Without Merit(5)

By: Colleen Hoover

I shrug because I have no idea which part of this he thinks might be a joke. Me allowing him to kiss me? Someone calling him in the middle of said kiss? He laughs a little as he presses the phone against his ear. “Hello?”

The smile leaves his expression and now he just looks confused. “Who is this?” He waits a couple of seconds and then pulls the phone away from his ear and looks down at it. Then he looks up at me. “Seriously. Is this a prank?”

I don’t know if he’s talking to me or the person on the phone, so I shrug again. He puts the phone to his ear and takes a step away from me. “Who is this?” he repeats. He laughs nervously and grips the back of his neck. “But . . . you’re standing right in front of me.”

I can feel the color drain from my face at that sentence. All the color in my body—in this ridiculous moment with this random guy—pools at my feet, leaving me feeling like the second-rate carbon copy of Honor Voss. My twin sister. The girl who is obviously on the other end of that phone call.

I cover my face with my hand and turn around, grabbing my shoes and my sack. I hope I can put as much distance between us as possible before he figures out that the girl he just kissed isn’t Honor.

I can’t believe this is happening. I just kissed my sister’s boyfriend.

I didn’t do it on purpose, obviously. I had a feeling she had just recently started seeing someone because she’s been gone a lot, but out of all the guys in the world, how was I supposed to know this particular guy was him? I continue to rush away but I can’t get far enough before I hear him running after me. “Hey!” he calls out.

This is why he was watching me in the store. He thought I was her. It’s why he asked why I wasn’t in school, because if he knows Honor well enough to kiss her, he knows Honor would never skip school.

It all makes sense now. This wasn’t some random connection between two strangers. This was him mistaking me for his girlfriend and me being a complete fool for not immediately realizing what was happening.

I feel his hand grip my elbow. I have no choice but to turn and face him because I need to make it clear that Honor can never find out about this. When our eyes meet, he’s no longer looking at me like I fascinate him. He’s staring at his phone and then me and then his phone and then, “I am so sorry,” he says. “I thought you were . . .”

“You thought wrong,” I snap, even though it was an honest mistake.

Honor and I are identical but if he knew my twin sister at all, he should know she would never be caught dead in public looking like I look right now. I’m not wearing makeup, my hair is a mess, and my clothes are left over from yesterday.

He slides his phone back in his pocket but it begins to ring again. When he pulls it out, I can see Honor’s name flashing across the screen. I grab his phone and swipe my finger across the screen. “Hey.”

“Merit?” Honor laughs. “What’s going on? Why are you with Sagan?”

Sagan? Even his name is perfect.

“I’m not. I just . . . bumped into him. He thought I was you but then you called and . . . let’s just say he was confused.” I say all this while staring directly at Sagan. He keeps his eyes locked on mine and doesn’t even try to take the phone away from me.

Honor laughs again. “That’s funny. I wish I could have seen his face.”

“It was priceless,” I deadpan. “But you should know to warn your boyfriend that you have an identical twin.” I hand the phone back to Sagan. I back away a few steps and he’s holding the phone in his hand, unable to take his eyes off me. “Do not repeat what just happened to her,” I whisper. “To anyone. Ever.”

He nods, albeit hesitantly. As soon as I have confirmation that he won’t repeat this to Honor, I turn and walk away. Nothing could ever top this level of embarrassment. Nothing.

Chapter Two

I am such a fool.

But God, it was so beautifully unexpected. His intensity caught me off guard but the second he kissed me I was a goner. He tasted like mint and he was so warm, and then the water was splashing us and it was a sensory overload that I wanted to be an overdose. I wanted it all. I wanted to feel everything. That unexpected kiss made me feel alive for the first time in . . . actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that way.

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