When I look outside the window, this is not my neighborhood. It’s way too nice. Common sense kicks in, and I remember that the driver never asked, and Joshua doesn’t know where I live. I lean forward to get a better look at the building beside us, and then my eyes shoot to his. “Is this where you live?”
He opens the door and helps me out. Standing on the curb, I’m in complete awe of the building in front of me. From the doorman with the golden epaulettes to the art deco architecture. “This is a historic building.” I don’t know if I’m asking or just blabbering, but I still don’t understand how he lives at such an expensive address. Who is this man and where did the boy from the diner go?
Glancing at the building, he returns his attention to me, and says, “I know this isn’t what you expected, and you probably have a million questions. Tomorrow, ask me anything your heart desires, but this falls into the past I don’t want to revisit tonight.” His tone isn’t demanding or upset. It’s small in some ways, unlike him, so I know he’s not hiding anything on purpose. His reasons are genuine.
“Okay.” Walking into the expansive lobby with crystal chandeliers hanging above our heads and marble under our feet, I realize the roles have reversed.
Holy shit. Joshua Evans is rich.
On the tenth floor in the heart of Manhattan, I stand in front of picturesque windows staring out at a million dots of light that make this city sparkle like its own little universe. It’s quiet in here, the outside kept at bay.
His soft footsteps are heard on the rich wood flooring. I see Joshua in the reflection of the glass before I feel him against my back, spiking my heart rate on contact. The thrill I feel with him has awakened a dormant side of me that I’d long forgotten. A glass of white wine comes around me, making me smile. “You remembered.”
Spinning around, I wrap my arms around his midsection. The darker features of Joshua’s younger years aren’t as murky anymore. With eyes that shine from the moonlight streaming through the glass, so open, so clear, I’d almost suspect he still wears his heart on his sleeve these days.
When he holds his arms around me, he says, “I almost brought you whiskey, remembering how well you liked it back then.”
God, it’s scary just to hope, to see if we can find ourselves again. I giggle softly. “I do appreciate a good drink now and again, but wine works. Thank you.” Kissing his chin, I then slip out of his arms and take the drink. With our eyes fixed, we both sip from our glasses, studying each other.
A smile wiggles into the corner of his mouth, and he says, “I never thought I’d see Chloe Fox standing in my apartment.”
“That’s funny because I never thought I’d be standing in your apartment.” The leather of the couch is buttery under my fingertips as I meander into the living area. He leans against the bricks dividing the windows. Silhouetted with the lights behind him, I can’t see his expression clearly in the dark, but I can feel his gaze moving through the room with me and exploring my body. Stopping behind a velvety soft chair, I lean against it, take another sip, and then find him through the distance between us.
Although we agreed not to bring the past into the present, at least tonight, I’m the first to break the rules. “You never took me to your place in New Haven.”
He’s not fazed, not bothered one bit judging by that rogue grin he’s sporting. “I had a lot more pride back then. Your apartment was nice.”
“You didn’t have to live somewhere fancy for me to fall in love.” I give the room another scan. “This place is beautiful, but the other was your home, a part of you that I never knew.”
“You don’t know this place.”
The art isn’t his taste—too abstract in all the wrong colors. The furniture is expensive but looks unlived in, unloved. Not one plant lives here, no pets, no life exists between the exposed brick walls, except for us, and we just got here. “Neither do you.”
Moving, he comes around the couch to stand not two feet from me. “Tell me something, Chloe, why’d you come here?”
“I can’t resist you.” Even I don’t believe the words. Sharing the first thought that comes to mind is a terrible side effect of nerves.
“No, you did. You resisted just fine if memory serves.”
“A week, at best.” Why am I nervous, though? Two words: Joshua. Evans. Put me in front of anyone else, and I’d be fine. His presence still consumes a room, and if I’m not careful, I’ll lose myself in him.