“I love the waffle cone ice cream, too,” I said breathlessly.

He squeezed my hand. “What else? What else do you love? What’s your favorite animal, your favorite season, your favorite breakfast food?”

“Panda bears. I watched a show on Discovery Channel once, and I guess there’s a place in China where you can pay a crap-ton of money and pet baby pandas. My favorite season is spring. I get some of my best writing done during thunderstorms, I think. And if you were to put a bowl of Cap’n Crunch cereal mixed with marshmallows in front of me, I would probably orgasm from the sight.”

He laughed, and I felt his finger tracing the inside of my palm. “That’s the dirtiest thing I’ve ever heard you say,” he muttered.

“What? Orgasm?” I bit my bottom lip and tugged on it.

His blue eyes shifted over to me. “No. Petting baby pandas.” I pulled my hand away from his and smacked him hard, but I was laughing harder. “Ow!” he huffed dramatically as if I’d really hurt him, but I knew I hadn’t. He held his hand out toward me again, and I took his hold.

We pulled up to his house, which he told me was his parents place, and I gasped at the beauty of the property. The lake house looked as if it had been very much a home to someone, rather than just a house. There was a lot of love put into the property.

The front porch was crafted from earth-toned stones, with pebbled steps. On the porch rested two oak chairs and a matching rocking-bench. Daniel didn’t allow me too much time to study the home. He walked me around to the backyard and I sighed at the view. The sun glistened off the lake. I walked across the dock and ran my fingers through the chilled water.

“It’s beautiful,” I said, looking out into the distance. I sat down on the edge of the dock and took off my shoes and socks. My toes trailed through the water, making slight ripples.

“Yeah,” Daniel said softly. He sat down by my side. “It is.”

He took off his shoes and socks, rolled up his slacks, and put his feet in the water, too. We both waved our feet back and forth, creating big waves.

“Tell me the awkward facts,” he said. “Your worst date. Your oddest favorite book. Your weirdest turn-on.”

“Hmm…” I inhaled the fresh smells of autumn by the lake. “I haven’t dated a lot, but my last boyfriend took me to the movie theater for our first date. He thought it would be romantic to show me his...” I blushed. I couldn’t believe I was saying this to him. “His penis. And I giggled and asked him for his 3D glasses to magnify it, because it definitely wasn’t coming to life.”

“Ouch,” Daniel whined, grabbing his chest. “You’re brutal!”

“He showed me his penis! On the first date!” I cried.

“Note to self: don’t show Ashlyn my penis tonight.”

I blushed and gave him a coy smile. “We kind of already had our first date at Joe’s bar. You can pretty much show me anything.”

A wide, toothy grin landed on his face. He flicked some of the water toward me. “Continue.”

“My oddest favorite book is a random one about zombies. In the end, the zombies just turned out to be corporate America, and the people they were trying to turn and corrupt were the creative individuals of the world.

“They turned Steven Spielberg into one of them, and he documented his whole transformation before letting the pull of the Zom overtake him. Then they turned Ellen Degeneres, but the joke was on corporate America because she was just as funny being a zombie as she was being a human. And she made the other zombies laugh, too. Sometimes they laughed so hard they would lose their noses and their arms would fall off due to how funny she was. It was actually a beautiful coming-of-age book that explored the realms of truth, acceptance, and being comfortable in your own skin—even if it was rotting.”

“Wow,” Daniel sighed, listening to my story.

“Yeah. I know right?” I paused. “They all died though.”

He inched closer to me, our legs lying against one another. “The Neighborhood Zombie.”

“No way,” I breathed. “You’ve read it?!”

“Junior year of college. Best book ever.” He smiled. I swooned. “Now. Your biggest turn-on?”

“Oh, that’s easy. My biggest turn-on is a boy who reads to me.”

His finger brushed against the side of my face. “I read.”

“You turn me on, I guess.”

His hand wrapped around my waist and he lifted me into his lap. “You guess?” He took my bottom lip between his teeth and lightly tugged on it. My body responded instantly to his touch. My hands fell against his chest, and when he released my lip, I gave him a soft kiss.

“Well, you haven’t read to me yet.”

He smirked, and as he lifted both of us up from the dock, my legs wrapped around him. “Let’s go make dinner.”

I shook my head back and forth. “I’m not making dinner. You are.”

His hands wrapped under my ass as he carried me toward the house. I secretly wished that he would never put me down, but when he did, it was on top of the kitchen counter. He went digging through the kitchen, pulling out his ingredients for the ‘dinner of a lifetime,’ as he called it.

I giggled when I saw a box of mac and cheese sitting next to the stove. He pulled a pocketknife out of his back pocket and used it to open the box. “You always use pocketknives to open macaroni and cheese?”

“My dad always did. He carried this knife everywhere, saying you never knew when you might need it. So he pretty much made up excuses to use it. Opening boxes, envelopes, water bottle cases.” He laughed to himself. “I guess when I got the knife, his quirks rubbed off on me.”