Let's Get Textual (Page 22)

But I can’t help it. Zach makes me feel…comfortable. Safe. Warm. Wanted.

We’re lying face to face in the middle of the bed, the blanket draped over our waists, grinning at each other like fools.

“What?” I whisper.

“I made it in.”

“What?” I ask again, confused.

“Your special Hufflepuff-only chamber of secrets.”

“Did you really just…” Laughter consumes me and I’m rolling to my back and covering my face in embarrassment…for him. “You are such a nerd, Zach.”

He peels my hands away from my face and I find that he’s resting his head on his hand, staring at me from above. “But you love that I’m a nerd.”

His eyes are sparkling, and I can’t help but be drawn in by his playfulness.

“That’s debatable.”

“Fact.”

“Debatable.”

He sighs. “You’re tiring.”

“You tell me that often.”

“Because it’s true.” He leans in closer. “But I secretly enjoy sparring with you.”

“Secretly?”

“Not so secretly.”

I grin. “I know. Now, shh. I need my beauty sleep.”

He kisses my forehead and turns back over on his back.

We lie there in silence. He’s still awake; I can feel it.

“Hey, Zach?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you for not trying to bang me.”

His laughter shakes the bed. “You’re welcome.”

“I’m just saying, that’s a real non-a*****e thing for you do. I appreciate it. Thanks for being so chill about me teasing you too. You’re a cool dude.”

“A cool dude, huh? That’s what you call your best friend, or a guy you’ve stuck in the friend zone, not someone you keep kissing. Are you trying to friend-zone me, Delia?”

I roll over to face him and he peers down at me, one eyebrow raised.

I reach up and smooth it down. “You look like you’re trying to smell what the Rock is cookin’ when you do that.”

“Exhausting.”

“Shh. I’m not trying to friend-zone you. That’s kind of why I want to wait. I rushed into my last relationship and we lost our spark quickly, settling into a routine and never feeling like we could walk away. I don’t want that with you. I want…”

“More?”

I nod. “More.”

“I want more with you too, Delia.”

“Good,” I say. “So no boning until at least our third date.”

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“Are we counting this as a date?”

I lean in and place a kiss at the corner of his lips before rolling over until my back is to him. “We’ll see how h***y I am after our next date.”

His laughter echoes through the room before he switches off the bedside lamp and wraps an arm around my waist, snuggling me just as he planned.

Thirteen

“THE KITCHEN IS A NO-NUDITY ZONE!”

Zoe’s piercing voice rattles the apartment, and I’m jumping to my feet and flying through my bedroom door and into the kitchen.

I skid into the room, stopping next to Zoe, who’s glaring at an alarmed Zach.

“What the…”

Zach’s face is flaming red as my eyes fall to what is covering his junk.

“P***s potholders!” I giggle uncontrollably.

“What? That’s his…” Zoe moves closer and bends over, examining Zach’s private area. “Oh. Well I’ll be damned. That isn’t a real dick.”

Zach glowers down at her. “How did you think it was a real dick?”

She stands and shrugs. “I don’t have my contacts in. Now move it. You’re blocking the coffee. And go put pants on. No one likes a damn Slytherin.”

Zach’s mouth floats open, his face full of shock as he stumbles out of her way and over to me.

“I should have put pants on, I’m sorry—but hey, at least I put a shirt on.”

I grin up at him. “And you found your p***s potholders.”

He jerks his head Zoe’s way. “Should you be letting her pour hot coffee without her eyeballs working properly?”

“She knows her way around a coffee pot almost as well as she does a dick.”

“Hey! I heard that!”

“Oh, so it’s just your vision that’s f****d up? My bad.”

“Delia, why is your boyfriend only wearing a shirt, panties, and socks? He looks like a tool.”

I wait…wait for Zach to correct Zoe on the boyfriend label. He doesn’t. Neither do I.

