“This is the most important question I’ll probably ever ask you,” my best friend Olivia stated as we shifted uncomfortably in the vinyl seats of the hospital lobby. “Which Property Brother would you run away with?”
“What kind of question is that?” I replied with a laugh, pulling my shoulder-length wavy blond hair up into a tight ponytail. “What do you mean?”
“This is the easiest way for me to assess your taste in men,” she continued matter-of-factly.
“Olivia, we’ve been best friends for almost two decades. You know my taste. If I had a type, it would be called the wrong one.”
“Sophia Grace, you’re not taking this seriously,” she replied in a playfully stern tone. “Look, in grade school you liked the social outcasts; the boys who ate glue, and that weird kid who always brought his lunch wrapped up in foil.”
“Are you talking about Peter? He was adorable,” I interjected with a defensive smirk. “He actually just sent me a friend request recently, he has like, six kids already.”
“Not the point,” she said dismissively, waving her arms around in a dramatic fashion. “Then in high school, you went for the quiet nerdy types.”
“Kevin was not nerdy,” I laughed, “he was smart. A little boring, sure, but he was brilliant.”
“That was a dead end. He was dull and never could’ve held your interest. He did math for fun, on the weekends no less. That’s as red of a flag as I’ve ever seen. Then in college, you were all wrapped up in the whole ‘bad boy’ vibe. Who was that guy you brought home last Christmas? Gage? He had so many tattoos I thought your dad was going to have a stroke.”
“He only had eight tattoos,” I added, still giggling at her melodramatic history of my dating life. “One of them was a picture of his dog. It was kind of sweet, you know how much I love animals. Of course it was somewhat hidden by that naked woman wrapped in snakes. I can’t say I really appreciate all reptiles equally.” I grimaced.
“Exactly,” she commiserated. “So we can agree that your preferences are all over the map, yes? But we’ve changed a lot over the years, right? We’re done with college. We have our own apartments. We have serious careers now.”
“You’re still a bartender because you won’t make the leap with your design business,” I stated. “And my lighting shop has only been open for a few weeks. I still have plenty of time to fail and move back in with creepy internet roommates. Our careers still need some work.”
“Hey, my freelance design company is almost ready for launch,” she said assuredly. “The bartending gig is just for cash while I finalize some things. Your store is absolutely beautiful, Soph. There isn’t a chance you’re going to fail. You never have…at anything.”
They were kind words, and I certainly appreciated them. However, I hadn’t exactly stepped out of my comfort zone before to try anything big enough to fail at. So really, the jury was still out on that.
“My point is,” she continued, “you need a clear idea of what you’re looking for at this stage in your life. Drew or Jonathan?”
“Who?” I was very confused at this point. “I don’t even know a Drew.”
“The Property Brothers, Sophia,” she explained, gesturing wildly with her hands. “You know, that show on HGTV where one of the twins is the smart nerdy business guy who sells houses, and the other twin is all hot and muscular, breaking down walls with his bare hands…”
“First of all you watch way too much TV if you’re really insinuating this is a valid question. Second of all, how old are they?”
“I don’t mean you have to pick one of those specific guys, they’re not even the hottest guys on that network. I’m just making a generalized point to see if you gravitate more toward the smart nerdy business guy, or the rough dirty hands guy,” she further tried to explain.
I laughed. “Why does it even matter? I’m not looking for either one. I’m not actually looking for anybody.”
“Oh come on, we’re all looking,” she stated, pulling her long, tan legs up into the chair. Her dark brown bob framed her heart-shaped face perfectly. “I mean even when we’re not looking, our eyes are still open, you know what I mean?”
“It’s one in the morning,” I scoffed playfully. “I think you’re delirious. If you keep it up, you’re going to have to live with Grandma Eve at the center.”
“How is she, by the way? Did you see her today?”
“Yes,” I replied with an emotional sigh. “It’s getting so much worse. Alzheimer’s is such a cruel punishment for someone who doesn’t deserve an ounce of it. Sometimes she thinks I’m a nurse, or worse – she thinks I’m my mother. When she doesn’t recognize me, my heart aches, but worse than that – when she does recognize me and we have the most lucid, candid conversations – it just reminds me of all that’s been taken away from her, and it’s heartbreaking. See, that’s another reason why I don’t want to fall for a guy. I’m not cut out for heartache. The ending is too tragic to witness. She still talks about my Grandpa Harold all the time, not realizing he passed years ago, and it’s agonizing. No matter what I tell her as to why he’s not coming to pick her up, my throat gets tight and I get all choked up every time. She still loves him as if they’re nineteen again.”
