"It feels like a lifetime ago, when I first walked through those doors," Ben Morrissey told us in a loud, confident voice. "I'll always remember that day; I was a freshman, buzzing with excitement and nerves about starting high school. I was so excited that I'd arrived early, so early that the doors were locked. I stood outside waiting until another student arrived. I tried telling him that the doors were locked, but he ignored me and opened them with ease. It then that I realized they weren't locked at all. You have to push them open, and I'd been pulling them the whole time."

There were scattered laughs throughout the audience before he continued. "Anyway, once I finally made it through the doors, it was the beginning of a life-changing journey for me. These past four years have been...indescribable. I could go on for hours about the lessons I've learned here, not just in class, but about life in general. And it's all because of the fellow students I was able to share this experience with."

He paused and looked around, as if committing everything to memory. "Walking through those doors for the last time...it'll be tough. But I know that for me, for everyone sitting in front of me here," he gestured to his peers, "it'll be the start of a completely new journey."

As he continued his speech, I studied the large crowd of seniors. Karen sat in the second row, since they'd arranged everyone in alphabetical order of their last name. She looked like she was bored but trying to hide it, and I could practically feel her hands itching to pull out her phone.

My eyes roamed to the back of the crowd and found Tristan listening intently to Ben's speech. He was one of the only graduates paying attention, as most of the seniors hated their valedictorian for no apparent reason aside from the fact he was a genius. Tristan, I knew, admired him, though he'd never actually said so.

Suddenly, he met my gaze and gave a small smile. I didn't think today would be emotional for me, but seeing him sit there in his graduation gown, waiting to get his diploma so he could go off to college at the end of the summer, filled me with too many emotions to bear. My eyes began watering, and I quickly averted my gaze, promising to myself I wouldn't cry today. Instead I tried listening to Ben's speech. He deserved some people to listen to him, even if most of his peers wouldn't.

I was surprised that he said such nice things about them. The rest of his speech was mostly him saying how much he'd grown during his time at this school, knowing that this was the start of something new, and wishing his classmates the best for the rest of their lives. I guess he couldn't say what he really felt in front of all these parents and teachers. Or maybe that really was how he felt.

Either way, it was a good speech, fake or not. A few more people spoke after him, and, to my annoyance, a lot more people paid attention to the more popular students. After that the principal spoke and handed out some awards. Among them he mentioned Tristan's soccer scholarship, and I felt myself swell with pride at his achievement, even though it wasn't mine. Beside me, my dad grunted, crossing his arms.

Finally, the diplomas were given out, and one by one the seniors walked up to obtain theirs.

I took a picture when Karen got hers, noticing her stumble slightly over her heels. I was sure nobody else noticed, but when I snapped the photo her complexion was a noticeably deeper shade of red than usual.

When Tristan got his I took a photo as well, ignoring whatever look that earned me from my father. I think he started to say something, but it was drowned out by the loud, ear-splitting cheering of Tristan's parents and younger siblings, who were sitting a few rows above us on the bleachers. Tristan looked at them with an embarrassed smile, and I snapped another photo, deciding 'cute' was most definitely a word that applied to him.

When the ceremony was finally over, there was a horde of people rushing forward to greet their graduates, to say goodbye to others and take pictures. I followed my parents to see Karen while looking around for Tristan.

We found my sister chatting excitedly to one of her friends, who left soon before we approached. "Hey, guys," Karen said, glowing with excitement.

"Sweetie, you were so good out there," my mom gushed, pulling her in for a hug. "And you look so beautiful. My baby's growing up," she added, teary-eyed.

"Mom," Karen groaned, looking around with a please-don't-do-this-here expression on her face.

"Where are your friends?" she kept going. "Don't you want to take pictures with them?"

"No, we already took pictures, Mom. We can just go."

Mom pulled back from the hug and began smoothing down her hair. "Are you sure? What about Jessica? Have you taken pictures with her yet? We should go find her."

Karen looked at me for help.

"Nice trip," I teased, alluding to her earlier stumble. "I nearly got it on camera."

She blushed, giggling. "Shut up, Luke."

"Did you trip?" my mom wondered, now distracted from the photos. "I didn't even notice."

"It wasn't very noticeable," my dad assured Karen. "It almost looked like you were skipping."

