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Ill drive there if you want, Miles says to Corbin when we all reach the car. I know you havent slept yet. You can drive back tomorrow.
Corbin agrees, and Miles opens the drivers-side door. I climb into the backseat and try to figure out where to sit. I dont know if I should sit directly behind Miles, in the middle, or behind Corbin. Anywhere I sit, Ill feel him. Hes everywhere.
Everything is Miles.
Thats how it is when a person develops an attraction toward someone. Hes nowhere, then suddenly hes everywhere, whether you want him to be or not.
It makes me wonder if Im anywhere to him, but the thought doesnt last long. I can tell when a guy is attracted to me, and Miles definitely does not fall into that category. Which is why I need to figure out how to stop whatever this is I feel when Im around him. The last thing I want right now is a silly crush on a guy when Ive barely got time to focus on both work and school.
I pull a paperback out of my purse and begin to read. Miles turns on the radio, and Corbin lays his seat back and kicks his feet up on the dash. Dont wake me up until were there, he says, pulling his cap over his eyes.
I glance at Miles, and hes adjusting his rearview mirror. He turns around and looks behind us to back out of the spot, and his eyes briefly meet mine.
You comfortable? he asks. He turns around before getting my answer and puts the car in drive, then glances at me in the rearview mirror.
Yep, I say. I make sure to tack a smile onto the end of that word. I dont want him to think Im upset that he came, but its hard for me not to appear closed off when Im around him, since Im trying so hard to be.
He looks straight ahead, and I look back down at my book.
Thirty minutes pass, and the movement of the car accompanied by my attempt to read is making my head hurt. I set the book down beside me and readjust myself in the backseat. I lean my head back and prop my feet up on the console between Miles and Corbin. He glances at me in the rearview mirror, and his eyes feel like theyre hands, running over every inch of me. He holds his stare for no longer than two seconds, then looks back at the road.
I hate this.
I have no idea whats going through his head. He never smiles. He never laughs. He doesnt flirt. His face appears as if he keeps a constant veil of armor between his expressions and the rest of the world.
Ive always been a sucker for the quiet types of guys. Primarily because most guys talk too much, and its painful having to suffer through every single thought that goes through their heads. Miles makes me wish he were the opposite of the quiet type, though. I want to know all the thoughts that pass through his head. Especially the one thought thats in there right now, hiding behind that unwavering, stoic expression.
Im still staring at him in the rearview mirror, trying to figure him out, when he glances at me again. I look down at my phone, a little embarrassed that he caught me staring at him. But that mirror is like a magnet, and dammit if my eyes dont shoot back up to it.
The second I look into the mirror again, so does he.
I look back down.
This drive is about to be the longest drive of my entire life.
I make it three minutes, then I look again.
Shit. So does he.
I smile, amused by whatever game this is were playing.
He smiles, too.
Miles looks back at the road, but his smile remains for several seconds. I know, because I cant stop staring at it. I want to take a picture of it before it disappears again, but that would be weird.
He lowers his arm to rest it on the console, but my feet are in his way. I push up on my hands. Sorry, I say, as I begin to pull them back.
His fingers wrap around my bare foot, stopping me. Youre fine, he says.
His hand is still wrapped around my foot. Im staring at it.
Holy hell, his thumb just moved. Deliberately moved, stroking the side of my foot. My thighs clench together and my breath halts in my lungs and my legs tense, because Ill be damned if his hand didnt just caress my foot before he pulled it away.
I have to chew on the inside of my cheek to keep from smiling.
I think youre attracted to me, Miles.
As soon as we arrive at my parents place, my father puts Corbin and Miles to work hanging Christmas lights. I take our things into the house and give Corbin and Miles my room, since its the only one with two beds. I take Corbins old bedroom, then head to the kitchen to help my mom finish prepping dinner.
Thanksgiving has always been a small affair at our house. Mom and Dad didnt like having to choose between families, and my dad was hardly ever home, since a pilots busiest times of year are the holidays. My mother decided Thanksgiving would be reserved for immediate family only, so every year on Thanksgiving Day, its always just been me, Corbin, Mom, and Dad, when Dad is home. Last year, it was just Mom and me, since Dad and Corbin were both working.
This year, its all of us.
Its strange, him being here like this. Mom seemed happy to meet him, so I guess she didnt mind too much. My dad loves everyone, and hes more than happy to have someone else helping with the Christmas lights, so I know the presence of a third person doesnt bother him in the least.
My mother passes me the pan of boiled eggs. I begin cracking them to prepare them for deviled eggs, and she leans across the kitchen island and rests her chin in her hands. That Miles sure is a looker, she says with an arch of her eyebrow.
Let me explain something about my mother. Shes a great mom. A really great mom. But I have never been comfortable talking to her about guys. It started when I was twelve and I got my first period. She was so excited she called three of her friends to tell them before she even explained what the hell was happening to me. I learned pretty early on that secrets arent secrets once they reach her ears.
Hes not bad, I say, completely lying. Im absolutely lying, because he is a looker. His golden-brown hair paired with those mesmerizing blue eyes, his broad shoulders, the scruff that lines his firm jaw when hes had a couple of days off work, the way he always smells so fantastically delicious, like he just stepped out of the shower and hasnt even towel-dried yet.
Oh, my God.
Who the hell am I right now?
Does he have a girlfriend?
I shrug. I dont really know him, Mom. I take the pan to the sink and run water over the eggs to loosen the shells. How is Dad liking retirement? I ask, attempting to change the subject.
