Finding Cinderella, Page 3Colleen Hoover
“I didn’t like how he was talking about you,” he says, leaning in to kiss Sky on the side of the head. “It made me think he probably talked about Les the same way and it pissed me off.”
Shit. Of course he would think that. Now I really wish he had let me kick Grayson’s ass that night.
“That’s sweet, Holder,” Six says. “You were protecting her before you even knew her.”
Holder laughs. “Oh, you don’t know the half of it, Six.”
Sky looks up at him and they smile at each other, almost like they have some sort of secret, then they both turn their attention back to the pictures on the floor in front of them.
“What are those?” I ask, inquiring about the pictures they’re looking through.
“For the yearbook,” Six says, answering me. She sets the bowl of ice cream on the bed beside her, then pulls her feet up and sits cross-legged. “Apparently we’re supposed to submit pictures of ourselves as kids for the senior page, so Sky is going through the pics Karen gave her.”
“You go to the same school as us?” I ask, referring to the fact that she included herself in the explanation of the assignment. I know we go to a huge school, but I have a feeling I would remember her, especially if she’s Sky’s best friend.
“I haven’t been to that school since junior year,” she says. “But I’ll be there once Monday rolls around.” She says it like she’s not at all looking forward to it.
I can’t help but smile at her reply, though. I wouldn’t mind having to see this girl on a recurring basis. “So does that mean you’ll be joining our lunchroom alliance?” I lean forward and grab the bowl of ice cream she didn’t finish and pull it to me, then take a bite.
She watches me as I close my lips around the spoon and pull it out of my mouth. She scrunches up her nose, staring at the spoon. “I could have herpes, you know,” she says.
I grin at her and wink. “You somehow just made herpes sound appealing.”
She laughs, but her bowl is suddenly ripped from my hands by Holder and he’s pulling me off the bed. My feet hit the floor and he shoves me toward the window. “Go home, Daniel,” he says, releasing his grip on my shirt as he lowers himself back to the floor next to Sky.
“What the hell, man?” I yell.
Seriously, though. What the hell?
“She’s Sky’s best friend,” he says, waving a hand in Six’s direction. “You’re not allowed to flirt with her. If the two of you mess around it’ll just cause tension and make things weird and I don’t want that. Now leave and don’t come back until you can be around her without having the perverted thoughts I know are going through your head right now.”
For the first time in my life, I think I’m actually speechless. Perhaps I should nod and agree with him, but the idiot just made the biggest mistake he could possibly make.
“Shit, Holder,” I groan, running my palms down my face. “Why the hell did you have to go and do that? You just made her off-limits, man.” I begin to make my way back out the window. Once I’m outside, I stick my head back through and look at him. “You should have told me I should date her, then I more than likely wouldn’t have been interested. But you had to go and make her forbidden, didn’t you.”
“Gee, Daniel,” Six says, unenthusiastically. “Glad to know you think of me as a human being and not a challenge.” She looks at Holder as she stands up from the bed. “And I didn’t realize I had a fifth overprotective brother,” she says, making her way toward the window. “I’ll see you guys later. I probably need to go rummage through my own pictures before Monday, anyway.”
Holder glances back at me as I step aside and allow Six to climb out the window. He doesn’t say anything, but the look he gives me is a silent warning that Six is completely off-limits to me. I raise my hands in defense, then pull the window shut after Six is outside. She walks a few feet to the house next door and begins to climb through that window.
“Do you take short-cuts through windows all the time, or do you happen to live in that house?” I ask, walking toward her. Once she’s inside, she spins around and leans her head out. “This would be my window,” she says. “And don’t even think about following me inside. This window has been out of commission for almost a year and I have no plans to reopen for business.”
She tucks her shoulder-length blonde hair behind her ears and I take a step back, hoping a little distance will allow my heart to stop attacking the walls of my chest. But now that Holder has stupidly declared her off-limits, all I want to do is figure out a way to recommission her window.
“You really have four older brothers?”
She nods. I hate the fact that she has four older brothers, but only because it presents four more reasons why I shouldn’t date her. Add that to Holder making her off-limits and I know she’s the only thing I’ll be able to think about now.
Thanks, Holder. Thanks a lot.
She rests her chin in her hands and stares at me. It’s dark outside, but the moon overhead is casting a light right on her face and she looks like a fucking angel. I don’t even know if people should use the words fucking and angel in the same thought structure, but shit. She really looks like a fucking angel with her blonde hair and big eyes. I’m not even sure what color her eyes are because it’s dark and I didn’t really pay attention when we were in Sky’s bedroom, but whatever color they are, it’s my new favorite color.
“You’re very charismatic,” she says.
Jesus. Her voice completely slays me. “Thanks. You’re pretty cute yourself.”