“I think it’s kind of cute…in a nerdy sort of way.” I wink at Zach. “You’re my favorite nerd, by the way.”

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Zach shakes his head and makes his way to my bedroom. He emerges seconds later wearing his jeans and heads straight for Marshmallow’s cage.

“Delia, where’s Marshy?”

“He’s not in his cage?”

“He is not.” He places his hands on his hips, and f**k me if he isn’t hotter when he stands like that. “Hey, Zoe?”

She makes a noncommittal noise and takes a drink of her coffee, keeping her eyes anywhere but on Zach.

“If I walk into your room, will I find a fluffy baby goat?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Did you steal his goat, Zoe?”

She sets her mug down and crosses her arms over her chest. “Define steal.”

“Zoe!”

“What!” She waves her arms around. “He’s so cute and soft and you had someone to snuggle with last night and I didn’t. It was only fair!”

I groan. “Go get the goat, Zoe.”

“Fine,” she grumbles and pushes past me. “But we’re getting our own goat so I can have a snuggle buddy.”

I peek at Zach, who’s trying hard to hold his laughter in. “So, Zoe got my goat.”

“And you think I’m exhausting.”

He crosses the room and wraps one arm around my waist, the other going to his mouth. I’m too lost in his eyes to pay attention to what he’s doing, but I do feel the wetness when his finger collides with my face.

“I think you’re cute and exhausting, even when you have dried drool on your face.”

I drop my head to his chest. “Why couldn’t you ignore that?”

“And miss the chance to embarrass you? Never.”

“You’re so good to me, Zach.”

“Was that sarcasm I detected, Delia?”

I pinch my fingers together. “Only a little.”

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He places a gentle kiss on my cheek. “Morning, by the way.”

“Morning. What are you doing up so early anyway? It’s not even nine yet.”

“Some of us have to work, you bum.”

“Aren’t you allowed to take days off? You owned the company.”

“See what you did there? Past tense. I’m a regular ol’ employee now.”

“Here.” Zoe shoves Marshmallow between us, the hair around his mouth dripping with milk. “You can have him back. I fed him for you.”

“Uh…thank you, I guess.” Zach takes Marshmallow and sets him in his cage, then begins throwing all the toys spread around the living room inside.

Sadness washes over me.

I don’t want Zach to leave. Last time we did this, I didn’t see him for over a week. I don’t want that. I want him here, close to me.

“What are you doing Thursday?” he asks, reading my mind. “Do you have work or class?”

“Nope. I’m free.”

“Want to try for that third date?”

I smirk. “Third? Already?”

“We’ll see how you feel at the end of the night.” He winks.

“It’s a date then.”

“Good. I really hate to do this but…”

“You need to be going. I understand. Here, I’ll walk you down.”

I slide a hoodie on and open the door as he puts his shoes on and lifts Marshmallow’s cage.

“Marshy, say goodbye to your new girlfriend.”

“I’ll miss you, handsome!” Zoe calls from the kitchen counter, sending a flirty smile Zach’s way. “You too, stud.”

I roll my eyes and wave a chuckling Zach out the door.

Once we’re at his car, I give Marshmallow goodbye pets, promising to see him soon. He nuzzles into my hand and I want to weep at the sweetness.

“I’ll give you a call on Thursday to set up a time, but I have the coolest place we can go.”

“You think you’re so savvy with these dates, don’t you?”

He shrugs. “I like to pretend I know what I’m doing when it comes to charming my way into your heart.”

“My heart? You have lofty goals, Zach.”

“Shut up and come here.”

He grabs my shirt and drags me closer, cupping my face with his hands and bringing his lips down on mine.

We share a brief kiss, knowing we’re more than capable of getting carried away.

“Text me?” he asks, his thumbs caressing my cheeks.

“It would be weird if I didn’t.”

I pull away, giving him a wave as I head back into my building.

Out of nowhere, I hear a wolf whistle, shrill enough to echo off the surrounding apartment buildings.

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