Finding cinderella, p.6
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       Finding Cinderella, p.6
 

         Part #2. 5 of Hopeless series by Colleen Hoover
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  call yourself my girlfriend half as much as I wish you would, then it would save me a whole lot of begging. Because I was literally about to drop to my knees and beg you.”

  She squints her eyes playfully. “No begging. It screams desperation.”

  “You make me desperate,” I say, pressing my lips to hers again. I choose to keep this kiss simple, even though I want to grab her face again and hold her against the wall. I pull away from her and we stare at each other. We stare at each other for so long I begin to worry that she’s put some kind of spell on me, because I’ve never wanted to just stare at a girl like I want to stare at her. Just looking at her causes my heart to burn and my chest to constrict and I’m sort of freaking out that I barely know her at all and we’ve just made ourselves exclusive.

  “Are you a witch?” I ask.

  Her laugh returns and I suddenly don’t care if she’s a witch. If this is some kind of spell she’s put on me, I hope it never breaks.

  “I have no idea who you even are and now you’re my damn girlfriend. What the hell have you done to me?”

  She holds her palms up defensively. “Hey, don’t blame me. I’ve gone eighteen years swearing off boyfriends and then you show up out of the blue with your vulgar mouth and terribly awkward first kisses and now look at me. I’m a hypocrite.”

  “I don’t even know your phone number,” I say.

  “I don’t even know your birthday,” she says.

  “You’re the worst girlfriend I’ve ever had.”

  She laughs and I kiss her again. I notice I have to kiss her every time she laughs and she laughs a lot. Which means I have to kiss her a lot. God, I hope she doesn’t laugh in front of Sky or Holder because it’s going to be so damn hard not to kiss her.

  “You better not tell Sky about us,” I say. “I don’t want Holder to know yet.”

  “What about school? I enroll tomorrow. You don’t think it’ll be obvious when we interact?”

  “We’ll pretend we hate each other. It could be fun.”

  She tilts her face up and finds my mouth again, giving me a light peck. “But how do you plan on keeping your hands off me?”

  I slide my other hand to her waist. “I won’t keep my hands off you. I’ll just touch you when they aren’t looking.”

  “This is gonna be so much fun,” she whispers.

  I smile and pull her against me again. “Damn right it is.” I dip my head and kiss her one last time. I release her, then reach behind her and turn the doorknob, pushing open her front door. “See you tomorrow.”

  She backs up two steps until she’s in her doorway. “See you tomorrow.”

  She begins to turn and head into her house, but I grab her wrist and pull her back out. I wrap an arm around her lower back and lean in until my lips touch hers. “I forgot to accidentally touch your boob.”

  I catch her laugh with my mouth and graze her breast with the palm of my hand, then I immediately pull away from her. “Oops. Sorry.”

  She’s covering her laugh with her hand as she backs into her house. She closes the door and I immediately fall to my knees, then onto my back. I stare straight up at the roof of her porch, wondering what in the hell just happened to my heart.

  The door slowly reopens and she looks down at me, sprawled across her front porch like an idiot.

  “I just needed a minute to recover,” I say, smiling up at her. I’m not even excusing the fact that I’m shamelessly affected by her. She winks, then begins to close the door.

  “Six, wait,” I say, pushing myself up. She opens the door again and I reach up and grab the doorframe, then lean in toward her. “I know I just broke up with someone last night, but I need you to know you aren’t a rebound. You know that, right?”

  She nods. “I know,” she says confidently. “Neither are you.”

  With that, she steps back into her house and closes her door.

  Christ.

  Motherfucking angel.

  Chapter Three

  “Let’s go!” I tell her for the fifth time.

  She grabs her backpack and groans, then stands up and pushes her chair in. “What’s your freakin’ deal, Daniel? You’re never in a hurry to get to school.” She downs the rest of her orange juice. I’m standing at the door where I’ve been standing for five minutes, ready to leave. I hold open the front door and follow her outside.

  Once we’re in the car I don’t even wait for her to shut her door before I’m putting it in reverse.

  “Seriously, why are you in such a hurry?” she asks.

  “I’m not in a hurry,” I say defensively. “You were just being really slow.”

  The last thing she needs to know is how utterly pathetic I am. So pathetic I’ve been awake for two hours now, waiting until we could leave. I probably won’t even see Six until lunch if we don’t have classes together, so I really don’t know why I’m in a hurry.

  I didn’t think about that. I hope we do have classes together.

  “How was your date last night?” Chunk asks as she puts on her seatbelt.

  “Good,” I say.

  “Did you kiss her?”

  “Yep.”

  “Do you like her?”

  “Yep.”

