Ugly Love
Page 11

 Colleen Hoover

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We drive for a good fifteen minutes before I realize Im not thinking about Miles anymore. For the last fifteen minutes of the drive, my thoughts have just been memories.
Remember when we were kids and we wished our superpower could be to fly?
Yeah, I remember, Corbin says.
You have your superpower now. You can fly.
Corbin smiles at me in the rearview mirror. Yeah, he says. I guess that makes me a superhero.
I lean back in the seat and stare out the window, a little envious of both of them. Envious of the things theyve seen. The places theyve traveled. Whats it like, watching the sunrise from up in the air?
Corbin shrugs. I dont really look at it, he says. Im too busy working when Im up there.
This makes me sad. Dont take it for granted, Corbin.
I look, Miles says. Hes staring out his window, and his voice is so quiet I almost dont hear it. Every time Im up there, I watch it.
He doesnt say what its like, though. His voice is distant, like he wants to keep that feeling to himself. I let him.
You bend the laws of the universe when you fly, I say. Its impressive. Defying gravity? Watching sunrises and sunsets from places Mother Nature didnt intend for you to watch them from? You really are superheroes, if you think about it.
Corbin glances at me in the rearview mirror and laughs. Dont take it for granted, Corbin. Miles isnt laughing, though. Hes still staring out his window.
You save lives, Miles says to me. Thats way more impressive.
My heart absorbs those words on impact.
Rule number two is not looking good from back here.
Chapter twelve
Six years earlier
Rule number one of no fooling around while our parents are
home has been amended.
It now consists of making out but only when were behind a
locked door.
Rule number two stands firm, unfortunately. Still no sex.
And a rule number three was recently added: no sneaking
around at night. Lisa still checks on Rachel in the middle of
the night sometimes, only because Lisa is the mother of a
teenage daughter and its the right thing to do.
But I hate that she does it.
Weve made it an entire month in the same house. We dont
talk about the fact that there are just a little more than five
months left. We dont talk about what will happen when my
father marries her mother. We dont talk about the fact that
when this happens, well be connected for much longer than
five months.
Weekend visits.
Well both have to attend every function, but well be
attending as family.
We dont talk about that, because it makes us feel like what
were doing is wrong.
We also dont talk about it because its hard. When I think
about the day she moves to Michigan and I stay in San
Francisco, I cant see beyond that. I cant see anything where
she wont be my everything.
Well be back Sunday, he says.
Youll have the house to yourself. Rachel is staying with a
friend. You should invite Ian over.
I did, I lie.
Rachel lied, too. Rachel will be here all weekend. We
dont want to give them any reason to suspect us. Its
hard enough trying to ignore her in front of them. Its
hard pretending I have nothing in common with her,
when I want to laugh at everything she says. I want to
high-five everything she does. I want to brag to my father
about her intelligence, her good grades, her kindness,
her quick-wittedness. I want to tell him I have this really
amazing girlfriend whom I want him to meet because he
would absolutely love her.
He does love her. Just not in the way I wish he loved her.
I want him to love her for me.
We tell our parents goodbye. Lisa tells Rachel to behave, but
Lisa isnt really worried. As far as Lisa knows, Rachel is good.
Rachel behaves. Rachel doesnt break rules.
Except rule number three. Rachel is definitely breaking rule
number three this weekend.
We play house.
We pretend its ours. We pretend its our kitchen, and she cooks
for me. I pretend shes mine, and I follow her around while
she cooks, holding on to her. Touching her. Kissing her neck.
Pulling her away from the tasks shes trying to complete so I
can feel her against me. She likes it, but she pretends not to.
When were finished eating, she sits with me on the couch. We
put on a movie, but it doesnt get watched at all. We cant stop
kissing. We kiss so much our lips hurt. Our hands hurt. Our
stomachs hurt, because our bodies want to break rule number
two so, so bad.
Its gonna be a long weekend.
I decide I need a shower, or Ill be begging for an amendment
to rule number two.
I take a shower in her bathroom. I like this shower. I like it
more than I liked it back when it was just my shower. I like
seeing her things in here. I like looking at her razor and
imagining what she looks like when she uses it. I like looking
at her shampoo bottles and thinking about her with her head
tilted back beneath the stream of water as she rinses it out of
her hair.
I love that my shower is her shower, too.
Miles? she says. Shes knocking, but shes already inside the
bathroom. The water is hot on my skin, but her voice just
made it even hotter. I open the shower curtain. Maybe I open
it too far because I want her to want to break rule number two.
She inhales a soft breath, but her eyes fall where I want
them to.
Rachel, I say, grinning at the embarrassed look on her face.
She looks me in the eyes.
She wants to take a shower with me. Shes just too shy to ask.
Get in, I say.
My voice is hoarse, like Ive been screaming.
My voice was fine five seconds ago.
I close the shower curtain to hide what shes doing to me but
also to give her privacy while she undresses. I havent seen her
without her clothes on. Ive felt whats underneath them.
Im suddenly nervous.
She turns the light off.
Is that fine? she asks timidly. I say it is, but I wish she were
more confident. I need to make her more confident.
She opens the shower curtain, and I see one of her legs make
its way in first. I swallow when the rest of her body follows.
Luckily, theres just enough light from the night-light to cast a
faint glow over her.
I can see her enough.
I can see her perfectly.
Her eyes lock with mine again. She steps closer to me. I
wonder if shes ever shared a shower with anyone before, but
I dont ask her. I take a step toward her this time, because she
seems scared. I dont want her to be scared.
Im scared.
