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Finding Cinderella, Page 9

Colleen Hoover

  I laugh and back away from the window.

  “You two are so strange together,” Sky says to him.

  I pull the window shut, then turn around to face Six. She’s already in her bedroom, leaning out her window with her chin in her hands. She’s grinning.

  “Daniel and Holder, sittin’ in a tree,” she says in a singsong voice.

  I walk toward her and improvise the next line of the song. “But then Daniel climbs down,” I finish the rest of the sentence in a hurry, “and goes to Six’s window and climbs inside her bedroom and throws her on the bed and kisses her until he can’t take any more and has to go home and stroke his ego.”

  She’s laughing and backing into her bedroom to make room for me to climb inside.

  Once I’m inside, I look around and observe her room. I finally understand what she meant when she said my bedroom was more than just a room. This is like a secret glimpse into who Six really is. I feel like I could study this room and everything in it and find out everything I ever need to know about her.

  Unfortunately, she’s standing at the foot of her bed and she looks a little bit nervous and way more beautiful than I deserve, and I can’t take my eyes off of her long enough to even study her bedroom.

  I can’t help but smile at her. I can already tell this is about to be the best anniversary I’ve ever had. The lights are off, so the mood is already perfect for making out. It’s quiet, though. So quiet I can hear her breaths increase with each deliberately slow step I take toward her.

  Shit. Maybe those are my breaths. I can’t tell, because every inch closer I get requires an extra intake of air.

  When I reach her, she’s looking up at me with an odd mixture of peaceful anticipation. I want to push her onto the bed right now and climb on top of her and kiss the hell out of her.

  I could do that, but why do the one thing she’s expecting me to do?

  I lean in slowly. Very slowly . . . until my mouth is so close to her neck she more than likely can’t even tell if I’m touching her skin or not. “I have three questions I need to ask you before we do this,” I say quietly, but very seriously. I pull back just far enough to see her gulp softly.

  “Before we do what?” she asks hesitantly.

  I lift a hand to the back of her head, then pull back from her neck and position my lips close to hers. “Before we do what we both want to do. Before I lean in one more inch. And before you part your lips for me just enough for me to steal a taste. Before I put my hands on your hips and back you up until you have nowhere to go but onto your bed.”

  I can feel her breath teasing my lips and it’s so tempting I have to force myself to lean in to her ear again so I’m not so close to her mouth. “Before I slowly lower myself on top of you and our hands become curious and brave. Before my fingers slip under the hem of your shirt. Before my hand begins to explore its way up your stomach, and I discover I’ve never touched skin as soft as yours.”

  She gasps, then exhales a shaky breath and it’s almost as sexy as the fist bump.

  It may even be sexier.

  “Before I finally get to touch your boob on purpose.”

  She laughs at that one, but her laugh is cut short when I press my thumb to the center of her lips.

  “Before your breaths pick up pace and our bodies are aching because everything we’re feeling is just making us want more and more and more of each other . . . until I’m afraid I’ll beg you not to ask me to slow down. So instead, I regrettably tear my mouth from yours and force myself away from your bed and you lift up unto your elbows and look at me, disappointed, because you kind of wished I would have kept going, but at the same time you’re relieved I didn’t, because you know you would have given in. So instead of giving in, we just stare. We watch each other silently as my heart rate begins to slow down and your breaths are easier to catch and the insatiable need is still there, but our minds are clearer now that I’m not pressed against you anymore. I turn around and walk to your window and leave without even saying goodbye, because we both know if either of us speaks . . . it’ll be the collective demise of our willpower and we’ll cave. We’ll cave so hard.”

  I move my hand to her cheek. She whimpers and looks like she’s about to collapse onto the bed, so I wrap my other arm around her lower back and pull her against me.

  “So yeah . . . three questions first.”

  I let go of her and immediately turn around two seconds before I hear her fall onto her bed. I walk straight to the desk chair and take a seat, for two reasons. One, I want her to think I mean business and that everything I just said to her didn’t affect me like it did her. And two, because I want her more than I’ve ever wanted anything and my knees were about to give out on me if I didn’t sit down.

  “Question number one,” I say, watching her from across her room. She’s lying on her back with her eyes closed and I hate that I’m not watching her up close right now. “When’s your birthday?”

  “October . . .”—She clears her throat, obviously still recovering—“thirty-first. Halloween.”

  How could the date of a birthday make me fall even harder for her? I have no idea, but it somehow does.

  “Question number two. What’s your favorite food?”

  “Homemade mashed potatoes.”

  Never would have guessed that one. Glad I asked.

  “Question number three,” I say. “It’s a big one. Are you ready?”

  She nods, but keeps her eyes closed.

  “What’s the one thing in this room that tells the biggest secret about you?”

  As soon as the question leaves my mouth, she’s completely still. Her exaggerated breaths come to a halt. She remains motionless for almost a whole minute before she slowly pushes herself up until she’s seated on the edge of the bed, facing me. “It has to be something inside this room?”

