He pulled me close again and took three more, and then he led me toward the other side of the ship—where there was an antique style café. I thought he was going to open the door so we could take pictures inside, but he didn’t.
Instead he grabbed my hands and held them above my head, pushing me against the door with his hips.
“We have ten minutes before we have to get back.” He dipped his head to my neck and gently bit my skin. “Do you think they’ll mind if we take a little longer?”
I murmured “No…” as he looked into my eyes, as he slowly hiked up my dress and made love to me against the door. Softly. Gently. Less reckless than before…
I screamed his name across the darkness, coming apart in his arms, and he took his time kissing me again and again until I felt like going back for the rest of the tour.
The boat had already started to move, and the tour guide didn’t seem to mind how late we were when we rejoined him downstairs. By the way Carter pulled me into his lap and kissed me for the rest of it, I was sure that he knew what we’d been up to.
When we arrived back to the pier, we walked along the beach and talked for hours about absolutely nothing. I didn’t want our conversation to end, but as the sun rose, I could feel myself getting tired, so he picked me up (tossed me over his shoulder) and took me home.
As if that date sealed it, the next few nights weren’t even a question. He texted me and told me what time he was picking me up, and we went out together. Still uncomfortable showing affection in front of people we knew, we saved those moments for when we were alone, and our friends never knew anything different.
The things we normally did together felt new and exciting, no matter how hard we tried to pretend like they were the same. Those “you can take my bed, I’ll sleep on the couch” courtesies were now completely invalid; even though we always ended up in each other’s arms at some point in the night, we never discussed it in the morning.
I was pretty sure I loved him, and not in the way I loved him before.
This was different. This was “I needed to have him every hour of the day,” “be around him whenever I could”, and “do whatever I could to have him” type of way.
From the way he looked at me, I could tell he felt the same.
Track 18. Crazier (3:08)
Subject: OMG! GREAT NEWS!
Meet me at the pier at noon today. At that new sub place. I have something to show you.
Prepare your eyes!
Subject: Re: OMG! GREAT NEWS!
I’m pretty sure I’ve already seen it. Several times, last night, the night before, last week…
SUBJECT: Re: Re: Re: OMG! GREAT NEWS!
This isn’t related to sex, thank you very much.
An hour later, I spotted Ari in front of the sub shop, waiting for her to turn around and notice me. Her hair was pulled into a low ponytail, and her brown eyes were gleaming against the bright sunlight.
“Took you long enough.” She looked me over. “I see you decided to actually wear a shirt today.”
“Only because you told me this meeting wasn’t related to sex.” I almost pulled her into my arms for a kiss, but I held back. I still wasn’t sure what the hell was happening between us, and even though we were more than intimate now, we had yet to show any public displays of affection; wasn’t sure what that would mean if I initiated it.
“Do you want me to tell you the news out here or over lunch?” she asked.
“Over lunch.” I motioned for her to follow me inside the sub shop and we took a seat in the back.
The waitress quickly took our orders, and promised to be back in less than ten minutes.
“So…” Ari said, smiling. “I actually have three sets of news, and I’m going to let you pick which one—”
“You look really fucking beautiful today.” I cut her off, looking at her and wondering why I’d never seen just how stunning she was before. “Really fucking beautiful…”
She blushed. “Thank you…” She was silent for a while before speaking again. “You want the good news, the bad news, or the great news first?”
“I ran into your ex, Emily, about half an hour ago and she yelled at me in front of everyone at the supermarket.”
“What did she say?”
“That she hates me, she hates you, she hates your tiny little cock…”
“Is it tiny to you?”
Her cheeks reddened, but she ignored my question. “She said that if we ever end up together, that she will personally crash our wedding…With a personal army of cats, I’m sure.”
I laughed. “What about the good news?”
“She tried to punch me and I took her down.”
“Are you being serious?”
“Of course not.” She scoffed. “Security took her down, but I did try.” She smiled at the waitress as she set down our sandwiches.
“Do I even want the great news?”
“The phenomenal news, excuse me.” She pulled a folded envelope from her pocket and slid it across the table. “Open it.”
I set down my napkin and pulled out the paper—reading a brief letter from Collège Culinaire de France.
“They are deeply sorry for the enormous error in the processing of your previous application and would be delighted and honored to have you in their newest cohort of classically trained chefs,” I read, genuinely happy for her.