“That’s not tragic, it’s beautiful,” Olivia shot back, just as enamored by my grandma’s love story as I’d always been. “No one regrets a love story like that. Even when it ends and it’s sad, it’s all still worth it. You know that.”
“I know,” I said with another sigh. “She reminds me of that all the time. It’s a curse, because no matter how much I want to fight it, I do want that love story. Everyone probably does. But how often does that actually happen for anybody?”
“It happens all the time,” Olivia said matter-of-factly. She paused. “Probably.”
I couldn’t help but giggle. “See, probably. That’s the reality of it. It probably happens, occasionally, sometimes. I hate that. If it’s so worth it, shouldn’t it be happening all the time?”
“People give up too soon,” she speculated.
“So I should’ve stayed with Peter the foil-luncher from grade school? You think we could’ve been happy?” I said dramatically.
“That one was worth giving up, trust me,” she replied with a laugh. “But I’m telling you, one of these days you’re going to meet a guy who is worthy of a great love story, Soph. I’m certain of it. You just have to know what you want. Once you figure out which one is worth keeping, the rest is supposed to be easy.”
“Has anyone in the history of the world ever described love as easy?”
“Probably,” she stated, shrugging again. “Maybe in the Bible or something? I’m pretty sure it’s in there somewhere. Although I guess that was written awhile ago. I’m actually not sure it says ‘easy,’ I think it’s just patient and kind and stuff…what do they always say at weddings? Do they say love is easy?” She clearly wasn’t confident in her answers whatsoever.
“You definitely sound like an expert on this subject,” I teased. “You should give me advice more often. This is really helpful.”
“You’re right,” she said with a laugh. “Full disclosure – I would pick both Drew and Jonathan. I don’t even care at this point, I would literally go out with whichever one would simply reply to any of my questions. Why would any guy need more than nine hours to answer whether or not he wants to go out for tacos tomorrow night?” She looked down at her phone, no doubt bothered by the fact that Garrett hadn’t returned any of her texts today.
“Are you girls here for Lexi Gray?” An older woman in green scrubs motioned toward us, interrupting our conversation. We both nodded in unison, then followed her through an open door down the hospital hallway. “She’s out of surgery. She’s doing just fine.”
Olivia and I followed the nurse into a quaint recovery room. The remaining part of our best friends trio was lying comfortably in a teal hospital gown, covered in white blankets. Her long brown hair was piled into a loose bun on top of her head. She smiled as soon as we entered.
“How are you feeling?” Olivia asked with concern in her voice.
“Much better than when I got here,” Lexi answered with an apprehensive smile. “My appendix hadn’t fully ruptured yet by the time they got me into surgery, so that’s the good news.”
“Is there bad news?” I questioned, happy to at least see she was in good spirits.
“Well, I’m going to need a more conservative bikini to hide this scar,” she joked. Olivia and I laughed with her. “Otherwise, it’s not too bad. They can release me tomorrow as long as everything looks okay.”
“Are your parents going to make it? Did they get a flight out, or were they going to drive?” I had called them as soon as we brought Lexi into the ER, but given that we were in Grand Harbor, Michigan and her parents were in South Carolina, either mode of transportation was going to delay them a bit.
“They caught a late flight. They should be here in a few hours,” she replied warmly. “You guys really didn’t have to stay.”
“Are you kidding? I thought I was the one who killed you, taking you to that sushi place. Sophia’s already skeptical enough about seafood as it is, and then when you doubled over at the table I thought that was it – another life lost to salmonella poisoning,” Olivia said dramatically. “Of course we’d wait for you.”
“You guys are the best,” Lexi replied genuinely. “Oh, Soph - there is this nurse here, Travis something… He’s really funny. Great eyes, nice smile. We need to find him so I can introduce you.”
I gently grabbed her arm away from the call button on her bedside table. “No way,” I said quickly. “What is it with you two trying to set me up?”
Olivia pointed directly at Lexi. “Drew or Jonathan,” she asked hurriedly.
Lexi wasted no time responding. “Jonathan, hands down.”
“You guys are terrible,” I giggled. “I want neither. Leave me out of it.”
Our banter was interrupted by the ringing of my phone.