  I nod slowly.

  She lifts her hand and touches a finger to her heart, pointing at it. “This,” she whispers. “My biggest secret is right in here.”

  Her eyes are moist and sad and somehow with that answer, the air instantly changes between us. In a dangerous way. A terrifying way. Because it feels like her air just became my air and I suddenly want to take in fewer breaths in order to ensure she never runs out.

  I stand up and walk to the bed. Her eyes follow me closely until I’m directly in front of her. “Stand up.”

  She stands slowly.

  I weave both hands through the locks of her hair until I’m holding the back of her head. I stare at her until my heart can’t take anymore, then I press my lips to hers. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve kissed her over the past day. Every time I kiss her, the feeling I get is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The closest I’ve ever come to feeling this way is the day I was pretending to be in love with the girl in the closet. But even that day, the day I thought would surpass every day after it, doesn’t come close to this.

  Her mouth is warm and inviting and everything it always is when I kiss her, but it’s also so much more. The fact that I have this reaction to her after one day scares the living shit out of me.

  One day.

  I’ve been doing this with her for one day and I have no idea what’s happening. I don’t know if it’s a full moon or if I have a tumor wrapped around my heart or if she really is a witch. Whatever it is still doesn’t explain how this kind of thing can exist between two people this ridiculously fast . . . and actually last.

  I feel like deep down my heart knows she’s too good to be true. My mind and my whole body know she’s too good to be true, so I kiss her harder, hoping to convince myself that this is real. It’s not some fairy tale. It’s not an hour of make-believe.

  This is reality, but even in our imperfect reality, people don’t fall for each other like this. They don’t develop feelings like this for someone they barely know.

  The only thing my entire thought process is proving to me right now is how much I need to grab her tight and hang on, because wherever
she goes, I want to go, too. And right now, she’s going backward, down onto the bed. I’m easing myself on top of her in the same way I just told her this would happen. And we’re kissing, just like I said we would, only this time it may just be a little more frantic and needy and holy shit.

  Her skin.

  It really is the softest skin I’ve ever touched.

  I move my hand from her waist and inch my fingers underneath the hem of her shirt, then slowly begin to work my way to her stomach.

  She pushes my hand away.


  She immediately lifts up and I immediately lift off her. She’s breathing so heavily I catch myself holding my own breath, scared I’m hogging too much of her air.

  She looks both regretful and embarrassed that she suddenly asked me to stop. I lift my hand and stroke her cheek reassuringly.

  My eyes scroll over her features, taking in her nervous demeanor. She’s afraid of what might happen between us. I can see on her face and in the way she’s looking at me that she’s just as scared as I am. Whatever this is between us, neither one of us was searching for it. Neither one of us knew it even existed. Neither one of us is even remotely prepared for it, but I know we both want it. She wants this to work with me as much as I want it to work with her and seeing the look in her eyes right now makes me believe that it will. I’ve never believed in anything like I believe in the possibility of the two of us.

  I can tell by the way she’s looking at me that if I tried to kiss her again, she’d let me. It’s almost as if she’s torn between the girl she used to be and the girl she is now and she’s afraid if I try to kiss her again, she’ll cave.

  And I’m afraid if I don’t get up and walk away, I’ll let her.

  We don’t even have to speak. She doesn’t even have to ask me to leave, because I know that’s what I need to do. I nod, silently answering the question I don’t want her to have to ask. I begin to ease off her bed and a silent thank you flashes in her eyes. I stand up, back away from her and climb out her window without a word. I walk a few feet until I reach the edge of her house, then I lean against it and slide down to the ground.

  I lean my head back and close my eyes, attempting to figure out where I went right in my life to deserve her.

  “What the hell are you doing?” Holder asks. I look up and he’s halfway out Sky’s window. Once he makes it all the way out, he turns and pulls her window shut.

  “Recovering,” I say. “I just needed a minute.”

  He walks toward me and takes a seat on the ground across from me, then leans against Sky’s house. He pulls his legs up and rests his elbows on his knees.

  “You’re already leaving?” I ask him. “It’s not even nine o’clock yet.”

  He reaches down to the ground and rips up a few blades of grass, then spins them between his fingers. “Got kicked out for the night. Karen walked in and my hand was up Sky’s shirt. She didn’t like that too much.”

  I laugh.

  “So,” he says, glancing back up at me. “You and Six, huh?”

  Despite my effort not to smile, I do it anyway. I smile pathetically and nod. “I don’t know what it is about her, Holder. I . . . she just . . . yeah.”

  “I know what you mean,” he says quietly, looking back down at the grass between his fingers.

  Neither one of us says anything else for several moments until he drops the blades of grass and wipes his hands on his jeans, preparing to stand up. “Well . . . I’m glad we had this talk, Daniel, but the fact that we already professed our mutual love for each other tonight is leaving me a little overwhelmed. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He stands up and begins walking toward his car.

  “I love you, Holder!” I yell after him. “Best friends forever!”

