“Don’t ask,” I say. I take the sack from her and open it up so Breckin can place the other purchase inside. It’s a small, wood-framed picture of the word “melt,” written in black ink on white paper. It was twenty-five cents and made absolutely no sense, so of course I had to have it.

A couple of customers walk to the table so both Jack and Karen walk around the booth and begin helping them. I turn around and Holder is eyeing both of them with a hard look in his eyes. I haven’t seen him with an expression like this since that day in the cafeteria. It unnerves me a little, so I walk up to him and slide my arm around his back, desperately wanting that look to go away.

“Hey,” I say, pulling his focus down to me. “You okay?”

He nods and kisses me on the forehead. “I’m good,” he says. He wraps his arm around my waist and smiles down at me reassuringly. “You promised me funnel cake,” he says, brushing my cheek with his hand.

I nod, relieved to see he’s okay. I don’t really want Holder having one of his intense moments right now in front of Karen. I don’t know that she’ll quite understand his passionate approach to life like I’m starting to.

“Funnel cake?” Breckin says. “Did you say funnel cake?”

I turn back around and Karen’s customer is gone. She’s standing frozen behind the table, eyeing the arm that’s wrapped around my waist. She looks pale.

What’s the deal with everyone and their weird looks today?

“You okay?” I ask her. It’s not like she’s never seen me with a boyfriend before. Matt practically lived at our house the entire month I dated him.

She looks up at me, then glances at Holder briefly. “I just didn’t realize you two were dating.”

“Yeah. About that,” I say. “I would have told you, but we sort of just started dating about four hours ago.”

“Oh,” she says. “Well…you look cute together. Can I talk to you?” She nudges her head behind her, indicating she wants privacy. I slip my arm out of Holder’s and follow her to a safe speaking distance. She spins around and shakes her head.

“I don’t know how I feel about this,” she says, talking in a low whisper.

“About what? I’m eighteen and I have a boyfriend. Big deal.”

She sighs. “I know, it’s just…what happens tonight? When I’m not there? How do I know he won’t hang around all night?”

I shrug. “You don’t. You just have to trust me,” I say, instantly feeling guilty for the lie. If she knew he already spent last night with me, I think it’s safe to say Holder would no longer be my breathing boyfriend.

“It’s just weird, Sky. We’ve never really discussed guy rules for when I’m not home.” She looks extremely nervous, so I do what I can to ease her mind.

“Mom? Trust me. We literally just agreed to start dating a few hours ago. There’s no way anything will happen between us that you fear might happen. He’ll be gone by midnight, I promise.”

She nods unconvincingly. “It’s just…I don’t know. Seeing the two of you just now with your arms around each other? The way both of you were interacting? It’s not the way new couples look at each other, Sky. It just threw me off because I thought maybe you’ve been seeing him for a while but you’ve been keeping it from me. I want you to be able to talk to me about anything.”

I grab her hand and squeeze it. “I know, Mom. And believe me, if we wouldn’t have came here together today I would have told you all about him tomorrow. I’d probably have talked your ear off. I’m not keeping anything hidden from you, okay?”

She smiles and gives me a quick squeeze. “I still expect you to talk my ear off about him tomorrow.”

Saturday, September 29th, 2012 10:15 p.m.

“Sky, wake up.”

I lift my head off of Breckin’s arm and wipe drool off the side of my cheek. He looks down at his wet shirt and grimaces.

“Sorry,” I laugh. “You shouldn’t be so comfortable.”

We’ve arrived back at his house after spending eight hours walking and perusing junk. Holder and Breckin finally gave in and we all got a little competitive, seeing who could find the most random object. I think I still won with the gut shakers, but Breckin came in a close second with a velvet painting of a puppy riding on the back of a unicorn.

“Don’t forget your painting,” I say when he steps out of the car. He leans in and grabs the painting from the floorboard, then kisses my cheek.

“See you Monday,” he says to me. He looks up at Holder. “Don’t think you’re getting my seat first period now just because she’s your girlfriend.”

Holder laughs. “I’m not the one bringing her coffee every morning. I doubt she’d let me overthrow you.”

Breckin shuts the door and Holder waits until he’s inside his house before he leaves. “What do you think you’re doing back there?” he says, smiling at me in the rearview mirror. “Get up here.”

I shake my head and remain put. “I sort of like having a chauffer.”

He puts the car in park and unbuckles his seatbelt, then turns around in his seat. “Come here,” he says, reaching for my arms. He grabs my wrists and pulls me forward until our faces are just inches apart. He lifts his hands to my face and smashes my cheeks together like I’m a little kid. He gives me a loud peck on my squished together lips. “I had fun today,” he says. “You’re kind of weird.”

I cock my eyebrow, not sure if he just complimented me or not. “Thanks?”

