Home > Verity(16)

Author: Colleen Hoover

He kissed a spot below my ear, and then he said, “You’re fucking brilliant.” I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so big. He rolled me onto my back and swept my hair out of my face. “I hope you’re ready.”

“For what?” I asked.


I laughed, but he didn’t. He pulled off his pants and removed my panties. After he pushed into me, he said, “Do you think I’m kidding?” He kissed me, then continued. “Your writing is going to make you famous. Your mind is incredible. If I could fuck it, I would.”

My laughter was mixed with a moan as he continued to make love to me. “Are you saying that because you believe it? Or because you love me?”

He didn’t answer right away. His moves became slow and deliberate. His stare was intense. “Marry me, Verity.”

I didn’t react, because I thought maybe I had misheard him. Did he really just ask me to marry him? I could tell by the intensity in his expression that he was more in love with me in that moment than he’d ever been before. I should have said yes immediately, because that’s where my heart was. But instead, I said, “Why?”

“Because,” he said, grinning. “I’m your biggest fan.”

I laughed, but then his smile disappeared and he started to fuck me. Hard, fast thrusts that he knew would drive me crazy. The headboard was slapping against the wall, and the pillow beneath my head was slipping. “Marry me,” he pleaded again, and then his tongue was in my mouth, and it was the first real kiss we’d shared in months.

We needed each other so badly in that moment, our bodies were making it difficult for our mouths to stay aligned, so the kiss was sloppy and painful and “Okay,” I whispered.

“Thank you,” he said in the middle of a sigh, his words full of more breath than voice. He continued to fuck me, his fiancée, until we were covered in sweat, and I could taste blood in my mouth where he had accidentally bitten my lip. Or maybe I’d bitten his. I wasn’t sure, but it didn’t matter because his blood was my blood now.

When he finally came, he did it inside me, without a condom, while his tongue was in my mouth and his breath was sliding down my throat and my eternity was entwined with his.

When he was finished, he reached to the floor for his jeans. He crawled back on top of me and lifted my hand, then slipped a ring on my finger.

He’d planned to ask me all along.

I didn’t even look at the ring. I brought my hands up over my head and closed my eyes, because his hand was between my legs and I knew he wanted to watch me come.

So I did.

For two months, we looked back on that night as the night we got engaged. For two months, I would grin every time I looked at my ring. For two months, I would tear up when I thought about what our wedding would be like. What our wedding night would be like.

But then the night we got engaged became the night we conceived.

And here is where it gets real. The guts of my autobiography. This is the point when other authors would paint themselves in a better light, rather than throw themselves into an X-ray machine.

But there is no light where we’re going. This is your final warning.

Darkness ahead.

The upside to Verity’s office is the view from these windows. The glass starts at the floor and rises all the way up to the ceiling. And there aren’t any obstructions. Just huge panes of solid glass, so I can see everything. Who cleans these? I study the panes of glass for a spot, a smudge—anything.

The downside to Verity’s office is also the view from these windows. The nurse has parked Verity’s wheelchair on the back porch, right in front of the office. I can see her entire profile as she faces west of the back porch. It’s a nice day out, so the nurse is sitting in front of Verity, reading her a book. Verity is staring off into space, and I wonder, does she comprehend anything? And if so, how much?

Her fine hair lifts in the breeze, like the fingers of a ghost are playing with the strands.

When I look at her, my empathy magnifies. Which is why I don’t want to look at her, but these windows make it impossible. I can’t hear the nurse reading to her, presumably because these windows are as soundproof as the rest of this office. But I know they’re there, so it’s hard to concentrate on work without glancing up every few minutes.

I’ve had issues finding any notes so far for the series, but I’ve only been able to wade through a portion of the stuff in here. I decided my time would be better spent this morning skimming the first and second books, making notes about every character. I’m creating a filing system for myself because I need to know these characters as well as Verity knows them. I need to know what motivates them, what moves them, what sets them off.

I see movement outside the window. When I look up, the nurse is walking away, toward the back door. I stare at Verity for a moment, wondering if she’ll react now that the nurse has stopped reading to her. There’s no movement at all. Her hands are in her lap, and her head is tilted to the side, as if her brain can’t even send a signal to let her know she needs to straighten up her posture before it causes her neck to ache.

The clever and talented Verity is no longer in there. Was her body the only thing that survived that wreck? It’s as if she were an egg, cracked open and poured out, and all that’s left are the tiny fragments of hard shell.

I glance back down at the desk and try to focus. I can’t help but wonder how Jeremy is handling all this. He’s a concrete pillar on the outside, but the inside has to be hollow. It’s disappointing, knowing this is his life now. Caring for an egg shell with no yolk.

That was harsh.

I’m not trying to be harsh. I’m just… I don’t know. I feel like it would have been better for everyone if she hadn’t survived the wreck. I immediately feel guilty for thinking that, but it reminds me of the last few months I spent caring for my mother. I know my mother would have preferred death over being as severely incapacitated as the cancer made her. But that was just a few months of her life...of my life. This is Jeremy’s whole life now. Caring for a wife who is no longer his wife. Tied to a home that’s no longer a home. And I can’t imagine this is how Verity would want him to live. I can’t imagine this is how she would want to live. She can’t even play with or speak to her own child.

I pray she isn’t in there, for her own sake. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be if her mind were still there, but the brain damage had left her with no physical way to express herself, robbing her of any ability to react or interact or verbalize what she’s thinking.

I lift my head again.

She’s staring straight at me.

I jump up, and the desk chair moves backward across the wood floor. Verity is looking right at me through the window, her head turned toward me, her eyes locked on mine. I bring my hand up to my mouth and step back; I feel threatened.

I want out of her line of sight, so I creep to my left, toward the office door. For a moment, I can’t escape her gaze. She’s the Mona Lisa, following me as I move across the room. But when I reach her office door, we’re no longer making eye contact.

Her eyes didn’t follow me.

I drop my hand and lean against the wall, watching as April walks back outside with a towel. She wipes Verity’s chin and then takes a small pillow from Verity’s lap and lifts her head, placing it between her shoulder and her cheek. With her head adjusted, she’s no longer staring into the window.

“Shit,” I whisper to no one.

I’m scared of a woman who can barely move and can’t even speak. A woman who can’t willingly turn her head to look at someone, much less make intentional eye contact.

I need water.

I open the office door, but let out a yelp when my cell phone rings behind me on the desk.

Dammit. I hate adrenaline. My pulse is racing, but I blow out a breath and try to calm down as I answer the phone. It’s an unknown number.


“Ms. Ashleigh?”

“This is she.”

“This is Donovan Baker from Creekwood apartments. You put in an application a few days ago?”

I’m relieved to have a distraction. I walk back over to the window, and the nurse has moved Verity’s chair so that I’m only looking at the back of her head now. “Yes, how can I help you?”

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