November 9

Page 28


Ben opens a door and motions for me to walk in first. He smiles at me as I walk into his room, but his smile feels forced.
He has no right to be upset with me. We agreed to meet today and yes, I was late, but I showed up. I spin around and put my hands on my hips, ready to defend myself if he says another word about how little time we have. He closes the door and leans against it, but rather than bring it up again, he begins to kick off his shoes. The disappointment is gone from his face and he actually looks . . . I don’t know . . . happy.
After his shoes are off, he steps quickly toward me and shoves me. I let out a shriek when I fall backward, but before I can panic, my back meets a cloud. Or a bed. Whatever it is, it’s the most comfortable thing I’ve ever lain on.
He steps forward with a smirk on his face and a gleam in his eye. “Let’s get comfortable,” he says. “We have a lot of talking to do.” He stands between my knees and lifts one of my legs to remove my shoe. They’re just flats, so he slides it off easily. Rather than drop my foot, he runs his hand slowly down my leg as he lowers it to the bed.
I forgot how hot it is in California. He really needs to turn on a fan.
He lifts my other leg and removes that shoe in the same fashion, moving his hand down my leg at a torturous pace, all the while grinning at me.
Is the elevation different here than in New York? God, it’s so hard to breathe in this room.
Once I’m barefoot, he steps around me and takes a seat at the head of the bed.
“Come here,” he says.
I flip onto my stomach and he’s lying on a pillow with his head propped up on his hand. He pats the pillow next to him. “I don’t bite.”
“Damn shame,” I say as I crawl my way to where he is. I lie down on the pillow and face him. “Ninety percent of our time together since we met has been spent on a bed.”
“Nothing wrong with that. I love your hair.”
His words send me into a tizzy, but I smile like I hear it every day. “Why, thank you.”
We quietly take each other in for a moment. I was starting to forget what he looked like, but now that I’m in front of him it’s like I never even left. He looks less like a teenager now than he did last year. And it makes me wonder if, when I see him again next year, he’ll look just like a man. Not that there’s any difference between a man and a nineteen-year-old, because they’re the same thing.
“We don’t have much time,” he says. “I have a ton of questions. I have a book to write and I know absolutely nothing about you.”
I open my mouth to argue, because it seems like he knows everything about me. But then I clamp it shut, because I guess he doesn’t really know much about me. We only spent one day together.
“Did you write anything this year?”
He nods. “I did. Did you kiss anyone this year?”
I nod. “I did. Did you?”
He shrugs.
“Did you, Ben?”
He nods. “A few.”
I try not to let that affect me, but exactly how many constitutes a few?
“And did you compare them all to me?”
He shakes his head. “I told you last year, that’s completely unfair to the rest of the female population. You’re incomparable.”
I’m so glad I came today. I don’t care if I don’t sleep for a week, it would be worth it just to have that compliment.
“How about your guys? Did you go on all five dates?”
“Guy,” I correct him. “There was just one. I tried.”
He raises an eyebrow, so I immediately go into defense mode. “Ben, you can’t expect me to put myself out there in a brand-new state when I’ve never really been out there. It takes time. I was so proud when I kissed the one guy. He thought I was stoked because of the kiss, but I was only happy because I crossed something off my homework.”
He laughs. “Well, one will do, I guess. But that means your homework for this year just got a lot harder.”
“Yeah, well. So will yours, then. And speaking of, I want proof of this book you’re writing. I want to read something you wrote about us.”
“No,” he says immediately.
I lift up on the bed. “What? No? You can’t tell me you wrote this year and not prove it to me. Give me something.”
“I don’t like people to read what I write.”
I laugh. “Seriously? That’s like an opera singer refusing to make sound when she performs.”
“It’s nothing like that. I’ll let you read it when I’m finished.”
“You’re going to make me wait four years?”
His lip curls up in a grin when he nods.
I fall back down onto the pillow with a defeated flop. “Sigh.”
“Did you just say sigh? Out loud? Instead of actually sighing?”
“Eye roll.”
He laughs and scoots closer to me. Now I’m looking up and he’s looking down and that would be fine and dandy if he wasn’t looking at me like he’s planning out exactly how his lips are going to mesh with mine.
I suck in a breath as his hand slides over my jaw. “I missed you, Fallon,” he whispers. “A lot. And screw it if I’m not supposed to admit that, but I tried the whole alpha-male thing for two seconds and I just can’t do it. So you don’t get alpha-Ben today. I’m sorry.”
Wow. Is he . . .
He is.
“Ben,” I say, narrowing my eyes. “Are you . . . booksting me?”