Home > Verity(12)

Author: Colleen Hoover

We didn’t leave his apartment for three days.

We ate Chinese takeout. We fucked. We ordered pizza. We fucked. We watched TV. We fucked.

We both called in sick to work that Monday, and by Tuesday, I was obsessed. I was obsessed with his laugh, with his cock, with his mouth, with his skill, with his stories, with his hands, with his confidence, with his gentleness, with a new and intense need to please him.

I needed to please him.

I needed to be what made him smile, breathe, wake up in the mornings.

And for a while, I was. He loved me more than he loved anything or anyone. I was his sole reason for living.

Until he discovered the one thing that meant more to him than I did.

It’s like I have surpassed opening Verity’s underwear drawer, and now I’m rummaging around among the silk and lace. I am well aware that I shouldn’t be reading this. This is not why I came here. But…

I slide the manuscript onto the couch next to me, and I stare at it. I have so many questions about Verity. Questions I can’t ask her and questions Jeremy probably doesn’t feel like answering. I need to get to know her better to see how her mind works, and you can’t get more answers from any other source like you can from an autobiography. One this brutally honest.

I can see myself getting sidetracked by this, and I really shouldn’t. I’m here to find what I need and get out of this family’s hair. They’ve been through enough and don’t need an intruder touching their underwear.

I walk over to the monster desk and pick up my phone. It’s already after eleven. I arrived around seven this evening, but I didn’t expect it to be this late already. I didn’t even hear anything outside of this office. Like it’s soundproof.

Hell, it probably is. If I could afford to work in a soundproof office, I would.

I’m hungry.

It’s an awkward feeling, being hungry in a house you aren’t familiar with. I know Jeremy said to help myself, so I head for the kitchen.

I don’t make it far. I pause right when I open the office door.

The office is definitely soundproof, or I would have heard this noise. It’s coming from upstairs, and I have to still myself completely to focus on it. To pray it’s not at all what it sounds like.

I move quietly and cautiously to the foot of the stairs, and sure enough, the sound seems to be coming from the direction of Verity’s room. It’s the creaking of a bed. Repetitive creaking, like the sound a bed would make if a man were on top of a woman.

Oh, my God. I cover my mouth with unsteady fingers. No, no, no!

I read an article about this once. A woman was injured in a car wreck and was in a coma. She lived in a nursing facility and her husband came to visit her every day. The staff became suspicious that he was having sex with her despite her being in a coma, so they set up hidden cameras. The man was arrested for rape because his wife was unable to give consent.

Much like Verity.

I should do something. But what?

“It’s noisy, I know.”

I gasp and spin around, coming face to face with Jeremy.

“I can turn it off if it bothers you,” he says.

“You scared me.” My voice is full of breath. I blow out a sigh of relief, knowing that whatever I’m hearing is not at all what I thought it was. Jeremy looks over my shoulder, up at where the noise is coming from.

“It’s her hospital bed. It’s on a timer every two hours to lift different parts of her mattress. Takes weight off her pressure points.”

I can feel the embarrassment creeping up my neck. I pray to God he doesn’t know what I thought that noise was. I cover my chest with my hand to hide the redness I know is there. I’m fair skinned, and anytime I get nervous or worked up or embarrassed, my skin tells on me, erupting in angry red splotches. I wish I could sink into the lush, rich-people carpet and disappear.

I clear my throat. “They make beds like that?” I could have used one when my mother was on hospice. It was hell trying to move her on my own.

“Yeah, but they’re obscenely expensive. Several thousand for a brand new one, and insurance wouldn’t even cover it.”

I choke on that price.

“I’m heating up leftovers,” he says. “You hungry?”

“I was just on my way to the kitchen, actually.”

Jeremy walks backward. “It’s pizza.”

“Perfect.” I hate pizza.

The microwave timer goes off right when Jeremy reaches it. He pulls out a plate of pizza and hands it to me, then makes himself another plate. “How’s it going in there?”

