“Yes,” I say as I get dressed, pulling on clothes quickly. “I need to do something. I need to do it right now.”
“What is it?” There’s no teasing in his voice—I must sound as serious and determined as I feel.
I tell him my plan, and he lets loose another whoa. Then he says, “Clock’s ticking. You better go. Do you need a ride to the airport?”
I laugh. “I can get a Lyft, but I appreciate the offer.”
“Just sounded like fun. Are you sure?”
“You want to ride with me to the airport?”
“This is epic, so yes, I kind of do. I’m in Murray Hill, so I’m on the way. Also, there’s a pizza place out by LaGuardia that was just reviewed on Barstool Sports, and I wanted to check it out.”
“Of course you have an agenda.”
“I do, but your agenda is awesome-r.”
“Meet me in thirty minutes. I need to make a pit stop.”
After my errand, I call a Lyft and we pick up Ransom. On the way, I give him the rest of the details.
“Not gonna lie, I had a feeling you’d do this,” he says.
“You’re not happy like you used to be.” When we reach the airport, he says, “Go get your man.”
“That’s the goal.”
When he hops back in the car, he gives the driver the address of the pizza place, and I go to get on a plane.
I’m five time zones away from where I started. It’s nearly midnight and I have to return to New York tomorrow, but tonight I’m standing in front of The Magpie.
The first time I walked into this bar more than one month ago, it changed my life. I hope walking in here tonight changes everything again.
I take a deep, fueling breath, like I’m prepping to go on the ice.
But this is nothing like going into a game. Nothing like the playoffs. I know how to prepare for a face-off. I’ve done it since I laced up my first pair of skates when I was four.
The mental preparation for a hockey game, where my job is to stop the opponent, is grueling in an entirely different way.
Nothing has prepared me for this.
Nothing except the last weeks of wanting, having, missing, loving, and needing.
Needing him more than anything else in my life.
I shove aside the nerves and push open the doors. I step inside and look around. Jazzy, sexy music floats through the air, and women in dressy shirts and men in jeans are everywhere—the bar, the tables, the booths.
My eyes go to the bar, hunting for the most gorgeous man I’ve ever known. He’s at the other end, mixing a drink. He’s tall, sexy, and mine.
My heart slams against my rib cage like a dog scrabbling to be set free. It wants to bound across the floor and jump up on him and slather him in kisses.
Damn good thing that organ is in a cage where it belongs.
Dean slides a beer glass to the customer in front of him, then flashes a smile and says something. Maybe a thank-you, or giving him the total on the tab. Maybe a quip or a piece of advice.
I can’t make it out from here, of course, and he hasn’t noticed me.
That gives my jackhammering heart time to settle down.
Though slowing its wild pace seems impossible now that I’ve set eyes on him.
Seeing my man affirms that he’s everything I need. Seeing him is exactly as I hoped, and somehow even better. Because I feel so certain about this. More than I’ve felt about anything else in my entire life.
I walk to the edge of the bar, and when he happens to glance my way and spots me, he does a double take, not even sure it’s me. Then he does a triple take. He tries to school his expression but fails miserably, a wild grin spreading across his stunning face.
My Englishman heads down the length of the bar, his eyes on me the whole time as I walk to meet him at the end.
He stops. I stop.
A bar is between us.
His lips still curve in that grin, and he goes first. “So, this guy walks into my bar…”
“That’s what I came here to tell you. I came here to tell you a story,” I say, trying to calm my frenzied pulse.
He’s quiet, taking in every word like he wants everything I have to say. “Tell me a story.”
I draw a deep breath, so damn ready for this. “So, this guy walked into a bar one night. He went there to get a drink with his sister, but he was completely blown away by the hottest, sexiest man behind the counter.”
Dean dips his head, smiling, and maybe trying to hide how big that smile is. He lifts his face and meets my eyes again, his hands gripping the edge of the bar. “Go on.”