Page 33 of We Were Once

“What makes you think I’d fall for the wrong guy?”

Smirking, he shoves his hands in his pockets. I like that there’s confidence with a hint of uncertainty. I feel that, too. He says, “Because you said yes to me. Also, you never answered my question.”

“You never answered mine.” I hit the ball.

“Tease.”

I burst out laughing. “Now that’s something I’ve never been called before.” With his eyes on mine, a look that undresses me set in the fire inside, has me thinking I’m ready to spend time alone with him. But first, I must win. I take my turn and sink three balls before Todd pockets four.

The competition is stiff, but a beer that Joshua brought over keeps me from getting upset. I’m quite the opposite, in fact. I scratch, losing to Todd. “Shallow victory.”

He volleys back, “It wasn’t shallow when you won the same way.”

“That’s because I won.” I laugh, and then tell him, “Good game.”

“You too, Fox. If you ever want to play, hit me up.”

“Hey. Hey.” Joshua steps up with his arms open wide. “In case you didn’t notice, I’m standing right here.”

He may only be teasing, but I love seeing him jealous over me. Is it bad that it turns me on? Whoa, it’s definitely time to go. Pressing against him, I whisper, “I’m ready.”

His hand plants on my ass, his thumb rubbing along the middle seam of my jeans. “Ready for what?”

The connection has my heart racing and my body tingling. I don’t think anyone’s touched me so intimately, and my body is on high alert, reacting to his electricity. “Ready to be alone.”

Butterflies in my stomach, heart palpitations, and slight lightheadedness. The symptoms lead me to believe I’m either giddy or having a heart attack. I’m hoping it’s the former. I giggle, whiskey making my head swim.

“You’re reading my mind.” His tone is filled with innuendo, and I’m here for it.

How? How is it possible to have blooming feelings for this man I barely know? How? Despite my head, I take his hand, my heart ready to follow him anywhere.

12

Joshua

What am I doing? Although the hunger to have sex with her is overwhelming, I want to do this right for her. It’s been a struggle not to touch her—her face, those lips, her hands. I could have mauled her back at Lucky’s if she would have let me.

A smile graces her lips—a perfect day reflected on her beautiful face. She sticks the key in the lock, letting a giggle slip out like she’s never had the chance to laugh like that before. Why?

I have so many questions for her, a deep-seated desire to know who Chloe Fox is and how I’m the one who gets the pleasure to discover this gem.

What is she thinking when she purses her lips to the side? She jiggles the lock. “The key gets stuck sometimes.” Okay, that answers that question, but I want to know the secret behind every one of her smiles.

Ambition doesn’t motivate her. It’s a goodness that’s built inside her, one of my favorite of her traits. She makes me feel like a better person just from being near her. Don’t get me wrong. I’m no angel, but with her I’ll try to be on my best behavior.

The door down the hall opens, and a girl with dark hair and a long T-shirt crosses her arms as she leans against the frame. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the infamous Joshua Evans.”

“You must be Ruby.”

The side of her mouth rises with a raised eyebrow. “You’ve heard of me?”

I glance at Chloe who’s beaming, whether from happiness or whiskey, I’ll take it. She says, “Ruby Darrow, this is Joshua—”

Ruby asks, “The infamous Joshua Evans?”

I ask, “So, you’ve heard of me?” and chuckle.

With a shrug, she replies, “Chloe talks.”

Tapping her fingers, she pivots her eyes to Chloe. “You were right.” When her gaze comes back to me, she adds, “I’ll admit I was starting to think she had given her vibrator the name.” Chloe and I haven’t exactly been quiet the past few weeks, but damn, this chick is not shy. Duly noted.

As she laughs with cheeks flaming red, Chloe’s eyes go wide. “Oh my God, Ruby. That is too much information. We’ll keep it down.”

Not giving a damn, her friend makes herself at home out here in the hall. “Please don’t,” Ruby replies with a wave of her arm. “It’s the only action I’m getting these days, so carry on so I can live vicariously.”

The bolt clicks, and Chloe opens the door. “Annnnd, on that note, we’re going in.”

I say, “Good night.”

“Night.” Before our door closes, Ruby says, “I’m going to need every detail, Chloe. Every. Detail.”

“Good night,” Chloe calls from inside her apartment, yanking me inside.” I want you, Joshua.” Her lips are on me, her hands roaming as if she’s searching me. I’m tempted to resist just to see if I’ll get handcuffed.

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