Now that Dean has a ticket to New York.
I call him when I wake on Tuesday. “I’m going to see you in five days,” I say when he answers. He’s running in the park, looking sexy as hell in a T-shirt, the waistband of his running shorts visible at the edge of the screen.
“You are, and you better have your arse at the airport to pick me up, because I’ll need my lips on you the second I’m on American soil.”
I scoff. “Like I wouldn’t pick you up. What do you take me for? Some guy who doesn’t know how to romance his boyfriend?”
That’s the first time I’ve called him that. Boyfriend. But it feels right.
Dean’s quiet for a moment as he runs, staring at me on the phone instead of watching the trail. “I’m your boyfriend?”
“Yes,” I say emphatically. “You are. Don’t even try to get out of it.”
“I wouldn’t dare.”
I stretch in bed, the sun beating through the window. “Do you want me to make plans to take you to . . . where was it you wanted to go? Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty?”
He laughs. “Do you think we’re actually getting out of bed?”
Stroking my chin, I pretend to consider this, then answer truthfully. “No.”
“You’re very smart, Fitz.” He peers a little more closely at me on the screen. “What are you up to today?”
“Early morning paintball. Feel free to shudder in horror.”
“And then I’ll work out with Ransom, grab some lunch. We don’t have another game till—”
I shake my head in appreciation as I swing my legs over the side of the bed. “You’re going to need to wear my jersey next.”
His eyes bug out, and the cackle that comes from his mouth is epic. Dean actually stops running, sets his hands on his thighs, and tries to stop laughing. When he looks at the phone again, he arches one brow. “In the span of two minutes, you’ve called me your boyfriend and said I need to wear your jersey?”
I shrug hopefully. “I’ll take one out of two?”
“You can have the first. I’m not doing the second.”
“Fine, be that way,” I tease. “Are you working today?”
“Yes, I need to deal with the books this afternoon. Then I’ll just be serving all night long.”
“Call me later. I’m going to hit the shower.”
“C’mon, take me into the shower,” Dean says as he resumes his pace.
“You say that like I’d even consider anything else,” I say, accepting his challenge as I angle the phone so he can see I sleep naked.
“Fitz,” he says in a warning.
“What?” I play dumb as I stroll into the bathroom, giving him a full view of my morning semi.
Dean swivels the phone screen, showing me the scenery behind and beside him. “Do you not realize I’m in the park?”
I shrug as I reach the shower, stretch my free hand in, and turn it on. “Doesn’t bother me.”
He shakes his head. “Nope. You’re mine. Just mine. No one else gets to see you naked. Boyfriend rules.”
That word. I love it. It’s a great word, but it doesn’t fit entirely right, and I’m not sure why. “Fair enough. But I will be getting off to you in the shower.”
He winks at me. “I know.” Then he slows down, bringing the phone closer to his face, maybe so no one can see me. “See you soon. Also, I fucking love you.”
I tell him the same, then I say goodbye, set the phone down, and step under the stream of water.
As I shower, I mull over the word boyfriend while my mind races back to that last evening in London at his flat, when we shared the shower and his things.
My brain rushes ahead to the next morning at his table, when he made me breakfast.
And how I felt something like déjà vu, but for the future. Forward vu.
Only then, the image was hazy, incomplete. Now, I can see that breakfast more clearly. I see it day after day after day.
And my heart goes wild, pounding madly against my chest.
The picture fills in, and I understand what I was already starting to want before I left London, before I even realized it.
I know now what I desperately want, and it’s not to count the days till I see him. It’s not for him to be my boyfriend. It’s not for me to call him later.
I rinse the soap off, turn off the shower, and grab a towel.
It’s not any of those things.
It’s to do for Dean what I’ve done for my family. Because that’s what you do when you love someone.
You don’t do things halfway.
You’re either all in, or you’re not.
First, I go to the airline website. Then, I text my buddies and cancel paintball. Next, I call Ransom. “I can’t work out today.”
“Cool. Everything okay?”