  He keeps walking forward, but lifts his hand in the air and flips me off.

  It’s almost as cool as a fist bump.

  Chapter Five

  “You’re wrong,” she says.

  We’re standing in my kitchen. Her back is pressed against the counter and I’m standing in front of her with my arms on either side of her. I catch her lips with mine and shut her up. It doesn’t last long because she pushes my face away.

  “I’m serious,” she whispers. “I don’t think they like me.”

  I bring a hand up and wrap it around the nape of her neck and look her directly in the eyes. “They like you. I promise.”

  “No we don’t,” my dad says as he makes his way into the kitchen. “We can’t stand her. In fact, we hope you never bring her back.” He refills his cup with ice, then walks back to the living room.

  Six’s eyes follow him as he exits the room, then she looks back up at me, wide-eyed.

  “See?” I say with a smile. “They love you.”

  She points toward the living room. “But he just . . .”

  My father’s voice cuts her off when he walks back into the kitchen. “Kidding, Six,” he says, laughing. “Inside joke. We actually like you a lot. I tried to give Danny-boy Grandma Wesley’s ring earlier but he says it’s still too soon to make you a Wesley.”

  Six laughs at the same time she breathes a sigh of relief. “Yeah, maybe so. It’s only been a month. I think we should wait at least two more weeks before we talk proposals.”

  My dad walks farther into the kitchen and leans against the counter across from us. I feel a little awkward standing so close to Six now, so I move next to her and lean against the bar.

  “Did you come back in here so you could think of things to say that would embarrass me?” I ask. I know that’s why he’s standing here. I can see the glimmer in his eyes.

  He laughs, then takes a drink of his tea. He scrunches his nose up. “Nah,” he says. “I would never do that, Danny-boy. I’m not the type of dad who would tell his son’s girlfriend how he talks about her incessantly. I would also never tell my son’s girlfriend that I’m proud of her for not having sex with him yet.”

  Holy shit. I groan and slap myself in the forehead. I should have known better than to bring her here.

  “You talk to him about the fact that we haven’t had sex?” Six says, completely embarrassed.

  My father shakes his head. “No, he doesn’t have to. I know because every night he comes home he goes straight to his bedroom and takes a thirty-minute shower. I was eighteen once.”

  Six covers her face with her hands. “Oh, my God.” She peeks through her hands at my dad. “I guess I know who Daniel gets his personality from.”

  My father nods. “Tell me about it. His mother is terribly inappropriate.”

  Right on cue, my mother and Chunk walk through the front door with dinner. I glare at my father, then walk toward my mother and grab the pizza boxes out of her hands. She sets her purse down and walks over to Six and gives her a quick hug.

  “I’m sorry I didn’t cook for you. Busy day today,” she says.

  “It’s fine,” Six replies. “Nothing like inappropriate conversation over pizza.”

  I watch as my mother spins around and eyes my father. “Dennis? What have you been up to?”

  He shrugs. “Just telling Danny-boy how I would never embarrass him in front of Six.”

  My mother laughs. “Well, as long as you aren’t embarrassing him, then. I’d hate for Six to find out about his lengthy showers every night.”

  I slap the table. “Mom! Jesus Christ!”

  She laughs and my dad winks at her. “Already covered that one.”

  Six walks to the table, shaking her head. “Your parents actually make you seem like a gentleman.” She takes a seat at the table and I sit in the chair next to her.

  “I’m so sorry,” I whisper to her. She looks at me and smiles.

  “Are you kidding me? I love this.”

  “Why would long showers embarrass you?” Chunk says to me, taking a seat across from Six. “I would think wanting to be clean is a good thing.” She picks up a slice of pizza and begins to take a bite, but then her eyes squeeze shut and she drops the pizza o
nto her plate. By the look on her face, the meaning behind the long showers has just hit her. “Oh, gross. Gross!” she says, shaking her head.

  Six begins to laugh and I rest my forehead against my hand, convinced this is more than likely the most uncomfortable, embarrassing five minutes of my life. “I hate all of you. Every last one of you.” I quickly look at Six. “Except you, babe. I don’t hate you.”

  She smiles and wipes her mouth with a napkin. “I know exactly what you mean. I hate everybody, too.”

  As soon as the words fall from her mouth, she looks away like she didn’t just punch me in the gut, rip out my intestines, and stomp them into the ground.

  I hate everybody too, Cinderella.

  The words I said that day in the closet are screaming loudly inside my head.

  There’s no way.

  There’s no way I wouldn’t have noticed she was Cinderella.

  I bring my hands to my face and close my eyes, trying hard to remember something about that day. Her voice, her kiss, her smell. The way we seemed to connect almost instantly.

  Her laugh.

  “Are you okay?” Six asks quietly. No one else can tell something major is going on with me right now, but she notices. She notices because we’re in sync. She notices because we have this unspoken connection. We’ve had it since the second I laid eyes on her in Sky’s bedroom.