Be Good A New Adult Romance (RE12)
Author:Dakota Madison

chapter One


A small ray of sunlight peeked through the window shade and woke me up. I panicked slightly when I realized I wasn’t on the side of the bed I normally slept on. Weird.

It took me another moment to realize I wasn’t in my bed at all. Another round of panic overtook me until I remembered the wedding. Hannah and Brandon’s wedding was last night and I was one of the bridesmaids. I was staying at a hotel with the rest of the wedding party. I let out a small sigh of relief.

The sun seemed to be barely coming up so I could probably go back to sleep for a while. I could enjoy a few hours of solitude until I had to go back to my freaky roommate and her evil cat. Ugh! I hated that damn cat.

Then I felt an arm swing over my shoulder.

Shit. I wasn’t alone. Was I even in my room?

I racked my brain trying to remember any details of how I got back to the room I was in and who could possibly be in the bed beside me.

Nothing.

My mind was blank. I had little recollection of the previous night’s events thanks to a few too many tequila shots, no doubt. Or was it Lemoncello? Barf. The thought of Lemoncello made my stomach churn. I felt like I might spew.

It was definitely too much Lemoncello.

“Good morning, Beautiful,” murmured a male voice in the bed beside me. Unfortunately, it didn’t sound the least bit familiar.

Was I in his room or had I taken him back to mine? Knowing me, I had suggested we go back to his room so I could make a quick escape in the morning.

I couldn’t remember who I was with or how we ended up in bed together. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time I couldn’t remember how I had gotten into some random guy’s bed. I’ve had many slutty moments in the past but few of them were this slutty. Hooking up with someone at a wedding was an all-time low. And not just any wedding—one of my best friend’s weddings. Oh, God…had I become a wedding slut?

I could feel whoever it was easing toward me in the bed and my heart start racing. Panic was setting in again. I needed to escape. All of my past slut-scapades had ended with me sneaking out of bed, quietly gathering my things and bolting before any embarrassing morning-after crap had a chance to materialize.

Now it was too late to escape unnoticed. He was awake (whoever he was) and I was going to be forced to face him. And I didn’t remember a thing.

I could feel my stomach churning again and I realized my head was also throbbing.

Great. I had to deal with a hangover, too.

I jumped up from the bed pulling the sheet along with me and ran into the bathroom. I just made it to the toilet when the contents of my stomach decided to make a reappearance.

It was definitely Lemoncello. I wouldn’t be drinking that again for a while. A long while. It tasted absolutely God-awful on its way back up.

I laid my head on the cool side of the toilet and let out a sigh.

I tried to remember anything I could about the previous night. Why did I have an image of a clown so prominently in my mind? What did it mean?

There was a soft knock on the bathroom door. “Are you okay?” the male voice said. There was a tenderness to his voice that surprised me.

“No,” I replied more curtly than I wanted to. Sarcastic and curt remarks often popped out of my mouth before I had a chance to stop them. It was one of my many flaws. I kept a running list. I had been keeping ANNA’S FLAW LIST since I was 12 years old. It started with all of the flaws my mom and dad liked to remind me of and built from there. Most of the flaws came from guys I dated and were used as excuses to break things off. Or maybe they were right and I was just a fucked-up chick (Flaw 15), who didn’t deserve to be loved.

“Can I come in?” the male voice asked.

I hadn’t even bothered to glance at myself in the mirror as I hurried by on my way to the toilet. When I tried to sit up, I felt like I had just gotten off one of those Tilt-A-Whirl rides at an amusement park. I felt like I was going to hurl again but I was pretty sure there wasn’t anything left in my stomach.

“No,” I managed to mutter right before I dry heaved into the toilet.

“Why not?” The voice was calm but concerned. Why didn’t he sound familiar? I was starting to wonder how my moral compass had led me so far astray.

“I’m sick.” I muttered as I laid my head back down on the cool toilet seat.

