“When you were fifteen and you sat in my parents’ basement, you told me that, one day, I would see you the way you see me. You told me that you would be waiting, Dani. Waiting for me to become yours and you mine. I wasn’t ready, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t see you and haven’t seen you every day since and thought about what it would be to have you. You told me you would be waiting. You sat there with all the courage in the world and laid it out there, Dani. Are you telling me now that you take it back?”
“You remember that?” I gasp.
When he starts talking next, I swear that my heart stops. Shock. But complete wonderment. His voice, a pitch higher, whispers the words I said to him almost ten years ago verbatim. I should know—I practiced them for weeks in the mirror before I worked up the courage to actually say them to him. They were words I would never forget. Especially since he treated me with the indifference of a good friend after—until recently.
“I’m going to miss you, Cohen. I know you don’t look at me like I look at you, but one day, you’re going to come back and I’ll still be waiting for you. Waiting for you to see me like I see you. Mark my words, Cohen Cage. One of these days, you’re going to be mine. And until you’re ready . . . I’ll be here. I’ll be waiting.”
“Holy shit,” I repeat out loud when he stops talking. “I can’t believe you remember that.”
“I will never forget it,” he vows.
“What does that even mean?” I throw back. Once again, here he goes with his hot-and-cold shit.
“That means exactly that. I won’t ever forget it. Just because I haven’t acted on this chemistry between us doesn’t mean I don’t want to. Back then, I couldn’t. You know that it wouldn’t have been appropriate with our ages. And now . . . Now, I don’t even know what it is because my head is in a million different places right now. But one thing I know is that I’m getting ready to leave. I’m getting ready to leave and, Dani, I just can’t put you in the position of being in limbo for months, years, who knows, just so that I can feel what you feel like.” He drops his head against mine and sighs. “I’ve never wanted someone as fiercely as I want you, Dani-girl.”
The tone of his voice is so heartbreaking that my chest clenches.
“I wish it were a different world. One where I wasn’t leaving and our future wasn’t unknown. If it were, you would have been mine already.” He gives me a sad, small kiss against my forehead—not pulling back for a few beats. He looks me in the eyes again before pulling himself up and walking out the door.
Well, if that doesn’t suck, I don’t know what does.
I might be grasping at straws here . . . but what he didn’t say was that we didn’t have a future at all. Just that he wasn’t sure what it was.
It’s not much hope—but it’s something. And that was more than I had an hour ago.
Two weeks later
“DANI!” NATE YELLS UP THE stairs, his impatience clear as day. He just got here two minutes ago to pick me up and he’s already reached his patience level.
“You need to stop putting all that shit on your face so we can get going.”
“I’m not ‘putting that shit’ on my face, Nate!” I yell back as I recap my mascara and go over my lips again with bright-red lipstick, giving myself one more look to make sure everything is perfect. I have to look perfect today.
Summer has come to stay in Georgia. If my daddy saw me now, I’m sure he would have a fit over my outfit. I’ll have to deal with him later, but he won’t be able to do anything but complain about it by then. My jean shorts are just shy of what I would consider normal. They cover everything but show a lot—and I mean a lot—of leg. My red tank top is tight and gives me just enough of cleavage.
I look hot.
My legs look amazing. Like, off-the-charts ahhhmazing. The shorts matched with my heels make them look longer than they are. Weeks of working daily at the gym and a few more pole dancing classes have them toned to perfection, and thanks to the sun, my tan is the perfect shade of dark. My long, chestnut locks are hanging down my back in soft waves, giving them that “I woke up like this” look even though it took me almost an hour to get each curl perfect. But my makeup might take the cake. Maddi did it before she left the house, going heavy on my eyes so that my green peepers would pop like crazy. I’m not vain, but I can safely admit that I look hot as hell.