"That's worse," she groaned, burying her face in her hands.

It was then that I caught sight of Tristan, hoisting Amie up in his arms. "I'll be right back," I told my mom before leaving abruptly.

I walked over as quick as I could, dodging the various other people crossing my path. "Hi," I said when I reached him, noting the absence of his family. "Where's your family?" It was only him and Amie, who was sleeping in his arms. Actually, I doubted she was asleep, since she had been conscious when he lifted her up mere seconds ago. She was probably just ignoring me.

"The boys needed to go to the bathroom," he said, rolling his eyes. "They insisted that they couldn't wait until we got to the restaurant, so my dad took them. Honestly, I think they just wanted to see more of the school."


"And my mom's bringing the car around. I'm supposed to go meet her in a minute, but I wanted to see you first."

My heart fluttered at the look that came with that statement. "Oh."

We didn't say anything else for a minute, just stared at each other. I had so many things going through my head before that I wanted to tell him, but now my mind came up blank. Finally, I settled for, "So now you're..." I gestured to his diploma, not knowing how to finish the sentence.

"A college student," he finished for me.

"Yeah. How does it feel?"

"Honestly? I don't feel very different. I don't think it's sunk in yet."

"Oh." I could feel my eyes tearing up again, and I blinked rapidly in an attempt to regain control.

"Are you okay?"

"I'm okay." My voice cracked, so I cleared my throat and tried again. "I'm fine. I'm not crying."

"We don't have to say goodbye yet," he told me. "We still have the rest of the summer."

"When you're not at practice." I was dismayed to find out Tristan started practice halfway through the summer, though he wasn't moving to live on campus until school started in August.

He shrugged, unconcerned. "And whenever your dad lets you out of the house."

"Good point."

He started to say something else, but he froze, his face going blank and gazing at something over my shoulder.

"What?" I asked, turning to see what had caught his attention. My heart dropped when I saw my dad striding towards us purposefully. I turned back to him, panicked. "You should probably go. I'll call you?"

He shook his head slowly and stay put. "Your father is a scary, scary man, Luke," was all he said before my dad reached us.

I turned to say something to my dad, though I had no idea what, when Tristan spoke. "Hello, Mr. Bryan." His voice was sure, confident, despite what he'd just said to me.

"Mr. Starr," my dad gritted out in a failing attempt to be civil.

They just looked at each other for a moment, my dad looking him up and down while Tristan looked in his eyes calmly, absently rocking Amie on his hip.

My dad was the first to say something after their stare-off. "Congratulations on your scholarship."

I was stunned. I hadn't expected him to be hostile in front of Amie, (though she may have actually been sleeping now,) but I hadn't expected him to be nice, either. Or at least try to be.

"Thank you."

"You'll be busy."

"Yes, sir." He was completely professional, no sarcasm lacing his words.

He looked him over some more while I stood to the side, heart pounding in anxiety, wondering why he hadn't dragged me away yet. He looked Tristan in the eye now, who was meeting his gaze, not seeming intimidated in the slightest.

Suddenly my dad turned to me, causing my heart to skip a beat. "Say goodbye to your friend. We're leaving in a few minutes."

He turned away before I could respond, and I let out a breath I didn't know I'd been holding.

Tristan laughed at me. "Are you okay?"

"No," I breathed.

"That wasn't so bad. I think he's coming around."

"I doubt it." I sighed. "I guess I have to go. I'll call you."

He pouted, the sophisticated illusion gone. "No goodbye kiss?"

I blushed, looking down at my feet. "There's a lot of people around."

"You'll never see them again."

"My dad -"

"Already knows about us." He exhaled dramatically. "But fine. If it really makes you that uncomfortable, I'll just kiss you in my head." He closed his eyes.

"Tristan -"

"Shush, you're interrupting."

"And you're ridiculous," I told him, grabbing his free hand so he would open his eyes. After a slight hesitation I leaned in to give him a chaste kiss, my face burning. I was a little embarrassed, but his wide grin was worth it.

"Ew," Amie murmured, eyes still closed.

Tristan ruffled her hair. "Aren't you supposed to be asleep?"

She didn't answer, and he squeezed my hand gently before letting go. "I'll see you." And then he was gone. I only stayed for a brief moment before rejoining my family.


