Page 39 of We Were Once

Laughter wriggles out of her. “I’m so glad I’m not alone. I think I’m obsessed with you. You’re just so . . .” Dropping her head to my chest, she sighs happily. “Everything I could ever dream of.”

Maybe because it’s two in the morning and I’m exhausted, but I try to see the logic. “This is fast.”

“People will call us crazy.”

“Maybe we are, but . . .” I rub the back of her head until she looks up. “But it doesn’t seem there’s another way for us.”

A yawn escapes her, and she says, “We’ll be crazy together.”

I’m quick to dispose of the condom and drop back down next to her. “It’s been a long day. From school to work to Lucky’s.” Checking the time, I add, “I’m glad we get to sleep in.”

She kisses my chest and then puts a little distance between us. “Joshua?” In the low light, I can see her eyes on me. “I need to tell you something.”

“We’re already sharing.” I kiss her forehead. “Lay it on me.”

“This is big.”

I could counter with the conversation we just had being pretty damn big, but I can tell by her hushed tone it’s not the same. “What is it?”

“I was a virgin,” she blurts out.

I can pinpoint the exact moment I stopped breathing. It was just after her admission that she was a virgin. Yep, the woman I just had sex with like we’d done it a million times before hadn’t ever done it at all. As if I’ll scare her with any fast movements, I shift my arm down and push up to look at her. “You’re a virgin?”

“No,” she says, smiling. “Not anymore. Thanks to you.”

I’m struggling to rationalize what just happened through her big smile and the giggle that escapes her, but the wink sent it over the top. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t think it was necessary information.”

Moving up the bed, I rest my back against the headboard. “How would it not be necessary information?”

“Biologically speaking, we fit together the same whether I’m a virgin or not. It’s not like I’ve never had an orgasm, as you’re well aware of, or clinically speaking, my hymen was intact.”

“No. We’re not doing medical speak.” Maybe it’s the early morning hour, the whiskey from earlier, or having sex for the first time, but it’s the most relaxed I’ve ever seen her. She slides up next to me with gentle laughter vibrating through her. “We just made love.”

“We did make love.” Her voice is effervescent as if she’s been waiting for this moment all her life, and it lived up to expectations.

“Made love,” I repeat for myself as much as for her. Already feeling so much for her, if I’m not careful, those three little words will slip on my tongue and slide right off.

Normally, I’d pat myself on the back under the accolade of getting her off, but it’s different with Chloe. I don’t want to gloat about some feeble achievement. She has a right to come just like I do. I shouldn’t get a participation award for doing the right thing. But I’m not letting her sidetrack me again.

“It sounds like a but is in there somewhere,” she says, searching my eyes for an answer I’m not sure I can explain.

“No but, this time. An epiphany.” She’s suddenly very interested, so I confess, “I don’t think I’ve ever made love before.” Can she hear the tenuous tone as I step into the unknown? Will she think less of me for it?

Delight sparkles in her eyes. She’s shameless, but I don’t blame her. I’m not ashamed of a damn thing we just did. I just need a minute to not feel like I just took something that wasn’t mine to steal. She leans her head on my shoulder. “Maybe I should have told you. I didn’t know you’d mind.”

I’m being fucking ridiculous. I earned her trust, if not through words then through my actions. “Hey?” Her eyes find mine again, and I say, “You don’t owe me an apology or an explanation. It was yours to do as you please. But—”

“I knew there was a but!” She laughs, poking me in the chest.

“No harsh but coming. I wanted to thank you for choosing me to share that with you.”

“Aww. That’s so sweet.” Her hand covers mine as I rest it on the side of her neck. “There’s no one else I’d rather share my first time with.” She smiles, admiring me with the happiness that has laughter shining in her eyes. “We should be tired,” she says, patting my chest. “Should we sleep?”

“We should eat. I’m starving.”

“Great minds.” She throws the covers off and slips into the bathroom. Not taking long, she comes out tightening the belt of her robe around her waist. We kiss as we pass each other.

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