Hopeless, p.10
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       Hopeless, p.10

         Part #1 of Hopeless series by Colleen Hoover

  “Read, bake and run. And fantasize about me. What a riveting life you lead.”

  “I like my life.”

  “I sort of like it, too,” he says. He rolls over and grabs the book off of my nightstand. “Here, read this.”

  I take the book out of his hands and open it to the marker on page two. It’s as far as I’ve gotten. “You want me to read it out loud? You’re that bored?”

  “Pretty damn bored.”

  “It’s a romance,” I warn.

  “Like I said. Pretty damn bored. Read.”

  I scoot my pillow up toward the headboard and make myself comfortable, then start reading.

  This morning if you would have told me I’d be reading a romance novel to Dean Holder in my bed tonight, I’d tell you that you were crazy. But then again, I’m obviously not the best judge of crazy.

  When I open my eyes, I immediately slide my hand to the other side of the bed, but it’s empty. I sit up and look around. My light is off and my covers are on. The book is closed on the nightstand, so I pick it up. There’s a bookmark almost three-quarters of the way through.

  I read until I fell asleep? Oh, no, I fell asleep. I throw the covers off and walk to the kitchen, then flip on the light and look around in shock. The entire kitchen is clean and all the cookies and brownies are wrapped in saran wrap. I look down at my phone sitting on the counter and pick it up to find a new text message.

  You fell asleep right when she was about to find out her mother’s secret. How dare you. I’ll be back tomorrow night so you can finish reading it to me. And by the way, you have really bad breath and you snore way too loud.

  I laugh. I’m also grinning like an idiot, but luckily no one is here to witness it. I glance at the clock on the stove and it’s only just past two in the morning, so I go back to the bedroom and crawl into bed, hoping he really does show up tomorrow night. I don’t know how this hopeless boy weaseled his way into my life this week, but I know I’m definitely not ready for him to leave.

  I’ve learned an invaluable lesson about lust today. It causes double the work. I took two showers today, instead of just one. I changed clothes four times instead of the usual two. I’ve cleaned the house once (that’s one more than I usually clean it) and I’ve checked the time on the clock no less than a thousand times. I may have checked my phone for incoming texts just as many.

  Unfortunately, he didn’t state in his text from last night what time he would be here, so by five o’clock I’m pretty much sitting and waiting. There isn’t much else to do, since I’ve already baked enough sweets for an entire year and I’ve ran no less than four miles today. I thought about cooking dinner for us, but I have no idea what time he’s coming over, so I wouldn’t know when to have it ready. I’m sitting on the couch, drumming my nails on the sofa, when I get a text from him.

  What time can I come over? Not that I’m looking forward to it or anything. You’re really, really boring.

  He texted me. Why didn’t I think of that? I should have texted him a few hours ago to ask what time he would be here. It would have saved me so much unnecessary, pathetic fretting.

  Be here at seven. And bring me something to eat. I’m not cooking for you.

  I set the phone down and stare at it. An hour and forty five minutes to go. Now what? I look around at my empty living room and, for the first time ever, the boredom starts to have a negative affect on me. Up until this week, I was pretty content with my lackluster life. I wonder if being exposed to the temptations of technology has left me wanting more, or if it’s being exposed to the temptations of Holder. Probably both.

  I stretch my legs out on the coffee table in front of me. I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt today after finally deciding to give my sweatpants a break. I also have my hair down, but only because Holder has never seen me in anything other than a ponytail. Not that I’m trying to impress him.

  I’m totally trying to impress him.

  I pick up a magazine and flip through it, but my leg is shaking and I’m fidgeting to the point that I can’t focus. I read the same page three times in a row, so I throw the magazine back on the coffee table and lean my head back into the couch. I stare at the ceiling. Then I stare at the wall. Then I stare at my toes and wonder if I should repaint them.

  I’m going crazy.

  I finally groan and reach for my phone, then text him again.

  Now. Come right now. I’m bored out of my freaking mind and if you don’t come right now I’ll finish the book before you get here.

  I hold the phone in my hands and watch the screen as it bounces up and down against my knee. He texts back right away.

  Lol. I’m getting you food, bossy pants. Be there in twenty.

  Lol? What the hell does that mean? Lots of love? Oh, God, that better not be it. He’ll be out the door faster than Matty-boy. But really, what the hell does it mean?

  I stop thinking about it and focus on the last word. Twenty. Twenty minutes. Oh, shit, that suddenly seems way too soon. I run to the bathroom and check my hair, my clothes, my breath. I make a quick run through the house, cleaning it for the second time today. When the doorbell finally rings, I actually know what to do this time. Open it.

  He’s standing with two armfuls of groceries, looking very domesticated. I eye the groceries suspiciously. He holds the sacks up and shrugs. “One of us has to be the hospitable one.” He eases past me and walks straight to the kitchen and sets the sacks on the counter. “I hope you like spaghetti and meatballs, because that’s what you’re getting.” He begins removing items from the sacks and pulling cookware out of cabinets.