“Good,” I say. I grab a bottle of water out of the fridge and take a seat at the table. “You were right, though. There’s a lot. It’s gonna take me a couple of days.”

He leans against the counter as he waits for his pizza to finish. “Do you work better at night?”

“Yeah. I stay up pretty late and then sleep in most mornings. I hope that’s not an issue.”

“Not at all. I’m actually a night owl, too. Verity’s nurse leaves in the evenings and comes back at seven in the morning, so I stay up until midnight and give Verity her nighttime medications. Nurse takes over when she gets here.” He grabs his plate from the microwave and sits across from me at the table.

I can’t even make eye contact with him. All I can think of when I look at him is the part of Verity’s manuscript I read where she mentioned his hand was between her legs at the Steak ’n Shake. God, I shouldn’t have read that. Now I’ll be blushing every time I look in his direction. He has really nice hands, too, which doesn’t help the situation.

I need to change the direction of my thoughts.

Like now.

“Did she ever talk with you about the series she was writing? Like what she had planned for the characters? The ending?”

“If she did, I can’t remember,” he says, looking down at his plate. He absentmindedly moves around a slice of pizza. “Before her car wreck, it had been a while since she’d written anything. Or even talked about writing.”

“How long ago was her wreck?” I already know the answer, but I don’t want him to know I Googled his family’s history.

“Not long after Harper died. She was in a medically induced coma for a while, then went into an intense rehabilitation center for several weeks. She’s only been home for a few weeks now.” He takes another bite. I feel bad for talking about it, but he doesn’t seem put off by the conversation.

“Before my mother died, I was her only caregiver. I don’t have any siblings, so I know it isn’t easy.”

“It isn’t easy,” he says in agreement. “I’m sorry about your mother, by the way. I’m not sure I said that when you told me about it in the coffee shop bathroom.”

I smile at him, but say nothing else about it. I don’t want him to ask about her. I want the focus to remain on him and Verity.

My mind keeps going back to the manuscript, because even though I know very little about the man sitting across from me, I almost feel as though I know him. At the very least, I know him the way Verity described him.

I’m curious to know what kind of marriage they had, and why she ended the first chapter with the sentence she chose. “Until he discovered the one thing that meant more to him than I did.”

The sentence is ominous. It’s almost as if she were setting up the next chapter to reveal some terrible, dark secret about this man. Or maybe it was a writing strategy, and she’s going to say he’s a saint and that their children mean more to him than she did.

Whatever it means, I’m dying to read the next chapter now that I’m staring at him. And I hate that I have so many other things that should be my focus right now, but all I want to do is curl up and read about Jeremy and Verity’s marriage. It makes me feel a little pathetic.

It’s probably not even about them. I know a writer who admitted she uses her husband’s name in every manuscript until she can come up with a name for her character. Maybe that’s what Verity does. Maybe it was just another work of fiction, and Jeremy’s name was only there as a placeholder.

I guess there’s only one way to find out if what I read was true.

“How did you and Verity meet?”

Jeremy pops a pepperoni in his mouth and grins. “At a party,” he says, leaning back in his chair. Finally, he doesn’t look sad for once. “She was wearing the most amazing dress I’d ever seen. It was red, and so long that it dragged on the floor a little bit. God, she was beautiful,” he says with a hint of wistfulness. “We left the party together. When I walked outside, I saw a limousine parked out front, so I opened the door and we climbed inside and talked a little. Until the driver showed up and I had to admit the limousine wasn’t mine.”

I’m not supposed to know any of this, so I force a laugh. “It wasn’t yours?”

“No. I just wanted to impress her. We had to make an escape after that because the driver was pretty pissed.” He’s still smiling, like he’s right back in that night with Verity and her fuckable red dress. “We were inseparable after that.”

It’s hard for me to smile for him. For them. Seeing how happy they seemed back then, and then looking at what their life turned into. I wonder if her autobiography explains in detail how they got from point A to point B. At the beginning of it, she mentions Chastin’s death. Which means she wrote it, or at least added to it, after that first huge tragedy. I wonder how long she’s been working on it?

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