And she inches closer to him too. “I think he did.”
Taron’s jaw drops as he gawks. “You, of all people, know hockey now?”
Sam points at me. “Do you know how many assists Fitzgerald had last night?”
I hold up a finger. A little sheepishly, but a little proudly too. I am proud of my man.
“Fitzgerald is very good,” Sam adds, then looks at Maeve. “And it seems Collins is still quite taken with his American man.”
Maeve sets her chin in her hands and bats her lashes at me. “Yes, it seems you are, Dean.”
I shrug, what can you do–style. “Well, it’s not like the common cold. It wasn’t going to go away after a week.” Or at all, I add silently.
Sam shakes his head. “No. It’s not going to go away when you research him, Dean. But maybe it shouldn’t.”
“I for one think you should get on a plane tonight,” Taron offers.
I shake my head. “That won’t happen.” But the idea is insanely tempting.
“He might be your portobello mushroom sandwich,” Anya says.
Maeve stabs the table. “Dean, why don’t you call him?”
“You know why,” I tell her. She’s privy to the details of what Fitz and I decided the morning he left.
Anya rolls her eyes. “Enough of this nonsense. Just send the gorgeous man a text. The night we met him, he looked at you like he was already falling in love with you,” she says, and I have to hide a grin.
Maeve nods savagely. “Text him. I bet it’ll make him incandescently happy.”
When she puts it like that, there’s no question. I do know a simple note from me would make him happy. I’m as sure of that as I am that the sun will rise tomorrow. I know Fitz. I know that man so well. It’s heady to possess the power to make another person happy.
It’s a gift, truly.
One that should be used with care.
But I’m not only doing this for him.
I’m doing it for me.
Making him happy makes me happy.
“Fine.” I hold up my hands in surrender, and maybe I really am. But maybe that’s what I need to be doing—surrendering to the grip the past has had on me, to the fear that I’ll make the same mistakes.
Then letting go of everything past.
I take out my phone, open the last text thread, reading his words yet another time, then tap out a message.
Dean: Nice assist in the game yesterday.
In seconds, my phone buzzes.
Fitz: You watched my game? You have no idea how happy that makes me. Also, where are you? There’s a delivery guy at your bar.
Maeve’s grin may never disappear.
“This is the best jukebox ever,” she says, resting her cheek against the brand-new jukebox in The Magpie a half-hour later, stroking it, petting it. “And this makes our bar the best bar ever.”
I stand back, surveying the scene, still amazed at what Fitz pulled off. He actually found the jukebox she wanted—the one I showed him at Coffee O’clock—ordered it, and sent it here via rush delivery. I was going to buy it for Maeve, but he beat me to it, doing something incredible for my friend.
“Why are you not on a plane right now to go see him?” Sam asks, flapping a hand in the direction of Heathrow.
“He’s on the road tomorrow,” I explain, still dazed from the enormity of this gesture. “You should know his schedule, since you’re the hockey fanatic.”
“Yeah, whatever. You’re the hockey fanatic now. And more importantly, what are you going to do after that, Dean?”
“Yes, Dean. How about after that?” Maeve seconds.
“Guys, I need to sort things out,” I add, but I’m grinning, and I can’t stop, not at all and not when Maeve hits the first tune on the jukebox. Music fills the bar, and everything feels okay in the world again.
At least for now.
But most of all, I can’t stop grinning because I know what I need to do now, and it’s not hang out with my mates.
I step outside and call Fitz. He answers in less than a second.
“Hey you,” he says.
The sound of his voice is like melting chocolate. “Hi. The jukebox is amazing. That’s an incredible gift.”
“I miss you,” he says, cutting to the chase.
My stomach flips, and briefly, I lean against the brick wall of the bar so I don’t stumble off the earth, pushed by this rush of emotions. “I miss you too.”
“I miss you so damn much. And then when you sent that text just now, do you know how it made me feel?”
I step away from the bar, heading down the street, smiling. “How did it make you feel?”
“Like I knew how to be happy again.” He sounds relieved, but his tone holds a tinge of sadness.
I wince, walking along the street. “I know the feeling,” I say, an answering sadness in my voice. I don’t want that to color our time talking, so I strip it away and laser in on something good. “So, you’re playing great.”