All Your Perfects - Page 12

Listen Audio

He forces a smile, but it fades as fast as it appeared. "Thank you."

I move my lips to his cheek and kiss him there, softly. "I'm sorry you lost your best friend."

I can feel Graham release a rush of air as his arms wrap around me. "Thank you."

I drag my lips from his cheek to his mouth and I kiss him gently. Then I pull back and look at him again. "I'm sorry," I whisper.

Graham watches me in silence for a few brief seconds, then he rolls me over so that he's on top of me. He presses his hand against my throat, gripping my jaw with gentle fingers. He watches my face as he pushes inside me, his mouth waiting in eagerness for my gasp. As soon as my lips part, his tongue dives between them and he kisses me the same way he fucks me. Unhurried. Rhythmic. Determined.

Chapter Sixteen

* * *


The first time I dreamt Graham was cheating on me, I woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. I was gasping for air because in my dream, I was crying so hard I couldn't breathe. Graham woke up and immediately put his arms around me. He asked me what was wrong and I was so mad at him. I remember pushing him away because the anger from my dream was still there, as if he'd actually cheated on me. When I told him what happened, he laughed and just held me and kissed me until I was no longer angry. Then he made love to me.

The next day he sent me flowers. The card said, "I'm sorry for what I did to you in your nightmare. Please forgive me tonight when you dream."

I still have the card. I smile every time I think about it. Some men can't even apologize for the mistakes they make in reality. But my husband apologizes for the mistakes he makes in my dreams.

I wonder if he'll apologize tonight.

I wonder if he actually has anything to apologize for.

I don't know why I'm suspicious. It started the night he came home too drunk to remember it the next morning and the suspicion continued to last Thursday, when he came home and didn't smell like beer at all. I've never been suspicious of him before this month, even after the trust issues Ethan left me with. But something didn't feel right this past Thursday. He came straight home and changed clothes without kissing me. And it hasn't felt right since that night.

The fear hit me hard today, right in the chest. So hard, I gasped and covered my mouth.

It's as if I could feel his guilt from wherever he was in that second. I know that's impossible--for two people to be so connected that they can feel each other even when they aren't in each other's presence. I think it was more of my denial inching its way forward until it was finally front and center in my conscience.

Things are at their worst between us. We hardly communicate. We aren't affectionate. Yet still, we walk around every other room in our house and pretend we're still husband and wife. But since that drunken night, it seems like Graham stopped sacrificing. The goodbye kisses started becoming more infrequent. The hello kisses have stopped completely. He's finally stooped to my level in this marriage.

He either has something to feel guilty for or he's finally done fighting for the survival of this marriage.

Isn't that what I wanted, though? For him to stop fighting so hard for something that will only bring him more misery?

I don't drink very often but I keep wine on hand for emergencies. This certainly feels like an emergency. I drink the first glass in the kitchen while I watch the clock.

I drink the second glass on the couch while I watch the driveway.

I need the wine to still the doubts I'm having. My fingers are trembling as I stare down at the wine. My stomach feels full of worry, like I'm inside one of my nightmares.

I'm sitting on the far-right side of the couch with my feet curled beneath me. The TV isn't on. The house is dark. I'm still watching the driveway when his car finally pulls in at half past seven. I have a clear view of him as he turns off the car and the headlights fade to black. I can see him, but he can't see me.

Both of his hands are gripping the steering wheel. He's just sitting in the car like the last place he wants to be is inside this house with me. I take another sip of wine and watch as he rests his forehead against his steering wheel.

One, two, three, four, five . . .

Fifteen seconds he sits like this. Fifteen seconds of dread. Or regret. I don't know what he's feeling.

He releases the steering wheel and sits up straight. He looks in his rearview mirror and wipes his mouth. Adjusts his tie. Wipes his neck. Breaks my heart. Sighs heavily and then finally exits his car.

