I Wanna Text You Up (Page 5)
My eyes scroll across the bar, looking for anyone wearing something with a question mark on it. I peek at the loner guys again, but none of them are fitting the criteria.
“Do you guys see anyone?”
Both answer in the negative.
“Maybe he isn’t here yet?” Delia suggests. “I mean we did get here five minutes early.”
“Yes, and now he’d be five minutes late.”
“Who are you guys looking for?” Caleb interjects.
“We aren’t su—” My eyes trail over Caleb’s shirt and my breath catches in my throat. “No.”
My gaze stays trained on the pocket of his shirt. I can’t look away, because right there in plain sight sits a question mark, peeping out at the top of the square.
Without thought, I reach over and pull his pocket down, the beer that was halfway to his lips sloshing out of the glass with the sudden jerking movement.
I was right.
Sitting inside his pocket is the Riddler, arms stretched wide in a Here I am! gesture.
Caleb’s head snaps my way, his own dark blue gaze wide, surprise covering his face.
“No.” The word drops from his lips in a whisper. “There is no way.”
“I’ll call you back,” I say before ending the call and setting my phone on the table, never once breaking eye contact with Caleb.
“You’re the one I’ve been emailing with?” he says, voice full of surprise.
“You’re the one I was going to let move in with me?”
“I guess I—wait, was? Past tense?”
His nostrils flare with irritation as my words sink in, and God help me, I find it attractive. I don’t know what is up with me tonight, but I’m noticing things in Caleb I shouldn’t be.
“Why, Zoe? Why can’t we be roommates? We know each other. I’d say we’re comfortable enough around each other, and you don’t have to be worried about letting some stranger danger move in. This is the perfect setup here.”
I shake my head. “No. No way.”
“Why? Give me one good reason why not.”
“Because you’re my best friend’s ex-boyfriend, that’s why.” And because I find you extremely attractive, idiot.
With how much I’ve been noticing him lately, there is no way in hell I can confine myself to an apartment with the guy. That’s a recipe for disaster and too many late-night me time sessions.
He sighs and scrubs a hand over his face. “Who gives a crap about that? It feels like a lifetime ago. She’s moved on, I’ve moved on—that’s not a real reason.”
“It’s reason enough for me.”
“And if I were to march over there right now and ask Delia if it was okay and she said yes, then what?”
“Then the answer would still be no. It’s my apartment.”
He lets out an exasperated sigh and his shoulders slump. I almost feel bad for telling him no, but I can’t say yes. It’d be too weird knowing he’d just been sleeping there as Delia’s boyfriend less than a year ago.
“Zoe…” My name comes out as a plea, and my resolve begins to waver.
“Why? Why do you need it so badly? I thought you had a place already.”
“I do, but I need something cheaper. I… Fuck, I screwed up, okay? I got into a…scuffle. Yeah, let’s call it a scuffle. I messed my hand up pretty damn bad.” He holds up said hand to show me the brace again. “Anyway, my medical bills are going to start stacking up and I can’t risk them taking over my budget. I was already looking for something cheaper because my hours got cut, but when I add this on top of it…yeah. I need this, Zoe. You have no idea how bad either. Please.”
I can hear the desperation in his voice, and a part of me wants to say yes, but hesitation is still winning. I don’t want things to turn awkward, and I think they will. I mean, how does one live with their best friend’s ex-boyfriend? When it hasn’t even been a year since the breakup? When he’s stupid attractive?
I cast one last glance his way, the look in his eyes giving me pause. They’re tired and sad and needy all at once. I don’t know what to do with that.
Studying his face, I notice he’s worn down beyond the normal senior-year-coming-to-an-end fatigue.
He’s emotionally and mentally drained, and he desperately needs to catch a break.
I can’t turn him away, not right now. I just need to pull my big girl panties up—and keep them pulled up—and offer him my spare room like any good friend would do.
“Do you really have a pet cat?”
“Why would I lie about that?”
