Home > Ugly Love(10)

Ugly Love(10)
Colleen Hoover

Dad.

Dad!

Shit.

Miles. Pulling away.

Me. Jumping off the bar.

Dad. Walking past us.

He opens the refrigerator and grabs a bottle of water, like he walks in on his daughter being felt up by his houseguest every single night. He turns around and faces us, then takes a long drink. When he’s finished, he puts the lid back on the bottle of water and puts it back in the fridge. He closes the refrigerator and walks toward us, passing between us, putting even more space there.

“Go to bed, Tate,” he says as he exits the kitchen.

I cover my mouth with my hand. Miles covers his face with his. We’re both completely mortified. He more so than I, I’m sure.

“We should go to sleep,” he says.

I agree with him.

We walk out of the kitchen without touching. We reach my bedroom door first, so I pause and turn around and face him. He pauses, too.

He looks to his left, then briefly to his right, to make sure we’re alone in the hallway. He takes a step forward and steals another kiss. My back meets my bedroom door, but he’s somehow able to pull his mouth away.

“You sure this is okay?” he asks, searching my eyes for doubt.

I don’t know if this is okay. It feels good, and he tastes good, and I can’t think of anything I want more than being with him. However, the reasons behind his six years of abstinence are what I’m concerned about.

“You worry too much,” I say with a forced smile. “Would it help if we had rules?”

He studies me quietly before taking a step back. “It might,” he says. “I can only think of two right now.”

“What are they?”

His eyes focus on mine for several seconds. “Don’t ask about my past,” he says firmly. “And never expect a future.”

I absolutely don’t like either of those rules. They both make me want to change my mind about this arrangement and turn and run away, but instead, I’m nodding. I’m nodding because I’ll take what I can get. I’m not Tate when I’m near Miles. I’m liquid, and liquid doesn’t know how to be firm or stand up for itself. Liquid flows. That’s all I want to do with Miles.

Flow.

“Well, I only have one rule,” I say quietly. He waits for my rule. I can’t think of a rule. I don’t have any rules. Why don’t I have rules? He’s still waiting. “I don’t know what it is yet. But when I think of it, you have to follow it.”

Miles laughs. He leans forward and kisses me on the forehead, then walks toward his room. He opens the door but glances back at me for a brief second before disappearing into the room.

I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure the expression I just saw on his face was fear. I just wish I knew what he was scared of, because Lord knows I know exactly what I’m afraid of.

I’m afraid of how this is going to end.

Chapter ten

MILES

Six years earlier

Ian knows.

I had to tell him. After the first week of school, he knew

everything became Rachel.

Rachel knows Ian knows. Rachel knows he won’t say

anything.

I give Rachel my room when she moves in, and I take the

spare bedroom. My room is the only spare bedroom with its

own bathroom. I want Rachel to have the better room.

“Do you want this box in here?” Ian asks Rachel. Rachel asks

what it is, and he tells her it’s all her bras and underwear. “I

thought maybe I should just go ahead and put it in Miles’s

room.”

Rachel rolls her eyes at Ian. “Hush,” she tells him. He laughs.

He likes that he’s in on such a private thing. That’s why he

would never tell. He knows the power of secrets.

Ian leaves after all the boxes are unloaded. My father passes

me in the hallway and pauses. His pause means I should

pause, too.

“Thank you, Miles.”

He thinks I’m okay with this. With the fact that he’s allowing

another woman to push out the last reminders of my mother.

I’m not okay with it.

I’m just pretending to be okay with it, because none of it

matters. Rachel matters.

Not him.

“No problem,” I say.

He begins walking, then pauses again. He tells me he

appreciates that I’m being nice to Rachel. He says he wishes he

and Mom could have given me a sibling when I was younger.

He says I make a good brother.

Words are awful when they come out of his mouth.

I walk back to Rachel’s room. I close the door.

It’s just the two of us.

We smile.

I walk to her and wrap my arms around her, then I kiss her

neck. It’s been three weeks since the first night I kissed her.