“I like weird. Now get your ass in the front seat with me before I climb in the backseat and not cuddle you.” He pulls my arm forward and I climb into the front seat, then put my seatbelt on.

“What are we doing now? Your house?” I ask.

He shakes his head. “Nope. One more stop.”

“My house?”

He shakes his head again. “You’ll see.”

We drive until we’re on the outskirts of town. I recognize we’re at the local airport when he pulls the car over to the side of the road. He gets out without saying anything and comes around to open my door. “We’re here,” he says, waving his hand at the runway spread out in a field across from us.

“Holder, this is the smallest airport within a two hundred mile radius. If you’re expecting to watch a plane land, we’ll be here for two days.”

He pulls on my hand and leads me down a small hill. “We’re not here to watch the planes.” He continues walking until he gets to a fence that edges the airport grounds. He shakes it to test for sturdiness, then takes my hand in his again. “Take off your shoes, it’ll be easier,” he says. I look at the fence, then look back at him.

“You expect me to climb that thing?”

“Well,” he says, looking at it. “I could pick you up and throw you over, but it might hurt a little more.”

“I’m in a dress! You didn’t tell me we were climbing fences tonight. Besides, it’s illegal.”

He rolls his head and pushes me toward the fence. “It’s not illegal when my step-dad manages the airport. And no, I didn’t tell you we’d be climbing fences because I was scared you would change out of this dress.”

I grab the fence and begin to test it when, in one swift movement, his hands are on my waist and I’m up in the air, already scaling over it.

“Jesus, Holder!” I yell, jumping down the other side.

“I know. That went a little too fast. I forgot to cop a feel.” He pulls up on the fence and swings his leg over, then jumps down. “Come on,” he says, grabbing my hand and pulling me forward.

We walk until we reach the runway. I pause and peer out over the massive length of it. I’ve never been on an airplane before and the thought of it sort of terrifies me. Especially seeing that there’s a huge lake edging the far end of the runway.

“Have any planes ever landed in that lake?”

“Just one,” he says, pulling me down with him. “But it was a small Cessna and the pilot was lit. He was okay, but the plane is still at the bottom of the lake.” He lowers himself onto the runway and tugs at my hand, wanting me to do the same.

“What are we doing?” I ask, adjusting my dress and slipping off my shoes.

“Shush,” he says. “Lay down and look up.”

I lay my head back and look up, then suck in a sharp breath. Laid out before me in every direction is a blanket of stars brighter than I’ve ever seen them.

“Wow,” I whisper. “They don’t look like this from my backyard.”

“I know. That’s why I brought you.” He reaches down between us and wraps his pinky around mine.

We sit for a long time without speaking, but it’s a peaceful silence. Every now and then he lifts his pinky and grazes the side of my hand, but that’s all he does. We’re side-by-side and I’m in a dress with fairly easy access, but he never even so much as tries to kiss me. It’s evident he didn’t bring me out here in the middle of nowhere just to make out with me. He brought me out here to share this experience with me. Something else he’s passionate about.

There is so much about Holder that surprises me, especially within the last twenty-four hours. I’m still not clear on what made him so upset in the cafeteria that day, but he seems confident that he knows exactly what it was and that it’ll never happen again. And right now, all I can do is take his word. All I can do is take my trust and place it back into his hands. I just hope he knows that it’s all the trust I have left to give him. I know for a fact that if he hurts me like he’s hurt me before, it’ll be the last time he ever hurts me.

I tilt my head toward his and watch him as he stares up to the sky. His brows are furrowed together and he’s clearly got something on his mind. It seems like he always has something on his mind and I’m curious if I’ll ever break through that. There are so many things I still want to know about his past and his sister and his family. But bringing it all up, when he’s so deep in thought, would take him out of wherever his mind is right now. I don’t want to do that. I know exactly where he is and what he’s doing, staring off into space like he is. I know, because it’s exactly what I do when I stare at the stars on my ceiling.

I watch him for a long time, then turn my gaze back up to the sky and begin to escape my own thoughts, when he breaks the silence with a question that comes out of nowhere.

“Have you had a good life?” he asks quietly.

I ponder his question, but mostly because I want to know what he was thinking about that made him ask it. Was he really thinking about my life or was he thinking about his own?

“Yeah,” I reply honestly. “Yeah, I have.”

He sighs heavily, then takes my hand completely in his. “Good.”

Nothing else is spoken until half an hour later when he says he’s ready to leave.

We pull up to my house at a few minutes before midnight. We both get out of the car and he grabs my sacks of random stuff and follows me to the front door. He stands in the doorway and sets them down. “I’m not coming in any further,” he says, putting his hands in his pockets.

Tags: Colleen Hoover Hopeless Romance
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