“I’m sure…”

“Okay, got to go! I need to finish cleaning my friend’s kitchen. Can you believe she didn’t know to clean underneath her cabinets? She’s been my best friend for all these years and I never had any idea about this. I wonder what else I don’t know…”

“I know the feeling…”

“Talk to you later, Carter.”

“Talk to you later.” I hung up and took a seat on the couch, shaking my head and trying to process everything.

Her vague letter. Her not sending me an email with her flight information.

Her not acting like my friend.


Unable to hold back, I sent her a text,

You couldn’t at least send me an email with your flight information?

I got a response a few hours later:

Sorry. It just slipped my mind…I saw my mom’s text about staying at your place for the weekend…Are you at home now? Just landed. Pretty tired.

I’m here.

Okay. See you soon. On my way.

I took a deep breath and decided to clean up to clear my mind. I walked into the kitchen and put all the dishes away. In case she wanted to talk before going to sleep, I tossed a few pillows and blankets onto the couch, and by the time I’d made the bed in my room, there was a familiar light knock at my door.

I need you to listen to me for five minutes, Ari…Five minutes.

I silently repeated the words as I walked over and opened the door.

The second I laid eyes on her, I lost my train of thought.

She was fucking stunning. Dressed in simple jeans and a white T-shirt (one of my small, old T-shirts…), she’d cut her hair to shoulder length and added blond highlights.

“Hi…” She managed, slowly looking me up and down. Her hazel eyes slowly met mine and she forced a smile.


We stood staring at each other for several seconds—neither of us attempting to shatter the silence. I leaned forward to take her bag from her hands, but she stepped back.

“This is my best friend Carter, Sean.” She tilted her head to the guy who suddenly stepped from behind her, the guy I’d paid absolutely no attention to. “Carter, this is Sean. My boyfriend.”

“Your what?”

“My boyfriend.”

“Nice to meet you.” Sean extended his hand to me, and I forced myself to shake it. “Do you mind if you let us in? I really need to lie down. We had a terrible flight, flying back in coach all the way here.”

I opened my door wider, letting them in— keeping my eyes on Ari as she gave Sean a kiss on his cheek. Right in front of me. Right in fucking front of me.

“The bathroom is down that hall and to your left,” she said, smiling at him. “Oh, and I guess these pillows and blankets are for us. You want blue or green?”

“Green.” He kissed her on the cheek and walked away. “I’ll be right back.”

What. The. Fuck… “Ari…” I walked over to her and she ignored me, unfolding the blankets and setting up the pillows. “Ari…I know you hear me talking to you.”

“I hear you.”

“Is this Sean thing a joke? After all this time, are you playing a prank on me?”

“Why would someone fly from France to America as a joke? He really is my boyfriend.”

“When did that happen?”

“About a month ago.” She looked confused. “Didn’t you get my letter?”

“This one?” I held up the one I’d just received today.

“No…” she said. “There was another one…”

“I would believe that, but you don’t have the best track record with sending me shit. Did you get mine?”

“The one about hoping to see me and hang out again someday? Or, was it the one that said, say something—anything, Ari? Please?”

“No…Not that one. Although, I must say it’s good to know you were actually fucking reading what I wrote.”

“Could you not curse at me like that?” She crossed her arms. “I haven’t been home for five minutes and you’re snapping at me?”

“I’m not snapping at you...I’m trying to figure out how you can literally go to another country for months, stop talking to me for no reason at all, and when you finally come back, not only do you not tell me in advance, but the first time that I see you again, you’re dating someone else.”

“Someone else implies that you and I were once dating, that we were in some type of intimate relationship…” She narrowed her eyes at me. “And I had a really good reason for not talking to you.”

“Care to share it?”

“Not particularly. “She looked like she was trying to stay as calm as possible. “We weren’t dating, Carter. We were just friends, remember?”

I felt my blood pressure rising, but I said nothing. Instead I looked her over again—trying to figure out who she was right now. This wasn’t the Arizona I knew at all.

“This is a really nice place, Carter.” Sean walked into the room. “Do you own this?”

“Yes.” I kept my eyes on Ari.

Ari’s eyes met mine. “It’s nice that you set up the couch for us.”

“I didn’t. You can sleep in my bed.”

“Really?” Sean smiled, clearly misinterpreting that my offer was only for Ari. “How nice, man. I’ll put our stuff in there later tonight. Is that your room on the right?”