Finding cinderella, p.11
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       Finding Cinderella, p.11

         Part #2. 5 of Hopeless series by Colleen Hoover
 
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  if it’s the fact that I didn’t have a say in whatever decision she made or if it’s because she was even put into that situation to have to make that kind of decision to begin with.

  I’m pissed I wasn’t there to help her. I’m pissed I was careless enough to make a girl go through something like that.

  I’m sad because . . . hell. I’m sad that I’m so mad at her. I’m sad I have to know something this overwhelming and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it now, even if I wanted to. I’m sad because I’m sitting here in a parked car and I’m about to have a breakdown in front of my best friend and I really don’t want to do that but it’s too late.

  I punch the steering wheel the second I begin to cry. I punch it several times, over and over, until the car begins to close in on me and I need to get the hell out of it. I open the door and climb out, then turn around and kick my tire. I kick it over and over until my foot starts to go numb, then I collapse against the hood onto my elbows. I press my forehead against the cold metal of the car and focus on burying this anger.

  It’s not her fault.

  It’s not her fault.

  It’s not her fault.

  When I’m finally calm enough to return to the car, Holder is sitting quietly in the passenger seat, watching me closely.

  “You want to talk about it?” he asks.

  I shake my head. “Nope.”

  He nods. He’s probably relieved I don’t want to talk about it.

  “What do you want to do?” he asks.

  I wrap my fingers around the steering wheel, then crank the car. “I don’t care what we do.”

  “Me neither.”

  I put the car in drive.

  “We could go to Breckin’s house and let you get your aggression out on a video game,” he suggests.

  I nod, then begin to drive toward Breckin’s house. “You better not fucking tell him I cried.”

  Chapter Eight

  “You look like hell,” Holder says, leaning against the locker next to mine. “Did you even sleep last night?”

  I shake my head. Of course I didn’t sleep. How the hell could I have slept? I knew she wasn’t sleeping, so there’s no way in hell I could have slept.

  “You gonna tell me what happened?” he asks. I shut my locker, but keep my hand on it as I look down at the floor and slowly inhale.

  “No. I know I usually tell you everything, but not this, Holder.”

  He taps the locker next to him a couple of times with his fist, then he pushes off of it. “Six isn’t telling Sky anything, either. Not sure what happened, but . . .” He looks at me until I make eye contact with him. “I like you with her. Get it worked out, Daniel.”

  He walks away and I close my locker. I wait next to it for a few minutes more than necessary because my next class is down the hallway where Six’s locker is. I haven’t seen her since she left the park last night and I’m not sure I really want to see her. I’m not sure about anything. I have so many questions to ask her but just thinking about having to ask her any of them makes my chest hurt so bad I can’t fucking breathe.

  After the final bell rings, I decide to walk to my next class. I debated staying home from school altogether, but I figured it would be worse just sitting in my room thinking about it all day. I’d rather be preoccupied for as long as I can today because I know as soon as school is out I need to confront her.

  Or maybe I’m supposed to confront her right now, because as soon as I round the corner, my eyes land on her.

  I come to a quiet stop and watch her. She’s the only one in the hallway right now. She’s standing still, facing her locker. I want to walk away before she sees me, but I can’t stop watching her. Her whole demeanor is heartbroken and I want so bad to rush over to her and wrap my arms around her but . . . I can’t. I want to scream at her and hug her and kiss her and blame her for every single jumbled-up emotion I’ve spent the last day trying to process.

  I sigh heavily and she turns to look at me. I’m far enough away that I can’t hear her crying, but close enough I can see the tears. Neither one of us moves. We just stare. Several moments pass and I can see she’s hoping I say something to her.

  I clear my throat and begin walking toward her. The closer I get, the louder her soft cry becomes. I get about five feet away, then I pause. The closer I get to her, the harder it is to breathe.

  “Is he . . .” I close my eyes and pass a calming breath, then open them again and try my hardest to finish my sentence with dry eyes. “When you talked about the boy who broke your heart in Italy . . . you were referring to him, weren’t you. The baby?”

  I can barely see the nod of her head when she confirms my thoughts. I squeeze my eyes shut and tilt my head back.

  I didn’t know hearts could literally ache like this. It hurts so much I want to reach inside and rip it out of my chest so I’ll never feel this again.

  I can’t do this. Not right here. We can’t stand in the hallway of a high school and have this discussion.

  I turn around before I open my eyes so I don’t have to see the look on her face again. I walk straight to my classroom and open the door, then walk inside without looking back at her.

  Chapter Nine

  I don’t know why I’m still here. I don’t want to be here and I’m pretty sure I’ll leave in half an hour. I just can’t leave before then because I’m scared of what she might think if I don’t show up to lunch. I could text her and tell her I’ll talk to her later, but I’m not even sure I feel like sending her a text yet. There’s still so much I have to process, I’d rather just ignore it all until I find the strength to sort through everything.

  I walk through the cafeteria doors and head straight to our table. There’s no way I can eat lunch so I don’t even bother getting food. Breckin is sitting in my usual spot next to Six, but that’s probably a good thing. Not so sure I could sit by her right now, anyway.

