Home > Ugly Love(11)

Ugly Love(11)
Colleen Hoover

We drive for a good fifteen minutes before I realize I’m not thinking about Miles anymore. For the last fifteen minutes of the drive, my thoughts have just been memories.

“Remember when we were kids and we wished our superpower could be to fly?”

“Yeah, I remember,” Corbin says.

“You have your superpower now. You can fly.”

Corbin smiles at me in the rearview mirror. “Yeah,” he says. “I guess that makes me a superhero.”

I lean back in the seat and stare out the window, a little envious of both of them. Envious of the things they’ve seen. The places they’ve traveled. “What’s it like, watching the sunrise from up in the air?”

Corbin shrugs. “I don’t really look at it,” he says. “I’m too busy working when I’m up there.”

This makes me sad. Don’t take it for granted, Corbin.

“I look,” Miles says. He’s staring out his window, and his voice is so quiet I almost don’t hear it. “Every time I’m up there, I watch it.”

He doesn’t say what it’s like, though. His voice is distant, like he wants to keep that feeling to himself. I let him.

“You bend the laws of the universe when you fly,” I say. “It’s impressive. Defying gravity? Watching sunrises and sunsets from places Mother Nature didn’t intend for you to watch them from? You really are superheroes, if you think about it.”

Corbin glances at me in the rearview mirror and laughs. Don’t take it for granted, Corbin. Miles isn’t laughing, though. He’s still staring out his window.

“You save lives,” Miles says to me. “That’s way more impressive.”

My heart absorbs those words on impact.

Rule number two is not looking good from back here.

Chapter twelve


Six years earlier

Rule number one of no fooling around while our parents are

home has been amended.

It now consists of making out but only when we’re behind a

locked door.

Rule number two stands firm, unfortunately. Still no sex.

And a rule number three was recently added: no sneaking

around at night. Lisa still checks on Rachel in the middle of

the night sometimes, only because Lisa is the mother of a

teenage daughter and it’s the right thing to do.

But I hate that she does it.

We’ve made it an entire month in the same house. We don’t

talk about the fact that there are just a little more than five

months left. We don’t talk about what will happen when my

father marries her mother. We don’t talk about the fact that

when this happens, we’ll be connected for much longer than

five months.


Weekend visits.


We’ll both have to attend every function, but we’ll be

attending as family.

We don’t talk about that, because it makes us feel like what

we’re doing is wrong.

We also don’t talk about it because it’s hard. When I think

about the day she moves to Michigan and I stay in San

Francisco, I can’t see beyond that. I can’t see anything where

she won’t be my everything.

“We’ll be back Sunday,” he says.

“You’ll have the house to yourself. Rachel is staying with a

friend. You should invite Ian over.”

“I did,” I lie.

Rachel lied, too. Rachel will be here all weekend. We

don’t want to give them any reason to suspect us. It’s

hard enough trying to ignore her in front of them. It’s

hard pretending I have nothing in common with her,

when I want to laugh at everything she says. I want to

high-five everything she does. I want to brag to my father

about her intelligence, her good grades, her kindness,

her quick-wittedness. I want to tell him I have this really

amazing girlfriend whom I want him to meet because he

would absolutely love her.

He does love her. Just not in the way I wish he loved her.

I want him to love her for me.

We tell our parents goodbye. Lisa tells Rachel to behave, but

Lisa isn’t really worried. As far as Lisa knows, Rachel is good.

Rachel behaves. Rachel doesn’t break rules.

Except rule number three. Rachel is definitely breaking rule

number three this weekend.

We play house.

We pretend it’s ours. We pretend it’s our kitchen, and she cooks

for me. I pretend she’s mine, and I follow her around while

she cooks, holding on to her. Touching her. Kissing her neck.

Pulling her away from the tasks she’s trying to complete so I

can feel her against me. She likes it, but she pretends not to.

