He wiped his hand across his mouth and then rubbed the back of his neck. I stepped forward, and he did too, until we were standing face to face, only a glass window separating us. He rested his hand against the glass, and I placed mine against it. My eyes fell to his fingertips, which were almost resting against mine, and I smiled.
When I looked up to him, I saw the water in his eyes and he smiled back my way. “Tea?” he asked. I nodded my head, a tear rolling down my cheek. He slid his hands into his pockets. “Don’t cry.”
My shoulders shrugged. I couldn’t help it. He’d told me to wait for him, and I couldn’t help but chuckle because I would wait for him always.
It wasn’t long until he gathered up his things and met me outside of the school building. We stood in front of each other for the longest, just smiling like children. I went to hug him, and he must have had the same thought because we stepped on each other’s shoes. A nervous laugh happened and I felt like that same teenager who was meeting him for the first time at the train station.
When his arms finally made it around me, I breathed in his scents, tugging tightly on his jacket. He didn’t dare pull away anytime soon.
“You look so grown up,” I whispered into his shoulder and he laughed, rubbing his hand against my back.
“Ditto.” He pulled away and stared at me. “You have bangs.”
“Your face is hairier.” I laughed.
“Yeah,” he frowned, rubbing his chin. “I need to shave.”
“Don’t. I love it.” Changing the subject, I ran my finger across my red nose. “I stopped by your place last night, but—”
“I moved.” He gestured for us to start walking down the sidewalk and I followed his lead. “I spent some time fixing it up with Jace, and then I sold it.”
“But it was—”
“My parents’ dream. Not mine. I got a new place not too far from here. A big kid’s apartment,” he joked.
We stood in silence, but it wasn’t uncomfortable at all. “How is Jace?”
He smiled. “Clean. For the first time in a while. He’s staying with Randy. He’s back in the band.”
“Good for him. Good for both of you.” Daniel just smiled. “You’ll have to show me this big kid’s apartment someday.”
“I have tea there now. I mean, if you want to see it,” he offered.
Of course I agreed. We walked to his apartment and talked about anything and everything.
You know those people you could go years without seeing and when you finally get together it felt like no time had passed? Hold on to those people.
When he placed his key in the lock, he turned to say something to me, but nothing came out of his mouth. Because I placed my lips against his. It was rushed and suddenly imposed, but I had to remember his taste, I had to remember him against me.
He didn’t hesitate to kiss me back. His hand wrapped around my lower back, and I sighed against him, drunk on Daniel.
I pulled back and stared into his blue eyes. “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry.” I blushed as I stepped back. “I don’t even know if you’re seeing anyone! And here I am just slamming my lips against yours as if this is some kind of—”
He shut me up, pushing his mouth against mine again. He separated my lips with his tongue and slowly deepened our kiss.
I sighed again, my eyes closed. “You don’t have a girlfriend, right?”
He chuckled. “No. And you don’t have a boyfriend?”
I felt his body against mine and was a little surprised at how much it still felt like home.
“Uh, Ashlyn?” he questioned, snapping me out of my mind.
“Oh! No. No boyfriend.” I slightly rocked back and forth in my shoes. “But you can tell me, you know. If there was another person in your life. I haven’t dated, because…well…how could I after this? But I mean, three years is a long time to wait and I completely understand if you moved on I mean—”
His fingers landed on my lips. “You’re rambling.”
I nodded. “I’m nervous.”
He stepped in close, our noses brushing. His fingers combed through my hair and he stared into my eyes. “There was never another woman, Ashlyn. There can never be another woman.” Putter. Putter. Heart. Heart. I watched his eyes smile. “Come inside.”
When I stepped into his apartment, I smiled. It was very much Daniel’s apartment. He had musical instruments in his living room and bookshelves packed to the corners with books.
I wandered over to the bookshelf, laying my fingers against it, feeling the covers of the books. So many Shakespeare plays. So much history.
“I have green tea and chai tea. And this weird boxed tea that one of my students’ Mom gave me for Christmas last year. What can I get you?” he asked, moving to his kitchen.
No words came to mind. Because right between Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing was my novel.
To Find Juliet.
Not just one copy, but two.
“Daniel,” I whispered.
He looked up and walked over to me. “It’s brilliant,” he said, crossing his arms across his body. “I mean, the lead hero could be a bit of an ass**le sometimes, but everything about it is perfect. I loved it.” He cleared his throat and picked up both copies of it. “I loved it so much that I bought two. Just in case something happened to the first copy.”
A tear fell down my cheek and I nodded in understanding. “A double problem?”
He moved in and kissed my tears away. “We need to set up a signing for them.” He moved over to his living room coffee table and tossed everything onto the floor. Grabbing my arm, he led me to sit down on the couch. I giggled as he placed a pen in my hand and walked up to the table as if he were my biggest fan.