Without Merit(4)

By: Colleen Hoover



“Out of all the places we could be, we’re right here. At the same time.” His voice is laced with amusement, but his expression verges on bewildered. He shakes his head and steps closer to me. He reaches his tattooed arm up and slides his fingers down a strand of my hair that’s come loose. The gesture is intimate and unexpected, kind of like this whole moment, but I’m more than okay with it. I want him to do it again, but his arm falls back to his side.

I can’t think of a single instance where I’ve ever been looked at like he’s looking at me right now. Like I fascinate him. I know we don’t know each other at all and whatever this connection is between us will probably be ruined the moment we have our first real conversation. He’ll probably be a douchebag or he’ll think I’m weird and then it’ll get awkward and we’ll be more than happy to go our separate ways. That’s how my interactions with guys usually go. But right now in this moment, knowing nothing about him other than the intensity in his expression, it allows me to imagine he’s perfect. I pretend he’s smart and respectful and funny and artistic. Because he would be all those things if he were the perfect guy. I’m content with imagining he possesses these qualities for as long as he’s going to stand here in front of me.

He takes a step closer to me and it suddenly feels like I’ve swallowed his heart because I have all these extra beats in my chest. His eyes drop to my mouth and I’m certain he’s about to kiss me. I hope he is. Which is odd because I’ve literally only spoken a couple of sentences to him but I want him to kiss me while I’m imagining him to be perfect, because that means his kiss would probably be perfect, too.

His fingers feather up my wrist but it feels more like he has both fists clasped tightly around my lungs. My chills chase his fingers up my arm until his hand is resting against my neck.

I don’t know how I’m still standing with the unreliable legs I seem to have right now. My head is tilted back and his mouth is inches from mine, as if he’s hesitating. He smiles and whispers, “You bury me.”

I have no idea what those words mean, but I like them. And I like how his lips connect softly with mine right after he finishes saying whatever it was he just said. And I was right. It’s perfect. So perfect, it feels like the old days in the movies when the male lead would press his hand against the woman’s back and she would curve her body backward against the pressure of his kiss like the letter C while he pulls her against him. It’s just like that.

He’s pulling me to him when his tongue slides across my lips. And just like in the movies, my arms are dangling at my sides until I realize how much I want to be in this with him and finally begin to kiss him back. He tastes like mint ice cream and it’s perfect because this moment ranks high on my scale of favorites, right up there with dessert. This is almost comical—this stranger, kissing me as if it were the last thing left on his bucket list. It makes me wonder what compelled him to do this.

Both of his hands move to hold my face now, like we have nowhere else to be today. He’s not in a hurry with his kiss and he definitely doesn’t care who sees this because we’re in the middle of the town square and two people have already honked at us.

I wrap one of my arms around his neck and decide I’ll just let him continue for as long as he wants because I don’t have anywhere to be right now. Even if I did, I’d cancel my plans in exchange for this.

Right when one of his hands slides through my hair, the water splashes beneath my feet. I squeal a little because it’s unexpected. He laughs, but he doesn’t stop kissing me. Now we’re being soaked because my foot isn’t covering the spout all the way, but neither of us cares. It just adds to the ridiculousness of this kiss.

The ringtone on his phone adds even more ridiculousness to the moment because of course we’d be interrupted right now. Of course. It was way too perfect.

He pulls back and the look in his eye is somehow satiated and starving at the same time. He pulls his phone out of his pocket and looks down at it. “Did you lose your phone or is this a joke?”

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