When he walks through the front door, he doesn't notice me right away. He crosses the living room, heading for the kitchen, which leads to our bedroom. He's almost to the kitchen when he finally sees me.

My wineglass is tilted to my lips. I hold his stare as I take another sip. He just watches me in silence. He's probably wondering what I'm doing sitting in the dark. Alone. Drinking wine. His eyes follow the path from me to the living room window. He sees how visible his car is from my position. How visible his actions must have been to me as he was sitting in his car. He's wondering if I saw him wipe the remnants of her off his mouth. Off his neck. He's wondering if I saw him adjust his tie. He's wondering if I saw him press his head to the steering wheel in dread. Or regret. He doesn't bring his eyes back to mine. Instead, he looks down.

"What's her name?" I somehow ask the question without it sounding spiteful. I ask it with the same tone I often use to ask him about his day.

How was your day, dear?

What's your mistress's name, dear?

Despite my pleasant tone, Graham doesn't answer me. He lifts his eyes until they meet mine, but he's quiet in his denial.

I feel my stomach turn like I might physically be sick. I'm shocked at how much his silence angers me. I'm shocked at how much more this hurts in reality than in my nightmares. I didn't think it could get worse than the nightmares.

I somehow stand up, still clenching my glass. I want to throw it. Not at him. I just need to throw it at something. I hate him with every part of my soul right now, but I don't blame him enough to throw the glass at him. If I could throw it at myself, I would. But I can't, so I throw it toward our wedding photo that hangs on the wall across the room.

I repeat the words as my wineglass hits the picture, shattering, bleeding down the wall and all over the floor. "What's her fucking name, Graham?!"

My voice is no longer pleasant.

Graham doesn't even flinch. He doesn't look at the wedding photo, he doesn't look at the bleeding floor beneath it, he doesn't look at the front door, he doesn't look at his feet. He looks me right in the eye and he says, "Andrea."

As soon as her name has fallen from his lips completely, he looks away. He doesn't want to witness what his brutal honesty does to me.

I think back to the moment I was about to have to face Ethan after finding out he cheated on me. That moment when Graham held my face in his hands and said, "The worst thing we could do right now is show emotion, Quinn. Don't get angry. Don't cry."

It was easier then. When Graham was on my side. It's not so easy being over here alone.

My knees meet the floor, but Graham isn't here to catch me. As soon as he said her name, he left the room.

I do all the things Graham told me not to do the last time this happened to me. I show emotion. I get angry. I cry.

I crawl over to the mess I made on the floor. I pick up the smaller glass shards and I place them into a pile. I'm crying too hard to see them all. I can barely see through my tears as I grab a roll of napkins to soak up the wine from the wood floor.

I hear the shower running. He's probably washing off remnants of Andrea while I wash away remnants of red wine.

The tears are nothing new, but they're different this time. I'm not crying over something that never came to be. I'm crying for something that's coming to an end.

I pick up a shard of the glass and scoot to the wall, leaning against it. I stretch my legs out in front of me and I stare down at the piece of

glass. I flip my hand over and press the glass against my palm. It pierces my skin, but I continue to press harder. I watch as it goes deeper and deeper into my palm. I watch as blood bubbles up around the glass.

My chest still somehow hurts worse than my hand. So much worse.

I drop the shard of glass and wipe the blood away with a napkin. Then I pull my legs up and hug my knees, burying my face in them. I'm still sobbing when Graham walks back into the room. I hug myself tighter when he kneels next to me. I feel his hand in my hair, his lips in my hair. His arms around me. He pulls me against him and sits against the wall.

I want to scream at him, punch him, run from him. But all I can do is curl up into myself even tighter as I cry.

"Quinn." His arms are clasped firmly around me and his face is in my hair. My name is full of agony when it falls from his lips. I've never hated it so much. I cover my ears because I don't want to hear his voice right now. But he doesn't say another word. Not even when I pull away from him, walk to our bedroom, and lock the door.

