Let's Get Textual (Page 17)

“Do you know what you want? It’s basically your average coffee menu.”

“Something iced? And sweet? Surprise me.”

“You’re trusting me with your coffee order?”

“Yes.” I narrow my eyes. “Unless I shouldn’t.”

He puts his hands up in innocence. “Hey, I’m just saying. You could be picky and I could screw this up.”

“It’s not like I’m basing our entire date off this coffee.” I smirk. “Although…”

“Wish me luck?”

“The best of.”

I watch as he saunters away with confidence, marching up to the counter like a pro. The guy behind the register reaches out his hand and they exchange two slaps, a finger wiggle, and a fist bump before Zach points my way.

Even from across the room, his smile is magnetic. His green gaze is bright and clear, amusement dancing in the centers. There’s nothing hiding the attraction in his eyes. Zach’s into me, and I’m definitely into him.

After placing our order, he moves down to the other end of the bar, hands in his back pockets as he watches a kid play Roller Coaster Tycoon pinball. I’m not sure how I can tell, but I know he’s itching to go help him out. The kid bangs on the machine; it’s noisy, causing a few heads to turn his way. As he moves to take a step toward the kid, the barista slides our drinks Zach’s way.

He strides over to the table, drinks in hand, appearing awfully proud of himself.

“Here we are. Give this a whirl.”

I grab the tan coffee, eyeing it skeptically as I wiggle the straw around. “What is it?”

“Nice try. Taste it. Then I’ll tell you.”

After taking a timid sip, I’m surprised by the flavor. It’s familiar but I can’t put my finger on it. I take another, bigger draw from the drink, hoping to nail down the flavor.

My eyes widen.

“Is this…no. No way.” Zach’s lips are twitching at the corners and I know I’m right in my guess before I even say it. “This is f*****g Cinnamon Toast Crunch, isn’t it?”

“Amazing, right?”

“I am never drinking coffee from anywhere else ever again.”

“That’s a hefty promise to make…”

“Yes, but have you tried this?”

He lifts a shoulder. “I might be the one who invented it here.”

“I could kiss you right now.”

I say the words, and I mean them. Sure, I’ve thought about it, but I don’t think I realized how badly I want that to happen until right now.

“That so?” He doesn’t miss a beat. “Because I wouldn’t object to it.” His hand snakes out, brushing back the lock of hair that’s fallen over my eye, lingering on my cheek for the briefest of moments. “This is the most forward thing I have ever said, but I would kiss you so hard if you’d let me.”

My chest feels like it has a thousand pounds pressing into it. Breathing is a strenuous effort, and my head is spinning like a pinwheel caught in the wind.

I want him to kiss me—hard, soft, any way I can get it. I want to feel his lips on mine, want to know if they’re as soft as they appear. I’m dying to feel his stubble brush against me as his mouth moves over mine. I want to know if he kisses the way he talks—sweet with just a hint of dirty.

“We’re in public,” I manage to scratch out.

“We are.”

“I don’t think this is a good place for that.”

“No?”

“No.”

“And why is that, Delia?”

“Because I’m certain once I start kissing you, I won’t be able to stop.”

Leaning away, he rolls his straw in his fingers, eyes focused solely on his movements. “You make a fair point, but one of these days, Delia, I’m going to kiss the hell out of you.”

“One of these days, Zach, I’ll let you.”

Hopping off his stool, he claps his hands together. “All right, we need a distraction. Let’s do this. We’re playing.”

“Me against you?” I scoot off Mrs. Pac-Man. “Why do I have a feeling I’m about to have my a*s handed to me?”

“Probably because you’re about to have your a*s handed to you.”

“Speaking of a***s…wasn’t I supposed to get to touch your butt? I vividly remember that conversation.”

He throws me a look. “Remember how we couldn’t kiss because we’d get carried away? There will be no butt touches tonight.”

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“But…”—I wink—“on our next date, right?”

He rolls his eyes and c***s his head toward the games. “Get over here so I can beat your a*s at pinball already.”

“Did you have a good time tonight?”

“That coffee was orgasmic. Everything else paled in comparison.”

“I sure know how to break out the panty-melters.”

“What? Those dimples?”

Zach pauses on the sidewalk. “Did you just call my dimples panty-melters?”

“Did you just say panty-melters not once, but twice?”

“I can do that.” He bends toward me. “Because dimples.”

Playfully shoving him away, I laugh. “How can you be so cute, yet so exhausting?”

“Ah, you think I’m cute. I’ve been called cute before…but that relationship didn’t end so well.”

“No? What happened?”

He hisses. “Isn’t it a big no-no to talk about your exes on the first date?”

“I asked, so I think it’s okay. Besides, this doesn’t really feel like a first date to me. We’ve been talking for what, three or so weeks now? I feel like we’re beyond first date yet not quite at second date, if that makes any sense.”

“It does, in a weird sort of way. I must admit though, I was nervous to meet you…worried that what I had built up in my head wouldn’t match.”

“And?”

“Better. So much better.”

I don’t even try to hide my grin. “Your ex—I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.”

He thinks on this a moment before inhaling a deep breath. “So, my last, and only real girlfriend…slash fiancée, left me because I gave up my ‘fortune’.”

I hold my hand up. “Pause. Your what?”

“Fortune, if that’s what you want to call it.”

“Care to explain?”

“I formed a company in college, did some good with it, and then sold it for…well, let’s just say it was a large sum. Sure, I took home a ton of money by selling it, but I would have earned more by keeping ownership. She was rather perturbed over all of it. Then when I donated a decent chunk, paid off hers and my brother’s student loans because I’m a nice guy, and bought a car that wasn’t ‘family friendly’ even though ‘that’s where we were headed’, she left. I never understood it. I think she just liked my money and what it could do for her.”

I stand there, mouth open, shock pouring out of me. “You mean to tell me because you did good things with your money from your company, she bailed?”

“And because I was suddenly an ‘everyday man’ with a nine-to-five, I wasn’t good enough for her. Funny, considering she had no problem with me paying off her loans or dating me when I wouldn’t leave my pigsty of a dorm room for days at a time because I was too wrapped up in code or the latest video game.” He shrugs. “That company changed her and it changed me, we just changed in different ways.”

I shake my head and continue our leisurely stroll. “You said you were engaged?”

“It was brief, but yes. Luckily we hadn’t begun planning anything yet.”

We keep a leisurely pace in silence for about a block. I don’t know what to say. I could say ‘sorry’, but that always feels like an empty word in situations like these. I could tell him I think she’s the most insane woman alive to up and leave him, but I don’t know her or her story. She could have had other things going she wasn’t ready to explain. I can’t judge what I don’t know.

“Now that I’ve killed the conversation…” Zach trails off. “You promised to tell me yours.”

“There’s not much to it. We were better as friends than anything else, and we finally decided to be honest and own up to it. It was amicable and we’re still friends.”

“I’m glad you have closure with him.”

“I hate that you don’t with her. I can’t believe she just dumped you without a solid reason.”

“She liked the money part of me.”

“That’s sad.”

He sighs. “It’s a part of life.”

“Do you think you’d still be together if you hadn’t sold the company?”

“Probably not. There was no…”

“Fireworks?”

He glances down at me. “Fireworks. It was more like those popping snappers you were entertained with as a child, fun for the briefest of moments.”

“When you put it like that…”

“It sounds sad? I know. So, I’m happy we traveled down the path we did. Everything worked out as it should have.”

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