Home > All Your Perfects(2)

All Your Perfects(2)
Author: Colleen Hoover

There’s a sadness about him. Not one related to our current situation. Something deeper . . . like it’s embedded in him. I’ve met people who smile with their eyes, but he frowns with his.

“You’re better looking than Ethan.” My comment takes him off guard. His expression is swallowed up in confusion because he thinks I’m hitting on him. That’s the last thing I’m doing right now. “That wasn’t a compliment. It was just a realization.”

He shrugs like he wouldn’t care either way.

“It’s just that if you’re better looking than Ethan, that makes me think your girlfriend is better looking than me. Not that I care. Maybe I do care. I shouldn’t care, but I can’t help but wonder if Ethan is more attracted to her than he is to me. I wonder if that’s why he’s cheating. Probably. I’m sorry. I’m usually not this self-deprecating but I’m so angry and for some reason I just can’t stop talking.”

He stares at me a moment, contemplating my odd train of thought. “Sasha is ugly. You have nothing to worry about.”

“Sasha?” I say her name incredulously, then I repeat her name, putting emphasis on the sha. “Sasha. That explains a lot.”

He laughs and then I laugh and it’s the strangest thing. Laughing when I should be crying. Why am I not crying?

“I’m Graham,” he says, reaching out his hand.

“Quinn.”

Even his smile is sad. It makes me wonder if his smile would be different under different circumstances.

“I would say it’s good to meet you, Quinn, but this is the worst moment of my life.”

That is a very miserable truth. “Same,” I say, disappointed. “Although, I’m relieved I’m meeting you now rather than next month, after the wedding. At least I won’t be wasting marriage vows on him now.”

“You’re supposed to get married next month?” Graham looks away. “What an asshole,” he says quietly.

“He really is.” I’ve known this about Ethan all along. He’s an asshole. Pretentious. But he’s good to me. Or so I thought. I lean forward again and run my hands through my hair. “God, this sucks.”

As always, my mother has perfect timing with her incoming text. I retrieve my phone and look down at it.

Your cake tasting has been moved to two o’clock on Saturday. Don’t eat lunch beforehand. Will Ethan be joining us?

I sigh with my whole body. I’ve been looking forward to the cake tasting more than any other part of the wedding planning. I wonder if I can avoid telling anyone the wedding is off until Sunday.

The elevator dings and my attention is swept away from my phone and to the doors. When they open, I feel a knot form in my throat. My hand clenches in a fist around my phone when I see the containers of food. The delivery guy begins to walk toward us and my heart takes a beating with every step. Way to pour salt on my wounds, Ethan.

“Chinese food? Are you kidding me?” I stand up and look down at Graham who is still on the floor, looking up at me. I wave my hand toward the Chinese food. “That’s my thing! Not his! I’m the one who likes Chinese food after sex!” I turn back toward the delivery guy and he’s frozen, staring at me, wondering if he should proceed to the door or not. “Give me that!” I take the bags from him. He doesn’t even question me. I plop back down on the floor with the two bags of Chinese food and I rifle through them. I’m pissed to see that Ethan simply duplicated what I always order. “He even ordered the same thing! He’s feeding Sasha my Chinese food!”

Graham jumps up and pulls his wallet out of his pocket. He pays for the food and the poor delivery guy pushes open the door to the stairwell just to get out of the hallway faster than if he were to walk back to the elevator.

“Smells good,” Graham says. He sits back down and grabs the container of chicken and broccoli. I hand him a fork and let him eat it, even though the chicken is my favorite. This isn’t a time to be selfish, though. I open the Mongolian beef and start eating, even though I’m not hungry. But I’ll be damned if Sasha or Ethan will eat any of this. “Whores,” I mutter.

“Whores with no food,” Graham says. “Maybe they’ll both starve to death.”

I smile.

Then I eat and wonder how long I’m going to sit out here in the hallway with this guy. I don’t want to be here when the door opens because I don’t want to see what Sasha looks like. But I also don’t want to miss the moment when she opens the door and finds Graham sitting out here, eating her Chinese food.

So I wait. And eat. With Graham.

After several minutes, he sets down his container and reaches into the takeout bag, pulling out two fortune cookies. He hands one to me and proceeds to open his. He breaks open the cookie and unfolds the strip of paper, then reads his fortune out loud. “You will succeed in a great business endeavor today.” He folds the fortune in half after reading it. “Figures. I took off work today.”

“Stupid fortune,” I mutter.

Graham wads his fortune into a tiny ball and flicks it at Ethan’s door. I crack open my cookie and slip the fortune out of it. “If you only shine light on your flaws, all your perfects will dim.”

“I like it,” he says.

I wad up the fortune and flick it at the door like he did. “I’m a grammar snob. It should be your perfections.”

“That’s what makes me like it. The one word they misuse is perfects. Kind of ironic.” He crawls forward and grabs the fortune, then scoots back against the wall. He hands it to me. “I think you should keep it.”

I immediately brush his hand and the fortune away. “I don’t want a reminder of this moment.”

He stares at me in thought. “Yeah. Me neither.”

I think we’re both growing more nervous at the prospect of the door opening any minute, so we just listen for their voices and don’t speak. Graham pulls at the threads of his blue jeans over his right knee until there’s a small pile of threads on the floor and barely anything covering his knee. I pick up one of the threads and twist it between my fingers.

“We used to play this word game on our laptops at night,” he says. “I was really good at it. I’m the one who introduced Sasha to the game, but she would always beat my score. Every damn night.” He stretches his legs out. They’re a lot longer than mine. “It used to impress me until I saw an eight-hundred-dollar charge for the game on her bank statement. She was buying extra letters at five dollars a pop just so she could beat me.”

I try to picture this guy playing games on his laptop at night, but it’s hard. He looks like the kind of guy who reads novels and cleans his apartment twice a day and folds his socks and then tops off all that perfection with a morning run.

“Ethan doesn’t know how to change a tire. We’ve had two flats since we’ve been together and he had to call a tow truck both times.”

Graham shakes his head a little and says, “I’m not looking for reasons to excuse the bastard, but that’s not so bad. A lot of guys don’t know how to change a tire.”

“I know. That’s not the bad part. The bad part is that I do know how to change a tire. He just refused to let me because it would have embarrassed him to have to stand aside while a girl changed his tire.”

There’s something more in Graham’s expression. Something I haven’t noticed before. Concern, maybe? He pegs me with a serious stare. “Do not forgive him for this, Quinn.”

His words make my chest tighten. “I won’t,” I say with complete confidence. “I don’t want him back after this. I keep wondering why I’m not crying. Maybe that’s a sign.”

He has a knowing look in his eye, but then the lines around his eyes fall a little. “You’ll cry tonight. In bed. That’s when it’ll hurt the most. When you’re alone.”

Everything suddenly feels heavier with that comment. I don’t want to cry but I know this is all going to hit me any minute now. I met Ethan right after I started college and we’ve been together four years now. That’s a lot to lose in one moment. And even though I know it’s over, I don’t want to confront him. I just want to walk away and be done with him. I don’t want to need closure or even an explanation, but I’m scared I’ll need both of those things when I’m alone tonight.

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