Famous Last Words(97)

By: Katie Alender

My face flushed, and I leaned into his chest.

“No,” he said, and I could feel the thump-thump-thump of his heart under his crisp white school shirt. “No, I … I love you just the way you are.”

I nodded, even though he hadn’t asked me anything. “Me, too,” I said. “I love you the way you are, too.”

I thought about how hard it had been for me, in the beginning, to be around someone who wouldn’t settle for a thin veneer of lies — someone who wanted either the real me or nothing at all. And as my hand traced a line down his sleeve, I thought about how I could never again settle for anyone who didn’t push me to tell the truth. To face the truth. To live it.

Even when it hurt.

The breeze picked up, and Wyatt wrapped his arm around me. Our bodies fit together like we’d been designed to sit leaning into one another. Missing pieces of a puzzle, two halves of a clue in a mystery.

I rested my head on his shoulder and closed my eyes, and I felt the soft canyon wind weave through my hair.

With every Acknowledgments I write (and every annual soul-searching about how to actually spell “Acknowledgments”), I am again reminded that being an author is a journey, not a destination. And it’s a journey that one can’t take alone. So while the people in my life might be getting sick of being thanked by me, I’m just going to keep doing it. (At least until the megalomania sets in.)

Thank you to my husband and my daughter for being the absolute best and most important things that ever happened to me. To my little sister, Ali, for being wonderful. And much love to Dad, Mom, Helen, Juli, George, Duygu, Kevin, Jillian, Robert, Rebekah, Zack, Onur Ata, Jeff, Vicky, and Aunt B.

Thank you to Chelsea DeVincent and the rest of the Soapboxies, who are like a second family to me. And to our amazing extended circle of friends. And to those rowdy lads.

Thank you to Matthew Elblonk (working with you just gets weirder and funnier every year), and to everyone at DeFiore and Company, who I have to assume spend a lot of time and energy keeping Matt in line. And thank you to Holly Chen and Maddie Elblonk, because from what I have been hearing for years on end, you are both fantastic, and it’s time you got your names in a book.

Thank you to my editor, Aimee Friedman, for brutally offing, like, twelve invasive minor characters and otherwise providing such consistently awesome editorial support and input. And making it fun. AND pretending I don’t occasionally make one wish to bash one’s head against one’s desk.

Thank you to the team at Scholastic: David Levithan, Charisse Meloto, Stephanie Smith, Bess Braswell, Emily Morrow, Emily Heddleson, Antonio Gonzalez, Yaffa Jaskoll, Elizabeth Krych, Alix Inchausti, Jody Revenson, Jennifer Ung, Rachel Schwartz, and Larry Decker. You guys are amazing.

Thank you and thank you and thank you to the parents, booksellers, bloggers, teachers, administrators, librarians, and media specialists who make it possible for people to read my books.

And lastly, thank you to my incredible readers. You are, as individuals as well as collectively, the cat’s pajamas.

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