Home > November 9(22)

November 9(22)
Author: Colleen Hoover

He shrugs. “If I did, would our next kiss be a ten?”

Oh, my God. Please don’t say I just became the other woman.

He sees the fear on my face and he laughs. “Relax. You’re the only girlfriend I have, and you’re about to break up with me and move across the country.” He leans in and kisses me on the side of my head. “Go easy on me, Fallon. My heart is fragile.”

I press my head against his chest and even though I know he’s kidding, part of me can’t help but feel genuinely sad about saying goodbye to him. I read reviews a lot for the audiobooks I narrate, so I’ve seen the comments about how readers would do anything to make book boyfriends real. Here I am, convinced I’m standing in the arms of one, and I’m about to walk away from him.

“When is your first audition?”

He sure does have a lot of faith in me. “I haven’t looked into it yet. Honestly, I’m kind of terrified to audition. I’m scared people will take one look at me and laugh.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“With being laughed at?” I ask. “For one, it’s humiliating. And it’s a confidence killer.”

He looks at me pointedly. “I hope they laugh at you, Fallon. If people are laughing at you, it means you’re putting yourself out there to be laughed at. Not enough people have the courage to even take that step.”

I’m glad it’s dark, because I can feel my cheeks flush. He’s always saying things that seem so simple, yet profound at the same time.

“You kind of remind me of my mother,” I tell him.

“That’s exactly what I was going for,” he says sarcastically. He pulls me against his chest again and kisses me on top of the head. I need to get to the airport, but I try to stall it as long as possible because the looming goodbye is haunting me.

“You think we’ll ever see each other again?”

His arms tighten around me. “I hope so. I would be lying if I said I’m not already plotting to hunt you down when you’re twenty-three. But five years is a long time, Fallon. Who knows what could happen between now and then. Hell, I didn’t even have hair on my nuts five years ago.”

I laugh again, just like I’ve done with almost everything else he’s said today. I don’t know that I’ve ever genuinely laughed this much with one person.

“You really should write a book, Ben. A romantic comedy. You’re kind of funny.”

“The only way I’d be willing to write a romance novel is if you’re one of the main characters. And me, of course.” He pulls back and smiles down at me. “I’ll make you a deal. If you promise to audition for Broadway, I’ll write a book about the relationship we couldn’t have thanks to distance and immaturity.”

I wish he were serious, because I love that idea. If it weren’t for the one glaring flaw. “We’ll never see each other again, though. How would we know if the other stuck to the plan?”

“We hold each other accountable,” he says.

“Again . . . we’ll never see each other after tonight. And I can’t give you my phone number.”

I know better than to give him a way to contact me. There’s too much I need to do on my own and if he had my phone number, my entire focus would be on what time each day he’s supposed to call me.

Ben releases me and takes a step back, folding his arms across his chest. He begins to pace back and forth as he chews on his bottom lip. “What if . . .” He stops and faces me. “What if we meet up again next year on the same day? And the year after that? We’ll do it for five years. Same date, same time, same place. We’ll pick up where we left off tonight, but only for the day. I’ll make sure you’re following through with your auditions and I can write a book about the days we’re together.”

I let his words sink in for a moment. I try to match the serious look on his face, but the prospect of seeing him once a year fills me with anticipation and I’m doing my best not to act too giddy. “Meeting up once a year on the same date sounds like a really good basis for a romance novel. If you fictionalized our story, I’d add it to the top of my TBR.”

Now he’s smiling. So am I, because the thought of being able to look forward to today’s date is something I never thought would happen. November 9th has been an anniversary I’ve dreaded since the night of the fire, and this is the first time the thought of that date leaves me with a positive feeling.

“I’m serious about this, Fallon. I’ll start writing the damn book tonight if it means I’ll get to see you next November.”

“I’m serious, too,” I say. “We’ll meet every November 9th. Absolutely no contact in between, though.”

“That’s fair. November 9th or nothing. And we’ll stop after five years?” he asks. “When we’re both twenty-three?”

I nod, but I don’t ask him what I’m sure we’re both thinking. Which is what happens after the fifth year? I guess that’s worth saving for another day . . . when we see if both of us actually stick to this ridiculous plan.

“I have one concern,” he says, squeezing his bottom lip between his fingers. “Are we supposed to be . . . you know . . . monogamous? If so, I think we’re both getting a raw deal, here.”

I laugh at his absurdity. “Ben, there’s no way I would ask you to do that for five years. I think the fact that we’ll continue living our own lives is what makes this idea so great. We’ll both get to experience life like we’re supposed to at this age, but we also get to be with each other once a year. It’s the best of both worlds.”

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