Emily, Sergei, and their friends are at a barbecue at Emily's aunt's house, a few months after Em and Sergei start secretly dating. Em encounters her cousin Katie, a dance student at NYU...

Later I was helping myself to chips and spinach dip when Katie waltzed into the kitchen and sidled up next to me. I waited for her to make one of her usual condescending remarks.

“I don’t know how you concentrate at practice every day with a coach that hot,” she said.

I clamped my lips together, forcing myself not to smile. “I’m very focused on my skating.”

Through the wall of windows, we had a clear view of Sergei on the patio, and I watched Katie’s eyes latch onto him. “I’m guessing he doesn’t have a girlfriend since he came alone? You need to hook me up.”

Hold on just a minute, sister. “Actually, he does have a girlfriend.”

“Where is she?”

Defying good judgment, I snapped, “She’s right here.”

Her big brown eyes grew even larger. “You?”

“Yes, me. And you can’t tell a single soul, understand?”

“Wow. I’m impressed.” She smiled and folded her arms. “Secretly hooking up with your coach... that’s pretty juicy.”

“My mom and dad know.”

“Aunt Laura must’ve pitched a fit.”

I don't know if fit is a strong enough word, I thought as I placed more chips on my paper plate. “She’s coming around slowly."

Katie cocked her head and studied me for a moment. “I didn’t think you had it in you.”

“What?” I narrowed my eyes.

“Sneaking around. And with an older guy. You’ve always been the good girl,” she snickered.

“Well, this good girl’s all grown up now,” I shot back.

Nice. You must be doing something right to get a guy like that.”

I bit down on my lip, holding in another rash reply, and instead thought carefully how to respond. “You’d have to ask him since he’s the one who made the first move.”

Katie shifted her gaze to Sergei again. “I hope he’s not making moves on his other students, too.”

“I’m not even going to dignify that remark with an answer.”

“Come on, you know the reputation of Russian men. I see it with dancers all the time.”

I crumpled the empty chip bag and gave it an extra firm squeeze, causing a piercing squeak. “Well, I guess I got one of the good ones.”

“Or you’re just as naïve as you’ve always been,” she said and walked toward the den.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.Don’t give her the satisfaction of upsetting you. The back door clicked shut, and I opened my eyes to see Sergei. His forehead crinkled as he approached me.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s just my cousin Katie. She can be such a...” I muttered an unintelligible sound and tossed the bag into the trash can beside the island. “I kinda told her about us. She’d better keep her mouth shut.”

“Why’d you tell her?”

“Because she was about to pounce on you, and I wanted to set her straight.”

Sergei's face broke into a slow smile. “Ah, so you were jealous.”

I poked his arm. “Don’t let it go to your head.”

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