Page 17 of We Were Once

Me: What?

Joshua: The second thing.

I turn around to find him standing in the middle of the sidewalk with a grin that makes me weak in the knees because I’m the one who put it there. I raise my arms out, and from half a block down, I yell, “What?”

“My last name is Evans.”

Realizing that all the things instilled in me growing up flew out the window the day I met him, I start to wonder if he’s what’s been missing from my life. “Joshua Evans,” I say well out of his earshot, just liking the sound of it. But my feet are moving, and although he said I had to trust him on that happy ending one day, it’s too late for propriety. I feel alive. I want another taste of that happiness today.

I run with my backpack bouncing, slipping it off and dropping at his feet as I fly into his arms. Our lips meet in pure passion, pushed to the brink by flirty banter as foreplay. With his arms wrapped around my middle, his body is pressed to mine with no room left for misinterpretation.

My arms tighten around him, and all I feel is his heat against my lips, between my legs, and in this kiss. Our lips part, and our tongues meet, embracing like a familiar lover from the past. When all the air is empty from my lungs, I kiss him longer, breathing him in instead.

This time when our lips part, he doesn’t set me down but looks at me eye-level. Breathless and panting, I say, “Chloe Fox. That’s my name.”

And suddenly that smirk isn’t offensive or arrogant. It’s infectious, causing me to display one of my own. “It’s nice to meet you, Chloe Fox.”

“It’s nice to meet you too, Joshua Evans.”

6

Joshua

Kissing Chloe Fox has become my new favorite pastime.

I don’t know what happened at the diner earlier in the week, but the moment our lips met, some kind of kiss and attack game began. I didn’t take her for spontaneous, considering her type A personality, but on Wednesday, we discovered we both have classes near Kline Biology Tower at two. Let’s just say we were almost late to our next classes after making out in an empty lab room for a half hour. If I’ve learned anything about her in the past week, it’s that she’s regimented. Pushing her boundaries might be my second favorite thing right now. Thursday, though, I was the one to blame. It killed me to have to stop kissing her in the photography section of the art gallery before racing to work. Everything about her calls to me. She’s smart and soft.

I’ve been dying to touch her all day, feeling the itch in my palms, so this time when I spy her refilling her bottle at a water fountain, I stand behind her and pretend to wait my turn. This was my first mistake.

Turning to dash back down the hallway, she runs right into me, her hair swinging wide around her shoulders as water splashes across my shirt. “Oh, no!” She gasps in horror. Her gaze glides up my chest and then a little mischievous smile appears. I see when the devious cogs start to turn. Rubbing her hand down my shirt, she says, “I am so very sorry about that,” not sounding sorry one bit.

“I just bet you are.” My abs start tightening from the cold water pricking my skin, and I take her by the elbow, moving her off to the side. “It’s funny how we haven’t seen each other in the three years we’ve been here together, but now we’re running into each other everywhere.”

“True, but I wasn’t looking before.” The space between us is too far, and knowing we both have class soon, I get to what’s been on my mind. “I’ve been thinking you—”

“Good thoughts or bad?”

“Why would I have bad thoughts about you?” The little scalloped edges of her white top highlight an innocence, matching her face, but then she wears tight black pants with it, keeping me guessing. That’s just it. I can’t get a solid read on her.

She seems to be good deeds and sin, carefree but measured. She’s become a riddle I want to solve.

Her eyes follow the people walking behind me when her shoulders pop up and then drop. Her eyes come back to me, and she says, “I don’t know. I don’t know you well enough to know what you think about me.”

“That’s just it. I want us to get to know each other better.” She rocks back, so I take her wrists and move closer. “I like making out with you—”

“Hey, Josh.”

Shit. Talk about bad timing. “Hey,” I mumble, catching Trish’s eyes still on me when she passes. One date two years ago didn’t lead anywhere, but that never looks good to other women, which usually ends badly for me.

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