November 9

Page 21


I exhale a really, really, really pent-up breath.
“For real though,” Amber says. “Glenn and I can see everything going on in this hallway. I thought I’d intervene before you got pregnant.”
I nod, but I’m unable to speak yet. I think my voice got lost somewhere down Ben’s throat.
He pulls away and looks down at me, and if Amber wasn’t still standing there, I’d be kissing that mouth again.
“Fallon was just walking me out.” His voice is raspy, and it makes me smile, knowing he’s just as physically affected by me as I am by him.
“Uh-huh,” Amber replies. As soon as she disappears from my peripheral vision, Ben grins and his mouth is back on mine. I smile against his lips and grab at his shirt, pulling him closer.
“God, you guys,” Amber groans. “Seriously. It’s five feet back to your bedroom and ten feet to the front door. Make a choice.”
He pulls away again, but this time he pulls all the way away. Like three feet away, until his back meets the wall behind him. His chest is heaving as he runs his hands down his face. He glances back at my bedroom door, and then cuts his eyes to mine. He wants me to make the choice, but I don’t want to. I kind of liked it when he took control and made the decision to kiss me. I don’t want the next decision to be on me.
We stare at each other for what seems like an entire minute. Him wanting me to invite him back to my bedroom. Me wanting him to just push me back in there. Both of us knowing good and well that we should head toward the front door.
He straightens up and shoves his hands in his pockets and clears his throat. “Do you need a ride to the airport?”
“Amber’s driving me,” I say, somewhat disappointed that I do, in fact, already have a ride.
He nods and rocks back and forth on his feet. “Well, the airport is absolutely not in the direction of my house, but . . . I’ll pretend it is if you want me to drive you.”
Dammit, he’s adorable. His words make me feel all warm and fuzzy, and . . . I’m not a damn teddy bear. I need to suck it up.
I don’t accept his offer right away. Amber and I won’t see each other again until she visits New York in March, so I don’t know if she’d be mad if I told her I’d rather a guy I’ve only known half a day drive me to the airport.
“I don’t mind,” Amber says from the living room. Ben and I both look down the hallway. Glenn and Amber are sitting on the couch, staring at us. “Not only can we see you making out from right here, but we can also hear your conversation.”
I know her well enough to know she’s doing me a favor. She winks at me and when I look back at Ben, there’s a little more hope in his expression. I casually fold my arms across my chest and tilt my head. “You don’t happen to live near the airport, do you?”
His mouth pulls into a grin. “Actually, I do. How incredibly convenient.”
Ben spends the next few minutes helping me with last-minute scrambling. I change out of the dress I had planned to wear and settle on yoga pants and a T-shirt so I’ll be comfortable on the flight. He loads my suitcases in his car as I tell Amber goodbye.
“Remember, I’m all yours during spring break,” she says. She hugs me, but neither of us are the type to cry over a silly goodbye. She knows as well as I do that this move is good for me. She’s been one of my biggest cheerleaders since the accident, hoping I find the confidence I lost two years ago. And living inside this apartment isn’t where that’s going to happen. “Call me in the morning so I know you made it okay.”
We finish our goodbyes and then I follow Ben to his car. He walks around to open the door for me, but before I climb inside I take one last look at my apartment door. It’s a bittersweet feeling. I’ve only visited New York a handful of times and I’m not even sure if it’s something I’ll like. But this apartment is too comfortable, and comfort can sometimes be a crutch when it comes to figuring out your life. Goals are achieved through discomfort and hard work. They aren’t achieved when you hide out in a place where you’re nice and cozy.
I feel Ben’s arms wrap around me from behind. He rests his chin on my shoulder. “You having second thoughts?”
I shake my head. I’m nervous, but I’m definitely not having second thoughts. Yet.
“Good,” he says. “Because I didn’t want to have to throw you in the trunk and drive you all the way to New York.”
I laugh, relieved he’s not like my father, selfishly trying to talk me out of taking this step. He keeps his arms wrapped around me as I turn around, but now I’m leaning against the car and he’s staring down at me. I don’t have much time to spare before I have to be checked in at the airport, but I don’t want to rush getting there when I can soak this up for a few more minutes. I’ll just run to my gate if I’m late.
“There’s a quote that reminds me of you, from Dylan Thomas. My favorite poet.”
“What is it?”
A slow smile warms its way across his mouth. He dips his head and whispers the quote against my lips. “‘I have longed to move away but am afraid; Some life, yet unspent, might explode.’”
Wow. He’s good. And he makes it even better by pressing his warm mouth to mine, holding my face in the palms of his hands. I reach up and thread my hands through his hair, allowing him to have complete control over the speed and intensity of this kiss. He keeps it soft and concise, and I imagine he kisses the same way he writes. Gentle strokes of the keys, each word thought through and completed with purpose.