“Why not? Are you a vampire? Do you need permission to enter?”

He smiles. “I just don’t think I should stay.”

I walk to him and put my arms around him, then kiss him on the chin. “Why not? Are you tired? We can lay down, I know you barely got any sleep last night.” I really don’t want him to leave. I slept better last night in his arms than any other night before it.

He responds to my embrace by wrapping his arms around my shoulders and pulling me against his chest. “I can’t,” he says. “It’s a combination of things, really. The fact that my mom will inundate me with questions about where I’ve been since last night. The fact that I heard you promise your mom I would leave by midnight. The fact that the entire time you were walking around today I couldn’t stop thinking about what’s underneath this dress.”

He brings his hands to my face and stares down at my mouth. His eyelids become heavy and he drops his voice to a whisper. “Not to mention these lips,” he says. “You have no idea how difficult it was trying to listen to a single word you said today when all I could think about was how soft they are. How incredible they taste. How perfect they fit between mine.” He leans in and kisses me softly, then pulls away just as I begin to melt into him. “And this dress,” he says, running his hand down my back and gently gliding it over my hip and to the top of my thigh. I shiver under his fingertips. “This dress is the main reason I’m not walking any further into this house.”

With the way my body is responding to him, I quickly agree with his decision to leave. As much as I love being with him and love kissing him, I can already tell that I would have absolutely zero restraint, and I don’t think I’m ready to pass that first yet.

I sigh, but I feel like groaning. As much as I can agree with what he’s saying, my body is still completely pissed off that I’m not begging him to stay. It’s odd how just being around him today has somehow deepened the need I have to constantly want to be around him.

“Is this normal?” I ask, looking up into his eyes that hold more desire than I’ve ever seen in them before. I know why he’s leaving now, because it’s clear that he wants to pass this first, too.

“Is what normal?”

I press my head into his chest to avoid having to look at him while I speak. Sometimes I say things that are embarrassing, but I just have to say them regardless. “Is the way we feel about each other normal? We haven’t really known each other for very long. Most of that time was spent avoiding each other. But I don’t know, it just seems different with you. I assume when most people date, the first few months are spent trying to build a connection.” I lift my head off of his chest and look up at him. “I feel like I had that with you the moment we met. Everything about us is so natural. It feels like we’re already there, and we’re trying to go backward now. Like we’re trying to re-get to know each other by slowing it down. Is that weird?”

He brushes the hair out of my face and looks down at me with a completely different look in his eyes this time. The lust and desire has been replaced by anguish, and it makes my heart heavy seeing it in his eyes.

“Whatever this is, I don’t want to analyze it. I don’t want you analyzing it either, okay? Let’s just be grateful I finally found you.”

I laugh at his last sentence. “You say that like you’ve been looking for me.”

He furrows his brows together and places his hands on the sides of my head, tilting my face up to his. “I’ve been looking for you my whole damn life.” His expression is solid and determined and he meshes our mouths together as soon as the sentence leaves his lips. He kisses me hard and with more passion than he’s kissed me all day. I’m about to pull him inside with me but he lets go and backs away as soon as my hands fist in his hair.

“I live you,” he says, forcing himself off the steps. “I’ll see you on Monday.”

“I live you, too.”

I don’t ask him why I’m not seeing him tomorrow, because I think the time will be good for us in order to process the last twenty-four hours. It’ll be good for Karen as well, since I really need to fill her in on my new love life. Or, my new live life, rather.

Monday, October 22nd, 2012 12:05 p.m.

It’s been almost a month since Holder and I declared ourselves a couple. So far, I haven’t found any idiosyncrasies of his that drive me crazy. If anything, the small habits he has just make me adore him even more. Like the way he still stares at me like he’s studying me, and the way he pops his jaw when he’s irritated, and the way he licks his lips every time he laughs. It’s actually sort of hot. And don’t get me started on the dimples.

Luckily, I’ve had the same Holder since the night he crawled through my window and into my bed. I haven’t seen any snippets of the moody and temperamental Holder at all since then. In fact, we somehow become more and more in tune with each other the more time we spend together and I feel like I can read him now almost as well as he reads me.

With Karen being home every weekend, we haven’t had a lot of alone time. Most of our time together is spent at school or on dates over the weekends. For some reason, he doesn’t feel right coming to my bedroom when Karen is home and he always makes excuses when I suggest we go to his house. So instead, we’ve seen a lot of movies. We’ve also been out a few times with Breckin and his new boyfriend, Max.

Holder and I have been having a lot of fun together, but we haven’t had a lot of fun together. We’re both beginning to get a little frustrated at our lack of a decent place to make out. His car is kind of small, but we’ve made do. I think we’re both counting down the hours until Karen is out of town again next weekend.

