November 9

Page 19


Honestly, though, I’m relieved she’s saying these things because I was afraid she would kiss me drunk and convince me we were soul mates by the end of the night. Because Lord knows if she asked, I’d jump right in, knowing it’s the absolute last thing I should do. Guys don’t say no to a girl like her, no matter how unappealing relationships are to him. Guys see boobs coupled with a great sense of humor and think they’ve found the holy fucking grail.
But five years seems like an eternity. I’m pretty sure she won’t even remember tonight after five years. “Will you do me a favor then and look me up when you’re twenty-three?”
She laughs. “Benton James Kessler, you’ll be too famous of a writer in five years to remember little old me.”
“Or maybe you’ll be too famous an actress to remember me.”
She doesn’t respond to that. In fact, if anything, my comment made her sad.
We remain quietly in our positions, face to face on her bed. Even with the scars and the obvious sadness in her eyes, she’s still one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen. Her lips look soft and inviting, and I’m trying to ignore the knots in my stomach, but every time I stare at her mouth, the intensity of trying to hold back actually causes me to grimace. I try not to imagine what it would feel like if I leaned forward and kissed her, but with her this close, I’m really wishing I’d have already somehow read every romance novel ever written, because what the hell makes a kiss book-worthy? I need to know so I can make it happen.
She’s lying on her right side, and with the dress she’s wearing, a lot of her skin is exposed. I can see where the scars begin, right above her wrist, all the way up her arm and neck, pouring across her cheek. I touch her face just like she was touching mine. I can feel her flinch beneath my palm, because I’m touching the part of her she didn’t even want me looking at a few hours ago. I run my thumb over her jaw and then slide my hand down the length of her neck. She’s tense everywhere beneath my touch. “Does this bother you?”
Her eyes flicker back and forth between mine. “I don’t know,” she whispers.
I wonder if I’m the only one who has ever touched her scars before. I’ve had accidents in the past where I’ve burned myself attempting to cook, so I know what it feels like when a burn heals. But her scars are a lot more prominent than a superficial burn. Her skin feels a lot softer to the touch than normal skin. More fragile. There’s something about the way it feels beneath my fingertips that makes me want to keep touching her.
She allows it. For several quiet minutes, neither one of us speaks as I continue running my fingers over her arm and neck. Her eyes moisten, as if she’s on the verge of tears. It makes me wonder if she doesn’t like it. I can understand why this might make her uncomfortable, but for some twisted reason, I feel more comfortable with her right now than I have all day.
“I should hate this for you,” I whisper, trailing my fingers over the scars on her forearm. “I should be angry for you, because going through this must have been excruciatingly painful. But for whatever reason, when I touch you . . . I like the way your skin feels.”
I’m not sure how she’ll take the words that just came out of my mouth. But it’s true. I suddenly feel grateful for her scars . . . because they’re a reminder of how it could have been much worse. She could have died in that fire, and she wouldn’t be next to me right now.
I run my hand down her shoulder, down the length of her arm, and back up again. When my eyes meet hers, there’s evidence of a tear that just trailed down her cheek.
“One of the things I always try to remind myself is that everyone has scars,” she says. “A lot of them even worse than mine. The only difference is that mine are visible and most people’s aren’t.”
I don’t tell her she’s right. I don’t tell her that as beautiful as she looks on the outside, I only wish I could look like that on the inside.
“Shit. Fallon! Shit, shit, shit, dammit, shit, shit.”
I hear Ben cursing like a sailor, but I don’t understand why. I feel his hands meet my shoulders. “Fallon the Transient, wake the hell up!”
I open my eyes and he’s sitting up on the bed, running one hand through his hair. He looks pissed.
I sit up on the bed and rub the sleep out of my eyes.
The sleep.
We fell asleep?
I look over at my alarm clock and it reads 8:15. I reach over and pick it up to bring it closer to my face. That can’t be right.
But it is. It’s 8:15.
“Shit,” I say.
“We missed dinner,” Ben says.
“I know.”
“We slept for two hours.”
“Yeah. I know.”
“We wasted two fucking hours, Fallon.”
He looks genuinely distraught. Cute, but distraught.
“I’m sorry.”
He shoots me a look of confusion. “What? No. Don’t say that. It’s not your fault.”
“I only slept three hours last night,” I say to him. “I’ve been really tired all day.”
“Yeah,” he says with a frustrated sigh. “I didn’t sleep much last night, either.” He pushes himself off the bed. “What time is your flight?”
“Like as in three hours from now?”