I Wanna Text You Up (Page 18)
He reaches into his back pocket and I lunge at him like a lunatic, swatting at the phone in his hand.
“No! Caleb! Stop it right now!”
He snakes an arm around my waist and brings me in close to him. “Tell me then, Zoe. Tell me the real reason you don’t want to do this.”
My heart begins to work overtime with the way he’s watching me. It’s like he can see right through me, down to the very thread that holds me together.
I both love and hate how it makes me feel.
“I’m scared, Caleb. I don’t want to like you. I don’t want to do that Delia…but I can’t help the attraction I feel toward you. You’re like this magnetic field that’s pulling me in. I don’t know you well enough to decide if I want inside or if I want off the field.”
He releases me and I take a step back, noticing when he slips his phone back into his pocket.
“How about this: let’s be friends, no strings attached. If we kiss, we kiss. If something more comes of this, then it does, but I don’t see why we should tiptoe around whatever this is for the sake of what-ifs.”
Can I do that? Can I just go with the flow on this? I’m usually so laid back about relationships and guys, but something with Caleb is different—and it goes beyond him and Delia.
I do want to get to know him better—as friends, as whatever.
“I can do that.”
“We can do that.”
“Just, like, don’t make it weird.”
He lets out a choked laugh. “Me? I’m gonna make it weird? Riiiight.”
“Yep. You.” I pick up my discarded glove, playing it cool, because we both know it would be me that made it weird before he did. “Now help me load this crap into my car. You’re buying me lunch.”
“Okay, seriously, you are a stupid amazing cook.”
Caleb lifts a shoulder, like the meal he just whipped up was no big deal. “I know.”
“And you learned all that how exactly?”
“We had about three working channels, one being this old cooking station. That’s where I learned a good portion of it. The rest was through trial and error.”
“Trial and error? For that?”
“It’s just a healthy spin on chicken Parmesan. It’s not that hard to make.”
I shake my head. “I’d have failed at the first step.”
“Flattening chicken? You can’t really mess that up…”
“Oh, trust me, I’d have found a way. And you learned all this in the…what did you say? The trailer park?”
He nods. “Yep. Born and raised.”
Caleb goes to grab our empty plates, an attempt to change the subject—which I allow—but I swat his hand away.
“Nuh uh. I’ll do that. You cooked, I’ll clean.”
I grab our plates and make my way to the sink, taking the time to rinse them clean before dropping them in the dishwasher. Piling the leftovers into a bowl, I slide it into the fridge. It’s amazing that just a few weeks ago you would open it and only find milk, butter, eggs, and a few jars of salsa. Now it’s stocked full of leftovers and all kinds of fresh groceries.
Grabbing my apron, I tie it around my waist and set about pulling out the ingredients to make brownies. Hey, he makes dinners, I make dessert—those are the rules.
I break an egg over a bowl and drop it in then turn to dump the shell in the trash, surprised to find a smiling Caleb still sitting at the counter.
His grin grows, and he gives his head a shake. “Nothing. It’s just cute to watch you flitter your way around the kitchen. I haven’t had the chance to watch you bake yet. I’m usually only around to reap the rewards of your efforts, not watch the magic happen.”
“What’s so cute about it?”
“Everything. Your concentration, the way your tongue snakes out when you have to use the whisk…” He stalks my way and reaches out, brushing his finger against my cheek. “The speck of flour you have right here.”
“That was so cliché.”
“But you have to admit, it made your knees weak.”
“Another cliché. You done yet?”
“Oh, baby, not even close.”
I burst into laughter as Caleb swoops me into his arms, placing a kiss against my temple, shaking his head at me.
“You’re something else, Caleb.”
“You like it.”
“You can’t prove that.”
His lips lift, and I know exactly what’s running through his mind. “Oh, I can.”
“You’re going to kiss me again, aren’t you?”
He responds by dipping his head and capturing my lips with his. His thumb sweeps across my cheek, his other hand gripping my waist and holding me close to him as his mouth moves over mine. His touch is gentle, sweet even.
We stand there wrapped together for who knows how long with our lips fused together.
It feels so good, so natural. It’s only been hours since we agreed to be friends and see where this goes, but I can already feel the shift, and it worries me how good it feels.
“I need to finish making these brownies,” I whisper when I pull my mouth from his.
“Yeah you do—I’m craving something sweet.”
He winks; I nearly die laughing.
Caleb shakes his head and steps away from me. “I’ll be on the couch while you calm down in here.”
I wave him off and finish mixing the brownies, adding in a few chocolate chips for an extra rich batch.
I set the timer and slide dessert into the oven before slipping off my apron. I grab two beers from the fridge and make my way into the living room.
“Here.” I hand Caleb one. “We have about twenty-five minutes.”
“You want to watch something?”
“How about watch that dick disappear into this ass?”
He spits out the drink of beer he just took, his face red, laughter spilling out of him. “Holy fuck! Did you just ask me to do anal with you?”
I can’t help but laugh along with him. “No, I just can’t control the things that come out of my mouth sometimes.”
“Because, I mean, I’m game if you are.” He waggles his brows up and down.
“Keep dreaming, Caleb. Keep fucking dreaming.”
“You’re going to be so fun to live with.” He grabs the remote from the table, still laughing. “You a fan of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia?”
“Just wait. You’ll see.”
We’re not even five minutes into the first episode and my mouth has already dropped at least three times. I can see Caleb watching me out of the side of his eye.
“They’re such train wrecks, but I can’t look away.”
“Just wait, it gets worse.”
“Worse? That’s possible?”
He chuckles. “Worse.”
We finish out the episode and start the second before the timer goes off.
“Be right back,” I tell him. “Pause it. I don’t want to miss one second.”
I race into the kitchen and use a toothpick to check the brownies. When it comes out clean, I remove them and set the pan on a rack to cool while we watch another episode or two.
“Okay, ready,” I say, plopping back down on the couch.
When Caleb doesn’t answer, I glance over at him.
I went into the kitchen for two minutes and he fell asleep.
Standing, I grab my beer bottle and his, dumping them both in the recycling bin before wrapping tin foil around the brownies. I’ll have to take care of them in the morning.
“Mittens,” I call quietly. “Bed time.”
The small cat darts out from his favorite spot under the bar and races toward my bedroom. Guess you can say we’ve done this a few times.
I lean over the back of the couch and give Caleb a few shakes. “Hey, wakie wakie. Let’s go to bed.”
“Bed. Let’s go.”
“Together. You’re sleeping with me tonight.”
He gives me a crooked grin. “I don’t think I’m up for it tonight, babe.”
I laugh and give him another shake. “I meant sleep sleep. You’re not sleeping on the floor, and no offense, but you’re too big for the couch to be comfortable.”
“My ass isn’t that big.”
I slap at said ass. “It’s getting there.”
He flips around quickly. “Did you just slap my ass?”
“Maybe. Did you like it?”
A shrug. “Maybe.”
I give him a small laugh. “Come on. Bed.”
We amble down the hallway. “I’m, uh, gonna go grab my stuff. You sure this is okay?”
“Yep. Now scoot. I’m getting sleepy.”
Caleb heads to grab his pillow and blanket while I rush to clean up my painting supplies and try to make some sense of my messy bed.
I refuse to overthink this. I refuse to make this weird.
Caleb doesn’t have a bed. He has to sleep in mine.
I climb into ‘my side’, which feels so weird because the whole bed has always been my side, and then I wait for Caleb to make his move.