“Well, hello to you, too,” he says, smiling widely. He stumbles slightly, then falls on top of me and brings his lips to mine again. He’s trying to kick off his shoes but he struggles, then starts laughing.
“Are you drunk?” I ask.
He presses his fingers to my lips and tries to stop laughing, but he can’t. “No. Yes.”
He moves his head to my neck and runs his mouth lightly along my collarbone, sending a surge of heat through me. “Drunk enough to want to do bad things to you, but not drunk enough that I would do them drunk,” he says. “But just drunk enough to still remember them tomorrow if I did do them.”
I laugh, completely confused by his answer, yet completely turned on by it at the same time. “Is that why you walked here? Because you’ve been drinking?”
He shakes his head. “I walked here because I wanted a goodnight kiss and thankfully I couldn’t find my keys. But I wanted one so bad, baby. I missed you so bad tonight.” He kisses me and his mouth tastes like lemonade.
“Why do you taste like lemonade?”
He laughs. “All they had were these fruity froufrou drinks. I’m drunk off fruity froufrou girl drinks. It’s really sad and unattractive, I know.”
“Well, you taste really good,” I say, pulling his mouth back to mine. He moans and presses himself against me, dipping his tongue further into my mouth. As soon as our bodies connect on the bed, he pulls away and stands up, leaving me breathless and alone on the mattress.
“Time to go,” he says. “I already see this heading somewhere I’m too drunk to go right now. I’ll see you tomorrow night.”
I jump up and run and block the window before he can leave. He stops in front of me and folds his arms over his chest. “Stay,” I say. “Please. Just lay in bed with me. We can put pillows between us and I promise not to seduce you since you’re drunk. Just stay for an hour, I don’t want you to go yet.”
He immediately turns and heads back to the bed. “Okay,” he says simply. He throws himself onto my bed and pulls the covers out from beneath him.
That was easy.
I walk back to the bed and lay down beside him. Neither of us places a pillow between us. Instead, I throw my arm over his chest and entwine my legs with his.
“Goodnight,” he says, brushing my hair back. He kisses my forehead and closes his eyes. I tuck my head against his chest and listen to the rhythm of his heart. After several minutes, his breathing and heart rate have both regulated and he’s sound asleep. I can’t feel my arm anymore, so I gently lift it off of him and quietly roll over. As soon as I get situated on my pillow, he slides his arm over my waist and his legs over mine. “I love you, Hope,” he mutters.
It’s not that hard.
Take a breath.
I squeeze my eyes shut and try to tell myself I did not just hear what I thought I heard. But he said it clear as day. And I honestly don’t know what breaks my heart more—the fact that he called me by someone else’s name, or the fact that he actually said love this time instead of live.
I attempt to talk myself down from rolling over and punching him in his damn face. He’s been drinking and he was half asleep when he said it. I can’t assume she really means something to him when it could have just been a dream. But…who the hell is Hope? And why does he love her?
Tuesday, February 2nd, 1999 9:30 p.m.
I’m sweating because it’s hot under these covers, but I don’t want to take them off my head. I know if the door opens, it won’t matter if I have covers on or not, but I feel safer with them on anyway. I poke my fingers out and lift the piece of cover up that’s in front of my eyes. I look at the doorknob like I do every night.
Don’t turn. Don’t turn. Please, don’t turn.
It’s always so quiet in my room and I hate it. Sometimes I hear things that I think might be the doorknob turning and it makes my heart beat really hard and really fast. Right now, just staring at the doorknob is making my heart beat really hard and really fast, but I can’t stop staring at it. I don’t want it to turn. I don’t want that door to open, I don’t.
Everything is so quiet.
The doorknob doesn’t turn.
My heart stops beating so fast, because the doorknob never turns.
My eyes get really heavy and I finally close them.
I’m so glad that tonight’s not one of the nights that the doorknob turns.
It’s so quiet.
And then it’s not, because the doorknob turns.
Saturday, October 27th, 2012 Sometime in the middle of the night.
I’m so heavy. Everything is so heavy. I don’t like this feeling. There isn’t anything physically on my chest, but I feel a pressure unlike anything I’ve ever felt. And sadness. An overwhelming sadness is consuming me, and I have no idea why. My shoulders are shaking and there are sobs coming from somewhere in the room. Who’s crying?
Am I crying?
“Sky, wake up.”
I feel his arm around me. His cheek is pressed against mine and he’s behind me, holding me tightly against his chest. I grab his wrist and lift his arm off of me. I sit up on the bed and look around. It’s dark outside. I don’t get it. I’m crying.
He sits up beside me and turns me toward him, brushing at my eyes with his thumbs.
