Page 41 of We Were Once

I can think of a million things, but the way he’s sweet to me and looks at me—really looks at me and sees beyond my name, beyond my face—makes me feel special.

Maybe I shouldn’t have fallen so fast or so hard, but he has a way of making me feel like a new version of me. I’ve always had a one-track mind for my future profession, but he’s shown me I can be more than a career. I can also have a life. My mom and Ruby were right, but until I experienced it firsthand, I didn’t understand. Now I do, and I’m liking this new me.

Delirious and tired after the best weekend of my life, I catch myself smiling in the middle of a lecture. I just can’t stop thinking about him. My eyes remain glued to the chalkboard in front of the auditorium, but I hide my mouth behind my hand. I think I’m doing a fairly good job of keeping this happiness contained until a giggle gets me shushed.

Me? Shushed.

The teacher’s assistant glances my way, and the professor stops reading from the book on the lectern.

Yikes. I’m pinned to my seat with a glare.

What am I doing? I grin.

I don’t disrupt my classes.

I don’t step outside the lines.

I don’t break the rules.

At least I didn’t used to . . .

I’ve always done what I’m supposed to do. Right now, that means listening to Professor Tracey. But dating Joshua is much more interesting. For him or because of him, I’m blurring the line between my old and my new life.

My phone screen lights up with just the name invading my day. Soulmate. He makes it easy to believe in such things. I move the phone to my lap to try to read the text covertly: I can’t stop thinking about you.

I type: Same for me. Best. Weekend. Ever!

Joshua: I vote for a repeat.

Me: I’m in.

Joshua: Macroeconomics and finance forecasting don’t hold a candle to eating cold chips and drinking warm water with you.

Euphoria consumes me, and for the first time, I understand why the Greeks called love the madness of the gods. Is that what I’m doing? After one date and a few texts telling me I’m better than his major? Am I . . . is this? Sliding down in the chair, I bite my lip, feeling this craziness take over, and I willingly let it.

Love isn’t a science or something I can dissect. It’s an emotion that overwhelms and can’t be explained. It can only be felt. And I’m feeling something I’ve never felt before. It’s like my brain’s been rewired to take direction from my heart.

Confidence matches the high. I flirt right back, and type: And here I was thinking about the sex.

Joshua: Lol. It’s worth a repeat as well, though I’m surprised you have the energy. #insatiable #harder #faster #allthedemands #vixen

Laughter bellows from my gut. Oh, crap!

I’m given the evil eye from pretty much everyone but the guy sleeping two rows down. Seconds later, I’m saved by the class’s dismissal. As I float down the auditorium stairs, my mood is hijacked when the professor calls me, “Chloe?”

I step to the side. “Yes?”

“Outbursts are unacceptable in my class. Please keep the distractions out of this auditorium.”

“Yes, ma’am.” She turns away, moving to raise the screen. I hurry, realizing even getting in trouble for the first time in my life didn’t dampen my great mood. Stopping in the sunshine, I tilt my head up to the blue skies.

“Chloe?”

Geez, suddenly my name is the most common word in the English language. This time it’s Ruby, though, so I don’t mind. “Hey. Heading home?”

“You will not believe what just happened.”

We start walking together. “What?”

Showing me her cup, she says, “So I’m standing in line for coffee at Perky Beans, and this hot guy is behind me. I’m next to order, and he starts chatting me up about not being able to drop a class but seeing me has his day looking better.”

Joshua makes my days—and my nights—better. I can’t imagine anyone dreamier than that man, but she doesn’t need to hear me talk about him.

“Chloe!”

“What?” I glance next to me to find her not there. Stopping, I turn back.

With her hands on her hips and her brows knitted together, I don’t need the glare to tell me she’s irritated. “Are you even listening?” She’s happy to tell me herself.

“I’m listening. Hot guy. Black coffee. Sophisticated. Got it.”

Huffing, she rejoins me, adjusting her backpack and picking up where she left off. “So, I said, hey, we just ordered the same coffee. Caramel macchiato with coconut milk and an extra shot of espresso. Like, how is that even possible?” Bumping into me, she giggles. “Romantic. Like destiny.”

“Soul mates, for sure.” I bump right back and laugh. I don’t dare mention my love life, or she’ll fixate on it, and I’m not ready for that. I do, however, find her line of thinking utterly fascinating.


Tags: S.L. Scott Romance
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