We Were Once - Page 42

“Do you believe in fate?” she asks.

“Fate has always had such a negative connotation to me. Destiny sounds more hopeful.”

She presses the button at the crosswalk, and as we stand there, she says, “There’s an argument for both, but let’s go with hope. What do you think?”

“Are you asking me if I believe that you’ll start dating this guy, fall madly in love in a whirlwind romance, jet around the world after graduation fulfilling your tremendously cool dreams, and then one day look at each other and decide to settle down, have two point five kids, a three-car garage, and a little piece of paradise in Connecticut?”

“Yes.”

I shrug. “Maybe. Do you need a three-car garage?”

That makes her laugh. “I was thinking four but thought I’d sound pretentious if I voiced it.”

The pedestrian sign comes on, and we cross the street to our block. Wrapping my arm around her, I say, “Never.”

This has me thinking about my parents’ marriage. They thought they’d be married forever when they tied the knot. Little doubts start to populate. How will it be different for me? Are we being naïve by thinking our love is different? No.

I’ve studied every part of the anatomy. The two most powerful organs are the brain and the heart. No matter which leads you, the other follows. So even though our hearts are leading this charge, I know we’re thinking rationally.

Anyway, a mistake would never feel this good.

I open the door to my apartment and stop—my feet, my heart, my breathing. And stare, trying to process how there’s a sexy, shirtless guy standing on my windowsill. “Hello there.” I set my bag at the foot of the couch. Joshua doesn’t react, but then I see the earbuds tucked in his ears.

He’s quite the sight, and I don’t want to miss a second of this. Not making a noise, I curl up on the couch and watch with rapt interest as he hangs a towel over my window. His backside is a thing of beauty. The muscle definition would make a Greek god jealous.

The best part? He’s mine.

“I’m pretty sure you weren’t looking for my eyes, but just in case,” he says, pointing at the most heart-stopping beautiful brown eyes. “They’re up here.”

My gaze selfishly drifts lower again and this time continues to that firm ass. “I’m good.” I giggle. “You can continue whatever you were doing.”

“All done. When’d you get home?”

Home.

I grin.

“Not long enough to appreciate you properly. You stole a towel for privacy?”

“I did,” he replies proudly. Tugging lightly, he appears impressed with his handiwork. “Should hold until you get blinds. I can also hang those for you. I used a sheet in the bedroom.”

“You don’t seem apologetic at all, so you’re lucky you’re hot or I might be mad. So tell me more about this being a handyman business. It’s a whole new side of you.”

“I’m handy all right.” He comes to the couch and sits next to me. We come together and kiss. “Good to see you.”

“Good to be seen by you, especially since no one else can now.” I signal toward the window. The right side of my mouth tips up. “Feel better?”

“Yes, regarding the windows. No, because I need to go to work.” Joshua’s eyes are kind as he looks into mine. “Wish I could stay.”

“Me, too.”

He steals another kiss and then pulls his shirt over his head. I kick back with my hands behind my head. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. Just curious why you were shirtless hanging the towel?”

A small shrug hits under the smile on his face. “Figured you’d be home soon.”

I chunk a pillow at him. “Tease.”

“If you got it, flaunt—” I pop him with another pillow and then kiss his arm as I go to Frankie. “The violence around here is intense,” he adds, chuckling.

“I think you can handle a few pillows.”

He hooks the corner of the towel on a nail, a nice detail to the makeshift covering. I lean against him, not wanting him to go. “Clever.” Picking up Frankie, I carry her to the sink for a good soak. “What does your bonsai look like?”

“Dwayne Evans? He has a strong trunk and straight, broad branches.”

“Sounds like someone I know.” I turn on the water. Look at me nurturing my plant. My mom would be so proud. Like how Joshua is looking at me now. “But let’s get back to the Dwayne Evans part.” I raise an eyebrow, wholly entertained by this name.

“He’s named after The Rock.”

“That makes a little more sense.” I turn off the faucet and return to the couch. “Yet not entirely. I’m going to need more information.”

The ridiculousness of our conversation isn’t lost on him, but something darkens his expression. “When I was twelve, I used to stay up all night on the weekends watching his movies. He seemed like a real-life hero to me. If we want to delve deep, I wished he was my dad but not because of fame or money. He was funny and badass, equally. Just seemed like a good dad to have if I got to choose one. My tree reminded me of him—tall and bulky, upstanding, so I named him Dwayne but kept my last name.”

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