Authors: Colleen Hoover
We were no longer touching. Chris was holding me up, pressing his mouth to mine, and I knew Jonah was watching us kiss.
In that moment, I felt full of guilt. But not because of the moment I had shared with Jonah. Somehow, it felt like Jonah was the one I had
. Which made absolutely no sense.
I climbed out of the pool right after that. A moment later, Jenny had her camera out, asking us to pose for a picture. I remember after the first picture, I glanced up at Jonah. He was looking down at me with an
expression that felt like it put a crack in my chest. I didn’t understand it then. Back then, I thought it was just attraction. A teenage boy, hoping to make out with a teenage girl. But right after Jenny took the second picture, Jonah stormed off, into his house.
His actions confused me, and I wanted to ask him about it, but I never did. A few weeks later, I found out I was pregnant.
Then Jonah Sullivan skipped town.
I stare at the picture. The one of Jonah looking down at me. I finally understand that look in his eyes. It wasn’t attraction or contempt.
I put the pictures back in the box and replace the lid. I stare at the box, wondering what would have happened if he had never left.
If he had stayed, would we have ended up like Jenny and Chris? I don’t want to think we would have ended up like that. Sneaking around, betraying the people we love the most.
I’ve been so angry at Jonah for leaving, but I get it now. He had to. He knew if he stayed, someone besides him would have ended up getting hurt.
I’ve been avoiding him since his return because my feelings for him were supposed to be dormant. It was supposed to be a teenage crush that fizzled out after I moved on with Chris.
I’ve been lying to myself, doing everything in my power to convince myself that the feelings Jonah stirs up inside me are nothing more than anger.
I’m a terrible liar, though. I always have been.
I knock lightly when I reach his front door. If Elijah is asleep, I don’t want to wake him.
I take a step back, hugging myself. There’s a heavy breeze that swirls around me, but I don’t know if the chills on my arms are caused by
the wind or seeing Jonah standing in the open doorway. He’s in a pair of blue jeans and nothing else. His hair is wet and messy. His eyes are drawing me in like they always have. But this time, I don’t force myself to look away.
“Yes,” I say.
He looks at me, perplexed. “Did I ask you a question?”
I nod. “You asked me if I would have left Chris had I not gotten pregnant with Clara. My answer is yes.”
He stares at me, hard, and then it’s as if this invisible wall that’s always been shielding him from me suddenly disappears. He becomes a different person entirely. His features soften, his shoulders relax, his lips part, his chest rises and falls with a smooth release of air.
“Is that the only reason you’re here?”
I shake my head and take one step closer. My heart is pounding so hard right now that I want to turn around and run, but I know the only thing that can ease this ache I feel is Jonah. I want to know what it feels like to be held by him. To be
him. All this time I’ve never even allowed myself to imagine it. Now I want to experience it.
My hands are at my sides now. Jonah barely lifts his finger, hooking it around one of mine. A jolt of electricity spirals its way through my chest, and then a chill rushes down my arm. Jonah’s arms are covered with chills too. They run over his chest and up his neck. I slip my entire hand into his, and he grips it. Squeezes it.
“I might regret this tomorrow,” I warn.
He steps forward, wrapping his free hand around the back of my neck, pulling me close to his mouth. Before he touches my lips, his gaze flickers over my face. “You won’t.”
He pulls me inside and closes the door behind us. He backs me against the living room door, and it feels like I’m swallowing fire when his lips finally touch mine. It’s everything I’ve denied myself from feeling. Our kiss last night felt incredible, but this kiss makes last night’s kiss feel like it was a mere teaser.
Jonah presses his entire body against mine, and it feels like a lifetime of ache is being soothed with each brush of his fingertips against my skin. With each flick of his tongue, each sound that escapes our throats. We end up on the couch, him on top of me, my hands dragging over his back, feeling his muscles tense and roll beneath my fingertips.
It’s like we’re making up for all the years we missed out on this feeling. We kiss like teenagers for ten minutes. Exploring each other, tasting each other, moving against each other.
I eventually have to turn my face away from his, just so I can catch my breath. I feel light headed. He presses his forehead to my cheek and sucks in all the air I’ve just stolen from him.
“Thank you,” he whispers breathlessly. He closes his eyes and brings his mouth to my ear. His breath is warm as it trickles down my neck. “I needed to know I wasn’t crazy. That this feeling hasn’t all been in my head.”
I pull his mouth back to mine. I kiss him gently, and then he drops his head to my neck and sighs. “That day in your pool,” I whisper. “Do you remember?”
Quiet laughter meets my skin. “I’ve been searching for that feeling since the second Chris pulled you away from me.”
I want to say,
but it would be a lie. I haven’t searched for that feeling at all. I’ve spent every year of my marriage trying to
it—attempting to pretend that kind of connection didn’t really exist. Every time I caught myself thinking back on that day, I found things to blame. The heat. The sun. The chlorine in the pool. The alcohol we’d been sneaking from Jonah’s pantry.
Jonah pulls away from me and grabs my hand, easing me onto my feet. He quietly leads me to the bedroom. We’re kissing as he lowers me to the bed, and I love how he takes his time. He doesn’t remove a single piece of my clothing. He just kisses me in every position. Him on top, me on top, both of us on our sides. We make out, and it’s everything I hoped it would feel like.
He leans over me, dragging his lips down my neck. His breath is warm against the base of my throat when he says, “I’m scared.”
Those words send a chill through me. He stops kissing me and presses his cheek to my chest.
I thread my fingers through his hair.
“Scared of what?”
“Your need to protect Clara.” He lifts his face. “My need to be honest with Elijah. We aren’t on the same page, Morgan. I’ve waited too long for this to be a onetime thing, but I’m not sure you want what I want.”