I can count the times I’ve kissed her since then. We can’t

interact like this at school. We can’t interact like this in public.

We can’t interact like this in front of our parents. I can only

touch her when we’re alone, and we haven’t been able to be

alone much in the last three weeks.

Now?

Now I kiss her.

“We need a few guidelines so we don’t get ourselves in

trouble,” she says. She separates herself from me. She sits at my

desk, and I sit on my bed.

Well … she sits at her desk, and I sit on her bed.

“First,” she says, “no making out when they’re home. It’s too

risky.”

I don’t want to agree to that rule, but I’m nodding my head.

“Second, no sex.”

I’m not nodding anymore.

“Ever?” I ask her.

She’s nodding. Oh, I really hate that nod.

“Why?”

She sighs heavily. “Sex will make it that much harder when our

time is up. You know that.”

She’s right. She’s also completely wrong, but I have a feeling

she’ll figure that out later.

“Can I ask what rule number three is before I agree to rule

number two?”

She grins. “There is no rule number three.”

I grin. “So sex is the only thing off limits? And we’re talking

penetration, right? Not oral?”

She covers her face with her hands. “Oh, my God, do you have

to get so specific?”

She’s cute when she’s embarrassed. “Just clarifying. I have a

lifetime of things I want to do to you and only six months left

to do them all.”

“Let’s leave the specifics up to the situation,” she says.

“Fair enough,” I say, admiring the blush in her cheeks.

“Rachel? Are you a virgin?”

Her cheeks grow even redder. She shakes her head and tells

me no. She asks if that bothers me.

“Not at all,” I say, being honest.

She asks if I’m a virgin, but her voice is timid when she asks it.

“No,” I say. “But now that I’ve met you, I kind of wish I was.”

She likes that I said this to her.

I stand up and prepare to head to my new bedroom to begin

rearranging. Before I walk out, I lock her bedroom door from

the inside, and then I turn around and smile at her.

I slowly walk to her.

I take her by the hands and pull her up. I wrap my arm around

her lower back and pull her against me.

I kiss her.

Chapter eleven

TATE

“I have to pee.”

Corbin groans. “Again?”

“I haven’t been in two hours,” I say defensively.

I really don’t have to use the bathroom, but I do need to get out of this car. After the conversation I had with Miles last night, the car feels different with him in it. It feels like there’s more of him, and every minute that passes and he’s not talking, I’m wondering what’s going through his head. I’m wondering if he regrets our conversation. I’m wondering if he’s going to pretend it never happened.

I wish my dad would have pretended it never happened. Before we left this morning, I was seated at the kitchen table with him when Miles walked in.

“Sleep well, Miles?” he asked as Miles took a seat at the table.

I thought he was going to flush with embarrassment, but instead, he regarded my dad with a shake of his head. “Not too well,” Miles replied. “Your son talks in his sleep.”

My father picked up his glass and lifted it in Miles’s direction. “Good to know you were in the room with Corbin last night.”

Luckily, Corbin had yet to sit down and hear that comment from my father. Miles was quiet through the rest of breakfast, and the only time I noticed him speaking after that was when Corbin and I were both in the car. Miles stepped over to my father and shook his hand, saying something that only my father could hear. I tried to read my father’s expression, but he kept a tight lid on it. My father is almost as good at hiding his thoughts as Miles is.

I really want to know what Miles said to my father this morning before we left.

I also want to know about a dozen other answers to questions I have about Miles.

When we were younger, Corbin and I always agreed that if we could have any superpower, it would be the ability to fly. Now that I know Miles, I’ve changed my mind. If I had a superpower, it would be infiltration. I would infiltrate his mind so I could see every single one of his thoughts.

I would infiltrate his heart and spread myself around like a virus.

I would call myself the Infiltrator.

Yeah. That has a nice ring to it.

“Go pee,” Corbin says with agitation as he puts the car in park.

I wish I were in high school again so I could call him a butthole. Adults don’t call their brothers buttholes, though.

I get out of the car and feel a little more like I can breathe again, until Miles opens his door and steps out of the car and into the world. Now Miles seems even bigger, and my lungs seem smaller. We walk together into the gas station, but we don’t speak.

