I reach over for Charly to pull her into my arms, and instead, I get a furry dog.

“For fuck’s sake, Jester,” I grumble.

“Sorry,” Charly mumbles sleepily. “He got in when you were in the bathroom. Shall I move him?”

“No, it’s fine, babe.” I throw daggers at Jester in the dark, realizing I’m not winning this battle tonight.

I’ve been edged out by a fucking dog.

I lean over and press a soft kiss to her lips. “Night, babe.”

“Mmhmm. Love you,” she mumbles.

I freeze.

She loves me.

My heart starts to pound in my chest.

Does she realize what she just said?

Even still, I can’t resist saying it back, testing it out loud. I guess I’ll know if she means it when I tell her that I love her, too. That I’m crazy about her. She’s all I think about. She’s all I want.

From the minute I saw her dancing around, twerking her cute ass like she was Nicki Minaj, I knew she was going to be different. I just didn’t know how different.

Now, she’s everything.

I brush my fingers over her forehead, sweeping her hair back, my heart beating so fast, as I whisper, “I love you, too, Pins.”

I wait a second, but she doesn’t respond, and when she starts to snore softly, I know she’s asleep.

The disappointment I feel is surprising. But I guess this just wasn’t meant to be the moment to say how we feel.

I’ll tell Charly how I feel about her when the right moment arises. And I pray to God I won’t scare her away. Hopefully, she really does feel the same way I do, and she’s not just speaking meaningless words in her sleep.

Charly

I had this dream last night where I told Vaughn I loved him.

Thank God it was just a dream; otherwise, that would have been embarrassing.

But I do love him. I’m crazy in love with him.

It’s just not the time to be telling him. Especially when he doesn’t know everything about me.

He’s taking me to a place called Crater Lake today. He said it was this really huge lake that came from a volcano that had collapsed thousands of years ago. He said it was a really beautiful place. I’m looking forward to seeing it. We’ve packed up a picnic with some of the food that Vaughn’s mom had stocked his fridge and cupboards up with.

We’re dropping Jester back at his mom and dad’s. I think Vaughn’s had enough of Jester monopolizing my time. I think he’s feeling a little jealous and left out, which is seriously cute. Also, it’s an hour’s drive there, so Jester might get bored in the car for that length of time.

Vaughn also wants to check if his mom needs us to do anything for the wedding before we head out. I can’t believe the wedding is only hours away. I bet Sasha is getting so excited.

I can’t wait to see the look on Greg’s face when he sees Sasha in her dress. She looks stunning in it.

Vaughn puts the picnic basket along with a picnic blanket in the backseat. I sit in the front with Jester on my lap.

I’m dressed sensibly today. Well, as sensible as I can. I didn’t bring any sneakers with me, not that I have any, so I’m wearing my flip-flops, knowing that we’ll be walking a bit. And I’m wearing jean shorts and a tank, as it’s really warm today. I’ve put on sunscreen as well, as I don’t want to burn. Vaughn is wearing khaki shorts, a tank, and sneakers. He looks hot, like usual. He’s also wearing his ball cap, and he has sunglasses on.

I tug his cap off and put it on my head. “You worried about people recognizing you when we’re out?” I ask him, referring to the cap. I know he wears it as a disguise of sorts.

“We shouldn’t run into anyone. It’s a big place, and I’m taking you to one of the quieter areas, but you never know.” He shrugs, putting the car in drive.

I can’t imagine how it is for him, always having to worry about being recognized.

We stop at Vaughn’s parents’ house. I get out, carrying Jester in my arms.

“He can walk, you know,” Vaughn teases as we head over to the house.

“I know, but he’s so cute, like a little baby.” I snuggle Jester and get a lick on my face in return.

I wish I could have a dog. But it’s not feasible, as I travel a lot for work, and even though Nick is always home, it’d be stuck inside while he was at work all day. That, and we live in a small apartment, which isn’t really practical for a dog.

“It’s us,” Vaughn calls as he walks through the front door.

Is it silly that I get all glowy when I hear him say that? Us. I’ve never been part of an us before. Except with Nick, but that’s different.

“Hey.” His mom comes out of the kitchen, drying her hands on a dish towel. “Has he been okay?” She gestures to Jester.

“No trouble at all.” I smile at her.

“Except for hogging the fucking bed all night.”

“Ignore Vaughn.” I shake my head. “He’s been a little gem.”

“Maybe for you,” he grumbles. “Jester thinks the sun shines out of your ass.”

“You saying it doesn’t?” I tease, checking my behind.

Vaughn’s mom chuckles and takes Jester from my arms.

“We’re just heading up to Crater Lake.”

“Have you ever been, Charly?” she asks me.

“No.” I shake my head.

“You’ll love it. Such a pretty place. Do you need any food to take with you?” she asks.

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