Shrugging, I say, “Who knows. People are weird.”
“Yes, Mittens is real.”
“Ask Delia,” I concede.
“Are you sure?”
I nod. “I’m sure, but Delia has to be okay with it.”
Just like that, he sits up a little straighter, eyes shining a little brighter.
Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.
“Are you sure about this?”
“You keep asking me that, I’m going to change my mind.”
“I just want to be sure, Zoe. You seem reluctant about this whole thing.”
“That’s because I am.”
“Am I really that bad?”
I look at him for the first time since I pulled into his rather questionable-looking apartment complex. For someone who’s been living here for the last four years, he doesn’t have a lot. His entire bedroom fits inside my SUV since they wouldn’t let him bring his mattress along, claiming it was theirs first and not his.
Some roommates, huh?
The truth is, he’s not that bad, and that’s part of the problem.
In fact, Caleb isn’t bad at all. He’s…hot, especially with his ball cap twisted around on his head, leather jacket covering broad shoulders.
But that’s the last thing I need to be thinking about. Instead, I focus on loading the last of his boxes, most of which are full of bagged and boarded comic books, trying to take the brunt of the work with his hand in the condition it is. I never knew Caleb was such a comic lover. It’s kind of…cute, in a nerdy sort of way.
“No, Caleb, you’re not bad. It’s just…weird. You’re Delia’s ex-boyfriend.”
His eyes fall to slits. “Yes, you keep reminding me of that as if I’m not the one who dated her for six months. Why exactly is that so weird for you? It’s not like we hung out a lot or anything, just a group movie here and there.”
I don’t know why I keep reminding him.
Is it because no one will ever match up to Delia and I’m still hurt by her moving? Possibly.
Or could it be because I have a sinking feeling in my gut that with Caleb and me living in such close quarters, those stupid feelings I’ve developed toward him are going to grow into something more? Even more possible.
Ignoring him, I push the box I’m holding farther into the back, bending to grab another from the concrete to keep busy.
Moving too fast, my head starts swimming and I sway, crashing into Caleb. He reaches out to steady me and my skin feels like it’s on fire the moment he makes contact, so hot I inhale a sharp breath.
He doesn’t miss it.
My hazel eyes collide with his dark blue gaze. There’s a lighter blue seeping into the outer rim of his irises that I’ve never noticed before. I inch closer, wanting a better look. I’m so close I can feel his breath ghosting on my lips. There’s an errant hair sticking out of his cap that I so badly want to brush away.
Caleb’s pupils dilate and his gaze flits to my lips, lingering there for far too long.
He wants to kiss me. He wants to kiss me bad.
I snap myself out of my lustful state because I cannot let that happen, and by the way he inches back, he knows it too.
“Holy crap—that’s why you don’t want me to live with you.” He grins, and it’s full of playfulness for the first time since I pulled up. “You want me.”
“I want you…to stop touching me and help me get this shit loaded up.” I pull out of his grasp completely and haul another box into my car. “We’re burning daylight here.”
“It’s two in the afternoon—how long do you think it’ll take us to get this into our new place?”
I lift a brow his way. “Our new place?”
“Hey, I signed that line, so that’s my apartment now too.”
“You don’t even pay half the rent. It’s still my apartment.”
It takes me a moment to realize he’s stopped loading. I stand up straight and meet his gaze.
That lustful stare he was just giving me? Gone. In its place is an icy glower.
Folding my arms across my chest, I let out an exasperated sigh. “What, Caleb?”
“Is this how it’s going to be? It’s your place and nothing is mine? I just have a room there and that’s it?”
I regard him with a stony stare of my own. “No.”
He doesn’t budge, not buying it.
Hell, I’m not buying it. It’s not his fault I’m sexually frustrated and want to jump his bones. I shouldn’t take it out on him.
I sigh and throw my hands up in defeat. “No, Caleb, that’s not how it’s going to be, okay? I’m just being cranky. I promise it won’t be like that.”