November 9

Page 16


His forehead is still resting against mine, and I can feel his breath crashing against my lips. I have a feeling his eyes are wide open, though, and he’s staring down between us, watching his hands as they work down my zipper.
When the zipper reaches its destination, he slides his hands between my jeans and hips—casually enough for me to believe it doesn’t even bother him that he’s touching the scars on my left side. He pushes my jeans down over my hips and then begins to slowly lower himself as he slides them down the length of my legs. The breath from his mouth moves down my body until I feel it stop at my stomach, but his lips never once touch my skin.
When my jeans are at my feet, I step out of them one foot at a time.
I have no idea what happens next. What happens next? What. Happens. Next?
My eyes are still closed, and I have no idea if he’s standing or kneeling or walking away.
“Lift your arms,” he says.
His voice is rough and close, and it startles me to the point that my eyes flick open involuntarily. He’s standing directly in front of me, holding the dress he dropped to the floor earlier.
I look up at him, and I absolutely wasn’t expecting to see this look on his face. His eyes are so heated and fierce, it’s as if it’s taking every last ounce of his restraint not to remove my last two items of clothing.
He clears his throat. “Please lift your arms, Fallon.”
I lift them, and he raises the dress over my head and slips it down my arms. He pulls it until my head slips through and he keeps pulling it, adjusting it over my curves. When the dress is finally in place, he lifts my hair and lets it fall down my back. He takes a half step back and eyes me up and down. He clears his throat, but his voice still comes out raspy when he speaks.
“Fucking beautiful,” he says with a slow grin. “And red.”
I look down at the dress, but it’s definitely black.
“Your panties,” he says as clarification. “They’re red.”
I let out a burst of what I thought was going to be laughter, but it sounds more like a warbled cry. That’s when I realize tears are still streaming down my cheeks, so I bring my hands to my face and attempt to wipe them away, but they keep coming.
I can’t believe he just undressed me to prove a point. I can’t believe I allowed it. Now I know exactly what Ben meant when he said he finds it difficult to control his indignation in the presence of absurdity. He thinks my insecurities are absurd, and he took it upon himself to prove that to me.
Ben steps forward and wraps his arms around me. Everything about him is comforting and warm and I have no idea how to respond. One of his hands meets the back of my head and he presses my face against his chest. I’m now laughing at the ridiculousness that is my tears, because who does this? Who cries when a guy undresses her for the first time?
“That’s a record,” Ben says, pulling me away from his chest so he can look down at me. “Made my girlfriend cry less than three hours into our relationship.”
I laugh again, and then I press my face to his chest and hug him back, because why couldn’t he have been there the second I woke up in the hospital two years ago? Why did I have to go two whole years before finally being given the tiniest bit of confidence?
After another minute or two of me trying to rein in my erratic emotions, I’m finally calm enough to realize that he doesn’t smell so good when my face is pressed against a shirt he’s been wearing for two days.
I take a step back and run my fingers under my eyes again. I’m not crying anymore, but I’m sure mascara is everywhere now.
“I’ll wear this stupid dress on one condition,” I say. “You have to go home and take a shower first.”
His smile widens. “That was already part of my plan.”
We stand in silence for a bit longer, and then I can’t take being in this closet for another second. I push his shoulders and shove him out into the bedroom. “It’s almost four o’clock now,” I tell him. “Be back at six and I’ll be dressed and ready to go.”
He walks toward the door to my bedroom, but faces me again before he exits. “I want you to wear your hair up tonight.”
“Don’t push your luck.”
He laughs. “Why the hell does luck exist if I’m not supposed to push it?”
I point at the door. “Go. Shower. And shave while you’re at it.”
He opens the door and begins to back out. “Shave, huh? You plan on putting those lips on my face tonight?”
“Go,” I say with an exasperated laugh.
He shuts the door, but I can still hear what he says to Amber and Glenn as soon as he walks into the living room. “They’re red! Her panties are red!”
What the hell am I doing?
She’s moving to New York. It’s dinner. That’s it.
But seriously, what the hell am I doing? I shouldn’t be doing this.
I pull on a pair of jeans and walk to my closet to find a clean shirt. Right when I get the shirt over my head, the door swings open.
“Hey,” Kyle says, leaning against the doorframe. “Nice of you to come home for a change.” Jesus. Not now. “Want to have dinner with me and Jordyn tonight?”
“Can’t. I have a date.” I walk to my dresser and grab my cologne. I can’t believe Fallon willingly got as close to me as she did with the way I smelled today. It’s a little embarrassing.
“Oh yeah? With who?”