, I end up climbing out of my living room window and running down the street to Alex's car. 

I feel awful. I just snuck out. My dad would be so disappointed in me. I'm also terrified in case he finds out. But most of all, I'm excited. When I was younger and I'd think about being a teenager, this was part of it. I feel like I've just crossed a bridge. There is something so great about forbidden things and things like this will only be forbidden in my life for so long. The great thing about being young is the amount of forbidden things. I need to take advantage of that. 

"Hey!" he exclaims as I get in the car. "You just snuck out!"

"Yeah I did!" I exclaim and we high five as he starts driving. 

"Okay so I stopped off at so many stores on the way here and I got us six hours worth of Red Bull, Doritos, Brownies and Haribos, we'll sneak them in in your bag..."

We chat excitedly the entire way there, him excited about the movie and he's excited for me because I snuck out, me excited about sneaking out and I'm excited for him about the movie. But when the movie starts playing, we realise we're not in a Star Wars movie marathon at all. It's actually a Twilight movie marathon and I don't mind that at all. 

"What the..." Alex whispers. 

"I think you made a mistake." I whisper back, grinning. 

"You think?" he asks. Edward Cullen comes on screen. "Oh hell no, come on, we're going."

I protest and ask him over and over if we can stay and eventually he gives in. We stay for the first two movies but then I can see how bored and exasperated Alex looks and agree to leave. I don't really mind missing the last three movies, I feel kind of bad that he came here to enjoy the movies he likes and didn't end up getting to so I really don't mind leaving.

We burst out of the movie theater and I'm gushing about how much I love Twilight and he rolls his eyes. 

"It's cliche." he says, deadpan. 

"It's beautiful." I sigh happily.

"Whatever." he laughs, shoving me. "Star Wars must be next Saturday."

"Are we going?" I ask. 

"If you want to."

"Yeah, sure."

He grins and after a while, he says "Do you want to come and hang out at my house for a while? You don't have to be back until six, right?"

"Five thirty to be safe."

"Okay, we've still got like over an hour anyway." he shrugs. "Do you wanna?"

I nod. "Sure."

Apparently his parents wouldn't have let him out that late either so we have to be quiet when we're on the floor their bedroom is on but once we're a couple of floors up, it doesn't matter too much. We both lounge around on his sofa, eating all of the snacks we didn't get to during the movies and we have the TV on in the background but we're not really watching it. We're both lying on our backs at separate ends of the couch and staring at the ceiling. 

"It's four thirty in the morning." I say, glancing at the clock. "That's kind of crazy. It's four thirty and I'm not in mine, Johanna's, Alice's or Carrie's bed. I'm not made for the rebellious life."

He laughs. "Are you tired?"

"No. Are you?" 

"No." he says and then he smiles. "Our friendship is so weird. It is so weird that we're friends."

"I know." I say. We're both talking kind of dreamily. Not because we're tired, there's just something about being awake together when it feels like nobody else is that makes you confess things and speak in a way to each other that you never would otherwise. We're not looking at each other, we're both just gazing at the ceiling as if the stars are showing through even though they're not. I think if we were looking at each other, this moment would be less of a daydream moment and I like that it's a daydream moment.

"Can I tell you something?" he says in that wistful voice. 


"I used to think you were kind of boring." he admits. "Not that I really thought about you a lot to be honest, but if anybody mentioned you, I wouldn't think a lot about you. I didn't think there was a lot to think about with you, but there is."

"There is?" I ask.

"Yeah. Like you're cool. Me and my friends are considered the cool people of the school I guess, but we're just popular. You're actually cool, the kind of cool that matters. You're nice and funny and charming and you can be stubborn but in a good way."

"Thank you." I say, surprised. I don't really know what to say about him but I don't think he's expecting to hear anything. He hears things about himself all the time. I think he just wanted to give a compliment instead of receive one. 

He sits up, smiling and looking at me, and I sit up and smile too. We start to actually watch TV and talk at the same time about less important things like our friends and what classes we have at school on Monday and I'm thankful that the daydream moment is over because it means I don't have to feel uncomfortable about how personal things were getting and I can't help but feel like Alex timed that. He always knows what to do and when to do it. 

"Alex?" there's a call from the bottom of the stairs that leads up to this floor of the house. We both freeze. 

"Shit." he says. "You have to go. Like, just sneak out and wait by the gates, I'll drop you off home when my mom's gone."

"I barely have any idea how to sneak out of my own house, let alone this one." I whisper, panicked. We can hear his mom coming up the stairs. 

"It's so easy to sneak out of my house, you won't get caught, just go!" he says, grinning. I leave the room out of the other door and I can't help but laugh too even though I'm nervous about being caught sneaking around their house in the middle of the night. Not that that will happen though, this house is huge. That's what he meant by it being easy to sneak out of but what he didn't consider is the fact that I pretty much have no idea how to get out of his house. 

I go down so many corridors and into so many rooms but a lot of the rooms just sort of lead into each other or they lead into a stair case and I either go in circles or get completely lost all over again. I never once come across the music studio which, you know, would have been really helpful because then I could have gotten out. 

After literally about 15 minutes of getting lost I just sit on the floor in the corner of one of the lounges. I'm feeling kind of hysterical. Not in a sad way, just in an amused way. It is five in the morning and I am lost in Alex's house and I don't know how I'm going to get out of this and I am such a twat.

I get a text from Alex five minutes later:

I'm in the car, where are you?? 

I reply: 

I'm lost

I know he's going to find this hilarious. He replies:


I reply:


He replies:

Alright, what does the room look like?

I reply:

There's a white TV and a red couch and a big lamp

He shows up a couple of minutes later, a little smug, amused smile on his face. I just raise my eyebrow, sticking out my bottom lip. 

"You said it was easy to sneak out of your house!" I complain but I'm laughing.

A grin spreads across his face as he starts laughing too. "You actual twat, you got lost in my house."

"Shut up." 

He chuckles, holding out a hand to help me up. I reluctantly take it and he surprises me, pulling me really close to him. I want to take a step back in case he didn't mean for that to happen but I think he did mean it. I don't know what to do so I just look at him, waiting for him to say something.

"You're still pretty cool." he says and a bit of that daydream moment is back and then he kisses me. It feels strange like it shouldn't be happening, like it's forbidden, but this is just another forbidden thing that I have to take advantage of. It isn't my first kiss but I wish it was. It feels like the first one that counts. 

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