Regretting You | Chapter 22 of 48

Author: Colleen Hoover | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 80429 Views | Add a Review

Please hit next button if you encounter an empty page

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CLARA

I finished my first-ever full cup of coffee about two weeks ago, the morning after my mother knocked a random hole in our kitchen door. Since then, I’ve discovered the one thing that just might save me from my monthlong depression.

Starbucks.

Not that I’ve never been to a Starbucks before. I’ve just always been that teenager who orders tea at coffee shops. But now that I know what it’s like to be sleep deprived, I’ve been through almost every drink on the menu and know exactly which one is my favorite. The classic Venti Caramel Macchiato, no substitutions.

I take my drink to an empty corner table, one that I’ve sat at almost daily for the last two weeks. When I’m not at Lexie’s house after school, I’m here. Things have gotten so tense at home I don’t even want to be there. My curfew on school nights is ten, as long as I don’t have homework. My curfew on weekends is midnight. Suffice it to say, I haven’t been home before ten p.m. since the last argument my mother and I got into.

If she’s not demanding to know where I am and who I’m with or sniffing me for signs of drug use, she’s moping around the house, knocking random holes in the doors.

And then there’s everything we haven’t talked about. The fact that I was texting Jenny when they died. And I know where she and Jonah went when they left the house together—the Langford. I saw it on the app. I asked her that night where they’d gone, but she wouldn’t tell me. If I brought it up to her now, I have a feeling she’d lie to me.

Things just feel uneven with her. We aren’t on the same page. We don’t know how to talk to each other now that Dad and Jenny are gone.

Or maybe it’s me. I don’t know. I just know I can’t take being in our house right now. I hate the feeling I get when I’m there. It feels weird without my father there, and I’m scared it’ll never go back to the way it used to be. It used to feel like home. Now it feels like an institution, and my mom and I are the only patients.

It’s sad that I feel more comfortable at Starbucks than in my own home. Lexie works at Taco Bell five days a week, and tonight she’s back at it, so I get comfortable in my quiet little corner of Caffeine Land and open a book.

I’m only a few pages in when my phone vibrates on the table. I flip it over to look at the new Instagram notification.

Miller Adams started following you.

I stare at the notification, allowing the meaning of it to soak in for a moment. Did Shelby break up with him again? Is this his way of getting back at her?

I feel a smile attempting to form on my lips, but I bite it back because I’m kind of getting whiplash. Get in my truck. Get out of my truck. Let’s be friends on Instagram. No, let’s not be friends. Okay, yeah, let’s be friends.

I won’t allow myself to feel happy about this until I know what the hell he’s up to. I open our Instagram messages, since I deleted his number, and I send him one.

Me: Get your heart broken again?

Miller: I think I did the breaking this time.

There’s no biting back my smile this time. It’s too big to fight.

Miller: What are you doing right now?

Me: Nothing.

Miller: Can I come over?

My house is the last place I want him.

Me: Meet me at Starbucks.

Miller: On my way.

I set my phone down and pick up my book again, but I know I won’t be able to concentrate on the words while I wait for him. It doesn’t matter, though, because five seconds later, Miller is pulling an empty chair over to my table. He sits, straddling the chair backward. I pull my book to my chest and stare at him.

“You were already here?”

He grins. “I was standing in line to get coffee when I messaged you.”

Which means he probably saw me grinning like an idiot. “That feels like an invasion of privacy.”

“It’s not my fault you’re severely unaware of your surroundings.”

He’s right. When I’m here, I don’t have a clue what’s going on around me. Sometimes I sit here for two hours reading, and when I close the book, I’m surprised to look up and see that I’m not at home.

I slide the book into my bag and take a sip of my coffee. Then I lean back in my chair, my gaze rolling over Miller. He looks better. Not so heartbroken this time. He actually looks content, but I have no idea how long that’ll last before he realizes how much he misses Shelby and unfollows me on Instagram again.

“I don’t know how I feel about being your backup plan every time things go south with your girlfriend.”

He smiles gently. “You aren’t a backup plan. I like talking to you. I don’t have a girlfriend anymore, so I no longer feel guilty talking to you.”

“That’s essentially what a backup plan is. Priority doesn’t work out . . . move on to second tier.”

A barista calls Miller’s name, but he stares at me for five long seconds before he scoots his chair away from the table and goes to retrieve his coffee. When he comes back, he doesn’t revisit the conversation. He changes the subject entirely.

“Feel like going for a ride?” He takes a sip of his coffee, and I have no idea how something as simple as a cute guy sipping coffee could be appealing, but it is, so I grab my bag and stand up.

