She's here. Right here, standing in my studio, staring at my art. I never thought I'd see her again. I was so convinced that the likelihood of our paths ever crossing was minimal, I can't even remember the last time I thought about her.
But here she is, standing right in front of me. I want to ask her if she remembers me, but I know she doesn't. How could she when we never even exchanged words?
I remember her, though. I remember the sound of her laughter, her voice, her hair, even though her hair used to be a lot shorter. And even though I felt like I knew her back then, I never really got a good look at her face. Now that I'm seeing her up close, I have to force myself not to stare too hard. Not because of her unassuming beauty, but because it's exactly how I imagined she would look up close. I tried to paint her once, but I couldn't remember enough about her to finish it. I have a feeling I may attempt it again after tonight. And I already know I'll call the painting More Than One.
She moves her attention to another painting and I look away before she catches me staring at her. I don't want it to appear too obvious that I'm trying to figure out which colors to blend together to create her unique shade of skin tone, or whether I would paint her with her hair up or down.
There are so many things I should be doing right now other than staring at her. What should I be doing? Showering. Changing. Preparing for all the people who are about to show up for the next two hours.
"I need to take a quick shower," I say.
She turns around, fast, as if I startled her.
"Feel free to look around. I'll go over everything else when I'm finished. I won't take long."
She nods and smiles and for the first time I think, Hannah who?
Hannah, the last girl I hired to help me. Hannah, the girl who couldn't handle being second in my life. Hannah, the girl who broke up with me last week.
I hope Auburn isn't like Hannah.
There were so many things I didn't like about her, and that isn't how it should be. Hannah disappointed me when she spoke, which is why we spent a lot of our time together not speaking. And she always, always made it a point to tell me that her name, when spelled backward, was still Hannah.
"A palindrome," I said the first time she told me. She looked at me, perplexed, and that's when I knew I could never love her. What a waste of a palindrome she was, that Hannah.
But I can already tell that Auburn isn't like Hannah. I can see the layers of depth in her eyes. I can see the way my art moves her by the way she focuses on it, ignoring everything else around her. I hope she isn't like Hannah at all. She already looks better in Hannah's clothes than Hannah did.
Did. Another palindrome.
I walk into the bathroom and look at her clothes, and I want to walk them back downstairs to her. I want to tell her never mind, that I want her to wear her own clothes tonight, not Hannah's clothes. I want her to be herself, to be comfortable, but my customers are wealthy and elite and they expect black skirts and white shirts. Not blue jeans and this pink (is it pink or red?) top that makes me think of Mrs. Dennis, my high school art teacher.
Mrs. Dennis loved art. Mrs. Dennis also loved artists. And one day, after seeing how incredibly talented with a brush she thought I was, Mrs. Dennis loved me. Her shirt was pink or red, or maybe both, that day, and that's what I remember as I look down at Auburn's shirt, because Mrs. Dennis who?
She was not a palindrome, but her name spelled backwards was still very fitting, because Dennis = Sinned, and that's precisely what we did.
We sinned for an entire hour. She more so than me.
YOU ARE READING
Confess - ExcerptRomance
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, a new novel about risking everything for love—and finding your heart somewhere between the truth and lies. At age twenty-one, Auburn Reed has already lost everything important to her. In her...