Silent seconds pass by before he rests his head against my chest.
“How often?” My heart is twisted and aching for him.
“Only about once a week or so. I take pills for them now, but on nights like tonight, it was too late to take them.”
“I’m sorry.” I force myself to forget that we haven’t seen each other in months. I don’t think about the way we have already slipped back into touching one another. I don’t care, though; I would never turn away from comforting him, no matter the circumstance.
“Don’t be. I’m fine.” He nuzzles further into my neck and wraps both arms around my waist. “I’m sorry that I woke you.”
“Don’t be.” I lean into the back of the couch.
“I’ve missed you.” He yawns, drawing my body into his chest. He lies back, bringing me with him, and I let him.
I feel his lips press against my forehead and I shiver, basking in the warmth and familiarity of his lips on my skin. It doesn’t make sense to me how it could be this easy, this natural, to find myself in Hardin’s arms again.
“I love how real this is,” he whispers. “It’s never going to go away, you know that, don’t you?”
Grasping for a sliver of logic, I say, “We have different lives now.”
“I’m still waiting for you to see it, that’s all.”
“See what?” When he doesn’t respond, I look up at him to find his eyes closed, his lips slightly parted in sleep.
I WAKE TO THE SOUND of the coffeepot beeping in the kitchen. Hardin’s face is the first thing I see when my eyes open, and I’m not sure how to feel about it.
I detach my body from his, lifting his arms off my waist, and scramble to my feet. Landon walks out from the kitchen, holding a cup of coffee between his hands. An unmistakable smile is painted across his face.
“What?” I ask, stretching my arms. I haven’t shared a bed, or couch, with anyone since Hardin. One night Robert stayed over because he locked himself out of his apartment, but he slept on the couch and I slept in my bed.
“Noooooo-thing.” Landon’s smile grows, and he tries to hide it by taking a drink of steaming coffee.
I roll my eyes at him, fighting a smile, and walk to my room to grab my phone. I panic when the time reads eleven thirty. I haven’t slept this late since I moved here, and now I don’t have time to take a shower before I leave for work.
I pour a cup of coffee and place it inside the freezer to cool while I brush my teeth, wash my face, and get dressed. I’ve become a huge fan of iced coffee, but I hate paying the overpriced fee at the coffee shops for them to only dump ice into the cup. Mine tastes just about the same. Landon agrees.
Hardin is still asleep when I leave, and I find myself leaning over him, ready to kiss him goodbye. Fortunately, Landon walks into the room at the right time, stopping my insane behavior. What is wrong with me?
The walk to work is filled with thoughts of Hardin: how it felt to sleep in his arms, how comforting it was to wake up on his chest. I’m confused, as I always am when encountering him, and feel rushed to make it to work on time.
When I get to the break room, Robert is already there and opens my locker for me when he sees me coming.
“I’m late, did they notice?” I rush to throw my purse in and close the locker.
“No, you’re only five minutes late. How was your night?” His blue eyes shine with a barely veiled curiosity.
I shrug. “It was okay.” I know how Robert feels about me, and it’s not fair of me to talk about Hardin with him, whether he encourages it or not.
“Okay, huh?” He smiles.
“Better than I thought.” I stick with short answers.
“It’s okay, Tessa. I know how you feel about him.” He touches my shoulder with his hand. “I’ve known since that first time I met you.”
I am getting emotional now, wishing Robert weren’t so kind, wishing Hardin weren’t in New York for the weekend, then taking that back and wishing he would stay longer. Robert doesn’t ask any more questions, and we’re so busy at work that I don’t have time to think about anything else except serving food and drinks until one in the morning. Even my breaks go too quickly, allowing me just enough time to shovel down a plate of meatballs and queso.
When closing comes, I’m the last one out. I assured Robert that I would be fine if he left early to get drinks with the other servers. I have a feeling that when I walk out of the restaurant, Hardin will be waiting anyway.
And I’m right. There, leaning against the wall with the fake Banksy graffiti, is Hardin.
“You didn’t tell me that Delilah and Samantha are roommates” is the first sentence out of his mouth. He’s smiling, that smile where his nose turns up at the end because his smile is so big.
“Yeah, it’s a mess.” I shake my head, rolling my eyes. “Especially since those aren’t their names, and you know it.”
Hardin laughs. “That is some good shit, though. What are the fucking odds of that?” He lifts his hand to his chest, and his laughter shakes his body. “This is some straight-up soap-opera shit.”
“Who are you telling? I have to deal with it. Poor Landon, though, you should have seen his face when we met Sophia and her friends for drinks the night he found out. He almost fell out of the chair.”
“This is too much.” Hardin chuckles.
“Don’t laugh about it in front of Landon; he’s having a hard time dealing with the two of them.”