He didn’t listen. He came into the bathroom anyway. At least now I could see who I had spent the night with. When I glanced up I was surprised to see Brett Conner looking down at me. His eyes were filled with compassion, which made me want to cry and punch his clown head at the same time. Except that he no longer had clown hair. His reddish brown hair was cropped short, nicely styled and actually looked good. I had to remember to ask him about his stylist. It was difficult to find people who could deal with my thick main of curly blonde hair. Guys often called me a blonde-haired blue-eyed babe with a killer body. Girls said I was the girl every guy wanted. What I felt like was the girl every guy claimed to have scored with. Only most of them weren’t lying.

I usually ended up with popular jocks who used me to prove just how virile they were. I was a feather in their cap. The fantasy girl every guy wanted but only the top dogs tried to tap. So how in the world did I end up sleeping with Brett Conner? In college, everyone called him clown hair because his mop top was so bushy and curly. He was a nerd, kinda of cool, but still too geeky to ever take seriously. We were never friends but he was friends with some of my friends. I certainly knew of him. I also knew that people made fun of him and picked on him often, mostly because of his outrageous hair but also because he was quiet, and smart and just—well—geeky.

When my eyes moved down to the rest of his body, I realized he was naked except for a pair of boxer briefs. I remembered him being lanky but those days were obviously long gone. He had definitely filled out in all the right places since his clown hair days in college.

I was suddenly aware of the awkwardness of the situation and was a wee bit embarrassed, which was unusual for me. I normally didn’t give a shit about what anyone thought of me. But for some reason, I cared about what Brett was thinking. I looked at the bathtub and then at the overhead light then down at the tile floor—anything to avert his gaze.

I heard Brett turn on the faucet and when I looked over, he was wetting a washcloth in the sink. After he wrung it out, he turned and kneeled down next to me. He gently washed my forehead and cheeks with the warm washcloth.

“Is that better?” he asked looking into my eyes.

I gulped. No man had ever washed my face before, not even my father. And certainly not anyone I had ever slept with. “Why did you do that?” I asked before I could stop myself.

He looked at me like it was the most ridiculous question he’d ever heard in his life. “Because you’re sick. I want to help you feel better.”

Why was he being so nice to me? I suddenly had the urge to run straight out of the room. I tried to get up but my legs were like Jell-O and the sheet around me was starting to fall down. I didn’t know whether to grab for the sheet or try to stop myself from falling on my ass but neither act was successful and I ended up falling and losing my sheet at the same time. Luckily Brett was quicker than I was and he managed to catch me before I hit the floor. The sheet went bye-bye though.

I was naked in Brett’s arms and completely humiliated. I quickly grabbed for the sheet and tried to cover myself but only managed to look completely ridiculous in the process.

“I’ve seen you naked.” Brett stifled a grin. “And I’ve been inside you half the night.”

I could feel my face growing hot with embarrassment. Maybe if I could remember any of it, I wouldn’t feel as ashamed as I did at the moment.

Brett managed to put the toilet seat down, while he was still holding me then he sat me down on the lid. He smoothed my hair down in the back and then tucked it behind my ears. Then to my astonishment, he gently kissed the top of my head. I could feel my withered heart (Flaw 23) come alive a bit with the gesture.

Brett sat down at the edge of the bathtub facing me. “Would you like something to drink? Maybe Ginger Ale or Sprite will settle your stomach?”

I shook my head. “Maybe I’d just better go. You don’t have to take care of me.”

“Maybe I want to take care of you,” he said matter-of-factly, as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

I didn’t even know Brett. I didn’t know anything about him other than he was a geek in college and had clown hair that was now tamed. It was obvious we’d slept together but I didn’t remember it. Why was he being so nice to me? Even guys I had been on multiple dates with had never been this nice to me. Most of the guys I had slept with couldn’t wait for me to leave in the morning or were relieved that I had snuck out before they woke up. Brett didn’t even seem to find the situation a bit awkward.

“My flight to Palo Alto doesn’t leave until later this afternoon, so there’s no rush. It’s only eight o’clock. Do you want to go back to sleep for a while?”

Maybe if I could get the drummers in my head to stop pounding on my temples, I would feel a little better. “Do you have any aspirin?”