Chapter Seventeen

* * *



That's what we are.

It's been two and a half months since I supposedly gave him a "look" that night at the restaurant.

Even after spending every waking moment together outside of our respective jobs, I still miss him. I have never been this wrapped up in someone in my life. I never thought it was possible. It's not an unhealthy obsession, because he gives me my space if I want it. I just don't want the space. He's not possessive or overprotective. I'm not jealous or needy. It's just that the time we spend together feels like this euphoric escape and I want as much of it as I can get.

We've only slept apart once in the ten weeks we've been seeing each other. Ava and Reid got into a fight, so I let her stay with me and we talked shit about guys and ate junk food all night. It was depressingly fun, but five minutes after she walked out the door I was calling Graham. Twenty minutes after she left, he was knocking on my door. Twenty-one minutes after she left, we were making love.

That's basically what it's been. Ten weeks of nothing but sex, laughter, sex, food, sex, laughter, and more sex.

Graham jokes that we have to plateau at some point. But that point is not today.

"Jesus, Quinn." He groans against my neck as he collapses on top of me. He's out of breath and I'm no help because I can't catch mine, either.

This wasn't supposed to happen. It's Halloween and we're supposed to be at a party at Ava and Reid's house, but as soon as I pulled on my slutty T-shirt dress, Graham couldn't keep his hands off me. We almost had sex in the hallway, near the elevator, but he carried me back inside to save our dignity.

He held me to the Halloween costumes I suggested back in August. We decided to go as ourselves, only sluttier. We couldn't really figure out what a slutty slut costume of ourselves should look like, so we decided to just barely wear clothes. I have a ton of makeup on. Graham says his job is to just feel me up all night and make sure we have plenty of public displays of affection.

Our clothes are on the floor now, though, with the addition of a new rip in my shirt. The wait for that damn elevator gets us every time.

Graham leans in to me and buries his head against my neck again, kissing me until I break out in chills. "When am I going to meet your mother?"

That one question rips a hole in the moment and I feel all my joy seep out. "Never, if I can pull it off."

Graham pulls away from my neck and looks down at me. "She can't be that bad."

I release a halfhearted laugh. "Graham, she's the one who put the word prestigious in my wedding invitations."

"Did you judge me based on my parents?"

I loved his parents. "No, but I met them the first day we were together. I didn't even know you enough to judge you."

"You knew me, Quinn. You didn't know anything about me, but you knew me."

"You sound so sure of yourself."

He laughs. "I am. We figured each other out the night we met in that hallway. Sometimes people meet and none of the surface-level stuff matters because they see past all that." Graham lowers his mouth to my chest and places a kiss over my heart. "I knew everything I needed to know the first night I met you. Nothing external could ever influence my opinion of you. Even my judgment of the woman who raised you."

I want to kiss him. Or marry him. Or fuck him.

I settle on a kiss, but I keep it fairly quick because I'm scared if I don't pull away from him I might tell him I'm in love with him. It's right there on the tip of my tongue and it's harder keeping it in than letting it out. But I don't want to be the first one to say it. Not yet, anyway.

I quickly roll off the bed and pick up our costumes. "Fine. You can meet my mother next week." I toss him his clothes. "But tonight you're meeting Ava. Get dressed, we're late."

When I get my costume situated, Graham is still sitting on the bed, staring at me.

"What about your panties?" he asks.

My skirt is really short, and any other night I wouldn't be caught dead in it. I look down at my panties on the floor and think about how crazy it would drive him if he knew I wasn't wearing anything under this already-too-short skirt all night. I leave them on the floor and grin at him. "They don't really go with my costume."

Graham shakes his head. "You're killing me, Quinn." He stands up and gets dressed while I touch up my makeup.

We make it out the door.

We make it down the hallway.

But once again, we get distracted while we wait for the elevator.