“Oooh, is that a guy? It has to be a guy.” Olivia gasped.
I gazed at the screen. “I highly doubt it. I don’t even recognize the number.”
“There is only one kind of call that comes in at one-thirty in the morning,” Lexi added, feeding off Olivia’s assumption. “You definitely need to answer that. If it’s a man, I won’t call hot-male-nurse Travis in here.”
“You guys are helpless,” I stated, shaking my head. I hit the green button on my phone.
“I love you. Please don’t hang up,” a deep voice pled on the other end.
“Who, uh, wh…” I stammered, caught off guard by the urgency in his voice.
“Just hear me out. Let me say what I need to say. Then at the end, you can respond. If you want to,” he added.
“Uh, okay,” I replied slowly, still unsure as to who was on the other end of the line. Was it my ex? It didn’t sound like him, nor was it a Chicago area code. If it was someone I knew, why wasn’t the number in my phone?
“We went through a lot,” he continued.
“I don’t think we –”
“It was all my fault, okay?” he interrupted. “I’m finally admitting it. It was me. I killed him.”
“Oh, whoa, you…” I tried to stop him from talking, but I was too stunned. This call couldn’t possibly be for me.
“Please, just let me finish,” he said urgently. “I love you, and I know that with absolute certainty. I mean it, I swear. Everything that happened, I’ll take the blame. For all of it. I can’t take any of it back now, and I know that. But we can change what our future looks like, despite our past.”
“I think…” I tried to interject again, but he cut me off quickly.
“I have to finish saying all of this while I still have the nerve,” he said with heavy emotion in his voice. “What we had – it was real. As emotional and ugly as it was at times, I still tried to give you the very best of me. Maybe what we had wasn’t perfect, but maybe that’s why it made sense. Look, I should’ve given you more. I should’ve done more. I could’ve changed everything.”
“I miss you,” he continued. “I miss the way you scrunch up your nose when you smile. I miss your laugh and your ability to make me feel like the only guy in the room. Please, Emily.”
“Well, my name is actually Sophia.” I finally got the words out. “Which makes this a little awkward. Sorry.”
There was a long, uncomfortable pause. Olivia and Lexi remained quiet too, staring back at me with wide eyes, waiting for an explanation.
“Em,” he said quietly.
“I’m sorry,” I repeated, “but you definitely have the wrong number.”
“You changed it?” He sounded confused, as if he didn’t quite believe me.
“I just got this number recently,” I explained sympathetically. “I needed a local number for my business. I own a store called Sparks downtown on Sixth Street. When I requested a new number, my carrier gave me this one.”
“Do you know Em?” he questioned quietly.
“I don’t think so. What’s her last name?”
“Emily Kensington,” he replied softly.
“I don’t believe I know her, sorry,” I answered empathetically. There was this sadness in his voice that struck me. I wished that I could help him, but the whole conversation seemed somewhat bizarre. Between his omission that he killed someone and the fact that he was professing his love for this Emily girl, sadly I suspected she didn’t want to be found, and probably with good reason.
I realized there was silence on the other end of the line. He must’ve hung up. I stared back at my phone, caught off guard by the entire exchange.
“What was that?” Olivia questioned, staring back at me as if I was guilty of something. “More importantly, who was that? I heard a male voice.”
“It was a wrong number,” I replied dismissively. “A very wrong number. Some guy desperate to find his ex-girlfriend apparently.”
“So he’s single,” Lexi mused.
“Not a chance,” I laughed. “Too much baggage. There were more red flags in that conversation than a call-before-you-dig yard. He was a mess.”
“Now you’re getting picky?” Lexi chided playfully.
“That guy sounded flat-out disturbed. Let me at least have some standards,” I retorted. “Just because you’re ‘casually dating’ Nathan, who has commitment phobia by the way, do not push your romantic ideals on me,” I razzed Lexi. “And you Olivia, you’re no better. You’ve been dating Garrett for two months, and he goes days without returning your calls. You’re hardly a relationship expert.”
“At least we’re putting ourselves out there,” Olivia shot back. “You’ve been back in Grand Harbor for what, four months already? And not one single date? You’re way too cute for that and you know it. It’s as if you’ve already signed a petition for some fast-track projectile path toward becoming a spinster with too many parakeets.”
“Hey, I once read that birds are the song to one’s soul,” I replied with a giggle.
“See, Lexi, she’s hopeless,” Olivia stated.