“Just a sec.” He went back into the bedroom and I could hear him rustling around in his bags. He came back holding up two white tablets. “I found some.”

He grabbed a glass from the counter and filled it in the bathroom sink then he handed me the pills and the water glass. “Thanks.” I downed the aspirin and all of the water.

“It’s a good idea to hydrate after drinking. Would you like some more water?”

I nodded. I was about to get up but he grabbed the glass from my hand and refilled it then handed it back to me. “Thanks, again.” This time I sipped the water more slowly.

“You had on your bridesmaid dress last night. I don’t think you want to put that back on again, do you? I can give you a tee shirt and pair of shorts of mine to wear. They’ll be big on you, obviously. Or I can go to our room and get your stuff?”

He could go to my room if I could actually remember what room I was in. Was it 226 or maybe 262? (Thanks to Flaw 8: a bad memory and Flaw 16: a tendency to drink to excess and lose said memory.)

“I guess I’ll wear your shorts and tee shirt, if you don’t mind.”

He shrugged. “Why would I mind?”

He exited and I could hear him rustling through his stuff again. He returned with a pair of jogging shorts and a red Pearl Jam tee shirt. I also noticed he had gathered my bra and underwear from the floor and added them to the small pile. He handed me the clothes.

I don’t know why having Brett watch me get dressed felt awkward and a little embarrassing. It was a ridiculous feeling. As he had pointed out, we had been intimate all night.

I averted his gaze while I tried to step into my underwear but was immediately struck by the fact that my legs weren’t working exactly the way I wanted them to. When Brett grabbed my arm to steady me, I realized the reason he was standing there watching me probably wasn’t to get a show, he wanted to make sure I was okay.

Brett continued to hold me steady as I pulled my undies up and then he helped me put the shorts on. They were baggy and I felt like a puppet in them but they would have to do. I definitely didn’t want to do the walk of shame back to my room wearing my bridesmaid dress.

I put on my bra then Brett helped me into the tee shirt. “At least you have good taste in music,” I pointed out. “I don’t know what I would have done if you marched in here with a boy band tee shirt.”

“I have great taste in music,” Brett corrected. “Pearl Jam is one of the all-time greatest bands.”

I smiled. “They’re actually my favorite band.”

“Mine, too,” Brett agreed.

We both looked at each other for a moment and a tiny bit more of my withered heart expanded.

“I know you probably don’t want to think about food but maybe you should at least try to eat something. A little scrambled eggs and toast? I was thinking about getting room service. How about it?”

I could feel my stomach churning at the thought of food. “I don’t know,” I muttered as my hand instinctively moved to my stomach.

“Even if it’s just a few bites, I think it’ll settle your stomach.”

I sighed. Normally I had no trouble saying no to anyone ever. I could tear someone to shreds with my razor sharp tongue (Flaw 10). But Brett had so much warmth in his eyes it was hard for me to say no to him. I’m not sure what is was about him but he brought out something in me that was rarely seen, like a star nosed mole or a frill necked lizard. Brett brought out nice Anna.

“Okay,” I agreed as we exited the bathroom.

Brett hopped over to the phone and ordered us eggs, toast and coffee. Then he grabbed another tee shirt from his suitcase, this one with Green Day, and slipped it over his head.

“Another great band,” I commented.

“How could you doubt my musical taste?” he teased.

I suddenly felt a twinge of sadness. I had slept with Brett, shared my body with him, yet I knew nothing about him. I thought about all of the guys I had been with and how little I really knew about them, how little I cared to know about them and how little they cared to know about me. My love life (if you could call it that) had been little more than a series of casual hook ups.

When I looked at Brett, he was staring at me. “What?” he inquired when our eyes met.

“Nothing,” I replied even though there was so much more going on inside my head. How could I possibly admit that I remembered nothing about our being together when it was becoming clear that it had meant something to Brett?

Brett pulled on a pair of jeans and I noticed how well he filled them out. He really did have a nice body. I would have loved to remember having sex with him.

“Lie down on the bed with me until the food gets here,” he suggested.

