Home > Space (Laws of Physics #2)(4)

Space (Laws of Physics #2)(4)
Author: Penny Reid

Lisa gave her eyes a half roll. “You’re a player, Abram. So whatever act this is, drop it.”

The accusation angered me, and therefore distracted me from the discordant tone in her voice. Needing space was one thing. But believing and then spouting lies was another.

“This isn’t an act.” I tried to conceal the spike of temper by lowering my voice.

“Yeah. Right.”

“And I don’t know what Gabby told you, but she is misinformed.” But obviously Lisa trusted her, and that had a shot of adrenaline clouding my vision.

“Okay. Sure. She just imagined the depth and breadth of your harem at gigs?”

Is that what this is about? I relaxed a little, breathing out. “Come on Lisa, this is nuts. I have female fans, yes. But I’m not dating any of them. Do you honestly think—”

“You don’t date anyone. You just flirt with everyone and lead them on.”

“I absolutely do not.” Fucking Gabby. I could strangle her for filling Lisa’s head with this shit.

She crossed her arms and shrugged. “I don’t, for one minute, think that I’m special to you. Sure, whatever, we’ll be friends, fine. But can you be cool and cut the act?”

She doesn’t think . . . ? Was I hearing her correctly? How could she possibly think that?

The adrenaline returned, full force. “Then you’re wrong, because you are special to me. And what happened last night was special, and dammit Lisa—would you listen?”

She’d turned and marched away. I reached for her arm, which she shook off. I let go immediately and stepped back. I shouldn’t have touched her. Shit, I knew that. But I couldn’t just let her believe Gabby’s lies.

Knowing I’d fucked up, I pushed my fingers through my hair and tried to calm down. “Here is the truth: I have all sorts of fans, both male and female. They like my music, they come to my shows, maybe they like me. I don’t know, I haven’t asked them. I don’t hang out with my fans and I don’t lead people on, I don’t flirt. The only thing Gabby told you that’s true is this: I do not date. If you don’t believe me, ask Leo.”

Her eyes remained steadfastly on the floor and she mumbled, “You don’t date because you’re a player.”

“No,” I ground out. “I don’t date because I don’t believe in wasting time treading water. When I know, I know.”

“What does that mean?”

“That means, I’m in love with you.”

Finally, finally her eyes came back to me. They widened, her jaw slackened, and she stood silent like a statue. I couldn’t believe this news stunned her as much as it seemed to. Maybe I could allow for some surprise, but she looked completely shell-shocked.

Hesitating only a second—partly because I wondered if it would be taking advantage, but also because she was acting so strangely—I closed the distance between us. Everything was wrong, but this might be my only chance to make things right. I slid my hands around her back. I held her. I kissed her.

She flinched and didn’t respond at all, at first. But then she responded by twisting her face from mine.

“No, no, no!” She pushed me.

I let her go and grabbed fistfuls of my hair, turning away and pacing the length of the kitchen. Fire in my chest. My thoughts in disorder. What the fuck was happening?

I glanced at her. She’d covered her face and was shaking her head. And then she sniffled, the unmistakable sound of a sob rending from her chest that tore at mine.

Please don’t cry. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have—”

“Goddammit! You don’t love me! I hate—” She cut herself off, shaking her head harder.

I watched her, helpless and so fucking confused, my mind all over the place, unable to see straight. What is happening?


“Just fucking listen,” she shouted, surprising me, her hands dropping and revealing a face that looked like a stranger’s. “I’m not who you think I am, okay?”

Despite hearing these words from her before, this time I believed her. I didn’t argue, just watched her and waited for . . . I had no idea. A sign? A glimmer of my Lisa? The woman I couldn’t get enough of? The woman I’d written twenty poems about in six days?

“But before I say anything else—” she swiped at her eyes leaving dark smudges on her cheeks, sucking in a deep breath “—I have to ask you something.”

I waited, promising myself I wouldn’t cross to her or try to touch her until invited. Strangely, this promise didn’t seem as big as it had yesterday when we were in the pool, or when we were on the couch. Last night I’d promised myself not to touch her, and it had been torture.

Today? It was self-preservation.

When she didn’t say anything, I prompted with forced calm, “Fine. What do you want to ask?”