  I shut the front door and walk to the bar. “You’re cooking dinner for me?”

  “Actually, I’m cooking for me, but you’re welcome to eat some if you want.” He glances at me over his shoulder and smiles.

  “Are you always so sarcastic?” I ask.

  He shrugs. “Are you?”

  “Do you always answer questions with questions?”

  “Do you?”

  I pick up a hand towel off the bar and throw it at him. He dodges it, then walks to the refrigerator. “You want something to drink?” he asks.

  I put my elbows on the bar and rest my chin in my hands, watching him. “You’re offering to make me something to drink in my own house?”

  He searches through the refrigerator shelves. “Do you want milk that tastes like ass or do you want soda?”

  “Do we even have soda?” I’m almost positive I already drank up the stash I bought yesterday.

  He leans back out of the refrigerator and arches an eyebrow. “Can either of us say anything that isn’t a question?”

  I laugh. “I don’t know, can we?”

  “How long do you think we can keep this up?” He finds a soda and grabs two glasses. “You want ice?”

  “Are you having ice?” I’m not stopping with the questions until he does. I’m highly competitive.

  He walks closer to me and places our glasses on the counter. “Do you think I should have ice?” he says with a challenging grin.

  “Do you like ice?” I challenge back.

  He nods his head, impressed that I’ve kept up to speed with him. “Is your ice any good?”

  “Well, do you prefer crushed ice or cubed ice?”

  He narrows his eyes at me, aware that I just trapped him. He can’t answer that one with a question. He pops the lid open and begins pouring the soda into my cup. “No ice for you.”

  “Ha!” I say. “I win.”

  He laughs and walks back to the stove. “I let you win because I feel sorry for you. Anyone that snores as bad as you do deserves a break every now and then.”

  I smirk at him. “You know, the insults are really only funny when they’re in text form.” I pick my glass up and take a drink. It definitely needs ice. I walk to the freezer and pull out a few ice cubes and drop them into my cup.

  When I turn around, he’s standing right in front of me, staring down at me. The look in his eyes is sligh
tly mischievous, but just serious enough that it causes my heart to palpitate. He takes a step forward until my back meets the refrigerator behind me. He casually lifts his arm and places his hand on the refrigerator beside my head.

  I don’t know how I’m not sinking to the floor right now. My knees feel like they’re about to give out.

  “You know I’m kidding, right?” he says softly. His eyes are scrolling over my face and he’s smiling just enough that his dimples are showing.

  I nod and hope he backs the hell away from me, because I’m about to have an asthma attack and I don’t even have asthma.

  “Good,” he says, moving in just a couple more inches. “Because you don’t snore. In fact, you’re pretty damn adorable when you sleep.”

  He really shouldn’t say things like that. Especially when he’s leaning in this close to me. His arm bends at the elbow and he’s suddenly a whole lot closer. He leans in toward my ear and I inhale sharply.

  “Sky,” he whispers seductively into my ear. “I need you…to move. I need in the fridge.” He slowly pulls back and keeps his eyes trained on mine, watching for my reaction. A smile pulls at the corners of his mouth and he tries to hold it in, but he breaks out in laughter.

  I push against his chest and duck under his arm. “You’re such an ass!”

  He opens the refrigerator, still laughing. “I’m sorry, but damn. You’re so blatantly attracted to me, it’s hard not to tease you.”

  I know he’s joking, but it still embarrasses the hell out of me. I sit back down at the bar and drop my head into my hands. I’m beginning to hate the girl he’s turning me into. It wouldn’t be near as hard to be around him if I wouldn’t have slipped and told him I was attracted to him. It also wouldn’t be as hard if he weren’t so funny. And sweet, when he wants to be. And hot. I guess that’s what makes lust so bittersweet. The feeling is beautiful, but the effort it takes to deny it is way too hard.

  “Want to know something?” he asks. I look up at him and he’s looking down at the pan in front of him, stirring.

  “Probably not.”

  He glances at me for a few seconds, then looks back down at the pan. “It might make you feel better.”

  “I doubt it.”

  He cuts his eyes to me again and the playful smile is gone from his lips. He reaches into a cabinet and pulls out a pan, then walks to the sink and fills it with water. He walks back to the stove and begins stirring again. “I might be a little bit attracted to you, too,” he says.

  I unnoticeably inhale, then let out a slow, controlled breath in an attempt not to appear blindsided by that comment.

  “Just a little bit?” I ask, doing what I do best by infusing awkward moments with sarcasm.

  He smiles again, but keeps his eyes trained on the pan in front of him. The room grows silent for several minutes. He’s focused on cooking and I’m focused on him. I watch him as he moves effortlessly around the kitchen and I’m in awe at his level of comfort. This is my house and I’m more nervous than he is. I can’t stop fidgeting and I wish he would start talking again. He doesn’t seem as affected by the silence, but it’s looming in the air around me and I need to get rid of it.