“Sure.”

Aside from a few dates I went on with a guy named Aaron last year without my parents’ permission, I’ve never been on a date with anyone else. Not that I consider whatever this is we’re doing an actual date, but I can’t help but compare it to what little experience I’ve had in the past. My parents have been extremely overprotective, so I never even bothered asking if I could go out with a guy. The rule has always been that I could date at sixteen, but I’ve been sixteen for almost a whole year and have avoided it. The idea of bringing a guy into my house to meet my parents always sounded dreadful, so if I wanted to hang out with a guy, I usually just did it behind their backs with Lexie’s help.

I do know enough to know that silence is your enemy on dates. You try to fill that silence by asking trivial questions that no one really wants to answer, and then, if you can get past the terrible answers, you might get to make out at the end of the night.

But whatever this is between me and Miller is not a date. Not even close. We haven’t said one word to each other since we got into his truck, even though that was over half an hour ago. He isn’t forcing me to answer questions I don’t want to be asked, and I’m not forcing every ounce of information out of him about his breakup with Shelby. It’s just two people, listening to music, enjoying the silence.

I love it. It might even beat my cozy corner in Starbucks.

“This was Gramps’s truck,” Miller says, breaking our comfortable silence. But I’m not annoyed by the break. I’ve actually been wondering why he drives such an old truck and if there’s a story behind it. “He bought it brand new when he was twenty-five. Drove it his whole life.”

“How many miles are on it?”

“There were just over two hundred thousand before it was gutted and everything was replaced. Now there are . . .” He lifts his hand to look at the dash behind his steering wheel. “Nineteen thousand, two hundred and twelve.”

“Does he still drive it?”

Miller shakes his head. “No. He’s not in any shape to drive.”

“He seemed like he was in pretty good shape to me.”

Miller scratches his jaw. “He has cancer. The doctors are giving him six months, tops.”

That feels like a brutal punch to my gut, and I’ve only met the man once.

“He likes to pretend it isn’t happening and that he’s fine. But I can tell he’s scared.”

It makes me wonder more about Miller’s family. Like what his mother is like, and why my father seemed to hate his father so much.

“Are the two of you very close?”

Miller just nods. I can tell by his refusal to verbally answer that question that he’s going to take it hard when it does happen. That makes me sad for him.

“You should write everything down.”

He gives me a sidelong glance. “What do you mean?”

“Write it all down. Everything you want to remember about him. You’ll be surprised how soon you start to forget everything.”

Miller smiles at me appreciatively. “I will,” he says. “I promise. But I also have a camera in his face most of the time for that very reason.”

I smile back and then stare out the window. That’s all that’s said between us until he pulls back into the Starbucks parking lot fifteen minutes later.

I stretch my back and then my arms before unbuckling my seat belt. “Thank you. I needed that.”

“Me too,” Miller says. He’s leaning against his driver’s-side door, his head resting on his hand as he watches me gather my bag and open my door.

“You have good taste in music.”

“I know,” he says, a soft smile playing on his lips.

“See you at school tomorrow?”

“See ya.”

The way he’s looking at me makes me think he doesn’t want me to go, but he’s not saying anything to indicate otherwise, so I exit his truck. I shut the door and turn to my car, but I can hear him scrambling out of his truck while I search for my keys.

He’s next to me now, leaning against my car. Miller’s stare is intense. I feel it everywhere. “We should hang out again. You busy tomorrow night?”

I halt the search for my keys and make eye contact with him. Tomorrow night sounds good, but tonight sounds even better. It’s still another hour before I have to be home. “Let’s just hang out right now.”

“Where do you want to go?”

I glance at the doors to Starbucks, already craving more caffeine. “Another coffee sounds really good.”

All the smaller tables were taken, which meant we were left choosing between a table with six chairs or the love seat.

Miller went for the love seat, and I wasn’t sad about that. We’re both relaxed into the couch, our heads pressed into the back of the cushions, facing each other. I’ve pulled my legs onto the love seat, and Miller has one leg propped up.

Our knees are touching.

Most of Starbucks has cleared out by now, and my drink is almost empty, but we haven’t stopped talking and laughing, not even for a few seconds. This version of us is so different than when we were in his truck earlier but just as comfortable.

It just feels natural with him. The silence, the conversation, the laughter. All of it feels so comfortable, and that’s something I didn’t even know I’d been missing. But I have missed it. Since the moment of the wreck, everything in my life has felt like it’s edged in sharp corners, and I’ve been tiptoeing around this world in the dark for the past month, trying not to injure myself.

