Her touch is tentative but with no less purpose than when she hugs me. I won’t move away from her, but I’d like to hide from this conversation, regretting bringing my dad up at all.
She says, “My heart hurts for you, Joshua, but I don’t feel sorry for you. I’m proud of you.” My gaze returns to her. “You made the best of a bad situation while still doing well in school.”
Fine. I give in. It’s easy to do when I have the best girlfriend in the world. “C’mere.” She does, laying her chest on me and keeping her eyes locked on mine. I ask, “Do you know how amazing you are?”
“You’re making this about me, but I’m so amazed how you’ve overcome so much.”
“Me talking about how incredible you are doesn’t change—” The pad of her finger presses to my lips.
“No. Don’t. I hate being the center of attention.”
I kiss her fingertip. “Can I share one thing, and then we can drop it?”
Rolling her eyes, she sighs. “Fine. One and that’s it.”
Weaving my hands into her hair, I angle it so I can see those emeralds sparkle for me. Tucking hair behind her ear, I love seeing her full face free of makeup. So goddamn gorgeous. “You make me want to be a better man, Chloe.” Rubbing my fingertips over that smile that makes my heart beat, she bites me lightly. “And you’re feisty.”
My finger is released as a kiss lands on my cheek. “For what it’s worth, you are already a better man than any other I know.”
Her hair is still damp when I slide my fingers above the nape of her neck. Doesn’t matter how we look, though, or what has brought us to this moment in time. It only matters that we got here. “One day, I’m going to marry you.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”
“Don’t you worry about that, baby.” Pressing my palm to her chest, I feel the rapid beat matching mine. “I always keep my promises.”
“How did you talk me into this? I look a mess,” I say, whipping my hair into a knot on the top of my head.
“A beautiful mess.” He takes hold of my hand, and we step closer to the counter as the line moves forward. Although we’ve been together a while, my hand is held without hiding it from anyone, though I’d almost understand if he didn’t. Despite our declarations privately, we’re still new to the rest of the world, our innermost circles the only ones privy.
As he kisses my hand, the hunger for each other earlier still permeates the connection. He asks, “What would you like?”
While he stares up at the chalkboard menu, I stare at him. I want him. I want this. I want my world to be making love at night, and coffee and muffins in the morning.
“Yes?” I don’t care that my voice is wistful as I admire him. I’m sure he’s used to it anyway.
He chuckles. “We’re up.”
The girl behind the counter doesn’t look as amused as he does. I search for something that sounds appetizing. “Black coffee and a blueberry muffin.”
Joshua says, “I’ll have the same.” Before I have time to open my purse, he’s handing her money. “I got it.” He kisses my neck, and my eyes fall closed to enjoy the sweet sensation. He kisses me from pure desire, staking claim to my heart in front of everyone.
When I open my eyes, I find other people’s attention trained on us, including familiar ones. Ruby waves from a table by the windows. She has her laptop out with the largest coffee mug I’ve ever seen—empty, and a plate with crumbs remaining.
I run my hand along Joshua’s bicep, feeling extra all around—physically and emotionally—with this man. “Ruby’s in the corner. I’m going to visit with her.”
Taking the receipt, he turns back to me. “I’ll come over when I get the order.” When he moves to the other end of the counter, I hurry to Ruby’s table.
“I didn’t know you woke up before noon?” I tease, sitting across from her.
“First of all, no, we aren’t talking about me when you’re walking around town with the hottest guy ever on your arm like it’s no big deal. Just look at Josh.” She sighs dreamily, letting her gaze stay fixed on my guy.
I giggle because she’s right. Turning around, I get a good look at him while he waits. “I don’t even know what to say to that, so I’ll let you stew in your feels for him for now.”
“It’s my feels for you I’m stewing in. It’s called jealousy.” If it weren’t for the huge grin, I’d think she was being serious. When her eyes return to me, she pops upright, her spine stiff as a board. “Oh, my God! I almost forgot. How is the sex going? Sounds like it’s going well from my side of the wall.” Glancing over at Joshua, she eyes him from head to toe. “I’d give up my virginity right here for him, if I still had it.”