Page 101 of We Were Once

She’s laughing behind her hand, but then it drops to her side, mimicking her jaw. Signaling behind me with her head, she taps her finger, and then mouths, “Behind you.”

What in the world is she doing? “Did I ever tell you I’m horrible at charades?”

“No. And I’m sure your sex life can’t be that bad.”

Hearing the dulcet tones of a voice that used to comfort me has my breath catching in my throat. I grip the counter to secure my normally steady hand from shaking, and ask my friend in front of me, “You didn’t learn how to throw your voice, did you?”

Lips tight to restrain her smile as amusement glimmers in her eyes. She shakes her head and points over my shoulder. “No, and I wouldn’t be able to get it that deep either.”

I had a feeling we weren’t alone in this conversation. When I turn around, I don’t lock eyes because memory reminds me that I tend to get lost in his. I stare at his chest instead. Quite impressed by how broad and how fit he is. He always was.

His arms. Defined and strong.

His jawline. Wonder if that scruff is rough enough to cut my tongue.

What am I doing? My gaze snaps to his smirk and the cocked brow that tells me I’m caught. Caught in the act of ogling my ex-boyfriend. Lock me up and throw away the key because I’ll make no apologies.

Joshua Evans has only gotten better with age. I may not be a lawyer, but I could argue all evidence is duly on his side, and that, in fact, he is downright gorgeous. “Hello, Dr. Fox.” His gaze pivots past me. “Nurse.”

“Julie, Juliana,” she says, tapping her name tag with a huge grin and giggle. “You can call me Julie.”

“It’s good to see you again, Julie. I’m Josh.” Are you kidding me with the blushing? She’s shameless.

Those warm browns still hold the same soul that extends beyond mere mortals, and he aims them at me. “It’s nice to run into you again, Dr. Fox.”

My cold hands clamor to cool my own heated cheeks. Damn him. “We didn’t really run into each at the hospital. How’s your finger?”

A barista leans over the counter near us, and calls out, “Small black coffee and a muffin. Josh.”

Julie taps her chin and grins. “Well, lookie there. You have the same order.”

Joshua says, “Quite the coincidence.”

“Not really.” I mentally work out the odds. “Coffee without all the crap is probably more common than we expect. As for the muffin—”

I’m elbowed in the back of the ribs. That devious grin of Julie’s has been replaced with silent disappointment. She whispers, “Do I have to do everything? Because I will.” With the most angelic smile plastered on her face, I see right through it. Much louder for him to hear, she adds, “I just remembered that I already had my break today, and I need to get back. Hate to leave my gorgeous and single doctor friend here. Maybe you can keep her company, Josh?”

“Subtle,” I say, shaking my head.

“My pleasure,” he responds. His voice is as rich and smooth as the coffee I ordered.

“Thanks. Bye.” She zips through the shop toward the door. “Oh, and I’m glad your finger is better. You’ll be back to fingering things before you know it—” Realizing what she just said too late, she bolts out the door, leaving a line full of dropped jaws and me to deal with the mortification.

Thank the coffee shop gods for shaggy-haired baristas with perfect timing. My order is placed beside me, and he says, “I heard you like hot muffins.”

Good lord. Get me out of here. “I’m good. Thanks.”

Taking the tray, I step out of the way, not sure what I should be doing or saying to Joshua . . . Josh, or whatever I should be calling him.

He takes the initiative. “She reminds me of Ruby.”

“She does,” I reply, picking at the raw edge of the cardboard tray in my hands. The drinks wobble even though I’m trying to hold them steady.

“Do you still talk to Ruby?”

I look at him, tired of feeling intimidated . . . though if I were honest, it’s shame and guilt that keeps my eyes down around him. The last thing I ever said to him was I’m sorry. I owe him a million more, but I’m not sure that’s what he wants to hear. What does he want from me? “Are we making small talk, Joshua—” I sigh, lacking the energy to play this game of old friends catching up. “I don’t even know what to call you anymore, much less what this is. I’m sorry.” I leave the shop, not able to wrap my head around the myriad of emotions he draws out of me—anger, abandonment, brokenhearted, frustrated from my empty memories of the accident, and guilt for the pain I caused him.

Tags: S.L. Scott Romance