Songs for this chapter are:
Unsteady- X Ambassadors
Love Me or Leave Me- Little Mix
Coloring- Kevin Garrett
Pushing Me Away- Kevin Garrett
I stare into the mirror for a few seconds and Nora stares back at me. She doesn't move closer. She just stands in the doorway with her eyes on mine. Without looking away from her, I turn the water off and grab a towel to dry my hands.
"Hi," Nora's reflection says.
"Hi," I repeat her words.
We seem to be saying this a lot today.
"What happened?" I ask. I had planned on waiting for her to volunteer the information, but I can't seem to.
She takes a deep breath and I watch her chest rise and fall. I turn around and she takes a few steps into the bathroom and closes the door behind her.
When she approaches me, she's withdrawn, not the same woman who was in my kitchen last night. Her hands are held in front of her, not clenching my sweatshirt. Her lips are pursed, not kissing mine.
Nora's hair is tied into a braid and resting over one shoulder. She's bare faced and I notice a few freckles on her cheeks. Her eyes are tired, giving away that she hasn't slept much. She's wearing a white t-shirt that hangs off of one shoulder and black leggings. Her feet are covered in pizza printed socks. This is the second time I've seen her wear odd socks. I like them.
"I'm okay," Nora says and licks her lips.
I reach for her hand and pull her closer to me. She hesitates for a moment, then steps to me.
The trash bag full of clothes says otherwise, Nora.
"You don't seem okay." I lift my free hand up and touch the end of her braid. Her eyes fall closed.
"You can talk to me. You know that, don't you?" I take my hand from her hair and lift her chin up, just slightly, so I can get a good look at her.
Tired blue circles line the bottom of her almond shaped eyes. They are puffy and my stomach aches at the thought of her crying. I run the pad of my thumb over one of her closed eyes and her lips part.
Her eyelashes are so long that they remind me of a feathers on a bird.
A very, very pretty bird.
Oh, my mind is a weird place.
She nods and I move my thumb back under her chin. Her eyes open, just enough for me to see that she's hiding something.
"I'm taking care of it," her voice is soft and she moves her face away from my touch.
I take a step back, wanting to give her space and she surprises me by grabbing my shirt and pulling me closer. She wraps her arms around my back and buries her head into my chest. She doesn't cry, she just stands there, taking shallow breaths with no words.
I rub one hand up and down her back, letting her have silence.
After a few more seconds, she lifts her head up and stares up at me.
"I want to take care of you," my heart says.
She takes in my words, her eyes pouring into mine. "I don't want to be taken care of."
Her honesty stings, but I have to remember that she's a few years older than me and has probably been taking care of herself for a while.
"I don't want my parents help. I don't want your help. I don't want anyone's help. I just want to figure my shit out and cause as least amount of problems as possible along the way. I will only bring you trouble, its' what I do. It's who I am. I'm not saying this as a superficial warning, I'm serious, Landon."
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Book 1 of 2 featuring After worldwide fan-favorite Landon Gibson as he leaves Washington to navigate love and life in New York City. At the end of the After Ever Happy, Landon got married-but readers everywhere have been wondering who will get to ca...