I touch her shoulders and guide her so that shes standing
under the water. I dont press myself against her, even though I
need to. I keep distance between us.
I have to.
The only things that connect are our mouths. I kiss her softly,
barely touching her lips, but it hurts so bad. It hurts worse than
any other kiss weve shared. Kisses where our mouths collide.
Our teeth collide. Frantic kisses that are so rushed theyre
sloppy. Kisses that end with me biting her lip or her biting
None of those kisses hurt like this one does, and I cant tell
why this one is hurting so much.
I have to pull back. I tell her to give me a minute, and she nods,
then rests her cheek against my chest. I lean back against the
wall and pull her with me while I keep my eyes closed tightly.
The words are once again attempting to break the barrier
Ive built up around them. Every time Im with her, they want
to come out, but I work and work to cement the wall that
surrounds them. She doesnt need to hear them.
I dont need to say them.
But theyre pounding on the walls. They always pound so hard
until all our kisses end up like this. Me needing a minute and
her giving me one. They need out now worse than ever before.
They need air. Theyre demanding to be heard.
Theres only so much pounding I can take before the walls
There are only so many times my lips can touch hers without
the words spilling over the walls, breaking through the cracks,
traveling up my chest until Im holding her face, looking into
her eyes, allowing them to tear down all the barriers that stand
between us and the inevitable heartbreak.
The words come anyway.
I cant see anything, I tell her.
I know she doesnt know what Im talking about. I dont want
to elaborate, but the words come anyway. Theyve taken over.
When you move to Michigan and I stay in San Fran? I dont
see anything after that. I used to see whatever future I wanted,
but now I dont see anything.
I kiss the tear thats running down her cheek.
I cant do this, I tell her. The only thing I want to see is
you, and if I cant have that … nothing else is even worth it.
You make it better, Rachel. Everything. I kiss her hard on the
mouth, and it doesnt hurt at all this time, now that the words
are free. I love you, I tell her, freeing myself completely.
I kiss her again, not even giving her the chance to respond.
I dont need to hear her say the words to me until shes ready,
and I dont want to hear her tell me that the way I feel is
Her hands are on my back, tugging, pulling me closer. Her legs
are wrapping around mine like shes trying to embed herself
inside me.
She already has.
Its frantic again. Teeth-crashing, lip-biting, hurried, rushed,
panting, touching.
Shes moaning, and I can feel her trying to pull from my
mouth, but my hand is wrapped in her hair, and Im covering
her mouth desperately, hoping shell never break for breath.
She makes me release her.
I drop my forehead to hers, gasping in an effort to keep my
emotions from spilling over the edge.
Miles, she says breathlessly. Miles, I love you. Im so scared.
I dont want us to end.
You love me, Rachel.
I pull back and look her in the eyes.
Shes crying.
I dont want her to be scared. I tell her itll be okay. I tell her
well wait until we graduate, then well tell them. I tell her
theyll have to be okay with it. Once were out of the house,
everything will be different. Everything will be good. Theyll
have to understand.
I tell her weve got this.
She nods feverishly.
Weve got this, she responds back, agreeing with me.
I press my forehead to hers. Weve got this, Rachel, I tell her.
I cant quit you now. No way.
She takes my face between her palms, and she kisses me.
You fell in love with me, Rachel.
Her kiss removes a weight from my chest that is so heavy I feel
like Im floating. I feel like shes floating with me.
I turn her until her back is against the wall.
I bring her arms above her head and link my fingers through
hers, pressing her hands into the tile wall behind her.
We look into each others eyes … and we completely shatter
rule number two.
Chapter thirteen
Thanks for making me go, Miles says to Corbin. Aside from another hand injury and finding out you thought I was gay, I had a good time.
Corbin laughs and turns to unlock our door. Its not exactly my fault I assumed you were gay. You never talk about girls, and youve apparently left sex off your schedule for six years straight.
Corbin gets the door open and walks inside, toward his bedroom. I stand in the doorway, facing Miles.
Hes looking straight at me. Invading me. Its on the agenda now, he says with a smile.
Im an agenda now. I dont want to be an agenda. I want to be a plan. A map. I want to be on a map to his future.
But that breaks rule number two.
Miles backs into his apartment after opening his door, and he nods his head in the direction of his bedroom.
After he goes to sleep? he whispers.
Fine, Miles. You can stop begging. Ill be your agenda.
I nod before closing the door.
I shower and shave and brush my teeth and sing and put on just enough makeup to make it look like I didnt put on any makeup at all. And fix my hair to make it look like I didnt fix my hair at all. And put back on the same clothes I had on earlier so it doesnt look like I changed clothes at all. But really, I changed my bra and my underwear, because they didnt match before but now they do. And then I freak the hell out because Miles will see my bra and underwear tonight.
And possibly touch them.
If its part of his agenda, he might even be the one to remove them.
My phone receives a text, and the sound startles me, because a text isnt on the agenda at eleven oclock at night. The text is from an unrecognized number. All it says is:
Is he in his room yet?
Me: How do you have my number?
Miles: I stole it from Corbins phone while we were driving.
Theres a weird voice in my head, singing, Na-na-na-na boo-boo. He stole my number.
Im such a child.
Me: No, hes watching TV.
Miles: Good. I have to run an errand. Ill be back in twenty minutes. Leaving the apartment unlocked in case he goes to bed before then.
Who runs errands at eleven oclock at night?
Me: See ya.
I stare at my last text to him and cringe. It sounds way too casual. Im giving him the impression that I do this all the time. He probably thinks all my days go something like this: