Ugly Love
Page 21

 Colleen Hoover

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I just dont know what he wants to talk about.
Miles, I say, wanting him to look at me again. He doesnt.
Its not fun, he says quietly. This thing were doing.
I dont like that sentence. I want him to take it back, because it feels like its cutting me. But hes right. I know, I say.
If we dont stop now, itll just get worse.
I dont verbally agree with him this time. I know hes right, but I dont want to stop. The thought of not being with him again makes my stomach feel hollow. What did I do to upset you so much?
He cuts his eyes to mine, and I hardly recognize them from the ice built up behind them. That was all me, Tate, he says firmly. Dont think for a second that my issues are because of anything you do or dont do.
I find a slight amount of relief from his answer but still have no idea what went wrong with him. We keep our eyes locked, waiting for the other to fill the silence again.
I have no idea what hes suffered through in the past, but it must have been pretty damn difficult if he cant move on after six years.
You act like its such a bad thing for us to like each other.
Maybe it is, he says.
I kind of want him to stop talking now, because everything he says is just causing me more pain and making me even more confused. So you brought me here to call it off?
He sighs heavily. I just wanted it to be fun, but … I think you might have different expectations from mine. I dont want to hurt you, and if we keep doing this … I will. He looks out his window again.
I want to hit something, but instead, I run two frustrated hands down my face and fall back heavily against my seat. Ive never met anyone who can say so little when they speak. Hes definitely perfected the art of evasiveness.
You have to give me more than that, Miles. A simple explanation, maybe? What the hell happened to you?
His jaw tightens as firmly as the grip he still has on his steering wheel. I asked you to do two things for me. Dont ask about my past, and never expect a future. Youre doing both.
I nod. Yes, Miles. Youre right. I am. Because I like you, and I know you like me, and when were together, its phenomenal, so thats what normal people do. When they find someone theyre compatible with, they open up to them. They let them in. They want to be with them. They dont f**k them against their kitchen table and then walk away and make them feel like complete shit.
He gives me nothing.
No reaction whatsoever.
He faces forward and starts his car. You were right, he says. He puts the car in reverse and prepares to pull out of the parking lot. Its a good thing we werent friends first. Would have made this a lot harder.
I turn away from him because Im embarrassed at how angry his words are making me. Im embarrassed its hurting me like it is, but everything with Miles hurts. It hurts because I know how good our good moments are, and I know how easily the bad moments would go away if he would just stop trying to fight this.
Tate, he says with remorse.
I want to rip his voice from his throat.
His hand meets my shoulder, and the car isnt moving anymore. Tate, I didnt mean that.
I push his hand away. Dont, I say. Either admit you want me for more than just sex, or take me home.
Hes quiet. Maybe hes contemplating my ultimatum.
Admit it, Miles. Admit it. Please.
The car begins moving again.
What did you expect would happen? Cap asks, handing me another tissue.
When Miles and I arrived back at the apartment complex, I couldnt bear riding up that elevator with him, so I took a seat next to Cap and let him go up alone. Unlike the hard exterior I try to show Miles, I completely break down while spilling all the details to Cap, whether he cares to hear them or not.
I wipe my nose again and drop the tissue, adding it to the pile next to me on the floor. I was being delusional, I say. I told myself I could handle it if he never wanted more. I guess I thought if I let him take his time, hed eventually come around.
Cap reaches around to a trash can at his side and places it between us so I have somewhere to toss my tissues. If that boy cant see what a good thing he could have with you, then he aint worth your time.
I nod, agreeing with him. I do have a lot more important things to do with my time, but for some reason, I feel as if Miles can see what a good thing he has with me. I feel like he wishes he could make this work between us, but something bigger than him or me or us is holding him back. I just wish I knew what it was.
Have I told you my favorite joke yet? Cap asks.
I shake my head and grab another tissue from the box in his hands, relieved at the change in subject.
Knock, knock, he says.
I didnt expect his favorite joke to be a knock-knock joke, but I play along. Whos there?
Interrupting cow, he says.
MOO! he yells loudly, cutting me off.
I stare at him.
Then I laugh.
I laugh harder than Ive laughed in a long damn time.
Chapter twenty-two
Six years earlier
My dad says he needs to speak to us.
He asks me to get Rachel and meet him and Lisa at the dining-room table. I tell him okay, that theres something we need to
speak to them about, too.
Curiosity flashes in his eyes but only for a brief second. He
thinks about Lisa again, and hes not curious anymore.
His everything is Lisa.
I go to Rachels room and tell my everything that they want to
speak to us.
We all sit down at the dining-room table.
I know what hes going to say. Hes going to tell us he
proposed. I dont want to care, but I do. I wonder why he didnt
tell me first. This makes me sad but only a little bit. Its not
going to matter after we tell them what we have to tell them.
I asked Lisa to marry me, he says. Lisa smiles at him. He
smiles at her.
Rachel and I arent smiling.
So we did, Lisa says, flashing her ring.
Rachel gasps quietly.
Theyre already married.
They look happy.
Theyre looking at us, waiting for a reaction.
Lisa is concerned. She doesnt like that Rachel looks so upset.
Honey, it was spur-of-the-moment. We were in Vegas.
Neither of us wanted a big wedding. Please dont be mad.
Rachel begins crying into her hands. I wrap my arm around
her and want to console her. I want to kiss her reassuringly, but
my father and Lisa wouldnt understand it.
I need to tell them.
My dad looks confused that Rachel is so upset. I didnt think
either of you would mind, he says. Youre both leaving for
college in a couple of months.
