The Kissing Booth #3: One Last Time is a part of the The Kissing Booth collection.
The third book in The Kissing Booth series - soon to be a Netflix film this summer starring Joey King, Jacob Elordi and Molly Ringwald!
Elle is spending the summer before college at her family beach house with her boyfriend Noah and best friend Lee hoping to have the best summer ever--until new choices about college make her question what her heart really wants. Will Elle have to choose between her best friend and her boyfriend?
An Excerpt fromThe Kissing Booth #3: One Last Time
Dad cleared his throat, tossing the mail onto the counter. A thick envelope slid its way over to me.
“What’s that?” I asked, my mouth full of Cheerios.
Instead of answering me, he said, “Hey, Brad, why don’t you go clean up your room, huh, before you head over to Benny’s.”
There was no room for buts, though, because Dad just hauled Brad, my little brother, up from his stool at the breakfast bar with a grunt and set him on his feet. “Go on, bud, and I’ll let you off doing the dishes with Elle this morning.”
I was immediately suspicious. This summer, Dad had decided to give Brad more responsibility around the house. I’d already shown him how to fold laundry and how to make pasta. Dad had shown him how to mow the lawn properly on the weekend, and we’d just gotten into a routine where he helped one of us do the dishes. Dad said it was because Brad was in middle school now and getting old enough to help out, but we all knew the real reason: I’d be starting college in the fall and wouldn’t be around to do all those kinds of things anymore.
My stomach twisted at the thought of it. In a few months, once I was in Berkeley, everything would change so much. It wasn’t like the house totally fell apart without me—it was always fine when I spent a couple of weeks at the Flynns’ beach house every summer. But still. I was kinda worried about leaving them to fend for themselves.
Just a few days ago, I’d been on top of the world, walking across that stage to get my high school diploma, tossing my cap into the air with everybody else. . . . I’d gotten into UC Berkeley with my best friend in the entire world, Lee Flynn, just like we’d always planned, ever since we were old enough to understand what college was. We’d spent our whole lives together, and we’d be starting this next chapter of life as college students together, too. It was so perfect. It was exactly the way it was meant to be.
We had said senior year was going to be our year—and sure, it had been . . . a little bumpy sometimes, but it had still been awesome. And college would be, too. As apprehensive as I was about how different everything would be, it was still exciting to think about.
“What’s going on?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at the envelope and then at my dad. I shoveled down the last of my cereal, wiped the back of my hand across my mouth, and pushed aside the bowl.
Dad took Brad’s empty stool, tapping the envelope near me. “Maybe you’d like to tell me what’s going on. This came for you.”
I picked up the envelope and turned it over.
Ms. R. Evans
It was marked with the Harvard University logo.
My Cheerios threatened to make a reappearance and my heart was somewhere in my throat as I fumbled to open the envelope. This wasn’t happening. This was not happening. A couple of months ago, I got a letter telling me I was wait-listed, and that was supposed to be the end of it. Except . . . apparently it wasn’t.
I shook the letter out and laid it flat on the counter to read it.
. . . delighted to inform you . . .
My head snapped up, my mouth hanging open. “I . . . I . . .”
I could not get my words out.
Impatient, his eyes looking a little crazed behind his glasses, my dad snatched the letter up to read for himself. I watched his eyes dart over the words a few times before he let out a hoot of laughter and shook his head.
I winced, knowing what would come next, and headed him off with a groan, slumping forward to bury my face in my arms. “Please don’t say it. Please don’t say it.”
“You got into Harvard! My little girl got into Harvard! You—” Then he cleared his throat again. “Honey, you didn’t tell me you’d even applied. Is this . . . Is this because of Noah?”
I groaned again.
This was not supposed to happen.
The first college I’d applied to had been Berkeley—because, duh, of course it was. And then I’d applied to safety schools. Of course I had. That’s what you did, right? That’s what my guidance counselor told me to do. So, obviously, Lee and I had tried to pick all the same safety schools.
Lee had talked about applying to Brown when his girlfriend, Rachel, had applied there, and . . .
Maybe, sort of, in a moment of madness, I’d . . . sent off an application to Harvard. Where my boyfriend, Lee’s older brother, Noah, had been for the last year.
It was madness, because I was not supposed to get in. I never thought I would. I mean, sure, I worked hard at school, and my grades were good, and I had a couple of extracurriculars, and I’d done well on the SATs . . . but . . . it was Harvard, you know? It wasn’t supposed to be the kind of place you got into on a whim; it was the sort of place you spent your entire high school career working toward.
It was madness because they were never supposed to say yes.
“Kind of,” I told my dad now. I lifted my head just a little, grimacing as I caught his eye. Ugh. He looked so damn proud of me. I wished he’d stop that. “I just . . . I dunno. I thought it might be nice. Like how Lee wanted to apply to Brown because that’s where Rachel’s going. I never mentioned it to anybody—”
“Wait—Lee doesn’t know about this?”
Some of the pride started to dim in his expression. Good, I thought. A little parental disappointment was the least I deserved for keeping a secret from my best friend. The last time I’d done that was when I’d started dating Noah and I’d been worried about Lee finding out and taking it badly. And that hadn’t exactly gone too great when he did find out, even if he forgave me in the end. . . .
“It’s not like I was trying to hide it from him,” I tried to explain. “This wasn’t like . . . you know, when I started dating Noah. I just never thought I’d get in, so I didn’t see the point in scaring him. I didn’t think . . .” I let out a sigh. “I got wait-listed. Which I thought was kind of cool, you know? But people who get wait-listed for Harvard don’t actually get in.”
“Looks like they do.”
“Yeah,” I muttered.
A grin split my dad’s face and he came around the counter to hug me. “Well, whatever you decide to do, I’m so proud of you, Elle. Harvard! I know I’ve had my reservations about you dating Noah, but, hey, if this is the kind of influence he’s having on you . . .”
“I didn’t just apply because of Noah, you know. I mean—it’s Harvard. Who wouldn’t want to get into Harvard?”
“He’s just the reason you picked that over, say, Yale.”
“Yeah,” I admitted. “And I figured . . . I mean, I sort of . . . wanted to see if I could get in, you know?”
“Well, you kept it pretty quiet! Didn’t even tell your old man!” He laughed as he sat back down opposite me, but then I watched his forehead crease and the smile slip from his face. He tapped the letter again. “So, uh . . . you didn’t tell Lee. Or Noah either, I’m guessing?”
“No. Nobody knows about it. I didn’t want to get Noah’s hopes up, and I didn’t want Lee to think . . . I didn’t want to hurt him. Make him think I didn’t want to go to Berkeley.”
“Have you accepted your place there yet?”
I shook my head. I’d meant to. I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
Maybe part of why I hadn’t was because I’d held out some little, tiny piece of hope that I’d get off the wait-list at Harvard, but . . .
This was not supposed to happen.
One afternoon over the phone, Noah had mentioned, flippantly, that maybe I should apply—he’d said it’d be nice to have me around and to spend more time together and that he missed me so much. He hadn’t meant for me to take it seriously, and I knew that, but . . .
It stuck. And I honestly had wanted to see if I could do it.
Harvard. I got a place at Harvard. Me—Elle Evans!
My mouth was dry and my stomach had coiled itself into knots.
“Any idea what you’re going to do?”