  “What’s her name?”

  “Six.”

  “No, really. What’s her name?”

  “Six.”

  “No, not whatever nickname you gave her. What does everyone else call her?”

  I roll my head and look at her. “Six. They call her Six.”

  Chunk scrunches up her nose. “Weird.”

  “It fits her.”

  “Do you love her?”

  “Nope.”

  “Do you want to?”

  “Ye—”

  Whoa.

  Hold up.

  Do I want to?

  I don’t know. Maybe. Yes? Shit. I don’t know. How screwed up is it that I broke up with a girl two days ago and I’m already contemplating the possibility of loving someone else?

  Well, technically, I don’t think I really loved Val. I sort of thought I did on occasion, but I think if a person is really, truly in love then it has to be unconditional. How I felt about Val was definitely not unconditional. I had conditions for every single feeling I had about her. Hell, the only reason I ever asked her out in the first place is that for about fifteen seconds, I thought she was Cinderella.

  After that experience in the closet last year, that mystery girl was all I could think about. I looked for her everywhere, even though I had no idea what she looked like. I was pretty sure she had blonde hair, but it was dark, so I could have been wrong. I listened to every single girl’s voice I walked past to see if they sounded like her. The problem was, they all sounded like her. It’s hard to memorize a voice when you don’t have a face to back it up with, so I would always find small things that reminded me of her in every girl I spoke to.

  With Val, I actually convinced myself she was Cinderella. I was walking past her in the hallway one afternoon on my way to History class. I’d seen her in the past but never paid much attention to her because she seemed a little high-maintenance for me. I accidentally bumped her shoulder when I passed her because my head was turned and I was talking to someone else. She called out after me, “Watch it, kid.”

  I froze in my tracks. I was too scared to turn around because hearing her use the term “kid” had me convinced I was about to come face to face with the girl from the closet. When I finally gained the courage to turn around, I was floored by how hot she was. I always hoped if I ever found out who Cinderella was that I’d be attracted to her. But Val was way hotter than how I’d been fantasizing.

  I walked back up to her and made her repeat what she said. She looked shocked, but she repeated it anyway. When the words fell from her mouth again, I immediately leaned forward and kissed her. As soon as I kissed her I knew she wasn’t Cinderella. Her mouth was different. Not bad different, just different. When I pulled back after realizing it wasn’t her, I was a little
annoyed with myself for not just letting it go. I was never going to find out who the girl was, so there was no point in dwelling on it. Plus, Val really was hot. I forced myself to ask her out that day and thus began “the relationship.”

  “You just passed my school,” Chunk says.

  I slam on the brakes when I realize she’s right. I kick the car into reverse and back up, then pull over to let her out. She looks out the passenger window and sighs.

  “Daniel, we’re so early there isn’t even anyone else here yet.”

  I lean forward and look out her window, scanning the school. “Not true,” I say, pointing to someone pulling into a parking spot. “There’s someone.”

  She shakes her head. “That’s the maintenance guy. I beat the freaking maintenance guy to school.” She opens her door and steps out, then turns and leans into the car before shutting her door. “Do I need to plan for you to be here to pick me up an hour early, too? Is your brain stuck in Eastern Time today?”

  I ignore her comment and she shuts the door, then I hit the gas and drive toward the school.

  • • •

  I don’t know what kind of car she drives, so I pull into my usual spot and wait. There are a few other cars here, including Sky and Holder’s, but I know they’re at the track running like they do every morning.

  I can’t believe I don’t know what kind of car she drives. I also still don’t know her phone number. Or her birthday. Or her favorite color or what she wants to be when she’s older or why the hell she chose Italy for her foreign exchange or what her parents’ names are or what kind of food she eats.

  My palms begin to sweat, so I wipe them on my jeans, then grip my steering wheel. What if she’s really annoying around other people? What if she’s a junkie? What if . . .

  “Hey.”

  Her voice breaks me out of my near–panic attack. It also calms me the hell down because as soon as I see her sliding into the front seat of my car, my unjustified fears are replaced by pure relief.

  “Hey.”

  She shuts her door and pulls her leg up, turning to face me in the car. She smells so good. She doesn’t smell like perfume at all . . . she just smells good. Kind of fruity.

  “Have you had your panic attack yet?” she asks.

  Confusion clouds my face. I don’t have time to answer her before she begins talking again.

  “I had one this morning,” she says, looking at everything else around us, unable to make eye contact with me. “I just keep thinking we’re idiots. Like maybe this connection we think we have is all in our heads and we didn’t really have as much fun as we thought we did last night. I don’t even know you, Daniel. I don’t know your birthday, your middle name, Chunk’s real name, if you have any pets, what your major will be in college. I know it’s not like we made this huge commitment or got married or had sex, but you have to understand that I have never thought the idea of having a boyfriend was even remotely appealing and maybe I still don’t think it’s all that appealing, but . . .”

