Page 46 of We Were Once

“Professor Carroll?”

“Yes.” The math professor has crushed on my mom since he got tenure four years ago. He even celebrated at the diner. That soft spot he has for her is good for business, but I think it’s going to take more than catering a party to get her to cross that line.

“One day, he’s going to get the nerve up to ask you out. What will you say?”

“I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. As for you—you’re too young to settle down. Date. Love. Have fun, but don’t make the same mistakes I did.”

“She’s not a mistake.”

“That’s not what I said. I adore Chloe. I love seeing you so happy, and I can tell she’s the reason for it. And for that I’m grateful.” She turns with the door pressed to her back. “Just don’t—”

“I know.”

She takes me in for a long moment and then smiles. “Love you.”

“Love you.”

The door is left swinging behind her. She always did have a way of reading my mind. My mom might know me better than I do—seeing my thoughts about Chloe and dragging them into the light. I have a feeling it’s because she’s been here before. I can only hope that Chloe and I have a better ending.

Spinning the ticket wheel, I grab the food and get back to work. “Turkey BLT, coming up.”

Working through a long shift is a breeze when I’m busy, and Chloe’s smile is a great distraction from cooking the same special over and over again. I’m not sure which smile of hers is my favorite. The soft smile she has when I catch her sleeping, or the tilt of the mischievous one I caught when she beat the guys at pool—Wait. I know! My favorite still might be the one she had when she ran to kiss me the first time on the sidewalk. Nope. I’m partial to her grin after sex. That’s my favorite . . . wait, is it? Fuck, who am I kidding? All of them are perfection.

After work, I pop into the corner store to grab a couple of packs of condoms. Chloe and I have chemistry that we can’t deny. Doesn’t matter the day or time, one or both of us wants sex. I thought I’d be the instigator, but I was wrong. She holds her own and slinks around in next to nothing to get me into the bedroom. Dirty tricks, man. She knows I can’t resist, even after a long shift.

The virgin thing still clouds the edges of mind. I guess if I would have known, I would have done things a bit differently. Been slower, gentler, romanced her more. Is it too late? Better late than never. Tonight is a good night to make things up to her.

Tiny yellow flowers border the store parking lot. They’re pretty, dainty like her. Walking to the side of the building where the grass isn’t trampled, I find the perfect patch and pick a bunch. I find an old wire from a ripped out cassette deck behind my seat and wrap it around the stems, then set the flowers on the seat next to me.

It takes a few cruises up and down her street before I find a spot down a few from her building’s front door. I double-check all the supplies I got and then head to get her. The door flies open, and she comes rushing toward me with a big smile and open arms. I catch her, spinning under the stars in a passionate embrace. Lips pressed to mine, she holds me around my neck with her legs wrapped around my middle. Heaven in my arms.

“Miss me?” I ask when our lips come apart, not wanting to put her down just yet.

“So much.” When her feet touch the ground, she jumps giddily. “Where are you taking me?”

“It’s a surprise.” I take hold of her hand and lead her to my truck. “Top secret location.”

“I hate surprises.” She doesn’t sound mad, though, which is a good sign. “But I love secret spots.”

“I think you’ll like this one.”

As soon as I open the door, she gasps. Reaching in, she takes the flowers. “Are these for me?”

“They are.”

A gentle sigh is released as her smile softens. “They’re the prettiest flowers I’ve ever received.” Lifting up, she kisses me again. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” I’ve never seen someone, other than my mom, so happy to receive handpicked flowers. Most chicks I’ve dated want the expensive red roses, the mass-produced ones with no scent. Like it’s a status thing or something. I’m guilty of giving them, but they’re not what I would ever send Chloe. She deserves wildflowers, colors that match spring, pink like her lips, green like her eyes. Yellow like the sun.

She deserves something that’s outside the norm . . . like me. Those other rich guys can shower her in flowers, but I want to give her something they’d never give—something for her, not them. My heart is in her hands as she admires them.

Tags: S.L. Scott Romance