It’s funny how that works. Sometimes not speaking says more than all the words in the world. Sometimes my silence is saying, I don’t know how to speak to you. I don’t know what you’re thinking. Talk to me. Tell me everything you’ve ever said. All the words. Starting from your very first one.

I wonder what his silence is saying.

Once we’re inside, he spots the sign for the bathrooms first, so he nods his head and steps in front of me. He leads. I let him. Because he’s a solid and I’m a liquid, and right now, I’m just his wake.

When we reach the bathrooms, he walks into the men’s restroom without pause. He doesn’t turn and look at me. He doesn’t wait for me to walk into the women’s first. I push the door open, but I don’t need to use the restroom. I just wanted to breathe, but he’s not letting me. He’s invading. I don’t think he means to. He’s just invading my thoughts and my stomach and my lungs and my world.

That’s his superpower. Invasion.

The Invader and the Infiltrator. They pretty much have the same meaning, so I guess we make one screwed-up team.

I wash my hands and waste enough time to make it seem like I actually needed Corbin to stop here. I open the door to the bathroom, and he’s invading again. He’s in my way, standing in front of the doorway that I’m trying to exit.

He doesn’t move, even though he’s invading. I don’t really want him to, though, so I let him stay.

“You want something to drink?” he asks.

I shake my head. “I have water in the car.”

“Hungry?”

I tell him I’m not. He seems slightly disappointed that I don’t want anything. Maybe he doesn’t want to go back to the car yet.

“I might want some candy, though,” I say.

One of his rare and treasured smiles slowly appears. “I’ll buy you some candy, then.”

He turns and walks toward the candy aisle. I stop next to him and look at my options. We stare at the candy for way too long. I don’t even really want any, but we both stare at it anyway and pretend we do.

“This is weird,” I whisper.

“What’s weird?” he asks. “Picking out candy or having to pretend we don’t both want to be in the backseat right now?”

Wow. I feel like I really did infiltrate his thoughts somehow. Only they were words that he willingly spoke. Words that made me feel really good.

“Both,” I say steadily. I turn to face him. “Do you smoke?”

He gives me the look again. The look that tells me I’m weird.

I don’t care.

“Nope,” he replies casually.

“Remember those candy cigarettes they sold when we were kids?”

“Yeah,” he says. “Kind of morbid, if you think about it.”

I nod. “Corbin and I used to get those all the time. There’s no way in hell I’d let my child buy those things.”

“I doubt they make them anymore,” Miles says.

We face the candy again.

“Do you?” he asks.

“Do I what?”

“Smoke.”

I shake my head. “Nope.”

“Good,” he says. We stare at the candy a little bit longer. He turns to face me, and I glance up at him. “Do you even want any candy, Tate?”

“Nope.”

He laughs. “Then I guess we should get back to the car.”

I agree with him, but neither of us moves.

He reaches down to my hand and touches it so softly it’s as if he’s aware he’s made of lava and I’m not. He grips two of my fingers, not even coming close to holding my entire hand, and gives them a soft tug.

“Wait,” I say to him, tugging back on his hand. He glances at me over his shoulder and then turns to face me completely. “What did you say to my father this morning? Before we left?”

His fingers tighten around mine, and his expression doesn’t deviate from the poignant look he’s perfected. “I apologized to him.”

He turns toward the door once again, and I follow him this time. He doesn’t release my hand until we’re close to the exit. When he finally does let my hand fall, I evaporate again.

I follow him toward the car and hope I don’t really believe I’m capable of infiltration. I remind myself he’s made of armor. He’s impenetrable.

I don’t know if I can do this, Miles. I don’t know if I can follow rule number two, because I suddenly want to climb into your future more than I want to climb into the backseat with you.

“Long line,” Miles says to Corbin once we’re both inside the car. Corbin puts the car in drive and changes the radio station. He doesn’t care how long the line was. He wasn’t suspicious, or he would have said something. Besides, there’s nothing to be suspicious of yet.

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