  Her eyes are focused on the textbook in front of her. She’s not crying anymore. I take a seat across from her and I know she knows I just sat down, but her eyes never move. Sky and Holder are deep in conversation with Breckin, so I watch them, trying to find a spot to jump in.

  I can’t though, because I’m completely unable to pay attention. I keep stealing glances at her to make sure she isn’t crying or to see if she’s looking at me. She never does either of those things.

  “You’re not eating?” Breckin says, stealing my attention.

  I shake my head. “Not hungry.”

  “You need to eat something,” Holder says. “And a nap might do you some good, too. Maybe you should go home.”

  I nod, but don’t say anything.

  “If you do go home, you should take Six with you,” Sky says. “You both look like you could use a nap.”

  I don’t even respond to that with a nod. My eyes fall back to Six just in time to see a tear land on a page in front of her. She quickly swipes it away with her hand and flips the page over.

  Fuck if that just didn’t make me feel like complete shit.

  I continue to watch her and tears continue to fall onto the pages, one by one. Her hand is always quick to wipe them away before anyone notices and she always flips to a new page before she could even possibly have read the last one.

  “Get up, Breckin,” I say. He looks at me blankly, but doesn’t make an effort to move. “I want your seat. Get up.”

  He finally realizes what I’m saying, so he quickly stands up. I stand and walk around the table, then I take a seat next to her. I sit down beside her and when I do, she brings her arms onto the table. She folds them and buries her head into the crease in her elbow. I watch as her shoulders begin to shake and dammit if I can allow her to keep feeling this way. I wrap an arm around her and lower my forehead to the side of her head and I close my eyes. I don’t say anything. I don’t do anything. I just hold her while she cries into her arms.

  “Daniel,” I hear her say through her muffled tears. She lifts her head and looks up at me.
Daniel, I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” Her tears become sobs and her sobs become too much. It’s too fucking much.

  I pull her to my chest. “Shh,” I say into her hair. “Don’t. Don’t apologize.”

  Her body becomes limp against mine and everyone in the cafeteria is beginning to stare at us. I want to hold her and tell her how sorry I am for allowing her to walk away last night, but she needs privacy. I wrap my arm tighter around her, then scoop her legs up into my other arm. I pull her against me, then stand up and carry her out into the hallway. I keep walking until I round the corner and find our room. She’s still crying against my chest, wrapped tightly around me. I open the door to the maintenance closet, then I close it behind us. I back up to the door and slide down until I meet the floor, still holding her in my arms.

  “Six,” I say, lowering my mouth to her ear. “I want you to try to stop crying, because I have so much I want to say to you.”

  I feel her nod against my chest and I remain quiet, waiting on her to calm down. Several minutes pass before she’s finally quiet enough for me to continue.

  “First of all, I am so sorry for letting you walk away last night but I don’t want you to think for one second it was because I was judging your choices. Okay? I’m not about to put myself in your shoes and tell you that you made a bad choice, because I wasn’t there and I have no clue how hard that must have been for you.”

  I adjust her and straighten out my legs so she’s forced to sit up and look at me. I pull one of her legs to the other side of me until she’s facing me. “I’m just sad, okay? That’s all this is. I’m allowed to be sad about this and I need you to let me be sad because this is a whole hell of a lot to process in a day.”

  She pulls her lips into a thin line and she nods while I wipe away her tears with both my thumbs. “I have so many questions, Six. And I know you’ll answer them when you’re ready, but I can wait. If you need me to give you time I can.”

  She shakes her head. “Daniel. He’s your son. I’ll answer any question you ask me. I just don’t know if you want to hear the answers because . . .” She squeezes her eyes shut to hold back more tears. “Because I think I made the wrong choice and it’s too late. It’s too late to go back now.”

  She’s crying hard again, so I wrap my arms around her and hug her.

  “If I knew he was yours or that I would eventually find you I would have never done it, Daniel. I would have never given him up but I did and now you’re here and it’s too late because I don’t know where he is and I’m sorry. God, I’m so sorry.”

  I shake my head, wishing she would stop. It’s hurting me more to see her upset with herself than anything else about this whole situation.

  “Listen to me, Six.” I pull back and look her in the eyes, holding her face firmly between my hands. “You made a choice for him. Not for yourself. Not for me. You did what was best for him and I will never be able to thank you enough for that. And please don’t think this changes how I feel about you. If anything, it just lets me know that I’m not crazy. For the past month I’ve been thinking my feelings for you couldn’t be real because there are so many of them and they’re so much. Too much sometimes. I constantly have to bite my tongue when I’m around you because all I’ve been wanting to do lately is tell you how much I love you. But it’s only been a month since we met and the only other time I’ve said those words out loud to a girl was over a year ago. Right here on this floor. And you wouldn’t believe how real I wanted that moment to be for us, Six. I know I didn’t know you but my God, I wished I did. And now that I do know you . . . really know you . . . I know it’s real. I love you. And knowing what we shared last year and now knowing what you had to go through and how it’s made you exactly who you are right now . . . it just blows my mind. It blows my mind that I get to love you.”

