“If he kicks my ass, what’s going to happen to you? You’re the one who helped me move out!” I laugh when his face pales.
“Don’t be such a baby, Nate,” Liam says, continuing to lift the chair up the stairs.
I give him a smile. Liam Beckett, Aunt Dee and Uncle Beck’s son, has been my best friend for so long that I couldn’t imagine moving out and not having him here to witness this moment. I’ve been begging for him to come help hold my dad back so I could make my escape for years. I’ve always been close with Liam. Our mothers have been friends forever, and since we’re close in age, we just kind of became buds. We were born close together, so we were lucky to grow up together and hit each grade in the same class. There was one year—third, I think—that we weren’t in the same class. Mom and Aunt Dee say all the time that I cried for weeks until they realized I wouldn’t stop until the school moved Liam into my class.
I don’t believe it for a second. Even if there is home video footage of it somewhere.
“Lee, where did you put the keys to my car?” I call up the stairs, where he and Nate climbed with my reading chair.
“I don’t know, Dani. Look by the front door table thingie!” he yells down.
“It’s an accent table, doofus!” I yell back.
“What the hell ever that is,” I hear him grumble.
I spend the next few minutes looking all over for my car keys. I need to get the last of my clothes and shoes out so I can start organizing my closet. My purses and the first, second, and third waves of my clothes and shoes came over early this morning. The girls left to get dinner a little while ago, so I knew they wouldn’t be any help.
“Where the hell are they?” I grumble, looking in the coat closet before moving into the living room, which is just off the entryway, and bending over to look under the couch.
“Looking for these?”
I jump when I hear Cohen speak in a gruff tone just behind me. Coming off the floor with a squeal, I land right in his arms, my back pressed firmly against his chest and his arms clasping my arms to keep my steady.
“You jerk! Are you trying to give me a heart attack!?” I yell as I push back against him and try to move away. I realize my mistake instantly when I feel him go statue still and his harsh intake of breath against my ear. Then I feel him, really feel him, hard and hot against my back, and it’s my turn to groan.
“I wasn’t trying to sneak up on you.” His hips move almost as if they have a mind of their own. “You just didn’t hear me call your name.”
“Can you let me go?” I ask.
“Why, Dani-girl? Scared?” He hums when I push back lightly and roll my hips.
“Hardly. Just depends on if you want Nate and Lee to see you manhandling me when they come down here.” I’m only half joking. I wouldn’t call what I’m feeling scared. Well, not scared of him. Scared of the enormity of these feelings? Absolutely.
“I’ll hear them coming,” he responds.
His hands shift, and then he spins me so that we’re facing. I look up until our eyes meet, and my breath comes out in a whoosh.
“You’re so beautiful,” he mumbles.
“Thanks,” I reply lamely. Thanks?
He laughs and drops his head some, his brown eyes becoming so dark that they’re almost black.
And that’s when I hear dumb and dumber with the worst-possible timing in the world arguing about real tits versus fake tits, stomping down the stairs. Cohen drops his forehead against mine, gives my arms a squeeze, and then steps back. I watch, baffled, as he reaches out and holds my car keys up. Mutely, I take them from his hooked finger and watch as he walks away, over to my brother and Lee and starts to weigh in on their conversation.
Humiliatingly enough, he sides with the fake tit side.
I could be agreeing that the sky is green and the grass is blue. I have no fucking clue what these two are talking about. I enter in and pretend I have a care about the topic, grunting when I feel would be appropriate, and steal glances over at Dani as she drops her shoulders, her head dropping and her eyes focused on the floor in front of her. She looks so deflated. I just want to pull her back in my arms and take that kiss that was just seconds away from finally happening. Take her in my arms and promise her the world.
But then I remember why I’ve been holding back and realize I made the right move. She gives me a sad glance before squaring her shoulders and walking out the front door.
I finally tune in to the conversation around me and shake my head when I realize what they’re talking about.