This Girl:A Novel

By: Colleen Hoover

For my mother


the honeymoon

IF I TOOK every romantic poem, every book, every song, and every movie I’ve ever read, heard, or seen and extracted the breathtaking moments, somehow bottling them up, they would pale in comparison to this moment.

This moment is incomparable.

She’s lying on her side facing me, her elbow tucked under her head, her other hand stroking the back of mine that’s lying between us on the bed. Her hair is spread out across the pillow, spilling down her shoulder and across her neck. She’s staring at her fingers as they move in circles over my hand. I’ve known her almost two years now, and I’ve never seen her this content. She’s no longer solely carrying the weight that’s been her life for the last two years, and it shows. It’s almost as if the moment we said “I do” yesterday, the hardships and heartaches we faced as individuals were meshed, making our pasts lighter and easier to carry. From this point on I’ll be able to do that for her. Should there be any more burdens I’ll be able to carry them for her. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do for this girl since the moment I first laid eyes on her.

She glances up at me and smiles, then laughs and buries her face in the pillow.

I lean over her and kiss her on the neck. “What’s so funny?”

She lifts her face off the pillow—her cheeks a deeper shade of red. She shakes her head and laughs. “Us,” she says. “It’s only been twenty-four hours and I’ve already lost count.”

I kiss her scarlet cheek and laugh. “I’m done with counting, Lake. I’ve had about all the countdowns I can handle for a lifetime.” I wrap my arm around her waist and pull her on top of me. When she leans in to kiss me, her hair falls between us. I reach to the nightstand and grab her rubber band, then twist her hair into a knot behind her head and secure it. “There,” I say, pulling her face back to mine. “Better.”

She was adamant about having the robes, but we haven’t once used them. Her ugly shirt has been on the floor since I threw it there last night. Needless to say, this has been the best twenty-four hours of my life.

She kisses down my jaw and traces a trail with her lips up to my ear. “You hungry?” she whispers.

“Not for food.”

She pulls back and grins. “We’ve still got another twenty-four hours to go, you know. If you want to keep up with me you need to replenish your energy. Besides, we somehow missed lunch today.” She rolls off me, reaches into the nightstand, and pulls out the room service menu.

“No burgers,” I say.

She rolls her eyes and laughs. “You’ll never get over that.” She scrolls the menu and points at it with her finger, holding it up. “What about beef Wellington? I’ve always wanted to try that.”

“Sounds good,” I say, inching closer to her. She picks up the phone to dial room service. The whole time she’s on the phone I kiss up and down her back, forcing her to stifle her laughs as she tries to maintain her composure while ordering. When she hangs up the phone, she slides underneath me and pulls the covers over us.

“You have twenty minutes,” she whispers. “Think you can handle that?”

“I only need ten.”


THE BEEF WELLINGTON did not disappoint. The only issue now is that we’re too stuffed and too tired to move. We’ve turned the TV on for the first time since I walked her over the threshold, so I think it’s safe to say we’re due for at least a two-hour break.

Our legs are intertwined and her head is on my chest. I’m running my fingers through her hair with one hand and stroking her wrist with the other. Somehow trivial things like lying in bed watching TV have become euphoric when we’re tangled together like this.

“Will?” She pulls herself up onto her elbow and looks at me. “Can I ask you something?” She runs her hand across my chest, then rests it on top of my heart.

“I do about twelve laps a day on the University track, plus one hundred sit-ups twice a day,” I say. She arches an eyebrow, so I point to my stomach. “Weren’t you asking about my abs?”

She laughs and playfully punches me. “No, I wasn’t asking about your abs.” She leans down and kisses me on the stomach. “They are nice, though.”

I stroke her cheek and pull her gaze back to mine. “Ask me anything, babe.”

She sighs and drops her elbow and lays her head back onto the pillow, staring up at the ceiling. “Do you ever feel guilty?” she says quietly. “For feeling this happy?”

I scoot closer to her and lay my arm across her stomach. “Lake. Don’t ever feel guilty. This is exactly what they’d want for you.”

She looks at me and forces a smile. “I know it’s what they’d want for me. I just . . . I don’t know. If I could take back everything that happened, I would do it in a heartbeat if it meant I could have them back. But doing that would mean I never would have met you. So sometimes I feel guilty because I . . .”

I press my fingers to her lips. “Shh,” I say. “Don’t think like that, Lake. Don’t think about what ifs.” I lean in and kiss her on the forehead. “But I do know what you mean if that helps. It’s counterproductive thinking about it, though. It is what it is.”

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