“You’re scaring me, babe.” He’s looking at me and he’s worried. I squeeze my eyes shut and try to regain control, because I have no idea what the hell is happening and I can’t breathe. I can hear myself crying and I can’t inhale a breath because of it.
I look at the clock on the nightstand and it says three. Things are starting to come back into focus now, but…why am I crying?
“Why are you crying, babe?” Holder asks. He pulls me to him and I let him. He feels safe. He feels like home when I’m wrapped up in him. He holds me and rubs my back, kissing the side of my head every now and then. He keeps saying, “Don’t worry,” over and over and he holds me for what feels like forever.
The weight gradually lifts off my chest, the sadness dissipates and I’m eventually no longer crying.
I’m scared though, because nothing like this has ever happened to me before. Never in my life have I felt sadness this unbearable, so how could it feel so real from a dream?
“You okay?” he whispers.
I nod against his chest.
I shake my head. “I don’t know. I guess it was a bad dream.”
“Want to talk about it?” He soothes my hair with his hands.
I shake my head. “No. I don’t want to remember it.”
He hugs me for a long time, then kisses me on the forehead. “I don’t want to leave you, but I need to go. I don’t want you to get in trouble.”
I nod, but I don’t release my grip. I want to beg him not to leave me alone, but I don’t want to sound desperate and terrified. People have bad dreams all the time; I don’t understand why I’m responding like this.
“Go back to sleep, Sky. Everything’s okay, you just had a bad dream.”
I lay back down on the bed and close my eyes. I feel his lips brush against my forehead, and then he’s gone.
Saturday, October 27th, 2012 8:20 p.m.
I give both Breckin and Max a hug in the parking lot of the gallery. The gallery showing has ended and Holder and I are going back to his place. I know I should be nervous about what might happen between us tonight, but I’m not nervous at all. Everything with him feels right. Well, everything except the phrase that keeps repeating over and over in my head.
I love you, Hope.
I want to ask him about it, but I can’t find the right moment. The gallery showing certainly wasn’t the place to bring it up. Now seems like a good time, but every time I open my mouth to do it, I clamp it shut again. I think I’m more afraid of who she is and what she means to him than I am of actually working up the nerve to bring it up. The longer I put off asking him about it, the longer I have before I’m forced to learn the truth.
“You want to grab something to eat?” he asks, pulling out of the parking lot.
“Yeah,” I say quickly, relieved that he interrupted my thoughts. “A cheeseburger sounds good. And cheese fries. And I want a chocolate milkshake.”
He laughs and takes my hand in his. “A little demanding are we, Princess?”
I let go of his hand and turn to face him. “Don’t call me that,” I snap.
He glances at me and can more than likely see the anger on my face, even in the dark.
“Hey,” he says soothingly, picking up my hand again. “I don’t think you’re demanding, Sky. It was a joke.”
I shake my head. “Not demanding. Don’t call me princess. I hate that word.”
He gives me a sidelong glance, then shifts his eyes back to the road. “Okay.”
I turn my gaze out the window, trying to get the word out of my head. I don’t know why I hate nicknames so much, but I do. And I know I overreacted just now, but he can never call me that again. He also shouldn’t call me by the name of any of his ex-girlfriend’s either. He should just stick to Sky…it’s much safer.
We drive in complete silence and I become increasingly more regretful for reacting like I did. If anything, I should be more upset by the fact that he called me by another girl’s name than by referring to me as Princess. It’s almost like I’m displacing my anger because I’m too afraid to bring up what’s really bothering me. Honestly, I just want a drama-free night with him tonight. There’ll be plenty of time to ask him about Hope another day.
“I’m sorry, Holder.”
He squeezes my hand and pulls it onto his lap, but doesn’t say anything else.
When we pull into his driveway, I get out of the car. We never did stop for food, but I don’t even feel like bringing it up now. He meets me at the passenger door and wraps his arms around me and I hug him back. He walks me until my back is against the car and I press my head to his shoulder, breathing in the scent of him. The awkwardness from the drive here still lingers, so I attempt to ease myself against him in a relaxing way to let him know I’m not thinking about it. He’s lightly stroking his fingers up and down my arms, covering me in chills.
“Can I ask you something?” he says.
He sighs, then pulls back and looks at me. “Did I freak you out Monday? In my car? If I did, I’m sorry. I don’t know what got into me. I’m not a pussy, I swear. I haven’t cried since Les died, and I sure as hell didn’t mean to do it in front of you.”
I lean my head into his chest again and hug him tighter. “You know last night when I woke up after that dream?”
“That’s the second time I’ve cried since I was five. The only other time I cried was when you told me about what happened to your sister. I cried when I was in the bathroom. It was just one tear, but it counts. I think when we’re together, maybe our emotions become a little overwhelming and it turns us both into pussies.”