I don’t want him to say her name again. I just want him to kiss me.
I slide my leg over his lap until I’m straddling him. I keep my eyes closed as I slip my hands up his neck. I don’t want him to notice I’m not wearing contacts. Honor wears them all the time and I never wear them.
I can feel his fingers digging into my waist and I wait for him to kiss me like he did the first time he kissed me, but he’s hesitant.
I’m too impatient. I press my mouth to his again, but I’m met with resistance. It’s nothing like our first kiss. His lips are hard and firm and closed. His hands leave my waist and slide up my arms until they’re wrapped around my wrists. He pulls my hands off him.
“What are you doing?” he asks.
I open my eyes. His are full of confusion. I pull back just enough to give us both space to think, but it’s not enough. His thumb slides across the Band-Aid on the underside of my wrist. His eyes fall to the Band-Aid. The one he gave me. The one I used to cover up the scratch on my wrist with last night. My wrist. Not Honor’s.
I suck in a quick rush of air when I see realization swallow up the confusion on his face. He looks at the bandage on my wrist and then back at my face. “Merit?”
I don’t move. I don’t even make excuses. Here I am, dressed like Honor, straddling him. I don’t even know how to come back from this. I’ve never prayed for a stroke before, but I’m praying with everything I have that God will strike me down dead right here and now.
I keep my eyes glued to his, waiting for him to push me off him in disgust. But he just keeps staring at me, his eyes fixed on mine. He finally lets go of my wrists, but instead of grabbing my shoulders to scoot me off of him, he grabs my face.
And then he kisses me. Devours me.
I close my eyes and completely melt into him. I melt into his chest, his arms, his mouth. When his tongue finds mine I all but give up on trying to reciprocate. My mind isn’t connecting with my limbs. It’s like they’re being controlled by some other force. My hands slide through his hair and his hands move to my waist, and then to my lower back. And it’s nothing like the first time we kissed.
His mouth is like a cacophony of flavors right now, each fighting to overpower the other. Everything delicious, all at once. Sugar and sweet against salty and savory.
Is this the answer to my prayer? That Honor would treat him so terribly; he’d have no choice but to want to be with me?
I push the thought of her out of my head at the same moment Sagan pushes me back against the couch. He doesn’t take his mouth off mine as he climbs on top of me, both of us equally as desperate to take in as much of each other as we can.
It feels so surreal, I want to smile, but it’s all so serious, I want to cry. My emotions are everywhere. Just like his hands. Sliding down my thigh, roaming around my leg, grasping the back of my knee and pulling my leg up and around him. The position he just put us in makes us both gasp for air. He breaks the kiss, but moves his mouth to my neck. “Merit,” he says between kisses.
I could listen to him breathe out my name like that for eternity.
“Merit,” he says again, kissing up my jaw. “What is this?”
I shake my head, wanting him to stop questioning it. Don’t stop. Just go. Green light all the way.
He somehow mistakes my green light for a yellow light, because he pauses. He presses his forehead to the side of my head and takes a moment between kisses to catch his breath. I do the same.
“Merit,” he says again, pulling away to look down on me. His eyes roam over my face and then down to my chest, back up my face. “Why are you wearing this?” He puts most of his weight on his hands now, removing the pressure that was just all over me.
I want the pressure back. I try to pull him back to me, but he just pulls his face from my hands. He puts all of his weight onto one arm now as he moves his hand to the braid in my hair. He wraps his hand around the braid and slides his fingers down it, all the way to the end. His eyes are moving from my braid, to my face, to the nightgown, to my braid, to my face.
I don’t like this.
He sits up, falling back onto his calves. He’s kneeling on the couch in front of me. My legs are still on either side of him.
“Why are you wearing Honor’s clothes?”
I push my hands into the couch and sit up, pulling my legs away from him. We’re facing each other now, but he’s so much taller than me, even kneeling. He’s towering over me. Questioning me. I close my eyes.
I feel his hand on my chin. Gentle. “Hey.” The word is a whisper. “Look at me.”
I do, because I’d do anything he asked as long as it was done in that tone. Sweet and protective. He brushes my hair back and repeats himself.
“Why are you dressed like her?”
I can feel the tears as they begin to form in my eyes. I shake my head, hoping to stop the flow. “I was curious.”
He releases my face and his hand falls to his lap. “About what?”
I shrug. “I just wanted to see what it felt like. Being her. But then you walked in the door.”
His lips fold together. He pulls a hand through his hair and then sits back against the couch. He’s no longer facing me.
“Why did you try to kiss me? Before I knew you weren’t her?”
I blow out a steady breath, but the air around me is shaking. My whole body is shaking. I’m scared of the truth. I’m not as good at it as Sagan seems to want me to be. “I don’t know. I guess I just wanted to kiss you again.” I drag my hands down my face and fall against the couch next to him. As if one mortifying life moment isn’t enough for one week.
I feel Sagan stand up. I hear him pace the floor a few times. When he pauses, I open my eyes and look up at him. His hands are on his hips and he’s looking down at me. “Do you think Honor and I . . .” He tosses his hand at the couch. “Do you think I do things like this with her? Do you think we’re together like that?”
My mouth falls open. I clamp it shut. His question is confusing me. “Aren’t you?”
He doesn’t say anything for a moment. He just stares at me in disbelief. And then . . .
There’s so much truth in that word, but it has to be a lie. Of course they do stuff like this. Of course they kiss.
“Merit, Honor is my friend. She’s seeing my best friend, I would never do that to him.” He sighs. “It’s complicated.”
“But . . .” I shake my head, more confused than ever on how to respond. “Why do you both make it seem that way?”
He laughs incredulously. He tilts his face up and stares at the ceiling for a moment. “We don’t. That’s just how you choose to see it.”
I think back on the last couple of weeks. All the times he’s been referred to as her boyfriend were when I referred to him that way. He never called himself her boyfriend. Honor never said he was her boyfriend. And aside from a few hugs, I’ve never once seen him kiss her. I’ve only seen them hold hands at the pool.
But that doesn’t explain why he kissed me the day he followed me out of the antiques store. He thought I was Honor then and he kissed me. And the fight they had the other night about Colby . . .
I cover my face with my hands again as I try to separate everything I’m feeling. Everything that’s happening. “But your fight the other night. About her seeing Colby . . .”
“Colby is my friend,” he interrupts. “But so is Honor. I don’t like that she’s so caught up in these unhealthy relationships. I get angry at her when she doesn’t listen to me. We fight. It’s what friends do.”
Sagan begins pacing the floor again. He walks from one end of the couch to the other. He stops in front of me. “Why did you kiss me when I thought you were Honor?”
I’m pretty sure I already answered this question. “I already told you . . .” I look up at him and it’s the first time he looks angry. I clamp my mouth shut again.
He inhales a slow, controlled breath. “Let me get this straight,” he says. “You thought I was Honor’s boyfriend so you pretended to be her and then you tried to kiss me?”