Home > November 9(13)

November 9(13)
Author: Colleen Hoover

He pushes out his bottom lip in a pout. I roll my eyes and lead him down the hall to my room.

Amber and I have been best friends for over two years now. As soon as we graduated high school, we moved into this apartment together. Which means I’ve only lived here for six months, so it feels like I’m packing up all the things I just unpacked.

When we walk into my room, Ben closes the door behind him. His eyes wander around the room, so I allow him a few minutes to be nosy while I open my suitcase. The apartment I’m moving into in New York is fully furnished, so really, the only things I have to take with me are clothes and toiletries. Everything else is at my mom’s house.

“You’re a reader?” he asks.

I look over my shoulder and he’s fingering the books on my shelves. “I love to read. You should hurry up and write a book, because it’s already on my TBR pile.”

“Your TBR pile?”

“To be read pile,” I clarify.

He pulls one of the books from the shelf and reads the back of it. “I hate to tell you this, but I don’t think you’ll like whatever books I end up writing.” He slips the book back on the shelf and grabs another one. “You seem to favor romance novels, and that’s not up my alley.”

I stop perusing the shirts in my closet and stare at him. “No,” I say with a groan. “Please don’t tell me you’re one of those pretentious readers who judge people by the books they like.”

He immediately shakes his head. “Not at all. I just don’t know anything about writing romance. I’m eighteen. Hardly an expert when it comes to love.”

I walk out of the closet and lean against the door. “You’ve never been in love before?”

He nods. “Of course I have, but not the kind worthy of a romance novel, so I have no business writing about it.” He plops down on the bed and leans against the headboard, watching me.

“Do you think Stephen King was actually murdered by a clown in real life?” I ask him. “Did Shakespeare really down a vial of poison? Of course not, Ben. It’s called fiction for a reason. You make the shit up.”

He smiles at me from his position on the bed, and the sight of him sitting there makes my cheeks feel all hot and bothered. I suddenly want to beg him to roll around on my sheets so I can smell him when I fall asleep tonight. But then I remember I won’t be sleeping on them tonight because I’ll be on a flight to New York. I turn around and face my closet again so he doesn’t see the flushed look on my face.

He laughs quietly. “You were just thinking dirty thoughts.”

“Was not,” I quip.

“Fallon, we’ve been dating for two hours now. I can read you like a book, and right now I do believe that book is full of erotica.”

I laugh and begin pulling shirts off their hangers. I don’t want to bother folding them yet until I figure out how I’m going to pack them, so I just toss them in the middle of the bedroom floor.

I pull down about a quarter of the shirts in my closet before I glance back at Ben again. His hands are propped up behind his head and he’s watching me pack. I didn’t really expect him to help me once we got here, because he’d probably be more in the way than anything. But Ben acknowledging this, too, makes me feel good that he still seemed excited to spend more time with me.

I decided on our drive over that I wasn’t going to question his motives. Of course the insecure side of me still wonders what the hell a guy like him is doing spending time with a girl like me, but every time that thought creeps into my head, I remind myself of the conversation we had on the bench. And I tell myself that everything he said seemed genuine—that he really does find me attractive somehow. And honestly, does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? I’m moving to the opposite end of the country, so it’s not like whatever happens in the next few hours will impact my life one way or another. Who cares if the guy just wants to get in my pants? I’d actually prefer it if that’s all he wanted. It’s the first time in two years someone has made me feel desirable, so I’m not going to beat myself up over the fact that I’m enjoying it as much as I am.

I walk to my dresser and hear him dialing a number on his phone. I’m quiet as he makes the call.

“Can I get a reservation for two tonight at seven?”

The silence after that question is palpable as I wait to hear what he says next. My heart has gotten more of a workout in the past two hours than it has in the entire past two months.

“Benton Kessler. K-E-S-S-L-E-R.” More silence. “Perfect. Thank you so much.” More silence.

I’m digging through my top drawer, acting like I’m not praying to the Lord that he intends for me to be his plus one at that dinner. I hear him shift on the bed and stand up, so I turn around to see him walking toward me. He grins and then peeks over my shoulder at the drawer I’m rifling through.

“Is that your panty drawer?” He reaches around and grabs a pair. I pull them out of his hand and toss them toward my suitcase.

“Hands off,” I tell him.

He walks around me and leans his elbow against the dresser. “If you’re packing underwear, that means you don’t go commando. So by process of elimination, I’ve figured out that you’re currently wearing a thong. Now I just have to find out what color it is.”

I toss the contents of my drawer toward my suitcase. “It takes a lot more than smooth talk to get me down to my panties, Ben the Writer.”

He grins. “Oh yeah? Like what? A fancy dinner?” He pushes off the dresser and stands up straight, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans. “Because it just so happens I have reservations at the Chateau Marmont tonight at seven.”

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