She licked her lips, shifting her weight from one foot to the other, a nervous habit I hadn’t noticed before. “If I lied to you, would you forgive me?” she finally blurted, shutting her eyes.

Lied to me? I straightened my back.

“About what?” The question slipped out, unplanned.

“No. I’m not—it could be about anything, okay?” Her eyes opened again and she stared forward at my neck. “If I lied to you at any point this week, would you be able to forgive me?”

My mind was racing with worst-case scenarios, my stomach sinking. “Did you sell those drugs? To those kids?” More unplanned questions, but what could I do? She was acting so crazy.

“No.” She was back to whispering again, giving me a clue that the question had upset her. “I didn’t do that. I would never do that.”

I believed her. But the next obvious choice made my throat tighten with the urge to rage.

“Are you back with Tyler?” I asked roughly, determined not to raise my voice, but I was already so jealous. I didn’t want to be jealous. I’d never been jealous. But I was so fucking jealous in that moment, the cloud around my vision turned red.


I’d never experienced anything like this before.

I hated it. Hated it. It felt like being branded with a million tiny hot pokers.

“No.” Her glare turned distracted. “But it’s something like that—” her eyes came to mine, still guarded, still off, still wrong “—something just as bad as that. A lie that big.”

I’d never been so frantic before to recall previous conversations. I went through every day, every interaction, every word that I could remember. I came up empty.

“What is it?”

“Would you forgive me?”

I nodded but didn’t answer out loud, trying to convince myself while also dealing with this insane jealousy. I would. I would forgive her anything. I would—

“Hypothetically, what if I told you that I’ve been lying to you every day, this whole week, about something important. You say you love me, but would you forgive me?”

I stopped nodding. “Have you?”

She remained silent, her eyes now narrowed, searching. “You wouldn’t forgive me, would you?”

“I don’t know!” I exploded, not understanding her or why she was doing this. “You haven’t told me what it is. Fuck, Lisa. I don’t even know what we’re talking about.”

“Forget it.” She gave her head a small shake, her eyes dropping to the kitchen floor.

She looked exhausted and sad, and seeing her this way should’ve made me want to break all her unspoken rules about touching. I should’ve wanted to hold her, but I didn’t. If this had been yesterday, I would’ve promised to forgive her anything and everything, and I would’ve meant it.

But now? I had no clarity. Making promises now would be a lie, and I never lied. If she’d been seeing Tyler this whole week while spending time with me, falling for her, I wouldn’t forgive her. It wasn’t in me. I would despise her.

Clearing my throat, I grit my teeth to keep from yelling again. “Forget what? What should I forget?”

“Forget me. You don’t love me. You might think you do, but you don’t.” She sounded tired, but also as though she were trying her best to be compassionate, gentle. “Believe me, you’ll get over this—whatever it is—so fast, I’ll be a blip, a nothing. Seriously, forget it. You don’t want to know me. I promise you, you don’t.”

“So you keep saying.” I pushed back against a creeping numbness climbing up my ribs, stalling, needing a way to fix this.

“Then what’s the problem? Why don’t you believe me? I’m messed up, okay? I don’t know who I am.” Like a switch, her mood and manner turned exasperated. “I don’t know what I want. I’m all fucked up. I am telling you the truth, but you refuse to believe me!”

In a huff, she turned and stomped to the back stairs.

“I don’t understand what’s happening,” I called after her, another unplanned statement of my thoughts.

She stopped on the third step, turning halfway, giving me just her profile.

I walked to the bottom of the stairs, not seeing her or anything else, but wading through a general sense of everything crumbling to dust, a barren landscape.

“What changed? Between last night and this morning, what changed? What did I do wrong?”

Lisa swallowed, shaking her head. “I’m two different people, Abram.” She pulled her sleeves down to cover her hands, turning completely away and crossing her arms. “I’m the person I want to be and the person I currently am, and if my parents disown me, I feel like I’ll sink to the bottom of the ocean and drown. I feel like it’ll be the end of the world.” Initially her voice had been strong and steady, but it grew quieter and quieter as she spoke.

I stared at the back of her head, working through my own bitterness and this trail of crumbs she was leaving. I couldn’t believe what she was saying. I couldn’t believe this was the same person I’d spent the last week with. But there she was, looking just the same.

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