Never Never: Part Three
Page 15

 Colleen Hoover

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We carry our tokens in paper cups, and as soon as we’re inside the arcade, Janette and Landon walk off to do their own thing. Together. I make eyes at Silas and mouth see.
“Come on,” Silas says. “Let’s get some pizza. Let the kids play.”
He winks at me, and I try not to smile.
We find a table to wait for our pizza, and I slide into a booth, wrapping my arms around my knees. “Silas,” I say. “What if this keeps happening to us? This endless loop of forgetting. What will we do?”
“I don’t know,” he says. “Find each other over and over. It’s not that bad, right?”
I glance over at him to see if he’s joking.
It isn’t that bad. But the situation is. “Who wants to spend their life not knowing who they are?”
“I could spend every day getting to know you all over again, Charlie, and I don’t think I’d get sick of it.”
Heat climbs up my body and I quickly look away. That’s my go-to with Silas: don’t look at him, don’t look at him, don’t look at him.
“You’re dumb,” I say. But he’s not dumb. He’s a romantic and his words are powerful. Charlie isn’t, I can tell. But she wants to be—I can tell that too. She desperately wants Silas to show her it’s not all a lie. There’s a pull inside of her every time she looks at him. It feels like a tugging, and I want to brush it away every time it happens.
I sigh and rip open a sugar packet, emptying the powder onto the table. Being a teenager is exhausting. Silas silently watches me draw patterns in the sugar until he finally grabs my hand.
“We’ll figure it out,” he assures me. “We’re on the right track.”
I dust my hands on my pants. “Okay.” Even though I know we aren’t on any track. We’re just as lost as we were when we woke up in the hotel today.
I’m also a liar. A narcissist, a justifier, a liar.
Janette and Landon find us just as the pizza arrives. They slide into our booth, rosy cheeked and laughing. In the entire day I’ve known Janette, I’ve never even seen her come close to laughter. I hate Charlie’s father more right now. For screwing up a teenage girl. Two teenage girls if I count myself. Well…three, now that I know about Cora.
I watch Janette bite into her pizza. It doesn’t have to be this way. If I could just come out of this…thing…I could take care of her. Be better. For both of us.
“Charlie,” she says, setting down her slice. “Will you come play with me?”
I smile. “Yeah, of course.”
She beams at me and my heart suddenly feels so big and full. When I look over at Silas, he’s staring at me, glassy eyed. The corner of his mouth lifts in a small smile.
It’s dark when we pull into Charlie and Janette’s driveway. There’s an awkward moment where I should probably walk Charlie to the door, but based on the way Landon and Janette have been flirting in the back seat, I don’t know how all four of us are supposed to do this at the same time.
Janette opens her door, and then Landon opens his, so Charlie and I wait in the car.
“They’re exchanging numbers,” she says, watching them. “How cute.”
We sit in silence watching them flirt until Janette disappears inside the house.
“Our turn,” Charlie says, opening her door.
I walk slowly with her up the sidewalk, hoping her mother doesn’t see me here. I don’t have the energy to deal with that woman tonight. I feel bad that Charlie’s about to have to do just that.
She’s wringing her hands together nervously. I know she’s stalling because she doesn’t want me to leave her alone tonight. Every single memory she has consists of me and her. “What time is it?” she asks.
I pull my phone out of my pocket to check. “It’s after ten.”
She nods and then glances behind her at the house. “I hope my mother is asleep,” she says. And then, “Silas…”
I interrupt whatever she’s about to say. “Charlie, I don’t think we should split up tonight.”
Her eyes meet mine again. She looks relieved. I’m the only person she knows, after all. The last thing we probably need right now is to be distracted by people we don’t know. “Good. I was just about to suggest that.”
I nudge my head to the door behind her. “We need to make it look like you’re home, though. Go inside. Make like you’re going to bed. I’ll go drop Landon off at my house and then come back to get you in an hour.”
She nods. “I’ll meet you at the end of the road,” she says. “Where do you think we should stay tonight?”