  She finally looks at me and makes eye contact. “But you’re so funny and this entire past year has been the worst year of my life and for some reason when I’m with you it feels good. Even though I hardly know you, the parts of you I do know I really, really like.” She leans her head into the headrest and sighs. “And you’re cute. Really cute. I like staring at you.”

  I turn in my seat and mirror her position by resting my head against my own headrest. “Are you finished?”

  She nods.

  “I had my panic attack right before you got in the car just now. But when you opened your door and I heard your voice, it went away. I think I’m good now.”

  She smiles. “That’s good.”

  I smile back at her and we both just stare at each other for several seconds. I want to kiss her but I also kind of like just staring at her. I would hold her hand, but she’s running her fingers up and down the seam of the passenger seat and I like watching her do that.

  “I should go inside and register for classes now,” she says.

  “Make sure you get second lunch.”

  She nods. “I can’t wait to pretend I hate you today.”

  “I can’t wait to pretend I hate you more.”

  I can tell she’s about to turn, so I lean forward and slip my hand behind her neck, then pull her to me. I kiss her good morning, hello and good-bye all at once. When I pull back, I glance over her shoulder and see Sky and Holder making their way off the track and toward the parking lot.

  “Shit!” I push her head down between us. “They’re coming this way.”

  “Crap,” she whispers.

  She begins humming the theme to Mission Impossible and I start laughing. I start to crouch down with her, but if they reach my car they’ll see us whether our heads are down or not.

  “I’ll get out of the car so they don’t come over here.”

  “Good idea,” she says, her voice muffled by her arms. “I think you just gave me whiplash.”

  I lean over and kiss the back of her head. “Sorry. I’ll see you later. Lock my doors when you get out.”

  I open the car door just as Holder begins to head in my direction. I start walking their way to intercept them. “Good run?” I ask when I reach them.

  They both nod, out of breath. “I need my change of clothes,” Sky says to Holder, pointing to her car. “Want me to grab yours?” Holder nods and she heads in that direction. Holder’s eyes move from hers over to mine.

  “Why are you here so early?” he asks. He doesn’t ask it like he’s accusing me of anything. He’s probably just making small talk but I already feel defensive.

  “Chunk had to be at school early,” I say.

  He nods and grabs the hem of his shirt, then wipes sweat off his forehead. “You still coming tonight?”

  I think about his question. I think really hard, but I’m drawing a blank about what could be going on tonight that I would need to go to.

  “Daniel, do you even know what the hell I’m talking about?”

  I shake my head. “No idea,” I admit.

  “Dinner at Sky’s house. Karen invited you and Val? They’re having a big welcome-back thing for Sky’s best friend.”

  That gets my attention. “Yeah, of course I’ll be there. Not bringing Val, though. We broke up, remember?”

  “Yeah, but dinner is still ten hours away. You might love her again by then.”

  Sky walks up and hands Holder his bag. “Daniel, have you seen Six?”

  “No,” I immediately blurt out.

  Sky glances toward the school, not having noticed the defensiveness in my immediate response. “She must be registering for classes inside.” She turns to Holder. “I’m gonna go find her.” She reaches up and kisses him on the cheek, but Holder’s eyes remain on mine.

  They’re narrowed.

  This isn’t good.

  Sky walks away and I begin to walk right behind her, toward the school. Holder’s hand lands on my shoulder when I pass him, so I pause. I turn around, but it takes me a few seconds to look him in the eyes. When I do, he doesn’t look happy.

  “Daniel?”

  I raise an eyebrow to match his expression. “Holder?”

  “What are you up to?”

  “I do not know what you are talking about,” I reply innocently.

  “You do know what I am talking about because when you are lying, you do not use contractions when you speak.”

  I ponder his observation for a few seconds. Is that true?

  Shit. It’s true.

  I breathe out a heavy breath and do my best to look like I’m giving him a confession. “Fine,” I say, kicking at the dirt beneath my feet. “I had sex with Val just now. In my car. I didn’t want you to know because you and Sky seemed excited that we broke up.”

  Tension releases from Holder’s shoulders and he shakes his head. “Dude, I could care less who you date. You know that.” He begins walking toward the school, so I follow suit. “Unless it’s Six,
he adds. “You aren’t allowed to date Six.”

  I keep walking forward, even though that comment makes me want to freeze. “I have no desire to date Six,” I say. “She’s not really that cute, anyway.”

 
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