Like clockwork, she’s been coming into my bar twice a week for the last year.
Besides her name, I’ve learned that she’s witty, beautiful, and unfortunately… taken.
She’s in a relationship with a guy that I’m pretty sure doesn’t deserve her.
Respecting that is the only thing stopping me from figuring out the things I really want to know.
Things like, what her body feels like against mine, or how she tastes on my tongue.
But one evening, everything changes. London comes in and tells me that they broke up.
One drink leads to two, and she finally confesses that this attraction isn’t one sided.
Our slow burn is about to get blazing hot.
I wasn’t just looking for a one-night stand, not with a girl like her.
But next thing you know, the ex is back. He’s in my bar, sitting next to her.
We try to act like there isn’t a connection between us.
Like our bodies weren’t made for each other and we didn’t set each other aflame with a single kiss.
Every time I look at her, I see the flash in her eyes that tell me she’s remembering it too.
Re-living every delicious second of our time spent together on top of this very bar.
The problem is now that I know what she tastes like, I want more.
On the rocks. It’s how London prefers her drinks, and the current state of her relationship.
And I’m about to shake things up, because I’ll be damned if I let her get away.
He peers up at me. “I haven’t been in relationships, because I don’t want to fall in love with someone and then lose them. I don’t want to open myself up to somebody, because I’m terrified something will happen to them, and I’ll be left ripped apart again. The fear of losing my brothers is excruciating enough. Finding someone I care deeply about just meant one more person that could devastate me. It might sound crazy, but it’s been my mindset since I was sixteen.”
Royce stands up and holds my hands in his. “For years I haven’t allowed myself to feel love because I’ve been too afraid to feel pain. But just recently, I’ve realized that being without you is painful. You know why that is, right?”
I swallow, looking up into his eyes, and though I think I know where he’s going, I shake my head.
“Because I…” He stops himself and bites down on his lip before continuing. “Not being able to be with you is agonizing. It’s only gotten worse since I know what your body feels like in my arms. I remember the softness of your lips against mine. I love being your friend. Seeing and getting to know you over this last year has been great, but it’s not enough. I want to be able to call and text you without worrying that you’re with your boyfriend. I want to plan dates and take you out. When I see you walk into my bar I want to be able to wrap my arms around you and know you’re mine.
“I know if we get together, there’s still a chance I could lose you, but I won’t make it easy. I’ll do any and everything to prove to you how much I care about you. I won’t let a day go by where you have to question your importance in my life. And I know we can’t fight death, but I’ll make sure we have no regrets in the life we spend together. I’ll make sure we enjoy every second whether it’s for two months or forty years. But I’d rather you be my girl for a small amount of time than to never know what it’s like to be your man.”
I open my mouth to say something, close it and try again. There’s a million and one things going through my mind right now, and I can’t quite land on what I want to say first. When I open my mouth, he stops me before I find my words.
“I just needed you to know how I felt. I wanted to open up to you so you could better understand me, as well as understand my feelings for you. I recognize your situation, and it’s a decision you need to make on your own, but I needed you to have all the cards before playing your hand.” He smiles and squeezes my hands, and I smile in return. “But don’t leave me hangin’ too long, okay?”
Born in a small town in New Mexico, Isabel was lucky enough to escape and travel the world thanks to her husband’s career in the Air Force. Her and her husband have three kids and two dogs together, and currently reside in Delaware. When Isabel isn’t on mommy duty or writing her next book, she can be found reading, or in the nearest Target buying things she doesn’t need.
Isabel loves connecting with her readers and fans of books in general. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.