We haven’t talked about his breakup, despite my curiosity about what happened. I was hoping we would avoid talking about the wreck and all that has transpired since then, but he just asked me how my mother is doing.

“Okay, I guess.” I down the last sip of my coffee. “I walked in on her trying to tear down the kitchen door with a hammer for no reason at all. Now there’s a huge random hole in the center of our door that’s been there for two weeks.”

Miller smiles, but it’s an empathetic smile. “What about you?” he asks. “Any destruction on your part?”

I shrug. “Nah. I’m okay. I mean . . . it’s only been a little over a month. I still cry every night. But I don’t feel like I can’t get out of bed anymore.” I shake my empty coffee cup. “Acquiring a taste for coffee helped.”

“Want another one?”

I shake my head and set my cup on the table next to me. Then I reposition myself on the couch to get more comfortable. Miller does the same, so we’re even closer now.

“Will you do me a favor?” I ask him.

“Depends on what it is.”

“When you become a famous director someday, will you make sure the coffee cups actually have liquid in them when actors hold them in scenes?”

Miller laughs at this. Loudly. “That is my biggest pet peeve,” he says. “They’re always empty. And when they set them down, you can hear the hollowness of the cup when it hits the table.”

“I was watching this one movie where an actor was angry, holding a cup of coffee, and he was slinging it around, but not a single drop spilled. It pulled me out of the moment and ruined the entire movie for me.”

Miller smiles and squeezes my knee. “It’s a promise. Every coffee cup on my set will be full.” His hand remains on my knee. It’s too obvious to pretend I don’t notice, but I try. I keep glancing down, though. I like seeing his hand there. I like feeling his thumb brush back and forth.

I like how I feel when I’m with him. And I’m not positive, but I think he likes how I make him feel. Neither of us has stopped smiling. I know I’ve blushed at least three times during our conversation.

We both know we’re interested, so we aren’t even trying to play coy. It’s just a matter of me not knowing where his head is. What he’s thinking . . . if he’s thought about Shelby at all.

“So,” he says. “You decided on a college yet? Still planning on majoring in acting?”

This question elicits a big sigh from me. “I really want to, but my mother is so against it. So was my father.”

“Why?”

“The odds aren’t in my favor, so they want me to do something more practical.”

“I’ve seen you act. It’s what you were born to do.”

I sit up a little straighter. “Really? What have you seen me in?” I always do theater every year at school, but I’ve never really noticed Miller there before.

“I can’t remember what it was. I only remember you onstage.”

I can feel myself blushing again. I lean back against the couch and smile shyly. “What about you? Did you at least apply to UT yet? Or anywhere?”

He shakes his head. “No. We can’t afford a school like that, and honestly, I need to stay around here. For Gramps.”

I want to ask him more about that, but he seems sad when he talks about it. I don’t know if it’s because there isn’t anyone else to care for his grandfather if he were to move away or if it’s because he’d never leave him regardless. Probably a combination of both.

I don’t like that this conversation is sending his mind in that direction, so I try to redirect his thoughts. “I have a confession.”

He looks at me expectantly, waiting for me to spill it.

“I filled out the form for the film submission.”

Miller smiles. “Good. I was worried you wouldn’t do it.”

“I might have filled it out for you too.”

He stares at me, his eyes narrowed. “In case I broke up with Shelby?”

I nod.

He laughs a little and then says, “Thank you.” There’s a pause. “So does this mean we’re partners?”

I shrug. “If you want to be. But I mean, if you end up getting back together with Shelby, I’ll understand if you can’t do—”

Miller leans forward, dipping his head as he stares at me. “I’m not getting back together with her. Get that out of your head.”

Such a short sentence, but such a big statement. One that sends a surge of heat up my chest.

He has such a serious look in his eye that it makes me nervous when he begins to speak again. “Earlier, when you called yourself my backup plan, I wanted to laugh. Because if anything, Shelby was my backup plan to you.” A reserved smile spreads across his face. “I’ve had a thing for you for almost three years.”

His words stun me into a momentary silence. Then I shake my head, confused. “Three years? Why’d you never do anything about it?”

“Timing,” he says quickly. “I almost did once, but then you started dating that one guy . . .”

“Aaron.”

“Yeah. Aaron. Then I started dating Shelby. Then you and Aaron broke up two months later.”

“And then you began to go out of your way to avoid me.”

Miller looks apologetic when I say that. “You noticed?”

I nod. “You paid a guy twenty bucks to switch lockers with him on the first day of school this year. I took that very personally.” I say it with a laugh, but I’m being completely transparent.