He thinks were mad at them.
Dad? I say, keeping my arm around Rachel. Lisa?
I look at both of them.
I ruin their day.
Rachel is pregnant.
Lisa is in shock.
My father is comforting Lisa. His arm is around her, and hes
rubbing her back.
You dont even have a boyfriend, Lisa says to Rachel.
Rachel looks at me.
My father stands. Hes angry now. Whos responsible? he
yells. He looks at me. Tell me who he is, Miles. What kind of
guy knocks a girl up and doesnt have the balls to be with her
when she tells her own mother? What kind of guy would let a
girls brother be the one to break the news?
Im not her brother, I say to my father.
Im not.
He ignores my comment. Hes pacing the kitchen now. He
hates the person who did this to Rachel.
Dad, I say. I stand up.
He stops pacing. He turns and looks at me.
Dad …
Im suddenly not as confident as I was when I sat down to do
Ive got this.
Dad, it was me. Im the one who got her pregnant.
My words are hard for him to swallow.
Lisa is looking back and forth between Rachel and me. She
cant swallow what Im saying, either.
Thats not possible, my father says, trying to push away all
the thoughts that are telling him it is possible.
I wait for it to process.
His expression changes from confusion to anger. He looks at
me like Im not even his son. Hes looking at me like Im the
guy who knocked up his new stepdaughter.
He hates me.
He hates me.
He really hates me.
Get out of this house.
I look at Rachel. She grabs my hand and shakes her head,
silently pleading for me not to leave.
Get out, he says again.
He hates me.
I tell Rachel I should go. Just for a little while.
She begs me not to go. My father walks around the table and
shoves me. He pushes me toward the door. I release Rachels
Ill be at Ians, I tell her. I love you.
Those words are obviously too much for my father, because his
fist immediately comes at me. He pulls his hand back and looks
almost as shocked as I do that he just punched me.
I step outside, and my father slams the door.
My father hates me.
I walk to my car and open the door. I sit in the drivers seat,
but I dont crank the engine. I look in the mirror. My lip is
I hate my father.
I get out of my car and slam the door. I walk back into the
house. My father rushes to the door.
I hold my palms up. I dont want to hit him, but I will. If he
touches me again, Ill hit him.
Rachel isnt at the table anymore.
Rachel is in her room.
Im sorry, I say to both of them. We didnt mean for it to
happen, but it happened, and now we have to deal with it.
Lisa is crying. My father hugs her. I look at Lisa.
I love her, I say. Im in love with your daughter. Ill take care
of them.
Weve got this.
Lisa cant even look at me.
They both hate me.
This started before I even met you, Lisa. I met her before I
knew you were with my father, and we tried to stop it.
Thats kind of a lie.
My father steps forward. The entire time? This has been
going on the entire time shes lived here?
I shake my head. Its been going on since before she lived
He hates me even more now. He wants to hit me again, but
Lisa is pulling him back. She tells him theyll figure it out. She
tells him she can get it taken care of. She tells him itll be
Its too late for that, I tell Lisa. Shes too far along.
I dont wait for my father to hit me again. I rush down the
hallway and go to Rachel. I lock the door behind me.
She meets me halfway. She throws her arms around my neck
and cries into my shirt.
Well, I say. The hard part is over with.
She laughs with her cry. She tells me the hard part isnt over
yet. She tells me the hard part is getting him out.
I laugh.
I love you so much, Rachel.
I love you so much, Miles, she whispers.
Chapter twenty-three
I miss you so much, Miles.
Thoughts like that are why Im drowning my sorrows in chocolate. Its been three weeks since he brought me home. Its been three weeks since Ive laid eyes on him. Christmas came and went, but I barely noticed because I worked through it. Two Thursday game nights that Miles didnt show up to. New Years came and went. Another semester of school began.
And Tate still misses Miles.
I take my chocolate chips and my chocolate milk and walk to the kitchen to hide them from the person knocking at the apartment door.
I already know its not Miles, because the knock at my door belongs to Chad and Tarryn. Theyre the only friends Ive made here, as busy as I am, and theyre only my friends because were in study group together.
Which is why theyre knocking on my door right now.
I open it, and Chad is standing in the doorway sans Tarryn.
Wheres Tarryn?
She got called in to cover a shift, he says. She cant make it tonight.
I hold the door open further to let him in. As soon as he steps over the threshold, Miles opens his apartment door across the hall. He freezes when our eyes meet.
He holds me captive with his stare for several seconds until his gaze slides over my shoulder and lands on Chad.
I glance at Chad, who looks at me and arches an eyebrow. He can apparently tell somethings up, so he respectfully retreats into my apartment. Ill be in your room, Tate, he says.
Thats nice of Chad … offering to give me privacy with the guy across the hall. However, announcing that hell be waiting in my bedroom probably wasnt the respect Miles wanted to be shown, because now hes stepping back inside his apartment.
His eyes drop to the floor right before he closes his door.
The look on his face sends pangs of guilt straight to my stomach. I have to remind myself that this was his choice. I have nothing to feel guilty about, even if he is misjudging the situation he just opened his door to.
I close the front door and join Chad in my room. The silent pep talk I tried to give myself did nothing to ease the guilt. I sit on the bed, and he sits at the desk. That was weird, he says, eyeing me. Im a little scared to leave your apartment now.
I shake my head. Dont worry about Miles. He has issues, but they arent my issues anymore.
Chad nods and doesnt question me any further. He opens the study guide and lays it across his lap as he props his feet up on the bed.
Tarryn already made notes for chapter two, so if you get three, Ill cover four.