Home > Verity(13)

Author: Colleen Hoover

“Was Verity already an author when you met her?”

“No, she was still in grad school. It was later, when I had to take a temporary position in Los Angeles for a few months, that she wrote her first book. I think it was her way of passing the time until I came back home. She was passed up by a couple of publishers at first, but once she sold that first manuscript, everything just... It all happened so fast. Our lives changed practically overnight.”

“How did she handle the fame?”

“I think it was harder for me than it was for her.”

“Because you like being invisible?”

“Is it that obvious?”

I shrug. “Fellow introvert, here.”

He laughs. “Verity isn’t your typical author. She loves the spotlight. The fancy events. It all makes me uncomfortable. I like being here with the kids.” There’s a very subtle shift in his expression when he realizes he spoke of his girls in the present tense. “With Crew,” he says, correcting himself. He shakes his head and then clasps his hands behind his neck, leaning back like he’s stretching. Or uncomfortable. “It’s hard sometimes—remembering they aren’t here anymore.” His voice is quiet, and he’s staring past me, at nothing. “I still find their hairs on the sofa. Their socks in the dryer. Sometimes I yell out their names when I want to show them something, forgetting they aren’t going to come running down the stairs.”

I watch him closely, because not all of me is convinced yet. I write suspense novels. I know when there are suspicious situations, suspicious people almost always accompany those situations. I’m torn between wanting to find out more about what happened to his girls, and getting out of here as fast as I can.

But right now, I’m not looking at a man who is putting on a show to garner sympathy. I’m looking at a man who’s sharing his thoughts out loud for the first time.

It makes me want to do the same.

“My mother hasn’t been gone that long, but I know what you mean. Every morning that first week, I’d get up and make her breakfast, only to remember she wasn’t there to eat it.”

Jeremy drops his arms to the table. “I wonder how long it lasts. Or if it’ll always be this way.”

“I think time will definitely help, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to entertain the idea of moving. If you’re in a house they’ve never been in, the reminders of them might fade. Not having them around would become your new normal.”

He runs a hand across the stubble on his jaw. “I’m not sure I want a normal where there aren’t traces of Harper and Chastin.”

“Yeah,” I say in agreement. “I wouldn’t either.”

His eyes remain on me, but it’s quiet. Sometimes a look between two people can last so long, it shakes you. Forces you to look away.

So I do.

I look at my plate and run my finger along the scalloped edge of it. His stare felt like it was going far past my eyes, into my thoughts. And even though he doesn’t mean for it to, it feels intimate. When Jeremy’s eyes are on mine, it feels like an exploration of the deepest parts of me.

“I should get back to work,” I say, my voice barely above a whisper.

He’s unmoving for a few seconds, but then sits up straight, quickly scooting back his chair as if he just broke out of a trance. “Yeah,” he says, reaching for our plates as he stands. “I should get Verity’s meds ready.” He walks our plates to the sink, and as I’m exiting the kitchen, he says, “Goodnight, Low.”

When I hear him call me that, my goodnight gets stuck in my throat. I release a flicker of a smile and then walk out of the kitchen, in a hurry to get back to Verity’s office.

The more time I spend in Jeremy’s presence, the more eager I am to dive back into that manuscript and get to know him even better.

I grab it from the couch, turn off the lights in Verity’s office, and take the manuscript to the bedroom with me. There isn’t a lock on the door, so I push a wooden chest from the foot of the bed all the way to the door, blocking it off.

I’m exhausted after traveling the entire day, and I still need to shower, but I can fit in at least one more chapter before I sleep.

I have to.

So Be It

I could write entire novels about the first two years we dated, but they wouldn’t sell. There wasn’t enough drama between Jeremy and me. Hardly any fighting at all. No tragedies to write about. Just two years of saccharine love and adoration between the two of us.

I. Was. Taken. By. Him.

Addicted to him.