“I was trying to keep my distance. Shelby and I were friends before we started dating, so she knew I used to have a thing for you.”

That explains so much. “That’s why you said she’s only jealous of me and not other girls?”

“Yeah.” Miller leans casually against the couch again, his head resting against the back of it. He’s watching me process everything he just said. He’s staring back at me with so much vulnerability—like it just took a hell of a lot of courage for him to admit what he did, and he’s nervous about how I might respond.

I don’t even know how to react. I kind of want to change the subject because I feel awkward now. I don’t have anything to say that’ll impress him or make him feel as good as his words just made me feel. For those reasons, the most random thing comes out of my mouth. “Does your truck have a name?”

Miller squints, as if he’s wondering what the hell I’m talking about. Then he just laughs, and it’s the greatest, deepest laugh. “Yeah. Nora.”

“Why Nora?”

He hesitates. I love the smile that’s playing on his lips. “It’s a Beatles song.”

I recall the Beatles poster hanging in his bedroom. “So you’re a Beatles fan?”

He nods. “I have a lot of favorite bands. I love music. It feeds my soul.”

“What are your favorite lyrics?”

He doesn’t even hesitate. “They’re not from the Beatles.”

“Who are they from?”

“A band called Sounds of Cedar.”

“Never heard of them, but I like the name.”

“If I tell you my favorite lyrics by them, you’ll want to listen to every song they’ve ever written.”

I smile hopefully. “Good. Give me a couple of lines.”

He leans in just a little and smiles as he repeats the lyrics. “I’ve believed in you since the moment I met you. I believe in myself now that I’ve finally left you.”

I let the lyrics simmer as we stare at each other. It makes me wonder if those are his favorite lyrics because of his recent breakup with Shelby or if they were his favorite lyrics even before that. I’m not about to ask him, though. Instead, I release a sigh.

“Wow,” I whisper. “Those words are somehow both tragic and inspiring.”

He smiles gently. “I know.”

I can’t hide how he makes me feel in this moment. I’m appreciative that being with him gives me a respite from my grief. I’m appreciative that he’s not pretending to be someone he’s not. I’m appreciative that he broke up with his girlfriend before making a move on me. And even though I don’t know him really well, I know him enough to be able to tell that there’s a lot of good in him.

I’m severely drawn to that part of him—the part of him that showed up to my father’s funeral, simply because he wanted to check on me. I’m drawn to that part even more than his looks or his humor or his terrible singing voice.

There are so many feelings swirling around in my chest right now, and I’m afraid the room will start spinning if I don’t find my center of gravity. I lean forward and press my lips against his, if only just to balance myself.

It’s a quick kiss. Unexpected for both of us, I think. When I pull away, I’m biting my lip nervously, wondering if I should have done that. I rest my head against the couch and wait for his reaction. He doesn’t take his eyes off me.

“I didn’t think our first kiss would be like that,” he says quietly.

“Like what?”

“Sweet.”

“How did you think it would be?”

His eyes wander to the few remaining customers still lingering. “I can’t show you in here.”

When his gaze meets mine again, the satisfaction in his lazy smile fills me with confidence. “Then let’s go to your truck.”

The anticipation for our second kiss makes me even more nervous than our first. We’re holding hands when we exit Starbucks. He heads to his truck and opens the passenger door for me. I get in and he shuts it, then walks around to the driver’s side.

I don’t know why I’m so nervous now. Probably because this is actually happening. Me and Miller. Miller and me. What would our ship name be? Cliller? Millerra?

Ugh. They both sound terrible.

Miller closes his door. “What’s that look for?”

“What look?”

He points at my face. “That one.”

I laugh, shaking my head. “Nothing. I’m getting ahead of myself.”

He reaches for my hand and pulls me closer to him. We meet in the middle of his seat. That’s the thing about older trucks. The seats are long, without a console to separate the passengers. We’re even closer now than we were on the couch. Our faces are closer, our bodies are closer. Everything is so much closer. His hand is on my outer thigh, and I’m wondering what flavor of sucker he’s going to taste like.

“What do you mean you’re getting ahead of yourself? Do you regret kissing me?”

I laugh because that’s the last thing I regret. “No. I was thinking how terrible our ship names would be.”

I see relief take over his expression. But then his eyes crinkle at the corners. “Oh. Yeah. They’re terrible.”

“What’s your middle name?”

“Jeremiah. What’s yours?”

“The quintessential Nicole.”

“That’s a really long middle name.”

I laugh. “Smartass.”

I can see the wheels turning behind his eyes. “Jerecole?”

