Read Reminders of Him Online

Authors: Colleen Hoover

Reminders of Him (12 page)

BOOK: Reminders of Him
12.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“Yeah. She does.”

He doesn’t say
she looks like me. Is it her eyes? Her mouth? Her hair? All of her? I want to ask him if we have similar personalities, but he doesn’t know me at all.

“How long have you known her?”

He folds his arms over his chest and looks down at his feet like he doesn’t feel comfortable answering these questions. “Since they brought her home.”

The jealousy that rolls through me is almost audible. I suck in a trembling breath and push back my tears with another question. “What’s she like?”

That question makes him sigh heavily.
All he says is my name, but it’s enough to know he’s done answering my questions. He looks away from me and scans the parking lot. “Do you walk to work?”

Convenient change of subject. “Yes.”

He’s looking at the sky now. “It’s supposed to storm this afternoon.”


“You could Uber.” His eyes come back to mine. “Did they have Uber before you . . .” His voice trails off.

“Went to prison?” I finish with a roll of my eyes. “Yes. Uber existed. But I don’t have a phone, so I don’t have the app.”

“You don’t have a phone?”

“I had one but I dropped it last month, and I can’t get a new one until I get a paycheck.”

Someone uses a key fob to unlock the car a space over from us. I glance around and see Lady Diana walking toward the car with an older couple and a cart full of groceries. We aren’t in their way, but I use it as an excuse to close his door.

Lady Diana sees Ledger as she’s opening the trunk. She grabs the first sack and mutters, “Jerk.”

It makes me smile. I glance at Ledger, and I think he might even be smiling. I don’t like that he doesn’t seem like an asshole. It would be a lot easier to hate him if he were an asshole.

“I’m keeping the scrunchie,” I say as I turn the cart around.

I want to tell him that if he’s still going to insist on shopping here, he should bring my daughter next time. But when I’m in his presence, I can’t decide if I should be polite because he’s the only thing linking me to my daughter, or if I should be mean because he’s one of the things keeping me
my daughter.

Saying nothing when I want to say everything is probably my best bet for now. I glance back at him before I head into the store, and he’s still leaning against his truck, watching me.

I go inside and return the cart to the rack and then pull my hair up with Diem’s scrunchie and wear it for the rest of my shift.



There are a dozen chocolate cupcakes staring at me when I walk inside the bar.

“Dammit, Roman.”

Every week he goes to the bakery down the street and buys cupcakes. He only buys them so he’ll have an excuse to see the woman who owns the bakery, but he doesn’t even eat them. Which means that leaves me with the task of eating them. I usually take the ones that survive the night to Diem.

I grab one of the cupcakes just as Roman walks through the double doors from the back of the bar. “Why don’t you just ask her out? I’ve put on ten pounds since you first saw her.”

“Her husband might not like that,” Roman says.

Oh, yeah. She’s married. “Good point.”

“I’ve never even spoken to her, you know. I just keep buying cupcakes from her because I think she’s hot, and apparently I like to torture myself.”

“You definitely enjoy self-torture. You still work here for some reason.”

“Exactly,” Roman says flatly. He leans against the counter. “So? What’s the update on Kenna?”

I look over his shoulder. “Anyone else here yet?” I don’t want to talk about Kenna around anyone. The last thing I need is for it to get
back to the Landrys that I’ve interacted with her outside of the one time they know of.

“No. Mary Anne comes on at seven and Razi is off tonight.”

I take a bite of the cupcake and talk with a mouthful. “She works at the grocery store on Cantrell. She has no car. No phone. I’m starting to think she doesn’t even have family. She walks to work. These cupcakes are fucking delicious.”

“You should see the woman who bakes them,” Roman says. “Have Diem’s grandparents decided what to do?”

I put the other half of the cupcake back in the box and wipe my mouth with a napkin. “I tried talking to Patrick about it yesterday, but he doesn’t even want the topic up for discussion. He just wants her out of town and out of their lives.”

“What about you?”

“I want what’s best for Diem,” I say immediately. I’ve
wanted what’s best for Diem. I just don’t know if what I used to think was best for her is still what’s best for her.

Roman doesn’t say anything. He’s staring at the cupcakes. Then he says, “Fuck it,” and he grabs one.

“You think she cooks as good as she bakes?”

“Hopefully one day I find out. Almost one out of every two couples divorce,” he says, his voice hopeful.

“I bet Whitney could find you a nice single girl to date.”

“Fuck you,” he mutters. “I’d rather wait until Cupcake Girl’s marriage falls apart.”

“Does Cupcake Girl have a name?”

