Let's Get Textual (Page 24)

* * *

Zach: I know it’s not the exact couch you had before, but I tried to find something similar so you wouldn’t miss your old one. Did I do okay?

* * *

Me: Did you do okay… You bought me a f*****g COUCH, Zach! Yes, you did fantastically.

* * *

Me: I assumed you were kidding about buying a new one. I can’t believe you right now.

* * *

Zach: It was only fair. My goat destroyed your furniture, so I had to replace it.

* * *

Me: But it’s a couch!

* * *

Zach: I think we’ve established that by now.

* * *

Me: I… S**t. THANK YOU. Zoe says thank you too. You have no idea how badly I want to kiss you right now.

* * *

Zach: I’ll allow it.

* * *

Me: Thursday—you’re getting alllll the action then.

* * *

Me: I’d even consider sexting with you right now. That’s how elated I am.

* * *

Zach: S**t yeah! Let’s do this.

* * *

Me: I said CONSIDER.

* * *

Zach: Devil woman!

Zach: Tomorrow night, I’ll woo you like you’ve never been wooed before.

* * *

Me: Please tell me you bought Marshmallow siblings.

* * *

Zach: Um, no. Our date is not new goats.

* * *

Me: What could possibly woo me more than baby goats?

* * *

Zach: Me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

* * *

Me: You’re an okay second choice.

* * *

Me: Do I need to dress fancy or anything?

* * *

Zach: Do you think I’m made of money or something? I send you ONE couch and suddenly I’m loaded. *rolls eyes*

* * *

Me: Zachary…

* * *

Zach: It’s casual attire. Jeans are acceptable. Or nudity. I think they’re good with that too.

* * *

Me: Always trying to get me naked.

* * *

Zach: I think my powers of persuasion are broken since it hasn’t happened yet.

* * *

Me: There’s always tomorrow. ๐Ÿ˜‰

“The Ranch House? Did you bring me to a back-road country bar?”

“One, no. Two, hell no. I don’t do country.”

“I bet you’d look sexy in a pair of Wranglers and cowboy boots.”

“Stop it right now. I’m just as sexy in my fandom shirts.”

“You are. I especially liked your Baby Groot shirt.” I squeeze his hand. “Come on, take me inside this fancy ranch house already. I’m dying to know what it is.”

We exit the car and I’m careful to hold my skirt down, not wanting to flash anyone.

“Did I tell you how much I love that skirt you’re wearing?” Zach asks, coming up behind me.

He’s pressed against me, a hand gently resting on my lower back, his mouth at my ear. I shiver and he chuckles.

“Your ears are sensitive, aren’t they?” I nod and his lips brush below my most sensitive spot.

Another shiver. More chuckles.

I gasp when his lips meet my exposed neck, and I’m thankful I wore my hair up. He places a tender kiss before whispering, “Is this date three, Delia?”

My nipples turn to stone, and I’m so scared I’ll moan out the words that I can’t speak. I nod instead.

“Then we’re going to have fun tonight.”

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With that, he steps away and laces our hands together, pulling me along without another word.

He leads, and I gladly follow.

When we step inside The Ranch House, I’m surprised to find that it really isn’t a country bar. In fact, it’s pretty damn cool inside. There’s a rustic element to it, but it’s still modern, with a massive floor-to-ceiling window covering nearly the entire back half of the building. Outside are tables and chairs, a fire roaring in the center of it all. White lanterns are strung around the perimeter, and a paved pathway leads right down to the dock on a sprawling lake.

It’s stunning.

“Zach, this is gorgeous.”

“Isn’t it? Come on, let’s grab a table.”

The hostess standing behind the podium eyes Zach, her smile growing as she does.

If Zoe were here, she’d be making a scene about someone making a pass at her man, but me? I don’t mind. I know Zach is attractive. I’d be checking him out too if I were in her shoes—but I’m not. I’m standing at his side.

I have no reason to be jealous.

“Hi, two please,” Zach says politely.