Brett grabbed my hand and led me over to the bed. He lay down and I got into the bed next to him. He grabbed the remote and turned on the television. He flipped through some stations until he found an old movie playing, The Breakfast Club.

“I love this movie,” we both said at the same time.

We looked at each other and laughed.

“John Hughes movies are the best,” Brett declared .

“My favorite is definitely Pretty in Pink.”

“And what about Sixteen Candles?”

I nodded.

“And Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” we both stated at the same time and laughed again.

“You can rest your head on my chest if you want,” Brett offered. I wasn’t the type to cuddle (Flaw 42). The few clingy guys I had dated, mostly in high school, made me feel trapped by their constant need for me to be close. I guess Brett sensed my hesitation because he quickly said, “It’s okay if you don’t want to. I understand.”

I compromised. I placed my hand on his chest. I could see a small smile form in the corners of his mouth. Then he placed his hand over mine.

I don’t believe in coincidences and I rarely have good luck but I noticed that our food arrived exactly as the movie ended.

“Great timing.” Brett flipped off the television and hurried over to the door. The ease with which he did everything and the comfort he seemed to feel in his own skin actually made me a bit jealous. I never felt completely comfortable with anyone and I felt the least comfortable with myself.

When the waiter left, Brett carried our food tray over to the bed. “Breakfast in bed, for my lady,” he said with a cheesy fake British accent. He was a little corny but it was cute. And no one had ever gone to the trouble of providing me breakfast in bed.

Brett sat down across from me on the bed with the meal tray between us. “Dig in. I’m starving!.”

“Aren’t you the least bit hung over?” When I looked up at Brett all the color had drained from his face.

“I don’t drink,” he said seriously. “Ever.”

I gulped. The way he said it was almost pained. But why? Had he told me and I had forgotten? I racked my brain to try and remember but nothing came to me.

“I’m sorry,” I mumbled.

“It’s okay,” he said but I knew he was lying. It wasn’t okay. Nothing about the night we had spent together was okay.

Then something strange happened. I could feel my cheeks getting wet. Moisture was dripping down my face and it was coming from my eyes.

“Don’t cry,” Brett whispered and I wondered if I had heard him correctly.

“I don’t cry,” I snuffled. “I never cry. It’s flaw number five.”

“Apparently you do.” He came around to my side of the bed and took me in his arms. As he held me tightly I could feel myself sobbing. WTF? I felt like I was observing myself from outside my own body. I was probably eight years old the last time I remembered shedding a tear now I was quickly deteriorating into a sobbing heap.

“It’s okay,” Brett whispered. “I’m right here.”

Brett continued to hold me tight in his arms as I let it all out. Years of bottled up emotions seemed to pour out of me. I could feel snot running down my nose and before I could ask, Brett said, “I’d better get you some tissues.”

When he ran into the bathroom, I did my best to compose myself and when he returned he handed me a pile of tissues. I blew my nose into the entire pile and Brett chuckled.

“I must look really great. Not only am I hung over, now I’m a blubbering mess.”

“You’re beautiful,” Brett said seriously. The intensity of his gaze made me shudder.

“It doesn’t mean anything.”

Brett looked confused.

“Being beautiful is meaningless. It’s not something I earned. I didn’t work for it. I just got lucky in the genetic lottery.”

Brett shook his head. “It’s not just about how you look, Anna. Being beautiful is about who you are.”

“If that’s the case, then I’m not much more than a sarcastic bitch.”

“I wish you could see what I see.”

I let out one laugh. “Maybe you need to have your eyes checked.”

“Maybe we’d better eat some of this food before it gets cold.” Brett grabbed a piece of toast and bit into it. “It’s already buttered.” He put the piece up to my lips. “Take a bite.”

I reluctantly did as I was told. He was right. The toast was good. I was surprised that I actually had an appetite. And even more surprised that Brett had so easily talked me into taking a bite of his food without me giving a sarcastic remark like, “What am I five years old?”

“Would you like me to feed you your eggs, too?” Brett had a huge grin on his face. I guessed he had a little sarcasm in him, too.