“Everyone has a name.”

It’s the slowest night we’ve had in a long time, probably because it’s Monday and it’s raining. I don’t usually notice every time the door to
the bar opens, but since there are only three customers right now, all eyes go to her when she slips inside and out of the rain.

Roman notices her too. We’re both staring in her direction when he says, “I have a feeling your life is about to get incredibly complicated, Ledger.”

Kenna walks toward me, her clothes soaking wet. She takes the same seat she sat in the first time she was here. She pulls Diem’s scrunchie out of her hair and then leans over the bar and grabs a handful of napkins. “Well. You were right about the rain,” she says, drying her face and her arms. “I need a ride home.”

I’m confused, because the last time she got out of my truck, she was so angry with me I was positive she’d never be inside of it again. “From me?”

She shrugs. “You. An Uber. A cab. I don’t care. But first I want a coffee. I hear you guys carry caramel now.”

She’s in a feisty mood. I hand her a clean rag and start making her a coffee while she dries off. I look at the time, and it’s been at least ten hours since I was in the store. “Did you just now get off work?”

“Yeah, someone called in, so I worked a double.”

The grocery store closes at nine, and it likely takes her an hour to walk home. “You probably shouldn’t be walking home this late.”

“Then buy me a car,” she retorts.

I glance over at her, and she raises an eyebrow like that was a dare. I top her coffee with a cherry and slide it over to her.

“How long have you owned this bar?” she asks.

“A few years.”

“Didn’t you used to play some kind of professional sport?”

Her question makes me laugh. Maybe because my short two-year stint as an NFL player is usually the only thing people around here want to talk about with me, but Kenna makes it seem like a passing thought. “Yeah. Football for the Broncos.”

“Were you any good?”

I shrug. “I mean, I made it to the NFL, so I didn’t suck. But I wasn’t good enough to get my contract renewed.”

“Scotty was proud of you,” she says. She looks down at her drink and cups her hands around it.

She was pretty closed off the first night she came in, but her personality is starting to slip here and there. She eats her cherry and then takes a sip of the coffee.

I want to tell her she can go upstairs to the apartment Roman stays in so she can dry her clothes, but it feels wrong being nice to her. It’s been a constant battle in my head for the last couple of days, wondering how I can be attracted to someone I’ve hated for so long.

Maybe it’s because the attraction happened last Friday, before I knew who she was.

Or maybe it’s because I’m starting to question my reasons for having hated her for so long.

“You don’t have friends in this town who can give you a ride home from work? Family?”

She sets down her coffee. “I know two people in this town. One of them is my daughter, but she’s only four and can’t drive yet. The other one is you.”

I don’t like that her sarcasm somehow makes her more attractive. I need to stop interacting with her. I don’t need her to be here in this bar. Someone might see me talking to her, and word could get back to Grace and Patrick. “I’ll give you a ride home when you finish your coffee.”

I walk to the other end of the bar just to get away from her.

Kenna and I head outside to my truck about half an hour later. The bar closes in an hour, but Roman said he’d take care of it. I just need to get Kenna out of the bar, and out of my presence so no one can tie us together.

It’s still raining, so I grab an umbrella and I hold it over her. Not that it’ll make a huge difference. She’s still soaking wet from her walk here.

I open the passenger door for her, and she climbs inside the truck. It’s awkward when we make eye contact, because there’s no way we aren’t both thinking about the last time we were together on this side of the truck.

I shut her door and try not to think about that night, or what I thought of her, or how she tasted.

Her feet are against the dash when I settle into the driver’s seat. She’s fidgeting with Diem’s hair scrunchie as I pull onto the street.

I can’t stop thinking about what she said—about Diem being the only person in this town she knows besides me. If that’s true, Diem isn’t even really someone she knows. She just knows Diem is here and that she exists, but the only person she really knows in this town is me.

I don’t like that.

People need people.

Where is her family? Where is her mother? Why has none of her family tried to reach out and get to know Diem? I’ve always wondered why no one, not even another grandparent or aunt or uncle, has tried contacting Grace or Patrick about meeting Diem.

And if she doesn’t have a cell phone, who does she talk to?

“Do you regret kissing me?” she asks.

My focus swings from the road and over to her as soon as she asks that. She’s staring at me expectantly, so I look at the road again, gripping my steering wheel.

I nod, because I do regret it. Maybe not for the reasons she thinks I regret it, but I regret it all the same.

It’s quiet all the way to her apartment after that. I put my truck in park and glance over at her. She’s looking down at the scrunchie in her hand. She slides it onto her wrist, and without even making eye contact with me, she mutters, “Thanks for the ride.” She opens her door and is out of my truck before I find my voice to tell her good night.