He scoots up, sliding his hand beneath my shirt, pressing his palm against my stomach. I’m staring up at the ceiling, and I could swear the ceiling is pulsating to the rhythm of my heartbeat. “I don’t know what I want.” My eyes find his, and I
know what I want. I’m lying. I know
what I want. I just don’t know if it’s possible. “She’ll never understand. And what would we tell Elijah?”
“We would tell him the truth. Do you really think it’s better for Clara to think
the bad guys in this scenario?”
“You saw how devastated she was because of a kiss. Imagine if she finds out about Elijah—about what Jenny and Chris did—she’ll never be able to forgive that.”
I can see a flash of understanding on Jonah’s face, but he shakes his head. “So . . .” He falls onto his back. “Chris and Jenny get away with an affair. They get away with lying to me about fathering a child. They get away with being eternal idols in Clara’s eyes. And in the meantime, me and you are forced to keep our mouths shut and live separately in misery because of actions we aren’t even responsible for?”
“I realize it’s not fair.” I lift myself up onto my elbow and look at him. I put my hand on his hardened jaw and force him to meet my focused stare. “Chris was a shitty husband. He was a shitty friend to you. But he was a wonderful father.” I run my thumb over his lips, pleading with him through my teary eyes. “If she ever finds out Elijah
isn’t yours, it’ll devastate her.
don’t tell him. All he knows is you, anyway. It’s not the same as if Clara were to find out about Chris. I’ll take their secret to my grave if it means protecting her from that kind of pain.”
Jonah turns his head, pulling away from my hand. The rejection stings. “I’m not like you. I don’t want to lie to my child.”
I fall onto my back. More tears come. I shouldn’t have come over here. It was a bad idea. I’ve lived this long suffering through this terrible longing I’ve kept buried for Jonah. What’s fifty more years?
“We have to work this out. Come to an agreement,” he says. “I want to be with you.”
“That’s why I’m here. So you can be with me.”
“I want you in more ways than this.”
I squeeze my eyes shut for a moment, working out what that would mean. Even in all of Chris’s infidelity, I still feel guilty that I’m here, in Jonah’s bed. Kissing him felt so good when I wasn’t thinking too hard about it. It’s the best feeling I’ve had in a long, long time. But now that he’s forcing me to look at where this will lead, I just feel miserable again.
I look him directly in the eye. “You’re telling me you’re willing to ruin every memory my daughter has with her father. Yet in the same conversation, you’re asking me to be with you in more than one way? To fall in love with you?”
“No,” he says. “I’m not asking you to fall in love with me, Morgan. You already love me. I’m just asking you to give that a chance.”
love you.” I roll toward the other side of the bed, away from him.
I need to leave.
I start to stand, but he grips my arm and pulls me back to the bed, onto my back.
I press my hands against his chest to push him away, but he’s on top of me now, staring down at me with a familiar look in his eyes. I’m instantly still. I’m weak beneath that stare. He’s looking at me like he was in that picture. Full of heartache.
Or maybe this is what Jonah looks like when he loves something so much it hurts.
I suddenly don’t feel an urgent need to leave. I relax beneath him, into him, around him. I suck in air when he lowers his mouth to my jawline, dragging his lips slowly up to my ear.
“You love me.”
I shake my head. “I don’t. That’s not why I’m here.”
He kisses me, just below my ear. “You do,” he says. “You’ve just done an excellent job at hiding it, but you’ve said it in every silent conversation we’ve ever had.”
“There’s no such thing as silent conversation.”
He’s looking into my eyes in a way no man has ever looked at me before. Then, he dips his head and rests his lips against mine. “It’s okay, you don’t have to say it. I love you too.” When his lips close over mine, there’s an intensity in his kiss that makes me lose myself.
There’s something about being Jonah’s first choice—maybe even his
choice—that makes every look he gives me and every touch and every word he speaks reach me on a level Chris never could. A level I feel so deep in my soul it makes me ache beneath all the satisfaction his kiss brings.
When he settles himself between my legs, I moan into his mouth and pull him closer to me.
I forget everything. The only thoughts I have are of this moment. How rough his hands are as they pull off my shirt. How soft his lips are when they meet my breasts. How effortless his movements are as he slips out of his jeans. How in sync our gasps are when we’re finally skin to skin. How intense his eyes are when he begins to push into me.
It’s a completeness I’ve never experienced before.
It’s as if he knows exactly where to touch me, how soft, how firm, where I want his lips. He feels like a professor of my body, and I feel like an inexperienced student, cautiously touching him, unsure if my
fingers or my lips can even come close to making him feel how he’s making me feel.
I press my mouth against his shoulder and whisper, “I’ve only ever been with Chris.”
Jonah is deep inside me when he stops suddenly and pulls back. Our eyes meet, and he smiles. “I’ve only ever
to be with you.”
He kisses me tenderly, and that’s how it continues—him kissing me, moving gently in and out of me until I can no longer keep silent. I pull him closer so I can bury my face against his neck when it happens.
I finish first, an explosive moment of emotions and pleasure and years of suppression finally coming to the surface. My body is trembling beneath him, and my nails have raked their way down his back when he groans against my cheek, shuddering on top of me.
I expect it to end here, with him catching his breath and then rolling off me with a sigh. That’s how the last seventeen years of sex with Chris always ended.
But Jonah isn’t Chris, and I need to stop comparing them.
It’s unfair to Chris.
Jonah is gently cradling the side of my head as we continue to kiss. This doesn’t feel like it’s over yet. This thing between me and Jonah. Now that I’ve had this side of him, I don’t know how I can go on without it.
That scares me, but I’m too satiated to stop his mouth as it moves over mine, across my jaw, finally coming to rest against my chest, where he calmly lays his head. We spend the next few minutes waiting for the current to settle between us.