“In all fairness, I’ve been focused on getting the shop up and running,” I said defensively. “I barely remember to shave my legs once a week. That should tell you how far away my brain is from dating.”
“Well Memorial Day Weekend cometh,” Olivia said dramatically. “You have three weeks to bring a date to my family’s annual beach bash or I’m setting you up. The gauntlet has been laid.”
“Really?” I replied incredulously. “Garrett is really rubbing off on you with all that fantasy sci-fi jargon.” Lexi laughed along with me, knowing I was right. “I have an early morning tomorrow,” I added. “Now that we see you’re fine and in perfectly good spirits, Lexi, we should go.” It was almost two a.m.
“My parents should be here in a couple hours anyway, so I’m supposed to get some rest,” Lexi agreed.
“I’ll call you tomorrow,” I said warmly, reaching down to give her a hug. Between the rails on the hospital bed and the IV drip tubes, it was awkward at best. Olivia did the same.
“See you later,” Lexi added as we exited the room. It had been a long day. I looked forward to the comfort of my own bed, though I had a feeling that strange phone conversation would replay in my mind as I drifted off to sleep.
I arrived at the shop by seven a.m. The custom lighting store I owned, Sparks, was just a few blocks from my apartment. It was nestled into a small storefront right in the center of downtown. It had been a dream of mine for years, though admittedly a bit quirky. I had an engineering degree from the Riverside Institute of Chicago, where I’d spent the last four and a half years. Now, after months of hard work and a small loan from my father, I’d turned my dream into an actuality.
I made unique light fixtures; some made out of various metals, others out of pipes and cogs for the industrial look taking off now. Some of my pieces were more traditional – lanterns and pendants – and then I had a one-of-a-kind section that was admittedly somewhat bizarre, but they sold well. I made lamps using regular household items – like one made out of a toaster, and another built into an end table. I also had a local section where I designed fixtures with various items I found around Grand Harbor; sea glass washed up along the shore of Lake Michigan, and battered reclaimed wood I found from old torn down farmhouses. I designed all of the pieces and my business partner Austin made them a reality.
“Morning, sunshine,” Austin said warmly as I walked into the back of the shop. We didn’t open until nine, but we both cherished these quiet hours in the morning. There was a small metal garage-type building we leased connected to the shop on the back side. Austin turned it into a workshop. Building all of our pieces on-site made things easier. “I’m working on those outdoor lanterns we talked about last week.” He held up the copper rectangular base and pointed over to the hardware lying on a nearby counter. “Check out those latches I made.”
“Those are beautiful,” I said in awe, touching the pieces gently. Austin was freakishly talented, and I was so grateful for him. We’d met in Chicago at a school function. He was twenty-six, a few years older than me, and he was married with a baby on the way. We’d talked about opening up a shop in Chicago, but the market already seemed too saturated, and costs were too expensive for what we had in mind. I never imagined he would agree to my idea of a shop back in my hometown in Grand Harbor.
It was a simple, small beach town on the east side of Lake Michigan. After one visit, he and his wife were ecstatic about the idea. Grand Harbor had that affect on people; great beaches, a quaint downtown, and a relaxed culture far different than what we experienced in Chicago. The baby on the way tipped the scales my direction once they considered settling down for good in suburbia. His wife, Anne, was completely on board with the whole thing, and we moved to town around the same time. Within three weeks, the shop was leased and we’d been working hard to build up our inventory.
“Things have been pretty steady over the past few weeks since the Grand Opening,” he stated while he focused on the metal pieces in front of him. “We’ve had a few custom orders come in this week too. Everything look okay on your end?”
“Better than projected,” I confirmed. In addition to all the design work, I handled all the bookkeeping and store details as well. Austin was all labor. We had two part-time girls, Sam and Gianna, and that was it. “The local pieces should sell better this summer once the tourists move in.” From Memorial Day through Labor Day, Grand Harbor filled up with visitors from all over the country. I suspected they would gravitate toward the pieces made from local treasures, given we were located right downtown amongst the ice cream parlors, surf shops, and antique stores.
We spent the next few hours on our typical daily routines. I paid some bills, reset a few display tables, finalized schedules, and researched several new projects. I also spent some time organizing the next Alzheimer’s Run fundraiser I had coming up in August. Ever since my Grandma Eve was diagnosed with the wicked disease two years ago, it became a passion project of mine. I joined several local advocacy groups and tried to get involved in any way I could. The disease was destroying her slowly, and I wanted to do everything in my power to help her.