I think about kidnapping Diem sometimes. I’m not sure why I don’t follow through with it. It’s not like there’s a worse life for me than the one I’m currently living. At least when I was in prison, I had a reason I was unable to see my daughter.

But right now, the only reason is the people raising her. And it hurts to hate the people raising her. I don’t want to hate them. When I was in prison, it was harder to blame them, because I was so grateful she had people who were taking care of her.

But from right here in this lonely apartment, it’s hard not to think of how great it would be to take Diem and go on the run. Even if it was just for a few days before I got caught. I could give her everything while I had her. Ice cream, presents, maybe a trip to Disney World. We’d have a lavish weeklong celebration before I turned myself in, and she’d remember it forever.

She’d remember

And then, by the time I got out of prison for kidnapping her, she’d be an adult. And she’d probably forgive me, because who wouldn’t appreciate a mother who would risk going back to prison just to experience one good week with their daughter?

The only thing preventing me from taking her is the possibility that Patrick and Grace might change their minds someday. What if they have a change of heart and I get to meet Diem without having to break the law to do it?

And there’s also the fact that she doesn’t know me at all. She doesn’t even love me. I’d be ripping her from the only parents she knows, and while that might sound appealing to me, it would more than likely be horrifying for Diem.

I don’t want to make selfish decisions. I want to be a good example for Diem, because someday she’ll find out who I am and that I wanted to be in her life. It might be thirteen years from now before she’s able to decide for herself whether or not she wants anything to do with me, and for that reason alone, I’m going to live the next thirteen years in a way that will hopefully make her proud.

I snuggle up to Ivy and try to fall asleep, but I can’t. There are so many thoughts swimming around in my head, and none of my thoughts ever settle. I’ve had insomnia since the night Scotty died.

I spend my nights awake, thinking about Diem and Scotty.

And now, thoughts of Ledger are added to the mix.

Part of me is still so mad at him for intercepting me at their house this past weekend. But part of me feels a sense of hope when I’m around him. He doesn’t seem to hate me. Yes, he regrets kissing me, but I don’t care about that. I don’t even know why I asked him that question. I just wonder if he regrets it because he was Scotty’s best friend, or because of what I did to Scotty. Probably both.

I want Ledger to see the side of me that Scotty saw so that I might have someone on my side.

It’s really fucking lonely when the only friends you have are a teenager and a kitten.

I should have made more of an effort with Scotty’s mom when he was alive. I wonder if that would have made a difference.

The night I met Scotty’s parents was probably the strangest night of my life.

I’d seen families like theirs on television, but never in person before. I honestly didn’t know they existed. Parents who got along and seemed to like each other.

They met us in the driveway. It had been three weeks since Scotty had been home, and they looked like they hadn’t seen him in years. They hugged him. Not like a hello hug, but an
I missed you
hug. A
you’re the best son in the world

They hugged me, too, but it was a different hug. Quick,
hello, nice to meet you

When we went inside the house, Grace said she needed to finish up dinner, and I know I should have told her I’d help, but I didn’t know my way around a kitchen, and I was afraid she’d smell the inexperience on me. So instead, I stuck to Scotty’s side like glue. I was nervous and I felt out of place, and he was the closest to a home that I could get.

They even prayed. Scotty said the prayer. It was so earth shattering for me to be sitting at a dinner table, listening to a guy thank God for his meal and his family and me. It was too surreal to keep my eyes closed. I wanted to take it all in, to see what other people looked like as they prayed. I wanted to stare at this family because it was hard to wrap my head around the idea that if I married Scotty, this would be mine. I would have these parents, and this meal would be something I helped cook, and I’d learn how to thank God for my food and for Scotty. I wanted it. I craved it.


Something I was wholly unfamiliar with.

I saw Grace peek up right at the end of the prayer, and she caught me looking around. I immediately closed my eyes, but at that point Scotty said, “Amen,” and everyone picked up their forks, and Grace already had an opinion of me, and I was too scared and too young to know how to change it.

It seemed hard for them to look at me during dinner. I shouldn’t have worn the shirt I had on. It was low cut. Scotty’s favorite. I spent the whole meal hunched over my plate, embarrassed about myself and all the things I wasn’t.

After dinner, Scotty and I sat out on his back porch. His parents went to bed, and as soon as their bedroom light turned off, I breathed a sigh of relief. I felt like I was being graded.