She laughs. “I didn’t say you were cute, Daniel. I said you were charismatic. There’s a difference.”
“Not much of one,” I say. “You like Italian?”
She frowns and pulls back a few inches like I just insulted her. “Why would you ask me that?”
Her reaction confuses me. I have no idea how that comment could have offended her. “Uh . . . have you never been asked out on a date before?”
The scowl disappears from her face and she leans forward again. “Oh. You mean food. I’m sort of tired of Italian food, actually. Just got back from a seven-month exchange there. If you’re asking me out on a date, I’d rather have sushi.”
“I’ve never had sushi,” I admit, trying to process the fact that I’m pretty sure she just agreed to go out on a date with me.
This was way too easy. I figured she’d put up a fight and make me beg a little like Val always does. I love that she isn’t playing games. She’s straightforward and I like that about her already.
“I can’t take you tonight,” I say. “I had my heart completely broken about an hour ago by a psychotic bitch and I need a little more time to recover from that relationship. How about tomorrow night?”
“Tomorrow is Sunday,” she says.
“Do you have an issue with Sundays?”
She laughs. “Not really, I guess. It just seems odd to go on a first date on a Sunday night. Meet me here at seven o’clock, then.”
“I’ll meet you at your front door,” I say. “And you might not want to tell Sky where you’re going unless you want to see me get my ass kicked.”
“What’s to tell?” she says sarcastically. “It’s not like we’re going on a random Sunday night date or anything.”
I smile and back away, slowly heading backward to my car. “It was nice to meet you, Six.”
She places her hand on her window to pull it down. “Likewise. I think.”
I laugh, then turn to head toward my car. I’m almost to the door when she calls my name. I spin back around and she’s leaning out her window.
“I’m sorry about your broken heart,” she whispers loudly. She ducks back into her bedroom and the window closes.
What broken heart? I’m pretty sure this is the first time my heart has actually felt any form of relief since the moment I started dating Val.
“Does this look okay?” I ask Chunk when I make it into the kitche
n. She turns and looks me up and down, then shrugs.
“I guess. Where ya going?”
I step in front of one of the mirrors lining the hallway and check my hair again. “A date.”
She groans, then turns back around to the table in front of her. “You’ve never cared before what you look like. You better not be proposing to her. I’ll divorce this family before I allow you to make her my sister.”
My mother walks past me and pats me on the shoulder. “You look great, honey. I wouldn’t wear those shoes, though.”
I look down at my shoes. “Why? What’s wrong with my shoes?”
She opens a cabinet, takes out a pan, then turns to face me. Her eyes fall to my shoes again. “They’re too bright.” She turns and walks to the stove. “Shoes should never be neon.”
“They’re yellow. Not neon.”
“Neon yellow,” Chunk says.
“Not saying I think they’re ugly,” my mother says. “I just know Val, and Val is more than likely going to hate your shoes.”
I walk to the kitchen counter and grab my keys, then put my cell phone in my pocket. “I don’t give a shit what Val thinks.”
My mother turns and looks at me curiously. “Well you’re asking your thirteen-year-old sister if you look good enough for your date, so I think you kind of do care what Val thinks.”
“I’m not going out with Val. I broke up with Val. I have a new date tonight.”
Chunk’s arms go up in the air and she looks up to the ceiling. “Thank the Lord!” she proclaims loudly.
My mother laughs and nods. “Yes. Thank the Lord,” she says, relieved. She turns back toward the stove and I can’t stop looking back and forth between the both of them.
“What? Neither of you like Val?” I know Val is a bitch, but my family seemed to like her. Especially my mom. I honestly thought she’d be upset we broke up.
“I hate Val,” Chunk says.
“God, me, too,” my mother groans.
“Me three,” my father says, walking past me.
None of them are looking at me, but they’re all responding like this has been a previously discussed topic.
“You mean all of you hated Val?”
My father turns to face me. “Your mother and I are masters at reverse psychology, Danny-boy. Don’t act so surprised.”
Chunk raises her hand in the air toward my father. “Me, too, Dad. I reverse psychologized him, too.”
My dad reaches over and high-fives Chunk’s hand. “Well played, Chunk.”
I lean against the frame of the door and stare at them. “You guys were just pretending to like Val? What the hell for?”
My dad sits at the table and picks up a newspaper. “Children are naturally inclined to make choices that will displease their parents. If we had told you how we really felt about Val, you probably would have ended up marrying her just to spite us. Which is why we pretended to love her.”
Assholes. All three of them. “You’re never meeting another one of my girlfriends again.”
My father laughs, but doesn’t seem at all disappointed.
“Who is she?” Chunk asks. “The girl you’re actually making an effort for.”
“None of your damn business,” I reply. “Now that I know how this family works, I’m never bringing her around any of you.”
