Page 28 of We Were Once

I go upstairs. When I knock, it takes her a moment to answer, but when she does, my heart stops.

10

Joshua

Holy fuck.

I’d come to expect a certain look from Chloe. Casual clothes or pajamas . . . Okay, so I don’t have a long history to pull from, but generally, it’s no makeup to light, more natural in appearance. She got my attention the night I showed up delivering food.

That night, or any other after, did not prepare me for her to make this kind of effort for me. But damn am I glad she did.

Dressed in black jeans that hug her hips, she sports black Converse, which seem foreign for her from what I’ve witnessed. With her lithe frame those shoes put those gorgeous greens chin height. I like the difference in size. I always have. She fits in my arms, leaving room to protect her.

What. The. Fuck?

Am I already this far gone? No one I’ve ever dated before her has ever stirred these unchartered seas within me. First the lack of curtains, which are still not purchased, and now me protecting her?

Yep, I’m a goner.

“Are you all right?” she asks, worry wriggling into her expression.

“Fine.” I run my hand through my hair. “Why?”

“You’re staring at me like you’re mad.”

Shit. “Sorry, I’m not mad at you.” Fixing my face, I grin. “Far from it. I just have a lot on my mind. That’s all. You look incredible.”

“Thank you.” Grabbing a leather jacket from the hook next to the door, she slips her arms in and lets it settle over a loose-fitted tank top with thin straps. I’m tempted to tug on the hem of the crisp material, kind of wishing we were staying in and making out again.

Chloe Fox is stunning in any light and time of day, but damn if she doesn’t look sexy dressed in leather. I kiss her because as her boyfriend—official title that shall be boldly stated on résumé—I take my job very seriously. “I think I prefer us kissing when we see each other.”

She laughs. “Well, I’m ready for you.”

Leaving her breathless, or egging her on for a comeback, seems to be my main goals since we met. She doesn’t do anything halfway and manages to leave me breathless as well. Overachiever. I say, “I’m starting to regret that we decided to go out.”

“It will be fun.” She locks the door and then tucks her key and credit card in an inside pocket of the jacket. I almost stop her at the stairs and tell her I want to stay, but she looks so damn happy to be leaving.

Watching that sexy ass, I reply, “You haven’t met my friends. You might regret saying yes to me.” An eyebrow pushes high, but she can’t hide her sly smile before she turns back around.

“Is that a warning?”

I want to touch her all over, that familiar itch I have for her needing scratching, but I show some damn restraint. Grabbing hold of a belt loop as she rounds the stairs, I pull her to a halt instead. “There’s still time to save you.”

Angling back, she runs her hands along my middle and under the T-shirt, then yanks me close. “What if I don’t want to be saved? What if I choose you despite the warning?” Leather makes her feisty. And I really like feisty Chloe.

I run my hand up the side of the softness of her neck. Exposing it to me, she closes her eyes. Her willing vulnerability is served to me without conditions. So damn tempting to take her back upstairs and fuck the night away. But that’s not what I want with her. I want more than tonight.

So I press my lips to her skin, inhaling the floral scent, and then exhale slowly. A shiver runs through her, causing her hold to tighten. I whisper, “I won’t disappoint you.”

Lifting up, she kisses my cheek. “I know.” Our eyes lock, keeping us still for seconds that tick by before she starts walking again. “You’re nocturnal, so I’m trying to adjust to this new schedule of staying up all hours of the night, so let’s get going, party animal.” And yet she’s coming out because I asked her. I smile.

Outside, she looks around, making me realize she’s never been in my Blazer. “I’m parked down here.” I watch as her chin lifts, and she stares at the stars.

“It’s a nice night.”

“If it weren’t for the streetlights, we’d be able to see more stars.”

“At home, sometimes I’d set the alarm for one a.m. just so I could go outside to see the moon and stars at their brightest.”

We reach my SUV. “Sounds like an escape.”

“Probably, but I want to have fun tonight. Is this your truck?” I love hearing excitement tinging her tone.

“It is.” I proudly show her off. “She’s an ’85 Chevy Blazer.” I move around to open the door. “Looks like a piece of shit with the paint missing in some places, but she’s going to be a beauty when she’s restored one day.”

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