“Hold this,” Scotty said, handing me his cigarette. “I have to pee.” He smoked occasionally. I didn’t mind it, but I didn’t smoke. It was dark out, and he walked around to the side of the house. I was standing on his back porch leaning against the railing when his mother appeared at the back door.

I straightened up and tried to hide the cigarette behind my back, but she’d already seen it. She walked away and then returned with a red Solo cup a moment later.

“Use this for your ashes,” she said, handing it to me out the back door. “We don’t have an ashtray. None of us smoke.”

I was mortified, but all I could say was “Thank you,” and then I took the cup from her. She closed the back door just as Scotty came back for his cigarette.

“Your mother hates me,” I said, handing him the cigarette and the cup.

“No, she doesn’t.” He kissed me on the forehead. “The two of you will be best friends someday.” He took a final drag of his cigarette, and then I followed him back inside the house.

He carried me up the stairs on his back, but when I saw all the pictures of him that lined the stairwell, I made him stop at each one so I could look at them. They were so happy. The way his mother looked at him in the photos is the same way she looked at him as an adult.

“What kid is that cute?” I asked him. “They should have had three more of you.”

“They tried,” he said. “Apparently I was a miracle baby. Otherwise, they probably would have had seven or eight.”

That made me sad for Grace.

We got to his room, and Scotty dropped me onto his bed. He said, “You never talk about your family.”

“I don’t have one.”

“What about your parents?”

“My father is . . . somewhere. He got tired of paying child support, so he bolted. My mother and I don’t get along. I haven’t spoken to her in a couple of years.”


“We just aren’t compatible.”

“What do you mean?” Scotty sprawled out next to me on the bed. He seemed genuinely curious about my life, and I wanted to tell him the truth, but I also didn’t want to scare him away. He grew up in such a normal household; I wasn’t sure how he would feel knowing I didn’t.

“I was alone a lot,” I said. “She always made sure I had food, but she neglected me to the point I was put in foster care twice. Both times they sent me back to live with her, though. It’s like she was shitty, but not shitty
. I think after growing up and seeing other families, I started to realize she wasn’t a good mother. Or even a good person. It became really hard to coexist. It was like she felt I was her competition and not on her team. It was exhausting. After I moved out, we stayed in touch for a while, but then she just stopped calling. And I stopped calling her. We haven’t spoken in two years.” I looked at Scotty, and he had the saddest look on his face. He didn’t say anything. He just brushed my hair back and stayed quiet. “What was it like having a
family?” I asked him.

“I’m not sure I knew how good it was until just now,” he replied.

“Yes, you did. You love your parents. And this house. I can tell.”

He smiled gently. “I don’t know if I can explain it. But being here . . . it’s like I can be my truest, most authentic self. I can cry. I can be in
a bad mood, or sad, or happy. Any of those moods are accepted here. I don’t feel that anywhere else.”

The way he described it made me sad I never had it. “I don’t know what that’s like,” I said.

Scotty bent down and kissed my hand. “I’ll give it to you,” he said. “We’ll get a house together someday. And I’ll let you pick everything out. You can paint it however you want. You can lock the door and only let the people in that you want in there. It’ll be the most comfortable place you’ve ever lived.”

I smiled. “That sounds like heaven.”

He kissed me then. Made love to me. And as quiet as I tried to be, the house was even quieter.

The next morning when we were leaving, Scotty’s mother couldn’t look me in the eye. Her embarrassment seeped into me, and I knew for certain in that moment she didn’t like me.

As we were pulling out of his driveway, I pressed my forehead against the passenger window of Scotty’s car. “That was mortifying. I think your mother heard us last night. Did you see how tense she was?”

“It’s jarring for her,” Scotty said. “She’s my mother. She can’t imagine me screwing
girl; it has nothing to do with you in particular.”

I fell back against the seat and sighed. “I liked your dad.”

Scotty laughed. “You’ll love my mother too. Next time we visit them, I’ll make sure and fuck you
we get here so she can pretend I don’t do things like that.”

“And maybe stop smoking.”

Scotty grabbed my hand. “I can do that. Next time, she’ll love you so much, she’ll be pushing for a wedding and grandbabies.”

“Yeah,” I said wistfully. “Maybe.” But I doubted it.

Girls like me just didn’t seem to fit in with

BOOK: Reminders of Him
12.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Wrangling the Redhead by Sherryl Woods, Sherryl Woods
Selby's Shemozzle by Duncan Ball
Cloudburst by Ryne Pearson
Half World: A Novel by O'Connor, Scott
Jo's Journey by S. E. Smith
Rebel Obsession by Lynne, Donya
THREE TIMES A LADY by Osborne, Jon
Sheisty by Baker, T.N.