We went out to dinner to celebrate Karen's achievement. She'd gotten into a nearby college that was less than an hour away, but still farther than where Tristan was going. She'd be leaving, too, and when it finally hit me that I was losing two significant people in my life, I broke my promise to myself not to cry and dissolved into tears at the table. My parents repeatedly asked me what was wrong, but Karen seemed to understand without me saying anything. She took my hand and said, "Don't worry, little bro. I won't be that far away." She brightened. "And you can text me!"

I laughed a little through my tears, but I still felt like there was a hole in my chest.

When we got home it was late, so I told my family I was going to bed, congratulated Karen again, and retreated to my room. Tristan had texted me a few times during dinner, my phone silently vibrating in my pocket. Since I was already on thin ice with my father, and I knew for a fact he had seen the kiss earlier, (though he never mentioned it), I didn't dare check my phone until I was alone in my room.

The first text I saw was a picture of him with his brothers and sister crowding around him. He was still wearing his graduation gown, and he looked slightly exasperated, as if this was the millionth photo he'd taken. It probably was.

The next few texts were occasional updates about his day: he got dinner with his family, there was a striped skunk chasing their car on the way to the restaurant, Kendi accidently spilled his lemonade all over Tristan's graduation gown, etc.

The last was a picture taken when he got home. He was in the living room, alone in the photo, although someone else had taken it since I could see him head to toe. He was wearing a jersey and shorts.

He'd commented, Look at my new soccer uniform! :D

I felt a lump in my throat at the reminder, but then I looked up at his face. There was pure elation radiating through his every pore, and I could tell wearing it made him feel excited, important. He was one step closer to reaching his goal.

Even if it meant him being gone a lot, I was excited for him. This was what he wanted more than anything, and though I would miss him, this was what made him happy. This gave him a sense of purpose in life, and I wouldn't feel sad because he was away doing something that made him happy.

After staring at the photo for a long, long time, I replied, it looks good on u

His response was almost immediate: I always look good ;)

i said the uniform looks good, not u :P

He sent back a crying emoji, and I settled back onto my bed.

Next he sent, Im exhausted. we'll talk tomorrow?

K. night

night. There was a pause before another text was sent. I love you

I melted into my comforter, smiling so wide it hurt. I love you too


Despite the fatigue, I didn't sleep much that night. I mostly stared up at the ceiling and thought. About Tristan leaving. About Karen going away. About the summer I knew would pass too quickly and the new school year that would be here before I knew it.

About Dylan, who I hadn't heard anything from or about in weeks. I knew my parents still got updates about him, but they didn't want to talk to me about it. I wasn't sure I wanted them to anyway, but I knew we would have to someday.

I thought about myself a lot. Today felt like a huge wake up call for me; I would be graduating in two years, and I had no clue what I would do afterwards. College, obviously, my parents wouldn't have it any other way. But I didn't have any specific goals or plans for my future. I didn't know what college I wanted to go to, or what I wanted to major in, or even how I would get into college with no extracurriculars and average grades. It was all very overwhelming.

But I had Tristan, who would keep me sane. And my sister, who insisted she would be home in a heartbeat if I needed her. And my parents, who still loved me in their own way and would help me any way they could.

And despite everything, I knew I would be okay.



So, I spent today and yesterday rereading and editing this story. I cringed so much; I hadn't realized there were so many typos, but I went back and fixed all of them that I found.

And...yeah, this is the end...kind of.

So, Luke has earned this special place in my heart, and as I was typing the epilogue I found myself not wanting to let go. And the more I think about it, the more I think I might do a sister story, not exactly a sequel because it can stand alone, and Love, Lies, and Luke is also a stand alone. But basically it would be about Luke in his junior year of high school, figuring out what he wants for his future, trying to get his life together, etc. It wouldn't be romance like my other stories, probably general, since Tristan is at college, but he'd still be a (semi?) important character.

BUT ANYWAY, thank you so much to everyone who read, everyone who reviewed, and especially those who did both. Thank you to everyone who favorited/followed, everyone who stuck with me despite everything. I don't know if I could have finished this story without you guys. I can't thank you enough.

And, for the final time (with this story, anyway,) please review :) I'd appreciate it so much. I love you guys :)