  I feel her hands wiping tears from my cheeks when I lean in to kiss her. I pull her against me and she pulls me against her and I have no plans to ever let her go. I kiss her until her hands move up to my face and she pulls her lips from mine. Our foreheads meet and she’s still crying, but her tears are different now. I feel like they’re tears of relief rather than tears of worry.

  “I’m so happy it’s you,” she says, keeping her hands locked on my face. “I’m so happy it was you.”

  I pull her against me and hold her. I hold her for so long that the bell rings and the hallway fills and empties and another bell rings and we’re still sitting here together, holding on to each other when the silence in the hallway returns. I’m periodically pressing kisses into her hair, stroking her back, kissing her forehead.

  “He looked like you,” she says quietly. Her hand is lightly trailing up and down my arm and her cheek is pressed against my chest. “He had your brown eyes and he was kind of bald, but I could tell he was going to have brown hair. And he had your mouth. You have a great mouth.”

  I rub my hand up her back and kiss the top of her head. “He’s got it made,” I say. “Looks just like his daddy, hopefully acts like his mommy, and he’ll have a nice Italian accent. Kid won’t have any problems in life.”

  She laughs and hearing that sound immediately brings tears to my eyes again. I squeeze her tight against me and rest my cheek against the top of her head and sigh.

  “It’s probably for the best that it all happened like it did,” I say. “If we had decided to keep him I would have ruined him with some stupid nickname. I probably would have called him Salty Balls or some shit like that. I’m not cut out to be a dad yet, obviously.”

  She shakes her head. “You’d be a great dad. And one of these days, Salty Balls will be the perfect nickname for one of our kids. Just not yet.”

  Now I’m the one laughing. “What if we have all girls?”

  She shrugs. “Even better.”

  I smile and keep her held close against me. After last night and being apart from her, knowing how much she was hurting, I know I’ll never want to feel that way again. I never want her to feel that way again.

  “You know what I just realized?” she says. “We’ve already had sex. I’ve been kind of bummed because if I had sex with you, it would have made you the seventh person I’ve ever had sex with and that’s a lot. But you’ll still be the sixth, because I was already counting you and I didn’t even know it.”

  “I like six,” I say. “That’s a good number to be. It’s actually my favorite number.”

  “Don’t get too excited now that you know we’ve already had sex,” she says. “I’m still making you wait.”

  “I’ll wear you down soon enough,” I tease.

  I bring one of my hands up to her head and I hold it while I lean forward and kiss her softly on the lips. I stay close to her mouth and make a confession. “I haven’t brought this up because we haven’t been together that long and I didn’t want to scare you off. But now that I know we have a kid together, it makes it less embarrassing.”

  “Oh, no. What is it?” she asks nervously.

  “We graduate in less than a month. I know you and Sky and Holder were planning on going to the same college in Dallas after the summer. I had already applied to a college in Austin, but after I met you I might have applied to Dallas, too. You know . . . in case things worked out with us. I didn’t like the thought of being five hours apart.”

  She tilts her head and looks up at me. “When did you apply?”

  I shrug like it’s not a big deal. “The night Sky had that dinner for you.”

  She sits up and looks at me. “That was twenty-four hours after we went out for the first time. You applied to my college after knowing me for one day?”

  I nod. “Yeah, but technically I knew you for a whole year. If you look at it that way, it’s way less creepy.”

  She laughs at my logic. “Well? Did you get accepted?”

  I nod. “I might have already made living arrangements with Holder, too.”

  She grins and it’s probably the most I’ve ever loved a smile. “Daniel? This is serious. This
thing with us. It’s pretty intense, huh?”

  I nod. “Yeah. I think we might really be in love this time. No more pretending.”

  She nods. “Things are so serious now, I think it’s time I introduced you to all my brothers.”

  I stop nodding and start shaking my head back and forth. “I may be exaggerating. I don’t love you that much.”

  She laughs. “No, you love me. You love me so much, Daniel. You’ve loved me since the second I let you accidentally touch my boob.”

  “No, I think I’ve loved you since you forced me to stick my tongue in your mouth.”

  She shakes her head. “No, you’ve loved me since I let you kiss me in a crowded restaurant next to a dirty diaper.”

  “Nope. I’ve loved you since you walked through Sky’s bedroom door with that spoon in your mouth.”

  She laughs. “Actually, you’ve loved me since the first time you told me you loved me a year ago. Right here in this room.”

  I shake my head. “I’ve loved you since the moment you fell on top of me and said you hated everybody.”

  She stops smiling. “I’ve loved you since the moment you said you hated everybody, too.”

  “I used to hate everybody,” I say. “Until I met you.”

  “I told you I was unhateable.” She grins.

  “And I told you unhateable isn’t even a real word.”

  Her eyes focus on mine and she takes both my hands, then laces her fingers through them. We stare at each other like we’ve done so many times before, but this time I feel it in every single part of me. I feel her in every part of me and the feeling is new and heavy and intense and I realize in this moment that we just became so much more together than we could ever possibly be alone.

  “I love you, Daniel Wesley,” she whispers.

  “I love you Seven Marie Six Cinderella Jacobs.”

  She laughs. “Thank you for not turning out to be an asshole.”

 
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