“Can you all excuse me for a minute?” Sean stood up, phone in hand. “This is my mother. I forgot to tell her I landed, so I need to take this.” He planted a swift kiss on my lips and walked outside.

“So, Josh…” I cut into my waffle. “Are you enjoying—”

“Can you please excuse the two of us for a few seconds, Josh?” Carter glared at me, setting down his knife.

“Gladly.” Josh immediately walked away, leaving us alone.

“Carter,” I said, beating him to it. “Look—”

“You honestly think I don’t love you, Ari?”


“You heard me.” He raised his voice. “Do you honestly think that I don’t fucking love you?”

“That’s what you said to me before I left, isn’t it? Why wouldn’t I believe it?”

“Because deep down I know you’re smarter than that…” He hissed. “I also know you did not fly all the way here to blow me off and act like you don’t know me.”

“I came to visit and introduce you to Sean.”

“Fuck him.” He growled. “Even if I could buy that you liked him—which, you don’t by the way, you wouldn’t dare introduce him to me so quickly. That’s not your style.”

“People change.”

“We don’t,” he said. “I still know you like the back of my hand. The only thing that’s changed about you since you left is your goddamn hair.”

“In your case, your vocabulary has definitely changed,” I said, crossing my arms. “You’ve never cursed at me like this before.”

“You’ve never caught me off guard like this before.” He took a deep breath and sighed. “Look, we need to talk whenever you get a chance and have a free hour or two that you can get away from your classmate.”

“My boyfriend.”

“Yeah, whatever.” He stood up and pulled out his wallet. “Find the time and text me when you have a moment. Preferably before this weekend.”

“Will you not be sleeping at your house? Won’t I see you and be able to tell you a time in person?”

“No,” he said flatly. “I got a room at Beach Front Hotel down the street.”

“What?” I swallowed. “Why?”

“Because first of all, I can’t bear the thought of another guy sleeping with you. Second of all, having you in my house and not being able to touch you…I’m not going to be able to handle that.” He placed a hundred dollar bill on the table. “Call me when you’re ready to talk. Alone.”

He left the diner and Sean returned moments later.

Josh didn’t, though.

“What happened to your friends?” Sean asked.

“Something important came up so they both had to go.”

He shrugged and started to eat his food, and I did my best to smile and act like the conversation with Carter had never happened.

Track 30. Shake It Off (3:18)

Arizona was really testing my patience.

The entire weekend passed without her calling me, and the only thing she texted me was:

Thank you for letting me and Sean stay at your place for the weekend. My mom is throwing a ‘Welcome Back’ dinner for me at her house Tuesday night. She would like you to be there.

I didn’t text back. I just drowned myself in legal assignments until my eyes couldn’t stay open anymore. It was the only thing that prevented me from showing up to her mom’s house and demanding that she listen to me.

“Nonstop seafood, chicken, and waffles made by yours truly, Ari. Be there or else!” Josh announced as he walked into the living room. “Hey, are we going or what?”

“Going where?”

“To Ari’s mom’s house.” He crossed his arms. “You know what I’m talking about. She just sent out a mass text; though, I’m pretty sure she already told you…”

At that second my phone buzzed with the same text Josh had read aloud.

“So, are we going or what?” he asked.

“Not if her so-called boyfriend is there.”

“Why are you acting so jealous?” He cut me off.

“Because I am jealous.”

“Jesus. Get your shit together, man. You two haven’t really talked for over six months. Did you really think no guy would be interested in her over there? That she would just stay single and cry over you until you decided to tell her the truth whenever she got back? Like, I know you only recently realized just how goddamn sexy she is, but…”

“Are you trying to help me or further enrage me?” I gritted my teeth. “For the record, if it’s the latter, it’s definitely working…”

“Just talk to her.”

“I’ve tried.”

“No, you haven’t. And you’re not trying now. You’re growling, pissing everyone off, including the woman you’re trying to get back. But honestly, both of you are so stupid, I swear. Maybe you two had the right idea all along, though. Maybe you should’ve stayed ‘just friends’. ”

“I’m not trying to hear this from you of all people right now.”

“You’re not trying to hear anything. That’s the problem.” He leaned against the wall. “Outside of making dumbass comments all night, what do you plan on doing to get her to listen to you?”