Let's Get Textual (Page 38)

It takes a couple tries, but I finally get it open.

“Zach! Hey! How’s that a*s of yours?” I hear Zoe say loudly. She must be on the porch with him.

“My a*s is fine, thank you. What are you doing here, Zoe? Is Delia with you?”

“What? No!” I can hear the panic in her voice. “Why would she be here?”

“Um…because we’re kind of dating?” Zach sounds so confused right now. “Or we were. We’re…whatever it is we are now.”

See? There’s still hope.

“Oh,” Zoe says. “Well, no. She isn’t here. I am here to talk to you about her though.”

“What about?”

“How crazy she is, absolutely batshit.”

I could strangle her.

Backing up, I take a running jump, and I must be coasting on pure adrenaline because I manage to get a grip on the window sill on the second try.

An unfamiliar head pokes out the window and I fall flat on my a*s, which knocks the wind right out of me.

“Can I help you?” His voice is gruff, but he doesn’t sound angry.

Robbie—there’s no question about it. His caramel skin is the exact same tone as his son’s, who I’ve seen dozens of pictures of by now. He’s built—like, can barely fit through the window kind of built—and I wonder for a moment if he used to play football.

Squinting down at me, I can tell he recognizes who I am too. “Hey, wait—you’re Delia, aren’t you?”

I nod. “That would be me.”

“Can I ask what the hell it is you’re doing?”

“Stealing Marshmallow and leaving a ransom note.”

He grins, and I know he understands. “You’re trouble.”

“Sometimes.”

“I hate to say it, but you have the wrong room.”

“No s**t.”

He doesn’t move for a moment, only stands there studying me.

“You know what? Screw it,” he says. “Get up here. I’ll sneak off and grab Marshy while you leave the note.”

I stand and he reaches out to grab my hands, effortlessly pulling me up and through the window.

“That was so much easier than what I was doing,” I whisper. “I think I should start working out a bit more. I’ll need muscles like yours for the next house I break into.”

He laughs quietly and grabs a notebook and pen off his desk. “I’ll be right back.”

I quickly scribble something down for Robbie to leave in Marshmallow’s room.

* * *

Dear Zach,

I’ve run away. I’m off to live with She Who Has A Great A*s. Good luck getting me back.

Love,

1/3 of the S’mores brothers

* * *

Satisfied with my note, I fold it and draw his name in big, bold letters.

“Here. I packed him a quick bag too.”

Marshmallow makes a noise as Robbie hands him over to me and I snuggle him. “I missed you, little buddy.”

“Even he’s been a mopey little s**t since you two stopped talking.”

“He’s been mopey?” I ask Robbie.

He doesn’t have to ask; he knows who I’m referring to.

“Like you wouldn’t believe—even snapped at a client. Whatever happened wasn’t pretty, and it’s done a number on him.”

“He didn’t tell you?”

Robbie shakes his head. “Not a word.”

“Oh,” I say quietly.

“I’m only helping you right now because I think you might be the only one who can fix my man, even though you were the one who broke him.”

“The whole thing was a huge misunderstanding.”

Robbie waves me off. “Don’t bother explaining to me. Explain it to him.”

“I will.” I point to Marshmallow, who’s already falling asleep in my arm. “That’s what he’s for.”

“…see, I told you, she’s crazy! Gosh, I could really go for a cake right now,” Zoe practically shouts.

“That’s my cue,” I say to Robbie.

“Get out of here. I’ll keep him distracted while you leave.”

I climb back through the window, careful not to jostle Marshmallow around too much.

Once I’m clear of the ledge, I glance back.

“Hey, Robbie?” I call.

He pops his head back out. “Yeah?”

“Thank you.”

“Fix this, okay?”

“I’m trying to.”

Out of nowhere, a police cruiser comes barreling down the street, screeching to a halt right in front of Zach’s house. The red and blue lights reflect off the house, off me. I flatten myself against the wall and glance up to Robbie, my panic level at an all-time high.

“What the s**t is happening?”

He’s trying hard not to laugh. “I think you tripped the alarm trying to break in.”

“F**k,” I mutter.

“Go. I’ll handle it.”

“Zoe’s my ride!”

“I’ll make sure she meets you at your rendezvous point.”

“Make sure to say you could go for a cake. That’s our code phrase.”

“Cake? Really?”

“What? I was hungry when I came up with it.”

He laughs. “Go.”

I nod and take off running through strangers’ back yards. When I finally feel like I’m in the clear, I stop to catch my breath and walk the rest of the way, the goat in my arms grinning the entire time.

It’s another ten minutes before Zoe finally pulls to a stop in front of me.

I hastily climb into the car and she peels away.

“Well?”

“You tripped the alarm.”

“Aren’t they supposed to call about those kinds of things?”

“They did, but I was trying to keep Zach busy and it turns out your boy is super polite and won’t answer his incessantly buzzing cell phone while someone is talking to him.”

I laugh. “Crap.”

“Yeah, but turns out Robbie is really nice. He kept doing this weird thing with his nose, like this.” She flicks at her nose twice with her thumb. “I thought he just had issues until he finally said he could go for a cake and nodded toward the door like he had a tic in his neck. By the way, that man is fine.”

“Robbie?” She nods. “Yeah, he’s not bad on the eyes.”

“Not bad!” she screeches. “He’s gorgeous!”

I can see it in her eyes—Robbie’s just become prey to her.

“He has a son.”

“Oh.” Her shoulders deflate, and I know Robbie is now a lost cause to her. “Anyway, Zach didn’t suspect a thing. How did Robbie find you?”

“I tried climbing into the wrong room.”

“Shut up.” She titters. “Only you.”

I run my hands through a sleeping Marshmallow’s fluff.

“But you got your goat,” she says.

“I got my goat.”

Twenty-Four

Much to my surprise, Zach doesn’t come by the night of the goat heist…or the next day.

I’m starting to worry about three things.

One, he doesn’t care that I stole Marshmallow.

Two, he doesn’t care about me anymore.

Three, my building manager discovering that I’m harboring a stolen animal.

My patience and heart are both wearing thin. I can’t keep up the façade any longer.

I miss him like a writer misses their pen. Every day I reach for my phone to text him something funny or random, and every day I remember I can’t.

So instead I text myself, hoping one day I can show him all the funny things I thought of while he wasn’t around to appreciate them.

One day…

I let out a heavy sigh.

“Stop doing that,” Zoe complains.

“What?”

“Sighing. It’s annoying.”

“I can’t help it. I’m in worry mode, and I sigh a lot when I’m at this point.”

“I know, and it’s annoying, so stop it. He’ll come for him. I know he will.”

My teeth sink into my bottom lip. “Just him?”

She eyes me. “He’ll come for you too. I have a feeling.”

There’s a knock at the door, and I stand so quickly that I almost step on Marshmallow, who’s lying at my feet.

I race over there and then straight back.

“Do you think it’s him?” I whisper to Zoe.

“You won’t know until you answer the door.”

“I’m scared.”

“Do you want me to open it?”

I shake my head. “No, no. I can do this.” I smooth out my shirt and blow out a breath. “I can do this. I can open the door and say hello and explain. I can do this.”

“Then f*****g do it!”

“Shh!”

As calmly as I can, I march to the door and pull it open, a smile plastered on my face.

I’m disappointed by what I find on the other side.

“Son of a b***h.”

“Hi ma’am. Is this the”—he checks the receipt—“Devlin residence?”

“Yes, but we didn’t order anything.”

“It’s already been paid for.”

“Okay…”

“And I’ve already been paid to deliver it, so…”