“No, I think I can handle it.” I picked up my fork and jabbed at the scrambled eggs in front of me and put them in my mouth. “Mmm, these are good, too.”

Brett poked at his eggs and took a bite. He nodded in agreement.

After he swallowed, he asked, “So, why me?”

“What do you mean?”

“You could have had your pick of eligible bachelors at the wedding last night, why did you hit on me?”

I shrugged. How could I tell him I didn’t remember? I poked at my eggs. They suddenly didn’t seem as appetizing.

“Anna,” Brett said. I glanced up him. He continued. “I just want you to know that I normally don’t do this.”

“Do what?” I asked obviously clueless.

“This,” he emphasized as if it made all the sense in the world.

I tried to think of all the possible things he could mean by this. Eat in bed? Eat eggs and toast in bed? Get room service?

He sighed, clearly exasperated. “A one-night stand.” He actually whispered it as if there was someone else in the room who could hear him.

“Never?” I managed to choke out. I hoped he didn’t think I was being rude; I was just surprised. We had gone to college together. Most of the people we were friends with hooked up at least a few times. And there were people like me who hooked up way more than a few times (Flaw 17: Anna’s a slut.)

He shook his head.

“So you’ve had an actual relationship with all the girls you’ve been with?”

I could see he was thinking carefully about his next response. “Girl,” he admitted finally.

“What,” I blurted.

His face turned serious. “I said girl. Singular.”

I could feel myself blinking and I couldn’t stop. I was trying very hard to process what I thought I just heard. “Girl, as in one?”

“That is the definition of singular, yes. I guess you weren’t an English major.”

I was struck speechless, which may have never happened before. I always had at least one snappy comeback for everything.

“I dated Becca for three years in college,” he explained. “She was number one.”

“There was no one before Becca? No one in high school?” I knew I sounded like I was cross-examining him but I couldn’t help myself. Being 23-years old, a year out of college and only having been with one other person besides me was not something I could easily comprehend. Not when there were a few too many weekends when I’d been with more than one person.

He nodded.

“And no one since we graduated? We’ve been out of college a whole year.” Going a year without sex was also something I couldn’t comprehend but it made sense now why I had seen multiple condoms in the bathroom garbage pail and he said he had been inside of me half the night. The man had obviously been sexually starved.

“Becca and I tried to keep a long distance thing going after we graduated but it didn’t work out. Plus, I work a lot. I’ve been trying to build my career. I haven’t had time to date anyone since Becca.”

“So, that makes me number two?” I couldn’t believe the words were coming out of my mouth. “But why?”

“Why what?” His eyes narrowed.

“Why would you sleep with me when you’ve only been with one other person?”

Now he was the one poking at his eggs. “The first time I saw you was our freshman year, at the big Greek Row Homecoming Bash. You were wearing a bright pink short sleeved sweater and a black mini skirt.”

How the hell did he remember that? I can’t even remember what I wore last week and he can remember what I was wearing our freshman year of college?

He continued but he still wasn’t looking at me. He was still poking at his eggs. “I thought you were the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my life. I watched the way you were so confident and sure of yourself with everyone, even the most popular guys.”

If only he knew how insecure and unsure of myself I actually was and still am (Flaw 26). I guess I hide it pretty well.

When he finally looked up at me, his eyes were watery. “Every guy at that party had his eyes on you, including me, but I knew I’d never in a million years have a chance with you. I saw you around campus after that and at parties, every once and a while. Every time I saw you, you took my breath away. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of you but you never noticed me. Not that I expected you to. I always knew you were way out of my league. Then last night, you actually looked at me. You talked to me. You flirted with me. I couldn’t believe you wanted to be with me. I knew it was the only chance I’d probably ever have to be with you, even if it was just for one night, so I took it.”

My withered heart swelled a little bit more.

