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Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)

She shrugged. Connell put his arms around her belly.

He’s only trying to get on your nerves, he said. If he thought he had the slightest chance with you, he would be talking very differently. He just thinks you look down on him.

She shrugged again, chewing on her lower lip.

You have nothing to worry about with your appearance, Connell said.

Hm.

I don’t just like you for your brains, trust me.

She laughed, feeling silly.

He rubbed her ear with his nose and added: I would miss you if you didn’t want to see me anymore.

Would you miss sleeping with me? she said.

He touched his hand against her hipbone, rocking her back against his body, and said quietly: Yeah, a lot.

Can we go back to your house now?

He nodded. For a few seconds they just stood there in stillness, his arms around her, his breath on her ear. Most people go through their whole lives, Marianne thought, without ever really feeling that close with anyone.

*

 

Finally, after her third gin and tonic, the door bangs open and the boys arrive. The committee girls get up and start teasing them, scolding them for being late, things like that. Marianne hangs back, searching for Connell’s eye contact, which he doesn’t return. He’s dressed in a white button-down shirt, the same Adidas sneakers he wears everywhere. The other boys are wearing shirts too, but more formal-looking, shinier, and worn with leather dress shoes. There’s a heavy, stirring smell of aftershave in the air. Eric catches Marianne’s eye and suddenly lets go of Karen, a move obvious enough that everyone else looks around too.

Look at you, Marianne, says Eric.

She can’t tell immediately whether he’s being sincere or mocking. All the boys are looking at her now except Connell.

I’m serious, Eric says. Great dress, very sexy.

Rachel starts laughing, leans in to say something in Connell’s ear. He turns his face away slightly and doesn’t laugh along. Marianne feels a certain pressure in her head that she wants to relieve by screaming or crying.

Let’s go and have a dance, says Karen.

I’ve never seen Marianne dancing, Rachel says.

Well, you can see her now, says Karen.

Karen takes Marianne’s hand and pulls her towards the dance floor. There’s a Kanye West song playing, the one with the Curtis Mayfield sample. Marianne is still holding the raffle book in one hand, and she feels the other hand damp inside Karen’s. The dance floor is crowded and sends shudders of bass up through her shoes into her legs. Karen props an arm on Marianne’s shoulder, drunkenly, and says in her ear: Don’t mind Rachel, she’s in foul humour. Marianne nods her head, moving her body in time with the music. Feeling drunk now, she turns to search the room, wanting to know where Connell is. Right away she sees him, standing at the top of the steps. He’s watching her. The music is so loud it throbs inside her body. Around him the others are talking and laughing. He’s just looking at her and saying nothing. Under his gaze her movements feel magnified, scandalous, and the weight of Karen’s arm on her shoulder is sensual and hot. She rocks her hips forward and runs a hand loosely through her hair.