I’m not sure it was healthy—how codependent I was. Still am, really. But when a person finds someone who makes all the negativity in their lives disappear, it’s hard not to feed off that person. I fed off Jeremy in order to keep my soul alive. It was starving and shriveled before I met him, but being in his presence nourished me. Sometimes I felt if I didn’t have him, I couldn’t function.

We had been dating almost two years when he was temporarily transferred to Los Angeles. We had recently moved in together, unofficially. I say unofficially because there was a point when I just stopped going back to my place. Stopped paying the bills, the rent. It wasn’t until two months after I’d completely moved out that Jeremy found out I didn’t have my own apartment anymore.

He had suggested I move in with him one night, during sex. He does that sometimes. Makes huge decisions about our lives together while he’s fucking me.

“Move in with me,” he said, thrusting slowly into me. He lowered his mouth to mine. “Break your lease.”

“I can’t,” I whispered.

He stopped moving and pulled back to look down on me. “Why not?”

I lowered my hands to his ass and made him start moving again. “Because I broke my lease two months ago.”

He stilled inside me, staring down at me with those intense green eyes and lashes so black, I expected to taste licorice when I kissed them. “We already live together?” he asked.

I nodded, but realized he wasn’t reacting the way I’d hoped he’d react. He seemed blindsided.

I needed to fix things—to take over and sidetrack him. Make him realize it wasn’t that big of a deal. “I thought I told you.”

He pulled out of me, and it felt like a punishment. “You did not tell me we’re living together. That’s something I would have remembered.”

I sat up and positioned myself so that I was on my knees right in front of him, face to face with him. I ran my fingernails across both sides of his jaw and brought my mouth close to his. “Jeremy,” I whispered. “I haven’t spent a night away from you in six months. We’ve lived together for a while now.” I grabbed his shoulders and then pushed him onto his back. His head met the pillow, and I wanted to lie on top of him and kiss him, but he seemed a little angry with me. Like he wanted to talk about this subject I considered closed.

I didn’t want to talk anymore. I just wanted him to make me come.

So, I straddled his face and lowered myself onto his tongue. When I felt his hands grip my ass, pulling me closer to his mouth, my head rolled back for a delicious moment. This is why I moved in with you, Jeremy.

I leaned forward, gripped his headboard, and then bit down on it, stifling my screams.

And that was that.

I was happier than I’d ever been until he was transferred. Sure, it was only temporary, but you can’t take away someone’s only means of survival and expect them to function on their own.

That’s how I felt, anyway—like the only nourishment for my soul had been ripped from me. Sure, I got small bouts of replenishment when he’d call me or FaceTime me, but those nights alone in our bed were grueling.

Sometimes, I would straddle my pillow and bite down on the headboard while I touched myself, pretending he was beneath me. But then, after I came, I’d fall back onto an empty bed and stare up at the ceiling, wondering how I’d survived all the years of my life that he hadn’t been a part of.

Those were thoughts I couldn’t admit to him, of course. I might have been obsessed with him, but a woman knows if she wants to keep a man forever, she has to act like she could get over him in a day.

And that is when I became a writer.

My days were filled with thoughts of Jeremy, and if I didn’t figure out how to fill them with thoughts of something else until he returned, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to hide how much his absence gutted me. I created a fictional Jeremy and called him Lane. When I was missing Jeremy, I’d write a chapter about Lane. My life over those next few months became less about Jeremy and more about my character. Who was, in a sense, still Jeremy. But writing about it instead of obsessing about it felt more productive.

I wrote an entire novel in the few months he was gone. When he showed up at our front door to surprise me with his return home, I had just finished editing the final page.

It was kismet.

I congratulated him with a blowjob. It was the first time I swallowed. That’s how happy I was to see him.

I acted like a lady after I swallowed, smiling up at him. He was still standing by the front door, fully clothed, other than the jeans that were now down to his knees. I stood up and kissed him on the cheek and said, “Be right back.”

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