When we’re finished eating, she sits with me on the couch. We

put on a movie, but it doesn’t get watched at all. We can’t stop

kissing. We kiss so much our lips hurt. Our hands hurt. Our

stomachs hurt, because our bodies want to break rule number

two so, so bad.

It’s gonna be a long weekend.

I decide I need a shower, or I’ll be begging for an amendment

to rule number two.

I take a shower in her bathroom. I like this shower. I like it

more than I liked it back when it was just my shower. I like

seeing her things in here. I like looking at her razor and

imagining what she looks like when she uses it. I like looking

at her shampoo bottles and thinking about her with her head

tilted back beneath the stream of water as she rinses it out of

her hair.

I love that my shower is her shower, too.

“Miles?” she says. She’s knocking, but she’s already inside the

bathroom. The water is hot on my skin, but her voice just

made it even hotter. I open the shower curtain. Maybe I open

it too far because I want her to want to break rule number two.

She inhales a soft breath, but her eyes fall where I want

them to.

“Rachel,” I say, grinning at the embarrassed look on her face.

She looks me in the eyes.

She wants to take a shower with me. She’s just too shy to ask.

“Get in,” I say.

My voice is hoarse, like I’ve been screaming.

My voice was fine five seconds ago.

I close the shower curtain to hide what she’s doing to me but

also to give her privacy while she undresses. I haven’t seen her

without her clothes on. I’ve felt what’s underneath them.

I’m suddenly nervous.

She turns the light off.

“Is that fine?” she asks timidly. I say it is, but I wish she were

more confident. I need to make her more confident.

She opens the shower curtain, and I see one of her legs make

its way in first. I swallow when the rest of her body follows.

Luckily, there’s just enough light from the night-light to cast a

faint glow over her.

I can see her enough.

I can see her perfectly.

Her eyes lock with mine again. She steps closer to me. I

wonder if she’s ever shared a shower with anyone before, but

I don’t ask her. I take a step toward her this time, because she

seems scared. I don’t want her to be scared.

I’m scared.

I touch her shoulders and guide her so that she’s standing

under the water. I don’t press myself against her, even though I

need to. I keep distance between us.

I have to.

The only things that connect are our mouths. I kiss her softly,

barely touching her lips, but it hurts so bad. It hurts worse than

any other kiss we’ve shared. Kisses where our mouths collide.

Our teeth collide. Frantic kisses that are so rushed they’re

sloppy. Kisses that end with me biting her lip or her biting


None of those kisses hurt like this one does, and I can’t tell

why this one is hurting so much.

I have to pull back. I tell her to give me a minute, and she nods,

then rests her cheek against my chest. I lean back against the

wall and pull her with me while I keep my eyes closed tightly.

The words are once again attempting to break the barrier

I’ve built up around them. Every time I’m with her, they want

to come out, but I work and work to cement the wall that

surrounds them. She doesn’t need to hear them.

I don’t need to say them.

But they’re pounding on the walls. They always pound so hard

until all our kisses end up like this. Me needing a minute and

her giving me one. They need out now worse than ever before.

They need air. They’re demanding to be heard.

There’s only so much pounding I can take before the walls


There are only so many times my lips can touch hers without

the words spilling over the walls, breaking through the cracks,

traveling up my chest until I’m holding her face, looking into

her eyes, allowing them to tear down all the barriers that stand

between us and the inevitable heartbreak.

The words come anyway.

“I can’t see anything,” I tell her.

I know she doesn’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t want

to elaborate, but the words come anyway. They’ve taken over.

“When you move to Michigan and I stay in San Fran? I don’t

see anything after that. I used to see whatever future I wanted,

but now I don’t see anything.”

I kiss the tear that’s running down her cheek.

“I can’t do this,” I tell her. “The only thing I want to see is

you, and if I can’t have that … nothing else is even worth it.

You make it better, Rachel. Everything.” I kiss her hard on the

mouth, and it doesn’t hurt at all this time, now that the words

are free. “I love you,” I tell her, freeing myself completely.

