November 9

Page 12


She also didn’t allow me to date before I turned sixteen. So in the first few months after my sixteenth birthday, I went on three dates with three different guys. And it was fun. Two of them were coworkers I may or may not have already made out with once or twice in a dressing room on set. One of them was the brother of a friend of mine. And no matter who I went out with or how much fun I did or didn’t have, my mother would have the same conversation with me every time I came home from a date, about the importance of not falling in love until I’m at an age where I genuinely know myself. She still has the same conversation with me, and I don’t even date.
My mother went on a self-help book binge after she divorced my father. She read every book she could find on parenting, marriage, finding yourself as a woman. Through all of these books, she concluded that girls change more between the ages of sixteen and twenty-three than at any other time in their lives. And it’s important to her that I don’t spend any of these years in love with some guy, because if I do, she fears I’ll never learn how to fall in love with myself.
She met my father when she was sixteen and left him when she was twenty-three, so I’m thinking her age range restrictions have a little to do with personal experience. But considering I’m only eighteen and have no plans to settle down anytime soon, I figure it’s easy to follow her advice and allow her to take the credit. It’s the least I could do.
I do find humor in the fact that she thinks there’s this all-magical age when a woman finally has all her shit figured out. But I will admit that one of my favorite quotes is actually one she made up.
“You’ll never be able to find yourself if you’re lost in someone else.”
My mother isn’t famous. She doesn’t have an incredible career. She isn’t even married to the love of her life. But there’s one thing she’s always been . . .
And that’s why, until I find reason otherwise, I’ll listen to every word she says, however absurd it might seem. I’ve never once known her to give me bad advice, so despite the fact that Benton James Kessler could have walked right off the pages of one of the many romance novels I keep stocked on my bedroom shelf—the guy doesn’t have a chance in hell with me for at least five more years.
But that’s not to say I didn’t want to crawl on his lap and straddle him right there on that park bench while I shoved my tongue down his throat. Because it was really hard to hold myself back after he admitted he thought I was beautiful.
No, wait.
Fucking beautiful were the exact words he used.
And while he does seem a little too good to be true, and he’s probably full of flaws and annoying little habits, I’m still just greedy enough to want to spend the rest of the day with him. Because who knows? Even though I’m moving to New York, I might still straddle him tonight and stick my tongue down his throat.
When I woke up this morning, I thought today was going to be one of the toughest days I’ve had in two years. Who knew the anniversary of the worst day of my life might possibly end on a good note?
“Twelve, thirty-five, pound,” I say to Ben, giving him the gate code to my apartment. He rolls down his window and punches in the code. I took a cab to meet my father at the restaurant this morning, so Ben offered to drive me back home.
I point out an empty parking spot, so he turns in that direction and pulls in next to my roommate’s car. We both climb out and meet at the front of his car.
“I feel like I should caution you before we walk inside,” I say.
He glances at the apartment building and then looks back at me with unease. “You don’t live with a real-life boyfriend, do you?”
I laugh. “No, not even close. My roommate’s name is Amber, and she’s probably going to bombard you with a million questions, considering I’ve never stepped foot through my front door with a guy before.” I don’t know why it doesn’t bother me at all to admit that to him.
He casually drapes his arm around my shoulders and begins walking toward the building with me. “If you’re asking me to pretend we’re just friends, that’s not gonna happen. I’m not downplaying our relationship for your roommate’s sake.”
I laugh and lead him to the front door of my apartment. I catch myself lifting my hand to knock but turn the doorknob instead. This is still my home for at least ten more hours, so I shouldn’t feel the need to knock.
Ben’s arm leaves my shoulders in order for me to walk through the door first. I look across the living room to find Amber standing at the kitchen counter with her boyfriend. She and Glenn have been dating for over a year now, and neither of them have come out and said it, but I’m pretty sure he’s moving in the second I move out tonight.
She glances up, and her eyes immediately grow wide the second she notices Ben filing in behind me.
“Hey,” I say cheerfully, as if there’s nothing unusual about me bringing home a very good-looking guy whom I’ve never once mentioned before.
We make our way across the living room and Amber’s eyes never leave Ben the entire time. “Hi,” she finally says, still staring at him. “Who are you?” She looks at me and points to Ben. “Who is he?”
Ben steps forward and reaches out his hand. “Benton Kessler,” he says, shaking her hand. He reaches over and shakes Glenn’s hand next. “Just call me Ben, though.” His arm drapes over my shoulders again. “I’m Fallon’s boyfriend.”