“Elizabeth!” Tristan shouted, running from the back of his house. Every part of me began to panic when I saw him getting closer and closer. “Elizabeth!” he yelled. He was soaked from head to toe when he reached the bottom step of the porch. The palms of his hands fell to his knees as the rain continued to wash over him, and he tried to catch his breath once more.

“What’s going on?” I asked, my voice shaking with fear. He looked freaked out. I stepped down the porch and joined him in the rainfall, placing my hands against his chest as he rose up. “Are you okay?”


“What’s wrong?”

“I was sitting in my shed and you crossed my mind.” He laced his fingers with mine and pulled me closer to him. My heart pounded in my chest, my nerves skyrocketing as I stared at his lips, taking in each word that fell from his mouth. “I tried to stop you from crossing my mind. I tried to shake you from my thoughts. But I kept thinking about you and my heart skipped. And then…” He moved in closer, his lips millimeters away from mine, his mouth slowly brushing against my bottom lip. The heat from him canceled out the chill of the rain. He was a kind of warmth I’d never known existed, a protective blanket that sent away the past hurts and sadness. Tristan’s voice shook as he kept speaking. “And then, I accidentally fell in love with you.”


His head shook back and forth. “That’s bad, right?”


His tongue danced across my bottom lip before he sucked it gently between his own. “Awful. So right now, Lizzie…if you don’t want me to love you, tell me and I’ll stop. I’ll walk away and I’ll stop loving you. Push me away, if you want to. Tell me to go, and I will. But, if there is any small part of you that is okay with this, any part of you that is okay with me accidentally falling in love with you, then pull me closer. Take me into your house, lead me to your bedroom, and let me show you how much I’m falling in love with you. Let me show each and every inch of your body how crazy I am for you.”

A level of guilt settled in my stomach. I glanced at the ground. “I don’t know if I’m ready to say it back yet...”

He lifted my chin up with his finger and stared into my eyes. “That’s okay,” he promised, his voice low. “I’m pretty sure I have enough love for the both of us.”

My eyes closed and each breath I took was more peaceful than I’d thought they would ever be. I’d never thought I would hear the word love from another man, but with Tristan, when he said it, I felt whole again.

He breathed against my lips; the air he exhaled became the inhales that healed me. We stayed in the rain for a second more before my footsteps led us both inside the warmth of the house.

Chapter Twenty-Six


“I need your shit,” Faye said, standing on my porch in all black, wearing black cloth gloves and a black hat. It was late at night, and I’d just gotten back from working at Mr. Henson’s shop.

I arched an eyebrow. “What?”

“Well, not your shit exactly. But your dog’s shit.”

My hand brushed against the back of my neck, looking at her with the same confused look. “I’m sorry, but you said that as if it made common sense.”

She sighed, smacking the palm of her hand against her face. “Look, normally I would go to Liz with my issues, but I know she’s probably putting Emma to bed and being a grown up or something stupid like that. So, I figured why not try to reach out to her boyfriend and ask him for a favor.”

“A favor is giving you my dog’s shit.”

She nodded. “Absolutely.”

“Do I want to know what you’re doing with it?”

“Duh, tonight is ‘do it yourself’ spa night at my house. Dog shit works fantastic for a facial,” she said. The blank stare I delivered her made her smirk. “Dude. I’m putting the shit in a brown paper bag and burning it on my boss’s porch.”

Another blank stare from me. “If you don’t want to tell me the truth, that’s fine.”

She reached into her back pocket and pulled out a brown paper bag. “No. Seriously.”

“How long is this going to take?” Faye asked as we lapped around the neighborhood with Zeus on a leash for the fourth time.

“Hey now, you’re lucky that Zeus is even offering up his poop to you. He’s very selective about who he lets have it.”

While we took a few more laps, Faye told me her opinion on pretty much everything. “P.S. I think it’s stupid you named that little ass dog Zeus.”

I smirked. “My son, Charlie, named him. We read Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Lighting Thief, and Charlie was just in love with the whole Greek god idea. After reading the book, we spent months studying the gods. He fell in love with the name Zeus, but then he fell in love with a medium-sized dog from the pound, who didn’t exactly fit the name of such a huge god. I remember he said, ‘Dad, the size doesn’t matter. He’s still Zeus.’”

Her face frowned for a second before she went back to her playful self and rolled her eyes. “Geez, did you really just play the dead son card on me, leaving me feeling extremely bad and awkward?”

I laughed, because I saw the playfulness in her eyes. “I think I did.”

“Jerk,” she muttered before turning away to try to hide herself wiping away a tear. I saw her, but I didn’t say anything about it.

Zeus paused in front of a fire hydrant and started doing his ‘time to poop’ moves. “Here we go!” I said, clapping my hands together.