Page 75 of We Were Once

My ego doesn’t like the hit. “I thought I did that for you?”

With her hand still on my arm, she says, “You make me feel everything good. The cold in Newport awakens my veins.”

I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of psychology stuff behind that sentiment, too deep for me to decipher on a moment’s notice, so I start working my way out of my jacket. “Will you wear this?”

She takes it, not arguing. Tucked inside it, she hums, and then whispers, “Chasing the moon.” Contentment.

Sending me in the right direction, she adds, “Follow this road until you see the sign for the cliffs.”

It’s cold, but she slides the slit of her dress apart and pulls her phone from some secret compartment near her stomach. “You’re like a secret agent. What else you got hidden in that dress?”

Sitting back, she says, “You’re welcome to find out.”

“I would, right here on a dirt road if we were in New Haven.” I’m a cad because there’s so much truth in that statement.

She reaches over and runs her hand along the inside of my thigh. “You turn me on.” Maybe I’m not so bad after all.

I stroke the back of her head, preferring to look at her instead of the road. “Remember when we had sex near the lake?”

A smile beams on her face, her eyes filled with light from the moon. An eyebrow cocks. “We can do that again. We should.”

Although she’s curled on her side, bundled up, the wind whipping through her hair makes it a fiery hurricane around her head. Through quick glances, I can’t see much of her face, but I can just make out the pretty smile. Thoughts of kissing her, and more, keep me focused on reaching our destination. “Are you too cold?”

“It’s freezing, but I’ve never felt better,” she says, her words disappearing into the wind. “Why is that?”

“Because you’re living for you now.”

“Experiencing life on my own terms.” Closing her eyes, she inhales the freedom that set that smile in place. Her hand finds mine, and our fingers weave together. She says, “Life is perfect. Promise me life will always be this good, that we’ll always feel this wild in love, Joshua.”

Bringing her hand to my lips, I kiss it, lingering there. “I promise to always love you as much as today and let it grow each day after.”

She smiles so bright the rising moon breaking the top of the tree line can’t compete. Unbuckling her seat belt, she moves closer. “I don’t deserve you.”

“You have that all wrong, baby.” I squeeze her knee gently. “Want to put your seat belt back on?”

“No,” she replies, the devil caught in her eyes. Her hand goes straight for the goods, landing a little too roughly on my dick, so I grab it quick and lift. “Steady there.”

“Sorry,” she says, moving in to take my earlobe between her teeth. “Wouldn’t it be crazy if we had sex while driving?”

“Yeah, it would be,” I remark, her drunken emotions taking her on a roller coaster ride I can’t slow down. “Crazy.”

Her chest heaves against my arm. “Fuck me like you don’t love me, Joshua.”

I pull back, needing to see her eyes because I’ve never heard her talk like that. “You don’t know what you’re saying, Chloe.”

“I do. I want you.” Her eyes latch onto mine as she shivers. “I want you to show me how that feels, what a one-night stand would feel like.”

I’m all for fucking, but I can’t fuck her like she doesn’t matter to me. I look in the rearview mirror, wondering if I should turn back. It might be time for her to go to bed. “I need you to believe me when I tell you I love you. I can’t show you what sex without emotion or at the hand of someone who doesn’t care about you would be like. I’m not capable of switching off my feelings to fuck you carelessly.”

She pulls back, not overreacting, but the change is subtle as it washes through her expression, worry vanishing from her features. She smiles, still staring at me as she rests her head on the leather seat. “I believe you.”

My gaze volleys between the road ahead and her beside me. The tips of her fingers run through the hair at the nape of my neck and I lean into her touch, needing it, wanting it more than she realizes in the state she’s in. But I still need her to be safe. “Will you hand me the seat belt, Chloe?”

As calm rolls through her drunken veins and the turmoil dissipates, she finally pulls the seat belt over her shoulder for me to take. “I love you bigger than the sky, Joshua.”

I snap it into place with one hand and steal one last glance her way. “Bigger than the universe.”

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