Feeling my jaw clench, I mutter, “Right.”

Her face goes soft and her head tilts to the side as she whispers, “Please take care of her,” and takes off before I can reply.


Closing the door, I kick off my jeans and get back into bed. As soon as I’m settled, June burrows her way into my chest and whispers, “Ev.”

“I’m here, beautiful,” I tell her, kissing her forehead.

“Hmm…” she breathes, wrapping her arm around my waist, so I bury my face in her hair and breathe her in, listening to her sleep.

“Are you going to eat, or are you going to pout and stare at your breakfast?” I ask, feeling my lips twitch as I watch June debate with herself across from me.

When she woke up in my arms, she immediately tried to get away, but figuring I needed to put my plan into action sooner rather than later, I didn’t let her go far. I pinned her to the bed and kissed her until she was panting. It took everything in me not to slide right back into the heaven I knew she held between her legs. The only thing that stopped me was knowing the walls she built between us wouldn’t be coming down if I did that, if I used her own body against her, she’d resent me.

So instead, I kissed her neck and rolled off her, pulling her along with me to the bathroom, where I pushed her into the shower ahead of me then got in with her. She was a hissing cat throughout the whole shower, but I wasn’t going to let her out of my sight, not even for a moment. It may have been awhile since we were together, but knowing her, she would have taken off the first chance she got and disappeared. After we got out of the shower and got dressed, I confiscated her key and drove us in her car to the diner down the street from her house.

“I’m going to eat, because it’s stuffed French toast, but I’m not going to enjoy it,” she mutters under her breath, and I throw my head back and laugh. At the noise, her head flies up and her face softens, making my heart clench.

“I haven’t seen you laugh in a long time,” she whispers, studying me from across the table.

Her serious tone sets a pause to my humor. “Tell me about your new job. Are you excited?” I change the subject before taking a bite of my omelet.

“Yes, well, I’m not excited to work the whole summer, but I’m excited to start my career and get settled,” she says to her plate, and I nudge her foot under the table, urging her to give me her eyes.

“I’m proud of you. I know how important graduating was to you, and I know how excited you were to start teaching.”

Her eyes stay locked on mine, and I see the wheels in her head turning as she asks softly, “What’s going on?”

“We’re having breakfast,” I point out, and her eyes narrow.

“You… you…” She throws her hands up in the air. “And then…then I wake up in bed with you…and we…we had sex!” she shouts at the end, sending her eyes flying around the restaurant.

“Baby, calm down.”

“No, no way.” She leans across the table, pointing her fork at me.

Letting out an aggravated breath, I feel my nostrils flare as my eyes roam over her. “Do you know what it’s like to stand in front of something you want, but know you shouldn’t have, to wish you had the ability to turn off your feelings so life for the both of you would be easier?” I ask, and she flinches like I struck her. “No, beautiful, not for the reason you think. You were the best thing to ever happen to me, the one good thing I had in my life.”

“Until you left me,” she says quietly, and a sharp pain shoots through my chest.

“I didn’t want to get you dirty,” I tell her softly, honestly.

“What?” she whispers, but I see the tears in her eyes about to spill over. I don’t want her to cry. Her tears fucking kill me every time.

“Let’s talk about that another time,” I suggest gently.

“Ev—”

“Baby, please, let’s just have breakfast,”

“I don’t know?” She closes her eyes. Reaching across the table, I take her hand and bring it to my mouth, and her eyes open as my lips touch her skin.

“One day, I’ll explain everything.”

“I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to do this with you.” She swallows, looking conflicted. Even with the struggle she’s feeling, she’s not telling me to fuck off.

“One day at a time. I’ve been fighting this, and I can’t fight it anymore. I miss you. I miss us.”

“Please don’t do this.” Her chin wobbles, and I kiss her fingers again.

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