Hiro Loves Kite
(Paper Stars #2)
By Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: August 27th 2018
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
We offer our wounds and scars. Understanding that’s part of what makes us beautiful.
Nora finally has her beloved sister Frankie back but that’s just the beginning of their struggles. She must now become Kite. A stronger, more independent version of herself. A King. A guardian.
And Kettle has Kite’s heart. She gives it freely. But as he holds it, dear and close like a lost treasure, something holds him back: A feeling that he doesn’t deserve good things. A looming shadow that threatens to separate them. Kettle must accept that he is also Hiro: A Japanese American with every right to happiness and freedom.
Because Hiro loves Kite. And Kite won’t wait forever for him to tell her.
But they’re standing on icy ground. As the leverage they had on Kite’s abusive father wavers and life on the street affects Frankie’s health, the challenges threaten to break their bond.
Snow is gathering at the station doors and doubts are piling high. They must rely on each other. Believe in the magic that got them this far. If they don’t, it’s not just their future in jeopardy but the fates of all the street kids in their care. All the Kings.
I watch him savor the soda, and I savor this rare time we have together. His dark brows rest softly over his eyes for a short, relaxed moment. I breathe in and sigh. Tough and soft things. Everything is so hard for us. Everything is a struggle. But I believe him when he says never. I want to be with him in that never. I want him to believe me, too, and that’s the difficult part.
I think of my father, touching my chest. There’s a bruise spreading there. It feels like it always does. It’s a reminder not to get too comfortable.
Suddenly, Hiro reaches over the table, takes my drink, and presses it to my sternum. His eyes darken with worry. He presses it there gently. “Does it hurt?” I nod. He stays like that, holding the drink against my heart for what could be minutes, what I wish were hours. I don’t think I breathe in that time as he just watches me and I just watch him, and we share the hurt. I feel it leech from my bones slowly. Soothingly.
I take the glass from him slowly, brushing his fingers deliberately, and place it back on the table. I stir the drink with my straw, letting the ice cubes clink against each other. “Tell me something good,” I say.
His skin is paler than it was. As the sun has moved further from the earth, his tan has faded. He stares at me with blue-ringed irises. Like the rings of Saturn. Beautiful, mysterious. Out of reach. His eyes crinkle when he thinks, and he rubs his thumb under his jaw. I throw a napkin at him. “Oh, it can’t take that long!”
He smiles. Teeth white because I know he takes dental hygiene very seriously. “Something good…” he muses. His smiles are so dashing. So infrequent. They’re like the touch of a bird’s claw to a wire as it takes flight. A brief steadying motion that’s invaluable.
I play with a coin, rolling it between my fingers. The way he looks at me sometimes, it feels. It feels. It feels… Like he’s burning the air around me. Making clouds I can land on if I fall. I put the coin in the jukebox and pick a song.
“Once they brought us fudgsicles.” His mouth softens around the memory. And his eyes wander outside. Snow is starting to pile up on the mailbox on the corner, icing it like a cake. His gaze returns to me, vulnerability sitting uneasily over his shoulders. His eyes drop. “It was so damn hot out there in the desert. Extreme. Hot as the surface of the sun during the day and freezing cold at night.”
I rest my foot against his leg under the table. Carefully. Like I’m scared I’ll frighten him away. The connection is deliciously new. “I love fudgsicles.” I lick my lips.
He cheeks redden as he says, “Yeah, well, I’d never had one before, but on this day, one of the guards went out and got them. It must have been a real pain to do it. He had to buy a block of ice and keep them in an icebox until he got back. But I’ll always remember the look on his face when he handed them out, like he was Santa. Like this was the most rewarding thing he’d ever done.”
I smile, watching his expression warm around the memory. Good memories twist together to form the rope ladder out of sadness. They are the most important. “So, they weren’t all bad?”
Shaking his head, he takes another sip of his drink. “No. Not all of them.”
“I’m glad there were nice moments. Even in the worst of circumstances, you found some good, Hiro.” I stare down at my drink, thinking of black puddles and the way darkness can swallow a person. And how he’s always there, with a flashlight and a warm blanket. A hand to hold. It’s what he does. “I think that’s kind of what you do. You’re hope. You find the good in people.”
Hiro shakes his head again. “Not everyone has good to find.”
“No,” I reply. “Some people are just lost.”
He sweeps the glasses to one side and takes my hand. My heart stumbles. Heat is growing between us as we start to open up. Offering our wounds and scars. Understanding that’s part of what makes us beautiful. He lifts my hand to his mouth and kisses it tenderly. It’s a warm breeze coursing through my body. It’s accelerated spring. “Your good was easy to find, Kite.”
I want to lean across the table and kiss him. I want to tell him more. Tell him everything that’s broken and splintered inside me. Not so he can fix it, but so he can know it. Know me. Know me completely. But then the waitress slams a bill down on the table, and taps the total with her chipped, red fingernail.
Hiro places my hand back on the table slowly, and his eyes rise to the judgment hovering over us. “I think you two kids should get going. Your parents must be wondering where you got to.” She aims that last sentence at me.
I laugh. Sprinkling a tip on the table as we leave. “Oh, I’m sure he is!” I say to the confused woman, and even Hiro laughs at that one.
Lauren is the bestselling author of THE WOODLANDS SERIES and the award-winning YA novel NORA & KETTLE (Gold medal Winner for Multicultural fiction, Independent Publishers Book Awards 2017).
She has a Health Science degree and an honors degree in Obstetrics and Gynecology. A full time writer, hapa and artist, Lauren lives in the tucked away, Adelaide hills with her husband and three children.
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