I ordered some flowers for Lexi and had them delivered to her hospital room. She texted Olivia and me to let us know her parents would be in town for a couple of days to take care of her, but that she should be back to her normal routine in no time. We made plans to hang out again as soon as her parents left town.
Some patrons flowed in and out throughout the morning, but most weekdays weren’t particularly rushed. I expected that to pick up after the holiday weekend at the end of the month.
Around eleven-thirty, the front door chimed and I looked up from my computer, taking note of a tall guy with dark hair and strong arms. He was definitely a new customer; I would’ve noticed a guy with that build in my shop if I saw him before. His dark jeans hung loose on his hips and his light v-neck shirt brought out the blue and grey flecks in his eyes. His arms and chest filled out the shirt nicely, and I wished Sam was here already so I wouldn’t be forced into an awkward sales conversation with this guy.
“Hi, welcome,” I said politely, standing up from my metal stool behind the counter to greet him. He looked around the shop curiously, and I could tell by his gaze it was his first time in the store.
“These fixtures are amazing,” he replied warmly, reaching out to touch one of the lamps on display. Instead of focusing on the shade or switch, as most people did, he ran his fingers along the unique metal criss-cross base.
“Are you looking for something in particular?” I questioned.
“I was referred here by someone,” he explained. I noticed he had a piece of paper in his hands with my business name on it. “I’m in real estate. Well, mainly new construction now.”
I smiled as I thought of Olivia in that moment. I wasn’t familiar with the house design show she mentioned to me as I didn’t watch a lot of TV, but based on what she said, he sounded like both Property Brothers wrapped up in one gorgeous, firm package.
“I’m always looking for unique pieces for our custom homes,” he continued. “I had no idea what to expect.”
“We can do custom orders as well, if you have something else in mind other than what you see here,” I added professionally.
He looked up at me and I was immediately taken by his light eyes. It was such a contrast to his dark hair. To answer Olivia’s earlier question about my ‘type’ of guy, this was it. Exactly it.
“How long have you guys been here?” he questioned, making conversation.
“We just opened a few weeks ago.” I smiled at him. “I’ve been working on these pieces for the last year and a half though, but the store itself is new.”
“Wait, you make all of these yourself?” His lips curled and I couldn’t help but stare back at his handsome face. “They’re brilliant.”
“I just come up with the designs,” I replied while blushing. “Austin, my business partner, he does the labor. Are you from this area?”
After being away at college for the past four and a half years, I was surprised at how many new faces I saw around town. I still ran into my fair share of old classmates here and there, but it was refreshing to meet a new young face. It seemed most people who moved to Grand Harbor were either old and settling in for retirement, or young affluent families wanting to raise their kids in a quiet beach town. He wasn’t old and didn’t have a ring on, so that piqued my interest.
“I grew up in Carlstown, a couple hours south over the Indiana border. My father owns a construction company there,” he explained, resting a hand casually in his jeans pocket. “I usually handle the real estate side of things, listing and selling plots of land, that kind of thing. But I’ve since moved on more toward the construction side of things. Do you know that McCarthy property up the beach on Kingston Street?”
“That little old beach house they plowed down to build that huge stone monstrosity?”
“Yeah,” he replied with a laugh. “That’s my project.”
“Wow, that’s a huge endeavor. They let you sneak away to look at light fixtures today?”
“No, I didn’t go in this morning,” he explained. “I’m only really part time there. A couple days a week I work for Reclaimed Hearts. The name sounds a little cheesy, but it’s an amazing organization. It’s a non-profit that originated in Detroit actually.”
“What do you do there?”
“We fix up homes for people who need assistance but can’t afford a professional to do it. We’ve built some handicap ramps for people who’ve found themselves needing one for sudden life-changing circumstances – car accidents, or acute illnesses that took away their mobility. We’ve also fixed up some roofs and worked on insulation for elderly people on fixed incomes, that kind of thing. I only get to help out there for about ten to fifteen hours a week, but it’s a wonderful endeavor. The gratitude from the people we get to help is incredible. I wish I could work there full-time, but obviously volunteer work doesn’t exactly pay all the bills. The McCarthy house helps in that regard, so I have to balance the two.”
Great, so a hot guy who does charity work… He wasn’t exactly making himself an easy target to walk away from.
