“I’m in love with you.”

Her  lower lip started to tremble. “You’re sure about that?”

“Yes. I am. Because it’s true.”

She smiled at me, but I also saw that she was crying. “I’m sorry for breaking things off with you,” she said. “For disappearing from your life. I just – ”

“It’s OK,” I said. “I understand why you did it now.”

She looked relieved. “You do?”

I nodded. “You did the right thing.”

“You think so?”

“We won, didn’t we?”

She smiled at me, and I smiled back.

“Listen,” I said. “We can take things as slow as you like. I’m a really nice guy, once you get to know me. I swear.”

She laughed and wiped away a few of her tears, but she didn’t say anything.

“Did I mention that I’m also extremely rich?” I said. “Of course, so are you, so I don’t suppose that’s a big selling point.”

“You don’t need to sell me on anything, Wade,” she said. “You’re my best friend. My favorite person.” With what appeared to be some effort, she looked me in the eye. “I’ve really missed you, you know that?”

My heart felt like it was on fire. I took a moment to work up my courage; then I reached out and took her hand. We sat there awhile, holding hands, reveling in the strange new sensation of actually touching one another.

Some time later, she leaned over and kissed me. It felt just like all those songs and poems had promised it would. It felt wonderful. Like being struck by lightning.

It occurred to me then that for the first time in as long as I could remember, I had absolutely no desire to log back into the OASIS.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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