I couldn’t believe he had thought so much of me and that he had thought so much of us being together. And I didn’t even remember it. I had been with more guys than I could even count and I was his number two. I suddenly felt sick to my stomach and I had an overwhelming urge to escape. I didn’t want him to find out that I didn’t remember talking to him, or flirting with him or even being with him. How shitty would that be after his big confession of longing to be with me? I generally didn’t care about anyone’s feelings, even my own, (although I’ve been accused more than a few times of not having any feelings at all Flaw 6). Why did I care so damn much about Brett’s feelings all of a sudden?

I stood up. “I’ve got to go.”

“Are you okay?” He had worry in his eyes.

I had to get out of there before he found out. I quickly scanned the room for my dress and shoes and purse. That’s when I noticed he had placed all of my things, which had been strewn about the room last night, on the table in the corner. I grabbed my stuff but he grabbed my arm before I could make it out the door.

“You can’t just leave like this.”

“Why not?” I knew my tone was clipped. Being mean to get out of the room would be a lot more humane that him finding out the truth.

He blinked a few times as if he was searching for the right words. “Because I don’t want you to.”

My withered heart actually fluttered a bit. It felt strange—good but unfamiliar. It definitely wasn’t something I was used to. I didn’t normally do feelings or emotions, other than anger and rage.

Angry words spewed from my mouth. “Why? Do you want to fuck me again? You didn’t get enough last night. You want another piece?”

He dropped my arm. “No, that’s not what I meant. I just want to spend time with you.”

He was so sincere it made me want to punch him. Or kiss him. Maybe both. I decided on the former rather than the later but not in the literal sense. I didn’t have to lay a hand on a guy to give him a blow to the gut.

“What did you think was going to happen, Brett? Did you think because we fucked that I was going to be your girlfriend? There’s a reason they call it a one-night stand. It was a hook up. Nothing more. Deal with it. You live in Palo Alto. I live here in Phoenix. We’ll probably never see each other again.”

He looked like I had just punched him. Score a direct hit. Now it was time to make my exit.

“I may not be smart (Flaw 4) and I may not be nice (Flaw 12) but I do know when I’ve overstayed my welcome.”

“What are you talking about?” He seemed confused. I thought I was being pretty damn clear.

“I’m going back to my room.”

“I mean the flaws with numbers.”

“People aren’t shy about telling me how flawed I am. Some people aren’t shy about telling me repeatedly. I decided to make a list. I have one hundred and twenty six flaws.”

He crossed his arms over his chest and shook his head. “You’re really messed up.”

“I know. It’s flaw 38. Now can I leave?”

“Just one more thing. How much do you remember about last night?”

Shit. I froze. I could feel my stuff fall from hands but I was physically unable to stop it from dropping to the floor. Was I scared? I didn’t remember what that felt like. The last time I remembered being scared was when I broke my arm falling from a tree house. I was eight.

Brett seemed to be looking right through me. I found it hard to swallow and I could feel my heart racing. How did this man manage to make me feel so many things I hadn’t felt in years?

“How much do you remember?” he pressed.

“Nothing,” I shouted. “Is that what you want me to say? Is that what you want to hear? That I don’t remember a God damn thing. There. I said it. Are you happy now?”

“No,” he said solemnly.

The look on Brett’s face was beyond hurt, beyond pain. It was complete and utter disgust. He shook his head as if he could shake everything that happened between us away. Or maybe he was trying to shake me away? He reached down, grabbed my stuff from the floor and handed it to me.

“Maybe you’re right.” His expression was pained. “Maybe it is time for you to go.”

I didn’t even glance back as I ran down the hallway.

I just about made it to my room before I started crying again. I flopped on the unused bed, buried my head in the oversized pillow and sobbed. I had cried more in one day being with Brett than I had in the last ten years.

When my tear ducts ran completely dry (at least I hoped they had), I took an extremely hot shower. The water soothed my raw nerves a bit but I just couldn’t scrub myself enough to feel clean.

I never felt bad about hooking up with someone but what I did to Brett made me feel dirty. I wished I could have remembered just one thing about being with him but I truly didn’t and it made me feel awful. It was strange to think that all those years he felt like he didn’t deserve to be with me and now I was the one who felt like I didn’t deserve to be with him.