* * *

"You're late." It's the only thing Ava says when she opens the door and sees me standing there with Graham. She's dressed in a two-piece pantsuit and her hair is styled like she's straight out of Stepford Wives. She waits until we're inside her house and then she slams the door shut. "Reid!" She yells his name and turns to look for him, but he's standing right next to her. "Oh." She tosses a hand toward Graham. "He's here."

Reid reaches out and shakes Graham's hand. "Nice to meet you."

Ava gives Graham the once-over. Then me. "Your costumes are so undignified." She walks away without looking back.

"What the hell?" I say, looking at Reid. "Why is she being so rude?"

Reid laughs. "I tried to tell her it wasn't an obvious costume."

"What is she supposed to be? A bitch?"

Reid's face reddens. He leans in to Graham and me. "She's dressed up as your mother."

Graham immediately starts to laugh. "So she's not normally that . . . unpleasant?"

I roll my eyes and grab his hand. "Come on, I need to reintroduce you to my sister."

Ava is actually nice to Graham the second time she meets him. But then she goes into character the rest of the night and pretends to be our mother. The funniest part is that no one at the party has any idea who she's supposed to be. That's just a secret among the four of us, which makes it even better every time I hear her tell someone how tired they look or how much she hates children.

At one point, she walked up to Graham and said, "How much money do you make?"

Then Ava said, "Make sure you sign a prenup before you marry my daughter."

She's so good at being our mother, I'm relieved the party is winding down because I don't think I could take another second of it.

I'm in the kitchen with her now, helping her wash dishes. "I thought you and Reid used to have a dishwasher. Have I lost my mind?" Ava lifts her foot and points toward the mini-fridge with the glass door a few feet away. "Is that a wine refrigerator? Where your dishwasher used to be?"

"Yep," she says.

"But . . . why?"

"Downside of marrying a French guy. He thinks an ample supply of chilled wine is more important than a dishwasher."

"That's terrible, Ava."

She shrugs. "I agreed to it because he promised he'd do most of the dishes."

"Then why are we doing the dishes?"

Ava roll

s her eyes. "Because your boyfriend is a shiny new toy and my husband is enamored."

It's true. Graham and Reid have spent most of the night chatting. I hand Ava the last plate. "Reid pulled me aside earlier and told me he already likes Graham more than he ever liked Ethan."

"That makes two of us," Ava says.

"Three of us."

When we finish with the dishes, I peek into the living room and Graham is saying something to Reid that's requiring a lot of arm movement. I don't think I've ever seen him so animated. Reid is doubled over with laughter. Graham catches my eye and the smile that appears on his face during our quick glance sends a warmth through me. He holds my stare for a couple of seconds and then focuses his attention back on Reid. When I turn around, Ava is standing in the doorway, watching as I try to wipe the smile off my face.

"He's in love with you."

"Shh." I walk back into the kitchen and she follows me.

"That look," she says. She picks up a paper plate and fans herself. "That man is in love with you and he wants to marry you and he wants you to have all his babies."

I can't help but smile. "God, I hope so."

Ava stands up straight and straightens out her pantsuit. "Well, Quinn. He is very decent-looking, but as your mother, I must admit that I think you can do much richer. Now where is my martini?"

I roll my eyes. "Please stop."

Chapter Eighteen

* * *


I don't know if Graham slept in the guest room or on the couch last night, but wherever he slept, I doubt he actually got any sleep. I tried to imagine what he looked like with his sad eyes and his hands in his hair. Every now and then I'd feel sorry for him, but then I'd try to imagine what Andrea looks like. What she looked like through my husband's sad eyes while he kissed her.

I wonder if Andrea knows that Graham is married. I wonder if she knows he has a wife at home who hasn't been able to get pregnant. A wife who has spent the entire night and the entire day locked inside her bedroom. A wife who finally pulled herself out of bed long enough to pack a suitcase. A wife who is . . . done.

Tags: Colleen Hoover Romance