“Sounds like you’re pretty busy,” I commented, hoping he would respond by confirming he had no time in his life for me. That would help get him out of my head.
“I have no choice but to stay busy, I don’t know anyone in town,” he replied with a nervous laugh. “It’s easy to work a lot of hours when you have no social life.”
He stared back at me and I so badly wanted to imagine he was insinuating I should be his social life, but I doubted that’s what he was really trying to tell me.
“So you’re living here now? You don’t commute from Carlstown?” I wasn’t thinking straight when I asked the question. Why on earth would he commute from another state, hours away? He was clouding up my brain.
“I’m staying here in Grand Harbor. At least for now,” he said with a shrug. “I’m crashing with my brother at his apartment over on Lakeshore Boulevard. At least until I figure out what I’m doing long-term.”
“I live pretty close to there,” I interjected. “Not on the lake side though, obviously. I’d have to sell a lot more lamps for that to happen.”
He smiled back at me and we stood there for a moment in complete, awkward silence.
“Well, uh, if you need help with anything, you know, with the lights,” I stammered nervously, “just let me know. I’m Sophia Grace.”
“Lance Rivers,” he replied with an extended hand. I shook it firmly, surprised by the softness of his skin. “Would you be interested in coming to my house?”
“Oh, uh, you’re inviting me over?”
“Not to where I’m staying,” he blushed. “I mean you could come over. I’d love for you to come over, actually. I mean that’s not what I meant.” He shook his head, and I was glad he was the one rambling this time. “Sorry, what I meant to ask was whether or not you make home visits. Site visits actually. Maybe you’d be interested in seeing the house I’m working on to give me your opinion as to which lights would look best?”
His face looked somewhat embarrassed, but also full of warmth at the same time.
“I can definitely do that,” I replied, trying to maintain a professional demeanor. Honestly there was nothing professional about the way his eyes made me feel. I had plenty of non-professional thoughts running through my brain at the moment, but I was trying my best to keep it together. “Let me give you this,” I stated, grabbing one of my business cards off the counter. “It has my cell on there. Just give me a call and we can arrange something. Whenever it’s convenient for you.”
“What are you doing right now?” he asked directly.
Trying not to be affected by your face…and torso… and…
“I’ve heard good things about that sushi place one street over from here,” he added, interrupting my thoughts. “I was planning to grab some lunch there. If you’re available, would you maybe want to join me?”
I glanced around the empty shop. Sam would be arriving soon for her shift anyway. Technically I could get away for a bit. This was more like a business meeting, probably… right? So if it was for business anyway, I shouldn’t feel guilty about leaving for an hour or so. After all, he made it clear he was interested in my lights, so that would make this officially not a date. Probably. The lines were confusing me as I stared at his face. Thankfully I realized in that moment that my legs still hadn’t been shaved for at least three days. That took some pressure off. This definitely couldn’t be a date, I was too unprepared for that. Thank goodness my long maxi-dress hid everything.
“Uh, yeah. Let me just check with someone real quick,” I said nervously. Austin didn’t usually work the floor, but he was more than capable for a half hour. I made my way into the back room where he was working on a new fixture.
“What’s going on? Why do you look so flushed?” Austin questioned a little too loudly. I quickly put a finger up to my lips, signaling him to whisper.
“I’m pretty sure the man of my dreams is out in the store right now,” I replied with a hushed excitement.
“How do you know?” he asked skeptically.
“I don’t know, he just… he makes my guts feel like falling out. Is that a thing?” I sighed. “He’s like both Property Brothers all in one guy, which means he’s like all the things a girl needs, right?”
“Seriously, an HGTV reference? You’re as bad as my wife,” he laughed quietly.
“I don’t even really know what I’m referencing, I’m so behind on my Netflix cue that I haven’t had time to watch TV in ages. But the guy does charity work for Pete’s sake. For old people. You know my weakness for the elderly. I’m just trying to say that I need a favor. And a break. I mean, the break is my favor.”
“You are a pile of mush right now,” he continued laughing. “This is really a noteworthy guy?”
“Based on the outline of his pecs through his form-fitting shirt, I think so,” I snickered.
“Oh, I’ve gotta see this,” he smirked, getting up from his stool.
“No,” I urged, motioning him to sit back down. “Do not go out there.”
“I’m kind of like your over-protective older brother,” he responded playfully. “I’m supposed to go out there and act all intimidating so he knows to treat you right.”