I turn to head out the door and my mother calls after me. “Well if it helps, we already love her, Daniel! She’s a sweetheart!”
“And beautiful,” my dad says. “She’s a keeper!”
I shake my head. “Y’all suck.”
• • •
“You’re late,” Six says when she appears at her front door. She walks out of her house with her back to me, inserting her key in the lock.
“You don’t want me to meet your parents?” I ask, wondering why she’s locking her door this early in the evening. She turns around and faces me.
“They’re old. They ate dinner like ten hours ago and went to bed at seven.”
Blue. Her eyes are blue.
Holy shit, she’s cute. Her hair is lighter than I thought it was last night in Sky’s room. Her skin is flawless. It’s like she’s the same girl from last night, only now she’s in HD. And I was right. She really does look like a fucking angel.
She steps out of the way and I shut the screen door, still unable to take my eyes off her. “I actually got here early,” I say, finally replying to her first comment. “Holder was dropping Sky off at her house and I swear it took them half an hour to say their good-byes. I had to wait until the coast was clear.”
She slides her house key into her back pocket and nods. “Ready?”
I eye her up and down. “Did you forget your purse?”
She shakes her head. “Nope. I hate purses.” She pats her back pocket. “All I need is my house key. I didn’t bother bringing money since this date was your idea. You’re paying, right?”
Let’s assess the last thirty seconds, shall we?
She hates purses. That means she didn’t bring makeup. Which means she won’t constantly be reapplying that shit like Val does. It also means she’s not hiding a gallon of perfume anywhere on her person. And it also means she had no plans at all to offer to pay for her half of dinner, which seems a little old-fashioned but for some reason I like it.
“I love that you don’t carry a purse,” I say.
“I love that you don’t carry one, either,” she says with a laugh.
“I do. It’s in my car,” I say, nudging my head toward my car.
She laughs again and begins walking toward the porch steps. I do the same until I see Sky standing just inside her room with her window wide open. I immediately grab Six by her shoulders and pull her until both of our backs are flat against the front door. “You can see Sky’s window from the front yard. She’ll see us.”
Six glances up at me. “You’re really taking this off-limits order seriously,” she says in a hushed voice.
“I have to,” I whisper. “Holder doesn’t kid around when he forbids me to date people.”
She arches a curious eyebrow. “Does Holder usually dictate who you can and can’t date?”
“No. You’re actually the first.”
She laughs. “Then how do you know he’ll actually get mad over it?”
I shrug. “I don’t, really. But the thought of hiding it from him just seems sort of fun. Is it not a little bit exciting for you, hiding this date from Sky?”
“Yeah,” she says with a shrug. “I guess it is.”
Our backs are still pressed against the door and for some reason, we’re still whispering. It’s not like Sky could hear us from here, but again, the whispering makes it more fun. And I really like the sound of Six’s voice when she whispers.
“How do you propose we get out of this situation, Six?”
“Well,” she says, pondering my question for a moment. “Normally when I’m attempting a risky, clandestine, secret date and I need to escape my house undetected, I ask myself, ‘What would MacGyver do?’”
Oh, my god, this chick just mentioned MacGyver?
I break my eyes away from hers long enough to hide the fact that I think I just fell for her and also to assess our escape route. I glance at the swing on the porch, then look back at Six when I’m sure the cheesy grin is gone from my face.
“I think MacGyver would take your porch swing and build an invisible force field out of grass and matches. Then he would attach a jet engine to it and fly it out of here undetected. Unfortunately I’m all out of matches.”
She laughs. “Hmmm,” she says, squinting her eyes like she’s coming up with some brilliant plan. “That’s an unfortunate inconvenience.” She glances to my car parked in her driveway, then back up to me. “We could just crawl to your car so she doesn’t see us.”
And a brilliant plan it would be if it didn’t involve a girl getting dirty. I’ve learned in my six months
of on-again off-again with Val that girls don’t like to get dirty.
“You’ll get dirt on your hands,” I warn her. “I don’t think you can walk into a fancy sushi restaurant with dirty hands and jeans.”
She looks down at her jeans, then back up to me. “I know this great Bar-B-Q restaurant we could go to, instead. The floor is covered in discarded peanut shells. One time I saw this really fat guy eating at a booth and he wasn’t even wearing a shirt.”
I smile at the same time I fall a little harder for her. “Sounds perfect.”
We both drop to our hands and knees and crawl our way off her porch. She’s giggling and her laugh is just making me laugh. “Shh,” I whisper when we reach the bottom of the steps. We crawl across the yard in a hurry, both of us glancing toward Sky’s house every few feet. Once we reach the car, I reach up to my door handle. “Crawl through the driver’s side,” I say to her. “She’ll be less likely to see you.”