My mother grins. Its a knowing grin, and I absolutely hate it.
I guess I never have to tell her anything, because shes my mom. She already knows.
I blush, then turn around and finish cracking the damn eggs.
Six years earlier
Im going to Ians tonight, I tell him.
My father doesnt care. Hes going out with Lisa. His mind is
His everything is Lisa.
His everything used to be Carol. Sometimes his everything was
Carol and Miles.
Now his everything is Lisa.
Thats okay, because my everything used to be him and Carol.
I text her to see if she can meet me somewhere. She says Lisa
just left to come to my house. She says I can come to her house
and pick her up.
When I get there, I dont know if I should get out of the car. I
dont know if she wants me to.
I walk to her door, and I knock. Im not sure what to say when
she opens the door. Part of me wants to tell her Im sorry, that
I shouldnt have kissed her.
Part of me wants to ask her a million questions until I know
everything about her.
Most of me wants to kiss her again, especially now that the
door is open and shes standing right in front of me.
Want to come in for a little while? she asks. She wont be
back for a few hours, at least.
I nod. I wonder if she loves my nod as much as I love hers.
She shuts the door behind me, and I look around. Their
apartment is small. Ive never lived in a place this small. I think
I like it. The smaller the house, the more a family is forced to
love one another. They have no extra space not to. It makes me
wish my dad and I would get a smaller place. A place where
wed be forced to interact. A place where wed stop having to pretend
that my mother didnt leave way too much space in
our house after she died.
Rachel walks to the kitchen. She asks me if I want something
I follow her and ask her what she has. She tells me she has
pretty much everything except milk, tea, soda, coffee, juice, and
alcohol. I hope you like water, she says. She laughs at herself.
I laugh with her. Water is perfect. Would have been my first
She gets us each a glass of water. We lean against opposite
We stare at each other.
I shouldnt have kissed her last night.
I shouldnt have kissed you, Rachel.
I shouldnt have let you, she tells me.
We stare at each other some more. Im wondering if she would
let me kiss her again. Im wondering if I should leave.
Itll be easy to stop this, I say.
No, it wont, she says.
Shes telling the truth.
You think theyll get married?
She nods. For some reason, I dont love this nod as much. I
dont love the question its answering.
She looks down at her feet. She says my name like its a gun
and shes firing a warning shot and Im supposed to run.
I sprint. What?
We only rented the apartment for a month. I overheard her
on the phone with him yesterday. She looks back up at me.
Were moving in with you in two weeks.
I trip over the hurdle.
Shes moving in with me.
Shell be living in my house.
Her mother is going to fill all my mothers empty spaces.
I close my eyes. I still see Rachel.
I open my eyes. I stare at Rachel.
I turn around and grip the counter. I let my head fall between
my shoulders. I dont know what to do. I dont want to like her.
I dont want to fall in love with you, Rachel.
Im not stupid. I know how lust works.
Lust wants what lust cant have.
Lust wants me to have Rachel.
Reasoning wants Rachel to go away.
I take Reasonings side, and I turn to face Rachel again. This
wont go anywhere, I tell her. Thisthing with us. It wont end
I know, she whispers.
How do we stop it? I ask her.
She looks at me, hoping Ill answer my own question.
LOUD, DEAFENING SILENCE.
I want to cover my ears with my hands.
I want to cover my heart with armor.
I dont even know you, Rachel.
I should leave, I say.
She tells me okay.
I cant, I whisper.
She tells me okay.
We stare at each other.
Maybe if I stare at her enough, Ill get tired of staring at her.
I want to taste her again.
Maybe if I taste her enough, Ill get tired of tasting her.
She doesnt wait for me to reach her. She meets me halfway.
I grab her face and she grabs my arms, and our guilt collides
when our mouths collide. We lie to ourselves about the truth.
We tell ourselves weve got this … when we dont have it at
My skin feels better with her touching it. My hair feels better
with her hands in it. My mouth feels better with her tongue
inside of it.
I wish we could breathe like this.
Live like this.
Life would feel better with her like this.
Her back is against the refrigerator now. My hands are beside
her head. I pull away and look at her.
I want to ask you a million questions, I say to her.
She smiles. I guess youd better get started.
Where are you going to college?
Michigan, she says. What about you?
Staying here to get my bachelors, and then my best friend,
Ian, and I are going to flight school. I want to be a pilot. What
do you want to be?
Happy, she says with a smile.
Thats the perfect answer.
Whens your birthday? I ask her.
January third, she says. Ill be eighteen. Whens yours?
Tomorrow, I tell her. Ill be eighteen.
She doesnt believe that my birthday is tomorrow. I show her
my ID. She tells me happy early birthday. She kisses me again.
What happens if they get married? I ask her.
Theyll never approve of us being together, even if they dont
Shes right. It would be hard to explain to their friends. Hard
to explain to the rest of the family.
So whats the point of continuing this if we know it wont end
well? I ask her.
Because we dont know how to stop.
Youre going to Michigan in seven months, and Ill be here in
San Francisco. Maybe thats our answer.
She nods. Seven months?
I nod. I touch her lips with my finger, because her lips are
the kind of lips that need appreciating, even when they arent
being kissed. We do this for seven months. We dont tell
anyone. Then … I stop talking, because I dont know how to
say the words We stop.
Then we stop, she whispers.
Then we stop, I agree.
She nods, and I can actually hear our countdown begin.