I kiss her again, not even giving her the chance to respond.

I don’t need to hear her say the words to me until she’s ready,

and I don’t want to hear her tell me that the way I feel is


Her hands are on my back, tugging, pulling me closer. Her legs

are wrapping around mine like she’s trying to embed herself

inside me.

She already has.

It’s frantic again. Teeth-crashing, lip-biting, hurried, rushed,

panting, touching.

She’s moaning, and I can feel her trying to pull from my

mouth, but my hand is wrapped in her hair, and I’m covering

her mouth desperately, hoping she’ll never break for breath.

She makes me release her.

I drop my forehead to hers, gasping in an effort to keep my

emotions from spilling over the edge.

“Miles,” she says breathlessly. “Miles, I love you. I’m so scared.

I don’t want us to end.”

You love me, Rachel.

I pull back and look her in the eyes.

She’s crying.

I don’t want her to be scared. I tell her it’ll be okay. I tell her

we’ll wait until we graduate, then we’ll tell them. I tell her

they’ll have to be okay with it. Once we’re out of the house,

everything will be different. Everything will be good. They’ll

have to understand.

I tell her we’ve got this.

She nods feverishly.

“We’ve got this,” she responds back, agreeing with me.

I press my forehead to hers. “We’ve got this, Rachel,” I tell her.

“I can’t quit you now. No way.”

She takes my face between her palms, and she kisses me.

You fell in love with me, Rachel.

Her kiss removes a weight from my chest that is so heavy I feel

like I’m floating. I feel like she’s floating with me.

I turn her until her back is against the wall.

I bring her arms above her head and link my fingers through

hers, pressing her hands into the tile wall behind her.

We look into each other’s eyes … and we completely shatter

rule number two.

Chapter thirteen


“Thanks for making me go,” Miles says to Corbin. “Aside from another hand injury and finding out you thought I was gay, I had a good time.”

Corbin laughs and turns to unlock our door. “It’s not exactly my fault I assumed you were gay. You never talk about girls, and you’ve apparently left sex off your schedule for six years straight.”

Corbin gets the door open and walks inside, toward his bedroom. I stand in the doorway, facing Miles.

He’s looking straight at me. Invading me. “It’s on the agenda now,” he says with a smile.

I’m an agenda now. I don’t want to be an agenda. I want to be a plan. A map. I want to be on a map to his future.

But that breaks rule number two.

Miles backs into his apartment after opening his door, and he nods his head in the direction of his bedroom.

“After he goes to sleep?” he whispers.

Fine, Miles. You can stop begging. I’ll be your agenda.

I nod before closing the door.

I shower and shave and brush my teeth and sing and put on just enough makeup to make it look like I didn’t put on any makeup at all. And fix my hair to make it look like I didn’t fix my hair at all. And put back on the same clothes I had on earlier so it doesn’t look like I changed clothes at all. But really, I changed my bra and my underwear, because they didn’t match before but now they do. And then I freak the hell out because Miles will see my bra and underwear tonight.

And possibly touch them.

If it’s part of his agenda, he might even be the one to remove them.

My phone receives a text, and the sound startles me, because a text isn’t on the agenda at eleven o’clock at night. The text is from an unrecognized number. All it says is:

Is he in his room yet?

Me: How do you have my number?

Miles: I stole it from Corbin’s phone while we were driving.

There’s a weird voice in my head, singing, “Na-na-na-na boo-boo. He stole my number.”

I’m such a child.

Me: No, he’s watching TV.

Miles: Good. I have to run an errand. I’ll be back in twenty minutes. Leaving the apartment unlocked in case he goes to bed before then.

Who runs errands at eleven o’clock at night?

Me: See ya.

I stare at my last text to him and cringe. It sounds way too casual. I’m giving him the impression that I do this all the time. He probably thinks all my days go something like this:

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