I Wanna Text You Up (Page 29)
“Nah. They’re pretty easygoing.”
“They seem great.”
We’re sitting out back on the patio, stuffed from the Chinese food we ordered and curled up together in the chaise lounge, sharing a beer while a fire roars in the fire pit.
My dad’s hung twinkle lights around the perimeter since I was here last, and they cast a romantic glow around us.
I close my eyes and rest against Caleb’s chest, soaking in the sound of the waves crashing against the nearby shore.
“I love it out here.”
Caleb kisses at my neck, his lips cold and wet from the beer. “Yeah, it’s not too bad.”
I smile, because I know he’s referring to spending time with me just as much as he is our surroundings.
“Your dad kind of got me thinking…what are you doing after graduation, Zohanna?”
“You caught that, huh?”
“Hell yes I did. You never told me that was your full name.”
“It’s a little strange…”
“Strange?” I feel his lips at my ear. “It’s sexy as hell.”
I let out a shiver and can feel his laughter against me.
“Now, after graduation,” he says.
“I…” My lips go dry. This is the first time I’ve had anyone other than my parents ask me directly. Even with Delia, it was always just a we’ll see when I get there sort of answer. “I, um, I’ve actually applied for a few graphic artists positions, some freelance, some in New York—even one at a comic book publisher.”
Caleb sits up behind me and I turn to look at him.
“Yeah?” His eyes light up. “That’s amazing, Zoe.”
“Thanks.” I duck my head, surprised by how much I love his enthusiasm and encouragement. “Now, is what you were talking to my dad about what you really want to do?”
“It is. Well, now it is. With baseball gone, it’s kind of my only option.”
“And will you be happy doing that?”
He stares off into the distance, a look of longing on his face, and I know he’s thinking about the career he could have had. Finally, he peeks over at me again.
I regard him with searching eyes, trying to see if he’s lying.
“Good,” I tell him. “That’s good. And what about the…obligations you have here? Your mom and dad?”
Caleb lets out a sad laugh. “My dad isn’t in the picture, Zoe.”
“No, it’s just me, my mom, and my brother. That’s the way it’s always been.”
“That’s…” I take a shuddered breath. “Wow. I’m sorry to hear that.”
“It’s just life.”
“I never knew that about you. You realize you never tell me anything about your family or past, right? That’s the first time you’ve even talked about your brother before. I didn’t know you had one.”
“Is it really?”
I nod. “I think the only things you’ve told me are you’re a huge comic nerd because you could get them for cheap, you lived in a trailer park, and as I’ve just discovered tonight, you don’t know your father and you have a brother. That’s it.”
He scratches the stubble covering his cheek. “Oh.”
We don’t say anything else and eventually I return to my position, resting against him again. We listen to the sounds of the sea, the noise nearly lulling me to sleep, then Caleb finally speaks.
“I’m sorry, Zoe. I’m not trying to hide anything from you, it’s just not something I like talking about. I prefer to keep that life separate from my life here. I don’t want to blur the lines.”
“That sounds nice in theory, Caleb, but your lines were crossed long ago. Being gone every Sunday, sometimes not coming back until the next day, rushing to take phone calls in the middle of the night…”
“You’ve heard those?”
I heard the one when we fell asleep on the couch that one night, and then there have been a few times I’ve noticed him responding to texts at ungodly hours of the night.
“Shit. I’m sorry, Zoe.”
“It’s fine. I just want you to know that if this thing is going to work between us as more than roommates, meaning our newly minted boyfriend-girlfriend status, you’re going to have to talk about it sometime.”
He exhales a shaky breath. I can feel his heartbeat against my back, a sure sign he’s nervous to open up.
“I suppose that’s fair, but not this week, okay? Let’s just enjoy this time together. Trust me, you don’t want to hear about it now.”
I twist around until I can look him in the eyes. “But I will when we get back?”
“When we get back. I promise.”
A kiss to my cheek interrupts my peaceful sleep.
“Zoeeeeee.” This time my name is whispered sweetly into my ear.
I peek one eye open and look at the digital clock resting on the bedside table.
6:30AM. What in the hell…
“This better not be a booty call or I’m going to punch you right in the taint.”
“It’s too early to be threatening people with taint punches, Zoe.”
“That is highly debatable.” I roll over to find Caleb peering down at me, a goofy grin gracing his lips. “Why are you smiley and why are you waking me up so early? We’re supposed to be on vacation. People sleep in on vacation.”
“Not when their adorable boyfriend wants to watch the sunrise on the beach.”
I eye him, wary of his intentions. “You want to go to the beach?”
“I want to go to the beach.”
“Are you drunk?” I reach out and touch is forehead. “Do you have a fever?”
“No and no. I want to see this beautiful sunrise everyone keeps going on and on about.”
“You want to watch the sunrise?”
“Are you just going to lie there repeating everything I say, or are you going to come with me?”
“Oh, you will be later.”
I groan and roll back over, facing away from him. “It’s too early for your innuendos, Caleb.”
“If it’s not too early for taint punches, it’s not too early for innuendos. Fair is fair. Now, up.” He smacks my ass and flies off the bed, out of my reach. “We have a sunrise to catch.”
“That was my ass, you ass!”
“I know, baby.” He winks. “I was aiming for it.”
He trots out of the room, mighty proud of himself, as I reluctantly climb out of the warm comfort of my bed.
I search through the bag I didn’t bother unpacking last night, looking for something to wear. It’s early morning and the wind on the beach is going to be chilly, so it’s best I dress warm.
We spent last night wrapped together until well after midnight, kissing and whispering in the dark. I’m thankful for the time we spent together, but less than six hours of sleep isn’t enough.
He’s lucky I like him.
I haphazardly pull on sweats and a hoodie then slide my feet into flip-flops, snagging my toiletries bag on the way out the door and across the hall.
I pop into the bathroom and run a brush through my hair before tossing it up into a messy bun. Then I brush my teeth and wipe the sleep out of my eyes before meeting an impatient Caleb out in the hallway.
“I suppose, though you owe me coffee and breakfast after this,” I tell him as I grab blankets from the linen closet he’s standing beside.
“Is anything open this early?”
“Oh yes. You think you’re the only one who wants to watch the sun rise?”
I lead us outside and across the street.
The road is quiet, most people still in bed at this hour as we walk about half a mile in silence until we reach the nearest beach access point.
We amble our way down the well-worn pathway and Caleb reaches out, grabbing my hand as we walk onto the beach together.
“It’s chilly out here.”
“Yeah, I should have warned you,” I say. “Good thing I grabbed an extra blanket though. We can sit on one and wrap up in the other.”
“You’re too good to me.”
Caleb stares out at the ocean in awe as we approach the shoreline. His ball cap is resting backward on his head, eyes still a little puffy from sleep. He threw on a plain black t-shirt and jeans, and was smart enough to wear sandals so the sand doesn’t drown his shoes.
I watch as he takes a whiff of the fresh sea air, his nostrils flaring and eyes falling shut.
“Mmm, salt and fish,” he says on the exhalation.
I pull at his arm, dragging him farther down the beach. “Oh, hush it. It’s not that bad.”
“Nah, it’s not. I actually kind of like it.”
“I see the ocean is already working its magic on you.”
“Something like that,” he mutters, now looking over at me.
“Stop being cheesy,” I say with a grin. “Pick a spot for us to sit. We don’t have much longer.”
Caleb leads us to a spot several feet from the lapping waves before stopping and grabbing the blankets from my hands. He spreads out the smaller of the two and then sits, patting the space between his legs.