Home > November 9(21)

November 9(21)
Author: Colleen Hoover

His mouth pulls into a grin. “Actually, I do. How incredibly convenient.”

Ben spends the next few minutes helping me with last-minute scrambling. I change out of the dress I had planned to wear and settle on yoga pants and a T-shirt so I’ll be comfortable on the flight. He loads my suitcases in his car as I tell Amber goodbye.

“Remember, I’m all yours during spring break,” she says. She hugs me, but neither of us are the type to cry over a silly goodbye. She knows as well as I do that this move is good for me. She’s been one of my biggest cheerleaders since the accident, hoping I find the confidence I lost two years ago. And living inside this apartment isn’t where that’s going to happen. “Call me in the morning so I know you made it okay.”

We finish our goodbyes and then I follow Ben to his car. He walks around to open the door for me, but before I climb inside I take one last look at my apartment door. It’s a bittersweet feeling. I’ve only visited New York a handful of times and I’m not even sure if it’s something I’ll like. But this apartment is too comfortable, and comfort can sometimes be a crutch when it comes to figuring out your life. Goals are achieved through discomfort and hard work. They aren’t achieved when you hide out in a place where you’re nice and cozy.

I feel Ben’s arms wrap around me from behind. He rests his chin on my shoulder. “You having second thoughts?”

I shake my head. I’m nervous, but I’m definitely not having second thoughts. Yet.

“Good,” he says. “Because I didn’t want to have to throw you in the trunk and drive you all the way to New York.”

I laugh, relieved he’s not like my father, selfishly trying to talk me out of taking this step. He keeps his arms wrapped around me as I turn around, but now I’m leaning against the car and he’s staring down at me. I don’t have much time to spare before I have to be checked in at the airport, but I don’t want to rush getting there when I can soak this up for a few more minutes. I’ll just run to my gate if I’m late.

“There’s a quote that reminds me of you, from Dylan Thomas. My favorite poet.”

“What is it?”

A slow smile warms its way across his mouth. He dips his head and whispers the quote against my lips. “‘I have longed to move away but am afraid; Some life, yet unspent, might explode.’”

Wow. He’s good. And he makes it even better by pressing his warm mouth to mine, holding my face in the palms of his hands. I reach up and thread my hands through his hair, allowing him to have complete control over the speed and intensity of this kiss. He keeps it soft and concise, and I imagine he kisses the same way he writes. Gentle strokes of the keys, each word thought through and completed with purpose.

He kisses me like he wants this kiss to be remembered. For which one of us, I don’t know, but I allow him to take as much as he can from this kiss and I give him as much as I have. And it’s perfect. Nice. Really Nice.

It’s as if he really is my boyfriend and this is something we should be doing all the time. Which brings me back to the fact that being too comfortable can be a crutch. With kisses like these, I could see myself easily falling into Ben’s life and forgetting how to live my own. Which is exactly why I need to follow through with this goodbye.

When the kiss finally breaks, he brushes the tip of his nose against mine. “Tell me something,” he says. “On a scale of one to ten, how book-worthy was our first kiss?”

He has perfect comedic timing. I smile and nip at his bottom lip. “At least a seven.”

He pulls back in shock. “Seriously? That’s all I get? A seven?”

I shrug. “I’ve read some great first kisses.”

He drops his head in mock regret. “I knew I should have waited. I could have made it a ten if I had a plan.” He steps back, releasing me. “I should have taken you to the airport and then as soon as you got to security, I could have dramatically called out your name and run toward you in slow motion.” He mimics the scene in slow motion, moving in place as he reaches an arm out toward me. “Faaallllooooon,” he says in a long, drawn-out voice. “Dooon’t Leeeave Meeeee!” I’m laughing hard when he stops acting out the scene and wraps his arms around my waist again.

“If you would have done it at the airport, it would have been at least an eight. Maybe a nine, depending on believability.”

“A nine? That’s it?” he says. “If that’s a nine, what the hell could make it a ten?”

I think about that. What does make kissing scenes in books so great? I’ve read enough of them, I should know.

“Angst,” I say. “Definitely need some angst to make it a ten.”

He looks confused. “Why would angst make it a ten? Give me some examples.”

I lean my head against the car and stare up at the sky as I think. “I don’t know, it depends on the situation. Maybe the couple isn’t allowed to be together, so the forbidden factor creates the angst. Or maybe they’ve been best friends for years and the unspoken attraction builds enough angst to make the kiss a ten. Sometimes infidelity creates good angst, depending on the characters and their situation.”

“That’s messed up,” he says. “So you’re saying if I were seeing another girl and I kissed you in the hallway like I did, it would have gone from a seven to a ten?”

“If you were seeing another girl, you would have never been inside my apartment to begin with.” I suddenly stiffen at the thought. “Wait. You don’t have a real girlfriend, do you?”

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