Today's Reading

I look back at Dylan in the mirror; he's still looking at me. Everything seems to slow or quieten or fade, like someone's dialed the world down.

I haven't seen Dylan for twenty months. He should have changed somehow. Everything else has. But even from here, even in half darkness, I know the exact line of his nose, his long eyelashes, his snakeskin yellow-green eyes. I know those eyes will be as wide and shocked as they were when he left me.

"Well," my sister says. "The Mini's done us proud."

The Mini. The car. Everything comes rushing back in and I unclick my seat belt. It takes three goes. My hands are shaking. When I next glance at the rearview mirror my eyes focus on the foreground instead of the background and there's Rodney, crouched forward on our backseat with his hands over his head and his nose touching his knees.

Shit. I forgot all about Rodney.

"Are you all right?" I ask him, just as Deb says, "Addie? Are you OK?" She pokes her head back in the car, then grimaces. "Your neck hurting too?"

"Yeah," I say, because as soon as she asks I realize it does, loads.

"Gosh," Rodney says, tentatively shifting out of the brace position. "What happened?"

Rodney posted on the "Cherry & Krish Are Getting Hitched" Facebook group yesterday evening asking for a lift to the wedding from the Chichester area. Nobody else replied, so Deb and I took pity. All I know about Rodney is that he has a Weetabix On The Go for breakfast, he's always hunching and his T-shirt says, I keep pressing Esc but I'm still here, but I think I've pretty much got the gist.

"Some arsehole in a Mercedes went into the back of us," Deb tells him, straightening up to look at the car behind again.

"Deb..." I say.


"I think that's Dylan. In that car."

She scrunches up her nose, ducking down to see me again. "Dylan Abbott?"

I swallow. "Yeah."

I risk a glance over my shoulder. My neck protests. It's then that I notice the man stepping out of the Mercedes passenger seat. Slim-built and ghostly pale in the dark street, his curly hair just catching the light of the shopfronts behind him. There goes my heart again, beating way too fast.

"He's with Marcus," I say.

"Marcus?" Deb says, eyes going wide.

"Yeah. Oh, God." This is awful. What am I meant to do now? Something about insurance? "Is the car OK?" I ask.

I climb out just as Dylan gets out of the Mercedes. He's dressed in a white tee and chino shorts with battered boat shoes on his feet. There's a carabiner on his belt loop, disappearing into his pocket. It was my idea, that, to stop him always losing his keys.

He steps forward into the path of the Mercedes' headlights. He looks so handsome it aches in my chest. Seeing him is even harder than I expected it to be. I want to do everything at once: run to him, run away, curl up, cry. And beneath all that I have this totally ridiculous feeling that someone's messed up, like something didn't get filed when it should have up there in the universe, because I was supposed to see Dylan this weekend, for the first time in almost two years, but it should have been at the wedding.

"Addie?" he says.

"Dylan," I manage.

"Did a Mini really just total my dad's Mercedes?" says Marcus.

My hand goes self-consciously to my fringe. No makeup, scruffy overalls, no mousse in my hair. I've spent bloody months planning the outfit I was supposed to be wearing when I saw Dylan again, and this was not it. But he doesn't scan me up and down, doesn't even seem to clock my new hair color—he meets my gaze and holds it. I feel like the whole world just stumbled and had to catch its breath.

"Fuck me," says Marcus. "A Mini! The indignity of it!"

"What the hell?" Deb says. "What were you doing? You just drove into the back of us!"

Dylan looks around in bewilderment. I pull myself together.

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