Home > November 9(16)

November 9(16)
Author: Colleen Hoover

“Fucking beautiful,” he says with a slow grin. “And red.”

Red?

I look down at the dress, but it’s definitely black.

“Your panties,” he says as clarification. “They’re red.”

I let out a burst of what I thought was going to be laughter, but it sounds more like a warbled cry. That’s when I realize tears are still streaming down my cheeks, so I bring my hands to my face and attempt to wipe them away, but they keep coming.

I can’t believe he just undressed me to prove a point. I can’t believe I allowed it. Now I know exactly what Ben meant when he said he finds it difficult to control his indignation in the presence of absurdity. He thinks my insecurities are absurd, and he took it upon himself to prove that to me.

Ben steps forward and wraps his arms around me. Everything about him is comforting and warm and I have no idea how to respond. One of his hands meets the back of my head and he presses my face against his chest. I’m now laughing at the ridiculousness that is my tears, because who does this? Who cries when a guy undresses her for the first time?

“That’s a record,” Ben says, pulling me away from his chest so he can look down at me. “Made my girlfriend cry less than three hours into our relationship.”

I laugh again, and then I press my face to his chest and hug him back, because why couldn’t he have been there the second I woke up in the hospital two years ago? Why did I have to go two whole years before finally being given the tiniest bit of confidence?

After another minute or two of me trying to rein in my erratic emotions, I’m finally calm enough to realize that he doesn’t smell so good when my face is pressed against a shirt he’s been wearing for two days.

I take a step back and run my fingers under my eyes again. I’m not crying anymore, but I’m sure mascara is everywhere now.

“I’ll wear this stupid dress on one condition,” I say. “You have to go home and take a shower first.”

His smile widens. “That was already part of my plan.”

We stand in silence for a bit longer, and then I can’t take being in this closet for another second. I push his shoulders and shove him out into the bedroom. “It’s almost four o’clock now,” I tell him. “Be back at six and I’ll be dressed and ready to go.”

He walks toward the door to my bedroom, but faces me again before he exits. “I want you to wear your hair up tonight.”

“Don’t push your luck.”

He laughs. “Why the hell does luck exist if I’m not supposed to push it?”

I point at the door. “Go. Shower. And shave while you’re at it.”

He opens the door and begins to back out. “Shave, huh? You plan on putting those lips on my face tonight?”

“Go,” I say with an exasperated laugh.

He shuts the door, but I can still hear what he says to Amber and Glenn as soon as he walks into the living room. “They’re red! Her panties are red!”

Ben

What the hell am I doing?

She’s moving to New York. It’s dinner. That’s it.

But seriously, what the hell am I doing? I shouldn’t be doing this.

I pull on a pair of jeans and walk to my closet to find a clean shirt. Right when I get the shirt over my head, the door swings open.

“Hey,” Kyle says, leaning against the doorframe. “Nice of you to come home for a change.” Jesus. Not now. “Want to have dinner with me and Jordyn tonight?”

“Can’t. I have a date.” I walk to my dresser and grab my cologne. I can’t believe Fallon willingly got as close to me as she did with the way I smelled today. It’s a little embarrassing.

“Oh yeah? With who?”

I slide my wallet off the dresser and grab my jacket. “My girlfriend.”

Kyle laughs as I slip past him and begin walking down the hallway. “Girlfriend?” He knows I don’t do girlfriends, so he follows after me to drain me for more info. “You know if I tell Jordyn you’re on a date with your girlfriend, she’ll question me until my head explodes. You better give me something to work with.”

I laugh. He’s right; his girlfriend likes to know everything about everyone. And for some reason, since she’s about to move in with us, she thinks we’re already family. And she’s especially nosy when it comes to family.

Kyle follows me straight out the front door, all the way to my car. He grabs my door before I can shut it. “I know where you were last night.”

I stop trying to shut the door and fall against the seat. Here we go again. “Your girlfriend has a big mouth, you know that?”

He leans against the door, staring down at me with his arms folded across his chest. “She’s worried about you, Ben. We all are.”

“I’m fine. You’ll see. I’ll be fine.”

Kyle stares at me silently for a few moments, wanting to believe me this time. But I’ve promised him I’ll be fine so many times, it falls on deaf ears now. And I get it. But he has no idea that this time really is different.

He gives up and shuts my door without another word. I know he’s only trying to help, but he doesn’t need to. Things really are going to change. I knew that for a fact the moment I laid eyes on Fallon today.

• • •

I walk up to her front door at approximately 5:05 p.m. I’m early, but like I said . . . she’s leaving for New York and I’ll never see her again. Fifty-five extra minutes with her isn’t nearly as many as I want.

The door opens almost as soon as I knock on it. Amber grins at me and steps aside. “Why hello, Fallon’s boyfriend whom I’ve never heard of.” She motions to the couch. “Take a seat. Fallon’s in the shower.”

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