Home > November 9(8)

November 9(8)
Author: Colleen Hoover

“What do you mean?”

She motions to my hair. “Your hair is a mess.” She motions to my shirt. “You’re wearing the same shirt you wore yesterday.” Her eyes fall to my fingers. “Your nails are clean.”

How does she know I’m wearing the same shirt I wore yesterday?

“So why’d you leave wherever you woke up in such a hurry today?” she asks.

I look down at my shirt and then at my nails. How in the hell does she know I left in a rush this morning?

“People who don’t take care of themselves don’t have nails as clean as yours,” she says. “It contradicts the mustard stain on your shirt.”

I look down at my shirt. At the mustard stain I hadn’t noticed until now.

“Your burger has mayonnaise on it. And since mustard is hardly ever eaten for breakfast, and you’re inhaling your food like you haven’t eaten since yesterday, then the stain is more than likely from whatever you ate for dinner last night. And you obviously haven’t looked in a mirror today or you wouldn’t have walked out of your house with your hair looking like that. Did you take a shower and fall asleep without drying your hair?” She touches her long hair and flicks it between her fingers. “Because hair as thick as yours bends when you sleep on it wet. Makes it impossible to fix without rewashing it.” She leans forward and eyes me curiously. “How in the heck did the front of your hair get so jacked up? Do you sleep on your stomach or something?”

What is she? A detective?

“I . . .” I stare at her in disbelief. “Yeah. I sleep on my stomach. And I was late for class.”

She nods like she somehow knew that already.

The waiter appears with a fresh plate of food and refills her water. He opens his mouth like he wants to say something to her, but she’s not paying attention to him. She’s still staring at me, but she mutters a thank you at him.

He looks like he’s about to walk away, but before he does, he pauses and turns back to face her. He wrings his hands together, obviously nervous to ask whatever question is about to leave his mouth. “So . . . um. Donovan O’Neil? Is he your father?”

She looks up at the waiter with an unreadable expression. “Yes,” she says flatly.

The waiter smiles and relaxes with her response. “Wow,” he says, shaking his head in fascination. “How awesome is that? To have the Max Epcott for a father?”

She doesn’t smile or flinch. Nothing on her face indicates that this is a question she’s heard a million times before. I wait for her sarcastic reply, because based on the way she responded to her father’s senseless comments, there’s no way this poor waiter is leaving here unscathed.

Just when I think she’s about to roll her eyes, she releases a pent-up breath and smiles. “It was absolutely surreal. I’m the luckiest daughter in the world.”

The waiter grins. “That’s really cool.”

When he turns and walks away, she faces me again. “What kind of class?” she asks.

It takes me a moment to process her question because I’m still trying to process the bullshit answer she just fed the waiter. I almost inquire about it, but think better of it. I’m sure it’s easier for her to give people the answers they hope to hear, rather than an earful of the truth. That, and she’s probably the most loyal person I’ve ever met, because I’m not sure I could say those things about that man if he were my father.

“Creative writing.”

She smiles thoughtfully and picks up her fork. “I knew you weren’t an actor.” She takes a bite of her salmon, and before she swallows the first bite, she’s already cutting into it again. The next several minutes are spent in complete silence while we both finish eating. I clean my entire plate, but she pushes hers away before she even finishes half of it.

“So tell me something,” she says, leaning forward. “Why’d you think I needed you to come to my rescue with that fake boyfriend crap?”

And there it is. She’s upset with me. I kind of thought she might be.

“I didn’t think you needed rescuing. I just sometimes find it difficult to control my indignation in the presence of absurdity.”

She raises an eyebrow. “You’re definitely a writer, because who the hell talks like that?”

I laugh. “Sorry. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I can be a temperamental idiot and I should have minded my own business.”

She pulls the napkin from her lap and sets it on her plate. One of her shoulders rises with a little half-shrug. “I didn’t mind,” she says with a smile. “It was kind of fun seeing my father so flustered. And I’ve never had a fake boyfriend before.”

“I’ve never had a real boyfriend before,” I reply.

Her eyes shift to my hair. “Believe me, that’s obvious. No gay man I know would have left the house looking like you do right now.”

I kind of get the feeling she doesn’t mind the way I look nearly as much as she’s letting on. I’m sure she receives her fair share of physical discrimination, so I find it hard to believe she would be the type to list physical appearance high on her list of priorities in a guy.

But it’s not lost on me that she’s teasing me. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she was flirting.

Yep. Definitely should have walked out of this restaurant a long time ago, but this is one of the few moments I’m actually thankful for the plethora of bad decisions I tend to make.

The waiter brings the check, but before I can pay it, Fallon scoops up the wad of cash her father threw on the table and hands it to him.

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