I sit down at the table with Breckin and Max, waiting for Holder to bring both of our trays. Max and Breckin met at a local art gallery about two weeks ago, not even realizing they attended the same school. I’m happy for Breckin because I started to get the feeling he felt like a third wheel, when it wasn’t like that at all. I love his company, but seeing him pour his attention into his own relationship has made things a lot easier.

“Are you and Holder busy this Saturday?” Max asks when I take a seat.

“I don’t think so. Why?”

“There’s an art gallery downtown that’s displaying one of my pieces in their local art show. I want you guys there.”

“Sounds cool,” Holder says, taking his seat next to me. “Which piece are you displaying?”

Max shrugs. “I don’t know yet. I’m still trying to decide between two.”

Breckin rolls his eyes. “You know which one you need to enter and it isn’t either of those two.”

Max cuts his eyes to Breckin. “We live in East Texas. I doubt the gay-themed painting will go over very well around here.”

Holder looks back and forth between them. “Who gives a shit what people around here think?”

Max’s smile fades and he picks up his fork. “My parents,” he says.

“Do your parents know you’re gay?” I ask.

He nods. “Yeah. They’re pretty supportive for the most part, but they’re still hoping none of their friends at church find out. They don’t want to be pitied for having the child who’s damned to Hell.”

I shake my head. “If God’s the type of guy that would damn you to Hell just for loving someone, then I wouldn’t want to spend eternity with Him, anyway.”

Breckin laughs. “I bet they have funnel cake in Hell.”

“What time is it over Saturday?” Holder asks. “We’ll be there, but Sky and I have plans later that night.”

“It’s over at nine,” Breckin says.

I glance at Holder. “We have plans? What are we doing?”

He grins at me and wraps his arm around my shoulder, then whispers in my ear. “My mom will be gone Saturday night. I want to show you my bedroom.”

My arms break out in chills and I suddenly have visions that are entirely too inappropriate for a high school cafeteria.

“I don’t even want to know what he said to make you blush like that,” Breckin laughs.

Holder pulls his arm away and rests his hand on my leg. I take a bite, then look back up at Max. “What’s the dress code for this showing on Saturday? I have a sundress I was thinking about wearing that night, but it’s not very formal.” Holder squeezes my thigh and I grin, knowing exactly what kind of thoughts I just put into his head.

Max begins to answer me when a guy from the table behind us says something to Holder that I failed to catch. Whatever he said, it immediately gets Holder’s attention and he turns completely around, facing the guy. “Could you repeat that?” Holder says, glaring at him.

I don’t turn around. I don’t even want to see who the guy is that’s responsible for bringing back the temperamental Holder in less than two seconds flat.

“Maybe I need to speak more clearly,” the guy says, raising his voice. “I said if you can’t beat them completely to death, you might as well join them.”

Holder doesn’t move right away, which is good. It gives me time to grab his face and pull his focus to mine. “Holder,” I say firmly. “Ignore it. Please.”

“Yeah, ignore it,” Breckin says. “He’s just trying to piss you off. Max and I get that shit all the time, we’re used to it.”

Holder works his jaw back and forth, breathing in slowly through his nose. The expression in his eyes slowly softens and he takes my hand, then slowly turns back around without looking at the guy again. “I’m good,” he says, convincing himself more than the rest of us. “I’m good.”

As soon as Holder faces forward, the laughter at the table behind us bellows throughout the lunchroom. Holder’s shoulders tense, so I place my hand on his leg and squeeze, willing him to stay calm.

“That’s nice,” the guy says from behind us. “Let the slut talk you down from defending your new friends. I guess they don’t mean as much to you as Lesslie did, otherwise I’d be in as bad of shape as Jake was last year after you laid into him.”

It takes all I have not to jump up and kick the guy’s ass myself, so I know Holder has absolutely no restraint left in him. He begins to turn around and his face is expressionless. I’ve never seen him so rigid—it’s terrifying. I know something terrible is about to happen and I have no clue how to prevent it. Before he can leap across the table and beat the shit out of the guy, I do something that shocks even myself. I slap Holder as hard as I can across the face. He immediately pulls his hand to his cheek and looks at me, completely taken aback. But he’s looking at me, which is good.

“Hallway,” I say determinedly as soon as I have his attention. I push him until he’s off the bench and I keep my hands on his back, then push him until he’s walking toward the exit to the cafeteria. When we walk out into the hallway, he slams his fist into the nearest locker, causing a loud gasp to escape from my lips. The force behind his fist leaves a huge dent, and I’m relieved the guy in the cafeteria wasn’t the recipient of that force.

Tags: Colleen Hoover Hopeless Romance
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