  “What does lol mean?”

  He laughs. “Seriously?”

  “Yes, seriously. You typed it in your text earlier.”

  “It means laugh out loud. You use it when you think something is funny.”

  I can’t deny the relief I feel that it wasn’t lots of love.

  “Huh,” I say. “That’s dumb.”

  “Yeah, it is pretty dumb. It’s just habit though, and the abbreviated texts make it a lot faster to type once you get the hang of it. Sort of like OMG and WTF and IDK and…”

  “Oh, God, stop,” I say, interrupting him before he spouts off more abbreviations. “You speaking in abbreviated text form is really unattractive.”

  He turns to me and winks, then walks to the oven. “I’ll never do it again, then.”

  And it happens again…the silence. Yesterday the silence between us was fine, but for some reason, it’s incredibly awkward tonight. It is for me, anyway. I’m beginning to think I’m just nervous for what the rest of the night holds. It’s obvious with the chemistry between us that we’ll end up kissing eventually. It’s just really hard to focus on the here and now and be engaged in conversation when that’s the only thing on my mind. I can’t stand not knowing when he’ll do it. Will he wait until after dinner when my breath smells like garlic and onions? Will he wait until it’s time for him to leave? Will he just spring it on me when I’m least expecting it? I almost just want to get it over with right now. Cut to the chase so the inevitable can be put aside and we can get on with the night.

  “You okay?” he asks. I snap my gaze back up to his and he’s standing across the bar from me. “Where’d you go? You checked out for a while there.”

  I shake my head and pull myself back into the conversation. “I’m fine.”

  He picks up a knife and begins chopping a tomato. Even his tomato chopping skills are effortless. Is there anything this boy is bad at? His knife stills on the cutting board and I look up at him. He’s looking down at me with a serious expression.

  “Where’d you go, Sky?” He watches me for a few seconds, waiting on my response. When I fail to give him one, he drops his eyes back to the cutting board.

  “Promise you won’t laugh?” I ask.

  He squints his eyes and ponders my question, then shakes his head. “I told you that I’ll only ever be honest with you, so no. I can’t promise I won’t laugh because you’re kind of funny and that’s only setting myself up for failure.”

  “Are you always so difficult?”

  He grins at me, but doesn’t respond. He keeps eyeing me like he’s challenging me to say what’s really on my mind. Unfortunately, I don’t back down from challenges.

  “Okay, fine.” I sit up straight in my chair and take a deep breath, then let all my thoughts out at once. “I’m really not any good at this whole dating thing, and I don’t even know if this is a date, but I know that whatever it is, it’s a little more than just two friends hanging out, and knowing that makes me think about later tonight when it’s time for you to leave and whether or not you plan to kiss me and I’m the type of person who hates surprises so I can’t stop feeling awkward about it because I do want you to kiss me and this may be presumptuous of me, but I sort of think you want to kiss me, too, and so I was thinking how much easier it would be if we just went ahead and kissed already so you can go back to cooking dinner and I can stop trying to mentally map out how our night’s about to play out.” I inhale an incredibly huge breath, being as though I have none left in my lungs.

  He stopped chopping somewhere in the middle of that rant, but I’m not sure which part. He’s looking at me with his mouth slightly agape. I take a deep breath and slowly exhale, thinking I may have just completely sent him out the front door. And sadly, I wouldn’t blame him if he ran.

  He lays the knife gently on the cutting board and places his palms on the counter in front of him, never breaking his gaze from mine. I fold my hands in my lap and wait for a reaction. It’s all I can do.

  “That,” he says, pointedly, “was the longest run-on sentence I’ve ever heard.”

  I roll my eyes and slouch back against my seat, then fold my arms across my chest. I just practically begged him to kiss me, and he’s critiquing my grammar?

  “Relax,” he says with a grin. He slides the tomatoes off the cutting board and into the pan, then places it on the stove. He adjusts the temperature of one of the burners and pours the pasta into the boiling water. Once everything is set, he dries his hands on the hand towel, then walks around the bar to where I’m seated.

  “Stand up,” he directs.

  I look up at him warily, but I do what he says. Slowly. When I’m standing up, facing him, he places his hands on my shoulders and looks around the room. “Hmm,” he says, thinking audibly. He glances into the kitchen, then slides
his hands down my shoulders and grabs my wrists. “I sort of liked the fridge backdrop.” He pulls me into the kitchen, then positions me like a puppet with my back against the refrigerator. He places both of his hands against the refrigerator on either side of my head, and looks down at me.

  It’s not the most romantic way I’ve pictured him kissing me, but I guess it’ll do. I just want to get it over with. Especially now that he’s making such a big production out of it. He begins to lean in toward me, so I take a deep breath and close my eyes.

  I wait.

  And I wait.

  Nothing happens.

  I open my eyes and he’s so close I actually flinch, which only makes him laugh. He doesn’t back away, though, and his breath teases my lips like fingers. He smells like mint leaves and soda and I never thought the
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