The Sweetheart Sham

By: Danielle Ellison

Something clicks.

His hand is in my hair, pulling my mouth closer, and mine is wrapped around him, and that’s all we are. Anticipation and passion and longing. Feelings and things we didn’t say, for years, all finding us in this moment. His lips are the only thing I want, the only thing I care about. I’m kissing Beau Montgomery, and it’s good. So, so good. It’s even better than my imagination.

Beau stops, pulling away slowly, and I’m not sure how I’m still standing. He leans his forehead against mine, and smiles. “Wow.”

“I think we’re good at that,” I say with a smile.

“I think we always were,” he says.

He starts to kiss me again when Will yells, “Aren’t y’all done yet? How long do we have to wait here in the woods?”

I laugh as we both look toward the trail of paper hearts and all our friends, standing there in the distance. Beau waves them all down, and they head our way.

“I love this song,” Haley yells, pulling Reyes away from his book to dance with her.

Everyone joins in and that’s how we spend the whole night, dancing. Each of us is different, but we’re all here—a group of people this little town brought together.

Beau wraps his arm around my waist and kisses my neck. “You okay?”

“I’m perfect,” I say.

All I could ever need is right here. This beautiful summer night, and us.

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I am so proud to be writing these at the close of Will, Georgie, and Beau’s story. I felt an immense pressure to tell this story exactly the right way, and I think I accomplished more than I imagined, but I didn’t do it alone. So…

Thank you to my passionate agent, Nicole Resciniti, who told me that I had too much talent to give up. I’m grateful to you, Nic, for not letting me run away because something was too hard and scary. You always do that. Your faith in me is what keeps me moving forward.

Thank you to my amazing editor, Stacy Abrams, who loved and believed in this story from the day I pitched it, even though I said, “I don’t know how to fix it.” You did. Thank you for loving Georgie and Beau, and all of Culler, the same way I do. I value your input, your time, and your insight more than I can say. I’m so happy I get to work with you!

To everyone else at Entangled for all the work you to do to spread the love of books. A special thanks to Liz Pelletier for that night on the cruise ship when you told me the things you did. All of you at EP are champions.

To my friends who doubled as readers: Traci Inzitari, Will Walton, and Josie Leinbaugh. Your words and excitement for this story made my heart grow three sizes.

To my ever-constant cheerleader, Cindy Thomas, who especially has loved this story since I had the first line many years ago and never let me forget it. You’re my glue.

And to Lelia, for all the things you do as my right hand man, including endless gif texts and unicorn emojis.

There are so many people in my life who help me do this, just because they believe in me, and you know who you are even if you aren’t listed here by name. Honestly, there’s not enough space.

To everyone in the writing community who supports me, cries with me, laughs with me, and cheers alongside me. It’s a beautiful thing to be connected to you.

To Billy, who has been my friend since the first grade and never ceased. I can’t express how much you mean to me. The day you came out to me will be forever emblazoned in my memory, and I’m constantly inspired by your bravery and the way you have always lived your life: boldly, excited, and full of laughter. Will and Georgie’s story isn’t ours, but I hope you see some pieces of our friendship in it and that it makes you smile. This story is for you.

To the readers! Whether you are a teen, an adult, queer, straight, or “they/them”: thank you for reading this. There are a lot of beautiful novels out there, and I’m humbled you picked mine. This book is a love story through and through, not only romantically, but also the love shared between best friends. I hope that when you read it you feel that love, that friendship, and above all, that hope for the future.