We Were Once - Page 126

Tilting her head up and seeing the smile I bring to her face makes me realize that I don’t care about the time if filling my nights with this bright light is within reach.

As I stare at her—peace filling her features—her smile softens, and her lids start to dip as the hand resting on my chest begins to slip.

Something powerful and strong, big like the sky that night at the lake, overwhelms me, and I hold her close, hiding my weakness for her as it takes over again. But I can’t hide the way my heart beats heavy, just like she can’t hide hers. I kiss her head, and whisper, “We’re even.”

Just when I think she’s about to fall asleep, her lids flutter open. “Joshua?”

“Yeah,” I reply, tilting back to see her eyes. Those green eyes are still calming seas to my restless sails.

“What happens tomorrow?”

Taking a deep breath, I try to regulate my heart from beating so hard. “I don’t know,” I reply honestly.

A shiver runs through her spine as if a cold breeze just caught her, and she cuddles closer. A yawn finds its way out, and then she closes her eyes again. “Sweet dreams.”

Kissing her head, I whisper something I never thought I have the chance to tell her again. “Sweet dreams.”

* * *

“Good morning.” Her sweet melody has me looking up. Chloe exits the hall dressed in my brand new Yale sweatshirt and nothing else. It wasn’t really purchased for that purpose, but she has more rights to wear it than I do, and if I ever wanted to see it put to use, damn, she can use it anytime. She adds, “Hope you don’t mind me borrowing your sweatshirt. I didn’t feel like squeezing into my jeans yet.”

“Definitely don’t want you getting dressed yet, or ever.” Holding up a steaming mug, I add, “I was about to bring this to you.”

Her long hair is a mess, the brown strands tangled in the back and sprouting out, so I can enjoy the morning-after look. She wears it well, like my sweatshirt. She says, “You should have woken me. I could have helped.”

I chuckle. “You seem to have forgotten the kitchen is my domain. So, no worries, I can manage a French press.”

Wrapping her arms around me, she spins to the other side before I can catch her, teasing me with that stunning grin that I could spend my time reveling in. She lifts up on my right and steals a kiss before taking the mug. Her happiness is infectious. “I think you saying the kitchen is your domain might be the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard.”

She’s irresistible. I don’t know if I can walk away from last night unscathed.

“Glad I can entertain you.” Ready to cook, I ask, “Are you hungry?”

“Starved. What are you cookin’, good lookin’?” She sips her coffee, cupping the mug between her hands like it’s winter in here. “You used to make the best omelets.”

“Hint taken. An omelet coming right up.” I grab my pan and move to the prep area beside the stove. As I dig in the fridge, I glance back, busting her eyeing me. “Sleep well?”

When she stretches, that sweatshirt rides high on her thighs, but not nearly enough. “Yes, so good. Your bed is a little piece of heaven on earth. Is it made of clouds?”

“Cotton candy, actually.” I laugh. “It’s a good bed. I don’t remember you sleeping that heavy in college.”

“I didn’t. I still don’t. It was probably the wine and the good food.” She sends me a little wink.

“Just the food and wine, huh? Nothing else?”

“Nothing off the top of my head,” she says, tapping her chin.

Shaking my head, I keep my wry smile under wraps. “Man, tough crowd.”

“You never needed me to feed your ego back in New Haven. Is this a New York thing or do you just like the extra attention?”

“I needed the ego feeding. You just didn’t play along from what I remember.”

“Good point.” Giggling, she leans against the counter and ogles me. “Do you always walk around in your underwear with these big curtain-less windows?”

I start cracking eggs. “Yes. I figure if they bothered to dig out their binoculars to watch me, I owe them a show.”

“You don’t.” Wow, not even a laugh. She’s not having anything to do with my joke as she walks into the living room and stands in front of the middle window with her hand on her hip and coffee cup in the other.

And then I get it.

Moving to the island to beat the eggs, I savor the sight of her in my sweatshirt, drinking from my favorite mug, and standing in front of my windows. I ask, “Are you jealous?”

“Yes,” she replies flatly but angles back with a smile on her face. “Also, the sex. Compliments to the chef. See? I can give props when needed. I also give them when they’re deserved. You get both.”

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