In the forthcoming anthology Meet Cute, all-star YA authors like Everything, Everything‘s Nicola Yoon, The 100‘s Kass Morgan, and Pretty Little Liars‘ Sara Shepard contribute short stories centered around two characters meeting. The people and situations vary, but it all comes down to that effervescent moment of “hello” — so essentially, it’s like those Starburst bags that only contain the red and pink ones, but in book form.
Other contributors include Nina LaCour (Hold Still), Dhonielle Clayton (Tiny Pretty Things), Jennifer L. Armentrout (Lux series), Emery Lord (When We Collided), Jocelyn Davies (The Odds of Lightning), Huntley Fitzpatrick (My Life Next Door), Julie Murphy (Dumplin‘), Katharine McGee (The Thousandth Floor), Meredith Russo (If I Was Your Girl), Ibi Zoboi (American Street), and Katie Cotugno (99 Days).
Below, EW exclusively reveals Meet Cute’s cover and an excerpt from Cotugno’s story, “Siege Etiquette.” Meet Cute hits shelves January 2018.
Excerpt from Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet
“Siege Etiquette” by Katie Cotugno
You’re getting another beer in the kitchen and watching two badly dressed sophomores try not to be too obvious about the fact that they’re staring at you, when the cops show up outside Madison Campbell’s house.
“Uh-oh,” Jay says when he spies them. You follow his gaze through the living room window where, sure enough, two cruisers are gliding to the curb with their lights flashing, silent as sharks. “Friends are here.” Right away he heads down the stairs to the basement, motioning for you to follow without actually waiting to see if you do. Boyfriend or not, you guess you can’t really blame him. After all, it’s not like you get in trouble anymore.
“Everybody down,” Nicole calls from the hallway, flicking the kitchen lights off so you’re plunged into darkness, save the glow of the water dispenser on the front of the stainless-steel fridge. Nicole’s parents are both law professors an hour away from here at Cornell, and firm believers in the importance of exercising one’s constitutional rights: Never, never open up the door to the police unless they have a warrant, you’ve heard them say over a number of bagel breakfasts at Nicole’s kitchen table, same as other parents would remind you to make sure to be home by curfew. “Somebody get the rest of the lights!”
“Are you serious?” a panicky-looking freshman asks as everyone dashes for cover—into bedrooms and under coffee tables, inside the immaculately organized pantry. “You’re not going to let them in?”
“Do you want to go to jail?” Nicole snaps, which seems a little dramatic. “Turn off the music. They’ll be gone in a minute.”
You’re not entirely sure about that, actually, but before you can register your concerns, the bell is ringing; the police are knocking hard and insistent on the front door, glowing flashlights visible through the frosted glass. The combination of noise and sound sets something off in you, a cold animal panic. Suddenly it feels very important to hide. You scurry up the short flight of stairs off the foyer and through the closest door, shutting it firmly behind you before turning around and realizing that a) it’s the bathroom, and b) Wolf Goshen is sitting on the edge of the tub in the dark.
“Hi,” he says.
“Um,” you say. Fuck. “Hi.”
“Sorry,” Wolf says, standing up and wiping his hands on his jeans. “I can get out of here, if you have to—I mean, everybody was just yelling to hide and stuff. I kind of panicked.”
“No, I don’t need to—” You exhale, heart pounding with a savage ferocity wholly disproportionate to the seriousness of this situation. That happens to you sometimes, now. The cops are still ringing the doorbell. “I mean, that’s why I’m in here, too.”
“Oh.” Wolf nods, shoving his hands into his pockets. “Okay.”
You look at each other for a moment. You breathe. Wolf has been in your class since kindergarten, but you’ve never actually talked to him before. He only ever comes for half the year because of some arcane agricultural law that lets him be homeschooled for the fall semester so he can help his parents at their farm, thirty miles outside Ithaca, one of the last working family-owned operations in the entire state of New York. Every autumn you forget about him and every January he shows up at school again, blinking and dazed, like he’s spent the last six months wandering dumbly through a cornfield. You’ve never seen him at a party before in your life.
“I came with my cousin,” he explains, like he can see you wondering, as if he thinks you’re going to ask to see his pass. You think he might be afraid of you. You’d probably be afraid of you, if you were Wolf. “You know Jared? He dates Madison now. So I came with him.”
You nod, not particularly caring. God, this whole night sucks. You’re about to make an excuse and get the hell out of here, but before you can come up with something plausible the beam of a flashlight shines directly through the bathroom window, and like an instinct you’re grabbing Wolf’s arm and jerking roughly, pulling him back into the shadows beside the tub.
“Sorry,” you say once the light has moved away again. “Close call.”
“It’s okay.” Wolf sits back down on the edge of the bathtub.
When you were little kids he was notorious for falling asleep at his desk every day during free read. His fingernails were always too long. You remember not wanting to get stuck next to him in line or at lunchtime or in the Starlab, a traveling planetarium that came to school every year, all of you crawling into a big inflatable tent in the middle of the gym to look up at the constellations. “Don’t be giving that boy a hard time, Hailey,” your mom scolded when you came home and complained about it. You were already popular back in elementary school, and she was worried it was going to turn you mean.
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