“That’s so bad.” I’m thinking about it when it hits me how odd this is. We’ve had one small peck. We’ve only spent part of an evening together without him being attached to someone else, yet here we are, discussing ship names. I want to believe how he makes me feel, but the truth of the matter is he hasn’t even been single long enough to decide if he even wants this to go anywhere.

“You’re making that face again,” he says.

I sigh, breaking eye contact with him. I look down and grab his hand. “Sorry. I just . . .” I pause for a moment, then look back up at him. “Are you sure about this? I mean, you just broke up with Shelby today. Or yesterday. I don’t even know when, but either way. I don’t want to start something if you’re going to back out of it in a week.”

The silence after I finish speaking lingers in the truck for a lot longer than I feel comfortable with. We’re still holding hands, and Miller is lightly stroking the outside of my thigh with his other hand. He sighs, more heavily than I want him to. That kind of sigh is usually followed up with words that aren’t good.

“You know the day in my truck when you told me to figure out my shit?”

I nod.

“That was the day I broke up with Shelby. It wasn’t today or yesterday. It was weeks ago. And to be honest, my shit was already figured out long before that day. I just didn’t want to hurt her.”

Nothing else is said with words. It’s all said with a look. His eyes pierce mine with such a concentrated honesty that I suck in a breath. He moves his hand from my leg to my elbow and then slowly drags his fingers up my arm and neck, coming to a stop at my cheek.

I’m pulling in shallow breaths, watching his eyes as they scroll over my face and pause on my lips.

“Nicomiah sounds okay,” I whisper.

The moment is interrupted by his laughter. Then his hand slides to the back of my head, and he pulls me to his mouth, still grinning. It’s a sweet kiss at first, much like the one I gave him inside. But then his tongue slips past my lips and touches mine, and the sweetness is gone.

This just got serious.

I respond with an almost embarrassing hunger, pulling him closer, wanting him and his kiss to take away the last few droplets of grief that are still swimming around inside of me. My hands are in Miller’s hair now, and one of his hands is sliding down my back.

I’ve never felt anything so good and perfect before. I can actually feel the dread building inside of me, knowing this kiss will eventually come to an end.

He grips my waist and guides me closer so that I’m straddling him. Our new position makes him groan, and his groan makes me kiss him even deeper. I can’t get enough. He tastes like coffee rather than suckers, but I don’t mind because I actually love the taste of coffee now.

His fingers graze the skin of my lower back, and I’m amazed at how such a small touch can cause such a consequential reaction. I tear my mouth from his, afraid of that feeling. That intensity. It’s new to me, and I feel somewhat jarred by it.

Miller pulls me to him, burying his face against my neck. My arms are wrapped around him, and my cheek is pressed against the top of his head. I can feel his breaths falling in heavy, heated waves against my neck.

He sighs, circling his arms more tightly around me. “That’s more along the lines of the kind of first kiss I was expecting.”

I laugh. “Oh yeah? You like that one better than the sweet one I gave you?”

He shakes his head and puts a little separation between us so that he can look at me. “No, I loved the sweet kiss too.”

I smile and press my lips gently against his so that I can give him another sweet kiss.

He sighs against my mouth and kisses me back, no tongue, just soft lips and a gentle release of air. He peeks over my shoulder, glancing at his radio, and then leans back against the seat.

“You’re late for curfew.” He says it sort of with dread, like he wishes we could stay in his truck all night.

“How late?”

“It’s fifteen after.”

“Well, crap.”

Miller slides me off of him and then exits the truck. I open my door to get out, and then Miller laces his fingers through mine as he walks me to my car. He opens the door for me, resting an arm on the top of my doorframe. We kiss one more time before I take a seat in my car.

I cannot believe how much I’m feeling right now. Before I showed up here today, I lived without Miller in my life perfectly fine. Now I feel like every minute I spend without him is going to be torture.

“Night, Clara.”

“Good night.”

He stares at me for a moment without shutting my door. Then he just groans. “Tomorrow seems so far away now.”

I love the way he put exactly how I’m feeling into the perfect string of words. He closes my door and backs away a few steps. But he doesn’t stop watching me, and he doesn’t return to his truck until I’m out of the parking lot and on my way home . . . late.

This should be fun.

Comments

user comment image
L. Lewis
It is becoming interesting. I can't find the next page!. It is very frustrating
user comment image
L. Lewis
It is becoming interesting.
user comment image
Salma Al-kilany
That’s probably the most creative book I’ve ever read my entire life.
View all Comments

Share your Thoughts for Regretting You

500+ SHARES Facebook Twitter Reddit Google LinkedIn Email
Share Button
Share Button