The blonde smiles seductively. “Sure thing, hon. Right this way.”

She leads us to a table in the center of the crowded restaurant, but it’s not cutting it for Zach.

“Can we sit outside? On the patio?” He squeezes my hand. “Somewhere…private.”

Her smile is more forced this time. “No problem.”

We’re led outside and given a table close to the fire. Zach, ever the gentleman, pulls my chair out before taking a seat himself.

“Your waiter will be right you,” the hostess says before depositing our menus and scurrying off.

“She thinks you’re hot,” I tell him once she’s out of earshot.

He grins, the fire making the mischief shine through even more. “That’s because I am.”

I snort and open the menu to peruse. It doesn’t take me long to catch on. I peek up to find Zach staring at me, waiting to see what my reaction is.

“This place…they take their name seriously, huh?”

“Very. Thoughts?”

“Everything is prepared with ranch dressing?”

“Every single item. Served on the side too. If you flip to the back page, you’ll see all the flavors they offer.”

“Twenty-seven? How is that…”

“All crafted in house too.” His lips tip downward. “Please tell me you like ranch. If you don’t we can leave right now. I always forget that not everyone is as obsessed with it as me.”

“Now your assmunch comment makes so much sense.”

His brows shoot up. “Assmunch comment? When?”

“When we ordered wings. They didn’t put your ranch in the bag and you sounded rather upset. I wondered about it, but pushed the thought away.”

“Ah, yes. I still haven’t forgiven those dicks.”

I chuckle. “You do take your ranch seriously.”

“Someone has to. But really, do we need to leave?”

“Ranch isn’t my go-to—I like blue cheese more—but I’m way too excited to try a few of these flavors for us to leave now.”

“I’ll take it. Now, I suggest getting the fries, that way you can try multiple flavors.”

“Then the burger…and the mozzarella sticks. Maybe the Mediterranean flatbread too.”

“Delia?”

“Yes, I’m starving.”

“Naturally. Do you even eat unless I’m feeding you?”

I fold the menu closed and lay it off to the side. “Not food like this. This is exotic cuisine.”

“It’s ranch dressing.”

“Twenty-seven different flavors of ranch dressing! You can’t expect me to not eat all the things.”

“Fair point.”

“But…do you want to split? Because I honestly can’t eat all that food.”

He chuckles. “Yeah, we can split, but we’re getting fried green beans too.”

“I’m sorry, you want to do what to my green beans?”

“Shush and enjoy the experience.”

Our waiter finally comes around and we place our drink and food orders at the same time. It doesn’t take long before he’s bringing our beverages back out to us.

Relaxing back in our chairs, we sip our drinks and watch the fire roar.

“It’s nice out here, quiet. You’d think they’d have music playing through the speakers or something.”

“I’m sure they do on summer nights. I bet the patio isn’t popular in November.”

We go back to silence. The crackling of wood, the occasional call of a bird, and the soft lap of waves on the lake is all we can hear.

The sun is about to set, and a few stars are poking through the sky.

“Sometimes I wish I could live under the stars,” I confess.

“Why is that?”

“They’re calming, peaceful. They lull you to sleep. I don’t worry when I peer into the vastness of the night sky. I feel so small in this universe for one split second. It’s grounding.”

“You’re not small, Delia, not even when you study the stars. Trust me.”

I glance his way, loving the way his head is thrown back as he watches the sky above, the way his throat moves when he swallows.

“Are you trying to say something sweet, Zach?”

He grins, and even from here I know his dimple is making an appearance. “I’m just saying you shine a whole hell of a lot brighter than you think you do, at least to me. You’re different—the good kind of different.”

Our waiter sneaks our way with the food, but Zach doesn’t notice. I hold my hand up to stop him from coming closer, wanting to hear what else Zach has to say.

“You’re funny, and sarcastic, and that a*s of yours could distract an entire room.”

A trickle of laughter falls out of me as I glance to the waiter, whose mouth is hanging open.

“I’m just saying, when you did that sexy striptease last—”

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