I Wanna Text You Up (Page 23)
“Thank you,” he says, picking up the hot sauce he got out and pouring it over his eggs. “You’re still going?”
“Even without me?”
I make my way back over to the stove and crack two eggs for myself. “I’ve always gone without you. It’s a monthly showing and I haven’t missed one yet.”
“Yep, and just because you’re ditching our date doesn’t mean I’m ditching it.”
“I am not ditching. I tried to pull every string I have but I can’t find anyone who’ll cover the shift for me.”
“Uh huh. You just hate me.”
“Your singing and dancing? Maybe. Hate you? Never.” I hear his fork scrape against his plate. “These are really good, by the way. I’ll make a chef out of you yet.”
I turn to him and lift a brow. “Hey, I’ve always been able to make bacon and eggs. I didn’t need your help for that one.”
“No, you’re right. You just needed my help boiling water, right?”
I go to grab a towel off the counter to throw at him when he lets out a yelp.
“Ow! You little shit!”
Just then, Mittens runs out from his favorite spot at the bar and over to me.
“Oh really?” Caleb’s eyes are bright with laughter as he grabs his plate and takes it to the sink. “You’ve turned my own cat against me, huh? I talk a little bit of shit and he bites me? That’s so messed up, Zoe.”
I scoop Mittens into my arms and give him a snuggle. “That’s a good little buddy,” I whisper to him. Then I stick my tongue out at Caleb. “Serves you right for being a jerk.”
He presses a kiss to my cheek and ruffles Mitten’s head.
“You.” The grin he gives me makes my knees knock together. Such a simple word, and yet it’s filled to the brim with affection.
Caleb’s smitten with me, and I can sure as hell tell him the feeling is mutual.
“That’s what she said!” I holler back through the door.
Delia swings it open. “You did not just say that.”
She lifts her eyes skyward and waves me inside. “Get the hell in here and hug me, you brat. I haven’t seen you since I moved out. What gives?”
I step inside her and Zach’s home and wrap my arms around her. It’s been weeks since I saw her last, but we’ve still talked nearly every day. “I’ve been busy.”
She releases me and gives me a look. “Bull.”
“Fine. I wanted to give you a little bit of space with the move, honeymoon period and all that. There was a little bit of sulking and then dealing with my new roomie.”
She gives me a grin as I follow her into the living room. She settles down on the couch and wraps her blanket around her, patting the spot next to her. “Sit and spill. We’ll put something on for background noise and have a glass of wine while we gab.”
“Gab? We don’t gab, Delia.”
“Well we do now, dammit. I miss girl talk with you. I love Zach like crazy, but I need a little estrogen in my life right now. Tell me all about life without me and what it’s like living with Caleb.”
My stomach rolls when she says his name.
Caleb…the reason I’m here.
It’s time to tell her how I’m feeling, because every single day, I can feel myself liking him more and more. I can’t let this keep heading in the direction it is without Delia knowing.
“Wine is exactly what I need.”
There must be something about the way I say it, because Delia raises her brows my way before she pushes herself off the couch and into the kitchen.
“So how are things, Zoe?”
She grabs two glasses from the cabinets before heading toward the fridge. “Huh. Interesting how?”
“In a lot of ways.”
Delia returns to the couch, setting down the cups and a fresh bottle of white wine. She sits forward and pours us both a glass then hands me mine.
She curls her legs underneath her and takes a sip, regarding me a moment, knowing something’s up. I try my best not to make eye contact.
“What kind of ways?”
I down my entire glass of wine and nearly slam it back down on the table.
“I like Caleb.” It comes out in one rushed breath.
“You like him?” she says calmly, swirling her wine in her glass.
“I like him.”
“Oh,” she says.
“Is that why our conversations have been feeling…rushed?”
“Yes!” I nearly explode. “It’s so hard to talk to you when I feel like I’ve been hiding something.”
“You know that’s okay, right? To have a crush on him? I’m not going to be mad.” She lifts a shoulder and takes another sip. “He’s a good-looking guy. Can’t blame you there.”
I drop my head into my hands. “It’s more than that, Delia.”
“More. He’s the first person I think about in the morning. I rush to check my phone when it pings. I want to be near him and miss him when he’s away. I like him.”
She purses her lips, swirling the wine glass again. “Huh.”
“We, uh, we…”
“Spit it out.”
“We’ve kissed. A lot.”
She studies me, not saying a word.
I feel like the world’s shittiest friend. I mean who goes around kissing their bestie’s ex-boyfriend? What kind of friend does that?
“I’m sorry, Delia. I’m so sorry. I’m a horrible friend, but I couldn’t help it. He’s just so…Caleb. He’s hot and kind of annoying and so kind.” I groan and shake my head, dropping it into my hands to hide. “So fucking kind. He works himself to the bone and wants to make something out of his life so badly, wants to better himself, but he doesn’t realize he’s already an amazing guy. Plus, you know…that body.”
My breath is coming out all shaky and I feel like I’m rambling, but I’m so scared to face her, to see her reaction. I don’t want her to hate me for this. I can’t help my feelings any more then Caleb can.
“I just…I like him, Delia. I like him so fucking much, and I hate myself for it.”
Delia bursts into laughter.
Slowly, I lift my head and glance her way. Her head is thrown back and her body is shaking.
She fans her hand in front of her face, trying to calm herself. She downs the rest of her wine and sets the now empty glass on the table before facing me. Sticking out her hands, she beckons for mine. I mirror her pose and tentatively place my hands in hers.
“Zoe, it’s okay.”
“It is okay. There’s no reason for you to hate yourself. It’s fine. I’m fine with it. In fact, I’m delighted to hear this.”
My mouth drops open, shocked by what I’m hearing. “You’re what?”
“I’m happy as hell. Besides Zach, you’re my most favorite person in this entire world, and Caleb’s probably my third. Why wouldn’t I want my favorite people to find happiness?”
“But he’s your ex-boyfriend.”
“Delia, he’s your fucking ex-boyfriend!”
“You keep saying that like I wasn’t the one who dated him for six months.”
My lips quirk up. “Caleb said almost the exact same thing to me once.”
“That does not surprise me.” She squeezes my hand. “Zoe, if you like Caleb and he makes you happy, then go for it. He’s a great guy and I think he could be good for you.”
“Hey, look at me.” I meet her eyes. “No weirdness from me, I promise. I’m madly in love with the giant pain in the ass in the basement. There’s no jealousy or resentment or anything like that. I want you to feel what I feel with Zach, and if it’s Caleb who makes you feel that way, then it’s him. Caleb and I were never going to make it. We had a surface-level relationship. There were no fireworks in the sky when it came to us. We just were. It was more convenient than anything else—not that he wasn’t a good guy or that I didn’t care for him, I just didn’t care for him like I should have, if that makes sense.”
I nod. “It does, because I care for him like I should.”
“Well that’s already an improvement over your past relationships.”
“I feel like I should be offended by that, but you’re totally right.” All at once, so many emotions hit me, and tears begin to brim in my eyes. I blink them away before they can fall. “We’re not at the same level you and Zach are at, but I do like him a lot. I think whatever it is that’s going on between us has potential.”
“Like long term? Not one of your flings?”
“He doesn’t feel like a fling.”
“Can I ask…”
She doesn’t even have to voice the question. “We haven’t slept together. For one, I couldn’t do that to you, and two, I’m not ready for that step yet.”