“Charlie!” he yells.
I ignore him and keep walking. That was stupid. What was I thinking? A kiss isn’t going to bring our memories back. This isn’t a fairy tale.
He grabs my arm. “Hey. Slow down.” And then, “What are you thinking?”
I keep walking in the direction I’m certain we came from. “I’m thinking I need to get home. I have to make sure Janette has eaten dinner…and…”
“About us, Charlie.”
I can feel him staring at me. “There is no us,” I say. I bring my eyes back to his. “Haven’t you heard? We were obviously broken up and I was dating Brian. His dad was giving me a job. I…”
“We were an us, Charlie. And holy shit, I can see why.”
I shake my head. We can’t lose focus. “That was your first kiss,” I say. “It could feel like that with anyone.”
“So it felt that way for you too?” he asks, running around to stand in front of me.
I consider telling him the truth. That if I were dead like Snow White and he kissed me like that, surely my heart would kick back to life. That I’d be the one to slay dragons for that kiss.
But we don’t have time to kiss like that. We need to find out what’s happened and how to reverse it.
“I didn’t feel anything,” I say. “It was just a kiss and it didn’t work.” A lie that burns my insides it’s so foul. “I have to go.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” I lift a hand over my head and wave because I don’t want to turn around and look at him. I’m afraid. I want to be with him, but it’s not a good idea. Not until we figure more of this out. I think he’s going to follow me, so I wave over a cab. I open the door and look back at Silas to show him that I’m fine. He nods, and then lifts his phone to snap a picture of me. The first time she left me, he’s probably thinking. He then buries his hands in his pockets and turns in the direction of his car.
I wait until he’s past the fountain before I lean down to speak to the driver. “Sorry, I changed my mind.” I slam the door and step back to the curb. I don’t have money for a cab anyway. I’ll go back to the diner and ask Amy for a ride.
The cabbie peels off and I duck down a different street so Silas won’t see me. I need to be alone. I need to think.
Another night of shitty sleep. Only this time, my lack of sleep wasn’t because I was worried about myself, or even worried about what made Charlie and me lose our memories. My lack of sleep was strictly because I had two things on my mind: our kiss, and Charlie’s reaction to our kiss.
I don’t know why she walked away, or why she preferred to take a cab over riding with me. I could tell by the way she responded during the kiss that she felt what I was feeling. Of course it wasn’t like the kisses in fairy tales that could end a curse, but I don’t think either of us really expected it to. I’m not sure we really had any expectations for the kiss at all—just a little bit of hope.
What I certainly didn’t expect was for everything else to take a backseat once her lips pressed against mine, but that’s exactly what happened. I stopped thinking about the reason we were kissing and everything we had been through all day. All I could think about was how she was clenching my shirt in her fists, pulling me closer, wanting more. I could hear the small gasps of air she was sucking in between kisses, because as soon as our mouths met, we were both breathless. And even though she stopped the kiss and stepped away, I could still see the dazed look on her face and the way her eyes lingered on my mouth.
Despite all of it, though, she still turned and walked away. But if I’ve learned anything about Charlie in these last two days, it’s that there’s a reason for every move she makes. And it’s usually a good reason, which is why I didn’t try to stop her.
My phone receives a text, and I almost fall as I scramble out of the shower to get to it. I haven’t heard from her since we parted ways last night, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t beginning to worry.
My hope bleeds out of me when I see the text isn’t from Charlie. It’s from the kid I talked to at the diner last night, Eller.
Eller: Amy wants to know if Charlie rode with you to school. She’s not at home.
I turn off the water, despite not even having rinsed off yet. I grab a towel with one hand and respond to his text with the other.
Me: No, I haven’t even left my house yet. Has she tried her cell?
As soon as I send the text, I dial Charlie’s number and hit speaker, then set the phone down on the counter. I’m dressed by the time her voicemail picks up.
“Shit,” I mutter as I end the call. I open the door and stop by my bedroom long enough to get into my shoes and grab my keys. I make it downstairs, but freeze before I reach the front door.
There’s a woman in the kitchen, and she isn’t Ezra.
The word comes out of my mouth before I realize I’m even speaking. She spins around, and even though I only recognize her from the pictures on the wall, I think I might feel something. I don’t know what it is. It’s not love or recognition. I’m just overcome with a sense of calmness.
No…it’s comfort. That’s what I feel.
“Hey, sweetie,” she says with a bright smile that reaches the corners of her eyes. She’s preparing breakfast—or maybe she’s cleaning after just finishing up breakfast. “Did you see the mail I put on your dresser yesterday? And how are you feeling?”
Landon looks more like her than I do. His jaw is soft, like hers. Mine is harsh, like my father’s. Landon carries himself like she does, too. Like life has been good to them.
She tilts her head and then closes the distance between us. “Silas, are you okay?”
I take a step back when she tries to touch her hand to my forehead. “I’m fine.”
She tucks her hand to her chest like it offends her that I backed away. “Oh,” she says. “Okay. Well, good. You already missed school this week and you have a game tonight.” She walks back into the kitchen. “You shouldn’t stay out so late when you’re sick.”
I stare at the back of her head, wondering why she would say that. This is the first time I’ve even seen her since all of this started. Ezra or my father must have told her about Charlie being here.
I wonder if Charlie being here upset her. I wonder if she and my father share the same opinion of Charlie.
“I feel fine now,” I reply. “I was with Charlie last night, that’s why I was home late.”
She doesn’t react to my baited comment. She doesn’t even look at me. I wait a few more seconds to see if she’s going to respond. When she doesn’t, I turn and head for the front door.
Landon is in the front seat already when I reach the car. I open the back door and throw my backpack inside. When I open the front, he reaches his hand out to me. “This was ringing. Found it under your seat.”
I take the phone from him. It’s Charlie’s.
“She left her phone in my car?”
Landon shrugs. I stare at the screen and there are several missed calls and texts. I see Brian’s name, along with Amy’s. I try to open them, but I’m prompted for a password.