His were so soft, so sweet that I sighed.
A soft, little sigh.
And as the sound ghosted across my lips, I felt myself giving in more.
To the kiss. To the feel of his mouth exploring mine. To his hand on my face.
And most of all, to the lovely thrill of a wonderful first date that I was clearly ready for.
In fact, I was ready for the next one as soon as possible.
* * *
Still in a daze by the time I returned home, I slipped quietly in through the front door and into the living room. Jake was asleep on the couch, a book open on his lap and Carson passed out on his shoulder.
My little brother, babysitter extraordinaire.
I should wake them up and get Carson into his bed, but I figured that, while they slept, I might as well get into the shower.
I still needed to stop buzzing after my date, after all.
I tiptoed to my bedroom and ran the hot water, unzipping my dress as I remembered how Daniel’s hands had felt along the exposed skin.
How his kiss had felt.
How my mouth felt deliciously bruised in a way it hadn’t felt in years.
As I started to pull the dress off my shoulders, my phone buzzed. I glanced at it and laughed.
Of course it was Trish.
Trish: Okay, I can’t take it anymore. How was it?
I thought about Daniel’s hands in the dark, how his palm had grazed my thigh in the limo, daring me not to cry out and alert the driver.
How, even after that, he’d been the perfect gentleman who walked me to my door.
How he was somehow wicked and wild, sensitive and caring.
Everything I could’ve hoped for and more.
Christine: I can’t lie to you. You were right.
I could practically hear Trish whooping in the distance, and when she sent back several winking emojis, I knew she’d be asking for more details soon. Before she could, another text popped up.
One that made my heart stop and start at the same time.
Daniel: I can’t stop thinking about you.
I bit my lip and glanced in the mirror. The lace of my bra was visible, peeking out of the piece of the dress I’d started to pull down. My lipstick was smeared slightly from our kisses, and my hair was tangled around my shoulders.
I could just take off the dress, step into the shower, and wash away the night.
But Daniel couldn’t stop thinking about me.
And I didn’t want him to stop.
I took a picture of myself in the mirror and then fired it off to Daniel before I could second-guess myself.
Tonight had been everything.
And I intended to enjoy every last second that I could.
A year later
“C’mon! Beat that high score!”
I cheered on my boyfriend and his nephew as they competed in a pinball competition.
I had a feeling they were going to win. The two of them had been on a tear as pinball teammates in the last year, and I was so damn proud of them both.
A few seconds later, the pinball machine lit up, and the Hamiltonians, as they called themselves, hit a new high score.
I screamed my heart out, along with my vocal cords. But that was par for the course around Jake. My vocal cords always seemed to get a workout with my man.
When the competition ended, I jumped into his arms, giving him a big, wet kiss. When I let go, I high-fived Carson, then I fist-bumped Christine.
“Our boys rock,” I said.
“That they do,” she seconded. Then she turned to her boyfriend. In the last year, she’d started dating again, and had found happiness with Daniel.
Turned out Trish had played a part in that relationship too.
My boss had quite the cupid in her, I’d learned.
But that wasn’t surprising.
Trish was the queen of this city, and she was a dealmaker. There was nothing she loved better than to seal the bargain, whether in business or love.
* * *
We said good night to the three of them after the tournament, and Jake and I went to one of our favorite spots—the scene of our first “scene.”
We’d played many parts here in the last year, acted out many scenarios—pilot and flight attendant, boss and assistant, teacher and student.
And we’d invented scenarios for many others.
It was the place where we’d fallen into bed and fallen in love. For us, those two things were intertwined.
As they should be.
As we wound down the hall of The Extravagant toward the music pulsing from inside the club, Jake squeezed my hand. “What role do you want to play tonight?”
I tapped my chin, contemplating our options. “How about—”
I blinked, because Jake had disappeared from my peripheral vision. But he hadn’t actually vanished. At the speed of light, Jake had bent down on one knee, and I found him holding a small velvet box. His gaze locked with mine, his dark-brown eyes so vulnerable.