After I dressed and packed and was ready to leave, I noticed a note had been slid under my door. It was a piece of hotel notepaper folded in half. It had my name written on the front. When I opened the note, it said, “I’m so sorry.”

That’s it. Just: I’m so sorry. I assumed it was from Brett but I couldn’t be sure because he hadn’t even signed his name. I placed the note in the front pocket of my jeans and headed to the lobby.

I checked out of my room and dragged my suitcase out to my Kia Soul. As I was placing my bag in the back, I heard a voice call my name.

I turned and saw one of the other bridesmaids, Tiffany, headed in my direction.

“A bunch of us are staying for brunch if you want to join us. I tried to find you last night to tell you but you must have gone to bed early.”

Something like that, I thought. “Sure, why not.” It wasn’t like I had anything better to do. I was one of the few people in our social circle who had grown up in the Phoenix area, gone to college in town and stayed in town after graduation. I lived on the other side of the Valley, about 30 minutes from the hotel. The only reasons I had booked a room was because I knew I would be drunk by the end of the night (I had to take advantage of the open bar) and the wedding rate was cheap. It was also a plus that I didn’t have to spend the night with my freaky roommate and her evil cat.

“We’ve got a large table reserved in the restaurant. You can’t miss it.” She hurried away to catch another guy I sort of recognized from the wedding, who was a few cars down from mine. He was also putting his suitcase in his trunk.

I locked my car and headed into the restaurant. It was eleven o’clock. Kind of in between breakfast and lunch, so the place was pretty empty. There was a large table set up in the back for about twenty people. I guessed it was set up for us. There was only one person seated at the end of the table and when I got closer, I gasped when I saw it was Brett.

He nearly leapt out of the seat when he saw me. “Anna,” he gulped. Then his eyes narrowed. “You’re wearing my shirt.”

He caught me. I had put his shirt back on after my shower. Somehow, it had made me feel better.

“Do you want it back?” I asked.

He nodded.

“Right now?”

He was still nodding. I couldn’t tell if the nodding was just because he was still in shock from seeing me again or if he really wanted his shirt back. It wouldn’t have been the first time I was half naked in public, so I started to take the shirt off.

“No,” he yelled. “I don’t want the shirt back. That’s not what I meant.”

I wondered what he did mean.

“I like seeing you in my clothes.” The way he said it made me wonder if he knew what had actually come out of his mouth and it wasn’t something he thought.

“I like Pearl Jam,” I said because I couldn’t think of anything else.

“Did you get my note?”

I pulled it from my jean’s pocket and held it up.

“Good.”

Before I could say another word, Jason Richards, one of the groomsmen, came up behind Brett and messed up his hair. “Hey, Clown Hair,” he joked. “Did you have fun last night?”

Brett’s eyes darted to me quickly then he looked up at Jason. “Yeah, I did.”

I eyed Jason. “I don’t know why you still call him that. He obviously doesn’t have clown hair anymore.”

Jason glanced at me and his baby blue eyes lit up. “Hey, Beautiful. Now why didn’t I see you last night?” He gave me the once-over. “Looking hot as ever, Babe.”

Jason was hot, too, and I had hooked up with him a few times while we were in college, even though he had a pretty steady girlfriend. In the times he and his girlfriend were off Jason and I got together. I thought someone told me they were on again. It never stopped him from flirting though.

When I glanced at Brett, he was staring at me, his expression unreadable. He was just looking at me, like he was trying to put puzzle pieces together and figure me out. He could try for an eternity and he would probably never completely fit all my crazy pieces together.

I felt someone grab my arm. It was Tiffany. “I’m glad you came.” She dragged me to the other side of the table. “Did you hear that Rachelle spent the night in Mitch’s room? What a little wedding slut,” she said as we both took seats. If she only knew…

Tiffany had been talking my ear off telling me gossip about nearly every person we had graduated with and what they had been doing in the year since graduation when I suddenly felt the desire to look at my watch. It was close to one o’clock. I looked down at the other end of the table and noticed that it was clearing out. Brett’s seat was empty.

He was gone.

And he hadn’t even said goodbye.