Read It Ends With Us - Colleen Hoover Page 0,1

back out when he’s done with them.

He appears to be on the verge of a breakdown. I contemplate speaking up to let him know he has company, or clearing my throat, but between thinking it and actually doing it, he spins around and kicks one of the patio chairs behind him.

I flinch as it screeches across the deck, but being as though he isn’t even aware he has an audience, the guy doesn’t stop with just one kick. He kicks the chair repeatedly, over and over. Rather than give way beneath the blunt force of his foot, all the chair does is scoot farther and farther away from him.

That chair must be made from marine-grade polymer.

I once watched my father back over an outdoor patio table made of marine-grade polymer, and it practically laughed at him. Dented his bumper, but didn’t even put a scratch on the table.

This guy must realize he’s no match for such a high-quality material, because he finally stops kicking the chair. He’s now standing over it, his hands clenched in fists at his sides. To be honest, I’m a little envious. Here this guy is, taking his aggression out on patio furniture like a champ. He’s obviously had a shitty day, as have I, but whereas I keep my aggression pent up until it manifests in the form of passive-aggressiveness, this guy actually has an outlet.

My outlet used to be gardening. Any time I was stressed, I’d just go out to the backyard and pull every single weed I could find. But since the day I moved to Boston two years ago, I haven’t had a backyard. Or a patio. I don’t even have weeds.

Maybe I need to invest in a marine-grade polymer patio chair.

I stare at the guy a moment longer, wondering if he’s ever going to move. He’s just standing there, staring down at the chair. His hands aren’t in fists anymore. They’re resting on his hips, and I notice for the first time how his shirt doesn’t fit him very well around his biceps. It fits him everywhere else, but his arms are huge. He begins fishing around in his pockets until he finds what he’s looking for and—in what I’m sure is probably an effort to release even more of his aggression—he lights up a joint.

I’m twenty-three, I’ve been through college and have done this very same recreational drug a time or two. I’m not going to judge this guy for feeling the need to toke up in private. But that’s the thing—he’s not in private. He just doesn’t know that yet.

He takes in a long drag of his joint and starts to turn back toward the ledge. He notices me on the exhale. He stops walking the second our eyes meet. His expression holds no shock, nor does it hold amusement when he sees me. He’s about ten feet away, but there’s enough light from the stars that I can see his eyes as they slowly drag over my body without revealing a single thought. This guy holds his cards well. His gaze is narrow and his mouth is drawn tight, like a male version of the Mona Lisa.

“What’s your name?” he asks.

I feel his voice in my stomach. That’s not good. Voices should stop at the ears, but sometimes—not very often at all, actually—a voice will penetrate past my ears and reverberate straight down through my body. He has one of those voices. Deep, confident, and a little bit like butter.

When I don’t answer him, he brings the joint back to his mouth and takes another hit.

“Lily,” I finally say. I hate my voice. It sounds too weak to even reach his ears from here, much less reverberate inside his body.

He lifts his chin a little and nudges his head toward me. “Will you please get down from there, Lily?”

It isn’t until he says this that I notice his posture. He’s standing straight up now, rigid even. Almost as if he’s nervous I’m going to fall. I’m not. This ledge is at least a foot wide, and I’m mostly on the roof side. I could easily catch myself before I fell, not to mention I’ve got the wind in my favor.

I glance down at my legs and then back up at him. “No, thanks. I’m quite comfortable where I am.”

He turns a little, like he can’t look straight at me. “Please get down.” It’s more of a demand now, despite his use of the word please. “There are seven